Welcome to the first post of the A to Z Challenge for 2016. Today’s letter, A, stands for an Awesome Author Anthology which friends of mine have just released. I had the pleasure of meeting these talented writers in 2012 when I was just starting out as an author. They helped me improve my writing skills and for that, I am forever grateful. I wish them much success in their own publishing endeavors.
An anthology is a collection of stories usually with a common theme. Beautiful Disaster is a collection of six contemporary romances from rising names in the romance genre and talented newcomers.
Love sweeps in like a hurricane, ravaging all in its path, but the alpha
males and fiesty heroines of this collection are more than ready to face the storm. From sweet to sexy, these six contemporary stories of love taking hold despite the threat of natural disaster prove beyond any doubt: Love will survive.
Now, stay a while and read a bit about each author and their contribution to this wonderful anthology.
Award-winning author M.A. Grant is fortunate to live in the rugged beauty of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Thanks to her husband’s unending encouragement and support, she acts as scribe to the intelligent women and wounded heroes who need their stories told.
Parched Earth by award-winning Escape Publishing author M.A. Grant – A prodigal son returns to his drought-stricken hometown for his nana’s funeral, only to discover the girl he loved and left behind isn’t about to let him slip away again.
Excerpt from Parched Earth by M. A. Grant
Kane straightened from the board he’d just finished nailing into place. Dust caked his hands and sweat beaded on his forehead. He lifted up the hem of his shirt to wipe it away, treating her to a view of his hewn abs … Kane glanced to the side and froze when he saw her there.
“You’re still here,” she said blandly.
“I promise I’m leaving.” He gestured lamely at the porch. “I just had to … A few boards were squeaky.”
“And you thought you should fix them?”
“I thought you might want the help.”
“Kane, I run a hardware store. I know how to fix my porch.”
“But I didn’t want you to have to.”
He ignored her and stood instead, twisting the hammer in his grip.
“Kane,” she repeated, adding more steel to her voice. “Why?”
“Can’t I just want to help, Jo?”
He frowned. “Why not?”
She wanted to scream and rip out her hair. Instead, she settled for crossing her arms over her chest and glaring. “Because what you’re doing is something a boyfriend would do.” His face paled and she nodded. “Mhmm. That’s what I thought.”
She expected him to give up. For him to stand, hand her the hammer, and leave, never to return. Instead, he swallowed and wiped his forehead with a forearm.
His voice was strangely quiet. “Then consider this me paying off my debt from when we were together. It’s the least I can do.”
Crap. Her heart tumbled and her throat tightened painfully. It was nearly impossible to force the words out. “You were never my boyfriend.”
His frown deepened. “I’m pretty sure I was a bit more than that, Jo.” He stood, a huge, inescapable presence, just like he had been since she met him. “Right?”
Carine UK author Gina Rochelle was born and raised in Iowa, and is now living in the beautiful state of Colorado. In love with the world, magical stories, and happily-ever-afters, she gets endless inspiration from the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, and is so grateful to have the career of her dreams, writing romance.
Stranded on Savior Peak by Carina UK author Gina Rochelle – A divorce attorney-turned-author and his editor’s assistant find love in a raging hurricane. But is this promising new bond stronger than the aftermath that threatens to tear them apart?
Excerpt from Stranded on Savior Peak by Gina Rochelle
The rain was coming down in buckets and the wind had picked up to a scary clip, blowing sheets of water in dangerous waves across the highway. Delilah squinted to see the road through the sideways rain, her visibility dwindling to near zero. She considered pulling over, but where? The phrase ‘turn around, don’t drown’ ran through her thoughts, over and over. But she kept moving forward, finally – thankfully – getting behind an eighteen wheeler. She focused on the truck’s tail lights, keeping her breathing steady. The red glow took her mind off the increasing darkness and what might happen if she made one wrong move, or stepped on the brakes…
The doubt crows continued to wage an inner battle with her determination. She’d made a dangerous and foolish decision and was risking her life for a man who didn’t even know she existed. She had miscalculated the weather. As the wind ripped the early autumn leaves off the trees, she said a silent prayer that the branches wouldn’t come down with them in her path. Or on her car.
“At this rate, I’ll either fly or float there,” she said, breaking the white-knuckled tension with the sound of her own voice.
The wipers swooshed back and forth, on their highest speed. But the rain was falling too hard, too fast to keep the windshield clear for more than a second after each swipe. Thank goodness for the GPS. She’d simply programmed Savior Peak and it had guided her out of New York City, to I-87. Now, it alerted her of the upcoming exit. Squinting against the blur, she spotted the sign. She carefully exited the Interstate for the first time in over two hours, happy that she was nearing her destination. About forty miles on Route 28, and she’d practically be on the attorney’s doorstep.
Yay, her inner voice whimpered, far from overjoyed.
Alice J Miller
Alice J Miller was born in London, UK, and now lives in the picturesque county of Kent, also known as the Garden of England. A romantic at heart, she may make her characters struggle in love, but always makes sure they get their happy ever after eventually.
Island Encounter by Alice J. Miller – Justice, revenge and fear are ripping a couple apart, but when a volcanic eruption destroys everything in its path, will their love be enough to keep them alive?
Excerpt from Island Encounter by Alice J Miller
His eyes chastised her for being afraid. She couldn’t blame him. Even exemplary patience had an expiry date.
Beyond the promenade, the shrieks of children playing in the sand peppered the air, while adults relaxed, hidden from view in striped deck chairs. A tanker in the far distance moved slowly along the horizon, at odds with a motor boat ploughing through the waves. She rested her hand on the tablecloth flapping in the light breeze coming off the sea. Beach life in all its normality.
“I’d mixed feelings about seeing you again,” Josh said, breaking his silence.
“Cooled off have you?” She teased, but fear crept in. They kept in touch daily, but it was still an unconventional romance. Had it gone off the boil?
“Yes, as it happens I have cooled a bit.”
The air stilled, making breathing difficult, or did her lungs not work today the way they should?
His sigh was a whisper on his lips and he looked away, then slow and precise his brown eyes met her gaze. “I know I said I would love you forever, but now I realise it’s too long and I’d feel trapped.”
Her stomach flipped. Bile rose and burnt the back of her throat. Transfixed, she stared dumbstruck, while his eyes bore deep into her soul. Her heart hurt so fierce, she thought she would faint.
“As I said, forever is too long. I’ve decided I only want you in my life now for ninety nine point nine years.”
Blessed relief snaked through her body and she drew a quick breath, fighting back the tears. Joy or anger, too soon to tell.
“Ah ah.” He wagged his index finger to silence her protest. “No swearing, you’ll get us barred. I just wanted to make my point.”
Shy Kensington Lyrical author Kari Lemor enjoys her small town life along the New England coastline. Coming late to the writing game, she has the full support and encouragement of her husband and children as she pens stories filled with characters who fall hopelessly in love.
Unstable Ground by Kensington Lyrical author Kari Lemor – A rejected suitor finds himself trapped by an earthquake with the woman who turned down his proposal. Will their forced proximity help them realize they belong together or will their rekindled feelings die with them?
Excerpt from Unstable Ground by Kari Lemor
Her gaze bounced all over the place, her mind whirring a mile a minute. She always got that way when she was thinking and trying to work out a problem. She closed her eyes and drooped. When she opened them again, she looked like someone had stolen her kitten.
“This was supposed to be my big chance to prove myself to my boss. Looks like that went down the toilet.”
Seriously! They were stuck in the rubble of an old abandoned hospital after a huge earthquake and she was worried about her damn job. Justin clenched his fists and wanted to punch something. But when he looked around he realized anything he touched could possibly dislodge and injure them further.
“Are you kidding me?” Justin growled, glaring at her. “We could have died. We’re freakin’ lucky to be alive and you … you’re worried about your stupid job. That’s still more important to you than anything else, huh?”
Kendall’s face crumpled at his words. Great, way to kick her when she’s down. She was probably just trying to keep her mind off their situation. And he’d gone all ballistic on her because of their past. Yup, score one for him. In the negative.
Tears gathered in Kendall’s eyes and he was lost. She lowered her head into her hands and pulled her knees up to her face. She was in defense mode, no doubt.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it. It’s okay.” Justin scooted closer, hating that dirty building material littered every inch of the place. He sat next to her and pulled her into his arms. She resisted at first but then gave in and sagged against him. Her sobs knifed through him and he wanted to cry himself. God, how were they going to get out of this?
Maggie award winning author, Carrie Nichols is a hardy New Englander transplanted to the Deep South, where two inches of snow can bring a city like Atlanta to its knees. She loves to travel, is addicted to British crime dramas and knows a Seinfeld quote appropriate for every occasion. Carrie’s characters, much like her family, often ignore the wisdom and guidance she lovingly offers.
USA Today called Snowbound with the Stork, “a charming debut” http://goo.gl/4zzGkw
Snowbound with the Stork by 2015 Maggie Award for Excellence winner Carrie Nichols – A freak storm traps a surly sheriff with his very pregnant ex. Can he convince her to give him another chance or will his secret destroy them both?
Excerpt from Snowbound with the Stork by Carrie Nichols
“Hadley, I …” His intense gaze was on her basketball-sized belly. With sleeves rolled up, his forearms were bare, the powerful muscles and scattering of dark hair begging to be caressed. Maybe she could—
Repeat after me: using emotional blackmail is beneath you.
He rested his arm on the doorframe and leaned over. “Do you want me to, um, you know, be there?”
More than anything in this whole world. “I’m a big girl.”
“No, really, it’s fine.” She didn’t want to be just another obligation. While she’d been falling in love, he’d been having great sex. But he said he’d been hurt too. She needed to protect her already broken heart. But he’d offered to be there. No, this was about self-preservation. “I’ll be fine. Honest.”
Was that disappointment on his face? No. Don’t go weaving dreams out of nothing. That way led to heartache. Fairy tales with happy endings belonged in Disney movies, not real life.
“You have my number if … if you … or … Sarah Grace.” he swallowed audibly, his Adam’s apple working, “… need anything … Anything at all, call me.”
You. That’s all I want. “Thanks … I’d better go … the weather and all.”
Ask me to stay.
He nodded once and stepped back, hands behind him, elbows locked, stiff and unyielding. Pete had told her once a Marine, always a Marine. Did that mean he would forever keep his emotions locked down? She backed her car out of the spot and lifted the fingers on one hand off the steering wheel in a small wave. If he saw, he didn’t move, but continued to stand with military precision. The sight shredded her heart like confetti.
Fiona Marsden has been an avid reader from childhood. She is also extremely fussy and began to rewrite stories to meet her own requirements. Finally, four years ago, she finished one, and has been hooked by the buzz. The mother of seven children, including an adopted son with Down Syndrome, her other passion is disability advocacy.
Swept Away by Fiona Marsden – Swept apart by the force of a tsunami, Sean and Sophie have fought their own battles to survive. Now they must confront the challenges caused by the decisions they made separately, if they want to be together again.
Excerpt from Swept Away by Fiona Marsden
The reception building was empty, the doors standing wide. Beyond was the road leading inland. The air was shifting, changing, a dull vibration that brought him to a halt. It took a moment to realise Sophie wasn’t with him. He turned, hearing the low rumble, feeling it through the soles of his feet. She stood by the sign for reception, staring back the way they’d come.
The noise was building with the intensity of a freight train coming at speed. Like the water. The empty beach was now a swirling mass of froth and dirty water, sucking up the sand and mud and flinging it at the villas along the tree line. Palms swayed and tumbled.
Her face was pale as she took his outstretched hand. “We aren’t going to
“We have to try.” The road stretched ahead of them, long and flat. The water
would catch them long before they made it to the low rise that signalled the
beginning of the hill country. “Run. As fast as you can.”
The sound of their pounding feet on the paved road was swallowed by the
noise from behind. The roar of the water was punctuated by the explosive
crash and splintering of trees and timber villas, shattered into kindling by
the force of the incoming ocean. His heart thumped against his chest as he
dragged her along. She was fit enough, but couldn’t match his longer stride.
He could hear her panting, straining to keep oxygen in her lungs, her hand
slipping in his, wet from sweat and fear.
“Leave me.” The words came out breathless as she pulled away.
“Never.” He shifted his grip to her wrist. “We do this together.”
That’s it. I know it was a longer post, but I hope you enjoyed it. Tkae the time to pop over to the main A to Z Challenge List and find other amazing blogs to read!
See you tomorrow!