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?”

Newsletter, March 2011


New month - two new releases and a new look for my website!

The website trend seems to be toward simpler looks, with more emphasis on content, rather than fancy flash effects. Gradients and textures are replacing more elaborate layouts and effects. I quite like it, so I set to simplifying my website a little. I enjoy sprucing it up, it gives me a break from writing. Pop over and see if you like it - I'd appreciate your comments!

I've also been busy getting ready for Romantic Times. I'm having a break in San Francisco and in Los Angeles before the convention itself, a mixture of research and fun. I do want to write some books based in that part of the country, but I'm a strong believer in visiting a place to get a real sense of the atmosphere there. So I'm really looking forward to my trip there.

To writing - I have two new books coming out next month, but apart from that, nothing else planned! I do have several books with editors for consideration, but I've taken a slightly new approach recently, and I wanted to try some new ventures. I have no idea if these will meet with any success, but if I didn't go where the muse led me, I'd get stale and tired. I feel that very strongly.

I'm still writing Richard and Rose. I want this last book in the series to knock your socks off, so I've been very careful with the way I'm writing it, and what the characters do. It is hard going, but I think it will be worth it, in the end. It does mean that releases this year might not be as prolific as previous years, and while it's a risk, I think it's one worth taking.

I've been asked to take part in two projects, and I hope to get them off the ground soon. It's far too early to talk about them, but I can't resist - not to you people, anyway!

So far the agent search has resulted in a few promising leads, but nothing certain. I want to take care and choose the right person for me, and present them with the right project, so I've taken two of my unpublished books and worked hard on them. I don't know if they'll ever see the light, but I'm excited about them, and I'd love to see them get there one day.
One is in a new genre, supposed to be potentially hot. The other's a contemporary. I don't know why, but I caught the contemporary bug recently. I think it's the conflicts between the characters that engage me to start with, and the desire to write about a problem or a "what if...?" that intrigues me.

This month check out my interview with Evie Balos and don't forget to catch me over at The Good, The Bad and The Unread - I have some special features coming up!


Two releases this month, two excerpts!

The first is the penultimate Richard and Rose book, "Maiden Lane." Maiden Lane was, and still is, a narrow street at the back of Covent Garden with an extremely diverse history. In Richard and Rose's time it was mainly shops and clubs, with a few tall houses, semi-respectable, like most of London in that period. It's on the other side of the Square to Drury Lane, and the decidedly non respectable rookery of St Giles. Something vital happens there, and when Richard and Rose's main enemies decide to join forces, it comes to a head in Maiden Lane.

Life is cheap. So is death.
Richard and Rose, Book 7
With Rose expecting again, it should be a joyous time for her and Richard. Yet old enemies and new come out of the woodwork, seemingly intent on using whatever means possible to destroy their happiness. Not only is the legitimacy of their marriage called into question, a young man steps forward claiming to be a by-blow of Richard's dark, wild past.
Closer to defeat than he has ever been, Richard musters all his friends and allies to defend against this attack on his own ground. However, no amount of incandescent lovemaking and tender care seems to keep Rose out of harm's way.
Then a mutilated body turns up on their doorstep-and all fingers point at Richard. Rose has no choice but to emerge from his near-smothering concern to do what she must to save the love of her life. Even if she must appear to work against him.
As she lays her heart on the line, Richard fights to keep the violence that marks his past from claiming her life. For if he loses Rose, with her will go his humanity.
Warning: Rose gets her mad on, and Richard gets turned on. Contains married love, married sex and married fooling about. And pink coats with lace ruffles. And swords. And wicked goings-on.

Richard didn't allow me to worry for long. I did my best to prevent him knowing how much the appearance of his son concerned me, how deeply I prayed it wouldn't disturb our tranquillity at this time, but of course he knew.
He took me up to my bedroom and gave me into the hands of my maid, who efficiently removed the elaborate gown, stomacher, petticoats and panniers, washed the powder out of my hair and found my favourite wrapper, one Richard had bought me to replace the one he gave me in Venice on our honeymoon. That garment, sadly worn now, was neatly folded away in my clothespress. I'd never get rid of it.
I removed the necklace and bracelet and laid it in its box to join the earrings I had removed earlier. They twinkled back at me and I smiled. Small stars of diamonds surrounded deep blue sapphires in this latest parure, one I'd chosen myself. Richard presented me with much of my jewellery, especially after I'd confessed a fondness for it, but this had appealed to me from the moment I saw it in the jeweller's shop. I fancied I'd struck a good bargain for the pieces, which as every woman knows, added to their lustre.
I hadn't realised I was waiting for his step until I heard it. The door that linked our bedchambers was never closed. Any disputes we had, we tried to settle at night, after an adage Martha had instilled in me. "Never close your eyes on an unresolved argument." I found it good advice. Not that Richard and I were at odds tonight. We rarely were, but because we were humans and not heavenly beings, we had the occasional dispute. I loved him through them all, but I didn't let that prevent me from stating my views, even though they might displease him. No disputes tonight, but a new concern that might threaten our peace. Already I knew that Richard would try to protect me, especially in my present condition, but I wouldn't let him coddle me.
Now he came up behind me and took the brush from Nichols, dismissing her with a smile. "I'll see to your mistress now."
He drew the brush through my hair, smiling when I purred and leaned back. He'd done this more times than I could count, and I loved it still. I'd always enjoyed having my hair brushed, but Richard brought an extra sensuality to the act that I'd never known before I met him. I barely heard the quiet click as Nichols closed the door behind her.
"You have beautiful hair," he said.
"Will you still say that when it's grey?" My dark brown locks had already sported a grey hair or two, but I'd yanked them out. One day there would be too many to pull.
"You know I will." That rhythmic, gentle stroking soothed my soul, reached deep inside me and brought me peace. I relaxed, the only sounds the swish and crackle of the brushing and the rasp of silk brocade as Richard moved his arm.
I opened my eyes to see him smiling at me in the mirror, and a thrill went through me. Sometimes I received a shock when I saw my handsome husband, so relaxed and intimate. His formality gone with his wig, his golden hair gleaming, his fathomless eyes ultramarine in the flickering candlelight. I had a candle in each of the sconces either side of the mirror, and a branch of three on the nightstand. That was all. I rose, snuffed the two by the mirror and crossed the room to the bed, using the little step to climb up. I stripped off my robe and tossed it at the foot, pulling the covers over me. He watched me, and only when I'd settled did he stroll over to me.
He sat down and took my hand, his new green robe falling casually open over the ivory coverlet. "John's sorry reappearance hasn't disturbed you too much?" His clear blue gaze fixed on me, none of the haughtiness from earlier left, only concern.
"I'm fine," I repeated. "Truly."
He smiled then. "I know I worry too much." The smile faded. "But perhaps I have cause this time."
"It was a shock to see the man, but I half-guessed we'd see him again one day." I knew he wouldn't stay away forever. His hatred of Richard had become too ingrained for him to leave it alone.
"Understandable." He regarded me gravely, his gaze far too perceptive for my liking.
He took his robe off, getting up briefly to fling it across a chair. Unlike me, he wore nothing under his robe. I admired his lean, hard body as he came back to me, loving the way his muscles flexed, the way the candlelight caressed his skin. I drew the covers back so he could get in and lifted my arms so he could draw my night rail off over my head. It upset Nichols, my maid, if I didn't even use the pretence of one. Sometimes I thought that I was a slave to my maid.
When I saw him watching me with an avidity I couldn't misinterpret, shyness swept over me, a foolish thing because we spent every night together, more often than not naked. He knew everything about my body, perhaps more than I did. I smiled and lay down beside him, pulling up the covers to hide my breasts, which were noticeably fuller these days. He took me into his arms and I snuggled up.
"I shall miss this," I said.
"Why should you need to miss it?"
"When my belly grows too large for us to do this."
He moved his arm across my back, holding me closer. "There are other ways." He sat up and reached out to snuff the three remaining candles. They hissed, then gave up. He came back to me, only moonlight to guide us now. "Sweetheart?" I heard an edge of anxiety that hadn't been there before.
"Yes, my love?"
"Do you think I've given you twins this time? You seem to be larger than you were with Helen at this stage."
The thought of our little daughter made me smile. "Maybe. Your family seems to produce them with great regularity." His mother had constantly reminded him of the damage to her health when she'd birthed twins. "But there's no reason to suppose I'll have the same difficulties as your mother. I'm larger than her, taller, and this isn't my first birthing. I couldn't be better looked after. Or we may have the dates wrong, and I'm further along than we thought."
I wanted to distract him. In fact, I considered it possible that I had conceived twins this time. Richard was a twin; my mother had been a twin, something Richard was unaware of, so I thought it might come. My accoucheur and my midwife, Mr. Simpson and Mrs. Rooke, also had their suspicions. But there was no way of finding out for sure, so I decided to try to allay Richard's suspicions as much as I could. He would only worry, and it would do no good.
Richard's hands swept over my back and I sighed in pleasure.
"Backache?" His movements grew more purposeful, and he smoothed warmth over my skin, moving down to the small of my back where it tended to ache the most.
"Oh that feels so good."
Slipping his hands from me, he urged me to turn over to face away from him, and he began to rub and knead. He had a facility for this, the soothing away of pain by touch. The knot of incipient pain eased. Such bliss! In place of the pain grew warmth and a longing for him to touch other parts, bring them more than ease.
"Oh yes, thank you."
He stopped rubbing and curled behind me instead, curving his body around mine in a deliciously protective gesture. His skin touched mine from my upper back to my heels, where his feet cradled mine. He cupped one of my breasts and his shaft hardened against my bottom.
I pushed back into his heat. "You want?"
"No," he said firmly. "Well, at least, yes, but not tonight. You're tired, and you ache. What kind of beast do you take me for? Go to sleep, sweetheart, you need your rest."
Every day I loved him more.

Life is cheap - so is death
ISBN: 978-1-60928-384-1

Griffin's Treasure is a Dept 57 book. It's a rewrite from an earlier book, the one that won the EPPIE for Paranormal Romance, but it's been heavily rewritten. It's always interesting, revisiting a book previously written, and it was fascinating to see how much my style has changed.

International soccer star Josh Friedland has a secret. He's a griffin shapeshifter, and a covert operative for Department 57. Josh's brother Laurie is missing, and Josh is sure businessman George Skeffington is involved.
So he can't trust Skeffington's stepdaughter, Chana Rafiz, even though he wants her with every cell in his body.
When her controlling stepfather asks Chana to look after his guest, she suspects another trick to keep her by his side. Only to find that Josh is the man she's been waiting for all her life.
Long, hot Californian nights see their bodies twined in more inventive positions than Chana knew existed, but when she finally discovers his secret, she uncovers one of her own. One she doesn't even know about herself.
Together, Josh and Chana have to face dangers only Department 57 can help them with, only to plunge the whole Department into peril. If Cristos and the Department are to endure, Josh and Chana must succeed in their mission.

Josh thought his room over-luxurious, so much so that it verged on the tasteless. And it could have been a luxury hotel room anywhere. He saw no specific character there, none of the individual touches that made a room special. An undraped four-poster bed in the Spanish-style of heavy, dark wood vied with a large sofa by the window. An elaborate crimson carpet adorned the floor, one Josh's feet would sink into once bare. The whole house reminded him of a perfect showplace. He didn't want to leave a mark anywhere. At least, part of him thought that. The other part wanted to run amok and ruffle everything, disturb everything, make some kind of a mark on the polished perfection.
Much as he felt about the woman by his side. She moved across him to show him the bathroom, releasing a touch of scent, a smidgeon of woman under the designer perfume. Allowing himself to feel it, knowing he would never become involved with a woman as refined, perfect, and most likely spoiled as this one, he laid his hand on her shoulder when he leaned over her to look at the bathroom.
A great bath with lots of gold knobs and taps sat in a bed of red porphyry, and a large shower stall occupied one corner of the ivory tiled room. "A bath made for sharing," he murmured, and she started.
"Possibly," she said in a small, sharp voice. "But you'll have to find someone else to share it with."
A devil took him by the tail. When she would have backed off, he moved to stand behind her, catching her as she stumbled, off-balance. "Why can't it be you?" She felt delicious, firm but female, filling his arms beautifully.
She shot him a look filled with negativity. He could almost feel the ice exuding from her. "Because we've only just met. Because I'm not sure I like you. And besides, I'm five years older than you."
He chuckled. "Five years? What difference does that make? Are you sure you're not just making excuses?" He entered the persona of the identity he had labeled the Footballer. "Disliking somebody can make sex even better sometimes. Wildcat sex, you know. You can rip me up a treat, if you like. I won't tell who did it, unless you want me to."
Now the look was definitely hatred. "I respect myself more than that."
He took the wind out of her sails by saying, "I don't. As long as it feels good, I'll do it." He loved her dark eyes widening, her slim brows rising. Laying his hands flat on her waist, Josh slid them up toward her armpits. He loved the way a woman's body curved; the gentle lines lured him in. But when he bent to kiss the side of her neck, she jerked, forcing him to take a step backward to stop from falling to the floor.

Griffin's Treasure - a Dept 57 book
ISBN: 978-1-60737-967-6
From Loose-ID Publishing

Newsletter February, 2011


I wanted to be so far on with the last Richard and Rose book, and I just couldn't do it. I think it's because they go through so much in this book. But mostly it's because I don't want to say goodbye to them. I've said that this book is the end, the very end, but I've even relented on that. This book is the end of the current cycle. It brings to a close the first phase of their married life, and says goodbye to a lot of characters.
I've learned so much while writing this series, but other things remain a mystery. Such as why this series in particular has proved so popular. And why it had to be written in the first person. I'm not a first person writer, never have been, but this series had to be written in that way. I tried rewriting it in the third person, and it - died. Just died. So I didn't fight it any more and I let Rose tell her story.
I've had a number of emails asking me to write Freddy's story, and I think I might have discovered his heroine. They came to me, as characters often do, while I was doing something else. She's what I wanted for Freddy - someone who will make him think a bit more seriously, someone who will give him something to fight for, but not a meek or timid woman. That wouldn't suit him at all!

On the contemporary front, I've got together with a few authors at Ellora's Cave, and we're considering getting a new series together. I can't tell you what it's about, that's top secret, but it's very exciting and everyone is stoked about this one.
For paranormals, I have a new STORM story in with my editor, one I loved writing. It's the story of Andros, the newly converted dragon shape-shifter who used to have muscular dystrophy. It should be a dream come true, to find yourself cured of a life-threatening disease, but Andros is finding it hard to adjust. Then a mysterious woman seduces him, and when he wakes up, he finds something important missing.

But I have to concentrate on Richard and Rose!


This month, A Betting Chance comes out in print. I still love this book! Richard, Lord Strang and Freddy, Lord Thwaite, make appearances in this book. Like a guest star cameo!

Sapphira Vardon needs five thousand pounds to avoid a cruel marriage and a grim future, and there’s only one path for her. Don a mask and an assumed name, and risk everything to win at the gaming tables. First, though, she has to get through the door. Luckily she knows just whose name to drop.

Corin, Lord Elston, is curious to find out who used his name to gain entrance to Mother Brown’s whorehouse and gaming hell. The enigmatic woman who calls herself Lydia isn’t the sort of female usually found here. Behind her mask and heavy makeup, she’s obviously a respectable woman—who plays a devilish hand of cards.

Sapphira is desperate to keep her identity a secret, but Lord Elston’s devastating kisses and touches demand complete surrender. And once he learns the truth, there’s more at stake than guineas. Corin finds himself falling hard for a woman who’s poised to run. A woman who’s about to learn that he only plays to win…

“I wish you’d trust me with your secret. I might be able to help,” Lord Elston said.
“I don’t know you.” Not in any recognized meaning of the word. The connection Sapphira felt to him had to be her imagination. He couldn’t feel it, not this wild needing.
“I think we should get to know each other better. I want you to trust me.” He touched her chin, his forefinger stroking her skin. She wanted to purr like a cat, but instead she moved back. Before she could retreat out of his reach he tilted her chin up so she had to meet his direct gaze. His eyes bored into her soul. “There’s something about you—I don’t know.” He bit his lip. It was the first time she’d seen any vulnerability about him and she found it meltingly seductive.
She couldn’t risk weakening. She put her guard back up and kept it firmly in place, reminding herself that he was a stranger, that she didn’t know him. “I told you, I can’t do that. I’m here to play cards, no more.”
“I love a challenge,” he murmured, and lowered his head.
The first touch of his lips against hers paralyzed her. Recognition—of what she still didn’t know—shot between them and she opened her mouth to protest, but he used it to his advantage and licked her lips before he slid his tongue into her mouth.
Now shock held her rigid. Nobody had ever kissed her like this. She hadn’t imagined it possible. She’d seen the caricatures in the shops with their sometimes explicit content, watched a man fondling a whore, seen mercenary transactions take place in the street—she’d thought herself reasonably au fait with sexual matters, for a virgin.
She’d been wrong. She knew that watching and experiencing were two different things but had never known it could be so devastatingly different. The intimacy floored her, and she could do nothing other than reach out for something to steady herself.
The memory of that other kiss—that disgusting, slobbering kiss George Barber had forced on her—returned in full measure. This didn’t compare, couldn’t. She wanted to press closer to Elston, not jerk away, put as much distance between them as she could. Nothing like that. If anything had told her that she couldn’t go ahead with marriage to George Barber, this did.
Corin cupped the back of her head as her hand made contact with his velvet-clad arm. She clutched it, praying for control as he took his time exploring her mouth, caressing her with soft strokes that made her heat up right down to the forbidden area between her thighs. He held her safe, didn’t move his hands or try to unfasten her clothing. One arm curved around her waist, the other over her wig. She wanted his hands under it, in her hair, cupping her head intimately. One of the strings of her mask loosened.
She jerked back, her hand going to her only protection against discovery. “No, don’t!” Her voice was breathless, whispery, but at least it still worked. As did her common sense.
“I want to see you.” He sounded as out of breath as she did.
“No, you can’t.” She reached up and retied the one string he’d managed to undo. Luckily the other one still held firm. He’d dislodged her wig, and she pulled it back into place, but he must have seen that she was a brunette.
“Why not? Will I know you?”
Having regained her composure, enough to confront him anyway, she shook her head. “It’s highly doubtful. But you might see me somewhere else.”
“And you’ve lost that accent. I knew you’d assumed it, but there’s still a tinge left. Are you a Londoner?”
Born and bred. “I’ve visited London a lot,” she said, hoping desperately to put him off the scent. She had to get out of here before he guessed more. Before he had her out of her clothes and spread out on the bed for his pleasure. How could she have been so stupid?
But she had to pass him to get to the door, and he caught her skirts. “A challenge, sweet Lucia. Just between us.”
“Because of the danger. Because you want a bit of excitement in your life.” If only he knew she’d have more excitement than she’d ever wanted soon. But she appreciated that he didn’t threaten her. He could have her barred from this house with very little trouble, but he hadn’t done it.
She turned around, willing at least to listen, but keeping some distance between them, as much as this small room would allow. He sat there in his splendid clothes looking every inch a prince. A wicked prince. He released his clutch on her skirt, and she resisted the urge to put her hand where his had just been, to touch the residual warmth. “Well?”
“Let me get to know you better. You intrigue me. Can you meet me, talk to me, with your mask and maquillage off? Can you look me in the face without your protection?”
“No.” She couldn’t do it. With no mask or makeup he’d see every expression on her face, and he’d know she was his for the taking, however hard she fought against it.
He leaned back, smiling. “A challenge, then. A bet, just between us, with no money at stake. If I recognize you and challenge you in public without your disguise, you promise to meet me at a place of my choice.”
He smiled. “I want you, sweet Lucia. I want to see your face while I’m making love to you.”
Before she could repress it an image flashed into her mind. Him, naked, admiring her naked body, kissing it, touching it. Oh she wanted it so much, but she couldn’t. Mustn’t. She held back her shock. Barely. “And what’s in it for me?”
His rich laugh filled the small space with joy. “I hope to give you pleasure as I’m taking it.”
She pulled out of his grasp, put her hand on the door latch. “I can’t.” Then she was gone, hurrying toward her servant, Frankie, as fast as she could without colliding with anyone or losing her foothold.

A Betting Chance
In this game of hearts, winner takes all!
ISBN: 978-1-60504-973-1
From Samhain Publishing