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2016–The Year in Review

2016
From the loss of Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, and Carrie Fisher (among so many others) to the political disasters of Brexit and Trump, I think we can all admit that 2016 kind of sucked on a macro level. I had two procedures (one major) on my spine and continue to have chronic pain, but at least I’m (mostly) out of a wheelchair now.

However, it’s wasn’t all bad.

Recommended Reads

I wanted to read more than I did in 2016, but I still have some year end recommended reads that I’ve reviewed this year. I’ve joined the Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge. Follow my progress and add me as a friend here.

  • I loved Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction, edited by S. Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle. It includes two stories by one of my favorite authors, K.A. Smith. Read my rave review here.
  • Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins was so amazing, I ran out and read a ton more of her books. There aren’t a ton of authors of color in mainstream romance, and she’s possibly the best of the best. Not only are her stories well plotted, she does her homework on the history as well. My review here.
  • Basically anything by Kait Gamble (I reviewed five of her books here, but I read even more) but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Sins in the Sand. By the way, she just published a new book, Faking It, which I’ve bought and am looking forward to reading.
  • Basically anything by Alisha Rai (I three of reviewed of her books here, although I’ve read even more) but my favorite is Glutton for Pleasure.
  • Finally, one of my favorite reads of 2016 was Tamsin Flower’s serial novel, Alchemy XII. It opens on New Year’s Eve and continues month by month through December. (I was a beta reader for this series, and I loved every minute I spent with Harry and Olivia.)

Big Publication News

(Check out my Published Works page for a complete list of purchase links if Amazon Kindle isn’t available in your country)

 

Capturing the Moment

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My first solo title, Capturing the Moment , and my first anthology, Coming Together: Under the Mistletoe were published and both have received great reviews!

 

Other Publication News

  • Intrepid Horizons, edited by Jessica Augustsson, included my story, Dumped. Blurb–A Unicorn’s (former) Virgin is left out as bait for a dragon, but things don’t go exactly as planned.
  • Rogues, edited by Delilah Devlin, included my story, Plunder.  Blurb–Sparks fly when the Caribbean’s most fearsome pirate falls under the spell of a sexy spitfire who’d rather send him to Davy Jones’s locker. I am working on a full-length novel version of this story, which will hopefully be published in 2018.
  • Coming Together Under the Mistletoe, edited by me, included two of my stories Kid Comet and an updated version of Baby it’s Hot Outside.
  • My essay An Expat Fourth of July was published by Long and Short Reviews.

 

Other Stuff I Wrote

  • Flash Fiction (for Wicked Wednesday) Dream or Nightmare
  • Flash Fiction (A Wicked Wednesday Top 3 story) Off Limits
  • Flash Fiction (for Wicked Wednesday) Keep the Shoes On
  • What I did for Lust, will be included in the upcoming anthology, Prompted.
  • Kid Comet, the third in my North Pole Chronicles series, was in Under the Mistletoe.
  • I further updated Baby it’s Hot Outside, was in Under the Mistletoe
  • For Love of Snow White was submitted
  • I expanded my first published story, Renewal, and submitted it
  • Lab Rats, was rejected (nbd, how publishing rolls)
  • Forbidden Territory was rejected (nbd, how publishing rolls)
  • I expanded Love is a Virus, and it was rejected (nbd, how publishing rolls)
  •  I wrote the first draft of the full length novel version of Plunder. (It sucks–all first drafts suck)

2017

My writing goals for 2017 are to finish Plunder and to write 5-10 short stories, including at least one more installment of the North Pole Chronicles.

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Author Spotlight: Kait Gamble

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When Kait Gamble emailed me her guest post, her excerpt was so hot I immediately pre-ordered Sins in the Sand, and several other books. At this point, I am such a fan of Kait’s that I can’t spotlight just one book.

In order of how I read them

Breaking Rossi's Rules

The first book I read by Kait was Breaking Rossi’s Rules, which features Anika, otherwise known as the Ice Princess (her family owns one of the biggest Jewelry Companies) and Luca, a billionaire with a mysterious past.

Anika is complex. Her “ice princess” façade is a coping mechanism. When Luca knocks on her hotel door, expecting someone else, they’re both intrigued. Her ice melts for Luca, and she believes that maybe they could have more than a weekend fling.

Luca inhabits the skin of a billionaire as if he were born to it. But he has a past that few know.

When they come together, Anika melts for him until she catches him doing something unforgiveable.

Anika and Luca have great banter and better chemistry, the locations are described well, and the pacing of the book flows well.

Sins in the Sand

The day that Sins in the Sand downloaded onto my kindle app (I pre-ordered) I started reading at 11 or midnight and didn’t finish until nearly sunrise. I have no regrets.

Kendra is a new employee of the Totally Five Star Dubai hotel. She’s getting used to the quirks of dealing with the highest of the high-end clientele, when the most extreme request she’s ever gotten comes directly from her boss. Kendra bears a striking resemblance to a reality star who was supposed to be appearing at a charity event that evening. Kiki has flaked, so Kendra is asked to stand in, and is assured that they have taken care of ensuring that the “winning bid” will be rigged.

What no one counted on was that competitive billionaires Dmitri and Nikos would shatter the highest rigged bid in an attempt to make this dinner date another contest between to the two of them. Kendra’s desire is ignited for both of them, and when one dinner date turns into a week of playing Kiki, Kendra knows she’s playing with fire.

Kait has written two different, yet equally melt your panties alpha men in Dimitri and Nikos to the point where as a reader I would’ve volunteered to take Kendra’s place. (j/k) The sex, as a threesome and individually with each of the men, was hot enough to live up to the promise.

The reader is taken along with Kendra on a whirlwind ride, and we empathize with her fear that her relationship with these men will shatter when they know the truth, and her confusion over falling for both men.

What happens when the truth comes out? I’m not telling. I will say that this is my favorite Kait Gamble book yet.

Fuel to the Fire

Jackie and Logan were insanely in love. Until they broke up.

When a friend’s wedding brings Jackie to St. Lucia where Logan is working/standing in for a missing groomsman they run into each other again.  The old chemistry is just as strong. Yet something is off–it’s obvious to the reader early on that something fishy went down with the break up as each blames the other. What really happened?

Lots of risky public sex and the rekindling of their romance bring Logan and Jackie to a moment where they need to talk about the past to have a future. That’s when the bride drops a little morsel that sends Jackie running away again.

Just who, or what broke them up?

The public sex is exciting, and Logan and Jackie’s connection pulls at the reader. You’re rooting for them to get together long before you understand why they broke up.

Cuffed

Cuffed is a short story about YouTube stars Scarlet and Jackson getting cuffed together as a publicity stunt staged by a third You-Tuber, Rex. Rex says he won’t uncuff them until they give him some good footage. Neither Scarlet or Jackson expected to enjoy being cuffed together as much as they did.

My only complaint is that I’d love to read more stories in this world.

Ignite Kait Gamble

The last story I’m going to review today is Ignite. This is the second in a series, but works well as a stand-alone as well.

Natalie and Sebastian have been friends since high school. As Sebastian has worked his way from pretty girls in high school to supermodels as an adult, Natalie has always been just his friend. They dress in the latest fashion, while she’s happiest at home in short and a t-shirt, as a computer programmer. When Sebastian has a business deal with a conservative couple, he asks Natalie to play his wife during a trip to Thailand.

Their act drops barriers that have existed for years. But when the trip is over, will Natalie be the latest in Sebastian’s string of conquests.

I really enjoyed this book. I felt the connection between Natalie and Sebastian, and I was rooting for them all the way. My only complaint, which is also a compliment, is that I wanted more.

 

 

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An Interview With Kait Gamble

Today I’m interviewing fellow Totally Bound author Kait Gamble, whose new book Sins in the Sand (Totally Five Star:Dubai) is coming out today!  Totally Five Star is a line of books produced by Totally Bound that take place in the Totally Five Star Hotel Chain–the ultimate luxury brand.

Let me tell you–the excerpt is so good I immediately ran out and bought several of her books. I’ll do a more in-depth review later, but Breaking Rossi’s Rules was so good, I stayed up all night to finish it. I’m now a huge Kait Gamble fan!

 

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1–Hi Kait! Tell us a little about you. 

Hi Delilah! Thanks for having me. What can I say? I’m just your typical geeky, coffee drinking, cat loving, erotic romance author. I love reading (and writing) about billionaires, travel and if there’s secret baby or a mention of Atlantis somewhere in a book, I’m in! When I’m not writing I tend to be found gaming, gardening or experimenting in the kitchen, not necessarily in that order.

 

2–Tell us about your journey from aspiring writer to published author.

I started writing as a child, like many of us. I’d create little worlds populated by my stuffed animals and friends. As I got older the urge to write never stopped. I dabbled in fanfiction for a little while and received a lot of good feedback which prompted me to write original work and submit. After my first book got published, life got in the way for a couple of years but I’m back now!

 

3–Who has influenced you (personally, not just professionally)?

Of course, family has had a huge influence on my views on life and therefore my writing. A lot of writers have as well. I grew up reading just about everything and anything I could get my hands on but eventually gravitated toward romance. I figure since it’s what I love to read, writing within the genre is a great place for me.

 

coffee-laptop

4–Where do you usually write, and what’s your ideal writing space?

I spend a lot of time writing either at my desk or in the living room in various spots. I have a chair that is perfect. The right amount of space for my arms, back support, it’s comfy and the perfect distance from the coffee table so I can reach my coffee and put my feet up if I like, but I share it with a cat so you can imagine how often we clash over it.

 

5–Tell us about your current book

Sins in the Sand (Totally Five Star Dubai) from Totally Bound

Who knew lies and billionaires were an explosive combination?

Kendra has scrimped and saved to care for her ailing father and to keep bailing out a sister who can’t seem to get her life in order. When Kendra is moved to Dubai and into a job at the illustrious Totally Five Star Hotel, she can’t afford to let anything ruin it.

So when a celebrity whom Kendra closely resembles doesn’t show up for a big charity event and Kendra is recruited to take her place, she can’t say no. After all, everything has been set up so that her deception won’t be exposed…

Only, no one could have predicted that rival billionaires Nikos and Dmitri would be at the event, willing to bid astronomical sums to win the dinner prize—time with Kendra. Or that the chemistry between her and the men would be so explosive…

Overwhelmed and completely out of her depth, Kendra finds herself drawn to both powerful, enigmatic men, and they seem just as taken with her.

But what will Nikos and Dmitri do when they find out the truth?

 

6–What’s your next writing project(s)?

I’m currently working on the second in my YA duology (under the name Kacie Ji) and my editor reminded me that I had pitched a paranormal series that I got distracted from with all the Totally Five Star books that somehow burst from my brain all in one go. I’m gearing up to jump back into that.

 

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Sins in the Sand Excerpt

 

Kendra sighed but kept the practiced smile fixed on her lips. “I’m sorry, but—”

“Sorry is not a word you should use with a patron.” The overly starched man glared down his nose at her. “I was told this was a first-class hotel. You should be able to get me whatever I need!” He slammed his hand against the glossy marble of the strategically placed barrier between them.

“Sir…” How could she put this delicately? “We do not procure…that sort of thing.” Kendra fought not to shrink away from his wide-eyed rage. She also caught the tremble in his hand and the sweat building at his temples and on his upper lip. Would he turn violent if she couldn’t get him what she wanted?

“Where’s your manager?” he roared.

“Sir—”

He lunged over the barrier at her. “If you ‘sir’ me one more time…!”

“Mr. Castillo. What a pleasure to see you again.” Julia Monroe slipped in front of Kendra with an easy smile. “How can I help you? I’m Julia, the manager here.”

“Your receptionist,” he spat, “doesn’t seem to understand how to treat guests with the proper respect.”

“Kendra is new. I’m sure we can help if you follow me.” Julia glanced pointedly at Kendra as she brushed past. She was going to get it when Julia was done with the man.

Still, it was preferable to dealing with an irate, entitled junkie. Forcing her shaking hands to function, she finished off the clerical work she had to do before another patron greeted her.

Being an employee at a Totally Five Star Hotel was an amazing opportunity. Kendra had imagined rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous while working in the most luxurious of hotels. So when she got transferred to Dubai, she thanked her lucky stars. In her mind, she had made it into the best of the best.

It had only been a few weeks, but Kendra had already seen more wonderful and bizarre things than she’d ever wanted and had to deal with some of the most insane clientele imaginable. It ranged from strange requests like taking toy poodles out to relieve themselves—only on real grass—in the middle of the night, to arranging ‘private parties’ with arrays of women who were obviously paid to be there. And she did it all with a smile.

Rich people were crazy.

She had worked her fingers to the bone while at university to pay her way only to have her father fall ill. It had taken everything she’d earned and then some to make sure he was comfortable in the end. Kendra hadn’t finished school, but had managed to get her foot in the door with Totally Five Star. Everyone knew that they took care of their staff.

She’d be set.

If she didn’t get herself fired.

After receiving another set of guests, Kendra smoothed her skirt and walked into the break room for a glass of water. It was the first moment she’d had to breathe since getting in that morning. There was a tray of fruit that the staff was allowed to share and sandwiches prepared by one of the hotel’s restaurants on top of all the gourmet coffee they could drink, but she had a shake in the fridge that she liked to take sips from whenever she got the chance. It filled her up and kept her going even through the most demanding days.

Kendra opened the fridge, relishing the thought of having some of the shake. Only it wasn’t there.

One of the porters walked in as she let the door swing shut. “Ahmed? Do you know if anyone took my shake?”

He shook his head as he straightened his uniform. “I haven’t seen a thing.” Ahmed stretched his neck from side to side. “I’ve been running around trying to catch the tiny rat dogs that old lady who came in last night brought with her. Man, those things are fast.”

Kendra felt sorry for him. She might have had to deal with some crazy stuff, but Ahmed and the rest of the porters were used like serfs by the clients a lot of the time. “I feel your pain.”

He practically inhaled an apple then pounded a soft drink. He sighed happily once it was drained. “Back to work. See you later.”

She waved and plucked a few grapes from the tray.

“What are you pouting about now?” Desiree, the other receptionist, sashayed into the room on her Louboutins and sniffed at Kendra disdainfully as she pulled out a bottle of water then took a delicate sip.

“I’m not pouting. And if I was, it would be over someone taking my shake from the fridge.”

Desiree screwed up her face. “Why would anyone steal that swill?” She tapped a French-manicured nail against her perfectly painted lips. “Now that you mention it, I did throw out a molding bottle of something this morning.” She nodded toward the garbage.

That conniving… Kendra looked inside to see her still-full bottle sitting in the midst of the trash.

She fished it out and dropped it in the sink.

“I didn’t know that was still good. It doesn’t look fit for anyone to consume. Sorry.” She smirked and walked back out.

“Sorry my ass.” The woman had had it in for her since the moment she arrived and Kendra had no idea why. They’d never known each other prior to coming to work there. They had been relocated at about the same time—Desiree from Paris and Kendra from Vancouver. They rarely spoke and hardly had anything to do with each other at work and yet, Desiree seemed to hate her.

There was nothing direct or overt. Usually it was a snide comment or a backhanded compliment here and there. Or when they were stuck together, things would just go wrong for Kendra and she knew in her gut that it was because of that woman.

She poured the ruined contents of the bottle down the sink. So much for that. Kendra put the bottle in her little locker and sighed. It was going to be a long night.

Just as she was about to return to her station, Julia strode in with her phone pinned between her shoulder and her ear as she flipped through files on her tablet.

“Yes, it’s all been sorted, Katherine. Everything is a go for tomorrow.” She sighed. “All right. See you in the morning.”

Kendra handed her a bottled water. “It looks like you could use one of these.”

Julia took it, twisted the top open with a crack and took a long swig. “Thanks.”

“Thank you for dealing with that man earlier.” Kendra gave her a half-smile. “I should get back to the desk.”

“Desiree can handle that for the moment.” Julia took another sip. “Don’t let people like that man earlier get you frazzled. You held your own for a while there, which was good. But if you’re faced with something that makes you uncomfortable, pass it on to someone else. Just do it discreetly and with a smile—always with a smile.”

“I’m not used to that type of demand. He just caught me off guard.”

Julia smiled understandingly. “You’ll get the hang of it. Quickly,” she added.

Kendra certainly hoped so. “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but am I right in thinking that Ms. Murray will be in for tomorrow night’s festivities?”

Julia rolled her beautiful brown eyes. “Yes. I guess we should be happy that she hasn’t been here since the moment the auction was announced. It’s such a big deal I never thought she would leave it to me to handle.”

It was a huge undertaking. “I guess she has faith in you.”

“More like she can’t be everywhere at once.” Julia finished off the water and put the bottle in the recycling bin. “But we’ll be graced with her presence in the morning while she makes sure everything is up to standard.”

Wouldn’t that be fun? “I’ll get back to the desk now.”

Julia nodded as she answered another call.

Kendra was so glad she didn’t have to deal with what Julia had to. She’d never been so pleased that she was just a receptionist.

As she walked back out, there was an ear-piercing shriek.

“Kiki Bryant!”

Kendra blinked as an over-bleached and overly tan woman teetered on her heels toward her. “Sorry, I’m not Kiki. My name is Kendra. I’m a receptionist here at the hotel. She should be here in the morning, however.”

“Well, that’s a disappointment.” The blonde scowled. “You look just like her. Though, I would expect the real Kiki Bryant to be dressed a little better.” She gave her a once-over and cocked her head critically.

Kendra fought to keep the smile on her face. Her clothes might be functional, but they were among the finest things she’d ever owned. Not that she owned that many clothes.

“I’m sure Ms. Bryant will dazzle you with her style tomorrow night at the auction.”

 

Buy Links

 

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