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Slow Burn – A Sexy Spy Thriller

SlowBurnCoverEbookOn Thursday, July 9th I have a new release in the paranormal romance genre from Ardent Books.  It’ll be available via Amazon for .99 and features my Burn Notice inspired characters Derrick and Sonja.

I’ll be doing a huge promotion for this, starting with a blog tour and mentioning the book, plus the inexpensive price, for the entire week once I have the finals for copy and tagline.  There will be a handful of e-book ARCs going out for review, too.

This story was a lot of fun to write because it meant I could watch my favorite characters from Burn Notice and pick apart their motivations for doing what they do, acting why they did.  Often, a writer comes up with a chacater based loosely on something in reality, and then molds it to fit the story, or the story to work with the character.Michael Westenlarge

I’d been going into San Francisco one day, listening to Devildriver and wishing for something like Devildriver, but with clean, female vocals.  I think after watching Burn Notice that night with my ex, did I come up with the concept of a shapeshifter that retired, rather than was burned, but still hired to do a protection gig.  I paired him with a death metal lead singer who had power to manipulate her audiences through the use of her voice.

I’ll be posting the cover this week,so stay tuned!

This is the current rough draft of the tagline and blurb:

Former spy Derrick falls for the sexy spitfire he’s bound to protect, even as terrorists scheme to take her from him – and destroy his way of life.


Tempting secrets of an angel
Seductive mysteries of the beast

Derrick, a former spy, has been asked to protect the sultry Sonja, a death metal singer whose magical voice grabs him by the balls and won’t let go. He’ll protect her, all right…with every part of his body tight against hers.

Sonja uses her voice to purge her fans of their darkness, their hate and hopelessness. But evil forces want to use her magic for their own ends. All she wants, at this point, is safety for herself and her band.

cigar smokingWhen Derrick and Sonja team up, Sonja does her best to resist the lure of safety he represents, until a radical league that wants her dead propels her into his arms. Will his help be enough? Or will she lose her heart to him, only to be killed in the process of saving the world?

Perhaps for my Patreon supporters, I can throw up something that the public hasn’t seen yet, but I won’t know what’s what until after release day 😉


Slow Burn – a novel about a former spy and a metal maven, coming soon from Ardent Books!

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog.  Life sort of got in the way, and I’ve been working on projects in the cigar arena to help promote ACC Cigars, and attempt to have a life.whiskey

Well, the life bit didn’t really happen.  Mostly, I handled editing duties and began building a line at Ardent Books, while my editor took a crack at what was originally called Burning for Derrick.

We decided on a title change.  For one, Slow Burn conjures up images more associated to my existing brand in alcohol and tobacco.  Plus, it pushes forward the ideals we have in romance, about a steamy, sexy affair between two lovers, who end up together despite all the odds.

Derrick, a former spy who left the game to regain peace in his life, and Sonja, the empathic lead singer of an up and coming death metal band, are thrust together in a fast paced, action adventure romance.  We are nailing down the details, but chances are, if you’re here, you’re really more focused on the cigar aspect.

gerard_butler_05That’s right, there is a cigar aspect to this story.  Both my hero and my hero’s brother are ardent cigar smokers.  I’ve named the sticks they tend to fancy in the book, and when it comes out, there might be trivia relating to this for a copy of the e-book.  Who knows.

Rest assured, I’ve smoked plenty of fine cigars over the course of what…it’s been six months since my last update?  There was the viaje stuffed turkey, ACC S. E. 12 year, Propio Leon, think I even had something new from La Sirena.  Oh, right.  The Oceano.  It’s a solid maduro, if your’e curious.

Fans of bad boys will love Derrick’s easy going manner, but those who remember what men were like before the censors stepped in and tried to tell us how to live will definitely appreciate the cigar aspect of this novel.

What long ago past time are you longing for?

Look out for Slow Burn, coming soon from Ardent Books!  Former spy Derrick falls for the magical woman he was hired to protect from terrorists who want her gifts to destroy his paranormal community. 

Strength – Trends in Cigar Smoking

Have you noticed more and more cigar makers are adding or expanding their lines to produce stronger cigars?  Not just in nicotine content but flavor?

The market’s demands are changing and from what I’ve been seeing over the last fifteen years of being a cigar smoker is that the customer seems to be demanding bolder flavors, more power and strength which leads to a new challenge for makers.

I’ve been watching the makers of more mild blends like Davidoff and Davidoff NicaraguaMacanudo bring out more intense lines.  Davidoff with their Nicaragua Puro, Macanudo making their mark with a bolder  extension also.

Punch did something about three to four years back by introducing the Uppercut, a spicy white pepper bomb that left me wondering if I’d been drinking after I’d finished my cigar.  Incidentally, I had been drinking herbal tea at the time, but wow was that cigar a kicker.  Yes, other flavors were present but the white pepper hit first.

Joya De Nicaragua initially had one of the strongest cigars on the market, the Antaño 1970, then followed it up with the Dark JdN Dark CorojoCorojo Antaño.  Both were really tasty but I had to be in the mood for the original, and having smoked too many too close together of the Corojo, I made myself sick from too much nicotine one evening.

I remember my first really strong cigar about twelve years ago.  The Rocky Patel Edge. It came in natural and maduro and both cigars were very well priced at the time though it became tough to tell the difference between the maduro and the natural because both had seriously dark wrappers.  I smoked one of those the entire day and I was done, or I could smoke two of something else and be fine.  Yes, a lot of flavor but what a powerhouse cigar it was back in the day.  For me, Mr. Patel set off a trend that we didn’t see gaining momentum until about six years ago when companies like La Flor Dominicana and Joya De Nicaragua started coming out with stronger cigars.

Let’s be honest, the new trend has brought a lot of gems with it, but so will any trend in most industries.  The emergence of so many new boutique cigar makers like Tatuaje and Illusione have spurred the bigger boys like Altadis and Swedish Match to develop unique cigars to hold the public’s interest.  That’s another article though.

Overall, I do enjoy the trend in strength and the higher reaching heights cigar makers are heading toward to create something unique for our palates, but what do you think?  Can the strength be too much?

The characters in my upcoming paranormal romance BurningMax_in_Laris_400x400 for Derrick are also avid cigar aficionados, often filling their humidors with expensive stick and inexpensive gems alike.   Look for Burning for Derrick coming from Ardent Books soon!

What’s most frequently in your Humidor?

La Vina 12 and La Vina 18

ACCC S. E. 12 and ACC S. E. 18

Summer is upon us and that means more sunlight which means more smoking time!  Spending the evenings with a cigar and glass of Larceny bourbon is the perfect way for me to unwind after the first half of my work day. Let me explain.  As a writer, my day is split into two halves:  The first shift in the afternoon, and the second shift consisting of writing.  That being said, my downtime is extremely important.  Something I’ve noticed however is what’s in my normal rotation hasn’t changed that much.  For months due to convenience (and I just like them!) I’ve been smoking Alec Bradley Tempus seconds.  For the price I paid for a bundle, to keep my humidor full, not a bad thing . But I like variety. In fact I crave it.  Last year I’d picked up an ORTSAC sampler from .  This sampler along with the Pinar Del Rio sampler jolted new flavors into my palate and a good range of inexpensive cigars into my humidor.  Now while these cigars are great, they’re not on my normal high end list of cigars to smoke, but then again, that list is a short one and not meant for every day consumption.  Even if I could, I’m not sure I’d smoke a ACC S. E. 12 or ACC S. E. 18 day in and day out.

Masterpiece Platinum by ACC Cigars and glass of cabernet Sauvignon at Occidental Cigar Club, SF

Masterpiece Platinum by ACC Cigars and glass of cabernet Sauvignon at Occidental Cigar Club, SF

That’s why I like the Masterpiece Platinum and Tres Maduro by ACC Cigars, (who also make ACC Special Edition, because those cigars are complex and make me think and enjoy my time smoking on a so much deeper level than say Montecristo’s Media Noche.  The Media Noche is a solid Maduro, but that’s all it is to my palate. After time I grew bored with the Tempus Seconds.  I’ve smoked a LOT of them and love the dark coffee flavors and richness of probably my favorite cigar from Alec Bradley. Recently I discovered Tampa Humidor, who carries Alec Bradley Prensado 2nds, at the same price as the Tempus, so I snagged a box.  Thanks to a surplus in budget, I also picked up the Drew Estate sampler from CigarPlace It always amazes me at cigar smokers who can smoke the same thing day in and day out.  I’m a creature who craves variety, and not smoking for the sake of smoking.  Of course these same people I’ve noticed tend not to experiment, which is fine . Cigar smoking has very few rules.  Like what you smoke, smoke what you like  I tend to lean toward higher end cigars with more complexity.  I won’t lie however.  The Padrón Thousand series tastes the same every single time and is a solid, well constructed cigar.  I’ll reach for that cigar every single time with the understanding that it’s a  Padrón kind of day. The characters in my upcoming release Burning for Derrick are also avid cigar smokers as a way to take away the stress from their lives.  Derrick and his brother Max share a common theme in their dealings in espionage, which breeds many issues including nightmares and the need to find peace in downtime.  Both men enjoy the silence and smoke from a great cigar and keep a wide variety of cigars in their over sized humidors. What are staples in your humidor? Be sure to look for Burning for Derrick, my upcoming paranormal romance release from Ardent Books, coming soon!