“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.