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contemporary romance

Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Deadly Strain, by Julie Rowe

It’s a Carina Press doubleheader today on Boosting the Signal! My second feature is Julie Rowe’s Deadly Strain–also technically contemporary romance, but also medical-flavored, military-flavored romantic suspense. This is Book 1 of her Biological Response Team series, and in this one, her characters are fighting a scary new strain of anthrax. To wit: yikes. And while her character piece is short, it’s very much to the point, giving a piercing look at the villain of her novel.


Deadly Strain

Deadly Strain

This interview response is from the villain of Deadly Strain. One question was asked: Who are you?

I was a good man once. I was married with children, two boys and a girl. She was just learning to walk the last time I saw her, my sons holding her hands and keeping her safe. I have a master’s degree in chemistry and worked for the Afghan government in a number of capacities. One of those was as liaison to the American military. That role wasn’t public knowledge; almost everyone thought I was nothing more than the deputy environment minister. All that changed the night my family was murdered by the very military I was helping.

“Collateral damage,” they said. “Civilian casualties are always tragic, and we’re very sorry, but what’s done is done.”

How dare they sweep the deaths of innocents aside as if they meant nothing? My family was everything to me, everything. The United States military took them away, so it’s only fair to do the same to them. Only when my dead are avenged will I follow them into death. Only when the whole world understands my pain will I put down my weapons, but by that time it will be too late. Death shall have come to the earth.


Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and northern Alberta, where she still resides. She loves to include medical details in her romance novels, but admits she’ll never be able to write about all her medical experiences because, “No one would believe them!”. Julie writes contemporary and historical medical romance, fun romantic suspense and military romance. She has short stories published in 7 anthologies. Her book SAVING THE RIFLEMAN (book #1 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. AIDING THE ENEMY (book #3 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the 2014 Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: In the Distance, by Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels

Y’all know I’m not normally a contemporary romance person, but there are times I’ll make exceptions here on Boosting the Signal and feature one anyway. Like when it’s written by Carina Press people. Or if it’s queer content, either M/M OR F/F. Or both! So today my first feature is In the Distance, by Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels, book 2 of their In the Kitchen series. If queer boys and cooking are relevant to your interests, check it out! Eileen and Nikka would like to introduce you to their character Trevor–whose goal is trying to get a certain gorgeous fellow out of his head. Since this is a contemporary romance, y’all know exactly how well that’s going to go, I’m sure.


In the Distance

In the Distance

Thanks for having us on Boosting the Signal, Angela! Trevor Pratt is a character our readers met in Book Two of our In The Kitchen Series, In The Fire. His nickname, Trustfund, is a pretty accurate description of how Trevor lives his life: “If it feels good and I can afford it, I’m all over it.” The problem is that Ethan and Jamie don’t want someone like Trevor around their sous chef and “little brother from another mother”, Tyler, forcing Trevor to man up and make some hard decisions that don’t, for once, affect only him.


The Trouble With Trevor Pratt

Here’s the deal: I don’t do relationships. I tried once it once, and to say it ended badly is an understatement. I almost lost my best friend, and since I don’t have too many of those, losing Jamie’s friendship would have been catastrophic. Luckily, we worked it out and he’s still a part of my life. Unfortunately, his husband is part of the package deal that now encompasses that friendship, and it’s a true testament to Jamie’s and my friendship that I haven’t killed Ethan. Yet.

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that living the single life wasn’t ideal after things went to hell last year, but I was fine. There were times I was lonely and the thought of coming back to my empty condo, again, to spend the evening by myself instead of hitting the clubs, again, almost had me questioning my decision to remain single, but I was fine.

It’s not like I couldn’t find company when I wanted it. After JamieGate, I was happy to throw myself into the single scene, reveling in the warmth of the hot, sweaty body du jour pressed against me in between the sheets after a long day at work. But the thought of getting caught in anything even vaguely resembling an exclusive relationship was still so far off my agenda, it wasn’t even on the docket. Until last month. Until I took Tyler out for a quick bite to eat.

Let’s be honest, Tyler’s about as far from my usual type as you could get. My friends joke that my type is anything that breathes, has a nice package (both front and back), and has no problem doing the walk of shame the next morning. The truth is, that was pretty much my perfect guy until I made my way over to the West Coast last month to visit Jamie. You see, Tyler’s the type of guy you want more than one night with. In fact, Tyler’s the type of guy that makes you want things you were always too afraid to admit you wanted. Because the moment you admitted how much you craved waking up to the same person every morning and lying down next to them in bed every night, that’s the moment the shit hits the fan and they walk out of your life forever, leaving you with a huge gaping hole in the middle of what once resembled your heart.

And yet, even though I don’t do relationships and Tyler is so far off the menu of guys du jour it’s not even funny, I can’t seem to stop thinking about him. The slight smirk that crosses his face when he throws a zinger at me I wasn’t expecting. The shy exterior that only makes me want to peel back the layers to discover what he’s hiding from the rest of the world. And those eyes that still reflect the ghosts of living on the streets after his parents kicked him out, eyes that are a cross between light brown and hazel with tiny flecks of green and gold that makes it damn near impossible for me to look away from him.

Before I left, Jamie made me promise to stay away from Tyler. “He’s a good kid,” he said. “While you’re the love ’em and leave ’em type,” he added. Ouch. He wasn’t wrong, but it still stung like hell to hear my best friend say it. I promised him Tyler was safe from me. I’d keep my hands to myself and we could all go on living the perfect little lives we have. It shouldn’t be hard to keep my promise, right? He’s there and I’m here. He’s just starting out and deserves someone who thinks he’s their one and only, while I’m already jaded and the word commitment isn’t even in my vocabulary.

There’s only one catch. I haven’t been able to get those gorgeous hazel eyes or that soft, shy smirk out of my head since I got back home to New York. And I’m afraid the more time I spend on the West Coast, the harder it will be to keep my promise to Jamie.

But some promises were made to be broken. Right?

© Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Going Against Type, by Sharon Black

I don’t often get queries for Boosting the Signal from authors I don’t already know–but this one came to me from Sharon Black, who approached me asking for help promoting her debut romantic comedy. “But Anna,” I hear you cry, “you don’t read contemporary romance!” That’s true, usually. But I’ll cheerfully say that a) she did catch my interest talking about how this one’s set at a newspaper, and I do have a personal history involving newspaper employment, b) Ireland is always a win, and c) her cover’s rather adorable. So let me turn this over to Sharon’s protagonist Charlie, who’d like to have a word with you all! Because she’s definitely a girl with some goals.


Going Against Type

Going Against Type


Dear reader,

My name is Charlotte. My friends and colleagues at the paper usually call me Charlie, so you can too. I’m a 29 year old Dublin girl. Most importantly, I’m a sports reporter for a national Irish newspaper, Ireland Today.

Which isn’t easy. I mean, the work is fine. Better than fine. It’s great. I adore sports. Even wanted to be a professional soccer player, until I injured myself. And I’m not afraid to go after the big stories. I’m surrounded by men—they do dominate sports reporting. So I have to prove myself.

And a few weeks ago, it paid off! The editor gave me a shot at writing the new sports column, Side Swipe. It’ll be written anonymously—which is fine by me. For the moment.

I can almost feel the other reporters looking over my shoulder. Don’t get me wrong, most of them are great. Recently, some of us even spent a weekend in the West of Ireland, surfing in the Atlantic. Loved it!

But any reporter worth his salt would do pretty much anything to get his own column.

What’s a girl to do? Well, I’ll tell you what this one’s going to do. Write the best damned column I can. Week after week. Which is why it has to be spiky and sharp and controversial. No holds barred. What I have I got to lose?

Only the column! Because if I’m not careful, I’ll lose it to somebody who thinks they’ve earned it, just because they’ve been here the longest.

And when I’ve put my stamp on it, they’ll have to give me a by-line, right? Because by then, they won’t want to let me go.

Which would be straightforward enough, if a rival columnist hadn’t declared war! No sooner had my first column appeared, than The Squire let loose on me. The Squire is the gossip columnist at The Irish People. I don’t know who he is, of course, because his scathing column is anonymously written. But I loathe him.

A couple of years ago, he went to town on a friend of mine, when her marriage was in trouble. Her celebrity husband had been having an affair, and that despicable man at The Irish People ran the sordid details for weeks in The Squire.

Anyway, he had the nerve to attack me! I had merely pointed out the stupidity of professional footballers, getting involved with big brand sponsorship. Fashion, in particular. I mean, I’m a huge sports fan. I’m just getting a bit tired of seeing my football heroes modelling briefs. Not to put too fine a point on it, I only want to see balls going into the back of the net!

But back to The Squire. Whoever he is, he’s picked the wrong girl for a fight. Because, as I said before, this girl isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.

Thing is, the whole thing has escalated, and it’s turned into this weekly war of words. It seems everyone is following us. Broadcast media, social media, you name it. Which is a lot of pressure!

Of course, I’m absolutely determined to win. There is no way I’m going to let this arrogant slime, whoever he is, get the better of me.

The other exciting thing that’s happened, is that I’ve met somebody. He is seriously hot! Derry Cullinane. Tall (the guy must be a foot taller than me), dark and dapper. He’s actually a fashion writer for The Irish People. Which is a bit weird, I must admit. But this man is not only comfortable in his own skin, I think he actually enjoys being surrounded by women. Although maybe it’s not that shocking. He’s definitely a bit of a player.

Funny thing about our first meeting. I was covering Ladies Day at The Galway Races, and this guy steps back on my foot. He apologised, but he had the cheek to suggest that I might have been standing too close to him! Anyway, when I bumped into him again later that day, he told me he’d read Side Swipe‘s racing tips and had lost €1000!

He asked me straight out who wrote Side Swipe, by the way. I told him I hadn’t a clue. Pretended I was just there to write about the fashion. There was no way I was owning up to getting that one wrong!

I nearly blew it though. We met a few weeks later, through mutual friends. When he told me he worked for The Irish People, I started ranting about how much I hated The Squire. You’ve never seen anyone change a topic of conversation so fast. It’s a wonder he asked me out at all.

I don’t really understand why he did. You have no idea, we are complete opposites. I just don’t think I’m his type at all.

But right now, I deserve a bit of fun in my life.

And after my last boyfriend, I have no intention of getting hurt again.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Special Interests, by Emma Barry

Today’s Boosting the Signal entry is from another fellow Carina Press author, Emma Barry, author of the contemporary romance Special Interests. As you might guess from the title, this one’s got a romance blooming in one of the most cutthroat places imaginable—Washington, D.C.! Emma’s heroine Amelia Frank has to juggle the stress of a hostage situation and attracting the interest of Parker Bennett, who works for the Senate Majority Leader. Who’s deeply troubled that Amelia’s idealism is putting a dent in his jaded cynicism, as her piece highlights! Countdown to Amelia melting his cold heart in 3… 2…


Special Interests

Special Interests

(The following was retrieved from a trashcan. It was presumably unsent.)


TO: Amelia Frank, Construction Workers of America
FROM: Parker Beckett, Office of the Senate Majority Leader
SUBJECT: Budget Negotiation

In light of the meeting conducted a few minutes ago between CWA members and the Majority Leader’s staff, it is clear distrust and misinformation linger. We will not be throwing labor under the bus in any—still hypothetical—deal with the House. But the negotiation is taking place within a certain framework and political realities must be acknowledged.

And really, Ms. Frank, I think more than a little bit of this is personal. I want to apologize, officially, for rejecting your advances at Tom Tom last week. I am sorry. Further, I didn’t know you were going to be in the meeting today. I wouldn’t have risked poisoning the negotiation with personal feelings.

To be clear, it’s not that I’m not attracted to you. I’ve spent more than a little bit of time thinking about you since we met. But all the reasons that caused you to yell at me in front of the Legislative Director and Chief of Staff today are precisely why I wouldn’t go home with you. I’m a cynic. I don’t have any principles or ideals. I would sell out my grandmother to get a deal done.

Okay, probably not. I’m very fond of my grandmother.

But I’d sell out lots of other people’s grandmothers. I do it every day.

I’m not certain how this town hasn’t rotted you yet, Millie, but I won’t be responsible for doing it. It would be a crime to take the spark out of your smile, to put doubt in your soul, to dim the openness in your eyes—and I just won’t.

(See? I told you I’d been thinking about you. You even have me writing asides in memos. Gah.)

In closing, the Majority Leader’s Office wants to reaffirm its commitment to the working people of the United States and to our shared values. Those principles will guide the continuing negotiations.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Much Ado in Montana, by M.M. Justus

M.M. Justus is a fellow indie writer in the Pacific Northwest, who has a line of time-travel related romances she’s been deploying for sale. Much Ado in Montana, however, is her first contemporary!


Much Ado in Montana

Much Ado in Montana

Hello, folks. I’m Dr. Swanson, or, as most folks here in Campbell, Montana, call me, Dr. Samuel. I’ve been the doctor here for donkey’s years–since, well, for longer than most people can remember. Campbell’s not a big place, or a fancy one, and we’re pretty much out in the back of beyond. As the young people are fond of complaining, we’re a two-hour drive from the nearest mall. But we’re smack in the middle of God’s country, surrounded by wilderness, with the snowcapped Cabinet Mountains watching over us, and there’s no better place to be.

Kalispell’s where that mall is, not that anyone with any sense cares. It’s where the nearest hospital is, too. So when it comes to medical care, I’m the only horse in town.

Like I said, I love it here. My wife grew up here, and my son, and I wouldn’t go anywhere else. People here in Campbell are the salt of the earth, and I’ve loved doctoring ’em for, well, donkey’s years.

My son Timothy, on the other hand…

He went off to Seattle to the University of Washington to go to medical school, just like his old man, and graduated with honors. I couldn’t be more proud of him. I couldn’t wait for him to come back home and work with me, and take over my practice someday.

But as soon as he saw the bright lights of Seattle, he told me he didn’t want to come back. He’s young, and smart, and he can work anywhere he wants to. He needed some time to get the wanderlust out of his system.

But the thing is, I’m getting old. And no one who hasn’t grown up here is going to stick. We found that one out the hard way. And I’m pretty sure–no, I’m not going to pussyfoot around it–I know there’s something wrong. I can’t remember like I used to. Things happen and I can’t figure out how. Sometimes I’m not even sure how I got somewhere. My lovely Avis is worried about me, too, and I can’t do that to her.

But I can’t leave the good people of Campbell without a doctor, either.

Tim’s coming home for my seventy-fifth birthday party in a few weeks. I can’t wait to see him, and I’m not the only one. His buddy Jack, who teaches science at the high school and spends his summers out in eastern Montana digging dinosaur bones, has been telling everyone how much he’s looking forward to seeing Tim again, too. So have most of the girls in town, from what I understand, except for little Becky Thorstein, but then she’s sweet on Jack. Well, Tim is a handsome young man. Takes after his father that way, he does.

What was I saying? Yes? Oh, yes. The girls and Tim. I know one girl in particular who’s got to be looking forward to seeing him again–our pretty young town librarian, Tara Hillerman.

They’ve been sweet on each other all their lives, but something happened while they were both away at college. No one would ever tell me what. I suppose they thought it wasn’t any of my business, but whatever it was it must have caused a world of hurt.

Well, it’s time for them to kiss and make up. It’s time for Timothy to settle down. There’s nowhere else he should be doing it. And, I bet, no one but Tara he’d want to do it with.

What was I saying? Oh. Well, he does want to come home, you know. He just doesn’t know it yet.


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