Out Now! – A Harmless Little Ruse (The Harmless Series) by Meli Raine (@meliraineauthor)

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Release date: November 18, 2016

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Political Thriller

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She has no idea what she’s doing. Loose cannons never hit their targets.

And they take out plenty of collateral damage.

Four years ago Lindsay experienced the unspeakable right before me, and I couldn’t stop them.

But that’s all changed now.

When her father, Senator Bosworth, contacted me to ask — demand — that I protect her, it was a second chance. A shot at redemption.

An opportunity to right an unspeakable wrong.

Controlling Lindsay as she seeks her revenge on the monsters who hurt her won’t be hard.

Containing my own out-of-control feelings for Lindsay and keeping up this ruse of cold-blooded distance will be.

Even harder than admitting to her what really happened that night four years ago.

It turns out I don’t have to, though.

Someone else did it for me.

And I’ll make sure they regret it.

* * *

A Harmless Little Ruse is the second in this political thriller/romantic suspense trilogy by USA Today bestselling author Meli Raine. This series includes:

A Harmless Little Game (Now available)

A Harmless Little Plan (release date December 13, 2016)

Buy links

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2cga1oy
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2bTKvob
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2c7NTO2
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2bFqy3B
B&N: http://bit.ly/2bLP57p
iBooks: http://apple.co/2bFecym
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2bFeogT
Google Play: Coming Soon
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2faA9EL

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Author Bio:

Meli Raine writes romantic suspense with hot bikers, intense undercover DEA agents, bad boys turned good, and Special Ops heroes — and the women who love them.

Meli rode her first motorcycle when she was five years old, but she played in the ocean long before that. She lives in New England with her family.

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://meliraine.com/

Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/beV0gf

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/meliraine

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/meliraineauthor

Excerpt:

I wake up to an empty bed.

It’s not mine.

Lindsay’s gone.

I can feel a change in the air. I jump to my feet, instantly alert, blood pumping to arms and legs that are battle-ready. Her bedroom room smells like lavender and beeswax, mingled with the hot scent of sex. I swear her heat still lingers on the sheets. The ceiling fan is still, the room crackling with silence.

I grab my gun belt and —

What the hell?

My weapon is missing.

Gun’s gone.

Lindsay’s gone.

Oh, shit.

She didn’t?

She did.

“Gentian,” I bark as I shove my earpiece in. “Where’s Lilac?” Lilac’s her code name.

“With you,” he responds.

“Negative.”

Dead air.

“Gentian?”

“I don’t know, sir. No one’s seen her. Last we knew, she was locked in her bedroom with you.”

No trace of irony. No hint of teasing. If he had even one whiff of either, he’d have his ass handed to him.

And he knows it.

“She’s gone, Gentian. Find her.”

“Yes, sir.”

The instant flurry of activity in the house matches my organs. They rearrange themselves inside me as I assess the situation, which is pretty fucking simple.

Lindsay stole my gun and ran away.

Doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Last night was the first time in four damn years that I slept. Actual REM sleep. The night those bastards tortured us was the first night of my new life.

A life without sleep.

And last night?

I slept like someone who had finally come home.

“Jesus,” I mutter to myself. “Great job, Drew. She totally snowed you.”

I have to hand it to Lindsay. She fooled me. I believed her act the entire time. She managed to outwit us all.

Damn smart woman.

Damn dangerous, too.

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Release blitz hosted by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Taking Risks: Writing with Wild Abandon

fitbit-image-2-writing-wit-wild-abandonimg_6549That’s right! You might as well get used to it. I’m on a writing high at the moment, just over the halfway point with NaNoWriMo 2016 and loving every minute of it. So it stands to reason that you, my lovelies, are going to get a few of my navel-gazy, ‘gawd I love to write posts.’ For those of you who just stepped outside your caves for the first time in awhile, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, the object being – you guessed it – writing an entire novel in one month. I joyously participate every year if I possibly can by taking risks, by writing wildly, recklessly and eccastically for a whole glorious month.

 

I have to admit that when NaNoWriMo comes around, all bets are off. The house gets cleaned even less often than it usually does. The garden clean-up goes on hold. I drink lots of coffee, eat lots of one-handed meals, and reach for insane word counts. NaNoWriMo is the only time of year that I generate almost as many words on a daily basis as I do when I go to Lyme Regis every year on writer’s retreat. To be honest, I’m beginning to think that planning the time, setting November aside, making that effort to focus in and write a novel in a month is going to become at least as essential to my writing year as the retreat.

 

The thing is, each year I do NaNoWriMo, I take more risks and I write more innovatively. As a result, I come away from the experience a better writer. It’s not so much about word count. There are days when a few paragraphs are so essential that I may get nothing else done because they need to be perfect. When they are, that’s a victory in itself. What it is about is taking risks in a safe container. I have a month, only a month, and for some strange reason, I’ve always thought of November as a particularly short month. To me it always seems even shorter than February. Maybe that’s because it’s the last chance to breathe before the holiday season hits like a battering ram and there’s no slowing until after January first. All I know is that if I’m doing NaNoWriMo, I love, love, LOVE November! If I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, I hate, hate HATE November. It’s cold its bleak, it’s wet and windy and the days are short and dark and you know with that sense of cold in deep in your bones that summer is not well and truly over, and even Indian crest-05e1a637392425b4d5225780797e5a76Summer has had its last painful gasps. BUT absolutely NONE of that matters when I’m writing hard.

 

Bring on the coffee! Bring on the novel I’ve always wanted to write, but never had time for in a genre I’ve never been
brave enough to tackle before and I am SO close to nirvana I can almost taste it!

 

This year’s wonderful discovery for me has been something truly amazing with my FitBit. Yes, I know, live by the FitBit,
die by the FitBit, but write by the FitBit??? Oh you betcha!

 

FitBit encourages people to get up and walk 250 steps every hour. Good advice whether you’re a FitBit addict or not. It takes almost no time to do, and it gets me out of the hunched position over the computer. If I’m stuck, it also gives me time to walk through the problem. However, if I’m truly not ready to break, I’ve discovered that I can walk and write on my iPhone at the same time. OK, it ain’t elegant, I’ll admit, but it works! I walk, I write, I live very happily, and healthily in NaNo-land.

 

Eep! My walk alarm just went off. Must! Walk! Steps! And think! Be right back.

 

Yes, now where was I? Right! It’s sort of like a mini timed writing, a mini sprint, in NaNoWroMo terms, only it’s timed by steps rather than minutes. Okay, it’s sloppy and messy, but it works! Besides, sloppy and messy is what writing is all about. It never happens neatly or orderly. It’s either a mad scramble to get it all down fast enough or a pull-your-brain-out through your left nostril effort that leaves you exhausted and raw. Either way, it gets messy. Perhaps that’s why I love it so much, it’s permission to get messy, permission to give over control to those magical 26 letters and those squiggles of punctuation from which great stories, from which ALL stories are formed. Wow! I just gave myself chills!

 

Oh, and if you’re wondering, here’s the blurb for my NaNoWriMo WIP, my first ever scifi novel. Proud much???

 

imagesPiloting Fury Blurb:

“Win the bet and the Fury’s yours. Lose the bet and your ass is mine.” It seemed like a no-brainer, Rick Manning’s
slightly inebriated offer. If he’d been sober, he’d have remembered Diana “Mac” McAlister never lost a bet. All her she life she’d dreamed of buying back her freedom and owning her own starship, and when the Fury’s ne’er-do-well, irritating as hell captain all but hands the Fury to her on a silver platter she figures she can’t lose. But she does. That’s how the best pilot in the galaxy finds herself the indentured 1st mate of a crew that, thanks to her, has doubled in size. Too late, she finds out the Fury is way more than a cargo ship. It’s a ship with a history – a dangerous history, a history Mac’s been a part of for a lot longer that she could imagine, and Rick Manning was not above fixing a bet to get her right at the center of it all, exactly where he needs her to be.

 

Cover Reveal for S. M. Phillips’ Heartbreak’s a Bitch!

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Unlucky in love Emily Parker is about to turn thirty. The big three-0! Yet, the dream house, perfect husband and cute little children are nowhere to be seen; a little like her sex life. Instead, most nights consist of a dine in for one, a few bottles of wine and the odd fumble with Vinnie the Vibrator, if she’s lucky; so long as she has remembered to stock up on the batteries.

 

Is this now her life?

 

It’s a far cry from where she imagined it would be when she reached her prime. Where did it all go wrong? Even the big wide world of online dating isn’t getting her anywhere, fast.

 

Right now, the only thing that Emily knows, is that Heartbreak’s a bitch!

 

 

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Pre-Order Heartbreak’s a Bitch Here:

Amazon – no pre-order

iBooks – Coming Soon

Kobo – https://goo.gl/wgw7Li

B&N – https://goo.gl/cBXdiv

 

About S.M. Phillips

S.M Phillips is a fun loving mum from Manchester. When she’s not busy writing, you’ll most likely find her head buried deep inside her kindle with a cup of coffee in hand. Talk to her when she’s reading and things could get pretty colourful, pretty fast, just ask her Hubby.

She is a lover of chocolate, especially if it has peanut butter inside, and loves a good cocktail or two. She often wonders if she should spend more time buying shoes, but then she remembers her never ending TBR list and realises that money can be spent on more important things… Books.

 

Find S.M. Phillips Here:

Website
Twitter
 

Sleazy Bars — A Touch of Grace … Grace Marshall that is

(From the Archives)

I have a soft spot in my heart for bars, and western bars in particular. No doubt it’s out of that soft spot and the exec-box-setfantasies it spawned that The Boiling Point, the bar in the Executive Decisions Trilogy, grew (Available in a Box Set Now!). The coolest bar I’ve ever been in is Moose’s in Kalispell, Montana, with its swinging wooden doors and peanut shells and sawdust on the floor. The rough wooden booths are carved with the graffiti of who knows how many pocket knives, and there’s always Canadians, Cribbage, and red beer in abundance. For the uninitiated, red beer is beer and tomato juice.

In my childhood, bars always intrigued me because they were forbidden. The bars of my youth, which I was only ever allowed to peek into before my mother would grab me by the arm and drag me away, had wooden dance floors, high stools at the bar and lamps that were adverts for the local beers. There was always a pool table and often several monuments to bad taxidermy. In their early years of marriage my brother and his wife rented an apartment that was attached to a derelict bar in the middle of nowhere on the Colorado and Wyoming boarder. I loved going there because my sister-in-law would let me into the bar to have a spin round and round on the bar stools and do cartwheels and slide in my stocking feet across the hard wood floor. Oh, in case you’re wondering, there’s a fourteen year age difference between my brother and me. I was just a little girl then. Though it still sounds like something I’d enjoy. Looking back, that might actually be the most fun I ever really had in a bar. I suppose Harris Walker is my alter-ego in that.

In Kirksville Missouri, where I went to university there was the Zodiac, which was not much more than a glorified warehouse with concrete floors and a raised concrete platform for dancing. The music was loud, and the crowd mixed, with a good few under-ager sneak-ins with fake IDs.

The Blue Moon, on the other side of the tracks, had pool tables, an abundance of ripped naugahide booths and the best hamburgers in town.

Ask any of the good Christian folks in Mooringsport, Louisiana, where my husband grew up, and they’ll tell you that the Highway 1 Bar is the brimstone belching den of Satan. When my husband was a child, his family drove by it several times a week on their way to and from church, looking upon it with disdain. After we were married, in an act of breath-taking rebellion, Raymond took me there for a drink. We weren’t taken to the back room and sacrificed to Satan, nor were we corrupted into a life of debauched drunkenness and godless filth. (though we might have already been a bit debauched) We were, however, served cold beer at a quiet table in the corner while country music whined on the jukebox.

As you can probably tell from my sordid and sleazy account … em … my experiences never quite lived up to the ones in my imagination. Maybe that’s why The Boiling Point appears larger than life in all three of Grace Marshall’s Executive
Decisions novels. The Exhibition is no exception. The Boiling Point is an amalgamation of the bars I’ve been in and the experiences I’ve fantasised in those bars. I reckon Harris Walker’s experiences of bars is rather similar to mine. They never quite live up to his expectations, and yet he wants them to.

After a less than satisfying experience in An Executive Decision, the first novel of the trilogy, the Boiling Point is not on Harris Walker’s list of favourite hang-outs. The Boiling Point is a squat cinderblock den of iniquity that has been through multiple incarnations since it was a speak-easy during prohibition. It’s the hang-out for all sorts – bikers, goths, red necks and even slumming banker boys. It has a reputation for watered down drinks, surly waitresses, loud music and being periodically raided – which is exactly what happens the night Stacie Emerson convinces Harris to meet her there in an effort to get him to exhibit his photography in her gallery.

The Exhibition Blurb:

Successful NYC gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, is ex-fiancée to one Thorne brother and ex-wife to the other. Though the three have made peace, Ellison Thorne’s friend, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, still doesn’t like her. When Stacie convinces Harris to exhibit his work for the opening of her new gallery she never intended to include him in her other more hazardous plans. But when those plans draw the attention of dangerous business tycoon, Terrance Jamison, Harris comes to her aid. In the shadow of a threat only Stacie understands, can she dare let Harris into her life and make room for love?

As successful gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, finds herself in the clutches of a powerful enemy from her dark past, her growing feelings for her latest exhibitor, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, could get them both killed. Sharing her secret could destroy their relationship, but keeping it could be fatal.

The Exhibition Excerpt:

The fact that cops were pouring through the door only half registered in Harris’s Stacie-addled brain. Then some te-new-coverwoman screamed raid, and people were running and shoving in all directions. Someone was shouting something in an authoritative voice into a blow horn. It all felt like a scene right out of a gangster movie.

Stacie grabbed him by the hand and dragged him back toward their table. She shoved her iPad in her bag, and shouted at Waters, who had rushed back to the booth with his dance partner hanging on for dear life and was now shooting pictures like crazy.

Every time the man had a camera in his hand, he looked like he was about to get well laid. Did his work really do that for him? The adrenaline rush that came from fear of losing life and limb was the best Harris ever managed.

‘You alright,’ Stacie yelled to Waters.

He nodded breathlessly and handed Stacie something that Harris couldn’t see. ‘Need you to do me a favour.’ His words were clipped, excited. ‘Can you take care of this for me?’ He nodded toward the ladies room.

‘Seriously? You brought that here?’ For a second, Harris thought Stacie was going to belt the man.

But Waters only shrugged, gave her a sheepish grin, and kept shooting. ‘I didn’t think.’

She said something that Harris couldn’t hear over the chaos, something he figured wasn’t very nice.

She grabbed Harris by the hand and headed toward the bathrooms, dragging him right on into the women’s room. ‘What the –’

She shoved her way into the first stall, dropped a tiny plastic bag with what looked like a couple of roll-your-owns into the commode and flushed with her booted foot.

‘Jesus! Are you kidding me?’ Harris felt the tension ratchet up a notch in his shoulders as she watched the swirl of water in the toilet to make sure her efforts were effective. ‘He brought pot here? Idiot.’

She placed a finger to her lips, then slammed the cubicle door shut once she was satisfied with the results. ‘I’m sure that’s not what they’re looking for, but it’s enough to land him at the police station.’

Outside someone shouted, ‘Hastings, check the crappers.’

Before Harris knew what hit him, she pulled him into the cubicle at the other end of the row and locked the door behind him talking in a fast whisper. ‘Sorry about this. Not very professional, I know, but I promised to do my best to keep us out of jail, and I’m thinking groping in the ladies’ room’s not what this raid’s all about.’ The words were barely out of her mouth before she launched herself at him lips first. Damn it; he wanted to be mad at her. They were about to go to jail, for fuck sake! But instead of giving her a piece of his mind, he kissed her right back, hard, and felt her yield and open, and his tongue was in heaven sparing with hers, tasting, testing, thrusting. He found himself hoping that the inevitable arrest would wait until after he got his fill of Stacie Emerson, and that could take a while. She felt way better than she had even in his fantasies, and when his badly-behaving hands moved down to cup her magnificent bottom and pull her closer, she returned the favour and gave his ass a good grope. As though that gave him permission to explore, he slid anxious fingers inside her trousers wriggling down past a miniscule thong to cup an impossibly soft, impossibly firm buttock that gave a muscular clench in his hand, forcing her hips forward until she couldn’t possibly miss the press of his appreciative hard-on straining his jeans to get closer to her.

In the hall the noise got louder and the door burst open.

She had just managed a good firm stroke to the front of his trousers that had his full attention and then some, when a heavy-handed knock on the door caused her to yelp, and he nearly fell back onto the commode.

‘All right, you two, tuck it in, and come on out.’

 

Writing Badly? Permission Granted!

img_0082Being deep in the throes of NaNoWriMo right now, it’s not unusual that I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of writing and what makes it work. Why is it that sometimes the words flow and other times they just don’t? The first time I realised I might be able to exert some control over that flow, that I might be able to do more than sit in front of a keyboard and hope the Muse would take pity on me, was when I read Natalie Goldberg’s classic book, Writing Down the Bones. There I discovered the timed writing. It’s simple really. You write non-stop for a given amount of time. You write against the clock, and you don’t stop writing until time runs out. No matter what! You write whatever comes without fretting over whether it’ll be good. And when you’re done, some of the end result – even a good bit of the end result – might be crap. But mixed in with that crap might just be the seeds of something wonderful.

writing-down-the-bones-images

At the time I felt like I’d been asked to write with my left hand. Even writing for five minutes seemed like a daunting
task when I made my first attempts. But Natalie Goldberg knew what she was talking about. I was amazed at what came out of the abyss between my ears! It was only after I read Writing Down the Bones that I began to write real stories, and I think about that process of writing, just writing, no matter what comes out so often when I do NaNoWriMo because writing a novel in a month is never going to be pretty. But out of it, something truly wonderful can come. I know this because I’ve had two published novels from NaNoWriMo, and I’ve tackled both of those month-long races to the end as though they were a series of thirty gigantic, drawn out, timed writings.

 

So why did one book make such a difference? I finally had something I lacked in the past, something very important. I had permission to write badly. Every writer needs permission to write badly. Later Julia Cameron, in her book, The Artist Way, called those off-the-cuff, devil-may-care writings morning pages, and she prescribed three morning pages every day – written without forethought, written in haste. From a fiction writer’s perspective, she didn’t give them the weight that Natalie Goldberg did. They were only a part of a plan to open the reader to the artist within. To her, they were more about venting, sort of a daily house-cleaning for the brain. In addition to morning pages, Cameron insisted that every creative person should give themselves what she called an artist date once a week. An artist date was a date with oneself away from writing.

 

the-artist-wayI can’t count the number of times I stood myself up for my artist dates. I would have broken up with me long ago if I were actually dating me. But then I realised that an artist date didn’t have to be dinner and dancing or shopping or even visiting a museum. An artist date was a change of pace. It could even be ironing or weeding the garden. In fact the whole point of the artist date was to create space in which I could disengage the internal editor, engage the wild, creative part of my brain, the part full of ‘what ifs,’ and then, to give myself permission to write badly.

 

So many of us are under the impression that every word we write must be precious and worth its weight in gold. What I’ve learned since I discovered the pleasure of writing badly is that on the first draft, every word is most definitely not precious. On the first draft, every word is a crazy frivolous experiment. Every word is a chance to test the waters, to play in the mud, to let my hair loose and run dancing and screaming through the literary streets. Every word is a game and an adventure. Every word is eating ice cream with sprinkles for the main course. By the same token, every word is shit, every word is compost, and every word is the ground out of which the next draft will grow. I never know what’ll work crest-05e1a637392425b4d5225780797e5a76until I try it. I never know what my unconscious will come up with while I’m writing like a wild crazy person, grabbing words and cramming them in and rushing on to the next ones – just after I’ve done a basket full of ironing. Without that bold and daring first draft, without opening the floodgates and letting the words spill onto the page, there’s nothing to work with when the next draft comes. And when the next draft comes, the words do get precious. Every single one becomes weighty and irritable and reluctant to fit anywhere but the place it belongs, the place where I feel it just below my sternum like the point of an accusing finger.

 

But by the time I get to the second draft, by the time I get to that place where every word has to be perfect, I’m up for it. I’m ready to slow down and feel what every word means. I’m ready to find all the nuance and all the cracks and crevices of meaning in between the words. I’m ready for it because I’ve only just been playing up until now, and I’ve been allowing the words to play. And now … recess is over.

 

The longer I write, the more I realise what else, besides Natalie Goldberg’s timed writings and Julia Cameron’s reluctant artist dates, gets me there. And what gets me there is often totally being somewhere else, somewhere other than writing. Sometimes it’s playing the piano badly, or sweating at the gym, or weeding the veg patch. Sometimes it’s walking through the woodland not thinking about anything. Sometimes it’s reading something frivolous. Sometimes it’s writing-pen-and-birds-1_xl_20156020reading something profound. All the space that taking time not to write opens up inside me makes room for that wild
ride of the first draft. And when that first draft is finished, I have what I need to pick and choose, to sort through and sift, to change and rearrange until I find the best way to tell my tale. But up until then, it’s child’s play. It’s dancing naked. It’s shameless abandon and multiple verbal orgasms.

 

To all my lovely writing friends valiantly struggling through NaNoWriMo this year – in fact to anyone who has a story to write, let me just say this.

 

Writing badly? Permission most definitely granted!

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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