Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Ariadne and New Year

I suppose because they come so close together, the celebrations of Christmas and New Year are often lumped together. And New Year does come right in the middle of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Up until quite recently in Scotland, where I live, New Year was a much bigger celebration. In fact, Christmas was a normal working day when my mother was a child. I think that was a hangover from extreme Presbyterianism, and nowadays we certainly celebrate Christmas with as much gusto as anyone. Although New Year still holds a special place in our hearts :).

Again, though, New Year customs are changing, which I think is a bit of a shame. It used to be a very different kind of a night, when you dashed home from wherever you were in time for "the bells" (midnight), in order to bring in the New Year with your family. Your "first footer" (ie the first person to visit in the New Year) was always very important. To bring luck, he had to be dark (not fair - possibly a throw-back to fear of Viking raiders, I heard somewhere), and bearing a gift of some kind. So, to be on the safe side, my poor Dad got shoved out the door at a minute to midnight with a lump of coal in his hand, and he was let back in at midnight to be our lucky first footer!

After that, my Dad would take his bottle of whisky, and my mum her tin of shortbread or chocolates or something, and we'd go and visit the neighbours, the custom being that everyone you visited had a drink out of your bottle as well as us out of theirs, and then you moved on to the next house. It was great fun, because there were always people milling about the streets all night - usually in various stages of inebriation, though generally good-natured drunks, because it was that kind of a night.

Nowadays, you don;t see so much of the first footing. Instead, there are huge, organized parties, like the one held in Edinburgh's Prince's Street Gardens, with big name bands playing and other sorts of fun. Too many people for me, so I've never been, even when I lived ten minutes walk from Prince's Street. I prefer the community spirit of the old celebrations - or even the smaller scale ceilidh (party with traditional Scottish music and dancing) held in our village each year. But there's always fun of some kind going on!

So, for today's first contest, I'd like to know what your New Year traditions are - if any! And I'll draw one commenter to win an ebook copy of Ariadne's Thread, most of which takes place over New Year in the Scottish Highlands, among a bunch of eccentric characters, ghosts and villains.

To start you off, here's an excerpt from Ariadne's Thread. Here, when she should be escaping the scene of her crime, our heroine Addie is being enticed upstairs by her sexy host, who is unaware that his sister Tammy is being held by Addie's accomplices in a near-by room...

By Marie Treanor
Available now at Samhain

It was supposed to be a simple burglary… but the ghosts had other ideas.

Glaswegian single mother Ariadne McSween is not having a happy New Year.Instead of celebrating with family and friends in time-honoured tradition, she's helping her scallywag brother and his even less savoury friends burgle a mansion in the Scottish Highlands. And nothing is going right.

First there's the bad weather and car breakdowns. Then, instead of a quick, quiet robbery under cover of a noisy party, Addie finds herself flirting outrageously with the house's owner, sexy concert pianist and accused murderer, John Maxwell. Worse, her violent and erratic accomplice, Shug, takes their hosts hostage.

Another complication: The house turns out to be haunted, and not just by the ghost of eminent composer Christopher Maxwell. Two randy spirits drawn to the lust of living want to join the party—along with the vengeful shade of John's murdered wife.

Soon Addie becomes entangled in a host of mysteries, like why are Ariadne and her cohorts being paid to rob a house that holds nothing more valuable than dusty musical manuscripts? And most of all, how does she avoid falling in love with the chief victim of her crime?


     They had reached the top of the stairs now. Turn right, please turn right, away from Tammy…

     He drew her to the left. Addie was sure she could hear the office door rattling. She coughed to cover up any shouting, then found herself whisked into the piano room and the door firmly closed.

     “What are we doing here?” she demanded.

     “I thought you might like to play the piano with me.”

     The lamp was still on. By its poor light, his face looked rugged and more devilish than ever. And he stood too close, much too close. With the door behind her, there was nowhere she could go. God help her, there was nowhere she wanted to go…

     “Though now we’re here, I find I don’t give a stuff about playing.”

     You could drown in the storm of those eyes. She so needed to be away from him…

     “Shit, Kate.” His breathing seemed suddenly uneven. “Remember what you said about the lucky bag?” She opened her mouth to deny that she’d meant any of that, but he didn’t let her speak. “You’re right. It would be a bloody unlucky dip that dropped me in your lap. Tell me to sod off. Tell me quickly, and mean it—right after this kiss…”

     His head swooped down and his mouth seized her parted lips before she could think, let alone react to his words. She wasn’t prepared for it. She had no time either to reject him or to savor the moment. He went from speaking straight to kissing, his hands on either side of her face while his body pressed her back into the door. Paralyzed, she hung there while his mouth devoured hers, moving across her lips with a strange, tender hunger she’d never encountered before. It astounded her, enchanted her. So when his tongue slid between her lips, she opened wider to him, meeting his tongue with her own. He wound it in his, danced with it, sucked it into his own mouth while he explored every nook of hers.

     Sensation rolled inward like a tidal wave. Every caress of his sensitive fingertips at the corner of her lips, every movement of his devastating mouth, dragged her further in. She clung to him, kissing him back with forgotten passion till he groaned into her mouth.

     His hands left her face, trailing down her neck to her shoulders, and down the sides of her body, just teasing her breasts on the way to her waist where they lingered, stroking. Her hard, needy nipples pressed into him through the thin camisole. She moved in his arms, rubbing them against his chest. His hands swept down her hips, holding her while he pressed his lower body into her, his sporran jabbing into her abdomen.

     With an impatient jerk, his hand pushed between their bodies, pushing the sporran aside so that he could grind his erection into her instead. Through the thickness of his kilt, she could feel it already hard and thick. Desire flooded her, soaking her jeans. Her pussy pulsed with need.

     This can’t be happening…how can I want him so much so quickly?

     Changing the angle of his mouth, he deepened the kiss even further. One questing hand found her breast, cupping and caressing, his thumb flickering back and forth across her rigid nipple, making her moan into his mouth. She pressed forward into the delicious hardness of his cock and obligingly he rubbed it against her. She wanted it inside her, pushing, thrusting. She wanted him naked, to feel his skin, every inch of the hard body pressed so beguilingly against her now.

     At last, as if it were a supreme effort, he dragged his mouth free. “Tell me now,” he whispered, touching his forehead to hers. “Tell me quickly… ‘Sod off, John Maxwell, you’re nothing but trouble.’ Kate…”

     His mouth found hers again, brushing back and forwards across her lips as reality flooded back, bringing shame and guilt and a pain so sharp it made her gasp aloud. She grasped his head between her hands to stop his devastating mouth.

     “Johnny… I… Johnny, I’m not…”

     Something bumped inside the room, crashing against the window frame at the same time. A body fell into the room, cursing in fluent Glaswegian.

     Appalled, Addie watched over Johnny’s shoulder as Big Malky rose to his feet, shaking his shaggy head as if to clear it.

     Johnny spun round. “What the…?”

     Malky blinked at the pair of them. “Aw right there, big man?” he said amiably to his host. “Happy New Year.”

:) So, to enter the draw for Ariadne's Thread, just tell me about your New Year traditions - or comment in some other way! The contest will close at midnight tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.


Welcome Shawna Delacorte!

Please welcome today's guest of honour at the Christmas Party, the very wonderful Shawna Delacorte, who has TWO Christmas stories to tell us about! Welcome, Shawna!

Hello. I'm Shawna Delacorte and I'm happy to be here today at Marie Treanor's Christmas Party. It's hard to believe that Christmas is only 25 days from now.  They say as we get older time seems to move faster, but this year has zipped by ridiculously quick!  :)

I'd like to tell you about two Christmas stories I have available, some fun Christmas facts I'd like to share, a prize giveaway, and a question of the day.

My Prize Giveaway:  As an early Christmas present, I'm giving away an autographed original print copy of THE MILLIONAIRE'S CHRISTMAS WISH by Shawna Delacorte, a Silhouette Desire that's one of my Harlequin backlist titles recently reissued in ebook and available at (do search for Shawna Delacorte ebook reissues). Also available at Amazon for Kindle and Barnes and Noble for Nook. Details of the giveaway listed below.

Blurb:  When millionaire Chance Fowler first kissed the pretty stranger in his arms, he'd only meant to dodge the photographers who'd tailed him. Then she ran off—but he couldn't forget her tempting taste on his lips. So he sought out the tantalizing woman who'd ignited his long-dormant desire….

Lovely Marcie Roper was the first woman to close her eyes to Chance's fortune. And though she'd captivated the jaded tycoon, Marcie yearned for what his wealth couldn't buy—a man who would say "I do" and mean it forever.  Could Marcie convince Chance that love—for the right woman—would last a lifetime?

Inside Cover Excerpt:  

She was certainly different from the type of women he usually encountered. Her eyes sparkled with the fire of emotion and her stance declared a very appealing independence. Yes, indeed. Marcie Roper was quite different—a breath of fresh air. He recalled the way she felt in his arms, the taste of her delicious mouth. He fought the almost overwhelming desire to pull her into his arms and kiss her again.

He watched her walk away from him—for the second time since he first encountered her. She had turned out to be a very intriguing woman. He already knew about the golden flecks in her hazel eyes, her soft pliable lips, her addictive taste and how good she felt in his arms. And now he knew she was certainly a challenge—and Chance had never been one to back down from a challenge.

My second Christmas offering, "The Ghost Of Christmas Presents," is a short story that's part of CHRISTMAS WARMTH, an anthology of Christmas short stories from XOXO Publishing, also available at Amazon in ebook. (Note: this was not yet available at the time I wrote this blog, but should be by the time it's posted on November 30).

Robert Carson was a man of habit, one who lived a very orderly and structured life…an admittedly lonely existence. But one snowy December day and a very special Christmas changed everything.


Gray clouds hung low in the sky, with the forecast calling for snow. Robert Carson emitted a weary sigh as he hunched his shoulders against the cold December air. Turning up the collar of his overcoat, he took his customary seat on the bench at the bus stop in front of the Yummy Cookie Factory, where he'd worked as an accountant for twenty-five years. The number nine bus took him within a block of the small studio apartment where he'd lived alone for the same twenty-five years. It was the procedure he always followed at the end of each workday.

But this week had not been the same. It had been a disturbing week, upsetting his normal work routine. He didn't like change, especially when it came as a total surprise. On Monday his supervisor had brought a woman to his cubicle and introduced her as Helen Winston, a new employee in the accounting department. She seemed to be a pleasant woman, about his age, but why had the supervisor foisted this new employee off on him? He had been given the task of showing her the ropes and familiarizing her with company procedures, definitely an unwanted disruption to his set routine.

The week had progressed without further incident, and he had gradually accepted her presence in the office environment. Finally Friday arrived, signaling the end of the work week. Then, just that morning, he'd been hit with another change at work. For years the company Christmas party had been cookies and punch, with the factory manager handing out the annual Christmas bonus check. Shortly before lunch, a company-wide announcement informed the employees that this year's office Christmas party would be different. For the first time, it would include a gift exchange. Each department would have its own party and draw names for a departmental gift exchange, without any of the employees knowing who had drawn his or her name. The plant manager had referred to it as a "Secret Santa" gift. Each worker would receive one gift with the recipient not knowing the identity of the giver.

Robert, who'd been the last one among the office personnel to draw, pulled the slip of paper from his pants pocket and stared at it again. The only name remaining had been Helen's. The knot of anxiety tightened in the pit of his stomach. Another heavy sigh of resignation escaped into the air. He had no idea what kind of present he should buy for a woman, especially one who was no more than a business acquaintance he had met only a few days earlier.

Question Of The Day:  Do you have a particular Christmas that holds special memories for you?

I have fond memories of my first Christmas with snow. Living in Los Angeles, a white Christmas was not part of the holiday. One Christmas Eve (spending the holidays in the mountains), it began to snow. Those big white fluffy snowflakes that are so pretty. There wasn't any wind, so they drifted straight down. Later that night the clouds parted and a full moon literally glistened off the new snow. It all had a very mystical feel to it, almost something ethereal or surreal.

To Win A Copy Of THE MILLIONAIRE'S CHRISTMAS WISH—the winner will be drawn at random from the comments left on this blog. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment so I'll be able to contact the winner.

And now for some Christmas Fun Facts:

Each year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.

Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is the day it is believed that the three wise men finally found Jesus in the manger.

In the Middle Ages, Christmas celebrations were rowdy and raucous—a lot like today's Mardi Gras parties.

From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings.

Christmas wasn't a holiday in early America—in fact Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the country's first Christmas under the new constitution.

Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.

The first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith's 1607 Jamestown settlement.

Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America in 1828.

The Salvation Army has been sending Santa Claus-clad donation collectors into the streets since the 1890s.

Rudolph, "the most famous reindeer of all," was the product of Robert L. May's imagination in 1939. The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.

Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition in 1931.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season whatever your beliefs. And above all else…Peace On Earth.

Check out my website for additional excerpts and while you're there take a look at my two very short story free read mysteries on the Bits and Pieces page.  I post a new note on my blog each week at

To be entered in the drawing for an original print copy of Shawna's The Millionaire's Christmas Wish, answer Shawna's question above: Do you have a particular Christmas that holds special memories for you? Or comment on her post in some other way. The contest will close at midnight tonight, and the winner will be announced tomorrow morning on this thread.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Cry for the Moon

Before I move on to today's first except and contest, I just want to remind anyone who'd still like a free copy of my Christmas short story, Gothic Wolf (see Monday's post!), that you can still email me for it, right up until the end of the party :). Marie AT MarieTreanor DOT com, with Gothic Wolf in the subject line :).

Now - I'm not quite sure what the attraction of paranormal creatures at Christmas is, but to me it's irresistible. Maybe it's something to do with the magic of Santa Claus that becomes lost in adulthood - perhaps we're trying to get it back in a slightly more grown-up sort of a way :)

Whatever, here's an excerpt from another paranormal Christmas story of mine - and there's a contest to follow...

Holiday Howlz: CRY FOR THE MOON
Available Now from Changeling Press

A lonely woman spends Christmas by herself in the country cottage she once shared with her beloved husband, a soldier who disappeared without trace two years ago. She has finally accepted that he's dead and is even contemplating suicide.

On Christmas Eve, a knock on the door heralds the arrival of a homeless man in ragged clothes who bears a staggering resemblance to her husband. However, he doesn't know who he is, or what has led him to the cottage. Recklessly, she lets him stay the night, but begins to suspect she may have made a terrible mistake when, in the midst of unexpected passion, a wolf flees howling from her bed.


Ruth lost herself in her dream, the remembered feel of his lips and tongue, the caress of his hand on her breast while the other sneaked up her skirt to stroke her thigh and hip and slide round between her legs. She was wet for him, always eager and the discovery made his breath hitch as he slid his fingers inside her panties to find the slick nub of her clitoris. Jared’s fingers… she loved his fingers, adored the pleasure they gave her. But soon, she wanted more. She turned in his arms, burrowing under his sweater to pull it over his head before unzipping his jeans and dragging out his fully erect cock. Raising herself in his arms, shivering as his hands closed around her naked hips, she gazed into his hot, devouring eyes as she lowered herself onto his cock. God, it felt so good, filling her, answering her every desperate need…

A loud knock shattered her dream. Whisky sloshed over her hand as she jumped. Who the hell could that be? Whoever it was, she hated them for interrupting her dream. It had almost felt real.

Standing, she dashed her hand across her wet face. Shit, when had she started to cry? As the knock came again, loud and impatient, she walked unsteadily to the door, wiping her eyes on her sleeve as she went.

She was a woman, alone, in an isolated cottage at night. But she ignored the danger. She’d been beyond caring for some time. In any case, it must be Jane or Charlie in the midst of some emergency.

She flung open the door, “What is it?”

And found a tall man leaning one arm across the door frame, staring at her. In the contrast of the lit cottage with the darkness outside, she couldn’t make him out properly, but he seemed to be large and ragged and unshaven. And by some unkind trick, he managed to look like her husband.

Her throat dried up. Shock and grief kept her frozen. Had she fallen asleep in front of the fire and was dreaming? After all, she’d had dreams like this before, where he came back… Only he hadn’t looked so… rough.

He moved, pushing his head forward into the light and she saw that of course it wasn’t Jared. This man had blank, wild eyes, not the thoughtful, intelligent, often cynically amused ones of her husband. And he was too thin, too unshaven. Jared had never had stubble growing all over his neck like that…

The man took a step nearer her, and instinctively, although she wasn’t frightened, she took one back. She blinked. In the glow of light from the cottage, his neck no longer looked so hairy, though he clearly hadn’t shaved for some time. Unsure, she lifted her gaze back to his.

He stared at her, a frown etched between his thick brows. Or were they really so thick? Perhaps they were just untidy. But his eyes… her mind was playing tricks, for his eyes seemed to be exactly the same shade of bright, piercing blue as Jared’s.

He said, “Who are you?”

She squeezed her eyes shut, willing the dream to end, because it didn’t seem right to let the stranger have Jared’s   voice, even if distorted with some hoarse, gravely element it had never possessed in real life, only to deny any knowledge of her.

“I’m Ruth. Who are you?” Not Jared. Even in a dream, not Jared. Life sucked.

“I don’t know...”

To enter the drawing for a download of Cry for the Moon, tell us what paranormal creature you think goes best with the Christmas spirit :). The contest will close at midnight tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow morning on this thread.

Welcome Mari Carr!

I'm thrilled to welcome our first guest of honour to the Christmas party today - the very talented Mari Carr. Welcome, Mari!

Ho Ho Oh!
By Mari Carr

Christmas in my family is the mother of all holidays. It’s the day when all sixty of my extended family members cram into the home of very gracious cousin to celebrate the most blessed of all days with Crown Royal, cases of Bud and Miller Lite, and my Aunt Ann’s famous crab dip. The only reason any of us actually arrive on time is because we live in fear that one year we will arrive after Ann and all the dip will be consumed. We’ve seen it happen before so we realize the potential for danger is quite real. I’ve awoken in a cold sweat many a night imagining just such a thing.

Most of Christmas day is spent talking. Talking to cousins I never see, talking to cousins I always see, yelling at all the children as they destroy the house, complaining about peeling and mashing 25 pounds of potatoes—no small feat with a tiny, hand-held two pronged mixer and of course, cheering at the arrival of Santa.

The last few years, one of the adult men in the family (usually whoever draws the short straw) dons a Santa suit and “arrives” at the house with presents for the younger generation. The fun part is how Santa shows up. In the past, he’s come by bicycle, tractor and last year, he rode up on the back of a Corvette convertible, waving like he was in the midst of a parade.

Needless to say, Christmas with my family is always an adventure. Always memorable and fun. I wouldn’t spend the day any other way!

This Christmas, I have something else to celebrate!

On December 22, Wild Irish Christmas releases at Ellora’s Cave.

Wild Irish, Book Eight

“To Conall Brannagh.”

Ewan took the bottle from his father. “Who?”

“Conall Brannagh,” Patrick repeated. “If your mother had chosen him over me, none of us would be here tonight.”

It’s Christmas Eve, and the Collins siblings have given their father a precious gift. All seven have gathered together to spend the night in his apartment above the family pub, the warm, loving home where Patrick and Sunday raised their large brood.

You’ve witnessed each child find their happy-ever-after. Now gather ’round the tree and join the Collins family as they pass a bottle of Jameson, and Patrick shares the story of how he won the heart of Sunday, his true love, his soul mate…and the mother of his seven Wild Irish.


Patrick claimed his recliner as the rest of his kids pulled up chairs or grabbed pillows and plopped down on the floor around the tree. “I still can’t believe you’re all spending the night here.”

Keira grinned. “We’re here because it’s the holidays, Pop. You haven’t been yourself the last few months. We worry.”

Patrick grasped his oldest daughter’s hand. “I’m a tired, old fool. I suppose I lost my way for a bit. Let the daily grind get me down. You crazy kids have reminded me what’s important in life with this gesture. It’s a lovely gift.”

Keira squeezed his hand. “We love you. It’s been years since the eight of us were alone together in this apartment…all busy with kids and jobs. We thought it was time we took a night to reconnect. To remember where we came from.”

“Oh,” Sean added, “and a word to the wise, Pop. Next year, when the girls ask you what you want for Christmas, say a flashy tie or an animal-print Snuggie or some bull like that. Don’t say, I only want you all to be happy and healthy. Leaves too much room for interpretation—especially from Riley.”

Riley picked up a pillow and lobbed it at her younger brother’s head. “Way to ruin Keira’s sappy speech, smartass.”

“Language, Riley,” Patrick said, the words a familiar joke more than a true rebuke.

“Sorry, Pop.” Her face told him she wasn’t sorry at all.

Tris lifted the whiskey, proposing a quick toast. “We’re here, Pop, because we’re family. To the Collins clan.” He took a swig from the bottle and passed it to Teagan, who followed suit with her own cheers.

Patrick wasn’t sure what it said about his character that he was proud of the way all seven of his offspring could hold their whiskey.

As the bottle moved from hand to hand, they each offered up words of thanks or wishes for the New Year. When it reached Patrick, he lifted the bottle and proposed a toast he hadn’t used since the last Christmas he’d celebrated with his wife, Sunday.

“To Conall Brannagh.”

Ewan took the bottle from his father. “Who?”

“Conall Brannagh,” Patrick repeated. “If your mother had chosen him over me, none of us would be here tonight.”

Sean leaned forward, a definite gleam of interest in his eyes. “So you had some competition for Mom, eh? I never knew that.”

Keira grabbed a bag of pretzels. “I didn’t either. Was Mom in love with him?”

Teagan looked at Patrick. “I always thought you were her first love.”

Patrick smiled at his daughter. “I was her last love, Teagan. That’s a much better spot to claim. Besides, I don’t know if it’s fair to say she loved Conall, though he certainly turned the women’s heads. What’s the word you girls use for handsome men? Dreamy?”

Riley laughed. “Um…yeah, not in this decade. I definitely don’t use the word dreamy to describe Aaron.”

“Then what would you say?” Pat asked.

“He’s hot. Totally doable.”

Killian turned to look at his younger sister and shook his head. “Jesus. How are we related?”

“Dreamy works for me, Pop,” Teagan said quickly.

Patrick looked at his kids and silently marveled at how different they were. Somehow, miraculously, their unique qualities meshed perfectly, creating an amazing family.

Ewan, always the steady one, hadn’t been distracted by the asides. “So Mom thought this Conall was dreamy?”

“All the girls in Killarney thought Conall was handsome, but he only had eyes for Sunday. Not that I could blame him. Your mother was a beauty, with that long dark hair and those crystal-blue eyes. She caught every man’s attention.”

“But you didn’t fall in love with her because of her looks, right?” Keira asked.

Och, Lord no. While Sunday’s face was pleasing, it was her heart, so kind and compassionate, that I found attractive. That’s what captured me by my hand and—pardon the expression—balls and kept me holding on to her for dear life.”

“So what was the story with this Conall guy?” Tris asked.

“Well now, that is a tale.” Patrick leaned back and closed his eyes, letting his mind drift to a different place, a different time.

“I was working on my family’s sheep farm during the day while tending bar at Scully’s Pub every night. I was a young buck of twenty when Sunday, who was just nineteen, moved to Killarney to live with her aunt. Scully hired her to sing in the pub and from the first moment I laid eyes on her, I was lost…”

To kick off the season of giving in style, I’m offering one of today’s commenters their choice from my ebook backlist. All you have to do is tell me one item on your holiday wish list this year.

Mari's contest will end at midnight tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow morning on this thread.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Christmas of the Damned...

One of the things that's always appealed to me about Christmas is the sense of hope associated with it. The child born to save the world and make humans love one another. It's a lovely dream :). And one I felt inspired to carry on into one of my bleakest worlds, the post apocalyptic, post-nuclear world of the City of the Damned.

In this blasted, ruined city, blocked from the sun by the effects of nuclear war, the survivors live day to day by scavenging, stealing and looking out for number one. It's a tough and violent place, and among the general populace lurk the feared mutants, those who've been changed by a unique cocktail of radiation poisoning into creatures resembling vampires and werewolves and who knows what else?

I liked my benighted world, but I began to wonder what would happen there if I injected just a hint of Christmas spirit? And romance, of course :).



No one remembers why, but every year on the same cold December night, the survivors of the ruined City of the Damned gather to celebrate a miracle that never happens...

When a wounded wolf appears outside the city’s most popular nightclub, Sol, the tough doorman, rescues her from the violence of his patrons.  He recognizes that the wolf is more than she seems.  But then, so is Sol.  A man of few words who hides his gift and his generosity, only he can unlock the wolf's lost humanity.

And as it turns out, the meeting of these two remarkable creatures is just one of the miracles of this Christmas night.


     The hands clutching at her throat disappeared abruptly, as though snatched away. An exclamation, a warning shout, some loud thuds and groans, and suddenly there was no one left for her to fight.

     Her attackers were picking themselves off the ground, muttering but not retaliating, and the wolf stared into the eyes of her savior. The bouncer.

     Behind him, the wolf saw one of the men stagger to his feet. Retrieving his knife, he lunged toward the bouncer. The bald man whipped round and his would-be attacker stopped dead. One of the other men tugged his friend’s arm urgently, and they all took off down the nearest alley.

     The bouncer turned back to the wolf. She growled, wondering how fast she could run, how well she could fight with her injured leg and her new wounds. Blood dripped from her neck, clogging her fur, puddling on the dirty ground at her feet. He stared at her. Dark eyes, hard, veiled, dangerous. She stared back, desperately.

     Show no fear, show no fear.

     Slowly, the bouncer walked toward her, the same lithe danger in his step.  She growled again, warningly. Her whole body quivered. The bouncer stopped and crouched down in front of her.

     She could rip his throat out. She could try.

     But somehow, his eyes held hers, and she didn’t. As her breathing adjusted to her stillness, she sensed no threat from him. He hadn’t saved her to kill her himself. And yet if those terrible, piercing eyes weren’t killing her, they still stabbed deep into her heart.

     When they left hers, she knew relief, and loss. But he only scanned her body, taking in her wounds, her skinniness, her exhausted, fearful trembling.

     A shout of laughter distracted him, causing him to glance over his shoulder at the new group of people approaching the club. One of them waved, and he lifted one hand in response before he turned back to her. His mouth twisted, curving slightly upward in a fleeting smile. His lips were full, the only softness in his face, betraying his sensuality and, perhaps, unexpected sensitivity.

     He rose to his feet, fluidly, and the wolf panicked, backing up a step. His eyes didn’t leave her. Slowly he held down his hand, but she had his scent already -- the sweat and excitement of the club and beneath it, clean skin, a unique, sensual male smell she had no name for. Still holding out his hand, he took a step away from her, then another, and she realized he was inviting her to go with him.

To enter the contest to win a PDF copy of Christmas of the Damned, tell me in the comments about something outstandingly good that's happened to you or around you at Christmas. Or what the best miracle of the season would be for you. You don't have to be too serious about it :). The contest will end at midnight tonight, and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Welcome to the Christmas Party!

I know it's a tad early, but let's get in festive mood! Help yourself to a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine and settle into the spirit of a very romantic Christmas. To help get you in the mood, we have a new banner for the occasion! And we have some wonderful guests to tempt you into a buying spree :).

Since it's Christmas, the format of this party will be just a little different, with extra prizes and a finale on Friday with SIX guest authors!

Unfortunately, Stella Cameron, who was to have been our guest today, has had to pull out for reasons of family illness and deadlines, so our first guest of honour will be tomorrow, when Mari Carr joins us. On Wednesday we'll welcome Shawna Delacorte and on Thursday, Jill Sorenson. And finally, on Friday, we'll have a grand finale with six of the Changeling Press authors clebrating their White Hot Christmas series: Ayla Ruse, Selena Illyria, Zenobia Renquist, Cynthia Sax, Camille Anthony and BJ McCall.

So, fab party coming up! Let me start by asking you if you go looking for Christmas stories at this time of year, and if so, why? What is it you most enjoy about Christmas romances?

And since we're short of a guest today, let's have a contest instead, with a prize for everyone! The prize is Gothic Wolf, a short Christmas story I wrote a few years ago as a free "mini-sequel" to Gothic Dragon, which is a sort of time-travel fantasy still available from Samhain. But I think Gothic Wolf can safely be read on its own! Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite :).

A mini-sequel to Gothic Dragon

On Christmas Eve, lonely widow Jen hears her sister’s cry for help and falls into a seductive dream of a handsome Renaissance lover…

Jen closed the bedroom door with a small, definite click and turned to face the world of her childhood. Though it had been years since she’d stayed here, nothing much had changed.

Even the sheets, probably.

Sinking down on her old bed, she began to pull off her sweater. A flood of memories hit her of past Christmas Eves – she and Esther hanging stockings at the ends of their beds, falling asleep in a daze of exhausted excitement and unspecific good will. There had been a magic about Christmas then, a belief and a joy that vanished with childhood.

Jen tossed her sweater onto Esther’s bed.  Coming home for Christmas was a mixed blessing. Had she really thought Esther would be here too? No. In truth, her chief motivation had been to avoid another lonely Christmas in the house she’d shared with Richard. Last Christmas had been too close to his death to do more than wallow in the shock of loss; it had been necessary then but she was damned if she’d do it again. She’d learned to bear the grief, as something that would always be there. It shouldn’t define who she was or what she did.

Jen threw her jeans on top of the sweater and unclipped her bra. As she bent to remove her knickers, something on the dressing table caught her eye. A wooden carving that certainly hadn’t lived here when she had.

Padding naked across the carpet, Jen picked it up and examined it. It was rather beautiful – a wolf in motion. She could make out the powerful muscles, almost feel them rippling as she stroked its back with one finger.

She’d seen it before. Esther had given it to their father when she’d buggered off to Italy with the new man. Typically, Dad had stuck it in here out of the way.

Well, hadn’t she done the same thing with Esther’s beloved ring? Until tonight. Jen brought up her left hand and gazed at the antique lapis-lazuli ring that adorned her middle finger, outshining the plain gold wedding band next to it. She’d been astonished and secretly touched when Esther had given it to her. After all, they hadn’t spoken for a year then, largely because Jen couldn’t stand Kevin – the man Esther had planned to marry. Fortunately, Esther had dumped him for the mysterious Italian who’d swept her off to his own country. And when Jen had last seen her, the old light of fun had been back in her sister’s eye.

Jen found herself smiling at the memory. The reflection in the mirror caught her attention and for a moment she stared at herself, the smile slowly dying on her lips, dulling in her brown, stricken eyes. From nowhere, grief assaulted her, so suddenly that she had to rummage wildly for its source. Not for her tragically dead husband, not even for her disappearing youth or the laugher lines beginning their slow transformation into wrinkles. It was childhood she missed. It was her little sister she wanted.

Gasping, she clutched the wolf carving in both hands. Emotion crashed over her. Memory flooded her. A closeness that could never be repeated in adulthood; shared fun that had been so magical, especially at Christmas. Just for an instant, missing Esther overwhelmed her.

And even as she began to laugh at herself, to pull herself out of the pointless misery, she heard her sister.

Esther, gasping out in terrified agony, “Oh God, oh Jesus, oh Jenny…!”

Fear slammed into her. The old urge to protect rose up with a peculiar pain because she didn’t see how she could help from here, or even how she could know, how she could hear her sister in her head. But logic had no place in this, only a desperate desire, a need to help.  Without meaning to, she cried out, “Esther!”

The room rocked. Her own reflected image blurred and span in front of her. She felt herself falling back toward the bed. And when she stared down at her hands in new terror, the wooden wolf’s blank eyes seemed to glow…

Abruptly, Jen stood in darkness. Icy wind swept across her naked skin. Tall, menacing trees surrounded her, below a surprisingly bright full moon. And only feet away, staring at her with hunger in its shining, amber eyes, stood the black shadowed figure of a wolf.


“What the…?” Jen blinked. She squeezed her eyes shut hard, and when that didn’t work, she tried shaking her head. But the darkness, the cold and the wolf stubbornly remained. In fact, her movement seemed to anger the wolf, who curled back his lips and snarled.

“Bad dog!” Jen scolded “Shoo!” She took a step forward, stamping her bare foot rather painfully as she did so.

As if from instinct, the wolf backed up a pace, but before Jen could congratulate herself, it snarled again. Its muscles bunched, ready to spring.

“Oh shit.”

The ground crackled. Something – another animal? – snuffled, and the wolf’s gaze flickered.
Run! Jen screamed at herself, but her frozen feet seemed rooted to the spot. She heard a strange whizzing sound. Something struck the tree behind the wolf. The animal whirled round and bolted into the wood.

Jen swallowed and turned her dazed head. A horse and rider waited in the shadow of the trees. The rider lowered his arms. He seemed to be holding something like a bow. Of the Robin Hood variety.

I’m dreaming, of course. But even for me, this is a weird one.

Still, if it was a dream, she didn’t need to be frightened as the rider urged his horse forward and came to a halt in her patch of moonlight. She didn’t need to be horrendously embarrassed by her bizarre and inexplicable nakedness. Although it was irritating that even in the dream she was freezing cold. She should have used the electric blanket.

The rider – a man in a dark cloak with a hat almost like a beret flopping jauntily down one side of his head, and a feather trailing fetchingly over his ear – began to smile. Or at least his teeth gleamed. Other things about his person glinted in the moonlight too: an ornate sword-hilt, surely, at his hip, something shorter above it…

“Well,” he said, leaning forward to rest one wrist against the pommel of his saddle. “What sort of a wood-nymph are you?”

“A bloody freezing one,” Jen retorted.

To receive your PDF copy of Gothic Wolf, all you have to do is... email me! Just put Gothic Wolf in the subject line, and send to Marie AT MarieTreanor DOT com.

Happy Christmas :)


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Slight Change to the Christmas Guest List

Unfortunately Heidi Betts has had to cancel her appearance at next week's party for reasons beyond her control  :(. We'll miss her, but wish her all the best and hope to catch her at a later party.

The good news is, the very wonderful Mari Carr has agreed to join us! So now, our Christmas party schedule is looking like this:

Monday 28th Novemeber: Stella Cameron
Tuesday 29th November: Mari Carr
Wednesday 30th November: Shawna Delecorte
Thursday 1st December: Jill Sorenson
Friday 2nd December: Changeling Press White Hot Christmas Authors - Camille Anthony, Selena Illyria, BJ McCall, Zenobia Renquist, Ayla Ruse and Cynthia Sax.

How unmissable is that??


Friday, 11 November 2011

Look Who's Coming to the Christmas Party!

I hope you've marked your calendars for our Romantic Christmas Theme Party - Monday 28th November to Friday 2nd December. It's going to be a special party with plenty of Christmas giveaways, and a fabulous line-up of guests.

Heidi Betts, Stella Cameron, Shawna Delacorte, Jill Sorenson, and on the final day of the party at least SIX Changeling Press authors who're part of the wild and sexy White Hot Christmas Series: Camille Anthony, Selena Illyria, BJ McCall, Zenobia Renquist, Ayla Ruse and Cynthia Sax.

Spread the word and bring your friends - it's going to be amazing :).