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Why Just Anybody Can’t Write Sports Romance by Cassandra Carr

Underneath It AllThere’s the old adage – write what you know – and it’s true for sports romance. While there are many things a writer can fake, I think accurately portraying athletes, both off and on the playing surface, is far harder to get right.

I’m part of a group blog for sports romance and one of our writers recently posted on our internal Yahoo group that she’d read a hockey romance where a team won by two goals in overtime. If that writer truly knew hockey, or had taken the time to do even basic research, they would’ve known that overtime in hockey is sudden death – you can’t win by two goals.

Many other professions can be faked because policies and procedures are not the same across the board. An example of this are police procedurals. I live in the Western New York area and my Romance Writers of America chapter had a detective speak to us a couple of years ago. She mentioned that in Amherst, a suburb of Buffalo, interrogations are not recorded, whereas in the City of Buffalo they are. So as an author, you can use whatever works for your story and you’ll still be right, because there’s no one right way to do things.

But in sports, there usually is.

All football games have four 15-minute quarters. All hockey games have three 20-minute periods. Football fields are the same size. Hockey ice surfaces can differ somewhat depending on where the game is played, but overall there are the same lines, face off circles, etc no matter where the rink is located.

And what’s hardest of all to get right in sports romance is the behind-the-scenes stuff, whether it’s the locker room after a game or the athletes’ lives with their families. There’s a mystique surrounding many sports, so fans don’t often get glimpses into the athletes’ personal lives or what goes on inside a locker room. Only true fans of the game have any real accurate idea of the particulars in these areas.

As a reader of sports romance, what do you find the most annoying or think the most authors get wrong? Tell me in the comments!

Buy links:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble

Blurb:

Professional hockey player Rob D’Amico meets kindergarten teacher Alaina Rossa through a reading program for inner-city students.  When Rob observes the lack of even the basic supplies for their education, he takes it upon himself to get the students what they need.

Is it possible Alaina’s soul mate could be found in a world so different from her own? And for Rob, the last person he thought he’d find forever love with was an elementary school teacher.

Excerpt:

Alaina was aware the tone of her voice had moved beyond surprise and barreled right toward incredulous, but everything she thought she’d known about professional athletes and, in particular, this man, was being blown out of the water. If he’d really done this, just handing over his own money, and from what she could see, of his own volition, as the Storm didn’t appear to be involved, Rob was an entirely different person than she’d pegged him to be. A thread of guilt wound around her brain. Obviously she’d judged him prematurely, and now she felt like a bitch.

“Yes. Your students shouldn’t suffer because of their circumstances. And if the amount is not enough, tell me and I’ll give you more.”

“Not enough?” Her voice cracked on the last word. “Rob, this is…this is amazing. Truly.”

He shrugged again, rubbing the back of his neck, clearly uncomfortable with the praise.

After rising, she skirted her desk to stand in front of him. “Do you understand how much good this will do?”

Now Rob smiled, and Alaina noticed laugh lines around his eyes. Maybe she’d been right that he didn’t take life all that seriously, but this gesture showed another side to him—one she would have a hard time behaving professionally around. When she’d thought he was a playboy-athlete like so many others, it had been easy to dismiss him. But now…
As the enormity of what he’d done fully hit her, a tear escaped to roll down her cheek. Never before had someone seen the injustice her students endured and done something so quickly and yet with so little fanfare. He’d just handed over the check like it was no big deal.

Unbelievable.

Before she could process what was happening, Rob wiped at the wetness with the pad of his thumb. When their gazes collided, Rob’s swift intake of breath startled her. He pulled his hand away as if he’d been burned before turning and pacing away.

What the hell is that all about? No way does a guy like him think I’m hot.

Half turning back toward her, he said, “Anyway, I don’t want to keep you, but I couldn’t just hand over the check after my reading thing and run.”

“Okay.” Alaina approached him then reached a tentative hand to the shoulder nearest her. He was about a head taller than her, and when her hand met his flesh it was like touching granite. Rob was built like a tank, which she supposed was an advantage in the rough and tumble sport of hockey. She couldn’t help but feel safe in his presence.

“I don’t even have the words to express my appreciation. ‘Thank you’ is so inadequate.” Another tear escaped, and she quickly swiped at it. She’d probably freak Rob out if she turned into a waterworks right now.

He sighed and darted a glance at her out of the corner of his eye.
“Don’t thank me. I don’t want your thanks. I only did what anyone else would do.”

She knew that wasn’t true, but remained silent.

“And please don’t make a big deal out of the whole thing. I don’t want some reporter tracking me down thinking the check was a publicity stunt.”

“Whatever you want.” She squeezed his shoulder briefly before letting go.

Rob peeked at her one more time then started for the door like he was rushing from a burning building. “See you next week.”

“See you.” She returned to her desk and fell into the chair to stare at the check. This had to rank as one of the strangest days of her life. Alaina certainly wasn’t used to people recognizing the need for funds and actually coming through for her.

She carefully folded the check into an inside pocket of her purse then walked out to her beat-up Toyota Corolla. Her dad had gotten the car for her as a college graduation present, and it had been well-used even then. Now, six years later, the junk heap was held together with duct tape and a dream.

Find Cassandra Carr here:

Website: http://www.booksbycassandracarr.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCassandraCarr
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cassandra_carr
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/booksbycasscarr/

About Cassandra Carr

Cassandra Carr is a multi-award winning romance writer who lives in Western New York with her husband, Inspiration, and her daughter, Too Cute for Words. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out online.

 

The Exhibition Blog Tour Celebrates the Release of the Final Installment of the Executive Decisions Trilogy

TE new coverI’m very excited to announce the blog tour for Grace Marshall’s erotic romantic thriller, The Exhibition! The third book of the Executive Decisions Trilogy is now available in eBook and in print, and it’s a sizzling, heart-stopping romp for the finish of the tale.  I’ll be visiting some very exciting blogs this week and being interviewed by some totally fabulous folks. I’ll be sharing intimate details of Stacie Emerson and Harris Walker, I’ll be sharing photos of their exquisite stomping ground in the gorgeous Northwest of the US, I’ll be talking about what makes a good baddie and, of course, I’ll be sharing little teasing excerpts.

I’m very excited that at last the entire Executive Decisions Trilogy is at last available.  Even for me, the story was a surprise romp right to the end, and I’m hoping you’ll join me on the tour and help me celebrate The Exhibition and the completion of this exciting, sexy trilogy.

To make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fun, here’s a list of dates and links to the places where I’ll be. Be sure to join me and catch all the latest news about The Exhibition, and the whole Executive Decisions Trilogy.

 

25th November http://lynelleclarkaspiredwriter.blogspot.com/ Review
26th November http://www.Inthepagesofagoodbook.com Interview and review
27th November http://celiajanderson.co.uk Guest blog
28th November http://www.niceladiesnaughtybooks.com/ Guest blog and review
29th November http://rachelleighromance.blogspot.co.uk/ Interview

ExecDecisions Banner1

The Exhibition:

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?

Excerpt:

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

Before Harris knew what hit him, Stacie 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.’

Reviews:

“I’ve loved these books by Grace Marshall – but this one is my favourite of the three. The storyline was incredibly gripping and I very much enjoyed the will-they-won’t-they love/hate relationship between Stacie and Harris…if you enjoy a hot romantic thriller with some amusing moments thrown in, then you should definitely check out this book.” Erotica For All 

Available from:

eBook:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Print:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble
Powell’s
The Book Depository
Waterstones

 

 

 

A Dead Man’s Debt by Grace Elliot

A Dead Man's DebtBlurb

After publicly humiliating a suitor, Celeste Armitage is sent from the ton in disgrace. Exiled to the country she discovers a sketch book of nude studies and is shaken to discover the artist is her hostess’s eldest son, Ranulf Charing, Lord Cadnum. This darkly cynical lord is exactly the sort of dissipated rogue she most despises – and yet her blood heats at the thought of him!

Ranulf Charing, Lord Cadnum is being blackmailed over his late brother’s debts. Whilst visiting his mother, he discovers her new companion, Miss Celeste Armitage, to be a woman of unusual perception and starts to fall in love. But then the jealous fury of the blackmailer is unleashed and Cadnum must cast Celeste aside in order to protect her. However, in underestimating her resolve to clear his name – Cadnum places his true love in mortal danger…

 

Available from
Amazon US 
Amazon UK
Smashwords

 

Excerpt

So be it.  Cadnum gritted his teeth as he grasped the leading leg and pushed.  It was like fighting against a brick wall, the calf barely moving.  A lamb was difficult enough; how much more so a calf?  Just as he was wondering if one man was strong enough, a shower of pebbles rattled down the bank.  Concentrating on the calf, he barked to whomever approached, “Don’t just stand there.  Get down here!”

“I beg your pardon!” a woman’s voice answered.

With a flash of annoyance, he glanced upward.

A wide eyed young woman wearing a straw bonnet peered down.  “I say, is everything all right?”

“Does it look all right?” he muttered under his breath.  All he needed was some sensitive miss fainting on him.  “Go!  Fetch help from the house.”

He saw her hesitate, biting her top lip.  “But you need help now.”

A contraction clamped around his arm as the cow’s tail switched across his face, stinging his eyes like a cat-o-nine-tails.

In a flurry of muslin and lace, the miss slid down the bank, landing with a thud in the ditch.

“Ouch.”  She rubbed her ankle.

Cadnum glared back, dark eyes flashing.  “You should have gone to the house.”  Damn it all, she could make herself useful then.  “Hold the tail aside.”

Pulling a face, she limped over.  His gaze lingered; up close, she merited a second glance.  Of middle height with a tidy waist and curves where God intended them, she appeared quick-witted and bright-eyed.  Without further ado, she stripped off her gloves, throwing them onto a bramble bush.  Long, sensitive fingers grasped the muddy tail.

Practical, he thought, silently impressed.  “Why didn’t you go for help?”

“There isn’t time.”  Her bonnet slipped backwards, revealing a quirky face with a pointed chin, her lips finely drawn with an arched cupid’s bow.  The sort of face an artist could lose himself in; all shades of the sea were found in deep emerald eyes framed by a tangle of chestnut hair.

Cadnum tightened his grasp and pushed.  Sweat beading his brow.  The calf retreated an inch.

“What are you doing?”  Her voice was gentle and calm, if somewhat deep for a woman.

He guessed it would be husky in bed, whispering over a pillow after a night of passion.  Her eyes were on him, deep green eyes, lively and entrancing.  He suddenly remembered that he was undressed to the waist, her curious gaze on his skin as he imagined those lily-white hands gliding over his naked chest, her almond shaped nails digging into his skin.  He shook away the thought, trying to remember her question.

She watched with innocence and interest, blushing faintly in a charming way; and yet, he realized, she was no wilting flower.  He shook his head.  The woman had asked a question; damn it, he would answer.

“The calf is breech,” he grunted. “I need to push her back into the womb to turn her.”  He wanted to shock this stranger, to test how bold she truly was.

She stared back, biting her top lip, exaggerating her snub nose.  “Ah!”  Her gaze met his.

“Think of the calf as a carriage in a narrow driveway.  To turn it around, you push it back into the stable yard.”

“What can I do to help?”

“Nothing,” he growled.

Throwing him an angry look, she anchored the tail with a log and scrambled around to the beast’s head.  After a moment’s thought, she placed her pelisse under the cow’s head, stroking the broad nose and crooning words of comfort.

“She’s relaxing.”  Cadnum’s arm was numb from the contractions.  He fell forward as the first leg finally slid back into the womb.  “That helps.”  His hair had come free from the ribbon, falling thickly about his shoulders.  He glanced at the woman.  She was leaning forward, her bosom straining a tight bodice, a satisfying cleavage between her breasts.  He swallowed hard.  She was odd looking, he decided, not exactly beautiful but eye catching nonetheless.  Her face showed character and determination.  Her complexion was too healthy to be fashionable, all rosy cheeked and peppered with freckles.

The woman glared at him now, her skin glowing bright pink.  Had he been staring?  His heart raced as he returned to the calving.

Timing his efforts, he used all his strength to push the second leg back.  His shoulder felt as if it were being ripped from the socket.  With gritted teeth, he found a slippery hoof and clung to it, guiding it from the womb into the birth passage.  Grimacing with the effort, he found the other foreleg, dragging it forward to match its mate.  Pulling first one leg, then the other, he inched them forward.

The muscles of his back burned as he braced, digging his heels into the damp earth.  He pulled in time to the cow’s weakening contractions, but as her effort became more feeble, even that assistance was lost.  The beast lay stretched on her side, head extended, breathing erratically and growing weaker by the second.  It was going to be a close thing; all the effort would be for naught if he couldn’t pull the calf out soon.

After minutes of heaving, two small cream hooves presented themselves.  Cadnum sat back on his heels, sweat dripping into his eyes.  So intense had been his concentration that he’d completely forgotten the woman.  But there she was, slightly pale but watching him intently.

“I need your help…” It wasn’t so very difficult to say.  The woman nodded silently, her face so serious he almost laughed.  “The cow’s spent, she can’t push any more.  I need you to pull with me.”

Licking her lips she nodded weakly.

“Come here.  Grasp my waist.  Pull when I say.”

She stood and, with a whisper of skirts, was at his side.  As her arms wound hesitantly around his waist, he suppressed a shiver of excitement.  Her hands where peach soft and cool.  She smelled of lemongrass.

“Hold tight.”

The thin feminine arms around the hard plain of his belly made his body ache unexpectedly.

“Pull as hard as you can, when I say,” he barked more gruffly than he intended.  “Now.”

Digging his heels into the dirt, his muscles strained as he struggled to keep hold of the slippery hooves.  But his attention was not wholly on the calf as he became aware of the press of her breasts against his bare back, of her sweet warm breath against his neck.  If he wasn’t mistaken, he could feel her heart hammering against his ribs.

With a desperate heave, he pulled the calf and the woman pulled him.  The calf moved another few inches, the forelegs exposed to the wrist joint.

“Again,” he urged.

Another pull and half the forelegs were out.

“Stop.  I need to check if the calf’s head is coming nose forward.”

The woman released him.  Glancing over his shoulder, he noticed her pink tongue darted out of her mouth to moisten her dry lips.

Turning back to the cow, he knelt, feeling inside, satisfied that he could feel a muzzle lined neatly along the forelegs.

“Nearly there.”

The woman’s arms circled back around his waist, wiry with feminine strength.  This time they fitted snugly, her cheek against his back.  A ringlet had broken free of her chignon, brushing his skin.  His groin tightened—much to his annoyance.

“Ready?  Heave!”  Never had he been more glad of the distraction from a woman’s unnerving affect on his body.  He noticed her soft mossy eyes and sweetly tempting curves, yet her bravery and determination excited him most.  Innocent, yet bold.

The calf slithered free with a slippery suck, sliding to the ground in a flood of fluid and membranes.  Man and woman rolled backwards.  Cadnum landed on her skirts, pinning her down.  Her face was flushed, her pupils large.  He stared into her eyes, which were framed with thick dark lashes now modestly brushing her cheek.  He noticed her breathing heavily, a sheen of sweat on her neck, chest heaving.

Neither moved.

The temptation to lean forward and claim a kiss was dizzying.  It was like looking up at a high church tower against scudding clouds, making him giddy.

Scowling, he turned away.  When had he become such a cad that he’d consider taking advantage of an innocent stranger?  He deserved to be horse whipped.  It didn’t help that the throb in his groin reminded him of his weakness.

“The calf?” a small clear voice questioned.

It was a bull calf, steaming slightly in the cool morning air.  Hooking a finger in the calf’s mouth, he cleared away the mucus.

“The cord.  I need to tie off the cord.  Quick, find me something.”

With a whisper of satin, she held out the ribbon from her bonnet.

“Will this do?”

When she didn’t immediately release it, it occurred to him that she was waiting for him to say thank you.  He acquiesced.  With a humph she handed over the ribbon.

As he worked, she stood, regarding the newborn with wonder.  For some inexplicable reason he wanted to hold her tightly in his arms and smooth her hair, to kiss that perfect oval of a mouth.  Damn her for distracting him!

Cadnum rounded on her, squaring his bare chest.  She recoiled, threatened by his unabashed maleness.  She shrank back, making Cadnum angry at himself for frightening her.

“Well don’t just stand there, now go and fetch help!  Tell them to send men to the ditch between the five acre field and the hazel copse.”  Her presence had become intolerable, eating away at his self-control.  “Look sharp about it!”

She jumped and scrambled up the bank with a flash of neat ankle, but not before giving him on last angry glare.

A wave of heat washed over Ranulf, who silently gave thanks that her back was turned.  It was not his habit to ravish complete strangers, especially those so obviously gently born.  But for some reason that was exactly what he wanted to do to this mysterious chestnut haired stranger.  Only as she disappeared over the brow of the hill did it occur to him to inquire who this practical Miss was and what she was doing on his land.

Author Bio

Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. She is housekeeping staff to five cats, two teenage sons, one husband and a bearded dragon (not in order of importance)

Fall in Love with History (blog) http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com

Newsletter sign up (quarterly)   http://bit.ly/V7T6Jd

Twitter:  @Grace_Elliot

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/GraceElliot2?v=wall&sk=wall

 

Teresa Noelle Roberts Talks about Cougar’s Courage, Book 3 of the Duals and Donovans series

Thanks for hosting me, KD Grace. I’m here today to celebrate the release of Cougar’s Courage, which is book 3 in the Duals and Donovans: The Different series of erotic paranormal romance.

Cougar's CourageBefore I forget, there’s a contest going on. Comment here or at my website for a chance to win an e-book of Cougar’s Courage and an e-book (or print copy if you’re in the US) of Lions’ Pride, the first book in the series. Comment each place for multiple entries. You can even go back to other places I visited on my blog tour! I’ll be choosing a winner on November 20.

Like the other books in this series, Cougar’s Courage has some dark content. My villains are definitely vile, in a murdering, baby kidnapping, inciting-others-to-violence way, and they use kind of magic that enslaves others to their will. Cara has major psychological scars even before the on-screen ugliness begins. Her fiancé was recently murdered, her father drank himself to death, and as far as she knows, her mother was mentally ill and committed suicide. (Turns out the story was even more complicated, though the tragic ending was the same.)

With that kind of storyline and that kind of heroine, I needed the right hero. Shapeshifting cougar shaman Jack Long-Claw is brash, arrogant, and given to humor at seemingly inappropriate times. But he’s a perfect magical mentor for the confused Cara, and eventually the perfect lover, in part because he can help her find light—and light-heartedness—within  her darkness. And despite his occasional obnoxiousness, he’s a good guy. When they’re attacked by enemies during an early lesson, he wants to make sure she’s really okay.

Of course, maybe tucking her into bed himself was asking for trouble…

 

Jack’s face contorted and he turned aside, racked with coughing. Suddenly he jumped up, ran to the door, opened it on an icy blast of air and, as far as Cara could tell, threw up.

Concerned, she rose from the bed. As soon as she stood, a wave of dizziness struck. She sat down abruptly and called out, “You okay?”

“Hairball,” he said when he could talk again.

“Seriously?” It hadn’t taken too long to figure out Jack was a tease, and despite, or even because of, the dark mood, she wouldn’t put it past him to make up something absurd.

“Seriously. Shifted too soon after grooming. I felt dirty after that fight. Still do, in fact.”

“Me too,” she admitted. “I didn’t even touch those things, but I could use a bath.”

“Me too, even after grooming. Of course we might have to share. Heating up water’s a lot of work this time of year.” He leaned closer.

He’d dropped the blanket when he bolted for the door. Technically, he was dressed—at least, all the most interesting bits were covered—but the shredded jeans and exploded shirt exposed a lot of velvety bronze skin and sculpted muscle.

Cara tried to look away.

He gently but firmly pushed her face back toward him. “If you want to stare, stare. Lesson number two: denying harmless impulses makes good chaos turn bad.”

“The trick is figuring out which impulses are harmless.”

His hand was burning her face. She’d have a print of Jack’s hand on her jaw before long, from the heat of his touch.

She moved his hand away with her own, the one where she still wore her engagement ring. She tried to focus on the ring. Phil had been dead less than six months. Her body might be ready to jump into something, but it was too soon. Wasn’t it?

The contact surged through her like a jolt of electricity—a cliché, but it seemed appropriate. Every cell in Cara’s body went on alert. She heard distant music. Not angels singing, more like the bom-chicka-bom-bom soundtrack of a vintage porn movie, but it fit the erotic promise in that simple touch that, she suspected, hadn’t been intended to convey more than generic, instinctive flirting.

Moisture gushed between her legs. Her nipples perked painfully.

Her willpower and morals were out drinking whisky until their panties melted, and the pale memory of a dead man looked at the big, handsome, vividly alive man in her company and decided to join willpower and morals at the bar.

 

Series blurb: Welcome to an America where the non-human Different and magically gifted humans live among ordinary people. Witches are both feared and honored, but shape-shifting Duals are treated as second-class citizens. The Agency, a government agency that’s supposed to monitor illegal uses of magic and Different abilities, has developed its own dangerous agenda. But when Duals and witches join forces, the Agency and other bad guys aren’t going to know what hit them.

And neither are the witches and Duals. Witch magic grows from the positive energy of love and sex–and the only thing better than one Dual is two of them! And then there are shamans, who work their chaotic magic to comfort the afflicted and shake up the comfortable. Once shamans get involved, everything gets weirder…and sexier.

 

Blurb: Toronto cop Cara Many-Winters Mackenzie is still reeling from her fiancé’s murder when her orderly life takes a turn toward the weird, complete with voices in her head and phantom bleeding wounds.

This violent awakening is the rise of her Different gift—a chaotic, Bugs-Bunny-on-crack magic that she must learn to control before it destroys her. There’s only one place to get help: her mother’s ancestral village, and a mentor who seems to have stepped straight out of the smoke of her erotic dreams.

Cougar Dual Jack Long-Claw reluctantly agrees to take Cara under his wing, though he’d much rather take the beautiful city girl into his bed. As he guides her through a crash course in shamanic magic, sparks fly—some sexy, some snarky. But when an ancient enemy attacks the village, they must work together to hone a magical weapon against certain destruction.

Common sense tells them it’s a terrible time to fall in love. Their spirit guides have other ideas. And shamans who don’t listen to their spirit guides are dead shamans…

Warning: Hot shape-shifting feline hero. Strong but shell-shocked heroine. Snarky, meddling spirit guides. And lots and lots of sex: angry sex, crazy sex, magical sex, and just plain sexy sex.

Amazon US/ Amazon UK/ Kobo / Barnes & Noble Nook /Samhain

 

Run for Your Love by Annabeth Leong

Run For Your LoveBlurb:

Shotguns seem to be everyone’s favorite accessory for the zombie apocalypse, but Zach Paul believes he can survive without hurting anyone—not even the zombies. An elite-level runner, he plans to speed away from every danger. Then Zach meets a woman he can’t bring himself to leave behind, and staying beside her tests all his principles.

Viola Ortiz fought free of her controlling boyfriend just before the zombies came, but now she believes her macho ex is the only one who can protect her. She sets out to reunite with him, only to encounter Zach instead. The tall, lean runner is everything her ex is not, and Viola is shocked to find he turns her on as no man has before. Viola’s ex, however, isn’t willing to let go of her, and soon it’s clear that other survivors are as dangerous as the zombies.

Zach and Viola can run, but they must find safety before they lose their humanity in the struggle to protect their lives and growing love.

 

Excerpt:

It may not have been too crazy for me to think I could keep clear of the zombies in the Quarantined Area. On the news everyone kept saying these are “slow zombies.” They’re dangerous, diseased, and mostly impervious to pain, but not the sort of terrifyingly speedy hunters that have been popular in movies lately. My plan to run in there was risky, but I like to think not completely doomed. I planned around my talents instead of just deciding I’d somehow figure out how to execute a standing long jump of multiple feet once I found myself staring down at concrete two stories below a rooftop. I trusted the only thing I’ve been able to rely on my whole life—my legs.

What I didn’t take into account were bullets—as in projectiles whizzing past my ears as I booked it down the sidewalk. Why the hell does everyone think the zombie apocalypse gives them a license to act like Rambo? I’m not just talking about what happened once zombies actually appeared in the middle of our city, eating brains, shambling, and whatever else they do. I’m talking about all the years of excitement about zombies—Facebook quizzes predicting whether your relationship would survive an outbreak, the sudden popularity of YouTube videos about parkour, and a pervasive cultural obsession with shotguns. I think people watched zombie movies and decided it would be great for the rule of law to break down to the point that they’d be allowed to solve problems by shooting first and asking questions later.

It’s not the most macho position to take, especially not in the neighborhood where I grew up, but I guess it’s clear by now that I’m a pacifist. Some other guy might respond to the looters by taking cover behind an abandoned building and pulling out his own gun to trade shots. That’s not my style.

Instead, I shouted, “What the hell?” and tried to run faster.

Two days into societal breakdown, street cleanliness had already suffered. Trash bags, newspapers, and other detritus littered the road, and I swear the pavement had more cracks than usual. It took all my concentration not to slip or break my ankle.

I don’t have experience dodging bullets, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be harder to hit if I tried to zig-zag or not. Since I didn’t know, I ducked my head, picked up the pace, and hoped for the best.

The guy with the gun shouted, “Drop the backpack!” Apparently, he thought bullets made good punctuation.

“There’s nothing in it!” I screamed back. Which wasn’t strictly true. I didn’t have any money or valuables, which I assumed was what they were looking for. On the other hand, the backpack had everything I thought I needed to survive in the Quarantined Area, so I didn’t want to give it up.

“Like hell it’s empty!” The guy chasing me squeezed off a few more shots.

The fact that he hadn’t managed to hit me yet confirmed one of the points I’d like to make about guns, which is related to a couple of the things I’ve already ranted about. A lot of people think you can just pick up a gun and go to town. That tells me that most people have never actually held a gun, much less fired one.

I’ve been to the shooting range a number of times with my older brother Dominic, and once, before a birthday party he celebrated one year in Vegas, that included firing machine guns. Before I’m accused of hypocrisy, I’ll add that Dominic spent a long time trying to get into the police academy, and I provided moral support while he studied and trained. Anyway, after several good tries, I learned that if you can hold a gun without your hand trembling uncontrollably, you’re doing well. And it takes training before most people can manage to hit, say, the broad side of a barn.

The looter chasing me might think he was tough, but he’d obviously never gotten the chance to practice with a gun. I promised myself I’d say a prayer of thanks as soon as I got out of range of him and his burly friends. I almost looked forward to the zombies at that point—at least I’d understand their motives.

Someone cried out behind me, and I risked a glance over my shoulder. One guy lay on the pavement clutching his ankle, probably a victim of one of the cracks I’d noticed earlier. Two of the others seized the excuse to quit running, squatting beside him clutching their sides, gasping, panting, and coughing. I allowed myself a satisfied smile. The guy with the gun hadn’t tired yet, but he would, as long as he didn’t manage a lucky shot before I finished putting him through his paces.

I lengthened my strides. It felt good to take my body to its limit, to dig as deeply as I could into the inner reserves I’d built up over the years… Right up until I realized I’d forgotten to keep an eye on the littered road.

My foot tangled in a plastic bag, and I went down hard. It was like something out of kindergarten—bloody knees, bloody palms, and pain that brought stinging tears to my eyes. A bullet hit the asphalt a mere foot away from me.

“Let up, man!” I made my voice as threatening as possible, despite my vulnerable position. “I got nothing!”

“Give me the backpack!”

Adrenaline forced me to my feet. I took a deep breath, preparing to push myself back into a run despite the stiffness already settling into my knees.

That wasn’t to be, because my fall had allowed the big guy catch up with me. He may not have known how to use his gun, but he sure as hell knew how to use his hands. He demonstrated on my trachea as soon as he got hold of me.

I hate to say it, but I froze. I thought about trying to stomp on his foot or something, but I didn’t really expect that to work, and I didn’t want to die a traitor to my own pacifist ideals. I helplessly pondered what to do as he squeezed my neck tighter, and I started to feel chilled and light-headed.

That was the first time I saw her, and considering how little oxygen was reaching my brain at that moment, you can probably understand why I thought she was some sort of apparition. She was beautiful. Sexy? Yes. She had the sort of curves that make a man want to spend long afternoons in bed just tracing the shape of them. Lips to match and ringlets of black hair that I immediately wanted to feel across my bare chest. But she was also beautiful in a holy way—some kind of light in the eyes or glow to the skin that reminded me of pictures of La Virgen. She was dressed all in blue too, which contributed to my impression that she wasn’t entirely of this world—my mother taught me that blue is Mary’s color.

Her small, compact body hurtled into me and my captor with force far beyond what I would have expected from her weight. She screamed that he ought to let me go, and his grip loosened, I think because he was so stunned. Neither of us knew where she had come from or what she had to do with me.

Unfortunately, the deranged looter’s first instinct after letting go of me was to go after her, specifically by hooking a finger through one of the big gold hoop earrings she wore. I stretched my own rules a little and jabbed him in the ribs with my elbow, hoping to distract him enough that my rescuer and I could both escape.

She didn’t have the kind of qualms I did. Out of one pocket, she produced a can of pepper spray and proceeded to administer a healthy dose straight into his eyes. I covered my face in time, but he gave a high-pitched scream and clapped his palms to his cheekbones. The gun hit my foot then the pavement. The woman screamed too, and I wondered if he still had her by the earring.

I dropped to the ground and crawled a few feet away, moving through the pain in my knees and palms. A glance at the woman showed she’d gotten herself free of her opponent’s grip and had grabbed the upper hand by far. She administered a series of precise and painful-looking strikes to his abdomen.

Any second, more of the looters would join this fight. I didn’t feel good about running away when she’d gotten involved in the first place because of me.

Pushing myself to my feet, I went over and grabbed her elbow, wincing when my scrapes contacted her skin. “We have to get out of here,” I told her. “Try to keep up.”

She rolled her eyes but didn’t answer me. I took off running, feeling so much adrenaline by then that the pain in my knees didn’t really bother me.

She wasn’t next to me.

I whirled without stopping, in time to see her scoop the looter’s gun off the sidewalk and toss it into a glittery backpack she carried, slung too low to be entirely practical.

I took my own turn rolling my eyes. Just what I needed. Another Rambo wannabe. “Come on!” I shouted.

I have to admit that despite annoying me by going for the gun, she’d impressed me so far. The next thing she did really caught my attention. She grinned at me, as wicked and gleeful as if we’d gone out racing to settle a bet. Then she covered the distance I’d put between us so fast it took me a moment to realize I was being outpaced.

She shot past me and tossed another smile over her shoulder. “You better hurry,” she said, with a Puerto Rican accent and not a trace of effort. “Ahora, chacho. Those guys look mad.”

 

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Bio:

Annabeth Leong has written romance and erotica of many flavors — dark, kinky, vanilla, straight, lesbian, bi, and menage. Her titles for Breathless Press include the contemporary werewolf erotic romances Not His Territory and Not the Leader of the Pack, and Run for Your Love, a romance set in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, blogs at annabethleong.blogspot.com, and tweets @AnnabethLeong

 

Buy One, Get One Free Offer:

Did you miss Annabeth’s previous titles with Breathless Press? Not to worry. E-mail proof of purchase of Run for Your Love, such as an Amazon receipt, to annabeth dot leong at gmail dot com and let her know your e-book format of choice. Annabeth will buy a copy of her werewolf novella, Not His Territory, for anyone who sends this information before November 12, 2013.

 
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The Romance Reviews

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