Thursday, December 01, 2011

December Newsletter


It’s been a funny old month, what with one thing and another, but on the whole, a good one. After all, my first Carina title has been released, and I’ve been very happy with the way things are working out there. Great, professional staff, fantastic support. It’s my first romantic suspense, although I do hold a romantic suspense award (funny old world, isn’t it?) so it’s been a learning process, but also a very enjoyable one.

Funny old year, too, come to that. Doors closing, doors opening, but at the end of the year I’m in a better place than when it started, and that’s what counts, isn’t it? Two new publishers, the others happily ongoing, one day I’ll have to slow down. One day.

Some drastic changes this year, and not necessarily for me. The publishing world is going through huge changes, and while speculation is interesting, the truth is that nobody knows. Nobody. People are trying to influence the change, and usually the change goes with the money, but sometimes someone or something will come out of left field, leaving the others saying, “Whoa, what just happened there?” It’s like that song out of “West Side Story,” “Something’s Coming.” But nobody is quite sure what it is.

I took part in NaNoWriMo last month, and I won! I wanted to write the next STORM story, and it’s about Oliver, Earl of Cranfield, who first appeared in “Emotion in Motion.” Writing about the modern aristocracy is an interesting change, especially when the aristocrat in question has lived a bit longer than the average lord. A couple of hundred years. He’s a vampire, you see, which complicates matters a bit. Well, the first draft is nearly written.

And after my resolution of last year, I wrote some books that don’t have a home. Yet. I wanted to give the muse a chance this year, and write books that interested me. Not that the books I already write don’t, but I had a few ideas that were driving me crazy, so I had to write them. I’m still pondering what to do with them! They are contemporary, but in different genres. I think that next year they’ll come into their own.

Sales? Loose-Id have offered me a contract on the last two reprints of the Department 57 series, Rubies of Fire and Diamonds of Ice. Not the last in the series, but the last two I wrote for Triskelion before it went into liquidation. I’ve drastically rewritten Rubies of Fire to fit its new position in the series. I can honestly say it’s almost like a new book. And I’m preparing to get to work on Diamonds of Ice. Exciting times, since now I can look forward to the new books in the series, and characters who have been waiting an awful long time for their stories to come out!

And I have my cover for the last Richard and Rose book, “Lisbon.” Pretty? I think so!


Shall we have a new snippet from “Strangers No More”? Instead of a sexy bit, let’s have the setup, the very first pages. There is some strong language in this excerpt.

Neville’s decision didn’t surprise Whitney one bit. She kept her expression bland, but inside she decided to tough this one out, to take a stand. To make him say it.
“Why not?”
Neville blinked, surprise showing for a bare instant in his heavenly blue eyes, eyes that had fooled many an interviewee into thinking he was a pushover. “What do you mean, why not?”
Whitney sighed and shook back the curtain of dark hair framing her face. She’d have to go at this the hard way and tell him straight out. He wanted to humiliate her, make her admit it. Open questions were Neville’s stock in trade on his top-rated interview show, but she knew him better. She’d force him into saying something. Then she’d sue his ass. “Why won’t you give me the job? I’m qualified for it, much more than some of the bimbos I’ve seen coming in for interviews over the last few days. I’ve worked at NewsInc for five years now, so I know my way around and what the company expects. I can do it.”
He sighed and glanced away. “Some of those bimbos are highly qualified,” he said. “Beauty and brains in one package is hard to resist.”
At least he admitted it. He wanted a beauty to cover the foreign correspondent’s job, or someone did. Neville helmed and edited the wildly successful show that had attracted the sharks to NewsInc. A mixture of current affairs and chitchat, it was unlike anything else on TV, as it combined real news reporting with lighter fare. Whitney wanted the heavier job, the news side.
She held her ground. She was probably being unfair to some of the women she’d seen trooping into Neville’s office over the last week, but she’d take the chance. Neville was being unfair to her. “Not as well qualified as I am. Would they stand in the center of a battle zone with a mic and camera propped up against a stone, shouting to be heard above the barrage? Not if it spoiled their perfect hairstyles, they wouldn’t.” She’d done the job for the smaller company she’d worked for before NewsInc, but now Nev and the new owners wanted to expand the show and they needed new personnel. She could do it and she was tired of working in the back office, doing radio and research.
He clamped his mouth shut and she suddenly had a vision of editors in years gone by, clenching their lantern jaws on their cigars while the presses rolled. What made Neville different from other talk-show hosts was that he remained a newsman, never let the glamour take over. And the new situation had chafed him more than somewhat, she knew because she’d spotted the occasional twitch or frown. She was a journalist, after all, expected to notice these small signals.
Because of their respect for his abilities and the way he’d flashed through the broadcasting universe like a shooting star, everyone who worked here had let him get away with too much. Not this time. “You said you wanted more than a pretty face, someone with experience and nerve, someone who’d go out in the field and send reports back from the front line.”
These days the news got out almost as fast as it hit Twitter. And it needed professional journalists like her to deliver it. “It’s no good sending someone into the field who doesn’t know both the company and the background to the news. You know that, Nev.” None better. Nev had earned his battle scars, though none of them were visible on his smooth, handsome outer shell. He’d been in the Near and Far East, Iraq, Afghanistan and other trouble spots, he’d been there and ducked the bombs. He didn’t look quite so smooth and glossy out there either. She preferred the journalist Nev to the anchor Neville. Today he wore an Italian tailored suit and a button-down white dress shirt—the open neck the only sign of casualness about him. His dark-blond hair was smoothed back, maybe even gelled, and his face closely shaved. She’d rather see the grubby journalist in the crumpled jeans and T-shirts. But that was just her.
“These girls have some impressive credentials.”
Girls? Shit, she had no chance here, not if her boss thought of the applicants as “girls”. Not that it would stop her trying. She owed it to herself, to the rest of the women fighting to make a serious name in modern journalism. No, fuck that. She wanted this job, period. She wasn’t doing it for anyone else, she was doing it for her. “So there’s no problem, right? I have the experience and the knowledge. I even have the qualifications.” What more does he want?
Neville shifted in his chair, the worn leather not giving out even a squeak, he’d done it so often. He’d brought the chair from home, something that had some kind of relevance to him but she had no idea what. He glanced away, down to her application, which currently lay on his cluttered desk. “It’s more than that.”
And then she knew. He wasn’t telling her the entire truth. It wasn’t Nev, it was Mattson—the big guy, the disgustingly wealthy man who’d just added NewsInc to his portfolio of media interests. He was notorious for effecting change, putting in his own people when a natural vacancy occurred. Or he’d just order those below him to do it. Old Man Mattson had told Neville to employ the pretty ones.
Nev sighed and rubbed his jaw, his discomfort palpable. “I’d hire you if I could. You’re good at what you do. But I want someone who’s comfortable in China.”
Fuck, oh fuck. She didn’t have much experience in that part of the world. If he lucked on a bimbo who’d visited China, who knew it better than she did, she wouldn’t stand a chance.
“Do you speak any Chinese languages?”
“Some.” Not well enough. “But I can get up to speed fast.” Even if it killed her. But she didn’t know her way around China, had few contacts there.
“I interviewed a few interesting candidates today.” He was looking more comfortable now, an easy smile slowly spreading over his face. “One of them is fluent in Mandarin and she lived in China for a couple of years.”
She’d lost. 

Thursday, November 03, 2011

November Newsletter

November News

Some months are quiet, but not, as it turned out, October!
At the start of the month, the latest Dept 57 book, Bloody Crystal was released. I adored writing this one, as it was set partly in a place that my husband and I love, Llandudno in Wales. But I told you all about that last time!
Then I got word that Strangers No More was being moved up to fill a vacant release spot, so that came out at the end of October. The story of a woman who needs plastic surgery to further her career as a journalist and news reporter. It was fun writing it, and showing the other side of cosmetic procedures, where it benefits someone. Her lover already wanted her, but he was worried, too. Would the new nose change her, would she let him make love to her in the light?
And then I had to prepare for a big release for me, in November. It’s big, because it’s my first mainstream romantic suspense, and my first release with Carina. As yet, I haven’t heard officially about the second book in what I want to be a trilogy, but I’m keeping everything crossed! Learning To Trust will be out towards the end of November. If any of you here are reviewers, there’s a copy on netgalley that you can pick up.

So all go here in the Connolly household!
The Festival of Romance was great fun, and I met some lovely people, and renewed my friendship with others. Jean Fullerton was there, doing one of her wonderful talks – if you ever get the chance to see Jean, I can highly recommend it. I took part in Charlie Cochrane’s first 150 word workshop, and I read the first 150 words of “Shifting Heat.” I was on the paranormal panel, and that was interesting, as paranormal is a fairly new romance genre for the UK market. I have no idea why the greats haven’t caught on yet, but they probably will in time, as how do you ignore someone as good as Nalini Singh?

And for November – I’ve signed on to NaNoWriMo! I must be mad, but I needed to get a book done, and that boot up the backside can really help. So far I’m only 6,000 words in, but I do want to get on and get it written, at least the first draft.

Finally – yesterday, so hot off the press, so to speak, I got an offer of a contract from Decadent Press. I’m so please. It’s a story about a haunted ocean liner, but it’s paranormal, not realistic, as I’ve given the characters and the ghosts attributes they don’t usually get! I’m so glad this story is getting an airing.

I write several stories that I have no home for, just because I need to write them. Recently, I realised that although I write in several genres, that’s because it’s the best way to explore an issue that interests me. So the venture into romantic suspense is because I want to explore trust in extreme circumstances – who do you trust, when you’re not sure about anything anymore? And where do you find the courage to do it? So I’m planning to change my tagline to reflect it. I’ve had several thoughts, but I haven’t discovered the final one, yet. I like “All roads lead to romance,” but it’s too clichéd, so I’m still working on that theme. Rebranding, in a way, but I don’t like to think of myself as a brand. More a force of nature! If you can think of a good tagline, there’ll be a little thank you gift on its way to you!

And I’ve been working towards Romantic Times next April. I’m on at least one panel, and I’ll be around all week, so I’d absolutely love to see you there, if you can make it. In these troubled times, we all need a little romance to warm us at night.


Strangers No More – a new story from Ellora’s Cave
Over 18’s only, please.

Whitney slid her keycard into the slot of a hotel room door in downtown L.A., the kind of hotel that hosted conventions and business meetings. Anonymous and huge. The green light flashed and she pushed the door open.
Someone dragged her into the room and slammed her against a wall. The door clicked shut, blocking out the only light available. The room was in pitch darkness, the windows covered, the lights out. She hit the wall with a soft thud, her face against the paper.
Her attacker grabbed her around the waist, his free hand dragging her head back by her hair, and then his mouth crashed down on hers, taking her with a hot desperation that flung her into the whirlwind. Now she couldn’t think. Now she could only feel. His hips pressed against hers at an awkward angle but he twisted them against her and she felt the insistent bulge of his erection.
The moment his lips came into contact with hers, she knew him. Knew that pressure, the way his mouth felt against hers, the way he flicked her lips with his tongue in an unspoken request—demand—that she open for him.
When she didn’t obey immediately, he nipped her bottom lip and when she opened her mouth to protest, he surged in, soothing the bite with his tongue in a gentle caress before resuming his fierce attack on her. She tasted him, peppermint and a touch of something else, something fruity. He’d had a glass of wine recently. He never met her drunk, but he sometimes tasted of wine and sometimes brandy. She loved it. It added a tinge of danger, the threat that he might get carried away and ignore her needs. But he never did.
“Never” being three times. They said that three times and one was hooked. Three cigarettes, three shots of heroin, three “Stranger Danger” encounters. The man with no name gave her what she needed, what she craved. He fed her addiction and she fed his.
He took her mouth with an intensity she could respond to only with the kind of helpless acceptance she never demonstrated in her real life. The life outside this door. Whimpering, she followed him when he withdrew, begging for more. With a grunt, he turned her around so her back pressed against the hotel wallpaper. Her backbone rolled against the hard surface but she welcomed the discomfort. He wasn’t going to stop. He seemed as desperate as she was. That had connected them from the first time, and he was no less desperate now. He wanted her.
Here, in the dark. No excuses, no explanations needed here.
He connected with her again, tilting his head to bring his mouth down on hers in a deeper, harder fusion. He swept his tongue around her mouth in total mastery. She opened for him and lifted her chin to meet his demands. He was much taller than she but then most people were. He must be over six feet, with the kind of abs a girl could get lost exploring. What a way to lose direction.
She grasped his shoulders, felt the rough edge of a T-shirt under her palms and groaned into his mouth. She loved the mounds and dips of his body. Fuck, this guy was ripped. Whoever he was.
He pressed against her, his pecs to her shoulders, and bent to kiss her. Sliding his hands around her waist, he lifted her with a convulsive motion, making her gasp for breath. The thick cotton of his pants rasped against her jeans, the only sound in this hushed room. Lifting his head, he spoke in Greek. He had a deep, gravelly voice and he rarely spoke much. Just to give her instructions. Her Greek was better than her Mandarin, but hardly fluent. In this situation, it didn’t have to be. “Skirt,” he said now. “Not trousers.”
It took her a minute to process the words, and she had to concentrate. Maybe it was time to buy that teach-yourself-Greek DVD. By the time she’d taken a step, he was on her, dragging down her zipper before he shoved her jeans down her legs. He thrust his hand between her thighs but the pants weren’t far enough down her legs for her to open them properly. Bending, he dragged off her sneakers and tossed them aside. They landed in dull thumps. Then he was back, tugging at her jeans again. He got one leg completely off but the other leg tangled around her ankles. She kicked, but it didn’t help.
With a rough word of frustration, a word she guessed must be a Greek curse, he stood once more, lifting her and setting her on a nearby table, dumping her as if she were a doll on the polished surface. She could only hope it would hold her weight because he didn’t give her a chance to protest. She gripped his shoulders as he pressed his nose against her crotch through her panties and inhaled noisily. His soft groan told her he liked it, that he wanted her.
He stood and her hands dropped to his chest, slid down the thin fabric over his lean but powerful muscles. Not bulky with gym-pressed goodness but strong as if he used them for his work. Maybe he was a builder or a construction worker, or maybe he worked at sea. Maybe a soldier.
She wanted him hot, exploring her near-naked body, taking her, forcing her to do what she wanted. Because he knew she wanted it too. He must know, from her response and the perfect way he took her.
He pushed his hand between her legs, forcing them open, and slid a finger under the elastic of her panties. She’d worn red silk for him. Stupid, unless she told him the color, but the texture was great and she knew she was wearing red. She needed that jolt of courage before she came here, or wherever he told her to be. Always a hotel, a good hotel. She found the keycard waiting for her at the desk when she asked for Nikos Sandaloros. Not his name, she was sure. She’d Googled it and found nothing relevant. She never called him Nikos. Only “Stranger”.
Strangers in the dark, meeting for anonymous, hot and dirty sex. That was the way it was meant to be. But Whitney is increasingly drawn to her Stranger, more than she should be. Even if once he sees her face, he’ll run screaming. Then Whitney receives an offer from the Durban Trust for cosmetic surgery. Although she knows looks don’t matter, they’ve cost her too many promotions. She has to change her face to change her life.

Her colleague Jay—reporter and thriller writer—has a secret to match Whitney’s. He’s her Stranger. He doesn’t give a damn about her face, but how does he tell her? Now Jay has two secrets. He put her forward for the surgery. Once he tells her, she’ll kick him out of her life, but he has to take that chance. He only wants her to get the job. Because she already has him. Hook, line and sinker.

“Tempting Spy” was released this month, and it’s had a great reception. This was the book I wrote after the sturm und drang of “Lisbon,” about which more later. A froth of a book, set in modern day London, this got me out of the writing slump I managed to get into. Sometimes when you try hardest, you end up with that kind of exhaustion.

And another new release this month! It’s “Bloody Crystal,” a brand new Department 57 book, and the last of the “Crystal” miniseries. Finally, the villain gets his comeuppance, though not in a way anyone expects. It starts in Llandudno, Wales, a charming little seaside down, of the gentrified Victorian variety, and ends in Chicago, via New York, all places I know and enjoy very much. It was a treat to be able to link some of my favourite places this way! The hero is Rhodri, a Welsh vampire. It would have been too easy in a way to make him a Welsh dragon! He meets Cerys, a young, inexperienced, but not innocent, vampire, and together they get far closer to their adversary than they would have done apart. When the Department gets involved, Cerys meets gorgeous merman Kai, the hero of “Crystal Tides” and a chilling Sorcerer, who help her and Rhodri in their time of peril.

This month I’m attending the Festival of Romance in King’s Langley, near Watford. It’s the UK’s first attempt at the kind of reader/writer convention that the US holds, and I’m very excited about it. Of course it’s a lot smaller than something like Romantic Times, but I think it will be choice. I’m on a panel about paranormal romance, and I’m introducing Gillian Greene, who is debuting Random House’s new Rouge imprint. If you want to know more, go here:
It’s not too late to book! We are assured – there will be chocolate!

Considering that in June I had no scheduled releases for 2011, I’ve done a lot better than I thought, and written some stories I’ve absolutely adored writing. Earlier in the year I thought I’d drop the writing for a while, utterly exhausted by the work on Richard and Rose. I thought the mojo had well and truly gone. But I got back from Romantic Times and found a seam of creativity. Not historical, although that is beginning to come again, and I did write one more historical this year, but the other side, the danger and excitement side.

Someone told me that Mercury was in retrograde for much of the time, and that affects creative people. While I don’t really get on with astrology, sometimes you just have to accept that something is wrong, and maybe that’s it. I don’t know, but I do know a lot of people who’ve had problems this year.

Or maybe it’s the new market conditions. It’s changing so rapidly that people are being left behind, and other people are embracing it fully. The whole publishing world is on the move, and we won’t know what it looks like for a few years yet, I’m thinking. So I decided to watch it all and carry on writing. After all, that’s what I do!


Of course, it’s “Bloody Crystal.” I love the cover. The artist, the excellent April Martinez, didn’t fall for the vampire-blood-red cliché, but gave me a cover that depicts the characters just as I saw them in my head, and a gorgeous green background. Anyway, I’d love you to buy it, as always, but if you don’t, I’ll love you anyway!

There’s another excerpt on my website:

Cerys is happy working in the bar in her home time of Llandudno, Wales. Nobody knows her secret until she meets dark, brooding Rhodri Tryfanwy. He knows her at once, because he’s like her. Vampire.
Rhodri sees the ethereal Cerys as everything he’s ever wanted. Light to his darkness, he takes her and she responds. Long nights of passion give him the hope he’d almost given up on finding. But events move too fast and Rhodri has to return to the dangerous, violent world of Department 57. His old adversary, Geoffrey Wilkinson, gives him no choice.
Thrown into a new world, Cerys is forced to leave everything she knows behind to search for him. She is Rhodri’s only chance. Without her help, he’ll be taken apart, piece by piece, and sold to people who will exploit what he is to make money and take power they’re not entitled to.
Chasing the enemy of the Department across the world, Cerys has to adapt fast to find the man whose only desire was to protect her. Without her love, he is dead. Without his love, she will want to die. Together, they can face anything.

In this excerpt, Cerys has fed on a drunk the night before, and Rhodri has taken her home and put her to bed.
Cerys rolled over and hit something solid. Something solid and warm. She came instantly awake, then wished she hadn’t. Her groan woke him up.
Slowly the memories of last night returned as he blinked and smiled at her, one hand under his cheek. He leaned up on one elbow, looking far too sexy for his own good. Or for her good, come to that. His short haircut meant he looked pretty much immaculate, even first thing in the morning. “You slept with me?”
He grinned unrepentantly. “There weren’t many other places.” He lost the grin. “Besides, I wanted to keep a close eye on you. The blood shouldn’t have affected you that much.”
“Why not?” She’d woken up with somebody else’s hangover before. It would clear soon. Already she could feel the headache lifting. A phantom hangover never lasted as long as the real thing, she assured herself, although when she moved, her stomach roiled alarmingly.
“It’ll pass soon.” That dark, soothing voice could guide her through dreams. “Close your eyes. I’ll make coffee and toast. If you have any.”
Nothing loath, she did as he commanded, for command it was, but his suggestion sounded good to her. Except for one thing. “Can you make it tea, please?”
“I can probably manage that.”
The old bedsprings sagged as he sat and got out of bed. She ventured a look. He was dragging a pair of jeans over a pair of white boxers, standing with his back to her. Probably just as well. But he had a beautiful arse, his buns tight and grabbable.
How could she be feeling like that when her stomach still rolled with the hangover? Although the headache was fading nicely.
By the time he returned with the promised tea and toast, she was feeling a whole lot better. He found a couple of cushions from the couch to prop behind her back and bolster the pillows, making her feel looked after. She hadn’t felt that way for so long. Not cosseted like this. Dave looked after her at work, running shotgun for her when customers got too rowdy. Nothing like this. He handed her the plate of toast, and their hands brushed.
Tingles sparked between them, shivering up her arm to her shoulder. She ignored them, but she didn’t ignore the attraction she felt for him. As yet she had no idea if he felt anything for her that was more than camaraderie and concern. And she wouldn’t let him see until she knew. She wasn’t that desperate.
He sat on the hard chair she usually kept flat against the wall, the twin to the one she used as a bedside table. She glanced at her watch. “I have to get to work by noon. I’m on the early shift today.”
“Does that place open all day?”
She bit into her toast and cleared her mouth before she answered him. “We open at noon and usually close at one or two a.m. Dave lets us go home early if the place clears. Saturdays we’re open later. That’s the worst night. But I can handle the rowdies.” She took another bite. “Too well, really. I have to pretend sometimes, let them think they’ve hurt me. But I’ve never had any real problems.”
“Until last night.”
“Yes. Until last night.” She chewed in silence and then reached for her tea, letting out a moan of contentment when the hot liquid hit her tonsils. She drained the mug, then stared at the bottom with disappointment. “Did you make a pot?”
“Yes.” He grinned and held out his hand for her empty mug.
This was too easy. She felt too comfortable with him. That ended when he leaned over her to put her tea on the impromptu bedside table. She smelled hot male and couldn’t remember the last time she’d been this close to one. She couldn’t help it. She had to touch.
She flattened her hand against his chest, rubbing to enjoy the feel of the hair sprinkling the tanned skin. He stilled, and his throat moved in a convulsive swallow. Then he looked at her.
Heat poured through her. Steaming, burning heat. He touched her mind with it, let her see it. “You should know if I start, I won’t stop. Don’t make me fuck a woman with a hangover.”
She wet her lips and watched his gaze follow the motion. “What hangover?” The tea and toast had taken care of most of it. Right now she wouldn’t have admitted to it, anyway. This man was the epitome of hot. Beautifully delineated features, sharp cheekbones, mobile lips, dark eyes lit with an inner flame. And the body was simply ripped. She’d been enjoying the sight of his powerful chest, framed with the broad shoulders just made for a woman to cling to.
And the casual use of the word “fuck.” She used it herself, but the way he used it made it sound like a caress, something she wanted above anything else.
“I want to hear the word,” he said.
“Yes,” she said. “I want it. I want you.”
Whatever she planned to say next, he cut off with his mouth, bending to take her in a kiss, their first. He claimed her with that kiss, touched her lips with his tongue. His arms bracketed her, and the mattress dipped as he knelt on it.
And still he kissed her. She opened for him and let all that tea-flavored magnificence in. He was so big, although he hadn’t seemed that way against the giant Dave. But he was. He climbed over her and surrounded her with his heat, his cock a hard ridge through their clothes, pushing at her, making demands she was only too ready to fulfill.

September Newsletter


It’s been a quiet month, considering I had my first release since March! “Shifting Heat” has gone out into the atmosphere and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for it. I really love the hero, Andros, because he was dying, and had reconciled himself to it, but then got a second lease of life when he was converted into a shape-shifting dragon. All his troubles were over, right? Oh no, because inside, he still felt like the physically weak man he was for most of his life. He can’t take that final leap. Until he meets a woman who accepts him for who he is now, not who he was then. Anyway, love to hear your take on it!

And I have another release in September! How’s that for cool? This one is from Total E-Bound, and it’s a novella, called “Temporary Spy,” part of their “Tempting Temps” collection. Hopefully, it will come out in paperback, collected with a couple of others from the series, and it’s coming out in audiobook, too.
It was a treat to write. I wrote it straight after I’d finished and polished and rewritten “Lisbon,” the last Richard and Rose book, and that was so hard to write, with all the research, and keeping the timeline straight, and the writer’s block I was in denial about at the time, that it was lovely to turn to a one-off story set in a place I know well (London) about people with different problems. It was the fizz, the dessert, that I needed to get me out of the deep funk I was in. I find that helpful when I’m faced with a block – write something else! I think it’s partly fatigue, but also other things that are going on bleeding into the writing day. And I don’t talk about it, because, like depression, it’s something that has to be endured and got through.

So Tempting Spy is my fizz book, and there’s an excerpt below for you. I’ve put the first chapter. And it’s out from Total E-Bound on the 25th September.

Other things? I’m currently writing the second “Trust” book, which I’ll send to my editor at Carina. I loved writing the first one, and it introduced a character I really wanted to know more about, so this is his story. How could I ignore the world of the Naples gangster, once I’d uncovered it? And while writing this book, I discovered a new to me setup, which will lead me into writing another one. It seems inevitable.

Some great news from Ellora’s Cave, which was leaked last week – prices to third party sellers like Amazon are going down! Unlike other epubs, Amazon did a test study, taking a few authors and experimenting with price points (all with the cooperation of the authors). It turned out to be a great success, and so the prices after October will be comparable to the prices you’ve always been able to get on EC’s website. Although I’ve never had any trouble, I know some people have difficulties with the site, so this is great news. Lower prices might mean a drop in royalties, or it might not – we’ll have to wait and see. But I honestly think that EC still has some of the best authors out there, and they deserve to be wider read. It’s still the market leader for erotic romance, and I can’t see that changing.

Not as good news on the Samhain front, for me at least. Still no word from my editor on the Richard and Rose and Freddy front, I’m afraid. I was asked to rewrite “Lisbon” twice, and she takes 12 weeks to read each rewrite. Since the books are still uncontracted, it looks like I won’t have a new Samhain book out in 2012, as they are now scheduling for 2013. However, “Maiden Lane” is coming out in print in February, yay! While I’m Samhain’s bestseller in historical romance, that doesn’t mean my sales compare to the erotics that constantly make the Samhain top ten these days. They are a great publisher, though, and I’ve loved my time there. Still will, if I can. I’ve decided to write a standalone historical, one from a potential series I’ve been thinking about for some time, and see how it does. I also have a historical paranormal out on query, so you never know…

From time to time madness takes me and I try to write a Harlequin Presents. These books are in every bookstore, all over the world, and while the money’s not great, the promotion and publicity is invaluable. My latest effort returned to me after a read and a discussion, so I intend to rewrite it a bit, deepen it and see where I can send it. I loved writing it. It’s about a girl who loves vintage and second hand clothes.

If any of you are reviewers, drop me a line. I’d love some reviews for the new releases! There are some on the way, but I’m greedy! They are – Shifting Heat, with Temporary Spy, Bloody Crystal (a new Dept 57 book) and Learning to Trust (romantic suspense) coming up soon.

And I think that’s about it for now. If you want to know anything, if I’ve missed anything out, shout out. And as always, thanks for being here. You make what I do real. Not to mention giving me the greatest reason for sitting at my computer for 12 hours a day, making stuff up!


Finlay Scott knows someone is stealing his architectural designs, so he employs an agency that specialises in weeding out industrial spies. But he doesn't know they will send Beth, a woman he had a torrid affair with years before, and has been unable to forget.
Beth sees this job as paying off an old debt, but matters get much further, much faster, and they're soon seeing how many office surfaces can take both their bodies.

Excerpt (over 18’s only, please):

Beth stretched, raising hands to the sky. “What time is it?”
Joy favoured her with a glance. “A quarter to five. The boss wants to see you at five. Chances are he’ll send you back to the agency.”
“What makes you say that?” She got it, she really did. Joy wanted Finlay. Well, as far as she was concerned, Joy was welcome to him. She was here to pay back a debt, that was all. And to see justice done in the best traditions of a superhero. Pity she wasn’t one, but she did her best to behave like a reasonable human being, unlike some people not too far away from here.
She grimaced. She had rather overdone it, screwing up the filing. Maybe if she made up for it in the next hour it would give Finlay a chance to rehire her. Not that he knew she was here. After all, she’d only started two days ago when he’d been in Rome and she was only here until she’d accomplished her task.
She stared at her computer screen. Joy had given her some standard letters to type, print and send. Her typing wasn’t perfect, but she could manage the computer formatting. She had the same program at home. So she set to it and, by five, she had half a dozen letters typed and printed out, ready for his signature. Glancing up from her screen, she gave Joy a tentative smile. “I’m sorry about the filing. I guess I was nervous.”
Joy sniffed and leaned against the copier, folding her arms across her chest. “I daresay. But you’ll have to put in some fancy talking if you want to stay here.”
“I do. Is fancy talking all that’s required?” She gave a winsome smile, and rested her arms on the sides of her chair.
Joy glared at her. “He doesn’t mix business and pleasure. Ever.”
Beth made sure Joy saw the up and down she gave her, paying special attention to that tight red skirt. “You could have fooled me.”
“It’s actually very comfortable. I wear it a lot.” I bet you do. But Beth didn’t say it aloud. The skirt showed the cleft between her buttocks. Puppies in a sack, she’d thought as she’d watched Joy sashay into Finlay’s office earlier.
Beth had actually suffered a pang of jealousy—her first for, well, two years. Nearly three. She’d worked so hard in the intervening years, she’d hardly noticed the time going by. Until, that was, she lay in her bed at night. Alone.
Joy gave her a warmer smile. “This is his favourite skirt. He never says, but I can tell. He was disappointed when I couldn’t go to Rome with him last week, but it couldn’t be helped. I think one of those letters you’re typing was thanks to the hotel? He likes to do that.” She sighed. “He wants to be sure of the room next time.”
She had noticed that. Joy had booked a one-bedroom suite. “He takes you every time?”
“Always,” Joy purred. “He wouldn’t go without me.”
Her inference was clear. Keep off! In a perverse way, Beth felt glad that Joy would even see her as a rival.
Beth gathered the papers together and tidied the edges, doing her best to ignore her trembling hands. She had to face him sooner or later. “Should I go in now, or wait until he calls for me?”
Joy grinned at her. “Go in, just knock and enter. He likes punctuality and he doesn’t like formality.”
Why did she suspect that friendly smile? Probably for good reason. But she did as Joy told her, knocked and went straight in.
Finn’s head jerked up. “Didn’t Joy tell you not to come in until…” His voice tailed off. “Fuck, oh fuck.” He sounded entirely different now, unsure and astonished.
“Where have you been? Where did you come from?”
Too late to retreat. He knew her, and nothing had changed from the last time they’d seen each other. Except that the desire between them seemed to have increased, if anything. She hadn’t thought that possible, had hoped it had died. Some hope.
Beth closed the door hastily as he got to his feet and rounded the desk, heading for her with a determination she couldn’t avoid. She took a step back, but there was nowhere to go. Her back hit the door as he reached her, and she got barely a glimpse of his eyes, hot with passion, before his mouth descended on hers.
All her good intentions melted when his arms enclosed her, all thoughts of keeping her distance disappeared. Hunger replaced reason.
With his mouth locked to hers, she knew they wouldn’t stop there, wanted more of him. His mouth worked hers, persuaded her to open to him and he took possession, eating at her as if he’d starved for a year or more. She knew because she’d felt the same way. She gripped his forearms, felt handfuls of crisp shirt fabric, and held on. Her head went back under the pressure of his, hitting the door with another thud.
He dragged his mouth away from hers, but only to stare at her, as if he couldn’t believe it. “Oh my God, you’re here, it’s really you!” With a groan, he settled his mouth on hers again. And this time he put his hands to work, gripping her waist then sliding up, bringing her top with them. He kissed down her neck to the place where her throat met her shoulders and she was toast. Lost. She breathed deep, inhaling the scent of shampoo and Boss and him. It felt like coming home.
But a home filled with turbulence. Shock reverberated through her system, but he was already replacing it with desire and swiftly escalating it to desperate need. He touched her bare skin and she shuddered, then he undid the buttons of her top and she helped him, let him draw it off her and toss it aside. His gaze stroked her with an intensity that made her shudder. As he watched, she lifted away from the door, took her hands off him and reached behind to unhook her bra.
When her breasts tumbled free, his hands were waiting to capture them. He gasped when he touched them, but she nearly drowned the sound he made with her soft moan. “I didn’t come for this.”
“But this is what you’re going to get.” His low, trembling voice increased the intimacy between them, his hot breath gusting against her skin, raising goosebumps where it touched her. He caressed her breasts, cupped the soft weights with his hands, the calluses rasping deliciously against her. She shuddered and pushed herself into him, urging him to do more.
“Come here.” In a sudden movement, he released her, grabbed her waist and pulled her even closer. His starched shirt hit her bare skin, the warmth of his body underneath tantalising her with its propinquity. She ripped at the fabric between them until it separated at the front. Then, with a sigh of relief, she touched him, slid her hands over the hard curves of his heated flesh and the tiny points of his nipples, as hard as hers were.
“Finn, oh, Finn.”

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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Newsletter, May 2011

Back from my travels! I went to RT Booklover’s Convention in LA, and so I took the opportunity to go to San Francisco beforehand, with a friend, Cait Miller. We had a great time, and saw a lot of things, and I could cut a few more things on my Things To Do list. I have always, always wanted to walk down Haight, and stand on Haight/Ashbury, and I did it. I knew it would be tourist-ridden (including me!) and I knew it wouldn’t be magical, but I didn’t expect to be offered a “special brownie”! Not that I accepted, but it was nice to be asked! So many iconic places from my youth and it was such a thrill to see them. Yes, I turned into Typical Tourist, but I didn’t care. I enjoyed it thoroughly. We also went to Alcatraz on a night cruise. The view of San Francisco is breathtaking, but the place itself is the stuff of nightmares. The atmosphere catches you by the throat and doesn’t let go. Deeply disturbing, but I’m so glad I went. I learned a lot there, and it might yet come out in a book.
LA was interesting, too. I stayed in a great hotel (remind me never to stay less than three star in future!) in a dicey area of Hollywood, but I’d chosen the hotel because it was across the road from a metro station, so it was fine. And a great price, too. I went on a tour of Warner Brothers, which was really good, and visited some of the museums and art galleries, including the Getty. The decorative arts collection is first class. The paintings not so much, one or two good ones, and a lot of secondary works by major artists, or primary works by secondary artists. But as I understand it, JP Getty was more interested in the decorative arts. It shows.
The bus tours in both cities were great. Highly recommended. I’d say when you visit a place like LA, go and see the things it’s known for best. The studio tours, the Kodak Theatre, all that stuff. Because that was unparalleled and highly enjoyable.
Then it was on to the Westin Bonaventure, and the Convention. One of the best yet, of the ones I’ve been to. Kathryn and Kenneth know how to throw a party, with the help of the wonderful Jo Carol and her teams. All of them helped to make the convention great. The bar at the hotel was wonderful, perfectly situated to wander around and talk, and join friends.
I loved the ATF demonstration with the two dogs, the sniffer and attack dogs, and for this Brit, seeing the weapons that the ATF had taken off the street was jaw-dropping. They let us handle them, and I had my picture taken by Andrew Peterson (get his book, it’s a goodie) with one of the biggest guns.
We had a great Cougar Growl in Club RT, and my panel, while sparsely attended, did very well. It was a bit nerve-racking, captaining my first panel, but it went reasonably smoothly.
A lot of RT happens off campus for me these days. I had dinner with some of my publishers, and caught up with the others at special events. And yes, I went to a BDSM club! One of our number, Allie Standifer, had asked them, and we went, just for the research, you understand. I made the mistake of putting my hair in a high pony tail, because I thought it was kind of appropriate with the black skirt and top I was wearing. Well, erm, it seemed that pony tails were worn by the Doms in this place. I am not a Dom, at least I don’t think I am. There was a two man one woman ménage going on in the chair next to me, and a woman gave a wonderful flogging display (she didn’t leave a mark, just a pink glow) and then took her pony tail out, took her top clothes off and turned into a switch.
Oh yes, you can bet it was eye-opening!
We also went to the Viper Room to see the band Run, Devil, Run. A good rock band. There were seven or eight booths, that was all, and it was like every club you’ve ever been to. I guess there’s a VIP room, or the equivalent, and the door opened straight on to the street for anyone who wanted a smoke. But you never know, Jonny Depp, who was in town that week promoting “Pirates” and I might even have shared the same seat! Well, a girl can dream!

And for news – I have sold a book to Ellora’s Cave, the next STORM book, which features the dragon shapeshifter Andros, the brother of Ania from “Red Inferno.” I’ve also sold a story to Total E-bound, for an anthology. I don’t usually write shorter than novella, but this story worked for me, and I had a lot of fun writing it. And I have sold to a new publisher! Carina have accepted “Learning to Trust,” a romantic suspense I just had to write, after getting the idea late last year. I am thrilled to be working with Angela James again.
The book that was giving me a lot of trouble, the final Richard and Rose, is in the hands of my editor at Samhain, and I’m waiting to hear if she likes it. It was so hard to write, because I was saying goodbye, at least for now, and because I wanted to write a book that would satisfy. But I got it done, amongst tears and laughter.

So you might say I’ve been busy! Right now I’m finishing a story I want to submit to Ellora’s Cave, a new book in a new series that I can’t tell you about right now because it’s not been announced. But I am very excited by it, and I’ve really enjoyed writing it.

As always, if you want to know anything, if you review for a site and want review copies, or if you just want to chat, do get in touch. I love to hear from you!


How about something from my other March release, the rewrite of “Griffin’s Treasure”? This is the book that won the EPPIE for Paranormal Romance in 2004, but I’ve heavily rewritten it for its re-release, and to make sense of the order in which it now appears.
This extract isn’t suitable for the under 18’s.

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 definitely can't trust Skeffington's stepdaughter, Chana Rafiz, even though he wants her with every fiber of his being.
When her controlling stepfather asks Chana to look after his guest, she suspects another trick to keep her by his side; only she finds 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 even knew existed, but when she finally discovers his secret, she uncovers another. One about herself that'd been kept from her her whole life.
Together, Josh and Chana have to face dangers only Department 57 can help them with, but they plunge the whole Department into peril. If the Department is to endure, and Laurie is to be found, Josh and Chana must defeat the longest odds to succeed in their mission.

By the time the last stragglers left, it was nearly three a.m., and exhaustion filled Chana. Knowing she had to get up in the morning to attend to Josh’s requirements, she staggered upstairs to get to bed as quickly as possible. Only when she stood outside the door to her bedroom did she realize her stepfather hadn’t even thanked her for her efforts. She remained by the door, her forehead resting on the wall, gathering her thoughts before she went inside, because she knew as soon as she took off her clothes, she’d be asleep.
A sound just behind her made her start, fully awake. “Tired?”
“Oh, I didn’t hear you.” Heart beating wildly, she turned to confront Josh.
He stood very close to her, so he didn’t have to move to take her in his arms, except to curve them around her and urge her to lean against him instead of the wall.
“You’re done in. Come on, I’ll help you.”
He’d changed out of his tuxedo and wore a soft robe of silk that came down to his knees. As far as she knew he wore nothing else.
She heard the catch on her door click as he opened it, and then he guided her inside.
“I’ll just help you into bed. Then I’ll go. I won’t hit on you. Enough people have tried to do that tonight.” His voice turned grim. “I hope your stepfather’s paying you well for this. I wouldn’t let you do this, if you were mine. Come on.”
Her gown unzipped at the back, and the halter parted around her neck. Too tired to protest, she felt the gown slide down her body. When she began to pull away, he hushed her with soft words and led her to the bathroom.
She hadn’t known what he intended until she heard the shower, the hard sound of water on tile. With a sinking heart, she realized her evening hadn’t ended. She felt too tired to enjoy any sexual encounter she might share with Josh. Yes, she found him attractive. Yes, she would probably have ended up in bed with him sooner or later, but not tonight.
He lifted her with gentle hands, and his voice came just as gently. “No, not tonight. I’ll help you get ready for bed. That’s all. You’re too knackered to do it for yourself. How do you take your makeup off?”
With an effort, she lifted her head and stared at him, his golden eyes clear and wakeful, watching her calmly. “Cream in the cupboard over there.”
He chuckled. “Get in the shower. I’ll bring the cleanser.”
She did as he told her, stripping off her thong and stockings before she got in and gloried in the warm spray cleaning her body. He’d taken off the needle setting she usually used and set the temperature to pleasantly warm. He’d aimed everything at relaxing her. She felt cared for, the notion alien to her.
When he drew back the screen and got in, she didn’t protest; she only wished she could stay awake enough to appreciate the toned body drawing her close. His arousal jutted against her stomach. “Ignore it,” he told her. “I want you—of course I do—but that’s not what this is about. Not now.”
He reached for the cream and tilted her face up, stepping back so his body was out of the hot stream of water. She hadn’t realized the simple action of spreading cleanser on her face could feel so enjoyable, but his gentle touch made it more than that. Despite her exhaustion, her lower body stirred, came awake, although he did nothing other than clean the makeup off her face. He reached for a handful of tissues he’d placed on the broad shelf at the end of the shower and wiped her face gently, paying special attention to her eyes, which she’d loaded with cover-up and mascara to hide her tiredness.
“Keep them closed,” he murmured and steered her under the shower again, tipping her head up to receive the gentle, warm spray.
“You do that better than I do,” she confessed. “Sometimes I just wash it all off with soap.”
She shook her head and opened her eyes to see him pick up a bottle of shampoo.
“Turn around.” He pulled her against his chest, where she rested gratefully while he pulled out all her hairpins, tossing them on the shelf. When they’d all gone, he ran his fingers through her hair, loosening its heavy weight and letting the water soak through. “You apply makeup very well. Too well.”
“What does that mean?”
“It wasn’t until I took it off I saw the shadows under your eyes.” He rubbed shampoo through her hair.
“How much do you charge for showering women? I could employ you every day.”
He chuckled. “I might be too expensive for you.”
“You’d be surprised. My expense account is very large.”
“Who’s talking money?”
He pulled her back when she jerked away in shock, realizing just how relaxed she felt with him. How could she allow him to take her off guard like this? She’d opened to him again, let his mind soothe hers, persuade her to take part in this outrageous scene.
“Don’t worry,” he said as if he could read her. Of course he could. She’d just let him. “We’ll talk about it another time. For now, just accept that it is. That we can communicate mentally. Your barrier is strong, so I can’t read your inmost thoughts, just your outer layer. Okay?”
She nodded, relishing the sensation of his fingertips gently massaging the shampoo through her hair. He guided her head under the showerhead to rinse, then drew her close to him again, her back to his front. His cock pushed against her, and she flinched before relaxing back against him. “You’d be puzzled if it didn’t happen, wouldn’t you?”
Yes, she would. They were naked and relatively fit, so yes, a natural reaction when she thought about it in that way. “I’m too old for you. You shouldn’t want me.”
A rumble began low in his chest and erupted in a gale of laughter, but he wouldn’t let her go, holding her around her waist, close to him. “You have no idea,” he managed weakly. “No idea at all.”
He wouldn’t explain but instead reached for the body shampoo. It smelled of one of her favorite scents—vanilla—sweet but not too feminine for him to use. He disdained the sponge and washcloth, using his hands to smooth the shampoo over both of them, turning her to face him. Kneeling down, he soaped her legs, her calves, her thighs, then her pubis. That he sent thrills through her when he touched her sensitized skin was hardly his fault. He couldn’t have failed to notice.
“Relax,” he said. “I’d have to be a monster to take you now. Your tiredness is beating at my mind. You’ll be in bed soon, I promise.” He separated her labia, guided her so the water rinsed her, and just grazed her clit when he released her. A sharp jolt of arousal went through her, enervating her, but he didn’t take advantage. He could, so easily.
He rinsed her thoroughly but slowly, doing nothing to break the sense of warmth and well-being suffusing her mind and body. He leaned over her to turn off the water.
“Just relax. I’ll do everything. Close your eyes, sweetheart.”
She did as he asked her, feeling the warmth of a soft towel draped around her shoulders. He toweled her hair, then rubbed her body, all his movements cherishing, gently caring rather than arousing. “You’re in complete control of your body, aren’t you?”
His rich chuckle answered her. “Almost. I have to be, in my game.” He lifted the towel away from her hair and then lifted her into his arms. His lips, pressing softly against hers in a featherlight kiss, hushed her small squeak of protest. She relaxed as he took her through to the bedroom and laid her against the cover, pulling it back before lifting her to lie on the crisp ivory sheets. Before he could cover her, she gripped his wrist and opened her eyes.
He gazed at her. Only the bedside light remained on, and softened by the golden shade, his skin gleamed invitingly. “Don’t go yet,” she murmured. “Please stay for a while. Get into bed with me.”
She didn’t want to be alone. She spent every night alone. A long time had passed since she’d shared the dark hours with anyone else. Tonight she wanted company, and she no longer cared if he wanted sex in return. She’d welcome it. His toned, gorgeous body made her mouth water, he liked her, and this would be the first time she’d had a younger man in her bed.
He met her gaze honestly, and she felt him stirring in her mind, removing his presence. She didn’t want that.
“I can’t,” he whispered, so close his breath heated her skin. “I’m at the end of my endurance.” His mouth flattened in a wry grin. “I have to go, or you’ll get no sleep.”
“I can stay awake a little while longer.”
“You need to sleep.”
“Please, just get in.”
He straightened and glanced around the room. “If I get into bed with you, I’ll make love to you. Fuck you. Are you sure you want that?”