Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Exclusive excerpt... COLD LIGHT OF DAY

Just a few weeks until Book #3 in the Cold Justice Series releases (Nov 16th) so I thought I'd post an excerpt from near the opening of the story. All the Cold Justice books standalone so you can start anywhere in the series, but you probably get a better feel for the cast of characters if you read the books in sequence.



Physicist Scarlett Stone is the daughter of the man considered to be the most notorious Russian agent in FBI history. With her father dying in prison she’s determined to prove he’s innocent, but time is running out. Using a false identity, she gains access to the Russian ambassador’s Christmas party, searching for evidence of a set-up.
 
Former Navy SEAL, now FBI Special Agent, Matt Lazlo, is instantly attracted to Scarlett but life is too complicated to pursue a politician’s daughter. When he discovers she lied to him about her identity, he hunts her down with the ruthless efficiency he usually reserves for serial killers. 

Not only does Scarlett’s scheme fail, it puts her in the sights of powerful people who reward unwanted curiosity with brutality. The FBI—and Matt—aren’t thrilled with her, either. But as agents involved in her father’s investigation start dying, and the attempts to stop Scarlett intensify, Matt and his colleagues begin to wonder. Could they have a traitor in their midst?





“They don’t know who you are,” Angel responded with a pat on her arm. “Relax and enjoy yourself for a change. I can’t believe you actually came with me, but I love you for it.”
Her friend wouldn’t be quite so understanding if she knew what Scarlett had hidden in her panties. She took a gulp of champagne. This was a stupid idea. Who did she think she was—James Bond?
The thought shot fear through her bloodstream. Too close to home. Too real.
But this wasn’t spying on State secrets. She was investigating an old crime, looking for the truth before it was too late. No one would help her. God knew, she’d begged every one of them over the years and they’d all refused. Now it was up to her.
The reception room where the Russian Ambassador to the United States was hosting his annual Christmas party looked like the inside of a palace, with fantastically high ceilings, icy white walls inlaid with gold detail, and two huge chandeliers shining like a galaxy of tiny stars. A grand piano off to one side was being played quietly in the background. The subtle scents of pine mingled with perfume and the spice of mulled wine—the effect cloying, yet oddly nostalgic. The place was crowded. The sense of opulence and history, staggering.
Until 1994, the ambassador’s residence had been the Russian Embassy and reeked of a rich clandestine history of secret power struggles. Fitting under the circumstances. Her father had told her the KGB used to operate out of two trailers in the back yard, in the shadow of the huge Washington Post building. She didn’t know where the KGB’s modern-day equivalent, the SVR, was secreted and she hoped she never found out.
Angel’s parents—her father was Congressman Adam LeMay—had received an invitation to tonight’s Christmas party but hadn’t wanted to attend. Angel had begged Scarlett to take the place of her sister who was hiking in the Mojave Desert. Considering the new ambassador was Andrei Anatoly Dorokhov, Scarlett hadn’t been able to refuse, no matter how dangerous and desperate her plan might be. She had no choice.
She took another drink. She needed a little Dutch courage, maybe even a sedative.
“Scar, don’t look now,” Angel’s voice dropped to low and breathless, “but I think my future husband just walked in the door.”
Angel LeMay fell in lust on a regular basis.
“I hope you’ll be very happy together,” Scarlett said without turning.
“Navy dinner dress blues and a gold cummerbund.” Her friend fanned herself with her free hand. “I am in love.”
“I thought you were only getting married for money?” Scarlett teased.
Angel flashed her dimples. “I’ll make an exception for a war hero, and anyway, he might be loaded.”
Angel might be her best friend, but it didn’t mean Scarlett was blind to her flaws. Her parents indulged her every whim. She “worked” on Capitol Hill in her father’s office, doing God only knew what—answering the mail if tonight was any indication. Scarlett figured brain atrophy explained most of Angel’s poor choice in men. Not that hers was much better. Lab rats and academics were the only guys she dated, and “dated” was an optimistic term. “Grabbed coffee with between experiments” was probably more accurate.
Over Angel’s shoulder, Scarlett watched another guy wearing a black tux making his way toward them. His intense coal-eyed gaze never left her friend’s butt. Angel was wearing a little black dress, with the emphasis on “little.” Few men could resist and fewer tried. He looked up and caught Scarlett watching him. A dimple appeared in one cheek and ebony eyes twinkled. No remorse that she’d caught him ogling her friend’s ass. Just that sense of entitlement that if he wanted to stare, no one was going to stop him. Confident and powerful. Somewhere in his late twenties, early thirties, the man had player written all over his handsome face.
He walked up and introduced himself. “Welcome to the home of the Russian Ambassador to the United States. May I say it is a pleasure to welcome such beautiful young ladies. My name is Sergio Raminski, the ambassador’s personal assistant.” His Ws sounded vaguely V-like, but apart from that his accent was perfect.
He looked more like a bodyguard than any personal assistant she’d ever seen, but maybe she was paranoid. Actually there was no maybe about it. A shiver of unease hummed over Scarlett’s skin. If ever there was a candidate for foreign intelligence agent, Raminski was it.
According to her dad, a portion of the embassy staff here were actually agents for the Kremlin, the same way some of the Americans in Moscow did more than stamp passports. Angel introduced herself and then introduced Scarlett as her sister, Sarah. Scarlett’s nerdy appearance had been overhauled by a pro, something Angel had been doing at every opportunity since kindergarten. She and Sarah looked vaguely alike now that Angel had plastered her with makeup and pulled back her hair. Scarlett had borrowed a strapless, silver gown that shimmered in the candlelight. The skirt had a net petticoat and double layers of gathered silk which flounced around her knees. Four-inch heels meant she was almost chin-level to most of the guys in the room.
Sergio bowed first over Angel’s hand, then Scarlett’s. When she tried to let go, he surprised her by holding tight for a moment, making her pulse skip a beat, though not in a good way. A blush heated her cheeks and she pulled firmly away.
“Your father was unable to attend?” Sergio asked.
Scarlett’s mouth gaped.
Angel stepped in. “After the Vice President’s funeral today he felt a little unwell. He sends his apologies.”
Scarlett swallowed the knot that had formed in her throat. Her father was the real reason she was here.
“Nothing serious, I hope?” Black eyes were alight with interest.
Insider knowledge is always of interest to Russian officials no matter how seemingly mundane—her father’s warnings flashed through her mind.
“Just something he ate at lunch.” Angel smiled. She was a pro at lying and manipulation to get what she wanted. From the hard light in his eyes, Scarlett bet money Raminski was better.
“You were lucky you did not all succumb to the sickness.” Raminski cranked up the warmth of his smile. “I would have missed out on the best part of the evening—meeting two such lovely, young ladies.”
Gag.
It wasn’t only Raminski’s cheesy lines that made her queasy. She was about to do something that could get her arrested. The idea made her stomach cramp. Once in a lifetime opportunity, she reminded herself. And once in a lifetime might be an overstatement. Fate. Serendipity. Seize the moment. What is the worst that can happen?
They could lock her up and throw away the key.
Crap.
She swallowed more champagne.
Angel—born flirt—smiled an electric smile and smoothed her hands over her concave stomach, as if more attention needed to be drawn to her goddess-like figure. “I wanted to fit into my dress tonight so I was a good girl at lunch.” The expression in her eyes suggested she wasn’t normally a good girl.
“Your efforts are much appreciated, Ms. LeMay.” Raminski inclined his head courteously to Angel, and then to Scarlett.
He was so not her type. She liked men who appreciated a woman’s brain at least as much as her body. Not handsome, muscle-bound jerks who only wanted a bout of hot, sweaty, mindless sex.
Gotta get over that, an inner voice complained.
And then it clicked. This was her chance. Angel and Sergio Raminski were all distracted and flirty with one another. She just needed ten minutes alone. “Actually,” she touched her own stomach, “I don’t feel so good. If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I need to visit the powder room.” She took a step back and jostled the elbow of someone behind her.
Fu…udge,” said a deep male voice.
She whirled and came face-to-face with Angel’s future husband. She could tell it was him because she’d made him spill champagne down the front of his dress blues.
“I’m so sorry.” She grabbed a white, cloth napkin off a nearby waiter and dabbed at the man’s white shirt and gold cummerbund. “I’m such a dork.”
“That wasn’t my first thought.” His expression caught her off-guard. It contained a very male look of admiration. She blinked. He took the napkin from her hand and she felt a shiver of something that was definitely not repulsion.
The guy looked…like… Well, he looked fabulous. And hot. Tall enough she had to tilt her head way back even wearing these ridiculous heels. He had military-short, dark blond hair that shone brightly under the chandeliers. A lean face, firm jaw, pale hazel eyes that twinkled with obvious humor and a mouth that tried to suppress it. She resisted the urge to fan herself the way Angel had earlier. Her eyes drifted lower, taking in broad shoulders and a chest-full of medals that jerked her out of her perusal. He was an American hero and not for the likes of her.
Sergio Raminski tried to step in. “Allow me to help.”
“Yeah, no thanks.” The guy held up his hand firmly as if to ward the Russian off. Captain America meets the Dark Prince. “Not a big fan of champagne, anyway.”
“You’re going to be all sticky.” Scarlett grimaced apologetically.
“Sarah LeMay!” Angel’s laugh got dirty and loud and Scarlett flushed with embarrassment.
She opened her mouth to insist she hadn’t meant it as a double entendre, but snapped her jaw closed. The sparkle in the sailor’s gaze intensified and Raminski’s smirk became a full-blown grin. She rolled her eyes. Great. Just great.
“If you’d like to get properly cleaned up I can take you to one of the guest suites, or…” Raminski tilted his head to one side and slipped into silky hospitality mode. “Miss LeMay was just going to find the restroom. Perhaps you can accompany one another?”
The American held the other man’s gaze so long Scarlett began to feel uncomfortable. Then he turned to her and held out his elbow in a courteous move. “Sure, let me escort you. We can get lost together.”
“I know who I’d like to get lost,” she muttered quietly, cutting a glance at Raminski as they walked away.
The sailor flashed her a grin. The last thing she wanted was an escort, especially the kind people noticed with good looks and glittering medals, but she needed to get out of here and making a fuss would garner too much attention. Scarlett Stone might run away and hide, but the congressman’s daughters had been raised in wealth and privilege. They expected to be treated like society princesses. Outside, in the hallway, a waiter directed them down a long stretch of dimly lit corridor. According to the blueprints she’d studied, this was where she needed to go.
Her heels clicked off the parquet flooring, her footsteps echoing loudly in the relative quiet of the empty hallway. He moved silently, but she was very aware of the man at her side—his size, his looks, and warm body next to hers. They stopped when they reached the men’s room and she quickly disengaged her arm. “I’m really sorry about the champagne.”
“Accidents happen.” He shrugged easily and held out his hand. “Matt Lazlo.”
She shook his hand, his skin warm and dry; grip, strong but not crushing. Her mouth formed her real name for a split-second before she remembered who she was supposed to be. “Sarah LeMay. I’m here with my…sister, Angel.” She couldn’t hold his gaze, but she could hardly confess the truth just because he had pretty eyes and looked good in uniform. Some secret agent she’d make. She resisted rolling her eyes at herself.
His lips tightened and his expression turned serious. “I’m sorry they made you uncomfortable back there.”
Her gaze flashed to his in surprise. She’d spent a lifetime being uncomfortable and few people noticed. She rubbed her bare arms where goose bumps raced over her skin. “It’s okay. It was my fault for knocking champagne all over you. I tend to be clumsy unless I’m working.” Then her hands were steady as lasers and they needed to be.
“So what is it you do?”
Crap. “Oh, nothing very important,” she said vaguely. Sarah worked for an advertising agency but Scarlett didn’t want to expand on the lies she’d already told and, under the circumstances, she could hardly tell him she was an expert in solid-state physics.
“Pretty earrings.” He tapped one of the sparkling danglies Angel had lent her. Scarlett touched it self-consciously, not used to wearing anything flashy.
She pointed to his medals. “That’s some impressive silverware you have there yourself. Thank you for your service.” The words made her uncomfortable—not because she wasn’t sincere, but because if he knew who she really was, he wouldn’t want her thanks. She hunched her shoulders at the thought, folded up a little on herself. America thought her family was the ultimate in treacherous backstabbers and betrayers. Unless she could prove otherwise, they always would.
She noticed a pair of tiny holes in the material where a pin must have sat on his uniform jacket. She reached out and brushed her fingers over the rough edge of the material. “What did you have there?” She raised her eyes to his and watched his pupils flare in surprise.
“Nothing.”
She withdrew her hand. “So why’d you take it off?”
One side of his lips kicked up. God, he was pretty. “Take what off?” Sharp intelligence spiked those hazel depths, making them a million times more attractive, sending a jolt right through her system. The timing was a death knell to any possible relationship—and wasn’t that the story of her life. She took a step back.
The thought of what she was about to do crowded out the pleasure of meeting a guy who had gorgeous eyes and a keen sense of humor. “I suppose I better hurry up and get back to Angel.”
He pulled a face, obviously as keen to return to the party as she was.
“Why did you come tonight?” Scarlett asked, suddenly curious.
“A direct order from my boss. What about you?” He stood with his legs braced apart, watching her as if he had all the time in the world.
She didn’t have all the time in the world—she had this one brief moment to try and right a terrible wrong. Even then it might not be enough. “My parents made me,” she told him.
It wasn’t a lie.
They stood there staring into each other’s eyes, and Scarlett forgot to breathe. It was one of those rare moments when you met someone and wanted to spend the whole night getting to know them better. She finally broke the connection. It could never be. She turned and walked to the entrance of the ladies’ room, and when she glanced back, Matt Lazlo had disappeared.
Matt Lazlo was not the man for her, no matter how much she might want him to be. His uniform should have served as warning enough.
Scarlett’s father’s favorite quote had been, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” but he’d still ended up in a supermax prison serving multiple life sentences for treason. Now Scarlett was about to take the concept of vigilance to a whole new level and God help her if she got caught.


Pre-order for $2.99 in October


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Cover reveal! COLD LIGHT OF DAY by Toni Anderson

I'm thrilled to share the cover Syd Gill designed for my latest book...

November 16th, 2014

Physicist Scarlett Stone is the daughter of the man considered to be the most notorious Russian agent in FBI history. With her father dying in prison she’s determined to prove he’s innocent, but time is running out. Using a false identity, she gains access to the Russian ambassador’s Christmas party, searching for evidence of a set-up.
 
Former Navy SEAL, now FBI Special Agent, Matt Lazlo, is instantly attracted to Scarlett but life is too complicated to pursue a politician’s daughter. When he discovers she lied to him about her identity, he hunts her down with the ruthless efficiency he usually reserves for serial killers. 

Not only does Scarlett’s scheme fail, it puts her in the sights of powerful people who reward unwanted curiosity with brutality. The FBI—and Matt—aren’t thrilled with her, either. But as agents involved in her father’s investigation start dying, and the attempts to stop Scarlett intensify, Matt and his colleagues begin to wonder. Could they have a traitor in their midst?

As Scarlett and Matt dig for the truth they begin to fall passionately for one another. But the real spy isn’t about to let anyone uncover their secrets, and resolves to remain firmly in the shadows—and for that to happen, Matt and Scarlett have to die.


Pre-order for $2.99 for Limited Time Only

No pre-orders available for nook.
Print pre-order coming soon!

Monday, September 01, 2014

To celebrate COLD LIGHT OF DAY being up for pre-order, a giveaway!

Pre-order COLD LIGHT OF DAY for $2.99 in September only (regular price $4.99)
Amazon | iBooks | Kobo
Nook don't allow pre-orders
Coming November 16th, 2014

COLD LIGHT OF DAY
Physicist Scarlett Stone is the daughter of the man considered to be the most notorious Russian agent in FBI history. With her father dying in prison she's determined to prove he's innocent, but time is running out. Using a false identity, she gains access to the Russian ambassador's Christmas party, searching for evidence of a set-up.

Former Navy SEAL, now FBI Special Agent, Matt Lazlo, is instantly attracted to Scarlett but life is too complicated to pursue a politician's daughter. When he discovers she lied to him about her identity, he hunts her down with the ruthless efficiency he usually reserves for serial killers.

Not only does Scarlett's scheme fail, it puts her in the sights of powerful people who reward unwanted curiosity with brutality. The FBI--and Matt--aren't thrilled with her, either. But as agents involved in her father's investigation start dying, and the attempts to stop Scarlett intensify, Matt and his colleagues begin to wonder. Could they have a traitor in their midst?

As Scarlett and Matt dig for the truth they begin to fall passionately for one another. But the real spy isn't about to let anyone uncover their secrets, and resolves to remain firmly in the shadows--and for that to happen, Matt and Scarlett have to die.


ALSO: A COLD DARK PLACE and COLD PURSUIT are Kindle Monthly Deals on Amazon for $1.99. September only!





To celebrate, a giveaway! (No purchase necessary). Also on my Facebook Page
a Rafflecopter giveaway





Monday, August 25, 2014

Cover reveal for HER RISK TO TAKE (novella)

Every so often I get questions about characters in older books. What happens to so-and-so? We want this guy's story. When are you going to write about X and Y? All I can say is, "Thanks for asking!" and "I'm getting there."

Slowly :)

Right now I'm writing COLD LIGHT OF DAY(Cold Justice book #3), but since I released HER LAST CHANCE last December I've also been planning to write about some of the other characters in HER SANCTUARY. So this December (15th) I'll release HER RISK TO TAKE a short novella, featuring Sarah Sullivan and Cal Landon.

I'll post buy links when it's available for pre-order on iBooks and Amazon. Just thought I'd show you the great cover Kim Killion created first :)


If only ER doc Sarah Sullivan could get the ornery cowboy she’s loved since she was a girl to cooperate, she could move on with her life, and maybe even think about starting a family. But he’s pulling away, and she doesn’t know why. What she does know is that she can’t imagine life without him.
 
Ex-con Cal Landon lives in fear of the day his ugly past catches up with him and takes away the best thing he’s ever known—Sarah Sullivan. Cal would die to protect her, but she deserves better than a world-weary ranch hand. Even though it’s way past time for him to leave her family’s Montana spread, he can’t bring himself to let go.
 
When Sarah proposes on Christmas Eve, Cal has no choice but to walk away. Then a hostage crisis hurls Sarah into a life-and-death situation, and the love that made Cal leave sends him racing back to her side, straight into danger. He will get her out alive—or die trying.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Few Minor Adjustments

Since getting back from RWA in July I've been having a few epiphanies. I'm working thirteen, fourteen hour days, then trying to be a decent mom, home owner (not really wife as DH is working just as hard as me if he's even in the country) and still not getting as much written as I want. The bottom-line is I'm now a publisher as well as a writer and for the last 18 months I got away with doing it all myself. No more. I'm done. Spent. Deflated and knackered.

Since I got back from RWA I updated back matter in all my books--for those who don't know that's the extra stuff at beginning and end. The key though is making sure hyperlinks etc go to each correct vendor. So I have five self-published books, ten published titles, five vendors (at least). My books are mentioned two or three times in each book so it's about 500 links that I needed to update. Then my website was in desperate need of an overhaul--10 books average 12+ book buying links each on page and then series pages and and and... You get the picture.

So even just doing the basic stuff has taken me forever. I almost gave up on the website (what do you think BTW link?) but I knew could do it. I like being in charge of the website, and I like the immediacy. I like the control. CONTROL is a big thing for self-published authors. But I made a few decisions. Firstly, from now on the manuscript is going to a professional formatter. I can do it. I like doing it. I just don't have time anymore. Covers and editing are already in the hands of professionals. I am cutting back on formatting so I can write (please god, let me write) and I'm cutting back the social media. I've cut back on that quite a lot already--not the interacting on my page/profile, but the aimless wandering. It isn't that I don't care what's happening. I just need to concentrate, to retrain my brain to enjoy long sentences and complicated story-lines.

I'm also doing a lot of my research using audiobooks which has been a big help, time wise. Dog walking has involved much Russian shenanigans.

My son comes home soon after six weeks away, hubby too though he's only been gone a week. I'm going to enjoy them for a few days and then dive back into COLD LIGHT OF DAY which is shaping up nicely I think. It was a hard book to get into, but it is turning into the book I want it to be--I just hope readers feel the same way (eep). After that I'm going to write a couple of novellas (One for Sarah & Cal out of HER SANCTUARY, and one for Vivi and Jed out of COLD PURSUIT for Christmas) and then onto ASAC Frazer's story in the new year.  Then I'm hoping to start on some SAS thrillers linked to THE KILLING GAME,intermixed with more FBI/Wisconsin RS stories.

Second epiphany was that the quality of the work matters more than the speed of production (contrary to much self publishing wisdom). Readers might have to wait a bit longer, but better to write a book to the best of my ability than to rush it. I need to stop panicking. This is the best year I've ever had as a writer but I need to trust my decisions. I know myself. I know my body. I know how I work best and that is by achieving balance. This isn't me being lazy, it's me knowing my body and my mind and my writing. This is how I do what I have to do. This is how I stay sane.  Bullying doesn't work. Pressure doesn't work. Deadlines mean nothing because I work my ass off everyday anyway. I don't need anyone else cracking the whip. I just hope readers stick with me for the ride.

Another thing--I realized I have four shorter manuscripts sitting on my hard drive, stories that I originally wrote for Harlequin Intrigue but that were rejected. There are at least two pretty decent stories there (the third would actually make a better bigger book). So maybe next year I'll also figure out a way of putting them into my release schedule. They are simpler books, only 50K words long. What do you thing--would readers like them?

Hope you're having a good summer. I'm going to put my feet up now. 9 pm on a Sunday and I don't remember the last time I had a day off. Time to make a few changes.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Reader Appreciation Time: Digital Book Day!



Over 400 FREE ebooks available for today only from authors who love their readers (click on the image above or http://www.digitalbookday.com )
I've included HER LAST CHANCE in the giveaway, free on iBooks (scroll down the romance column)

***Note that it should also be free on Nook but no guarantees. I'm not able to make it free on Amazon for one day so I set the price to 99c but it might not change in time. I can only guarantee it is free on iBooks!***


That means you can get both books in the HER--Romantic Suspense Series (plus over 400 more) because HER SANCTUARY (book 1) is available for only 99c in the Crimes of Passion box set.


Full of heart-pounding, sexy suspense, this box set includes books by four New York Times bestselling authors. I'm honored to have HER SANCTUARY included with these fantastic titles!

99c. Limited time only.

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Google

Happy Reading!!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

TWELVE BOOK PRIZE DRAW

Only a few more days left in the TWELVE BOOK PRIZE DRAW over at 
Not Your Usual Suspects: Independence Day PRIZE DRAW - what's YOUR celebration?
TWELVE books of high quality romantic suspense - GO FOR IT!! ♥