Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gaining MOMENTUM with Cassandra Carr

MOMENTUM by Cassandra Carr

Book three in the Buckin’ Bull Riders series.

Marco D’Allesandro has a destiny he wants no part of—running his family’s Italian olive oil empire. Against his family’s wishes, he moves to America to pursue his dream of becoming a professional bull rider and is at the pinnacle of his career, but his family wants him home. Things only get more complicated when he meets Natalie Webster, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed angel who’s got problems of her own.

Their chemistry is explosive from the beginning, and both find themselves in a situation they never thought they would—they’re falling in love. Natalie has had a rough time of it lately, and it’s tempting to let naturally protective Marco take care of her. Both in and out of bed. Marco discovers he relishes the role and wants to keep Natalie close. Really close.

But Natalie’s situation in life and Marco’s continued battle with his family threaten to tear them apart. Neither of them was looking for forever, but might have found their true destiny in each other.

A Romantica® erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: December 28, 2012
Series: Buckin' Bull Riders, book 3
ISBN: 9781419940880


Marco D’Allesandro scrambled from the dirt and leapt onto the rail, grateful for the bullfighters as they diverted the beast’s attention away from him. Once safely atop, he turned toward the scoreboard. He was the last rider of the day and needed an eighty-nine to win. He’d stayed on the full eight seconds, so his chances were good. The bull he’d drawn was a tough one, which would help.

I wish the judges would hurry up.

His fellow rider and brother, Paolo, clapped him on the shoulder.

“Nice ride, amico.”

“Thanks.” Marco didn’t spare him a glance, his eyes glued to the scoreboard.

Come on…

The announcer finally spoke. “Folks, it looks as if the Italian Stallion had another good night.” Marco’s face broke out in a grin as Paolo clapped him on the shoulder again. “Marco D’Alessandro has scored a ninety even on The Undertaker. Congratulations to our second-place finalist, Brady Parrish, and third-place finalist, Randy Suzan.”

Marco turned and swung his legs over the fence. He was about to drop to the other side when a flash of purple caught his attention. He scanned the crowd and then his world tilted on its axis. There, standing in the top-most row of the lower bowl of the arena, was the most beautiful woman Marco had ever seen. That was saying something, considering his Italian upbringing.

It was hard to tell how tall she was, but her lean curves were emphasized by a tight pair of black jeans and that purple top that caught his attention earlier. Dark-blonde straight hair streaked with lighter shades, most likely from being out in the sun, fell to her waist. When she smiled at someone near her his heart went into his throat. He had to know who she was.

He’d jumped from the railing and into the crowd before he even realized he was chasing her, but he wasn’t about to let this one get away. Almost all the women in Italy had dark eyes and hair and blondes fascinated him. People tried to stop him to congratulate him on his win, but he kept his eyes on the woman as she turned onto the stairs to get to the bottom of the section.

Luckily Marco was able to reach a point where he could intercept her as she exited the area and waited, his breath coming in short pants as if he’d run a marathon. When she got close she looked up, and her light-blue eyes widened as she took him in. She kept walking and he tracked her with his gaze. She reached the bottom and he put a hand on the sleeve of her Western-style shirt.

“May I speak with you?” His padre had taught him to be respectful of women, and though there were few decent things Marco had learned from his overbearing father, who was currently pushing hard for Marco to return to Italy to run the family business, that lesson had stuck. Her eyebrows, with hair so light they were nearly invisible, drew down, but she agreed and allowed him to steer her a little to the side, away from the exiting crowd. “My name is Marco D’Alessandro. I would like to know your name as well.”

“Um, sure. My name is Natalie. Natalie Webster.”

He realized he was still holding on to her sleeve when she glanced down, and he quickly removed his hand, offering it for her to shake. Natalie took it and a jolt of something rushed straight up his arm as their hands touched.

“Will you allow me to buy you dinner?”


“Yes. I just won this event and I want to celebrate with a beautiful woman.”

Whereas a line like that would’ve worked on many Italian women and most of the buckle bunnies he normally encountered on tour, Natalie shook her head. “Look, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I’m not here hoping to find a boyfriend.”

Boyfriend? I only asked her to dinner.

“That is good, because I am not in search of a girlfriend.”

“I’m also not interested in a one-night stand, so if that’s what you’re after—”

“I am sorry, did I offend you?”

Natalie sighed and Marco watched as she chewed on her lip for a minute. He could think of far better ways to make her mouth look abused, but figured given her recent statements she wouldn’t handle his flirting well, so he stayed quiet.

“You didn’t offend me. I’m here to work.”

“You work for the tour?”


“A reporter?”

“No. I’m following the tour for a couple of weeks. I’m interested in learning about bull riding so I can try out for the female tour. It’s just, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. I’m here to watch, listen and learn.”

“Then have dinner with me. You can quiz me.” When she looked doubtful he added, “I will be a perfect gentlemen.” He turned the full force of the smile his parents had spent a fortune in dental work on and her eyes softened.

That’s what I wanted.

“All right. But just dinner.”

“Just dinner,” he agreed. For now. “Wait here. I will go get my check and my gear and come to collect you within twenty minutes.”

She looked a little stunned but agreed to wait. Marco knew girls in America weren’t used to having the man take the lead, but he didn’t know any other way to behave. After rushing to collect his winnings, he made his way as quickly as possible back to the riders’ area, taking off the protective vest he was still wearing as he walked.

He exchanged high-fives with a couple of the guys before grabbing his rope and winding it around his arm and shoulder. Turning to Paolo, he said, “I’ve got dinner plans. I’ll see you tomorrow, though.”

“Dinner plans, eh? With the hot blonde I saw you talking to?” His brother smirked, knowing Marco couldn’t resist blondes, and Marco nodded. There was no reason to hide it.

“Yes. She wants to become a bull rider and I told her I would give her a few tips.”

“Tips. Right.” His brother grinned then and Marco returned the smile. If he had anything to say about it those tips would be given in bed after he’d wrenched a couple of orgasms out of his beautiful Natalie and had one or two himself. His cock was totally behind that decision and hardened inside his jeans. Natalie had made it clear she only wanted dinner, and if that’s how she wanted to play it, fine. He could be a patient man when it was called for, and she looked to be worth his trouble.

Glancing at his Rolex, he whistled. “Got to go. Later, amico.” Before he could get stopped by any of the other riders, he packed up the last of his gear and threw the duffle over his shoulder. Making his way back to the seating area, he planned out what he would say. Natalie had mentioned she would be following them around for a while. That was plenty of time to convince her to take a ride on the Italian Stallion. The hunt was on.

Copyright 2012, Cassandra Carr

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Real Marine Cowboys – An American Inspiration

Heather Long takes readers on a ride into her Always a Marine series. I'm ready to saddle up.

The Marine Cowboy was inspired by the desire of my readers to have a Marine and a cowboy, but—historically speaking—Marine cowboys have defended our country for generations. I want to share a story with you about a man named Fraser West.

From a young age, West worked as a cowhand. In 1936, he passed up an appointment to attend West Point. He preferred to work with the land and his horses. But when war loomed over the United States, West attended Marine Office Candidates School following his graduation from University. Unfortunately, his service was delayed after a skiing accident delayed his officer training and in 1941, he graduated with a regular commission to the 5th Reserve Officer’s Class.

West served in the South Pacific, by his mid-twenties this cowboy was a veteran of the battle at Guadalcanal. He rotated stateside and received a promotion to Captain. He soon joined to the 3rd Marine Division and returned to the battlefield with “George” company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment and participated in the Bougainville campaign, a long and dedicated Allied effort to reclaim the island from Japanese occupation.

As George company’s commanding officer, he earned a Silver Star for his heroism and spent several months in a hospital recovering from a bullet that shattered his left leg. He returned to duty in 1944 and directed tank gunfire.  West returned home after the war and back to his beloved ranching. In 2003, the veteran suffered another injury when his roping horse collapsed from a heart attack and pinned him. Despite breaking his back, the resilient Marine recovered and returned with his unit to the island of Guam in 2004 to cut the ribbon on the newly named Marine Corps drive. 

In an interview posted on the website, West said, “The Corps teaches you a 'can-do' attitude. All you've got to do is keep moving. Never retire, keep volunteering, and keep looking forward in life."

While A.J. Turner wasn’t based on Fraser West, he could have been. Ooh-rah, Marine!

Keep up with Heather! And be sure to drop by the Always a Marine series page today, Heather will be chatting with readers and answering questions!


Turning down a billet at Mike's Place in Dallas, Sergeant A.J. Turner left Iraq for Freewill, Wyoming with one goal in mind—to forget the last five years. Trading his MARPATS for jeans and his cover for a cowboy hat, he plans to work his ranch and pray the green grass, tall trees, and sweet mountains can wash away the taste of the desert.

The last thing he expected was a reminder of a promise made to his buddies: one night to help them all start again.

Sheri Vaughn quit her corporate job, sold her house and moved to Freewill on a whim. Six months after her divorce, she's hardly ready to put her toe in the dating waters again. One bottle of wine later, however, she signs up for Madame Eve's exclusive 1Night Stand service and lists a very particular set of qualities she wants in a man; he must be honorable, courageous, forthright, single, have served as Marine, but be a cowboy at heart. If she wants to dream, at least she can dream big.

But when local hero A.J. Turner arrives home, Madame Eve comes through, and Sheri has to find the courage to make her dream a reality…

Can one night, even a night arranged by Madame Eve, fulfill both a promise and a dream?

Read on for a juicy excerpt. I so want a Marine Cowboy. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Peek Into Geekdom

If you think writers might not live what they write about, you've never meet Angela Quarles. I think I'm in Geek Girl Lust.

Hi Louisa, thank you for having me on here. I thought I'd share a little of my personal experience with some of the geek references I make in my new release BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS, an erotic geek romance.

Most of it takes place in the hotel room (boom-chika-bow-wow), but the hotel is hosting a sci-fi convention and so the hero and heroine run across some fun convention goers in the beginning of the story.

Mirjam rubbed the tiredness from her eyes, but the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland still occupied the Rivenbark Hotel & Casino elevator with her. She blinked and squinted. Yep. And life-size. Complete with hookah.

Plastic squeaked against glass as the caterpillar shifted to make more room. It made eye contact.

"Er, nice costume," Mirjam ventured.

"Thanks," came the muffled reply.

The elevator swooped to a stop on the mezzanine level. A pirate and a Ghostbuster stepped on and pushed the lobby button. Mirjam angled back to avoid being knocked over by the guy's Proton Pack.

"Convention?" Mirjam asked the caterpillar and it rewarded her with a nod.
Mirjam groaned inwardly. She'd attended her share, but now, they reminded her too much of The Turd, otherwise known as Brian. Great.

I've been a regular attendee of Dragon*Con since 2005 and so I drew on my experiences to paint the background for the story. This particular opening was inspired by a costume I vividly remember—the caterpillar. In my case, the 'caterpillar' was standing outside an elevator. It really is incredible the amount of detail that some of the conference goers put in their costumes. I thought using this as the opening helped setup the 'down the rabbit hole' feeling I wanted to convey. What's Dragon*Con you ask? It's a sci-fi/fantasy/pop culture convention that draws over 50,000 attendees every year in Atlanta, and it's a blast. I thought I'd share another snippet inspired by a real attendee at Dragon*Con-- the guy who dresses as Monty Python's King Arthur every year, and yes, he has his trusty squire following banging two coconuts. My picture of him is fuzzy, but I found this one, and here's another snippet:

"Welcome to the Rivenbark," the older man behind the desk said. "Do you have a reservation?"

"No. I was told to let you know my name? Riley McGregor. Someone's expecting me."
"Oh, yes, sir. Hang on."

Riley scrubbed his hand through his hair while the concierge called someone on the phone.

A guy passed by, dressed as the king in Monty Python's Holy Grail, complete with his sidekick beating two coconuts together. Riley grinned. Looked like the convention here would be shit-tons more entertaining than his.

I think you really need to attend one to really appreciate it. Generally, I don't dress up, I just where my Firefly t-shirts, but there was one year (2007) where two friends and I went as the Fruity Oaty Bar girls from Serenity and that was a strange experience:

I love attending Dragon*Con. We have different names for it--Nerdi Gras, Geek Prom--but whatever we call it, it's five days of drinking and getting your geek on, and being around tons of others who share similar interests. It's not all just costumes on parade though. You can go to celebrity panels and hear your favorite stars talk about their roles in your fave TV show or movie. There's also a really good writer's track, as well as different tracks ranging from puppet making to robot wars to the latest in space technology. It's also probably the only convention that has conference rooms booked through the whole night, so even at three in the morning, you can find something going on. Sleep is definitely not indulged in often during that weekend. Here are some fave photos from over the years:
If you look closely, that's Jason Momoa playing with a light sabre out in front of the Hyatt Regency
Me with Michael Shanks (Daniel Jackson in Stargate SG-1)
With Alan Tudyk (Wash in Firefly)
And various attendees in their awesome costumes:
DSCN0738 DSCN0761DSCN1322DSCN1701 DSCN1721

Can a djinn and a magic slot machine bring two geeks together?

Riley McGregor is a geek trapped in a Good Ole Boy body and as owner of a microbrewery, smart chicks never look at him twice.

Rejected by a geek who wanted to “trade up,” Mirjam Linna would rather immerse herself in work than be the girlfriend-of-the-moment. Stranded in a Vegas hotel, she makes a wish—a night of hot sex with the man of her dreams. It's granted. She agrees to dinner, but afterward, she’ll say thanks, but no thanks, and see what’s on the SyFy channel. But when they meet, they're surprised to find they had a shared connection in their past. Sparks fly as these two learn to be in the moment, be themselves and find love.

Fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, Monty Python, Firefly and Marvin the Martian will enjoy this romantic comedy.


Angela works at an independent bookstore and lives in an historic house in the beautiful and quirky town of Mobile, AL, with her two matched gray cats, Darcy and Bingley. When she's not writing, she enjoys the usual stuff like gardening, reading, hanging out, eating, drinking, chasing squirrels out of the walls and creating the occasional knitted scarf. She's had a varied career, including website programming and directing a small local history museum.

She's an admitted geek and is proud to be among the few but mighty Browncoats who watched Firefly the first night it aired. She was introduced to the wonderful world of science fiction by her father, by way of watching reruns of the original Star Trek in her tweens and later giving her a copy of Walter M. Miller Jr's A Canticle for Leibowitz as a teenager. She hasn't looked back since. 

She has a B.A. in Anthropology and International Studies with a minor in German from Emory University, and a Masters in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University. She was an exchange student to Finland in high school and studied abroad in Vienna one summer in college. She recently found representation with Maura Kye-Casella at Don Congdon, Assoc.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

5 Bah-Humbugs of the Season

Can I spread a little bit of “blah” all over your humbug? I promise, I actually enjoy the season, but sometimes all the fa-la-la-ing gets in my nerves. What irks the nerves the most?

5) People who start shopping in June and rub it in – “Have you started Christmas shopping yet?” they ask smugly? Umm, no. And, if I did, and hid the gift, then I probably wouldn’t find it until March.

4) Stores that stock the shelves before Halloween – My favorite holiday is Halloween. Dressing up, the festivals, Disneyland in SoCal. This year, we dressed on at least four occasions, not including the night of trick-or-treating itself. When the red and greens starts bleeding into the orange and black, something’s wrong!

3) Holiday cards on Dec. 1 – Yes, I know, it’s the season. And, if you send yours out right away, that means you’ll get even more back. (Maybe that’s why our stash is dwindling.) I mean well every year. I buy my cards, and bring them with me during our Thanksgiving weekend at the in-law’s mountain cabin but they never seem to finish themselves.

2) Forced Cheer – Notice that some people get nicer closer to the holidays? It’s about the same time those little tip envelopes start showing up in the mailbox, in the newspaper. You know, they have all year but they better make it shine now. (BTW – we always tip.)

1) Perfectly Wrapped Presents, & The Watchful Eye – At one point, I had more time to fold and crease the metallic paper. Now I have young children who’d like to help wrap, and less time to do it in. The good news is they’re getting old enough to do it themselves! The watchful eye comes from my mom – who I love immensely, especially if she’s reading this list – who watches to make sure the person appreciates every ribbon and curl, and then often takes them back for the following year! Bonus: Dog hair stuck to the tape. Oh, now that’s a joy!

I’m happy to report that as of Sunday, Dec. 23, all my presents are purchased, but not wrapped, and today we’ll be baking cookies. It’s just about time to get this holiday on!

Until next time,

Louisa Bacio