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Carina Guest: Carrie Lofty

Austria, 1804  
Eight years ago, composer Arie De Voss claimed his late mentor’s final symphony as his own and became an icon. But fame has a price: fear of discovery now poisons his attempts to compose a redemptive masterpiece. Until a new muse appears, intoxicating and inspiring him…  
Mathilda Heidel renounced her own musical gift to marry, seeking a quiet life to escape the shame surrounding her birth. Sudden widowhood finds her tempted by song once more. An unexpected introduction to her idol, Arie De Voss, renews Mathilda’s passion for the violin–and ignites a passion for the man himself.  
But when lust and lies reach a crescendo, Arie will be forced to choose: love or truth?


Most historical romance readers will be familiar with the term “dowry.” In the European tradition, a dowry was a wedding gift provided to the groom or the groom’s family in order to secure the material future of the bride. If her husband died before she did, a woman was able to stave off poverty. This also gave rise to the term “dowager,” which indicates that a widow has had caused the access those dowry funds. 

Whether or not her husband or his family safeguarded the dowry for such an occasion is another matter entirely. Also, whether or not the bride deserved the dowry became a consideration. Some families insisted on waiting until the morning after the wedding before accepting a woman’s dowry and all the responsibility and connections that entailed. After all, if she proved less than virginal on her wedding night… 

In Austria, where my June 7 release from Carina Press, SONG OF SEDUCTION, is set, and in other Germanic countries, this process of waiting until the next morning became a common custom. They used the term “morgengabe” was used, the literal translation of which is “morning gift.”  

In the formal sense, a morgengabe was the culmination of the marriage contract. The engagement had been solidified by the posting of the banns. The vows have been said before a duly appointed religious official. And the wife had proven a virgin on her wedding night. All set! Commence with the handing over of funds and the happily ever after. 

In a less formal sense, however, a morgengabe took on personal significance for some couples. A husband might choose to give his new bride a token of his affection and respect upon claiming her purity as his prize. Necklaces, rings and other pieces of jewelry were often used for this purpose, as were parcels of land, livestock and household items. 

Arie de Voss, the hero of SONG OF SEDUCTION, was born and raised in the Netherlands, so he had a few questions on this topic. Here he’s asking the heroine, Mathilda, about a particular necklace she wears: 

“Who gave it to you?”

“You and your questions, sir,” Mathilda said. “My husband gave it to me. It is my Morgengabe.

Arie winced. Since his crass drunkenness at the Venner ball, he had been reluctant to revisit the topic of her late spouse. “Will you make me ask the meaning of yet another word?”

“No.” A faint smile curved her lips. “You must ask someone else, because I won’t explain it.”

The woman. Her mysteries. Those infernal glimpses she provided into her genuine character. Arie hoarded them all.

“Then who shall I ask?”

Mathilda leaned close enough to make her words heard. “You seem a resourceful enough man, Herr de Voss. You’ll think of something.”

What he does once he learns the significance of the morgengabe, however, is not the most graceful thing a hero has ever done. It’s a good thing he’s so cute and talented…


Born in California, raised in the Midwest, Carrie Lofty ( met her husband in England–the best souvenir! Since earning her master’s degree in history, she’s been devoted to raising their two precocious daughters, wrangling the talented authors of Unusual Historicals (, and writing romance. You can find her on Twitter (, her Facebook fan page (, and her blog (

“Historical romance needs more risk-takers like Lofty.” ~ Wendy the Super Librarian

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Guest Blogging about Ruin

Leah Braemel was kind enough to host me today where I talk about the hero of The Bloodgate Guardian, Ruin: The Trials and Tribulations of Naming a Hero.  Coming June 14th from Carina Press!

For vacation day 2, Littlest Monster was home again.  She probably could have gone, but it was field day, aka play outside all day, and her ear was still hurting.  Plus she fell asleep in the car on the way home from taking Middle to school, so she just wasn’t feeling the best yet. 

I still managed to work on my plot and had a huge revelation — that totally changes everything I planned to do in this book.  Squee and sigh, because it’s a cool twist, but a pain, because I can’t keep as much of my subplots as I hoped.

I’m still struggling with the romance aspect too.  I’ll continue working on that today on my first “vacation” day with no monsters at home!

Tomorrow, I’m taking a beginning knitting class in the afternoon at a cool new yarn place that opened here in town.  I can’t wait!

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Carina Countdown

I’m the featured author today over on the Carina Press blog as we count down to launch!  The first post is up, which describes the premise of the book and where the original idea came from.  Later today, the first chapter will be posted to whet your appetite for June!

Fun facts about the book and me will be posted on Facebook and Twitter today as well.  For example, I ordered coffee from Atitlan, Guatemala because that’s where the bulk of the story is set.

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Friday Snippet: The Bloodgate Guardian

Since I’m not writing new material this month and June is not that far away, I decided to start teasing you with snippets of The Bloodgate Guardian, coming this June from Carina Press

You’ve been seeing bits of this story under several different names for quite some time.  The original first draft was my first NaNoWriMo project in 2007, then titled Night Sun Rising.  Over a year went by before I got around to the first round of Revision Xibalba.  I spent a lot of time expanding the book, adding subplots and tons of characters.  However, I kinda went overboard, and ended up cutting those subplots out.  Can you say too many characters? 

Now the story is leaner, tighter, and concentrates only on Jaid and Ruin (yes, he got to keep his name!!).  Ironically, exactly the story I ended up with in 2007, just revised, polished, researched, etc.  Not to worry, though — those subplots I spent so much time on will become the fertile soil for the next book.  *winks*

So, here’s part of the opening scene of The Bloodgate Guardian, Chapter One. 

He never hated his magic until it compelled him to kill.

From the broken shadows of his temple, the priest watched the encroacher attempt to work his doomed magic.  Brilliant ruby pooled in the pocked basin of the altar and overflowed, streaming across the hand-carved stone in vibrant filigree.  The blood glowed like molten rock hot from the earth’s heart, releasing magic into the night.

The once all-powerful priest shuddered, his skin crawling with the caress of power.  His nostrils flared to catch the tantalizing scent of sweet copper.  Such temptation.  He tightened his grip on the starved jaguar pacing within him.  Such power.

The city once known as the Mouth of Creation had kept his secrets for a thousand years.  Now he must kill this man to protect that forbidden knowledge.  Keeping to the shadows, the priest called out, “As Gatekeeper of Chi’Ch’ul, I command you to leave my city or die.”

The man whirled and whipped the bloody heart behind his back.  At least this one’s victim had been a goat and not human.  “Nobody else should know the name of my dig.  Who are you working for?”

The priest stepped into the moonlight, and the other man recoiled.  With the jaguar prowling the cage of his body, he knew all too well the image he made:  eyes gleaming like golden lamps, jaguar spots dotting his arms and blending with the tribal tattoos on his upper body, angular cheekbones and sharp forehead compounded by the stark topknot pulling his hair back from his face.   The man had discovered the city, unburied it stone by stone. He could not help but recognize a priest of what had once been a grand and powerful nation.  “My city has already been destroyed.  Would you destroy the world as well?”

“I have powerful, rich friends,” the man said, backing away slowly.  “Name your price.”

So be it.  Small golden lights began buzzing around the priest and his bones throbbed with magic.  “Nothing you can offer will stay my hand.  As long as I live, these sacred waters shall lie still and silent.  My curse demands your death.  The Gates must remain locked until the Return.”

Ignoring his threats, the man smiled with elation.  “We were right!  I knew it.  After all these years, I finally found the center of the world!”

The balls of light blazed brighter.  A golden swirling wave obliterated his vision.  Bones cracked and twisted.  His scream of pain rumbled bass, a jaguar’s roar piercing the night. 

Tail lashing, the jaguar crouched in a pile of torn denim.  The sharp stink of his prey’s fear burned his nose. It had been a very long time since he’d hunted. The big cat knew his purpose.  He was only called forth to kill.

The foolish man turned toward his modern equipment stationed on the nearby boulder, presenting his back to the jaguar.  “Jaid, don’t come here!  Don’t trust anybody and don’t let the codex out of your hands!  Especially don’t give it to Venus Star!” 

The jaguar growled a threat.  If this person possessed the codex, he must die too.

Whirling, the man ran up the peninsula that extended over Lake Atitlan.  He slung the goat’s heart out over the water and threw his weight off the side, angling toward the beach instead of the lake.  Effortlessly, the jaguar leaped after him.  The man gasped in pain and rolled away, narrowly escaping the slashing claws.

Wet with rain, a sudden gust of wind swept across the shore.  Clouds boiled across the sky to hide the moon and stars.  Thunder rolled through the night and the ground trembled.  Lightning split the sky, winds increasing until the trees thrashed and waves whipped the surface of the lake.

A shape formed in the darkened waters.  Thrashing, bulging outward, a hand rose from the depths.  Water broke, cascading down the sceptered arm, which was white and blotched with spots of age and disease.

The jaguar clamped his ears and tail tight to his body and terror rippled through his fur.  Oh, stupid human fool!  Why had he opened Xibalba, with no wards to lock the demons beyond?

Shuddering with horror, the man whimpered.  “Where are the golden plumes?  The jade feathers?  This isn’t Great Feathered Serpent!”

The jaguar swiped at the man’s abdomen.  Jerking away, the man screamed and fell backward into the lake.  He thrashed helplessly, then sank like a stone through the Gate as a Lord of Death crawled onto the beach with another demon right behind.

Snarling, the jaguar slammed into the first demon, trying to knock it back through the Gate.  Even weak as a newborn babe, it refused to go back to the Place of Fright.  The other Death Lord crawled out of the lake clutching a small hunk of flesh.  Cradling the now-cold heart to its mouth, the demon feasted, while the other sniffed the air.  His gaze turned unerringly to the goat carcass above.

Every drop of blood would give them power.  Power that could destroy the world. 


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The Bloodgate Codex Blurb

I’m sure this will change many times before everything’s finalized, but this will give you an idea of what Ruin and Jaid’s book is about.  I might have to have a contest to get help in coming up with a world/series title!

Called “Ruin” because he destroyed his entire civilization, the Gatekeeper is sworn to kill anyone who tampers with the Bloodgates, which are portals to the mystical realms of the Maya gods.  After countless centuries, he believes his curse will end with the current calendar cycle — until humans discover the ruins of his city on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, and unbury the last copy of a codex detailing his magic. 
When Dr. Jaid Merritt’s partial translation of the codex accidentally sends her father to Xibalba through one of these Bloodgates and releases demons from the Maya hell, the “Un-Indiana Jones” is forced to face her fears and travel to Guatemala on her first dig in twenty years. 
To save her father, Jaid must survive the Gatekeeper’s wrath and help Ruin reclaim — and relock — the Bloodgates before the bowels of Xibalba empty into our world.

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Adrian Paul, Clive Owen, and Dwayne Johnson were in my office. 

Okay, okay, it was actually Gregar, Conn, and Ruin.  Gregar and Conn were shooting the bull so loudly that I could barely read my e-mail.  Gregar had challenged Conn to an arse competition–something I would pay a great deal of money to see, actually–but Ruin moped in the chair beside me.
He arched that infamous Rock brow at me.  “So?”
“I don’t think they like your name.”
He blew out his breath in a miserable huff and slumped even further in his chair.  “I told you Ruin was a stupid name.”
I rolled my eyes.  Yeah, sure he did (remember?).  “Your real name isn’t much better.”
He jerked upright and glared at me.  “What’s wrong with Dwayne?”
“Nothing.”  I smiled innocently.  “Your real name is Xbalanque.”

“Bless you,” Gregar called out. 

Ruin flipped him the bird. “What else did they say?”

“That I killed you one too many times.”

He groaned like I was murdering him with my bare hands. “You didn’t give me a happy ending?”

Gregar smirked. “She does enjoy killing us off.”

“Some of you can’t die,” I retorted. “No matter how many times I kill you.”

“A Death Rider never stops, never quits, until his mark is dead.”

“Shut up, bub.”  Ruin growled, flexing his bare chest to draw my attention to the tats marking his arms and throat like the dark spots of a jaguar.  “This isn’t about you.”

Laughing, Gregar bent over and slapped his thighs as though the other man had made a great joke. “It’s always about me.”

Hope may vanish, but can die not;” Conn quoted his favorite poet.  “Truth be veiled, but still it burneth; Love repulsed, – but it returneth.

Ruin leaned forward, gathering himself like a great cat preparing to pounce.  “What the Xibalba does that mean?”

“Win some, lose some,” Conn drawled.

Gregar jerked his hips so the memsha fluttered dangerously high.  “Challenge me, lose them all.”

Shadows thickened about Ruin.  Snarling, he crouched.  His eyes glowed like lamps in the darkest jungle night.  “You do know that I can crack open your chest and remove your heart while it’s still beating, right?”
“Bring your blood, bub,” Gregar purred, unsheathing his ivory rahke.
Of course, this was all just fun and games for warriors like him and Ruin, but I decided to put an end to the dramatics.  My coffee was getting cold, and Conn couldn’t wait to get back to grading his stack of Freshman essays on dead dudes who write crappy poetry.
[Conn glared at me as though he could read my mind.]
“Enough, already.  There will be no exploding chests or blood sacrifices, at least not today.  You have your happy ending–I already fixed it–although we may still have to change your name.  Let’s wait and see what the editor says when we get the first round of edits.”
The taunts and growls suddenly ceased and three pairs of eyes drilled into me. 
Ruin straightened, all thoughts of blood magic forgotten.  “What did you say?”
I smiled.  “I got the call from Angela James.  Your paranormal Romance is going to Carina Press!”