Blurb for A GAME OF CHANCE:
Gambler Jed Stone journeys to California to track down Simon Morgan, the man responsible for his best friend’s death. Arrested for robbery and murder upon arrival, Jed is shocked to see his face on a wanted poster. He escapes before his hanging, unaware that the man guilty of those crimes is the twin brother he never knew existed. In a case of mistaken identity, Jed acquires the most famous whorehouse in San Francisco in a rigged card game his twin is meant to win.
Lily Frontiere takes over running Lucky Lil’s from her dying mother, the house madam who shielded her by sending her away to boarding school. Lily’s intelligence and astonishing resemblance to her mother help in her charade, but she’s entered a world she knows little about. She clashes with the handsome stranger who turns up with the deed to Lucky Lil’s in hand, yet she is attracted to the charming risk taker.
Jed asks Madam Lil to stay on as he learns the business and is fooled by Lily’s performance until he stumbles upon the real Madam Lil and learns the truth behind Lily’s deception. His admiration for Lily blossoms into love.
But Simon Morgan seeks both Lily’s hand and ownership of Lucky Lil’s—and he will go to any means to possess both. Will Jed foil his nemesis while bringing his outlaw brother to justice and win Lily’s love?
“Might I recommend a certain girl to you, or are you here for a game of chance?”
The low voice came from his left. Jed turned to see a raven-haired woman with hard eyes staring up at him. She was pretty in a garish way. Heavy make-up made it impossible to discern her age. Her eyes, rimmed with thick, black eyeliner, glittered like amber. Bright red lipstick and rouge made her pale skin even paler.
“I’m Lil. What can I do for you?”
“A friend recommended the place. I’d like a woman and a room for the night.”
The madam frowned at him. “I can provide the first easily, but you’ll have to be out by three. House policy.”
He shook his head in amazement. “You’re joking.”
Lil glared daggers in return. “I never joke about business, ma cherie.”
She gestured to the Indian who’d received him. He stepped immediately to her side.
The man nodded and headed up the staircase.
“You’ll like Gertie. Actually, she’ll like you. She has a thing for men with intense blue eyes.” Lil sized him up. “She also likes them tall. A little cleaner than you, but I’ll send up hot water. I’m sure you’d like to freshen up after a long ride. You have just arrived in town?”
Jed fought the chill that raced through him. Lil was one wise cookie. “Hot water would be much appreciated.”
A petite blonde flew down the stairs, holding her red skirts high to show off trim ankles and more than a little of her calves. She stopped directly in front of him. “Ooh, Lil, he’s a looker, even with the grime.” She slipped her arm possessively through his. “Come on, sugar. We can think of all kinds of things to do between now and three.”
Gertie guided him up the steps. As they moved higher, Jed surveyed the open room off to the right, seeing gaming tables. Suddenly he froze.
Simon Morgan was here, in San Francisco, right at Lucky Lil’s.
As a child, Lauren Linwood gathered her neighborhood friends together and made up stories for them to act out, her first venture into creating memorable characters. Following her passion for history and love of learning, she became a teacher who began writing on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones.
Lauren’s novels focus on two of her favorite eras, medieval times and the American Old West. History is the backdrop that places her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire and yearning for one another grows into the deep, tender, treasured gift of love.
Lauren, a native Texan, lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with five mile walks. She is thinking about starting a support group for Pinterest and House Hunters addicts.
I’m a native Texan who wishes I could be one of Olivia Pope’s Gladiators—or at least be able to claim her wardrobe and look as good in it as she does. I love to make lists and get a cheap thrill checking things off from those lists. I live and die by the sticky note. I love to walk through model homes, feed the ducks on my daily walk, and pretty much eat Greek yogurt every morning for breakfast as I sip my hot tea.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
The idea came from long ago when I had my second date with my husband. He had a center part and longer hair and sported a mustache. When my doorbell rang, I opened it and saw a really cute guy standing there. I thought maybe a new neighbor had moved into my apartments and had come over to introduce himself.
Then he smiled—and I realized it was my date! He had a side part, much shorter hair, and the mustache was gone (revealing that handsome face I grew to love). It surprised me how just a few changes in his appearance (for a new job) made such a difference.
Fast-forward to years later, and I used that idea and the phrase “separated at birth” to create the plot for A Game of Chance. I have twin boys who are literally separated at birth and don’t know the other exists. Both make changes in their appearance for different reasons, and both turn up looking like carbon copies of each other. Of course, the heroine realizes the difference between them since despite their same physical appearance, they are very different men.
How do you create your characters?
I must come up with their names before anything else. Once I decide upon a name, I begin to see them physically and assign traits that help create their personality and back story.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I have a special writing chair where I try to work my magic. I absolutely can’t have music playing because it distracts me from the movie running in my head. I do like to light a candle (vanilla or cinnamon, in particular) and turn on my white noise machine. I’ll set it to the ocean’s waves washing in and out or a soft afternoon rainstorm.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
My ideas come from numerous places. I can see a picture of someone and story ideas start coming. Remember the Tina Fey movie Date Night? She and Steve Carell would look at other couples while at dinner and make up stories about them. I do that all the time—in line at the grocery store, walking by someone in the mall, seeing someone sitting the row in front of me at the movies or a football game. I also get ideas from history books I read and try to incorporate those facts into my historical romances.
What do you like to read?
I am a reader of many genres. I love a good romance, but I also like to read thrillers, biographies, women’s fiction, newspapers, and magazines.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
Write as much and as often as you possibly can. Find a critique group—you’ll learn as much from their writing and critiques as you do through your own writing. Go to conferences and soak up everything you hear—and make a few new author friends along the way!
Anything else you’d like to share?
I appreciate being able to visit with The Pen & Muse readers. Thanks for letting me stop by and share a little about Jed & Lily’s story, A Game of Chance.