Divine Deception is my novella set in Western New York. It’s part of Ellora Cave’s succulent series that included stories with fruit as their central theme. This story involves grapes and more specifically … wine. It’s meant to be a fun little read. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from chapter one.
Obtaining his life’s dream may very well destroy hers …
Nicholas Gradin III splashed three more fingers of thirty-year-old scotch into the crystal tumbler sitting on the mahogany desk, not bothering to add ice. He didn’t need some watered-down version of liquid courage. He needed straight up, balls-to-the-walls bravery for the weekend ahead. Even though it was all of his making, Nicholas didn’t really want to face the huge obstacle that stood between him and freedom. Gulping a generous portion of the scotch, he turned and stared out the study window. He’d chosen this room on the east side of the mansion specifically so he didn’t have to stare at the goddamn ugly vines that tortured his very existence.
One month, six weeks at the most and the last of the grapes would be harvested and the vines left to wither. Nicholas could only hope all the lies would die along with them.
Nicholas watched the lush lawn sway in the early autumn breeze, hoping it would soothe the frayed ends of his nerves. He laughed derisively and swallowed his resentment with a hefty shot of alcohol. Who was he kidding? It wasn’t lush-it was overgrown and unkempt. Without the benefit of the lawn service that he’d fired last spring, it looked like shit. Perhaps he should be staring at the vineyard. At least a skeleton crew still meticulously tended the vines.
No, even that thought slid him deeper into a morass of self-pity.
In his youth, the vineyard had been his playground full of fertile soil that not only nurtured the grapes but a foolish boy’s vivid imagination. As he’d grown it had become his gym, offering hours upon hours of backbreaking work that honed his muscles and allowed him to dream of a different life. Now, he was a middle-aged man imprisoned by its incessant demands. As happened to his late parents, the vineyard was sucking the very marrow from his bones and leaving him wilted and apathetic. He had no doubt it would kill him one day. He figured drowning himself in the intoxicating oblivion of liquor was a preferable path to death.
Nicholas finished the scotch and turned to stare at the bottle taunting him from the desk.
“You worry too much, my love.”
Turning to the comforting sound, Nicholas stared at his young wife lounging elegantly against the open door. Her ebony hair curved over her bare shoulder, the ends nestling in her plentiful cleavage. The white top she wore was sheer enough to show off the pink lace beneath. Black patterned leggings hugged her hips and her legs to just below her knee. He had no doubt she wore nothing beneath the exotic second skin.
Even after seven years of marriage, the woman was a walking hard-on.
Knowing the spell she cast over him, Carmine smiled and lifted the bunch of red grapes in her hand to her full lips. Curling her tongue around one, her mouth made love to it before she sank her teeth into its flesh. Juice dripped down her chin and she gathered it up with flick of her tongue before she spoke. “Two and half days. You can do anything for two and a half days.”
Grapes, the fruit of hell itself. Most of the time, he hated the damn things-the smell, the texture, the sight. But when Carmine held them, Nicholas remembered all the reasons they were known as the fruit of gods. Even she could turn the despised globes into a delicate food of seduction.
Capturing his gaze, Carmine stared intently at him as the pink tip of her tongue caressed the dangling fruit. In and around each swollen berry, her tongue darted and tasted. A low moan keened from her throat as she snatched another and took it into her mouth with a loud “pop”. “Really, I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as you’re anticipating.”
Nicholas swallowed hard, trying to find his voice. “I’m not anticipating anything more than a quiet family weekend.”
With a doubtful arch of her brow, she pushed from the doorway and walked to him. Black stiletto heels clicked softly across the hardwood floor. Carmine slinked up to him, her lithe body molding to his. Her breasts pressed against his chest and his body sprang to attention. Sliding her palm across his shoulder, she looked into his eyes. “The tension rides on your shoulders…” A long, red nail dragged up his neck and over his jaw. “It knots right here…” Her nail continued its journey across his forehead, the other fingers tickling across his face. “And it leaves deep lines on your brow.” She came up on her toes and her teeth grazed his chin. “But I know how to help take your mind off the homecoming.”
Welcome back to Lonesome Fork, Montana and a world of shifters that will leave you breathless and panting for more!
I am so excited to announce that Bonded by Need the first story in my new series Shifting Bonds will be available AUGUST 7!!! It all happened so fast I can hardly believe it myself. This story continues where Blue Moon Rising (Furry, Fluffy & Wild anthology, Liquid Silver Books, Sept 2008) ended. So if you’re a fan of paranormal and the shifting world in particular … I hope you’ll check out my newest release … coming VERY soon.
And just to give you taste, here’s the blurb:
Veterinarian Jayda Kynslan recently moved to Montana. The mountains hold many secrets but none as mysterious as hers. She’s just discovered she’s a polymorphic shifter-wolf, cougar, human. Jayda’s not sure who she is-or what her heart and body need.
Recently promised to Cole Takoda, the head of the wolf council, Jayda wants to believe their bond will fulfill her every need. But there’s no denying her cougar growls for a mating of its own. Leader of the cougar council, Zane Brodan has no desire to get involved in a romantic relationship. Tangling with a shifter already promised to another is a bad idea-except when it’s a luscious polymorphic shifter doing the tempting.
Cole believes Jayda is his lifemate. Zane can’t resist her seductions. Someone wants to ruin all their plans. As the temperature and the body count rise so does Jayda’s need to possess both men-wolf and cougar-and her needs refuse to be denied.
I don’t do this very often, but I just finished edits on my newest book with Ellora’s Cave. So I thought I’d share with you thirteen reasons you might like to read my debut novella with them, Divine Deception.
1. It takes place in a vineyard in western NY. And to add credibility to the story a had to suffer through a whole bunch of hands-on wine research. 😉
2. There’s a really sexy, naughty boy hero, Nicholas Gradin IV who drives a motorcycle.
3. It’s a Nina Pierce novella, need you ask if there’s hawt monkey sex? Ummm. only like every time you turn around. *g*
4. Everyone’s got a secret.
5. Francesca Santerre is one kick-ass heroine who has an agenda all her own!
6. It’s my first story with a new publisher and that always makes a book special! (Yeeeeaahhh … this guy has nothing to do with that, I just wanted to add in some eye candy.)
7. Did I mention there’s some crazy outdoor loving in this story? (Oh, I did? Well, it bears repeating.)
8. Nicholas wants to sell the vineyard …
9. Frankie wants to make sure it stays in the family …
10. Both of them will do anything to get their way!
11. There’s a whole cast of other characters that get in the way of Frankie and Nick’s goals. (Okay, not exactly these guys, but take my word for it … there are other people in this novella.)
12. It’s a romance … of course there’s a happy ending!
13. I couldn’t do a Shameless Thursday without including this cute little trailer … now could I?
From my novella Blue Moon Rising in the Furry, Fluffy & Wild anthology. Since I recently signed a new contract for a new shifter menage novel I thought I’d give you a taste of my first shifter story.
“You all right?” Cole bent to scratch behind the dog’s ears before untying his hiking boots and toeing out of them.
Jayda lifted a shoulder and fought to control the tears burning to be set free. “I’ve never seen a dead person, let alone one…” She didn’t want to remember how the man had died so violently.
“I hate to have you go through it all, but I need you to tell me everything that happened from the time you left the tavern last night…” He sat in the chair next to the couch. Too far to be of any comfort. “Until you found the body this morning.”
She wanted to have Cole hold her and tell her it would be all right, but the kind face that had made her swoon last night had become a hard mask of professionalism. Jayda sank onto the couch and told him everything.
“That’s it?” Cole asked.
Jayda looked at him. “What else would there be?”
“You don’t remember seeing the kid at the Bull?”
“I already told you I didn’t.” After thirty minutes of repeating her story, Jayda watched Cole tuck away his notepad. When he turned back to her, his features softened.
“I believe you, Jayda.” He reached for her hand, still gripping the coffee mug like a life preserver. “You got more of that?”
“In the kitchen.” On autopilot, Jayda stepped around the couch and through the dining area to the kitchen nook. Only the ticking of Lady’s nails on the wood floor followed her. She hoped Cole was also there.
The smell of burned coffee assaulted her nose. “It’s old. Let me make some more.” With shaky hands, she reached for the pot, the decanter bumping several times against the machine.
“Don’t.” Cole came up behind Jayda, his hand covering hers, and he guided the coffeepot back into place and snapped it off. The solid planes of his body were warm against her back. Jayda leaned against him, wanting nothing more than to fall under his spell again.
He turned her to face him, and she looked up into the compassion filling his eyes.
She touched the bruise on his cheek.
“Gift from the kids’ brawling last night. I forgot to duck.” Cole took her hand and kissed her fingertips. “It’s going to be all right,” he said.
“Is it? Is a person ever the same after finding a human being slaughtered?” The tears she’d held at bay trailed rivulets down her cheeks.
Cole sandwiched her face in his hands and wiped the tears with his thumbs. When he bent close, she closed her eyes, anticipating the softness of his lips on hers. He didn’t disappoint. The heat of his mouth seared through her, and she opened to him, inviting his tongue to delve in to taste and explore. He tasted of fresh mountain air and something uniquely his. And it was there again–flowing over her with the power of a tidal wave–the feeling of being swaddled by the quintessence of Cole. It wasn’t just the heat of his arms around her, or the solid wall of him pressing against her from breastbone to knee, but the complete meshing of her life force with his. The thought was insane. Lust did not bond you to another.
She wanted him only because he was there and familiar and obviously willing to partake in another interlude if that’s what she wanted. Whatever Cole felt for her didn’t matter. All she wanted at the moment was to feel alive, and since men just didn’t turn down sex, she’d enjoy whatever Cole offered.
“This is wrong, to want you so badly, but I can’t help myself. Tell me to stop now, and I will.” His teeth nipped at the juncture of her neck and shoulder. “I’ll die a slow, agonizing death, but I’ll stop,” Cole whispered.
I love my “local” chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America) … despite the fact that they meet four hours from my home and refuse to change their meeting location for me. ;). No, seriously, without this wonderful group of writers I know the road to publication would have been filled with potholes of doubt and hairpin turns of confusion. They were there patiently teaching me about writing queries and synopses and submitting manuscripts. And when my first contract offers came in, they helped me sort through the confusion and make a decision. I really appreciate their support and guidance.
I enjoy my online chapters of RWA. I am able to be part of chapters that talk about the erotic romance industry and others that deal with the suspense market. There’s also a paranormal chapter which I haven’t joined, but it’s on my to-do list. These chapters are important to me.
I tolerate RWA national.
Why? Because I can’t belong to my local chapter or my online chapters without being a member of the national organization. But (through no fault of theirs) I don’t get anything from them, but a big fat bill once a year and a monthly magazine (that promptly goes in a stack in the odd chance someone will mention something I might want to read.) I don’t use their website or other resources. Not that they’re not out there … I just don’t need them at this point in my journey.
But now … now there’s all this upheaval about erotic romance and electronic books and the powers that be in the national organization accusing me of not having a career-oriented mindset because I pub books without receiving an advance. (Never mind the fact that a high majority of authors never earn out their advance and therefore never receive a royalty check on their sales.)
I had been considering dropping my membership. But then an agent at the convention this past weekend mentioned that they really look at whether someone is a member of writing organizations to gauge how serious the author is about their career. Now, RWA was mentioned specifically (because after all, it was a group of romance authors), but then other writing organizations were also mentioned. But it did bring me up short.
Writing is my career. I do take it seriously. Some day I’d like to be NY pubbed (one of the “big” guys) and I’d like to have an agent. I keep weighing this whole RWA membership and trying to decide if it’s worth my money. Perhaps things will change. With all the members lifting their voices it will be hard to ignore us all. I truly believe electronic books are the new wave. Big houses like Harlequin, Silhouette, and Kensington all have erotic lines. These aren’t going away. It just seems to me that RWA is going to have to stop ignoring the kid in the corner of the playground with our funny looking toys.
It’s an interesting place and it puts me in a quandary as I continue to look at all the pros and cons. I am curious how you feel about the whole RWA issue.
Today I’d like to welcome Darragha Foster to my blog. Darr is a fellow erotic author with Liquid Silver Books.
Darragha, tell us a little bit about you and how you got into writing.
I wrote my first book when I was nine years old. I submitted it to Random House. It was rejected with the nicest letter you could ever imagine. I was undaunted. Writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I don’t recall how I developed my great love of the written word, but I’m sure that my reading at a very young age contributed. I am almost 48 years old. I have a sexy school custodian husband, a gorgeous, strong-willed teenage daughter, an old miniature dachshund, a huge orange cat and a white horse. I don’t like folding my clothes and putting them away. I insist on having my own toothpaste that no-one else uses. My miniature doxie thinks I’m his bitch. He adores me. He sits on my side of the bed and barks at me until I lay down with him. I see a shape-shifter story in there somewhere…
I know you’re very prolific, would you please tell us about your books.
I write shape-shifter romances with a twist. Or a fin. I am the author of “The Orca King,” after all. Quick run down:
Love’s Second Sight
Viking Age romance. Based on fact! And tid-bit: just about everything the heroine experiences, I experienced. I like my research!
The Orca King
The original whale-shifter, hot Native American shaman who can bring on erotic vision quests (which get him into some hot water in the sequel). Who says true love waits? True love makes waves!
Cold, Hard Kash
A cursed cowboy incubus looking for love and destined to never find it. Then he hooks up with a dominatrix whose nickname is “Rage.” Can anyone say “ouch?”
Teaching Old Gods New Tricks
Including: Devil King of the Sixth Heaven, Death Warmed Over, Devil’s Food Kate
This is a 3-part story about the deposed and dethroned Norse gods making their way in human society. This is a naughty, fun book.
A Witch in Time (witchcraft anthology)
My story is “Spell-Crafted for Pleasure” and involves a woman who buys and sells antique erotica and spell-casting supplies. She picks up a Viking-Age whale bone dildo for a song and finds out that the spirits trapped in the bone are ready to do a little number for her.
Of Flesh and Blood (vampire anthology)
My tale is: “Polishing Saber.” Saber is a black woman living and working in the pristine, very blonde country of Iceland. She finds out that the pristine-nature of the country is being jeopardized by her own invention and discovers that the way to save Iceland’s wilderness may just lie within the arms of one of its very blonde, ancient protectors.
I love this book. I love the story. I love the cover. I wish my name was Vesper. Mooncusser Cove is the story of a land pirate’s daughter cursed with a form of vampirism, the handyman she hires to help her (in oh, so many ways), and the villagers who want to burn her and her beach mansion to ashes.
The Orca King, II
I broke every rule of romance with this novel. Big Tom (the Orca King, himself), is suffering from the effects of too much lovin’. Who knew leading women on needless erotic vision quests could cause problems later? With the help of Tom’s new friend, Devon de la Cruz, he steps out of the fog of his misdeeds, and out of the closet. This is my first full m/m romance and it is lovely. Lovely, loving and way outside the box.
With my story “Tail Over Whiskers” in “Half-Were House” a were-shifter anthology written with Mima and Celia Kyle. “Tail Over Whiskers” involves Blaze Angora, a woman who can partially shift into a house-cat and a man named Jack Hawk, to whom she is inadvertently scent-matched. Only problem is, he’s a dog. Literally. (NOTE: This book is being released TODAY! Boo-Yah!)
I’ve also got a submission out to a new publisher for me, called “Her Personal Trainer,” the tale of a woman, her treadmill and the genie of the treadmill. Who knew exercise could be so much fun?
I’m writing all the time, too. Lots of wicked fun stuff coming up.
I know you write a little on the outside. Could you tell us where your ideas come from?
You just gave me an idea! That’s where my stories come from. Everywhere. Example: I was watching a stable hand break a horse named Bear. Breaking Bear. Hmmmm….a “bear” is a gay man with lots of body hair. “Breaking” could mean, well…”breaking in.” So, I’ve outlined a story about two men working at a horse ranch. One convinces the other that it’s okay to love who you love and thus the breaking of Bear (one of the men) happens. On the mounting block. Oh! That’s another outlined story. “The Mounting Block.” You use a mounting block to get up on a horse. You could use it for other things, too. Then there’s “Sinking into the Bit,” a story of a high-strung stable owner who learns to relax a little. She learns to sink into the bit. It’s pretty obvious that my daughter is a horsewoman, huh? I’ve spent lots of time in the car, with my laptop, watching her ride. Let me be a proud mother:
When you’re sick in bed what’s your comfort movie?
The Ten Commandments or maybe Ben Hur. No kidding. Yul Brenner and Charleton Heston when they were both firm young flesh…Mama!
Describe your writing space. Do you move around or always write in the same place?
I write in my messy home office with Lyle nudging my ankles for attention. (Lyle is my dog).
I write in the staff lounge on my lunch break during my day job duties. I have a tiny laptop I take to work every day. Can’t use school equipment to write smut, after all! (I’m a shape-shifter. By day I am a school secretary. By night I am a romance novelist.)
And I write in the car while my daughter mucks, grooms, rides, etc. Sometimes I write in the barn or at a bench if the weather is nice at the stable.
Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or pantzer? Do you have comfort drinks or snack foods? Any favorite music you play while writing?
I am both a plotter and a pantster. I weave my ideas onto the computer and then just start writing like mad to see where stuff lands. Sometimes it suffers the agony of delete, sometimes it’s damn good! I drink tea and coffee. I always have a water bottle with me. I don’t snack. I have a lap-band and snacking is bad. I have lost over 60lbs, however! (The woman is melting down to nothing, she looks mighty fine … trust me on that one.)
If we asked your friends to name 3 personality traits about you, what do you think they would say?
What happened to the first novel you ever wrote?
It’s in a box in the attic along with the rejection letter from Random House.
Do you think these pants make my butt look big?
No, darling. I think your fleshy butt makes the pants look fabulous. (I knew pink striped spandex was perfect for me!)
The editing process is an important aspect of writing. Do you have a routine you follow when going through it?
I read my first drafts aloud. Oh, the mistakes you catch when you read things out loud! Then I “fill In the blanks” (add plot where plot is needed). Then I bleed a chicken in a pentagram and pray for the best.
You have a fulltime job. How do you fit writing into your busy schedule?
I write at 5am. I write at 1pm. I write when I get home from work after I feed the family dinner. I LOVE having DVR, because I can record TV shows I want to see and catch up watching them early, early Saturday or Sunday mornings. Like LOST. Love it. I write in the car while “waiting” for the kid. I write in my head while on the phone with parents wanting to get messages to their kids. I write in my head while the principal is stressing over the budget cuts. I write in my head while waiting in line at Trader Joe’s. I definitely write while paying the bills or cleaning the tub.
A hot soak in the tub or a smokin’ BBQ with friends?
Darragha likes baby back ribs. I’d say family gathering at the Foster farm with ribs and Caesar salad.
Tell us where we can find you when you’re not hanging out here checking out my cabana crew …
I have a Facebook! I love Facebook. I’m not so big on MySpace, but you can also visit me there. I run contests all the time. Check out my blog and my Facebook for more info!
I make video trailers under the guise of “Chocolate Covered Promotions.” I charge way less than anyone else-only $20.00. I’m also a gifted psychic and have been giving readings for over 30 years. I charge $5.00 per question. You can find out more about my readings by visiting my website. I have a ton of videos up on YouTube, too. Need one? Just ask!
Darragha would love to hear from you. Go on ask her some questions while Darr does a couple of tarot readings, at least that’s what she told me she was doing when she went into the pool house with a couple of the cabana boys and closed the curtains. Perhaps she’s just doing some writing. Maybe it’s just research … yeah, probably research.
So this week is all about shameless promotion. Here are thirteen reasons I believe you should run right out and buy my latest release, Blind Love.
1. It has LOTS of hot sex in it!
2. This is the first story in a three book erotic suspense series, but each story stands alone, so you’re not left twisting in the wind until the next book comes out this summer. (Though there is a thread that runs through all of them and I certainly hope you’ll want all of them.)
3. The heroine, Julie Tilling is an uptight CPA who discovers her inner vixen and lets her come out to play. (And we all love that naughty girl inside us! *Spank that naughty girl … spank her!* Oh, sorry … lost myself for a moment. Ah hem, where was I? Oh right…)
4. It’s all about three sisters who own a floral shop in a quaint little town in Maine. And who doesn’t love Maine?
5. It starts with a death and ends with another death. (Don’t you love a suspense story that leaves a string of bodies?)
6. Our hero, Damon Corey, also works as sexy shock jock, Demon Jones. He’s hot, he’s naughty … and he’s single. (Did I mention he drives a Harley? Now, that’s power between your thighs!)
7. Julie and Damon dabble on the fringes of internet pornography. (Maine can be a naughty place.)
8. There’s hot sex. (Did I mention that? Oh, well, it bears repeating!)
9. It’s an ebook. Same in-depth story for a low price. AND it saves trees! You can buy it at Liquid Silver Books.
10. There’s a great family and two sisters who will have their own stories.
11. Hot! Hot! Hot! Sex scenes. (oops, I know I mentioned that before, but they do it like bunnies.)
12. I’ll cry uncontrollably if you don’t buy my book. (Not moved by tears? … Bummer it works on my husband every time.)
13. No guide dogs were injured in the writing of Blind Love.