Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Blog Hop

It's that time again...Valentine's Day. The day of Love, Laughter, and Life. Thanks so much for making a stop on my blog during the Swept Away Blog Hop.

I hope your journey thus far has been exciting and full of passion and romance. I'd love to add a little bit of romance to your life as well so I'm hosting a couple of giveaways.

First, for anyone who buys one of my books during the blog hop (14th-17th), send me a copy of your invoice and I'll put you in a drawing for a free book of your choice from my backlog. Please send it to my email address:

Be sure to put "Valentine's Day Hop Contest #1" in the subject.

Second, I have a pair of lovely, handmade wine charms that are sure to add a romantic flair to your wine glasses. These can be added to any type of glass with a narrow step (wine, martini, champagne, etc.). To win these, all you have to do is tell which of my books you've either read or would like to read. If you've read one, tell me what you liked about it/disliked about it. If there's one you'd like to read, tell me why. What intrigues you about that book?

All of my books are listed on my website.

Email answers to me at:

Be sure to put "Valentine's Day Hop Contest #2" in the subject.

Okay, so let's get on with today's post and excerpt.

What do you know about Valentine's Day?
I've never thought much about it, other than as a good reason for my husband to buy me something. I did a little research and found some interesting tidbits:

1) St. Valentine's Day began as a celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Saint Valentine was actually imprisioned for performing weddings for soldier forbidden to marry, and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. He reportedly healed the daughter of his jailer and before he was executed, left her a note and signed it "from your Valentine" as a farewell.

Kind of a grim explanation of Valentine's Day.

2) Several early Christians martyrs were named Valentine. Valentine of Rome was martyred about AD 269 and buried on the Via Flaminia. His flower crowned skull is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Another saint name Valentine was martyred in Africa, though little is known about him. His head is preserved in the Abbey of New Minster, Winchester, and venerated.

I had no idea what venerated meant--although I must confess, with the morbid history lesson thus far, I expected something unpleasant--so I looked it up and it actually means to honor somebody or something as sacred.

3) The first recorded association of Valentine's Day with love is in Parlement of Foules by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1382. It was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, who were married at the age of 15. Though, there's been much speculation that his poem was actually referring to the mating habits of birds.

About time someone added some love in there. Even if it was for the birds!

4) In 1797, a British publisher issued The Young Man's Valentine Writer, which contained suggested verses for young lovers unable to write their own. Printers produced a limited number of cards with verses and sketches, called "mechanical valentines." Future reduced postal rates led to an increased, albeit less personal and sometimes anonymous, mailing of Valentines. This anonymity may be the reason for some rather racy verse during a time that was considerably prudish.

Somehow that seems like cheating.

5) In 1847, Esther Howland produced and sold the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace in the United States. While her father owned and operated a large book and stationary store, she actually got her inspiration from a Valentine she'd received from one of his business associates.

Wonder what her daddy thought about that?

6) Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have evolved into mass-produced greeting cards. The 20th century expanded the idea of giving sentiments to include gifts such as flowers and chocolates. It didn't take long for the jewelry industry (1980's) to jump on the bandwagon and push the idea of giving jewelry on Valentine's Day.

Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

7) The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately 190 million Valentines are sent in the US each year. If you include cards made and/or exchanged in school activities, that number goes up to 1 billion.

Genre: Contemporary Erotica/ Interracial / Multicultural

They say the road to success is a lonely one. Newly named corporate executive of the Chinese American Development Corporation, Ms. Mei Ling Zhao, can attest to this. Hated by her subordinates, her acquired status has truly left her friendless and in need of some male attention. After a long week of dealing with spiteful employees, threatening letters, and one headache after another, she treats herself to a much-needed drink and an order of fast-food—Chinese takeout, via “special delivery.”

While Mei Ling expects her meal to arrive smoking hot and in a timely manner, she doesn’t anticipate her delivery boy to be a tall, tanned Texan with a black Stetson, levis that cling to all the right places, and seafoam eyes that remind her of ocean water pooling on the shore. And yet, when she opens her door, that’s exactly what she finds standing on her stoop.

Seems the Chinatown Buffet is in the business of delivering more than just a tasty meal, and Mei Ling is about to find out what “special delivery” really means…

Her gaze first met the man’s black, T-shirt clad chest, as he stood nearly a foot taller than she, then slowly traveled upward. The perfect ball of his Adam’s apple caught her attention—she bet he had a deep voice; smooth and rich, like the heart stopping sound of a Franz Werner Virtuoso bass.

“Sorry, but we were fresh out of buffalo,” he said in a low, southern drawl.

Ripples of awareness coursed her veins. Mei Ling’s stare snapped up to his tanned face, instantly meeting a pair of sea-foam green eyes shrouded with chocolate lashes. A velvety smooth, black Stetson balanced perfectly on his head, successfully concealing his hair except for one renegade lock the color of sand that had slipped free to dust his forehead.

A lump caught in her throat. “You’re…” She choked on the word as though she’d swallowed it down the wrong pipe. Politely covering her mouth with the back of her hand, she turned her head to cough.

“You’re late. I called an hour and a half ago.” Although she tried to sound stern, taking a stance with him as though he were one of her subordinates in need of discipline, strangely, her voice sounded husky rather than annoyed.

Seemingly entertained by her haughtiness, his firm, beige lips pulled into an amused smirk. “I tried to call,” he countered. “I got lost on La Salle Street. Ya didn’t answer.”

Mei Ling felt her cheeks grow warm. That’s because she’d passed out, drunk—certainly not proper behavior for a corporate executive. “I didn’t hear the phone,” she replied bluntly.

One tawny brow arched with what looked to be skepticism.

“I must have been…” Mei Ling quickly changed the subject. “How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching for the white bag in his hand at his waist.

Her gaze fell to the black Levi’s clinging to his trim hips and brawny thighs. She couldn’t help but focus her attention on the sizeable bulge at his groin. Her mouth suddenly felt dry. Where was that bottle of champagne when she needed it? Surely this man did more than make fast-food deliveries. Come to think of it, he seemed completely out of place in Chinatown. With his cowboy hat, worn jeans, and silver-tipped boots, he looked like he’d just arrived from—

“That’s a first,” he declared, his seductively masculine voice cutting into her wandering thoughts.

Mei Ling mentally shook herself, then forced her attention back to his face as her fingers closed around the folded edge of the bag. The arrogant slant of his mouth told her she’d been caught staring at his package—and not the one in his hand.

“A first for what?” she choked out, that bothersome lump returning in the back of her throat.

“Most aren’t ready to pay ’til we’re finished.”

Confused, Mei Ling blinked a few times. “Finished?”

This time, it was his turn to seem perplexed. “Didn’t ya want special deliver?”

“Well…yes. I did,” she returned with hesitance. “But I don’t—”

“Good. Then let’s get started.” With that, he stepped past her and into the foyer.

Stunned by his boldness, Mei Ling merely stared at him with her mouth hanging open and the bag of food dangling limply from her fingertips. What the hell was going on here? She didn’t invite him in. “Hey,” she protested when he strode past her and headed for the
living room.

“Nice place,” he called back over his shoulder, ignoring her objection. “Ya might want to close the door. I noticed some of your neighbors peerin’ out their blinds. Sure hate for someone to walk in on us.”

Not knowing what else to do, Mei Ling closed the door. “Wait a minute here!” She marched into the living room behind him. “What’s going on? Walk in on us? Doing what? You’re supposed to deliver my order. Right?”

He turned to face her, a boyish smile lighting his tempting lips. Then he reached up with one hand, removed his hat and tossed it onto the ottoman at the foot of her chair. “That’s precisely what I’m doin’.”

His barging into her home uninvited had surprised her. But when his T-shirt followed his hat onto the ottoman, Mei Ling nearly choked on her shock. “I’m afraid there’s been some sort of mistake here,” she gasped, trying not to stare at his nicely formed pectorals.

She certainly had no intention of appreciating the golden mass of curly brown wisps feathered across his chest and washboard abs. Or how a thickened swatch ran downward from his navel to disappear into the waistband of his jeans. And she absolutely refused to acknowledge the interest peaking within herself—the increased heart rate, the needful throb deep within her belly, the dampness in her panties.

As though ignoring her statement, he continued to undress. His boots followed along behind his shirt. Then his socks. He’d was just unzipping his pants when Mei Ling realized if she didn’t intervene, she’d soon have a naked man standing in the middle of her living room.

“Wait! Please. I really don’t understand what’s going on here.” Quickly crossing the room, she darted for the ottoman and his growing pile of clothing. Then she snatched up his shirt and thrust it toward him. “Here, put this back on. You can’t just barge in here and start taking your clothes off. I don’t know if this is some kind of a joke,
but I only ordered…I don’t even know who you are for Pete’s sake!”

He stared at her, long and hard, seemingly trying to figure out if she were playing a game or genuinely confused. “Ya really didn’t know what
special delivery meant when ya ordered it, did ya.” It wasn’t a question, but rather a declaration.

“Apparently not.” A nervous laugh slipped from her lips. “Would you…care to enlighten me?” Mei Ling wasn’t sure where those words had came from, but once they’d left her mouth, she knew there was no taking them back.

He smiled then, a wickedly delicious smile that curled her toes and robbed her breath. “My pleasure, ma’am.”

She could only watch with a strange sense of anticipation as he moved toward her. While his intent was unclear, one thing was for certain, his touch would be hotter than a glowing branding iron, and she’d surely melt like a plastic spoon in a blazing fire if he put his hands on her. When his fingertips brushed the side of her neck, she knew she was about to find out.

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