Spotlight, Author Guest Post, & Giveaway for Curse of Passion

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Curse of Passion by Melissa Bourbon Ramirez

Curse of Passion

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Publication Date: August 12, 2013

Published by Entangled Publishing – Suspense Imprint

Book Description

The ghost of la Llorona is said to haunt the riverbanks, always searching for her drowned child. She also haunts high school teacher Johanna Rios, whose own mother believed so deeply in the legend she tried to drown her daughters. And now the ghost has become real, a young woman murdered, and the safe world Jo created is falling apart.

Since returning home from his last tour of duty to become a school principal, Ray Vargas has fought his attraction for his employee, the sensual woman who’d once been the girl next door. But the Llorona Killer will not stop until he claims his final victim—Johanna—and Ray will do anything to protect the woman he’s come to love.

With a serial killer out to prove the curse is real, will Ray and Johanna’s future be drowned in the ghostly waters of the past? Or will the power of their love give them the strength to stop a killer…and heal their wounded hearts.

Read an Excerpt

Johanna paced and turned toward him, but still hadn’t noticed Ray in the doorway. He catalogued her features. She was thirty-two, with honey-colored skin, cheekbones that gave her an exotic look, long, dark hair…As it often did, his gaze hitched at her full, red lips. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d kissed lips like that. Maybe never.The sliver of skin showing between her sweater and her pants drew his eyes. She looked far hotter than any teacher had a right to—certainly hotter than any teacher he’d ever had. Thank God, or he’d never have graduated.He felt his eyes pinch and blinked hard to break the drugged feeling that suddenly slid over him. He’d done his best to steer clear of her for years, and after this conversation, he’d go back to staying away.“Who is this? What do you want?” Johanna’s voice held fear, tinged with anger.That was not a tone Ray associated with Johanna. He froze in place. He’d been trained well by the Army. Freeze first. Assess. Decide. Then move.She spoke again, her voice rising in pitch. “Would you just stop calling?” she demanded, her voice shaking.Distressed. Johanna was distressed. Time to act. Ray moved then, coming into the classroom, bumping a desk as he came toward her, startling her.She whipped around, gasping as she saw him. Her face paled, and a second later she dropped her cell phone on her desk. She speared her hand through her hair, her fingers bending until they looked like claws digging into her scalp.

His heart pumped hard. What the hell? “Johanna,” he said, aware his voice was gruffer than he’d intended. “What was that about?”

She stared at him, her eyes wide, like a damn deer caught in the headlights. One second. Two seconds. Three seconds.

“Prank caller,” she finally said, snapping out of her trance.

Ray ran the pads of his fingers over his goatee. Prank caller, my ass. She’d been engaged in that conversation, had been responding to the person on the other end of the line. But her eyes stayed wary and he decided to let it go. He was here for a purpose. Marianne’s murder needed his attention, and he wanted to know Johanna’s secret.

“Sorry for barging in,” he said, “but I’d like to continue the conversation we started back in my office.”

She raised an eyebrow at him. “You mean about Marianne? Are the deputies coming back?”

He shook his head. “They’re gone.” She looked puzzled as he continued. “You brought up la Llorona.”

“Yes,” she said flatly.

Her voice had lost the shaky edge it had held a moment ago on the phone. Hell, now it almost sounded like it could freeze water. Her own form of self-preservation, he supposed. “You wrote your master’s thesis on her?”

Johanna slumped against her desk and ran one hand over her face, down her neck, let it settle on her chest. “Yes.”


She hesitated, and for a moment looked like she wasn’t going to respond. Then she spoke, her voice softer, more thoughtful. “My mother believed in her.”

Odd. Johanna had placed a strange emphasis on the word believed. Hadn’t her mother simply known about the story? Why would she believe in a ghost tale? “La Llorona is a legend,” he said.

“A legend based on a real woman who lived five hundred years ago.”

“It’s a kid’s story. Like the boogieman and the chupacabra.”

Johanna shook her head. “My mother believed la Llorona was real. Because of that, I’ve always been…curious…about the legend.”

She started when her cell phone rang. Her sudden jerk sent the tips of her fingers slipping under the vee of her sweater. His eyes followed the path as her hand settled on the swell of her breast. He swallowed, narrowing his eyes as he forced his gaze back to her face. Her phone, playing a traditional cumbia rather than a regular ring tone, continued for a full ten seconds while she stood frozen. She didn’t even look at where it sat on the desk.

He tried not to think about whatever might be going on in her personal life that warranted heated phone calls. A bad break-up, maybe? He hadn’t heard she was dating anyone, but she might be. Much as he hated to admit it to himself, he didn’t want her to have a personal life. It messed with his fantasy.

Enough. He had to get his head back in the game. Had to focus on why he was here —and that reason was not to stare at her breasts or get jealous over imaginary lovers or remind himself of the fantasies he’d had of her—fantasies featuring her naked. Her hot mouth on his. Her skin sliding sinuously under his.\

About the Author

Melissa Bourbon Ramirez

Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.

She is the Marketing Director with Entangled Publishing, is the founder of Books on the House, the co-founder of The Naked Hero, and is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur and Entangled Publishing, and A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL. She also has two romantic suspense novels, and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox, all to be released in 2012/2013.

Author Links

Blog Barrage & Giveaway for A Touch of Honor (The Honor Trilogy #1)


A Touch of Honor (The Honor Trilogy #1) by J.P. Grider


YA Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Fated Hearts Publishing
Release Date: March 13, 2013
Heat Level: Sweet
Length: 224 pages

Available at Amazon: 

A Touch of Honor (A Young Adult Paranormal Romance) (The Honor Trilogy)

Book Description

Honor hurts…all the time. The doctors say she’s fine – it’s all in her head. But Honor feels pain. What she doesn’t know is…it’s not her pain– it’s everyone else’s.

Seventeen year-old Honor Stevens is not an ordinary teenager. Sure, she looks like one on the outside…but on the inside, there’s a whole world of pain going on. Honor is an empath. That means she can feel other people’s pain – like that of the girl who is about to be raped in the woods, or the girl who is dying of cancer, or her mom…who is suffering a heart attack. What she doesn’t know is what Ethan Sutherland comes to town to tell her – she can save these people. But at what cost? For every life Honor saves, she knocks years off her own.

When Ethan comes looking for her, he isn’t counting on falling in love. Now that he has, he wishes he hadn’t told her about her abilities. Though he tries his best to talk her out of saving every soul, Ethan loses the battle – Honor’s too nice for her own good.

Then there’s the matter of Ethan’s estranged, morally corrupt half-brother, Storm – he loves Honor too. And because Honor is intrinsically empathic, she’s aware of Storm’s softer side and begins falling for him as well.

When the two brothers are forced to work together against a group of evil empaths who are after Honor, they need to put their differences aside and focus on saving the one girl they both love.

A Touch of Honor is a paranormal love story of a different kind. In a world gone mad with vampires and werewolves,A Touch of Honor tugs at the heartstrings with a girl out to heal the world…one person at a time.

About the Author


J.P. Grider, born in Paterson, New Jersey as Julianne Pellegrino, was raised in Haledon, New Jersey, the oldest of six siblings. Her love of writing started early in her childhood, when she started writing poetry in-between homework assignments. As part of a school work program as a Journalism major in High School, J.P. Grider worked as a freelance reporter for a local newspaper, writing feature stories about exceptional high-school classmates. She studied Television Production and Film Writing at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications.

Two of J.P. Grider’s novels have won awards in the Textnovel Writing Contest, with her recently published, Unplugged (A Portrait of a Rock Star) reaching Semi-finalist position. Though Unplugged is not her first novel written, it is the first to be published. Her second novel, Maybe This Life, published Summer 2012, was actually her first attempt at writing a novel. After completing the whole manuscript, Grider decided to scrap the whole thing and rewrite Maybe This Life from scratch. In Grider’s opinion, the difference between the two were night and day.

Currently, J.P. Grider is working on a Young Adult Paranormal love story and continues to work on stories in her main genre, Contemporary/Paranormal romance.

Connect with J.P. Grider
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page

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Enter the contest at each participating stop for a chance to win an eBook copy of “A Touch of Honor (The Honor Trilogy #1)” from J.P. Grider.

Contest is barrage-wide, open internationally ends Aug 15.

Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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Review & Author Interview for Obsession

Obsession Button 300 x 225 July - Aug (2)

Obsession by Sharon Buchbinder

book cover

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Page Count: 288

Word Count: 71392

ISBN : 978-1-61217-867-7

 Book Description

A year after a barbaric childbirth, complete with a near-death experience and an encounter with her guardian angel, Angie Edmonds is just happy she and her son, Jake, are alive.

She’s finally in a good place: clean, sober, and employed as a defense attorney.

But at the end of a long work day, she finds herself in a parent’s worst nightmare: Jake has been kidnapped and taken across the Mexican border by a cult leader who believes the child is the “Chosen One.”Stymied by the US and Mexican legal systems, Angie is forced to ask the head of a Mexican crime syndicate for help.

Much to her chagrin, she must work with Alejandro Torres, a dangerously attractive criminal and the drug lord’s right-hand man.

Little does she know Alejandro is an undercover federal agent, equally terrified of blowing his cover–and falling in love with her.

Watch the Book Trailer Now

Book Review

Obsession is a perfect name for this romantic suspense with a touch of the paranormal because it reflects character motivations, drives the plot, and emphasizes the overall theme of how our own obsessions have the power to stain our souls and destroy the lives of others.

There are numerous literary aspects of this book that I found enjoyable and well-executed. I chose to read this book because of its unique storyline that integrates the corruption of religious cults and drug cartels in the overall quest of one woman to rescue her kidnapped son.  Throughout the book, Buchbinder describes how a position of leadership can lead to manipulation and disregard for others.  She gives a glimpse of cult mentality that blends in nicely with the plot. She also provides a look at the overall greed and selfishness of a fictitious Mexican drug cartel’s desire for power and dominance. Here, the cult leader and drug lord both use human trafficking for their own gain. Buchbinder also provides a list of sources for her research in case readers want to learn more, which is helpful.

I love and admire Angie Edmonds, the heroine of the story. She grew up with a delusional father who leads a religious cult that gives him the freedom to abuse her and other members as well. However, when she is introduced after the prologue, we see a strong, confident, and resourceful woman who is determined to find her son, Jake . Her father has escaped prison and taken Jake because he thinks Jake is “the chosen one” with the power to heal others. I like that Angie isn’t a passive protagonist who plays the role of a victim and sits back to let others take over a rescue attempt.

Angie has experienced devastating abuse and trauma that may have broken others.  Even though she isn’t perfect and she’s made some mistakes, Angie has been emotionally strong enough to break away from the constraints and abuse forced upon her by her parents and, she has overcome her drug addiction to become a successful defense attorney.

By getting her backstory which is described over the course of the novel, I was able to understand her fears of having her son in the hands of a madman. When she sees the futile efforts of the FBI to rescue Jake who is being held in Mexico, she takes the initiative in forming a plan for rescue no matter what it takes, even working with a ruthless drug lord in her quest.

After being betrayed by parents who are supposed to love and protect her, Angie has learned to rely only on herself and she’s taken defensive steps to ensure her safety. She has been trained in martial arts and knows how use a gun when necessary. Now she is forced to put her skills to use as she becomes immersed in a world where trust and loyalty are constantly in question.  Her success depends upon whether she can learn to put her faith in others. Having Alejandro at her side and guidance from an angel give her the support she needs.

Overall, Buchbinder has created a well-rounded three dimensional character whose personality and actions are realistic. Angie doesn’t always make the best decisions and this creates more complications and reveals her strengths and vulnerabilities .  However, I did find it hard to believe she has 3 NDEs  in such a short amount of time.

Alejandro is the hero of this story, and I the author’s physical representation of him in the book trailer is exactly how I pictured him. Alejandro is working undercover for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATFE) to expose the illegal activities of drug lord Isabel Rameriz.  Yet, Alenjandro also has a personal interest in this job as well and getting revenge is one of his goals. I wish there was more development with his character so I could get the full story behind his emotional wounds.

I can see why Angie and Alejandro are drawn to each other. Both are in emotional pain and seek revenge against the ones who hurt them. Their obsessions play a major role in driving the plot.  Both characters have to come to terms with their pasts before they can have a real relationship.  Although I didn’t pick up a sizzling passion between them, their growing affection and love for each other is definitely shown.

There are several antagonists in the book who use people for their own benefit and are motivated by greed and power.  Angie’s parents Zeke and Miriam are two clear antagonists. They are two-dimensional characters without virtue who elicit no sympathy from me.  Also, I found a few instances in the book where their actions seemed exaggerated and unrealistic. Although I get an idea of why Miriam blindly follows her husband, I needed more details to help me understand Zeke’s behavior.  In contrast, several other characters’ have questionable motives, and this kept my interest in what happens next.

This story is full of action and suspense right from the start, but there are a couple of events that seem a bit too convenient and contrived to unify the story, and I was also disappointed with the easy resolution of Alejandro’s conflict in seeking revenge.  The last part of the book seems rushed, but I was glad an epilogue is included that provides resolution and lets readers know about the future direction of other significant characters. The conclusion is too abrupt for my satisfaction; I still wanted to know more about Jake’s abilities and what the future holds for him.  Yet, I’m sure others may believe the conclusion wraps up the story very well.

I obtained a copy of this book earlier this year when it was free on Amazon.



About the Author

sharon-buchbinderI’ve been writing fiction since I was in high school and have the rejection slips to prove it.

After I graduated with a BA in Psychology and no job, I realized my dreams of working in the attic writing great prose would have to take a back seat to the simple pleasures of eating, drinking, and having a roof over my head.

Fast forward a few decades, and I had a career path that would make all but the kindest say, “What were you thinking?” After working in health care delivery for years, I became a researcher, then an academic. I had it all– a terrific, supportive husband, an amazing son, and a wonderful job. But that itch to write (some call it obsession), kept beckoning me to “come on back” to writing fiction. I spent one whole month away doing nothing but writing fiction, the first of many drafts of my first novel.

My genres include horror, mystery, romance and weird blends of the three. For a sampling of my work (fiction and nonfiction), click on “Stories and Links“.

When not attempting to make students and colleagues laugh, I can be found herding cats and dogs, golfing, deep sea fishing, or writing.

Author Links

Interview with Sharon Buchbinder

I appreciate Sharon taking the time to share more about her writing experiences with us and help us get to know her better.

What made you initially want to write?

I have always been a story-teller. As a child, I got into a lot of trouble for “making things up.” Now, I get rewarded for making things up. I love being able create heroes and heroines that people can relate to–even crazy cat ladies, as I did with CATASTROPHE, my first publication with The Wild Rose Press (WRP). I’ve been writing fiction since I was in middle school and have the rejection slips to prove it. In high school, I even submitted a script to “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” on yellow-lined paper in pencil. Not surprisingly, that was rejected, too.

What was your inspiration for writing Obsession?

I’m one of these people who reads the crime blotters, like some others read the obituaries. When I saw an article on human trafficking, which was literally in my back yard, I realized modern day slavery was not just in third world countries. I became obsessed, if you will, with the topic and discovered that it wasn’t just cartels and crime bosses that were involved in human trafficking, but also so-called religious organizations and cults. Then I had a crazy idea, sort of like F. Paul Wilson’s Nazi’s versus vampires out of the box thinking when he wrote The Keep. How about drug cartels versus cults? Which is worse: someone who tells you he is in the crime business, or someone who claims his or her evil actions are in the name of God?

Which character in Obsession is your favorite?

Don’t tell my husband, but I confess. It is Alejandro Torres, the hero. Not just because he is hot (oo-la-la!), but because he is a compassionate and caring person. Working as an undercover agent, Alejandro is on a secret mission to bring down a drug cartel. What his handler doesn’t know is he’s also out to avenge the death of his nephew and the maiming of his brother, a surgeon who lost his hands because he refused to work as a cartel physician. His Achilles heel is women who have been victimized, especially those with little kids. So, when he is forced to work with Angie Edmonds, the heroine of the story, to rescue her one-year-old son from the clutches of a cult leader, he loses his heart and struggles to keep his cover under wraps.

What have been the most enjoyable and challenging experiences for you in writing this book?

The most enjoyable experience has been reader response. I have written two other full length novels and seven short stories and novellas. None have received the kind of overwhelmingly positive response that Obsession has received. Part of it is because my writing has grown stronger over the years. The other part, I think, is that readers resonate with the theme of a mother who will fight all odds to get her kid back.

The most challenging experience has been getting the setting right. I have been to Mexico one time, many years ago before all the drug violence. I spent a lot of time researching the country and the people, especially the Sierra Madre, Copper Canyon and the Tarahumarans (Rarimari) indigenous people. When you read the Acknowledgements in Obsession, you will find four pages of non-fiction resources that I drew on for this book. Fortunately, I love research, so the two years I spent researching material for the book was also enjoyable.

What scene was the most difficult to write?

There were several, but the Prologue was probably the hardest scene for me to write. In the Prologue, Angie Edmonds, the heroine, is in childbirth and her mother is the midwife. At their home. With no medical back up. And Angie is essentially nothing but the vessel to carry and deliver the infant into the hands of her father, a cult leader who believes the child is the Chosen One. I had a Near Death Experience (NDE) at the age of fifteen when I was electrocuted, so many of the emotions I felt with the NDE were revisited in writing this scene. I also had to inject a feeling of hope in desperate circumstances, otherwise who would read the book? It was a difficult scene that I rewrote about a hundred times with a lot of feedback from other NDE experiencers and from my critique partners. I was exhausted by the time I was happy with it.

Is there a specific message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

Be your own hero.

You are the heroine (or hero) of you own life. No matter what life throws at you, you must remember that you are loved, lovable, and worthy. Keep that in mind always. Angie has demons. She is a recovering alcoholic and addict, her parents are con men and cult leaders, and her baby is stolen. She perseveres. We, too, must persevere. My childhood was not a good one. I experienced significant physical, emotional, and psychological neglect and abuse. I was beaten, starved, and every day of my life my mother told me I was unwanted. Had it not been for my deaf grandmother’s unconditional love, I would have been crushed by my mother’s hatred. Instead, I drew on that well of love and “damn stubborn streak” (my mother’s words) to work hard at school, get out of my mother’s house, and create a happier life.

What authors have had a significant influence on your writing?

I’m an omnivore when it comes to books. I grew up reading Nancy Drew and everything by Heinlein and Bradbury–then I fell in love with King and Koontz. And, then Katherine Neville blew me out of the water with The Eight. I’ve read that book about eight times. Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth is one book I’d take with me on a desert island. I read John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire on a Chicago city bus, and laughed out loud so hard, the entire bus was staring at me. Oh, and how could I forget Caleb Carr and the Alienist or Angel of Darkness? And Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum books. And Nora Roberts and JD Robb and Heather Graham and Linda Howard and Nalini Singh and Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krantz…and I should stop now.

What do you like to read when you are not writing?

I do a lot of beta reads for my friends and give them feedback on manuscripts. I’m very selective about whose work I will review. I don’t do this for everyone because I would never get my own books written. I also read a lot of non-fiction for my book research. I also have three best-selling textbooks in health care management, so keeping up with the field keeps me busy. When I’m on a plane, I like to always have my e-reader and a print book in hand. The e-reader is filled with romance, mystery, paranormal, and horror stories. I can read a book in about two hours if I’m not interrupted, or if I’m not reading it for edits. If I run out of books to read on a plane, it is very frustrating.

What are your current or future writing projects?

I’m about one-third (39,000 words) of the way through a historical fantasy. Structured like Katherine Neville’s The Eight, where the reader goes back and forth between biblical and contemporary times, my work-in-progress, Kiss of the Virgin Queen, takes place in the spaces between history, religion, and the paranormal.  Kiss of the Virgin Queen explores that space and the effects of the epic romance between King Solomon and Queen Makeda that continue to ripple down the centuries to their descendant, Homeland Security Special Agent Eliana Solomon, aka the Jinni (Genie) Hunter.

Thank you for taking time to answer the questions for this interview!

Thank you for having me as a guest!

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