MTM — Straight-up Sexy

    Happy Monday!

    Today we celebrate men who are just straight-up sexy. I didn’t choose them for abs or pecs or biceps or glutes or anything but sexiness. What is sexiness? It’s that quality of maleness that makes your belly flutter.

    Now, to be honest, I should include a photo of Jed Hill here, but I was afraid maybe you’re tired of him. So I went for other images. But he is No. 1 when it comes to belly-flutter here at MTM HQ.

    The struck me as very sensual — chiaroscuro, nice definition, and, as the French say, “a certain ‘I don’t know what.’” Okay, I do know what it is. It’s his sexy body, okay? And those nicely filled briefs. It gets the ovaries and the imagination going.

    I have no idea what this gentleman is doing, but I want to join in, maybe help him out a bit. He can lie back and think of England while I... Well, I’ll keep the details to myself. Feel free to imagine your own scenarios.

    When I saw this, I didn’t know whether to moan or laugh out loud. The visual metaphor is interesting. I suppose you could take it in a variety of ways. There’s the “erection” metaphor. Certainly, one could read “ejaculation” into this image. Then again, he’s hot and naked, and water is gushing forth from the wet hole at the core of that vessel.

    Um... So, lots of levels of interpretation here. But here’s my most pressing thought about the above photo: Someone needs to turn the water off!

    This is Eduardo Verastegui, who’s name is synonymous with “straight-up sexy.” The sensuality of this photo is undeniable. Yes, there’s his face with its dark brows, full lips and slightly brooding expression. And there’s his smooth, dark skin, the muscular curve of his shoulder. But, hey, there’s also just a bit of his fine ass.

    MTM will conclude this week’s celebration of male sexiness with a photo I meant to include last week but somehow forgot. This is Alex O’Laughlin. Many of us fell in love with him when he was on Moonlight. Now, he plays a ripped Navy SEAL on Hawaii Five-O. His female fans are legion. He’s one Aussie who makes me want to go down. Down Under, of course. Get your minds out of the gutter!

    So how is everyone progressing with the I-Team “Get Out of My TBR, Get Into My Bed” Challenge?

    We’re getting snow and sub–zero temps in Boulder today. Tomorrow it will be -19F/-28 C. Brrr!

    Stay warm and have a great week!

Selection 2011 - Amaury Nolasco

    Classement 2010 - 93° / Classement 2009 - 79°

Vote for NAKED EDGE in AAR's annual reader poll

    It’s that time of year again — the time of year when All About Romance hosts it’s annual readers poll, asking readers to sound off on the prior year’s best books.

    Participating is easy. Just follow click here to view the ballot, and have fun voting for your favorites. If one of them just happens to be Naked Edge, I would be most grateful. I don’t think they have a “Most Surprise-iest Ending” or “Best Use of Limbs” category, but I know of at least one person who voted for it as the best tear-jerker of 2010.

    The poll usually has a couple of phases — one in which books are nominated and then the second round when those with the most votes are put up as finalists for readers to choose from. So stay tuned, and I’ll do my best to keep you up to date.

    Thank you!

    This weekend I’m up to my eyeballs in Zach. I have until Monday to get the typeset pages proofread and back to New York. Oh, I wish this book were coming out tomorrow! But it isn’t and it won’t — until I get the work done.

    I’ll see you all again when I’m done. In the meantime, head over to All About Romance.

    And have a great weekend!

Selection 2011 - Jeff Tomsik

    No classement 2010 / Classement 2009 - 96°

Thank you for making motherhood safer! (updated)

    A happy mother and her newborn

    A few weeks back during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I invited you to join me in raising money for my favorite nonprofit, International Midwife Assistance. (The website is IMA, founded and operated by a friend of mine, midwife Jennifer Braun, went into Afghanistan and started a midwifery school in Bamiyan, where there were no midwives and where women died in childbirth every day. (To read my original post, which contains more information, click here.)

    After helping to train many young women as midwives and after saving many lives and delivering hundreds of babies, the volunteer midwives of IMA had to leave Bamiyan, famous for the statues of the Buddha that were blown to smithereens by the Taliban.

    They found new purpose in Uganda, where disease, poverty and decades of violence leave too many women to give birth on the mud floors of their huts with only their friends and mothers to help them. The maternal and infant death rate is staggering there.

    I don’t know about you, but I found childbirth to be the worst pain I’ve ever felt. I cannot imagine being in labor for three or four days until I died. Or giving birth repeatedly to babies that die from preventable infections, such as tetanus, within weeks of being born.

    IMA began to provide supplies and midwives to a clinic they helped get up and running and which is named the Teso Safe Motherhood Clinic. Women from three nearby IDP (internally displaced persons) camps come to the clinic for lifesaving health care. Not only do they receive prenatal and birthing care there, but they also get anti-malarial drugs, antibiotics for infections, screening for HIV and vaccinations for themselves and their children. Clinic staff also hand out a miraculous lifesaving device known as a “mosquito net.” In other words, they try to do all they medically can to help these women and children, many of whom are victims of rape and other violence.

    In addition, they go out to areas with no medical care, places where an ear infection or strep throat or a broken bone might mean death, and they offer care there, too, not only to women and children, but to anyone who needs it.

    A pregnant mother stands in the prenatal care area of the clinic

    The work that Jennifer and the other IMA staff and volunteers do in Uganda amazes me. Imagine getting an idea one day that saves hundreds of lives. That’s what they’ve done.

    Well, some of you took me up on my idea for fundraising, each of you offering a modest sum that, when put together, adds up to a solid donation. You didn’t have to do this, but you did, and I am so very grateful.

    My deepest thanks and heartfelt appreciation go to:

    Hope Frost, Kris Gilson, Alyson Hackett, Kara Conrad, author Christy Reece, Jackie Prince, Crystal Scott, Mary G, Anne Woodall, and last but not least Ronlyn Howe!

    Jennifer standing with local dignitaries outside the clinic

    These wonderful women put together a donation of $115 that will go toward helping to save the lives of pregnant women and their babies. I am giving the check, which arrived in today’s mail with a very sweet card, to Jennifer this week, along with the $100 I promised to donate personally.

    I called Jennifer to let her know, and she was thrilled. She sends her thanks. She has worked in conditions where there weren’t even sterile gloves and babies had to be caught with gloves that were washed in a sink and hung to dry. She told me that even modest amounts of money go far in these parts of the world. After all, in Uganda $115/US is equal to about $250,000 schillings.

    Each of us has the chance to change the lives of others, even people we don’t know. And you nine special women have done just that. You’ll each be getting an advance copy of Breaking Point. So e-mail me your addresses (or send them to Ronlyn to forward to me), and I’ll get your books in the mail when I get them in April. Or I can send you e-ARCs if you prefer that — and you can have that right now, tonight, instantaneously.

    Thanks again!

    Yes, together romance authors and readers can change the world. Take that, you anti-romance novel snobs!

    Update: Somehow, I left poor Anne Woodall out of the original post. Anne, I’m so sorry! Thanks so much for your contribution. It will make a difference to some young mother in Uganda. I really deeply appreciate it.

Selection 2011 - Aden Jaric

MTM — Sexy Celebs edition

    Happy Monday!

    Get out a napkin, because it’s time to drool.

    This week, MTM pauses for a moment to appreciate the amazing beauty of the men in some of our favorite TV shows. I don’t get television reception in my home, and I don’t have cable. But I do occasionally watch DVDs. And, as you can guess, True Blood, Spartacus, and Hawaii Five-O are among my fave programs.

    Look above for one reason that True Blood is a favorite of mine. Joe Mangi.... OK, so I can’t spell his name, but I know him when I see him. He brought a certain animal magnetism to last season that a lot of women found irresistible. And no wonder! Take a look at those abs and obliques!'

    And then there’s Ryan Quanten, who plays everyone’s favorite dumb blond male — a himbo — while looking good enough to eat. Does anyone actually know what he looks like with his clothes on? That first season was smokin’ hot and made me wonder what they feed men down in Australia. Talk about a hard body. Of course, he’s a fantastic actor. No one could deliver lines, “Santa Claus — is he real?” and make them believable unless he were a very good actor.

    Yes, Ryan, we at MTM appreciate your bod, your brawn and your brain.

    New to my list of adored male celebrities is Andy Whitfield who played Spartacus during the first season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. As someone who studied ancient Rome in graduate school, I took an intellectual interest in the Starz’s portrayal of my favorite fallen civilization. Ha! Actually, I watched it because my sister told me that there were sexy, barely clad men. And she was right.

    Andy is not only amazing to watch in his action sequences, he’s also graceful, sexy and has one of the most piercing gazes in the history of piercing gazes. Those eyes of his are very expressive, giving his character a pathos that makes you forget for just a second that he’s mostly naked.

    Sadly, he had to leave the show for health reasons — he is battling lymphoma — and we wish him a full recovery. (I was so sad when I learned this that it almost took the joy out of watching the series.)

    And then there’s Johnny Depp. He’s not really ripped, and he smokes. (Blech!) But he’s Johnny freaking Depp, you know? He’s damned sexy, not to mention incredibly talented.

    This wouldn’t be complete without a glimpse of Brad Pitt in his gory Troy glory. When I saw that film, I realized I had made a terrible career mistake. Someone had the job of smearing oil, fake dirt and fake blood all over his body, and it wasn’t me. Can you imagine being the Cast Oiler for a film like this? Are there classes for this in college?

    On the video I have of Dieux du Stade (an annual semi-nude calendar shoot of European rugby stars) there’s a woman who combs the men’s pubic hair and trims them up a bit for the photo shoot. HOW DID SHE GET THAT JOB?

    Questions like these keep me awake long into the night.

    And here’s another glance at Andy Whitfield with that charming smile of his. Get well soon, Andy! You’ve got an incredibly career ahead of you.

    Thanks for joining us this week, and don't forget to sign up for the “Get out of my TBR, Get into My Bed” I-Team Reading Challenge. Read the post below for details and for an excerpt from Breaking Point. Only 99 days till you get a taste of Zach...

    Have a lovely Monday!

I-Team Reading Challenge

    Another busy week.

    On Monday, I wrote a column in support of home birth and renewing the statute that enables lay midwives to practice legally in Colorado. I feel very passionate about this subject, and so I wrote too much. Go me! Fortunately, I’m the editor, so my long column magically fit, while letters to the editor was somewhat short this week. Hmmm...

    On Tuesday, Benjy went back to New York for his first semester as a senior. I took Tuesday off and stayed home with him, then drove him to the airport and cried all the way home. But I’m getting used to his being gone again. He gave me the great news that he’s going to be inducted into the National Honor Society.

    We had a snowstorm on Wednesday that caused an inordinate amount of traffic snarls. It took some people three and four hours to get home from the paper because traffic came to a standstill. I think we’ve had such a dry winter here at the base of the foothills that everyone has forgotten how to drive in snow. It took me two hours to get home from the office, and I rarely reached a speed higher than 10 mph — but we only got three inches of white stuff. Three inches! From the way people were driving you’d have thought there was four times that.

    As one of my coworkers put it the next morning, “A clown on a unicycle could have passed me last night.”

    Clearly, what we need is a major blizzard that dumps three feet in two hours. Then people will get some real practice driving in snow and stop being afraid when they see a few flakes on the roads.

    Okay. Got that off my chest.

    So I heard something from my editor’s assistant yesterday that might interest you... They have 10 bound galleys of Breaking Point that they’re sending my way. And that can mean only one thing.


    Not only do I plan to give away lots of copies just for fun. I plan to do it in some fun ways.

    First, there will be some straight giveaways. Those are easy. You post, and your name goes in the pot for a randomized drawing.

    But there will also be some true contests including I-Team Trivia and the “Get Out of My TBR, Get Into My Bed” I-Team Reading Challenge.

    Today marks the launch of the “Get Out of My TBR, Get Into My Bed” I-Team Reading Challenge.

    This contest has two tiers.

    Tier One is for I-Team virgins: If you’ve never read the I-Team or you’ve got Reece, Julian, Marc, and Gabe sitting somewhere in your dusty TBR pile and need to dig them out, this is your chance to catch up — and be rewarded with a free, signed copy of Breaking Point, Zach’s book. Hey, you know you need to lose your virginity at some point, right? Who better to lose it to than Reece, Julian, Marc and Gabe? Egads, just thinking about it that way made my heart skip a beat...

    Tier Two is for I-Team veterans: You’ve read the books and fallen in love with the heroes. Maybe you’ve got a favorite hero. Maybe you helped cast the I-Team books or participated in our last round of I-Team Trivia (which was tons of fun, by the way). This is your chance to re-read the series and win your own signed ARC (advance review copy) of Breaking Point.

    Here’s how you participate:

    1. Sign up for the challenge by posting here and tell us which tier you’re in — virgins or vets.
    2. Read or re-read the series (in order: Extreme Exposure, Hard Evidence, Unlawful Contact, Naked Edge).
    3. Keep me posted on your progress. When you’re done, your name goes into the pot for a signed copy of Breaking Point.
    4. Drawings for both the virgins and the vets will be held on April 15, giving you lots of time to read the book before the Spoiler Chat event, where readers and I get together in a chat room to discuss the book in detail.

    Those who participate in the challenge are more likely to win at I-Team Trivia, too, so you’ll have an advantage over everyone else. Plus, you’ll have all things I-Team fresh in your mind when it comes time to read Natalie and Zach’s story. Think of it as foreplay...

    Sign up below! And spread the word.

    To help whet your appetite, here’s another excerpt:

    From Breaking Point:

    “This isn’t working!”

    Zach raised his head and glanced up to where Natalie was bent over a mesquite branch, trying to rub out the car’s left tire tracks, her hair tied back, the AK she’d insisted on carrying slung over her shoulder like an ugly purse. “Put more muscle into it.”

    “Easy… for you… to say.”

    It was hard work, and he supposed having two X chromosomes made it tougher. Then again, none of this had been easy for her.

    You’ve been hard on her, too, MacBride.

    Yeah, he had been.

    He’d done well enough when he’d been in chains and needed her help, but for the past few hours all he’d done was issue orders. But she wasn’t a SEAL. She wasn’t a deputy U.S. marshal, either. And she sure as hell wasn’t an enemy combatant or a fugitive. She was an innocent civilian, a young woman who’d suffered more than her share of tragedy, who’d witnessed a massacre, who’d been kidnapped and assaulted, who’d been forced to kill. She deserved his respect—and some damned human kindness, if he could manage it.

    Yet, his first priority was getting her safely home again. And that meant staying focused on the objectives, which, at the moment, were evasion and escape.

    Driving the Tsuru down into the arroyo had been a bitch. Zach had made Natalie get out of the car just to be safe, and for a few seconds he’d thought he was going to roll the damned thing or get stuck in the sandy, dry bottom. But the vehicle was now concealed beneath a concrete bridge, hidden from anyone who might drive by or fly overhead. Once its tire tracks were wiped out, it would take an expert in cutting sign to know they were there.

    Or that was the theory, anyway.

    He walked slowly backward, swishing the branch across the sandy soil as he went, careful not to fall down the steep bank as the ground became softer and less stable. He was about to warn Natalie to watch her step, when he heard her gasp. He looked up in time to see her tumbling toward him.

    He reached out, stopped her fall. “You okay?”

    She sat up, nodding. “I’m a little dizzy, but I’m fine.”

    He took one look at her face and knew that wasn’t true. She was flushed, but she wasn’t sweating. “You’re dehydrated.”

    She looked puzzled. “I’m not thirsty.”

    Not good.

    He’d seen men die from the heat in Afghanistan as medics struggle in vain to save their lives. He knew that dizziness and lack of thirst were not good signs.

    “Let’s get you into the shade.” He drew her to her feet, slid an arm around her waist, and guided her over to the car and into the passenger seat, taking the AK from her. He propped the rifle against the car, then reached into the back seat for a bottle of water, ripped off the cap and pressed it into her hands. Too bad there were no powdered electrolytes to go with it. “Drink. A few gulps, then regular sips.”

    While she drank, he touched his palm to her forehead, relieved to feel that her skin was neither clammy nor feverishly hot. She was definitely dehydrated and on her way to overheating, but she didn’t have heat stroke. Not yet.

    You pushed her too hard, you dumbshit.

    She looked up at him. “Were you a paramedic in your past life or something?”

    “No.” He dug through the crap in the back seat for the first aid kit, then pulled out a cotton wash cloth. “But I do know a few things about first aid.”

    “That’s a good skill for someone in your, um… line of work.”

    “You got that right.” He would’ve loved to hear what line of work she thought he was in, but this wasn’t the time. “Quit talking, and keep drinking.”

    You’re giving orders again.

    He grabbed another bottle of water and dropped to his knees beside her, pouring out enough water to thoroughly wet the washcloth, then pressing it against her forehead and cheeks, hoping to bring down her core temp.

    She sighed, her eyes drifting shut. “Oh, that feels good.”

    A bolt of heat shot through his belly straight to his groin.

    His mind knew her response hadn’t been sexual, nothing seductive intended, but his body apparently didn’t. He drew his hand back, knowing he was in trouble. But then she turned her head, exposing the side of her throat, and he couldn’t resist.

    He pressed the cool cloth against that sensitive area, watched goose bumps appear on her soft skin. She sighed again, the sweet sound making his own temperature rise. Slowly, she tilted her head back to allow his hand to pass beneath her chin, then turned her face toward him, her eyes still closed, her mouth relaxed.

    By the time she opened her eyes, his lips were almost touching hers. And for a single, slow heartbeat, he stayed that way, unable to speak, his mouth so close to hers that he could nearly taste her, his gaze fixed on hers.

    What the… ?

    He jerked back, dropped the wet washcloth in her lap, his brain searching for words. “I…You… You can probably handle this yourself.”

    She looked up at him. “Thank you. For helping me.”

    “I need to get back to hiding our tracks.” He stood and walked away, his abrupt retreat startling a few swallows out of the mud nests they’d built in the bridge’s life-giving shade. “Keep drinking.”

    He walked back into the blazing sunshine, grabbed his mesquite branch and rubbed furiously at the tracks—which now included the soil disturbed by her fall down the embankment.

    What the fuck was wrong with him?

    That Zeta bastard must have shocked him one too many times, because only fried brain cells could explain what had just happened. He’d almost kissed a woman he was charged with protecting—while administering first aid, no less.

    That kind of mouth-to-mouth is against the rules, and you know it.

    Okay, so he hadn’t technically been assigned to protect her, which meant that the rules didn’t technically apply. In fact, her being with him was purely coincidence and had nothing to do with this case. But he did not get mixed up with women while on the job. He did not develop feelings for them, and he certainly did not get physical with them. That wasn’t marshal service policy; that was his own personal policy. And he never broke his own rules.

    Maybe it was just the situation—the two of them being thrown together like this, forced to work together to stay alive, sharing the dangers of a survival situation, his being injured, her being vulnerable. He knew from his years in combat how walking that line between life and death could make two people bond. A bit of pheromone had probably gotten mixed in with all the adrenaline. Simple enough to explain.

    And how many of your SEAL teammates did you try to kiss?

    Ignoring that stupid question, he stood back, his gaze moving over the embankment, searching for any sign he might have missed—a shoeprint, an overturned rock, obvious swish marks. Satisfied, he walked backward under the bridge, rubbing out his footprints as he went and assuring himself that he’d done just as thorough a job of rubbing out any inappropriate impulses he might have had toward Natalie.

    When he reached the car, she was sound asleep, her lashes dark on her cheeks, her lips relaxed, an empty water bottle perched in her slender fingers. A sensation of warmth spread inside his chest.

    Oh, MacBride, you are in such deep shit.

    He slid quietly into the driver’s seat, felt her forehead and was relieved to find it cooler. Then he settled his rifle at his side, took the empty bottle from her, and, helpless to stop himself, watched her sleep.

    Sign up for the I-Team Reading Challenge by posting a comment below. And keep us all updated on your progress. Remember: The deadline to finish is April 15!

Selection 2011 - Jared Prudoff

Selection 2011 - Ben Brian

Man-Titty Monday — Abdomination

    Man-Titty Monday is back!

    Sorry about the lag, but between holidays, heading back to work and trying to savor every possible moment with my sister and my younger son, I just didn’t have time to spend online.

    My sister flew back to Stockholm on Saturday — a very blue day for me. I adore her and hate being so far away from her. Maybe one day I’ll move in with her, but that’s not possible now. Anyway, she did so many wonderful things to help me while she was here. While I was at work one day, she cleaned my house. She came over last Friday with my mother to help rearrange my kitchen so that it would be less cluttered and easier to use. She was going to write the first two chapters of Connor’s book for me, but she didn’t get around to that. Darn it!

    Benjy leaves on Tuesday, and I am dreading it. Having him here is like having sunshine after months of rain. I hate it when he’s gone.

    But back to man titty, yes?

    This week, we’re focused on abs. So belly up to the bar, and get your Monday morning six-pack right here.

    Above, you’ll find a nice six-pack with some visible obliques. It’s not Jed Hill, but then really who is? Besides Jed, of course.

    Did I mention that he sent me an e-mail?

    Yes, he did. And my girl-squeal could be heard for many miles.

    MTM Newsflash: Jed Hill e-mailed to say thank you for choosing him for MTM’s first Man of the Year. He also agreed to an interview. Once I get a chance to send him some questions, we’ll have a special Jed Hill day.

    Back to six-packs...

    This fine specimen comes close to having an eight-pack. Count from his sternum down to the top of his tighty-whities. One, two, three, almost four... Nice chest and biceps, too.

    Not sure if the detail will show up on my blog or not, but this guy looks cold. There are little goose bumps all over his skin, and his man-nips are tight. Anyone want to volunteer to warm him up?

    This man is ripped. What else is there to say? His biceps are unbelievable, and his abs look hard as rock.

    Simply perfect. Grab that six pack and drink deeply.

    Happy Monday, everyone!

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