Girl reading…as my 20Days/20Books Celebration to mark the release of my 20th published work–Plaid to the Bone–rolls on with Day 5!  I hope you know how much YOU mean to me, dear reader. I always think of reading as a collaborative effort between the writer and the reader to create a world that exists only in the mind. Without you and your imagination, my stories are only squiggles on a page.

Plaid to the BoneWhen we go to the trouble of creating that fictive world, it’s nice to spend additional time there. That’s why Plaid to the Bone is part of a larger series–Spirit of the Highlands. It’s the prequel to Plaid Tidings, a Christmas novel due out October 1st! (And oh, yes! You can pre-order your copy now!)

But first things first. In Plaid to the Bone, you’ll make the acquaintance of Lyall Lyttle and Mrs. Fletcher, the nervous butler and no-nonsense housekeeper of Bonniebroch‘s keep. And the twin upstairs maids, Jane and Janet whom no one can keep straight, not even the beau they take turns bedeviling. As well as the powerful and dangerous Morgan MacRath (more about him in a later post!) They all return in Plaid Tidings along with Callum Farquhar, our roaming miscreant whom you met on Day One of this stationary blog tour.

Meet all the folk who call Bonniebroch Castle home!
Plaid to the Bone is available for:Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo
And for my international friends: AmazonUK | AmazonCA | AmazonDE

Alexandra Hawkins

Twilight with the Infamous Earl

Click image for an excerpt!

My blog guest today is no stranger to writing engaging series. USA Today Bestselling author Alexandra Hawkins’ popular Lords of Vice series is ending this November with Book 7~ Twilight with the Infamous Earl. You have plenty of time to read the whole series before then, and you can pre-order the Earl to make your set complete!

Pre-order links: B&N.com | Amazon

Also in November, Alexandra is bringing readers two more titles as ebooks:

The No Good Irresistible Viscount Tipton
How can a man who is no good be oh, so right?

Pre-order links: Amazon | B&N.com

and The Scandalous Bad Mr. Milroy
Sometimes a scandalously bad man can be oh, so good…

Pre-order links: Amazon | B&N.com

At only $2.99 for these ebooks, romance readers will having plenty to be thankful for this November! But the book Alexandra has gracious offered you a chance to win today is Book 6 in the Lords of Vice series–Dusk with a Dangerous Duke!

Dusk with a Dangerous DukeThey were children when the Duke of Huntsley was introduced to Lady Grace Kearly. The young duke—nicknamed “Hunter”—took one look at his future bride and thought only of escaping his responsibilities to his family. Marriage was for grown-ups and Hunter still had years of skirt-chasing ahead of him. But now the time has come for Hunter to heed the call: if this Lord of Vice hopes to keep all of his inheritance, he’ll have to claim his long-neglected betrothed…

With her twenty-first birthday approaching, Lady Grace dreads the thought of marrying the duke she has met only once—especially since he’s grown into a notorious rake who will probably beget his heir and abandon her in the country while he pursues fresh game in London. So when Lady Grace coolly decides to call the wedding off, even Hunter is surprised by his refusal to let her go. Suddenly, the notion of claiming and taming this green-eyed beauty is one challenge he cannot resist…

Buy link: MacMillan

Thanks for helping me celebrate my 20th book by offering this story to my readers, Alexandra!

Sins of the Highlander

Sins of the HighlanderI mentioned the collaboration between a reader and author earlier. Well, sometimes authors collaborate with each other too! My agent Natasha Kern and my delightful editor Leah Hultenschmidt at Sourcebooks decided to pair me up with romance legend, Connie Mason! Her work was among some of the very first romance novels I ever read, so as you can imagine teaming up with her was quite a treat!

Our first book together–and my first book for Sourcebooks!– was Sins of the Highlander. I love Mad Rob’s story. Once when I was speaking to an RWA chapter about it, I had them in tears describing Rob’s burning love for his dead wife and how he dreamed of her in such heart-stopping detail, he didn’t want to wake. It was like losing her all over again.

Can a man who’s known such love ever love again? That’s the question in Sins of the Highlander.

The Prize

Today you might win a FREE download of Plaid Tidings from Kensington, a print or ebook copy of Alexandra Hawkins’ Dusk with a Dangerous Duke, or a print or ebook copy of Sins of the Highlander from me!  Remember, each day you are eligible for another entry in the Grand Prize drawing for a Kindle Paperwhite!

And our question to get the discussion started is: Do you prefer print or digital books? Why? Of the last five books you bought, how many were of each kind?

Blarney StoneOr not.

By the time I hiked through a lovely meadow and climbed the 100+ steps to the top of Blarney Castle, I had second thoughts about giving the bluestone a big wet smack. Take a look a this picture. You can actually see a discoloration on the stone from all the kisses over the years. Since I’ve been on high dose steroids for 3 years for a lung condition, my immune system is a bit compromised to begin with. I didn’t need to swap germs with an Irish icon, however revered it might be. (Of course, the fact that I’d have to lie down and hang backward over that precipice while the guy in red keeps me from slipping away in order to give the stone a kiss had nothing to do with my decision!)

View from Blarney CastleBut the view from the top of Blarney Castle was more than worth the climb. It’s situated to be able to see advancing foes far in the distance.

You see, the home of the McCarthy’s wasn’t built for comfort. It was crafted with an eye to defense–thick walls, soaring towers, and murder holes in the gate house! Blarney Castle is a ruin, so we had to use our imagination as we climbed through it. Floors were missing in the main section, but once we began ascending a narrow spiral staircase, the chambers leading off it were mostly intact.

Blarney Castle's Earl's WindowThe photo to the right shows the ornate window in the earl’s bedroom with three openings on a “Juliette-type” faux balcony. Most other rooms must make do with arrow notches to let light in. The chute-like openings (a small one to the right of the earl’s window and a much larger one almost dead center to the left) were from the castle’s garderobes. A garderobe is a medieval latrine. Human waste exited the castle through those openings.

Blarney Castle's Back DoorAnd speaking of openings…no castle would be complete without an emergency exit. When Cromwell’s forces led by Lord Broghill took Blarney Castle, they were in for a big surprise. Once they entered the bailey, they discovered only two elderly household retainers were there. All the Irish defenders had disappeared along with everything of value in the stronghold! Here I am at the Badger’s Cave where the McCarthy warriors escaped from the English.

I thought this was a fun discovery since in Sins of the Highlander, I gave Mad Rob’s castle an elaborate cave that allowed him to enter and exit without using the main gate. My fiction has the ring of truth. Who knew?

This week my One Night with a Rake tour continues. Be sure to check my itinerary each day to follow me through cyber-space. Prizes at every stop!

Welcome! If you landed here, you’re in the right place. I’m part of Romance at Random’s Reader Rally Blog Hop!

Usually authors offer excerpts from their books, but I’m going to be a little different. (My regular visitors will shrug and say, “So what else is new?”) I’m sharing snippets instead, just the beginning of a few chapters. Here goes:

Sins of the Highlander

Sins of the Highlander

Click image to order!

Chapter One ~ The peat fire had burned out and the ash gone gray, but Rob MacLaren didn’t feel the least bit cold. Not while his hot-blooded woman writhed under him.

Chapter Two ~ Rob advanced steadily, steeling himself to ignore the way her brows drew together in fear. “A man doesna name a horse he might have to eat come winter,” he said, his voice silky with menace. “And he doesna befriend one he’s taken hostage.”

Chapter Three ~ Elspeth Stewart blinked at him, like a small brown squirrel caught in the gaze of an adder.

Chapter Four ~ When Mad Rob decided to leave a place, he didn’t let anything slow him down. In the black cave, Elspeth couldn’t see her own hand when she held it before her face, but the Maclaren seemed to know exactly where he was going.

Chapter Five ~ “Wine!” Lord Drummond bellowed as he entered the solar.

Old Normina shuffled forward with a horn and a wineskin of the best vintage to be found in the laird’s cellars. She’d anticipated he’d demand more than mead this night after chasing all over creation for his lost bride.

Chapter Six ~ Lachlan Drummond and Elspeth’s father reined their horses to a halt at the top of the rise. The sun eased over the southeastern hills but it promised no additional warmth. The day was breaking cold and bitter as a spinster’s bed.

Midway through Chapter Six ~ Elspeth screamed. The last thing she saw before Rob and the wolf disappeared into the brush was his long claymore flying into the air, end over end.

____________________________

Hope you enjoyed this “box of chocolates” sampler from SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER. The rules of the blog hop ask you to leave a comment in order to be entered win one of my two prizes. I’m offering SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER  to one winner and TOUCH OF A THIEF to another. After commenting here, be sure to pop over to my website contest. The prize here on my website is a NEW KINDLE!

Don’t forget to enter the drawing for the Grand Prize at Romance at Random too!

Hope you enjoyed your visit here today and will pop back by often! ;-)