Thursday, December 13, 2012

Food is love. At Christmas, anyway.

Food is love.

Somewhere in all my books, the hero feeds the heroine. Maybe because I’m married to a man who can cook, I find something sexy and satisfying about a man providing for his mate. Or maybe food really does equal way that we show love, anyway. Mothers baking cookies or cutting up meat for their children. Girlfriends consoling each other with wine and chocolate. Husbands and wives sharing bites and tastes in a restaurant.

Christmas is all about love. So it makes sense to me that it’s also all about food.

Come dish about your favorite holiday dishes for a chance to win a signed copy of Carolina Home!

Join me at herding cats and burning soup.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Freebie Friday!

In the Christmas spirit, it's Freebie Friday! Comment on my Facebook Author Page or join my mailing list to be entered to win my CAROLINA HOME and Sabrina Jeffries' TWAS THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS. Do both and double your chances. ;-) I'll be drawing names Sunday night and announcing a winner on Monday!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Teaser Tuesday! Mad Dog and Annie

Snatching a couple of dirty glasses, she got busy, got moving, got her mind off Rob’s latest threats and Mitchell’s outgrown sneakers and the things she did and should have done with Maddox Palmer back in high school.

No regrets, she reminded herself. Figure out what has to be done now, and do it. After nine years of having the spunk and the tar whaled out of her, initiative still came hard. But she was learning, she thought with satisfaction. In the past year, she’d had to learn.

The cheery little bell over the door summoned her back to the hostess station. She grabbed a menu and a smile to welcome the new customer and then stopped dead and let both of them slide.

It was him. Maddox Palmer, in the flesh. In jeans, she corrected herself, and a tan T-shirt that almost matched the color of his skin. She squeezed the menu tighter. This time the Cutler grapevine was right. He was handsomer than ever.

He had to be over thirty now, big and broad and somehow harder. Solid. His face had a lot more lines. Well, he was three years older than her, though only two years ahead in school. He’d been kept back in first grade, she remembered, the year his mama died. He had thick brown hair that his new short cut couldn’t tame and hooded eyes that still saw right through her, and a juvenile-delinquent slouch that made him look tough and ready to react to whatever punch life threw at him. He dangled a cigarette between two fingers of his right hand, and he still had that not-a-dimple in his chin that tempted every good girl to press a finger to it.

Ann damned the way her heart speeded up just at the sight of him. She’d given up Big, Bad and Dangerous to Know almost a year ago.

He smiled crookedly. “Hey, Annie.”

Like they were just passing in the hall in high school. Like he’d never shared gum or secrets with her on the school bus or filched cookies from her mother’s kitchen or stood up for her on the playground.

Like he’d never grappled with her in the back seat of his father’s unmarked police car and then walked right past her locker the next day.

Well, he could take his “hey” and...and... Her racing brain stumbled. Nice Southern girls simply did not think that way. Take his hay and stack it, she amended silently.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Club Discussion Questions for Carolina Home

1. There are four point of view characters in CAROLINA HOME: Matt, Allison, matriarch Tess, and ten-year-old Taylor. How did the Tess and Taylor’s viewpoints impact the story? Which character did you feel most emotionally connected to and why?

2. When Allison apologizes for her parents’ behavior at dinner, Matt excuses them. “They were being parents...[they] Want what’s best for you. And they know I’m not it.” What are Allison’s parents’ hopes and expectations for their children? How are they the same or different from Tom and Tess’s hopes for Matt, Meg, and Luke or Matt’s hopes for Josh?

3. How realistic did you find the small town, island setting? How did it add to the story?

4. There’s an eleven-year age difference between Matt and Allison. Did it bother you? Why or why not?

5. How does Tom’s example as a father influence Matt and Luke?

6. Matt left college to raise Josh. Do you agree or disagree with his decision? What do you think of his statement: "I worked damn hard to get where I am. To get what I need. That's enough for me"?

7. How did Matt’s interactions with Taylor affect your view of his character? What about his relationship with Josh? How does the presence of children affect the story?

8. Matt is a serial dater. Allison thinks she’d “had sex with other guys for less reason and certainly with less attraction.” They go to bed with each other pretty quickly. When does their relationship change? What do they offer each other besides sex?

9. Allison’s eagerness to experience life led her to try many different things. Do you she will be happy on Dare Island? Why or why not?

10. Matt remembers “watching his parents get ready to leave for some function on the base, his dad, tall and formal in his dress blues, his mom, unfamiliar in a dress that glittered and clung. The look of pride on his father’s face, the secret shining in his mother’s eyes. The same look they wore now, as if they were the only two people in the room, in the world. Matt had felt, well, weird seeing them that way for the first time, two grown-ups, two strangers, two characters in a story, as if he and his sister and brother were only spectators, minor participants in their parents’ fairy tale.” Why do you think the author chose to focus some scenes on Tom and Tess’s relationship? Did it add or subtract from your interest and enjoyment of the primary romance?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teaser Tuesday!

Meg stole a glance at Sam’s profile as they left the bobbing lights of the waterfront behind. He looked good in moonlight, strong cheekbones, straight nose, sculpted lips, chiseled chin. And then there were those not-quite- dimples, the promise of humor, the flashes of empathy. Any woman could be forgiven for losing her head a little over Sam.

It wasn’t just his good looks and his money and his charm. Okay, those things didn’t hurt. But the real appeal was his willingness to put himself out, the way he’d driven to the airport to pick her up or built that ramp for her mother, without looking for payback, without figuring the angles or calculating the cost. She liked that about him. She liked him a lot.

He had always been a friend of Matt’s, a friend of the family. There was no reason after all these years that Meg couldn’t count him as her friend, too. Her good, close friend.

But nothing more.

The clouds against the blue velvet sky were the colors of an oyster shell, purple, gray, and milky white. The last time she had been alone in the dark with Sam, he’d kissed her senseless. If he tried anything this time, she was ready. She would just say no.

But despite his words in the restaurant, he was being a perfect gentleman.

She shivered a little from the breeze and disappointment.

He slanted a look at her. “Cold?”

She wasn’t stupid. She recognized a line when she heard one. “Is this where you offer to put your arm around me to keep me warm?”

“No.” He slid out of his jacket. “This is where I give you my jacket to keep you warm.” He put it around her shoulders, smiling down at her, making her feel safe and warm and cared for. His jacket smelled like him, masculine with a hint of expensive soap. “Then I put my arm around you,” he said, suiting the action to the words.

Meg smothered a laugh. “Where did you learn this move, high school?”

He grinned back, not smug, just...Sam. “Why not stick with what works?”

from Carolina Girl, coming June 2013

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Teaser Tuesday!

Wow, the Labor Day weekend went fast!

Here's a little something to sweeten the start of the work week.

* * *

"How long have you been renting from my mother?” Rachel asked as soon as they were out of earshot of the kitchen.

“Not long,” Sean said easily.

She jingled her keys, hurrying to keep pace with his long stride. “I t’s going to be awkward, negotiating two cars in the driveway.”

“I can live with it.”

“And there’s the problem of space. Bedrooms...”

“Hey, I’m willing to share.”

She dipped her head, letting her hair swing forward to hide her smile. “Very generous of you,” she said dryly. “But it may be...” She swallowed. Go on. Say it. “Maybe now that we’re here, it just won’t work out.”

He stopped, giving her a long, slow once-over from surprisingly shrewd brown eyes. “Maybe. You might want to take that up with your mom. She doesn’t like living alone.”

“She won’t be alone. She has her grandchildren now. She has me.”

“Like I said, you should take that up with her.” Plucking the keys from her hand, he opened the rental truck’s door. His gentlemanly gesture confused her. Put her at a disadvantage. But short of wrestling for the keys, there was nothing she could do.

He handed them back. “Look, I’m not getting in the middle of some family thing. I’ve got family enough of my own. As far as I’m concerned, your mom is just a nice lady with an empty garage.”

“And a cozy house.”

That long-boned, laid-back body tensed. “The garage isn’t livable yet. I only agreed to stay in the house because your mother said it made her feel safe. But I’m not dogging for anybody to feed me or mother me or keep track of my comings and goings, and I’m sure not looking for hassles.” He took a quick, annoyed breath. “Clear?”

“Yes,” said Rachel, a bit breathless herself at his unexpected vehemence. Could she believe him? “Thank you, that’s very clear.”

“Good.” He waited until she climbed up into the cab and then closed the driver’s side door. “You two talk it over. I’m taking delivery on a new table saw, and I’d kind of like to know where to put it.” His wicked grin glimmered. “Don’t go jumping in with suggestions, now, beautiful.”

Her laugh sputtered, surprising them both. His smile broadened. Softened. Got personal.

“That’s right,” he said, though what he was agreeing to or approving of Rachel couldn’t have said.

Ambling forward a few steps, he stooped to grasp the steel T-handle of the garage door. Rachel watched the muscles flex beneath his shirt, and then the old door screeched and lifted, revealing his truck. His bright, new, shiny truck. Red, with Massachusetts plates and a bumper sticker that read, Women Love Me, Fish Fear Me.

She shot him a look, trying not to smile.

He grinned. “A present from my sister-in-law. She has a weird sense of humor.”

The words popped out before she could censor them. “She must, if your brother’s anything like you.”

He laughed. “Nah. My brothers are both respectable now.”

He climbed into his candy-apple-red truck. Rachel concentrated on negotiating her rental vehicle backward along the gravel, as cautious and awkward as a pregnant woman on roller skates. She felt the soft bump as her rear tire ran on grass and then the firm, flat road.

Sean MacNeill gunned his motor. His galvanized, oversize toolbox gleamed as he reversed toward her at twice her speed and cut smoothly onto the road.

Rachel sighed. She had too much at stake here to risk an attraction to some twenty-something carpenter in tight jeans and a kick-ass truck.

Whatever his motives, Sean MacNeill was a complication she didn’t need and a distraction she couldn’t afford.

Whatever her mother said, he would have to go.


Now available on Kindle

and Nook

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Teaser Tuesday! The Temptation of Sean MacNeill

Now available on Nook!

There was a strange man in Rachel’s bedroom, in Rachel’s bed. A naked man, she guessed, by the hard curve of shoulder that showed in the light from the hall. A strange, naked man.

Her mother must be thrilled.

Rachel wasn’t. Not at 2:00 a.m. Not after driving half the night with her two children sleeping in the back seat of a rental truck. Desperation and caffeine were the only things keeping her going. At this moment a naked Brad Pitt couldn’t have thrilled her.

Heart sinking, she regarded the long, well-muscled body tenting the flowered sheets. What on earth was she supposed to do now? She couldn’t put her kids to bed in that firetrap of a spare bedroom. She couldn’t even see the room’s twin beds beneath the piled cartons. A hotel room—even if she were willing to drag the children another half hour down the road, which she was not—was beyond her means. And waking her mother... No, she couldn’t cope with her mother right now.

Bad enough that the break-in had forced her home. She certainly wasn’t explaining it to her mother in the middle of the night, as if she were some teenager caught sneaking in after curfew.

The only solution, the only practical, adult solution, was to rouse this naked stranger and oust him from the only available bed. Any minute now an accusing Lindsey and a sleepy-eyed Chris would come stumbling up the stairs, and she needed a place to put them.

She cleared her throat. “Excuse me?”

He didn’t stir.

She took a cautious step forward. “Hello?”

The stranger shifted onto his back, revealing a threequarter profile that could have made Penelope abandon her weaving or Juliet forget poor Romeo. A muscled chest, its nudity emphasized by a perfect pattern of dark hair, stretched above the sheet. A small gold hoop like a pirate’s winked from his exposed earlobe.

He was young, she noted. Her stomach sank to join her heart in her neatly tied running shoes. Young, unshaven and outrageously good-looking. Oh, help. What was her mother thinking?

She pressed her lips together, light-headed from hunger and trembling with fatigue. After Carmine Bilotti’s threats, she should be able to take one half naked stranger in stride.

She opened the door wider, hoping the light from the hall might wake him. It sliced through the room and fell across the pillow.

The man in her bed opened his eyes. His dark gaze jolted her heartbeat. And then a slow smile curved his wide mouth and he dropped his head back onto the pillow. “Sweet Mother in Heaven, please don’t let me be dreaming.” He raised his hand, stopping Rachel’s interruption before she could get properly started. “Or if this is a dream,” he continued, “then don’t let me wake up. Amen.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Cover!

For The Temptation of Sean MacNeill, coming soon on Nook and Kindle!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesday!

“What do you think you’re doing?” Allison hissed.

Matt glanced back down at her, his lids heavy. A corner of his mouth kicked up in a smile. “Kissing you. I’ve wanted to since you got here.”

Another dark thrill chased through her. “Your whole family is downstairs."

“Well, that’s why I waited,” Matt said reasonably.

She bit back a smile. “What will they think? Your mother. Josh.”

“My mother will think we’re involved. Which is why you came, remember? And Josh already knows.”

It was hard to remember anything with her blood still pumping, her head still spinning from his kiss. She pressed her lips together. She could still taste him on her mouth. “If you invited me to save my reputation, you’d better get downstairs.”

“I didn’t . . .” Matt stopped.

Her heart drummed in her chest. She held her breath in anticipation. “You didn’t . . . what?”

“Nothing.” He smiled again crookedly. He glanced down at his wet shirt front and then at the bed. “Need help changing?”


Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Teaser Tuesday!

"What do you want, Dixie?" Conn asked.

Opening her eyes, Val looked at him, relaxed and confident, as if all he had to do was stretch back on the picnic blanket and smile that slow, collected smile and women would crawl all over themselves to get to him.

She sighed. Probably most women would.

“I want my independence. I want my restaurant to succeed. And even if I’m not the status symbol they want me to be, I’m trying very hard to reconcile with my parents right now.” She shook her head, making her earrings jangle. “Though it’s tough building a mature relationship with a man who calls you ‘punkin.’”

“I can imagine,” Conn said dryly.

His blue eyes were bright with humor and dark with understanding. She felt his regard deep in her midsection, sweet as raspberry trifle and comforting as bread. A woman could learn to depend on the sustenance of that warm regard. Briefly, Val hungered for...what? His support? Approval? Love?


“What I don’t need,” she continued, “is a...a boyfriend looking over my shoulder and telling me what to do.”

“Or a lover?”

His deep, rough voice plucked at her nerves, making her insides quiver. “I tried that. I’m not some little innocent, you know. It didn’t work. It wouldn’t work.”

“Why not?”

“Expectations. You let somebody into your bed, and all of a sudden he wants the keys to your apartment and a chance to run your life.”

“Your life? Or your business?”

“Either one.” Bravely, she met his eyes. “I won’t give up control, MacNeill.”

His thumb rubbed his jaw. “You know, it’s possible you’re letting your prejudices blind you to a good thing. You’re stuck with me, anyway. Why not use me? I’ve got expertise and I’ve got experience. Hell, I can get you references if you want.”

Her cheeks scorched. “Are we still talking about the restaurant here?”

He went very still. His stillness was an active quality, as unmistakable and expressive as another man’s shout. And then his slow grin sizzled clear down to her toes. “I was. But feel free to take advantage of any services you want. I won’t be in town forever.”

From The Comeback of Conn MacNeill

Now available for Nook and Kindle

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Teaser Tuesday!

from The Comeback of Conn MacNeill

Conn leaned forward out of the deep leather chair. “Look, Miss Cutler... I’ve got a Harvard degree and ten years’ experience. I advise small businesses, I put together plans for them, I help them secure funding and ensure they’re on solid-enough financial footing to succeed. If you’ve got a cash flow problem, odds are I can help you.”

He honestly thought she might be...not grateful, exactly, but...impressed. But the restaurant owner was made of stronger stuff than Conn had given her credit for.

“How nice,” she murmured. “Do you wash dishes, too?”

“Only if you need me to,” he replied.

Startled, she looked at him, really looked at him, for the first time since they’d sat down. Slowly, those clear gray depths warmed and filled with amusement. Her pale pink mouth curved in a wry smile. Conn’s breath rushed to his throat and lodged there.

Edward Cutler drummed his fingers on his desk. “My other offer still stands, punkin.”

The girl didn’t blink at the repeated use of the demeaning pet name. Maybe she was used to it. It set Conn’s teeth on edge.

She stood, surprisingly dignified in her flirty skirt and clunky heels. Conn did the same, keeping his hands quiet at his sides, although the tension in the room had him balancing on the balls of his feet like a boxer.

Val Cutler tugged thoughtfully on one of her long silver earrings. “So, my real choice is between the devil I do know, or the qualified devil I don’t, is that it?”

“Unless there’s a door number three nobody’s told me about,” Conn agreed, straight-faced.

Edward stiffened.

His daughter laughed, and the sound loosed something warm in the center of Conn’s chest.

“We open for lunch at eleven,” she told him. “Why don’t you stop by around ten tomorrow and I’ll give you the tour?”

“Ten o’clock,” Conn confirmed.

“You call your mother,” Edward said. “She’s waiting to hear from you.”

“Yes, Daddy.”

Conn watched her exit with small, firm steps, her short skirt riding those curvy hips and flirting with the tops of her thighs. She looked even better in the Lady of the Lake getup than she had in jeans.

He was out of his head to even notice such a thing. His interest in her was business, he reminded himself. Strictly business.

In the back of his mind, he could hear his brothers laughing.

Now available for Kindle and Nook

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Teaser Tuesday! More Carolina Home

“Your father thinks I’m a good catch,” Allison said.

A slight flush stained Matt’s cheekbones. “You heard that?”

“I’m a teacher. I hear everything.”

Hooked, Tom Fletcher had said. The prospect left her oddly breathless.

Of course, their parents’ generation thought that way. Allison wasn’t trolling for some trophy husband to stuff and mount over her fireplace.

“My mother always claimed to have selective hearing,” Matt said. “That way she could pretend not to hear Luke and me when we bitched about doing chores.”

“Your mother is a wise woman.”

“She likes you. She doesn’t give her family recipes to just anybody.”

Allison’s heart gave a happy little hop. “Too bad I get my cooking skills from my mother.”

“It’s not that hard.”

She tilted her head. “You cook?”

He smiled his lazy smile. “I learned to, for Josh. I can manage more than peanut butter sandwiches and scrambled eggs, anyway.”

There was no one in Allison’s life to cook for. To care for. But she didn’t have to be defined by her family. Isn’t that what she’d come to Dare Island to prove?

“I guess if I can read, I can follow a recipe. I’m up for trying new things.”

“Good.” He stopped under the blooming crepe myrtle. Took her by the shoulders and drew her in. “Try this.”

He kissed her.

She was prepared for the familiar rush of blood, the blast of heat. But his mouth was warm and soft on hers, testing, tasting, tempting her with little bites. Not a demand this time. A question. Her body loosened, moistened, as his tongue coaxed hers to play. She sucked in her breath and kissed him back, yes, answering with her body and her mouth, yes, promising him everything she had, yes, please, yes. His arms tightened. She felt him, the hard, lovely planes and angles of him hard against her breast, belly, thighs. Matt.

“Matt . . .” She opened her eyes to a pink haze of crepe myrtle and lust, a sweet, melting ache inside her. “Where are we going with this?”

“I don’t know.” He kissed the corner of her lips. “Does it matter?”

from Carolina Home

Buy it now from


or Barnes and Noble

Friday, July 13, 2012

CAROLINA HOME - More giveaways!

I'm continuing the Great Blog Slut Tour and Book Giveaway for Carolina Home. At Guilty Pleasures I'm talking about the Top Ten Beach Essentials.

Drop by and leave a comment before July 16 to be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of Carolina Home. Or just come say Hi!

And there's a lovely new review of Carolina Home at The Romance Dish with another giveaway! Today only - Friday, July 13th. Hey, it could be your lucky day!

Good luck!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Postcards from Carolina Home! with excerpt and giveaway

I'm at Romance at Random today, chatting about Carolina Home. Which is a thrill, except my postcards are showing up as little red Xxxes. *sigh* So here they are.
Drop by Romance at Random and leave a comment for a chance to win your own copy of Carolina Home!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Cupping her face with his free hand, he laid his mouth on hers.

His lips were warm, firm, parted. Like his touch, his kiss teased and tempted, a promise of heat, a whisper of excitement along her nerves, surging in her blood. Without thinking—Don’t think—she opened her mouth, inviting him in.

He deepened the kiss immediately, nudging inside her, licking inside her while his hand tightened on the back of her neck. Heat flared, blanketing her brain. She fisted her hand to pull him closer, wanting more. More heat, more contact, more tongue. He gave it to her, swamping her with sensations, the softness of his shirt, the roughness of his stubble, the taste and textures of his mouth.

His hand stroked from jaw to shoulder, brushing the outside curve of her breast, sliding from hip to thigh, rousing and soothing at the same time. Her skin tingled in the wake of his touch. She made a sound in her throat and strained forward, her knee bumping the gearshift.

“Let’s take this inside,” he said against her mouth. Another kiss, deep and drugging. “I want to come inside with you. Let me come.”

Oh, yes. Inside me. Come.

Oh, no.

Allison broke the kiss, banging her head on the back of the seat.

“Easy.” He gathered her closer, his thumb stroking the sensitive skin of her neck.

His eyes were dark and dilated, his lips wet and close. She almost lunged for them again. No, no, no.

“I don’t do this,” she said. Not anymore.

His body tensed. Stilled. “Okay.”

“I can’t do this.” She struggled to remember the reasons why. “Your son is in my class.”

The inside of the cab was sweltering. Her breathing rasped in the quiet.

Matt eased back, his gaze on her face. “My son doesn’t have anything to do with this.”


Buy your copy at Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Friday, June 29, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Teaser Tuesday!

Talking with her mother didn’t usually drive Allison to drink. But she reasoned a single glass of wine would settle her nerves and bolster her courage. Setting down her empty glass, she tugged open the door.

Matt Fletcher stood on her front porch in a black T-shirt and jeans, thumbs hooked into his front pockets, a hint of a smile on his lips, totally at ease. Without even trying, he made every gym-toned banker and golf-playing engineer her parents had ever pushed at her seem overdressed, insecure, and uninteresting. He was so entirely male, so completely comfortable in his own skin. Her insides danced with a mix of lust, rebellion, and Chardonnay.

“You look pretty.” His gaze brushed her bare shoulders before settling firmly, warmly, on her face. The tiny hairs on her upper arms tingled in awareness. “Might want to bring a sweater, though.”

Allison flushed with heat and wine. She’d spent twenty minutes digging in her closet for an outfit that didn’t make her feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder, finally unearthing a halter top from spring break five years ago and a pair of skinny jeans. She had good arms. And decent legs. But despite what Gail had said about Matt’s reputation, he was obviously in no hurry to talk her out of her clothes. Maybe she should suggest that he keep her warm? But she needed more daring for that.

Or another glass of wine.

Wordlessly, she fetched a cardigan from her bedroom.

“Thank you for going out with me,” she said when they got to the truck.

“My pleasure.” He shifted gears with one hand, steering with the other. He had great hands, she noticed. Working hands, tanned and strong, with a thin line of white scar across his knuckles. “Thank you for saying yes.”

“I asked you.”

He glanced over in surprise.

“Tonight,” she explained as he backed smoothly out of the driveway. “You asked me for tomorrow. I asked you tonight.”

“Yeah, you did.” Another sideways glance. “Why did you?”

To spite my mother didn’t seem like a tactful reply. Or even a very good reason.

She cleared her throat. “My mother called. I told her I had a date to get off the phone.”

A corner of his mouth kicked up. “And you don’t like to lie to your mother.”

“Yes. No.” Allison took a deep breath to still her jittery stomach. If she wanted honesty from Matt, she owed him honesty in return. This wasn’t about her mother. Allison was a grown-up, old enough to make up her own mind about what she wanted, what she needed.

And woman enough to change it.

“I wanted to go out. With you,” she said, so there could be no doubt. “I’d like to get to know you better.”

The echo of her previous words charged the air of the cabin. I don’t jump into bed with someone I don’t know. She wiped damp palms on the thighs of her jeans. Did he remember?

“Most women from off island don’t care about getting to know me. They’re just looking for a good time.”

“Which you no doubt provide.” She meant to sound teasing, not wistful.

He slanted a smile at her. “I can.”

The two words thumped softly in the pit of her stomach. The buzz was back, collecting on her skin like static before a storm. She had asked Matt out as a gesture of independence, a show of control over her life, her destiny. But she didn’t feel in control of herself or the situation.

He sounded so sure of himself. Of her.

But then, she thought crossly, she was practically throwing herself at him. He had every right to sound confident.

“So is this how you entertain your dates? By bringing them . . .” She leaned forward to peer out the windshield at empty road and shadowed, silent dunes. “Where are we, anyway?”

“I told you I’d show you my island. This is it.”

Gnarled live oaks on one side; an uneven line of erosion fence on the other; marsh grass and sea oats everywhere.

“There’s nothing here.”

His teeth showed in a smile. “Give it a chance.”

Their headlights jumped across the road. He turned left toward a gap in the line of pickets. She felt a bump as the pavement ended and their tires dropped onto sand. Shells crunched. The engine rumbled. She gripped the door handle as the truck lurched, aware of leaving something behind, of venturing off the road she knew into the unknown. And then the dunes fell away and the beach opened below, stretching away into the dusk on either side, gray sand and silver sea under a twilight sky.

Allison drew her breath in wonder.

Matt circled the truck to face the dunes, parking perpendicular to the water. He cut the engine. Silence rushed in, cool and laced with the scent of the sea.

Allison craned her neck to look out the windows. “Wow. Just . . . Wow.”


The horizon ran with paint box colors, purple, red, and gold. Low breakers rolled toward shore, dissolving in a flurry of foam against the flat sand.

Matt came around to help her from the truck. “Easy.” He steadied her as her heels sank into sand.

“I’m okay.” She was not drunk. “I wasn’t expecting a walk on the beach.”

“We’re not going far.”

She glanced down the shoreline at the glowing line of lights over the water. “Is that the pier?”


“What is it, like a mile?” She could walk a mile if she took off her shoes.

“We’re not walking. We’re parking.” He went to the back of the truck.

The soft sea breeze was clearing her head. “I didn’t know you could park on the beach at night,” she said conversationally.

“Now, yeah. Not during the season.”

“Because of tourists?”

He grinned and lowered the tailgate. “Because of turtles. Sea turtles lay their clutches in May. They hatch at night, follow the moon’s reflection to the sea. Headlights confuse them. And they can get trapped in tire tracks. But this time of year, it’s not a problem.”

He grabbed a quilt from the back and spread it over the truck bed. “Up you go.”

He boosted her onto the tailgate, his hands hard and strong. She caught her breath as he swung up beside her, the truck bouncing beneath his weight. His thigh brushed hers, his body warm and close. He stretched an arm behind her, making her heart beat faster.

Making his move, she thought.

He dragged a cooler forward from the back and began to unload it. A picnic.

Her lips curved as he laid out grapes and cheese and wrapped sandwiches. She found the simple spread more appealing than her mother’s themed and catered menus, more romantic than an overpriced meal in some fancy restaurant.

Matt lifted a bottle of wine from the cooler.

And far more seductive.

from CAROLINA HOME, on sale July 3

Saturday, June 23, 2012


New review! And it's a good one.

"Matt’s family captured my interest in a big way since they are so convincingly drawn - from his taciturn father to his super organized mother, war-weary brother and very driven sister. The story is balanced between the developing love affair between Matt and Allison, and incidents that impact the whole Fletcher family, showcasing the importance of familial bonds...This book definitely worked for me."


Ten days to release day! I can't wait! (Not that I'm counting or anything!)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Switching Point of View

I'm a "guest lecturer" at Romance University today on switching POV. With diagrams. :-) Feel free to pop over and ask questions! And tell me what works for you in changing POV as a reader or as a writer.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Carolina Home by Virginia Kantra

Carolina Home

by Virginia Kantra

Giveaway ends July 02, 2012.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Teaser Tuesday!

His voice roughened. “You should go to bed.”

Her head moved slowly against the cushions, back and forth. No. “I’m too excited to sleep.”

He was perilously close to too excited himself. Damn, but she was pretty. Under her turquoise tank top, her breasts rose and fell. Her lashes fanned against her cheeks. The necessity of keeping their voices down and the lights low wrapped them in intimacy.

If she didn’t hustle back into her own bedroom where she belonged, he was going to sink down on that soft couch and dive into her like a swimmer into water. Conn rocked on his heels, stuffing his hands into his pockets. Right now, he was trying real hard to remember he had scruples about things like that. He wasn’t proud of the idea that he would take advantage of his role as Val’s protector to jump her bones.

To shock himself back to sanity, to scare her back to her room, he said deliberately, “I could help you to sleep.”

She chuckled. “You can cut the Big Bad Wolf routine, MacNeill. It won’t work.”

He was irritated. Curious. “Why not?”

“Because you’re being nice tonight,” she explained, still without opening her eyes. “I don’t buy it.”

Nice. Shit.

He tried to remember the last time a woman had accused him of being nice. Nothing came to mind. Patrick was decent. Sean was charming. Conn had been called smooth and, occasionally, generous. Never nice.

“Well, that puts me in my place,” he said acerbically.

She chuckled again, almost asleep. Her hair streamed over the overstuffed pillows and rolled arm of the couch. She was spread out like a banquet for his starved senses. He wanted to thread his fingers through that heavy fall of hair, to nuzzle the hollow just below her ear, to glut himself on the scent and the taste and the texture of her.

She sighed, and his breathing jammed, doing funny things to the rhythm of his heart.

If he had half the brains his brothers credited him with, he’d get the hell out of Dodge.

Instead, he eased down beside her, stretching one arm along the back of the couch. The soft cushions gave beneath him. She shifted as the springs adjusted to their relative weights. Her head rolled against his shoulder. She kept it there.

Hunger leaped inside him.

She rubbed her cheek against his shirt. “This is nice.”

Conn groaned silently. That word again. He ordered his libido back into its cage and slammed the door shut. And it was...well, not satisfying, precisely, but pleasant, he discovered, to sit in the half light with Val’s head resting on his shoulder and her hair tickling his jaw.


From THE COMEBACK OF CONN MACNEILL, now on Nook and Kindle

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Teaser Tuesday!

Kate’s spine straightened another degree. Maybe she was no man’s dream date, but as a surgeon she’d learned to value herself and her time. She hadn’t endured the slights and rigors of her male-dominated surgical training to let one cocky pilot dictate to her now. She marched down the hall, banged through the glass and steel doors—and stopped short.

For an instant, she was convinced she was seeing double. The waiting room appeared full of MacNeills. Patrick paced, fists jammed in his pockets, his wide shoulders and contained intensity dwarfing his surroundings. She felt her heart trip into double time at the sight of him.

But nothing could dwarf the man beside him.

Taller and younger than Patrick, his companion had the same dark hair, longer and curlier, and the same male assurance. He wore a gold hoop in his ear, like a pirate, and exuded cheerful good nature and unabashed sex. There were at least three nurses craning for a look at him, and one patient’s mother was openly fanning herself.

Three months ago, such blatant good looks would have frozen Kate into a cold and inarticulate block of insecurity. She discovered now that after knowing Patrick, his brother didn’t alarm her at all. No more than she would be afraid of a wolfhound after petting a wolf.

She tapped her pen on her clipboard. “So. Which Mr. MacNeill can’t wait to see me?”

Three dark heads turned. The shortest one dashed forward.

“Dr. Kate!”

A corner of her heart melted at the boy’s exuberant greeting. “Hey, Jack-o. Are you sick?”


“Pining for you,” the younger man offered.

Kate smiled down at the boy’s bright face. “I find that difficult to believe.”

“Okay,” the pirate said agreeably. “Maybe Patrick’s the one pining.”

The listening nurses goggled. Kate felt her cheeks flame. With gossip breeding in the hospital like bacteria in a wound, she’d always resolved to keep her personal life private. Not that it had been much of an issue. Until recently, she hadn’t had a personal life.

She swallowed. She still didn’t have a personal life. Patrick might want to go to bed with her, but they hadn’t even been on a date.

“Sean,” Patrick said warningly.

“So it’s me. I need a doctor. Take my pulse.” He snatched her hand, enclosing the pen with it, and laid it on his muscled chest, just above his heart. “What do you think, Doc?”

Kate lifted her chin, refusing to be flustered. “You feel normal to me.”

“Not just a little hot? “ His dark eyes were wicked, inviting her to share his joke.

“No. Sorry.”

“You don’t think maybe I need some bed rest?”

“You don’t let go of her hand,” Patrick growled, “and you won’t be getting up for a week.”


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Free E-book!

I’m so excited about the upcoming release of Carolina Home, the first in my new Dare Island series!
The wonderful JoAnn Ross calls Carolina Home “a deeply moving story of family, love, and second chances...prose as lush and warm as a coastal summer.” Publishers Weekly says, “This first in a proposed trilogy introduces readers to the Fletcher clan, whose warmth and devotion feel genuine, and the palpable heat from Matt and Allison ensures a sizzling good time. Kantra’s storybuilding is excellent.”

Woo hoo! CAROLINA HOME goes on sale July 3. But if you preorder the book now - by JUNE 5th - I will send you a free, full length e-book, THE COMEBACK OF CONN MACNEILL, as a reader appreciation gift.

Conn MacNeill has a lot of the things that make Carolina Home special: a small town, North Carolina setting; that “home and hearth” feel; and a hero to die for. The story, about a free-spirited Southern beauty who clashes with her father's financial hired gun over the running of her restaurant, was nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA award.

So, how do you get them both?

1. BUY Carolina Home on-line now (by June 5th) from any of these vendors




2. FORWARD your email order/receipt (for your security, you can delete your billing address before forwarding the order) to

3. SPECIFY if you would like to receive your free e-book as a mobi (Kindle) or e-pub (Nook, Sony, etc.) file.

Already ordered CAROLINA HOME? Thank you! You can still receive the reader appreciation gift. Just follow steps 2 & 3 above.

Don’t have an e-reader? Not a problem. Download free reading apps for Kindle or Nook and read The Comeback of Conn MacNeill on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet! (Once you’ve downloaded your free e-book to your computer, it should automatically appear in your e-reader device library.)

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy Carolina Home AND your free copy of The Comeback of Conn MacNeill!


(Please feel free to post, tweet, and tell your friends about this offer. Remember, the deadline for this special “reader appreciation” gift is June 5th.)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Epub covers and schedule!

I've got covers! And e-books, of course, for Nook and Kindle. Don't they look pretty, all in a row?

The Reforming of Matthew Dunn, April 2012, Golden Heart Winner, Holt Medallion Winner, RT Reviewers' Choice nominee
The Passion of Patrick MacNeill, May 2012, RITA Award finalist, RT Top Pick
The Comeback of Conn MacNeill, June 2012, RITA Award finalist
The Temptation of Sean MacNeill, coming soon, Romance Readers Anonymous Award nominee
Mad Dog and Annie, coming soon, RITA Award finalist, AAR Desert Island Keeper

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teaser Tuesday! CAROLINA HOME

Allison Carter pinned him with those big brown eyes, those just-licked lips, and every hormone in Matt’s body jumped to attention. “Can I buy you that beer?”

He ought to say no, he thought, regarding her fresh, flushed face.

Correction. He ought to say Hell no.

He liked to keep things simple. Allison Carter was a distraction he didn’t want, a complication he didn’t need.

Whatever she was looking for, he was damn sure he wasn’t it.

But her scent filled the cab of the truck, fresh and sweet, soap and woman and something else, vanilla with a hint of spice.

Matt rubbed his jaw, aware he hadn’t shaved since the day before yesterday. “You sure you’re old enough to have a drink with me?”

She narrowed those gorgeous eyes at him. “What does my age have to do with anything?”

Straight-faced, he explained, “You have to be twenty-one to purchase alcohol in this state.”

Suspicion dissolved into a smile. “I’m twenty-five.”

So, okay, she was older than she looked. Still too young for him.

But it was only a beer, he told himself. Only an hour on his way home. She was new to the island. No harm in being friendly.


Coming July 3, 2012, from Berkley Books!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teaser Tuesday!

Con MacNeill rubbed sweat from his chest. This Carolina town was too damn hot for a Boston boy.

He leaned against the wall of the First Baptist Church, seeking shade and the cool prickle of brick against his back. Main Street, North Carolina, was not his scene at all. But with Lynn’s wedding scheduled for three weeks from today, even Boston had begun to feel uncomfortably warm. Too many parties. Too many phone calls from mock or mutual friends eager to pry or express sympathy. He was better out of it. All of it. The offer from Edward Cutler couldn’t have come at a better time.

Nothing like a new challenge to get a man over being fired.

Con crossed his arms against his chest, shutting down the flare of frustration. Define the problem, he reminded himself. That was the way he operated. Solve the problem.

He surveyed the street, spanned by a banner that proclaimed the town of Cutler’s Seventh Annual Super Summer Sidewalk Sale. From the church parking lot to the county courthouse steps, racks of out-of-season clothes competed with bins of plastic trinkets. Halfway down the block, Arlene’s Country Cafe supplied coffee and doughnuts to passing patrons, while the rival establishment on the opposite corner handed out clear plastic cups of...Lord knew what.

Con narrowed his eyes at the freshly painted green-and-white sign over the door: Wild Thymes. Cute. Very cute. As he watched, a vendor leaned forward from beneath the cool canvas awning to offer an elderly customer a plastic fork and a smile.

Sunlight dropped across her face. Her tawny hair blazed, stirred by a hot breeze. For that one moment, sun and wind combined to create a vision of light and movement that burned like summer sparkling on lake waters. For that one moment, the woman leaning across the plank counter was Woman, divine and incarnate. Wild yearning uncurled in Con’s Celtic heart. Awe breathed through his Catholic soul. She was Eve before the Fall. She was Niamh of the Golden Hair, legendary love of Oisin. She was the Lady on the White Horse in his mother’s stories.

Desire hit him, hard and low. And striking harder, unrecognized and unwelcome, possibility assailed him like the sea.

Then the breeze dropped. The woman turned her head to talk to someone over her shoulder. Green shade drabbed the golden hair and dimmed the radiant face, leaving only a waitress, chatting up a customer.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Teaser Tuesay!

Kate pressed her legs together on the edge of the mattress, hoping to make her thighs look thinner. Downstairs she could hear Patrick moving around, talking to the dog. Nerves jitterbugged in her stomach.

She was cold. The skin of her arms and legs bumped like uncooked chicken. But her cheeks were hot. She could feel the blood heating there, and beating in her throat and in her chest, and pooling warm and liquid in her lower body.

Look before you leap. Think before you speak. Analyze before you act.

She would not be foolish like her mother or trusting like her sister, both of them mothers and alone before their thirties But how could she examine her options when all she could see was Patrick’s intent face? How could she hear herself think over the drumbeat of her blood?

He was the worst man in the world for her. A patient’s father, a grieving husband. A man too used to getting his own way and too aware of his effect on women.

But he had granted her rights, given her welcome, shared his house and his son and a piece of his soul with her. She admired him, perhaps more than any man she’d ever met. His utter reliability, the way he supported his mother and loved his son and was simply there for every member of his family in a way that no one had ever been there for her...Oh, she liked that a lot. It made her want him. It made her want to be there for him.

Kate might have held out against her own desire. She could not resist Patrick’s need.

She shivered, thinking of Wade Preston, the blond Apollo of Jefferson University Medical School. He’d told her he needed her. He’d even claimed to love her. But his need hadn’t outlasted their shared residency, and his love hadn’t survived the discovery of her background, so unsuitable for a doctor’s wife in Baltimore.

This is different, she thought, rubbing her hands nervously on the goose-bumped flesh of her thighs. Wade, pledging his future, had been miserly with praise and stingy in bed. Patrick promised her nothing. But she suspected, with a newfound feminine instinct, that he would be generous with his passion. At the very least, he seemed really to want her. And she wanted him.

The door opened, and he was there.

The Passion of Patrick MacNeill

Buy it now for Kindle!

and for Nook!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The MacNeills are coming!

I'm having so much fun revising my backlist for release in ebook format. But - gulp - I actually found my hero using a pay phone at one point. Lots of technology tweaks to do! The emotions, though...The emotions still feel fresh and true.


He rested one hand on the wall above her, close enough for her to feel the warmth emanating from his body, close enough for his breath to touch her face. She saw his eyes, with their thick, short lashes, his pupils nearly swallowing the blazing blue. Her stomach squeezed into her chest, crowding her lungs. She couldn’t breathe. She felt the warmth of his arm, close by her head. She heard her blood thundering in her ears, and the rasp of his quickly indrawn breath.

He kissed her.

It was over before she could say if she liked it, before she had time to react. He lifted his head, and she felt the absence of his mouth more keenly than she had felt its pressure a moment before.


She lifted her chin. She had to, to meet his gaze. “Well, what?”

His firm, well-shaped lips curved at the corners. “Are you going to object?”

She dug deep for a cool response, her hands pressed flat to the wall behind her. He was probably the most vital, potent man she’d ever met, and she was merely unattractive Katie Sue Sinclair, too smart for her own good and stupid with men. She couldn’t let him see how he got to her, how she was affected by his nearness. He would eat her alive.

Maybe she wanted him to.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

So excited that my very first book, a North Carolina-set romantic suspense, is now (slightly) revised and available in ebook format! You can read a sample or download it here

for Kindle

and for Nook!

I'd be delighted if any of you who have read this book would leave a "like" or a comment.

For those of you who haven't read it :-), here's the blurb:

A crusading widow takes on the cynical cop next door in The Reforming of Matthew Dunn.

Golden Heart Winner for Best Romantic Suspense Holt Medallion Winner RT Bookreviews Best First Series Romance Nominee

"Virginia Kantra is an autobuy...her books are keepers and her heroes are to die for." – New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann

"With a genuine understanding of deep emotions, Ms. Kantra gifts the readers with an exciting plot with just-right pacing. Her protagonists are complex and learn about love and loving the hard way, which adds a touch of realism to this special love story." – Rendezvous

"Impressive newcomer Virginia Kantra makes a smashing debut as a beautiful widow takes on The Reforming of Matthew Dunn. Ms. Kantra creates a superb romantic tension between her reluctant lovers as well as a memorable cast of characters." 4 stars – RT Book Reviews

Clare Harmon believes in second chances for the kids and ex-cons she employs through her neighborhood garden project. But she won't risk her heart and future on any man again, especially one who gets shot at for a living.

Tough cop Matt Dunn doesn't want a dewy-eyed do-gooder like Clare complicating his recent assignment to the city's new community policing program. But when danger forces them together, these two wounded souls just may take a second chance...on love.

Next up? Well, it will be a race between the reissue of The Passion of Patrick MacNeill in ebook and the all new release of Carolina Home, in stores July 3!

Hope your spring is full of mild weather and fabulous reads!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cover reveal!

Author squee! I just received the cover for my April ebook, The Reforming of Matthew Dunn.

This is the revised reissue of my very first book, my Golden Heart winner in romantic suspense, a North Carolina set contemporary romance about a crusading widow and the cop next door.

Loving the colors!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Handouts - Deep POV

Liberty States Fiction Writers, March 2012

From CAROLINA HOME, Virginia Kantra, July 2012

Virginia Kantra - Deep POV Handout 1

They were talking about her like she wasn’t even there.

Fine. Direct internal thought Taylor stared Proper name, anchoring the plate of cookies until they blurred. Her throat ached. Not “She’s crying, ” but how does it feel to cry?It’s not like she wanted to be here anyway. She wanted to be home in her little blue bedroom in the house she shared with Mom.Internal thought. Communicates not only mental response, but attitude.

But she couldn’t think about her mother without crying. She swallowed hard.

“Taylor.” Luke—she wasn’t going to call him Dad, no matter what the letter said—touched her shoulder. “Say hi to your Uncle Matt.”

Uncle.Direct internal thought.

The word thumped into her like a fist. Visceral response. And if it the image is from her experience, it should force the reader to wonder. She already had an uncle. She didn’t want another one.

“Hi, Taylor.” He had a nice voice, deep and kind of quiet.

She shot him a look from under her cap brim. He was wider and older than her... than Luke Her thought patterns, her attitude, with darker hair and eyes and big hands. Taylor looked at the jagged white scar running across his knuckles Significant, specific detail and felt kind of sick and out of breath, like she’d had the wind knocked out of her on the playground. Age appropriate simile

She didn’t say anything. Because we are feeling what Taylor feels, seeing what she sees, I don’t have to explain why

He regarded her silently a moment. “I can see a resemblance.”

Tess nodded. “She has Luke’s eyes.”

“I was thinking she had his attitude,” he drawled.

Stung, Taylor jerked her gaze up. Her Uncle Matt smiled at her crookedly. She observes this. She doesn’t know/I don’t have to say how Matt feels. Her stomach cramped. She ducked her head. Visceral response/physical cue.

She didn’t want him smiling at her.

She hunched her shoulders, slumping deeper in the chair. She didn’t want him noticing her at all. Why not? Create suspense. Maintain secret. Set up character goal.


The kid was scared, Matt realized. Internal thought, proper name, anchoring verb.

Not just nervous at meeting her new family or grieving at losing her mother but as angry and anxious as one of the island’s feral cats Simile appropriate to environment and as determined not to show it.

Poor kid. Direct internal thought.

Matt looked at Luke. “Where’s she been the last four weeks?” The last ten years. “Who takes care of her?” White lines bracketed his brother’s mouth. Matt sees this. He doesn’t know/I don’t have to tell you how Luke feels. “I do now. She’s been staying with her mother’s parents. Until the will was probated.”

“You remember the Simpsons, Matt,” Tess said. “Ernie and Jolene?” Back story revealed here and below through dialogue and deep POV.

Dare Island had a year-round population of fifteen hundred souls. Matt knew most of them. Ernie Simpson had worked at the fish house until it shut down, eight years back, and he moved off island with the rest of his family. The son, Kevin, was a few years younger than Matt and a real tool. Matt's vocabulary. The daughter . . .

“You dated Dawn Simpson,” he said to Luke. “Back in high school.”

Dated being the nicest word Matt could think of for screwed every chance you got.

“Did you know about . . .” Matt’s gaze cut to the kid in the chair.

Luke shook his head, still looking grim around the mouth. Observation “Not until the lawyer contacted me in Kandahar a month ago.”

Well, that was something. The situation still sucked, but at least his brother was taking responsibility. The way Matt remembered, Luke had been pretty broken up when Dawn dumped him their senior year and started banging Bo Meekins. More backstory

Matt wondered if his brother had demanded a paternity test. Create suspense.

Not a question he could ask in front of the kid. Anyway, she looked like him, same clear blue eyes, same kiss-my-ass chin. Significant, specific detail

Luke, a father.

Matt could hardly believe it.Sets up character dilemma

All rights reserved.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Meme for Romance Writers!

I've seen these for other professions. I thought romance writers should have one of our own!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Carolina Home - First chapter!

I just uploaded the first chapter of Carolina Home (Berkley, July 3, 2012) to my website.

Hope you enjoy!

Matt Fletcher didn’t go looking for trouble. Most times, it just found him.

His life was changing around him, slipping away like the sand of the Carolina coastline, and there wasn’t a damn thing he or God or the Army Corps of Engineers could do about it. But a day working on the water gave him something to hold on to. Sweat and salt cured everything in time.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Multi author booksigning!

Join me and authors Larissa Ione, Sarah MacLean, Katharine Ashe, Lisa Higgins and more!

When: March 17, 2012
Where: Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel
515 Route 1 South & Gill Lane
Iselin, New Jersey 08830

New this year? A readers' track of panels and parties (there's a fee) AND a booksigning (free and open to the public).

Readers' Track Schedule
Registration 12:00-1:00 P.M.
Welcome Reception at Lady Jane's Salon 1:00 - 2:30 P.M.
Panels 2:30 - 5:30 P.M.
Book Signing (Open to the public) 5:30 - 7:00 P.M.
Party with hot Hors D’oeuvre 7:00 P.M. - 12:00 A.M.

To register or for more information, go to

Hope to see you there!