erotic romance

Cover Reveal for Bad Girls Do

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Guys, I’m so excited to finally be able to reveal the cover for Bad Girls Do, Book 3 in the Everly Brothers series!

Bad Girls Do Sml (1)

Bad girls have all the fun…

Trying to fit in with expectations has left Diane Milstrom lonely and dateless for yet another New Year’s Eve. After being forced to witness her ex proposing to the woman he dumped her for, she has one too many drinks and makes an uncharacteristically impulsive decision: she’s not going to be good anymore. It’s gotten her nothing but heartache, and besides, everyone knows bad girls have all the fun.

Sam Everly enjoys the lifestyle his family’s wealth provides, but he hates the trappings of society that come with it. If he has to attend one more family function full of bored socialites, he just might lose it. Diane Milstrom, his eldest brother’s ex-girlfriend, is the worst of the lot…or so he always thought. But when he overhears her making a Bad Girl To-Do list, he starts to wonder if maybe there’s more to her than meets the eye. Curiosity gets the better of him, and he volunteers to help her with some of the more…ahem, explicit items on her list.

When Sam points out that being naughty with her ex’s brother is something only a bad girl would do, Diane can’t help but see his point. Besides, she could do worse than a little between-the-sheets action with a sexy guy who makes her heart beat in ways his brother never could. It’s only supposed to be a fling, a way to help her stretch her bad girl wings. But the more items they cross off her list, the higher the stakes become. Because if they aren’t careful, she just might fall in love…and that’s one thing a bad girl should never do.

The book releases on February 2nd, and it’s available for pre-order now at Amazon! Just CLICK HERE!

Good Girls Don’t is Now Available!

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Hey guys! I’m super-excited to announce the release of the second book in the Everly Brothers series,GOOD GIRLS DON’T!

Good girls don’t do one-night stands…
If there’s one thing Lyssa Rivera knows, it’s that good girls don’t do one-night stands. But it only takes a few hours in the company of sexy businessman, James Everly, to change her mind. All she wants is a night of sin with the man who’s admittedly way out of her league. Then she can go back to being painfully, boringly good.
James Everly doesn’t do relationships, not after the horrible example set by his parents. When he meets a luscious, irresistible woman at his favorite bar, he’s more than ready to show her a night of ecstasy, but that’s all it could ever be. He certainly never plans on seeing her again. Yet when he shows up at his meeting the next morning to woo a venture capitalist, he’s shocked to find his competition is the very woman whose bed he just left.
James knows he should stay away. He’s no good at long term, and that’s what a woman like Lyssa deserves. But as the two vie for the investor’s attention, he finds himself struggling to choose between the family business and the woman whose touch makes him burn with desire.

To celebrate, I’d like to share a little excerpt (fair warning, it gets a little steamy toward the end):

Lyssa lost track of time as she sat there. Finally, the doors to the front part of the office squeaked open and then closed.

“How’d it go?” she yelled through the open door of her private office.

The rough stride of footsteps sounded out along the wooden floor, and then a voice that was unmistakably not Nadia’s said, “How did what go?”

Lyssa gasped and shot out of her chair so fast she thought she might have given herself a case of whiplash.

“James!” No, she wasn’t just imagining his voice. He was here, in the flesh. The deliciously male flesh. “Wha-what are you doing here?”

He leaned against the doorway, somehow managing to suck up all the air in the room. His bright blue gaze took in the details of her small office. “Just thought I should check out the competition.”

His words made her cheeks grow hot. She knew her place was tiny, the location less than ideal, but it was cute and decorated with whatever accessories she’d been able to afford. And it was hers.

“I’m sure it’s nothing like your Manhattan empire,” Lyssa snapped.

When he nodded, her jaw tightened, but then he said, “No, it’s warm and inviting, not cold and clinical. My father always preferred steel and glass and contemporary designs, but that’s not exactly my taste. I much prefer the homier feel of your office.”

Oh. Her anger deflated.

She slowly sat back on her chair, grateful for the distance the desk put between her body and James’s hawkish gaze. “You seriously came all the way to Brooklyn just to check my office out? Why? You must know you’re going to win Martin’s investment.”

James let out a soft tsk and crossed the threshold. “You won’t get far with that attitude.”

Gritting her teeth, she forced herself to look him in the eye. “Come on, James, stop playing games with me.”

He shrugged and sat on the overstuffed mauve chair across from her desk. “What I said earlier was true. Martin generally invests in smaller local companies. It’s a matter of pride for him. When he started out, he was a one-man company and found it almost impossible to get others to invest in his dream. Now he searches out local talent with potential for growth.”

“Oh.” His words gave her hope. “Really?”

James eyed her appraisingly. “You should be very proud. If he’s taken an interest in you, it means you’re doing something right.”

His words sent an unexpected wave of pleasure through her. But then she thought of the other competition. “If that’s true, then Steve Peterson is a worthy adversary.”

He stared at her, nonplussed, and they both burst out laughing at the same time.

“Can’t expect him to get it right every time,” James quipped, but then he sobered. “In all seriousness, Steve’s company has seen a lot of growth over the past years, so I can understand why Martin would hear him out.”

Lyssa cocked a brow. “You’ve been doing your research.”

He gave her a slow nod. “That’s how I know your company is poised to explode sometime in the next few years, even without a cash influx from an investor.”

If only she could afford to wait that long.

“Martin is unnecessary,” James continued. “Especially considering he’ll take a percentage of ownership in exchange for his funds.”

Since confessing her family troubles to him was the last thing she planned to do, she forced a pleasant expression onto her face and rose to stalk toward the door. “I certainly appreciate the business advice, but you’ll understand if I rely on my own instincts when deciding what to do with my firm.”

When she motioned toward the exit, James took her not so subtle hint. He stood and adjusted the lapels on his jacket and, with a polite smile, headed toward the door. But he veered before crossing the threshold, heading instead toward her.

Whoa.

She backpedaled at the look of serious intent on his face. Her back hit a hard surface, and an instant later, his hands braced the wall on either side of her, effectively trapping her in.

“What are you—”

His head lowered to her ear. “I can’t stop thinking about last night.”

A rush of heat flooded her body.

“The feel of your skin,” he murmured, his hot breath kissing her ear. “Your mouthwatering taste.”

Her chest heaved at the imagery his words elicited. His arousing, masculine scent enveloped her, all but hijacking her senses. That must be why she just stood there, resting her head back against the wall, when she should be pushing him away.

“You can’t stop thinking about it either, can you?”

She summoned the courage to lift her hands to his chest. But instead of pushing him away, they just rested there, drinking in his heat. Traitorous hands.

“Stop,” she whispered.

Instead of obeying, he pressed a soft kiss to the pulse beating in her neck. His right hand moved off the wall and slid down the side of her body. She might as well have been naked. His molten touch seared through the thin fabric of her suit.

“James,” she pleaded. Her body refused to obey her commands. Instead of shoving him back, her fingers dug into his chest through his shirt.

“When I was inside you, all I could think about was how amazing you felt.” His hand trailed down to the hem of her skirt and then he was sliding the tight fabric upward, stopping only when it was high enough to reveal her black satin panties. “Like liquid fire, burning me up from the inside.”

Lyssa whimpered when his fingers stroked her through her underwear.

“Remember that, baby?” He nipped at her ear. “How it felt to have me inside you?”

How could she not, especially when her body was still sore from their lovemaking?

Two of his fingers slid beneath the scrap of satin and he let out a rough groan. His hips pressed into her side, giving her a hint of how hard he was beneath his suit.

“You were so wet,” he murmured, the pads of his fingers sliding along her moist folds. “Just like you are now.”

He was right. All it took was a few words about last night and she was dripping with desire for him.

Want more? Order your copy of Good Girls Don’t now!

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Successful Secrets of Slim People by Cathleen Ross

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Just in time for the post-holidays, guest author Cathleen Ross is here to talk about secrets of the slim…and her latest release, Highlander!

My New Year’s resolution is the same each year: To lose weight not to put it on.

The older I become, the more I write and the bigger I grow – out not up. Last year I decided I needed to do something about it, so I went away with two slim friends instead of my chocolate-loving writer buddies and observed the differences in their living habits.

How did my non-writer girlfriends stay slim year after year? What did they live on? Could I develop some of their successful habits?

Breakfast consisted of one piece of toast or yoghurt and berries

Morning tea –  a coffee with skinny milk and no sugar

Lunch – a salad and a serving of protein, one piece of fruit. Sometimes my friends used wrap bread and stuffed it with salad and a protein.

Dinner – steamed vegetables and a serving of protein

One thing I noticed is that my thin friends didn’t snack. Except for the coffee, I never saw them put anything else in their mouths between meals. So I thought I would try this to see if I could lose weight. The most difficult thing for me was cutting down the carbs, especially my midday sandwich. I had to be prepared to make a salad everyday and it had to different enough so that I didn’t get bored.

For the first three weeks I didn’t lose a thing even though I stuck to the diet religiously, then slowly I started to see change. It wasn’t much change – only a pound a week. For the first month I was so hungry, I needed to eat a cup of good quality yogurt before my lunch, otherwise I couldn’t concentrate on my writing the rest of the afternoon. After several months, I didn’t get hungry anymore between meals and could manage not to snack.

The amount of food consumption wasn’t the only difference I noticed between my slim non-writer friends and my chocolate-loving writer buddies.

My slim friends moved at every opportunity. I’m no slouch, I like exercise and walk several times a week, but these women walked every morning and every afternoon. They sought opportunities to move in the way I sought opportunities to write.

What is the one thing we writers have in common? Persistence. It takes hours to write a novel and writers can’t do it moving, consequently we’re not burning calories. However, if I was going to emulate my slim buddies, I needed to channel that persistence and book myself into some no-excuses exercise. I lined up several girlfriends to walk with me every week so I couldn’t bury myself in emails and not bother with the walk, plus I booked and prepaid for a semester of exercise classes.

It took me six months to lose twelve pounds but I did achieve my resolution.

What is your New Year’s resolution?

About the Author:

Cathleen Ross is a writer of erotic romance. She is published with Harlequin and Random House. She is also self-publishing a series of Forbidden Fantasies. Visit her at http://www.cathleenross.com

More About Cathleen’s Books:

Highlander (Forbidden Fantasy)

Highlander is the second of the Forbidden Fantasy stories by best-selling erotic writer, Cathleen Ross. It is a 10,000 word erotic romance set in Scotland. When Sir James Bruce conquers enemy territory, his reward is the hand of beautiful virgin, Lady Isobel McLaird. Although Isobel has no intention of marrying Sir James, he is determined to change her mind by taming her to his touch. Only James has the power to save her imprisoned brother and the stubborn tenacity to win her heart.

Excerpt: 

Lady Isobel McLaird spun on her heels at the thunderous noise of metal and hooves approaching the marketplace. Her maid, peasants and livestock scattered as the phalanx of knights drew to a halt, but Isobel stood her ground. At their head was Sir James Bruce, the man who’d once held her and made her yearn for his caresses. Now she hated him. With her heart in her throat, she gathered her skirts to confront him.

“Murderer!” she shouted.

Sir James’s enormous black steed reared at the sound of her sharp cry. Hooves flailed near her head as the fearsome knight fought to keep in his horse in check.

Fear chilled her blood and she stepped back.

After climbing down from his horse and throwing the reins to his page, Sir James took off his helm revealing dark blue eyes, which fixed upon her.

“You’re as beautiful and foolish as you were on the riverbank three years ago, Isobel McLaird.”

When he pushed back his chain mail, she saw his raven hair was cropped shoulder length and his lips were as sensual as ever under his noble nose.

Wet from the river, her shift sticking to her skin, he’d held her. She’d turned her lips up to his to be kissed.

“I was foolish not to have reported your trespass on my father’s lands three years ago. You’re a traitor to King John Balliol and my brother’s murderer.”

He strode towards her, his hand on the hilt of his sword.

Fear rooted her feet to the damp earth of the marketplace. Though the rain had passed and the sun shone, for her, everyday was gloomy because of this knight.

“Have you not noticed that you’ve not an army to defend you now?” A half smile formed on his lips.

“You jest about my people’s destruction, brave men all, led by my brother. Your cruelty does you no merit, Sir.” Tears pricked the corners of her eyes. David and his men would have gone down fighting the stronger Bruce army until the end, determined to give everything for the cause of John Balliol, the true king.

At her accusation, the smile slipped from his face and his eyes held sympathy. “It is a bad day for Scotland when Scotsmen spill the blood of their own. I’ve news for you, my lady, but it comes at a cost. Your brother lives.”

“What?” For a moment, Isobel thought the ground had shifted under her feet. Owen, David’s best friend had seen her brother killed by this knight’s very hand.

“You play with me, Sir.”

“Nay, my lady. I do not jest about a cause so dear to your heart. Take this proof of my words.” He took a piece of parchment from his page and handed it to her.

A buzz of voices swarmed as the villagers gathered around her but Isobel paid them no heed. With trembling fingers she saw the parchment contained her brother’s fine hand.

Her gaze flicked up to meet Sir James’s. “David says the Bruce will no accept ransom.”

“Aye, my cousin, the king will brook no opposition to his claim and your brother is a formidable knight. I warrant my cousin will keep him prisoner. And now I’ll take my price for giving the message.”

Isobel reached for the purse that hung at her waist.

Sir James stepped forward, wrapped his arms around her and lifted her off the ground. “Would that I had done this those three years ago by the river. I can’t get you out of my mind.”

She opened her lips to protest, but he planted his mouth hard on hers.

Surprise, hotly followed by indignation rose within her. She slapped her hands on his chest and kicked with her feet, but her toes met body armor. A sharp pain zinged through her foot and she opened her lips further to cry out. The knight taking full advantage, put his lips to hers, moving them in a rhythm. His action was bold.  Her blood pumped wildly and sensations she had no name for, rushed through her.

Though she dug her nails into his clothing, the mail he wore under his surcoat resisted her damage. Soon though, her hands stilled as sparks of pleasure shot through her. A sigh left her lips, soft with need.

The knight, perhaps sensing her acquiescence, touched her tongue with his. Isobel jerked back, but he followed the movement of her head, refusing to break his kiss. The impropriety shocked her to the core and yet the repeated gliding sensation of his tongue sent tingles down her spine and the feel of his hot lips on hers drugged her to his wishes.

Pinned to his body by his powerful arms, she was helpless, lost as excitement raced throughout her that was better than riding her horse unbridled and wild.

One of his hands slid under her veil and fisted her hair. The sharp pull of it along with his lips, hot and sensuous, demanded more from her. Seized with an unquenchable fire, she let go, closed her eyes, lost in the new sensations.

Tentatively, she followed the movement of his tongue taking pleasure in the most intimate sensation she’d ever savored. He tasted of ale and virile male. Her nipples tightened under her gown and though the weather was inclement, she thought she was melting.

She’d never experienced anything like this. No man had ever kissed her. His face, though shaven, was still in need of a razor. The barbs on his jaw grazed her cheek and though the soft skin surrounding her lips chaffed, the sensation sent heady bubbles through her blood as if she had sipped on too much of her father’s wine.

“My lady!” her maid screamed.

Aware of her maid’s high-pitched voice and the hum of the villagers witnessing this improper act, Isobel twisted and turned though she thought her hair would rip from her scalp.

“Release me, Sir.”

When he released her hair, she pushed back on his chest with the flat of her hands, aware of his glittering eyes. He did as she asked however, slowly lowering her, but after he placed her on her feet, she noticed his chest rose and fell. The skin on his neck had darkened with blood and she sensed he barely held himself in check.

“What manner of payment is this?” she asked.

“I have no use for your coin, Isobel, but this,” he touched his finger to her lips, “is worth more than any gold.”

http://www.amazon.com/Highlander-Forbidden-Fantasy-ebook/dp/tags-on-product/B005L388OG

Also by Cathleen:

The Lover (Forbidden Fantasy)

http://www.amazon.com/The-Lover-Forbidden-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B005XMPWSU/

The Ice Princess (Forbidden Fantasy)

http://www.amazon.com/Ice-Princess-Forbidden-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B006JP45OM

I’m Being Interviewed

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I’m being interviewed over at Rai 29 Book Read N Review, and I’m talking about everything from my favorite books to my upcoming releases, plus showing off the cover for my January release, Heart of the Incubus. 

Please stop by if you can!

Dominated by Desire by Barbara Bradley

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Hi everyone. Today I have special guest Barbara Bradley here, talking about her release, Dominated by Desire:

I sit at my computer every day and write as fast as my little hunt and peck method will allow when it comes to the series I’m working on but when I’m asked to blog all the sudden I can’t think of what to write. When I ask what I should write about I’m always told I can talk about almost anything I want.

Should I talk about how crazy other drivers make me? I do a lot of driving in my day job and watch the antics of other drivers almost every day. It sure would make me feel better to rant about them because they seem to be so oblivious to their surroundings but then I chastise myself. That isn’t about writing and I’m a writer for crying out loud. I should share the wealth so to speak. So I continue to search for a subject. hmmmm

What have I learned as a writer and what are readers looking for? Now there is a question.

When I write I write to escape because when I read I read to escape. I think most of us do. A book with a good plot, one that keeps me on the edge of my seat is something I always search for. I love heroes and heroines who are human and can laugh at themselves.

Now what about those wonderfully deep and dark stories? I’ve read some great ones that make me cry but when I’m writing I find I can’t write that dark. Believe me I have tried. My writing muse, though, wants to have fun with the work in progress and she is very hard to control.

So this is what I have learned. If you want one of those deep angsty type of books you won’t find it with me. My heroes aren’t dark or have a past that haunts them. There’s humor in my everyday life. I can’t walk away from it. I’m a goofy person – just ask anyone who has met me – and I learned to live with that a long time ago. I will find the only hole in the ground and will fall into it or trip over it. Ooh, and I can kill screen doors. Ask my sister. She’ll tell you all about it.

My husband is goofy too. Do you know when we were dating he tried to impress me by telling me how he broke the quarter mile running record at his middle school by stepping on his finger before the race started? Really? That was supposed to impress me? But that is what makes him perfect for me. And he’s done a lot of other silly things throughout our marriage to keep me laughing.

They say write what you know and I know goofy. Even when I try to write a serious scene I find the humor in my life keeps creeping into my stories. When I first started writing I had a wonderful critique group and they were working on a scene I was very proud of. One of the ladies started to laugh. I had to ask what was so funny. It was supposed to be a serious scene. They informed me it was the way I had my heroine reacting to what was happening around her that had them chuckling. What I had done was put myself in my heroine’s shoes and thought about how I would react to the same situation. I put my goofy self in my character’s head and the scene came out funny. That was when I learned I had a knack for comedy. It shows up in my writing naturally. I’ve also learned that having a natural humor in your writing is something rare.

So why fight it?

I had an opportunity to write a short story for a house and I decided to try an experiment to see if I could write a comical story on purpose. So I came up with a klutzy woman and a man who couldn’t walk on land very well. He was a merman so having feet was new to him. My biggest fear was how it would come across – would she just look stupid? Would he not be a strong enough hero? The response to the story was astounding. My readers told me they loved my characters. They were real and lovable. The reviews on the story were wonderful. I was tickled to learn that I can right humor on purpose. I found something that works for me and I’m going to stick with it. If you’re curious it’s called A Fish Out of Water and is in my Love is … anthology through Melange books. There are several of my cute little stories in that set of works.

Do I right funny books all the time? Nope. At least not on purpose. I like books with strong plots and have a tendency to write that type of book but the humor is always in them. That’s something I can’t help. My love of science fiction and fantasy has me writing in that vein. So I have them doing comical things on other planets.

So if you want to have a little escapism and a laugh or two I’m your girl. Light hearted, fun stories is my style and that makes me happy.

Writing for Barbara Donlon Bradley  started innocently enough, like most she kept diaries, journals, and wrote an occasional letter but she also had a vivid imagination and wrote scenes and short stories adding characters to her favorite shows and comic books. As time went on she found the passion for writing to be a strong drive for her. Humor is also very strong in her life. No matter how hard she tries to write something deep and dark, it will never happen. That humor bleeds into her writing. Since she can’t beat it she has learned to use it to her advantage. Now she lives in Tidewater Virginia with two cats, one mother in law – she’s 84 now, her husband and teenage son.

Newest release!

Dominated By Desire

Publisher – Phaze

Tentative Release date 10/25/11

Blurb:

Heather can’t believe she is the only person on Earth that can protect Storm, the ambassador from Vespia. It has something to do with some pheromone the Vespian male exudes. Although everyone tells her she is immune she doesn’t agree. There is something about the man that makes her desire skyrocket whenever she is around him.

Storm finds the Heather fascinating, bright violet eyes that hold a world of emotions in them. He finds himself drawn to her, wanting her with a depth he never experienced before. When she becomes the focal point of several kidnapping attempts he realizes she’s going to need his protection, the perfect excuse to get to know her better.

Excerpt:

UNEDITED PROOF

Chapter 1

Heather stood next to her commander, going over everything she had learned about the Vespian society so far. He wanted to be sure she was ready for her next assignment. She found the idea of guarding the ambassador a bit boring but she’d done it before and it shouldn’t be a long one. The man was only to be on Earth for a short period of time.

Her first glimpse of the Vespian ambassador caught her off guard. She wasn’t sure what she expected but it wasn’t seeing him coming in like some sort of rockstar. Shirt missing, exposing tight, well worked abs, along with well muscled shoulders and arms. He was the stuff of most women’s wet dreams and he dressed the part.

“That is the ambassador?” she couldn’t keep the shock out of her voice. His jet black hair had a bit of a blue shine to it and he kept running his fingers through it like he wanted to draw attention to it.

“I know it isn’t what you expect but he is doing this for charity.” He commander’s voice was laced with a touch of laughter. “From what I hear he was talked into this. They wanted him to be one of the dates for this auction but he refused.”

All she could do was stare. The women surrounding him were practically throwing themselves at him. Reaching to touch whatever they could. Giggles and groans filled the air as hands made contact with his muscled arms and legs.

How was she going to work with him now that she had seen this? She wasn’t sure if she could work with him with this flashing in her mind all the time.

Those women who were able to touch him tried to pull him toward them but luckily he had anchored himself well plus had plenty of protection to keep them at bay. She was sure he reveled in the attention. He had a smile that could melt a polar ice cap.

“If it’s all right with you, sir, I’ll wait for this to end elsewhere.” She didn’t really want to see anymore. If she was to treat him with any kind of professionalism it would be smart for her to find another place to wait inside the embassy.

“That’s fine. This shouldn’t take very long.”

Heather turned around and climbed the steps to the large double doors. Her title of ice princess fit her well at this moment. Where most women would enjoy watching this display but it just made her uncomfortable.

Not being able to stop herself she turned one last time to watch the spectacle and found him staring right at her. Everything disappeared during that moment. Nothing else existed but the two of them connecting through the throng of the crowd. The moment she realized she was starting to attract attention she broke eye contact and walked into the building.

What had just happened?

Her heart beat hard in her chest. No one ever affected her. That was one of the reasons she was brought in. Where all the other women had ended up sleeping with the man she’d be immune.

She needed something to calm herself down.

Meditation normally worked for her but she needed someplace quite and empty. As she looked she found just about every room occupied. She nodded and smiled as she entered and then left different rooms.

It took a few minutes but she did find a quiet corridor. All she needed was a small alcove and a few minutes. She heard footsteps and sighed. Not this time. She turned back to find herself face to face with the ambassador.

Being this close to him set her body on fire. His gaze trapped her. Heating her from the inside out. Training kept her from crumbling at his feet.

“Sorry, mistress, but this is the ambassador’s wing. No one is allowed down it but him and his most trusted guards.”

She found herself drowning in his eyes. They were a golden tone with a deep amber ring around the edge. She had never seen anything like it.

Tearing her gaze from his, she blinked a couple times before she could focus on the man who spoke to her. “I am sorry. Guess I got a little lost.”

“Of course.” The man bowed to her. “One of these men will take you to your room.”

“Thank you.” She steadied herself and followed the man down the hall. It took every ounce of will power to not turn around to look at him again.

****

“And who is that?” Storm found the petite woman intriguing. She had such expressive eyes.

“She has been assigned to help you with the treaty.”

“Really?” He looked over his shoulder to watch her turn the corner. “I thought this race decided I was too difficult to work with. Their women can’t fight the pheromones I exude and the men all want to kill me. Didn’t they say there was no one able to do this?”

“Yes sir, but she’s been tested against your pheromones and fared better than anyone else. Plus she has security training to protect you and their humans. You know these humans have wanted one of their own with you from the beginning. It was a compromise that the elders approved.”

“That little thing is going to protect me?” If the elders approved he wouldn’t fight it but he couldn’t see it. Besides, it would be interesting to see if she could do her job as well as they say.

“She comes highly recommended. One of the planet’s best.”

“We shall see.”

****

Heather dressed for the formal meal. She checked her uniform in the mirror to make sure everything was in place. This assignment would isolate her from everyone she knew. Normally she would welcome it, but she feared she wouldn’t fare any better than those who had tried before her. The one thing she had been able to do before this meal was meditate. It had helped. She had been able to center herself and regain composure. She should be able to face the ambassador with poise now.

One more adjustment and she headed to the main hall where the meal would take place. She entered the doors and took in her surroundings.

The dining hall bustled with waiters and servers greeting people and taking them to their proper seats. Taking a few calming breaths, she stepped into the room and waited her turn. It didn’t take too long before she sat next to her commander.

“You sure I’m right for the job?” After her reaction to the ambassador earlier she didn’t feel as confident as they had seemed.

“Yes. You passed all the tests, and you are the best in security. He emits some sort of natural pheromone that makes people either throw themselves at him or passionately hate him. You showed you were immune to it so that makes you the perfect candidate.”

She sure didn’t feel like she was immune.

The room quieted as they prepared to introduce the ambassador to the crowd. Women sighed and tried to leave their seats to get closer to him. Men either had a big dopey grin or looked like they could kill him.

“This is what I need to protect him from? Just keep him locked up.” She kept her voice soft as she leaned toward her boss.

“That’s why you’re perfect for this.” His voice just as soft. “You see the big picture. You know we can’t lock him up but understand he needs to be kept from other people. It’s just too dangerous to have him wander around.”

“Yes, sir.” She felt the ambassador’s gaze on her. And as much as she wanted to melt at his feet like the rest of the women she was better than that. Using all her training she schooled her features and looked back. She had a job to do and nothing would deter her.

He gave her a smile that melted any resolve she had. There was no way she would be able to do this job. Time to get out before she got into trouble. “Sir, I’m not sure about this.”

“I understand. He’s got a personality that pushes the best of us.”

“You don’t seem to be affected.”

“I’m under sedation.” He showed her a small patch resting on his wrist under his jacket. “Everyone at this table is, except for you. You are our only hope if we want to be allies with this planet.”

If she felt something from being in the same room with him and she wasn’t being sedated just how bad was it for everyone else? She watched as the ambassador took his seat. A loud gong sounded and the waiters started to deliver their food. The appetizers arrived first.”I don’t see how I am the only person for the job. There has to be someone else.”

“Lieutenant, you can argue with me all you want. I didn’t make this decision. You’ve been assigned. End of discussion.”

“Sorry, sir.” She took a couple bites. “It’s just I’m not sure I’m as immune as everyone thinks.”

“You’ll be fine.” He picked up the glass in front of him and downed it. Heather noticed the sheen of sweat on his brow. Even medicated he was having problems. “You’re feeling the affect of the pheromone. Nothing like everyone else in this room, but we knew you’d feel it a little. And every Vespian has it. It’s part of the race. That’s why we can’t go there and they picked one of their men they felt wouldn’t cause a war. His pheromones don’t have the strength that other visitors from their planet have had.”

“Why do we want them as allies?” She knew the answer but the mineral they have to offer seemed insignificant in the face of the problems they had to deal with just gaining them as allies.

“You know that mineral would allow us to end hunger here. They have more than they need and are willing to give it to us, but we have to prove ourselves.”

The appetizer was replaced with a salad.

“And I’m the one to do that? Are you sure they went through my record? I haven’t been the model soldier.”

“I know that, but you were the one chosen so you do your duty and help the planet.” He speared a piece of lettuce with his fork.

Dinner went by pretty quickly. She did notice the air circulation was working overtime. Keeping the room clean so emotions were kept at a decent level.

She was grateful she could speak to her commander so candidly. It allowed her to voice her concerns without making a fool of herself. So now she had to protect the man as well as figure out what the planet had to do to prove themselves. She should have read the fine print before she accepted this assignment.

Once the meal was done they were led to another room for dancing and mingling.

“It’s time for me to leave. You’ve already seen your room, right? Is there anything you need from me before I go?”

“Take me with you?” She half joked. “I’m not sure who my main contact is here. Normally we would have a meeting so I would know who I am to deal with. Why haven’t we done that?”

“Another concession. You will meet the people you will deal with tonight. So have fun but stay sharp. Alcohol probably intensifies the problem.” He took his coat from one of the servants and headed toward the door.

She turned to the ball room, scanning the area for anything out of the ordinary. As she started to do a second sweep she found her view blocked by a broad pair of shoulders.

“Care to dance?”

What a wonderfully deep voice. She looked up to find the ambassador standing in front of her. Much taller than the average human, he towered above her.

How did he do that? He was across the room only seconds ago. She did her best to ignore him. “I should be watching the crowd, ambassador.”

“True, but dancing will allow you to study the whole group without looking like you’re doing some sort of study.” He stood beside and started to look around with her.

She knew her job better than that and knew she wasn’t looking obvious until he joined her. “No one noticed me until you came over here.”

He smiled at her slight rebuff. Offering her his hand, he didn’t give her a chance to say no again. Heather placed her hand in his, hoping this wouldn’t be a mistake on her part.

His heat penetrated and warmed her blood. If she was immune she felt for the women who weren’t. Every time he looked at her or touched her she felt it to her toes. Her body hummed at his close proximity. How was she going to do her job?

She needed to clear her mind. One calming breath and she turned her focus from the man who held her in his arms to their surroundings and the people who seemed hyper-focused on him.

One woman caught her attention. She kept lifting her head to see him. She was able to slip from her partner and was headed right for them.

“Um, we need to move. Let me lead.” She took control of their steps, maneuvering them out of the way. It didn’t take long before the woman was gathered and pulled out of danger.

“You have sharp eyes.”

“Thanks.” She saw a flash of silver. “Duck.”

He dipped her deep. Pressing their bodies together. She could feel the hardness of his thighs against hers. The angle he held her at allowed her to feel his member at her apex. It sent sparks of desire through her. Something she didn’t expect.

She watched a small dagger fly close but over their bodies. He reached his hand up and stopped the blade in midflight. With a slight flourish he tucked it into her jacket pocket.

His employees went to work subduing the man who threw it and led him out of the room like it was all in a day’s work. Her partner seemed to enjoy their intimacy because he hadn’t straightened yet.

“Do you mind?” She tried to act indignant, but it was taking all her energy to keep her wits about her.

He straightened, taking her with him. “Just wanted to be sure the danger had passed.”

She doubted that but remained silent. Her body screamed when it wasn’t near his. Instinct was to snuggle up to him, to feel his warmth once again. It took all her willpower to keep her feet moving.

She could do this. All she had to do was focus and not on him. She picked a safe location to bring her calm back to center. A couple of deep breaths and she felt in control once again.

“You okay?”

“I’m fine, ambassador.” She looked up at him, working hard on keeping her emotions under control.

“Don’t call me that.” A frown creased his handsome face as he moved her with the music.

“What?” Those damn eyes got the best of her. So clear and sharp, she wanted to stare into them for hours.

“Ambassador.”

“Sorry, but we never had meeting remember?” She didn’t mean to sound snippy but she couldn’t keep it out of her voice. “No one happened to mention your name in passing.”

“Ah, well that makes sense. My name is too hard for most humans to pronounce.”

Then why was he giving her such a hard time?

“But I have picked a humanoid name, one that I believe fits me.” He smiled at her. “Call me Storm.”

“Yes, sir.”

“No sir, either, not from you.”

“Okay, Storm.” She wasn’t sure what to think. Why would he care what she called him? They barely knew each other. “Can we take a break? I’m starting to get evil looks from the women fawning all over you.”

“Of course.” He kept a hold of her hand, leading her to where his people stood. “This is Heather.”

They nodded. He didn’t need to say any more. They knew who she was. She had been hired to keep the man safe yet she didn’t know anyone in his entourage. How was she supposed to do her job without the proper information?

“You going to introduce me to everyone? Or I am supposed to guess as I work with each of them?” Somehow she had lost control of the situation.

“Watching you guess might be fun.” He grinned as he wrapped an arm around her to make the proper introductions. Not one name could she repeat.

Why did he feel a need to touch her when it seemed that the women nearby were becoming jealous of her? She could feel it building around them. Someone might have to protect her if he kept this up, but his grip was strong and she didn’t want to make a scene.

“Okay, since everyone seems to have those roll off the tongue names I’m going to have to come up with ones I can say and remember.” She received nods but at least no one seemed to be upset with her. She felt like she was babbling. “They’ll come as I get to know you.”

An older man brought them drinks, bringing her attention back to Storm. She thanked the server as she took hers.

“Why did you thank him?” asked Storm.

“Because it’s the polite thing to do.” She wished she could move and put a little space between them but he still had his arm around her and she wasn’t real sure how to break his hold without seeming rude.

“But it’s his job.” His curiosity evident.

“True, but we all want to be told we’re doing a good job from time to time. Thanking him lets him know I appreciate what he does for a living.” She found it interesting that his question was so genuine.

“Interesting. Our people except their position and do their job without question.”

She scratched her head, wondering how to explain it better. It had to be something he was familiar with. A grin covered her face when she came up with the perfect subject. “When you are intimate with a woman do you show your appreciation or do you just expect her to understand because she was doing her job?”

“When I am intimate with a woman I always show my appreciation with my partner. I do that during the act.” He said it softly, his face very close to her ear.

Okay that was the wrong subject matter. She felt it all the way to her toes. Fear had her stepping away from him, breaking his hold on her. Being rude wasn’t part of her worry. Him being too close was.

It didn’t seem to faze him. Storm just stepped next to her and wrapped his arm around her once again. And that was the way the rest of the evening went. When she found an opportunity to move away from him he found away to come back into contact with her. Her whole being was in a heightened state of arousal. It took all her strength not to jump on him and beg him to have his way with her there with everyone watching.

When the evening finally came to an end she practically dashed to her room and headed straight for the shower. It was going to be long and cold and hopefully would cool her libido.

****

Storm sat on the couch in his suite contemplating the evening.

“You pushed her hard, sir. Why?”

“I’m not sure, Fridon.” He leaned forward as he spoke. “I don’t need protection and we know that, but for some reason the elders decided I needed to have it. Out of all the candidates they had they picked her. Why?”

“We’ve been raised to never question them, sir. You know that.” The young man got up and poured himself a glass of water. “Want some?”

“No. I need a clear head.” Water had an alcoholic effect on his race.

“So why did you push so hard?” Fridon sat across from Storm.

“I wanted to see what would happen if she was hit the full force of our pheromones. I knew it could have caused a little trouble but our air system would remove a lot of it as long as I didn’t walk through the crowd.”

“And what did you learn?” The elders assigned Fridon to keep an eye on Storm. For some reason they had a special interest in the human and him.

“That she is very strong. I could feel her desire yet she refused to act on it. A weaker woman wouldn’t have been able to resist.”

“You want her.” He said it matter-of-factly. Storm never turned down a bed partner and this was the first time he had walked away without one. Any of the women there tonight would have accommodated him.

“What?” He sat back. Was it that obvious? “No, but she has peeked my interest.”

“So she has passed your test?”

“Yes.”

“I wonder how she passed the elder’s one.”

He hadn’t thought about why they picked her. Now he had to worry about that. Sleep wasn’t going to come easy to him.

****

Heather found it difficult to sleep. Three cold showers later and she still hadn’t gotten her libido under control. She had thought about calling her commander and quitting, but ended up jumping back into the shower. Meditation had worked a little but not enough to relax her for sleep.

She paced her room, wondering what would work. Perhaps if she snuck down to the kitchen she could get a hot toddy of some sort to quiet her nerves and allow her to sleep. Her simple nightgown covered her well enough so she left the matching robe behind.

Barefoot, she tiptoed down the hall from her room to the central section of the house. Most of the help had gone to bed so she shouldn’t run into anyone along the way. As she turned another corner she heard a faint noise. Her sixth sense kicked in and told her something was wrong. She needed a place to hide until whatever she sensed had gone passed and she could follow them. A small alcove beckoned and she slipped inside. Steel strong arms wrapped around her waist as a large hand covered her mouth.

No one could ever hold her. She proceeded to fight whoever had her and found herself flipped around and staring into the golden eyes of Storm. What was he doing here?

He dragged her into a small door in the alcove and pushed it gently closed. The confined space intensified the feelings she had been trying to banish. Her nipples got hard just because he held her.

Storm slid one of his legs between hers, pulling her up onto it so they could see eye to eye. The gown she wore rose up with her giving her no protection against the soft cloth she now rested against. She opened her mouth to protest and realized her mistake too late.

His head dipped toward hers, his mouth covering her lips as his tongue invaded. He cradled her head in his hand, angling it to give him better access to her.

She tried to hold back. Wanted to break the kiss all together but her willpower deserted her in the onslaught of the passion she felt. Everything screamed for more. She fell into the desire swirling through her, giving as much as he would take.

He deepened the kiss, his hands leaving her waist and head to slide up under the gown to touch the fevered flesh beneath.

She felt them on her buttox to slide up her back and around to her breasts. The pebbled tips ached for more as he caressed them. She felt him shift her, her legs wrapped around him to maintain the contact. Now she could press her core against the hardened length of him. Her whole being was on fire.

It affected him as much as her because she felt the tremor race through him.

Just as fast as it started it stopped. She found herself on her feet as the door opened and several guards faced them.

“Everything all right, sir?”

“Yes.” His voice came out deeper than normal. He cleared his throat and spoke again. “We ducked in here when the intruders drew close. Did you get them?”

“Yes, sir. We found them just outside of this area. Looks like they turned on each other, we found them all fighting when we arrived. They’ve been moved to security to be questioned whenever you’re ready.”

“Good. I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He gently touched her shoulder. “Do you wish to join the interrogation?”

She nodded her agreement. Talking was out of the question. She wondered if the guards could see her disheveled look and swollen lips. If they did they showed no reaction.

Storm offered her his hand which she took and they followed the men to the security section.

“You might not like the way we do things around here but it is our way,” he said.

He had kept his distance from her, allowing her to regain some control. What had gotten into her? She never behaved like this before. Most men who showed her any attention learned quickly she didn’t want it. What made him so different?

Keeping her gaze averted she couldn’t help but notice the two wet marks on his cloths. One on his thigh and the other over his groin. Heat filled her cheeks. She did that to him. What must he think of her?

Two of the guards stepped into the room. One held some sort of weapon.

“Tell us why you invaded the ambassador’s home?”

The four men just stared at them.

“Do you know what this is?” The guard with the weapon asked. “It’s from our planet on Vespia.” He turned it on a low setting, pressing it against the stomach of one of the intruders causing him to crumple to the ground. He turned it up a notch and aimed it at the next man.

“We know nothing.” His answer wasn’t what they wanted to hear. The guard pressed it against the neck of the man causing him to cry out in pain before crumpling as well. A large burn mark showed on his throat.

“It is designed to help with our animals. We can use it on the lightest setting.” He pointed to the first man on the floor. “To keep them from wandering. The highest setting kills.” He moved it to the top notch and sliced through a table sitting in the room. “Clean and precise. Now, why are you here?”

Sweat broke out on the brow of the third one. “I didn’t get paid enough to die.”

“Shut up,” said the other. “How do you know they won’t kill you after you talk?”

“I’d rather die at their hands than his.” He looked up at the guards, fear dancing in his eyes. “We were hired to get the woman. We don’t know why, just following orders.”

She looked at Storm. “Woman?”

“You.”

“Me? Why?”

“That is the question, isn’t it?”

Learn more about Barbara Bradley and Dominated by Desire at Phaze.com.

Agatha Christie and Dreamscape

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Today I have a special guest, author Rose Anderson, blogging about her latest release, Dreamscape:

You know the story. It begins with ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear. They’re invited to a remote mansion on an island, but their host curiously fails to appear. Alone with the small household staff and the inescapable demons standing in the shadows of their pasts, the guests are cut off from the outside world. One by one, they share these darkest secrets. And one by one, they die. Perhaps you’ve read the book or seen the five iterations in film — Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

Considered by many to be her most famous work, it ranks as the 7th bestselling book of all time. And Then There Were None was the most adapted of all her stories in film, theater, radio, and even video games. From its first publication in 1939 when the title included a racial epithet, to the more recent 2010 radio adaptation, it’s a novel with staying power. Why? It was summed up in the 1940 The New York Times Book Review:

“When you read what happens, after that you will not believe it, but you will keep on reading, and as one incredible event is followed by another even more incredible you will still keep on reading. The whole thing is utterly impossible and utterly fascinating. It is the most baffling mystery that Agatha Christie has ever written, and if any other writer has ever surpassed it for sheer puzzlement the name escapes our memory. We are referring, of course, to mysteries that have logical explanations, as this one has. It is a tall story, to be sure, but it could have happened.”

Agatha Christie is one of my literary heroes. On my shelf of favorite fiction, her works sit side by side with Diana Gabaldon, Charlotte Brontë, Michael Crichton, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and JK Rowling. I like reading novels that make my heart pound in anticipation with each anxiously turned page. And Then There Were None was my first encounter with suspense; it was also my first exposure to Agatha’s works.

My older sister was a passionate book lover who recommended this book as her all-time favorite Agatha Christie story. At age eleven, I didn’t understand the broader adult nuance of the story, but I did enjoy it. Several years later, I saw an old black and white movie entitled Ten Little Indians. I thought, hey wait a minute, that’s an Agatha Christie story! Inspired to reread the novel, I saw what my younger self had missed. The plot was literally peppered with clues that pointed to the murderer. I already knew who the murderer was so picking out the clues was easy.

So all these years later, I decided to write a book in homage to that amazingly creative author. Like Agatha’s famous story, Dreamscape too, is a literary puzzle. I crafted it to be an Easter egg hunt — a story within a story filled with clues scattered along for the avid reader to catch.

In this tale, I introduce readers to Dr. Lanie O’Keefe: a confident, independent, woman who’s just bought herself a Mid-Victorian mansion. This is a dream house in the truest sense, for Lanie has been dreaming of the Bowen mansion since she was a child. The locals say the place is haunted and it certainly looks the part with its overgrown weeds and decades of vandalism. Undaunted by ghost stories, Lanie moves in with grand plans to refit the old coach house into a free clinic. Little does she realize the local legend is true.

For nearly one hundred and twenty years, the ghost of Doctor Jason Bowen roams his house contemplating the treachery that took his life. His brooding thoughts are interrupted when a woman arrives with valise in tow. Not only is she moving into his house, but she’s sleeping in the master bedroom as well – his bedroom. As a gentleman coming from a time of social propriety and impeccable manners; Jason tries to give his houseguest space, but soon becomes infatuated with her. Once he discovers the electric signature of his ghostly essence can ride Lanie’s dreams, he follows where they take him and finds himself back in his time period as the date of his murder draws near.

🙂 Yes, I planned the suspense carefully. Like Agatha Christie’s works, uncovering my trail of breadcrumbs isn’t necessary to move the tale along. When taken as a whole, they offer an insider’s peek at the truth long before the truth is revealed. Dreamscape is complex, richly detailed, and sensual, and I’ve scattered enough crumbs that even Hansel and Gretel might see the story hidden within! Writing it I learned something about myself. Not only do I like taking the path less traveled, I enjoy making the implausible plausible. I really like offbeat turn-things-on-their-ear scenarios where the writer finds a box he/she must write themselves out of. To me, the insurmountable prospect is a curiously locked door. The next so many weeks or months of writing trying to make the unlikely likely and the impossible possible is akin to finding the fat ring of keys to try the lock with.

Can a ghost find love among the living? Read Dreamscape and discover for yourself. I think both you and Agatha will be pleased.

Blurb: 

Unable to deny his own translucence, Dr. Jason Bowen determines his lack of physical substance could only mean one thing—he’s a ghost. Murdered more than a century before, Jason haunts his house and ponders the treachery that took his life. When Lanie O’Keefe arrives with plans to renovate her newly purchased Victorian mansion, Jason discovers, ghost or not, he’s still very much a man. Despite its derelict condition and haunted reputation, Lanie couldn’t be happier with her new home, but then she has no idea a spirit follows her every move throughout the day and shares her captivating warmth at night. Jason soon discovers he can travel through Lanie’s dreams and finds himself reliving the days before his murder with Lanie by his side. It took one hundred and twenty years for love to find them, but there’s that insurmountable little matter of Jason being dead.

Want to learn more about Dreamscape? Visit Siren Publishing for a steamy excerpt!