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Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Good Idea! And a Goodie Bag Contest!

It is my pleasure to welcome my first guest Laura Breck, to Happily Ever After Thoughts. Laura's new romance SECRET VEGAS LIVES just came out and it is fantastic! She has included an excerpt of her book and is giving away a prize to one lucky commenter, so don't forget to comment! Laura, take it away!

Sometimes, a good idea deserves a 102,000 word book written around it. That’s how SECRET VEGAS LIVES grew from a suggestion to a novel.

I lived in Las Vegas for three years at the turn of the century. It’s a wonderful city; good, caring people flock there from around the world. I chose to base my first romance/mystery novel there because it’s such a popular place, and nearly everyone can relate to it and to its Sin City patina.

The “sin” is what gives SECRET VEGAS LIVES its mystery - Antonio’s decadent addiction that, in Vegas, could be any one of a hundred legalized indulgences! The idea of creating a book around this sin came from a friend at a bachelorette party, late one night/early one morning, somewhere on the Vegas strip. “You should write a book about this,” she said. And I did!

I love telling a story that can sweep a reader away, take them completely out of their life and immerse them in whichever city they choose to visit; Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio, Chicago. And I write a sweet/spicy romance. Sweet, because I believe in a physical relationship between two loving, committed adults, and that’s what I promote in my books. Spicy, because I like to write detailed love scenes, something to steam up a reader’s windows.

SECRET VEGAS LIVES focuses on Dr. Valerie Kane, an eminent psychologist who is at the wrong place at the right time, and is mistaken for a blackmailer by crime novelist Antonio Daniato. They both swear they’re not the blackmailer, but their suspicions keep them from exploring the intense attraction between them. When they learn to trust each other, the passion is red-hot. But there’s a reason they’re being blackmailed, and when they learn each other’s secrets, their perfect romance is torn apart.

The places in the book are real, and I’ve visited them, so my research consisted of remembering what the restaurants looked like, and doing a little online research to make sure they were still in business. My heroine in SECRET VEGAS LIVES volunteers at a shelter. Since each of my books is partnered with a charity in the city in which it’s set, in Las Vegas a portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Shade Tree Shelter, a shelter for women, children, and their pets. Read more about The Shade Tree on my website

Here is a scene from SECRET VEGAS LIVES that I love.

Valerie looked at the lapel of Antonio's tuxedo. "I hoped you wouldn't do anything rash."

"You give me too much credit, princess. I'm not ethical like you."

She looked into his eyes, disappointment knotting her stomach. "You would have caused a scene here tonight?"

"If not here, then somewhere. Yes, I would have."

She blinked, fighting back tears. How could someone be so cruel? He would have ruined her reputation on nothing more than circumstantial evidence. She hadn't misjudged him. He was a bastard.

He snapped, "Don't look at me that way."

"What way?" Her throat closed, tears were imminent.

His voice dropped low, sensual. "As though your sexy blue eyes can see right into my soul."

Uncertainty gripped her, the room closed in. "Imagine how surprised I am to find you have no soul."

"Ouch." He flinched. "You've got claws, princess." His smile flashed evil.

She wanted to wipe it off his face--with her lips. She choked on the desire, zinged with energy, amazingly alive. Like she hadn't felt in days, like she never felt with Troy. Guilt, fear, passion, anger. The conflicting emotions warred with her sanity, and panic swamped her.

"I can't do this, Antonio..." Her voice broke and she gasped for breath.

She broke away from him and ran. The opposite direction from where her boyfriend's big, safe arms would protect her. In the empty lobby, she veered toward an exit, then changed direction and darted around a corner where a couch sat hidden in a dark alcove between two potted palms.

She sat and began the steady breathing technique and pressed the reflexology spot on her wrist which together should hold off anxiety. Then gave up and dropped her head into her hands and broke down crying.

"Cara mia,no." He sat next to her, his warm arm wrapped around her shoulders, comforting. He stuffed his handkerchief in her fingers. "You know I'm not worth crying about."

She sat bolt upright and glared at him, allowing her anger to emerge, effectively preventing the panic attack from overtaking her.

"You arrogant bastard."

"That's one of my best features."

"I'm not crying because of your cruelty, I'm crying because of mine! I never act this way. Something about you brings it out in me." She tried to shrug off his arm, but he wouldn't budge.

"Should we analyze it? We've got a couch right here," he wiggled his eyebrows at her.

"You are not funny!" She dabbed at her eyes with his handkerchief. She must be a mess. Her makeup running, her eyes red, and her nose sniffly.

He laughed. "You're sexy when you're mad."

"Don't. Don't try to laugh this off. This is the cure I need to get you out of my system."

His face sobered. Quietly he said, "How can I be in your system when I've never held you." He tightened his arm around her, with the fingers of his other hand he caressed her jaw. "And I've never tasted..." His lips pressed hot against her neck, his tongue teased her skin.

"Wait," she murmured breathlessly.

He continued his assault. "And we've never really kissed," he whispered, nipping her ear with his teeth. The bite sent waves of passionate chills down her body.

Oh, God, what was she doing? They were in the middle of Caesar's Palace and she'd arrived with another man.

"No." She straightened her arms and pushed him away, looked into his beautiful brown eyes and almost lost her willpower again.

"Yes. It's going to happen." He smiled his charismatic, irresistible smile, "Runny mascara and all."

She broke free and stood, catching her breath. How was he able to make her lose control? Her knees shook with excitement and her libido commanded her to fling herself onto his lap and let him kiss her senseless.

"Antonio." He sat there patiently waiting for her, so handsome it made her ache to touch him. His smile was too confident, as though he knew there wasn't a woman capable of resisting him.

She took a step toward him...

Just as her boyfriend came around the corner.

Sometimes ideas for my books come from dreams, some pop into my head while reading other books, and once in a while, as with SECRET VEGAS LIVES, someone blurts out an idea for me at a completely unexpected moment!

I’d love to hear how you’ve found ideas for your books, or what plots you’ve found in romance novels that you’ve found ingenious. Please leave a comment, and one lucky person will be drawn at random to receive a goodie bag of my promo items.

Thank you so much to Happily Ever After Thoughts for hosting me today, and I’ll be around to answer any questions. I appreciate everyone’s stopping by, and I look forward to reading your comments.

Happy Reading!
SECRET VEGAS LIVES is available at


  1. LOL, earlier when you said you lived in Vegas for three years, at the turn of the century, I thought (keep in mind it's early morning) Wow, this gal's over a hundred. Then, I remembered the new turn of the century. Nice interview. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Intriguing idea. And to give some of your proceeds to a woman's shelter(and one that allows them to keep their pets! - marvelous) is wonderful. Blesings upon you. Hannah Howell

  3. Oops - that should be - blessings. You'd think I would understand the need to preview and edit. Sigh

  4. Thanks for sharing this intriguing scene. It left me wanting to read more, so I'm adding it to my books to read list.

  5. Good morning! Thank you, Alexis and Happily Ever After Thoughts, for having me here today.

    Pamela - you're exactly right - you don't hear many people use the phrase 'turn of the century' to reference 2000. I'm trying to bring it back into style ;-})

    Hannah - I'm excited to partner with The Shade Tree Shelter. As an animal lover, and a person who cares about families in crisis, it ads a special poignancy to my writing career. Thank you for your kind words!

  6. Hi Laura,

    Bette is not familiar with blogging so she asked me to send along this comment.

    "The excerpt from Laura Breck's book is enough of a teaser that I will go out & buy the book. I don't know how to blog, so just pass on my comment. I like that genre.


  7. Nice interview, Laura. I celebrated the turn of the century in Las Vegas. Boy, it does sound weird to say that. lol. I love the scene you posted and definitely want to read more of SECRET VEGAS LIVES. Thanks for coming to Happily Ever After Thoughts and letting us get to know you better. And, I was wondering did you plot the story? Or just let it happen since it was based on a true event, more or less. Which really has me even more anxious to read the book.


  8. Hi Bette, I'm glad you like the teaser. It's one of my favorite scenes from the book.

    Dani - I do plot all my stories, whether they're based on reality or daydreams. I spend a lot of time, usually weeks, creating the plot, writing scenes and dialogue as they occur to me. From there, I create my characters' back stories, giving them the motivation to do what they do in the plotline.

    Thanks for your comments!

  9. Alexis, I love your blog. I hope you have many many guests! I enjoyed reading the excerpt, Laura. Great chemistry between these characters. Wishing you the all the best with your writing, fellow Red Rose Author Pat McDermott

  10. Hi Laura,

    That is some sparkling chemistry between Valerie and Antonio, and I like your definition of spicy/sweet. I'll definitely add Secret Vegas Lives to my TBR pile. Congrats on the release.

  11. Thank you both, Pat and Linda, for the kind words. I do love both Valerie and Antonio, and I also have a special place in my heart for my secondary characters in Secret Vegas Lives. Valerie's sister, Monica, and her guy Joe are very different personalities from the primary characters.

    I think that's one of the main reasons I enjoy writing long, single-title manuscripts. The secondaries can be as fun, crazy, or nasty as they want - they seem to create themselves out of my overactive imagination!

  12. The fact that you write 'spicey/sweet' caught my attention...those are one of my favorite kinds of books. I can only imagine how you accomplished that with the setting in Vegas. Congratulations and I'm excited to read your novel!

  13. Dawn, I'm so glad to here theres another spicy/sweet reader out there besides me! It's always been my favorite genre, and when I find an author who writes it, I stick with them!

    Yes, it was fun writing Valerie's attempts to rope in Antonio in Sin City. He's got some naughty secrets!

  14. The winner of the goody bag is Hannah Howell! Congratulations and thank you for visiting.