New month - two new releases and a new look for my website!
The website trend seems to be toward simpler looks, with more emphasis on content, rather than fancy flash effects. Gradients and textures are replacing more elaborate layouts and effects. I quite like it, so I set to simplifying my website a little. I enjoy sprucing it up, it gives me a break from writing. Pop over and see if you like it - I'd appreciate your comments!
I've also been busy getting ready for Romantic Times. I'm having a break in San Francisco and in Los Angeles before the convention itself, a mixture of research and fun. I do want to write some books based in that part of the country, but I'm a strong believer in visiting a place to get a real sense of the atmosphere there. So I'm really looking forward to my trip there.
To writing - I have two new books coming out next month, but apart from that, nothing else planned! I do have several books with editors for consideration, but I've taken a slightly new approach recently, and I wanted to try some new ventures. I have no idea if these will meet with any success, but if I didn't go where the muse led me, I'd get stale and tired. I feel that very strongly.
I'm still writing Richard and Rose. I want this last book in the series to knock your socks off, so I've been very careful with the way I'm writing it, and what the characters do. It is hard going, but I think it will be worth it, in the end. It does mean that releases this year might not be as prolific as previous years, and while it's a risk, I think it's one worth taking.
I've been asked to take part in two projects, and I hope to get them off the ground soon. It's far too early to talk about them, but I can't resist - not to you people, anyway!
So far the agent search has resulted in a few promising leads, but nothing certain. I want to take care and choose the right person for me, and present them with the right project, so I've taken two of my unpublished books and worked hard on them. I don't know if they'll ever see the light, but I'm excited about them, and I'd love to see them get there one day.
One is in a new genre, supposed to be potentially hot. The other's a contemporary. I don't know why, but I caught the contemporary bug recently. I think it's the conflicts between the characters that engage me to start with, and the desire to write about a problem or a "what if...?" that intrigues me.
This month check out my interview with Evie Balos and don't forget to catch me over at The Good, The Bad and The Unread - I have some special features coming up!
Two releases this month, two excerpts!
The first is the penultimate Richard and Rose book, "Maiden Lane." Maiden Lane was, and still is, a narrow street at the back of Covent Garden with an extremely diverse history. In Richard and Rose's time it was mainly shops and clubs, with a few tall houses, semi-respectable, like most of London in that period. It's on the other side of the Square to Drury Lane, and the decidedly non respectable rookery of St Giles. Something vital happens there, and when Richard and Rose's main enemies decide to join forces, it comes to a head in Maiden Lane.
Life is cheap. So is death.
Richard and Rose, Book 7
With Rose expecting again, it should be a joyous time for her and Richard. Yet old enemies and new come out of the woodwork, seemingly intent on using whatever means possible to destroy their happiness. Not only is the legitimacy of their marriage called into question, a young man steps forward claiming to be a by-blow of Richard's dark, wild past.
Closer to defeat than he has ever been, Richard musters all his friends and allies to defend against this attack on his own ground. However, no amount of incandescent lovemaking and tender care seems to keep Rose out of harm's way.
Then a mutilated body turns up on their doorstep-and all fingers point at Richard. Rose has no choice but to emerge from his near-smothering concern to do what she must to save the love of her life. Even if she must appear to work against him.
As she lays her heart on the line, Richard fights to keep the violence that marks his past from claiming her life. For if he loses Rose, with her will go his humanity.
Warning: Rose gets her mad on, and Richard gets turned on. Contains married love, married sex and married fooling about. And pink coats with lace ruffles. And swords. And wicked goings-on.
Richard didn't allow me to worry for long. I did my best to prevent him knowing how much the appearance of his son concerned me, how deeply I prayed it wouldn't disturb our tranquillity at this time, but of course he knew.
He took me up to my bedroom and gave me into the hands of my maid, who efficiently removed the elaborate gown, stomacher, petticoats and panniers, washed the powder out of my hair and found my favourite wrapper, one Richard had bought me to replace the one he gave me in Venice on our honeymoon. That garment, sadly worn now, was neatly folded away in my clothespress. I'd never get rid of it.
I removed the necklace and bracelet and laid it in its box to join the earrings I had removed earlier. They twinkled back at me and I smiled. Small stars of diamonds surrounded deep blue sapphires in this latest parure, one I'd chosen myself. Richard presented me with much of my jewellery, especially after I'd confessed a fondness for it, but this had appealed to me from the moment I saw it in the jeweller's shop. I fancied I'd struck a good bargain for the pieces, which as every woman knows, added to their lustre.
I hadn't realised I was waiting for his step until I heard it. The door that linked our bedchambers was never closed. Any disputes we had, we tried to settle at night, after an adage Martha had instilled in me. "Never close your eyes on an unresolved argument." I found it good advice. Not that Richard and I were at odds tonight. We rarely were, but because we were humans and not heavenly beings, we had the occasional dispute. I loved him through them all, but I didn't let that prevent me from stating my views, even though they might displease him. No disputes tonight, but a new concern that might threaten our peace. Already I knew that Richard would try to protect me, especially in my present condition, but I wouldn't let him coddle me.
Now he came up behind me and took the brush from Nichols, dismissing her with a smile. "I'll see to your mistress now."
He drew the brush through my hair, smiling when I purred and leaned back. He'd done this more times than I could count, and I loved it still. I'd always enjoyed having my hair brushed, but Richard brought an extra sensuality to the act that I'd never known before I met him. I barely heard the quiet click as Nichols closed the door behind her.
"You have beautiful hair," he said.
"Will you still say that when it's grey?" My dark brown locks had already sported a grey hair or two, but I'd yanked them out. One day there would be too many to pull.
"You know I will." That rhythmic, gentle stroking soothed my soul, reached deep inside me and brought me peace. I relaxed, the only sounds the swish and crackle of the brushing and the rasp of silk brocade as Richard moved his arm.
I opened my eyes to see him smiling at me in the mirror, and a thrill went through me. Sometimes I received a shock when I saw my handsome husband, so relaxed and intimate. His formality gone with his wig, his golden hair gleaming, his fathomless eyes ultramarine in the flickering candlelight. I had a candle in each of the sconces either side of the mirror, and a branch of three on the nightstand. That was all. I rose, snuffed the two by the mirror and crossed the room to the bed, using the little step to climb up. I stripped off my robe and tossed it at the foot, pulling the covers over me. He watched me, and only when I'd settled did he stroll over to me.
He sat down and took my hand, his new green robe falling casually open over the ivory coverlet. "John's sorry reappearance hasn't disturbed you too much?" His clear blue gaze fixed on me, none of the haughtiness from earlier left, only concern.
"I'm fine," I repeated. "Truly."
He smiled then. "I know I worry too much." The smile faded. "But perhaps I have cause this time."
"It was a shock to see the man, but I half-guessed we'd see him again one day." I knew he wouldn't stay away forever. His hatred of Richard had become too ingrained for him to leave it alone.
"Understandable." He regarded me gravely, his gaze far too perceptive for my liking.
He took his robe off, getting up briefly to fling it across a chair. Unlike me, he wore nothing under his robe. I admired his lean, hard body as he came back to me, loving the way his muscles flexed, the way the candlelight caressed his skin. I drew the covers back so he could get in and lifted my arms so he could draw my night rail off over my head. It upset Nichols, my maid, if I didn't even use the pretence of one. Sometimes I thought that I was a slave to my maid.
When I saw him watching me with an avidity I couldn't misinterpret, shyness swept over me, a foolish thing because we spent every night together, more often than not naked. He knew everything about my body, perhaps more than I did. I smiled and lay down beside him, pulling up the covers to hide my breasts, which were noticeably fuller these days. He took me into his arms and I snuggled up.
"I shall miss this," I said.
"Why should you need to miss it?"
"When my belly grows too large for us to do this."
He moved his arm across my back, holding me closer. "There are other ways." He sat up and reached out to snuff the three remaining candles. They hissed, then gave up. He came back to me, only moonlight to guide us now. "Sweetheart?" I heard an edge of anxiety that hadn't been there before.
"Yes, my love?"
"Do you think I've given you twins this time? You seem to be larger than you were with Helen at this stage."
The thought of our little daughter made me smile. "Maybe. Your family seems to produce them with great regularity." His mother had constantly reminded him of the damage to her health when she'd birthed twins. "But there's no reason to suppose I'll have the same difficulties as your mother. I'm larger than her, taller, and this isn't my first birthing. I couldn't be better looked after. Or we may have the dates wrong, and I'm further along than we thought."
I wanted to distract him. In fact, I considered it possible that I had conceived twins this time. Richard was a twin; my mother had been a twin, something Richard was unaware of, so I thought it might come. My accoucheur and my midwife, Mr. Simpson and Mrs. Rooke, also had their suspicions. But there was no way of finding out for sure, so I decided to try to allay Richard's suspicions as much as I could. He would only worry, and it would do no good.
Richard's hands swept over my back and I sighed in pleasure.
"Backache?" His movements grew more purposeful, and he smoothed warmth over my skin, moving down to the small of my back where it tended to ache the most.
"Oh that feels so good."
Slipping his hands from me, he urged me to turn over to face away from him, and he began to rub and knead. He had a facility for this, the soothing away of pain by touch. The knot of incipient pain eased. Such bliss! In place of the pain grew warmth and a longing for him to touch other parts, bring them more than ease.
"Oh yes, thank you."
He stopped rubbing and curled behind me instead, curving his body around mine in a deliciously protective gesture. His skin touched mine from my upper back to my heels, where his feet cradled mine. He cupped one of my breasts and his shaft hardened against my bottom.
I pushed back into his heat. "You want?"
"No," he said firmly. "Well, at least, yes, but not tonight. You're tired, and you ache. What kind of beast do you take me for? Go to sleep, sweetheart, you need your rest."
Every day I loved him more.
Life is cheap - so is death
Griffin's Treasure is a Dept 57 book. It's a rewrite from an earlier book, the one that won the EPPIE for Paranormal Romance, but it's been heavily rewritten. It's always interesting, revisiting a book previously written, and it was fascinating to see how much my style has changed.
International soccer star Josh Friedland has a secret. He's a griffin shapeshifter, and a covert operative for Department 57. Josh's brother Laurie is missing, and Josh is sure businessman George Skeffington is involved.
So he can't trust Skeffington's stepdaughter, Chana Rafiz, even though he wants her with every cell in his body.
When her controlling stepfather asks Chana to look after his guest, she suspects another trick to keep her by his side. Only to find that Josh is the man she's been waiting for all her life.
Long, hot Californian nights see their bodies twined in more inventive positions than Chana knew existed, but when she finally discovers his secret, she uncovers one of her own. One she doesn't even know about herself.
Together, Josh and Chana have to face dangers only Department 57 can help them with, only to plunge the whole Department into peril. If Cristos and the Department are to endure, Josh and Chana must succeed in their mission.
Josh thought his room over-luxurious, so much so that it verged on the tasteless. And it could have been a luxury hotel room anywhere. He saw no specific character there, none of the individual touches that made a room special. An undraped four-poster bed in the Spanish-style of heavy, dark wood vied with a large sofa by the window. An elaborate crimson carpet adorned the floor, one Josh's feet would sink into once bare. The whole house reminded him of a perfect showplace. He didn't want to leave a mark anywhere. At least, part of him thought that. The other part wanted to run amok and ruffle everything, disturb everything, make some kind of a mark on the polished perfection.
Much as he felt about the woman by his side. She moved across him to show him the bathroom, releasing a touch of scent, a smidgeon of woman under the designer perfume. Allowing himself to feel it, knowing he would never become involved with a woman as refined, perfect, and most likely spoiled as this one, he laid his hand on her shoulder when he leaned over her to look at the bathroom.
A great bath with lots of gold knobs and taps sat in a bed of red porphyry, and a large shower stall occupied one corner of the ivory tiled room. "A bath made for sharing," he murmured, and she started.
"Possibly," she said in a small, sharp voice. "But you'll have to find someone else to share it with."
A devil took him by the tail. When she would have backed off, he moved to stand behind her, catching her as she stumbled, off-balance. "Why can't it be you?" She felt delicious, firm but female, filling his arms beautifully.
She shot him a look filled with negativity. He could almost feel the ice exuding from her. "Because we've only just met. Because I'm not sure I like you. And besides, I'm five years older than you."
He chuckled. "Five years? What difference does that make? Are you sure you're not just making excuses?" He entered the persona of the identity he had labeled the Footballer. "Disliking somebody can make sex even better sometimes. Wildcat sex, you know. You can rip me up a treat, if you like. I won't tell who did it, unless you want me to."
Now the look was definitely hatred. "I respect myself more than that."
He took the wind out of her sails by saying, "I don't. As long as it feels good, I'll do it." He loved her dark eyes widening, her slim brows rising. Laying his hands flat on her waist, Josh slid them up toward her armpits. He loved the way a woman's body curved; the gentle lines lured him in. But when he bent to kiss the side of her neck, she jerked, forcing him to take a step backward to stop from falling to the floor.
Griffin's Treasure - a Dept 57 book
From Loose-ID Publishing