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Thursday, June 28, 2012

INTERVIEW: KAT HOLMES

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kat Holmes whose latest book Hidden is available from Muse It Up Publishing. Leave a comment and you might win a download of Hidden.

Kat's mom is her inspiration for writing as well as being her hero and her best friend.

"I remember listening to her read to me as a child and I loved the way she could make the stories come alive," she explained. "She always encouraged me to use my imagination and be as creative as possible even when other people tried to push me down."

Kat wrote her first piece in first grade—a little poem about a turtle who wanted to fly. And, she's been writing ever since, even though she didn't become a published writer until a few years ago. She has published and/or contracted thirteen books and is working on number fourteen—the sequel to Hidden with the working title of "Seeker."

She is currently writing three series. Her Gods at Work series asks what would happen if the banking crisis had hurt the coffers of the Greek gods as well as mortals and the gods had to suddenly come down and work among mortals to earn their living. Frozen is the first book in her Artica Lights series about a world parallel to this one—however, that world is eternally locked in winter. The sequel to Frozen is scheduled to be released in December. And, Hidden, her current release, is the first book in the Hekate's Web series.

I asked her which book was her favorite.

"I love them all; they are my babies," she told me. "But Hidden, Frozen, and The Lighthouse, I think, are my personal best. The reason is I just had so much fun writing them and I think when you truly have fun with a story it just makes it so much better."

"How do you do the research for your books?" I asked.

"I get books on the topics I need to know about and research things online as well. Most of my books are fantasy novels taking place in worlds I create in my mind, but there are still things that need to be accurate. For instance, in Frozen my hero was a zoologist and he was studying Adelie penguins. I made very sure that every detail I gave about his work and the penguins was accurate. It’s a point of pride with me to be as thorough as possible."

"How do you personally distinguish between pornography, erotica, and erotic romance?" I wondered.

"Pornography is nothing but sex. There is no plot or anything. Erotica has a lot of sex but also has a clearly defined story. And erotic romance has some sex, but it’s driven more by the story and the development of the characters. I’ve never written porn, but my Gods At Work series I would classify as erotica. Everything else I think would qualify as erotic romance."

Kat's favorite erotic author is N.J. Walters, with her favorite book being Walters' Woven Dreams.

"N.J. does the sex scenes really well, but she is also able to build the story and develop characters so that by the end the story ends you care about the people to the point where you'll get mad if they don't have their HEA. In Woven Dreams, all the characters are wounded in some way and have major issues (both physical and emotional) to overcome. I cried through that book," she admitted.

Other authors who Kat believes write excellent erotic fiction are Kresley Cole, Lynsay Sands, Christine Feehan, Kay Dee Royal, J.R. Ward, Jeaniene Frost, Christine London, Danielle Ravencraft, and way too many more to think of.

N.J. Walters is also the author who encouraged Kat to try submitting her own work to publishers.

"I totally credit her with getting the courage that allowed me to become a published author," Kat said.

Kat told me that she doesn't really have a work schedule. She does prefer to write first thing in the morning when she's fresh, but if her Muse starts pounding ideas into her head late at night—or even when she's sleeping—she'll head to her computer and write.

"The Muse refuses to shut up unless I do," she said with a smile. "My Muse gives me a general idea of where to take the story. I never know what will happen; my characters are always doing things that surprise me. That's part of the fun. If I try and outline my Muse shuts up and the story just won’t come to me no matter what I do."

When she's not writing, she reads a lot and listens to audiobooks. She also has two kitties she likes to chase all over the place. She also enjoys baking.

"If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you, what would they be?" "Oh wow. Only 5 huh? I’d bring my iPod because I’d want to have my music and audiobooks with me. I’d have a charger to keep the iPod working. I’d have plenty of spare batteries for the charger. I’d want a portable toilet. Let’s face it, friendly bushes have a tendency to be less than friendly if you snag a branch or squat on the wrong thing like poison ivy. And the last modern convenience would be unlimited toilet paper so you don’t have to trust that supposedly friendly leaf," she said with a smile.

Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"

"Never give up. Keep trying. Rejections are part of the game and, believe it or not, even published authors still get rejections. If you keep trying and you believe in yourself, it WILL happen eventually."

About the Author:
I’m a dreamer and a lover of words. Books have been my passion since I listened to my mother reading to me as a child. The love she instilled in me has culminated in my desire to write the kind of stories I have always loved to read. I believe books are the single most important invention mankind has ever created. I started writing when I was only fifteen for my own enjoyment. I still write for my own pleasure, but now I get to share that love with my readers.

Find the author online at:

www.authorkatholmes.webs.com
Twitter: @KatHolmes
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lin.holmes1?v=wall&ref=profile#!/kat.holmes.944
Blog: http://katluvr130.blogspot.com
Blog Talk Radio Show: www.blogtalkradio.com/katholmes1212



Lilith Fischer was just hoping to improve her relationship with her brother when she attended his wedding. But life never goes how you plan. Next thing she knows she’s being attacked by a creature of legend and her whole world is changed.

Benjamin Fortescu is the oldest vampire living and has been fighting a war against the more ruthless of his kind for centuries. Almost all the women of his kind were slaughtered by his enemy years ago so he’s shocked and intrigued when he meets a female vampire previously unknown to him.

She’s been hidden away for 30 years, protected from the ongoing war. But now she must emerge, even if it means betraying the only man who makes her undead life worth living. However, they are both being ensnared in a web neither of them can escape.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

INTERVIEW: KATHRYN HARVEY


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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Kathryn Harvey, the erotic persona of best-selling author Barbara Wood. (pen name of Barbara Wood). One lucky commenter on this interview will win a print copy (US and Canada only please) of her newly re-released erotic novel, Butterfly, the first book in the Butterfly Trilogy. When Kathryn was a small child—before she was three—she told stories to her dolls and teddy bears and, as she got older, began writing her stories down. She refers to herself as a storyteller, rather than a writer.

"Writer sounds rather general and technical," she explained. "Sterile, really."

The characters always come first for Kathryn.

"Once they are well rounded and are living, breathing people, then they tell me their stories," she said.

"If you had to do your journey to publication over again," I asked, "what would you do differently?"

"Absolutely nothing. I sold my first book on the first try, to Doubleday in hardcover. My publishing experience has been lovely."

Kathryn always works on one book at a time, so she gets blocked on one, she will just switch to another book and pretty soon the old block is gone.

"Wine helps, too," she assured me.

Her favorite author is James Michener. His works Hawaii and The Source greatly influenced her own writing.

"He was a fabulous story teller as well as gifted with the ability to draw the reader in and sweep him or her away to exotic locales, to experience different periods in history, to make the reader feel like he or she is really there." Other authors who have influenced her are Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.

"I am a sci-fi fan," she told me, "although I do not write that genre."

One of the most important elements of good writing is the author herself enjoying what she does.

"If the writer is bored with what he or she is writing, you can be sure the reader will be bored, too."

"If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do?" I asked. "What would you ask them?"

"Queen Nefertiti. I would ask her to tell me the truth about her husband and the real origins of monotheism. I believe Moses and Old Testament stories are rooted in ancient Egypt. Bring Nefertiti to life and the Bible will be illuminated."

When Kathryn's not writing, she loves to walk and play golf—describing herself as "fanatical" about both. She's new to the game and newly obsessed with it. In fact, she's just recently finished reading Golf Dreams by John Updike. She told me she can't read enough about the game.

"Plus I like to travel. I do needlework. And did I mention that I golf?" she said.

"What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?" I wondered.

"For my novel This Golden Land I lived underground at Coober Pedy in Australia."

Kathryn told me that she's not of the "screen" generation and much prefers print.

"I love the smell of a paper book, the feel of the cover and pages. Screens are a nuisance that we have to tolerate for convenience."

The hardest part of writing for Kathryn, even after 25 books, is sending the manuscript to her agent.

"I white-knuckle it every time," she confessed.

"Describe your writing space," I asked.

"A desk, books, a statue of the Virgin Mary, a baseball card with my husband on it, and a cat, asleep."

Even though she has a desk, she likes to write standing up—Hemmingway did, too.

She doesn't like to talk about works in progress, because she's afraid she'll jinx it.

"How do you personally distinguish between pornography, erotica, and erotic romance?" I asked.

"It’s all about the details, how 'dirty and nasty' or how much is in the mind of the characters, their fantasy so to speak. Porn is stark and to the point. Erotica a little less so with more fantasy thrown in. Erotic romance is all about the story with sex to spice it up."

Her favorite erotic romance is Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty trilogy, and her favorite erotic author is Nancy Friday, because she collected the real fantasies of real women, with My Secret Garden being her favorite book. When it comes to her own erotic fiction she will look at it objectively and ask herself if it's something she would buy in a bookstore.

"Is it tasteful yet exciting, or is it offensive and not something I would want to read?" she said. "As I said before, if the writer isn’t satisfied by what she is writing, then it’s a sure bet the reader won’t be either."

"What research books do you recommend for authors starting out in writing erotica?" I wondered.

"Anatomy for one. I’m constantly amazed at how many people don’t know the difference between a vagina and a vulva and a uterus. Next I would recommend The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort, a classic. And again, Nancy Friday."

But, she offers this advice to authors who want to write erotica—" Don’t get overly anatomical and think it’s sexy; remember that the brain is just as powerful a sex organ as those others. I would also say, leave a few things out for the reader to fill in. As they say, leave something to the imagination."

Finally I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"

"Just do it. Sit down and write one page a day and at the end of the year you have a novel. Don’t let anyone discourage you or say it can’t be done. And don’t spend a lot of time sitting in classes on creative writing, or going to those expensive writing weekends. Just do it."

About the Author: Barbara Wood, writing under the pseudonym Kathryn Harvey, is the international bestselling author of twenty-five acclaimed novels, including New York Times bestseller Butterfly. Her work has been translated into over 30 languages. Barbara lives in California.



Above an exclusive men’s store on Rodeo Drive there is a private club called Butterfly, where women are free to act out their secret erotic fantasies. Only the most beautiful and powerful women in Beverly Hills are invited to join: Jessica, a lawyer who longs for the days when men were men; Trudie, a builder who wants a man who willchallenge her with no holds barred; and Linda, a surgeon, who usesmasks to unmask the desires she hides even from herself.

But the most mysterious of them all is the woman who created Butterfly. She has changed her name, her accent, even her face to hide her true identity. And now she is about to reveal everything to realize the dream that has driven her since childhood—the secretobsession that will carry her beyond ecstasy, or destroy her and everyone around her.

Monday, June 18, 2012

INTERVIEW: RODNEY T. ROSS


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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Rodney T. Ross whose debut novel The Cool Part of His Pillow is available from Dreamspinner Press.

Rodney told me he's always written—little playlets for which he would act out all the characters into a tape recorder to working on school newspapers from elementary school through college to being a magazine freelance, to finally becoming a creative director at a Midwestern ad agency.

"Ironically, I did very little writing there," he told me. "My time was spent mostly calming manic producers and diva directors. For creative sustenance, in my off-hours, I wrote screenplays and, later, a play."

The hardest part of writing for him is actually sitting down and writing while being aware that the final polish is very distant.

"Writing is so damned isolated, and isolating," he explained."A writer looks for distraction: litterpan poop to scoop, or sit-ups to attempt, a martini that’s just yelling to be shaken. Yet the inclination to write is so embedded, I cannot imagine NOT writing. I was a creative child, self-isolating and brooding. Most is nature….a bit is nurture…all of it is heavy lifting."

"How do you develop your plot and characters?" I asked.

"I'd like to wax poetic and say that they gently take my hand and lead me to their destinies, but building believable, dimensional characters is hard work. I feel a certain moral obligation in the LGBT arena to not fall into stereotypes -- even though there are those in our communities who willingly fling themselves into every cliche-ridden bejeweled box available -- and my objective is to never be predictable. Just when you think someone is going to turn left, I also decide against them turning right, and maybe let them hit the damn guard rail. I carefully outline but remain receptive to the muse; in 'TCPohP', a secondary character I became enamored of blossomed into a pivotal mouthpiece. I even subtracted dialogue from another and re-gifted it to him. Rigidity in your nether regions is to be applauded; in one's writing, not so much. I try to remain fluid. Is that enough phallic metaphor?"

Rodney likes the freedom inherent in writing and considers it one of the most important elements of good writing.

"You can jump to Paris, France...you can take a beloved character and impale them on a picket fence...make cancer go into remission...I relish that ability because, let's face it, real-life does not offer this liberty," he said. "On a more workmanlike level, you have to STAY AT IT. I cannot begin to enumerate the number of friends with literary aspirations who have three chapters in a drawer. 'I got blocked.' Or there's 'I got lonely.' Well, of course you did. And sometimes writing just typing and, upon review, you find maybe two worthwhile sentences. That's part of the drill. Practice may not make perfect, but it develops muscle."

The title for The Cool Part of the Pillow came from a startling moment for the focal character Barry when he realizes he no longer has to, in the dark of the night, pat for, find, and share the cool part of his partner's pillow when his own is flat and warm. His partner has died, the pillow is his, and it is all cool.

One thing that doesn't come across in the blurb for this book is the humor in it. Rodney admitted that it's hard to get humor across in a blurb or in cover art.

" I'm not talking rimshot jokes nor Neil Simon-ish set-ups…I strive for laughs of recognition that naturally emerge from situations, from placing two very different people in a room and letting them have at it…or employing a narrator or secondary character who doesn’t seem to have a self-edit chip in their head," he told me. "When I began writing 'TCPohP', I intuited this could be either casseroles and snotrags and a lot of breast-beating, or I could mine from this horrendous tragedy a lot of macabre observation, and then spin off into the scatological, the blasphemous, the politically-incorrect."

"How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?" I wondered.

"I am not so keen on explicit sex scenes in my own work, although I mightily appreciate it when by furnished by others in the LGBT novel arena. For my specific work, it would have seemed a bit reductive: because 'TCPohP' is first-person, it would almost come across as a salacious travelogue narrated between bouts of fellatio. And even if I DID dive --so to speak -- into an explicit sexual scenario, my instinct is to always go for the unlikely, for humor sarcasm, and it would end being about an unfortunate mole or ejaculate that looked like humus." He paused. "Upon reflection, perhaps this is something best left to the therapist's office."

Rodney received both his worse, and best, pieces of writing advice when he was in high school.

"I had a hateful, obsolete Journalism teacher in high school who was more denture-click-and- hip-pop than willing to provide sound writing advice. She often criticized me for being 'wordy'. Too verbose, she'd shake a palsied claw at me, as I scribbled notes about what appeared to be her male pattern baldness. You would have thought, from her death rattle lesson plans, that full and vivid description should be avoided like a soul kiss from a herpetic. The woman essentially taught us to write headlines and herself had the charisma of a doorknob, a very rusty doorknob, to a tool shed.

"In that same high school, I was also fortunate enough to be mentored by an English teacher who plucked me from the soul-sucking classroom of conformity and placed me in independent study. I kept a journal, which I submitted once weekly, and was assigned literature -- everything from Joyce Carol Oates to Tennessee Williams to Judy Blume -- to write essays and critiques of. What a forward-thinking man that teacher was, in his jeans-and-no-tie-and-feathered-hair way, and I am still grateful he and his wife are part of my life. "So, even then, my evolution into a writer was brimming with contradiction. Write less. No, write more. Just the who/what/when/where/why/how. Tell me everything you see. My head spun like Regan MacNeil's, but I intuitively knew that I had to say what I had to say in the amount of words it took to say it. Now, of course, a good, graceful editor helps you rein in that volcanic impulse. Bless the heart of Lynn West, my editor at Dreamspinner Press, and her equally-considerate staff!"

Rodney grew up in a small Midwestern town about an hour outside of Indianapolis: Frankfort, Indiana. I asked him what he felt about his hometown.

"I couldn't wait until I could run on my fat little legs as far as I could from its oppressive and repressive and depressive and regressive confines, which I did, first to Butler University, then to that industry of bloodlust and paranoia called Advertising," he said. "Of course, time bestows clarity, and while I still find the town stifling and intolerant, I am grateful for the work ethic I learned there; the moral compass bestowed me by my parents; and the sense of community that can soar above the pettiness in genuine times of crisis. I've recreated this in Key West, Florida, where I now reside. It too is a small town, one that I call Gayberry, a town that embraces diversity, forgives easily (perhaps too easily, in some instances) and rarely judges. People come here to forge a fresh start and there are rarely inquiries into your past and the mistakes or triumphs that brought you here. It's a very face-value town. The very rich and celebrated will be seated at a bar next to a gentleman who is carefully counting his change for one last beer."

About the Author: Rodney Ross lives in Key West, Florida.

He is a former advertising Creative Director, so he's accustomed to making shit up and spouting useless hyperbole.

Past achievements include multiple ADDY Awards and an optioned screenplay and play (both currently unproduced). Other screenplays earned Honorable Mentions or runners-up citations in the Monterey County Film Commission, FADE-IN and the LGBT One-In-Ten Screenwriting Competitions. In other words: always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Until now.

Find Rodney online at:

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/RodneyTRoss
TWITTER: @RodTRoss



The midforties are that time in a gay man’s life when his major paradigm shifts from sexy to sensible. But when Barry Grooms's partner of twenty years is killed on Barry's forty-fifth birthday, his world doesn’t so much evolve as it does explode.

After navigating through the surreal conveyor belt of friends and family, he can't eat another casserole or swallow much more advice, and so, still numb, he escapes to Key West, then New York. He embraces a new mantra: Why the hell not? He becomes so spontaneous he's ready to combust. First, he gets a thankless new job working for a crazy lady in a poncho, then has too many drinks with a narcissistic Broadway actor. Next, it's a nude exercise class that redefines flop sweat, and from there he’s on to a relationship with a man twenty years his junior, so youthfully oblivious he thinks Karen Carpenter is a lesbian woodworker.

Yet no matter how great the retreat from the man he used to be, life's gravity spins Barry back to the town where he grew up for one more ironic twist that teaches him how to say good-bye with grace.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

INTERVIEW: TONYA RAMAGOS

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tonya Ramagos, whose latest book Operation Mustang, The Service Club 3is now out. Tonya will be giving away a PDF of the first book in the series, Forty-Eight Hour Burn, to one lucky commenter on today's interview.

She's currently working on Sexual Games, the eighth book in the Heroes of Silver Springs series. The hero, Jackson Graham, and heroine, Mallory Stone, were first introduced in the second book, Twin Games.

Tonya's always been an avid reader and has written little things here and there as long as she can remember, even writing parts for a school play in elementary school.

"I remember sitting in my father's gas station after school one afternoon (I was in middle school by then) reading a book and an idea came to me for a story of my own," she said. "I started writing it and have been writing off and on ever since."

Professionally, she started out writing YA books, with her first, The Feud, being published in 1999. She wrote several YA novels, followed by a few mysteries under a pen name before making the transition to adult romance and erotica in 2003. In all, she has 42 books published. I asked about her favorite.

"They are all my babies but, if I had to choose a favorite, it would be Taken By Surprise, book 7 in the Heroes of Silver Springs series. The story is action packed with a slew of supporting characters that really gave the book more depth. Not to mention, Michael Cosmos is super DEA agent-licious."

Tonya also has two old west novels published under the pen name Bonnie Parker. I asked her why she chose that particular name.

She laughed. "When my publisher, Siren-Bookstrand, asked me to write these books and told me I had to use a pen name, I tried to think of something with a good country southern sound to it. Bonnie came from my grandmother, Bonnie Franklin. Parker was my great-grandmother's last name. Both have passed on now, but they were highly influential women in my young life. They were also two of the most country women I've ever met. It wasn't until after I chose the name and submitted it to Siren-Bookstrand that I made the connection of Bonnie and Clyde. That just made it all cooler!"

Tonya told me that a good erotic story has to have a plot that doesn't revolve around sex.

"It might be an internal struggle or a force of nature or even a big, bad drug lord out to get the characters, but there has to be more to the story than the heroine and hero(es) having sex all the time," she explained.

When she hits a road block in her writing, she takes a shower.

"Yes, sometimes that means I take several showers a day," she said with a laugh. "But something about the warm water and total quiet clears my head of all the goobledygook and gets my characters talking again."

And total quiet can be hard to find at Tonya's house. Instead, it's normally total chaos, and she loves it! Between her and her boyfriend, they have five kids: 1 ½, 11, 13, 16, and 17 and the oldest four live with them full time.

"Believe me, there's never a dull moment, but it's absolutely fabulous," she assured me.

Tonya admits that with the four that live at home and the fifth visiting every other weekend, her writing space is anywhere she can find a few hours of quiet. She enjoys writing on her back deck during the summer, but winters depress her because she has to stay cooped in the house.

She generally writes five days a week and tries to write a minimum of two thousand words a day—if she doesn't reach that goal, for whatever reason, she will catch up the next day or write on a planned day off.

"If the story is flowing and I have more time left in the day before kids and the real world take over, I write more. Sometimes the story is flowing too well for me to step away from it for two days, so I'll write then as well. Then there are times when I want more than two days off, so I write more the other days to make up for it," she explained.

She told me that she doesn't develop her characters or plot. Her characters introduce themselves to her, tell her about themselves and the interesting struggles and events in their lives. The plot forms from there.

"My characters tell the stories," she said. "I'm just the living being at the keyboard giving them the outlet to reach the world."

Tonya likes for her titles to give a clue about the characters and/or the plot of the story.

"For instance, Marissa's Rights, book two of The Service Club, is about Marissa and her struggles with cop heroes, Justin and Ben," she explained. "Justin and Ben came up with a very creative alteration of the Miranda Rights to read to Marissa in the story, too. Operation Mustang, book three of The Service Club, is another good example. Mustang is the name of the heroine and her men are Navy SEALs enlisting in the op to capture Mustang's heart."

For fun, I asked Tonya, "If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you, what would they be?"

"A port-a-potty would have to be number one on my list. I don't care if there is no one else on that island, I can't stand to take a leak outside! Toilet paper because who knows what's on the leaves of those trees out there. A laptop with an infinite battery life because I couldn't go more than a day or two without writing and keep my sanity. A toothbrush--gotta keep my breath fresh for when my tall, dark and doable hero shows up to rescue me. Oh, and deodorant. Can't be smelling all funky when Mr. TDD shows up either."

Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give an author who wants to write erotica?"

"Read, read, read, and let those dirty thoughts free. I had a couple of authors who wrote romance come to me with this question. My advice was to take what they already wrote, open the bedroom door, and let their characters explore in very descriptive, no-holds-barred scenes."

About the Author:
Tonya Ramagos is a bestselling author of contemporary, fantasy, paranormal and cowboy novels. She spends most of her time in a fictional world dreaming up hot hunks and head-strong heroines. When she's not writing she's reading. Anything from legal and military non-fiction to any genre of romance can be found on her bookshelves and flash drives. Her music tastes are just as varied with artists ranging from country to rock to heavy metal loading her MP3 player. Her idea of relaxing is curled on the sofa or on her back deck with a book and her favorite beverage. A single mother of 2 fantastic boys, she enjoys playing games, dancing, and walking the nature trails around her home in Tennessee.

Find the author online at:

http://www.facebook.com/tonya.ramagos
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TonyaRamagosNewsletter/
http://www.bookstrand.com/tonya-ramagos
http://www.jasminejade.com/m-722-tonya-ramagos.aspx

Mustang Ducote craves the Rylon brothers’ touch. She can’t give in to her darkest desires or she’ll lose everything. Now they’re on her ranch, and her attempts at resisting are failing. When danger strikes, she’s faced with two options—full surrender or a Rylon brother retreat that’ll take them out of her life forever.

As Navy SEALs, Diek and Gunner have been tested. But claiming Mustang proves tougher than any op they’ve faced. It’ll take all their training and focus to accomplish the mission that’ll change their lives. But others are after her, too, and withdrawing might be the only way to keep her safe. Lucky isn’t a SEAL, but he’s got an arsenal of toys saved for Mustang’s pleasure. Loving her is easy. Freeing the submissive vixen from the demons in her mind and those out to get her won’t be. But a lifetime of erotic passion is worth every obstacle tossed in the way.