Friday, June 5, 2020

Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Gladiator's Downfall (Age of the Andinna #1) by Kristen Banet

Title: The Gladiator’s Downfall
Series: Age of the Andinna #1
Author: Kristen Banet
Publication Date: December 14th 2018

Print Length: 432 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Reverse Harem

Mave knows where she stands in life.

She’s an Andinna. A member of the winged, horned, and tailed warrior race that the Elvasi Empire defeated in the Hundred Year War and then enslaved. She’s a slave, and has been one for a thousand years, the personal property of the Empress of the Elvasi Empire, since the end of the War. She’s a gladiator, thrown onto the sands of the Colosseum to die, though it backfired on those who wanted her dead. She’s the Champion of the Colosseum, and has been for roughly nine hundred years.

All of these things have marked her as an outcast among her own people. Hated, distrusted, and despised, she knows the name of her people, but not much else.

But she knows where she stands. Keeping her head down and her blades sharp has carried her this far, and she refuses to acknowledge the deepest wishes she holds in her heart. Those will only get her killed.

Alone, she’s stood against everything they have ever thrown at her, refusing to give them what they want.

What Mave doesn’t know is that it’s all about to change.

**The eBook is only $0.99 for a limited time!**

Kristen Banet loves to read books that make people cry. She likes to write books that make people cry (and she wants to hear about it). She's a firm believer that nothing and no one in this world is perfect, and she enjoys exploring those imperfections--trying to make the characters seem real on the page and not just in her head.

She might just be crazy, though. Her characters think so, but this can't be confirmed.

You can find more of her works under K.N. Banet!

Check out her social media to catch what's going on in the worlds inside her head. She drops teasers, new covers, and opens ARC reader slots through her Facebook group, The Banet Pride.

Win a $100 Amazon gift card!
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Book Blitz and Giveaway: One Hot Texas Summer (Prentice Brothers of Sweet Ridge #1) by Nicole Flockton

Title: One Hot Texas Summer
Series: Prentice Brothers of Sweet Ridge #1
Author: Nicole Flockton
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Publication Date: May 26th 2020

Print Length: 162 pages
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

She’s been fooled before by sweet words and hot kisses.

Kelly Turner loves being a florist, and being asked to take the lead on the new site for the town’s festival is an honor. If only she didn’t have to work closely with the town player, Tate Prentice. After being burned once by a serial cheater, her inconvenient attraction toward Tate needs to be nipped in the bud.

Tate Prentice’s focus is on ensuring his father recovers fully from his stroke and making sure the family’s peach farm continues to thrive. When his brother nominates the farm to be the satellite site for the festival, he’s less than impressed. The only good thing is he’ll be working with Kelly – even though he knows she’ll never give him a second glance, not with his reputation.

The more time Kelly spends with Tate, the more she sees the man behind the reputation. Can she trust her instincts, or will her heart be broken once again?

“There was another reason I wanted to meet with you today, Kelly.” The teasing tone had exited Macy’s voice and Kelly gripped her glass a little tighter. Everything in her was screaming for her to run away.

“Okay. This sounds serious.”

“Not really.

What I’m about to ask is going to be a big task. And I know it’s short notice, but if anyone can pull it together you can.”

The more Macy talked, the more apprehensive Kelly became. What did her friend want of her? “Okay, I’ll listen, but I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to do what you want me to do.”

A chair scraped over the floor and Kelly looked to her right. She should have controlled the urge. Tate Prentice had walked in and was sitting down at the table with his brother. He took off his cowboy hat and ran his fingers through his brown hair, giving it the just-out-of-bed look instead of the flatness from wearing his hat. Tate chose that moment to look over at her, and his eyes widened with shock at seeing her. He nodded and just the corners of his mouth quirked up and dammit, her heart gave a little flutter at the gesture.

Hell, she needed to get control of herself. This was beyond ridiculous.

With a concentrated effort she returned his smile and then turned back to look at her friends. Both had sly little grins on their faces.

Now would be the perfect time for a sinkhole to open up beneath her chair and suck her down. No way was she going to be able to get away by answering her friends with a vague response.

“What?” she asked, trying to feign innocence.

“That was an interesting exchange between you and Tate Prentice. Anything you want to tell us?” Charlotte asked before clamping her straw in her mouth and taking a long sip. If it was an attempt to hide her smile, it failed miserably.

“Nope. He’s just been coming into my store a lot recently to buy flowers. Wants a different arrangement each week.”

“Hmm, I hadn’t heard he got himself a girlfriend,” Macy mused, looking over at the table where the Prentice brothers sat. Kelly resisted the urge to glance over to see if they were looking at them.

“You think he has one girlfriend? Just look at him and you have heard about his reputation, right? I’m sure he’s got many girlfriends.” Damn, she hadn’t been able to keep the snark out of her voice. Not to mention how telling it was to comment about his looks.

“You sound a bit put out by that thought. Care to tell us why?” Macy asked.

No way was she answering that. And Macy still hadn’t told her why she wanted to meet with her. Yes, she could turn the conversation back in that direction.

“What I’d really like to know is why you asked me here.”

Macy wagged her finger. “Uh-uh, I know what you’re doing here, and it’s not going to work.”

Kelly rolled her eyes. “Fine. You want to know why I have a problem with him? It’s because I don’t want to think of my flowers as being a kiss-off gift to Tate Prentice’s latest bed partner.”

Of course, the song would finish while she was speaking. Her words echoed around the bar and everyone looked her way, including Tate and his brother.

Seriously, where was that damn sinkhole when she needed it?

USA Today Bestselling author Nicole Flockton writes sexy contemporary romances, seducing you one kiss at a time as you turn the pages. Nicole likes nothing better than taking characters and creating unique situations where they fight to find their true love.

On her first school report her teacher noted "Nicole likes to tell her own stories". It wasn’t until after the birth of her first child and after having fun on a romance community forum that she finally decided to take the plunge and write a book.

Apart from writing Nicole is busy looking after her very own hero – her wonderfully supportive husband, and two fabulous kids. She also enjoys watching sports and, of course, reading.

Win a $20 Amazon gift card!
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Thursday, June 4, 2020

NBtM Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: False Light (An Art History Mystery #2) by Claudia Riess

Welcome to my stop on the NBtM virtual book tour for False Light by Claudia Riess. This tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt and a guest post as well as a the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card. Be sure to check out the rest of the stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: False Light
Series: An Art History Mystery #2
Author: Claudia Riess
Publisher: Level Best Books
Publication Date: October 27th 2019
Print Length: 370 pages
Genre: Mystery
Academic sleuths Erika Shawn, art magazine editor, and Harrison Wheatley, a more seasoned art history professor, set out to tackle a brain teaser. This time the couple—married since their encounter in Stolen Light, first in the series—attempt to crack the long un-deciphered code of art forger Eric Hebborn (1934-1996), which promises to reveal the whereabouts of a number of his brilliant Old Master counterfeits. (Hebborn, in real life, was a mischievous sort, who had a fascination with letters and a love-hate relationship with art authenticators. I felt compelled to devise a puzzler on his behalf!) After publication of his memoir, Drawn to Trouble, published in 1991, he encrypts two copies with clues to the treasure hunt. On each of the title pages, he pens a tantalizing explanatory letter. One copy he sends to an art expert; the second, he releases into general circulation. The catch: both books are needed to decipher the code.

When the books are at last united 25 years later, Erik and Harrison are enlisted to help unearth their hidden messages. But when several research aides are brutally murdered, the academic challenge leads to far darker mysteries in the clandestine world of art crime. As the couple navigate this sinister world, both their courage under fire and the stability of their relationship are tested.

**The eBook is on sale for only $0.99 during this tour!**

“You must try a crostini,” came a vaguely familiar voice from above. Harrison looked up, surprised to encounter the striking figure of Aldo Fabbri pressing forward a fair young tray-bearer, his hand at the small of her back.

Harrison’s love fest with Florence was instantly tarnished. “Good to see you,” he said nevertheless, extending his hand to Aldo before plucking an hors d’oeuvre of bread and chicken liver pate from the waitress’s tray. “Come sit down,” he suggested with a near-genuine smile.

“Certamente,” said Aldo. “But first we must request the wine—from the Fabbri vineyard, of course.” Aldo turned to the waitress. “Per favore, a bottle of the Chianti Classico riserva,” he slickly commanded, with a proprietary ogle. “As you might recall,” he said, turning back to Harrison, “it’s our signature wine, made from the Sangiovese grape. This year’s crop”—he glanced heavenward—“supremo!” With a nod, he dismissed the waitress, then pulled out a chair.

“I didn’t see you at the conference,” Harrison said, trying not to recollect in vivid detail Aldo’s play for Erika’s affections at their encounter in Tuscany over a year ago. The seduction attempt had taken place when he and Erika had visited the Fabbri estate as part of their art recovery mission. Erika had not succumbed to Aldo’s efforts, but her moment of hesitation had caused Harrison great consternation. What a presumptive assh*le! he silently hurled at himself. Erika had been in the initial stages of breaking free of her mistrust in men because of what she was beginning to see in Harrison, and he had not shown her the least bit of empathy in response. “The lecture hall was rather crowded,” he said, thrusting his attention to the subject at hand. “Perhaps you were hiding in the rear?”

“Alas, I arrived too late to attend the talks,” Aldo said, smoothing back his coal black mane.

He’s lost the golden highlights, Harrison realized. Gives the bastard a less flighty look.

“However, I did hear your talk on Gericault was admirable—ah, here’s our wine,” Aldo noted, at the waitress’s approach.

The wine was uncorked; the glasses filled; hearty samples downed; Harrison’s authentic praise begrudgingly delivered.

“To a successful book tour!” Aldo sang, raising his glass. “Salute!”

As they clicked glasses, Aldo cocked his head, as if at a sound in the distance. “I’m wondering. Whatever became of that woman you were with—Erika Shawn was her name, una donna molto bella e special! As I recall, a free spirit finding herself tethered to Puritanism, or merely conflicted by it. Either way, a pity.”

“Tethered to me, if you must know,” Harrison said, as coolly as his clenched jaw would allow. “As my wife.”

“Ah, lucky man to have tamed her!” Aldo looked about. “But where is she? Another toast is in order!”

“Back home, in New York. Working.”

“Yes?” Aldo gave him a bemused smile. “Quite a long tether, I’d say.”
Claudia Riess, a Vassar graduate, has worked in the editorial departments of The New Yorker and Holt, Rinehart, and Winston and has edited several art history monographs.

There’s a six-degrees-of-separation aspect to the inspiration for False Light. Were it not for a casual conversation that took place decades ago, at the start of my Freshman year at Vassar, it would never have been written.

A dorm-mate and I were sitting on the edge of my bed after a dinner of chipped beef, and almost as an aside in an exchange of personal histories, she mentioned that her father had once owned a sugar plantation in Cuba, but that it had been confiscated by Castro’s rebels. To the daughter of a college professor whose worldly possessions had never crossed the borders of Flatbush, Brooklyn, this was a collision of classes never before experienced first-hand. The memory would remain intact.

Many years later, I was talking to my brother, Jonathan, an art history professor at the University of Cincinnati, about my wanting to write a mystery with an art theme. He replied, without losing a beat, “How about Michelangelo’s Battle of Cascina—finding a lost study, a fragment of a cartoon, maybe?” As he gave me a little lecture on the subject, my college mate’s passing reference to her father’s experience in Cuba serendipitously came to mind, dovetailing Jonny’s suggestion. I had a story. Its pivotal point would be an art collection looted from the main house of a sugar plantation in 1958, with present-day repercussions. It would involve the Cuban Revolution, the Italian Renaissance and a sleuthing duo with a passionate but problematic relationship. I’d call it Stolen Light.

Stolen Light would propel me into writing what would become the second in an art mystery series, False Light. First, it had hooked me into the multi-faceted world of art, which knows no geographic boundaries and where the most sublime of human instincts clash with its basest: the perfect amalgam for fiction. Second, I was compelled to follow the evolving romance of my protagonists, Erika Shawn, art magazine editor and Harrison Wheatley, art history professor, who seemed to have become independent souls, needing only a nudge from me to move on with their lives. The experience had also introduced me to the excitement of juxtaposing startling, but historically plausible individuals and events to shape a contemporary mystery. In False Light, a quirky challenge dreamed up by reputedly mischievous master forger, Eric Hebborn (author of the memoir Drawn to Trouble, 1991) has a bearing on the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist of March 21, 1990. When Erika and Harrison become entangled in the consequent web of murder and sinister goings-on, their courage- and love-under-fire are tested to their limits.
Claudia Riess will be awarding a $50 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter after the tour. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different stop on the tour each day. Good luck!
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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Blurb Blitz and Giveaway - 7 Steps to Clarity: How to Use Your Personal Guidance System to Live Your Best Life by Nicole Stephen, PhD

Welcome to my stop on the blurb blitz for 7 Steps to Clarity: How to Use Your Personal Guidance System to Live Your Best Life by Nicole Stephen, PhD. This blitz was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt for you as well as the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to follow the rest of the blitz for more content. Enjoy!
Title: 7 Steps to Clarity: How to Use Your Personal Guidance System to Live Your Best Life
Author: Nicole Stephen, PhD
Publisher: Light Network
Publication Date: March 3rd 2020
Genre: Self Help, Non-Fiction
The sheer amount of decisions in life can become an overwhelming burden. Sometimes we just want to know the answers to our questions. We want to know we are making the right choices. It can be hard to see the right path with the noise of the world. There are voices and media all around us, influencing everything we do. In all that noise, where is the true voice, the one that knows? You can call it God or Source or the Universe or your Higher Self, but it is contained within you. Accessing it and giving it room and silence to speak to you is the real key to achieving your best life.

In seven steps, Nicole Stephen shows the way to a happier, more peaceful daily life. To reclaim yourself, you need to shut out the "shoulds," but in order to do that, you need to notice them. Exploring the questions and challenges that Nicole includes in this book will open your eyes to the pressures that you may have been submitting to unknowingly. In clearing up the way you see the world, you can clear a path to knowing yourself, and with that true voice guiding you, you will always find the way.

You have so much more potential than you realize. You are not your body. You are not the roles you play. You are not the jobs you hold. You are a soul having a human experience and you always have access to higher guidance. You do not have to believe this for it to be true. But you do need to fi nd a way to understand this at a deep enough level, in order to accept the magnificent implications of it. Your soul is an individuation of God. You are a part of God and God is part of you. Because of this, you have access to your higher potential in each moment. Now some people prefer not to think of God and so it is equally appropriate to think of your connection to Source, to the Universe, Life, or even your Highest Self. It matters not what your belief system is. If you are focused on the brain, then know that the brain is like a muscle that will continue to grow and get stronger as it is exercised. If you are focused on the body, know that you have only barely begun to see what your body—made up of 11 interdependent systems—is capable of. If you are focused on your senses, know that the 5 senses you use on a daily basis are just the tip of the iceberg for what is available to us—most of us know about our unrealized 6th sense, but the more likely number is 9, and some people believe there are upwards of 20 senses! Are you consciously tapping into all these potentials each day? I know I am not, but how amazing if we started to move in that direction. By expanding your view of what is possible, you will invite opportunity to use new ways of thinking and being which will create a virtuous cycle. Unfortunately, for many of us, we create a vicious cycle by using less and less of our minds, bodies, and senses, and drawing the square around us so small that we barely believe we can get through the day. This sense of limitedness is not how we are meant to live.
Nicole Stephen is the founder and principal consultant for Miramar Group. During her 20-year career as an executive coach and organizational development consultant she has worked to help individuals, teams, and organizations accelerate growth and realize their potential. She holds a Masters’ and PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic and State University. Nicole lives on the coast in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, two children, and dog Henry.

Nicole Stephen will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to one randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter after the blitz. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different blog participating in the blitz each day. Good luck!
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Book Blast and Giveaway: The Name of Red by Beena Khan

Welcome to my stop on the book blast for The Name of Red by Beena Khan. This book blast was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an except as well as the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card or an eCopy of the book. Be sure to check out the other stops on the book blast for more content. Enjoy!

Title: The Name of Red
Author: Beena Khan

Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Publication Date: May 15th 2020

Print Length: 287 pages
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Romance

Two strangers on the same path.
Survivors. Companions.
They will be each other’s salvation.

On a rainy, winter night, a mysterious woman in a red dress seeking shelter comes inside the restaurant Kabir was busy working in —primarily the bar— and night after night, drink after drink, she comes back to the same spot. That is where he sees her for the first time.

Hundreds of patrons around her try to speak with her daily, but she dismisses them. It appears she wants to remain in a blissful peace alone with her booze and books. After seeing the mysterious woman reading a book, and because of his shy nature, Kabir gains entrance into her life by anonymously leaving books with notes for her.

The Name of Red is the story of two strangers, two different personalities who meet on a winter, rainy night who challenge each other. They have a connection which blossoms into a friendship due to their fondness of books. But they both have secrets that can bind them together or threaten their newfound relationship forever.

**The eBook is only $0.99 for a limited time!**

The restaurant Ferdaus was filled with a buzzing crowd.

The smoke around the people twisted and formed curls, illuminated under the bar lights. The atmosphere was a hazy cloud, lingering against their clothes. Several people came in seeking shelter from the pouring rain outside. The customers of the restaurant turned to look at the entrance door- bell jingling. They glanced at the large crowd coming as the glass door was pulled open, and they watched as someone newstepped in behind them.

The woman walked into the bar for the first time in the winter rain.

She didn’t have an umbrella on her; her little sleeveless dress ended at her ankles, fully drenched. Her wet dress clung to her body, showcasing the outlines of her curves. In one hand, she was carrying the skirt of her dress. Suddenly, she let it go, and her long, bare arms moved upwards as she tried to fix her damp hair which had darkened in intensity due to the rain. It fell past her shoulders, the strands sticking to her face. She attempted to comb through the tangles with her fingertips.

The men watched her movements hungrily, their eager faces drawn to her and at the sight of someone new. Their eyes trailed from her face, to her wet body, then back to the movements of her hands entwined in her hair. Under her arm, she carried a book and a trench coat. It appeared strange she wasn't wearing the coat when it was pouring outside and freezing in the middle of November. Men were left mesmerized by her, and she turned heads as she walked by. Something radiated from within her, drawing the men around her in.

The women who were with some of these men noticed their gaze on the unfamiliar woman. Now they stared at her with jealousy and anger.

Who is she? they wondered.

Beena Khan lives in a suburb in Queens, New York in her apartment. She's's a Literary Fiction Novelist and Poetess. She is 27 years old and from Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. She's an immigrant who moved to New York when she was five years old. She currently holds a Masters Degree in Developmental Psychology from Cuny School of Professional Sciences. She enjoys reading, writing, and netflixing.

The Name of Red is her debut novel.

Sign up for her newsletter below where you can subscribe for book news, writing tips, and exclusive content such as, upcoming releases, cover reveals, ARCS, giveaways, and book trailers!

Beena Khan will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to one randomly drawn winner or an eCopy of the book to three randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter after the book blast. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different stop on the book blast each day. Good luck!
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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Excerpt Tour and Giveaway: Return of the Fox (Mission Belles #2) by Pamela Gibson

Welcome to my stop on the excerpt tour for Return of the Fox by Pamela Gibson. This tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an exclusive excerpt for you as well as the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card! Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more exclusive excerpts and content. Enjoy!
Title: Return of the Fox
Series: Mission Belles #2
Author: Pamela Gibson
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Publication Date: May 27th 2020
Print Length: 219 pages
Genre: Historical Western Romance
The year is 1847...

… Gabriel de la Vega, disgraced son of a Mexican ranchero, returns to his Alta California home when Americans take power to help his countrymen with the bewildering transition and make amends to the woman he once wronged.

Fiercely independent, Isabella Fuentes swore she’d never forgive Gabriel for abandoning her on the night they were to elope. Now he’s back, playing a dangerous game, pretending to be meek and repentant when she knows the handsome, former outlaw is anything but contrite.

When a series of accidents threaten Isabella’s safety, Gabriel offers an outrageous solution: the protection of a brief civil marriage. Isabella is tempted. But can she rely on a man who once betrayed her and can she trust her foolish heart to let him go when the danger has passed?

“Am I late? Did you miss me, wife?” He grabbed her around the waist and planted a noisy kiss on her lips.

“Ugh. You smell of horse.” She wrenched away and turned her back.

“I had business to conclude.”

“In a barn?”

“Yes. I met Mitchell.”

He walked past her to the sleeping chamber. “Did Pablo bring my valise? I need to change if we’re dining with the Graingers.”

Isabella gave him a moment to attend to his private needs, then followed him into the room. “You can dress while you talk.”

“Very well.” He stripped off his shirt, poured water into the basin, and soaped his face. Isabella’s breath caught as she watched him lean closer to the mirror and apply the straight edge to his face in deft strokes. His back was smooth and muscled. Her fingers itched to touch his warm skin, to trace every ridge and indentation with her palms. Instead, she sat on the edge of the bed and clasped her hands together.

Water splashed in the bowl. “Hand me a towel, would you?” She got up and brought him the towel, standing close enough to smell his spicy shaving soap.

Unable to resist touching his bronzed skin, she smoothed her hands over the muscles on his arms. Heat pooled between her thighs.

Startled, he dropped the towel as a slow grin spread across his face.

Gabriel turned, his eyes wide with feigned innocence. “Do you want something, querida?”

His voice was silky and sweet, like melted chocolate. She wanted something all right . . . to jump into his arms and never let go. This man who stood half naked in front of her wanted something, too. She could see it as her eyes moved down his torso. If she gave in, she would be lost. He could take over, make all her decisions for her, run her ranch. Her workers already deferred to him. All her gains would be lost.

She would be lost.

Instead she dropped her hands to her sides and cast her eyes downward. “I’ve always wondered. Why did you not ask for my hand in marriage years ago?”

He picked up the towel, dried his face, and tilted her chin up with his free hand. “I did. Surely your father told you.”

Her lungs seized, making it hard to breathe. She shook her head. “He never mentioned it. What happened?”

Gabriel reached behind her and lifted a clean shirt out of the valise on the bed. “He asked about my prospects and sent me packing. I knew then he had someone else in mind for you.”

“You didn’t return?”

“No. It was soon after that I was hauled off to that hellhole.”

Isabella studied his face while he finished dressing. She’d never been sure their liaison had been as serious for him as it had been for her.

Now she knew, and it changed everything.
Author of eight books on California history and thirteen romance novels, Pamela Gibson is a former City Manager who lives in the Nevada desert. Having spent the last three years messing about in boats, a hobby that included a five-thousand-mile trip in a 32-foot Nordic Tug, she now spends most of her time indoors happily reading, writing, cooking and keeping up with the antics of Ralp, the Rescue Cat.

Pamela Gibson will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter after the tour. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different stop on the tour each day. Good luck!
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Monday, June 1, 2020

NBtM Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: For This Knight Only by Barbara Bettis

Welcome to my stop on the NBtM virtual book tour for For This Knight Only by Barbara Bettis. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt for you as well as a guest post. There's also a tour wide giveaway to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: For This Knight Only
Author: Barbara Bettis
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: March 18th 2019
Print Length: 235 pages
Genre: Historical Romance
He’ll do anything for land, even marry her; she’ll do anything for her people, except marry him. If only either had a choice. It’s a marriage only love can save.

Sir Roark will do anything to gain land, even beguile an unwilling lady into marriage. He knows she’s much better off with a man to take control of her besieged castle, to say nothing of her desirable person. But it isn’t long before he discovers that, although her eyes sparkle like sunlight on sea waves, her stubbornness alone could have defeated Saladin.

Lady Alyss is determined to hold her family’s castle, protect her people, and preserve her freedom— until her brother’s dying wish binds her to a stranger. Still, she’ll allow no rugged, over-confident, appealing knight to usurp her authority, even if she must wed him. Especially since he thinks a lady’s duties begin and end with directing servants. Alyss has a few surprises for her new all-too-tempting lord.

But when a common enemy threatens everything, Roark and Alyss face a startling revelation. Without love, neither land nor freedom matters.

She refused to cooperate. How did a man handle a woman so independent? If only he’d been more observant when his father spoke to his mother. If only he hadn’t been so young. Before the tragedy.

Alyss stood her ground and lifted her chin. “You didn’t summon me, you said you awaited me. Perhaps your knightly training did not include language. ‘I await you,’ is a statement. ‘Come to the hall,’ is a summons.”

Again, the lady had found a weakness in his armor. He had no language training at all, no reading, no writing but for his name. Most knights did not, but his inability rankled him.

“If my speech doesn’t move you, then I won’t bother with it.” He leaned down, grabbed her around the knees, and upended her onto his shoulder. A thought raced through his mind: This wasn’t, perhaps, the ideal way to scoop her into his arms.

The unexpectedness of the action brought a squeal from Alyss, and the sound of running feet from hall below.

“Put me down.” She smacked him on the back and squirmed, kicking out at any part of his body she could connect with. He clenched her legs with his right arm before she managed to unman him with a lucky blow.

“Hold still.” A smack to her bottom punctuated his words. “And that was a command.” God’s elbow. Another act guaranteed to increase her ire. Would he ever learn?
Award-winning author Barbara Bettis has always loved history and English. As a college freshman, she considered becoming an archeologist until she realized there likely would be bugs and snakes involved. And math. Through careers as a newspaper reporter and editor, then a college journalism and English professor, she’s retained her fascination with history. Give her a research book and a pot of tea, and she’s happy for hours. But what really makes her smile is working on a new story. Now retired, she lives in Missouri where she edits for others and spins her own tales of heroines to die for—and heroes to live for.

- What is the craziest thing you've done for love?

The topic suggestion What is the craziest thing you’ve done for love? sent me off on long memory jaunts and when I stopped laughing I thought—umm, maybe not. Then I realized the topic doesn’t stipulate what kind of love. So I’d like to share just one of the craziest things I did for love—of my job.

Before going into teaching, I had a wonderful career as a daily newspaper journalist. A nearby town in our circulation area hosted an annual hot air balloon gathering. That get-together in late summer also acted as a regional championship, which mean it drew dozens of balloonists from all over the country.

Fact: I have a serious fear of heights. Even today, when I’m old enough to have outgrown all irrational fears, I don’t advance beyond the second step on a ladder without one hand anchored to a solid object.

Okay, back to the balloon rally. On the second morning of the three-day event, I showed up, prepared to do interviews with pilots and ride along with a ground chase crew for an up-close story. I was editing a special edition of the paper devoted to the championship and had a day filled with photo opportunities, etc. I had dressed professionally in a denim skirt, a roomy top, and my favorite leather wedges.

And then the pilot I was interviewing invited me to ride along in the balloon as it participated in the morning event—a Hare and Hound race. The Hare balloon sets off first, lands in a spot, and puts down a large X as bullseye. The balloonist Hound to come closest to the X is the winner.

Perfect chance for a photo and up-close story, he insisted. Hang in a tiny basket way-far-above the earth? I. Could. Not. Do. It. But then I realized that was part of my job, to report on stories so that readers could feel they were a part of the action in the community.

Eventually, I found myself literally suspended in mid-air, in the midst of a dense early-morning fog (which had not been predicted). The balloon pilot couldn’t see where he was going. I couldn’t see to take pictures. Which was a good thing, because I was holding on Very Tightly with both hands. I didn’t have a third hand to operate the camera.

Suffice it to say, after flying blind for a bit, worrying about the sound of a small plane’s engine somewhere in the fog (the airport had been advised not to let aircraft up because of the dangers it threatened to balloons) and being caught up in an unexpected wind gusts, we landed.

That is, we crash landed. As we prepared to descend for landing not far from the Hare’s X, that unexpected wind grabbed the balloon and tossed it against a hillside. The first time the basket bounced, the camera I had around my neck swung around to my back while I held on with both hands to the basket lines. The second time we bounced, the camera strap tightened on my neck and I seriously wondered … We bounced a few more times before we dragged several feet to a halt, the basket on its side.

I crawled out and stood, to find myself barefoot on the ground, my favorite shoes dangling from the ankle straps. The balloonist had a few scratches. I was dizzy but otherwise unhurt, except for some red marks on my neck from the camera strap and sore arms and shoulders from holding tight. The camera had not one scratch and in spite of all the banging against the ground as we bounced, it still worked! It was a wonder!

So yes, the craziest thing I ever did for love—hot air ballooning. Please don’t ask if I’d do it all over again.
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