Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

A History Mystery: Day Four / Part Two

The Personal Journals of Morgan Victoria Beauchamp

Monday, October 27

Dearest Mama,

Could a woman have a more perfect birthday? Already the night wanes and the dawn fills my bedroom with soft pink light, but I cannot lay my head down for one minute without recording the most perfect day, and night, of my life.

As I mentioned before, I let Mattias take my classes for the day. No great hardship for him as there are one or two coeds he likes to show off for. However, judging by his dismay, I ruined plans for a surprise party at work. After the dressing down from my moldy colleague yesterday, I refused to face a group of reluctant well-wishers. I’m sure I saved us all a moment or two of awkwardness. Instead, I slept until noon then rushed off the Riverside Spa. They were more than happy to wax, polish, and massage my body then finish it all off with blood red polish on my toes and fingers. I don’t normally go for the dark colors, but somehow it felt right. Red seems like a color Jean Baptiste might like on a woman.

Smoothed, brushed out and made up, I was ready for anything. And that meant a trip to the boutique so Carlo could stuff me into a dress which was essentially a large rubber band that squeezed me from cleavage to mid-thigh. No room for anything but the barest thong underneath. The compression alone did more for me than a Wonderbra ever could. Red, would you ever believe it? But accented with a narrow line of black crystals from top to bottom, which Carlo made sure ran over one nipple.

Slut factor? 110%. Did I look good in it? Surprisingly, in an hourglass goddess way, yes, and I felt even better. Because of the wax job, I demurred on stockings but instead chose a pair of shoes guaranteed to get me arrested for solicitation. The first pair of red shoes I’ve ever owned, they’re strappy, sparkly, and slutty, and I adore them. I could have recouped all my expenses today by selling them at the bar. I had at least half a dozen invitations to swap, sell, or toddle my little shoes with the bow across the toes, and hot ass, up the stairs with numbers in the four digits thrown at me. But I’m ahead of myself.

Though I was sure we’d end up back at his home or mine, we had agreed to meet at the Bombay Club for dinner and drinks at seven. I’d never been there, but he assured me he considered their steaks and the atmosphere to be most acceptable. I’ve heard the martinis are wonderful, but with the salaries I and my colleagues earn, we haven’t tried it out.

I was nervous, so took a cab and arrived early. I was invited to wait in the foyer or sit at the bar. I chose the bar and spent a pleasant few minutes learning about martinis from a most attentive bartender. When asked for his opinion, he poured me one he called Breathless, and left me in no doubt he wanted me to believe I left him breathless. As I tasted my first sip, I felt Jean Baptiste enter the restaurant, and as the smooth mixture of vodka and chocolate liqueur slid down my throat, burning a trail that left me breathless, I spun in my chair.

As my eyes focused on him and his gaze met mine, the slight frown on his face faded. My heart leaped in my chest and I swear, I could almost hear the beating of his heart in time with mine. As if he heard mine, he walked toward me, magnificent in black Armani, the only spots of color a deep burgundy rose in his button hole and a red silk handkerchief folded just right in his breast pocket. For a moment, as my black velvet wrap slid from my shoulders to elbows, it seemed as if his eyes burned red. Like a physical caress, as he slowly sauntered toward me, his eyes took in my appearance from head to toe, stopping to look at my feet. What is it about an ankle strap that turns men on? And he was turned on. I could tell by the intensity of the heat in his eyes when he raised his gaze back to mine. The world around us disappeared in that moment and when he lifted my hand to his lips, my heart skipped a beat then resumed at double time. From that moment I was entranced. I know we ate, I know we drank, I’m pretty sure the restaurant sang Happy Birthday to me. I don’t remember any of it with any more clarity that I’d remember a dream.

How long we spent at the restaurant, I don’t know, I was just giddy being with him. Before leaving, over coffee and dessert, Jean Baptiste pulled a box from his inside breast pocket. Before I had a chance to even wonder over the contents, he laid the open box before me. Inside lay a necklace, so exquisite, I once more had trouble breathing. Rubies. Diamonds. Antique gold. Simple. And I’m sure, extravagantly expensive. A choker of perfectly matched rubies and diamonds, one set between the other from clasp to clasp.

When Jean Baptiste lifted it from the case, my eyes met his. Hardly breathing, I locked my gaze with his as he put the necklace on me and set the clasp at the back. My God. The weight of it felt solid, like old and extremely valuable heirlooms. I’m no judge of jewelry, but I can guarantee I’ve never worn something so luxurious in my life.

“You make this bit of jewelry beautiful,” he said and lightly kissed me on the lips. And just like that, I tripped off the edge of the earth. I fell in love. And just as any woman in love would do, I leaned forward and kissed him back. “Take me home, I want to model this necklace properly,” I said.

The next thing I knew, we were in a cab and I gave the driver the address to my little coach house apartment in the Garden District. In the cab, I sat on his lap while his long fingers toyed with the necklace and the edge of my dress. His lips teased my neck, and I’m sure he could feel the blood pulsing through my jugular. He nuzzled my neck, his tongue stroking my skin and I clung to him, one hand combing through the thick hair at his nape. His scent, something crisp and manly with a hint of leather made me dizzy. Once at outdoor steps leading to my over the garage home, he carried me. Me! No man has ever carried me since I hit puberty. And without a gasp or grunt. I’m no dainty flower, and yet, he only smiled at my protests and carried me through the door and into the bedroom. I was more winded than he was!

Ah Mama, I know now for certain, until this night, until Jean Baptiste touched me, I’ve never experienced the art of making love. No man has ever made me feel beautiful. No man has ever touched my heart. If there was any further to fall in love, his love making took me there. I can’t count the climaxes, the releases, the number of ways we came together, but it was magic. From the moment he laid me on the bed until he slipped from it just before dawn, we didn’t sleep. We barely spoke. We touched, we watched, kissed, explored, learned and played. Quite simply, we loved.

I’m exhilarated and yet, exhausted. Today I have a late afternoon six hundred level seminar and I should hit the library for research, but I simply cannot see climbing out of bed for several hours. His scent is there, on my sheets. I want to sleep wrapped in his arms, but instead the sheets and pillow perfumed with our combined essences will have to do. I don’t yet know where we’ll meet tonight. He said he’d find me. The little voice in my heart says now that we’ve found each other, we’ll always be able to find one another again.

It’s a good thing that yesterday I told Mattias to call and wake me if he didn’t see or hear from me by three. I suspect it will be his call that wakes me. So, for now, dressed only in the necklace, I sleep and I will dream.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A History Mystery: Day Four / Part One

From the Memoirs of Jean Baptiste Morgane

Monday, 27 October

If only God had taken mercy upon me by letting death claim me when Diabloque cursed me. I found perfection only to taint it with this beast I have become. Hell would be a just reward for the sins that weigh heavy upon my troubled brow. Morgan deserves better than the thoughts whirling inside my brain, but my own selfishness prevents me from doing the honorable thing and ending this existence before my satanic urges propel me any further down the path before me.

When I woke to the growing dusk, I perceived this evening proceeding differently. For the first time in centuries, I felt human again. I knew my time with Morgan to be the cause. Still, I should have known better than to trust my frail happiness to hold my nature in check. My delusional acceptance of my newfound humanity drove me to attempt the impossible.

Leaving Morgan this morning, I had already decided to bequeath her a gift worthy of her beauty on this most special of days for her. After rummaging through the dust and mire of my past, I found just what I was looking for. The rosewood box had been covered in layer upon layer of dust but the treasure inside remained as pristine as the day I placed it inside the velvet lined tomb.

The necklace glistened in the pale light. How easy it was to remember the way it had rested around Constance’s swan like neck oh those many years ago. Vainly I tried to erase the image from my mind’s eye. It would have been easier to ignore the tell tale scent of blood that still clung to the patina of the gold or the barest blush of pink staining the diamonds nestled between the blood red rubies. The faint tint to the diamonds might be blamed on the rubies, but I know better. No manner of cleaning had been able to wash the horror of my actions from the jewelry.

I shoved those thoughts from my brain. Today was too glorious a celebration to let old haunts mar with old recriminations. It was my intention to erase the infamy of my past by giving this to Morgan. No amount of penance could change that which had been done all those years ago but perhaps I could gain a second chance at happiness. Now hours later I see the futility in that assumption. The damned are offered nothing but damnation. Second chances are for those who still cloister a redeemable soul within their beating breasts.

Oblivious to the future, I left home alive with the promise of that fleeting dream. Several times I stopped myself to feel for the unfamiliar weight of Constance’s box in my coat pocket. Foolishness, I know, but against character I was as giddy as a schoolboy. I am sure some semblance of a stupid grin had been plastered upon my visage as I made my way to the Bombay Club. It was not one of my frequent haunts but the establishment has a certain reputation among the populace and it seemed to be the proper choice for this evening. Assuredly, Morgan’s face had lit up when I proposed we dine there. That alone convinced me I had chosen wisely. What I wouldn’t give to be able to place that emotion on her face for all time.

My joy intensified when I caught sight of her waiting for me sitting at the edge of club’s bar, the seat closest to the foyer. I stood spellbound by her beauty. Her ebony locks cascaded down her neck, landing like a starless night upon the red flowing landscape of her dress. Never in my life had I seen someone more beautiful. My dead heart fluttered to life in my chest as I gazed upon the vision of her sitting there. I dare say not even fabled Aphrodite could rival her as she looked before me tonight.

I broke the paralysis that held me and walked to where she sat. I bent and took her hand, surprising her. I grazed my lips over the warm flesh of her wrist, feeling the pulse of her life flowing beneath the tender flesh. The prick of my fangs brushed against my lips and I pulled back before my black soul betrayed me.

Her eyes danced over me. The happiness shined from them at seeing me. I hoped mine showed even half of the joy I saw reflected there. I was about to suggest we sojourn to our table when the bartender came over, his face drinking in her body. He made some sly retort under the guise of offering a refill of her drink. I recognized his words for their true meaning. It was impossible to mistake the want rolling off him, but Morgan was mine, not his. I felt the thirst demand his life. Only the press of the crowd and Morgan’s presence saved him. I glared hate toward him so dark it should have killed him where he stood, promising myself that later the death he so richly deserved would find him. For now the look was sufficient to send the blaggard toward the other end of the bar, where the prey was of a mind to accept his advances.

The maitre d' found us shortly after to announce that our table was ready. I was glad I had arranged a secluded alcove for our dinner. After the bartender’s display, I found myself loath to share her company with anyone. The need to have her solely to myself overwhelmed me. In fact, the intoxication of being with her sped time around us. If pressed for details, I dare say I could not recount any but the barest of details of our meal.

Finally, I knew the time had drawn near. From the folds of my coat. I pulled forth the rosewood box. Morgan’s eye flared to life at the sight of it. I pushed it toward her with the assurances it was but a humble token. When she made no move to open the case, I reached over and took the necklace from its resting place and held it out for her. There are no words to describe the joy I saw grace her face when she beheld the necklace. It was like looking for one brief second into the face of an angel.

Not waiting for her to tell me no, I stood and moved behind her. With fingers shaking from the knowledge they would soon touch her flesh, I placed the necklace around her neck. Fumbling with the clasp, I secured it in place and bent my head to offer a tender kiss to her lips. I knew better than to give in to the passion being this close to her invoked. My hold on my self-control was tenuous at best. I very nearly lost it when she returned my kiss and said in her smoky voice, “Take me home, I want to model this necklace properly.”

I was only too happy to oblige her wishes. The trip to her home was a blur as easily lost as my lessening self-control. Being this close to her drove all my hard won composure into nothingness. My fingers caressed the smooth flesh of her neck while my lips hungered across the warmness of her. No inch of her exposed body was safe from me. I wanted each and every bit of her, not simply what I saw but all of it. I could feel the beat of her heart through the touch.

All too soon, the cab pulled in front of her home. We extricated ourselves from the vehicle and, too eager by far, I swept her into my arms and raced up the stairs. A clichéd move to be sure, but most effective. Once inside, our feeble attempt at decorum fell away.

My hands quested along the gentle curves of her body. She let out a muffled moan as I nuzzled the back of her neck. Morgan fell back into me, the press of her firm ass against me igniting more than my interest. My body stirred like it hadn’t in years. Reaching around, I cupped her firm breasts, their weight electricity in my hands. She wiggled herself over my swollen manhood and I felt the burning as my eyes went red with hunger.

Only it wasn’t the hunger for her flesh. I tried to back away, knowing if I didn’t leave I wouldn’t be responsible for what happened next. If only Morgan would have cooperated. Even in the haze of my blood thirst, I sensed her lust. Her desire would not be denied. Holding her to me, I knew mine wouldn’t as well.

The rich scent of her washed over me. Beneath the fragrance of roses mixed with the barest hint of vanilla, the smoldering sensation of her want came wafting through. My control broke. The pain of my fangs extending tore through me. My gaze dropped to the gentle slope of her shoulders. I saw the throb of her jugular calling me. Heaven help me, I was too far gone to stop myself.

Morgan twisted like an erotic ballerina before falling onto the bed, her long white neck, encircled by the burning jewels, stretched back on her pillow. I could feel her wanting me with an intensity that mirrored my own. Making my way toward her, I let my fingers trace the outline of her body through the sheet she had pulled just above the gentle rise of her breasts. I flipped it away with a twist of my wrist, opening the magnificence of her body to me. Her lips curled into a tempting smile and my body awoke to the need for her.

Hell take me. The last thing I remember before stumbling through my own door was the rich copper taste of her flooding my mouth before damnation washed over me…

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Review: Emily's Nightmare by Melanie Atkins

Available from Cobblestone Press

J Morgan: Okay, let me the first to say I love of good bit of suspense and Emily's Nightmare dishes it up perfectly. Melanie never disappoints.

MorganO: I agree. She always delivers the goodies, especially when it comes to her hot male leads.

J Morgan: And let's not forget strong memorable heroines.

MorganO: True, she doesn't disappoint when handing a woman a gun. The men are just lucky she doesn’t point it at them.

J Morgan: What constantly amazes me is how she makes you forget the world exists when you're reading her books.

MorganO: Absolutely. I get lost in her books, and Emily's Nightmare is no exception. Notice I said books as in the plural. Melanie has a nice backlist of good books to read.

J Morgan: The emotional pull is so strong in this one, I doubt you could finish without emotionally and physically drained.

MorganO: There's no doubt you're left hanging right up to the end. Always a good thing in a Romantic Suspense.

J Morgan: It even has a touch of the paranormal as you keep wondering where the re-occurring dream will take Emily.

MorganO: It is truly déjà vu or only a metaphor for what might happen? That’s what you’re left to wonder about.

J Morgan: I know we keep harping on the suspense side, but Melanie doesn't let you down on the romance or heat side either.

MorganO: Um, no, I kind of like Cutter's idea of breakfast, myself. He even pulls up a stool to make himself comfortable while he, uh, feasts.

J Morgan: From their first meeting you know Emily and cutter were destined to be together.

MorganO: Destiny or not, their trials could rip even the strongest of couples apart. I sure wouldn't want to be tested the way they are.

J Morgan: Oh hell no, but Melanie uses the struggle to let them know that true love is about more than a physical relationship. By the time the book is over with they both know that whatever they may have together is worth it, because of they both have to fight for it.

MorganO: Nice summation, so let me be the first to say 5 Ales.

J Morgan: I’d give more, but I drank the 6th one reading the book.

MorganO: And 5's the limit anyway, but a bag of chips might be in order.

J Morgan: Let me say this, if you haven't read Melanie Atkins, you haven't read romantic suspense.

MorganO: Be sure to check out the rest of her southern fried romantic suspense books. They each sizzle and satisfy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Interview: Melanie Atkins

Morgan O has got a little murder on the brain this week. I can’t blame her! Why, you’re asking yourself? Well it could be because we’ve got the Queen of Romantic Suspense with us this week. None other than Melanie Atkins has graced the TMD offices with her presence. Let me tell you, it’s been nonstop CSI-ing around here since she showed up. She’s frisked me twice and dusted Morgan O for latent DNA. Don’t ask me how, but she found some interesting DNA and Morgan O won’t stop pleading the fifth and quite frankly I’m afraid to find out. Who knew coming home from our kick off world tour could be this exciting?

For those of you who don’t know about Melanie’s work--boy, are you in for a treat. Melanie has brought romantic suspense to new heights with her Southern twist to murder and mayhem. Her books will run you through the whodunit ringer and her heroes will make you do an old fashion swoon they’re so smoking hot. As we all know, southern belles only swoon when they want to.

TMD: Melanie thanks for joining us today. And, no we wouldn’t like to have our fingerprints taken. Let's just talk about you and your books, okay?

MA: I think I can manage that.

TMD: Could you tell our readers a little about your books and what first turned you onto the suspense side of romance?

MA: I write romantic suspense and thrillers--the grittier, the better. I’ve always loved suspense and mysteries, in one form or another. Books, movies, TV shows…doesn’t matter. I love to be on the edge of my seat, and I adore puzzles. So…all of that appeals to me. Forensics, ballistics, police investigations. Romance runs a close second. What’s better than blending the two?

TMD: There’s certainly a buzz about your latest release, Emily’s Nightmare. Mind giving us the rundown on this one?

MA: Emily’s Nightmare is the story of two detectives, Emily Rawson and John Cutter. Emily has always considered Cutter a friend, until she finds herself falling head over heels in love with him. She’s managed to keep her distance so far, even taking the huge step of changing squads so she doesn’t have to work with him. Then she hears he’s following her to her new unit, and they argue. Heat turns to heat, and their passion flames to life—which changes their lives forever.

TMD: When you’re preparing to start a book, how important do you feel it is to get your technical facts right to make the story believable to the readers?

MA: Very important. I do a lot of research, which includes reading about investigative procedures, contacting law enforcement professionals, and attending conferences and workshops on such topics as police procedure, forensics, and poisons.

TMD: How far have you gone to research a book? Police Ride-a-longs? Dressing up like Colombo and invading a police crime scene? Pulling a Jessica Fletcher and killing peeps to get the plot just right? Ms. Atkins, just how far will you go to write a book? Morgan O turn on the spotlight until she answers.

MorganO: Pssst…I thought I was the bad cop and you were the good cop.

Jmo: Just go with it. Can't you see I've got her just where I want her? Ms. Atkins, answer the questions.

MA: Well, for starters, I was once married to a police officer… and that background definitely helps. I also attended my local Citizen’s Police Academy, which was a blast--literally. We spent time on the firing range, learned about investigative techniques from detectives in many different units, studied with the crime scene boys, and went on a couple of ride-alongs--which was my favorite part. The first one was rather low key. We chased a few speeders--which I found incredibly ironic, considering my lead foot--cruised through a neighborhood or two and questioned some kids walking the streets, and basically just patrolled our beat. The second night, which was in a different precinct, was much more exciting. We busted four hookers--on Hooker Street, no less (really!)--hiding in a vacant lot in a Lexus carjacked the day before. One of the girls hid some crack cocaine under the backseat, and then the fun began. The officers put one of the girls in the backseat of the car in which I was watching everything with wide eyes, and she proceeded to bang her head repeatedly against the side window and whine at the top of her voice, “No, sir. Them drugs ain’t mine. You cain’t pin that crack on me. Unh-uh. No way.”

TMD: Now that we’ve settled that, when you’re writing who usually pops up first, the hero or heroine?

MA: The hero. I love my Alpha males with big guns.

TMD: To get that hard edge to a story have you ever based your characters on a real person? Or even a story based loosely on a real event?

MA: No character has been based on a real person so far; more like an amalgamation of several people and/or TV characters. As for a story based on an event--all the time. Many of my story ideas are “ripped from the headlines” just like Law and Order. I got the idea for VOODOO BONES after reading in the paper about a dismembered corpse found in an apartment above a New Orleans’ Voodoo shop.

TMD: As we all know, well, we know from an unofficial search of your house, you’re a rabid cop show watcher. What show really gets your creative juices flowing? Ok, Morgan O asks, which TV cop gets your other juices flowing? Sheesh!

MA: That’s an easy question. Law & Order SVU…and Elliot Stabler (played by Chris Meloni) of course! He makes me tingle.

TMD: What better time to pop our crazy question, a time honored Morgan Diaries tradition, than after that last one. Melanie, you’re well known for crafting strong heroines. So, if we put you and the answer to the question above into an interrogation room alone, who’d be the frisker and who’d be the friskee?

MA: Ooh. I would definitely be the friskee. At least, I hope so. Then I would be the dead friskee, because I would die of cardiac arrest. LOL

TMD: No other subgenre of romance, aside from the romantic comedy, has made the translation from book to the big and little screen like romantic suspense. Most don’t remain true to the original, but romantic suspense seems to be the exception. Why do you feel the jump from print to film is so easy with this genre?

MA: Because of the suspense element. People like to sit on the edge of their seats and bite their nails. They love the adrenaline rush.

TMD: We hate to cut this interview short but several boys in blue have shown up to escort Melanie to her next event. We never knew they did book signings at Chippendales. Uh, Morgan those are police officers, right?

Morgan O: Not in thongs they aren’t. *snicker* So Mel can I go and be your assistant for the night?

MA: Well, sure. LOL

TMD: Before you go, please let our readers know where to find you and your CAPTIVE-ating books on the web. And boys feel free to handcuff Jmo to his chair. Don’t want him following and taking incriminating photos.

MA: Thank you so much for interviewing me! To learn more about my books, go to my website at http://www.melanieatkins.com/ or to my blog at http://melanieatkins.wordpress.com/ to find buy links for all of my current releases. Or you may explore my publisher’s website at http://www.cobblestone-press.com/.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Excerpt: Emily's Nightmare by Melanie Atkins

Emily’s Nightmare
by Melanie Atkins

Logline: A pair of detectives fall in love in 2.8 seconds…Will their hearts survive?

Buy link: http://www.cobblestone-press.com/catalog/books/emilysnightmare.htm


Detective Emily Rawson has always considered fellow detective John Cutter a friend, until she finds herself falling head over heels in love with him. She’s managed to keep her distance so far, even taking the huge step of changing squads so she doesn’t have to work with him. Then she hears he’s following her to her new unit, and they argue. Heat turns to heat, and their passion flames to life—which changes their lives forever. Will their intense attraction for one another keep them together, or break them apart?


Fear pummeled Emily. She gripped the Glock and ducked into the enclosed stairwell. The faint odors of oil and gasoline rode the stale air. Time seemed to still. A bead of moisture rolled down her cheek. She wiped it away and peeked out the door.

Her assailant fired. White-hot pain speared her shoulder. She screamed, and the sound echoed wildly as she tumbled backward down the cold concrete steps.

She landed hard on her back. Sticky, ruby red blood coated her thighs. Her head pounded, and she lost her breath. Inky darkness spilled over her like rising water.

Emily Rawson bolted up in bed; cold sweat streamed down her back. The same awful dream. So painful and so real. Every damned night for the past three months. Ever since she’d made detective and John Cutter, her former partner, best friend, and confidant, had turned on her.

They’ll tear you apart, he’d said. Sex Crimes is no place for a woman.

His bitter words had gouged a hole in her heart and battered her self-esteem. She was a damned good cop and well-deserving of her promotion. Hell, Cutter had even bashed poor Mike Jamison, the high school history teacher she was dating. It made no sense.

She raked the ends of her short blond hair off her neck to dry the perspiration coating her fevered skin. Last night, she’d seen Cutter again at Bullets, the cop bar favored most by the detectives in her unit. He’d been just as abrasive. Not mean, exactly. Just belligerent as hell. And she had no clue as to why.

She threw off the covers and shivered. She and Cutter had been partners for three long years. She’d thought he was her best buddy. And now—

Her stomach churned as she remembered his latest news. He was joining Sex Crimes, too. Following in her footsteps, he’d said with a knowing grin. Bile burned her throat. Mike had dumped her two weeks ago, and she’d thought that was the low point of her year. If only she’d known Cutter would follow her to Sex Crimes.

She’d been attracted to him at the academy, even though he was an instructor and she was only a rookie, and had briefly entertained thoughts of dating him. Then they’d been assigned to the same precinct and their lieutenant had made them partners. Any thoughts of a romantic relationship with Cutter had gone out the window. Nothing said slut like a female cop sleeping with her partner.

She glanced at the clock. Six a.m. Shit. Only an hour before roll call. One more moment of peace before she dressed for work and confronted Cutter on her own turf. She was at home in Sex Crimes now. Her specialty was dealing with women who had been raped or abused—because she understood them.

Emily stumbled into the bathroom and turned on the cold water. The icy stream coursed over her wrists and hands, cooling her skin and calming her racing heart.

She never saw the face of the shooter in her dream, but in her waking hours it was Cutter. Shooting her down and stomping all over her sense of self worth—every time she asked him what was wrong. Why would he do that if he was still her friend?

She peered at her reflection in the mirror. Her oval face was pale and drawn, and dark circles underscored her blue eyes. What a way to start the day. Looking just like she had yesterday after interviewing Hillary Litts, a traumatized sixteen-year-old rape victim. The terror in the girl’s eyes had cut through Emily’s soul and dredged up memories she’d thought she buried long ago.

Emily tightened her jaw and shut off the water, then stripped off her shorts and camisole and climbed into the shower. The hot water felt wonderful after dousing her extremities in icy liquid. She welcomed the shock to her system. Anything to clear the cobwebs from her brain and allow her to forget those awful memories—and John Cutter—for just one damned minute.

As she toweled off, her cell phone rang. She bit out a curse. She had to get it. It might be the crime lab, giving her the particulars on Hillary’s rape kit. Or maybe her lieutenant, directing her to yet another crime scene. Weariness cloaked her movements as she wrapped the towel around her damp middle and scrambled for the sleek black phone on the nightstand in her bedroom.

“Rawson.” Goose bumps dotted her arms. She cradled the phone between her shoulder and ear and perched on the edge of the bed. Feeling exposed, she picked up her pillow.

“Emily, it’s Cutter.”

Oh God. Tension strummed through her. She shut her eyes. “What the hell do you want?”

“To apologize.”

Was he serious? Her eyes flew open. “You’ve got to be kidding! You’ve been acting like a jerk for three solid months, and now you suddenly want to apologize?”

“I made a mistake.”

“Three months of mistakes.” She fisted her hand in the pillow and imagined squeezing Cutter’s thick throat. “You’ve embarrassed me in front of our colleagues and harassed me at Bullets. You even made me doubt myself. That hurt, Cutter.”

“I’m downstairs. Let me come up. We’ll talk.”

“No!” Suddenly breathless, she sprang to her feet. Cutter was here?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trailer Trash Tuesdays: Melanie Atkins

Melaine Atkins week starts off with the trailer for her book, Haunted Memories. We have lots in store, so stay tuned as we get inside the head of this popular Romantic Suspense author.


Monday, September 22, 2008

A History Mystery: Day Three / Part Two

The Personal Journals of Morgan Victoria Beauchamp

Sunday, October 26

Dearest Mama,

Definitely, this time I write to you. I’m sure Papa would understand that there are times when a woman to woman talk is needed.

Erotic dreams of my pirate entertained me all night and I woke gasping and shaking from what I’m sure was one of the most intense orgasms of my life. I’ve never experienced such a dream before! All thoughts of easing my agony with the thoroughly willing Mattias have died completely. I ran into him at the library where he was working on his dissertation and I felt not one ounce of attraction for him. Instead, my eyes kept searching for my dark stranger. As if I’d find him among the stacks of the library.

I had the misfortune to run into a colleague as I was leaving the library. Charles Stratham at once made his opinions of not only my paper, but my latest lecture very clear. My work, he said, while clever and entertaining, lacked a professional quality. Maybe I should pursue a career as either a historical romance writer or a play writer, he suggested. I could write a one woman play and deliver my romantic theories to Broadway and leave the serious research to the professionals. Not only that, he said my public lectures might fill the hall to overflowing once a semester, but they were an embarrassment to the department. The university wanted to be known for serious work and not theatrics, unless of course, I wanted to change to the theater department, after all, I made a charming actress, but no one with any historical learning took me seriously.

There went my dreamy disposition. After several hours bending over ancient journals, I was in no mood for his condescending smirks. One day soon, I hope, he’ll wake up and realize most of his students consider him in his dotage and get some of their best sleep in his lectures. They say the ponderous text book for the class makes an excellent pillow. However, trained and genteel southern gentlewoman that I am, I smiled, thanked him for his opinion, and suggested he might need to get not only his glasses checked, but a hearing aid might do him some good as well. At least I left him frowning in confusion and managed to glide, yes glide, across the lobby and out the door. I even managed to save my temper tantrum until I drove away from campus.

As dusk was upon us by then, I headed for the river with the vague idea of dropping in at Café du Monde in hopes a plate or two of beignets would calm me. I never made it there. Instead, I parked near the mall and headed for the Riverwalk. Walking being better than pigging out, right? I’m sure I scared a few people with the intense scowl on my face, but I stomped my way up and down the walk until I felt a little winded. I certainly wasn’t cold. I was however glad that the cool evening kept the crowds to a minimum. Most were in the French Quarter seeking libations and dancing to keep warm. That suited me just fine.

When I at last tired myself out, I stumbled to the Spanish Plaza hoping to find a spot to sit and watch the nighttime show of the fountain. Less than half of the seats were occupied, but there was one section that seemed a little darker and emptier. Indeed, I thought I’d find seclusion there until I tripped over a foot which was not retracted fast enough. Only the incredible strength and speed of my tripper cum savoir kept me from falling flat on my face. Strong arms reached out and, as if I weighed no more than a toddler, they lifted me and sat me down. In a blink, I determined that I sat on the lap, and was held in the arms, of my mystery man of two nights ago.

Those dark brooding eyes gave him away. I couldn’t resist a coquettish smile as his eyes widened in surprise. I was most happy to link my hands behind his neck and settle myself a little more comfortably on his lap. I was also a little breathless from my furious walking, which I’m sure added to my Marilyn-like voice at the moment as I thanked him for saving me.

Is there nothing more delightful than a man confused by a woman? He looked torn between wanting to thrust me away from him and pulling me closer. Much like I dreamed my pirate might have looked. And when he spoke, oh that voice, accented like you only hear from the best New Orleans families. Centuries of Creole breeding with a touch of Cajun, spoken softly in a deep voice that rumbled to my toes. In the shadows, he definitely looked like a pirate from another age. I swear, for Halloween I’m making him dress as Jean Baptiste Morgane. In fact, when we introduced ourselves, he told me his name is Jean Baptiste! Named after one of the city’s founding fathers, and not the pirate, no less. How more Old World New Orleans can one get? However, he asked me to call him John Morgan, saying it was easier on the tongue.

Oh, and why do I get to dress him for Halloween? I guess I jumped ahead of myself. The searing attraction that had jumped between us night before last was even stronger in closer proximity. Yes, as I sat there, everywhere our bodies touched, fires burned. My blood already hot from my fury over Stratham’s stupid comments and the sting of hurt feelings, I was daring and bold. I swooped down on my rescuer and rewarded him with a kiss. It was meant to be thorough, but I didn’t count on incinerating! I give the man credit for a hesitation of only half a heartbeat, but once he reacted, oh Mama… Can you hear my sigh of feminine satisfaction?

I don’t know how long we kissed and I don’t care. We were practically making love there on the tiled seats before we noticed the chuckles, catcalls and whistles around us. My pirate could only hold his scowl at the interruption for a moment, but we both laughed and acknowledged our audience with short bows before he took my hand and led me off to deeper shadows. That was when we finally introduced ourselves. A handshake seemed silly at that point, so we kissed again and I found myself pressed up against the side of a building in a very dark corner. Had I been wearing a skirt and not jeans, I’m sure we would have had sex right there, but somewhere, somehow, he pulled together enough self restraint to lower the heat to a slow simmer instead of a raging cauldron. Even now as dawn breaks, I’m still bubbling from his touch and doubt I’ll need sleep to see me through the day.

We talked. For hours. From dusk until just a few minutes ago, when he saw me to my car. He told me he’d been to my last public lecture and seeking a bit of praise to erase the criticism I’d received earlier, I told him all and purged the humiliation I’d suffered. He assured me, as a student of that age himself, that I’d nailed more facts, provided more authentic feeling, than any other professor on the subject than he’d ever witnessed. As he could quote lectures from some of my professors and scholars before them, I believed him. Maybe also because I wanted to believe him. But the way he told me how I brought dusty history to life thrilled him to the marrow, melted me completely. I know empty praise when I hear it, and Jean Baptiste did not offer vague platitudes. I just had to kiss him again for that. Ah yes, I feel most sluttish, but this man merely has to look at me and I feel as if I’m on the edge of an orgasm much less touch or kiss him.

Tomorrow (today?) I have only two classes, both lectures, which I may let Mattias give for me. It’s my birthday and I’m meeting Jean Baptiste for dinner. I intend to make it a night never to be forgotten. Starting with a trip to Riverside Spa for the full treatment. I’m two years away from forty, I intend to treat myself right for a change. Jean Baptiste, I sure hope you’re ready for me – as my students would say - LOL.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A History Mystery: Day Three / Part One

From the Memoirs of Jean Baptiste Morgane

Sunday, 26 October

I am loath to put pen to paper concerning the events that have unfolded tonight. I know my fevered mind is simply afraid by some mischance it would dissolve into a dream as soon as ink touches the page. Before I jump ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning. I don’t wish to lose anything in the recording of this.

I woke to the falling dusk, the hunger inside me greater than I can ever remember before in this misbegotten existence I endure. The haste of that thirst drove me to quickly dress. Upon leaving my humble abode, I made my way through the Quarter feeding sparingly from tourists too drunk to take notice as they made their revelries in the shadows. Once sated, the call of Mother Sea brought me toward one of my frequent haunts since returning to the city that once gave me such solace from the rigors of life upon the briny blue. I can remember a time when there was no Riverwalk to make this fragile shore a beacon of welcome, just a crush on men and ships crowding the stagnant banks. I passed like a shadow over the boardwalk. The harsh lights overhead were muted by an evening fog rolling off the water, allowing me some margin of anonymity. The wake of an evening shower had driven most of the lovers toward the drier climes of the bars and eateries of which New Orleans has in abundance.

Thankfully, for once, I found myself alone to nurse my current bout of melancholy. The events of the past weeks had left me mortally tired. Every single year of my age pressed in around me like some loathsome beast. Would that this curse of Diabolique’s had not fallen upon me. It was my own fault. I should never have returned to her. My life as a buccaneer had come to an end. There had been no sensible reason for me to go to her. I could explain my stupidity on some errant sense of chivalry sent me to explain why our tryst had to end. Perhaps the truth was I needed one last taste of damnation before ascending to the heaven Constance promised.

Falling in love with Constance Newbury came as a surprise to me. After meeting her at a party held by one of the many sycophants bent on availing themselves of my fame as a noted privateer, I knew my career as a rake and rogue had come to an end. She had accompanied her uncle, some lawyer of note among the growing civilized gentry calling New Orleans home. After spending most of the evening in her company, I petitioned her uncle to allow me to call upon them the following evening. He was hesitant at first, but complied due more to Constance’s badgering than from any sincerity on my part.

Over the next few weeks, a closeness of both heart and soul grew between us. Even though our worlds were vastly different, I knew we were destined for each other. Her uncle, her guardian since her parent’s death, granted his permission for us to be wed on the condition I forsake the life I had led. Being with her had already convinced me to abandon the sea. Her uncle’s condition was but a mere formality. I had enough wealth to see me toward a comfortable life as a gentleman farmer. I knew I would not be the first scalawag to do so.

However, before I started any kind of a new life, I had put the old one to rest. Which drove me from Constance’s arms, to once again traverse the Caribbean, to see Diabolique one last time, as well as let my men know of my decision and appoint a new captain to oversee their welfare. At the time it all seemed so innocent, mundane even. Looking back, I saw the mistake for what it was—my damnation. Diabolique would have never let me go. Her claws were too firmly entrenched in my soul to let such a thing happen.

Standing on the edge of the walk, my attempt to push those memories away fell painfully short. The nearby call of ships exiting into the Gulf wouldn’t let them stop swirling in my head. At least it offered a reprise from my thoughts of Morgan. I could almost forget she existed, if I let the pain wash over me.

The lie consoled me until I caught the scent of her on an errant breeze. The unbelievable closeness of her drove me over the edge. The tips of my canines pressed into my lips, filling my mouth with the coppery taste of blood. I closed my eyes, letting the sensation consume the aching void where my thirst resided. The gentle shift in temperature told me she stood not far from me. My cold flesh warmed as it basked in the glow of her while my brain told me to seek the shadows.

For once my body was in full agreement. I reluctantly shifted away from the water, and sauntered toward the concrete seats of the Spanish Plaza that circled the fountain. There, in the shifting shadows of spray and fog, its splashes created a background symphony of sound to cloak the sounds of even the most ardent lovers. I had made it as far as the pass through when she called to me. The thrill of her voice paralyzed my traitorous legs in place. Against my volition, I turned. Her unexpected frown wafted across the air like a musket ball into my brain. She spoke, words low and urgent, that I couldn’t register as she paced. I was too bespelled, as even in her apparent distress, the lilting music of her voice came to me as laughing syllables. At last she seemed to lose steam and her eyes turned toward the fountain. I found a seat in the darkest shadows, far from the lovers cuddling on the cold, hard benches. But was that enough to hide from her? Oh no, for as if aiming directly for me, she strode close enough to trip over my feet.

I wish that I could put pen to paper and relate exactly what turn of events happened next. In truth the heady excitement of being in her company turned the evening into a blur. One minute I was sitting, watching her, the next she was in my arms as I reached out to keep her from falling. Lord forbid I should not rescue a beautiful woman headed for a hard fall. The second our flesh touched I became spellbound.

Time lost all meaning. Well into the twilight hours, we strolled along dark streets and got to know each other with intimate conversation between passionate kisses in secluded alcoves, never once did she recognize in me the inherent evil of my nature. We discussed all those things so human and mundane, yet exciting all the same for their newness to my cloistered existence. I don’t know when exactly I truly forgot my promise to myself, but when she mentioned her birthday would fall on the morrow, I hastily agreed to meet her the following evening.

As the pink fog of dawn exploded over the horizon, I knew our time had come to an end, the call of sleep too dire to ignore. I bid her good day, streaks of orange joining the azure hints rising behind the ebon sky. Before I could scamper back to my prison, she jumped into my arms. Her flesh melted into mine in a kiss so scandalous, I was sure the heavens themselves would open up in retribution. It was with regret I untangled myself from her embrace. With all due speed, I assured her that I would see her come night and blended into the morning crowds on their way home from whatever debauchery had occupied their night. I looked over my shoulder to see her offer a wistful wave just before she turned to go her own way. I could already feel the smoke rising from my skin as ribbons of sunlight hit the back of my neck as I closed and locked the door against the day.

My body grows too still to continue. Even though my windows are shuttered, I know the sun has come. For the first time in centuries, I go to an uneasy rest. The anticipation of seeing her again, prohibits me from finding succor in the arms of oblivion. Yet my nature cannot be denied. I am what I am and not even the promise of love can change the fact.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Review: The Devil Made Me Do It by Alysha Ellis

From Total-e-Bound
Erotic Rating: Total-e-burning
Genre: Contemporary
Book Length: Short Story
ISBN# 978-1-906811-09-9

Release Date: Sept 29

MorganO: Since Jmo doesn't do erotica, shy boy that he is, I called in Carlee again, since she'll read anything or almost anything. I do recall her throwing the Wheel of Time series back at me with a big old YUCK.

Carlee: I think I've thrown a few such types back at you over the years, but yeah, I'll give just about anything the good ole' college try.

MorganO: Fair enough, I can live with that, but the point being, Carlee likes her books sizzling hot, wet, and sexy, so I have to ask, does TDMMDI fit in that picture?

Carlee: Those are good adjectives. I think adding delicious, salivacious (okay, I know that's not a word, but…) and luscious to the list would be a good idea.

You know, I do love erotica, but to be truthful I haven't read one in a long time that brought the reader up to speed so quickly and kept them on edge for so long. So yes, I guess you could say I liked TDMMDI!! I really have no idea where she could have taken the story but I was disappointed to see it end.

MorganO: Yeah, short always bums me out. If it's good I want more, more, more. Then again, if the story isn't so good, I feel as if the words there were a waste of time.

Carlee: The story was light, airy and humorous. Alysha took an old theme and gave it a great new twist. Had me laughing and smiling when I wasn't panting!

MorganO: Whew! High praise indeed! And I have to agree, it was fun to see an entirely new slant on the Devil on his home turf. And since I’m sure my friends will save me a seat down there, I really like Alysha's view on the dimension. Or will I be saving seats for my friends?? Have to think about that one.

Carlee: Must be the romance writer in you.

MorganO: Imagine that!

Carlee: Not to give anything away, but the one part I'll take away with absolute mirth was the bit of calling out another man's name right at that moment of pure ecstasy! I mean really, what is the one thing any participant dreads more but calling out another partner’s name?

MorganO: Oh, yes! Very clever, only a properly twisted mind could pull that one out

Carlee: And hers is VERY properly twisted! Has she written anything else? I’ve gotta get my hands, um, libido, on something else of hers!

MorganO: Oh yes, she's written other books. Has another one coming out soon, I'm sure we can hook you up.

Carlee: Now that would be a pleasure ALL mine.

MorganO: Hear that Alysha?????

Carlee: I guess we should cover some of the other aspects of Alysha's writing... structure is good and keeps flowing. The scenes don't overtake one another at all. She has the mechanics down very well.

MorganO: Agreed. She writes nice and clean and keeps the tone fun and playful. So, down to the nitty gritty. As a policy of mine, novellas never get a 5, because, as you stated before, I always want more

Carlee: And you know, I just can't do ale on erotica (sorry Jmo) so, what do you say to a nice cosmopolitan?

MorganO: Never had one.

Carlee: Well neither have, I but they're frilly and girly and…

MorganO: I can dig up some champy. Had a lovely one for dinner Monday night but didn't get the name of it.

Carlee: Champagne is good if it’s filled with fresh cut strawberries or mandarin oranges...

MorganO: Oy, now we're critiquing alcohol LOL

Carlee: Sorry, there's so little to say about this story because it’s so awesome! Gotta give the reader something to feast on...

MorganO: So, I’m saying a 4, good and solid.

Carlee: Seriously, if we have to be, yes a solid 4 of whatever drinks you choose. I wouldn't mind a shot of Chambord to go with champagne…

MorganO: Champagne and Chambord. I can deal with that.

Carlee: And if we were rating novella's in a category all their own, I think this would be a 5 there.

MorganO: Yes, yes, but you can’t go changing our entire scoring scale. I’ll let you get away with the tequila, and the champagne with Chambord, but we’re not changing the actual rating. So 4 glasses of Champy and a shot of Chambord.

Thanks for pinch hitting again, Carlee. We can let Jmo fan away his scorching blush this week and next week he’s on to do the review for Melanie Atkins’ book, Emily’s Nightmare. I’ll still get him to blush over that one, but since he can focus on the suspense part of the story, it won’t last too long.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Interview: Alysha Ellis

Our world tour continues! This week, The Morgans boarded a jet. Well, Morgan O boarded, Jmo was forced into a pet carrier and shoved into the hold. After Jmo cleared quarantine, we found ourselves in the land down under to meet the exquisite Alysha Ellis, that lovely tart.

The fiery Aussie is well known for melting e-readers all over the world with her sizzling erotica. After promising to meet us at the airport, we found her three days later in a seedy bar on the outskirts of Sydney. We won’t divulge what we found her doing, but needless to say, it is illegal in all fifty states and some parts of Argentina. We later found out, it was illegal in Australia as well, but she just didn’t care. Which is why the remainder of this interview was conducted under the watchful eye of a bailiff and a representative of the American consulate

TMD: Alysha, thank you for allowing us to be here with you in your lovely country, well what we can see of it through the bars.

AE: Welcome to Australia! And just in case anyone is wondering, the bars don't mean they are in jail or anything. It's just a personal little kink of mine Their cage is very tasteful. Once I’ve assembled all my toys, I'll let them out to play...but I don't guarantee to play nice.

TMD: Now that we’ve got your motor running, we know our readers would love to hear a little about your newest book.

AE: My latest book is The Devil made Me Do It. (Total-e-bound September 27th). The Devil you know...is not the Devil I'll introduce you to.

TMD: Oh, and just who IS the devil?

AE: A horny devil, I promise you. His name is Satan, but there's a story to how he came by that name...and I love to give away other people's secrets.

TMD: Your books are known for their sizzling love scenes. Most authors find it hard to balance story and heat effectively but you excel at it. When you’re writing, what comes easier the heat or the story?

AE: Easiest? The story. But the heat is an integral part of the story and the character development. I try to push it as far as I can. Sort of like the cherry on the cake. No, forget cherry, it just doesn't seem like the right image for me or my books. The ice cream and the cream on the cake. The bubbles in the champagne.

TMD: The olive in your martini?

AE: I am strictly a champagne girl. Champagne and chocolate. And men. And boots, and…

TMD: We’re dying to know, if you and Satan from your book were to spend a weekend together, would he need to bring Viagra to survive til Monday? We know all about your reputation.

AE: The Devil didn't need Viagra! Doesn't need. Can we edit that first bit out? I give other people's secrets away. Not mine!

MorganO: Oh my * fans face* so, just how devilish is he? And who's on top?

AE: I think you'll find in my story Jess ends up on top...but only when she wants to. On top. On the bottom, side on…She has a hell of a good time.

MorganO: Ride 'em cowgirl!

TMD: As long as we’re talking about devilish good fun, can you tell us about Passions Wings? How did the idea for this one come about and what made you decide to give this one away to your loyal fans?

AE: The idea for Passion’s Wings came from a prologue I intended to put in Send Me an Angel, (total-e-bound). In the final version of the book, I dumped the prologue because it wasn’t relevant to that particular story, but the idea of showing a chance meeting between a rebellious angel and a very alpha male stayed with me. I turned it into a short, erotic story and had so much fun writing it. I wanted to give back something to people who had read my other books and let’s be honest...I just love people reading my work. My motto really ought to be… "Sit down, let me tell you a story."

TMD: This is not a well publicized fact, but this isn’t the first time you and Jmo have been locked in a room with one of you in handcuffs. Care to tell us exactly what happened during that Tijuana episode that Jmo denies ever took place?

AE: Deny it all you want, baby! The only thing that saved your bacon that day was that at the time, you were still pretending to be a woman. Although in hindsight the beard should have been a dead giveaway. It might explain why the cop who took us in kept ogling you through the bars. What other explanation could there be for him ignoring ME?

TMD: So, Alysha likes the spot light! Aim it on her, Jmo

AE: You don't have to aim it. If necessary I will run all over the stage just to keep it shining on me. I just gotta bask in that lime light.

TMD: This is a well known fact. You and Jmo’s lovely wife Jenna Leigh have a long standing rivalry over a certain Hugh Jackman. If it came down to an all out winner take all brawl, who would win? Remember Jenna fights redneck woman dirty.

AE: Yeah, but I am an Aussie. If there's a stoush we're in it. (Translation...we like a good fight). I would fight dirty...real dirty. Into Hugh's shell like ear I would whisper the words all Aussie women know, and only Aussie women know. Words guaranteed to give us power over any and all Aussie men.

TMD: After heating up the world of erotica, can you ever envision yourself writing a tender sweet romance?

AE: Not really. As I said the erotic scenes are part of the story, an essential step on the path of character delineation. I could turn down the heat, not push the limits, but I couldn’t imagine writing without some degree of sexual tension played out explicitly. I write about sensuality and relationships between adults…there’s always going to be heat.

TMD: We hate to cut his short but it appears you’re going to arraignment and we’ve been sprung on the condition we never set foot on Australian soil again. Before we go our separate ways, let our readers know what they can expect from you in the future besides license plates.

AE: License plates that are all variants on Sexy 1, 2hot4 you? I can do better than that. I have three erotic paranormal novellas out at the moment, have just put the finishing touches on the sequel to Ghostly Ménage and am busy enjoying (and I do mean enjoying) some research for my next one.

TMD: One more thing, Morgan O was wondering if there’s any chance you could fix her up with the Thunder from Down Under before our extradition?

AE: If we can't get them...why worry. ALL Aussie men are like that. Why do you think I live here...and look years older than I should. Exhaustion, sheer exhaustion.

TMD: Thanks again. If they allow you access to the internet in the pokey, where can our readers find you on the web for updates on all your marvelous books.

AE: Below are the best places to look

Is that it? Are we finished? Good. Strictly off the record, while you’re here in Australia: the secret words that will make any Aussie male follow you anywhere…”Free beer at my place.” I can tell you this ‘cos once you leave the country, the knowledge will be useless to you. So make the best of it. And if you mention a keg of free beer, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting the entire team from Thunder from Down Under.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Excerpt: The Devil Made Me Do It by Alysha Ellis

The Devil Made Me Do It
by Alysha Ellis

Chapter One

“Shame on you for looking at such filth.”

Jess looked from the book in her hand to the pursed lips and disapproving frown of the woman who’d spoken. She looked back at the thin volume again. She still didn’t get the connection.

The woman, clearly irritated by Jess’ confusion, stabbed a rigid finger towards the cover. “Would you want your mother to know you read such vile stuff? That picture alone would make any mother weep.”

Jess couldn’t argue with her. The gorgeous hunk, with the rippling pecs, awesome six pack and his shorts pulled down almost but not quite far enough, damn near made her weep as well. Especially since the only excitement she had in her life at the moment came from books like these and looking at pictures of naked men on the internet.

And now some self-appointed moral crusader wanted to take even that away from her.

Jess fought against the urge to put the book back on the shelf and pretend she hadn’t been really interested in it anyway. Why did people feel obligated to try to make her ashamed of perfectly legitimate choices? Through tight lips she recited her mantra, “This is a book shop, this book is for sale and I am a mature adult who has the means and the time to read what I want.”

Wishing she had the courage to ignore the woman’s disapproval and hold the book with its cover displayed for all to see, Jess turned away and slunk to the checkout.

By the time she stalked down the side street to the car park she was furious, at both herself and the interfering do-gooder. No one was around to hear her, so she gave in to her anger and muttered her list of complaints aloud.

“I am so sick of holier-than-thou types telling me what to do and what to think. I am sick of everyone telling me if it’s enjoyable, it must be evil. All I’m trying to do is to enjoy my life. If that makes me a wicked woman, then I guess I’m going to Hell. Why can’t I read sexy books, eat too much chocolate, drink too much wine and screw my brains out with a man who really appreciates hot, sweaty, raunchy sex, without someone telling me I should feel guilty about it?”

She stopped and thought for a moment. “To do that last one I’d actually need a man, which I don’t happen to have at the moment.” Her shoulders slumped. “I admit it, I’m desperate. I’d be prepared to get down and dirty with the Devil himself if he’d devote a few hours to my personal pleasure and make me come, screaming.”

“Okay. I can do that. Let’s go.”

Jess spun around. Her heart pounded painfully and she cursed her lack of awareness, even though it was broad daylight. The man standing before her was tall and powerfully built, looking like one of the models on the covers of the books she loved. Jess couldn’t believe he’d been able to get so close without her noticing.

“Leave me alone.”

Her voice was a lot shakier than she wanted it to be. It certainly didn’t intimidate the stranger. He didn’t back off an inch.

“Hell, no. You said you’d get down and dirty with the Devil. It sounded good to me. So here I am.”

Jess started to back slowly away. “You’re crazy. Beat it.”

The man stepped closer. “Jess, you’re frustrated, angry and bored. You want hot, sweaty, raunchy, guilt-free sex. You want a real man, not something on the internet, and you are definitely over sex with your vibrator. I can fix all that.”

“How do you know that? How do you know my name?”

“I know everything about you. I can give you everything you want.”

His voice was velvety, deep and seductive. He had the face of a fallen angel. The heavy lidded smoulder of his dark eyes promised all manner of sensuous delights. He didn’t look or sound like a lunatic or a serial killer. He looked like the embodiment of every one of Jess’ wildest desires.

“Who are you?” she whispered.

His eyes never left her face. “The Devil, of course.”

The Devil Made Me Do It
Available now from

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Guest Blogger: Alysha Ellis

I swear it’s true...I saw it on TV

Yesterday I was watching a very old episode of the Simpsons where the family came to Australia. The episode was full of misinformation, outdated language and just plain absurdity.

Later, chatting on IM to an American friend, I smugly remarked that because of the amount of American TV we watch, Australians know much more about you than you know about us. “Oh, yeah?” my friend said. “Like what?”So I thought I’d show you a few things TV has taught me about American society.

All Americans live either in New York or California, unless they have the misfortune to be elderly, in which case they are sent to a retirement village called Florida. In New York everyone is around thirty something and has a close circle of friends with whom they spend all their time, sitting around in coffee shops or each others’ apartments, except for brief and infrequent forays into their glamorous but ever changing workplace. All New Yorkers live in apartments. Usually their best friend lives across the hallway. As a result, no doors are ever locked and it is customary for friends to wander in and out at will.

If on the other hand you live in California, your house is on the ocean front and is big enough to house the inhabitants of a small third world village. Your children are all on drugs, have sex on a regular basis, have temper tantrums and jealous fights but will suffer no permanent harm and will remain beautiful and well groomed regardless of any trauma undergone.

Your hospitals are wonderful environments, akin to the most prestigious hotels, and medical care is so meticulous that anyone can be brought back from long term coma looking plump, well-groomed and fully in possession of their faculties. This in spite of the fact that the doctors are either, a) so busy chasing after members of the opposite sex they barely have time to spend more than thirty seconds with any patient or b) drug addicted but only to those drugs which will not interfere in any way with the level of care given to the patients in that precious thirty seconds.

There are murders, but they are all fascinating and creative and are invariably solved by brilliant detectives immediately, through the application of technology and psychological brilliance. All female police officers are beautiful enough to moonlight as fashion models. All male detectives and agents have a six pack and fill a suit or a uniform very nicely thank you.

It never snows in America, in fact it never really gets cold. It doesn’t rain, but all gardens are green and lush. Psychics are genuine and accurate and solve any murders detectives can’t and no one ever casts doubts on their findings. All members of the military are officers. Murderers invariably confess when questioned and make sure they explain their motivations. Children do not spend all day on the computer or watching TV. Everyone can sing. No-one is overweight. There is no racism. There is no poverty. There are demons everywhere.

I admit I am fascinated by the whole concept of the way we form our perceptions. The plot of my novella The Devil Made Me Do It http://www.total-e-bound.com/ revolves around the Devil trying to counteract the bad press that has informed all our beliefs about Hell.

What if everything you’d ever heard about the Prince of Darkness was a distortion of the truth? Let me show you what I mean....

“Who are you?” she whispered.

His eyes never left her face. “The Devil, of course.”

She looked at his perfect body, at his beautifully shaped head covered in smooth, glossy, black hair. “Aren’t you supposed to have,” Jess wiggled her hands above her head, “you know, horns?”

“Do I look like a cow to you?” The Devil let out a frustrated sigh and cast a glance skywards. “I blame Up There’s PR people. I have told them, over and over, if they’re going to try to turn people away from the old religions, the least they could do is get it right. ‘The Devil is horny’, not ‘The Devil is horned’. But is anyone ever told that? No! Everyone expects to see sharp pointy things sticking out of my head. You have no idea how bad it is for my image.” He folded his arms, looking sexier than any human being had a right to be.

Jess dragged her thoughts back from all the places the idea of him being horny had taken her. “And the tail?”

He smirked and looked decidedly smug. “Oh well, the tail. Parents use stories about me to scare children. They can’t say ‘The Devil is hung like a stallion’. They like to keep things G-rated and they certainly don’t want their little darlings to suffer penis envy. Better to use a metaphor. A fairly accurate one really.”

There are lots of misconceptions the Devil sets out to put right. He explains how he got the name Satan and reveals secrets formerly known only to writers of erotica. You’ll never look at a writer who says she’s going to a Writer’s Conference in the same way again.

I’d like to offer every reader of the Morgan Diaries a free copy of Passion’s Wings, my new paranormal erotic short ebook. Just email me at alyshaellis@yahoo.com.au and I’ll send you a copy.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A History Mystery: Day Two / Part Two

The Personal Journals of Morgan Victoria Beauchamp

Saturday, October 25

Dearest Papa,

I should probably write this next entry to Mama. I’m not sure how much of my romantic musings you want to be party to, even though both of you have moved beyond this earthly existence. It gives me no small pleasure to think you can actually read or hear my thoughts. I can only hope you aren’t too shocked or dismayed. No, in fact I think you might be applauding.

The tedious task of the midterms is done. Until finals, I’m through with those details. Always a relief. I’m treating myself tonight with a visit to Café du Monde. You know how I adore their beignets. About as much as they adore clinging to my thighs…

The air is fresh off the river tonight and with the approach of Halloween, I can’t help but fall back to my romantic musings of my favorite pirate. No, no resting on my laurels, and waiting for my critics to rip my work apart, as I’m sure you’d approve. The sighting of my mysterious stranger last night has made it hard to concentrate on my chores today, but as I accomplished them all, I’m indulging in a little day dreaming tonight and he is in the starring role of Jean Baptiste Morgane.

Feeling a need to connect with my pirate, I read the journal from The Gilded Lady again this evening and I have in my bag the journal I found in my office. Mattias claims no responsibility for it, but there it was, tucked between some dry old tomes. Why can’t historians put more personality into their works? Why must history be so dull? Just the facts, ma’am. Pfft. People lived, loved, fought and experienced every emotion we do in the current day. Why can’t those emotions be part of the histories? I’m getting side tracked again.

The journal I found is notated as the Personal Memoirs of JBM. Jean Baptiste Morgane. The year even fits, 1761. It works for me. However, the writing is very difficult to read. Old French, which I can read when clearly printed, is the base, but there are touches of other languages included. Code or island dialect? A bastardized mix of English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese? And with tight script and the ravages of time, I can’t tell. I’ve struggled with the journal ever since finding it last year. Still, I’m reluctant to take it to our language department. It feels secretive and as if I’ve been entrusted with the secrets tucked inside. Am I delusional? And yet, I’m certain it is the key to understanding what happened to my favorite pirate.

As to my aforementioned romantic musings, after seeing the modern day mystery pirate at the bar, last night I had fevered dreams. I could clearly feel the rise and fall of the sea as I stood on the deck of a ship. Illuminated by lanterns, he swaggered toward me and I noticed my hands were bound. I was his prisoner? But where and how did he capture me? I remember the feel of his regard, as palpable as a touch, his dark eyes flickering with some deep amusement, the black velvet of the night pressing against my skin as if he himself enfolded me in his embrace. For the longest time, we stared at each other, his gaze direct and possessive, mine as defiant as I could make it. Difficult under the circumstances, as I’m positive I wanted him to ravish me most thoroughly.

I woke in a sweat, my heart pounding and lips hungry for the kiss I’d been denied, the sheets tangled about me. A cool shower didn’t help. This probably accounted for my need to touch base with the logs and journals again. All day I’ve felt him nearby, and as the shadows of night deepen, the feeling grows. I swear, I’m convinced that if I were to turn in my chair I’d see him. Yes, I surely must be delusional. No man has ever followed me. I’m pushing forty, am I so desperate for a man now that I’m dreaming up my own personal stalker? And a pirate from the eighteenth century no less. LOL. At least my delusions are entertaining. Maybe I should stop drinking coffee so late at night.

So, to refocus on my next project. I will dig into this journal and I will unravel the mystery of my pirate. I know this journal is crucial. I just wish I knew for certain its origin. At some point I’ll authenticate it, but I think on Monday I’ll go in early and scan it. That should help with puzzling out the language. Good thing I’m good with codes, but this time I’m too impatient. I want to read it as plainly as my students read their text books. Who was this man? What were his greatest concerns? History already tells us of his Jamaican mistress and there are stories told of her anger when he took another to his bed. Did she kill him, as his first mate believes? Was he the cause of her strange death? A homicide / suicide? Or did he return to his ship to ride out the hurricane that dispatched his ship and crew?

Diving expeditions on the site of the wreck have turned up few bones. Most likely most of the crew was scattered or their remains were buried deep over the centuries. Certainly no treasure was found. Strangely enough, the ships logs were fairly well preserved, wrapped as they were in waxed cloth and locked in an airtight casket. Another twenty years, or a good hurricane in the right spot, and the sea water would have finished disintegrating the casket and the logs would have been lost to the ages. I’ve been fortunate to study them thoroughly these past fifteen years.

The one portrait believed to be of him shows a man of dark hair, and dark eyes with a completely wicked twinkle deep inside. The more I think about it, the more the man from last night reminds me of that portrait. I so wish I’d seen more than just a few seconds of him. I want to study him to my heart’s content and make a side by side comparison. But in a city of half a million people, with numbers increased by tourism and business conventions, how am I supposed to find a man when I know nothing about him? I doubt I’d find him in the throngs of the crowds swelling the French Quarter in search of a Halloween party this coming week. Should he decide to dress in costume, the search would be futile.

So, tonight I’ll let myself dream of salty breezes and a man’s long fingers playing in my hair. My overactive imagination cannot be contained. I ache to feel the soft touch of his warm breath against my temple, his body warm and hard against my back, trapping me against the railing. In my dream, the ship would sail itself, no crew needed. We could make love under tropical skies both day and night and live off fresh fish and fruit. What was the Caribbean like three hundred years ago? Deserted islands as far as the eye could see where lovers could run off and play at being Adam and Eve. Sounds like heaven to me.

Oh Lord, maybe I should just jump Mattias and get it over with. No sex for too long does funny things to the mind. I certainly wouldn’t be the first to have an affair with my assistant and I know he’d approve. As close as his hand had been to sneaking under my skirt last night, I have no doubt he’d happily apply himself to that project. No one else has offered lately.

The hour grows late and I should go home, all the better to dream of my dark pirate. Besides, Ruth, Dagmar, Mattias and others scold me about the dangers of being out here by myself in the middle of the night. I just need to order my beignets to go for breakfast in the morning. Since I came to Tulane I’ve never been accosted. Probably has something to do with the size of my thighs or my gypsy eyes as you used to call them. Too bad there’s no Gypsy in our blood.

Good night, dear journal. I’m off to dream of sailing the Spanish Main and plundering treasure ships. Maybe this time my pirate will plunder me. A girl can hope.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A History Mystery: Day Two / Part One

From the memoirs of Jean Baptiste Morgane

Saturday, October 25th

The need to seek out the object of my infatuation overwhelmed me to the point visions of Morgan Beauchamp invaded even into my daily repose. I know not why this one woman should so intoxicate me. It is as if since sighting her at the nightclub, my soul refuses to rest. I fear my very sanity has been lost to the ideal of her.

Why else would I have sought her out tonight? I know full well the folly attached to such a venture but heedless of the dangers I could do little to stop myself. As I have documented numerous times, after my first brush with her, I’ve made it a point to keep track of her movements. In truth her lecture had a profound effect upon me. She came close to the truth about my disappearance, closer than anyone before her.

My flight from the English fleet to Jamaica had been well documented. Only the incomparable Professor Beauchamp had been able to discern my connection to that sleepy fishing village at the southern tip of the island. Blind luck and my own machinations kept anyone from knowing the full truth of my reasons for being in Santos Regalle.

Sometimes I can almost convince myself the isle was nothing more than a dot on a long obsolete map. Then completely out of the blue, my mind flashes to the last time I looked upon its white beaches. The profound horror of my actions has stayed with me unto this very day. How can I blot the memory of seeing the truth of my villainy staring back at me from the dead eyes of a people I once called friends? What right do I have to forget? None. Nothing can absolve me of my sins.

The sullen streets of New Orleans give me no solace from the pain swelling in my heart. I knew seeing her again, even from afar, would do little to calm the madness digging into my brain. Only the taste of her can cure that malady. In truth I’m not sure a taste would be enough. In the dim recesses of my soul some part of me seeks the impossible, her for all of my eternity.

What a foolish cabin boy I have become. The soft whisper of her name from my lips sent exquisite agony broiling through me as I spotted her nestled among the patrons of the Café du Monde. She sat oblivious to anything, pouring over a stack of papers, idly twisting a pen in the curls of her hair. She had the ebony mane pulled back into a pony tail but the feeble band holding it was ill equipped for the task. How would it feel to run my hands through that silky mass, easing her swan-like neck back to see the pulse of her life flowing through the creamy flesh hid underneath? The thought damn near drove me to madness.

As tantalizing as that sounds, it wasn’t the life giving elixir that held me paralyzed. No, blood was not the prize I quested for. It was her. As I stood in the shadows, the sight of her gently biting her bottom lip, sucking it between her white teeth broke me fairly to my knees. Something about this divine creature compelled me to break all the rules I’ve long lived my life under.

When she brought the porcelain cup to take a sip of the cream soaked coffee, I could no longer hide myself. Moving with a conviction born of desperation, I walked into the outdoor seating area, careful to take a table close enough to her, yet far enough away to keep me from the temptation burning within my breast.

I drank in the heady scent of magnolia and chamomile that washed from her on a passing breeze. A waitress stooped over the table, placing a menu before me. I waved her away with a well placed look. The powers inherent to my kind saw to it she left me undisturbed for the remainder of the evening to drink in what I truly desired.

Unfettered by distractions, I turned my attention back to Morgan. While I had been dealing with the waitress, she had spread out her paperwork across the table. Leaned back against her chair, she massaged the muscles of her neck with one hand while fingering the rim of her cup. Never in my long life had I witnessed something so provocative.

I rose from my chair, knowing if I stayed any longer my actions would be beyond my control. Slipping past her unseen, I made my way toward the crowded exit. Then something miraculous caused me to stop in my tracks.

She called out to me. The words etched themselves forever in my brain. My hand shakes as I immortalize them here in my most private of thoughts.

“Oh, my dear Jean Baptiste, where did you go?”

I nearly collapsed right there on the spot. The sound of my name falling from her lips brought a weakness to my knees. Turning slowly, I saw her grasp a tattered leather tome to her chest. Even in the shadows flickering across my vision, I recognized the volume. It was one of mine own journals from the Gilded Lady. Justian, that blackheart of a first mate, had no doubt retrieved it after my failure to show back to the Lady at the appointed hour. Within those weathered pages lay the road to my damnation. If Morgan could somehow decipher the journal’s code, she could unravel the mysteries I’d worked so hard to conceal. Not for the first time, I wished to have never set my damned eyes upon Diabloque.

My unrequited desire has suddenly taken on a more nefarious turn. I must somehow extract my journal from her. Out of all the women in the world, why did it have to fall in Morgan Beauchamp’s hands? Only she stands a chance of finding the clues to what happened to me within its pages. And she is the last person I want to find them out.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Interview: Michelle Buonfiglio

We at the Morgan Diaries are always ready to step outside the box, when we can afford the box that is, to bring you our readers the scoop on Romance. Today, we’ve gone a totally different route. We’ve jumped so deep inside the proverbial box it’s scary. As The Diaries proves, blogs are the hottest thing around. What better way to get inside the mind of an author than hearing what they have to say straight from their mouths? Well, blogs aren’t just for authors. Everyone has their finger in the blog pie. We’ve been lucky enough to have one of the most informative bloggers you will ever meet stop into our offices for a chat.

Michelle Buonfiglio is the successful host of myLifetime.com’s Romance: B(u)y the Book blog. If you haven’t stopped to check it out, shame on you! RBTB offers everything from review columns, and the inside scoop on the romance industry, to video interviews with the heavy weights making their mark on the genre today. Jmo was so excited to have her here today, he broke out the Double Stuff Oreos just for the occasion.

TMD: Michelle welcome to the Diaries. Before you dip that cookie, would you mind letting our readers know a little about Romance B(u)y the Book?

MB: Mmmph? Jusht a sheck. (gulp) Wow. Lifetime never gives me Oreos. They’re all, “Have some heart-smart snack bars and a couple hair-care tips.” I like hanging with you two...

OK. First, let me thank you, MorganO, and Jmo for inviting me to interview with you. As a mom of two, I’m pretty used to nobody much caring what I have to say. So it’s nice that you’re at least acting interested. Now, RBTB http://www.mylifetime.com/lifestyle/entertainment/romance-buy-the-book/blog ? It’s all about giving women who love romance novels a fun, positive, supportive place to get together to talk about the books, sex, family, sex, pop culture, sex, heroes who are larger than life and…you get the picture, no? My job is “E & E,” to entertain and engage folks by writing about romance and related stuff, and to do the on- and off-camera interviews.

But the best part, really, is getting to meet other women (and men) who like to read romance and make friends online. Folks who really need to make connections with each other, and build a sort of community of caring and laughter and, often, intimacy. At the heart of RBTB is trust and respect – mine for my viewers, and theirs for one another.

TMD: You don’t refer to yourself as a “reviewer.” Why is that, and what makes your column different from some of the other review sites out there?

MB: For me to consider myself a reviewer, I’d have to be writing traditional literary criticism. I’ve studied it, as well as writing. So I sure do understand the “craft,” as they say. But balanced, scholarly reviewing or “trad crit” is a bor-a-thon for those who aren’t Lit hounds. And I wanted to write for all kinds of folks who read romance, not just those of us who sometimes are too smarty pantsy for our own goods.

Because I chose to go “digital,” I wanted to produce a product that simply helped some reader surfing on lunch break, for example, decide what book she might like to buy. I wanted to write brief and snappy and entertaining about the very best books I could find in the various sub-genres of romance. And I figured I’d be wasting the time of Ms.Reader-at-Her-Desk if I only told her what not to buy. Hence, “b(u)y” the book was born.

Finally, I’ve been lucky enough to write for two companies who entertain viewers who aren’t all romance readers – one of which had a 50% male viewership! I’ve had the honor of defining romance fiction for folks who’ve never read it, or misunderstood it before coming my way.

TMD: What do you think the role of online reviewers/columnists should be in promoting the romance genre? What is their responsibility to readers? To writers?

MB: The beauty of the Internet is its being a conduit for First Amendment-type discourse at its “freest.” The Internet’s also ugly for that same reason. But I wouldn’t give up the former to eradicate the latter for a date with Nathan Kamp and another bag of Double Stuffs.

I guess the role of each Inet reviewer or columnist, etc., who owns their URL should be whatever they make it. If someone has a personal blog or site, they get to make the rules and change ‘em as they go along, if desired. Lots of bloggers call themselves journalists, but I’m guessing a lot of professional journalists might disagree with that. Yet some would applaud it.

When one writes professionally for a news organization or entertainment company, standards or guidelines are generally set by the parent company, a style book is created and policies are suggested or asked to be observed. The best companies to write for are ones that allow a combination of this, a healthy respect for the First Amendment and journalistic integrity, along with a standard that respects writers’ creativity.

Perhaps another similar question that bears discussing is, what responsibility does the romance industry have to its writers, readers and the genre when choosing where they send their authors online to interact with viewers, or where to spend ad dollars? Should they support only those Inet romance sites that promote fair discourse about authors and the industry? Should they support all sites, regardless of how reviewers/columnists/commentators write about and interact with authors and readers? Should the industry only support sites and blogs that have the most viewership? Perhaps this also could be asked in terms of authors’ responsibilities to genre and readers.

Listen, I think a person’s first responsibility is to herself (and publishers and authors, perhaps to their bottom lines). I’d have zero self-respect if I did what I do any other way. That encompasses my personal and professional ethics, between which there’s just no difference. So I’m confident saying my responsibility – and honor – is to promote romance fiction to my viewers in a manner which applies journalistic ethics to the work I produce, and moral ethics to the way in which I interact with – and represent – viewers, as well as authors, romance industry professionals and anyone else about whom I write.

TMD: Pardon me while I cover Jmo’s ears for this one. He’s so innocent he closes his eyes when writing love scenes. You’re a strong supporter of authors of erotica – how do you deal with the criticisms that all or some erotica is just legitimized women’s porn?

MB: Funny you should ask that. This morning I received an exclusive excerpt from a book that’ll be one of the hottest of ’09, “Under Fire,” by Jo Davis. And the excerpt is smokin’. It’s only 200 words, but it’s raw and intense and speaks to just about every erotic fantasy RBTB viewers squee over – and it does it with profanity and a hot, wet guy taking himself in hand. And I’m thinking, we’re all adults at myLifetime, but I’m still not positive we’ll publish it, cause some people have a lower tolerance for explicit language and sexual imagery than others. That’s one of those things that get a nod when you’re entertaining a large cross-section of viewers, not just readers who like their romance erotic or even are romance readers to begin with.

My way of dealing with what you’re talking about is simply not to deal with it. What I mean is, I let my presentation of erotic romance speak for itself. The core mission of RBTB applies to erom and all romance: Define, don’t defend. That’s what I try to do, in a literate and level-headed way.

(Note: the excerpt discussed above, was posted yesterday on RBTB, in an edited format)

TMD: How did your relationship with Lifetime come about? No, Jmo, she doesn’t need help dipping her Oreo! Sorry, but you have to watch him like a hawk. He gets little strange when it comes to double dipping.

MB: Oh, man, Jmo. Where’s the Purell? Thanks. I got the gig at myLifetime when my RBTB content was shown to the V.P. of Online at the company. Lifetime was planning to relaunch their website and was looking for new ways to entertain women viewers. The V.P thought RBTB would be a perfect fit because Lifetime is all about women who love romance, family, sexy stuff and fun. And, that’s the way romance got a national entertainment company like Lifetime (in 92 million homes nationwide) to promote the genre to the company’s already-established fan base.

TMD: Has the partnership with Lifetime offered you a wider range of opportunities to meet the authors and industry mainstays you might not have had a chance to approach before?

MB: Well, it certainly makes some folks return my calls a little more quickly!!! And, yes, surely I understood that when I moved RBTB to myLifetime they were offering me the respect the Lifetime Network has garnered in the entertainment industry. That’s been extremely beneficial to me, and I think, to romance.

But the truth of the matter is that romance authors and industry folks are pretty eager to interact with folks who want to help promote the genre, as well as readers.I will say that having a great producer at myLifetime in LA helped score the on-cam ‘In Bed with Fabio’ series. He and I worked pretty diligently to make our cases to the right people, to prove we wanted to present Fabio to romance readers in a respectful way (for a change!). And the way myLifetime’s fronted the resources to present romance fiction to their audience is unbelievable; really amazing.

TMD: You’ve had some fantastic interviews. JMo is still having heart palpitations from watching the one with J.R. Ward. He’s such a fan boy. Which author most intimidated you as you prepared for their interview?

MB: You’re so sweet, J-man! She’s very cool to hang with. Feeling anxious to do a good job, not wanting to waste anyone’s time by not being prepared and feeling some pressure to please one’s producer and bosses is pretty healthy. As my son’s favorite computer game, Portal, puts it: Courage is not the absence of fear.

TMD: With your birds-eye view of the Romance industry how do you see the landscape of the genre changing over, let’s say, the next five years?

MB: Well, you guys probably heard while you were there, the big buzz at the national conference of Romance Writers of America was all about “genre blending.” Authors are infusing their romance novels with elements from other genres that are big among younger demos: urban fantasy, young adult, fan fiction – you name it. This is especially exciting because some believe it’ll bring a younger demo to the genre, hence, folks who’ll buy more books and get hooked on romance reads as a whole. I want to see publishers approaching the organization and labeling of these thoughtfully, however, so readers don’t have the confusion they had when the erotic romance boom began and labels were inaccurate. In other words, if it’s urban fantasy with romantic elements, please don’t label it romance unless the central love story overrides every other plot consideration in the novel. You may sell a book, but romance readers will feel duped.

The trend I’m ultra-psyched about is the return of the, for lack of a better term, authentic romance. It’s the book of an author’s heart, written and edited fearlessly with no concession to offending the sensibilities of folks uncomfortable with allowing every reader her fantasies. Don’t like the program? Switch the channel. Don’t like the romance fantasy? Ask for your money back, don’t buy the author again. But do not any longer expect that it shouldn’t be created in a fictional work. I think it took a while for folks to understand the vocal minority they were paying attention to online in no way represents the average romance reader. Online, perception ain’t nearly reality.

TMD: Writers hear all the time that one sub-genre or another is out of favor i.e., “historicals are out,” “contemporaries are dead.” Do you, as a reader/journalist, see any trends?

MB: The trends I think folks see online are closer to “Whisper Down the Alley.” One writer at a loop says, “They didn’t buy my futuristic neo-medieval romance about virgin male warriors.” Then somebody goes to another loop and writes that Publisher X won’t buy books with virgins (with, not from). Then somebody on that loop reports on her blog that Publisher X’s line is in trouble. So the best way to learn about “trends,” which are less existent than one might think, is to find out where industry professionals are blogging and ask them. Ask your favorite bloggers to invite those professionals to guest blog so you can ask questions. You gotta go to the horse’s mouth.

TMD: The print side of Romance has changed so much over the last few years. Do you see the growth of e-publishing as one of the factors in the change we’re seeing in the print industry?

MB: I guess the print side has changed because of the economy mostly, but it’s been influenced greatly by e-publishing. Take Kensington’s acquiring Samhain, for instance. Brilliant. Almost as brilliant as Jaid Black was in paving the way for women to fantasy on demand with Ellora’s Cave.

But I like to consider myself savvy enough – and hip enough, even for a 43 year-old -- to understand that digital publishing hasn’t yet hit its stride. I read an interesting article the other day that said a large portion of 20somethings think printed word will become obsolete. I don’t buy that prediction, but I urge anyone discounting a continued growth in digital publishing and attendant technology to do so at their folly. I mean, that’s just scary short sighted.

TMD: Okay, now the big invade-your-privacy question. There always has to be one when we do an interview. It is known that you have a thing for Italian soccer player Fabio Cannavaro. We also know your Bellas like to dish on who they think is hot. So what’s the latest scoop on hot men? And how is Fabio C. these days? Have you had a chance to meet him yet?

MB: Well, Canna always will be my first love, but no, unfortunately I haven’t met him. But maybe that’s best. Cause I’m afraid he’d be all alph-Italian male (AIM), and it’d really ruin it for me. But I’m happy to keep him all AIM in my fantasies. At first, we were all bummin’ cause I couldn’t do the “blogger rights” thing at myLifetime, and pull hot, wet mens photos from the ‘net. You can imagine what might happen if someone decided to sue. (We can leave a chat about online rights to work product and output another day).

Anywayz, I just heard from my editor that I can start scoping out sharing sites that aren’t bound by copyright restrictions. So when things settle down, I’ll be throwing myself into the “research” again. Oh, how I’ve missed trawling the ‘net for hot, wet mens.

TMD: This is purely for Jmo, but is there any chance you could hook him up with Carson Kressely for a make-over? As you can see, he’s in some serious need of a new look.

MB: Oh, I dunno; I hear Double Stuff crumbs are the new cheese puff stain in some fashion circles! But, the next time Carson calls to tell me that his goal for me is keeping me not naked, I’ll put in a good word for Jmo.

TMD: Michelle thanks so much for joining us today. Before you go, could you let our readers know some of the great things you have planned for Romance B(u)y the Book in the near future? And Jmo wants me to let you know if you can make the Carson thing happen there’s a bag of Oreos in it for you. Please be sure to leave us your link!

MB:Sure! First, just let me thank you again for inviting me to join you here, today. I’ve really been looking forward to meeting your friends, especially because I haven’t been able to spend much time cruisin’ the Inet s usual. See, myLifetime’s been makin’ lots of changes at their own digs, and it’s kept everybody wicked busy.

For instance, RBTB just went to all-blog format.
http://www.mylifetime.com/lifestyle/entertainment/romance-buy-the-book/blog There’s a fab new video player where folks can watch my one-on-ones with fave authors. Oh! I hope everyone will check out my “In Bed with Fabio” series http://www.mylifetime.com/lifestyle/entertainment/romance-buy-the-book/video/1641831768/1670008104 http://www.mylifetime.com/lifestyle/entertainment/romance-buy-the-book/video/1641831768/1670007947 ! It’s gotten more than 100k views on YouTube!

And we’ve got a really funny set of interviews with Lois Greiman up now. That’s all at myLifetime.com under the Entertainment button on the nav bar. Or you can get directly to RBTB here: http://www.mylifetime.com/lifestyle/entertainment/romance-buy-the-book/blog.

We’ve also got new archives and links to FOBs (Friends of Bellas – Group blogs of authors who are particularly supportive of the Bellas and romance), and a new AUTHORLINKS page coming soon. If authors want to be linked from it, they just need to link RBTB to their blogs/sites, etc., then send me their URLs.

As for Jmo’s “How to Look Good Naked” gig…can you make the Oreos Double Stuffs???