Book Releases

Holding On (Colorado High Country #6) —
The Colorado High Country series returns with Conrad and Kenzie's story.

A hero barely holding on…

Harrison Conrad returned to Scarlet Springs from Nepal, the sole survivor of a freak accident on Mt. Everest. Shattered and grieving for his friends, he vows never to climb again and retreats into a bottle of whiskey—until Kenzie Morgan shows up at his door with a tiny puppy asking for his help. He’s the last person in the world she should ask to foster this little furball. He’s barely capable of managing his own life right now, let alone caring for a helpless, adorable, fluffy puppy. But Conrad has always had a thing for Kenzie with her bright smile and sweet curves. One look into her pleading blue eyes, and he can’t say no.

The woman who won’t let him fall…

Kenzie Morgan’s life went to the dogs years ago. A successful search dog trainer and kennel owner, she gets her fill of adventure volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team. The only thing missing from her busy life is love. It’s not easy finding Mr. Right in a small mountain town, especially when she’s unwilling to date climbers. She long ago swore never again to fall for a guy who might one day leave her for a rock. When Conrad returns from a climbing trip haunted by the catastrophe that killed his best friend, Kenzie can see he’s hurting and wants to help. She just might have the perfect way to bring him back to the world of the living. But friendship quickly turns into something more—and now she’s risking her heart to heal his.

In ebook and soon in print!

About Me

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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.


Seductive Musings

Friday, January 28, 2011

Vote for NAKED EDGE in AAR's annual reader poll

It’s that time of year again — the time of year when All About Romance hosts it’s annual readers poll, asking readers to sound off on the prior year’s best books.

Participating is easy. Just follow click here to view the ballot, and have fun voting for your favorites. If one of them just happens to be Naked Edge, I would be most grateful. I don’t think they have a “Most Surprise-iest Ending” or “Best Use of Limbs” category, but I know of at least one person who voted for it as the best tear-jerker of 2010.

The poll usually has a couple of phases — one in which books are nominated and then the second round when those with the most votes are put up as finalists for readers to choose from. So stay tuned, and I’ll do my best to keep you up to date.

Thank you!

This weekend I’m up to my eyeballs in Zach. I have until Monday to get the typeset pages proofread and back to New York. Oh, I wish this book were coming out tomorrow! But it isn’t and it won’t — until I get the work done.

I’ll see you all again when I’m done. In the meantime, head over to All About Romance.

And have a great weekend!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thank you for making motherhood safer! (updated)

A happy mother and her newborn

A few weeks back during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I invited you to join me in raising money for my favorite nonprofit, International Midwife Assistance. (The website is IMA, founded and operated by a friend of mine, midwife Jennifer Braun, went into Afghanistan and started a midwifery school in Bamiyan, where there were no midwives and where women died in childbirth every day. (To read my original post, which contains more information, click here.)

After helping to train many young women as midwives and after saving many lives and delivering hundreds of babies, the volunteer midwives of IMA had to leave Bamiyan, famous for the statues of the Buddha that were blown to smithereens by the Taliban.

They found new purpose in Uganda, where disease, poverty and decades of violence leave too many women to give birth on the mud floors of their huts with only their friends and mothers to help them. The maternal and infant death rate is staggering there.

I don’t know about you, but I found childbirth to be the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I cannot imagine being in labor for three or four days until I died. Or giving birth repeatedly to babies that die from preventable infections, such as tetanus, within weeks of being born.

IMA began to provide supplies and midwives to a clinic they helped get up and running and which is named the Teso Safe Motherhood Clinic. Women from three nearby IDP (internally displaced persons) camps come to the clinic for lifesaving health care. Not only do they receive prenatal and birthing care there, but they also get anti-malarial drugs, antibiotics for infections, screening for HIV and vaccinations for themselves and their children. Clinic staff also hand out a miraculous lifesaving device known as a “mosquito net.” In other words, they try to do all they medically can to help these women and children, many of whom are victims of rape and other violence.

In addition, they go out to areas with no medical care, places where an ear infection or strep throat or a broken bone might mean death, and they offer care there, too, not only to women and children, but to anyone who needs it.

A pregnant mother stands in the prenatal care area of the clinic

The work that Jennifer and the other IMA staff and volunteers do in Uganda amazes me. Imagine getting an idea one day that saves hundreds of lives. That’s what they’ve done.

Well, some of you took me up on my idea for fundraising, each of you offering a modest sum that, when put together, adds up to a solid donation. You didn’t have to do this, but you did, and I am so very grateful.

My deepest thanks and heartfelt appreciation go to:

Hope Frost, Kris Gilson, Alyson Hackett, Kara Conrad, author Christy Reece, Jackie Prince, Crystal Scott, Mary G, Anne Woodall, and last but not least Ronlyn Howe!

Jennifer standing with local dignitaries outside the clinic

These wonderful women put together a donation of $115 that will go toward helping to save the lives of pregnant women and their babies. I am giving the check, which arrived in today’s mail with a very sweet card, to Jennifer this week, along with the $100 I promised to donate personally.

I called Jennifer to let her know, and she was thrilled. She sends her thanks. She has worked in conditions where there weren’t even sterile gloves and babies had to be caught with gloves that were washed in a sink and hung to dry. She told me that even modest amounts of money go far in these parts of the world. After all, in Uganda $115/US is equal to about $250,000 schillings.

Each of us has the chance to change the lives of others, even people we don’t know. And you nine special women have done just that. You’ll each be getting an advance copy of Breaking Point. So e-mail me your addresses (or send them to Ronlyn to forward to me), and I’ll get your books in the mail when I get them in April. Or I can send you e-ARCs if you prefer that — and you can have that right now, tonight, instantaneously.

Thanks again!

Yes, together romance authors and readers can change the world. Take that, you anti-romance novel snobs!

Update: Somehow, I left poor Anne Woodall out of the original post. Anne, I’m so sorry! Thanks so much for your contribution. It will make a difference to some young mother in Uganda. I really deeply appreciate it.
Saturday, January 22, 2011

I-Team Reading Challenge

Another busy week.

On Monday, I wrote a column in support of home birth and renewing the statute that enables lay midwives to practice legally in Colorado. I feel very passionate about this subject, and so I wrote too much. Go me! Fortunately, I’m the editor, so my long column magically fit, while letters to the editor was somewhat short this week. Hmmm...

On Tuesday, Benjy went back to New York for his first semester as a senior. I took Tuesday off and stayed home with him, then drove him to the airport and cried all the way home. But I’m getting used to his being gone again. He gave me the great news that he’s going to be inducted into the National Honor Society.

We had a snowstorm on Wednesday that caused an inordinate amount of traffic snarls. It took some people three and four hours to get home from the paper because traffic came to a standstill. I think we’ve had such a dry winter here at the base of the foothills that everyone has forgotten how to drive in snow. It took me two hours to get home from the office, and I rarely reached a speed higher than 10 mph — but we only got three inches of white stuff. Three inches! From the way people were driving you’d have thought there was four times that.

As one of my coworkers put it the next morning, “A clown on a unicycle could have passed me last night.”

Clearly, what we need is a major blizzard that dumps three feet in two hours. Then people will get some real practice driving in snow and stop being afraid when they see a few flakes on the roads.

Okay. Got that off my chest.

So I heard something from my editor’s assistant yesterday that might interest you... They have 10 bound galleys of Breaking Point that they’re sending my way. And that can mean only one thing.


Not only do I plan to give away lots of copies just for fun. I plan to do it in some fun ways.

First, there will be some straight giveaways. Those are easy. You post, and your name goes in the pot for a randomized drawing.

But there will also be some true contests including I-Team Trivia and the “Get Out of My TBR, Get Into My Bed” I-Team Reading Challenge.

Today marks the launch of the “Get Out of My TBR, Get Into My Bed” I-Team Reading Challenge.

This contest has two tiers.

Tier One is for I-Team virgins: If you’ve never read the I-Team or you’ve got Reece, Julian, Marc, and Gabe sitting somewhere in your dusty TBR pile and need to dig them out, this is your chance to catch up — and be rewarded with a free, signed copy of Breaking Point, Zach’s book. Hey, you know you need to lose your virginity at some point, right? Who better to lose it to than Reece, Julian, Marc and Gabe? Egads, just thinking about it that way made my heart skip a beat...

Tier Two is for I-Team veterans: You’ve read the books and fallen in love with the heroes. Maybe you’ve got a favorite hero. Maybe you helped cast the I-Team books or participated in our last round of I-Team Trivia (which was tons of fun, by the way). This is your chance to re-read the series and win your own signed ARC (advance review copy) of Breaking Point.

Here’s how you participate:

1. Sign up for the challenge by posting here and tell us which tier you’re in — virgins or vets.
2. Read or re-read the series (in order: Extreme Exposure, Hard Evidence, Unlawful Contact, Naked Edge).
3. Keep me posted on your progress. When you’re done, your name goes into the pot for a signed copy of Breaking Point.
4. Drawings for both the virgins and the vets will be held on April 15, giving you lots of time to read the book before the Spoiler Chat event, where readers and I get together in a chat room to discuss the book in detail.

Those who participate in the challenge are more likely to win at I-Team Trivia, too, so you’ll have an advantage over everyone else. Plus, you’ll have all things I-Team fresh in your mind when it comes time to read Natalie and Zach’s story. Think of it as foreplay...

Sign up below! And spread the word.

To help whet your appetite, here’s another excerpt:

From Breaking Point:

“This isn’t working!”

Zach raised his head and glanced up to where Natalie was bent over a mesquite branch, trying to rub out the car’s left tire tracks, her hair tied back, the AK she’d insisted on carrying slung over her shoulder like an ugly purse. “Put more muscle into it.”

“Easy… for you… to say.”

It was hard work, and he supposed having two X chromosomes made it tougher. Then again, none of this had been easy for her.

You’ve been hard on her, too, MacBride.

Yeah, he had been.

He’d done well enough when he’d been in chains and needed her help, but for the past few hours all he’d done was issue orders. But she wasn’t a SEAL. She wasn’t a deputy U.S. marshal, either. And she sure as hell wasn’t an enemy combatant or a fugitive. She was an innocent civilian, a young woman who’d suffered more than her share of tragedy, who’d witnessed a massacre, who’d been kidnapped and assaulted, who’d been forced to kill. She deserved his respect—and some damned human kindness, if he could manage it.

Yet, his first priority was getting her safely home again. And that meant staying focused on the objectives, which, at the moment, were evasion and escape.

Driving the Tsuru down into the arroyo had been a bitch. Zach had made Natalie get out of the car just to be safe, and for a few seconds he’d thought he was going to roll the damned thing or get stuck in the sandy, dry bottom. But the vehicle was now concealed beneath a concrete bridge, hidden from anyone who might drive by or fly overhead. Once its tire tracks were wiped out, it would take an expert in cutting sign to know they were there.

Or that was the theory, anyway.

He walked slowly backward, swishing the branch across the sandy soil as he went, careful not to fall down the steep bank as the ground became softer and less stable. He was about to warn Natalie to watch her step, when he heard her gasp. He looked up in time to see her tumbling toward him.

He reached out, stopped her fall. “You okay?”

She sat up, nodding. “I’m a little dizzy, but I’m fine.”

He took one look at her face and knew that wasn’t true. She was flushed, but she wasn’t sweating. “You’re dehydrated.”

She looked puzzled. “I’m not thirsty.”

Not good.

He’d seen men die from the heat in Afghanistan as medics struggle in vain to save their lives. He knew that dizziness and lack of thirst were not good signs.

“Let’s get you into the shade.” He drew her to her feet, slid an arm around her waist, and guided her over to the car and into the passenger seat, taking the AK from her. He propped the rifle against the car, then reached into the back seat for a bottle of water, ripped off the cap and pressed it into her hands. Too bad there were no powdered electrolytes to go with it. “Drink. A few gulps, then regular sips.”

While she drank, he touched his palm to her forehead, relieved to feel that her skin was neither clammy nor feverishly hot. She was definitely dehydrated and on her way to overheating, but she didn’t have heat stroke. Not yet.

You pushed her too hard, you dumbshit.

She looked up at him. “Were you a paramedic in your past life or something?”

“No.” He dug through the crap in the back seat for the first aid kit, then pulled out a cotton wash cloth. “But I do know a few things about first aid.”

“That’s a good skill for someone in your, um… line of work.”

“You got that right.” He would’ve loved to hear what line of work she thought he was in, but this wasn’t the time. “Quit talking, and keep drinking.”

You’re giving orders again.

He grabbed another bottle of water and dropped to his knees beside her, pouring out enough water to thoroughly wet the washcloth, then pressing it against her forehead and cheeks, hoping to bring down her core temp.

She sighed, her eyes drifting shut. “Oh, that feels good.”

A bolt of heat shot through his belly straight to his groin.

His mind knew her response hadn’t been sexual, nothing seductive intended, but his body apparently didn’t. He drew his hand back, knowing he was in trouble. But then she turned her head, exposing the side of her throat, and he couldn’t resist.

He pressed the cool cloth against that sensitive area, watched goose bumps appear on her soft skin. She sighed again, the sweet sound making his own temperature rise. Slowly, she tilted her head back to allow his hand to pass beneath her chin, then turned her face toward him, her eyes still closed, her mouth relaxed.

By the time she opened her eyes, his lips were almost touching hers. And for a single, slow heartbeat, he stayed that way, unable to speak, his mouth so close to hers that he could nearly taste her, his gaze fixed on hers.

What the… ?

He jerked back, dropped the wet washcloth in her lap, his brain searching for words. “I…You… You can probably handle this yourself.”

She looked up at him. “Thank you. For helping me.”

“I need to get back to hiding our tracks.” He stood and walked away, his abrupt retreat startling a few swallows out of the mud nests they’d built in the bridge’s life-giving shade. “Keep drinking.”

He walked back into the blazing sunshine, grabbed his mesquite branch and rubbed furiously at the tracks—which now included the soil disturbed by her fall down the embankment.

What the fuck was wrong with him?

That Zeta bastard must have shocked him one too many times, because only fried brain cells could explain what had just happened. He’d almost kissed a woman he was charged with protecting—while administering first aid, no less.

That kind of mouth-to-mouth is against the rules, and you know it.

Okay, so he hadn’t technically been assigned to protect her, which meant that the rules didn’t technically apply. In fact, her being with him was purely coincidence and had nothing to do with this case. But he did not get mixed up with women while on the job. He did not develop feelings for them, and he certainly did not get physical with them. That wasn’t marshal service policy; that was his own personal policy. And he never broke his own rules.

Maybe it was just the situation—the two of them being thrown together like this, forced to work together to stay alive, sharing the dangers of a survival situation, his being injured, her being vulnerable. He knew from his years in combat how walking that line between life and death could make two people bond. A bit of pheromone had probably gotten mixed in with all the adrenaline. Simple enough to explain.

And how many of your SEAL teammates did you try to kiss?

Ignoring that stupid question, he stood back, his gaze moving over the embankment, searching for any sign he might have missed—a shoeprint, an overturned rock, obvious swish marks. Satisfied, he walked backward under the bridge, rubbing out his footprints as he went and assuring himself that he’d done just as thorough a job of rubbing out any inappropriate impulses he might have had toward Natalie.

When he reached the car, she was sound asleep, her lashes dark on her cheeks, her lips relaxed, an empty water bottle perched in her slender fingers. A sensation of warmth spread inside his chest.

Oh, MacBride, you are in such deep shit.

He slid quietly into the driver’s seat, felt her forehead and was relieved to find it cooler. Then he settled his rifle at his side, took the empty bottle from her, and, helpless to stop himself, watched her sleep.

Sign up for the I-Team Reading Challenge by posting a comment below. And keep us all updated on your progress. Remember: The deadline to finish is April 15!
Sunday, January 16, 2011

War on the Run — Review

War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America's First FrontierWar on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America's First Frontier by John F. Ross

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Note: This expands on my review at Goodreads.

What is it about the way U.S. history is taught that makes it uninteresting to so many Americans? I wish I knew. Perhaps the lessons we get in fourth grade — third grade was Colorado history for me — are so poorly constructed as to seem worn and trite. Regardless, it's a shame we can't do better at making history come alive for kids.

One period of history that is being removed from the books, even in states where it occurred, is the history of the French and Indian War (that's the Seven Years' War for the Britishly inclined among you..). And that's too bad because the F&I War had such an impact on the rest of history. Not only did it see European forces changing their methods of warfare as they tried to survive, but also the war had far-reaching impacts, setting us up for the Revolution by putting a wedge between Britain and the colonists, sewing seeds that would grow into the French Revolution, and more.

It also saw the rise of a new kind of military hero in Robert Rogers and his Rangers. This book follows Rogers and his men through the war, bringing alive in the way few sources have the harshness of the struggle they endured, not only facing enemies who would do unspeakable things to them if they were captured alive, but also the taking on the dangers of the natural world. From freezing cold to starvation, Rogers faced situations that would challenge the military of today.

One fact completely blew my mind: After the French capitulated at Montreal, Amherst chose Rogers and his men to travel west to French frontier forts at Detroit and Michilimackinac to tell the French forces stationed there that the war was over. This entailed traveling more than 1,600 miles during fall and winter through what was still hostile territory to tell men inclined to kill them — both French and Indian — that they’d lost so please disarm and get out of here.

Rogers did it in four months — and he did so without any loss of life. Whether dealing with people or dealing with the elements, he was such a damned good strategist. It took Lewis and Clark a year to travel 1,600 miles.

Think about that for a moment...

I couldn't make Rogers the hero of my story for a variety of reasons. He wasn't suited to being a romantic hero. In real life, he did marry, but his wife later divorced him. He also had a past tainted with allegations of counterfeiting and might have been saved from the noose by the outbreak of war.

But here was a young man — he was 24 when the war started — who was capable of astonishing physical feats. Surviving without food. Staying on his feet in freezing cold while marching for hours. Encouraging his men to keep moving when their toes were frozen, their stomachs were empty and bodies were beaten down by disease and injuries. The story of his raid on St. Francis is almost unbelievable, and yet he was still on his feet by the end, pushing himself harder in order to save his men’s lives.

When I saw his powderhorn at Fort Ticonderoga, I burst into tears because here was a real implement of war and survival for one of the greatest heroes in American history — a hero we know very little about, probably because he sided with the British during the Revolutionary War and so went from being one of the Colonies' greatest celebrities to being considered a traitor.

The rawness of this time period, the perils, the cultural conflicts — all of this fascinates me. And this book brought it all alive. I imagine the author was sometimes imagining how Rogers felt or what he was facing, but by incorporating multiple sources, he provides a 3D glimpse of a world now gone.

I have to admit that reading it made me want to back to the beginning of my MacKinnon’s Rangers series and start over. It also made me want to keep writing this time period forever. That probably won't happen.

Anyone with an interest in this period will find this book fascinating. Highly recommended for history nerds and lovers of adventure.

View all my reviews
Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Warm up your MP3 players and drag out those iTunes gift cards. Here’s the playlist for Breaking Point.

As I’ve said many times, I love music more than almost anything else. Music keeps me sane, but it’s also they key to my being able to focus and write. If the tone, lyrics or “feel” of a song puts me into the minds of my characters and the emotion of the story, then it becomes a valuable tool for me.

At one point, there were several other songs on it, so I’m limiting my post here to the songs that were special to this book. The fact that I turned to Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” to keep myself awake at 2 a.m. is really of no importance.

I have to say that Pandora helped a lot this time around. Having gotten so much writing mileage out of Nickelback (Hard Evidence) 3 Doors Down (Unlawful Contact) and Staind (Naked Edge), I created a playlist using the songs liked most as seeds, and ended up discovering some new artists and new music.

None of it is actually new but given how isolated I live most of the time, it was new to me.

Shinedown was a new-to-me band, and they had a few tunes that felt very Zach to me, especially “Breaking Inside” and the first few lines of “Call Me.” As the story developed “Easier to Run” by Linkin Park became my favorite. I fell in love with it.

For Natalie, “Bring Me to Life” was perfect. It almost seemed to have been written for her. That’s very kind of Evanescence, don’t you think?

There are a lot of tortured lyrics in these songs, and, listening to the playlist a few days ago, Benjy told me it was a bit on the “emo” side.

So here are the mainstays of my Breaking Point playlist, coded blue for Zach and pink for Natalie (how very original of me!). Perhaps they're all familiar to you. Perhaps there’s something new here that you will enjoy. If you want to try reading the book while having these tunes around, I’d love to know how it impacts your understanding of the story.

Now, pop in those earbuds and enjoy!

Breaking Inside (iTunes Session) — Shinedown, iTunes Session
Call Me (iTunes Session) — Shinedown, iTunes Session
If You Only Knew — Shinedown,
The Sound of Madness (Bonus Track Version) Pain (Main Version) — Three Days Grace, Pain (+ Acoustic)
Beautiful Day — Saving Abel,
Saving Abel
Drowning (Face Down) — Saving Abel,
Saving Abel
Learn My Lesson — Daughtry,
Leave This Town
Easier to Run — Linkin Park,
Meteora (Bonus Track Version)
I Will Not Bow — Breaking Benjamin,
Dear Agony
Bring Me to Life — Evanescence, Fallen
Broken (feat. Amy Lee)— Seether,
The Punisher (Original Soundtrack)

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Favorite Writing Quotes

"I am an artist. I am here to live out loud."
—Emile Zola

"I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day."
—James Joyce

"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."
—Jane Austen

"Writers are those for whom writing is more difficult that it is for others."
—Ernest Hemingway

"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."
—Kurt Vonnegut

"The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar is the test of their power."
—Toni Morrison

"No tears in the author, no tears in the reader."
—Robert Frost.

"I'm a writer. I give the truth scope."
—the character of Chaucer in
A Knight's Tale