Early reviews have been fantastic—which I owe in large part to my fabulous street team of readers. Thank you, ladies and gents, for helping to spread the word on my very first romance title! Without your help and support I’d never have made it this far.
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You can find the $2.99 eBook of Vanilla on Top at Amazon (US, UK and Canada among others), Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. Availability in Apple’s iStore will follow soon. There are no print copies of VoT at this time. I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience, there may be a print version to follow at a much later date.
Without further ado, here is the first chapter in all its sexy and sassy goodness. Enjoy!
~~Not for Readers Under 18~~
The bartender approaches us, carrying our drinks, a lopsided grin on his aging face. “Gin and tonic?”
“That’s me,” I reply, reaching for the squat glass.
He sets a wineglass in front of Carla. She accepts it with a nod and turns her perky blondness my way. “Who orders a mixed drink at a wine bistro?”
My best friend forgets, I’m not nearly as bold as she is and often require stronger fortification for my nerves. “Sometimes wine doesn’t cut it.”
The elegant room fills with bodies, and my temperature rises. So many handsome guys, I’m afraid to open my mouth and trip on my tongue. What in the hell possessed me to try this type of outing again?
Carla eyes the variety of men pouring through the double doors. “Linda outdid herself with tonight’s event. There weren’t this many hotties at the last one. But then again, it wasn’t run by Linda.”
I shudder at the memory of the first speed-dating attempt she dragged me to.
God, I'd felt like such an idiot.
I clearly blocked the humiliation of how no one wanted a date with me afterward. Then again, the prospect of being alone the rest of my life doesn’t sit well either.
“Yup, our lovely organizer did a great job with the men showing up tonight.” I force a laugh to hide my awkwardness. “Maybe one will even call me later.”
“Hey, cut that long hair into some semblance of a style and you might have the same luck Julie did.”
I self-consciously tuck a strand of fine black hair behind one ear. I have no intention of getting a cute pixie haircut like Carla’s. The long locks are one of the few things I like about myself. “Your sister lucked out with her hotshot property developer, but let’s be real. Most of the good ones in this city are gay or married.”
“Not true! I refuse to think there are no good ones left.” She nudges me with her shoulder while pointing her glass at some of the men around the room. “Take a good look. I bet there are at least six here who aren’t married, or gay and looking for a beard.”
I gaze at my friend and appraise her good-naturedly. With curvy good looks and a low cut blouse, she has a much better chance of snagging a guy than I do.
Linda, the busty brunette in her forties who organized the event, waves at us from across the bar, gesturing we should head over to the tables like she explained earlier. Carla and I select small, two-seater tables next to each other, sliding into the cushioned chairs at almost the same time.
“Smile, Heather,” Carla says with a cheeky grin. “You’ll do fine.”
“Oh, yeah.” I hold back my grimace, reminding myself of the free booze. Maybe, if I drink enough, I’ll say something charming and one of these men will choose me for a date. “I’m sure I will.”
Carla leans over and swats my arm playfully. “Step out of your comfort zone, girl. Slip on a new skin while you’re here.”
Putting on a brave face, I nod. “I’ll try.”
I swirl the thin red straw in my gin and tonic while looking over the prospective men. There’s a tall, dark, and gorgeous one in the corner. He’s sporting a blinding white smile, offset nicely by his cocoa-colored skin, deep brown hair, and sharp casual jacket. Yum. My lips tilt up at the corners. He looks in my direction and I drop my glance to the clipboard on the table in front of me. I’d die if he caught me staring at him.
Carla once labeled me a “doormat” while we were commiserating over my past relationships. She might have been right. I’m always bending over backward, sometimes literally, to make a guy happy. And what has it earned me? An empty bed, lonely nights, and lots of meals for one in my freezer. I take a long sip of my drink.
Maybe I should slip on a new skin. Honestly, this current one isn’t working too well. I stiffen my spine as I glance once more around the wood-paneled space. I know there’s a guy out there for me. I just have to find him.
Two men arrive together, one looking slightly more harried than the other. The first one is sandy-haired and built like a runner, slim hipped and lean. His tailored, pinstriped suit still looks fresh at eight o’clock. He’s got a dimple in his chin and an infectious grin as he looks around the room at the available ladies.
Quite a few women look older than me, so even if I’m not stunning, I’m still sitting near the top of prospects for the evening. This may turn out to be my lucky night, yet. The man behind the runner makes me pause. He’s easily the best looking guy in the bistro. And sure enough, by the way heads are turning, I’m not the only one who notices him.
Though slightly shorter than his lanky friend, he must outweigh him by thirty pounds or so. His lean middle implies that extra bulk is all muscle. He’s…arresting. Sable-brown hair, cut short and styled in a lazy fashion that somehow looks professional on him. His charcoal suit drapes across his broad shoulders and defines his narrow waist like it was custom-made. His white shirt contrasts with his Mediterranean complexion, and when he looks up at his friend’s teasing tone, I get a glance at his light brown eyes and chiseled cheekbones. What I wouldn’t give to run my fingers through his hair and kiss him senseless.
I shift in my chair, aware of a growing dampness in my panties. God, how embarrassing. To be drawn to a man I’ve never talked to and who is obviously way out of my league. I probably don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of attracting his attention. I wish I had something prettier on. This slim black skirt and snug spring sweater might emphasize my build nicely, but I’m betting it will take cleavage and a lot of leg to attract a man like him.
My eyes shift sideways to Carla sitting next to me. The deep vee of her shirt showcases her plump, high breasts perfectly, and her tousled pixie-hair simply screams, I’m a fun girl, date me.
A small part of my eagerness for the night deflates over my chances of meeting him compared to hers. The two good-looking friends finish their paperwork and saunter to the bar. What am I really doing here? Sure, I might have a chance of meeting a guy for a midnight hook-up, but really…speed dating?
Makes me wonder—what’s wrong with these guys if they can’t find a date on their own? Shut up, Heather! I scream at myself. You sabotage everything before it even starts!
All right, all right, some of the men could be normal. I sip my drink and scan the room once more. The only decent ones here are the man with the blinding smile, the runner, and Mister Italian Stallion with the sexy bed hair who came in last. A sigh escapes me as I realize I’m close to drooling. Each one of them looks utterly delicious and I pray they’ve got brains behind the pretty faces and gorgeous bodies.
Now, if I can just say something interesting to one of them in the allotted two minutes, I might have a chance.
Linda stands near the middle of the bar area and raises her arm. “Attention Speed Daters!” All eyes turn toward the organizer. “We’re ready to begin. You all know the guidelines. Make polite conversation, ask questions that matter to you, make notes on your card, and move on. All in good fun!” She smiles and nods to a few of the participants around the room. “You never know. You just may meet your one and only match tonight.”
I sigh and plaster on a happy face. Still better than sitting home alone with another microwave meal, so I’m not going to complain. I slurp the last of my drink through the tiny straw. Damn. Need to take advantage of that free booze or it will definitely be a ruined evening.
After getting a refill at the bar, I saunter back to my little table for two, ready to meet my first “date” of the evening. Mr. Serial Killer in Training sits across from me and immediately asks if I’m a vegetarian…thank God for my second drink. I glance down the line to see who will be shifting to my table next. A shudder runs through me as I take another sip. Hopefully the alcohol will make meeting Sloppy Guy and Blinding Smile a little easier to bear.
In thirty minutes, the Italian Stallion slides into the chair at my table. He’s just come from sitting with Carla and wears a smile from ear to ear. A lump forms in my throat from looking at him close up.
A small scar traces the left side of his jaw, its pale color faded with age. I’d like to hear the story behind the old wound. His full lips look soft enough to kiss and his classic Roman nose would be better suited on an Abercrombie model than a businessman in Manhattan.
His eyes glide over me, a slight spark of what I hope is interest in their depths. A flare of awareness ignites in my chest. The man’s charming grin remains in place. A good sign so far. Right as he opens his kissable mouth to speak, his phone rings. His relaxed expression turns into a grimace as he digs in his pocket to retrieve the offending device.
“Sorry,” he mumbles my way before answering. He turns slightly in his seat, angling himself away. “Yes?” He barks into the phone. “No, I won’t be back in tonight. The instructions are in the email I sent.”
At least I had the decency to turn off my phone before I came in. Hell, unless you’re a doctor on call, I doubt there’s anything that important requiring your phone to stay on for two hours. He looks into the distance and I feel a twinge of annoyance.
“No,” his tone grinds out, authoritative and powerful. “You need to listen to me, Brian. The directions are in the email. You follow them precisely and the deal will close. Call me again and I’m going to be really pissed.”
He clicks his phone shut and closes his eyes. Tension spills off him and I hesitate to break the silence. What could be so important that he feels the weight of the world on his shoulders? He takes a deep breath and opens them again, staring straight into my eyes.
“I’m sorry, that was rude of me.” He angles toward me. I nod my reassurance that it’s okay, but inside I can’t help but think I’ve lost even more of my precious allotted time with this desirable stranger. He really is way out of my league.
“You know what I want more than anything?” he says with a touch of longing. “I want someone else to take control for a while. I’m really sick of being the guy in charge all the time.”
I smile, not particularly sure I can relate, but willing to appear understanding. His phone rings again and sharp anger stabs my gut.
“Turn it off,” I say, with a challenge in my tone. I sit up straighter and stare into the depths of his caramel eyes. “You want someone to tell you what to do?” He nods, his calculating gaze on me as the phone continues to ring. “Turn off that damn phone,” I bite out, pretending I’m issuing a command. “Now.”
Shock registers across his expression, but he hides it quickly. I raise an eyebrow and feel the sparks fly across the table between us. He returns my stare and smiles, the first real one I’ve seen on him since he came into the restaurant. It’s kind of lopsided and lazy, curling my toes at the devilment it promises. The phone rings a third time and I break our standoff and glance away, tilting my chin an inch higher, showing my displeasure in his lack of action. He fumbles for the phone on the table between us and shuts it off.
My pulse races and a part of me waits for him to shout that I’m the rudest bitch he’s met tonight. Well, I tried my hand at ballsy and domineering—worth a shot. I look toward him and smile, catching him off guard, if his raised eyebrows are anything to go by. The interest I thought I saw earlier still lurks in his eyes.
Hmmm… Maybe tonight won’t be a total wash after all.
I pick up my drink and tilt it toward him in greeting. “I’m Heather.”
He raises his to meet mine and clinks it across the space. “Tony.”
“What do you do, Tony, that has people calling you after office hours?”
He stiffens and his tone comes out flat. “I head acquisitions in a large shipping conglomerate. We’re organizing to buy out a small firm this week.”
I nod, not sure if knowing what he does matters. He seems wired pretty tight, poor guy. “Who did you arrive with, that guy with the sandy-colored hair?”
Tony lifts a brow and interest lights his expression. “Why?” His grin broadens. “You want me to introduce you?”
I stare back at him with a feigned confidence I don’t possess. “I’ll meet him soon enough, won’t I?”
“Touché.” He touches the timer on the table. “We are speed dating.”
“That’s why I asked. You don’t seem like the type to be here.”
“Probably not, but Marcus talks me into lots of stuff I might not normally try on my own. He’s an old college buddy. Dragged me here ‘cause he said I needed a break from work.”
I glance down my nose at his phone, angling my head a bit. “He might be right.”
“And hey—what makes you think I’m not the type to try speed dating on my own?” he asks, a twinkle in his eye.
This man doesn’t know me from Adam. I could be anyone in this moment, anyone who is brash enough to tell a stranger to turn off his phone. Carla said to slip on a new skin…maybe she was onto something…
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I reach across the table and trace a finger down the back of his hand. “You’re wound too tight,” I say, dropping my voice, trying for a seductive tone. “Like you’re going to snap.” I gaze at him through my lashes, hoping I can pull off a sexy look like I’ve seen in movies. “What you need is to let off a little steam.”
Desire sparks in his caramel eyes and he turns his hand over to grasp my own. “Really? What did you have in mind?” Tiny shocks of pleasure shoot up my arm at our increased contact.
The two-minute timer dings and the prospective dates around the room say their goodbyes and shift out of their chairs, eager to move on to the next person down the line.
I shrug and pull my hand away. “Why don’t you follow me to the patio and find out?”
There’s no doubt I’ve peaked his curiosity. I pick up my drink, still staring into his stunning eyes, and circle my tongue around the tiny swizzle stick before slipping the red plastic into my mouth for a taste of my drink.
Tony’s lips part in an exhalation of breath, his stare locked on my mouth.
I smile at his expression, pleased I’ve made an impression. He seemed to like when I told him what to do. I wonder how far I can take this with him willing to follow. I slide from my chair, now glad I wore a pencil skirt that emphasizes my butt, and walk out of the room without a backward glance, hoping he takes the bait.
My black stiletto heels rap against the marble tile of the bistro as I swish my hips toward the narrow door leading to the closed outside seating in the rear of the restaurant. I push the door open and step through. The metal door whisks shut behind me. It’s early spring and unseasonably warm outside tonight, but still too early for the bistro to have the area set up for receiving diners.
My heart races as I lean against the cool brick. What the hell am I doing, trying a stunt like this in a public place? Will he come out here? If he does, what do I do then? Anyone could walk out here, and by the full ashtray on a stack of tables, the probability of it being a smoker is high.
Ten minutes. All you need is ten minutes.
Can I talk my way through this? Well, why the hell not? If he follows me out here then I’ve definitely intrigued him enough to learn more about me. But how do I set myself apart from the countless women who’ve probably already thrown themselves at him?
The door creaks open and Tony steps out. You can do this, Heather. Take command. Tell him what you want. Tell him what to do, just like he said he wants. Now or never.
I smirk with a confidence I’m not completely feeling. “Nice of you to join me, Tony.” I relax against the brick and check him over from head to foot, making sure he knows with just my eyes exactly how desirable I find him. You can do this, don’t panic. He won’t laugh at you.
I nod toward the stacked chairs. “Take off your coat.” He slips the expensive garment from his shoulders, pulling the starched fabric of his shirt across his defined chest. I nod my approval and his eyes glint with desire in the dimming light.
He smiles, seemingly eager to play whatever game I’ve got in mind. “Anything else?”
I push down my inner anxiety and grin, in what I hope is a teasing manner. “Your tie.”
His eyebrows shoot up, but he loosens the knot and pulls the material free. The red silk slides over his shirt, and then is tossed carelessly toward his coat.
Holy crap, he’s doing it. He’s listening to me. What now?
“Unbutton the top two buttons of your shirt.” The command springs unbidden to my thoughts.
He complies and reveals the golden skin below his throat, with a few stray chest hairs visible near the neck of his undershirt. He looks so good I’d like to grab his shirt and rip it open, licking the skin as it’s uncovered.
Holy cow, where did that come from? I’m not this aggressive woman I’m pretending to be.
“How’s that?” he asks.
My pulse pounds so loudly in my ears I can only nod, afraid I’ll give too much away if I answer. I clear my throat, reaching for nonchalance. “It’ll do.” My hands slide to my hips and I take the plunge, pouring every ounce of courage I possess into my next actions.
I grab my skirt’s black material and work it slowly up my thighs. Tony’s eyes grow round as he follows my movements.
“Get down on your knees,” I say, forcing out my voice in a firm tone. Keep it together, girl! He looks like he’s game. Keep going.
I tug the fabric up, until my skirt scrunches up around my waist and my black lace underwear is bared to the night air. The handsome man’s breath rushes out and I worry he’s going to balk, leaving me here with my skirt rucked up like a fool.
The intensity of the sexual moment overwhelms me a bit and I slide a finger over my heated mound, teasing the aroused flesh underneath. Desire pushes me to be bold. “Did you not hear me, Tony?” Strength pours into my voice, making me sound more sure of myself than I feel. God, if he laughs at me now, I’ll die.
Tony steps closer and sinks to the cobblestone terrace, reaching with two eager hands toward my hips. He buries his face in my crotch and breathes deeply. “You smell so good.” He rubs his cheek back and forth against my panties. “What do you want me to do?”
A shudder ripples through me as the breath of his whispered voice warms my skin through the thin lace. He wants me to tell him what to do. I can do this.
“Kiss me,” I rasp, my voice barely above a whisper.
His soft lips press against the thin garment as the heat from his flesh teases me higher. My every sense feels on high alert during this encounter. I’ve never done anything so daring in my entire life. The next kiss presses harder and little shocks of arousal dart through my core.
“That’s nice,” I say, resisting the primal urge to grind myself into his face. “But I need more.”
I glance down into Tony’s light brown eyes and see an intensity I’ve never seen on a man’s face. To know it’s directed toward me feels even more amazing. “Tell me what you want.” His hot hands skate up my thighs to rest near the aroused juncture between my legs.
I feel the wetness pooling in my panties, my body eager and ready to be with this man I just met. More than anything I want his fingers teasing me to a release. “Slip your thumbs under my underwear and stroke me.”
He pulls his hot lips away from the damp cotton panel of my panties and breathes deep. “Yes, ma’am.”
A prickling ignites my skin, sending the hairs on end when he calls me ma’am. I like it.
I like it a lot.
Two thick digits slide under the delicate fabric, one angling for my aroused bud and one slipping deeper toward my waiting wetness. A jolt of pleasure rips through me the second his thumb makes contact with my clit. An instant later, his other thumb presses against my tight opening.
“You’re very wet.” His voice rumbles into the evening, almost reverent, like I’m a precious object he’s not sure how to handle. “I want to taste you.”
“Not yet.” There’s no way I could handle his mouth right now. I’d lose it completely and my credibility on driving the bus in this scenario would blow up in my face. My breath hitches and I gather myself, aiming for calm, cool and collected. “Only when I say.”
A moan of protest echoes into the night, cutting off when his hungry kisses pepper my thighs. My legs widen of their own accord and I slide down the cool brick a fraction of an inch, heedless of the snags my clothes will receive. The stiffness of his thumb pushes deep inside me and after a few plunges a small groan erupts from my lips.
It’s been months since I’ve been with anyone. I’m so turned on by this man doing exactly what I want, what I told him to do, that I fear I won’t last long. The slick pressure on my clit starts to circle, driving me even higher.
“Come here and kiss my mouth,” I say. His hands pull away and I feel bereft of his touch. I hastily add, “Don’t stop touching me. Use your fingers instead.”
In a flash, the sexy businessman stands, ravaging my mouth with a passion I’ve never had directed toward me. A deep rumble sounds in his throat while his lips cover mine. The frenzied action reveals his pent-up arousal and desire, and I’m almost giddy with the power surge I feel. He truly wants me. Not just what I can do for him, but wants me and what I’m making him feel. What a rush!
Two slick fingers pump into my sex while Tony sucks on my bottom lip, nipping it once in his haste. He leans in to deepen the kiss and the length of his erection presses against my hip. I want nothing more than to tell him to take me right here—to beg this gorgeous man to do me until I scream his name—but a part of my brain still holds on to the act.
I bet he can have any woman he wants any time. I need to stand out from the others. For once, I want to be the desired one. My mind empties as exquisite waves of pleasure build and spill through my limbs.
I break the intense kiss to focus on what I need to do. “On your knees,” I whisper. “Now.”
Tony complies and gazes up at me with an eager look on his face. “Yes?”
“Pull the lace aside and lick me.”
The evening air brushes against my heated flesh before his hot tongue laps at my engorged button. One firm hand holds the material aside while the other pumps steadily in and out of me.
A moan of delight drifts out as Tony’s clever tongue zeros in on my clit, pushing me beyond all boundaries of pleasure. My breath hitches again and Tony moves faster, plunging his fingers in me furiously while sucking my bud between his lips. His pointed tongue tickles the aroused skin, and the combined sensations propel me up and over the edge.
An intense release rips through me, lighting my nerve endings and sending shudders to cascade over my body. Tony eases his movements, gently tonguing my wet flesh.
Warmth infuses me as I collapse against the bricks, panting for breath. I can’t believe what I’ve just done. And in public! I’ve essentially had sex with a stranger. A drop-dead gorgeous stranger, but a stranger nonetheless. Granted, it was one-sided sex, but still not something I’ve ever done.
Tony eases my panties back in place before standing. The arousal engulfing his entire body makes his movements stiff. Even in the dim light, I see the outline of his protruding cock straining against his tailored slacks.
A smile curves my lips as the prefect response to the evening comes to me. Damn. Can I pull this off? We’ll have to see.
I slide my skirt down my hips, smoothing the creases out with the flat of my hand. “You did a good job.” Tony smiles and reaches for me, but I side step out of his grasp. “Next time might be your turn.” My face sets into a distant mien of confidence I’ve never felt before. “Give me your number. Maybe I’ll call.”
Thanks for taking the time to read the first chapter. It is my sincerest hope you enjoyed it enough to give Vanilla on Top a try. Trust me, it only gets better (and hotter) after this!
Comments welcome! I’m always excited to hear what readers have to say.
Women read for a reason. We like to be transported from our lives into something more exciting and fun. We desire to escape into a world where romance lives and good wins in the end. We read to explore, to learn, to fantasize, and to avoid killing our spouses in their sleep. Here are a few examples of dialogue one might read in a Book versus Real Life--
Book: “You look beautiful.”
Real Life: “Are you ready to go, yet?”
B: “I can’t live without you.”
RL: “I can’t sleep. Roll over and stop snoring.”
B: “Your hair looks fantastic.”
RL: “The game is on, can we talk later?”
B: “I’d like to lick that whip cream off you.”
RL: “You gonna finish eating that?”
B: “Let’s play a family game with the kids.”
RL: “The children are calling you.”
B: “I made reservations.”
RL: “What’s for dinner?”
B: “Sexy nightie… too bad you won’t be wearing it for long…”
RL: “How long are you going to read with the light on?”
B: “I never felt love like this before.”
RL: “My last girlfriend didn’t have a problem with it…”
B: “I’d never do anything to hurt you.”
RL: “Come on… It’ll only hurt for a minute—I swear.”
I could go on and on all day….
I read for inspiration, to experience adventure, and to remember life could always be worse. Why do you like to read?
Forgive the lack of posts lately. I’ve been traveling all summer long and have to update the website with pictures and such. Give me a couple of weeks and I’ll have a ton to share.
Appearances: I’m gearing up to attend the Anne Rice Wolf Ball and Undead Con this year in New Orleans, the weekend before Halloween. Tickets are still available if you want to join me.
If Florida in the winter is more your speed, check out Olde City, New Blood in St. Augustine. Read on for more details and how you can win a ticket for free:
We are gathered here today, to join two awesome things in a state of increased awesomeness.
Today, we're bringing together an author/reader mini-con, and the chance to WIN YOUR WAY IN FOR FREE!
You can check out the official website for the complete list of Featured Authors (I'll give you a hint... one of them is ME!!) and Featured Bloggers. There's also a main contest post with all the participating authors, bloggers, and dates for the contest. It's super easy. Visit each of the spotlight blog posts and author websites listed, fill out the Rafflecopter link on each one (one entry PER POST, not per day... and yes, they will be checking), and POOF, multiple entries to WIN!!
The prize is one of 3 FREE REGISTRATIONS to see me and about 49 other authors on the sunny beaches of St. Augustine, Florida, from Feb 8th-10, 2013. We're going to be doing panels, readings, meet & greets, and just generally having a fun weekend with our incredible fans!! Please keep in mind, if you win, you'll have to cover your own travel and hotel expenses, but your ticket into the party will be on Olde City, New Blood!!!
The contest runs from September 30th - October 6th, and the 3 winners will be announced on October 7th. Don't forget to click the Rafflecopter link below before you hop off to check out the rest of the contest posts!! Good Luck, everyone!! I hope to see you ALL in Florida this February!!
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/12f05e198/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway
The third book in my bestselling V V Inn series, BIG GAME, launched earlier this week. It was the perfect time after my participation on a FOX5 panel in San Diego discussing “Mommy Porn” and before a slew of radio interviews —including a really detailed one with blogtalk radio this week hosted by Garrison Leykam on Conversation Crossroad. The reader feedback on the book has been overwhelmingly positive so far. YAY! I couldn’t be happier!
As a lot of you know, April 23 marked the two-year anniversary of my nephew’s death in a motorcycle accident. I plan on donating a portion of BIG GAME’s proceeds to a group that helps promote motorcycle awareness to motorists. Making this deadline to honor him was incredibly difficult, but despite everything—I did it. Reader support kept me going these last two months, like an IV drip of caffeine might for some writers.
I can’t adequately put into words what your emails and comments do for me. I’ve been largely housebound for over three years. Sometimes my only adult interaction (besides my husband) is through these online relationships and interactions. When a writer lives in their head it can become very lonely and often discouraging. It’s extremely easy to give up, or put off writing until you feel like it. Family, friends, and sheer force of will can become the only things sustaining you.
When you add in my medical issues—Rheumatoid Arthritis, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, Celiac’s, Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Murine Typhus… and other stuff that is hopefully on the ‘outs’ this season… well, damn, there are some days I don’t even want to get out of bed. Not only do I seem to pick up bacteria every where I go, I have such a weakened immune system that whatever it is can become a big issue real quick.
In the hope of stirring up reader interest, I sent an email out to my distribution list in March—asking for reviews of the first two books in the series in exchange for their name being entered in a private drawing. I did not publicize this offer on Facebook, Twitter, or directly on my website. It was an insider’s deal. There were 58 entries for the following prizes:
- Three books: one signed and numbered set of print editions of the first three books in the series
- One signed and numbered edition of book three, Big Game
- A $50 gift card to the eBook retailer of your choice
- A $25 gift card to the eBook retailer of your choice
I received some phenomenal reviews on Amazon (and the UK Amazon), Apple, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and on blogs—you all went above and beyond, thank you!! As much as I’d like to award the prizes to the most well worded reviews, I can’t. I promised it would be a drawing based on a number generator, and it will.
If you don’t win, please understand that I do value your support and kindness. It was incredibly inspiring to read the reviews posting each day while I was pushing myself to finish this book on time. Due to the outpouring of support on this drawing, I’m running a similar one right now for reviews of BIG GAME, but making it open for everyone. Check out this public Facebook event for more details on how you can win and how to have more than one entry, too. Give me a week and I’ll transfer the details to this website and make a new contest page as well.
The winning numbers picked by generator.org were 2, 9, 28, and 52 (in that order). Those numbers correspond to the names listed alphabetically in a spreadsheet. Without further babbling on my part, here are the winners:
Grand Prize Winner of an entire set of signed print books: Ashley Harvey
Winner of a signed copy of BIG GAME: Christine Appleton
Winner of $50 gift card: Johnni Bayne
Winner of the $25 gift Card: Tarisa Tate
Book winners: please email me your physical address at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your prize. **Print copies of BIG GAME will not be ready for two more weeks, so expect your package to go in the mail by the end of May.
Gift card winners—I will need to know the retailer you prefer to issue the gift card.
There is still a chance to win signed & numbered copies of my books. Please check out the event on Facebook listed above for details. If we get over fifty individual entrants, I will double the gifts awarded.
Lastly: I have not heard from Nolene Eliassen Wold, winner of the proof copies back in January. If I don’t hear from you by the end of the month I will include the proof copies (the only ones in existence) in the Facebook BIG GAME review event as well.
Thank you all for your continued support and I sincerely hope you all enjoy the latest (and what I think is the best) installment to the series - BIG GAME!
I participated in a newscast on the FOX5 San Diego morning show yesterday, hosted by Erica Fox. There were four of us on the panel—Dr. Samuel Wood, Dr. Rose Hartzell, bestselling author Sylvia Day, and moi. I flew out the day before and left almost immediately after, but it was a whirlwind adventure I’m glad I experienced.
Dr Hartzell, Dr Wood, me, and Sylvia Day posing in front of the gorgeous cast photos in the greenroom.
Here is the youtube link if you’d like to watch the discussion:
I found one thing to be the most fascinating aspect of this entire foray into TV—I had no idea what the host was going to ask. I made some flip comment when they walked us out to the set about the old bodice ripper covers they had in the background and boom that’s the first question I’m hit with. Damn!
At least I plugged the hunky (and friendly) Jimmy Thomas. I’ve never encountered such a hardworking man in the romance industry and it’s a crying shame they didn’t have one of his many thousands of covers up there instead of the old Fabio inspired ones from the 80s.
Maybe that’s all the media thinks of women who read romance books? That we all prefer to pick up books with heaving bosoms on the cover, which often contain rape-like first encounters of the virginal main characters.
I’ll admit, I read those books twenty plus years ago.
And then, I grew up. I didn’t want to read about the heiress in a forced marriage where he semi-rapes her on their wedding night, then she falls in love with him later. Or the Viking who captures his enemy’s daughter and falls for her strong, proud bearing—making up for his harsh first encounter with her throughout the whole book to win her heart.
Thankfully, writers grew out of those trends, too. Publishers finally showcased stronger female characters who had a more active role in their sex lives. No longer did she have to be a virgin when she met the hero. It was refreshing—and readers loved it.
Don’t get me wrong; a lot of these newer books still had the man saving her at the end of the day. And that’s okay, too. For some women that’s what floats their boat. But not me.
I no longer need a man to save me than do the millions of women out there who are raising kids alone, working two jobs, dealing with health problems, or a major financial crisis. Life is hard. And strong women, well, we survive.
Does that mean we don’t want sex and romance in our lives—simply, because we don’t require to be rescued?
Surely, I’m not the only one who knows if you have confidence in yourself, you appear desirable to the opposite sex? Hell, when you read a book are you drawn to the mousey man who can’t stand straight and look the heroine in the eye, or do you find yourself pulling toward the man with confidence?
We all want the man who doesn’t need us, but one who wants us. News flash, most men want the same thing, to be desired for who they are, not for what they provide.
Life mirrors what we read. You’d no sooner choose the deadbeat dad who can’t hold a job or the player who can’t keep his pants zipped if you knew he was like that ahead of time, right?
So, is it then a crime for women to enjoy reading about men who are confident and sexually knowledgeable, too? Should what we read, that stirs our imagination and helps us desire our spouses, be deemed “mommy porn”?
Ummm… I can’t speak for the rest of you, but I discovered the Black Lace series when I was about twenty-six. Which, I’d like to point out, was way before I became a mom. When my fiancé (now my husband) found out he benefitted greatly from what I was reading, he encouraged me to buy as much erotica as I wanted.
We didn’t read the books together. I read them alone. Occasionally, I would read a steamy scene to him. The erotic stories stimulated my brain and did what every sex therapist knows—if you think about sex you will want it.
Perhaps, the biggest difference is women don’t need to read erotica to reach sexual gratification like some men do regarding watching porn. Lots of men are literally addicted to it. Or, they get so wrapped up in the fantasy they can’t perform without it. Sad, isn’t it? That you can’t talk to your partner about what you need to be happy?
I learned more about myself and my sexuality from those books than I ever did from the porn I watched.
There. I admit it. I watch porn.
I’m not ashamed of it. I’m a sexual creature—much to my satisfied husband’s delight. Sex isn’t dirty or shameful and we shouldn’t need to hide what we like. But, at the same time, sex should never replace the loving connection we have with our partners. Pornography addiction does that. It sets up unrealistic expectations, whereas reading about sex allows the fantasy to play out in your mind, encouraging you to act out your desires with your partner.
Seduction starts in the brain. You glance at your husband with longing when he’s dressed up for an evening out. You hug him from behind while he’s at the sink (sorry, but seeing my man help out around the house is a huge aphrodisiac for me. I know I’m not alone on that one!). You pat him on the bottom when you lovingly tease him on something. You text him a naughty thought.
Every small thing you do primes your partner for later on when you’re alone—and all of it centers on his brain’s responses to your stimuli. He returns the heated looks, the hugs, the pats, and the fun texts… and then what do you have? You have a man who desires you, simply because you have shown your interest in him. Not some fake image on a screen.
And if all of your desires were triggered by a book with a sex scene that got your blood moving, then what of it? Should that be relegated to the male-coined phrase of “mommy porn”? All I can say is, the idiot who thought that up sounds like a man trying to justify his Internet porn addiction.
I know what porn is. I know what is bad porn and good porn, too. Erotica and erotic romance is neither. Anything that is well written enough to inspire you to have relations with your partner is golden, not worthy of being compared to a visual aid needed to reach gratification. Puh-lease. Don’t get me started. I could be here all day ranting about this one.
How about you? What are your thoughts on this “mommy porn” term? Does it make you laugh or does it piss you off? Please share!
....What Do They Read?
Lots of readers related to the familiar teenage angst in the popular Twilight books. Past a certain age, most of us would like to forget about that awkward time in our lives and focus more on the rest of what life has to offer… you know, the good stuff, like SEX.
Sure Edward’s sensitivity and creepy, stalker-like devotion may thrill the younger set…
“Oh, he loves me....”
...but I’d prefer a hunky vampire to sweep my off my feet and ravish me all night.
“Oh, how he loves me!”
I know I’m not alone in my thinking—as the many bestselling vampire books out today can certainly attest!
Twilight was just a tame version of a really good paranormal romance book. The mature readers have known where the action has been for years, and it wasn’t penned from a mom on a soccer field as a gift to her sister. (okay, to be fair, some of them might have been, who knows?)
But what do younger adult readers grab when they out-grow Twilight? Do they want more weak female lead characters, or do they want one with some teeth?
“I have a sword and I’m not afraid to use it. Bring it, beyotch!”
I think the smart ones move on to urban fantasies written in a first person point of view. These stories put them in the place of the main character… the one who is ultimately seduced by, or falls for, the male vampire, werewolf, or other supernatural critter.
I’ve read some amazing series where she is the demon hunter, the werewolf, the witch, the necromancer, the ghost whisperer, the reaper, or the newly turned baby-vamp. She might be fighting a crime, solving a mystery, saving the world, or protecting those she loves… Sure, she might might mistakes, but she is no swooning heroine who goes off in the woods to die when her heart is broken.
“It’s cold out here and growing dark. Think I’ll just lay down here and go to sleep.... ”
No sir. This heroine will probably track the heartbreaker down and give him a good what-for and an ass-kicking for good measure.
“Did you drink the last cup of coffee, again?”
She is who we long to be. She is our inner diva. She’s the gun toting, knife-wielding woman who won’t take any crap, won’t accept being treated like a doormat, and demands sexual satisfaction.
Now let’s imagine…. There is an entire market catering to these ass-kicking heroines and what do we find? Their tragic flaw is they can never seem to find relationship happiness.
Why? Will her ability to be an ass-kicking heroine somehow be diminished by her monogamous relationship? Will she no longer engage in hot sex because she’s with the same person night after night? Will her sense of humor at stupid things the man in her life does no longer apply? Will she not suffer the same day-to-day traumas we all do at home and still manage to not smother her spouse each night?
How did we go from fake, drippy teenage romances with complicated love triangles to books with bed hopping, unhappy, but incredibly strong, women?
Real women take control of their lives and don’t wait for the day when someone will come along and make them happy.
Nor do they listen to pig-headed men who call them sluts because they’d like their health coverage to cover birth control pills. But I digress...
Where are the books where she has more sexual knowledge than the leading male and isn’t ashamed of her experiences? (Hey, she could have learned from a book for all you know)
Where is the heroine who bitches, cracks jokes, and barks out orders, but invariably always comes back to the strong man by her side?
Where is the female character who helps solve the crime, goes on the adventure, and has some smoking hot sex that reminds you of what real intimacy is?
Oh, that’s right. There aren’t any books like that.
When I couldn’t find one, I had to write it.
Book three in my V V Inn series will be out next month if all goes as planned. I’ve posted six chapters of Big Game here on the site for you all to enjoy. Thanks for your continued support and I’m honored to have such incredible readers who keep me going.
You all don’t need to grow up from Twilight…. You already have.