Sunday, December 13, 2009

Newsletter, December, 2009


It's getting really cold here in the UK and last week the norovirus hit our house with hurricane force. I had it first, but it's extremely contagious and since I was incubating it for a day or so beforehand, I could have infected a fair few people. Without going into details, let's just say it's very, very nasty.

I have to say, I'm constantly astonished by the people who want to read the stories I wrote for myself for so long. It's opened a new world for me, one where I get to do a bit of globetrotting, after a lifetime of travel sickness and disability, and it means I can get to visit places I've always dreamed about. Next year, as well as Romantic Times in Columbus, I'm going to Chicago for the three big miniatures fairs. I can hardly wait! So for those of you to go to either event, I'll see you there and please tell me, so we can meet. This year has seen slow but steady progress, and a consolidation of several areas, not least the new STORM series, which has fulfilled my hopes for it, and the development of the historical arena. I'm working on a new series now, but I want to make sure I get it right before I discuss it in any more detail!
Thanks for helping make a lifetime's dream come true.

Gearing up for Christmas now. I refuse to think seriously about Christmas until December arrives. In the city where I was brought up, Leicester, October mean Divali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, and they used to leave the lights up afterward, so they kind of merged with the Christmas lights later in the year. Very pretty! But it's December already and I haven't even got the tree in place.
So now for the book news.

"Red Shadow", the new STORM book, has had its release date brought forward, and it's out December 2nd! I am thrilled to bits, and I've put an exclusive extract for you below, so if you enjoy my paranormals, do take a peek. This is my first vampire book for awhile, and it was really good to get back to them. Although my vampires are a little different to the standard myth (I used a lot of Russian mythology when I constructed my vampire "world") they are definitely red-blooded and passionate. Johann Kovacs meets Ania Zelinski in LA, his idea of vampire hell, and no holds are barred. The cover is lovely, just how I imagined these two and does depict a scene in the book.
The page for "Red Shadow" is here.

On the historical front, the book I told you about last month, the new Triple Countess book, has been accepted. It's to be called "A Betting Chance," and features Corin, Lord Elston, and Sapphira Vardon, the daughter of a wealthy Cit, who is looking for a way out of an unwanted marriage alliance. But not in the conventional way! It's scheduled for release next April from Samhain Publishing.

Meantime, the new Richard and Rose book is due out in January. "Eyton" is the first brand new instalment in their story for four years. I'm so pleased to be moving on with their books again.

I'm taking part in the new Samhain contest, which is currently being put in place. Check with for some really wicked prizes!

I was so pleased that so many of you bought "Beauty of Sunset," and accompanied me into the world of contemporary romance. I loved writing the book and I'm hoping to write another.


Red Shadow(Ania has attended a function she part-owns, suspecting that the manager is running a prostitution scam on the side. She's incognito, dressed as a waitress. Johann is looking for a contact.
Then Ania drops a tray of champagne glasses.)
Now read on.

Shocked, she moved her hand and felt the sting. Crying out, she pulled away and felt the glass scratch her hand. “Oh no!” Instinctive reaction had her bringing her hand to her mouth, sucking the side where the glass had touched.

A strong hand pulled it away. “Let me see.”

Silence surrounded them like their own island of peace. A touch, warm and strong, took her hand in a warm grasp. A male rumble of sympathy.

She knew who had her hand, who had hunkered down to help her. Tall, dark and oomph. She tried to think rationally. This man could save her from Chase recognizing her and assuming she was in on the deal. But all she could feel was his hand, warm against hers, and the slightly rough texture of his handkerchief when he pressed it against her wound. His touch shot through her senses. He drew it away and then replaced it after he’d folded it to a clean side. “It’s not so bad. You won’t need stitches.”

“Are you sure?” She had to get out of here before Maynord recognized her and blew her cover. “I think there’s a first aid guy downstairs. Maybe I should go see him.”

“I’ve done some first aid. Enough to know you’re breathing regularly, not unconscious and not bleeding to death. Look, let’s get out of here so I can treat it for you.”

That suited her perfectly.

She let her hair fall over her face, but just before she exited the ballroom, someone stood in her way. Jeanine. A quick glance showed her Chase was standing a little way off. She pivoted so he couldn’t see her face.

“I hope you realize that you needn’t bother coming back?”

She met Jeanine’s gaze and bit her lower lip, the best she could do right now to offer regret. But a tutting sound reminded her she wasn’t alone. “Could you please move aside? This woman is bleeding.”

Jeanine spared a glance at Ania’s napkin-shrouded hand. She sniffed. “We can’t have blood on the glasses. Perhaps it’s as well they were smashed. Normally I’d expect you to clear up the mess, but I suppose you’ll have to take care of your hand first. I’ll get someone else to deal with it. I’m most displeased.” She glanced at the man beside her. “You don’t have to concern yourself with this, sir. I’m so sorry about it. Since the band has just struck up, may I introduce you to a suitable partner?” She moved aside to stand in front of Chase Maynord, effectively blocking his view.

The man smiled. “I have some first aid experience and the accident was more than half my fault. I wish you would reconsider your decision to fire her.”

Jeanine’s smile was all about sex and nothing about sincerity. “I have to stand by my decision.” She paused. “Unless you would prefer to engage her services.”

Ania caught her breath. How dare this woman be so blatant? She had to get out of this fast, before Jeanine implicated her. Her heart plummeted.

Her expression must have fooled Jeanine into thinking she was in despair, because the woman put up her elegant, pointed chin and stared down her nose at her. She must have four inches advantage on Ania, especially since Ania had dumped her usual high heels in favor of flats tonight. Jeanine hadn’t, which would make her around five ten in stockinged feet.

It didn’t help to know that.

Elegant, classy women had always intimidated her. She couldn’t help what she was or that underneath lay a bullied schoolgirl who’d never quite lost her awe of the soignée seniors, but at least she’d gotten better at hiding it.

This time she didn’t try. She let her hair hang over her face and bowed her head. “I only dropped a tray.”

“I’ll have the bill for damages sent on to you.”

Then the stranger next to her surprised her. He reached into his pocket and drew out a wallet before handing Ania a couple of bills. Two hundred bucks. “If that doesn’t cover it, let me know. I was at least half to blame.” Before she could protest, which she had every intention of doing, he cupped her elbow and gave her a gentle push. “We really have to get that cut seen to. Can’t have you bleeding all over the ballroom.” He guided her out, but not before he leaned toward Jeanine and murmured, “I’ll see you later. Don’t forget.”

“No, of course not,” she replied, but they were already on their way.

They stepped into an elevator and he pushed a button, then pushed her elbow so her hand was thrust up. “Hold it up until we get there.”


“My suite.”

He said nothing until they were out of the elevator and partway along one of the plush carpeted hallways that led to the hotel’s suites. Not a room. She chuckled low in her throat, the sound escaping before she could suppress it. “The tux really was misleading.”

With a lithe movement he pivoted to face her. She found his lopsided grin endearing. “Guess it was. Come on.” He led her halfway down then swiped a card through a slot. What surprised her was the extra level of security when he pressed his thumb against a plate on the door.

She walked in after him. “That’s not usual in hotels.”

The large room was lit by soft lights inset in the ceiling and several table lamps, two of which he flipped on when he walked across to the large windows. “Come into the bathroom,” he said.

Ania didn’t think about not doing it until he led her past the large, Spanish-style bed to the well-appointed bathroom. She’d never seen a hotel room like it. Oh she knew they existed, but this was something else. Seeing it, smelling the delicately perfumed air, feeling the soft carpeting under her feet, added to the sense of luxury.

“Sit.” The bathroom even had a chair. She was used to sitting on the toilet seat at home and she didn’t exactly live in squalor. Obediently she sat on the soft cushions covering the cane seat. He shrugged off the coat and threw it over the back of the chair. “Let’s see.”

“It’s not so bad.” It stung, but it wasn’t throbbing. She peeled off the napkin and revealed the cut.

He turned on the faucet over the sink and took the napkin from her, soaking the part that she’d left unstained. “I know. We’ll clean it up and get a bandage on it. You should be fine.”

He sounded completely unconcerned, totally unlike his attitude downstairs. As if he read her, he squatted down in front of her, taking her hand and turning it. He dabbed at the wound, wiping away the blood that made it look worse than it actually was. Ania shuddered. He paused and looked up at her. “Are you okay?”

It was worse when he looked at her, his dark eyes perceptive. Touch and sight. Now all she needed was taste. His voice was dark and velvety, his scent perfect, all soap and aftershave and pure male. And she knew she couldn’t deny her attraction. The more she pretended it wasn’t there, the worse it got and it had done so ever since she’d first met his gaze in the ballroom.

Warmth spread through her mind, as if, as if…


His smile broadened. “Yes. I wondered if you’d notice before I told you.” He examined her scratch, because that was all it was once he’d cleaned off the blood. “I’m a Talent.”

She snatched her hand back but his hold on her wrist firmed and she found herself trapped. “Why didn’t you say something before?” She tried to keep her breathing steady. She’d never knowingly been this close to a Talent before. Mythical creatures who’d been living among them all this time, vampires, shape-shifters, even merpeople. In the last year she’d seen a dragon on TV and a vampire talking calmly about his lifestyle on Larry King. And now she was staring at one. Her tension racked up to panic.

“Hey, calm down. We’re human, just like you. Just a different kind of human.”

Ania stared at the man, trying to imagine him as a different creature, changing his shape. But she couldn’t see anything other than his broad-shouldered frame. “So you say.”

He smiled. She wished he wouldn’t do that. “You know I’m in the outer part of your mind, don’t you? I read you when you dropped the tray. You didn’t want Chase to recognize you. You two got history?”

She bit her lip. “Something like that.” She didn’t trust him enough to tell him the whole truth, at least not yet. After all, she’d heard Johann arrange to meet the hag later.

“Well, he’s not available now. Jillian came back.”

She frowned. “Jillian?”

He tilted his head to one side. “An old flame. The love of his life. He thought she’d died three years ago. She hadn’t. So Chase is now a blissfully married man.” His smile twisted to one of cynicism. “Sooner him than me.”

“You don’t believe in marriage?”

“I think it’s fine—for other people.” He touched the napkin to the wound then threw it aside. “That should do. Let’s get this bandage on.”

He crossed the room, something that would take him a maximum of two steps in her small bathroom, but in this room it took five strides. She counted. He opened a cabinet and took out a small pack of bandages, selecting a couple after rejecting one or two others. Fastidious then. Fussy, even.

“Very particular,” he said as he came back to her.

“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” she said, irritated.

He looked up at her through his ridiculously thick lashes. “What?”

“Answer things I haven’t asked, only thought.”

“You should learn to control your thoughts.”

“Yeah, right.”

He carefully applied a bandage across one end of the long scratch. “That will sting for a couple of days.” He took the other one and peeled off the backing tape. She coughed.

She stared at him and watched fire spark in his eyes. Perhaps he was a dragon. She’d love to see a dragon for real.

He bent down and presented his hand, his mouth quirking up in a smile. “I’m Johann Kozac. Pleased to meet you.”

She took his hand in her unmarked right one. “Ania Zelinski.”


“Third generation. My grandparents came over in World War Two.”

“I was Czech, came over at about the same time as your grandparents, I guess.”

She stared at him. “I thought you were in your mid thirties. I guess it’s hard to—to—”

“You’re doing real well.” His voice softened and he reached up a hand to smooth back her wayward hair. “Is this your first close encounter with a Talent?”

“I guess.”

“Does it bother you?”

She gave a short laugh. “I used to read a lot of fairy stories when I was a kid. So when we heard Talents did exist, it was kinda expected. I don’t know, but it didn’t come as much of a surprise as it should have done. And now we know for sure.”

“Come on.” He tugged her to her feet. “Let’s get a drink.”

“Shouldn’t you go back to the ball?” She let him draw her up and found herself disturbingly close to him. Close enough to feel the heat of his body against hers.

Instead of releasing her, he curved an arm around her waist. “My work there is done.” He stroked her waist and she felt him through her clothes as if she were naked. Disturbingly intimate. “I’ll gladly miss the rest of it.”

Red Shadow from Ellora's Cave
A Vampire For Ania
Order Page:
ISBN: 9781419924378

Johann isn’t happy with his latest assignment for STORM. That changes when he meets Ania.
Johann and Ania ignite passion that lights up the Los Angeles sky. They can’t get enough of each other, even though Johann thinks Ania knows more than she’s telling about his quarry, the elusive Dr. Bennett.
Ania should be concentrating on her failing catering company and her sick brother, not spending her days and nights in sexual ecstasy. She just can’t stay away from Johann. When Johann introduces her to his best friend, she discovers what it’s like to have two demanding, lustful men in her bed.
She’s falling in love with Johann, even though she knows, as a vampire, his lifespan is much longer than hers. Perhaps in his arms she can discover what forever feels like. Or perhaps they’ll both die, if they don’t find Bennett before he finds them.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What's happening in October?

Newsletter, July 2009


Note: Don't forget to keep checking my website for the latest news and excerpts.

I have very exciting news! I hope you'll agree.
For a little while now I've been working with some women at Ellora's Cave to make a new series. It was the brainchild of Ciana Stone, who is a ball of fire and a great colleague. I hope now, a friend. We're producing a new series with a cougar theme, that is, older woman, younger man. Seven women meet at a romance convention, and agree that they need to move on, they're in a rut. One of their number challenges the others - find a younger man for real, don't just talk about it!
I thought this was interesting because it sets up new conflicts I hadn't thought about before, and if my book worked, it would be my first published contemporary romance. Not a paranormal being in sight.
My character is Edie, an ex supermodel and plastic surgeon John Sung, a half-Asian American. I've always had a weakness for a hot Asian man, so I could let my fantasies go with this one! Ellora's Cave were most insistent, and rightly so, that I emphasised there was no professional relationship between Edie and John. So he refuses to take her as his patient, refers her to someone else and then meets up with her another time.
The book was accepted by Ellora's Cave and we're working on the edits now. I really loved working on this one, it just flowed. My book is the second in the series, and the first, Samantha Kane's . Watch for "Play It Again Sam" on October 16th. My book, "Beauty of Sunset" should be out soon!
Oh, and before I forget. We have a blog. Our characters are blogging at the Tempt The Cougar blog. We thought it would be great fun to do that in real time, and let people join in.
The books are:

1. PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM by Samantha Kane
2. BEAUTY OF SUNSET by Lynne Connolly
3. WINTER’S THAW by Dalton Diaz
4. HOT TO TROT by Desiree Holt
6. BLUE TATTOO by Mari Freeman
7. CAM’S HOLIDAY by Ciana Stone

and do visit the blog.

Writing - Kai's book is currently being assessed at Loose-Id. It was great fun to write and meant I could revisit Cromer, a seaside town in Norfolk which I really loved visiting in the summer. It's the home of the most decorated lifeboatman ever, one Henry Blogg. But Kai the merman isn't living there because of that!
I've started to write the next Triple Countess book, so at last Corin will find his lady. It should form a bridge between that and the new series, but if I say any more I'll jinx it, so I'll just carry on writing!

"Red Shadow," the next STORM book has been accepted at Ellora's Cave. This features the vampire Johann, my first vampire story since "Rubies of Fire," so that was a challenge, but a welcome one. I've introduced a few new characters, and you will get to reaquaint yourself with some new ones. The series also has a title - Ecstasy in Red. Isn't that nice? I do plan to continue this series with stories from Team Blue, and so on, as long as the ideas keep coming. While Team Red members were essentially fighting remnants left over from the old world, before Talents became generally known, Team Blue have a new challenge to face. But I'll let you guess that for now, as while I know where I want to take the series, I haven't worked out the details yet.

I'm currently writing a Triple Countess book. So for those of you who wanted a new historical, I'm working on it! Corin gets his lady, at last. I started to write Corin's story with Alethea from Last Chance, My Love, as heroine, but although they liked each other very much, they didn't fall in love. And I tried so hard to make it happen. Sometimes that happens, and since I wasn't on a deadline with this book I could go back and start again. This time I found someone and the magic happened!


A little taster from Beauty of Sunset. It's unedited, so please bear with my mistakes and oopsies!

Edie stood contemplating a splash of paint on canvas. She usually liked modern art but this exhibition had left her cold. Even though the splash was a particularly bright blue. Maybe she was getting old, or something. She’d felt enervated for a while now.

Then a sense, a feeling of warmth swept through her, and a voice, deep and somehow intimate, came from behind her. “Good evening.”

She caught her breath, breathed out slowly, and turned around. “Hi.”

John Sung, mouthwatering in a charcoal gray dress shirt, unbuttoned at the neck, and black pants that she knew had to be designer, probably Ralph Lauren from the cut. His coal-black hair was short, cut to shadow the shape of his skull and his clean-cut cheekbones pushed against the gleaming olive skin, just below the almond-shaped eyes.

As before he watched her with a single-minded intensity. She shuddered and resisted clasping her arms around her body in a protective gesture. She hadn’t felt this vulnerable for years. Forever.

Stupid. She shook her hair back off her face and held out her hand. “Nice to see you again.”

A brief touch of his fingers, then he was gone, but she felt the tingle of the contact and wondered at it.

“Do you like them?”

She glanced around and gave a small shake of her head. “They’re perfectly fine, but not precisely my thing.”

“Me too.”

She couldn’t walk away again. Remembering the advice the blog girls had given her she decided to take the plunge. Business between them was far from over, she knew that now. “I live fairly close. Come back for coffee?”

“I’d be glad to.”

An old invitation, but sometimes it meant just that. She could throw him out if she chickened out, but at least she’d know him better, get him out of her system. Or they might just take things a bit further. She’d play it by ear.

Once outside the gallery they passed the inevitable gamut of photographers, who were more interested in the young heiress who’d just entered the gallery and walked away from the event, where John lifted his hand and hailed a passing cab. “Dreadful, weren’t they?”

She laughed. “Yes, but it wouldn’t have been good to say it there. That artist is the latest sensation.”

He shrugged. “I couldn’t live with one of those daubs for long. They’ll be decorating some swish offices downtown before too long.”

That was so much what she was thinking she had to suppress her laugh. He helped her into the cab and she gave her address and leaned back. “Not your offices, though.”

“What?” She turned her head to see him staring at her. “Oh, yes. Not fucking likely. Pure crap. Pretty colored crap, but if I had to look at it everyday I’d probably go insane.”

She laughed, knowing what he meant. She kept her apartment clean and filled with only the things she needed, or she liked. Only a few people saw it these days, so she kept it exactly as she wanted it.

The taxi dropped them at her building and she let Sung—John—pay. Fighting over a few dollars didn’t seem worth it, especially with her stomach tying itself in knots. The night she’d allowed her fantasy to win played through her again, sending thrills through her. And he hadn’t even touched her. Probably wouldn’t.

They stood either side of the elevator, as if avoiding touch and he stood back and let her exit first when they reached her floor. She unlocked the door and passed through, turning on the floor lights and touching the dimmer. Not to intimate, just lower than full-on.

“Nice.” He stood in the center of the large room and turned around. She’d left the mezzanine in shadow, but its depths added richness to the effect. She’d kept colors muted and cool, comfortable and soothing rather than challenging. This was her home now.

“Thanks. My last husband liked the French Empire style. Fussy, lots of gold, you know the type.”

He laughed. “Yeah. I’ve visited places like that. This is more to my taste. Understated. Classy.”

She smiled as she walked through to the kitchen area and found the coffeemaker. “Do you want something fancy, cappuccino or latte?” Her huge machine did it all.

“No, just coffee, black, no sugar.”

Typical. Most men asked for it like that, but she’d bet a few secretly went for double shot Americano when nobody was looking. Somehow, this man seemed the black coffee type. “Make yourself at home.”

She wasn’t. She took hers with cream. Plenty of it. She put the cups on a tray and carried them through.

He’d settled on one of the wide sofas facing the window. Lights twinkled in a cityscape she’d dreamed about as a little girl in small-town England. Now she was here. Having that view reminded her every day how lucky she was. It helped. Sometimes.

She put the tray down on the glass coffee-table and sat next to him. They didn’t have to touch on this wide sofa, but somehow she ended closer than she’d planned. He sat, his arms spread over the back and arm, more relaxed than she’d imagined him.

“Do you want to know why I wouldn’t take you as a patient?”

Yes. She swallowed, and touched her throat. “Why?”

His glasses glinted as he turned away from the view to look at her. Behind the lenses his eyes gleamed with truth. “Because I can’t take a scalpel to you. You’re too perfect to be touched. I can’t do it.”

She frowned, squinting at him. “Are you sure you were looking at the right woman? Maybe one time I might have agreed with you, but you have to know that I’m forty-five years old. My years of perfection are behind me.”

“I don’t think so. You carry your life with you and you’ll only grow better with age. Your bone structure is awesome.”

“Is that a medical term?”

“Abso-fucking-lutely.” He huffed a laugh but didn’t sound amused. “Operating on you would be like smoothing the statue of the Venus de Milo back to a blurry approximation of what it should be.”

“You’re dissing plastic surgery? Don’t you make your living at it?”

His lips twisted in a wry smile. “Sure. But we don’t just do vanity stuff. And even then it isn’t always about vanity. Some women make their living from keeping their beauty. Actresses over forty have difficulty getting good leading roles, or they did before the cosmetic surgeon got to work. Pop stars need to be honed and buffed weeks after giving birth or leaving rehab.” He shrugged. “You know how it goes.”

“None better.” Although she’d never gone under the knife before she didn’t condemn people who made that choice. “But now it’s my turn. I take it the confidential doctor-patient relationship between us is no more?”

“You take it right. It was there for about five minutes. I’d still like to know why you want it done, but you’re not talking to a doctor here. Just me, John, a man.”
She loved that voice, the way it purred over her skin like the caress of silk.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Newsletter, September 2009


This month I had to concentrate on my home life, somewhat, but things I'd set in motion beforehand came to fruition this month.

My first piece of news is rather exciting. For anyone who thinks an author is all about the money, well, many of us actually do it for the love. So to have "Yorkshire" available as a free download in the Kindle store is amazing. And the responses have been amazing, too.
"Yorkshire" is available at the Kindle shop - free! Pick up the first in the Richard and Rose series for no charge at all.
It's a full length novel set in the Georgian era.

Rose Golightly is a country girl who thinks her life will continue on its comfortable course, but a series of events changes that for good. On a visit to the ancestral estate of Hareton Abbey, Richard Kerre, Lord Strang, enters her life. A leader of society, a man known for extravagance in dress and life, Richard is her fate. And she is his.
Richard and Rose are back!
ISBN: 978-1-60504-269-5

Richard is to marry a rich, frigid woman in a few weeks, and has deliberately closed his heart to love. Then a coach accident throws his wounded body into Rose’s arms.
With one kiss, Richard and Rose discover in each other the passion they thought they’d never find.
But the accident that brought them together was an act of sabotage. Somewhere, in the rotting hulk of a once beautiful stately home, a murderer is hiding.
Richard and Rose set out to solve the mystery, and find the layers of scandal go deeper than simply determining who is guilty. And that doing the right thing could separate them—forever.

I hope you visit The Good, The Bad and The Unread blog from time to time. I have a regular column there, and I started doing it because I enjoyed it so much. Sybil, the owner, tries to keep it like a magazine, with lots of fresh input and views. I also review, mainly Harlequin/Mills and Boon. When I put a bad review up, I agonise over it, but a few things console me. I won't sugar-coat my reviews on books, but I always make it clear that it's only my opinion and someone else's could be entirely different. And when I review, I do it from the reader's perspective. That's why I won't review books written by friends or books put out by any of my publishers. Too close to home!

Writing - I'm starting on a new series of hot historical novellas. I'm only on the planning stage right now, but a recent visit to London and the purchase of some great new books set me off on a new path. I'll probably feature characters from previous historicals, because there are a few with loose ends I've been asked to clear up, so it's not a new series as such, more a new direction for some favorite characters. I'm so excited about this series. I've never moved the historicals up into the erotic, and even given the setting of the stories I'm not sure all of them would qualify - I still intend to let the characters tell me which way they want the story to go.

I'm in the final stages of writing Kai's book for the Department 57 series. I've loved revisiting Kai, with his long, silver-blond hair and athletic body he's one of my favorite characters. A merman who is totally happy with his existence but aware that something is missing, or in Kai's case, two someones. There is the hint of another romance to come, but whether that will end happily or not, I don't know at this stage.

And "Red Shadow," the next STORM book has been accepted at Ellora's Cave. This features the vampire Johann, my first vampire story since "Rubies of Fire," so that was a challenge, but a welcome one. I've introduced a few new characters, and you will get to reaquaint yourself with some new ones. The series also has a title - Ecstasy in Red. Isn't that nice? I do plan to continue this series with stories from Team Blue, and so on, as long as the ideas keep coming. While Team Red members were essentially fighting remnants left over from the old world, before Talents became generally known, Team Blue have a new challenge to face. But I'll let you guess that for now, as while I know where I want to take the series, I haven't worked out the details yet.

My website
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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Newsletter, August 2009

All under-the-hood work this month. I'm writing and editing like crazy, nothing to get excited about, not yet, anyway, but I do enjoy working in that way. It's what I do, it's why I decided to enter this world. That and the lovely people I get to meet and the places I get to go to. Who'd have thought that sitting at home writing would lead to all this?

Anyway, to get more specific, I had a new release this month (I'll put an excerpt below for you). "Red Heat," the second book in the STORM universe, came out. And I loved writing this one, because Sorcerers are my only original addition to the paranormal universe. The others, shape-shifters, vampires and so on, are there for me to research and put my own twist on, but Sorcerers are all mine. They're people with a normal mortal lifespan, but with extraordinary psi gifts. They are born without the natural barrier everyone develops naturally during the first week of life, so they have to learn to erect it. Until they do, they're deeply vulnerable to psychic attack, so Sorcerer children are usually brought up in peaceful, remote locations, until they learn to cope with the constant psychic bombardment of reading people's thoughts and desires - whether they want to or not. All Sorcerers can trace their origins to a Hungarian family, the Nadasdys, one of whom was married to Erszebet Bathory, the Blood Countess. That's why they use the capital S, because they're a race of people, not a type.
Chase Maynord, the hero of Red Heat is a Sorcerer. He also owns a chain of luxury hotels, the Timothy group, which is also very useful for his role with STORM. Now Talents are out in the open, it adds more complications to his situation.
The heroine, Jillian, is something very different and she was hard to write, because I wanted to get into how she felt, what she would do. She had to have a very strong centre, otherwise she wouldn't have survived.
She was in a car accident and the IRDC, (the baddies) used it to operate on her and brainwash her. The combination of techniques make her believe she's someone else, the other person in the car accident. They do it because they want Chase and they know a Sorcerer isn't going to be fooled by an imitation, however good. (I wouldn't consider this a spoiler because it's all in the first couple of chapters).
So Chase is faced with a dilemma. He wants to keep Jillian, and he needs to bring her memory back. Jillian has to decide whose side she is on and who she really is.
I had to work hard on this one, but I think I got it to work.

Also out later in August is the next Richard and Rose book. "Harley Street" is the last Richard and Rose book that was previously published. It's been heavily rewritten and re-edited, so I'd love to know what people think of it. Better or worse than the previous versions?
In this one, Richard and Rose go to London, ready to create a life for themselves, something they can call "normal." Rose is being pressurised to create the next Southwood heir, not by Richard but by his parents, and Richard's past returns to bite him in the butt. Badly.

After that, we go into the two written but never published books and the one I haven't written yet, but have planned.

And on a personal note - this is the month when my life changed, in a way. The whole ground floor of our house has been ripped out and redesigned. New floors, new furniture, new bookshelves. Like many people, we put up with things while the children were growing up, too tired or too lethargic or too distracted by more important things to sort it out, but this summer we decided to take the plunge. I'm sitting in a room which is at present bare floorboards, but the boards are stained and polished and the rug is outside waiting to be renovated before it comes back in. At least one part of the old house remains, if gussied up to within an inch of its life.
So I went on the netbook for a while, and thanks and blessings to Ikea for their Dave computer table. Portable, convenient - brilliant. Sometimes it's worth taking a 5 mile hike around the Ikea store looking for something in particular and getting sidelined by lights, boxes and sofas - or is that just me?


"Red Heat" this month. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Of all the hotels in New York, she has to walk into his.
Ever since Chase Maynord lost the love of his life in a car crash, he’s used her name as a password for STORM agents at his luxury hotel. So when someone registers as Jillian Miller, he assumes it’s business as usual.
But it’s not. Jillian returns to him and their lust burns up the sheets. Only she thinks she’s someone else, her memory destroyed by their mutual enemy. Chase wants her back and he’ll do anything to get her.
Jillian’s mission is to deliver Chase to the IRDC, enemy to Talents. But, stunned by her hunger for him, she doesn’t know whose side she’s on any more.
The old Jillian loved exhibiting herself to an appreciative audience so Chase takes her somewhere he can indulge her every desire. He prays that her old passion for making love in public will restore her to him.
She has to come back to him soon, or they’re both dead. And he won’t let her die alone.

Caroline’s heart pounded double time as she stepped through the huge glass doors of the New York flagship hotel of the Timothy group. Not for the first time she doubted she could accomplish her mission but she’d rehearsed this part so many times, she could have done it in her sleep.

One of the premier hotels in New York, the Timothy was imposing enough from the outside but the entrance hall staggered her, even though she’d seen pictures of it before. The reality was so much more.

Taste and opulence combined to create one of the most admired interiors in the city. Crystal drops spiraled down from the central chandelier high above, like a static waterfall, spreading sparkles of fractured color over the cream marble floor. Dark mahogany and brass fittings emphasized the sparkle.

In one of the most expensive areas of real estate in the world, this space stated its disdain for mere money. Except that was a double bluff, because the cost of a suite here for a night would keep an average American family for a month.

She tried to despise the kind of lifestyle that required this level of display but she couldn’t quite make it. She wanted to call it vulgar but it wasn’t. She wanted to condemn it but walking into the space lifted her spirits.

A shame the owner was a Talent who refused to share his gifts with mankind for the common good. Caroline was here to persuade him to change his mind. Not that he knew that yet.

This beautiful place served as nothing but a façade for deception. Because this world-famous hotel was a center for beings calling themselves Talents, who didn’t care if humans lived or died and refused to share their gifts with mankind.

And she was the first line of attack.

She had to remember that her name wasn’t Caroline but Jillian. For this mission, her name was Jillian. If she thought of herself as Caroline, she’d make a slip, so from her entrance through the great glass doors, she had to become Jillian. She repeated the name in her mind, sinking into the role as her trainers had taught her. Posing as his lost love, with extensive plastic surgery aiding her masquerade, she would do what nobody else had managed to achieve. The organization that had sent her today, the IRDC, the International Research and Development Clinic, needed Talents to help, otherwise the organization couldn’t distill the precious essences of what made Talents so special. Only Talents like shape-shifters, vampires and Sorcerers had gifts like longevity, strength, the ability to shift form, and to flash from place to place instantly.

This Talent was a Sorcerer, descended from a race of people originating in Hungary, people with incredible powers of the mind, telepathy in particular. Talents claimed that everyone could use a certain amount of telepathy, that everyone was born with it but developed a strong shield that few pierced in their lifetimes. The IRDC believed a shortcut to the ability would come if Talents allowed experiments and study. Talents constantly refused to allow the IRDC access, paranoid in their refusals. Now that Talents had come out of their particular closet and faced the light of day, it should have been easier to persuade them. No such luck. So here she was. On a mission, if not from God, then from the IRDC.

People stood at the checkout desk and three bellboys pushed laden luggage trolleys across the floor. The information desk was clear, so she walked up to it, each subdued tap of her shoes on the cold marble ticking the countdown to her fate.

The staff at the desks wore dark business suits that were only recognizable as a uniform by the T monogram on the lapel, so distinctively the Timothy that the hotel had made the letter into a brand, even trademarked the custom designed font. You could buy towels and robes with its distinctive flourish. As the advertisements in the glossies said, “We sell them to you so you don’t have to steal them.” She’d bet the guests still stole them, just for kicks.

The man at the desk, who wore a badge with his name, Malcolm, gave her a professional smile but his eyes didn’t quite meet hers. Some of the guests here wouldn’t like eye contact. It made Jillian feel even more isolated. “May I help you, ma’am?”

“I-I don’t have a reservation.” She watched the smile melt away. “But I wondered if room 139B was available?” Did Malcolm’s eyes widen just a fraction? “My name’s Jillian Miller.”

Oh yes, they had. He glanced down. “We are very busy,” he looked up at her, sharp eyes assessing, “but I believe that room is free. I’ll make a note and get someone to take you up.”

She was on the brink of saying she’d find her own way but a bellboy stood at her side as soon as Malcolm raised a finger. She took the keycard Malcolm handed her and signed the register. Only on her way to the elevators did she realize that he’d forgotten to ask for her credit card. She’d just given the code word, a mixture of her assumed name, Jillian Miller, and the number of the room, 139B. Maybe credit cards were irrelevant.

In the elevator, the bellboy passed a card through the base of the control panel instead of hitting a button. And where there should have been a button for the thirteenth floor, the one she wanted, there was only a brass dummy button. Nobody would think anything of that because superstitious people wouldn’t book rooms on the thirteenth floor, so many hotels just skipped it. It seemed they’d put it to use in the Timothy.

The elevator had an old-world feel, with art deco grilles over obsidian marble. Very classy. “Ma’am, if you swipe your keycard, it will take you directly to your floor,” the bellboy said in a voice as dark as chocolate. He was larger than the average bellboy too, his muscles clearly evident through his maroon uniform. She hadn’t known they made bellhop uniforms that big.

It was really happening. This was for real. All the way here she’d fought to persuade herself that her handlers at the IRDC trusted her with this operation and finally she believed it.

When they arrived and the doors slid silently open the bellhop stopped her leaving the elevator. “You see that painting?” He indicated a distinctive watercolor of a landscape hanging on the wall directly opposite.


“There are copies opposite every elevator door and they tell you you’re on the right floor. The same watercolor, the same view. It works as a double check. Come this way, ma’am.”

She followed the man, who pulled her wheeled case, until they reached a door at the end. He took her keycard, swiped it through and she watched a unit slide out from the wall. The bellhop stood aside. “Press your left forefinger on the pad and look into the viewer. It will register your fingerprint and your iris print.”

Jillian bent and peered into the eyepiece and put her finger on the pad. A click, a blinding flash of light and the unit silently slid away. The door opened and Jillian caught her breath.

The door opened straight on to a huge room. Huge for a hotel, especially a hotel in New York. Sure, the Timothy was five star, one of the city’s best, and it provided a temporary home for celebrities and millionaires but still—Jillian couldn’t remember ever being inside anything this luxurious.

A queen-sized bed dominated one end of the room, the deep red draperies above it caught back on gilt hooks. The colors of deep red and cream, enhanced by glints of gold and clear crystal sparkled in the autumn sunshine. Everything spoke of luxury and the people born to expect it.

Not this girl, Caroline Cross from the boondocks. And that was the very last time she’d think of herself as Caroline. No more. Jillian Miller was Chase Maynord’s old flame, the woman he thought was dead, and she was more than used to rooms like this.

* * * * *

Chase ruthlessly dragged his mind back to the meeting, a discussion of the conferences scheduled for the next six months. He’d allowed a new consulting group to review the situation and make recommendations and now he heartily wished he hadn’t. The Timothy group got its bread-and-butter from conferences, as did most big hotel groups. The luxury traffic paid well as did the income from the honeymooners and ordinary rich folks but the conferences saved on administrative costs. The price they charged for the conference rooms more than paid for the reduced prices of the guest rooms.

Just as this person was telling him. Dressed in a good quality off-the-peg suit, the young man, fresh from Harvard, with all the arrogance of the newly qualified MBA, continued to tell him how to run his business. So far they’d told him nothing he didn’t already know. He wondered how much longer he could stay awake. A waste of time.

His phone vibrated in his pocket and although he’d told them emergencies only, he sighed in relief. Breaking up another fight between a “happily married” celebrity couple, even arranging for a B-list couple to move out of a suite so an A-list couple could move in, anything would be better than this.

The young man didn’t stop in his flow as Chase drew out his cell phone, switching off the blinker as he did so. He touched the screen and read the message. “Jillian Miller checked in to 139B.”

“Shit!” He shot to his feet and headed for the door, only then turning around with his customary charming smile, facing the row of shocked people at the conference table. Perhaps only that news would have jolted him from his usual suave calm. He turned his attention to the young man at the table’s head and shrugged. “I’m very sorry. I can’t ignore this emergency. May we re-convene?” And next time, he’d send one of his deputies. No way would this fucking pompous ass take any more of his time.

He couldn’t even remember the man’s name but to do him justice, the youth gave him a bright smile. “Sure. But we’ve dealt with most of it. I can send you my report first thing in the morning.”

“Fine.” Chase remembered to bestow another smile and add, “It was nice to meet you. You’re doing great,” before he left the room. If he’d cared about the guy, he would have stopped to give him some advice, like “cut to the real meat right at the start” or “remember your audience”, but the presentation had been so lackluster he couldn’t work up the interest to do it.

Outside the room, where there was no one to see him, he leaned against the wall, put his head back and took several deep breaths to calm his racing heart. Every time Jillian’s name came up, he felt this way, adrenaline rising, heart rate quickening and breath shortening. Three years and still he felt this way. Even watching a Talent on TV didn’t affect him like this.

But it would be another agent from STORM, not Jillian. Jillian was dead. He ran the safe house or more accurately, the safe floor, in her memory. That was why he used her name as part of the code. It hurt to think of her but he never wanted to forget.

He took a moment to remember her laughter, the way she leaned against him to cop a feel at the most inappropriate times, her eyes flashing with delight when he responded with outrage or shock. Her smoky gray eyes had dominated her piquant face, her near-black hair provided a frame for her pale skin, almost vampire-like in its clear, transparent pallor.

It helped to think of her but when he remembered the car crash that had ended her life the familiar grief descended on him—a black cloud that never faded, never eased up however much he invoked it, like poking his tongue into an aching tooth to see if it hurt any less. It never did.

But life went on and right now a STORM agent needed him. Chase straightened up, pulled his jacket straight and headed for the elevators.

Red Heat from Ellora's Cave
Of all the hotels in all the world, she had to walk into his...
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Where to find Lynne Connolly and her Books

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Lynne Connolly, author of Dark and Provocative Romance

Friday, March 27, 2009

New Release - Red Alert

Red Alert - the first in a new series of paranormal romantica.

When a dragon flies over Central Park, he jolts the world into awareness. Shape-shifters and vampires finally reveal their existence, and people show their fangs, wings and claws to their neighbors. But exposure doesn’t deter old enemies.
Megan meets Sandro at the lowest time of her life – when she thinks her crazy nightmares are symptoms of the tumor that is killing her. But the sexy dragon shape-shifter tells her the dreams are telepathic messages from his missing brother Ricardo. More than telepathy flares between them. Megan and Sandro burn up the night with sizzling passion, but Sandro won’t commit, and Megan wants more than a fling.
When Sandro rescues Megan from Ricardo’s captors she gives him the key to locate his brother, but he wants far more from the sexy archivist. He wants her body, all ways, all day, all night.
But this is his last case for the STORM agency and he knows he can’t promise Megan any kind of forever.

(Cover art by Seneca)


A blast of bright light made Megan open her eyes.

The dragon soared up toward the higher buildings before straightening out his flight. Then it grew larger, just as it said it would. She found herself sitting between the great wings of a beast that until a few months ago was supposed to be only a legend. Well here it was. A real live dragon.

It was maybe ten feet from head to tail, covered in blue-green scales, dry and warm, not slimy as she’d imagined when she’d seen one on the TV. Its broad back gave her good purchase, if she lowered her body so she lay on her bag, the remnants of his jacket and the manila envelope holding her scan results. Wind whipped past them and she spread her hands over the thick neck, clutching the folds of skin she found there. “Holy shit!”

Hold on tight. We’re not going far.


And by the way, dragon or man, I’m always masculine. Never an “it”. Amusement rather than irritation colored his inner voice. Dark, smoky, sexy. And yes, very masculine.

That’s better.

Can you tell everything I’m thinking?

No. Only your outer thoughts. I could go deeper but it would hurt you. We try not to pry.

My, you are civilized.

You have no idea, was his bitingly sarcastic reply.

This was a hell of a way to find out she wasn’t afraid of heights.

They were higher now. He kept to about thirtieth-floor level, as far as she could guess. He headed for the heart of Manhattan. The oasis of Central Park sprawled below them, the lush green punctuated by sharp flashes as people took photos. Despite her fatigue, a sense of elation rose in her, purely from the flight. “We’ll be on the news. Will they be able to make out my face?”

Try to speak telepathically. I can hear you better like that when we’re airborne. No they won’t make out your face, my body should obscure it. I’ll just make sure.

A warm, soft feeling enveloped them, enclosing her in an unseen envelope, like atmospheric pressure around a plane. “What did you do?”

Fuzzed. Put a mental shield around us, so people see what they expect to see, not what’s really here. How do you think we kept ourselves secret for so long?

New York looked different from the air but it was still the city Megan had fallen in love with the minute she stepped off the shuttle bus from the airport. Today was a cold, fresh spring day with a crisp blue sky, one of the best.

Where are you taking me?

To a parking garage. Then home.

My home?


He descended so smoothly she hardly noticed until the flat, car-strewn rooftop loomed up under his great clawed feet. He extended them and landed as gently as an experienced pilot. Smoother.

She stayed on his back. The roof appeared to waver, and only then did vertigo hit. Closing her eyes, Megan willed her stomach to behave until she felt the movement cease.

You can get off me now.

Megan opened her eyes and found the ground a mere three feet away. After grabbing the jacket, bag and folder, she extended her legs down one side of the scaly body and slid down to the blessedly solid ground. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths, sheer relief pouring through her.

“You did well.”

The deep, masculine voice sounded just like the one in her head. And a little like the one that cried out to her in her dreams. Shivering a little, she opened her eyes and confronted a tall, strong man. A tall, strong, completely nude man with a ripped body.

Although she tried really hard not to look down for, oh, perhaps a whole second, she couldn’t resist any longer than that. Her gaze traveled down the broad chest, liberally sprinkled with curly black hair, the join-the-dots line from navel down to—oh yes.

Long, strong and semi-erect. Semi-erect? Startled, she jerked her attention up to his face, blinking.

He gave her a devastatingly wicked smile and took the two steps that separated them. “I can’t lie to you when I’m naked, can I?”

“What, the violence turns you on? Or is it the transformation?” she managed, weak but still fighting. She badly wanted to go to him and just be held, be told it was all right, this was all a dream. But it wasn’t.

“No, it was the lush brunette who’s just spent the last twenty minutes snuggled against my back.” He smiled wryly, a warm, genuine smile, so very different from the ones Dr. Jones had flashed at her a short time before. “I felt your body against my back, the way your breasts pressed against me and your crotch pushed me. That’ll do it every time.”

“You don’t even know my name. It’s Megan. Megan Armstrong.”

“Well, Megan Armstrong, let me claim my reward for rescuing you.”

Before she could step back, his arms went around her, pressing her close, and his mouth settled on hers.

Oh but he tasted delicious. Of warmth and strength and pure, rampant male. She relaxed and let him support her weight. She hadn’t allowed herself any weaknesses for years but at the end of her rope, it felt so good to be held. This man took what he wanted and what he wanted, she gave.

Red Alert from Ellora's Cave
Dragons save the World!
Order Page:
ISBN: 9781419920639

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Newsletter, March 2009

Newsletter, March 2009

The snow has gone, and spring is tentatively pushing new shoots out of the ground. Today, on March the first, we have a bright, slightly chilly day. Perfect for spring.
I know I'm in a minority, but I love winter, love it when it gets darker early, so I can close the curtains and put the fire on. Having a cat to happily curl up in front of that fire helps. Nothing as cosy as a fire and a cat dozing on the mat in front of it. Of course, if you have a carpet with a lot of cream in it and a black cat, there are drawbacks, but I can cope!

News this month is all ongoing. I'm about to start the third STORM book and looking forward to the release of the first one. Moving Talents on just that little bit has given me a whole new set of conflicts to cope with. Many authors have written of the world that has vampires and shape-shifters in it, but they are already established, and they're more fantasies. But what of the transition, the time when mortals are made to realise that they're not the only kind of human on the planet? I'm doing the Red sequence at the moment, the search for one of the people who exploited Talents in the old days, but I want to go on to different sequences, where the changing world is explored, with all its ramifications and possibilities.

I've also seen the release of what was originally planned as the last Secrets book, Tantalizing Secrets. Part of the historical side of my work, I've had thoughts about the other characters, like Antonia, and even Elizabeth Wisheart, and I've had ideas. So it looks as if Tantalizing won't be the last in the series! I'd love your opinions on that. Who would you like to hear more about? Or do you think I should stop it, and just get on with writing the Richard and Rose series?

I have two more books planned for Richard and Rose, but there are two more that have never seen the light of day. I've now revised and sent in all the previously published books, and two have come out. Two more, this year, then the new ones. It's so different, writing a series about an established couple, and I found, as I revised and thought about the new plots, that they came back to me just as vividly as they always did. I'm so glad the first two in the series got such a good reception when Samhain brought them out, and I think Richard and Rose have found their home.

I'm getting geared up for Romantic Times now. I'm bringing a bunch of really pretty postcards, and some other bits and pieces with me, but I'm really looking forward to meeting my friends, publishers, writers and readers. If you're there, do search me out. I tend to go around in blinkers, heading for the next event, and I'm not a natural extrovert, but I'd love to meet you and put faces to the names I know and have known for years.
I will be tired. My health, as some of you know, isn't always good, but I'm doing my best to ensure that everything works for me at the end of April. I just had what the doctor called "a minor procedure" that turned into something a bit bigger, but we're past that now, and I go to have the stitches out tomorrow. After that, a bit of healthy eating and exercise and I should be ready for that long flight and a great break in Orlando! I shall probably sleep for a week when I get home, but it is so worth it. I'm arriving a few days beforehand so I can get over jetlag and acclimatize a bit, so if you're around, let me know!

So - this month's excerpt is from March's new release, Red Alert, the first STORM book. I'm very excited about this, the first book in what I plan as a series, with new characters and conflicts. But they're still Talents, still struggling against injustice and prejudice. And still burning up the sheets at night!

How about the first chapter from Red Alert?

When a dragon flies over Central Park, he jolts the world into awareness. Shape-shifters and vampires finally reveal their existence, and people show their fangs, wings and claws to their neighbors. But exposure doesn’t deter old enemies.
Megan meets Sandro at the lowest time of her life – when she thinks her crazy nightmares are symptoms of the tumor that is killing her. But the sexy dragon shape-shifter tells her the dreams are telepathic messages from his missing brother Ricardo. More than telepathy flares between them. Megan and Sandro burn up the night with sizzling passion, but Sandro won’t commit, and Megan wants more than a fling.
When Sandro rescues Megan from Ricardo’s captors she gives him the key to locate his brother, but he wants far more from the sexy archivist. He wants her body, all ways, all day, all night.
But this is his last case for the STORM agency and he knows he can’t promise Megan any kind of forever.


Megan stood when the nurse called her name, steeling herself for the ordeal ahead. The entrance doors to the unit opened with a click and cool air touched her cheek. She paused to look around, glad of any distraction.

A man entered the hospital ward. The breeze ruffled his dark hair and he turned back to close the door, unconsciously displaying the strength of his powerful body in the stacked muscle rippling the t-shirt under his worn leather jacket. Just how she liked her men, tall and strong.

Normally, that was. Today, all she could think about was sleep and getting some—soon. Even the results of today’s test gave way to that desperate need. She hadn’t slept the night through for weeks. She was about to hear that she was in for long bouts of painful treatment with a death sentence at the end—the fate she’d been dreading for weeks, but in her current state of exhaustion even that took second place to sleep. She dismissed the sexy stranger with a weary shrug and turned her attention to the nurse.

The nurse led her past a line of curtained cubicles into a private room. “The doctor will be with you in a moment,” she snapped before exiting briskly.

What was her problem? Megan couldn’t help her busy day. For her information, Megan’s day would be much worse and she hadn’t snapped at anybody. Yet.

The quiet in the room assaulted her senses after the bustle of the ward. Humanity, in all its shuffling, smelly reality lay out there but here Megan felt sequestered, almost as if the room was soundproofed. Anxiety tightened her throat and she looked around for a distraction. Worry wouldn’t help her now. She’d taken the tests, and once she had her results, she’d know what would happen next.

But here, in a room with a steel hospital bed, reality hit with sickening impact. They must have brought her here because they wanted her to stay, not just give her the results and tell her to come back later. That meant whatever was wrong with her was urgent, needing immediate treatment.

She said the words “Brain tumor” aloud a few times, trying to get used to the idea. It still sent a shudder through her every time.

Biting her lip, Megan glanced up at the TV bolted to the wall above her head. Pictures flashed across the screen, an internal hospital channel showing reminders to eat your five portions of vegetables a day, images of a well-manicured hand slicing carrots into sticks, then green peppers into appetizing slices. She watched the silent images then glanced away. Food was the last thing on her mind.

Usually a patient was stuck with the hospital information channel but not here. A remote lay on the windowsill. Megan picked it up, flicked off the mute and turned to the next channel. CNN News.

“Can New York take this new pressure on its infrastructure?” the commentator said. “How long will it be before there’s a collision in the sky and a bloody mess in the street?”

The camera switched to a view of a dragon in full flight. The creature must have a twenty-foot wingspan. Its great blue-green body gleamed in the weak spring sunshine, the hue shining iridescently as it beat its wings against the wind currents. So beautiful. So impossible, until yesterday.

Damn but she wished she could see one. The existence of people calling themselves Talents had blasted shock waves around the world. She’d seen the footage of the dragon in flight a dozen times since yesterday, when it was the central part of a documentary devoted to the subject. An amateur cameraman—if there such a thing in New York where everybody seemed to be selling their private photos to one agency or another—shot the dragon in flight over Central Park. Other corroborative film and evidence followed, with the strong suggestion that these “creatures” were urban terrorists and spies.

So far, Talents hadn’t spoken, although a spokesman said they would break their long silence later today. That kind of confirmed it. One solitary documentary couldn’t persuade the world but when they came out and said they existed and they’d prove it, that would send the networks into orgasms of delight.

If Megan hadn’t been dreaming about a particular dragon for the past couple of months, it might have come as more of a shock to her but she had her own concerns now, and they overshadowed everything else. The commentator continued. “A representative from STORM will be speaking to the public later today. The Society of Talented Officers Resisting Mistreatment has been with us for some time but until recently nobody knew the specific definition of Talents. It means dragons, vampires and other creatures who have lived among us for centuries. Little is yet known of these Talented beings although they have promised to reveal more in the interest of public awareness.”

Megan slumped bonelessly to the bed, remote in hand.

She blinked and sat up when the door opened and a short, bespectacled doctor strode in, followed closely by two assistants, or maybe they were students. One big, red-haired man whose muscles bulged in a white jacket two sizes too small for him and an even bigger African-American, his head shaved aggressively bald.

My, they make students big these days. A note of alarm sounded in her head. Something was wrong here, though in her current state she couldn’t begin to imagine what it was.

The doctor carried a brown folder that he handed off to one of his assistants without taking his attention away from her. “Miss Armstrong,” he said, his professional smile revealing gleaming white teeth. “I’m Dr. Jones.”

She didn’t like his smile. Unctuous, she’d call it. Smarmy described it even better. His hair looked as if he hadn’t spared the wet-look gel and his chiseled, handsome face didn’t dispel her initial repulsion. “I understand you’ve been having bad dreams, Miss Armstrong.”

“A bit more than that.” She glanced up at the TV and remembered she held the remote in her hand. She muted it. “Sorry.”

The doctor glanced at the screen . “Seeing if any more dragons have appeared?”

“I guess so.” She shrugged. “Seen any in the ER?”

“Not that I know about.” The doctor flashed her another smile, a wintry one this time. He placed his cool fingers on her temples. “Hmm. You feel a little warm.” He reached over her head for the in-ear thermometer. “We’ve had the results of your CT scan and we’re concerned about some abnormalities.”

Here it came. Megan braced herself.

“You have a shadow at the back of your brain, Miss Armstrong.” That explained the presence of the students. An interesting case, he would tell them. Very unusual, worth studying. They could cut her up afterward to examine what killed her. At least she wouldn’t be there to see the blood. She’d never liked blood.

Shock flooded her body, tightening her throat and limbs. She fought it down. She needed information, a clear picture of what was happening inside her body. She fought out the word while she still could. “C-Cancer?”

The doctor gave her a smile. God, she hated his smiles. She wanted to slap that smug grin off his face. “Not necessarily. Many of these abnormalities are benign. But it’s pressing against your brain and probably causing the sleep difficulties. You’re having nightmares, aren’t you?”

“Vivid ones. Always the same.”

“Tell me. There might be some clues there.”

Megan opened her mind to the memories, allowed herself to see the picture that haunted her every night. “But enough about them. Tell me about your dreams.”

“More dragons, I’m afraid.” She flashed him an uncertain smile. “My dreams are always the same. A dragon shape-shifter, or that’s what he says he is. He’s restrained, tied down to a bed in a room with no windows. It’s full of instruments. He’s been tortured. Once I saw him with his arm laid open, the blood throbbing through his veins. He told me not to worry, he’d mend. But they did horrible things to him. He said for me to get in touch with his brother but it’s a dream, so I knew that must be wrong.”

“What was his brother’s name?”

She hesitated, a warning note sounding in her head. Don’t tell them. The voice sounded velvety, rough. Her imagination. It had to be. Sleep deprivation did some weird things. “You think it could be a reflection of my life? Wishful thinking? Only it isn’t, is it?” She waved a hand at the TV screen. “I’ve been having these dreams for a long time, long before the news of STORM and the shape-shifters broke. Now I’m beginning to wonder. Is it real, or is it me? They’re normal except for one thing, so this Ricardo could be telling the truth. ”

Dr. Jones’s eyes opened wide and glanced at the African-American student. “Ricardo. That’s his name?”

She mentally chastised herself for letting it slip. “Yes. He says he’s a dragon but I never saw him change or shape-shift or whatever they call it. He says he can’t.”

Dr. Jones tsked. “They appear perfectly human until they change, then they become perfectly dragon, or whatever shape they have. It’s disgusting when you see them shape-shift.” He paused and glanced at one of the students, who moved a little further away from him to stand in front of the door. “Mutants, you could call them.”

She wouldn’t call them “mutants”. Different, yes but “mutant” made them sound perverted and she didn’t think they were. A new minority, sure but no more “mutant” than any other minority.

Didn’t this doctor know a little too much about creatures who’d only revealed themselves in public yesterday? Her spine prickled in warning. There was definitely something wrong here. She wanted out of this quiet little room. She blinked and glanced at the door, past the beefy student who blocked her way.

“What’s wrong?”

“N-nothing. I just got a weird feeling—you know, like somebody’s walked over my grave.”

Dr. Jones shot a glance over his shoulder and the student nearest the door, the red-haired one, left the room, closing the door carefully behind him.

Something crawled over her senses, making the hairs on the back of her neck prickle. This whole situation didn’t feel right. “Why is it so important? If there’s something in my brain causing these dreams, Ricardo doesn’t exist, does he?” She should be glad. If the swelling in her brain caused the dreams, a shape-shifting dragon called Ricardo Gianetti wasn’t lying on a table somewhere, tortured and suffering.

He exists.

She looked around for the source of the deep, night-dark voice, sure she didn’t imagine it this time. “I’m sorry, did you say something?”

“No.” Dr. Jones fixed her with a bland stare. “But I will now. We need you to stay in the hospital for a while. We’ll do another scan and operate as soon as possible, then we’ll know more.”

“What will you do?”

“We’ll schedule you for exploratory surgery, probably tomorrow.” He checked his watch. “It’s eleven a.m. now, which means we can operate any time from eleven tonight onward, after we’ve starved you and done the blood tests. I’ll make sure you’re on the list as a priority.” He looked back up at her, blue eyes assessing, professional smile firmly in place. “It’s too early to jump to conclusions, so try not to worry.”

“Like you try not to think about elephants, once somebody’s put the idea in your head?” What a stupid thing to say. Of course she’d worry. “And although I’m British, my work permits and health insurance are in order. In case you were wondering.” Most medics would, once they realized she wasn’t an American citizen but Dr. Jones hadn’t even asked. Nor had the nurse who’d brought her here.

The doctor’s smile didn’t waver, neither did it broaden or become more natural. That was about as fake a smile as she’d ever seen. “Get some rest and take your mind off things. Think about dragons.” With a jerk of his head he indicated the TV screen. It still flashed out pictures of that damn dragon flying across the screen.

“Would it be possible for me to make a phone call?” She’d switched her cell phone off, as instructed on her visit to the CT room. “Just to a friend to say where I am and ask him to bring some things in for me.”

For the first time since he’d entered the room, the African-American spoke. “We’d rather you didn’t use a cell phone. We’ll arrange for a phone to be brought to you.”

Her hackles rose a little more. Something was wrong here. All her instincts told her so. The doctor had been interested in her dream, which should be a symptom, a figment of her tumor-induced imagination and he knew more about shape-shifters than he could have picked up from one sensation-seeking documentary.

You want out?

That voice again, in her head. No one could hear it but her. She was looking right at Dr. Jones and no trace of awareness crossed his face. Who are you?

A Talent. I know Ricardo. Don’t listen to them. I can get you out of here.

He knew Ricardo? Ricardo wasn’t a figment of her tortured imagination? I don’t understand.

Choose. Now. Them or me?

Her skin, now prickling in goosebumps despite the stuffy heat in this room, told her the danger lay here, not with him. You.

Get out of the room. I’m just outside.

She slid off the bed, measuring the distance between her and the door. “Listen, the sleep clinic at the university only sent me here for a CT scan. How about I go back and show them the results and see what they think?”

“There’s no need for that. Time is of the essence here, Miss Armstrong. You should rest.”

The med student took a step toward her and she saw the syringe in his hand, its tip glinting wickedly in the weak sunlight filtering through the blinds.

Her goosebumps and prickling hairs became all-out terror. The two men who came in with Dr. Jones weren’t students at all. They were muscle.

A scuffle outside the door made Dr. Jones turn his head toward the sound. Megan took the opportunity and lashed out with her foot. It struck with a satisfyingly solid whump, right in his solar plexus.

Dr. Jones doubled up, gasping for air. Well the first step to getting out had been easy. But facing the “student” standing between her and the door, Megan knew he wouldn’t be such a pushover. He stood, feet planted wide apart, knees slightly bent in a position she recognized from her weekly karate class.


She had to hurry, before Jones regained his breath. When she kicked up toward the guy’s balls, intending the kick to be a feint for an upward hand jab, the bastard grabbed her ankle and threw her to the hard floor. The very hard floor. Her head hit the ground with a solidity Megan felt in every bone of her body, intensifying her ever-present headache, and she kicked back with her free foot, only to find it caught in the same meaty fist.

Pressure on the side of her pants alerted her to the syringe pressing into her flesh.

The door burst open, propelled by the heavy body of the red-haired “student”. He fell next to her, already unconscious, his big body completely relaxed. One massive arm dropped over her body, dislodging the needle’s trajectory.

A whirlwind followed the student, or what seemed like one to Megan. Dark, unruly hair was the only feature she was absolutely sure of topping a tall, powerful body with excellent reactions, because the intruder spun around on his heel, his arm already whipping out to take her attacker full across his face.

The open-handed slap knocked the African-American aside but he came back, one blow too superficial to cause any real damage. Just in time to receive the jackhammer punch under his chin that knocked his head back with a crunch that sounded fatal.

The student fell back against the room’s only chair, collapsing it with the sound of breaking wood and the fleshier crunch of breaking bone.

It was the man she’d glimpsed earlier entering the main ward. Closer up he was even more lethally sexy. Arousal, totally unexpected, purred through her veins. “There are more outside, so the only way we’re going to get out of here is through that window.” He swept the room with an appraising glance and picked up the metal bedside table as if it weighed nothing at all, ignoring the clatter as the drawer fell out. “Close your eyes if you’re scared of heights and hold on tight.”

Lifting the table over his head, he swung it at the window. The sound of shattering glass rewarded him and he stepped forward to knock out the remaining jagged shards and drag the wrecked blind aside.

Was that a hand or a claw? A claw, she realized, as fingernails lengthened into talons and blue-green scales clustered over his hand and arm.

She gasped in shock. “Holy fuck!”

He turned to face her, scales gathering on his neck, his voice throaty and raw. “Climb up and hold on. Or stay here and face them.”

Feet pounded up the hallway outside and at the same time, her rescuer completed his transformation into a man-sized dragon. Clothes ripped and tore, falling from his body and she felt a sense of irritation in her mind that came from him. Irritation?

Yeah, I liked that jacket. Grab the pieces and let’s go. Pick up your stuff too. Then put your arms around my neck. Or stay here and let them kill you.

His neck was much longer and greener than it had been a minute ago. When she heard the shout “In here!” from outside the room she knew this was decision time.

She grabbed her purse, pausing to sling it over her head so the strap crossed her body, and picked up the remains of the leather jacket, only remembering the folder containing her scan results at the last minute, then she obeyed him—it—and put her arms around his—its—neck.

When we’re through the window, I’m going full size. Be prepared to hang on ‘cuz we ain’t coming down for a while.

I must be mad.

If you are, I am too. Ready?

As I’ll ever be.

Her feet lifted off the ground just as she was beginning to wonder how the hell she could talk to somebody mind to mind. She closed her eyes and hung on.

Red Alert - coming on March 7th from Ellora's Cave

Where to find Lynne Connolly and her Books

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Lynne Connolly, author of Dark and Provocative Romance

Monday, February 02, 2009

February newsletter

Lynne Connolly, author of Dark and Provocative Romance

Newsletter, February 2009


February seems to have brought in the snow. Britain is shrouded in the stuff, we’re told the worst snowstorm for 18 years. But where I live, we’re sheltered by the Pennines, so it’s going already. And this time, the South got it worst. London is disrupted. Again. Definitely a month to stay in and keep warm!

Well first and foremost, I have an agent! I went down to London last month and met her at the British Library, a perfect place to meet an agent. We had a discussion and shook hands on the deal. A lovely lady, Isabel White, who is setting up her own agency after a number of years with Brie Burkeman. You can see her website here:

She has a new paranormal, “A Talented Man,” which we’re working on right now, ready to submit to several publishers. So exciting, and scary too.

I’ve been frantically busy with new releases. I love that “Thunderfire” is out, bringing the Pure Wildfire series to a close, but it was a wrench to say goodbye to the band and their partners. It was my introduction to Ellora’s Cave, and I have to say that so far the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I love being there, and I’m delighted they accepted a new story, “Red Alert,” which is, hopefully, the start of a new series, featuring the STORM agency.

But also this month, there’s a brand new Department 57 book, “Crystal Captive,” featuring one of the heroes that people have contacted me about, saying they want his story. Dominici Serafino, dragon shape-shifter, meets his match in “Crystal Captive,” and learns that sometimes he just has to let go.

Then, at the end of February, “Tantalizing Secrets” comes out at Samhain. This is the third Secrets story and features gorgeous Peter Worsley, whose life is turned inside out when he visits the bustling market town of Leicester. As it happens, Leicester is my home town, and the house where Arabella lives is based on Belgrave House, notorious in recent years as the scene of a haunting, but when I knew it, it was a perfectly recreated Georgian manor house.

The Secrets series was originally conceived as a trilogy, but I’ve received so many emails about one or two of the characters that I’m thinking of extending it, and writing about Antonia and one or two others. Where to find the time, that’s the problem!

So there are three excerpts for you this month, for the paranormal lovers and for the history lovers. Interesting to compare the two styles side by side. I’m told there is a difference, but I’ve never seen it, myself. Can you see the difference between the two styles?

Excerpts and blurb:

The first two excerpts contain matter that isn't suitable for the under 18's.

Hot sex and high living was all Chris Keys needed to complete his life as the thunderous heart of rock band Pure Wildfire. Now he wants something else. He wants Ashley Westfall.
Ashley has a secret—she doesn’t want to sing, she doesn’t want to go onstage, she doesn’t even want fame anymore. She wants a normal life with a normal man. Whatever that is. But when she finds the normal man, it’s not him but the sexy drummer for Pure Wildfire who captures her heart. And Chris is far from normal. He’s sex on legs and a shape-shifting firebird.
Unwittingly, Ashley thrusts Chris into lethal danger. Apart, they have no chance of defeating the the secret society that threatens them and the band with extinction. Together, they might have a chance.
Ashley has to find the strength to stop Chris sacrificing everything he loves for her sake. Before it’s too late.

She went through the door, not altogether unsurprised to find a big, luxurious bathroom on the other side. The shower stall could hold two, maybe three people comfortably and four if they wanted to move over. However, Chris was one big Texan and he might find it a squeeze. It might be the sort of squeeze he enjoyed if he let anybody else in here.
She stripped, knowing he’d seen her naked before but unaccountably shy. The rustle of clothing told her he was undressing too. Bare-chested, he walked to the shower and turned it on but reached under it to feel the temperature. He glanced at her over his shoulder. “This is supposed to be a luxury apartment but the heating system isn’t luxurious.”
Although the water might be cold, suddenly Ashley wasn’t. Flushing with unaccountable embarrassment, she crossed her arms over her breasts and then, realizing the gesture was silly, forced herself to lower her hands to her sides. She smiled but she felt the tremble at the corner of her lips.
He came to her and slid his arms around her waist. “It’s been a hard day for you, Ashley, hasn’t it?”
She nodded and allowed her forehead to rest on his broad chest. It felt so good.
“Come on, the water’s warm now. Don’t do anything, I’ll take care of you.”
He led her to the shower, currently exuding steam and herded her inside the ivory-tiled space. The click signaled the moment he closed the glass door. The fitments were brass, not deliberately old-fashioned but not aggressively modern, either. She liked them. He reached for a bottle and steered her under the main stream of water, although three heads currently spurted down on them.
“What are those?” she asked when she lowered her head so he could rub shampoo into her hair. Several openings adorned the walls, about a foot from the bottom of the shower.
He grinned at her. “Toys.”
He flipped a button on the panel just above the toiletry shelf and water sprayed from the lower openings, hitting her at the top of the thighs. He watched her, his fingers busy delivering a wonderful scalp massage. She opened her legs and he drew her forward until she gasped. The spray hit her pussy, massaging her clit and opening with delicious warmth. She groaned. “I’ve got to get one of these.”
His hands worked up the lather and then drew her back under the shower to rinse. She moaned when the shower spraying between her legs moved away from her clit and he chuckled. “Want to go back?”
“Does a cat love heat?”
She moved back and sighed in pleasure. “This feels so wrong, in such a good way.”
“Good.” He leaned over her to pick up another bottle and she managed to catch his nipple between her teeth. It was his turn to groan. “Very nice.”
She liked this gentle, playful side of Chris. Liked it a lot. He stayed where he was but the scent of lemons told her he’d opened the bottle and his hands moved lower on her body, rubbing the sweet-scented gel against her back and shoulders. “Mmm. So good.”
She licked and he rewarded her with a groan and a moaned, “Oh I like that.”
The tickling between her legs was becoming—not enough. She moved back, releasing his nipple, and admired her handiwork. It stood proud, reddened by her attentions, so she moved on to the other one in the interests of symmetry.
Chris pulled away but only to work the gel around her breasts. His touch, firmly cupping and rubbing, soothed and excited her at the same time. She lifted her head for his kiss.
He didn’t disappoint. When he bent to her, she felt heat radiating off him and moved closer to rub her body against his. He chuckled against her lips. “You feel like a cat.”

Thunderfire from Ellora's Cave
Shapeshifters rock!
Order Page:
ISBN: 9781419920219

Crystal Captive
Nicole is a gossip columnist. All she wants is a good story, but when she confronts Dominici Serafino at his luxury Italian villa, she get far more than that.
An afternoon of sizzling passion leads to danger, when they are kidnapped by an organization intent on revealing Dominici as a shape-shifting dragon. And he is, he really is that mythical creature, who sometimes shape-shifts during sex. It makes Nicole wet even to think about it.
Their captors want Dominici and Nicole to perform for the cameras. And that turns Nicole on like she never imagined before.
What's a dragon to do? Dominici is finding sex with the gorgeous journalist turning to something far more intense. He has to protect Nicole from their enemies, and he doesn't even know if he can trust her. In a position that gives him access to juicy stories from the world's most talked-about celebrities, he needs to keep their secrets and his own if he wants to survive.
He still wants her, any way, every day. For keeps.

He hooked his thumbs inside her bikini bottoms and tugged them down, following them to the floor and urging her to step out of them by nudging her ankles. He took a moment to caress the slender shape, bones prominent against lightly tanned skin. Any part of a woman could be sensitive, and he loved searching out the less obvious ones.
She shivered when he stroked her ankles, and he wished he had more time to explore. But if his cock could talk, it would be screaming at him. It always did. He’d just gotten better at forcing it to do what he wanted.
This time it was a damned close-run thing. He wanted this woman with an urgency that reminded him of the thirst after a fast.
Domenici had to bend to reach her. He tapped the inside of her leg, and she opened. He liked that. “Hands against the wall, sweetheart.”
She lifted her hands and braced them against the wall in front of her. He’d chosen this part of the bathroom because a section of mirrored tile faced them. He saw her face, the way she took her bottom lip between her teeth, the way her eyes, wide with apprehension, met his reflected there.
“I shouldn’t --”
“Neither should I.” His voice rumbled through his body, and he felt his fingers tremble as he slid them up her thighs into the paradise waiting for him at their apex. “Don’t think about it. Don’t spoil it. Whatever happens next, we have this.”
She made to turn her head, but he nudged her so she turned back to face the mirror. “Look at me that way.”
He bent his knees, took his cock in hand, and guided it to the wet, soft depths shadowed by her ass. He brought his other hand around the front, slid it into her cleft. He didn’t have to search hard to find her clit. It pulsed against his fingers. She was so ready.
So was he. He slid his cock against her and met sweet resistance. Enough to show her he was there, but her juices soaked him, dripped against his cock, already damp from his precum.
With a moan of surrender, he pushed inside.

Crystal Captive is out at Loose-Id Publishing, on 3rd February 2009

Tantalizing Secrets

Arabella Mason is too busy investigating her brother-in-law’s “accidental” death to entertain thoughts of love. She’ll go to any lengths to ease her sister’s grief, even accept the help of the distressingly attractive Viscount Bredon, Peter Worsley. Instead of answers, the trail of clues only leads to more questions. Who was her brother-in-law, really…and why does Peter, who poses as her brother in public, make mincemeat of her resistance in private?

A successful politician and confirmed bachelor, Peter has bedded the loveliest women in society. He never imagined he’d wind up in a Leicester backwater, helping a pretty widow investigate his brother’s untimely death. As his suspicions of foul play grow stronger, the danger rises—and so does his desire for Arabella. One kiss, and she snatches away all his resolve, leaving him wondering which he wants more…

To find his brother’s killer? Or keep Arabella safe—and make her his?

the coach lurched to a halt and they were flung forward. Peter flung out a hand to stop Arabella hurting herself, and was rewarded by a handful of fabric and a brief contact with one soft breast. He took her arm and hauled her back on to the seat as the carriage pulled to a halt.
Breathlessly she stared at him and they both heard a gruff voice. “Stand and deliver!”
“Good Lord!” The gleam of battle sparked in him. Cautiously he settled the pistol in his pocket so it came easily to hand.
The door of the carriage was wrenched open. A heavily muffled figure stood outside. “Out,” the man commanded.
Peter descended and held his hand out to help Arabella. To his surprise, she wasn’t looking in the least shocked. If he didn’t know her better, he would have thought she was angry.
Lounging against the open door of the carriage, Peter stared at the highwayman. Their assailant was so muffled up it was difficult to make out much about him, but Peter noted the man was no taller than he was, and wasn’t grossly overweight. He’d pulled a cocked hat low down on his forehead and a muffler up over the lower half of his face.
Peter thrust his hands in his pockets, touching the rounded end of the pistol. In the other pocket, he had a knife, usually carried for more mundane purposes but it might come in useful too, given the chance. He kept Arabella in view, prepared to push her to the ground. Some highwaymen wanted more than jewelry and cash; he wasn’t about to allow that.
Arabella lifted her chin and glared at the man. There was no doubt about it now—fire flashed from her dark eyes. She was angry. Peter hoped she wouldn’t do anything foolish. He wished he could see the coachman but that was impossible without turning.
Their aggressor swore, fluently and, much to Peter’s surprise dropped the hand holding the pistol to his side. “Jewelry. Money.”
Then Arabella did something that took Peter completely aback. She put her hands on her hips and thrust her face forward in the age-old position of the fishwife. It said a lot for Peter’s newfound attraction that he found her pose delightful. “And who do you think you are threatening? Get in the carriage this instant!”

Tantalizing Secrets is out at Samhain Publishing on February 24th, 2009