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First Chapter Fridays: Kryssie Fortune

Happy Friday, friends! This is such an exciting and frustrating time of year for so many of us: on the one hand, so many fantastic new books are coming out. On the other, many of us have presents and holiday gatherings to prepare for, and it’s hard to find the time and money to enjoy the new crop of books. If you’re feeling a little bit frazzled by the end of the year, I hope this First Chapter Friday series provides gives you permission to spend just a little bit of free time pursuing your own pleasures. And when the holiday rush is over, I hope you get a chance to spend some more thorough time with these books.

This week’s First Chapter Friday comes courtesy of Kryssie Fortune. Like me, she just had a new book come out. Sex, Scandal, and the Sheriff is unbelievably hot. If you are, indeed, in the midst of holiday preparations, I hereby give you permission to sit in your favorite chair of your favorite room, lock your door, and tell all your loved ones to back off for a bit while you take care of yourself first. You can buy Sex, Scandal, and the Sheriff at the Loose Id website. Alternatively, Kryssie is hosting a promo at the moment. If you comment on this post, or about this post on any of Kryssie’s or my social media, you can enter to win a copy of any of Kryssie’s books– your choice.

A little bit more about Sex, Scandal, and the Sheriff, the second book in Kryssie’s Heroes of Westhorpe Ridge series, just to prepare your palate:

Jasmine Stewart (Jazz to her friends) falls for the blond stranger when he spanks and seduces her at a Washington soiree. Later, when she discovers her flatmate is trying to draw her into a spy ring, she goes to the authorities. The ensuing publicity costs her her job, her security, and her future. Starting over in Westhorpe Ridge is her only option.

Sean Matthews, former SEAL and Westhorpe Ridge’s sheriff, can’t forget the woman he spanked when he visited Washington, but he thinks she’s a spy. When she turns up in Westhorpe Ridge, he tries everything to make her leave town. Despite their misunderstandings, though, they can’t keep their hands off each other.

As New Year’s Eve looms, the spy ring resurfaces. Jazz will need all of Sean’s SEAL prowess to survive. But because his wounded leg cost him his speed in the water, will it be enough?


All right, enough with the delays. Let’s get to the chapter! I’ll post the opening paragraphs below, and if you like, you can click on the link at the end to download the entire chapter(!) from Kryssie’s website.

* * *

Jasmine Stewart, Jazz to her friends, stood back and watched couples pair off. The room with its crystal chandelier and beautifully laid-out buffet was everything she’d expect from a high-class Washington soiree, not that she’d ever attended one before. The ladies in their long evening dresses and slightly overdone makeup looked like they’d stepped off a film set. Maybe it was the fancy up-do the hairdresser had twisted her hair into, but Jazz’s head hurt. The men, supposedly the capital city’s movers and shakers, stalked the room like sexual predators.

That last glass of champagne had been so bitter she couldn’t finish it, but it had set her libido blazing. Not usually jealous, she wanted to thrust the women aside and fight for her man. Any man would do. This sexual hunger wasn’t her, but right now she craved a hard, masculine body to grind her pussy against as she stripped off his clothes. Once she’d freed his cock, he’d pump it inside her until she came so many times she begged him to stop. If the musky smell of sex percolating through the room meant anything, the women here had gone into collective heat. Jazz’s breasts ached, and her pussy dampened with need. If she didn’t come soon, she’d explode…

* * *

If (like me) you find it totally unbearable to stop there, download the entire chapter from Kryssie’s website. Happy reading!

Posted in Books, Teasers

First Chapter Fridays: Lex Valentine

Happy Winter and Assorted Holidays to all my readers! I know I’ve been a little tight-lipped about my own work lately, but it’s just because we’re in that calm moment before excitement comes bursting out. Right now, I’m prepping for the release of the next book in the Dragons Schooled series, and in the very beginning stages of a completely new and different writing project. All shall be revealed soon, I assure you.

In the meantime, though, it’s time for another edition of First Chapter Fridays. This week’s episode comes from the incomparable Lex Valentine, who has been gracious enough to share a chapter from her novel The Pixie PrinceHold on to your mattresses, folks, because Lex is about to take you for the ride of your life.

About The Pixie Prince:

Max LeFevre, known to his fans as Max Fever, is on the hunt for a new mattress. Becoming the Pixie Prince means Max has inherited big gold wings that he must keep hidden. But the wings, and his sudden, unexpected sensitivities, have made it impossible for Max to sleep. His mattress leaves him bruised and that’s a bad thing for a guy who makes his living modeling designer underwear. So when the waiter at Max’s favorite restaurant tells him he knows about a special mattress, Max can’t resist trying it.

Bliss Wilde never expected to meet Max in her own club. The fact that he’s there to try out her mattress doesn’t matter. Watching the big golden pixie roll around on her bed sets her libido on fire. When Max turns up later that night, unable to sleep, Bliss invites him to her bed. During the sexual romp that ensues, Bliss and Max discover they are mates. But they both know people for whom bonding has gone wrong, making them cautious about the process. Still, their desire for each other rages high and with Max getting a new mattress, he figures maybe he should break it in with a bonding.

Excerpt:

“That would be the weirdest thing ever, Maxie. Our waiter solving your sleep issue.” Alexa wheezed as she tried to stop laughing.

Taking a deep breath to push the laughter down, Max shook his head and reached for his drink. “I don’t care who solves it, as long as it gets solved.”

“I just don’t get why it’s so important.” Alexa rubbed her finger down the stem of the glass.

Max couldn’t explain it to her in a public place so he made light of the situation. “It’s important because I never get to be on the bottom.”

Alexa choked on her drink. “Max, you’re not even seeing anyone.”

He gave her an arch look. “If I meet someone today, I don’t get to be on the bottom.”

She rolled her eyes and groaned. “You’re incorrigible,” she muttered.”

******

For the entire chapter, go to Lex’s website.

For the entire book, go here to buy from the vendor of your choice.

Happy First Chapter Friday!

Posted in Books, Teasers

First Chapter Fridays: Kelly Wyre

Whoa, what’s this? A First Chapter Friday that actually goes up on Friday?! Alert the presses!

kellywyre_amsterdam_earthquakesOkay, seriously, though. This week– and actually on Friday, no less– it is my pleasure to bring you the talented Kelly Wyre, author of, among other things, the New Amsterdam stories. This chapter is from Earthquakes, and it seriously had me glued to my screen from start to finish. The overall story of the novel is as follows:

**********************************************

Ellis Parker is a lucky man: he escaped his persecuting family, survived his tour of duty, and met Maxwell Clark in the city of New Amsterdam. Clark showed Ellis more than the ropes: Clark helped Ellis figure out who he is– a gay submissive with a massive fixation on a beautiful, mysterious ballet dancer named Bryn Rothe. Ellis knows a Good Man when he sees one, and he wants nothing more than to score a first date with Bryn.

Little does Ellis know that Bryn has a violent past that is crawling out of shallow graves to haunt him. Even his hectic schedule and beloved stage aren’t enough to distract him. It’s impossible for Bryn to figure out how he feels about Ellis with his demons between them, but when Ellis saves Bryn not one but twice, Bryn is forced to admit that there’s something about Ellis that Bryn might not merely want but need.

Together, they journey to the scene of Bryn’s original crime– Charles Towne, South Carolina. There they will dig up secrets that might explain Bryn’s tortured life but might also be his– and Ellis’s– undoing.

*************************************************************************************
To read the whole chapter, click on the quote below. At the end of the full chapter, you can find more information about how to buy Earthquakes, and where to connect with Kelly online.
Posted in Books, Teasers

Gail Koger: A Day with a First Chapter

At this point, it’s feeling a bit silly to call my series where I share writing excerpts from my favorite authors First Chapter Fridays. Today, as I write this, it is Wednesday. I am hoping to get back on track this week. In the meantime, though, I couldn’t wait one day more to share with you an excerpt from Wulf and the Bounty Hunter, an AMAZING new sci-fi romance novel by none other than Gail KogerWulf and the Bounty Hunter came out in October, and I am positively hooked. Koger is an exquisite world-builder–not to mention, amazing at building chemistry and tension between characters. A++ would recommend, as the kids say these days.

wulfThe story:  Wulf knows Yakira is his soul mate. The only person he needs to convince is her, but with intergalactic terrorists on Yakira’s trail, there’s little time for romance. What’s a hot-blooded Coletti warlord to do?

Yakira feels safe and cherished with Wulf, but he is a Coletti; the ultimate predator with a taste for blood, a passion for battle and the need to control everything in his life. The big question is; how does she make Wulf understand she’s a powerful psychic with kick-ass bionic limbs and quite capable of taking care of herself?
If you like what you read, you can buy Wulf and the Bounty Hunter on Amazon, and you can connect further with Gail Koger on her Goodreads page. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
*********
I was ten years old, alone on an alien planet and desperate. I hadn’t eaten in two days and I was so hungry. I knew sneaking into a space port tavern was a bad idea, but if something went wrong, I could outrun a drunk male easily. I sucked up my courage and slipped inside….
Leaving suddenly seemed like a good idea. My gaze fixed on the grimy counter. Oh thank the Goddess, some fool had left his credit chip laying out. Edging closer, I mentally scanned the huge Coletti warrior sitting on the bar stool. It was probably his. One of the dancers was rubbing her breasts all over his face. The warrior really liked it. I frowned. Huh? He wanted his snake thingy inside the dancer’s tunnel? He had a snake? And why would he want to put it in her tunnel?
Read the entire chapter at Gail Koger’s Goodreads page.
Posted in Books, Teasers

First Chapter Fridays: Erica Lynn

Good afternoon, friends. I know you’re probably scratching your heads at the title of this post, as it is clearly not Friday. There was a bit of confusion this week over who to post, but as the post-Thanksgiving tryptophan-induced haze has cleared, all is well, and we are forging ahead with First Chapter Fridays. And a bit.

her-husbands-brotherThis week’s author is the talented Erica Lynn, who has graciously agreed to share with us the first chapter of Her Husband’s Brother, a novella in her Love and Justice series, which is published by Loose Id. The overall plot of Her Husband’s Brother is as follows:

Lexie Hayes knows her marriage is over. After working endlessly to fix things, she’s decided to move on and find happiness elsewhere. The last thing she needs is to run into her sexy-as-hell brother-in-law at a nightclub on her birthday. He’s cocky, arrogant, and so damn kissable she can barely hold onto her sanity.

Jonathon Hayes has always wanted his sister-in-law. She’s gorgeous, feisty, and unbeknownst to her, married to the largest drug supplier in the Houston and San Antonio areas. When fate puts them side by side, lust and tensions run high. He wants her and he knows she wants him.

Can he keep his feelings on a shelf long enough to keep her safe while he dethrones his drug lord brother, or will temptation overwhelm good sense and put them both on a path to destruction?

******

Right now, Erica is running a contest. If you like her Facebook page, you will be automatically entered for a chance to win a free copy of the Erica Lynn book of your choice. So get to liking! You will be so glad you did.

******

Here’s my favorite excerpt from the chapter (click on it, it’s a link to the entire chapter at Erica’s website):

BLISS. PURE. FUCKING. Bliss. Jonathon Hayes watched Lexie from his spot in the corner of the bar, willing to bet money she hadn’t felt that relaxed in a long time. In the past, she’d always been tense, as if she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders. Seeing her like this was a thing of beauty. Dancing and laughing with her friends, not a care in the world, shaking her ass and probably never realizing that all it did was tease every poor bastard’s cock in the room. His included.

Posted in Books, Teasers

First Chapter Fridays: Ellie Masters

I apologize for the lateness of this–I have been out of town, and my relationship to time has consequently been somewhat skewed. So with much apologies, and without further adieu, it is my pleasure to bring you the incredible Ellie Masters for this week’s First Chapter Friday. Er, Saturday.

This week’s excerpt comes from Ellie’s book Changing Roles:

em_changing-roles_coverinKate Summers’s career on the Police Force came to an implosive end when she was outed as a noted Domme. She now subsists at the fringes, scraping by as she feeds off the misery of others. Catching cheating spouses for divorce lawyers has become her paycheck, and a case brought by the woman who destroyed her career will bring many challenges. To follow the leads and solve a murder, she must reenter the world that cost her career and change roles. There’s only problem, she swore she’d never submit to a man—at least never again.

If you like what you read– and I think you will– you can buy the book here.

Changing Roles by Ellie Masters
Chapter 1

Kate

A sharp dividing line separated work and play. I hunted men during the day and toyed with them at night. My life was in perfect balance– until it all fell apart. That was two years ago. I struggled for a time, gave up everything I loved. Now I’ve adjusted to a new normal. A very featureless and bland vanilla existence.

Read the rest at Ellie’s website.

 

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Dragon + Genie = Fiery Passion

Dear Readers, Welcome to the SearchLight universe. Here dragons kill as well as cure, and not all genies have their master’s happiness in mind. .DragonFood_CoverfromKatie[1] Dragon FireEC_DragonsBane_covertn

Dragon + Genie = Passion

Dragon + Genie + Crazy Ex = Fear/Triumph

Dragon + Dragon + Genie = Attempted Murder

Dragon + Genie + Genie = Immortality

Peace,

–Emily

Posted in Books

Scarlet Stilettos

Dear Readers,

Please welcome Ash Penn.

What’s your latest release? Tell us about it.

 

My latest book is called Scarlet Stilettos and is available from Loose Id. It’s a romance between a trans woman and a gay man.  Here’s the blurb:

 

Although Laine Lawson is physically male, she’s spent much of her life expressing the feminine side of her nature. She’s also well-skilled at hiding her romantic feelings for her best friend.

Life’s sweet for waiter and ex-stripper Tony Barton. He’s met a guy who’s everything he wants in a lover, both in and out of bed. Will Thompson isn’t the love of Tony’s life, but he’s fun and doesn’t take their relationship too seriously. At least, not until Will discovers Tony’s best friend isn’t quite as she seems.

When Laine’s ex-boyfriend contacts her about a past she’d sooner forget, and with Will’s jealousy threatening her friendship with Tony, the only thing she can do is run.

Her absence forces Tony into acknowledging his feelings for Laine aren’t entirely platonic. But Laine’s a woman, no matter what lies beneath her skirt. They might have shared one night together when they first met, but that was business. A relationship could never work, even if she hadn’t disappeared.

After Laine makes a major life-changing decision, she returns home to say goodbye. But Tony can’t say goodbye back. He can’t say much at all, not with Will doing the talking for him.

 

The novel is a follow on from the short story I wrote for my writing group’s anthology a couple of years ago. Trick of the Night is told from the point of view of Tony, a stripper dabbling in prostitution. I needed a first client for him, and Laine is the result.

Scarlet Stilettos carries on about a year where Trick of the Night left off. It details how Tony and Laine go from friends to lovers. It’s a long journey for them, and I wanted to show both characters’ vulnerabilities as well as their strengths. At the time the novel takes place, Tony is in a relationship with Will and Laine is coming to terms with the fact that the man she loves (Tony) will never see her in a romantic light. That changes as the story progresses, but it’s not until Laine goes missing that Tony realises he’s in love with her too, despite their differences. Both characters go through some pretty traumatic times before finally reuniting. I admit I put the pair of them through hell, but I’m hoping the result is a page turner. As the story is about 105k long, there are a lot of digital pages to turn.

 

What are the challenges and rewards of writing transgender romance?

 

First of all, when I was looking for transgender erotic romances to see how other authors wrote them, I found that there weren’t that many on the market. I found a few that involved crossing-dressing, which wasn’t really what I was looking for.

Initially, I intended Laine to be a gender-fluid character, but when I started writing her she had other ideas. Her gender is definitely female, but she chooses not to undergo surgery. She doesn’t outright reject her physical body, but she has no desire to be male. The problem is she tends to fall for gay men. Her first serious lover refused to accept her any part of her femininity, and Tony sees her as completely female. I wanted to bring the two characters together because of their love for each other, irrespective of gender. At first I wasn’t sure if it would be possible. I wasn’t sure if there were people out there whose gender and sex didn’t line up, but who could still find acceptance within themselves without hormones or surgery.

The greatest challenge was always being conscious of the ability to offend and obviously wanting to avoid that at all costs. Laine’s head was fairly easy to get into, probably more so than Tony’s.

 

Many authors write people different from themselves in so many ways. For example, when I started writing gay romance I talked to all my gay male friends for almost six months before I ever submitted a story. And whenever I start a story about a topic I don’t understand, I talk to those who do. How do you conduct your research?

 

I didn’t do any research into the transgender aspects of this story until after I’d finished writing. And only then did I check out various forums to see if I’d made any glaring errors. I was surprised by how many people don’t go opt for surgery, and that’s how I wrote Laine who has reconciled d her gender to her physical body. There was a reason I did my checks after I’d written the book, mainly because I didn’t want to turn Laine into a checklist, or textbook case. I wanted her to be an individual, and that her feelings and emotion and choices are hers. I didn’t want her (or me) to come across as preachy. And I didn’t want the transgender aspect to be the sole focus of the story.

 

Generally though, I don’t research people. My characters usually come to me most of the way fully formed so I have a good idea of who they are and what they want right away. The only research I tend to do will be information places, jobs and rules and regulations that sort of thing. Right now I’m researching the NHS (National Health Service) and issues concerning care funding for people with brain injuries.

 

How long have you been writing, and why did you start?

 

I’ve always written, for as long as I can remember anyway. I first started writing gay fiction in the early nineties.  At the time I read a lot of paranormal and sci-fi, so that’s the kind of thing I wrote. I tend to write more contemporary fiction now, although I have dabbled with vampires. I also have an idea for a new paranormal book I hope to start later this year.

Writing provides a bit of escapism for me. I’ve always had quite an active imagination, and writing is the best way I know to indulge that side of my brain.

 

Do you have other hobbies or interests that influence your writing? (i.e. cooking, politics, 4-H)

 

I don’t really have time for other hobbies/interests. Writing takes up the majority of my time. If I did, though, I’d probably use those other interests as excuses not to write when a story gets difficult. I like to walk, just for the exercise aspect if nothing else. Walking helps me think, especially when I get stuck on a certain part of a story. In my case, it’s usually the end that takes a lot of working out. I’ve also been mulling over the idea of taking some painting classes, just to stimulate some other creative areas of my brain.

 

 

Where are you published?

I am published with Loose Id and Totally Bound. I have a new story coming out from Totally Bound called Chasing the Dragon, which is on early-release from  4th April and general release from 2nd May.

 

Posted in Blog, Books

Salva Me, and How to Write Gay Regency Vampires

Dear Readers:

Come visit with Autumn Montague and her Regency, living vampires.

Salva Me

Autumn Montange says: Yes, I will give away a book to anyone who leaves a comment.

 

Blood Sworn: Salva Me blurb:

 

England, 1816. A nosferatu, a rogue vampire, hunts unchecked through Sussex. Jeremy Takeshi Colbourne is honor-bound by ancestral duty to find and destroy such madmen. Foremost among the vampires of England, he must find a way to ensure the safety of the English citizens and the Nosferii that live among them. Then Jeremy and his blood-host Morgan Holland discover a brutally savaged girl. With this latest victim of the nosferatu, Jeremy realizes the time has come to make Morgan aware of the Colbourne responsibilities. But the situation could not have come at a worse time.

For years, Morgan has served as Jeremy’s blood-host. Though Morgan adheres faithfully to his Contracted terms, he refuses to surrender to the sexual seduction that completes each feeding. He yields neither his body nor his heart, though Jeremy yearns for both. As nosferatu’s atrocities grow, Jeremy must ask everything of Morgan to gain the strength needed to fight the ravening monster. Will Morgan relent and give up body and heart to help Jeremy defeat their enemy, or will the battle destroy them?

 

What does “salva me” mean?

“Salva me” is Latin for “save me” or “rescue me”.

 

What inspired you to write a story about living vampires?

Well, I’ve always been in love with the idea of vampires. They’re just cool. And thanks to Hollywood, they’ve become really sexy. There are vampires or vampire-type myths in almost every culture, though they don’t always look like the ones we’ve become used to. When I started thinking about writing my own vampires, I wondered what if…vampires were actually a type of human, like vampire bats are a type of bat? There are plenty of species that live on blood, so why not humans? And I went from there. Besides, sexy undead vampires, even glittering ones, have kind of been done to death. Pun intended, haha.

 

What’s the science behind your living vampires? And tell us about the minore too!

Umm, how much science should I give? I went pretty deep here, relying on some tricky biology (that I might not have gotten right – I’m not a viral biologist). But in a nutshell, I built on the idea of compressed evolution over something like 20,000 years, centered on an isolated population almost decimated by a hemorrhagic fever. The survivors passed on multiple dominant genetic mutations that created the ultimate ‘vampire’ human. I tried to apply biology to the typical vampire tropes, giving them a bit o a twist. My vampires are not immortal; they do live longer than normal humans, around 5 to 6 centuries, but they do age, and they do die. Their extended life span comes from a faster cellular regeneration from a more efficient caloric process. They have greater strength than normal humans, which comes from enhanced blood flow and higher oxygenation across their muscle fibers. I kept the sexual attraction (hey, it’s erotic romance!), using the idea of enhanced sexual pheromones for safety – hey, if your prey lusts after you, there’s less chance for injury, right? Instead of fixed, longer than normal canine teeth, my vampires have retractable fangs like a snake for an in and out strike and no broken teeth (fangs don’t grow back.) To prevent the blood host from feeling pain, they have developed an anesthetic saliva. To keep the host from bleeding to death, they have evolved clotting agents – gotta keep your food source alive to breed successive generations, and civilized nosfera no longer consider their blood hosts as mere food sources. And finally, for self-defense, they have developed venom – actually, a really nasty, highly toxic bacterial goo (think Komodo dragon spit on super steroids) brewed up in a pouch like a second stomach.

The minore are basically minor vampires (nosfera minore). They are normal humans who have been turned after being bitten by a rogue vampire, or nosferatu, and only done to save a life. Unlike the traditional vampire stories, where the newly turned vampire has all the skills and physical attributes of a full vampire, a minore is essentially a normal human who has been infected by the mutated virus. It takes decades before they grow fangs or develop the specialized saliva. They never develop the venom, and while their lives are extended, its only to about half that of a full nosfera.

 

Why did you decide to write a Regency, gay, living vampire, erotic romance?

t started as a joke. Don’t you remember, Emily? My alter ego writes straight Regency, and we had been joking about me taking a walk on the wild side. I think that was about when Twilight first hit the shelves. And I said, “Maybe I should write a gay Regency vampire romance!” and you said “Go for it!” So it’s all your fault.

 

On a serious note, though, I decided to try my hand at gay romance after helping plot a number of gay romances, and reading countless yaoi manga. But when I actually started, I felt it would be best to stick to something comfortable. That meant Regency, at least for the time being. Stepping out of my comfort zone was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was worth it. The vampire stuff, though, was strictly a rebellion against the time-worn vampire of yore. I wanted something different, so since I couldn’t find it, I wrote it.

 

Where did you do your research for the Latin and Japanese phrases found in Blood Sworn: Salva Me?

Google Translate (not always the best source when used alone), which I cross-referenced with several other sites. At the moment, I’m enhancing my Japanese with Rosetta Stone.

 

Many authors have a story behind their pen name. Do you? If so, tell us!

My pen name is an anglicized version of a Japanese name I chose, Akiko Aoyama, which means Autumn’s Child of the Blue Mountain. Essentially, it means I came to enjoy reading and writing gay romance in the autumn of my life. And no, I won’t tell you how old I am. That’s for your readers to guess!

 

What advice would you give to people who want to write fantasy?

The sky is the limit, because you make the rules. YOU are God for your mini-verse. But you must remember to keep your rules consistent. Just because you’re God, doesn’t mean you can break your own rules with impunity. Your readers will know, and hold you accountable.

 

What advice would you give to people who want to write gay romance?

Don’t be afraid! My biggest fear was writing male characters that were women disguised as men. To avoid it, I read gay romance written by men and women, researched the differences in behavior by reading a variety of social media, and generally wrote flat characters that didn’t interact until I threw caution to the wind and just wrote. The characters came alive after that. Hopefully I didn’t miss my mark!

 

Excerpt from Blood Sworn: Salva Me:

Blood. Sweet, sweet blood thickened with terror. The girl in his arms fought with weakening desperation, her life rushing away through the crimson tide pulsing from her with each frantic beat of her heart. Intoxicating copper heat coursed across his lips, suffusing him with its nourishing power.

Her moans grew fainter as his poison saturated her body. The exquisite torture of emptying his venom flooded his muscles with godlike power, and he tightened his hold, crushing her fragile, merely human form against him. Her gasp of pain drove a spike of lusty pleasure through him. He released her neck to watch her blood flood across her shoulders to stain her flimsy gown.

A waste perhaps, but he could find another. The silent, horrified plea in her dulling eyes spurred his lust, and he ripped the sodden dress open to bare her cotton stays. A hand batted feebly, a near-unconscious impulse to protect her vanished modesty.

Little whore. She’d no need for modesty with him. He had no interest in her person, not yet. Not until she was at the brink. Then he’d spread her legs and revel in her death throes.

Yes. Yes, that peak of ecstasy neared, her glazed eyes beginning to fade. She drew a hitching breath, and he dropped her limp body to the mud, reaching for the fastenings to his breeches.

The clatter of hooves and creak of heavy wheels broke his concentration, his anticipated pleasure vanishing.

Damn! With a frantic bound, he hurled himself into the velvet black shadow of the alley behind him. Frustrated desire boiled through him as he watched the carriage lurch to a halt. A murderous rage rose, urging him to attack the interlopers. He attempted to quash it, but the slavering beast of his hunger did not want to be assuaged. The girl was his rightful prey, and he would be damned if he would allow mere humans to drive him off. He readied himself, prepared to lunge when the correct moment presented.

The tiniest of breezes stirred the air as the passengers descended from the barouche. It carried the oh-so-faint scent of the intruders, driving him back into the shadows.

“Imbecile!” The word escaped him in a hiss. He peered around, forcing his eyes to see, his ears to hear. As if a veil had been drawn back, he realized he stood almost in the heart of London. How had he followed the girl so far without recognizing his danger?

At least one of the men in the carriage knew him by sight and scent. Worse, if they were to meet, his enemy was duty-bound to kill him without hesitation. He twitched, annoyed, uncertain—wanting his prize but unwilling to face his opponent at this moment.

His hunger stilled, replaced by an urgent need to flee. Later. The time would come, but that time was not now. With a last look at the shuddering girl behind him, he forced more venom to his muscles and shivered in delight as he fled into the night.

* * * *

Morgan Holland clenched his teeth against an impious curse as the carriage lurched to an unexpected halt, knocking his skull against the lacquered wooden panel behind his head. Inertial momentum pitched his companion face forward against the opposite seat with bruising abruptness. Morgan gave the trap door over his head a savage thump with his fist, even as he reached to help the Baron of Colbourne up off the floor.

“Blast it all, I’m fine, Holland,” Colbourne barked.

Morgan smothered a grin at his master’s temper over his bruised dignity. He gestured at the gaping tear across the knee of Colbourne’s superfine trousers. “Perhaps we should return home for a change of clothes before we continue to White’s.”

Colbourne scowled. “Damn. Weston just delivered these this week. I’ll have to commission a new pair.”

“As you say, my lord.” Amusement warred with Morgan’s ringing head as he fought to keep a smirk off his face. Colbourne’s penchant for fine clothes had been a constant source of humor between them.

“Don’t be smug, Holland. Just because you managed to maintain your seat is no reason for a swelled head.”

The dour tone proved too much, and a highly inappropriate snort evaded Morgan’s control. Jeremy Takeshi Yamakawa Colbourne, Fifth Baron of Colbourne, took great pains to appear neat and elegant for any evening revelry. Since his Japanese ancestry drew the derision of his peers, he always maintained a flawless nobleman’s appearance. Morgan felt privileged to be among those few who could jest about the habit without giving offense. Moreover, the unique circumstances of Morgan’s employment had built a bond between them, a bond closer to friendship than master and servant.

A sharp rap at the window halted Colbourne’s next salvo even as he drew breath for the words, undoubtedly to cast unmeant aspersions on Morgan’s ancestry. The words died at the sound of their driver’s frantic rap on the door.

It seemed the difficulty interrupting them was more than a mere rut in the road.

“This needs your attention, my lord,” Toby quavered, fear plain in his voice.

Morgan felt a chill worm its way down his spine, a chill having nothing to do with the damp air outside the carriage door. Colbourne’s handsome face tightened, his grave expression igniting an answering spark of alarm in Morgan. He followed his master into the dank night, and nearly choked.

“Plague of the ages!” Colbourne’s biting exclamation did not quite carry the weight of a bellow, but it might as well have been a shout.

The night air carried a familiar coppery tang, laced with the faint odor of bile. Morgan knew the smell, of tainted blood and death. When he’d first met Colbourne, the man had been covered in the same bloody aroma. Morgan could not see this poor soul, not yet, but the smell left no doubt.

Nosferatu.” He’d never encountered one, only read in books what they were, what they did. Read, and seen what had happened to his master, the Baron of Colbourne, one of the preeminent nosferii nobles in England. Or anywhere else. The last nosferatu to hunt here had almost cost the country its most needed protector.

Colbourne cast a keen glance his way but said nothing, just stepped around the corner of the carriage for a look at what had bollixed their plans for the evening. Morgan followed, suppressing the urge to gag at the foulness of the air. He tried to keep his strides casual, as though he were walking into yet another evening entertainment, not around the carriage corner for a look at a shredded human being.

Colbourne quirked an eyebrow at Morgan’s calm facade. “No one would think twelve years ago you were a mere tenant farmer, untutored in such things.”

“Even a farmer faces death, my lord.” A true enough statement. After all, Morgan had tended to enough carrion when he was younger: dead livestock, headless chickens after foxes raided the coops. Yet none of his experience prepared him for the putrid aroma hovering over the slumped form in the road. The rank odor was fouler than the oldest carcass he’d ever cleared from his fields. With reluctance, he turned his full attention on the unfortunate victim.

“God!” The exclamation burst from him at the appalling sight that met his eyes.

The brown dirt of the road had turned to mud, glistening with the darkness of spilled blood. A young woman lay trembling in that crimson sludge, her neck savaged and raw. The gaping wounds reeked from the pungent slime coating them.

“Well, she lives, Morgan.” Colbourne sighed, as though the fact was unworthy of celebration. “At least for the present.”

“For the present? Is there nothing to be done?” Morgan could not tear his eyes from the girl. She couldn’t have seen more than sixteen, eighteen years at best.

“From the smell of things, the abomination emptied his venom into her.” Colbourne knelt in the mud, oblivious now to his appearance. “See?” He pointed to the ragged edges of the wounds on the girl’s neck. “There are multiple bites here, some more recent than others.” He laid a gentle, gloved finger near the deepest one. “This bite is hours old, and she is nearly exsanguinated. I am amazed she can still draw breath.”

“Is it too late for a turning?”

That caught Colbourne’s attention. His master stood, searching Morgan’s face for something. Then he sighed, perhaps finding no answer to what he sought.

“It is far too late. At this point, all we can do is ease her passing by treating the wound and dosing her liberally with laudanum. I doubt she’ll notice, but it should be done nonetheless.” He gave Morgan another cryptic glance. “I suppose it’s time to introduce you to the real meaning behind the existence of the Colbourne title. I’ll call you to my study after I have fed. In the meantime, you might want to do some research into turnings. The library has plenty of material for your reading.”

Research? Morgan felt the faintest flush of embarrassment warm his neck. It seemed he’d touched on a sensitive topic. He turned to the coachman. “Toby, get the lap blanket.” He considered for a moment. “And your long coat.” Between the blood, the sodden clothing, and the general mess, two layers should provide both warmth for the young woman and protection for the carriage.

Toby returned, and Morgan watched as Colbourne bundled the girl tightly in the coat, wrapping her head to toe in the blanket. When he lifted the fragile burden, Morgan attempted to assist him, only to receive a flat denial.

“This slime will eat through your hide,” Colbourne reminded. “Don’t forget your teachings, Holland.”

Morgan stepped back, feeling the Compulsion his master laid behind the words. He suppressed a sigh. When Colbourne used such a trick, it usually meant unpleasant instruction ahead.

They rode home at a rapid clip, carriage swaying on its springs at Toby’s urgent pace. Morgan could see the lax bundle in his master’s lap out of the corner of his eye, though he did his utmost not to stare. He focused instead on the adorning crest of the panel immediately behind Colbourne’s head, little good though it did him. Every time he relaxed his control, his eyes flew inexorably to the doomed girl. At some point, he glanced down again and discovered her hitching breaths had ceased.

Colbourne’s dark eyes were shuttered. Even in the dimness of their carriage, distress showed in the line between his brows and the bunched muscles of his jaw. Morgan reached across the gap separating them, called to soothe his master’s pain. Dark lashes lifted, revealing Colbourne’s grief at his failure.

Tonight’s enjoyments were meant to be a prelude in advance of Colbourne’s Contracted feeding; a bit of casual camaraderie to make amends for the awkward strain that had recently come between them. With this appalling discovery, the emotional toll on them both could hinder the process. Worse still, it might encourage Colbourne to postpone the feeding.

A tinge of red outlined those dark eyes. “Don’t worry, Holland. I’ll have myself under control by the appointed time.”

“I am certain you will, my lord,” Morgan answered, keeping his voice level. “I worry more for my control than for yours.”

A wistful smile touched Colbourne’s lips. “Your iron will? It will never waver, regardless of my desires.” The smile vanished. “Nonetheless, we will bury this poor child before we begin, Holland. I owe her that much, at least.”

Posted in Books

An Unintended Seduction: Autumn Montague

Dear Readers,
Come visit with Autumn Montague and her Regency universe.
An Unintended Seduction

Tell us about An Unintended Seduction. Where did the idea for this book come from?

 

Well, as a Regency author, I’m a passionate devotee of Jane Austen. My favorite Austen is Persuasion, a story of love denied and then renewed after many misunderstandings. It’s a theme I have taken to heart. An Unintended Seduction is just that – a story about a second chance at love. In many ways, it mirrored something that happened to me personally, though with a great deal more anguish for my hero and heroine.

 

How much research did you have to do for a Regency novel?

 

A lot, and a little! I’ve been reading Regency romances since I was sixteen. You could say I absorbed information about the Regency naturally. Nonetheless, there were plenty of aspects that required detailed research, particularly how the characters addressed each other and what they wore. In spite of the amount of information, you’d be surprised how much misinformation is perpetuated. I also had a few unique items in my novel that required specific research, such as the state of midwifery and what type of music was being played.

 

How is writing Regency different than other types of historical fiction?

 

Regency readers are EXPERTS on the subject. They’ve read most of the same authors I have, and can pinpoint historical inaccuracies easily. The Regency era is a very specific period of time. True Regencies take place only during the period of time when George III was alive but mad, and George IV was Prince Regent. Extended Regencies encompass George III’s reign through George IV’s reign. There is also a specific type of language and a generally accepted set of tropes that are expected to be used. Stepping outside those bounds can affect an author’s readership, unless they carry it off well. For example, my hero is deeply flawed. The reader learns early on that Julian not only broke Miranda’s heart, he cheated on his best friend out of anger and a sense of betrayal. Not the generally accepted type of hero for a Regency. He took a lot of redeeming!

 

How did you decide to have Miranda’s skills include piano playing and embroidery? Are these two of your skills or did you have to do research?

 

I’m blushing here… I chose those skills because I do play the piano, and I do enjoy embroidery (as well as cross-stitch!) This minimized my research, but did not eliminate it. The pianos of the Regency were a little different from modern pianos. They were called pianofortes, did not have three sound pedals, and did not have as much touch sensitivity as modern pianos. The music was also different, as were the composers whose music Miranda would be likely to play. The types of music, such as a waltz, were also different.

 

What’s the difference between needlepoint and embroidery?

 

Well, basically needlepoint is generally done with wool or crewel thread, and embroidery with cotton or silk, but that’s not the only difference. Embroidery is more about a variety of decorative stitches, including knots, half-stitches, and used for decorative purposes, such as designs on handkerchiefs, lace cuffs or collars, or small sections of cloth for display. Needlepoint generally involves straight, even stitches, and is used to decorate pillows, wall hangings, or other items where the decoration covers large sections or the entire display area (think pillows or cushions.) The two crafts are closely related.

 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to write Regency?

 

Read Regencies! Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Jo Beverly, etc. Do your research, particularly on forms of address, and become familiar with British English. Your readers will know…

 

Excerpt from An Unintended Seduction: (I need one!)

Julian held his breath against the abrupt longing that surged through him.

Madness had to be overtaking him. The night of the masquerade, Miranda Parkman had suddenly turned into a siren, tempting him with her innocent sensuality. Now, with her bare hand stroking the marble bench and the shimmer of moonlight creating mysterious shadows along the line of her neck, the siren call had returned. He fought to maintain a veneer of gentility.

She turned her head away from him, the movement tempting him to turn her head back toward his. He wanted to claim her lips in the kisses he had taken so liberally eight years ago. Instead, he took hold of her hand and placed a delicate kiss on the naked skin of her wrist. Her gasp of surprise sent shivers through him.

“Julian…please…” Her use of his Christian name revealed her disquiet.

Instead of releasing her, he kissed her wrist again, and then gently drew her closer. She gave no resistance, but moved toward him with a soft rustling of chiffon and satin. As the delicate scent of violets drifted up to his nose, he decided he wanted that kiss after all. His fingers were gentle but insistent on her chin, leading her mouth to his. At the very last moment, her lips moved against his, as they had done so long ago beneath a sunlit chestnut tree.

“Julian…”