Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Born To Be Wild

Released today!
For six years Riku has wanted only one woman. Every person he has had on tour with the Murder City Ravens has been unable to compare to the electric lovemaking he had with Cyn. They had everything together, love, passion, fire, sex—until the day she left him and everything between them behind. Riku wants answers as to why she left, but he wants her more.
Cyn abandoned her future as an opera singer—and her relationship with Riku—when she dropped out of the Institute. A day hasn’t gone by that she doesn’t crave Riku’s body against hers. Now he’s back in her life, if only for a few weeks, and she plans to make the most of the time they have. Dressing rooms, the manager’s office, no location is off limits for their whirlwind romance. Cyn knows she can’t keep him, but that doesn’t stop her from falling for him, mind, body and soul, all over again.

Note: although this book is classed as erotic romance, this is not an erotic excerpt. It's been edited slightly. 

Riku strolled along Forty-Second Street and turned left onto Fifth, trying to get into the vibe. He’d missed New York but now here, he felt strangely flat.
Aimless walking didn’t suit him, was all. He’d get a coffee and do some crowd watching, maybe make notes for a song. Ideas eluded him today and he’d wanted to take something new to the band when they met for a planning meeting after the upcoming gigs. So what if he’d come down here on the off-chance he’d meet an old friend. He’d gone to the address he had and couldn’t find her, then had second thoughts. Maybe the rest of the band pairing up had given him the blues.
Shit, they were so busy making love he didn’t know if they’d have time to write music. He kicked a loose stone across the sidewalk. He didn’t envy them. He wasn’t the type to stick to one woman. Women were light relief, people to talk to, have fun with.
A heavy weight struck his midriff hard. As he lost his breath in an oof of instinctive response, he heard tinkling staccato sounds around him as if glass had shattered.
He shook his head, trying to get some sense back into it and saw the girl. Then he lost what remained of his thought process. There Cyn was. The woman he’d been looking for.
Cyn glared at him without surprise, as if she’d last seen him yesterday. “Don’t stand there like an idiot. Pick them up!”
He glanced down. The shattering noises were polished stones, most of them round. Fuck, rolling all over the fucking place. Obediently he dropped to the ground and winced as a stone hit the tender part of his knee. He yelped.
“Bloody wimp.”
Despite the pain he grinned at the English slang. He’d been touring England with Murder City Ravens recently and he heard accents similar to hers every day, except she’d gained a touch of New York burr in her years here. Nobody sounded like Cyn. Never would.
He shifted and picked up the stone, taking more care where he put his knee this time. She thrust a small wicker basket under his chin and he deposited the smooth object. He found five others, different colors. Keeping the final one, he got to his feet and lifted the round object to examine it against the light. “Nice.” The deep, intense blue appealed to him. “Zazz did his hair that color last year. Maybe I will.”
She snorted. “Good luck with that. The stone’s lapis lazuli. They used it to create the most expensive dye ever made. Painters drooled over it.”
He dropped the gem in with the others. Amethyst, tiger’s-eye, rose quartz, some he couldn’t identify. Beads, holes drilled through. “Sorry I broke your necklace.”
Then he met her eyes. “Sorry.” He wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for anymore. God, he’d missed her. He hadn’t realized how much until he saw her. He grinned. “Hi.”
She glanced up, smiled back. “Uh-oh.”
She was staring at a spot above his eyes. Too late Riku grabbed at his knit cap. It had ridden back and exposed what he wanted to keep hidden. “Damn.” He tugged the hat over his hair, which he’d hastily bundled underneath before he’d left his apartment.
“Are you Riku Shiraishi?” another female voice inquired.
He pasted on a fixed smile and turned, only remembering to grab Cyn’s elbow as he did so. No way was she getting away. “Yes, I am.”
“Wow.” The girl gazed up at him, stars in her eyes. “Will you sign something for me?”
“As long as it’s not your arm.” He’d learned not to do that recently. People had his signature on their flesh tattooed in place. Embroidering it on scarves and T-shirts was bad enough.
She produced a napkin from a burger chain. “This do?”
“Sure.” He grabbed a pen from the inside pocket of his jacket and signed the napkin.
“I love your guitar solo on Taking Black. You should totally do more rock.”
He was used to fans telling him what to do. “Sure. Thanks, I’ll bear it in mind.”
She took her paper and the pen and when he turned, signaling his attention to walk on, she got the message and left.
He’d had to release Cyn while he signed but he heard her voice. “She took your pen.”
“I’m used to it.” He couldn’t suppress his smile when he saw her. There she stood with gorgeous long, blonde hair, sharp blue eyes, a beauty with the curves to prove it. “I don’t carry the jewel-encrusted ones around with me.”
She sniggered. “Come on. I’ll make you coffee.”
He fell into step next to her. She carried the basket as if it was gold dust but she had other strings of marble-sized stones draped over her arm.
She paused before a door and nodded to him. He acceded to her unspoken request and opened it for her. Raising a brow, no doubt at his lack of manners at not doing it before, she walked past him and in. He followed her inside.
Strings of polished semiprecious gems hung from hooks on the walls, and a long table ran down the store in the middle, holding trays of charms. While Cyn walked to the counter at the end, he lingered, drifting his hands over the charms, their cool metallic shapes shadowing his skin. He’d buy some of those, add them to his collection. Maybe his costume designer could use them or he’d tack a few to his street clothes. He tried hard to dress down but his natural instincts invariably broke through and he added something a tiny bit different. Maybe he should give up and go full-on. The disguise didn’t work and in January sunglasses looked stupid and pretentious, unless the sun was actually shining, so he hadn’t bothered.
She nodded to the girl behind the counter, whose eyes widened when she caught sight of him. Even if he wasn’t dressed up and ready to go people sometimes stared at him that way. Apart from being a trifle tall, he had no idea why but he wasn’t shy of taking advantage of it. Not too unusual, except his parents often wondered how they’d managed to produce a changeling like him. Not easy to be the child of a conventional Japanese American family wanting to kick over the traces and do something different.
They walked past into the small office at the back. He closed the door. The sheet of her hair rippled slightly as she registered the gentle click, but she said nothing, only put down her basket of stones, laid the strings on the desk and picked up the pot for the coffee machine sited in the corner. Riku stared around, interested. A large work desk occupied most of the cramped space, with grooves cut in the surface. Boards hung above it, and a chest of many drawers stood to one side. All accoutrements of the jewelry trade, he presumed.
The whole place intrigued him but she intrigued him more. As she turned he waved to indicate the room and the store beyond. “It’d be stupid to ask what you’ve been doing recently.” He smiled, trying for sultry and failing badly. He caught his expression in the small mirror placed opposite the big desk and suppressed a grimace. Creepy was a better description.
He lost the smile, forgot the posing. Too used to it recently. She smiled back anyway. “I should say that to you. You’ve invaded the media now you’re back home. Didn’t you do something on TV this morning?”
“Yeah.” He wasn’t too happy about appearing on the morning show he spent half his childhood watching. “It feels kinda strange.”
“Strange how?”
He’d missed chatting with a friend, no biggie, being honest. These days there weren’t many people he could do that with. “My parents never allowed me to watch it when I was a kid, you know, when it had that other presenter. Trashy, they said. I used to watch it on my phone in my room, or online. The forbidden is always sweeter. Now I wonder if they’ll switch me off.” He smiled and this time he sensed the honesty of the expression. Nothing in his face felt taut or strained. “Probably. The difference is I don’t give a damn anymore.”
Cyn knew his parents’ close-mindedness, even though she’d only met his mother once and his father not at all. He didn’t have to hide anything from her and he felt that as a relief. “I bet they watched. What parent wouldn’t?” She leaned against the counter, studying him. “Purple hair? Really?”
“Don’t you like the gold?” After removing his hat he turned his head for her to admire. “If my cap hadn’t slipped nobody would’ve recognized me.”
She took her time examining him and he relaxed, knowing she wasn’t sizing him up like a piece of meat but reacquainting herself with his presence. “Nearly. But you can’t resist an extra bit of pizazz.” She nodded at his zebra-stripe T-shirt. “Grungy you ain’t.” The machine behind her hissed and bubbled, sounding like mechanical giggles.
He released a bark of laughter as she turned away to pour the coffee. “Yeah, you know me.”
“Do I?” she reached for the minifridge and found some milk. She waggled the carton.
“Yes, please. Black makes me antsy.”
“It always did. Nice to know you’ve noticed at last.” She poured a dollop into each mug and put the container back before she turned around, mugs in hand. Were her hands trembling? He hoped not. All he felt was delight that he’d run into her again. Not entirely by accident, he had to admit. “You decided not to go home when you left the institute.”
She didn’t look at him when she passed him the coffee. Not until she’d retreated to her side of the room. “This is home now. Got my green card and everything.”
“You’re taking citizenship?”
A smile flickered over her lips, a nervous tic more than anything else. “I like it here. My parents don’t mind, as long as I go back for an annual visit.”
“You slay me with your enthusiasm.”
That won a smile. Then a laugh. “Yeah, sorry. I just felt bad when someone collided with me and ruined my beads. I’ll get over it.” She buried her face in her mug, took a sip and then held it so the steam obscured her features.
“You’re pleased I’m here?”
“Yes.” She sounded flat but he understood her better because he was feeling it too. Delight at her presence but wariness because of the way they’d split.
“I’m pleased to see you.”
“I’m glad to see you too.” She paused, tilted her head to one side and studied his appearance. “How do you get that pattern on your hair that, well, gold?”
He laughed. “With gold. We’re wrapping up the tour, so I decided to do something special. My hairdresser suggested gold dust. Purple hair with a golden bald eagle has a certain something.”
She raised a brow. “Can’t argue with that. Will it wash out?”
“Yes. Can’t wash it until after the last performance or I’ll have to have it reapplied. The purple’s okay though.” Not to mention the expense. His extravagant clothes and personal style came from a need deep inside him that he didn’t understand himself, born of a childhood where conforming was approved of to the point of cruelty. But he was no shrink, he only knew it made him happy.
“Oh goodie.” She studied him, her face serious. “Did you come here to find me?”

Imprint: Romantica®
Line: Twilight
Series: Nightstar
Series Number: 6
You can buy the book here and it will be up at Amazon, ibooks, Barnes and Noble, and other good outlets very soon.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

My writing process blog hop

I've been tagged by the awesome Meredith Daniels, who writes m/m books to die for! I have to answer four questions, and then tag four more authors. So here goes!

*1) What are you working on?
The second in the series Even the Gods Make Love. This one is tentatively called Mad For Love and it's the story of Lord Stretton, otherwise known as Blaize or Bacchus. Blaize has several problems, not the least of which being if he stops drinking wine, he goes mad. Being the god of wine and madness, he has to cope with a woman who wants to drive him mad and take him out of the game. But Blaize has to defy her to win the woman he loves. 

*2) How does your work differ from others in the genre? 

Well for a start there are no vampires or shape-shifters in it! But I prefer not to compare what I do with other authors. Sondheim put it best in his song Move On from Sunday in the Park With George. 
"Anything you do
Let it come from you
Then it will be new
Give us more to see..."

I think that's a lovely description of the creative process.

 *3) Why do you write what you write?
I've always been interested in history, especially the eighteenth century. I suppose you could say that I fell in love with it early. I've been reading and researching the era pretty much all my life. But I have other interests too, and one of them is mythology. All my shape-shifters are mythical beasts, dragons and the like. 
But at the heart is people and their dilemmas. I'm fascinated in finding out why people what they do. Their reaction to a situation is often the difference between hero and villain. One will jump one way, one the other, but it's not always clear from the start which is which. 

*4) How does your writing process work?

I start with an idea. It might be a character or a scene. Then I work up a story, and make sure the characters have plenty to worry about. After that I start writing. I write from beginning to end, I don't write out of sequence, so I take the characters' journeys with them. 

Now you should look at Meredith's blog so you can see her answers!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Newsletter April 2014. The Emperors of London are coming! And a re-release of an old favourite.


Here it is. If you’re on Facebook you might have heard this already but I was absolutely bursting with this last month. However the contract was only just signed and verified, so I didn’t want to say anything until it was done.
I’ve signed a new contract with Kensington Lyrical and it’s for a new series of historical romances set in the mid-eighteenth century. This is my first big venture into “straight” historical since Richard and Rose came to an end last year, and I’m super-excited about it.
When I wrote the first book it was planned as Freddy’s story. Freddy from Richard and Rose, since so many people asked me for it. But the book didn’t turn out as well as I wanted, and so I put it aside and worked on it. Occasionally I’d send out a version of it, but it still didn’t do it for me.
I loved the central idea, that of a respectable widow tempted by a rogue, who is forced to rescue her when she is drugged and put up for auction at a whorehouse, but somehow the theme was missing.
Then I started reading my text books, and I hit on the idea. What if this was part of a scheme by the Jacobites to bring the hero and his family down?
The 1750’s was packed with Jacobite schemes. They didn’t just go away after the ‘forty five. In 1752 there was a scheme to assassinate George II, for instance, and the Young Pretender visited London at least once. Probably more times.
The new series is concerned with a family nicknamed “The Emperors of London” because the Duke of Kirkburton and his sisters decided to call their children after emperors and empresses of the past.
The first book had long left Freddy gasping in the dust, poor boy. So the new hero is Alex. A revision using the enemies of the Emperors, the Dankworths, and the story had the backbone it needed. More ideas happened, because I couldn’t leave the cousins as also-rans, and I packaged the whole scheme up and sent it off.
Renee Rocco at Kensington Lyrical loved it. And I’m now thrilled to tell you that the first in the new series, “Rogue in Red Velvet” is out this September.
Such exciting news! I have a beautiful cover for the book, which I’ll be revealing on my website shortly, but I want to do the series justice and give it a lovely set of pages all to itself.

And don’t forget that I also have a new series from Samhain, the first of which is out next month. It’s historical paranormal, but the history is as accurate as I can make it, trying to blend the paranormal elements in. All the events “could have” happened! “Lightning Strikes” is a project that’s been building for a long time. In fact, I conceived the idea years ago, but I didn’t have the time to develop it until recently. And my new editor at Samhain, Amy Sherwood, is as enthusiastic as I am about the series. We get on line and talk myths!
I’m planning to showcase that series in the newsletter next month, so stay tuned.

Plans for RT Convention are almost complete. I’m sorting out my wardrobe now. As usual, I have far too many clothes to pack, so I’ll have to winnow them down. I either travel with a pair of jeans and a couple of T-shirts, or I go way OTT, and dress up in the froth. I’m doing Gothic Fairy this RT, so there’s lots of froth! If you’re anywhere near New Orleans, do drop in and give me a yell!

And just before RT I’m giving a talk about Writing the Erotic Romance at Warrington Literature Festival, here in the UK. That’s on May 3rd, a Saturday. Local recognition, no less!

The new release this month is a reissue, at a cheaper price, of “Griffin’s Treasure,” my Dept 57 story about a British soccer star and an ex-cop from San Francisco. Get it for $3.99 instead of its original price of $7.99!
More details and an excerpt below! And check out that gorgeous new cover!


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.

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?”

 Ibooks coming soon!