Woohoo! Welcome to Weird, Wild, & Wicked Tales for a cover reveal of COURTING THE DRAGON WIDOW. I wrote this story years ago (2008) and I even submitted it to the Golden Heart contest through RWA. The response was “good idea, but needs work.” So I finished it and shelved it, not sure what exactly was wrong with it.
In 2013, I went back through it, editing and tightening my writing. But it was boring and I told myself, “I’m just going to skip to the good parts.” If you hear that thought in your head when looking at your own writing, it’s a huge RED FLAG. It was 81K words of boring, and I walked away again.
In 2015 I finally sat down and tried to decide what was so wrong with it.
The heroine was a doormat doing what her mother wanted.
The hero was an immature jackass.
Characters who didn’t need to be there showed up in the story.
No one communicated much and while that’s great for conflict, it doesn’t make the story work.
So I wrote down how I’d like the story to go, but it took so much thought that I walked away again. You’d think I didn’t really like this story. But in 2018 I said, “Okay, I’m gonna rewrite this thing and fix it because the idea is a good one.”
It took me 8 months to rewrite it, and I cut 26K words out of it. I added 41K words and now the thing is 96K of pretty damn good tale. I changed the ending, connected it with Easter eggs to two other series, and made my characters really grow. Kris Norris built me a cover that captured the hero and heroine, and at last, 11 years after it’s start, is COURTING THE DRAGON WIDOW. It’s M/F Paranormal romance connected to the Cloudburst Colorado series.
Everyone has demons, but Lissandra’s date might have it worse than most…
Lissandra Charforest is finally stepping back into the dating game after three decades of widowhood. Accepting a blind date, she travels to a small town in upstate New York to meet an eligible dragon bachelor. Too bad the guy seems determined to stand her up.
Denarrion Goldencoat wouldn’t have agreed to a blind date with the Widow from Colorado if his father hadn’t insisted. Happy being the perennial bachelor, he has no desire to settle down on one woman, much less one with kids already. Until he falls into the reservoir with her.
But everything’s not as it seems. Beneath the quaint façade of Redfield, darkness and decay lurks to ensnare the unwary. When Lissandra discovers she’s been lured to Redfield to kill a demon under the pretense of a courtship, she almost walks away. But the truth jeopardizes the life of her True Bonded mate, leaving her with one choice: Destroy the demon or die trying.
Denarrion couldn’t believe his luck. He’d chanced upon this glorious woman on his favorite rock perch. She’d pulled her dark brown, wavy hair into ponytail, and the tail hung down her back in a silken fall. Arching brows over sparkling lavender eyes captured his attention and utterly stopped his breath. And her scent. She filled his nose with tantalizing vanilla and lilacs.
This is the kind of woman I want. Why did he have to agree to the blind date with the Widow from Colorado?
He smiled down at her. “I don’t remember seeing you in town before. Are you here for the holiday?”
She tilted her head and shrugged with one shoulder. “Something like that.”
“It’s a good time to visit this place. Mind if I sit with you?”
“Uh, no. I guess that’d be okay.” She gestured to the rock and he settled beside her.
“I used to come here all the time. You know, every time I wanted to get away from my dad. It wasn’t always a lake, but it was always peaceful.”
“It is nice here.” She turned to look out at the lake. “It’s like the world hasn’t tainted this place with its fears and pollution. It’s beautiful.”
He didn’t see the lake, just her glorious profile. “Yeah, beautiful.”
She glanced at him, meeting his gaze with raised eyebrows and a dip of her chin. He grinned as she snorted.
“Does that line usually work for you?”
“Eh, you know, it’s about fifty-fifty.” He shrugged ruefully, but his heart warmed with her catch. This wasn’t a woman who’d preen and simper for his attention. She’d make him earn every step into her good graces. Usually, that would frustrate him and he’d head for greener pastures. But something about the lavender-eyed beauty kept him willing to try.
“My name is Denny.” He gave her his best lopsided smile and her lips curled in response.
“Lissa.” She held out her hand to shake his in the traditional human greeting. “Do you live in Redfield, or one of the other towns nearby?”
“Yeah, I’m from Redfield.” Close enough in human terms. “My family came here when this was still a river valley instead of a reservoir.”
“So it’s been a little while at least.” She nodded.
He frowned. A little while? In human terms it would be something close to a hundred and fifty years. Maybe she’s referring to the settlers who arrived in the late fifteenth century. He nodded and tried to figure out how to move the conversation along after her strange response.
“So if you’re here visiting, where are you from?”
“Colorado. I live in the Rocky Mountains.” She waved at the vista. “It’s lush here.”
Colorado? “What brought you out here?”
She hesitated just a beat. “I’m visiting extended family.”
“Ah. How long will you be staying then?”
“I don’t really know. As long as it takes, I guess.” She looked away and her shoulders tightened as she drew her knees up to her chest.
He raised his eyebrows at her defensive posture. “That sounds kinda ominous.”
Lissa laughed, but it didn’t sound happy. “I’m trying to start over. My husband died a few years ago, and while I’m done mourning, I’m realizing it’s not as easy as I thought to just get back out there and find someone.”
His gut sank. She was married. He tried to recapture his lightheartedness. “Why? What’s the problem? You’re a beautiful woman. I’d think it would be easy.”
She snorted. “Thank you for the compliment, but I’m a picky person. And most dating sites are full of trolls and misogynistic “nice guys” who feel entitled to my affection because they’re “nice.” It’s been so long since I’ve dated, that I didn’t even know where to look. So I’m here visiting family in hopes a change of scene will help.”
“You couldn’t find a guy near your home in Colorado?”
She grimaced and shrugged. “Like I said. Picky.”
Denarrion blinked as some of the details she’d mentioned came together. Colorado. Widow. Picky. Holy shit, she’s the Widow from Colorado.
He nodded but turned his gaze to the reservoir as he swallowed hard. Dammit, I’m not ready to face her. But maybe he had it wrong. There were lots of women who lived in Colorado, and he had to assume that more than one had lost her husband.
“Yeah, me, too.” He nodded, but he’d lost some of the excitement of meeting her. “You wouldn’t be out here to go on a blind date, would you?”
She blinked, losing her smile. Her chin lifted in understanding and her expression turned polite.
“Yes, that’s exactly why I’m in Redfield.” Her eyes widened with surprise. “You must be Denarrion Goldencoat.”
A lopsided smile curled his lips with mocking amusement. “In the flesh. And you must be Lissandra Charforest, the widow from Colorado.”
Her eyes narrowed and her chin came up with challenge. “That’s me. I’m pretty sure Charlorrion said you were too busy to meet with me today.”
Oh, shit, I did say that. He tried to keep his smile easy, but the chagrin made it turn brittle. “Uh, yeah. I’m taking a break.”
The corners of her mouth pulled down enough to show her disdain of his lame-ass excuse. “I’m sorry to intrude on your peace and home. I’ll leave you to it.”
She made to rise and he panicked. He didn’t know why, but he needed more time with her.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” He jumped up and caught her arm. “You don’t have to go. I didn’t mind sharing the rock with—”
He stopped mid-sentence as the jolt of power ran between them and crashed through his senses like a juggernaut. His breath froze in his lungs as brilliant fire shot through every synapse in his brain and the muscles of his body. Yet the sensation included no pain.
Radiant light blew open all the secret doors in his life, offering him glimpses of what the rooms held on the other side. Treasure!