Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Please Welcome Karen Stivali and "Decadence"!


A book in the Spice Rack series.

In eight years of marriage, Eric Carlson has never forgotten to kiss his wife Jessica goodbye—until this morning. As Jessica runs her errands, all she can think about is the missing kiss. When Eric calls to tell her he thinks he left the toaster oven on, she rushes home, annoyed and afraid her house may be burning down. Instead of smoke and flames she finds Eric, looking hot and sexy as hell as he prepares fresh waffles.

Eric knows he and Jessica have been drifting apart. He’s bought the hot new product everyone’s talking about—the Spice Rack, guaranteed to spice up your love life. The jar he opens advises them to “Spend a decadent day indulging all your senses.” With the whole day ahead of them, a fridge full of tempting treats and the house to themselves for a change, that’s exactly what Eric intends to do—in the kitchen, on the washing machine, wherever the mood strikes. And Jessica’s got a super-steamy surprise for him too.

A Romantica® contemporary erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave


He didn’t even kiss me goodbye. Jessica knew it was silly to get upset over something so minor, but she couldn’t help it. In the eight years they’d been married, she couldn’t remember another morning when Eric had forgone the farewell kiss. Sure, the kids were running amok, a sea of backpacks and lunchboxes, but that was normal. Eric saying goodbye with a wave was not.

“See you later.” He’d thrown her his trademark sexy grin. She’d stood still for a few seconds, holding the door open as the kids piled out of the house, waiting. And…nothing.

While queued in the drop-off line at the elementary school, she flipped open the vanity mirror. She didn’t look like a beauty queen but at least she’d showered. Her skin was clear, her cheeks even a bit rosy from gardening the day before. She grimaced. I should have brushed my hair. Dark hair, wavy and out of control, pulled into a loose ponytail paired with t-shirt and yoga pants. I look like a teenager. Not exactly sexy. Frowning at her reflection, she heard the car behind her honk.

“Mom, pull up, it’s our turn.” Timmy, though only seven, had been a backseat driver for nearly five years.

“Sorry.” She inched the car toward the orange drop-off cone and stopped. “Have a good day, guys. I love you.”

“Love you too, mom,” the chorus of three came from the backseat as they scrambled out the door.

Taking a last quick glance in the mirror, she snapped it shut and eased back into the parking lot. As she was about to turn onto the main road, her cell rang. XXXXX, Eric’s ringtone. She fumbled in her purse and slid the purple case open. Holding the phone to her ear with her shoulder, she pulled onto the street, not wanting to get beeped at a second time this morning.

“Hey, sweetie,” Eric said. “Can you do me a favor?”

Sighing, Jessica shifted to keep the phone in place as she changed lanes. “What’s up?”

“I know you said you were going to the grocery store, but I need you to stop home first. I think I may have left the toaster oven on.”

“Can’t you go check?”

“I’ve got a really important meeting this morning. I need you to do it. Please?” She could hear the smile in his voice. The charming, irresistible smile to which she’d never been able to say no.

“Fine.” Even if you didn’t bother to kiss me this morning.


Did he just chuckle?

She hung up and tossed the phone back into her purse. Great. Now I have to go all the way home, which means I won’t get to the store for another hour. Not that it was a huge deal. With all three boys in school this year she had her days to herself. She’d been looking forward to that for years, but it wasn’t as fun and freeing as she’d expected. All the same responsibilities were there. The house still needed to be cleaned, dinner still needed to be made, laundry was always piling up. And she always had a stack of work on her desk. Freelance graphic design was the perfect work-from-home job and she could do it any time of day or night, but lately she felt as though everything was getting away from her. Somehow she’d had more structure to her days when the kids were home than she managed to have with them in school all day.

As she turned onto her block she couldn’t help but look for signs of smoke pouring from her windows. God, I hope he didn’t really leave the toaster oven on. What the hell was he even using the toaster oven for? Eric ate cereal for breakfast, though now that she thought about it she hadn’t seen him pour himself a bowl this morning. She’d been too distracted by the fact that he was wearing only pajama pants as he plodded around the kitchen. She’d been so busy the past few weeks with back-to-school shopping and beginning-of-term projects they’d barely spent any time together. Seeing him bare chested, hair tousled from bed, reminded her that it had been a while. Too long. Her stomach fluttered from a combination of longing for Eric and fear that her house might be burning.

Jessica slammed the door of the minivan shut, breathing in deeply to see if she could catch any hint of smoke in the air. Nothing. As she opened the front door, another scent greeted her instead. The incredibly delightful aroma of…waffles. Why does the house smell like waffles? She rounded the corner into the kitchen and saw the waffle maker on the counter with Eric poised before it, faded jeans slung low on his narrow hips, a t-shirt clinging to his muscular back, dark hair still damp from a shower hanging loosely into his eyes. A wave of heat washed over her, settling between her legs. Her mouth watered from thoughts of more than just a bite of the waffle Eric was lifting out of the grates.

“Perfect timing,” he said, grinning so wide the dimples on his cheeks were positively cavernous. Blue eyes twinkled at her, full of mischief.

“What are you doing?” She tossed her purse onto the counter, mystified.

“Celebrating Mother’s Day.” He plucked a strawberry out of the colander in the sink, swirled it in a bowl of what appeared to be freshly whipped cream, and approached.

“Mother’s Day is in May. It’s October fifteenth.”

“I know.” He held the plump red berry close enough that she felt the gentle brush of cream melting against her lips. “I was thinking it was something we should celebrate more than once a year.”

She curled her tongue around the cream-covered berry and gave a quick suck before biting off a piece.

The moan Eric emitted sent a tremor rolling down her body, making her knees weak. His lips were on hers before she finished chewing. The sweetness of his velvety tongue blended perfectly with the fruit and cream. This was already better than any Mother’s Day she could recall.


Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker, and chocoholic with a penchant for books,
movies, and fictional British men. When she's not writing, she can be found cooking extravagant meals and serving them to family and friends, who never seem to mind the excessive quantities she tends to prepare. She attributes her ability to multitask to the fact that she rarely sleeps, which gives her more hours every day. Prior to deciding to write full time, Karen worked as a hand-drawn animator, a clinical therapist, and held various food-related jobs ranging from waitress to specialty cake maker. Planning elaborate parties and fundraisers takes up what's left of her time and sanity.

Karen has always been fascinated by the way people relate to one another, so she favors books and movies that feature richly detailed characters and their relationships. In her own writing she likes to explore the dynamics between characters and has a tendency to craft romantic tales filled with sarcasm and sexy details. Although she writes in three genres (erotic romance, contemporary romance, and women's fiction), all of her stories are love stories with happily ever after endings.

Karen has published several erotic romance novels with Ellora's Cave including two award-winning stories: Always You (published September 2011, First Place Winner of the RWA Passionate Plume Award - 2012); Marry Me (published June 2012, First Place Winner in the NEC-RWA Bean Pot Reader's Choice Award - 2013); and Decadence (July 2013).

Her works of women's fiction, Meant To Be, and its sequel, Holding On (published by Turquoise Morning Press in August and November 2012, respectively), both made the Best of 2012 list at Literati Literature Lovers.

Karen's contemporary romances Then, Again (May 2013) and Leave the Lights On (coming November 2013) are published with Samhain Publishing.

To learn more about Karen, you can visit her website karenstivali.com where she blogs original recipes, sassy commentary on The Bachelor, and tidbits about her journey in the writing world. Karen can also be found attempting witty banter on Twitter: http://twitter.com/karenstivali

Friday, April 5, 2013

Please Welcome Allie Ritch with "Husbandry"!

Want to win an e-book copy of Husbandry? Include your e-mail address in a comment here and/or on Allie’s home page now through 4/7/13 and, if you’re so inclined, like Allie’s Amazon page. If you leave comments in both blog locations, you’ll have two entries in the giveaway.

What do you think about having three husbands?


After turning to Genetic Harmony Inc. for a husband, Fila Leonard doesn’t get just one man to meet her needs, but three! Chuck is the consummate handyman around the house, and he looks sexy in a tool belt and nothing else. Charles fills out a business suit to perfection and uses his alpha personality in the bedroom as well as the boardroom. As for Chad, he can seduce a woman in more than one language and turn even the worst cliché into a romantic fantasy.

Fila should be deliriously happy. Instead, she’s having a hard time juggling everyone’s needs. Chuck is cooped up at home all day and anxious for children. Charles is a workaholic, and Chad is angry she hasn’t introduced the three of them to her parents. Oh, yeah, and Fila hasn’t told Mom and Dad about her genetically identical spouses yet.

It’s not easy being a married woman, not even with three perfect mates.

Excerpt (explicit):

“Chad! Oh God.” I grasped the back of his head.

His onyx curls wrapped around my fingers and tickled my thighs as he licked the juices from my opening. Then he puckered his lips over my clit and sucked on it like it was the sweetest treat in the world. My belly clutched, and waves of pleasure tumbled through my womb.

“Please. More.” I was reduced to one-word begging.

I pushed his head closer and ground my hips against his marauding mouth. He redoubled his efforts, alternating between my clit and the weeping opening of my vagina. Speed and pressure increased until I whined with every heavy breath. He used his superior strength to pin my hips so I couldn’t buck him off target.

A warning tremor ran up the walls of my channel—a precursor to the orgasm poised to strike. Although his oral attentions were nothing short of masterful, my climax remained out of reach. The tension still mounted in my core until I was sure it would break me.

Just when I thought I’d die from the strain, Chad did something special with his tongue. He gave my clit a slow, sinuous stroke before spurring it into a rapid flutter. In the same moment, he shoved two fingers into me and pressed up on the perfect spot.

I flew apart. My whole passage clenched and shuddered in bliss, spilling more cream onto his invading fingers. He continued to deliver languorous licks to my clit until the last aftershock of my orgasm faded. The withdrawal of his fingers made me whimper.

“What a picture you make.” Chad stood and looked down at me from the foot of the bed. “I wish I could paint you like this.”

I could only imagine how erotic such a portrait would look, especially since I didn’t have the strength to close my legs.

Very deliberately, he slipped his fingers into his mouth and sucked my juices from them. “Deliziosa.”

He looked pretty delicious himself, especially when he dropped his pants. Chad often went commando, which cut back on the suspense. His cock was as long and hard as I’d ever seen it, so darkly flushed it looked ready to burst. Precum didn’t just well up at the tip; it spilled over the head and glistened in the candlelight.

I sat up for a better look and watched his magnificent cock bob as he climbed back on the bed. The turgid stalk stood proud and erect, especially as he sat in the center of the mattress and held his arms open for me. Eagerness propelled me forward so that my breasts hit his chest at the same time my mouth reclaimed his. I spread my thighs wide to straddle his lap.

Author Bio and Links 

Allie Ritch spends her time wandering around in her own little world in the Southeastern United States. She has an active imagination and loves fantastical elements, including those found in sci-fi, paranormal, and fantasy works. Allie enjoys entertaining others through storytelling and has fun spicing things up in erotic romance.

Website/Blog: http://allieritch.wordpress.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/allieritch
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/AllieRitch
Loose Id Buy Link for Husbandry: http://www.loose-id.com/authors/a-f/allie-ritch.html

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Please Welcome Liz Crowe and Her Book, "Mutual Release"

There are some awesome prizes this author is giving away, so make sure to stop at all the blogs!

  • Grand Prize: Paperwhite Kindle
  • 1st Prize: Signed set of first 6 books (Includes all books in the series except Mutual Release)
  • 2nd Prize: boxed set of first 3 Stewart Realty ebooks (Floor Time, Sweat Equity, Closing Costs)
  • 3rd Prize: Zazzle store Stewart swag pack (including canvas tote bag, mug, t-shirt, keychain)

Find all the tour stops here.


Disclaimer: This is an 18+ book with erotic BDSM scenes and explicit language.

Can two dark souls ever make a light?

As president of her own distribution company, Julie Dawson has all she ever wanted -- money, power, and respect. But her carefully crafted façade conceals a torment of abuse and helplessness. After years remaining emotionally aloof, she is finally independent, but alone. Because she refuses to rely on anyone but herself ever again.

Evan Adams is no stranger to success, or personal demons. The horrific trauma that destroyed his twin sister, and tore his family apart, forced him to craft a new life from the ashes of the old. He's content enough, focusing ahead and not dwelling on his murky past. But something important is missing. He knows what that thing is but refuses to acknowledge it.

When a chance encounter brings these two strong-willed but damaged people together, what seems like a long, erotic journey through hell could lead them to a match made in heaven.

Mutual Release 

A coming of age novel about trust...on the long road to love.

An Excerpt

A leather chair appeared from the gloom. Evan looked around, then took the seat, disappointed but intrigued. He could hear Jack’s voice, his laughter low and inviting. What the fuck? Was Gordon getting in on action while he had to watch? Then he heard Jenna’s annoying giggle and realized the club must be making her watch too, only she got to do it with her date. He sighed, leaned back, and prepared himself to be underwhelmed.

“No,” a sexy, rough female voice broke through the clamor in his head. It must have surprised everyone because all the people on the couches glanced up. “I want him. Out here.” Evan looked straight at her and saw the hot-as-shit Domme point her bullwhip right at him. He gulped, actually looked around like a dork, thinking there must be someone behind him. He was no sub.

She crooked her finger, her ruby-red moist lips drawing his gaze and making him feel positively hypnotized. His cock kept up its painful pressure along the inside of his zipper. A drop of sweat formed on his temple but he couldn’t move his arms to brush it away. All he knew… was her.

“Mr. Adams,” the disembodied voice said. “Your presence has been requested by our Mistress. Please. Do not make her wait.” The sheer curtain separating him from the crowd parted as he stood. Shoving his hands in his pockets and no longer aware of anything at all but what he wanted right now, he took the few steps down to the main floor.

“Stop!” She held up a hand. “Do not come any closer until I tell you.” She snapped her fingers. A tall man dressed only in leather pants emerged from somewhere to her left. A woman approached him, smiling and holding out a tray filled with… He stared, then shook his head, backing away, his brain on fire and his body in flight mode. “Where are you going, slave?” The woman cracked her whip. Evan sensed its bite near his cheek.

“I am no one’s slave,” he croaked out, sounding like a whiney kid.

“Perhaps. But I am not just anyone.” Before he could catch a breath, the woman was in his space. He kept his hands at his sides, knowing if he touched her he would be punished. Her full lips were inches from his. She leaned in, placed a tender kiss on his cheek, then stepped back.

“The Mistress has chosen!” the voice boomed and the room heaved a collective sigh. Evan whipped his head around, suddenly terrified and hornier than he had been in his entire existence. He closed his eyes as a loud whooshing sound started echoing around in his head in perfect time with his heartbeat. He held his ground, biting the inside of his cheek raw to keep from falling to his knees and kissing his way up her shiny patent leather shoe. The woman stood, the cape-like cloak draped around her tall, perfect body. He couldn’t move and had no idea what to do now anyway.

She took two long steps and was back in his space, tugging his tie, lifting it free of his collar and letting her lips linger over his, tempting, teasing, and bringing his body to full attention from his scalp to his toes. What in the hell was going on here? He was a sub? But the whooshing sound would not stop; it deafened him and he started to shake. The woman put her hands on his shoulders and kept kissing him just enough to make him insane.

Disembodied hands removed his suit coat. Then, with a powerful jerk, She ripped his dress shirt into two scraps of expensive cotton that hung from his wrists.

His nipples hardened, his skin broke out in goose bumps. More bodiless hands unfastened his cuffs and took what remained of his shirt away. The woman kept smiling, trailing her fingertip down his chest. Evan’s lungs hurt he was breathing so hard.

“You are very…” She leaned in and touched her tongue to a nipple, making him gasp.

“In need of…” She licked her way across his chest to the other hardened nub of flesh and bit, hard, making him yelp and grunt to distract himself from coming in his trousers. “A lesson in what it means to wield control.”

She unfurled the whip, keeping her lips on his skin, licking and nibbling her way up his neck as he stood, fists clenched and teeth grinding. Then she bit down on his lower lip, bringing tears to his eyes and yet more urgency to fuck. What was happening to him?

“Sit.” She shoved him down. Evan dropped, hoping someone had put a chair there. His ass hit leather and wood. Watching mesmerized as she dug a sharp heel into his still- covered thigh. The pulsing behind his zipper had reached a level he’d never experienced. It was as if he were already coming, in his head, trying to relieve the pressure without actually ejaculating. This was a total goddamn trip. He sighed, looked up at the ceiling. “Don’t look away from me, slave.” Her rough voice made the whooshing sound return between his ears. She snapped her fingers. Two nearly naked women scuttled to his side, undid his belt, unzipped his pants, and pulled off his shoes while removing his trousers, leaving only his tie and boxers.

“Holy fucking mother of… ah!” he cried out, unable to stop when the woman stood over him, her warm, inviting sex right at his eye level. Other hands rubbed, teased him through his underwear. But he kept his eyes trained up as he sucked in a lungful of her heady scent.

“You think this is all there is, don’t you, boy?” The woman’s voice filled his head.

“Your giant cock and what you can do with it.” She stepped away from him, flicking her whip at his inner thighs, breaking up the pleasure with a bite of pain that made him curse and lean forward. The lovely, soft hands that had been on his aching shaft disappeared. “Oh no you don’t. You sit; you take, and you do not come. For any reason. If you do, I will make you very,” she slid the handle of the whip along his reddened inner leg, “very sorry. Are we clear? Dear?”

Author Information

Microbrewery owner, best-selling author, beer blogger and journalist, mom of three teenagers, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great Midwest, in a major college town. Years of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as an ex-pat trailing spouse, plus making her way in a world of men (i.e. the beer industry), has prepped her for life as erotic romance author.

When she isn't sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, she can be found writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications.

Her groundbreaking romance subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” has gained thousands of fans and followers who are interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”)

Her beer blog a2beerwench.com is nationally recognized for its insider yet outsider views on the craft beer industry. Her books are set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch and in high-powered real estate offices. Don’t ask her for anything “like” a Budweiser or risk painful injury. 


Buy Links:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Please welcome Donna Gallagher and her book "Laura's Light"

Donna will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, so check out all the stops:


Forty-two- year- old single mother Laura Harris devoted more than half her life to raising her son. She remembered the concept of having sex but it had been aeons since she’s actually been a participant - especially with a real flesh-and-blood partner. But it’s time to reclaim her life. Her son is a man now. And the rising star of the Jets rugby league team. Their future is brighter than ever and, for the first time, financially secure. But Laura is starting to think agreeing to have dinner with Trevor Hughes could be biting off more than she can chew. Not that she can’t see herself taking a nice big chunk from the absolutely gorgeous thirty-four-year-old sports commentator’s rump, he’s one prime piece of masculinity! She just isn’t sure how or when the whole sex thing will become an issue. She can’t even get past the what-to-wear step. Let alone the when-to-take-it-off stage…

Trevor Hughes usually avoids the woman with substance - he has enough of his own demons to deal without trying to care for anyone else. But there’s something about the upbeat, sexy, one-woman-dynamo Laura Harris. The woman is pure sunshine and happiness. And that’s surprising when you look at what life has handed her. Nothing seemed to dampen Laura’s spirits and she quickly becomes someone Trevor needs in his life…Until misunderstandings come between them. Can Trevor put things right?

Excerpt (explicit)

“Decisions, decisions,” he moaned.

“Mmm… Did you say something?” Laura hummed in his ear.

“Just deciding what I want to do to you first—whether to get naked with you, or just eat your pussy first. I can’t make up my mind. It all seems so good.”
“Get naked, Trevor. Let me feel the warmth of your skin against mine.”
“Are you cold, honey? I didn’t even think…”
“No, not cold—burning, melting for you. Definitely not cold, but I still want to feel your skin against mine. Flesh to flesh, no barrier between us.”

Trevor decided that Laura was right—no barriers between them sounded good—but he had to move her so he could achieve that goal. As he gently lifted her smaller frame from his lap, ready to place her next to him on the couch Laura began to struggle. Worried that he was hurting her, Trevor let her go, let her move herself, only to discover that she had a plan of her own. Laura slid between his thighs kneeling on the carpet. The grin she gave him sent lightning bolts of pleasure through his system. Trevor remembered that look—that wicked, wonderful look. And so did his cock.
“Here, let me help you undress. I promise I’ll be extra careful!” Laura giggled as she teased Trevor, purposely brushing her hand over the hardness in the front of his pants, then cupping him gently. “Hmmm, you feel kinda worked up again. Isn’t that how you described it last time? When you cautioned me on the zipper thing.”

“Oh, hon, I’m past worked up—I’m about to explode.” Trevor gritted out.

“Maybe I can do something to help, then,” Laura purred.

She leant forward so as to reach the opening of his pants. With one hand, she carefully lowered the zipper completely—it had already been at half mast from when he had unbuttoned earlier to give himself more room, but now he was completely open. Laura grasped the waistband of Trevor’s pants.


As he did, she pulled them down past his hips, repeating the motion with his boxers. Once freed, Trevor’s shaft stood tall, rigid. As if it were beckoning her, she could not refuse its call. She ran her tongue around the circumference of his erect penis, the mushroom-like head, the joining of his skin. She laved and licked, explored every bulbous vein, every satiny bit of skin that covered his impressive form. Laura loved the taste of him, the slightly salty, musky maleness. She lapped at the pre-cum that formed at the eye before swallowing his erection down into her throat, loving the moans and grunts Trevor was making.

When he took hold of the sides of her head and drew her away, she didn’t fight him. It was time he buried that hard cock—that part of him that differentiated his maleness from her femininity—inside her dripping wet and throbbing pussy, where it belonged. “I need you, Laura, need to bury myself in you, want to come inside you.”

“I need that too, Trevor.”

Laura lay back on the carpet and spread her legs for him in an invitation for him to take her. She watched as he extracted a condom from the wallet he took from his now discarded pants’ pocket. He rolled the latex on and her mouth watered. Her folds wept with cream as the moment drew close—the moment she’d thought she would never feel again, that fullness she had craved for weeks and had been unable to attain at her own hands.

Author Bio

Sydney-born Donna Gallagher decided at an early age that life needed be tackled head on.
Leaving home at 15 she supported herself through her teen years. In her twenties she married a professional sportsman, her love of sport -- especially rugby league -- probably overriding her good sense.

The seven-year marriage was an adventure. There were the emotional ups and downs of having a husband with a public profile in a sometimes glamorous but always high-pressure field. There were always interesting characters to meet and observe and even the opportunity to live for a time in the UK.

Eventually Donna returned home a single woman, but she never lost her passion for watching sport, as well as the people in and around it.

Now happily remarried and with three sons, Donna loves coffee mornings with her female friends and sorting through problems from the personal to the international. But she's on even footing with the keenest man when it comes to watching and talking rugby league.

Donna considers herself something of a black sheep in a family of high achievers. Her brother has a doctorate in mathematics and her sister is a well-known sports journalist.

An avid reader, especially of romance, Donna finally found she couldn't stop the characters residing in her imagination from spilling onto paper. Naturally rugby league is the backdrop to her League of Love Series, published through UK publisher Total-E-Bound, spicy tales of hunky heroes and spunky heroines overcoming adversity to eventually find true love.



Sunday, February 24, 2013

Celebrate a Belated Mardi Gras and a New Release...

...with a slice of king cake!

Mardi Gras came early this year, the twelfth of February, but we can still celebrate with this week's release of my book, Laisser le Rouleau du Bon Dom, my contemporary BDSM, Mardi-Gras-themed novella.

Many people over the years have asked me why I chose New Orleans as my home. I grew up in a small town on the Central Coast of California. We had a university there with many professors from New Orleans.  In the late seventies, they--with the help of many locals looking for an excuse to party and satirize a little--started Mardi Gras in San Luis Obispo, California.

I grew up attending that Mardi Gras every year, and most years I was in the parade. Even as a small child, I rode on floats, walked and threw beads, or even roller-skated.

After some nearly-notorious riots one year around the university, the event was cancelled, but those who had organized and developed Mardi Gras, California style, had already instilled in me a love for the culture, revelry, and food of New Orleans. That was why, in 2001, I bought a house on the Internet and moved here.

I always try in my books to show my love for this city. I attempt to go beyond the facade of Bourbon Street and travel into the neighborhoods and meet the local characters that make this city so wonderful. I hope I've done it again in Laisser le Rouleau du Bon Dom.

Available at All Romance ebooks and Amazon:

To celebrate the release, I'm running a contest! The prize is a king cake from Haydel's bakery, a local tradition, shipped right to the winner's home. This is open to US residents only, please. a Rafflecopter giveaway

So tell me, what do you love about Mardi Gras or New Orleans? Any questions you've been dying to ask someone from here?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Excerpt from Le Bon Dom

Le Bon Dom is now available! Buy it here:


And here's an excerpt to whet your whistle!

“You’re anywhere,” the ghost girl said.

Hollis opened his eyes and took in the dirty, tagged plaster walls rising up in front of them. “Where are we?”

“St. Louis Number One,” she said. “I needed to make a delivery, and you didn’t seem particular.”

A cemetery? Hollis straightened in his seat, pulled out his phone, and checked the time: 11:45. Still not even midnight. How had the evening progressed so quickly and to such… What kind of results were these? Sitting outside a boneyard minutes away from a new year, a mystery ice maiden responsible for him? This night had put him so out of his element he didn’t feel like himself anymore.

Around them, seemingly from all sides, the pop and whiz of fireworks sounded. The big ones over the river wouldn’t start until the gumbo pot dropped on top of the Jax Brewery Building at midnight, but that didn’t keep the people in Treme from starting the celebration early. That was part of the reason he liked living there, the joie de vivre everyone possessed.

“What’s your name?” Hollis asked.

The rickshaw driver jumped off her seat and headed to the back of the bike. She opened a compartment under the seat and took out a large, insulated hamper. “Why?”

Hollis couldn’t answer that. “I’m Hollis.”

“And I’m your driver for the night. You can wait here. Don’t talk to strangers.”

She took the hamper and set it on top of the cemetery wall. Then she scaled the wall like someone in a Luc Besson film. Hollis couldn’t keep his gaze off her tight ass as she did it. He blinked. “Wait!” he said.

She perched at the top, looking down at him, appearing even more ethereal than she had earlier, like some kind of cat person. A light breeze ruffled her hair.

He climbed out of the rickshaw and went to the locked metal gate. He clambered over it, knowing he couldn’t even approach the grace the driver had. She watched him as he dropped to the other side, then alighted near him, her feet barely making a sound as she landed.

“Come on,” she said after she took the hamper down off the wall and started into the gloom of the cemetery.

Hollis followed her through the labyrinth of old, aboveground crypts and minor memorials. “What are we doing?”

“Hush,” she said.

They rounded a corner to see three people sitting in a small circle, a large flashlight in the middle like a campfire.

“What’s going on?”

The people glanced up as the driver and Hollis approached.

“I brought y’all a midnight snack,” the driver said.

“Thanks, Brun,” one of the three said.

“Your name’s Brun?”

“Short for Brunhilda, but don’t call her that,” someone else in the circle supplied.

“My grandmother named me,” Brun said, and then reached up to brush her hair out of her eyes.

“Who’s this guy?” the final speaker asked.

“Hollis, he says,” Brun told him. “A fare.”

They all nodded.

“I’m Silas. That’s Merrill and Kirby.”

Silas sat a little apart from the other two. Hollis could tell Merrill and Kirby were a couple.

To Hollis, the three resembled those typical wayfarer New Orleanians who came from Portland, Oregon, or sometimes Minneapolis. Silas wore a brown felt hat with a long feather in it, and Merrill wore clothes that looked as if they came from a Stevie Nicks yard sale. Kirby appeared normal in jeans and a thick Tulane University hoodie, but that was just as typical.

The three made room in the circle for Hollis and Brun, and Brun opened her hamper. She took out a few plastic containers of snacks and a Thermos. These were passed from person to person, each taking what he or she wanted. Hollis received the Thermos and took a big swig. He coughed. “Irish coffee?”

“Strong like I like,” Brun said and snatched the Thermos from him. She took a long gulp, the burn of the whiskey not seeming to affect her. The others didn’t appear too affected either. When the Thermos came around again, Hollis decided on a small sip instead. He didn’t know for certain how the booze would mix in his gut with everything else he’d had to drink that night, none of which had been whiskey until now.
“Any trouble yet?” Brun asked.

Silas shook his head. “Not so far. We’ve been fortunate.”

Hollis remembered the bizarre situation into which he’d inserted himself. “What are y’all doing here?”

“We belong to a preservation group,” Merrill told him. “On holidays—ones where people get drunk and do stupid things—we keep watch over her.” She tilted her chin toward a tomb lying deep in shadow a few yards down the walkway.

Hollis stood and wandered over to it. Of course. He knew the tomb—had seen it in artwork, on the covers of books. Over and over XXX marked its pitted marble and plaster surface. Cigarette butts, burned votive candles, and empty glass hip flasks lay at its feet along with trampled and browned flowers.

The tomb of Marie Laveau, one of the most famous landmarks in all of New Orleans, and people often did stupid stuff to it.

Legend had it, if one marked the tomb with three Xs, did some silly little dance, knocked on the tomb, or called out for Marie, then left a gift, a wish would be granted.

Hollis had never believed in that type of thing, but right now, with the promise of the new year hanging in the air, the eerie girl he’d just met, and the other mistakes of the night piled up on his conscience, he felt like he needed to change something.

It was illegal to mark the tomb, but some people still did. The kind the friends he’d just made were here to ward off.

Footsteps approached on the gravel path behind him. Hollis sucked on the end of his finger and then marked his three Xs in saliva on the marble. No real damage from that, right? Besides, the ritual depended more on the faith of the practitioner than any voodoo spirit who still lingered.

“What are you doing?” Brun asked.

Hollis turned to look at her. He’d never felt this kind of attraction to a woman before. For him, attraction meant sex, and sex only. Either his cock responded or it didn’t. If it responded, he’d fuck, teach his lover a few things about herself, and move on.

But right now he couldn’t think of anything else he wanted more in the world than to have this girl, at least for tonight.

No. Not just a night. He reached into the pocket of his peacoat. What could he leave in offering? He took out a handful of change, dropped it onto the path at his feet, and then stepped forward to meet Brun.

The heavy, deep-bass boom of the fireworks from the river reverberated off the tombs around them.

“Happy New Year,” he said and wrapped his arms around her. He looked down into her eyes. Marie Laveau, he thought, give me this one thing.

He kissed Brun, and she tasted of coffee and whiskey. He held her cold body to his, wanting her to feel his warmth, to protect her, to make her understand. The kiss pulsed through him, lighting him up from the inside and pushing heat out to the very tips of his extremities. Winter halted then, and summer bloomed in the space around them.

Hollis had never reacted to a kiss this way. At least, not since his first insecure smooches as a teenager, when the newness of the experience had been enough to excite him.

He didn’t want to, but he finally broke the kiss and pulled away, searching her eyes for some glimmer of affection, of promise. She stepped back, her eyes wide.

Whiskey. Oh boy.

Then Hollis’s head spun, and he pitched backward as he passed out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Mardi Gras tradition

Well, today is the big day. I should be out, gathering with the marchers for St. Ann this morning, but instead I'm toasty and warm in my office, working. The sky outside is gray, and it rained most of yesterday. The idea of going out today, even for Mardi Gras, just seems...blah.

Sadly, Mardi Gras day means the end of king cake season. Don't know what that is? Read on to find out...

Mardi Gras Tradition

Down here we have something called “king cake.” It’s basically a giant cinnamon roll with icing and colored sugar on top. Traditionalists won’t eat it if it’s filled, but the cakes do come with anything you’d find in a danish: cream cheese, apple, pecan praline, Bavarian cream… The list goes on!

Supermarkets, bakeries, coffee shops…heck, even gas stations…find counter space for these for the season of Mardi Gras, 6 January to whatever day Fat Tuesday falls on. This year it’s 12 February.

The cakes range in size from enough to serve four people, to being able to serve two or three dozen. We bring them to work for a treat to share, to classes, to parties.

The worst part? If you find the small plastic baby in your slice of cake, you have to buy the king cake for the next gathering.

Here’s a recipe for one that I would trust: 

Don’t want to make it yourself?