Thursday, August 04, 2011

August 2011


Well, it's August already, and it's been a very strange year. But at last I got a release date, my first since Griffin's Treasure in March. It's a new STORM book, and it's called Shifting Heat. And I loved writing this one.
Next? I plan to write the story of the sexy earl who made a memorable guest appearance in "Emotion in Motion." So I hope you're ready for an earl who is also a vampire, and who prefers people not to know what and who he is!
Over here in the UK, it's hot and sultry, but overcast. Not the best of weathers for me, but better than hot, hot, hot! I had to miss the RNA conference this year because I had the rewrite of the last Richard and Rose book to do. I told you it was a tricky one! But I've taken a lot of care over this one, so I hope you Richard and Rose lovers won't be disappointed.
Unfortunately it means that the release date won't be for quite some time, a year or more, but maybe it'll be worth waiting for!
I've also finished Freddy's book, which is waiting to be polished up before I send it to my editor. After that on the historical front, I'm not sure, because I want to write something new, but I'm not sure what. Still set in my beloved Georgian era, of course. I have tried to write outside the era, but I've never managed to make a book work properly. I think Dorothy Dunnett ruined me for the Tudors. I mean, who could top Lymond?
I'm currently writing a romantic suspense, the second in the trilogy I'm planning to write for Carina. Because it's romantic suspense, I had to take a lot of care with the plot, but I'm really enjoying the characters in this one. They're biting back.
Since it's summer, there's not a lot going on here apart from that, but once again, thanks for supporting me and sticking with me on this adventure. I just do what I do, and keep my fingers crossed!

I am so proud to be able to bring you the next book set in the STORM universe. This one is about Andros, the brother of Ania from "Red Shadow."
Ania is now a vampire, but Andros is a shape-shifting dragon. Siblings with a difference. Andros used to have a form of muscular dystrophy, and was at times wheelchair bound, and he's having a problem reconciling the man he thinks he is inside, the clever, physically disabled one, with the powerful being he has become.
The heroine, Faye, is a teacher, living without revealing who she is, but also a shape-shifting dragon. She needs to get into STORM but she got more than she bargained for when she used Andros to ease her way inside the
This book is also a cougar book, of a very special kind! Andros is in his mid-twenties. Faye's age is in three figures.
This is the first chapter. Just for you. And be warned - you have to be over 18 to read this excerpt.
A book in the STORM world.

Andros was a severely disabled geek working for STORM but now he's a powerful shape-shifting dragon. Still a geek though. Meeting Faye when they're sharing the same air space is a bit of a shock they quickly overcome in a convenient hotel room.
Hot, fast, rampant sex is just what Andros needs. Tangling with Faye between the sheets, against her desk, pretty much anywhere he can have her takes energy Andros now has in abundance. But he won't let his emotions follow.
 Faye never met anyone in her long life as exciting as Andros. But he works for STORM, Faye's enemy. She's never had anyone so young, either. But she can't resist his strength, his determination-or his ripped body. Together they must hunt down a mutual enemy, but to defeat him they have to come to terms with what they are, were and will become.
Andros hated the moment of chilly awareness combined with the vulnerability he always experienced when he got naked. He stepped out on to the roof of the STORM building and shivered. One of his colleagues, Nick Ivy, a roc shape-shifter, grinned. “You’re new, aren’t you?”
“I’ve worked for STORM for a while.” Andros tried not to cover his genitals, tried to act nonchalant.
The man’s grin broadened. “I meant to shape-shifting. I know you. You’re a geek, aren’t you?”
Andros hated to make assumptions, but this big, muscular man with an all-over golden tan—shit, all over—didn’t look as if he spent his days hunched over a computer screen. “Yep, that’s me.” He felt used to the label. More a part of him than the dragon he’d so recently become. “It’s getting cold, isn’t it?” Some of the chill of early fall might account for the goose bumps pimpling his skin. But it wouldn’t explain away the nerves prickling with the compulsion to shape-shift and the anxiety nagging at him.
“You’ll get used to it.” Nick’s grin broadened. “It’ll get worse first, mind you. It’s only September.”
Oh right, the cool air. Usually New York in September was mild, but this happened to be one of those evenings when an unaccountable chill swept over the city, especially this high up. Still, Andros wouldn’t swap it for the sultriness of L.A., where he’d spent most of his life before his recent move.
Neither could he get used to being naked with a bunch of other people, most of them strangers, and in a weird pretense of politeness, not let his gaze fall to their groins or stare at nipples tightening against the cold. It was like not acknowledging an elephant in the room. He’d spent much of his life getting naked for doctors and specialists before his conversion but he’d never gotten over the shyness of revealing his body. In the company of other naked people it seemed worse, not better.
He felt much happier these days. At least he could walk. He’d gone from a geek with a lifelong illness that would have eventually killed him to a powerful creature who could fly. It was too much, sometimes. He should be grateful. Shit, he was grateful, but he was also scared and unsure.
He turned his gaze outward to the lights flickering on in the tall buildings. Blessed evidence of ordinary life. Andros had always loved living in the middle of cities, watching the life going on around him. It gave him a reason not to look at himself, to forget his condition for a time.
Nick Ivy was still staring at him. Fuck, Andros would hate to disappoint the guy, but he was relentlessly straight. But this time, when his gaze flickered over him, he couldn’t help noticing the rising erection. The big man glanced down at his body and up at Andros again. “It’s okay. We get horny this time of the month. It doesn’t happen to you?”
Andros shook his head, then nodded, then changed his mind. “I’m sorry, you’re real good-looking and all that, but—”
Nick threw back his dark head and howled with laughter, but cut it off abruptly and shook his head. “I’m not hitting on you.” Several people nearby glanced at them and grinned. Andros felt like any kind of fool but studiously kept his gaze at face level. He had no intention of discovering he was the only male on top of this building without an erection. But as he thought that, he felt his cock twitch. Oh fuck. Nick, seemingly without Andros’ inhibitions, glanced down. “Yep, you too. It’s the imperative to procreate. At least, that’s what someone told me a long time ago. We’re animals, guy. Anyone will tell you that.”
He lost the smile completely and his eyes turned grave. “I bet you’ve seen some good stuff, working where you do.”
At Andros’ frown, he explained. “Hate mail. Or rather, hate email. STORM is open now too, and the letters keep coming.”
“I hardly see them. I built a filter to channel them to a folder, then I archive them without looking.” Why let that kind of grief into his life? “Want a copy?” Something he could do.
“Hey, sure, I’d love that.”
Andros felt better, useful. That was why he’d turned to computing. His body might be weak, but his brain worked just fine. Always had.
Someone nudged Nick. “Your turn.”
So many people packed this roof on the three days a month of compulsion that they had to stand in line.
Nick nodded at him and turned around. He stepped forward and calmly dropped off the building, joining others doing exactly the same thing. To the uninformed eye, it might look like some kind of weird mass suicide, naked bodies dropping off the side of a tall building. Some of them whooped as they fell.
Then, with a flap of powerful wings, the transformed shape-shifter appeared, swooping in the sky in a spectacular display of aerobatics. Dragons mostly, but griffins and other creatures amassed there too, wings sweeping up to catch the currents, creating an even stronger breeze up here. All kinds of flying beasts appeared, some rarely seen even by other Talents. He thought he spotted a basilisk, but the dull gray being disappeared around the edge of another building almost as soon as he saw it.
With a deadly shriek and a thrust of powerful wings, the roc soared up above the roof. His razor-sharp beak and huge talons were a testament to his lethal form, the huge bird that was everything an eagle should be but bigger, better. He blinked once, his lid sliding over the dark eye and then, with an agile twist, he turned and flew off in the direction of Central Park.
His turn.
Unlike the more experienced Talents here, and that meant most of them, Andros didn’t enjoy the thrill of hurling himself off a building and changing his form mid-flight, however much his colleagues told him about the exhilaration of transforming with air rushing around their arms, finding an air current and riding it. Swooping their wings down and rising higher. It sounded like less of a thrill right now, and more like dancing with death. He’d never enjoyed roller coasters much, either. Unlike his sister Ania, who’d shrieked her way around every theme park California had to offer. But now he could do something Ania couldn’t. He could fly.
Still scared that he’d lose the knack and plummet out of the sky, Andros decided to shape-shift and take to the air on top of this building before he ventured farther. It had taken some time before he was able to rise up higher than ten feet or so, but at least he could do that now. And bank, and dip. He wished his friend Jack Hargreaves had stayed here instead of moving to England, because Jack was a new shape-shifter too. They’d learned their new skills together, laughing at each other’s clumsiness. It didn’t matter between them because they were both new. Except Jack, as a jaguar-god shape-shifter, couldn’t fly. But he’d laughed plenty, as had Andros when Jack had tripped over his paws and lost coordination.
The human population on the rooftop had thinned some and Andros shivered as a fresh breeze drifted over his skin, putting goose bumps on his goose bumps. He concentrated, lifted his head and stared at the rising moon. The breeze sifted through his hair, tickling his scalp. All he had to do was let it happen.
Then he felt it. A prickling sensation as scales slid over his skin. He still had no idea how it happened, but inside, his body relaxed as it obeyed the monthly compulsion. His boss, Ann Reynolds, had told him once that it was Nature’s way of forcing shape-shifters to acknowledge their true being. Maybe so, otherwise some might prefer to remain in human form, their base form.
Though, despite his fears, Andros couldn’t imagine choosing not to fly. Overcoming his fear acted like a high, and every time he did it, his apprehension lessened. Once in the air, he found flying a thrill like no other. The nearest he could get to describing it would be a sustained orgasm, not the high, fast kind, but the long-drawn-out, flowing ones. And thank fuck he’d had a few more of those recently than he’d managed before his conversion, even though he’d had to go solo. The extra boost to his libido at this time of the month helped too.
There was also a lot to be said for basic good health.
The tarred, blackened surface of the roof receded as his size increased. He used to shape-shift with his eyes closed but it wasn’t cool, so now he forced himself to watch. He just didn’t turn his head very much until he’d completed the shape-shift, otherwise the process made him nauseous. The feeling of moving without moving, the way sitting in a train and watching the next train move made him feel as though he were moving himself. Weird. These days the whole world had turned weird. The elastic of his ID ankle bracelet stretched to take the increased size of his leg. That ID would get him back on to STORM’s roof. Otherwise, on his return, a bunch of heavily armed security staff would arrive before he’d shape-shifted back.
He’d learned to accept the sensation of cracking, reshaping bones and muscle by now, but if he could shape-shift faster, he’d hardly notice it at all. Or so his colleagues told him. At first they’d stayed back, nannying him, but Andros had done with that. After a lifetime of coddling, he tended to get impatient with people who asked him if he was okay. A shame a kid with a debilitating condition like muscular dystrophy hated being cared for, but there it was. His surly responses to the twentieth “Are you feeling okay today?” had gotten him a bad rep, probably with reason, but sometimes that had proved too much on top of the constant pain. And his resentment against the world, that he should be burdened with this illness when he’d done nothing to deserve it.
Not that he had it anymore. The first few shape-shifts had taken care of the disease. Jesus, if he could market that as a cure, he’d make a fortune.
He shuddered, but this time not with cold. His dragon form didn’t feel the cold the way his human form did. He swung out his wing, enjoying the sensation of the breeze rippling across his leathery skin, ruffling the scales. Exhilarating power surged through him, but that was nothing to what he felt when he swept his wings down—which was possible now with few people left on the roof—and felt his body respond, rising with an effortless strength that defeated his remaining forebodings.
One downsweep of his wings brought him into contact with the air currents and he left STORM behind, surging through the air. Like swimming but better, without the resistance of water. After a few powerful thrusts, he allowed himself to drift lazily in the direction of Central Park.
It was almost tradition now for the winged Talents to head there. After all, Alessandro Gianetti had done the first daylight unfuzzed flight there.
Soaring up, he effortlessly avoided the other dragons and flying creatures, enjoying their company but not feeling the need to communicate. Heaven. This part of shape-shifting had filled Andros with joy when he’d first discovered it. Countless dreams of flying just didn’t compare with the reality.
Only when he glanced down did he realize how high he’d climbed. Above the tall buildings, even overtopping the Empire State Building, which dominated the midtown skyline. Creatures danced and soared around its spire, chasing each other or just demonstrating their skills.
Flickers of bright light from below indicated the inevitable flashes of cameras. Tourists and locals gathered in Central Park and on top of the tall buildings, as well as the street. Some of the building owners held special late openings on the nights of the full moon each month to take advantage of the newest attraction. Sparks of light twinkled over the green swathe of the park below, broken only by the calm blue-gray of the reservoir and lake. Andros could appreciate the true beauty of the park as he never had before.
On his descent, he encountered a blue dragon, one whose scales gleamed in the waning light. He banked to avoid it but it swooped and swerved, following him, and a tingle in his mind told him she wanted to communicate. Oh yes, she. He sensed the feminine essence of her, had scented her as he passed but hadn’t wanted to intrude on anyone’s enjoyment tonight.
Seemed she wanted to enjoy it with him. So he slowed and powered his wings, driving himself up until he floated above her, then swooped behind her to tease her with an extra surge of air to throw her slightly off course. Andros had rarely played before. Life had seemed too short for him to waste time doing anything like that. He’d taken a laptop when he’d accompanied his sister to theme parks, used the time to work on a current project, but now—now he had all the time in the world to play. Hundreds of years to learn how to do something just for the exhilaration that coursed through his veins.
He heard her laughter in his mind. Dragons rarely used their vocal chords—a bellow, a roar, an odd clicking sound and a kind of purr were more or less the extent of their verbal skills. But their telepathy reflected all the verbal dexterity they had in their human forms. Her amusement tickled his senses, gave him a flush of arousal to add to his already heightened state.
She swept past him, brushing his wing with hers. A sweet touch that sent shivers through him. He liked this game. He responded, twisting his flexible body around to come back at her, rushing toward her, only to soar over her head and sweep up, hovering. But dragons couldn’t hover long so he flew past her and turned.

Shifting Heat from Ellora's Cave - out August 17th, 2011
Andros takes a stand
ISBN: 9781419934254

July 201

Newsletter, July, 2011

I’m suffering from conference envy. I love attending conferences, but sadly, the pressure of work meant I couldn’t attend the RWA Nationals, a conference I’ve never been to and keep meaning to attend, and also the upcoming RNA conference in Caerleon. Just bad timing on my part.
But it’s been an interesting month for all that. I added Kindle and Barnes and Noble buy buttons to my website, and on 40 books that’s quite a bit of work, so I hope you’ll check them out.
I got a provisional acceptance for the final Richard and Rose book from Samhain, although I had to do a rewrite. It is really difficult rounding out a series satisfactorily, and giving a conclusion for the characters. They do come to the end of the beginning, and it is a romance, and that’s all I’m going to say for the time being!
I’m currently writing Freddy’s story, which I’ve tentatively titled “Freddy meets his match.” I’m really enjoying showing Richard and Rose from someone else’s perspective, namely Freddy’s right now, although the heroine will get to meet them pretty soon, too. Sometimes I don’t know what’s going to happen until I write it. I might write “Richard and Rose meet – ahem” in the plan, but I don’t know how they’ll actually get on until I get to that scene and write it. As a result, the plan could change.
I’ve just finished writing a new Department 57 story, and Loose-Id have offered me a contract on it. That will be Rhodri, the Welsh vampire, and his heroine is Welsh as well. I live quite close to the Welsh border, so we visit the places described in the book quite a lot. But New York also figures, and Chicago, both of which I’ve visited, too. I’m a very fortunate person in that respect. I never used to travel much because I used to get crippling travel sickness, but that passed, and now I’m an avid solo traveller. While I adore meeting up with people in the places I visit, the solo part is wonderful, too.
And if that wasn’t enough, Ellora’s Cave offered me a contract on two books. “Strangers No More” is a hot little contemporary about a woman who has plastic surgery and worries that it might affect her relationship with her lover. “Shifting Heat” is a new STORM book about Andros, the man who was suffering from muscular dystrophy and is now a shape-shifting dragon. He’s the brother of Ania, the heroine of Red Shadow. I wanted to explore how a man would feel going through such a seismic change. Could his new, strong body really be his? Did it change how he thought about himself? I love exploring these dilemmas, which is why I write in the genres I do.
So from having no contracts a few months ago, now I have four.
Amazing, this world.
I’m thinking of filling the gap between releases by self-publishing a book that was out briefly with Triskelion. I have no plans to go into self-publishing as a major part of my career, but this book, “Wicked Intentions” has already been professionally edited, and it came out just before Triskelion decided not to publish any more historical romances, so it has potential. If I put it out with Kindle, and, say, Smashwords, or another site that does epub, that would at least give people the chance to get hold of a copy. And it might help keep my name out there, something I worry about constantly, as most authors tend to do these days.
After I’ve written Freddy’s story, I have a few options. I could write the next romantic suspense, which I hope Carina will like, or I could write the new STORM book. Or even another Skin Deep book. What do you think?


How about an excerpt from one of my personal favourites, “Tantalizing Secrets”? it’s one of my favourites, because I love Peter, the hero of the book, and it’s set in a beautiful manor house that I got to know well when I was growing up. There’s a whole page on my website which explains the settings for the book.

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?


“I missed you.”
Arabella wasn’t sure who said that. She sat up, went to him. His arms went around her, where she wanted them. His mouth descended to her and softened against her lips in a gentle kiss.
Peter groaned, low in his throat. Arabella pressed closer and pushed her arms around him, under his coat. He finished the kiss and drew back so he could study her face. “Arabella you’ve been in my mind all the time, whether I wanted you to be or not. I want you very much. I can’t sleep in the same bed as you—in the same room, even, without wanting you. I’m sorry. That must be the last thing you want tonight.”
He made to draw back but she wouldn’t let him. “If it were anyone but you. Peter, I know there’s no future for us, but this once, just this once, stay with me. Make me forget Nathaniel, give me something good to remember.”
“Are you sure?” There was something else in his eyes that Arabella couldn’t interpret. Warmth perhaps.
“Yes, I’m sure. Love me, Peter.”
He swooped down to claim her with his mouth and she responded with all the ardor surging through her body. At first tentative, when she curled a hand around his neck he pushed his tongue into her and she welcomed him and touched it with her own.
He kissed her with leisurely thoroughness and she lay back, immersing herself in the sensation. He drew back and studied her, his hands cupping her face, desire and care warming his gaze.
After a blissful interval, she lifted her hands and began to undo his waistcoat. He helped, shrugging off his coat and starting at the top of the waistcoat so their fingers met half way. He took her hand in his and placed it on his chest. Arabella felt his warmth under the fine linen of his shirt and heard his groan when she smoothed her hand over him. “Arabella, I don’t want to take advantage of you when you’re vulnerable.” His voice was huskier than usual.
“This has nothing to do with Nathaniel. It’s all about us. You asked me before you went away if I would consider this and I have. I want you too much to say no.” Respectability be damned. She knew this kind of opportunity wouldn’t come her way twice.
“Arabella!” He kissed her again, and she felt his need in the way his hands roamed over her back, caressing her and pressing her to him. His mouth explored hers urgently, warmth from his tongue and lips penetrating her desire.
He broke away from her. “Just a moment.” He picked up his coat and slipped off his waistcoat, moving to a chair and throwing the garments across it. He looked at her, a long, lingering exploration of her contours, and smiled shakily. “We’re getting close to the point of no return. Remember, I said I’d tell you.”
“I thought we’d reached it already.” Arabella felt warm and wanted, her despair dissipated by his desire for her.
“Not quite.” He undid the fastenings on his cuffs and at the neck, dragging the shirt over his head. When he saw Arabella looking avidly, he turned to face her. “Disappointed?”
She examined the hard muscles that rippled under his skin when he moved, the lean athleticism he displayed for her. She shook her head. He laughed lightly and bent to the buckles at his knee. He sat on the chair to remove his boots, the spurs jingling. He took them off by the simple expedient of treading on the heels and pulling his legs out of the boots.
“Your valet wouldn’t like that.”
“My valet isn’t here.” He gave her a wicked grin. “Thank God. He wouldn’t approve of any of this.”
“Your valet is a Puritan?”
“Not far from one. He wouldn’t stay with me if I didn’t pay him well and bring him the prestige he craves. He’d hate it here, where I’m nobody.”
“You’re not nobody. You’re Peter.”
He gave a soft laugh. He tugged off his stockings and undid the flap of his breeches. Holding them up, he glanced at her. “Last chance.”
She shook her head. He let the breeches fall, and dragged his underwear down to follow. When he stood up he let her look her fill, unashamed of his body and his rampant arousal. Her attention went to his face, and he chuckled. “A lady.” He crossed the room to her. “My lady.”
Arabella wasn’t afraid, but she was apprehensive. He sat on the edge of the bed and she sat up. He watched while she undid the ties at her neck and rid herself of her ruined nightgown.
Something else entered his gaze; Arabella recognized it as hunger, although she’d never seen it before in these circumstances. Her apprehension broke, replaced by a new tension. She wanted him badly now, and not for comfort. Her thighs dampened with her essence—she was ready for him.
Arabella daren’t move and break the spell. He might move away, or think better of it, and she couldn’t bear it. Rejection from Peter would hurt her terribly, but from the look on his face, she doubted very much that he would.
She was right. He was the first to move, reaching forward to grip her shoulder and pull her close, none too gently. His mouth met hers and he lifted his feet to join her in the bed. “Now,” he said against her mouth. “Now it’s too late.”

Tantalizing Secrets
A murder… A lord’s desire…and her quiet, respectable life is gone forever.
ISBN: 978-1-60504-394-4
From Samhain Publishing