Thursday, November 05, 2015

Lynne Connolly Newsletter, November, 201

Lynne Connolly Newsletter, November, 2015


This month in the UK, it's Bonfire Night. The night when pets are kept indoors and the world explodes with lights and glitter. Firework Night. It's a very British thing, to celebrate the night Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators failed to blow up Parliament. The British Constitution is a wonderful thing, but would it have survived the destruction of the centre of government and so many ministers?
It's those "what if?" questions that keep historical novelists writing. There are so many turning points in history, when the world could have moved in a different direction. I use some one in the Emperors of London, and another what if? motivated my writing the Even Gods Fall In Love series. I get the feeling that with the gods series, I've started a new genre! If the steampunk era was moved back a hundred years and linked with the classical world. I have absolutely no idea what to call it, though. Georgepunk? Classicpunk?

When I write contemporaries, I tend to move closer to what is happening. There are so many undercurrents in our complex world, sometimes it's just a matter of choosing one and getting on with it. When I came to write "Escaping the Past," for instance, I'd just watched a documentary about the Camora in Naples. Like the Mafia, but on the mainland. When I read about the counterfeit goods industry, and that some authorities assessed the potential profits as high as the profits from the opium industry, my mind started working.
Then I used my experience as a foreigner in a new country, and Jade Trent was born. "Escaping the Past" is part of the Sweet Sensations anthology out later this month, a 99 cent box set. I'm really excited about this book. It has a lot in common with "Learning to Trust," which came out a few years ago. It was originally meant as a sequel, but other projects got in the way. However, Jade and Gary wouldn't leave me, and now here they are, struggling out in the world.
Escaping the Past, part of Sweet Sensations is out on November 26th, and up for pre-order now!

New Releases and Excerpt

So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Gary and Jade.

Jade Trent has come to New York to find work and to live incognito. Two years ago she received a message from her brother, Miles, the last she’d heard of him. Since Miles works for a shadowy organisation loosely connected to the Marines, she’s more than worried, but she obeys his request and leaves home. She found a new life, one she enjoys, even though she only has a job in a department store and lives modestly.

Gary has a shady past. Although he can claim a personal fortune, his father nearly bankrupted the family company, then he went back to his Italian roots and took strictly illegal work from his gangster family. Gary’s Neapolitan family still rule in Italy, and Gary has kept strictly away from them.

Jade and Gary have an instant connection, but the social gap between them is huge. When Jade is put in danger, Gary is forced to act to save her. Unfortunately, Jade’s brother is working undercover for Gary’s family, something both his family and the government agency watching them are aware of. Back in Italy, they’re faced with unpleasant choices. Jade won’t allow the danger she and Miles are in to lead Gary to follow in his father’s footsteps and rejoin the family business. Not that Gary has any such intention, even if it means he loses his life protecting the woman he loves.


Gary picked up the phone on the third ring. “Yes?”
He sat up straighter when a voice barked at him. A voice he hadn’t heard for a long time. “Gary Mazzini?”
The voice rattled off a string of numbers and letters. Automatically Gary kept count. The placement of the letters told the listener what to do with the numbers. They always came to seven.
He returned his ID number. He hadn’t needed the formality to recognize the voice of his old boss. “I’ve got a job for you,” Camstock said.
“It might have escaped your notice, but I don’t work for you anymore.”
“You still have the same relatives.”
Shit, yes, he did. Not people he cared to associate with. “Keeping my distance has kept me alive so far.” Gently, he closed the lid of his laptop, as if Camstock could see through the phone to the company figures laid out on the screen.
“So did working for us.”
“At one time.”
Camstock was playing him, reminding Gary what he owed the Extras. Organizations like the one he’d once belonged to had the most mundane names. This one was called Extras, because that was the way the expenses tended to appear on budgets.
Gary had done with the Extras and everything else from his previous life. Now he ran his own business, legitimate imports of mostly sports equipment, and he lived quietly. No way would Camstock drag him back in.
“How about a damsel in distress?” his old boss asked. “Or maybe a wicked woman?”
“You have active agents. Use one of them.”
“Nobody can do what you can. Hear me out, okay?”
Where was the harm in that?
Which was why, instead of an evening watching the game on his widescreen TV, he hired a limo to take him to a shareholders’ shindig at the Central Park Hotel. Much against his will, but yeah, Camstock had a point. Nobody had his relatives or his experience in this field.
They were lucky.

Jade blinked in response the flashes from the cameras of the assembled media, even though none of them were aimed at her. Yells erupted when a limousine drew up outside the Central Park Hotel. When the car door opened and a solitary male got out, the yells subsided a little, but only a little. He glanced around, seemingly ignoring the flashes that flickered across the lenses of his rimless spectacles, then froze, his head turned in Jade’s direction.
Because of the glare on his glasses, she couldn’t tell if the visual exchange had been mutual, but she stood transfixed for however long it took him to turn around and stride to the hotel entrance. Broad shoulders, sleek, dark hair brushed against a well-shaped skull, and an air of confidence made him stand out. Jade shrugged, trying to dismiss it. A moment out of time, that was all. Nothing that really mattered. Except the man was smoking hot.
She glanced at Nina, who raised a brow and pursed her lips in a soundless whistle.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Groping for something to say, anything to distance herself from what had just happened to her she stared up at the hotel’s impressive façade and fell back on a caustic remark. “No wonder we’re on starvation wages if Mackness holds junkets here.”
Her boss, Marie, shot her a hard glare. “Behave yourself. Some of the company’s biggest shareholders are here tonight, so play nice, you hear?”
As well as the stars who sponsored Mackness products. Glamor, fashion, epitomized in the model in the slinky silver dress currently posing for the media. Impossibly polished. She’d thought she looked good when she left home, but next to these fashion idols, she didn’t even feature.
On the way here, Jade had felt like a child at her first grown-up event, unsure, even shy, excitement bubbling up inside her like her own private lava stream. A middle-class upbringing in England didn’t exactly prepare a person for a VIP event at a top-ranked New York hotel.
Another gleaming vehicle drew smoothly to the curb, so while the media waited to greet the next important guest, Marie led the way forward. Jade savored every moment of her short journey on the red carpet.
The official at the top of the stairs glanced at their passes and handed them back. “Upstairs to the ballroom. Don’t get in the way of the VIP’s.”
They paused at the cloakroom to remove their coats. Jade shoved the ticket in her new purse, a bit on the big side for the evening, but the best one she had, albeit a knockoff. Tonight it had its first outing. The lining was smooth against her fingers and she lingered a moment to savor the sensation.
The tight lines around Marie’s mouth relaxed and she gave a terse nod. “Don’t drink too much and be nice.” She handed Jade and Nina big buttons that told everyone they were Mackness employees. Jade pinned hers in place on her simple black dress, suppressing her grimace. The implied threat was there—if she didn’t play nice, she’d lose her good record. Mackness was sponsoring her for her green card. Of course they’d never link the two events, but if they withdrew their support, she was screwed. She didn’t need it spelled out to her in letters of fire.
They had to move aside as someone more important entered the ballroom, but as the maître d’ dealt with the new arrivals with fawning submission, a tuxedoed waiter holding a clipboard beckoned to them. He gave them three numbers so they could find their table.
A huge chandelier dominated the room, complimented by two smaller ones on either side, and a quartet playing Mozart occupied the stage area. The décor and the musicians reminded Jade of the Edwardian era, all elaborate plaster and heavy ornamentation, supplemented by plenty of gilding, with a genteel tune tinkling in the background. Very impressive.
Three men got to their feet as they approached their assigned table. Wow, impeccable manners, much, or did their tailored evening jackets come with etiquette already sewn in? Maybe they wanted a better look at the tube dresses her two companions wore before the stretch gave way and they shrank into belts. Jade had gone for something classier, a black dress with thin straps and a gently flaring skirt, but she felt like a second-rate citizen after watching the celebs arrive.
Jade looked up. A pair of green eyes sparkled at her, their owner’s rimless glasses no impediment to his amused expression. The man she’d seen getting out of his limo alone. The shock of recognition heated her face. She managed a smile, and noted how close his dark hair clung to his head. Her fingers itched with the need to touch it, run them through the thick, ordered length, her reaction stupid but undeniable. She opened her hands, spread her palms to her sides in an effort to bring her senses back to reality.
This was New York, not fairyland. That kind of instant attraction didn’t belong here, and she’d be a fool to believe it. She forced her attention to more professional matters, hoping it would cool her down a tad. In her case, that meant fashion.
To compare the suits these men had on with the ones sported by the waiters and staff would have been to compare the Mona Lisa to chain store art. The suits skimmed their bodies, the shoulders perfectly aligned, the lapels flat and the cloth so deep black Jade thought she might be able to dive in.
The men introduced themselves. She missed the names, all but green eyes.
He took his seat and held out his hand, smiling as if he knew what she was thinking. “Pleased to meet you, Jade Trent.”
Gary, his name was Gary. She slid her hand into his. “Me too. Pleased to meet you, I mean.” Her hand warmed in his, and as it did so, tingles spread up her arm. Had she accidentally caught her hand on something, let it go to sleep?
She was here for work. Work, dammit, Jade.
He helped her sit, pushing her chair gently under her before he retook his own. Next to her.
“You’re English,” he said.
She gawped. “You can tell from two words?”
He smiled. “Yes, I can. But I can’t tell where.”
Not surprising, really. “All over. My dad was in the navy, you see, so we traveled a lot.”
“No roots?”
“Only since my father retired.”
He nodded. “I was in the navy once.” That surprised her. The younger businessmen here tonight had either inherited their wealth or worked on building it from an early age.
The waiters brought the starter. It was a seafood-based confection with what she suspected was real caviar on the top, if only a few grains of the stuff. She tucked in, remembering to smile at the others as well as Gary in between bites. Sadly, the little taster didn’t last long.
Gary barely touched his portion. Crap, she should have eaten slower, not enjoyed it so much. Very uncool. “You don’t like it?”
His smile this time was rueful. “Caviar’s not really my thing. I hope the main course isn’t bass or something like that. I’m really not in a seafood mood.”
“But it’s real caviar!” she protested before she could control her unruly tongue.
He made a face. “I know.” He’d only taken a few bites of his portion. They smiled at each other, sharing a moment of snatched intimacy.
“It’s an acquired taste, they say, but I loved it the first time I tasted it. I used to treat myself at Christmas.”
“But not this year?”
He was too quick. “No.” She paused. “It’s really expensive to live here.” She didn’t need to glance in Maria’s direction to know the implied criticism wouldn’t go down well with her manager. “Not that I’m complaining about my wages, of course.” She forced a smile.
She couldn’t be sure, but she thought Gary caught her nervous glance at her boss. He raised a brow. “Good to know.”
She caught Maria’s approving nod.
“You’re a shareholder in the company?” She might as well know what she was dealing with.
Gary gave her a guarded look, his brilliant eyes shielded by long, black lashes. “Yes.”
Gary ate and drank sparingly, and chatted to her. She replied, did everything she could to charm him without indicating she’d be putting out later, but she was burningly aware that she wasn’t the charming type. She answered his questions about the company as clearly as she could, and they seemed to go down well.
When the dancing began, Gary asked her to take the floor with him. The band was playing music to smooch to, and some of the people on the floor were already obliging the musicians by dancing and each other by dancing tucked up close. What made it worse was that she wanted to, in the worst way, totally inappropriate. Her body responded to him as if following his orders, her nipples tightening, her sex dampening, so she had another reason to be thankful she hadn’t worn that dress. Desire, so wrong here and now, but she couldn’t control it.
Gary put his hands in the right places, one around her waist and the other linked with her hand. They moved around the floor, noting some of the other couples, Mackness employees wound around their partners, always one of the VIPs, never their own partners. “This is nice,” she said.
“If it helps you to be more frank, I have an acute sense for bullshit,” he murmured.
She almost laughed, but suppressed it just in time. She hated to admit it, but she’d have done a lot to move even closer to him. He was truly gorgeous and he smelled divine. But if she came on to him, he’d assume it was because she’d been told to.
She moved back, and he turned her around the floor, gliding past the other couples. “You know what I see?” he continued smoothly. “I see men provided with young women to entertain them. I see women without partners provided with escorts.” His voice hardened and he stared down at her, his eyes cold. “So did the company book rooms at the hotel for our use?”
Her head whipped back and she glared up at him, fury in her eyes and in the rigidity of her body. She turned her anger on to him, probably not the wisest thing to do but she’d had enough. “So you expect me to—what—put out so you’ll drop another million?”
“Hell, no.” The revulsion in his tone temporarily pierced her anger, made her want to ask him, perversely, what was wrong with her. Which didn’t make any sense at all. “If I want a woman I ask.” He paused, gazing down at her. They’d stopped dancing now, stood at the edge of the dance floor.
He turned around and walked away without looking back.
She stared after him, heart sinking. She’d been about to turn around and walk out. How great would that have been? On edge now, she had to find a way out of this place. First, she needed to calm down. She headed for the bathroom.
When she left the bathroom, determined to slip out of the hotel discreetly, she nearly collided with a hard chest. She looked up into the glass-shrouded green eyes. “You forgot this.” Her new handbag dangled from Gary’s left hand. Damn, he’d realized she hadn’t planned to go back.
She’d have left the bag behind if it didn’t have her wallet inside with her cab money in it. Precious though it was to her, she’d hoped Nina would bring it in to work on Monday.
She forced a feeble smile. “Thanks.” When she reached for it, he held it out of her grasp. His gaze wasn’t on her, it was on something or someone just over her shoulder.
“Everything okay?” Maria asked in a voice like ice.
Jade closed her eyes, giving in to despair just for a second before she pasted on a happy face, smiled brightly and turned around to face her boss. “Perfectly.”
“I thought we’d go on to a club.” Gary moved closer, circling her waist and giving it a squeeze. She forced herself to let him, but the scent she’d previously found enticing now made her slightly nauseous.
Maria’s taut expression relaxed. “Have a good time.”
“We will.” He urged Jade forward and she headed for the exit and freedom. When they hit the top of the stairs, he spun her around and shoved her against the wall. He bent his head, and just before his lips met hers, he murmured, “She’s still watching.”
Then he kissed her.
The world changed, spun on its axis.
He caressed her mouth with gentle insistence, and she opened willingly for him when he touched his tongue to her lower lip. He traced the shape before he ventured inside. Softly at first, then tasting more, stronger. He tasted of coffee and he held her with a firm insistence she felt safe melting into.
Jade enjoyed the hell out of that kiss. His muscles tightened when she touched his shoulders. The attraction wasn’t one-sided, then.
He drew away slowly, and stared down at her, wonder breaking over her as she met his gaze fearlessly.

You can read Gary and Jade's adventures later this month!
Escaping the Past, part of Sweet Sensations is out on November 26th, and up for pre-order now!

See you next month!
Where to find Lynne Connolly and her Books
My website
The hub of everything I do. It's updated regularly, with excerpts, short stories and other goodies:

For the paranormal and contemporary romances, the website is here:

My newsletter and yahoo group.
Members get a monthly newsletter, where the news ALWAYS breaks first, and new excerpts are aired. There is also a free book, available in the Files.
To join, go here:
or send an email here:

UK Historical romance blog:

My personal blog:

I currently write for Kensington Publishing, Samhain PublishingLoose-Id , Total E-Bound and Carina Press. So you can find me on their loops and on their websites.

I write columns for Sybil at The Good, The Bad and The Unread:

And my email is

Lynne Connolly
L.M. Connolly