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Guest ~ Ines Johnson on Tour

Today we’re thrilled to welcome Ines Johnson, on tour for her new release, Pumpkin, A Cindermama Story. We know you won’t want to miss this!

Girl on Her Own Horse

Have you been paying attention to the evolution of the Cinderella story? If you’ve watched the Disney blockbuster, Frozen, then you have. Young girls and women are no longer waiting around for a man to come by on his horse, sweep them off their feet, and give them shoes.

Okay, I doubt any of us would turn down the shoes!

My point is that women are now taking the reins of their own stories and rejecting the Cinderella trope of changing themselves into someone new. In many, dare I say most, of these stories the prince doesn’t pay attention to the Cinderella character in her ordinary world of working 9-5pm with grime under her nails and threadbare clothes. He doesn’t look her way until she gets magicked into expertly applied makeup, a binding, shape-shifting corset, and brand new shoes.

My first notice of this was in the film Working Girl. This 80’s retelling of the Cinderella story featured a bright secretary who had dreams of entering the boardroom with a briefcase instead of coffee. When her wicked boss steals her idea, the secretary seizes an opportunity to steal into a high profile business meeting by pretending that she’s her boss, while also wearing her boss’s dress and shoes. Melanie Griffith, as the secretary, uses Harrison Ford’s charming character to get her into the board room’s door. When the business deal goes south, Griffith doesn’t wait for the knight in a business suite to rescue her. Instead, she shows off her ‘head for business and bod for sin’ in order to win a business deal, thwart her boss, and get her man.

A decade later Drew Barrymore retold the Cinderella story in Ever After. In a pivotal scene when Barrymore’s character, Danielle, has been taken prisoner by the evil Pierre Le Pieu, the audience holds their breath as the prince leaps onto his horse and heads off to rescue her. But Danielle picks up not one, but two swords, and swashbuckles her way to an escape. As she’s walking out of the castle a free woman, the prince arrives moments too late with her shoe in hand.

Nearly another decade later came another retelling with Penelope. Penelope is an heiress born under a curse that can only be broken in the face of true love. The problem? Penelope’s face doesn’t inspire sonnets and poems as much as it does a hankering for breakfast meats. Penelope’s snout nose has caused her to be rejected her whole life, including rejection from her own mother. When she finally finds a man willing to tolerate her looks and break the curse, she comes to the realization that she likes herself just the way she is. And just like that, the curse is broken and Penelope’s outside matches her glowing inside.

In today’s stories, women don’t wait around for men on horses. They take the reins, defend themselves, and declare love to their own reflections. They’re now even qualified to deliver true love’s kiss to their own sisters as we saw in the blockbuster Frozen.

In my fairytale retelling, Pumpkin: a Cindermama story my heroine has given up on fairytale love. Single mother Malika “Pumpkin” Tavares lost faith in fairytales after she fell for a toad. Town royalty Armand “Manny” Charmayne has been searching for his soulmate all his life, whom he’ll recognize at first sight by a golden aura, that only he can see, surrounding her person. Manny doesn’t see gold when he meets Pumpkin, but the more he gets to know her the more he considers defying fate, if only he can convince her to take a chance on love again.

PumpkinacindermamastoryBlurb

Single mother Malika “Pumpkin” Tavares lost faith in fairytales after she fell for a toad. Now she believes she’s not cut from the storybook, heroine cloth and searches for Mr. Good Enough amongst the sidekicks and supporting men of the town.

Love at first sight isn’t a cliche for town royalty Armand “Manny” Charmayne. For generations the Charmaynes have spotted their soulmates by seeing a golden aura the first time they laid eyes on The One.

When Manny meets Pumpkin he sees…nothing, but sparks fly off the richter scale. The more he gets to know her the more he considers defying fate, if only he can convince her to take a chance on love again.

Buy Link

Amazon

Excerpt

Pumpkin turned and stopped in her tracks. Not because of the near collision, but because of the Adonis who stood before her. Tall and lean with dark, thick curls atop his head. But it was his eyes that arrested Pumpkin. They took her back to her teen years, watching Donnie Simpson on Video Soul; or farther back to Smokey Robinson doo-wopping with The Miracles. They were a pale gray. And he smelled… edible. Like fresh baked, butter croissants sprinkled with earthy spices.

“Excuse me,” he repeated, with a slight Southern drawl that was more refined than lazy. He prolonged his vowels just enough to let you know he was Southern, but the consonants he pronounced perfectly. “Are you Heather?”

And of course, he was looking for someone else. “No, my name is Malika.”

He looked at her and squinted. Then his eyes rolled past her up the steps of the Department of Family And Child Services building. “Oh, sorry. I thought you could have been one of my volunteers.” He stepped away, clearing her path to the entrance.

I thought you could have been one of my volunteers.

Pumpkin looked beyond him to see a voter registration table.

I thought you could have been one of my volunteers.

Part of her knew she should simply walk into the DFACS building to find her cousins and her son, because who knew? LaRon and LaTom could’ve let him go to the bathroom by himself and just forgotten about him —again. But another part of Pumpkin smarted. He’d taken one glance at her, paired it with her Eubonic-consonant-rich name, added it to her current location, and come away with an incorrect assumption.

“You know, I could have been yours,” she said.

He turned back. “Mine?”

“I mean, I have done something like this before.”

“Something… with me?”

“No! I’ve never met you before.”

He opened his mouth to speak, thought better of it, then started again. “What exactly are we talking about?”

This was not going the way she’d planned. But what exactly had she planned when she opened her mouth? Her filter malfunction needed to be repaired soon.

Pumpkin took a deep breath, clearly aware of his smokey eyes watching her with… was that wariness or amusement? Growing up in her family, she had trouble deciphering the two.

“I mean, I have been a volunteer. I’ve done a voter registration drive before.”

Having cleared up that misjudgment, Pumpkin assumed the conversation was over. Only, he looked doubtful at her proclamation.

Pumpkin gave her internal filter a kick. In response it sputtered, “I organized it, actually.” Pumpkin gave it a mental shove to keep quiet. And then, “It was very successful, actually.”

“Where?”

“What?”

“Where did the drive you organized —successfully— take place?”

“Oh,” she said. “At my school. My college —university, actually. Louisiana State University.”

“I know LSU,” he grinned.

Good. Grinning meant amused. He had a nice grin, Smokey Eyes. Straight white teeth. Plump lips that stretched wide. Maybe a little too wide. Almost big bad wolf wide.

“Well,” she said. “There’s a community college with the name Louisiana so…”

“You have a problem with community colleges?”

“No! I just… I just wanted to make sure you knew… which one I meant.” Pumpkin wouldn’t have thought it possible, but his grin stretched even wider.

“My opinion matters to you that much?”

Definitely a wolf.

Then, in confirmation, his eyes slipped from her face and did a quick assessment of her body: the B-cups she no longer bothered to pad, the stubborn muffin top she’d given up on a year ago, the wide hips that looked voluptuous on her cousins but pear-shaped on her.

“I don’t even know you,” Pumpkin said. And she had no intention of getting to know him. Wolves blocked the paths of good girls whether in the forest or on the road of life. Pumpkin had no intention of getting jammed up by a man, ever again.

“Yet, within sixty seconds of meeting me,” he said, “you offered to be mine.”

“No I… That was a misunderstanding, and you know it.”

A chuckle escaped through that predatory grin. The sound rumbled through Pumpkin’s body like a divining rod sensing danger.

“I’m sorry, Malika.”

But then, with the sound of her name on his lips, the humming of the rod ceased. All previous warning signals muted and Pumpkin’s feet took root in the concrete.

“It’s been a long day,” he smiled and a small sigh escaped his lips at the same time.

She’d read the term Cupid’s Bow in romance novels, but the visual didn’t do the term justice. The top of his upper lip, where you’d handle the bow was in the shape of a perfectly symmetrical M. Stretched in a smile, his full bottom lip made her wonder what it would be like to get caught in the crosshairs of his kiss.

“I couldn’t resist having a little fun with you. I hope I haven’t kept you.”

Pumpkin took her eyes off his lips to gaze into his smokey eyes. A smile started to creep over her face, too. “No, you haven’t kept me.”

“You’d better hurry. I’m sure they’re about to close soon.”

“Yeah… wait. What?” Pumpkin followed his gaze to the DFACS entrance. Everything unmuted and red flashed behind her eyes. “I just told you, I went to college.”

“Oh?” His gray eyes furrowed this time. “So, people with degrees don’t fall on hard times?”

“Well… yes. They do. But I’m fine,” she insisted, tapping her new shoes on the pavement for emphasis. “I have a job.” A job that she hated, but it paid all her bills. No government checks came for her and Seth. No child support checks either.

“So, you’re not here to volunteer to help. And you’re not here seeking help. What? Are you here to gloat?”

“No!”

He chuckled again, but Pumpkin was no longer amused.

“I’ve taken advantage of some social programs, like federal grants for the university I attended while on academic scholarship.” Pumpkin conveniently neglected to mention that her childhood kitchen had been stocked from food stamp monies. “But I’m not gloating about my successes because I’m resentful that this society assumes that I can’t succeed without its help.”

He cocked his head, eyes intent on her. “So, you’d rather the rules be unfair and harder for you so that you can save face?”

Pumpkin blinked. “No, that’s not what I mean.”

What did she mean? How did she get into this conversation? All her life, Pumpkin typically kept her opinions to herself. It had been the safest way to navigate her adolescent and teenage years in a household where the family motto read: everyone for themselves.

“You know how they say if you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day,” she continued. “But if you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat forever?”

Smokey Eyes nodded.

Pumpkin hesitated, realizing he was actually listening to every word she said, and waiting for her to say more.

Why not? Her internal filter had taken the day off. “I think the flaw with social programs is that the poor start to believe they can’t do for themselves without it and the rich believe the poor can’t act without their help. And it winds up being a vicious cycle with each side resenting the other.”

Pumpkin glanced at the DFACS door remembering her son was still inside with two professional “cyclists.” She turned back to Smokey Eyes.

He stared up at the clouds in concentration. She could see him turning her words over in his head. It gave her a thrill. She was used to men leering at her body, because, though her curves weren’t artful like her cousins’, they were round enough to grab attention. Watching Smokey Eyes focus inward and contemplate her words was possibly the most intimate experience of her thirty years.

After a moment, his tongue peeked out, like an arrow, to pull taut his upper lip. Pumpkin’s own lips parted as a quiver went through her long dormant core. Any moment now, he would aim words at her.

Any moment now.

Turning his gray eyes back to her, he said, “I do see your point. But I also feel that with great wealth comes great responsibility. And if you’ve caught a lot of fish, you should share. It’s good manners. It’s how I was raised.”

Pumpkin gave a woeful shake of her head at that. “I was raised by people who wouldn’t fish; would take yours; and then demand you go get more.”

“But not you.”

It wasn’t a question. There was something behind those smokey eyes. Not empathy. He was obviously moneyed, in his expensive shirt and tailored pants, where Pumpkin’s teen closet had been sponsored by Goodwill, and her adult closet now sported Target.

“Me? No,” she said holding his gaze.

“And you wouldn’t ask for any food off my table? Even if I’m willing to share?”

It seemed like a trick question. On the one hand, Pumpkin harbored an image of him feeding her bits of food. On the other hand, “Is there something wrong with a woman who is self-sufficient?”

“No. Those are my favorite kind.” He grinned again, the wolf rising to its haunches once more.

 

Author Bio

Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.

Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

Links

Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24927912-pumpkin
Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/ineswrites
Twitter
https://twitter.com/ineswrites
Website
https://inesjohnson.wordpress.com/
Publisher
http://heartspell.com/

 

Ella Jade ~ on Tour: Sliding into Second

If you’re into hot, dirty-talkin’, sexy baseball heroes I may have just the thing to quench that thirst…

SlidingIntoSecond_Medium

Have you met my players?

Available now for a limited time release price of .99 cents…

Sliding Into Second

Jilted once before, now it’s her turn to level the playing field.

Hotshot sports reporter Sage Millan has been busy making a name for herself in the male dominated world of baseball. She’s just landed her dream job, and her first assignment is covering the newly crowned World Series champions, The Kingston Crushers. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. The only problem…her ex-boyfriend, and the only man she’s ever loved, is the team’s second baseman. Things ended badly between them, and she’s not sure she can put those demons to rest.

Professional baseball player Nicolas Cordova is having the time of his life. His team has just won the World Series, and with the victory comes more fame, women, and exposure than he ever could have imagined. But things are about to change for the sexy, charismatic athlete. He never expected his ex-girlfriend to walk back into his life, much less the locker room.

These days Sage is smarter, more mature, and doesn’t plan on being played a second time. Her appearance stirs old memories for Nic. She’s the one he let get away in the name of his career. He vows he can be the man she needs this time around. Will that be enough to mend her broken heart?

Content Warning: contains explicit sex and adult content

Excerpt…

“I’ll admit I’ve had many women in the past, and I can’t apologize for living. But as the years went by, my feelings for you were always someplace deep in my heart. I know that’s why I can’t settle down. Why I can’t find the peace I’ve been searching for. It doesn’t exist without you.”

“How can you say things like that? You don’t even know the woman I’ve become. I’m not that girl who relied on you, the one who would’ve followed you anywhere. I’m not her anymore, Nic. I can’t ever be her again.”

“Maybe I’m not asking for her.” He leaned closer to her face. “Maybe I want to know the woman you are today. I want another shot at this.”

“No,” she whispered.

“If you remember anything about me, I have a hard time with that word.” He tipped her chin, focusing on her lips. “I am going to kiss you. Right here and right now.”

Her knees buckled as a cool tremor swept through her. She wanted to say no. It was the only logical word to mutter, but her heart didn’t want her to say it. Her body wasn’t on board with turning him down either. The warmth that built in her stomach had moved lower, and now all she could think about was his lips on hers.

“It doesn’t sound like you’re asking,” she breathed out.

“I’m not.”

Before she could say anything else, his mouth was on hers, eager, but slow and soft. His stubble grazed along her chin as he tilted his head and deepened their bond. The sound throughout the crowded lobby seemed to fade into the background, and soon, all she could hear was her heart pumping loud between her ears. Why did he have to be such a freakin’ good kisser?

After the incredibly long connection, he pulled away, but not before stopping to kiss the bottom corner of her mouth like he used to.

“I’ve waited a long time to do that,” he said. “It was worth every lonely minute.”

“I… Nic…” She’d always had the gift of words. It was what she did for a living, but in that moment, all of her thoughts were jumbled and senseless.

“It’s okay.” He grinned as he stroked her cheek. “Let’s get something to eat and maybe figure this out. Whatever this is.”

“No.” She ran her hands along his strong chest, resting them on his shoulders.

“Don’t over analyze this, baby.” He glanced down at her hands on his body. “Let’s just go with it.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you.” She took a breath and continued before she lost her nerve. “Take me upstairs to your room. I know how we can figure this out.”

“What are you asking?” He placed his hand on the small of her back, drawing her closer to him. “You need to be real clear.”

“I want to go upstairs with you.”

“That’s not why I kissed you.”

“Isn’t it?” She smirked. “We’re adults now, Nicky. Let’s settle this like adults.”

“I’m not looking to settle anything. That usually means it’s over, and we’re nowhere near over.” He motioned for Joe. “I’ll take care of the bar tab and then we’ll get dinner.”

“No.” She draped her arms around his neck, intoxicated by the idea of being so close to him again. He may be older now, and may have lost those boyish looks, but the man he had become suited him and drove her wild with need.

“What did I tell you about that word?”

“I can guarantee I won’t be using it once we’re in your bedroom.” She ran her tongue along her top lip. “I’m going to the ladies room. When I come out, if you’re not by the elevators waiting for me, I’ll know that kiss was nothing more than the heat of the moment and we can go on with our lives.”

“Sage?”

“Shh.” She pressed her lips to his. “Now who’s over analyzing?” She reached for her purse and coat hanging on the back of the stool. “I’ll see you in a few minutes.” I hope.

Buy Links

Beachwalk Press    AMAZON     Barnes and Noble

This is book 2 in the Kingston Heat Series but both books stand alone and can be read in either order.

 

Book One… Stealing His Heart available now.

WARNING… Pax will steal your heart

StealingHisHeart_Medium

Will the bad-boy pitcher strike out when it comes to love?

Shy music teacher Sophia Ballis has sworn off men. After a bad experience with a college jock she decided it was better to be alone than to get burned again. She focused on her education and now her new job at a local private school.

Professional baseball pitcher Paxton Hughes is a player both on and off the field. He’s signed to the Kingston Crushers to bring home the coveted championship title. Nothing can get in his way. Serious relationships don’t mix with a life on the road and he never loses focus on the game. One-night stands are his specialty for a reason.

While out jogging one spring morning, the two collide, setting their course in motion. Pax is immediately drawn to the unassuming beauty. Sophia is aware of his reputation and decides one night of meaningless sex with the attractive Texas charmer is just what she needs to get over her self-imposed dry spell. Pax has more than a one-night stand on his mind, but will his bad-boy persona and demanding schedule ruin any chances of a happily ever after?

Content Warning: contains explicit sex and adult content

REVIEWS:

“Ella Jade always comes through with sexy little romps that are always entertaining” Manic Readers

“I read it in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. It has everything I LOVE in a sexy steamy hot book.” My Daily Romance

“Very fun read.” Musings From An Addicted Reader

“This is a story that you won’t regret getting into.” Adri at Sassy Moms Say Read Romance

Amazon/Beachwalk Press

 About the Author

Ella Jade has been writing for as long as she can remember. As a child, she often had a notebook and pen with her, and now as an adult, the laptop is never far. The plots and dialogue have always played out in her head, but she never knew what to do with them. That all changed when she discovered the eBook industry. She started penning novels at a rapid pace and now she can’t be stopped.

Ella resides in New Jersey with her husband and two boys. When she’s not chasing after her kids, she’s busy creating sexy, domineering men and the strong women who know how to challenge them in and out of the bedroom.  She hopes you’ll get lost in her words.

She loves connecting with readers. You can find her here…

FB/Twitter/Website

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Renee Rose ~ On Tour

Dangerous Men

By Renee Rose

Hello! Thank you so much for having me today.

mobmistressI’ve always loved the intrigue of dangerous men. Something about the relationship not being entirely safe adds to the fire of a Dominant/submissive romance. In Mob Mistress, Lexi Tyler, a hair stylist in a financial crisis, gets involved with mobster Bobby Manghini against her better judgement. He offers her a luxurious place to stay and spending cash in exchange for being available to him and at his beck and call.

It’s a good deal, but she’s still not entirely sure about just how dangerous Bobby might be. In this excerpt, he asks for her landlord’s name and she’s hesitant, in case he plans to kill him:

EXCERPT

He kissed Lexi, cupping the back of her head to hold her in place. She responded, her lips soft and supple. When they pulled apart he settled beside her, stroking his hand up and down the curve of her hip. “So, are you in some kind of trouble?”

She went still. “What do you mean?”

“I get the feeling you wouldn’t normally do something like this. Gina introduced us for a reason. I’m hoping it’s not because you’re an informer.” He grinned when her eyes rounded and she shook her head. “You need something from me. What is it?”

She opened her mouth but no words came out.

“Is it money? Are you running from someone? Do you need protection?”

She drew in a shaky breath. “No, not at all.”

He shook his head. “Don’t ever lie to me, Lexi. It irritates me.”

She blinked with wide eyes, but did not speak.

He prompted, “Try it again.”

Tears formed and he watched her struggle to keep them back. “I got evicted today,” she admitted, not quite meeting his eye.

He nodded, unsurprised. He knew something had to be going on, because she was definitely not your usual bar floozy out to sink her claws into a rich guy. She seemed like a smart, normal girl who had never done anything like this in her life. Which added to her appeal. “Is your stuff still there, at your apartment?”

“Yeah.”

He got up and fished his phone out of his trouser pocket on the floor. “What is the address?” he asked, his thumb poised over the keypad.

She lifted her eyebrows. “Why?”

“Because, I’m going to get it back for you,” he answered impatiently, then raised his eyebrows to prompt her.

“3650 E. Walnut, #254.”

“Landlord’s name and number?”

“Darrell Jones. I’ll get his number,” she said, rolling out of bed and padding back into the living room. When she returned with her phone, she looked nervous. “What are you going to do to him?”

He laughed. “What do you want me to do to him?”

“Nothing…I mean —”

He chuckled again. “I was just thinking along the lines of paying him enough to open up the place and let me move your stuff out.”

“Oh,” she said, looking embarrassed. “Sorry. I just…don’t know how all this works.”

“I’m just an ordinary guy, Lex. I work in real estate and new construction. I use family contacts to make deals, and I’m not above bending the law a bit to avoid paying Uncle Sam more than his fair share, but I’m not a criminal.”

Her face flushed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

“Come here,” he said, tugging her hand so she crawled back up on the bed with him. He kissed her. “I’m not offended. I think you’re cute.”

Mob Mistress blurb

When hair stylist Lexi Tyler finds herself evicted from her apartment, her best friend sets her up with the mobster Bobby Manghini, knowing he likes to play sugar daddy. He offers her a luxury apartment overlooking the city and spending cash every time he sees her, but one thing is clear: he is the bossman.

Lexi soon discovers Bobby backs up his rules with firm, over the knee discipline, but he also takes responsibility for all her problems, giving her more support than she ever dreamed of having from a man

Mobster Bobby Manghini likes to be the man in control, particularly with women, which is why he prefers a mistress for sex, even though he’s no longer married. When he strikes a deal with Lexi to be at his beck and call, he finds in her the full package — a hot, intelligent woman who is turned on by his dominance and willing to submit to his punishment. But when she finds out he doesn’t have a wife, she is hurt by the deception and severs all ties.

Can he prove to her their relationship meant more than a business arrangement? Or will he lose the one woman willing to give him everything he ever desired?

Buy Links

Amazon     Amazon UK     ARe     Barnes & Noble

Renee Rose is a naughty author and kinkster who loves writing about hot alpha males, Dominance/submission and power exchanges. Named Eroticon USA’s Next Top Erotic Author in 2013, her books are all centered around kink, namely: spanking. She also writes BDSM under the name Darling Adams.

She can be found on:

Blog

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