Victoria Dahl's Blog
October 4, 2010
My next release is almost here! The Midnight Kiss anthology will be out on October 26th, and not only will you get amazing stories from Robyn Carr and Jean Brashear, you'll also get my very first contemporary novella!
"Midnight Assignment" is the tale of Elise Watson and Noah James, colleagues who shared one ill-advised kiss two years before and are now forced to work in close proximity over a lonely holiday. A certain somebody (Jane L) told me an FDIC takeover of a bank couldn't be sexy. But she's so wrong. What could be sexier than two controlling federal agents working long hours together through icy nights in a nearly deserted hotel? Mm. Not much. Especially when there's so much anger and... and yearning.
Let's have a contest! Read the excerpt below. Enjoy it. (That's an order.) Then leave a comment on the most surprising set-up you've found sexy in a romance novel. A hero or heroine or situation you didn't think would be hot but wound up curling your toes.
Leave your comment by 1 PM EST tomorrow, (Tuesday, October 5th) and I'll choose a winner randomly from the comments.
What's the prize??? Signed copies of all three of this year's anthology releases! MIDNIGHT KISS, LORDS OF DESIRE & HIGHLAND BEAST!!!
You can preorder Midnight Kiss from: Amazon | B & N | Borders | Powell’s | Indiebound
Good luck, everyone!
“I’m not going to let you screw this up for me, Noah James, is that clear?”
Noah ignored the question and watched Elise Watson’s backside as she walked ahead of him. Each of her long strides turned the gray conservative skirt into an intriguingly tight scrap of fabric before it relaxed into boring wool again. Then her next step would stretch it tight for another brief moment, cupping her muscles like a--
She stopped so suddenly that he almost crashed into her. “I said, is that clear?”
By the time she’d spun toward him, Noah had forced his gaze higher, and he managed to meet her eyes with a cool glare. He, after all, hadn’t been the one to screw things up the first time around. Elise had definitely been the one who’d caused that damage. She’d started the kind of trouble for him that had lasted two long years. Trouble that hadn’t ended until he’d stolen the Denver job out from under her nose and gotten the hell out of D.C.
She was still pissed about losing the job, and her anger gave Noah an excuse to smile. “Whatever you say, Elise.”
Her mouth tightened at his insolent tone. Her eyes narrowed. Elise Watson was about to lose her temper, and the agents waiting ahead of them in the hotel lobby were cringing visibly in anticipation. When she lost her temper, heads rolled, and Noah knew she’d be pleased as punch if it was his head bouncing across the faded blue of the hotel carpet.
But hotel carpet it was, and he saw the moment Elise remembered they were in public. She couldn’t scream and cuss and threaten death, or the hotel staff might suspect that they weren’t really there for an emergency corporate meeting for a company called Workfire Industries. They’d already strained belief by holding their fake meeting two days after Christmas. If their supposed CEO started cursing like a sailor, punching Noah in the chest with her finger, suspicions would be raised. So her temper was thwarted. Noah was safe.
Plus, he reminded himself, he was armed. Surely one five-foot-seven-in-heels woman couldn’t hurt him. Physically.
She leaned a little closer, her green eyes ablaze with violence, but before she could speak, someone else called out.
“Hey, Noah James!” Tex Harrison called. He was a forensic computer analyst, and though he looked like a scrawny seventeen-year-old boy trying to grow a beard, he was a genius. A perverted genius. Noah bit back a groan.
“Noah, I heard you got an invite to party with the flight attendant team from your flight. Where are they staying?”
Glaring, he gave a quick shake of his head, but Elise’s eyes slid back to him and caught the movement. “That’s not true,” he said, as if it could possibly matter to her.
She swept him with a scornful look. “The bank closes in five minutes. I want your team in place in four.”
“Don’t worry about my team.”
“I swear to God you missed that flight just to make my life harder." The frustration on her face softened to compassion for a fleeting moment. "These people are about to have a very bad evening. The least we can do is handle this quickly and smoothly."
Noah clenched his teeth. “The flight was canceled. I briefed my team at the airport while we waited. If anything goes wrong, it won’t be on our watch.”
“You’d better hope not. Or you’re going to regret the time you put into flirting with flight attendants instead of prepping for the job.” With that, she swung around and stalked out to the tiny lobby.
Noah watched the rest of the team jump at some quiet word from her. She was sharp and exacting and one of the smartest people he’d ever met. She demanded excellence and expected miracles, and everyone on her team knew it.
She was damn good at what she did, and that pissed him off. After all, it would’ve been easy to get her out of his head if she weren’t sharp as a razor blade. That kind of weapon sunk deep and true. His only consolation was that since moving to Denver, he didn’t waste so much time looking up every time the elevator door opened, just in case it was Elise wandering down to his floor.
Noah followed the rest of the team toward the door, sparing a second to glare promises of retribution at Tex. But Tex was busy hitting on one of the new girls and he only gave Noah a distracted wave in response.
Taking a deep breath, Noah looked down at his watch. Three minutes. “It’s time,” he said, and his second-in-command stepped up to his side.
Elise tossed him a glance. He gave a careful nod in answer and they both stepped toward the door, confident the other ten team members would follow. Ten more were assembled in the conference room, waiting for the signal to go, and two more teams were stationed outside the other two branches of the bank.
“Mrs. Smith!” a perky blond receptionist called out as they moved past.
At the sound of the name she’d assumed for the case, Elise paused, her brown hair swinging forward as if she wanted to keep moving. “Yes?”
“Are you sure you guys want to go out in the cold? It’ll be below zero by eight o’clock. We’ve got an arrangement with the local market, and I’d be happy to have dinner sent over. Maybe sandwiches or barbecue?”
“No, thank you. We’re fine.”
“Oh. Well... All right. It’s just so weird to have a conference and no food service, but I guess, if it’s an emergency meeting, like you said...”
Elise stared at the girl as if she were speaking another language. The girl’s face turned pink, and Noah watched as Elise physically braced herself for the kind of polite talk people in places like Omaha expected. “Thank you so much for the offer, but we’re fine. We’ll have dinner out and then we’ll be back for another meeting later, so keep the coffee brewing.”
“Oh, I’ll get some fresh cookies in the oven!” the receptionist responded.
Noah almost laughed out loud at the horrified expression on Elise’s face. “That won’t be necessary.”
The men and women around her groaned.
“But... they’re complimentary,” the girl murmured in disbelief, but Elise was already walking away.
Noah rolled his eyes before following Elise out the door. “Make the cookies,” he tossed over his shoulder, happy to needle Elise any way he could....
July 26, 2010
! I'll be in Orlando on Wednesday, July 28th! See below for details.Happy July, Everybody!
Actually, I should say Happy 2010, as this is my first newsletter this year. I apologize for neglecting you for the previous six months. I've been busy writing, writing, WRITING! But that's good news, because it means I have TWO releases this summer!
First up is Crazy for Love! This book hit the shelves on July 1st. It is summer in a book, assuming you like your summer to feature ocean waves, sex on the beach, and a hot treasure hunting hero. If you don't like that sort of thing...um, maybe you signed up for the wrong newsletter? Even so, try it out, if only to find out what it's like to date a slightly OCD man who still manages to bring the sexy. That's right. I said OCD.
What are other people saying?
"...intelligent, entertaining, passionate characters that I absolutely fell in love with." - Enchanting Reviews
"Exquisite imagery, subtle humor, and remarkable character development make Crazy For Love sparkle with life and energy." -Long and Short Reviews
In the mood for a historical? How about an historical? (That rule is a bit squishy and makes me nervous, so I've covered all of you, regardless of your preference.) Either way, you're in luck. A Little Bit Wild will be in stores in a few days!
This story is... dare I say it?... yes, it's a little bit wild. It opens with quite a bang, and features a heroine who thinks men are pretty to look at, but not good for much else besides dancing. Unfortunately, she finds herself in the position of having to marry one of them, and it's not the one she would've chosen.
Some people love this heroine and her story. Allegra at Romance Reviews Today says, "Laugh out loud, cry into your hanky, and leap head first into the joy of A LITTLE BIT WILD. Deserving of a Perfect 20, but since our highest rating only goes to 10, it will just have to do."
And other people really love the heroine: "Being unapologetically lusty is bizarre enough, but being an idiotic drunk...is inexcusable." (All About Romance.) Wait. Sorry. Maybe that wasn't supposed to be a compliment. I think I took it the wrong way.
Clearly you'll have to read the book to see what you think of Marissa York! Want to meet her right now? Here's a sneak peek.
For more information about the book, plus links to online booksellers. visit my website.
Believe it or not, I have even more news! Talk Me Down was nominated for a Romance Writers of America® Rita Award!
[image error]The Rita Award is the romance world's version of the Oscars or the Emmys, and Talk Me Down was nominated for Best Single Title Contemporary Romance of 2009!
I'm incredibly honored and still in shock. The winner will be announced at a big ceremony in Orlando on July 31st. I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, please check out all the nominees and cheer on your favorite!
I'm also thrilled to announce that Talk Me Down finaled in the National Readers Choice Awards! I'm so excited that this party is also in Orlando, and I'll be able to attend. I'll be there with bells on and fingers crossed.
So, you might be asking yourself, what's next for Victoria Dahl? Well, I'm glad you asked!
I'll be in Orlando, Florida in just a couple of days! Please join me in Orlando on Wednesday, July 28th for the Romance Writers of America Literacy Signing! More than 500 romance writers will be signing their books at the Walt Disney World® Dolphin Resort from 5:30 to 7:30. Proceeds support ProLiteracy Worldwide. I hope to see some of you there! Visit the RWA National site for more details.
In October, I'll be a bit closer to home. On Friday, October 8th, I'll be signing my books at the Utah RWA conference in Park City, Utah. Please join us from 7 to 9 PM at The Grand Summit Hotel in The Canyons Resort. There'll be lots of great authors there, including legendary New York Times #1 bestseller Christine Feehan! More info here.
I don't have any other appearances scheduled yet this year, but I have plans to be in L.A. next spring for the 2011 Romantic Times Readers Convention. I'm also planning to be in Birmingham, Alabama in November 2011. Watch next year's newsletters for more details.
Assuming you don't follow my every move (Hi, Mom!), here's a helpful recap of all my 2010 releases, including my first contemporary novella which will be out in October:
January: Lead Me On, the last in book in the Tumble Creek series.
June: Mass-market paperback release of the Lords of Desire anthology, previously out in trade size.
July: Crazy For Love, a new contemporary romance from HQN.
August: A Little Bit Wild, the start of a brand new historical series.
September: Highland Beast, the highland vampire anthology previously released in trade size will be out in mass market paperback. Watch for it!
October: My first contemporary novella in a special Harlequin New Years' anthology called Midnight Kiss. My story is "Midnight Assignment."
And in 2011, watch for a new four-part contemporary series that starts with a novella called "Just One Taste" in the Lori Foster anthology The Guy Next Door!
Whew. Tired of me yet? I'd better go before I wear out my welcome. As always, thank you so much for being a reader. I hope you're having a wonderful summer filled with umbrella drinks and air conditioning. And maybe the occasional hot treasure hunting hero.
See you again soon!
All my best,
June 29, 2010
Yeaaaa! CRAZY FOR LOVE is out in stores! For those of you who haven't seen this book yet, it's a bit of a departure. It's a stand alone book, unrelated to the Tumble Creek series. It's set on the Virginia coast instead of in the mountains. And the cover is 100% different:
You can find it at your local bookstore or online:
Order from: Powell’s | B & N | Amazon | Borders | Indiebound
Also available as an ebook from Kindle, BooksOnBoard and many others! (And right now it's only $5.76 from Kindle, because I am a cheap date, baby! http://tinyurl.com/26hcmop )
CRAZY FOR LOVE
Chloe Turner thought she was going to marry the perfect man-until her fiancé's plane crashed. And then she got the really bad news: he'd tried to fake his own death to avoid marrying her. Now America's most famous bridezilla (a tag she most definitely does not deserve), Chloe escapes to a remote island to avoid the paparazzi. And right next door is a man who just might be the cure
for Chloe's heartache....
A magnet for wild, complicated women, Max Sullivan is relieved to have finally found someone "normal." Chloe is his girl-next-door fantasy come to life, and best of all, she gets him. With her, he can be himself, a treasure-hunting millionaire who desperately wants out of his sexy but reckless job. But when Chloe's notoriety catches up with them, will their torrid romance make it to the mainland?
READ AN EXCERPT!
Enchanting Reviews says: "...intelligent, entertaining, passionate characters that I absolutely fell in love with."
I'm not doing much promo this year, so let's sum it up right here, shall we?
Top 8 reasons to read CRAZY FOR LOVE!!!:
1. Hot treasure-hunting hero in a wetsuit.
2. Hot treasure-hunting hero in way less than a wetsuit.
3. Which leads us to: "Holy ass cheeks, Batman."
4. There are rumors that I've finally written a nice, likeable heroine. Don't you want to find out if they're true?
5. The book opens with heroine threatening to push a kid off a lifeboat. Wait. Pretend you didn't hear that. Read #4 again.
6. It's a summer book, so full of summer that you will FEEL the sand in your summery shorts. In summary: summer.
7. I won't have another full-length contemporary out until September, 2011, so you'll take it and you'll like it.
8. Don't you want to see if I could REALLY pull off making an OCD hero sexy? Don't you?
Read more about CRAZY FOR LOVE here: http://victoriadahl.com/books-Contemporary.php
Thanks for stopping by, everyone! And please have a drink to celebrate my release day. Come on. You know you want to. It's the most wonderful time of the year!
March 4, 2010
In January, our friends at Doubleday Book Club and Rhapsody Book Club were kind enough to feature new releases by both yours truly and Courtney Milan. Not only did this allow us to get our books out to great new readers, it allowed Courtney and I to acquire some hardcover copies of our books. Pretty damn exciting, I can tell you.
As a special promotion, Courtney and I were asked to interview each other. We're both pretty shy, but we managed to come out of our shells for a few minutes to throw rocks and kisses at each other. Here, in its entirety, is that infamous interview:
Victoria: I’ve known Courtney Milan for a few years. I knew she was an amazing woman, but I didn’t know much about her writing until now. What a relief to find that my friend is just as witty and smart on paper as she is in person. And what a thrill to learn that her first book, PROOF BY SEDUCTION is out the same month as my book, LEAD ME ON. I couldn’t ask for better company on the shelf.
Courtney: I know this interview is supposed to be about Victoria Dahl, but I have a secret I must disclose to everyone first: I have been stalking her. Ever since I read her very first book, almost three years ago, I have been a not-so-secret fangirl of hers. I sent her gushing e-mails. I sought her out at book signings. When none of that worked, I wrote my own book just so I could publish it with the same house, and thus follow her around with greater ease. Now look—I’m interviewing her. Mu ha ha ha! Success is mine!
Victoria: You were a very high caliber of stalker, Courtney. I’d highly recommend you to anyone. You even got me to pay for lunch when you flew out to find me. Well played, Ms. Milan.
Courtney: Ahem. I got a little carried away there. Now I am putting on my “professional author” hat.
Victoria: That doesn’t look like it fits. But carry on.
Courtney: So, Victoria. You’re a romance author. How many feather boas do you own? How often do you wear them? Are they difficult to dry clean?
Victoria: Don’t tell, but I actually don’t own any. My writing props consist of bunny slippers and a martini glass. Any rumors you’ve heard about sweatpants are entirely untrue. They are called “yoga pants” nowadays, and they’re exceptionally stylish.
What kind of special ambience do you need when you’re working on a historical story? Do you use a quill? Do you turn down the heat and huddle near the fire?
Courtney: Wait… how did you know I named my laptop Quill? And yes, I usually have to turn down the heat, because me and my computer cuddle up close and personal. Did you know that the MacBook’s CPU can reach 200 degrees Fahrenheit? Who needs heat? If I could become an author-laptop cyborg, I would. I think I may be one anyway.
Which reminds me. Conventional wisdom states that authors are biologically human, but you and I both know that an author on deadline consumes a diet that no human could possibly survive on. Can you shed some light on what dinner looks like for you when you’re finishing a book?
Victoria: You asked that on purpose, didn’t you? I should never have told you that I ate nachos four days in a row. But I’m not ashamed. Those nachos were delicious, and my pizza delivery boy was getting carpal tunnel from ringing the doorbell. That nacho binge was an act of mercy! As for the rest of my family, they get a lot of opportunities to eat sandwiches when I’m on deadline. And fast food. And nachos.
Speaking of superhuman constitutions, could you reveal the trick of how you manage your busy life? You write and you work outside the home, and as a young married woman, I’m sure you also keep your house in perfect condition at all times. What’s your secret?
Courtney: Uh. Just today, my husband asked me, “Courtney, we have a beautiful dresser. Do you know what it’s for?” “Yes,” I responded. “That’s the place where I pile books and dirty laundry until I hand in my book, isn’t it?” You’d think that would have annoyed him, right? But he was basically happy because I was actually listening to him and responding, which is not always the case when I’m on deadline. Often, I stare blankly into space and then jump up mid-conversation and say “Gotta go—I just had an idea.”
While we’re talking about the subhuman behavior of authors on deadline—
Victoria: I said “superhuman.”
Courtney: —What’s your least favorite chore, and how awesome is it to be able to shirk it because you’re on deadline?
Victoria: I hate putting away laundry. Once I’ve sorted it and carried it downstairs for washing and drying, it just seems like a slap in the face to have to perform the whole routine in reverse. So when I’m on deadline, those clothes never leave the laundry room. They come out of the dryer, they’re worn, and then they go right back in the washer. Like sand through the hourglass…
Courtney: I’m convinced there are evil laundry fairies that purposefully triple all laundry when you’re folding it, but then magically wrinkle and dispose of all the clean clothing before you can get around to wearing it.
Now speaking of torturous labor, let’s turn to the 19th century. You write historical romance, and while the feel of your books is sensual, it’s also gritty, in the best sense of the word. Not everyone was coddled by servants and raised with a silver spoon in their mouth, and you seem to love throwing people of diverse backgrounds together. How does that realism translate into romance?
Courtney: When I was growing up we never had a lot of money. But as I grew older, I met and became friends with people who did. It’s always been fascinating to me how differently I sometimes see the world than those people, just because we’re from different backgrounds. No way of looking at things is “wrong” or “right”; just different. And so this particular struggle—how the wealthy experience life, as compared to those who are barely getting by—resonates with me emotionally. I can write it because I’ve lived it.
But I think diverse backgrounds (generally speaking) are really the heart of romance: Love should make you a bigger person (figuratively). Love should make you more understanding, more compassionate, more willing to branch out and try new things. What better way to accomplish that (and to see the sparks fly) than to match a hero and heroine who really challenge each other?
Victoria: I couldn’t agree more. And in my opinion, those struggles and challenges lead to respect between two people, both in fiction and in real life.
Speaking of realism, you’ve given your heroines some hefty baggage. There’s a point in every one of your books where I find myself falling in love with the heroine. No, not that way (not that there’s anything wrong with that way), but you make me want to reach into the book and give her a big hug and tell her it’s going to be all right. How do you get to that moment? When you start writing a book, do you know all about your heroine’s past, or do you invent it as you go along?
Victoria: My heroines aren’t big on hugs, but you can try it if you dare.
Backstory is the very first thing I come up with when I’m writing a book. Before I know what the story is, I need to know where these people have been. What makes them tick. What they hate and who they’ve loved. That’s how I find out how they’ll react to each other when they’re thrown together.
Once you’ve made the sparks fly, you have to find the reason they resist each other. And if you’ve created a truly delicious hero, that reason for resistance had better feel genuine. Backstory creates that friction, and their baggage gives you a way to break these strong characters down.
And on the topic of breaking them down… let’s talk about your heroes. Oh, boy. I am such a sucker for torturing a good hero, and your hero in PROOF BY SEDUCTION is turned inside out by his attraction to the heroine. How can you be so cruel? (I should note that I’m rubbing my hands together in delight.)
Courtney: What can I say? I’m a cruel, cruel woman. The truth is that Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely, really needs someone to turn him inside out. He’s a brilliant scientist and a wealthy lord. Everyone he meets is cowed by his title and his intelligence. As a result, beneath his haughty exterior, he’s quite lonely. And so when Jenny, my heroine, sees through his façade, he finds it both infuriating and attractive—because for the first time in his life, someone recognizes him for who he is as a person, rather than seeing him as just a title.
I also love your hero, Chase. He blows things up for a living—legally, I might add! This is one of the sexiest occupations I can imagine. It’s both hands-on dirty, and yet placing precision explosives requires a calm, cerebral intelligence. It’s the best of both worlds. What ever made you think of that, and how can you possibly top it?
Victoria: Jane, the heroine of LEAD ME ON, has a very cool exterior. Actually, she’s a lot like Gareth. Boy, these two would never have made a good match! If we’d thrust them together, they would’ve sat with backs straight and jaws clenched, scorning each other through the whole book! Wow…. Oh, sorry. Momentary author imagination lapse there.
Back to Jane. She’s unflappable, and I knew it would take someone very special to throw her off balance. This woman is a force to be reckoned with. It would take someone smart and sweet enough to appeal to her logical side, but he’d have to have a really wild side to get under her skin.
Enter Chase. He owns his own company, so he’s perfectly acceptable on paper. But his occupation involves dynamite and the thrill of dangerous work. He wears jeans and muddy boots to work, and there’s nothing civilized about him. In other words, he’s sex on a stick… and he has a brain. Poor Jane didn’t stand a chance. As for how I can top it… My next hero is a treasure hunter. Does that work?
Courtney: Ooh. That definitely works. I’ll resist the almost overwhelming urge to make an inappropriate joke—but don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll have every opportunity to make them all yourself.
Victoria: Oh, I’ve got the booty jokes covered. But back to unflappable heroines. I can’t help but notice that your heroines are independent, educated, and tough as nails. And they’re also 19th century ladies. This thrills me to the bone. In your opinion is the experience of your heroines much different from the average 19th century woman?
Courtney: Not really. The truth is, there have always been independent, educated, tough-as-nails women out there—and a lot more of them than men ever gave women credit for. Women in the nineteenth century, even wealthy women, had a lot to contend with. They didn’t have epidurals or episiotomies; they couldn’t induce labor or perform C-sections. The child mortality rate was terrible. And we haven’t even started to discuss crop failures and coal shortages and vitamin deficiencies and street riots.
Anyone who looks at those women and imagines they had an easy life—that they didn’t develop strength and grace and backbone under those circumstances, and instead stayed foolish and frail—isn’t paying attention. Beneath those corsets and those heavy petticoats, women were powerful creatures.
One of the reasons I like to write about women who experienced the harsh realities of the nineteenth century is that after the heartache, I love giving them their happy ending, their well-deserved reward for those years of strength and grace and backbone.
Victoria: Aw! That’s surprisingly sweet, coming from you.
But speaking of happy endings. One of the things that really resonated with me in LEAD ME ON was Jane’s relationship with her somewhat embarrassing family. I think you really captured those family dynamics, so well that I have a sneaking suspicion. Tell us the truth: Are you the embarrassing one in your family?
Victoria: What? What have you heard? Forget it. This interview is over!
Courtney: What? Wait! You can’t go yet! I haven’t asked you about your childhood yet! Or—or your pets! Noooo!
Courtney on Victoria: The writing world first became aware of Victoria Dahl’s immortal genius when her first book, TO TEMPT A SCOTSMAN, won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award several years ago. Since then, she has published six different novels, both historical and contemporary. Her books are about girls who like being more than a little naughty, and the heroes who love to indulge them. Victoria lives with her family in the mountains, which is rather inconvenient for her as the altitude means she has to microwave nachos for at least ten extra seconds.
Victoria on Courtney: Courtney Milan lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, who is either a doctor or a ninja assassin. Or both. Her description was unclear. According to Courtney, aside from her husband, there is a distinct lack of fabulousness in her life. Indeed, she claims to be happy when standards in the Milan household hover above mediocrity. But I know the truth: Courtney saves every ounce of her sparkly excellence for her writing. PROOF BY SEDUCTION is her first book. Please stay tuned for many wonderful romances to come. (You can visit Courtney here: Courtney Milan)
Buy Proof By Seduction: brdrs chpters indiebd
bk dep. vromn’s powells
b-a-m b & n amazon
Buy Lead Me On: Borders | Amazon | Indiebound | Powell’s | B & N
Also available in e-format at the KindleStore, at Fictionwise & at BooksOnBoard.
December 30, 2009
Hellooooo, all! I don't know if you're recovered from the holidays yet -- I'm certainly not -- but time marches ever onward, and ready or not, here I come! That's right! It's time for another book release!
Lead Me On, the last of the Tumble Creek series, is out this week, and you can read excerpts and reviews here! I'll post more about that in a soon, because today isn't just about me. Today there are a couple of great historical romances coming out and I wanted to give you a little taste.
I've known Courtney Milan and Carrie Lofty for a couple of years now. They're both funny, beautiful women. Last year I discovered what a great writer Carrie was. This year, I was lucky enough to find out what an amazing writer Courtney is, as well. Frankly, it's a bit of a burden to be expected to sit next to them now, but here I am.
I've posted excerpts from each of their books below. On Thursday, December 31st, we'll be posting questions about the excerpts throughout the day on Twitter. If you are the first to my answer my question correctly within 15 minutes, you'll have a chance to win a signed copy of LEAD ME ON. (US participants only, please. Apologies to my international friends!) If you aren't already following us on Twitter, you can do so by clicking these links: Carrie, Courtney,
[image error]Scoundrel's Kiss by Carrie Lofty
When it comes to temptation...
Turning his back on his old life as a rogue, Gavriel de Marqueda has joined a monastic order in Spain and taken a vow of chastity. Before he becomes a monk, he must pass one final test: help a woman who has lost her way. But when he lays eyes on Ada of Keyworth, he is tempted beyond measure by her sultry beauty and dangerous curves...
Rules are meant to be broken...
Far from her home in England, Ada has been battling inner demons for more than a year. When she discovers that her only friend has abandoned her, she has no choice but to grudgingly accept Gavriel's help. But Ada is not fooled. Though Gavriel wears the robes of a monk, Ada sees that he is a virile man who looks at her with a hunger that matches her own--one that begs to be satisfied again and again.
...The door clanked opened to reveal a slim man and a stout, whey-faced nun. The man held more in common with a bird than a person, all sharp angles and quick movements. A hummingbird, perhaps. Agitated. “What seems to be the concern, señorita?” he asked.
Ada burrowed deeper within the shelter of the sheepskin mantle. “What do they want?”
Gavriel glared when the man pushed him aside. “This is the physician, I assume. Here to help.”
Worrying her chapped lower lip, Ada pinned him with a look of wild fear. “I hardly want you here, let alone strangers.”
“I’m no stranger,” the man said. “I’m a physician, a servant of God sent to tend your sickness.”
When the physician put a hand to Ada's forehead, she drew back with a hiss. Gavriel watched with growing irritation as the man treated her with less consideration than would a shepherd inspecting his livestock.
Ada withstood the curt appraisal longer than he would have imagined—that is, longer than a breath or two. “Stop touching me!”
The physician blanched at her ear-splitting command and jerked his hand away. “She is clearly disturbed and suffering from a fever. Her humors are out of balance and must be corrected.”
Gavriel curled a fist to his mouth. “Corrected how?”
“We would make an incision—”
“Cut me? No!” Ada tried to jump clear, but with the stout build of a peasant farmhand, the nun seized her shoulders and pinned her to the pallet. “Let go of me! You can’t do this!”
The nun glanced at Gavriel, her veiled headdress set askew by Ada’s violent struggles. “I’ll need your help to hold her steady.”
He shook his head, his gut in a knot. “Por favor, wait a moment—”
“Gavriel!” Ada cuffed her female foe and stumbled from the bed, pushing past the startled physician.
The nun lunged after her but landed on her side, arms empty. Gavriel caught Ada and twirled her down to the floor. She hugged closer, a mass of shaking limbs and sobs.
“Don’t let them,” Ada whispered. He had a difficult time understanding her, between the shivering and her unusual accent, but her fear was tangible. The sweat on her skin even smelled different—potent, almost corrosive. “I would rather die tonight than bear his cure.”
“Inglesa, if it’s for the best.”
Feverish eyes met his. She panted, briefly managing to quell the tremors. “Have I begged anything of you? I’m begging now. Please.”
He closed an arm around her shoulders, angling his body between her and the red-faced physician. The nun stood as tall as she could muster and looked ready to pounce. Whatever frustration or confusion Gavriel had felt only moments before was replaced by a single, instinctual demand: Protect.
Proof By Seduction by Courtney Milan
She is his last chance for a future of happiness...
Jenny Keeble has never let her humble upbringing stop her. She’s made her way in the world as a fortune teller, one who convinces her clients her predictions are correct by telling them what they most want to hear. Business is good… until she meets her match in the form of Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely, a scientist and sworn bachelor.
He just doesn't know it yet...
Broodingly handsome Gareth is appalled to discover his cousin has fallen under the spell of "Madame Esmerelda," and he vows to prove her a fraud. But his unexpected attraction to the fiery enchantress defies logic. Jenny disrupts every facet of Gareth's calculated plan— until he can’t decide whether to ruin her or claim her for his own. Now, as they engage in a passionate battle of wills, two lonely souls must choose between everything they know . . . and the boundless possibilities of love.
“Madame Esmerelda,” Gareth said, “you win. There will be no tasks. No elephants.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Get out.”
“One hundred guineas, if you tell Ned you’re a fraud and disappear from our lives.”
She inhaled and her chest expanded. She pointed to the door. “Get out now.”
“Think it through. I doubt you’ll be able to milk that much from him in your entire acquaintance. He’ll outgrow your advice soon enough. And you could live for years on the money.”
She took a deep breath, and those remarkable breasts shivered underneath the thin chemise. “I wouldn’t do it for a hundred—” she began.
Gareth covered his rising lust with a nonchalant shrug. “Two hundred.”
Her lip curled, and she shook her head in outrage. “Not for two thousand. Not for ten.”
“Oh?” He flicked an insultingly familiar glance down her chemise. “You’d do it for ten. But you’ll do it for two hundred.”
She started towards him, her fingers curved like claws. He deserved to be slapped, and more, for the insult his look had implied. If he was right, and the woman was gently bred, she’d not appreciate the aspersions he’d just cast on her character. But he couldn’t let her near him. He feared his own response if she came within arm’s length.
“Really, Madame. Once you dispose of your fabricated outrage, you’ll realize this is the best solution for everyone.”
Gareth inclined his head, all sardonic politesse, and stepped back through the opening. He eased the door into place behind him, and let the insolent sneer slide off his face.
He leaned against the wall, his breath ragged. The challenge between them had become more than a territorial war over Ned’s future. Now it was sensual.
Madame Esmerelda was extremely intelligent. She was devious. And if she had any idea how she affected him, she’d take advantage, unscrupulous creature that she was. And how idiotic that he wanted her to take that advantage. He wanted her to befuddle his wits until he lost all control and took her.
Gareth gripped his hands into fists. In his time in the jungles of Brazil, he’d cataloged close to a thousand insects. Now he let them march through his mind. Cockroaches. Poisonous, furry caterpillars. Maggots. He thought of every creeping thing ever to mar the face of the planet. He imagined them crawling about on his skin. And he didn’t stop until his ardor subsided and the memory of her body dissolved from his mind.
It took a lot of millipedes.
Be sure to check in with Carrie and Courtney as well! They have four totally different excerpts, including two from Lead Me On ! And good luck on Thursday!
November 2, 2009
I post this same blog every year around Thanksgiving, but this November, I'm going to post it a little earlier than normal. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where participants all over the world attempt to write a whole book in one month. (Info here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/ ) I'm not participating this year, because I've already done my part by writing two books in three months' time. (Almost done. YES!)
But to help inspire those of you who are writing your first book... or those of you working on your fifth book and telling yourself you're no good... I offer you this: My first book. Or, actually, just a tiny snippet of my first book. I don't want to cause any brain damage.
My point is this: If I could rise up from this mess, you must believe that you can persevere. Nothing you will write during NaNoWriMo could possibly approach the asstastic glory of my first attempt at writing romance. So please to enjoy my annual Thanksgiving post:
What I'm Thankful For, or Victoria's First Manuscript.
This Thanksgiving, I am even more filled with gratitude than ever. You see, I was digging through a box of crap (I mean, memories) looking for that Vicki D picture (see previous blog post) when I ran across a big, ratty notebook. What was inside? Well, there were a couple of drawings of some 1980's era clothes from when I wanted to be a clothing designer. Elbow-length lace gloves? Totally. Awe. Some. There was also a charcoal drawing of a lily from when I wanted to be an artist. Mediocre at best.
But best of all, I found my very first manuscript. Not a whole manuscript. My brain melted into mush before I could finish it, thank God. Too much treacle and vomit-inducing idealism for any one human to take. It's seriously - seriously - bad. I wrote it as a teenager, though I'm not sure of my exact age. After reading it, I am honestly thankful... so fucking thankful... that I grew up and matured and my craft improved.
In the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to pass this on to all you writers out there, especially all of you who are just starting out. Maybe you're just thinking about writing a book, or maybe you've written a few chapters and you hate it. Maybe you've finished a book that you love, but no one else seems to like it much. Hey, we have all been there. You just have to keep writing. And whatever it is you've written, whatever you're THINKING of writing... None of it can possibly be as bad as my first book. If I can go from this crap (appropriately titled A Valiant Attempt) to being published, you can too!!!
Are you ready? In the interest of encouraging all aspiring writers everywhere... the first few paragraphs of my first attempt at a romance:
As Katrina stepped out from the dark castle into the bright afternoon sun, she closed her eyes and took a deep, refreshing breath of air. "Mother Nature, you are wonderful!" the beautiful girl exclaimed to the world as she strode across the yard. Katrina walked leisurely towards the stable, picking the newly bloomed spring flowers. She handed a bunch of the wild flowers to the stable boy as he stared in surprise at the lady. He thought she must be the loveliest woman in the world. Her mahogany hair tumbled about her shoulders to the small of her back, and her sweet smile sent shivers down his spine.
"Good afternoon, Willy. Could you please saddle Spirit for me?" The boy nodded and smiled as he moved into the stable to saddle the gelding for her. As soon as he appeared, leading Spirit by his bridle, a shrill voice rang out from the castle doorway.
"Trina Acadia, where do you think you're going? I swear you're more thick-headed than that Willy!"
"Ledora, Willy is not stupid. He's only mute and you know that!"
Wow. How are you feeling? A little nauseous? My God, she's perfect! And omniscient! Wait, there's more. I can't resist adding a few lines from the next page, after Lady Katrina rides into the village to check on her people...
..."Nay, milady, all is plentiful here, thanks to you! Yours are the best lands any simple man could hope to live on!"
Katrina nodded her thanks and rode on through the crowd, smiling and greeting her people. Children ran up to touch her skirts and see her smile upon them. "Aah, the girl is like a living angel," a man sighed as she rode past.
Now, how are you feeling? Pretty ill, huh? In case that just wasn't enough for you, please keep in mind that the hero has a - you guessed it - an evil identical twin!!! *gasp!* Seriously, take a few deep breaths and you'll be fine. Have stiff drink to wipe this all from your memory. And then get back to writing. It's the only antidote.
(Edited to add: Dear Twitter friends: Let me make this horror up to you by reminding you that the manuscript was never finished. At this point, anything might happen to this disgusting twit. Feel free to make up your own story. I'm thinking the evil twin fights off her clumsy virgin advances--there are village children clinging to her skirt, after all. Then he kills her, and he and the hero engage in a little funcest with a local tavern wench. The End. And you're welcome.)
July 7, 2009
June 10, 2009
Thanks to everyone who entered the contest! I got so many entries, I decided to add two more runner up prizes. I've already notified the entrants, but here is an abbreivated list of the winners.
Grand Prize winner: Debbie in FL
I'll have another big contest in July, so keep an eye out for the newsletter!
June 7, 2009
Happy Summer Everyone!
I've been slacking off on the giveaways, so let's do a big one, shall we?
All you have to do is link to my website (www.VictoriaDahl.com) or my Twitter account (http://twitter.com/VictoriaDahl) on your website, blog or other site, and you could win a package of all of my summer releases!
That's four books!
The Wicked West - via e-Harlequin.com
Start Me Up - a signed copy
One Week As Lovers - signed Advance Release Copy
Highland Beast featuring "Laird of Midnight" - signed Advance Release Copy
Oh, God, I'm so excited!
Okay, so here's what you do: Post a link as instructed above. This can be on your personal website or blog or on a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace*, etc. (Twitter posting is too fleeting. It doesn't count.) You don't have to include anything nice. Can just be: "Check out www.VictoriaDahl.com even though it's painfully boring.")
CONTEST OVER! Thanks for playing, everyone!
Email me proof that you've done so at Victoria@VictoriaDahl.com by Wednesday, June 10th at midnight Eastern time!
I'll randomly draw a grand prize winner from the entries. I'll also draw two runner-up prizes. The first will win a signed copy of Start Me Up. Second will win an ARC of One Week As Lovers!
*If you don't have a site or blog, email me your sob story, and I'll be nice and let you enter regardless. I'm good people.
Good luck, everybody!!!
January 26, 2009
Oh. My. God.
I'm so excited. I can't even tell you how excited I am.
I usually get the covers for the August books in October. Crazy early. So you can imagine that I started eagerly anticipating the cover for One Week As Lovers back in... oh, let's say September.
This book is near and dear to my heart because I love Lancaster. (You met him in A Rake's Guide to Pleasure. Do you remember?) I want to take Lancaster home with me and take care of him. So, I really wanted him to have a nice cover.
I predicted it would be blue because the story takes place in a gothic manor next to the stormy ocean. Also, I've already had red and purple. I waited and waited. Nothing. I was patient. I only asked my editor about it twice. Things are tight in the publishing world and the artists are probably busy.
Then I got a call from my agent about something else and at the end of the conversation she throws in, "Oh, I just LOVE the cover of One Week As Lovers!" WHAT? Oh, yeah. She'd already received her big stack of covers and she lives in CANADA. "It's really... romantic. Not like your other covers. It's very soft." Then she told me the color. I wasn't sure what to think of this. I stalked the mail carrier. Nothing. Nothing the next day. Now, five days later, I finally have it in my hands.
Care to guess what the color is? You won't believe it. I'm not sure I've seen another book that's this color. Ready???
Oh, my god, it's raspberry sherbet!
When I saw the cover I got choked up. Why? Because it's perfect. Look at them. They look like they're in love!!! And this is my story that features characters who are actually in love. Not falling in love through the course of the book. Not mad with lust. But really in love from very early on. They're in love and they can't be together. It's impossible. All they have is this one week. *sigh* Look how protective he is. Look at her happy, peaceful face. *double sigh*
Here's a little excerpt from the book that might give you a glimpse into their relationship:
...but he wasn’t fourteen, and Cynthia wasn’t a child. And the world might be simple, but it wasn’t the least bit kind. “It doesn’t matter, Cyn.”
“Of course it matters. You’re not happy. I want you to be happy.”
That kernel grew into a flame that singed his heart. No one had tried to protect him from anything in so many years. In the end, not even his own father had looked out for him. “I am happy.”
“You most certainly are not.”
“On the contrary, I’m well known as one of happiest gentlemen in the ton.”
She tucked her chin in. “By people who scarcely know you at all, I take it?”
“I...” Lancaster didn’t know what to say. How could she see what others could not? How could she know that he was profoundly empty inside? He watched the sun reach out across the dark blue water. “Cease, every joy, to glimmer on my mind,” he murmured to the sea, some maudlin bit of Scottish poetry that had stuck in his head.
“What?” The clipped word radiated Cynthia’s impatience.
He snapped from his reverie and met her eyes. “Who is ever happy? You’re not happy. How could you be, with the specter of Lord Richmond hanging over you?”
She stared at him for a long moment, her gaze clear and steady. “That’s true. But I will be happy someday. And Nick... I’m happy now, when I’m with you. I always was.”
His heart swelled. He blinked hard several times as the truth of her words hit him. Since the moment he’d discovered she was alive, he’d felt peaceful. Happy. As if he’d come home.
As for me? Well I am very, very happy right now.