Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Valentine Giveaway from Gianna Bruno

Snowbound with Gianna Bruno

Snow covers my downstairs windows, blocking the view. A kaleidoscope of memories sparkle and dance in the shimmering drifts. The weather seemed colder back then, the mounds of snow deeper. I recall many warm moments with friends and hot nights with lovers.

Ice storms burnished black and white days with a glimmer of silver, and whatever light there was reflected off a world encased in a clear, glistening mantle. Walking, driving, doing anything was treacherous. I mourned cancelled basketball games as a teenager, battled to get to work as an adult. But the beauty of nature, particularly in winter, impressed me then, and it still does.

Before global warming and the advent of "green winters," it snowed all the time in Vermont. A little every day, in between wicked storms. French Olympian Jean Claude Killy once quipped that the coldest place he'd ever skied was Mount Snow in January. I personally dared go to the top of Haystack Mountain when the wind chills were so far below zero there was no sound, no movement, nothing but me, in a vacuum, fighting my way down and the wind pushing me back.

That day was immortalized in my novelette, Hot Chocolate Kiss, along with a few other extreme experiences I've had over the years. Milena, my heroine in The Journey, finds the portal to the Forest Otherworld while walking through a snowy forest.

In late January we'd have a thaw, take a breath. Then, in February, the snow would start all over, continuing into April. If we stopped functioning, we stopped living. School was in session on all but the worst days. We got to work late, but we got there. The road crews got Routes 9 and 100 clear so skiers—our lifeblood—could get to the mountains.

We didn't complain, though we looked forward to mud season when it started to melt and the Deerfield River ran fast and furious through downtown Wilmington. Killington mountain closed on June 1 one particularly snowy winter.

2010-11 is shaping up to be one of those years, with record snowfall along the Northeast coast of the United States. But I'm nowhere near my beloved Green Mountains, rather in New York City where they simply do not know what to do and how to behave when Mother Nature bestows such backhanded gifts.

Like the thrill of waking up next to my then fiancé, snowed in, to hear the radio announcement that both our offices were closed. We snuggled in for the rest of the morning and generated some of our own heat before digging out and spending the afternoon sledding like all the other kids.

I escaped a dying marriage, with a new boyfriend, by fleeing gray, concrete canyons to snow kissed Wilmington. We got to know each other real quick in front of a red hot woodstove, not even caring that television reception was disrupted by an iced over antenna. The next day we skied as if pursued by mad dogs, tackling waist high moguls on Mount Snow's Jaws of Death.

The mountain beat us that day, sending us home with bruised backsides. Symbolically, the relationship ended during mud season on another double black diamond trail at Killington, Outer Limits. Rain poured down that April 2, and the snow melted under our skis. Mother Nature was moving on, the seasons were changing in front of our eyes. Not even the hot tub could rekindle that winter romance.

I took another ski bum to my favorite haunts in Southern Vermont a few years back, and we've returned many times as husband and wife to introduce our kids to the pleasures of being outdoors.

Even though we live in NYC, every snowstorm is an opportunity to fall in love again, build a snowman, go sledding or skating in the park, cross country ski past stuck plows and weary neighbors digging out plowed under cars. Dirt, grime and uncollected garbage disappear, even if only for a little while.

I never tire of seeing pines, their branches so laden with snow they kiss the ground. Icicle daggers hang off windowsills, roofs. A virgin expanse of park land beckons the morning after the storm. Even if I can't see out my window.

What are some of your fondest winter memories?

Gianna Bruno


Hot Chocolate Kiss


Keela Branford’s passion for extreme winter sports, fueled by anger at a cheating soon to be ex-husband, drives her to brave sub-zero wind chills and break a lot of rules--including the one to never ski alone. There are just some battles that have to be fought despite the risks.

Keela doesn't think much of Rick Marston, a ski lift attendant who is brazen enough to question Keela's judgment. And she thinks even less of his invitation for a drink when she comes down from the summit. She's sworn off controlling jocks like her ex, and is determined to exorcise the demon of self-doubt inside her. Will Keela win the battle against The Witches waiting for her on the ski slopes? And will the heat between Keela and the man who gets in the middle rout them for good?


The blonde perched on a stool wore boots that looked like she’d strapped a husky dog to each leg. Keela doubted she had ever skied in her life. That sleek blonde ponytail wouldn't fit under a helmet, and she'd freeze her perky tits and tight ass off wearing that pink fleece jacket and black spandex pants.

She prattled out the usual disclaimers while processing the credit card transaction. "No refunds for conditions. The gondolas are closed due to high winds. Only the open chairs are going to the summit, and we might have to close them as well. The ski patrol has put up an extreme weather alert: no exposed skin, take frequent re-warming breaks."

Keela tried not to sound bitchy. This wasn't one of Ken's girlfriends. The kid was just doing her job. "Thanks for the tips."

After securing the $75.00 ticket on her parka and putting on every piece of protective equipment in her pack, she waddled out the door like a stuffed pig, sweating like one, too.
She knocked the ice off the bottom of her boots with her poles and clicked into the bindings. No matter who I’m with, it’s always me against the mountain—alone.

Keela skated over to the lift where the same guy she’d met outside the can was working. "It’s the Tuckerman lady." He winked and guided the chair under her butt.

She couldn't see the rest of his face but imagined him licking his lips.

The lift swept her up, and he called out, "Seriously, be careful. I’ll buy you a Hot Chocolate Kiss when you come down from the summit, sister."

I don't think so, dude. No more being treated like a buddy who happened to have a receptacle instead of a plug. No more schlepping boots and ski equipment, plus a backpack full of camping gear to the summit of Mount Washington, dodging rockslides and avalanches, to ski Tuckerman Ravine. No more romantic nights crammed into a lean-to, surrounded by a unisex cadre of other idiots, with a sleeping bag, thermals, and Gore-Tex to light her fire.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOsdKLtSaGE


The Journey


They don't hang witches in Salem anymore, but Milena's punishment is being shunned. When her lover Thomas' ship is lost at sea, she fears he perished with the rest of the crew leaving her alone in a town bracing for a war over slavery, but still rife with an older form of prejudice.

Milena travels into the Forest and Sea Otherworlds to search for him, paying the fairies for her passage with bodily pleasures. Circe, the evil mermaid holding Thomas hostage, demands even more. She faces off against Circe in her underwater lair, endures the wrath of a colony of escaped slaves, and learns the terrible truth of what led to the shipwreck that left Thomas as its only survivor.

On the long journey, Milena learns to use her powers in ways she never imagined and discovers surprising truths about her own past. Left questioning everything she has ever believed, she must make the choice whether to return home with Thomas or stay in the Otherworlds forever.

Milena prepared a place on the floor, but before she could lie down, Hecabe's chanting and rocking began anew. Her eyes opened and stared into Milena's.

A male voice spoke. "Meet me in the forest. I have news of Thomas. Time grows short."

Milena's hands shook as she pulled on her boots and drew a cloak over her nightdress. Why had she not sought Hecabe's counsel sooner? She ran into the woods, fearing it might already be too late. Dead branches snapped under her feet. Clumps of wet snow fell from the pine boughs and landed with a thud on the sodden earth. A flock of bats flew overhead, headed for the safety of the thick forest growth.

Mist rose from the snow. Fairies materialized and swarmed around her; the furious beat of their wings raised a high-pitched whine.

Half as tall as she, they seemed fashioned out of silver strands of gossamer, clothed in cloaks of snowflake lace. Females, Milena surmised noting their firm, full breasts and silver haired pubes through the translucent garments.

The fairies surrounded Milena and guided her along the path for a good distance, until her feet were soaked and freezing.

A male fairy appeared, clad in the same lacy garments. Two heads taller than the females, his organ dangled nearly to his knees. A deep growl vibrated in Milena's ears raised a spiral of fear along her spine. He smacked his lips like a pig at the slop trough.

"I am Hamil, the guardian of the Forest Otherworld. Fear not, sister. I mean you no harm. You have prayed to the goddesses for news of your lost one who lives still. The creatures of the Otherworlds have conducted his pleas to you, over sands, oceans and through the woods. We can take you to him."

His was the same voice channeled through Hecabe, another sign the fairy spoke the truth. Thomas lived, and she had to find him.



Buy link:

Ready for a giveaway?

Gianna is giving away one of her holiday gift packages, which includes a print copy of each The Journey and Hot Chocolate Kiss, chocolates, and a personalized gift note.

-Open to US Shipping only

But international folks have a chance too -if an international winner is randomly chosen they can win e copies of Gianna's two books along with with a bonus PDF of one of Andrew Richardson's stories.

To enter leave a comment on this post

Be sure to include your email and whether or not you are a US or international resident

Winner TBA Next Wednesday Feb 9


mary ann said...

hope to win..international;))

SandyG265 said...

One of my favorite things to do in the winter when I was a kid was to go to the local elementry school and go sledding.

In the US

Mary said...

Would love to win this! Awesome giveaway, wow.

Since I grew up in Redondo Beach, california we didn't get any snow there and the temps really didn't get all that cold, at least for me.

I now live in Las Vegas and for the most part we don't get snow here either, but once in a while we get a dusting.

One of my fondest winter memories is from a few years ago, my husband, daughter and I took a drive up to MT. Charleston which isn't too far from where we live. There was still a bit of snow on the ground but it was starting to melt away.

My hubby decided he wanted us to take a hile to the top of this one small mountain, not a vry far hike at all....for him.

We started up and the snow got a bit deeper, up to my knee's and I kept tripping and falling in the snow...of course my little daughter thought it was hilarious and my hubby kept snapping pictures, which ticked me off.

We got about half way up and I fell in the snow again...After falling about half a dozen times, I finally sat there and said I wasn't going any further...and just continued to sit in the snow.

My hubby was laughing so hard he had tears running down his face and he helped me back down the mountain.

Fun times...lol

I can laugh about it now though...kinda...lol


greenduckie13 said...

My favorite winter memories involve snowball fights with my brother. And then making snowmen.

debbie said...

Building snowmen has always been my favorite.

Robin K said...

Fantastic contest! Please count me in.


robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

booklover0226 said...

I grew up on a dairy farm that was covered with hills. Oh, those great snow days we would be sledding all morning, come in for lunch, go out all afternoon, come in for hot chocolate and a hot bath and then read until dinner!!!!

We were so young, carefree, and safe.

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Judy said...

Your books look very good!!! Since I was born and raised in the South and still live here, not much happens during the winter, except rain and not much cold. My mother is from Nebraska, and we went a few times during the winter and I loved it. I played in the snow with my many cousins, and had a blast.

Ike Rose said...

Personally, I've had it with snow this year here in New York City. I guess aging makes us grumps.

But it is pretty to see the unbroken snow on the sports field across from my home that has been covered since the post-Christmas blizzard.

They sound like two great books.

Ike Rose

oldtimer25 (at) gmail (dot) com

Danielle Gorman said...

These look really good. Definitely want to read.
I live in Florida, so we don't really get a winter like everyone else. It gets cold but thats it. No snow. When it is cold here I like to be outside. I usually go to a theme park.


Virginia C said...

Hello, Gianna! What a wonderful wintry post : ) During the past several decades, our weather has greatly changed here in the mountains of VA. When I was a kid, we had lasting snows beginning in November, and we had many snow days off from school. Now our weather here tends to develop more snow after Christmas and on into January and February. Boy, was it fun to stay home from school on a snow day! We'd build snowmen, ride sleds, have snowball fights, and then head inside to be fortified by my Gran's hot chocolate and peanut butter cookies. She also made wonderful "snow ice cream". Later on in my life, I worked as a housekeeper and child care provider for a family with five children. They lived in a big farm house on top of a hill. I carried on my Gran's tradition of hot cocoa and peanut butter cookies for "my kids", and they loved it : )

US Resident, GFC Follower, Subscriber

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Sherry said...

These days I hate winter but when I was younger I loved playing in the snow and having snowball fights with my brothers and sisters.


Gabrielle Lee said...

Some of my fondest winter memories are from when my kids were little and enjoyed making snowmen and playing in the snow.

Gianna Bruno said...

It is sooo great to "see" all these new faces. Thanks for stopping by.

Sorry I'm so late to the party. My car was encased in a sheath of ice when I got out of work. Roads are terrible. Then, my sidewalk was so treacherous I had to break up the ice before someone fell.

Whew! Now I'm inside with a hot cup of tea. Dinner, hot bath, some writing (a must do) then cuddle time.

It sounds like a lot of you have fond memories of sledding and building snowmen. Me too. I still do it all the time with my daughter.

Miztic Rose, hysterical story. I fell under my car three times this week. Here's the drill: Squeeze between the snowbank and the car, start scraping it off. Slip on concealed garbage bags or ice. Boom! On my butt.

Any more "adult" stories? C'mon. Don't be shy.

Estella said...

We have mostly rain in the winter, so we snuggle up to the stove with a good book.

Kissinoak at frontier dot com

She said...

Nice excerpts. Good post. I'm not one for being out in the snow unless it's absolutely necessary. But my best memory was when I was snowed in at home for 3 days. I just relaxed, read, watched TV, slept, cooked, and baked. It was so relaxing. I'd love to do it again.


Leni said...

Some of the best memories that come to mind are when all of us used to wait and hope that school would be canceled and we'd be able to go out and play in the snow. And when we would come in from playing there would always be hot chocolate waiting for us.


joder said...

I hated winter as a kid and I hate it now! Blech! The only fun thing I did then, and that I do now, is read and drink copious amounts of cinnamon hot cocoa.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Vamchoir said...

I'd love to win - USA (you have my email address ... just sent you another email. :-)

Katrina W said...

:) Im in australia we dont really have a winter,, a lil bit chilly.. I love to snuggle under the dooner with a book cuppa hot chocolate and some marshmellows !! and fan on 1 to throw the breeze round !! We dont get snow ,, everthing is normal nothing overly exciting.. But I must say Id like to have a white christmas sometimes in my near future !! I am international ;) would love to read this books the blurbs look great !
kat via facebook ;)

Katrina W said...

My email addy ooooops


Jennifer Mathis said...

one of my favorite things was playing with my big brothers in the snow :)

Julie S said...

Thanks for the giveaway. These books sound great. I'm US.


Tanya1224 said...

Yummy! Awesome books and chocolate, two of my favorite things. Coffee is up there too ;) Count me in please. Would love to win this.

Tore said...

Thanks for the great giveaway. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read your books. Tore923@aol.com

Amy J Ramsey said...

Thanks! I just found another great author and title to add to my tbr pile. Add me into your drawing. =) trinagon@bellsouth.net
Amy Ramsey
Ramsey's Reviews

Danielle Gorman said...

Great contest. Definitely hope I win.

I live in Florida so we don't really have much of a winter. My favorite thind to do when it is cold here is be outside. Whether it be at a theme park, mini golf, or simply just being outside. It is just so refreshing.


kittykelly28 said...

IU've never skied. We hardly ever get snow in Arkansas just ive. :( Great give away!! :) I'm in the US so I'd love to win your books! :)

kittykelly28 @ hotmail.com

SoLi said...

US Resident. Enter me, pretty please? I'd love to win these! :)


Eko0724 said...

Thanks so much for this! I use to love making snow angles with my dad when I was a kid...and know we do it with our own family. Even the dog!

In the US!

willingamy AT gmail DOT com

Lisa said...

I loved to sled, ice skate, and snow shoe. I wish I liked snow the way I did when I was a kid. Now I just want to stay in where it is warm.
I am in the US

onutzyk_93 said...

The books sound awesome! I hope to win ! International.

Gianna Bruno said...

Thanks to all of you who participated in this reminiscence and the contest.

I hope reliving your memories warmed you up.

This week, my Witchy Winter Tour makes two exciting stops. I'm extending a personal invitation to all of you for these special events to celebrate winter and get ready for Valentine's Day.

Join me at a live chat with Eternal Press Authors Mary McCall, Arianna Skye, and Cornelia Amiri on Monday February 7 at Night Owl Romance. Ask us anything, as long as it's PG-13. 5pm PST / 6pm MST / 7pm CST / 8 EST


And on February 10, fellow EP author Andrew Richardson will be with me on my Coffee Time Romance Spotlight Day Forum.


We'll start off discussing the perils and pitfalls of writing from the point of view of the opposite sex. If anyone has read Andrew's recent EP release The Shoot, I'm sure you'll agree that he nailed it. I've just written my first M/M short, The Hot Spot and would love to hear your opinions on how I did.

We'll share some excerpts, previews of our upcoming releases.

For those of you who missed out on my other Witchy Winter Tour contests, there will be prizes at both events.

Keep in touch on Facebook and Twitter, or follow my blog. All links are at http://giannabruno.com

Hope to see you somewhere along the journey,

Hugs and Hot Chocolate Kisses,


Stephanie said...

Oh, these books sound so interesting I would love to win! I'm in the US