Introducing Seth and Meg.

As I promised yesterday, I went and dug deep to find you Seth and Meg’s earliest sightings in the Hearts and Minds series. They both show up early in Saint and Scholar, though not together. Because that’s the “sweetest” book in the series, you won’t need to shield your screen for these. (I know. Boo.)

Saint and Scholar by Holley Trent

First up, a Seth sighting. To set the scene: the hero, Grant, is a graduate TA and is stepping out of a classroom only to bump into the brick wall known as Seth. (If your memory’s any good, you’ll remember Seth had more on his face than his head in these days.)

From Chapter One

Grant nearly jumped out of his Pumas the moment he pulled the door handle. His friend Seth, a bald, red-bearded ogre of a rugby player stood just on the other side with his fist raised, ready to knock.

“Jesus!” he hissed, pushing the big man back and pulling the door closed. He put a hand on Seth’s shoulder and herded him toward the fire stairs. “What are you doing here?” he asked once they were out of earshot of the students and on the way down to the second floor.

“We’re going to the club tonight and need a driver,” Seth said.

“Hell no.” They turned the landing. “If I keep messing around with you and Curt, I’ll be on some kind of international no-fly list. I need to fly out of this country next week, so I’d like to keep my shenanigans down to a bare minimum. You’ve still got another year here. Or more. What is your status with that dissertation?”

“It’s not the dissertation. My advisor has disappeared. Went poof! So you’re taking the job?”

Grant brandished his paperwork at Seth as he pulled the door open. “Faxing them now. Dropping the hardcopies in the mail as soon as Courtney finishes her exam.”

“Courtney is cute.”

“Oh, you know her?”

“Yes, sometimes when I’m bored I sit out on the wall and watch the kids file out of your class. She winked at me once. I think she’s a whore. Anyhow, girls in the physics department are much uglier than usual this year. I scout wherever I can.”

“Way to be inappropriate, bud.”

“Can’t get any if I don’t try.”

“Well, Curt doesn’t try and he seems to do okay.”

“He’s got the accent.”

“I’ve got the same accent.”

“His is better.”

Grant blew out an exasperated breath and Seth followed him down the hall into the office. They both waved at the perky receptionist as they walked past her desk toward the copy room. Once situated in front of the fax machine, Seth returned to his more pressing matter.

“Well, your imminent departure is all the more reason for you to go out with us, yes? A last harrumph?”

Grant cringed and continued stabbing at the machine’s keypad. Seth was an international student, like Grant and Curt, but hailed from “Mother Russia.” He was studying astrophysics and had plans to join the Russian space program at some point…if it still existed by the time he finished his damn dissertation. Seth regularly botched his colloquialisms and Grant had the never-ending chore of educating him on the intricacies of casual language. “Last hurrah, you mean.”

Poor Seth. He started out a bit of a caricature, but then, I started bonding with the guy.

Next up, we see Meg in the club Seth alluded to…but the two don’t actually cross paths.

To set the scene, the heroine–Carla–is a bit of a hermit. She’s agreed to let her friends drag her out to the nightclub, and Meg is one of those friends.

Ready?

From Chapter Four

Sharon kissed both of Carla’s cheeks continental style and slid an arm around her waist as soon as she’d paid her way in and had the bouncer check her purse for weapons. “Come on in. Megan’s holding a table for us,” she yelled over the house music.

“Oh, Meg’s here?”

Sharon giggled. “I know, right? Her hubby’s out of town. We would never have gotten her out, otherwise. Don’t say anything about her weight, okay?” She said that last part in an almost whisper, bending in close to Carla’s ear and making Carla’s eyes water with the scent of her new perfume. Carla crinkled her nose at the overly floral scent, a far cry from Sharon’s usual fruity mist. She took one more deep inhale just to be sure it was Sharon and not some passerby. The fragrance smelled like something her grandmother would wear. She coughed and straightened up.

At the bar, she availed herself of a double whiskey sour. The bartender was extra busy, fielding orders while simultaneously trying to maintain polite conversations with some boisterous male patrons on the bar stools. A few lushes at the tables just beyond were shouting out crude comments at the busy employee, but their distance made them easier to ignore. Carla itched to tell them to shut up. Catcalling was one of her biggest pet peeves, but she held her tongue. She didn’t want to start an altercation with a bunch of drunks and end up carted handcuffed into one of the police stations she worked with. It had happened before. She winced, recalling how a woman had made a rude comment about the way her ass looked in her jeans. Carla, drunker than she’d ever been in life, had thrown her drink in her face.

Carla stood on her toes and looked into the sea of tables to spot the miniscule Meg, and sipped her drink as she thought about how that heckler had ended up a victim of the Gill Right Hook. The members of that particular police department had razzed her about it for six months.

Ah, there she is.

“What’s wrong with her weight?” Carla asked while stuffing a five-dollar bill into the bartender’s tip vase and receiving a wink from her in thanks.

“Well, nothing labor and delivery can’t fix. She’s pregnant, and she thinks it’s a secret. Better not to discuss it.”

“That’s weird. I mean, the silence part, not the pregnancy part.”

“I’m sure Spike put her up to it. I don’t see him as the paternal sort. His fans might be turned off by it.”

That sure puts Spike into perspective, huh?

Now, we don’t see Meg in Calculated Exposure (although she’s mentioned in passing), but we do see Seth.
Calculated Exposure by Holley Trent
Here’s just a teensy snippet from Erica’s point of view that shows her meeting Seth for the first time.

From Chapter Thirteen

She put her fist up to the door before she could talk herself out of it. She was way too good at talking herself out of shit.

The door sprang inward in seconds. “Come on, we’re not being that loud.” The owner of that deep, heavily-accented voice was a man holding the knob with one hand and a beer in the other.

Dios mio.

Her eyes widened as she took in the man’s bulk. He was big. Six-three, maybe six-four, and definitely not skinny. He could probably bench press a Buick. His hair was unequivocally red, not auburn. Not strawberry blond. Red. But for a redhead, he was somewhat dark-complexioned. Not tan, but pretty close as if there was a hint of something in his ancestry not quite European. He was nice to look at in a scary, giant, Soviet Bloc kind of way.

“Well, hello. You’re not the neighbor,” he rumbled.

Erica shook her head. “No.”

“Who is it?” asked a man with a brogue who was certainly not her Irishman. Grant. It was Grant’s voice.

“I don’t know,” the man in the doorway called back. “She’s pretty. Must be selling something.”

She laughed. “I’m not selling anything.”

“Hold it, I know that laugh. Back off, Seth.”

“Damn it,” Seth murmured around the neck of his beer bottle. He walked away from the door mumbling something about lucky Irishmen getting all the good ones.

The great thing about series is that as long as you’re still building in the world, you never have to say goodbye to the characters you’ve dragged kicking and screaming through a bunch of books! In fact, you’ll see them again in On the Ropes–Stephen’s story. They’re family, after all.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with some character dossiers–everything you need to know about Seth and Meg in a nutshell.

Don’t forget to keep rocking those tour stops, and see what bloggers are saying about my big red Russian (oh, and, you know. win stuff.)
Seeing Red Tasty Book Tours

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Excerpt! (Not even close to rated PG.)

I’m running out of pithy post titles, sorry.

As promised, I’m back today with a spicy excerpt. I put it into the handy scrolling box below so the naughty words aren’t IN-YO-FACE for those of you who are too young to be reading erotic romance (now would be the time for such people to engage in their summer educational exploits elsewhere). Ready?

“Am I too heavy for you?” He propped himself up on his forearms to redistribute the weight.“You’re very heavy, but the beautiful thing about mattresses is that they absorb some of it.” She slid her hands down his back and suddenly her right palm handed on his ass in a hard smack that made him hiss. “Now, if you don’t mind?”

“Witch.”

She closed her eyes and damn near purred as he eased into her. “Yep. What’s the Russian word for witch?”

Ved’ma…” God she felt wonderful at that angle, and she wanted to talk? “But it doesn’t mean quite the same thing.”

“Mm-hmm.” She moved her legs up higher, draping them over his shoulders. The clench of her fingers into the meat of his back urged him on, so he increased his pace incrementally, savoring the tight clench of her cunt around his shaft with each attempted withdrawal.

She angled her torso upward and pressed soft lips to his chest, kissing across his pecs, then up his neck. Given her height, that was about all she could reach.

If he eased back a bit, she could meet his lips, but before he could follow through on the thought, her head met the pillow again, and her eyes fluttered behind her eyelids.

“Do that again,” she whispered.

“What?”

“That thing you did—on your knees.”

“Oh.” He shifted into the transitional position he’d taken moments before, on his knees, sitting back at about forty-five degrees, angling her bottom up off the bed toward his core. He’d only wanted to improve his passage a bit as she was so tight—her body so narrow. He hadn’t thought she’d noticed the brief reconfiguring.

She tucked her hands around the backs of his thighs and held on as he increased his pace.

With each thrust, she let out a little whimper, growing gradually louder until he had to clamp one hand over her mouth.

Her eyes took on a malevolent glint for a moment. Then her expression relaxed as if she understood what they were doing and precisely who could catch them.

Briefly, he considered pulling his hand away, but the shuddering movements of her body and the feral grunts vibrating from her throat forced him to reconsider. And knowing that he’d done this to her, rendered her wordless and pliant, aroused him that much more. His skin tingled, belly contracted, and when her short nails pierced the flesh of his thigh backs, he toppled over the edge, bringing her along for the ride.

He pulled out of her, drawing one more whimper from her throat, and rolled onto his back. His throat burned and lips were chapped from harsh breathing. He drew his tongue over them and tried to steady his breaths as he stared at the gentle swirls in the ceiling plaster.

Was that three times? He’d never had any other woman three times. There were a few who’d come back for a second round, but they’d just wanted sex. No talking. No follow-up. They didn’t push their luck for round three. Meg had passed them in that race, but their situation was a far more perverted one. Equally stagnant, unless someone labeled their relationship as something more.

And that someone would have to be Meg. That’s what Sharon said, and Carla had hinted at as much. But neither woman had given him any clues as to how he could get her to turn the tide. Perhaps he’d been asking the wrong questions.

Perhaps he always had.

*wriggles eyebrows*

You can buy Seeing Red here:

All Romance eBooks | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Kensington Publishing | Kobo

I’ll be back tomorrow with a retrospective view of Seth and Meg–see what they were up to in Saint and Scholar and Calculated Exposure.

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Red hot (with plot) and ready for your e-reader!

ride you like a broom

I promised you this teaser would be audacious! But really, what did Seth expect she’d say after calling her a witch? (Share that sucker if you dare.)

If you didn’t pre-order Seeing Red, you can grab it now at one of these places:

All Romance eBooks | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | Kensington Publishing | Kobo


Don’t forget about my virtual book tour! Seeing Red will be bouncing around the ‘net until Friday. Enter to win Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or All Romance eBook gift cards and backlist books.
Seeing Red Tasty Book Tours


Come back tomorrow, and I’ll have a seriously sexy exclusive excerpt. There may be s-e-x in it. No promises, though. Pretty sure my publisher wouldn’t like me giving away the milk for free.

*whistles innocently*

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Reading from Seeing Red

Got in under the wire with this! I said I’d post it today, and I almost didn’t make it. The book excerpt starts at around three minutes in. There’s no sex in this one, but there are a couple of curse words that make it NSFW.


Come back tomorrow, and I’ll have a teaser image that’s too outrageous not to share! Trust me: This one’ll raise your eyebrows.

And before you go, are you subscribed to my contemporary romance new release e-mail alerts? Tomorrow, I’ll be sending one out to announce the release of Seeing Red, and there’ll be some special content especially for subscribers. Sign up here.

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10 Things You Should Know about Seeing Red

Seeing Red by Holley Trent coverSeeing Red officially launches on Monday (probably around midnight EST depending on vendor). For the next week, I’m going to be posting lots of exclusive content about the book and the Hearts and Minds series–teasers, videos, steamy excerpts, character dossiers and more!

I’m kicking off the post-a-thon with a list of 10 important things you should know about the book. I’ll put links to where you can pre-order the book at the bottom of the list.

Ready? Here goes!


  1. The title of Seeing Red is a triple-, possibly-quadruple, entendre. That means it has multiple meanings. I’d tell you what they are, but sometimes my titles are jokes and I like for readers to work out the punchlines on their own.
  2. Sergei, AKA Seth, is Russian but has been in the US for all of his adult life. He finds English to be a peculiar language.
  3. Seth was originally introduced in Saint and Scholar. He shows up again in Calculated Exposure. In the course of three books, he’s stopped shaving his head.

    Thank. God.

  4. Meg was originally introduced in Saint and Scholar, but we don’t see her in Calculated Exposure. (It’s safe to assume she was going through some shit during the course of that book. Kindly refer to: rock star ex-husband.)
  5. Although Seth and Meg run in the same circles, this isn’t really a friends to lovers story. She really doesn’t know Seth the way her friends do. (That’s pretty clear in the book.) It’s definitely a marriage of convenience story, though, for those of you who eat those up. (I know I do.)
  6. There’s nothing sweet about Meg. She has a well-calibrated self-awareness, and she knows she can come off as caustic. Meanness isn’t generally her intention, though she does have a low tolerance for bullshit. If you’d like to hear what she sounds like–just wait. Tomorrow, I’ll upload a short clip of me reading an excerpt from her point of view in the tone it should be heard in.
  7. Meg’s not the kind of woman who wears her heart on her sleeve, so her character arc isn’t going to be the sort of emotional meat-grinder you experience in many romances. I didn’t try to redeem her and make her softer, so don’t look for that to come in the HEA. (The story really isn’t about that.) Of the two characters, Seth is the more outwardly emotional. He learned it from his babushka.
  8. Seth is really fucking nice. He’s super-mensch, and you might even like him at first much more than you like Meg. Yeah, I can admit that.
  9. Meg has a kid from her last marriage. His name is Toby and he’s four. (As you might guess, Meg is very, very tired.)
  10. You really need to turn your sarcasm detectors up to high for this one. I can not stress that enough, y’all. This one is stuffed to the gills with dry humor and you’ve got to watch out for it or you’ll miss tiny plot details.

Intrigued? Well, Here’s where to order it!

All Romance eBooks | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | Kensington Publishing | Kobo

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for a video excerpt!

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Here’s how you can tell when I’m being sarcastic:

Simple. I’m awake.

*insert rimshot here*

I write two kinds of humor. There’s the really quirky stuff where you know you’re getting into right from the first page, like this:

Sold As Is by Holley Trent

Or like this:

Back to Storafalt by Holley Trent

(The first sentence of the story is about condoms, FFS.)

And then there are the books where the humor is stealthy. You may not know I’m telling a joke until sentences, pages, or even chapters later.

Like in this book:
Seeing Red by Holley Trent cover

or this one:
Colleen's Choice by Holley Trent

The tough thing about sarcasm is that not all readers can detect it. Some of that is due to the vagaries of book editing and formatting. I’m fond of using italics to indicate emphasis so that you can guess when a character is being snarky, but sometimes those get nuked during the production process.

There’s a big difference between:

Did he really just go there?

and

Did he really just go there?

and

Did he really just go there?

I’ve been told on more than one occasion to try to minimize my italics use, so I do try to find other ways to express emphasis and urgency.

Occasionally, snark is the character’s personality. (Meg in Seeing Red, I’m looking at you.) Sometimes she can seem really bossy and bitchy, but in my head–she doesn’t sound that way. There’s no edge to her voice, even when her words are pointed.

I try hard to make all my characters relatable and accessible, but sometimes, they’re just not to some readers. They’re too different–too hard to peg. The readers may interpret them as not caring or not being fully invested in the romance. That bums me out.

Deadpan humor is part and parcel of my style. Does it work for romance?

I spend a lot of time doubting it.

Try as I might to write characters readers will instantly connect with, some characters are going to come across as having a limited portfolio of emotions because of their snark, their sharp edges. They may seem like they don’t react enough, when in fact, they’re internalizing everything and storing it up for later. That’s how some real people behave.

I’m one of them.

If you can’t detect written sarcasm, or if you don’t understand the people who use it, then you might not be able to tell that a character is indeed feeling something, and they may be feeling it so, so keenly it’ll break your heart for them. They don’t have to be overtly nasty to be sarcastic. Sometimes, their punchline is a single word spoken in a devastated whisper.

Every three months or so, I think about changing my style and trying to write straight. No stealthy innuendo. No sarcasm. No running gags (there’s one in Seeing Red, but you probably won’t get the full ha-ha unless you read Saint and Scholar and Calculated Exposure). Most of the time, I can be talked out of any drastic style changes, but I have noticed that with each book, I pull out more and more of the funk before they even reach my editors.

While I want every reader to relate to all of my lead characters, I also have to write the books that are genuine for me. I’m sure lots of readers think my heroines are bitchy. Yup. I know. Occasionally, I take that kind of feedback personally because my heroines tend to be like me. Ronnie. Colleen. Meg. Marcia. And I’m not bitchy (my husband probably agrees).

I don’t know what this’ll mean for the books I have yet to write. My paranormals are always going to be unapologetically snarky because I cut my teeth on urban fantasy before turning to romance. My contemporary romances, though…

…we’ll see.

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Seeing Red is on virtual tour!

For the next two weeks, I’ll be splashing my big Russian and his convenient wife around Romancelandia.
Seeing Red Tasty Book Tours
Naturally, there’s prizes to be won:

1) One person will win e-book copies of the first two Hearts & Minds books – Saint and Scholar and Calculated Exposure.

2) One person will win his or her choice of two other backlist e-books.

3) One person will win a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble e-giftcard.

4) One person will win a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble e-giftcard.

It’s a review tour, so check out what what folks are saying about Seeing Red. The book officially releases 6/16. You can preorder it and have it in your e-reader at midnight next Monday, or add it to your Goodreads To Be Read (to be “Red”? heh heh) list.

Here’s the tour line-up.

(Please show my hostesses some luv!)

June 9th- Hot Guys In Books <http://www.hotguysinbooks.blogspot.com/>

(Stop 2) Toots Book Review <http://tootsbookreviews.blogspot.com/>

(Stop 3) Book Gossip <http://www.bookgossip.net/>

June 10th- Twin Sisters Rockin Book Reviews <http://twinsistersrockinreviews.blogspot.com/>

June 11th- In Between the Lines <http://bestbetweenthelines.blogspot.com/>

(Stop 2) The Many Faces of Romance <http://www.themanyfacesofromance.blogspot.com/>

(Stop 3) Redheads Review it Better <http://redheadsreviewitbetter.com/>

June 12th- Crazy Four Books <http://crazyfourbooks.blogspot.com/>

June 13th- Book Freak <http://reviewsofabookmaniac.blogspot.com/>

(Stop 2) Worth Reading It? <http://worthreadingit.blogspot.com/>

June 16th- Miriam Smith- Written Love <http://mirriamsmyth.wordpress.com/>

(Stop 2) Guardian’s Hangout <http://www.authorvsnelson.com/blog/>

(Stop 3) Words of Wisdom from a Scarf Princess <http://wowfromthescarfprincess.blogspot.com/>

June 17th- Books Like Breathing <http://bookslikebreathing.blogspot.com/>

June 18th- Snarky Mom Reads… <http://www.snarkymomreads.com/>

June 19th-  Booklover Sue <http://bookloversue.blogspot.com/>

June 20th- Brit Nanny Reads <http://www.britnannyreads.tumblr.com/>

(Stop 2) Books and Fandom <http://www.booksandfandom.com/>

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It’s a double covergasm… (Contest closed)

The random winners have been notified! I’ll post their names after they’ve checked in.


…for a double release! To celebrate, I’m going to give away e-book copies of both stories. More about that in a bit. Let’s talk about this hop!


Covergasm blog giveaway hopYep. This one is ALL about the covers. The ones that just make you gasp and go..oh my, I NEED this book. Now! Those that are truly…covergasm-worthy. Stop by each blog to check out their favorites! There will be a giveaway at each stop plus a grand prize giveaway of an Amazon Gift Card! Happy Hopping!


I’ve got two releases tomorrow (I love/hate it when that happens) and they’ve got some pretty sassy covers. Here’s the first one for my contemporary romance novella, Back to Storafalt:
Back to Storafalt by Holley Trent
It’s a sexy, QUIRKY, second-chance romance. And by sexy, I mean they-get-it-on-on-the-first-page. And by quirky, I mean I make silly jokes about Lutherans and old people (sometimes both at once).

It’s a stand-alone, but is set in the same world as my novel Teaching the Cowboy. It’s got a small-town (Wyoming) setting, and all the kooky secondary characters you’d expect.

And here’s the other. (Man-tit alert!)
O for Two by Holley Trent
O for Two is a mmf ménage erotic romance novella and part of the multi-author Den of Sin series. 27,000 words and 4 1/2 sex scenes. I sweated while writing every single one of them. Keeping up with all those hands and … other things … is a grueling job.

Okay! Now that I’ve teased you with them, I’ll give two folks the chance to win a copy of either. Here’s what you have to do to enter: leave a comment on this post telling me what you’ve read this week. I’m nosy like that. I’ll pick the winners on Friday, June 12.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops in the hop, and use the widget to enter the grand prize for that big-ass Amazon gift card.

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The eagle has landed.

Okay. That’s overly dramatic. How about, “The arc has resolved!”

Ashley's Allegiance by Robyn NeeleyThe last book in the Emerald Springs Legacy released today. Remember that series? The small town romance continuity set in Washington State (specifically, the Skagit Valley)?

I wrote the second book in it. This series feels like it’s been forever in the making, but it actually hasn’t been all that long! That’s one of the wonders of digital-first publishing. You don’t have to wait 18 months to two years for a book to launch. We started plotting out this series in spring 2013, we wrote the books over the summer (turned them in one month apart), and they released one at a time starting this past February.

Each book has a self-contained romance, but there’s also a background arc that links the five books together. There’s a lot of external conflict in this series. And maybe a little sex. Just a little. *clears throat*

You don’t have to read them in order, but I strongly recommend it.

Colleen's Choice by Holley TrentAnd can I give you a teeny tiny spoiler? The hero of Ashley’s Allegiance is Colleen Sanders’s brother Jacob, and he’s an absolute hoot (a hot, broody hoot). He and Colleen are alike in a lot of ways. Colleen actually shows up in a few scenes of AA, so if you missed her and her no-nonsense mouth, you can get your fix.

Ashley’s Allegiance is available at these places today (so far):

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo

Check out the links to all the other stories on my ESL page and stop by the ESL Facebook fan page. We may be giving stuff away today. No promises. *whistles innocently*

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Last week to win really frickin’ cool stuff.

Contest closed! Winners will be verified and contacted soon. Check for newer posts to see if you’re a winner.
* * *

Our joint giveaway is winding down! Remember, you can enter daily through 5/31 if you’re a tweeter. Amazon/Barnes & Noble/All Romance eBooks gift certificates ($75 and $50) are up for grabs as well as a paperback set and some backlist e-books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. Good luck!
May 5 Crimson Romance release celebration
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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