Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 85 - 13 Reasons to Read The Dangerous Duke by Christine Wells









As many of you have discovered by now, I seem to have an angel on my shoulder when it comes to winning books. At the book draws held by my RWA chapter, at blog contests - my name comes up and the books come to me. This latest book was won from a contest held at missmakeamovie, a group blog where Christine Wells and I both contribute.

1 - Christine also blogs at Romance Bandits, a 20-member group blog which includes these authors:

Jeanne Adams
Beth Andrews
Anna Campbell
Christie Kelley
Donna MacMeans
Loucinda McGary
Trish Milburn
Tawny Weber

2 - The Dangerous Duke is Christine's second release.

Scandal's Daughter was released in 2007.

3 - Part of Berkley Sensation's Historical Romance category, The Dangerous Duke gives us a heroine whose brother, a stubbornly idealistic vicar, is held prisoner for failing to divulge the names of men who burned down the home of the Duke of Lyle, along with three heirs to that title. The hero is the newest duke, never thinking he'd inherit, being so far down the line.

4 - We meet Lady Kate Fairchild, radiant widow of a man who disapproved of a woman admitting to a sexual appetite. To keep her desires in check, Kate wrote a diary about a phantom lover, and poured all her yearning into a delectable journal meant for her eyes only.

5 - Maxwell Brooke, Duke of Lyle begins his new role by hunting down the men responsible. More equipped for this job than most, Max has been working in secret for the Home Office for years, taking care of the King's business with lethal efficiency.

6 - Lyle procures Kate's diary - written in Italian to safeguard its contents from prying eyes, and hands it to his sister Louisa to translate. It is not the memoirs with which Lady Kate has threatened the government, however. Louisa translates instead a tale from Lady Kate's most erotic imagination.

Christine uses lines from Lady Kate's diary to open each chapter.

7 - Here's the opening to Chapter Ten:

"I could gaze on him for eternity, but where is the joy in only looking? A statue would do as well.

I'd no idea a man's skin could be so soft..."


8 - Christine includes a very charged secondary romance between Lyle's sister, Louisa and his fellow Home Office operative, Jardine. Lyle and Jardine have been rivals as well as working together as spies for the security of the country. Their relationship circles like arena combatants, and the romance between Lyle's sister and Jardine is just as edgy.

9 - Lady Kate's uneasy sexual relationship with her late husband runs a thread of claiming one's own erotic nature into The Dangerous Duke. Her husband Hector had disapproved of Kate displaying any sort of sexual appetite. As she and Lyle's relationship develops, Kate must confront the dichotomy of the expected demeanor of a lady, and the reality of her true desires.

10 - Christine really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:

"Ordering a duke to fetch and carry for her was perhaps equal in insolence to his own conduct. As a duke, he might be affronted; as a gentlemen, he must accede to her wishes. It was the oldest trick in the book to get rid of a man, but sometimes simple maneuvers proved the most effective.

He took the order without a blink. 'It would be my pleasure, Lady Kate.'

Stupidly, Kate was disappointed. He was going to give in as easily as that? She'd thought him a worthier foe.

But the duke did not take a step towards the supper room. A slight lift of his finger and one of her tiresomely efficient footmen materialized at his elbow.

Without taking his gaze from her face, the duke murmured, 'Fetch your mistress a glass of water, will you, Arnold?'

She started at his use of the footman's name. 'How - ' No. She would not give him the satisfaction of voicing her surprise. A chill skittered down her spine. How did he know so much?

Kate glanced at Sidmouth, who looked a trifle bemused at their byplay. She would not give up. She must find a way to see him alone before he left the ball. There would be no other opportunity to speak with him privately without causing gossip.

The orchestra struck up a waltz. She'd almost forgotten she'd instructed them to do so. She must not let the duke throw her off balance like this.

Doing her utmost to ignore Lyle's disturbing presence, she turned the full brilliance of her smile on the Home Secretary. 'Oh, how fortunate! I do love to dance the waltz. Dear Lord Sid - '

A hard, masculine arm clamped around her waist and swung her into the dance."


11 - I really enjoyed the spy elements in this book. I'm a huge fan of MI-5 and loved the scenes between Lyle, Jardine and the head of operations.

12 - Christine has a sexy new Regency in the wings, Indecent Proposal - a future release from Berkley Sensation.

13 - I leave you with an excerpt from The Dangerous Duke. Enjoy!

"Should she believe him when he said she was in danger? He couldn't be so uncertain of his talents as to think he needed to steal her away to seduce her. An unpleasant fluttering in her stomach made her take a sharp breath. At least she would not be so foolish as to succumb to him again.

She glanced up briefly from her bread and butter and saw him watching her with that curious cold fire in his eyes. It was a struggle to smile at him and appear unconcerned, as if that heated encounter after the ball hadn't occurred.

Lowering her gaze, she took a swift sip of coffee. She gulped and fought the urge to choke. The hot slurry burned its way down her throat; she felt its heat all the way to her uneasy stomach.

'Is the coffee to your taste, Lady Kate?'

Her eyes watered with the effort of suppressing a cough, but she managed it. 'Oh, yes. Very, er...pleasant.'

Kate was renowned for never losing her aplomb, even in the most fraught situations. For some reason, it had become a point of honor with her to remain in complete control of herself when the duke was near.

Defiantly, she took another painful sip of the brew.

'You like George's coffee?' He lifted his mug to scrutinize its contents. 'How extraordinary. I find it almost undrinkable, but unfortunately I've had to make do with his services on this journey. The man's culinary skill scarcely compares with his discretion, but the latter is far more valuable to us at present.'

Kate cleared her throat. 'Where are you taking me?'

'To a hunting box in the shires. An almost forgotten part of my holdings. My great-grandfather was never fond of hunting, so he leased the house each season. This time, it will be leased to us, a Mr. and Mrs. John Wetherby.'

Husband and wife? She ought to have known he would try a trick like that. 'Why not say we are brother and sister?' she said evenly. 'It would make more sense.'

A gleam in his eye told her not to push the matter any further. Swiftly, she changed the subject. 'You don't look at all like plain Mr. Wetherby.'

An inscrutable expression came over his face. 'And yet, a bare fortnight ago I was plain Mr. Brooke.'

She gave a wry smile. 'Somehow, I doubt anyone would describe you as plain, whether you were a commoner or a duke.'

There was an arrested look in his eyes. He glanced away. 'It hardly matters. At this season, we're unlikely to be troubled with neighbors.'

He smiled, returning his gaze to hers. 'In fact, we will be quite alone.'

***

'I can't make out where we are,' she said, peering through the travel-grimed window at the scenery.

'We're in Leicestershire. It's probably best you don't know exactly where,' said the duke indifferently.

How she wanted to hit him! She turned her head to look at his straight-nosed profile. 'Best for whom?'

'For me, of course. Your ignorance will hinder you if you try again to escape.'

'There's plain speaking! I mean to wait before I attempt another mad dash for freedom. So for the moment, we may both rest easy.'

A gleam stole into his eyes. 'Somehow, I doubt I shall
rest easy tonight.'

'Oh?' She raised her brows, pretending innocence. 'I would have thought you'd be fatigued from the journey. I know I shall sleep like the dead.'

Before she knew what he was about, he took her chin in hand, tilting her face to the light. 'Almost, I am convinced,' he said. 'And yet, you've behaved like a cat on hot bricks since we left the cottage.' He smiled. 'Tell me - ' He smoothed a stray curl behind her ear. 'Do you think I'm going to ravish you in a moving vehicle?'

Most of the air left her lungs. She forced out, 'On past experience, I should say it's very likely.' Her skin tingled where his fingers brushed it. Why wasn't he wearing gloves?

'But so uncomfortable,' he replied, withdrawing his hand with a faint smile at the reaction she hadn't been able to hide. 'Unnecessary, too, when all the delights of a soft bed and a cozy fire await us. Perhaps even some decent coffee. A hot bath...'

She shivered. Mr. and Mrs. Wetherby. Oh yes, he knew what he was about.

The duke's character couldn't be further from that of the considerate lover who pleasured her so sweetly between the pages of her journal. What Lyle wanted, he took. Would he even care how much pleasure he gave?

No. She would
not speculate about how adept a lover Lyle might be. She'd no ambition to become his mistress.

'I beg your pardon?' The duke's deep voice interrupted her thoughts.

She blinked. 'Nothing. I didn't say anything.'

'On the contrary. You snorted.' "


- Christine Wells, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 84 - 13 Reasons to Read Broken Wing by Judith James


For today's Thursday Thirteen, I'm reviewing an instant favorite/forever keeper written by a new breakout author - and a debut one, at that. Not only did her first book receive 4 1/2 stars from Romantic Times, but it got this review from Publisher's Weekly:

"The Napoleonic era comes brilliantly alive in James's debut adventure romance. The pace never falters... The extensive historical detail goes a long way, but Sarah and Gabriel's heart-wrenching struggle to keep their love alive is what will really keep readers entranced throughout this epic read."

1 - Judith James is a fellow Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada chapter mate. Have I mentioned how much I look forward to our monthly lunch-and-meeting combo? And Judith has been someone who makes the lunch absolutely fly by when she sits across from me.

2 - Judith is part of a group blog which will be launching in the very near future. Hoydens and Firebrands will explore the world of the 17th century and features authors:
Anita Davison
Sandra Gulland
Kim Murphy
Mary Sharratt
Alison Stuart and
Holly Tucker as well as Judith.

3 - Having worked as a counselor for 15 years, Judith has a special dedication at the front of her book:

"This book is dedicated to the lost boys. God bless them. May they all find a place to belong, and someone to love them as they deserve." - Judith James

4 - Broken Wing is a Medallion Press release under the Jewel Imprint: Sapphire Historical Romance category. Set at the turn of the 19th century, just after the French Revolution and during Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power, Judith's novel rides the changing tides of the power structure of Europe. Her two main characters echo this sense of tightrope-walking, indefinable and mercurial.

5 - We meet Sarah, Lady Munroe, as unconventional a young widow as ever sailed the seas in men's clothing, alongside her privateering cousin Davey. Back on land and in gowns befitting her station, she travels to Paris with her older brother Ross to claim her younger brother Jamie, long held prisoner in an upscale brothel.

6 - Gabriel St. Croix was dropped off at the doorstep of Madame Etienne's discreet establishment when he was a very small boy. His beauty makes him a favorite of every depraved customer who frequents the brothel he calls home. Grown to manhood, he feels dead inside - until the arrival of another young boy (Sarah's brother Jamie) awakens a desire to spare an innocent from facing his own fate. Jamie keeps a spark alive inside of Gabriel. When news arrives that the boy's family has finally located him, and is coming to take him home, all that's left of Gabriel's heart crushes to pieces inside of him.

7 - Judith's previous career as a counselor gave her a deep understanding of the confusing array of emotions swirling inside survivors of childhood sexual and physical abuse. Her portrayal of Gabriel rings with authenticity and shoots off into unpredictable directions.

What's also refreshing is Judith's portrayal of Sarah. She often surprises Gabriel with her reactions to him and his behavior. Though her actions and words make absolute sense to the reader, they still have a sense of originality that infuses every scene with discovery. We have not been down Judith's road before.

8 - I especially appreciated the darker undertones to Judith's book. When it comes to tortured heroes, I'm rather gothic. I really want him to suffer. I want my heart to be crushed into tiny shards for him.

Gabriel is so perfect for me, it's scary.

9 - Something I rejoice! Rejoice! in are the ways Judith flies in the face of most historical romance convention. As far as romance novels go, I'm historical-romance oriented. And as far as historical romances are concerned, I really only read the unconventional ones. There aren't really that many of them, to be honest. Judith's book takes me to all the places the major romance publishers would never dare to go.

All the things that make Judith's book work are things for which the major houses would have requested rewrites. But do most conventional historicals get a stunning review from Publishers' Weekly?

10 - Judith really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:

" 'You're drunk!'

'Completely foxed,' he agreed with a genial grin.

'How did you get in here?'

He crooked a finger toward the balcony. 'Tree.'

'What's wrong?' she asked gently.

'A bad dream,' he said tiredly. 'Nothing more.'

'Well, now that you're here, why don't you tell me about it? It might help you sleep.'

'Christ, woman, I came here for some peace, to escape it, not to wallow in it!' He pulled himself to his feet. This had clearly been a mistake.

'You don't honestly think you can escape it by ignoring it, or running away, do you?'

No, he'd never thought that. Only hoped. He'd hoped he might escape for awhile, by running to her, and hoping was the thing that would destroy him in the end. He knew it. He turned, glaring at her in the dark. 'Shall I tell you then, Sarah? Do you really want to know? Would you like to know what I was doing the night before you and your saintly brother arrived at Madame Etienne's?'

Her silence drove him on.

'I was auctioned off that night, my services for the evening, to the highest bidder. I did my best to appeal, as half the proceeds were mine to keep. I was a very valuable asset there, you know. I'm surprised she released me.'

He stalked toward her, his body tense, vibrating. His voice became cooler, deliberately seductive and compelling. 'It was a husband and wife, or a man and his mistress, a playful pair. I was the wicked footman' - despite his obvious tension, his voice sounded amused - 'burning with lust for my haughty countess. I was...tasting her, pleasuring her, a thing I'm very good at, when her husband arrived, catching us in the act. Naturally he was furious and determined to punish us both. I, the insolent servant, was taught to regret my impertinence by being bound to the bed and whipped by his lordship as his lady knelt between his legs. Fortunately, she was thorough enough that he was not inclined to complete his amorous designs upon my person.'

Silence. It continued unabated, except for their breathing. He knew he'd shocked her, had strangled something delicate that had been growing between them, and he wasn't done yet. 'And do you know what else, my dear?' he asked, his voice mocking. 'I thoroughly enjoyed it.' He wasn't sure what he expected from her - horror, condemnation and disgust, certainly not a reply as cool and detached as his own.

'Well, now, if you'd enjoyed it, it wouldn't be giving you nightmares, would it?'

Rage blasted through him, demolishing years of hard-won control. The bottle flew from his hand, shattering in the corner as a distant part of his brain noted that broken glass was becoming a habit, a different form of comfort. Damn her! Damn her! He took a ragged breath, then another, clenching his fists, refusing to look at her lest she provoke him to further violence. Stiffly he turned toward the balcony and disappeared into the night."


11 - Judith doesn't shy away from the emotional pain of surviving abuse. If that seems too edgy and harsh for a romance novel, to me it makes the healing power of love all the more precious and deeply moving. Though Madame Etienne's most valuable prostitute is undeniably, smoulderingly attractive, and Sarah herself knows how to fill out a pair of men's breeches as well as a frock, the true draw for these characters is their internal thoughts and feelings. Knowing what Gabriel thinks before he acts makes him utterly compelling, and there's no way to resist falling hard for him as a reader.

12 - Though the characters' internal landscapes are vividly drawn and rich with authenticity, Judith doesn't scrimp on serving up a rollicking story. She takes us to locales that dare to exist beyond the confines of the English ton. The plot slices along like a rapier, and the cast of secondary characters is so vivid and solid you'll wonder how she managed to pack so much into one novel.

13 - I leave you with a final excerpt. Enjoy!

"Sarah waited, anxious and eager to have Gabriel to herself. Everything had changed. There was no pretending they were only friends anymore. She longed for, and dreaded, his touch, knowing it would take her past all restraint, to a place from which there was no turning back.

The more she wanted him, the more she feared that if they crossed that tempting border, there would be heartache on the other side. She worried that what he needed was a friend, not a lover, and feared he would come to see her as another in a long line of people who had used him. She feared their friendship would be destroyed, and where there'd been something lovely, there would be only bitterness, disillusionment and regret.

She'd also been struck, seeing him at the docks, tanned and fit, his dark hair streaked with sunlight and his eyes sparkling with excitement, at how beautiful he was. He could have any woman he wanted. If his life had been different, would he have ever chosen someone like her; a disreputable, opinionated, eccentric widow; large boned, far too tall and careless of her appearance? It hardly seemed likely.

Her musings were interrupted by his appearance on her balcony. He stood, framed in the moonlight. An early spring breeze teased his hair, and his eyes sparked with heat and hunger. Her gaze traveled from his eyes to his mouth, to his torso, taut and sleek, his stomach ridged with muscle, his skin alabaster in the moonlight. She groaned in frustration. No woman should be so tempted. He grinned and stepped into the room.

He crossed to her bed without a word, and slid in beside her, gathering her into his arms. He'd meant to tell her he loved her. He'd meant to thank her for the gift, but the moment her arms reached around his neck, he forgot all his carefully planned words and lowered his mouth to hers in a feverish kiss.

Sarah clutched at his hair, pulling him close, deepening her kiss. She shivered in anticipation as his fingertips began to trace her collarbone, sending delicious frissons of pleasure singing along her nerves. She gasped in white-hot pleasure when his lazy tongue rasped wet and hot against her, thrilling her to her core. He looked straight into her eyes, the question clear.

She closed her eyes, trying to gather her tattered wits, stunned by the riotous feelings coursing through her. She'd known no pleasure from her husband, and felt overwhelmed by the wild sensations she was experiencing now. It was too powerful. It was happening too fast. Shifting her weight, she pushed him away. 'Enough, Gabriel, please. We...I...I think we should stop.'

'I'm sorry,' he said, drawing back. 'I thought...clearly, I misunderstood.'

Stricken by the look of hurt in his eyes, she reached out to pull him back, but he was already up, preparing to leave. 'Gabriel, don't!'

'Don't what? Don't kiss you? Don't touch you? I can't help it, Sarah. I think about it all the time. Christ! I can't keep doing this!'

'Please, just listen. Try to understand.'

'I do understand. I've just reminded you of what I am, a jaded, greedy whore. You've been kind to me, indulged me, though I cannot imagine why, but there are limits. The idea of being touched by me that way, knowing what I am, must disgust you.'

'Stop it! I hate when you speak like that! That's not at all what I meant!'

'My apologies,' he said, his voice flat and cold. He turned to go, but she leapt from the bed, blocking his path.

'Gabriel, wait, please! For all the times I've listened to you, will you not hear me out?'

The look he gave her was resentful and cold, but he ceded her the door and went to sprawl ungraciously on the window seat. 'I am listening, mignonne,' he said, his voice remote."


- Judith James, 2008

Please join me next week when I review Christine Wells' The Dangerous Duke

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 70 - 13 Reasons to Read Love Thy Neighbor by Amy Ruttan


I'm thrilled to review this latest Amy Ruttan release. She's now working on an historical/paranormal series for Linden Bay Romance that the phrase 'I'm dying to get my hands on' barely describes.

1 - Amy is also the author of Fox's Bride, an historical set in 1720's Jamaica and Masque of Desire, a contemporary paranormal which takes place on a southern plantation.

2 - She's one of six talented erotic romance writers who blog at 6 Degrees of Sexy. All six women write for Ellora's Cave as well as for Cerridwen Press, Liquid Silver Books, Loose Id and Samhain Publishing.

3 - Love Thy Neighbor is part of the Ellora's Cave Oh Yum! series, featuring older women, younger men and lots of yum. The older woman here is a fabulous 40, while the younger man is a smart, ambitious 25-year-old.

4 - Beverly Robins moved into a beautiful home in Deerpark, Illinois two years ago with her husband, a former jock turned corporate suit. The day she saw the house with the real estate agent, she'd caught her first glimpse of the hunky son of the couple next door. The hunky brainiac son who'd just graduated Harvard Law - the type of guy she'd always admired from afar in college while dating jocks like the other girls from her social set.

5 - David Craig moved to Boston and a junior position at a law firm after graduation, but no amount of willing women could ever take his mind off of Ms. Robins. His parents' gorgeous neighbor was the real reason he'd never been home for a visit. But his sister's upcoming wedding was something he couldn't miss. And Ms. Robins was on the invitation list.

6 - Amy fills this quick read with strong secondary characters, including Janie, David's sister and the bride-to-be. She's a good friend to both him and Beverly, and I quite liked her. Her unfortunate choice of bridesmaids gives us Brenda, a rival for Beverly for David's precious time during the week-long wedding preparations. David's mother and Beverly's ex-husband also give lasting impressions.

7 - There is room for occasional hilarity in this otherwise scorchy novella. Like this moment from the pre-wedding luau at David's parents':

"He cocked his eyebrow. 'What do you have against…' he trailed off as he caught sight of his eighty-three-year-old grandfather hobbling by in a garish Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts hiked up and belted under his armpits and black socks to his knees with mesh shoes.

'Hey sonny,' he called out as he walked by.

Ms. Robins was giggling into her hand.

'Point taken, Ms. Robins,' David said.
"

8 - I really, really love Amy's dialogue. She spins speech like a screenwriter. Every character has his or her own voice, and their dialogue is natural and moves characterization and plot forward. Can anyone ask for more? (A clue - no.) Here are seven lines of dialogue that pack a lot of info as well as convey character:

"She came out of her bedroom and was startled to see him standing in the branches, out of breath.

'The back door was open,' she chuckled.

'I like climbing trees, so much easier than climbing corporate ladders. Less work and less pain,' he said, trying to keep himself from panting and wincing from the pain in his abdomen from pulling himself from branch to branch.

'I see. Are you going to be all right? You’re breathing pretty heavy there,' she asked, cocking a thinly arched brow. He could tell she was trying to control her laughter. He beat his chest and gave a soft Tarzan yell.

'Just the sight of you, it takes my breath away.'
"

9 - I admire Beverly's desire to reach for her own brass ring. She's a woman who married when she didn't truly know herself or what she wanted out of life. David's attraction to her gives her a new appreciation for the woman she has become.

There are many women who may have found themselves in Beverly's situation at some point in their lives, and I once again cheer ePublishers' willingness to offer stories that veer away from idealized female characters that continue to populate print romantic fiction.

10 - Amy really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:

"He wanted to make this last forever. He wanted to bring her such pleasure that she would forget about every other lover she had. 'What’s that smell, that fragrance?'

'Your sister asked me the same thing. Are you two into selling perfume or something?' she teased, cocking a finely arched brow.

'No, but I like to know what my woman wears.'

'Your woman?' she asked, surprised. 'Am I your woman now?'

His answer was to reach down and pick her up in his arms, slinging her over his shoulder and slapping her on the ass. 'After tonight, you will be.'
"

11 - The Oh Yum! series is a wonderful concept which I heartily applaud. Modern women hold the reins of their own sexual lives, and they also enjoy relationships with younger men - if that's what life presents them. There's no need to resist an attraction to a younger man because women aren't so hung up on calendar years. If she feels a kinship to a younger man, her healthy and youthful state these days can more than keep up with him.

Just ask:

Lorraine Bracco and former basketball player Jason Cipolla (21-year age difference)
Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher (15 yrs)
Mira Sorvino and actor Christopher Backus (14 yrs)
Kathy Najimy and musician/stage actor Dan Finnerty (13 yrs)
Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins (12 yrs)
Julianne Moore and filmmaker Bart Freundlich (10 yrs)
Sigourney Weaver and film & theatre director Jim Simpson (7 yrs)
J.K. Rowling and anaesthetist Neil Murray (5 yrs)
Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell (5 yrs)
Eve Mavrakis(production designer) and Ewan McGregor (5 yrs)
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin (5 yrs)
Bo Derek and John Corbett (5 yrs)
Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas (3 yrs)

12 - As with all the Ellora's Cave ebooks, the heat level is turned way up. Way up. The language is explicit in all the right ways. Our Amy spins a very sultry tale.

Some of your fantasies might be woven within these pages. I know some of mine were.

...just warnin' ya...

13 - I leave you with an excerpt. Enjoy!

"She cooked him a delicious seafood linguine. One of her specialties. Her grandmother was Sicilian and had taught Beverly all her coveted recipes when she got married. She had tried a few times and wasted her energy on cooking these very all-consuming meals when her ex just either gulped them down in a heartbeat or never showed up for dinner. After a while she had given up trying.

She hadn’t made this recipe in almost eighteen years. She had been quite pleased that David seemed to enjoy it. Of course, they both had ended up naked, sitting at her antique dining room table. She wore only her heels and a string of pearls.

He wore nothing but a smile as they enjoyed the dinner, the wine and good conversation. She couldn’t remember the last time that she actually had a good, intellectual conversation. They talked about everything and nothing.

He talked about his job as a lawyer in Boston. He talked about his time at Harvard. She talked about her brief stint in college before she got married to her ex and became a wife.

She was relieved to know that he loved to read and he liked just about everything except romance, which she was addicted to.

He liked jazz music, so she padded over to her stereo and put on a great jazz album, a mix she had burned with some of her favorite singers like Diana Krall and Lena Horne.

After dinner they headed upstairs where, according to her fantasy, she had a nice luxurious bubble bath with him.

'What is with women and bubble baths?'

'They’re nice, relaxing.'

'And these bath salts like to effervesce up my ass.' He moved slightly as she began to laugh.

'That too.' She was quiet as she rubbed his arms under the suds.

'How come you’re so quiet?' he asked.

'Just wondering, I mean why me? I am so much older than you. I mean I’m not expecting a future with you or anything—'

'Sssh, let’s not talk about that. And as for why you, you’re an extremely attractive woman. Age doesn’t matter to me — there has always just been something about you.' He stood up, the suds sliding off his naked skin. He climbed out of the tub and rubbed himself with a towel.

'What are you doing?' she asked, leaning her head on the tub, admiring his taut, yummy ass.

'I’m going to show you exactly what I think of you,' he said, reaching down and lifting her out of her soaker tub. He set her down on the floor and toweled her off. He picked her up again and carried her to the bedroom.

He laid her down on her silk sheets. He didn’t say anything and she didn’t need him too. She stared up into his dark and serious blue eyes. He leaned down and gave her a tender kiss. She could hear him breathing in her ear.

'Nothing else matters this week but us. This is how much I want you.'

She pulled him tight against her, loved the feeling of him. She broke off the kiss to listen to the rapid beating of his heart beneath his chest. She felt his hands rub her back gently, his fingers trailing down her spine.

They didn’t say any more to each other. There was nothing to really say. But this was turning rapidly from a mere lust, infatuation situation for her.
Dammit, I’m falling in love with my neighbor’s son."

- Amy Ruttan, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 69 - 13 Reasons to Read Invasion Earth by Loribelle Hunt


1 - I discovered Loribelle Hunt through a recommendation by my blog buddy, Jennifer McKenzie, who also writes as Jennifer Leeland.

Loribelle Hunt and Jennifer Leeland both write for Liquid Silver Books, ePublisher of erotic romance.

2 - Invasion Earth is part of Liquid Silver's science fiction category. This is a new direction for Loribelle, who has published eight shapeshifter ebooks and three contemporary ebooks prior to Invasion Earth.

3 - Loribelle's previous titles include:

Paranormal
Special Branch: Kane
Vegas Magic: Gone With the Wolf
Captured Moon
Christmas Moon
Call of the Moon
Chasing the Moon
Bad Moon Rising
Under Cover of the Moon

Contemporary
Rules of Engagement
Bound by Love
Fireworks

Her Shifters paranormal series and two of her contemporary stories are published with Cobblestone Press.

One contemporary story is published with Samhain Publishing.

4 - Invasion Earth introduces us to Sergeant Major Laney Bradford. She's a brilliant strategist fighting for the Earth Alliance army against an alien aggressor known as the Delroi. When she realizes they have gained control of the Doomsayer experimental bomb - something she had protested - Laney is willing to become a diplomatic bargaining chip to save her people from its destruction.

5 - General Alrik Torfa leads the Delroi to its invasion of Earth in search of mates. Their seers have foretold he will find the mate of his heart among these Earth dwellers, but even he is not prepared to discover that the woman fated to be his own is called the Butcher of Roses by his people. Responsible for a bitter victory over the Delroi, this warrior woman will discover the true reason her Alliance had held out so long against superior forces. It was her destiny alone - to become Lady Torfa.

6 - There is a strong diplomatic side to the storyline, which gives the military aspects a broader context. Spys and family loyalties, outmaneuvering hidden agendas and culture clashes between Earth's marriage-bound hostage - Laney - and the Delroi give this futuristic story a Tudors-style backdrop.

7 - I really, really love Loribelle's authoritative military voice. I'm a huge fan of the Richard Sharpe Peninsular War series, the Band of Brothers take on WWII, the battle scenes in the Star Wars saga, the Middle-earth wars of The Lord of The Rings trilogy. I'm not the type of woman who wants to read about a sergeant major heroine as simply a kick-ass kind of gal. I want that sergeant major to know her way around tactical command.

8 - The sexual tension between Laney and Alrik is immediate, because they are of the fated class of lovers. What could be more romantic than the Some Enchanted Evening type of love at first sight? Loribelle's version goes farther than 'across a crowded room'. They lock gazes across a raging battlefield.

9 - Laney and Alrik have given their individual lives to their respective people. What Loribelle does so well is to load their sexual discovery with emotional realization. Can a trained soldier make a marriage work on a planet where women defer to men? Can a royal son of Delroi ignore the historic role of women when he's fallen for a warrior, like the fictional warrior women of his legends?

10 - Loribelle really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:

"Alrik needed to distract her and thought of the small rose tattoo on her breast. He found it sexy, but it had been a surprise. Women on Delroi did not mark their skin permanently like that, but there was an old, mostly abandoned tradition he wondered if she’d adopt.

In the past bonded females, of warriors in particular, had pierced their nipples. It was a painful procedure, and a show of submission and strength. He hardened again and shared the image with her. He wanted her to do it, needed that sign of her surrender. He crossed his arms over his chest, snaring her with his gaze, watching the blush spread up her neck to her face. Felt her arousal. He watched the emotions play over her face, knew some of what she was thinking. She didn’t think there was a submissive bone in her body, yet she responded to the carnal demands of his shared visions. He wanted to drag her from the room and demonstrate exactly how much mastery he would have over her body. Thankfully, he was spared the embarrassment of dragging a kicking and screaming woman off by the arrival of his brother. It was time to get down to business.
"

11 - Loribelle's steamy scenes need special mention. Laney's vulnerability issues are worked out in the bedroom with her dominant alpha husband-to-be. This works perfectly in a story that has a strong role-of-women subtext, especially since Laney's desires aren't what you'd expect from a sergeant major.

12 - There are lots of scenes that belong to Laney and Alrik, but Loribelle has built a very lived-in world in Invasion Earth. Government officials, royal family members, soldiers from Laney's unit - everyone walks onstage with a fully-formed backstory.

13 - I leave you with an excerpt. Enjoy!

" Leaning forward, he grabbed her upper arms and pulled her close, not allowing her any freedom of movement.

She’d never liked being ordered around, especially in bed, but it wasn’t protest that rose. He was a man she’d never be able to push around. She couldn’t fight the urge to give him control, didn’t even try.

Eagerly, she straddled his hips and looked him in the eye. He gripped her ribcage, guiding her. She gasped and closed her eyes. He held her there until she met his gaze, saw the stark need stamped across his features. Then he plunged deep, building a slow steady rhythm. She leaned forward, a little wobbly while incapable of bracing her hands on his shoulders or chest, but unable to resist the allure of his skin, the compulsion to taste his lips. She flattened her tongue against his neck, following a leisurely trail up his salty skin, smiling at his grunt when her teeth closed over his ear lobe and nipped.

He didn’t give her the chance to kiss him. After pulling her flat against his chest, she heard him murmuring something in his own language. Struggling to breathe, dragging his masculine scent deep into her lungs, she didn’t have time to consider the words, or the radar-like pinging she felt straight to her marrow. Replete and exhausted, she collapsed against him, barely registering when he freed her arms or stood and carried her into a bedroom.

* * * *

It was done. Alrik hadn’t planned on doing it so soon. The binding prayer had burst forth from him when he felt her tighten. Even if he could take the words back, he wouldn’t. She was his now. She might despise him in the short run, but in the long run, it was the right thing to do for everyone.

Tomorrow they would begin negotiating trade agreements that would put more of the Delroi’s unattached males on Earth. Hopefully, it would be enough to save his people. Until then, he had a warm soft woman in his arms and duty could wait.

Her hair was still up and braided, the length twisted and pinned against her head. He pulled the small pins out and dropped them on the bedside table until finally the length was free. Surprised, he noted it reached the bottom of her back. Removing the band holding the end, he slowly worked the plait loose.

Wavy from the braid, her hair was like heavy silk in his hand. He held it to the light to examine its color, a deep brown shot through with big streaks of red. He brought it to his face and breathed in its sweet scent, which smelled faintly of the flower called gardenia on this world, a plant the Delroi women with them had quickly discovered and adopted. He loved it.

Alrik dropped the strands and they fell around her like a curtain. Grinning, he wondered if it would drape them both when she rode him. He would test that at the earliest opportunity. For now, he was content to explore her without her yammering at him.

He had admired the tactical cunning of this woman for months. Her body was just as impressive. The bulky uniform concealed feminine curves. A small waist accented her flared hips and high breasts. Her skin was smooth and blemish free except for the small rose tattooed on one breast. Laugh lines around her eyes added to the appeal of an already pretty face.

He rested his palm over her flat stomach, wondering how she would look swollen with his child. Nostrils flared in desire when he realized she could even now carry a babe. Would she give him girls? A houseful of females with their mother’s warrior spirit?

She moaned in her sleep and leaned into him. Spooned up behind her, he pulled her leg over his. With a long sigh, she cracked an eye open and looked up at him.

'Not a dream,' she murmured, moving against him.

'Shh,' he answered, hand sliding down to where their bodies joined.

He was content to hold her, drifting between sleep and wakefulness. Some time later, a soft knock came at the outer door. After untangling himself from her limbs and pulling on his pants, he let his brother in. Daggar glanced over at the sleeping chamber.

'It’s done then?'

'It is.'
"

- Loribelle Hunt - 2008

Join me next week when I review Amy Ruttan's Love Thy Neighbor.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 65 - 13 Reasons to Read The Mistress Diaries by Julianne MacLean


I'm very excited to bring you this book review, as the author is none other than my fabulous cousin, Julianne MacLean.

I met Julianne when I was six, when my family moved from Michigan and rejoined the Nova Scotia branch of the clan. It was the start of a beautiful friendship. Julianne and her brother, and myself and my sister, grew up like four siblings, always over at their house or our house. There's a me that only Julianne knows, and she's a bright spot in my world when I'm often wiping away the tears of loved ones, dusting them off and setting them back on their feet again.

Julianne is the person I can relax and laugh with, admire the same sort of writing muses *wink*, and plunge into fascinating creative discussions with. So I'm thrilled to be able to share her 12th book release with all of you. The Mistress Diaries hits store shelves on July 29th.

1 - The Mistress Diaries is a Harper Collins Avon Books release. Second in the Pembroke Palace series, this story follows the second Sinclair brother forced to choose a bride by a father slowly going mad.

2 - Part of Avon's Romance category, Julianne's story is a Victorian historical focusing on the swirling emotions that hide beneath the polished exterior of the nobility. The love scenes are steamy and really take the reader inside the feelings of the hero and heroine.

3 - Here is the book trailer for The Mistress Diaries, made by Julianne's husband, man of many talents. The trailer is best enjoyed with the sound turned up. And it may not be safe for work. Enjoy!



4 - We meet Cassandra Montrose, Lady Colchester, fresh out of mourning for an unfaithful husband. Far from eager to attach herself to another man, Cassandra dallies with a known seducer, determined to have at least one night of passion before embarking on the rest of her ladylike days.

5 - Lord Vincent Sinclair is a jaded rake of the highest order. Second son of the addled Duke of Pembroke, he has every expectation that his upcoming marriage to Lady Letitia will hardly cause a ripple in his quest to take his pleasure whenever desire strikes. And his appetite for that is legendary.

6 - Vincent was the villain of the first Pembroke Palace book, In My Wildest Fantasies. That book introduced Vincent as an angry, brooding brother to Devon Sinclair, with a major grudge against his elder sibling. Being a great fan of the gray character, I stand in awe of my cousin's ability to turn such a dark character like Vincent into someone I can fall in love with.

7 - Sexual tension flares up immediately for Cassandra and Vincent. As with all of Julianne's couples, each offers an emotional release to the other that simmers along with the sexual arousal. Julianne returns her two lovers to a state of courting, which only heightens the tension level to brow-mopping intensity.

8 - Julianne gives us a fascinating look into the fallen woman character with Cassandra. We relate to her completely at the beginning of the story. As she finds herself thrust into a social role for which she never planned, we see inside the complexities of choice, consequence and self-image. It's a perfect balance to Vincent's journey from his brother Devon's villain to this story's hero.

9 - I really, really love Julianne's way with a hottie hero. Here's our first impression of Vincent (from his book, not Devon's!):

"Lord Vincent Sinclair kicked open the door of the sumptuous London hotel room with staggering brute force and carried Cassandra Montrose, Lady Colchester, over the threshold. He had kissed her senseless in the carriage the entire way there. He grinned and kicked the door shut behind him.

Pulling his white cambric bow tie and unbuttoning the top of his shirt, he smiled with devilish intent. 'I quite assure you, Lady Colchester, I have not yet begun to be a bad influence. My best is yet to come.'
"

10 - Julianne really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:

" 'You are very appealing when you choose to be, Vincent,' she told him, 'and you are a handsome man. That can be blinding for even the most sensible of women. I hope you will consider that when you become a husband.'

He seemed surprised by her sudden desire to steer him in the direction of his conscience, when clearly neither he, nor she, believed he possessed one.

'Indeed I shall,' he replied nevertheless, 'though I don't recommend getting your hopes up. We both know I will be a dismal failure at matrimony. I'm simply not cut out to be faithful.'

She sighed over the fact that he had not changed, and likely never would. His brow furrowed with displeasure. Or was it annoyance? She wasn't sure what to make of it.

'At least my mother will be close at hand to repair the damage when I live up to your meager expectations.' With that, he stood and walked out.

***

Immediately after leaving Cassandra's bedside, Vincent entered his own bedchamber and saw his great-grandmother's necklace - the famous Pembroke Sapphire - sitting in an open velvet box on the bed. He stared at the dark blue stone for a moment, saw in his mind a headstone with Cassandra's name on it, then slammed the door so hard, the vase on the dressing table toppled to the floor and smashed to a thousand pieces
."

11 - Julianne switches POV seamlessly between Cassandra and Vincent, often in the midst of a heightened emotional scene. It only serves to further reveal plot and character, a sure touch from a writer at the top of her game.

12 - There are no secondary characters who serve as set dressing in any of Julianne's books. Even Vincent's ducal-approved fiancee, Lady Letitia is three-dimensional. A character revealed only through letters, memory and conversation is especially haunting.

13 - I leave you with an excerpt. Enjoy!

" A short time later he was trotting up to the palace on his horse. He stopped to look up at the brightly lit drawing room window above. Letitia passed in front of it, unaware of his presence below. She stood for a moment with her back to him, chattering on about something to someone, then walked away.

Devon came to look out the window next and looked down at him with a cool stare, as if he knew where he had been all night and greatly disapproved.

Contempt shuddered through Vincent as he imagined going up there and sitting down with the rest of them. They would ask where he had been. Devon might even call him to the study to have a reproachful word with him about his activities and remind him of his duty to the family. His brother would warn him not to become distracted and tell him to spend more time at the palace.

Devon had already fulfilled his duty by marrying Rebecca. They were all depending on each other to safeguard their inheritances. Vincent watched him raise a brandy glass to his lips and turn from the window when his wife slipped her arm through his and drew him away.

Outside, alone in the dark, Vincent remained seated on a restless horse that could not, for some reason, keep still.

He felt restless himself. He did not want to be here. He wanted to be at the dower house, in those small, cozy rooms, sitting by a fire.

He turned and gazed back in that direction. It would be wrong to return. Cassandra would most certainly be angry with him. It could spoil everything. He should not do it.

But he wanted so badly just to kick in his heels and urge his horse to a gallop - to speed across the moonlit hills and feel the wind in his hair, to leap over this particular hurdle in his life.

He looked up at the full moon and watched the wispy clouds float in front of it, thin and transparent, incapable of dimming its illumination.

He breathed deeply, seeking the calmness and dispassion he required to get through his betrothal to Letitia, his usual detachment, but all he felt was an ache of longing deep inside his chest. It was so relentless and severe, it almost made him double over in pain.

In the end he did what he knew he should not do. He kicked in his heels and galloped off.

***

Cassandra looked out the window at the full moon overhead and thought wistfully about the many hours she had spent with Vincent over the past few weeks, strolling leisurely to the river, speaking openly about so many things.

She had not expected it to be so pleasant. Not with him - the man whose heart she had believed was made of stone. This strange arrangement of theirs had been going on for quite some time now without a single hitch. Beneath all the courtesy and manners, she had been fighting against a new kind of desire that simply would not die.

Every time Vincent stepped out of his coach, dressed in his elegant black coat and top hat, smiling up at her with those dark, mesmerizing eyes, she melted. She fell to pieces like a lovesick pup that did not know the meaning of restraint.

But she did know the meaning of it, and she understood the consequences of giving in to temptation. She could never endure the heartache of sharing him with another woman. She was simply not built that way. If she loved someone, it would have to be all or nothing. She could not settle for less, and was still not sure Vincent was capable of such a devoted love, for he was broken inside.

Or was she wrong about that? she wondered as she stared out the window at the darkness beyond. She had been wrong about so many other things, and he'd done nothing but surprise her over the past few weeks.

A moment later she was tipping the crystal decanter over a glass. She took a sip and strolled back to the window. It was a beautiful night. She raised the glass to her lips when a nervous fluttering arose in her belly, for she spotted a man. He was sitting under the tree on the bank of the river at the bottom of the hill. The moonlight was reflecting off the water, and he was silhouetted against the sparkling ripples. His horse was tethered to the tree, its long neck bowed down to the grass.

It was Vincent - that much she knew, even though it was impossible to identify anyone from such a distance in the darkness.

What was he doing there? She had heard him leave almost two hours ago. Had he been sitting there all this time, or had he left and returned?

She set her glass down on the table. If she knew what was good for her, she would go back to bed this instant and forget she ever saw him. But that would require her to guzzle the entire contents of what remained in the brandy decanter, enough to knock her out until dawn, because the fact of the matter was - she cared for him. She cared for him a great deal. And somehow she knew that he needed her
."

- Julianne MacLean - 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 60 - 13 Reasons to Read Fox's Bride by Amy Ruttan


In the blogosphere, kindred spirits have a way of finding each other. I met Amy Ruttan as a fellow commenter at Christine d'Abo's blog. We quickly discovered that we share so many quirky tastes in things. Like Gerard Butler. *shiver* (Is that quirky, or just fabulous taste?) We both love Red Dwarf - ever heard of that show? Persuasion with Ciaran Hinds. The Vicar of Dibley. Gwen Stefani. And of course, The Pirates of Penzance.

I'd have to do an entire Thursday Thirteen about the things we've discovered about one another that makes us secret twins.

I got the chance to have lunch with Amy, Wylie Kinson and Leah Braemel before the Toronto Romance Writers meeting last October. After getting to know one another through blogging, it's like meeting a supahstah. So exciting, so wonderful. I was beside myself with waiting until Fox's Bride was released.

1 - Amy is one of the Sexies at Six Degrees of Sexy, along with my fellow Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada writer Renee Field, and fellow blog buddies Christine d'Abo, Wylie Kinson, Red Garnier, and Robin Rotham.

2 - And how exceedingly diverting is Fox's Bride? Read on, me hearties.

Amy's ebook is part of Cerridwen Press's Historical Romance Novel category. The heroine is the much-sought-after mistress of a sugar cane plantation in late 1720's Jamaica. Fortunately, as a girl she was married off to the equally young hero. This gives her protection from avaricious cads who scheme for her and her plantation. Unfortunately, the convenient yet absent husband grew into an utter wastrel.

3 - We meet Madeline Middleton, Lady Foxton, managing her own Jamaican plantation while sending a sizeable stipend to England, to keep her husband's rakish pursuits in full swing. Madeline needs income to purchase slaves away from her neighbors. She makes up for her husband's outrageous allowance by piracy - as the Dread Captain Meg.

4 - William Foxton married the red-headed girl just as his grandmother commanded. He knew their aristocratic family needed income from the Caribbean colonies in order to survive. He understood the worth of his marriage more and more as the years went on, as he discovered his father's betrayal of their family, as he sought to outrun his misery by living life as a scoundrel. What he'd never read for himself was the marriage contract. It sends him on the first ship to Jamaica, to legally claim his bride before it's too late.

5 - Amy's world is so full of characters and action - a wonderful change from the all-romantic-couple-all-the-time structure of most print releases. Cerridwen Press's ebook format gives authors room to explore settings and time frames other publishers wouldn't consider, no matter how hungry readers may be for originality. I threw myself into 1720's Jamaica with abandon.

6 - I especially appreciated the darker undertones to Amy's book. She never shies away from the reality of life for women of all social standings, and plainly spells out the miseries of life as a slave. In a print romance, she would have been asked to tone down or remove all of the social commentary that drives the book through its quick pacing.

7 - I really, really love the bantering that takes place between Madeline and Fox. Her years as a pirate, commanding a crew of men, serves her well when she encounters Lord Foxton, accustomed to deference and the witty company of White's in London.

When they meet up after so many years as mere names on documents, their conversation quickly turns to:

'My lord, I am not your dear anything!'

'Au contraire, you are my dear wife, are you not?' he asked smartly, looking thoroughly pleased parleying words with her.

'A dear wife who you haven’t seen in twenty years, my lord. The last time I saw you, you were a martyr to spotty skin,' she said hotly.


8 - The sexual desire between Madeline and Fox is a knock-down surprise to both of them. It begins from the moment she raids the ship her husband sails to Jamaica, their gazes locking even as she conceals her identity with a mask. When he discovers his wife is a pirate, it only fuels Fox's desire for a woman unlike any he could imagine - and he knew plenty of wild characters as he debauched his way through London. Madeline is likewise confused by her raw attraction to the man whose spending habits forced her to piracy in the first place. But she never recovered from his refusal to back down when she pointed her weapon at him aboard ship.

9 - The cast of characters includes many gray characters - people who display some understandable traits at some points of the novel, then display reprehensible traits at others. Gray characters are my favorite. They tug at my heart and shoot the tension level higher and higher.

10 - Amy really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:

" 'Well, well, a lord of the realm here on this ship.' She bowed with a flourish and several of her crew, including John, laughed. 'Maybe I should ransom you to your relatives.'

Fox scoffed. 'You could but they’ll never pay. I’m an outcast, my dear.'

She cocked her eyebrow, seemingly intrigued by his response.

'Tsk, tsk. What about your poor wife? I’m sure she would be lost without you.'

'You can try her, she is quite wealthy. Although, you may find her hesitant, she’s never met me.'

'Ha, I find that hard to believe.' Captain Meg unsheathed her rapier and pointed it at his heart. 'Her name, my lord, or I will run you through.'

Fox smirked, thoroughly enjoying his repartee with this enchanting vixen.

'Happy to oblige, my dear. My wife is Lady Madeline Foxton of The Coral Reef plantation in Montego Bay.'

Captain Meg’s eyes flew open in horror and she quickly turned away. Fox was confused by her response.

'Sorry, did I say something to offend?'

She turned around abruptly, the blunt end of her pistol raised.
Why is she angry? was his last thought before everything went black."

11 - Amy's scenes are vividly cinematic. I can feel the rhythm of a film editor as she drops us in and out of scenes for as long as she needs us there - and no longer.

Madeline woke with a start to the sound of scratching at her window. She rubbed her eyes, dazed and confused. The moonlight streamed through the white gauze of her curtains so she didn’t need to light a candle.

She got up and padded over to the window, a pistol, which she kept at her bedside, in her hand, cocked and ready to fire.

Madeline pulled back the drape and balked at the sight of Fox, bedraggled and leaning with his both arms outstretched on either side of her balcony window.

His eyes were sparkling as he stared into her bedroom, his shirt open and flapping in a strong breeze. His hair was loose and blowing about his shoulders. He looked wild, like a stormed-tossed sea. It gave her a delicious thrill that traveled down her spine, warming her blood.
No, I won’t let him in tonight.

'What do you want?' she asked through the glass doors.

'Let me in,' Fox said, his voice slurring slightly.

She opened the balcony door a crack. She smelled a very strong odor of rum. 'Are you drunk?' she asked, wrinkling her nose in disgust.

'Possibly,' Fox garbled his words. 'No, I’m not drunk, I’m foxed.' He laughed.

She saw that he had climbed up the side of the house to get to the balcony. 'Either way, you’re not coming in here tonight,' Madeline countered. She tried to shut the door, but Fox prevented her.

'I’m coming in to be with my wife, whether you like it or not.'

She held the pistol up. 'I said no,' she warned dangerously.

His eyes glinted in the moonlight. 'You wouldn’t shoot me. You need me.'

'For what?' Madeline asked haughtily. Though she knew, yes she did need him to conceive a child.
Tell him the other reason, the reason even you won’t admit yourself, a little voice niggled in the back of her mind.

He swayed to the left and she tried to catch him but it was all a ruse as the pistol was easily tussled from her grip. Fox took the pistol and disarmed it.

'Now, shall we try that again?' he asked huskily.

'Oh go away, Fox, I am in no mood to play your personal whore tonight.' She turned away but he grabbed her roughly and brought her around to face him.

'I do not think of you as a whore.'

'So, women just fall at your feet?' she snapped.

'Yes,' he said as he leaned his mouth down to the pulse point of her neck. 'Especially when I do things like this.'


12 - I'm positive a sequel or two could expand Amy's Coral Reef world. There are so many characters I'd like to follow, like Madeline's butler and pirate hand, John. Or Cristal, the rescued slave from New Orleans.

13 - I leave you with a final excerpt. Enjoy!

"Madeline was angry at her cousin for not showing any interest in The Coral Reef, but when it was an inheritance to be paid to him, he had no problem showing up.

She remembered her cousin Jeremy. He was six years her junior, and she remembered when he became a teenager, a very forceful teenager, and he was randy—that was all there was to it. He tried to accost her in her bedroom. Luckily, Madeline was much stronger than the young fop. She easily threw him off and gave him a thrashing he wasn’t soon to forget. That was the last time she had seen her blood relatives.

As she came down the winding staircase the first thing she noticed was all the luggage.
He thinks he’s here to stay.

John motioned to her that Jeremy was in the sitting room. She balled up her fists and proceeded into the room to greet her long-detested cousin.

When Madeline saw Jeremy she had to choke back the laughter that began to bubble in her throat. She had thought she had seen a fop before, but it was nothing compared to the man of twenty years sitting on her settee, fanning himself.

Jeremy was garishly dressed in a huge powdered wig that had a small purple hat pinned to the top. His face was powdered and his eyebrows shaven, the mouse skin eyebrows that he wore were slowly slipping down his face as was the velvet mole from the humid tropic temperatures. Jeremy had obviously put on rouge and painted his lips red. His jacket, waistcoat and breeches were contrasting jewel tones, his shirt was very ruffled. His stockings were striped and his blue buckled shoes had very high heels.

The chokes of laughter were welling up inside her. Madeline looked back at John. His face was very serious but his eyes told a different story. He was trying to suppress his laughter.

'Jeremy…what brings you to The Coral Reef?' Madeline asked.

'Why, my dear cousin, is it so wrong of me to want to visit my only paternal relative?' He got up and with outstretched arms, embraced her.

Madeline remained stiff as her cousin hugged her. She held her breath to suppress Jeremy’s heavily perfumed body. He obviously was trying to mask his sweat with some sort of sweet scent, but he had put so much on his body that it was stifling and overpowering.

Jeremy’s hand began to wander down her back to her rear. Madeline pushed him away violently as she saw John approaching out of the corner of the room.

Jeremy wrinkled his nose in a sneer.

'Still a little randy are we not, Jeremy?' she barked.

'Still a prude eh, cousin?' Jeremy snapped as he sat down on the settee.

'What do you want, Jeremy?' she asked firmly.

'Well, if you must know, cousin, then there is no need to hide my reason for coming to Jamaica. Your marriage has not yet been consummated, and it doesn’t look as if it will be, as the last ship for the season left six months ago.'

'Your point?'

'My point is that part of the stipulation of the marriage contract was that you produce an heir with your husband by the time you were twenty-eight or The Coral Reef would fall forfeit…to me,' he said that last bit with such zeal it made her sick.

'I see,' Madeline said tightly.

'I’m not totally heartless, cousin,' Jeremy said. 'I say that we annul your marriage to Lord Foxton.'

'Why would I do that?' she asked uneasily.

Jeremy got off the settee and wandered over to her to whisper in her ear. 'So that we can get married. I find you a desirable woman, Madeline. I think we could rub along nicely together.'

A shiver went down Madeline’s back as she tried not lose her dinner.

'You see the crux of it is, Jeremy, I can’t annul my marriage.'

'Why ever not?' Jeremy demanded.

'Because, quite simply, her husband has consummated the marriage,' a lazy voice drawled from the doorway.

Madeline looked back to see Fox leaning against the doorjamb. His hair tied back but his shirt was unbuttoned, as if to show Jeremy that he and Madeline were just intimate.

She looked at her cousin, who looked outraged at seeing Fox. His face was actually turning red despite the fact he wore face powder. He was so tense that one of the mouse skin eyebrows slid off his face to the floor. She heard John laugh as he walked out of the room, suppressing his laughter into his liveried sleeve.

Fox walked over to Jeremy. Very nonchalant he bent over and picked the mouse skin eyebrow off the floor and held it out to Jeremy. 'I believe you lost this.'

Jeremy snatched it back and turned around to replace the fake eyebrow on his face. Madeline stifled a laugh in her hands.

Jeremy rounded on Fox. 'What are you doing in Jamaica?'

'That would seem obvious,' Fox said sardonically. 'I am consummating my marriage.'

'I thought you were still in London?' Jeremy said disdainfully.

'No, I caught the last ship to the West Indies,' Fox replied.

'Well, what am I going to do now? There’s no ship back to England for a year.'

'You’re more than welcome to stay here with us,' Fox offered.

Madeline gasped in dismay. She didn’t want her cousin to remain at The Coral Reef. He would just harass her. She did not want any of her female workers brutalized by Jeremy Middleton.

'That’s very kind of you, Lord Foxton,' Jeremy acquiesced. His face turned beet red again.

'You can go elsewhere. But I don’t know where, and with the Maroon attacks, I wouldn’t advise trying to travel tonight.'

'I agree, you are most gracious, Lord Foxton,' Jeremy said, defeated.

'John,' Madeline called. John had returned. He had obviously regained his composure. 'Would you show Jeremy to one of the guest quarters?'

'Aye, my lady,' John said, picking up some of the luggage. Jeremy flicked his fan, and with one last disdainful look at Fox and Madeline, followed John out of the sitting room and up the stairs.
"

- Amy Ruttan, 2008


This brings my second series of Thursday Thirteen book reviews to a close. Next week let's enjoy a little eye candy, shall we...?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 59 - 13 Reasons to Read Resisting Command by Jennifer Leeland


I took one look at this cover and knew I had to read this new release by Jennifer Leeland.

I can't resist a man on his knees.

It's one of the big reasons I love historicals, paranormal and fantasy. And ballet, too - the men are often kneeling. Gorgeously.

Not too much call for kneeling in the contemporary world. But in societies of yore, there was lots of it. And if you didn't show the proper deference, you could pay for it. Dearly. I get all shivery when a hulking warrior bows and kneels to a superior. So of course Jennifer's cover was a siren call I could not resist.

1 - Before we get to Resisting Command, let's set the tone for the world where Jennifer is about to take us. Her cover boldly states BDSM. For those who may be unfamiliar with that, it stands for Bondage and Discipline, Domination and Submission, Sadism and Masochism.

You may have heard me mention lately how much I love the BBC series Robin Hood. There's a delicious undercurrent of BDSM throughout the series. It takes place at the close of the 12th century, which guarantees master-servant themes, captives in bondage, power struggles between male rivals and between romantic partners. For me, what's not to love? It's all my favorite fictional scenarios.

If you'd like to dip your feet in these waters, have a look at the Domination and Submission relationship between the Sheriff of Nottingham and his lieutenant, Sir Guy of Gisborne.



The Sheriff is clearly sadistic, and Sir Guy shows a masochistic tendency as he remains loyal to the sheriff, subjecting himself to the treatment he knows will continue as long as he's in the sheriff's service.

Sir Guy is involved in another intense relationship with these overtones, this time with Lady Marian. They trade Domination and Submission aspects that seesaw between the two of them, each handing the power position back and forth.




2 - Now, let's make the jump from 12th century England to a 23rd century world, seething with chemical compounds that push humans' sexual natures into overdrive.

Like Robin Hood, the culture and technology of Jennifer's planetary colony lends itself to BDSM elements as a natural extension of its time and place. That's what I want in a BDSM story. It has to flow directly from the dynamics of the setting, as well as from the natures of the main characters. Historicals, fantasy and science fiction offer worlds where the symbolic power struggles and surrender of BDSM are played out not as a game, but as reality for the characters involved.

3 - Jennifer's novel is part of Liquid Silver's Science Fiction category. We meet the heroine, a scientist suddenly at the mercy of her own libido. The Synthetic Endorphin Xstacy found on the colony planet reduces even brilliant minds like hers to a seething mass of sexual fantasies. The hero is a Space Elite Tribunal soldier assigned to track down a Rogue agent - and the focus of her dark fantasies.

4 - Jenia Carstairs' domineering parents drilled their aspirations into their daughter to follow in their scientific footsteps. Her current job focuses on identifying the sex-hormone-inflaming substance on Asberek, a planet that Earth is keen to colonize. If she could keep her mind off her fantasies about Space Elite agent Paul Lestrano, that is.

5 - Paul Lestrano spent his childhood with fists flying, duking it out with anyone who gave him grief over his father, who died leading colonists to a new planet. Harnessing his violence into army service, Paul is now a soldier for the Tribunal, dealer of pain, keeper of secrets. Dr. Carstairs is part of his latest mission - and a hot button in her psych evaluation is Paul himself, object of her sexual craving in her Virtual Fantasy Room sessions.

6 - Jenia and Paul follow widely different career paths. She works tirelessly to uncover the secrets which the universe encrypts. He doggedly ensures that political secrets remain hidden - no matter what that requires of him. Yet Jenia and Paul both keep their personas under rigid control. Paul's decision to infiltrate her Virtual Fantasy Room session, hoping to gain access to Dr. Carstair's unguarded self, serves to introduce Paul to a secret of his own - his buried desire to submit.

7 - A strong suspense element runs through the novel, as Jenia and Paul work with a team of agents and scientists to unravel the cause of a mass killing spree among earlier colonists. Paul has his sights set on the Rogue agent, yet there may be more to it than one homicidal killing machine and his alien sympathizers.

8 - Jennifer has already set one story in this world, Taking Command. I love losing myself in a fictional world big enough to hold as many stories as the writer can explore. She has a third one in the works, Regaining Command.

9 - I really, really love Jennifer's relationship dynamic between Jenia and Paul in their sexual encounters, as well as their regular-life scenes. These characters have double-sided natures, yet both versions of Jenia complement each other, as do Paul's. His desire to be pushed past his implacable Space Elite exterior reaches through the page to touch the reader. Yet his Tribunal soldier skills snap into action as they travel deep into the Asberek jungle interior.

10 - Jennifer really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:

" Once she got to her quarters, however, she wasn’t tired. Restless, she accessed some of the computer security. One of the advantages of having seniority on Asberek was being able to find anyone, any time.

For some reason, she wanted to know what Paul was doing. But she wasn’t obsessed.

Of course not.

The screen clicked through several corridors and found him in front of a Virtual Fantasy Room console. Well, well, well. And he hadn’t been careful either. She tsked and shook her head as she noted the Tribunal hadn’t put on his security codes for his VFR use.

She had easy access to his input.

Her eyes widened as she discovered what the man wanted to do. He wanted to do her. Specifically. Just as she requested him, he had demanded a holographic version of her. A smirk lifted her lips.


Well, we’ll see if two can play your game.

She clicked and tweaked his fantasy and headed for a VFR access door. This was going to be fun."

11 - This is a very steamy novel, dealing with BDSM subject matter. Sweet romance seekers need not apply!

12 - Jennifer also writes and blogs under the name Jennifer McKenzie. Visit her at The Redneck Romance Writer, where she often goes on hilarious rants known as Just Sayin'.

13 - I leave you with an excerpt. Enjoy!

" 'I’ll have to monitor her VFR use and I’ll keep you updated.' Paul manipulated a few buttons on his hand-held computer which gave him unlimited access to Asberek’s VFR system.

'Have you felt the effects of S.E.X. yet?' His boss’s tone was amused.

'I’ve been staying on the Zenith. I’ll be transferring to the planet tomorrow.'

'I hope you’re prepared.'

'I hope so, too.' Paul rang off. He wondered how he was going to handle the chemical from the planet. More than likely, he’d be like Dr. Carstairs. He didn’t seem to be affected by the space tension as others were, and women were primarily for information.


***

Repeat previous program, Dr. Carstairs?

The cursor blinked. Yes or no?

She cursed under her breath as she pressed 'yes' and the doors whooshed open. But as she entered the dark, opulent room, her nerves calmed and her muscles relaxed.

It was imperative that everything be in place. She checked the different toys on the rich cherry wood table. The rest of the room was dimly lit by candles. No bed, only a bench and soft carpet. She nodded. Everything was in place. Everything except the man she intended to control.

Her sexual energy grew as she waited. She liked having this short time before he appeared. The energy swirled around her and she gathered it to her like the wind gathered leaves. Her eyes were closed and she allowed her senses to sharpen. The smell of leather, a musk scent from the candles, and the tang of her sweat combined with the force she gathered.

Yes, she needed this. A sound made her open her eyes. In front of her, Paul Lestrano knelt before her in perfect submission.

* * *

It was risky. The alarm had gone off to notify Paul that Dr. Carstairs had accessed the VFR. He’d timed his entrance and now knelt before her as he knew she expected.

A feeling he didn’t want or need grew in his chest. This was what would fill his emptiness. To kneel. To give. To serve.

His gaze remained riveted on her black leather boots. She was in control here. The atmosphere in the room was electric, heavy. His heart thudded in his body. How was that possible? He, who knew no fear, could not control his fear and excitement in this moment.

He peeked from beneath his lashes and noted the tools she used and the dim lighting. The carpet beneath his knees caressed his skin. Even the clothing she’d chosen for him to wear seemed destined to push him to the edge and over it.

Finally, she crossed the room, the heels of her boots making no sound. He did not dare glance up. This was her fantasy and he could only be the submissive she expected or he’d never get the answers he needed.

But when she bent down and her hand gripped his chin to force him to meet her gaze, he forgot which answers he sought.

In real life, Jenia Carstairs had long, golden brown hair with unruly curls that she ruthlessly clipped back from her face. Her eyes were violet blue and usually cold and assessing.

In the VFR, Jenia Carstairs let that glorious hair free and her eyes were so hot they turned black. The tight leather corset and thigh high boots made his mouth water.

He closed his eyes as her scent wrapped around him, seduced him. When he opened them again, she stared at him with a curious expression on her face. 'Tonight, I will make you beg for me.'

Excitement and fear zinged through his blood. Her pert nose and high cheekbones were set in a determined face. She meant it. He was going to have to beg. His mind clouded. He needed to focus on the job.

Then, she stood up and bent over to whisper in his ear which gave him a clear view of her beautiful breasts. Her voice was deep and low as it rumbled through his body. 'You will writhe with need.'

He clenched his jaw. This was going to be difficult.

She went to the table and found a strange contraption he’d never seen before. It resembled handcuffs, but it had long chains and four locks. She gripped one of his wrists and jerked it behind his back. She brought his other wrist behind him and clicked them together with the cuffs. Then, she ran the chain down his spine and clicked his ankles together. The effect was complete helplessness.

His hands were immobilized and so were his feet. All he could do was stay on his knees and watch.

As she stepped in front of him, he glared at her. 'How will I writhe with need if I’m bound like this?'

Her eyes flared and she grabbed a handful of his hair to hold his gaze. 'You will be helpless, unable to do what I know you do best.' There was a tinge of bitterness in her tone.

'Let me show you what I can do,' he rumbled deep in his throat. God, he wanted to please her.

She slapped him with her other hand. The sting didn’t diminish his need one bit.

'You’ll do what I want you to do.' She released her grip on his hair and caressed his cheek.

'Why?' It slipped out before he could stop it.

She stared at him, her violet eyes shone in the candlelight. 'Full of questions tonight, aren’t we?' For a moment, he thought she knew he was no hologram. Then she smiled. 'But that’s nothing new.'

She untied her corset and it dropped to the floor. He swallowed as his throat was suddenly very dry. If desire was beautiful then she was its goddess."


- Jennifer Leeland, 2008


Join me next week when I review Amy Ruttan's Fox's Bride.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 58 - 13 Reasons to Read Law of Averages by Wylie Kinson



Law of Averages is Wylie Kinson's second Ellora's Cave release, and I was squealing like a fan girl when I got a chance to read it. With a British rock star as the hero, I knew I'd fall in love with him even before I read the first sentence. I have a soft spot for sexy musicians. My high school boyfriend was a bass player, so you see where I'm coming from...

1 - I discovered Wylie Kinson as a fellow blogger. She's one of the Sexies at Six Degrees of Sexy, along with my fellow Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada writer Renee Field, and fellow blog buddies Christine d'Abo, Red Garnier, Amy Ruttan and Robin Rotham.

2 - Even before I realized the crowd she hung with, I'd noticed her witty zinger comments at creative goddess Rhian's blog, From My Brain To Yours. When Wylie wandered over to my blog, I was thrilled to make such a wonderful connection. I was even more thrilled when I got a chance to meet Wylie face to face at the October 2007 meeting of the Toronto Romance Writers. What a joy to meet a blog buddy at long last.

3 - So how fabulous is Law of Averages? Read on, darlings.

Part of the Ellora's Cave Contemporary Short Novel category, the heroine is the manager of a world-famous restaurant who personally can't cook. The hero is a tattooed, eyeliner-wearing musician who shows up unannounced at the Bermuda retreat she's been sent to for some serious R & R.

4 - We meet Megan Frost, who worked ninety-three days without a break when the restaurant's executive manager had a double bypass operation. Her boss flew in from London to thank her personally, sending her off to her private home in Bermuda to recharge. Maybe even find herself a vacation fling.

5 - The Dark Angel of Rock steps off the plane and heads for the private home of his London financial advisor and school mate from Eton. He needs to take a breather before coming up with more material for another recording session, and his well is uncharacteristically dry. But his friend hadn't actually checked with his wife as to house occupancy. Gabriel Law - aka Dark Angel - discovers his hideaway comes complete with its own woman.

6 - Normally Gabriel would have turned in the doorway and fled. Normally he would have had to. He would have been chased by a rabid fan or instantaneously propositioned. But Megan clearly doesn't recognize him. And Gabriel can't resist the sweet allure of the chance to park the rock god and be himself for a change.

7 - I really, really love the way Wylie ties all of her scorchy scenes to Megan's and Gabriel's emotional states. Megan is so genuine, there's not one of her emotions that I couldn't relate to. Her encouragement of Gabriel when she thinks he's basically a working musician on the club circuit is so healing to a tired mega celebrity. And his desire for Megan is tied in every way with how she makes him feel, how she helps him to reconnect to why he became the Dark Angel in the first place.

8 - The sexual desire between Megan and Gabriel is as lush and exotic as their Bermuda retreat. It's not a competitive tension, but a letting-their-hair-down exploration by two hard-driven professionals. For Megan - Average Megan - this vacation fling with a gorgeous British musician with an even more gorgeous voice wasn't even on her radar. More touching for me is the acceptance Gabriel feels in her presence. His celebrity persona had overshadowed his own personality for so long, he hadn't realized it was missing in action - until Megan brings him out of hiding.

9 - Wylie's wit is sprinkled everywhere throughout this book. As in:

His chest was bare but for that line that gathered around his bellybutton and headed down the center before disappearing…

Don’t go there, Megan. Bloody hell! Read the book. Read the book! I’m reading my book. Dum de de dum de dum, just reading my book. Where the bloody hell was I?

Shit. Now her inner voice was speaking with an English accent.

10 - Wylie really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:

" 'I thought I heard you giggling. Were you reading?'

'No,' she said, wiping the water that had spewed out of her mouth in surprise.
He heard me? Had he heard her whispering his name over and over like a stuttering parrot? Had he heard her murmur 'Megan Frost Law'? She watched him put the glass to his lips and decided to confess to the lesser of two evils. 'I was…oh God, if you really must know, I was imagining all the naughty, dirty, illegal-in-thirty-two-states things I wanted to do to your body.'

It was Gabriel’s turn to spew.

'Hell,' he croaked between coughs. 'I’m too old for this kind of teasing.' He grabbed her around the waist and hoisted her up onto the breakfast bar so they were eye to eye. Gabriel spread her knees and stepped between her thighs, leaning in close so their foreheads touched. 'You should have called for me. I would have happily added my suggestions to your list.'

'I gave you plenty of signals last night, Gabriel, but you didn’t touch me.'

'I was fighting with my conscience.'

'Oh? Who won?'

'You did.'
"

11 - Wylie ties a Bermuda sea myth into the romance between Megan and Gabriel beautifully. It doesn't spin this contemporary into a sudden paranormal, but it laces the mystery and charm of the edge-of-the-Caribbean island throughout the book like an ocean breeze.

12 - Wylie captures perfectly the Cinderella moments that women dream about when Megan allows herself to be wooed by Gabriel. He takes her sailing on a private yacht which he explains away as a gift from the Bermuda homeowner. At first she wonders if she should pay for half of the cruise, seeing as he's only a club musician and all...

Most wonderful is the gorgeous bathing suit, gossamer cover and wide-brimmed hat he gives her to wear on the boat.

Megan’s heart started beating out a little calypso tune of its own as she walked toward him. The island, the outfit, the man, all brought out a confidence she’d never had. She felt as if she were dripping diamonds when she walked.

13 - I leave you with an excerpt. Enjoy!

" 'Where have you been?' He actually looked worried, standing on the top step in the dark as she approached.

'You’re
Gabriel Law!' she accused with pointed finger. She pushed past him and stormed into the cottage. She rounded on him. 'Why didn’t you tell me?'

'Well,' he began, walking toward her slowly and gently as if she were an atomic bomb, 'I believe my opening line was indeed, "Hello, I’m Gabriel Law." ' He took the wine bag out of her hand and placed it on the counter.

'Yes, technically,' she took a deep breath, 'but you should have said, "Hello, I’m Gabriel Law, better known as
Dark Angel"!'

He winced. 'Ah, sorry. I assumed you knew. Most people do.'

'Oh they do not! How many people know Bono’s name — '

'Paul Hewson.'

'Or Sting — '

'Gordon Sumner.'

'Damn you, Gabriel! Just stop it. You
knew I didn’t know.' She wagged her finger at him. 'You purposely deceived me.'

She dropped her bags on the floor and put her hands on her hips. She felt so stupid! Stupid, stupid MEE-gan — brainless, na├»ve and completely gullible. He must be having the laugh of his life.

She took another deep breath and bit down hard, determined to stifle the tears that were making her throat tight. He reached out to rub the tops of her arms but she jumped back.

'Was this a game to you? Am I some joke that you and
Grinder will have a good chuckle over? Really, Gabriel, I’m so disgusted I could spit!'

Her chest was so tight it was hard to speak. Or breathe. She couldn’t hold back the tears any longer so she ran to the bedroom and slammed the door. She barely made it before the sobs came. She held the pillow to her face so he wouldn’t hear her.

Bad choice. The pillow smelled like him.

When she’d typed his name into Google, she was shocked to see the header bar say 'Results 1–10 of 25,300,000 for Gabriel Law'.

That was the moment the dizziness began. Words swam in front of her eyes —
Official Dark Angel Fan Club, Rough Cut Concert Listings, Gabriel Law, the Dark Angel of Rock…

Of course, his tattoo! The angel wing — and she’d been too thick to get it. She’d seen it on T-shirts and album covers, billboards! It was their trademark, like the Rolling Stones lips.

'Megan, can I come in?' Gabriel called through the door, breaking her out of her thoughts.

She quickly sat up on the edge of the bed and tried to swallow but the lump was still lodged at the base of her throat, making her sound like a frog.

'No.'

'Bloody hell,' she heard him murmur behind the door. He came in anyway.


Damn Ash and Gemma for not having locks on their doors.

'Look at me.'

'No.'

'You’re crying.'

'No, I’m not.'
Duh! He was standing in the room. He could see the damn tears. 'Well, yes, but not because of you.'

'Why then?' She lifted her legs and swiveled her ankles, showing off the attractive pink rash. 'Poison ivy. The pharmacist said I have poison ivy, probably from hiding in the bushes at the park, and it’s itchy and I’m miserable.' She put the pillow to her face and let out another sob.

Damn plants. Damn Gabriel.

He got on his knees in front of her and took the mashed, wet pillow out of her hands.

He lifted her chin with his finger so they were eye to eye. She was surprised to find her pain reflected in his tourmaline eyes. She sniffed.

'Please let me explain, Megan.' He slid his hands up her thighs, but it wasn’t an erotic gesture — more like one of a man clinging to the side of a lifeboat. 'I was ecstatic that you didn’t realize who I was. A little shocked, sure, I mean, I do have an ego — quite a huge one, in fact. But if you had recognized me, I would have had to leave.'

'Why?' she sniffed.

He let a few moments pass before answering, his eyes on his hands sliding up and down the outsides of her thighs. He took a deep breath and looked at her. 'Megan, I’m tired of all this. I’ve been touring and partying and trying to maintain an image for twenty years. I’m burnt out and I desperately need a change. I don’t want to be Dark Angel anymore. Do you know how long it’s been since anyone has called me Gabriel? Just plain old Gabriel?'
"

- Wylie Kinson, 2008