Monthly Archives: December 2014

Release of ‘In the Shadow of Vengeance’

Today I’m pleased to feature the release of Nancy Weeks’ In the Shadow of Vengeance, a romantic suspense by a fellow Maryland Romance Writers author!

In the Shadow of Vengeance 9781440580352

Detective Noah McNeil has his cases under control, but the same can’t be said for his personal life in Fells Point, Maryland. Elizabeth Merlot, the mother of a troubled teen Noah is mentoring, is freezing him out of the family’s lives – especially criminal given how hot this single mom is.

Elizabeth Merlot can’t afford to let the handsome detective close to her son lest he discover she’s in the witness protection program. Until the day, that is, when the teen tries to fend off a gang attack and her entire world of secrets begins to crumble – and Noah may be the only one who can save their lives. Don’t miss this exciting conclusion to the McNeil family saga!


And here’s my interview with author Nancy C. Weeks about this determined hero and reluctant heroine in her exciting new release. Welcome, Nancy!

Nancy: Hi Laurel. Thank you so much for inviting me on your blog today. I’m thrilled to be here to tell your readers about my new release, In the Shadow of Vengeance.

Laurel: Great to have you here. So, In the Shadow of Vengeance is the last book in the series. That story must have been bittersweet to write.

Nancy: I have spent the last four years working on my ‘In the Shadow’ series. With each book, I fell deeper in love with my five McNeil brothers and the women who turned their world upside down. It was a tearful moment when I typed THE END to In the Shadow of Vengeance. Of course, now that it’s out so the world can read, I can’t remove the silly grin from my face. I loved writing Noah McNeil and Elizabeth Merlot’s story. And since this was the last book in the series, I brought back the amazing characters from the first four books. Today, I invited Jennie McKenzie McNeil along with me so we can hear her impression of her brother-in-law, Noah.

Laurel: Wow, it’s a pleasure to have you with us, Jennie. You’re now happily married to Noah’s twin brother, Jared. If I remember correctly, you and Noah didn’t always get along?

Jennie: Thanks, Laurel. And no, my brother-in-law didn’t like me very much in the beginning. Who could blame the guy? Noah is very protective of his family and I was a serious threat to Jared. Thankfully, that’s all in the past. He’s now one of my best friends and a great brother.

Laurel: Tell me about your relationship with Elizabeth Merlot. You knew her before Elizabeth and Noah ever met, right?

Jennie: I had both her children, Erin and Danny in my class and we formed a friendship—before the unthinkable happened. The man obsessed with me used Danny as leverage against me. I’ll never forgive myself for placing Danny in the path of Elías Mendoza. And Noah… he was almost killed. After Danny was returned home, he and Noah seemed to bond for a few months.

Laurel: Did Noah and Elizabeth start a relationship because of his connection to Danny?

Jennie: Sadly no! My BIL can be a real idiot sometimes.

Laurel: Well, if he wasn’t interested…

Jennie: Oh, he was interested. Noah use to date a different woman every week. After meeting Elizabeth, the spinning door of one-night-stands stopped completely. No, he cared about Elizabeth Merlot, but he was just too pigheaded for his own good.

Laurel: Pigheaded? LOL. How so?

Jennie: Noah has this thing about secrets and he hates lies. He can be the most stubborn, opinionated—he sees everything in black and white. Elizabeth is reserved and doesn’t share much about her past for good reason. If he would have given her a chance to get to know him, then maybe she would have opened up to him sooner. Noah is definitely attracted to Elizabeth but he doesn’t trust her.

Laurel: Then what does Elizabeth think about Noah?

Nancy: I can answer this one with the excerpt I’ve sent along. Elizabeth doesn’t want Noah in Danny’s life and she has good reason to keep Noah at arm’s length. But sorry, can’t say more about that without spilling the plot.

Jennie: Noah and Elizabeth’s journey toward each other ends up changing how they view the world and their beliefs. I felt so helpless watching it unfold from the sidelines. They really went through some difficult situations. But I’m saying too much…

Laurel: No, you’ve left us hanging. J There is going to be a happy ending, right?

Nancy: It’s a romantic suspense so…of course! I write novels filled with a balance of gripping excitement, intrigue and heartwarming romances that will take your emotions on an incredible roller coaster ride. Sometimes you may even find a hint of the paranormal, but you can always count on a happy-ever-after.

Laurel: Since In the Shadow of Vengeance is the last book in your series, should my readers read the 5 books in order?

Nancy: Each book in the series is a stand-alone novel and they don’t have to be read in order. With that said, I think readers will get a much richer understanding of Vengeance if they read In the Shadow of Evil first. That book is where the series began. And wonderful news!! In the Shadow of Evil has been placed on sale for only 99 cents from 12/22 to 12/29!! OH… and watch my WEBSITE for a free read of the beginning chapters of In the Shadow of Vengeance.

Laurel: And here’s the cover you should be looking for:

In the Shadow of Evil Cover 9781440571275

Laurel: Thank you, Nancy and Jennie. We also have that excerpt below…and it appears the nasty villains weren’t the only obstacle Nancy’s hero and heroine faced!

Buy In the Shadow of Vengeance here



Nancy C Weeks profile picture

Nancy C. Weeks lives in suburban Maryland with her husband of more than thirty years. With her two grown children out of the nest, she loves spending her days on her deck writing as the local bird population keeps her company.

Find Nancy at:



Excerpt of In the Shadow of Vengeance

Elizabeth’s emotions of gratitude flip-flopped. She could almost feel the blood boiling in her veins. “No, I expect you to let the cops do their job.”

“I’m a cop, Elizabeth. Danny means something to me. I’m not going to sit on my fucking hands and wait until the BPD finds the manpower to look for this bastard.”

The fury she had been holding in all evening erupted. She dashed from behind the chair and rammed a finger into his chest. “I don’t know who you thought you were speaking to just now, Noah McNeil, but I don’t allow that language in this house.”

“Cops cuss.”

“Not in my face, they don’t. And definitely not that word.”

He slammed his hands to his hips. “What word?”

“You know what I’m talking about. It’s offensive and distasteful. Find another way to express yourself in my home or get out.”

A hint of laughter appeared in his eyes. The jerk was laughing at her. She never considered herself a violent person, but it took every ounce of control to keep from slapping that grin right off his stupid face.

The damn man was thick as a brick. If those men beat up a harmless kid like Danny, what would they do to a smartass cop?

“You think your badge makes you invincible? This guy is in a gang, you hardheaded buffoon. He has mean friends, and his friends have meaner friends.”

This time he let out a loud laugh. “Oh, that’s adorable.”

Before she could react, he curled his hand around the nape of her neck and lowered his head, his lips barely touching hers. The laughter was gone, and for some reason, she didn’t yank out of his hold but stood completely still. Her mind screamed to back off, but her curiosity got the best of her. His lips brushed over hers, sending an electric jolt to her toes. The hand at her waist tugged her against him while his lips went back for another taste and then a third. “Damn sweet. You’re worried about me.”

Elizabeth lost all common sense. She yanked him closer and they molded into each other. For such a big man, his lips were surprisingly soft and so gentle. The taste of mint combined with his spicy herbal scent overpowered her senses. A primal need she had forgotten existed took over, and she kissed him back as she clung to him, his shirt fisted in both hands. Her body came alive. He shifted then broke their connection. Reality returned and common sense slammed back into her, taking her breath away.

What was she doing kissing Noah McNeil? She wanted to kick herself all the way back to Nebraska.

“I’m so touched you care, Elizabeth.”

“You kissed me,” she choked out and shoved at his chest. “Why?”

“You kissed me back. It was real sweet, but way too short.” He shifted his weight and bit back a grin. “Is that not allowed in this house either? I think I’m going to need a list.”

“You don’t just go around kissing people, detective.”


Like space? And romance? How about a little of each?

A friend and fellow science fiction romance writer, Laurie A. Green released the cover of her debut novelette yesterday in an exclusive post on the Science Fiction Romance Brigade. There, she explains more about what exactly a novelette is, and her upcoming SFR series, but I wanted to give her a shout-out here for this spectacular cover.


Yes, indeed, that’s a beautiful space cover!

Here’s the short description of Farewell Andromeda:

Fresh off a painful jilting, the last thing deep space pilot Tiharra Bell needs is another romantic entanglement. Certainly not with the galaxy’s most famous astronomer—who also happens to be single, inconveniently handsome, and a resident of the remote Andromeda Station. But Tiharra soon discovers two terrible truths about Dr. Dante “Donner” Dane—1) he’s not the man he appears to be and 2) he doesn’t have long to live. Before her fourteen-day layover is complete, she’ll put her life and career on the line to protect his heartbreaking secret.

Farewell Andromeda is scheduled for a mid-January 2015 release. If you’d like to receive news on the release or Laurie’s upcoming Science Fiction Romance series, please visit her website at Author Laurie A. Green to read more and sign up for her newsletter.


Laurie A. Green is a three-time RWA® Golden Heart® finalist and Science Fiction Romance enthusiast who founded the SFR Brigade community of writers, which now totals over 500 members. Her extended family includes her husband, David, four dogs, three cats and several horses, all who reside on a ranch in beautiful New Mexico. When she’s not writing, networking, or searching out the perfect cup of Starbucks, she’s usually busy exercising her left brain as a military budget director.

You can connect with Laurie via her website, Facebook Author Page or @SFRLaurie via Twitter.

Congratulations, Laurie!

SFR Brigade Badge

Long time, no see a snippet…

I’ve been deep in edits for my first book, The Unraveling. And amid various concerns, one that pops out is my heroine, the city artist Annmar, doesn’t meet the rural-dwelling hero until chapter eight! Ach! Here is their meeting:

They ascended and the platform kept pace, its crates filled with squash and tomatoes. The chain clinking made conversation impossible. By the time they reached the top, the idling windlass hissed quietly. The gray-haired man held the platform steady while men and a few girls grabbed the crates and swung them into the space beyond. One of the young men sported a strange haircut. His dark brown hair was short over his ears but the back trailed down his tan shirt. He turned and met her gaze.

Annmar caught her breath. His brown eyes were like none she’d seen, wide and slanted, the rich chocolate color making a strong focus in his paler brown sugar skin. Face on, his shorn hair made his rounded ears prominent, nearly animal-like and cute.

Oh, to capture this strange, no, exotic look… Her finger slid along the side of the sketchbook and found the pencil splitting its pages.

He grinned, the smile open, friendly and playful all at once.

Before realizing she’d done it, Annmar smiled back. He was gorgeous. And her age. Much more suitable than Mr. Shearing would ever—oh, my! Her chest and neck heated.

Something hit her foot and clattered away with a familiar sound; she ducked toward the windlass to pick up her pencil. Straightening, her gaze caught the gold-edged, green lettering emblazoned across the machine’s water tank: Shearing Enterprises.

The flutter of excitement died. So there would be reminders, even here.

Mistress Gere gripped her elbow and guided her inside. “I’ll introduce the staff at dinner,” she said. “After you’ve seen your room and had a chance to freshen up.”

The workers ferried the crates past overstuffed chairs circling a woodburning stove and piled them on one side of an open room. Swings, ladders and ropes led upwards to more ladders set in mazes with crisscrossed beams in the second-story rafters. The height had Annmar swaying. Who would risk their necks up there?

Mistress Gere murmured, “A gathering place in poor weather.”

Behind her, someone called “All clear!” and a hiss erupted.

“Come into the production kitchens,” Mistress Gere shouted above the chain’s clinking, and led the way through swinging doors that swished closed, blocking the noise. An herbal-scented moisture hung in the empty kitchen, one far larger than any Annmar knew.

The door opened again and in walked the fascinating young man, wiping his palms down heavy brown trousers held by worn leather braces.

He was big. Much bigger than she’d realized from across the platform, the firm muscle of a broad, well-defined body. His rolled sleeves revealed fine, dark hair covered the lovely brown arms he loosely swung. He planted his feet before them.

“This is the artist from the city?” His deep voice nearly purred.

“Yes.” Mistress Gere crossed her arms, but couldn’t keep a smile from curling her lips. “I should have known you’d be in here as fast as you could manage, my boy. Annmar, may I introduce Daeryn Darkcoat, perhaps the most gregarious individual among our farm family. Daeryn, Annmar Masterson, who as you noted, is a city girl and not at all used to our casual country ways. You will keep to the borders of her territory until she gives you permission to enter.” The tall woman fixed him with an eye-to-eye look.

Annmar blinked at the bizarre introduction, so forthright. But Daeryn, which Mistress Gere pronounced day-rin, seemed to take it in stride. He nodded, a single dip of his chin. “Yes’m.”

He didn’t pause between that acknowledgement and extending his hand. His gaze searched hers curiously and he smiled, not the grin of before, but almost shyly.

Her stomach flipped. Sweet wasn’t how anyone would normally describe a young male who had so clearly crossed into manhood, but that was her exact thought. She wiped her clammy palm discretely in her skirt folds before shaking his.

“Pleased to meet you,” he said. “Are you finding the Basin to your liking?” His rough-skinned hand clasped hers in neither a strong nor a weak manner, but one that conveyed gentleness for its size.

His warmth felt nice and her head muddled a bit. “I, uh, I’m happy to have arrived, to be here. Yes. It’s all been…fine,” her mouth murmured.

Then too quickly, he released her. Somehow Mistress Gere took over the conversation, discussing an animal problem in the fields and listing several possibilities she wanted Daeryn to look into. His brows came together over narrowed eyes, changing his face into a calculating contemplation that had Annmar glad she wasn’t the source of the problem.

So, is he worth the wait?

Shoalman Immortal Cover Release & Giveaway!

Title: Shoalman Immortal

Author: Toni Decker

Series: The Shoalman Chronicles #2

Falling in love was never supposed to be part of the picture.

Kyrissa Spears was born with a powerful, and deadly, gift. When she paints, she captures emotions so strong they can kill. Desperate to find a teacher capable of helping her unlock and control her abilities, Kyrissa’s search leads her to an artist who may be able to help her. And he’s the one person she can’t accidentally kill.

After five centuries of pain and loneliness, Robert Shoalman craves release from his immortality. He’s all but given up hope until he meets the beautiful and intriguing Kyrissa. She could paint his death and break the curse, but at the cost of destroying her gift and being lost to him forever—none of which will matter if the demon hunting him finds them first.

Book #1
FREE December 8th – 12th!
          “You keep telling me to trust my feelings.” Kyrissa ran her finger along his
lower lip. “Trust yours.”
          His mouth sought hers, the taste of her lips more exquisite than the finest wine.
He drank her in, wanting more of her intoxicating apples and mint flavor, as
well as the one that was just her. The one found only in her kiss. Burying his
face in her hair, he pulled her closer, lips trailing down her neck and across
her collarbone.
          Pulling the fitted shirt from his jeans, her hands slid up his back and sides. Each
touch on his skin left him burning. Reclaiming Kyrissa’s mouth with his, Robert
fumbled with the buttons on the front of his shirt, feeling her smile when she
tried to help him, both of them making it worse.
          “Damn it to hell,” Robert broke the kiss, pushing up to his knees to rip the
shirt open. The patter of buttons danced across the floor like rain.
          “Robert!” Kyrissa laughed at his impulsive action.
          “What good is money if I cannot afford to ruin a shirt?” He grinned. “Especially
if it is for the right reasons.” He’d ruin shirts every day if she would
look at him the way she was now.
          Kneeling in front of him, Kyrissa used her hands to push the shirt off his shoulders
while her mouth trailed kisses along his chest. “You could have just
pulled it over your head,” she teased, fingers working to pull open the
          “I thought women expected displays like that,” Robert fumbled, distracted by
her hands and mouth. In his day, affairs were slower, more reserved. He enjoyed
these times better. The women were bolder. More passionate.
          “I could get that male bravado bullshit from any pickup in a bar.” Her eyes
devoured him. “I want you.”
About the Author
Who is Toni Decker?
Two authors telling one sizzling story after another about
twenty-somethings getting along in their own crazy, fantastical worlds. Both
women are wives and mothers, sharing brain cells and characters as if they only
exist with the other.
Toni, one half
of the Toni Decker brain, is an avid reader of all things Young and New Adult
while Kira, the Decker half of Toni Decker brain, devours fantasy for midnight

Together, their stories are one part New Adult, 
one part fantasy and 
three parts of holy hotness.
We leave it up to the readers to decide who writes which
You can follow our journey on:
Goodreads: Toni Decker

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal for Song of Blood & Stone

I’m thrilled to be a part of the gorgeous cover reveal for my Maryland Romance Writers chapter mate Leslye Penelope’s debut fantasy Song of Blood & Stone!

Song of Blood and Stone

Between love and duty lies destiny

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where she is feared for both the shade of her skin and her magical abilities. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive – an injured spy who steals her heart.

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines nearly cost him his life but he is saved by the healing power of a mysterious young woman. Together they embark on a perilous journey straight into the heart of a centuries-old conflict.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.


Song of Blood & Stone releases January 13, 2015, but you can pre-order at Amazon and add to your GoodReads shelf now!


Guest Post by Leslye: Respecting the Muse

People frequently ask authors where their ideas come from. The muse, that creative force responsible for inspiring artists, is often said to be fickle. Mine can sometimes be an outright jerk. Like a toddler who can’t decide which toy to play with, my muse throws fits and tantrums, and just might have ADD.

When she’s on her good behavior, she tends to show up in the most unexpected ways. I got the idea for one manuscript from my husband who challenged me to write a “black, female, Napoleon Dynamite.” The result bore no resemblance to that film or character, but it was a great starting point.

Another story features a character whose psychic ability manifests via smell. The idea for this one came from my own life. I sometimes smell things that don’t belong, but are recognizable. Like the scent of my late grandmother’s closets, or my late father’s cologne, or ­­––even stranger–– mothballs. The scents are fleeting, but I wonder if they could be messages of some kind. In that story, my character can tell that something bad is going to happen to the person she smells, but she doesn’t know what or when.

The idea for Song of Blood & Stone was born late one night as I was binge-watching movies on Netflix. I was in my Jamie Bell period, watching and re-watching anything I could with him in it. My stroke of inspiration came during the movie The Eagle when his character, Esca, first appears on screen. He’s a slave in ancient Rome, entering a fight against a much larger and well-armed gladiator. Esca doesn’t look scared even though he’s outmatched. He looks pissed. This is the exact expression that Jack wears the second time he and Jasminda meet in Song of Blood & Stone. About six seconds of film was enough to set my imagination on fire. The next day I started writing.

So, what inspires you? How does your muse behave? My muse definitely has a mind of her own. And even when she’s erratic, I’m always grateful for the sparks of inspiration no matter how they come.


About the Author:

Leslye Penelope

Leslye Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She’s a romance junkie who self-medicates with happily-ever-afters and steaming mugs of green tea. She lives in Maryland with her husband, an eighty-pound lap dog, and an attack cat.

Visit Leslye online at
Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | GoodReads

To celebrate the cover reveal, Leslye is offering a $40 gift card giveaway until Deceber 10th!



Jasminda led the way, the light from her lantern reflecting off the snow, now knee-deep but swallowed up by the surrounding darkness. Jack leaned heavily on the walking stick as each step became more difficult than the last. Pausing to catch his breath, a coughing fit struck him, leaving red splatters on the pristine white.

When he straightened, he found her staring at the blood on the ground. Almost immediately, the warm hum of Earthsong rippled through him.

“Save it,” he advised. “I’m all right.”

She scowled. “You are not all right. You are worse than when you arrived. Stop being such a fool.” The buzz of Earthsong continued for a few moments before she turned and stomped away.

For hours they battled the storm, their progress arduous. Strong gusts of wind blew against them, sometimes knocking them on their backs and forcing them to stop until the gale calmed some. Icy blasts whipped through Jack’s coat, freezing his fingers until he could no longer grip the walking stick and had to leave it behind.

“Let’s stop here for a moment,” Jasminda shouted, pointing to a notch in the rock wall just big enough for two people. Underneath the rocky overhang, the snow stood only ankle high, and the sidewalls protected them from the worst of the wind. They crouched down together, shaking from the cold. She took his hands in hers and rubbed, bringing some feeling back into them. In the flickering lantern light, worry etched a frown on her face.

Jack rallied, drawing whatever inner strength he could into his depleted limbs. A small hum of Earthsong tickled at his wounds, but he could sense her weakening. He cracked his knuckles and tried to fashion his frozen face into a grin.

“Now’s not the time to grow lazy.” He wasn’t sure she could understand him over the chattering of his teeth, but she nodded and they stood. At a groaning rumble overhead, they looked up. Something large shifted and slid. He moved forward to see what was happening, but she grabbed him by his coat and pulled him back. Her eyes were huge circles of fear as everything around them started to shake.

With a violent boom, an avalanche of snow slid down the mountain obliterating the path that they were on. The motion pushed them back against the wall as sheets of snow and ice crumbled away and slid off the mountain in front of them. Beneath their feet, the ground convulsed, knocking them off-balance. Jack fell forward into the rioting rush of snow.

Where he’d expected his hands to hit the ground, they hit nothing. He reached out frantically, grasping for purchase as his weightless body plummeted into the darkness blanketed by the cold wet pressure all around him.

Am I the only one who loved The Clockwork Princess Epilogue?

Yes, I loved the epilogue. LOVED IT! I wrote my thoughts on my GoodReads review a week ago(or so…NaNo, you know?) and THEN read others’ reviews. No one I ran across shared my view. My feelings—yes, this epilogue left me with the feels in a strong way—were not there to be shared and I had to wonder why.

Epilogue page The Clockwork Princess

Caveats here: I have only read the trilogy once. I read it spread out, because I have other IRL things going on (including writing a super—hopefully—Victorian-set trilogy of my own). And, perhaps the most applicable, I am old(er) than the average teen Infernal Devices fan. Yep, adults reading YA fantasy. I fit that description.

And maybe that’s why I liked the epilogue. I’m married. I have kids. No grandkids, but I’m old enough that losing someone special, as Tessa lost Will, has happened to my peers.

From the start of The Infernal Devices series, we learned Tessa is immortal. The Shadowhunters are not. Tessa loved both Will and Jem. She intended to…this is full of SPOILERS, if you haven’t figured that out yet!—marry Jem, but he died. Or so they thought. Any-who, Jem went somewhere else, became someone else. Not available. Tessa and Will acted on their love for each other, and they got together…got married…loved each other…had kids…loved each other…had adventures…had grandkids…loved each other…grew old together—


Back up. Only Will grew old. Tessa is immortal. And what does that mean? (I get this. If you are young(er) do you get this?) She is going to miss him when he dies. This is what Tessa takes on when she allows herself to fall in love.

Cassandra Clare got this. She portrayed it beautifully, IMHO.

Tessa cries her heart out—as did many readers, me included—when Will dies. She leaves her home and family so she doesn’t have to watch her children and grandchildren grow old and die. I get this in a huge way. This would be horrible. Stand by, Tess, there is nothing you can do to help those you love… Er, no, Tessa was smart. She sought out her other immortal friend, and Magnus tells her: “The first one is always the hardest.”

Tessa lived. She traveled. She experienced. She grew.

Then, when Jem appears on Blackfriars Bridge as JEM—out of the blue returned to the boy she loved, not the emotionless being he had to become to go on—Tessa realizes she is now ready to love again.

Excerpt The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

THAT is what is so SPECIAL about this epilogue! (I’m crying all over again reading and writing this.)

Jem has not been out in the world, sequestered as he was in the Silent Brother life. He has been suspended, in effect. And Tessa is still Tessa. Immortal.

But she has grown. She can go after what she wants—Jem—when Jem is uncertain what to go, still playing by the 1800s rules, and also having witnessed the great love Will and Tessa shared. Tessa still loves Jem.

“Come with me,” she said. “Stay with me. Be with me.”

That Tessa gets another chance to love, and that it is Jem, who has loved her as she loved him, is so incredibly special. I love seeing my favorite people(characters) love and be loved. For me, this was a delicately done and perfectly sensible next step in Tessa’s story. For me, it’s as if her life is beginning anew.

Stars to you, Cassandra Clare, romance writer extraordinaire!

And please, if you have a similar feels you shared in a review, or even a different review, of The Clockwork Princess, please share! Ping me on my GR page so I can read it!

The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

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