Tuesday, December 30, 2014

PAINTED PASSION on All Romance Ebooks, Amazon & Barnes and Noble

PAINTED PASSION now appears on All Romance Ebooks, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.  In honor of the event, a new excerpt is below.


Trella placed her sketchbook on Francois’ desk while she waited for his return. The offer to show her paintings at his gallery couldn’t have come at a better time. Paris had eased her grief, and the camaraderie of the art world helped her heal. Now she was ready to get on with her life.

Moments later, Francois returned to his office, shutting the door behind him. “We have a month to prepare for your show. I know you can handle the deadline crunch, but it’s not a lot of time for you to get it together, my dear.” He pinned her with a hard stare. “You’re holding back.”

Knowing he was right, she didn’t respond. The average buyer wouldn’t notice a lack of depth in the work, but an experienced art connoisseur would.

She smoothed the front of her dress. “The drive to create is returning,” she acknowledged.

He adjusted black, square-framed glasses on his aquiline nose. “You can’t run from processing grief. You love what you do. Passion”—he waved his hands around in his usually demonstrative way—“cannot be faked. You are either born with it, or you’re not.” He pointed at her. “You were born with it. Stop trying to control it, temper it. If you hurt, paint the hurt. You have a right to feel. Passion must be free to breathe, to be alive and affect others.”

He removed a set of keys from his pants pocket. After unlocking a door, he motioned for her to follow him into a smaller room. He flipped on a light. Francois pointed at five canvases. Instead of her usual intimate settings of bedrooms, dressing rooms and cars, for which she had achieved critical acclaim, her latest works featured landscapes.

“None of these portray the warm palettes people are accustomed to seeing from you.”


He shook his head. “They are not representative of your best work. You need a key piece, and you have not provided it yet.”

“I can’t paint what I don’t feel.”

“True.” He nodded as he studied the canvases. “Maybe you needed to exorcise the pain before moving forward.” He stroked his chin. “None of these are your key piece. The last time you showed. I was so moved I cry, no?”

She nibbled her bottom lip as she studied the painting of an old palm tree, half of its fronds a muted green, the remaining a sullen brown. Sadness and remorse emanated from the canvas. 
“Grief does strange things to people, Francois.”

“True. The reason the landscapes don’t work isn’t because they aren’t good. Your emotions seeped through, but I can sense you feel you have to show what people have come to associate with you.” He tugged her to him then folded her in his arms. He tilted her chin, forcing her to look up at him. “The young woman who first waltzed into my gallery was eager to take on the world. Bring her back. Paint with abandonment. One doesn’t control a fire. It either flares into bright flames or is extinguished.”

Didn’t he understand she wanted to have her old mojo return? She eased from his embrace, wrapping her arms around her middle. “Nothing I’ve tried works,” she whispered.

He sighed. “You’re trying too hard. Art needs space to create.”

“The loss of Louis—”

“He died. Yes, it is sad. But you didn’t die. No one blames you for living.”

Francois shooed her from the room, back into his office, before locking the door behind him and returning the key to his pocket. He picked up her sketchbook from his desk, flipping the pages one at a time before closing it with an audible snap. He didn’t say anything, and she glanced at him.

He held a hand over his heart. “Your key pieces,” he whispered. “Why are you hiding these?”

She froze in sudden shock. She’d forgotten to remove the drawings of Carlos.

“Look.” He flipped to a page. He held it up for her perusal. “The longing, the wanting. I feel it from the sketch. This is it!”

She bit her bottom lip as she studied the rendering of Carlos, naked and proud. If Francois recognized the latent desire she possessed for her husband’s former partner, would anyone else?

“Why the gloomy face?”

She sighed. “I’d rather not use any of the drawings.”

He tapped the page. “These must make the show.”

He couldn’t be serious. If, by some miracle, Carlos did agree to be used as a model, could she withstand the pressure of people dissecting what they’d believe to be the intimate nature of their relationship? “I can’t. I never used a painting of Louis.”

“It’s no one’s business why you never used your husband as a subject. I figured you didn’t want to display your marriage to the world’s perusal.”

She nodded. Everyone assumed that, including Louis. In her soul, she knew her paintings of her husband wouldn’t be on par with her other work.

“Francois, this man…I can’t.”

He perched on his desk. “I’ve been where you are, Trella. Art does not lie. There is no subterfuge. You cannot pretend what doesn’t exist.”

But could she pretend what existed, didn’t?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Painted Passion Excerpt

Here's another excerpt from Painted Passion:

Groaning, Carlos tossed under the sheet, unable to relax enough to sleep. He’d tried counting sheep, but they morphed into tantalizing images of Trella in white jeans. Despite how badly he wanted her in his arms, yielding to temptation included a one-way ticket to hell.

Thrusting the cover off, he climbed from bed and strode to the window. He stood there, watching the lights of the Valley in the distance. Sleep in the same house as Trella? Impossible.

Carlos left the room, wandering down the darkened hallway toward the kitchen. Spending the night equaled utter stupidity. One whiff of the woman and his common sense evaporated like steam. He needed something to occupy his mind, such as figuring out why Louis worried about her safety.

He entered the kitchen as a beam of headlights cut across the wall. He stooped, senses keen and ready. Crouched low, he eased his way to the window. Avoiding the swath of light, he straightened until he saw the dark outline of a vehicle revealed by landscape lighting. After a moment, the car continued around the circular drive and back onto the street. He made a mental note to have cameras installed. The house needed an extra layer of security beyond a standard house alarm system. Concern drove him to check every door and window downstairs. 

Carlos paused in the doorway of the laundry room. Trella’s orange tank lay atop the washing machine. He stared at the fabric, remembering how her nipples had strained against it. He didn’t recall walking farther into the room, but seconds later, he stood in front of the machine. He picked up the cotton, soft to the touch. He raised it to his nose, engraving the soft light floral scent into his brain. 

Before the idea of taking it overwhelmed him, he replaced it then retraced his steps to the bedroom. He climbed under the sheet and lay on his back, praying for sleep. Thirty minutes later, he remained wide awake.

Carlos stalked from the bed, returned to the laundry room and snatched up the tank top.

Yes, Sister Mary Frances, I’m in hell.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


In honor of today's release for PAINTED PASSION, here is an excerpt:

Was she out of her mind? Arms full of white linens, Trella shut the closet door with her foot. She entered the guest room, piling the linens on the nearby nightstand. The man was dangerous to her peace of mind, and she invited him to spend the night.

She slid the fitted sheet over the pillow-top mattress. She stared at the center of the bed, seeing instead the man with dark-chocolate eyes who towered over her.

When she’d opened the front door and saw him standing there, she couldn’t stop herself from seeking warmth inside his arms. Her fingers itched to roam through the thick, rebellious waves of midnight-black hair. For one crazy, irrational moment, she wanted him to kiss her, to feel his lips on hers—a connection to another person she hadn’t experienced since Louis.

She smoothed the cool Egyptian cotton. Her dear, sweet husband. Theirs had been a marriage filled with laughter and friendship. Louis had been a tender lover, but they never had passion between them. Which was fine with her. She had no desire to love someone so completely she risked neglecting her own life.

But even while she sensed the impetuosity of passion lurking beneath Carlos’ quiet surface, she’d been unable to resist its call. The brush of their fingers in the kitchen had turned her insides to liquid heat, leading her to do something stupid—like asking him to stay.

She slid two plump down pillows into pillowcases. Thankfully, she wasn’t Carlos’ type. Every woman she’d ever seen him with was tall and slim.

Carlos walked into the room, jeans hinting at the muscles of his powerful thighs. “You didn’t have to dress the bed for me.”

Dragging her attention from his body, she noticed the black overnight bag he carried in one hand. “You’re providing peace of mind.” She shrugged. “We’re even. Towels are in the bathroom.”

He set the bag on the floor, the form-fitting white t-shirt straining against his biceps with the movement. “What type of alarm system do you have?”

She frowned as her mind made the leap from his biceps to formulating a response to his question. “Um, a standard one.”

“Does it cover windows, too?”

“Only doors, I think. This was Louis’ domain. He just gave me the code, and I was happy.”

Carlos nodded. “You need to take a more active approach to your safety, Trella.”

She sighed, sinking onto a black leather bench at the foot of the bed. “Sometimes, it’s hard to think about things Louis handled.”

He put a large hand on her shoulder. “I’ll help you.”

She glanced down, noticing his clean nails. A tingle went through her, and she wondered why he’d never married. He certainly had plenty of females to choose from.

Catty much? She squared her shoulders, and his hand fell away. She rose to her feet. “The remote for the TV is in the top drawer of the nightstand.”

“Thanks, Trella.”

She left the room, praying her lapse of common sense was temporary.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Confession Time: I'm a Late Bloomer

I'll readily admit that I didn't become a girly girl until I was an adult in my early twenties. I wore my tomboy badge with pride.  Heck, I can still climb trees--a fact I'm enormously proud of.

My hand model sister is, of course, filled with information about keeping one's hands soft and having presentable nails. SIGH.  I'm still learning.  I must admit I find it quicker to just plunge my hands in the dishwater and take care of business rather than fish for the canary-yellow plastic gloves to protect my digits. Who has time for that?

Check out our conversations over the years concerning my lack of attention to my nails:

My early teen years:
Sis:  UGH. Stop biting your nails.
Me: I have to. I keep scratching myself.
Sis:  Use the nail clipper.
Me:  I did.
Sis:  Is that blood on your finger?
Me: Yeah. Oh hey, did you know my blood tastes like copper or something? Taste this and see if it tastes the same to you.
Sis:  MOM!!

When I was a high school senior:
Sis:  OUCH! Stop spitting your nails at me. You caught me in the eye.
Me: Sorry. I wasn't really trying to.
Sis:  Let me polish your nails.
Me: That stuff tastes nasty.
Sis:  You aren't supposed to taste it.
Me:  But it's on my nails.
Sis:  <Slaps a hand to her forehead and walks off>

My college years:
Sis:  Look at you!  Your nails are actually a color.A pale, really pale, pink but still...
Me:  Yep. Hey, did you know polish come in enough shades that I can match my nails to whatever color I'm wearing?
Sis:  Um, you might not always want to do that.

A few days ago...
Me:  Did you get the photo I sent?
Sis:  The one with you and your gold metallic nails?
Me:  Yep. Cute, right?
Sis:  You go, girl!!

At some point during college, I did stop biting my nails. I'll never be the hand model Sis is, but I do enjoy a manicure as much as the next girly girl.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Painted Passion Blurb

Here is the blurb for PAINTED PASSION, releasing December 24th:
Trella Arnold's upcoming art show is her primary focus until she uncovers information that causes her to question circumstances surrounding her husband’s death. She contacts his former partner in spite of the danger he poses to her peace of mind.

Ex-cop Carlos Diaz owns a successful investigation firm, having left the Phoenix Police Department after the murder of his best friend. Carlos’ life is uncomplicated—at least until he receives Trella’s call. Despite his misgivings at seeing the only woman who ever made him think of settling down, he agrees to help.

Trella’s probing for answers lands them both in a sticky, suspenseful situation. Carlos moves in to protect her, but he can’t fight his attraction. Soon he’s in her bed and she’s in his heart.

Can he convince her that loving him is her passion?

A Romantica® romantic suspense erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cake or Frosting?

In PAINTED PASSION, a couple of scenes are set in the heroine's kitchen.  Trella, the heroine, is a good cook. She's no Julia, Martha or Sunny, but she can hold her own. As can Carlos, the hero.

Not to toot my own horn, but I've been told I'm a good cook (translation:  no one has ever become sick from my culinary skills).  I also enjoy baking. My sister, on the other hand, is not so much a cook as she is a baker. You want desserts?  She's your girl.

I can't tell you how many times she threw a fit because I ate her icing or frosting before she used it.  LOL. I figured if she left it around (translation:  sitting in a covered bowl on the counter), it was okay to eat it.

I recall one particular opportunity to indulge when big Sis baked a German Chocolate Cake (Yum!).  To find the recipe, she used, click HERE.
To keep me from touching the frosting, she placed it in the freezer until she was ready to use it. See, she thought the idea of eating chilled butter, sugar, pecans and coconuts would deter me.

It did.

For about a minute.  Okay, thirty seconds.

Alright! It was actually more like ten seconds.  Yep, that was the time it took for me to knock the angel off one shoulder and listen to the devil riding my other one (I don't know about you, but my devil has a sweet tooth).

I had the best intention to eat ONE spoonful. Seriously. But once the tasty concoction hit my tongue, I damn near forgot my name. I ate that frosting like it was still warm.  Scratch that.  I ate that frosting like it was actually covering a cake.  LOL!

Was I punished for this tiny error in judgement?

I think so (translation:  Pretty sure there was disciplining involved, but the taste of the frosting lasted longer than the punishment so I don't really remember).

Writing this has made me hungry. I think I'll go bake a cake....or just settle for making frosting.

Are you a frosting fanatic (like me) or are you a cake connoisseur?

Friday, December 19, 2014

What was the inspiration for PAINTED PASSION?

I was asked recently what inspired me to use Phoenix as the setting of Painted Passion.

So here's the story...

I fell in love with the city of Phoenix and the surrounding areas on my very first visit to the great state of Arizona.  Let me preface this by saying, when I first stepped foot in the Valley of the Sun it was in late spring.  My friends warned me about the desert heat. Yeah, I knew it was a hot place but knowing and experiencing are two different things! I was totally unprepared for the wall of heat burning my skin cells when I stepped out of the airport. Amid the sweat rolling down my forehead and underarms, I kept repeating the mantra, “It’s a dry heat. I’ll get used to it.”  

Well...I didn't.  Alas, my best times during my first visit were spent inside air-conditioned restaurants and stores.
My second visit occurred in the middle of summer (bold, right?).  I strutted out of the airport wearing a long-sleeved pantsuit. I was aiming for the "calm and collected" look. Not sure if I pulled it off, but I didn't sweat.  Nope, not at all. It seems I  conquered the dry desert heat once my body realized I wasn’t trying to fry it on purpose.

Because I was more outbound than on my first visit, I crammed in as many touristy activities as possible, including a visit to South Mountain Park which makes an appearance in one of the scenes of Painted Passion.