Guest Blogger Lia Davis!

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it! We here at LLL wish you a very restful weekend and lots of sexy chocolate  moments, for those who are inclined…

Today we welcome Lia Davis, and are excited to have Lia with us. Lia is not only a wonderful author, but tireless promoter of others’ works and blogger on such great blogs as Heartthrob Haven. She has a sexy new shifter book, and I for one, can’t wait to hear more about it.

By the way, in answer to Lia’s question, I might be a bit of a nibbler…but you didn’t hear it from me!

TigersClaim

Love Bites

No, I don’t mean that love bites you on the ass. Although some people might like for their lover to bite them on the ass.

Anyway, I’m not talking about the bitterness of break ups and soured relations. I’m here today to talk about love bites in the heat of passion, especially among the paranormal species. They like biting and being bit. There’s something about the mixture of pain and pleasure that drives them over the edge.

Well, vampires and many shapeshifters can’t help themselves. It’s in their nature. Vamps need to bite in order to feed, but they also find pleasure from it. It’s like their fangs are an additional sexual organ, taking and giving pleasure.  Shapeshifters on the other hand bite out of possessiveness and mating. The mark left by the bite shows all who their mate belongs to. And they wear that mark with pride unless they are trying to run from fate and live in denial. Lol. I’ve met a few of those, both heroes and heroines.

Are you a biter? A Nibbler? Love to read a good paranormal knowing that there will be biting involved? Me too. Hee hee.

 

A Tiger’s Claim – Ashwood Falls, book 1

By Lia Davis

Publisher: Fated Desires Publishing

Blurb:

As the Alpha’s only daughter Shayna Andrews has always been treated like a rare gem, protected like royalty, and she’s suffocating.  Her longing to be independent has driven her to sneak out one evening after dinner. After relishing in being able to run free without an escort, she finds herself face-to-face with the enemy, miles from home, and nearly loses her life until a lone wolf comes to her aid.

Travis Hunter’s main objective is to destroy the Onyx Pack—a group of drug using, murdering rogue shifters. His seek-and-destroy plans are put on hold when he rescues a female from a brutal attack. The beautifully exotic tiger shifter, Shayna, stirs a passion he thought died with his long-lost mate.

When Shay’s first heat cycle slams into her, Travis has no choice but to submit to her needs—and his own. But there is always a price to sleeping with the Pack princess. Not only will they have to face her Pack, Shay and Travis will have to deal with a mating that is beyond a single night and could have consequences more than either of them had thought. And when Travis finds out Shay wears the enemy’s brand, things will go from bad to worse.

Warning: One alpha female who doesn’t take no for an answer, a wolf with more on the line than just his heart, and a combustible attraction that’s sure to cause more than one sweaty night.

Find it on:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ARe | Kobo

Find it in Print (also includes the prequel, Winter Eve):

eStore | Amazon

 

Excerpt:

It took ten minutes too long to reach his small one-bedroom cabin. Once inside, he carried her straight to the bedroom, flung the comforter back, and laid the female on his bed. As soon as her leg touched the mattress, she groaned in pain. Frowning, he walked to his dresser, grabbed a pair of joggers, and put them on.

He went back to the bed and sat down next to her, jarring her hip. Another painful groan made him pause. He lifted her sweater to undo her jeans so he could look at the wound. When he touched the button, she flung opened her eyes, screamed, and swung her arms wildly.

Damn it.

He fought with her for a few seconds before he got hold of her arms and pinned them to the bed. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

Her eyes held a wild fear he hoped never to see in a female again. The claw marks etched into both her cheeks fueled his fury more. He breathed in then out slowly.

Calm down before you scare her more than she already is.

“My name is Travis Hunter. You’re safe.”

She blinked then looked around the room. “Where…am I?”

He growled low in his throat. The tremor in her voice cut through him. “My home.”

She tried to break from his hold, and he tightened his grip. “You’re safe. I killed the rogues.”

The woman stilled and searched his face, the wildness still heavy in her blue eyes. “You’re a wolf.”

He smiled and nodded. “And you’re a tiger.”

“A white tiger.”

To match her white-blond hair. “And a beautiful one.”

 

 

About the Author:

Lia Davis is a mother to two young adults and two very special kitties, a wife to her soul mate, a paranormal romance author, graphic designer, and co-owner to Fated Desires Publishing, LLC. She and her family live in Northeast Florida battling hurricanes and very humid summers. But it’s her home and she loves it!

An accounting major, Lia has always been a dreamer with a very activity imagination. The wheels in her head never stop. She ventured into the world of writing and publishing in 2008 and loves it more than she imagined. Writing and designing are stress relievers that allow her to go off in her corner of the house and enter into another world that she created, leaving real life where it belongs.

Her favorite things are spending time with family, traveling, reading, writing, chocolate, coffee, nature and hanging out with her kitties.

Author website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | G+

 

Guest Blogger – Elizabeth Finn

Today on the purple crushed velvet couch I have fellow Liquid Silver Books’ author, Elizabeth Finn.

Welcome Elizabeth, and thank you for agreeing to being interrogated.

Lillian: For those who have never had the pleasure of reading one of your books maybe you can tell us a bit about the genres you write?

immortaldistractionElizabeth: Contemporary erotic romance for the most part, though I’m in the middle of releasing a contemporary paranormal erotic romance series at the moment (The Immortals). I love to read pretty much any genre of romance, so don’t be surprised if you see me venture into some other subgenres at some point!

Lillian: How long have you been writing, and how many books a year do you usually produce?

Elizabeth: I’m a perpetual student, so even before I tried my hand at writing fiction I was always in the middle of some research paper or essay of some sort. I started to write fiction about five years ago, though I didn’t try to publish anything at that time. I ended up putting writing aside for many years once I became a mother, and it wasn’t until last spring that I decided my son was old enough that I could devote some of my free time to writing again – I no longer have to worry that I’ll find him swinging from a light fixture or scaling the kitchen cabinets if I focus on something other than him for fifteen minutes… 😉 Since last spring, I’ve written six and a half books! Not too shabby…

Lillian: How did you become a writer and at what point did you sit back and say to yourself, yep, I’m a real live author?

Elizabeth: The how … hmm… Well, when I started writing it really Brothers-Keeper-Finalwasn’t for anyone but myself. I didn’t have plans to even try to publish anything. In fact, so true was that that once I finished writing Brother’s Keeper (the first book I ever wrote) I put it away and started writing The Devil’s Pawn. It really wasn’t until I finished The Devil’s Pawn that I started researching it a bit and then decided there was no harm in trying. I submitted The Devil’s Pawn for consideration, and once it was contracted, I did some final tweaks on Brother’s Keeper and submitted it as well.

When did I decide I was an author? I’m probably still trying to work that one out in my mind. I often say, “I write.” But I’ll admit, I rarely say, “I’m an author.” It still feels awkward and almost … presumptuous to say I’m an author for some reason. In the same way, I hate saying, “I have fans.” Instead, I say, “I have readers.” Bizarre… What can I say? I’m a weirdo.

Lillian: What inspires you to write? Where do you get plot and character ideas from?

Elizabeth: I used to think everyone told stories to themselves in their heads like I did. I’ve always spent hours nearly every day working through a plot of some sort in my mind. I could literally spend an hour or two at night before I’d fall asleep just adding to a story or recreating a part of it. I would usually stick with and perfect one particular story over the course of a month or more before moving on to a new one, and when I was between stories, I found I was really quite miserable being forced to so completely live in the real world. Mind you, it never occurred to me to actually write down the story… Duh… Why didn’t that occur to me?! I really just thought everyone created stories like me. I mean, how else does a person get through the day?

Where do the ideas come from? I honestly have no idea for the most part. It could be based loosely on the setting of some movie I’d seen where I wanted to build a completely new journey around something I’d seen. It could be something as abstract as the dynamic between two people. Sometimes I couldn’t tell you where it comes from.

Lillian: Your book Restoring Jordan is written in alternating first person point of view. This is very unusual. Was writing that way a deliberate decision?

restoringjordanElizabeth: Not in the least. I’m not a trained writer in any way, and what I have learned about writing has come completely from trial, error, guidance, and information I’ve received through the course of having a number of books published. I simply wrote in the voice that came most natural to me. I will admit, I love first person – I truly do, and I won’t be abandoning it. I’m seeing first person used a lot in romance right now (now that I’m actually paying attention to such things). I’ve gotten some amazing feedback from readers who love that I wrote my first three releases in first person, and that feedback was largely about the connection they were able to make to the characters and emotion in the book as a result of using an alternating first person point of view. But just because I think first person is good at capturing emotion in an incredibly honest and authentic way, I haven’t limited myself to only that. I now have books published in: first person present tense alternating point of view, first person present tense single point of view, and third person past tense alternating point of view. I enjoy writing all, and after having just finished writing The Immortals series in third person past tense, I’m kind of looking forward to getting back to first person in the future.

Lillian: There is a lot of detail about the world of renovations in the book. Being a registered building contractor myself I wondered if you have a background in architecture or interior decoration. If not how much research was needed to write the book?

Elizabeth: I have a passion for decorating, and I’ve been surrounded by other elements of design my entire life. My man-half is a contractor who does everything from framing out new construction to trim work and finish carpentry. My father is an amazing woodworker with an incredible woodworking studio. We’ve designed a number of furniture pieces together that he’s then built for me—my bed, my son’s crib, we’ll someday design a full-size bed for my son as well when he’s old enough to help in the process. It’s great fun, and I enjoy it immensely. I grew up being dragged away to the workshop to check out some new project my father was working on, so in some form or another, it’s always touched my life.

Lillian: When you’re not writing what do you like to do with your spare time?

Elizabeth: SLEEP!!! I actually have a day job as a Benefits Specialist for my company’s HR department, I’m a half-time student less than a year away from graduating with my Bachelors in Business Management, and I have a five year old son. Spare time is a rarity for me, and I’m usually too tired, too busy, and just plain too stressed!! But I enjoy my life immensely, and regardless of all the balls I juggle, I always find time to write.

Lillian: If you weren’t a writer what do you think you would be doing with your life?

Elizabeth: Hmm… HR Benefits Specialist!

Lillian: What can we expect in the future from Elizabeth Finn?

Elizabeth: Well, my series, The Immortals, is releasing this spring. immortalprotectorImmortal Protector released on February 25, 2013, and it will be followed by Immortal Distraction on April 15, 2013, and finally, Immortal Healer will release on May 27, 2013. I’m also in the middle of writing a contemporary romance book that I hope to finish and submit sometime in the next couple of months. It’s slow going at the moment as I have two books in edits and am taking a literature course this semester that keeps me tied to my Kindle a lot!

Lillian: Now some questions just for fun?

Movie or a book?

Both in equal measure. I really do love movies, and while they rarely live up to the books they are based on, they’re still loads of fun!!

Sex or chocolate?

Not that I wouldn’t choose sex anyway, but I don’t actually like chocolate… Now if you said Skittles or sex, that’s a tougher call… But I’d still choose sex..! Unless it was a red Skittle perhaps… 😉

Hot or cold?

Cold – you can always add layers. When it’s hot, sometimes you run out of layers to take off and just end up naked in inappropriate situations…

Thanks for being my guest.

elizabethfinnfiction.com

amazon.com/author/elizabethfinn

Blurb for Immortal Protector:

Theirs was a forever love. At least it was supposed to be…

Truman and Ember met in a cold, dark basement on the day that was to be her last. Kidnapped by a predator at ten years old, Ember wasn’t long for this world. But even Truman, a three-hundred-year-old vampire, was incapable of escaping his humanity with her.

He follows her through her life to ensure her safety, unable to stop fighting for the scared little girl he met so many years in the past.

Truman, like all others of his kind, has the ability to erase memories of himself, and he uses this ability to come in and out of Ember’s life while protecting her from the knowledge of his kind.

When Truman finally caves in to his desire for Ember, he is forced to take the most precious memory she holds. But he never imagined he’d lose his ability to return those memories to her. After Ember is attacked, Truman becomes responsible for a woman without a shred of remembrance of him or their long history together.

She doesn’t trust him, and he resents her cruelty toward him, but as much as she breaks his heart, he can’t give up on them. As Truman fights to win back her trust and remind her of just how good they are at falling in love, a threat looms closer and closer.

Can he save her once more from the clutches of a monster intent on destroying her? Or will her life be lost before her memories are ever found?

 

Has anyone seen my Zen?

Earlier this week, for the first time ever, I walked out of a bookstore without a single book for me. I had tons for the kids, but none for me.

It felt wrong. It was sad. It made me realize I need to take a hard look at my life.

How could I commit such a treacherous act to the written word?

Because as I looked over the delicious buffet of books, as I ran my hands over the cool smooth surfaces, and  oooh-ed over the glorious cover art and typography, I kept saying to myself,  “I don’t have time to read.”

That, my friends, is a brutal wake-up call.

It was the reality check I needed to prove how much my life is controlling me instead of me controlling it.

I haven’t relaxed in months. I haven’t meditated for as long as I can remember. Yoga? Not these days, my friend. Quality time with friends? Texting is quality time, right? Does that once a month exercise class I manage to squeeze in even count?

I got home and instead of immediately sitting down to check my e-mail or get caught up on the work I am constantly barely staying afloat with, I sat on the sofa and relaxed. Just relaxed.

I felt itchy at first, jittery, and a voice in the back of my head was screaming that I had a homework assignment due the next day which needed finished, a manuscript to edit, e-mails to catch up on,  several blog posts to write, and a million other things.  But I stifled that bitchy little voice by eating a few cookies and drinking some hot tea.

I read a book then. Okay, it was a book that I had to read for a school assignment. But I actually read it instead of skimmed it enough to answer the questions which I’d done with the last few books because…I don’t have time to read.

I have been, in little bursts over the last few months, trying to find a way to get more organized and stay ahead instead of always just catching up. I even resigned from a few projects to free up time to focus on my writing since it always gets pushed to the backburner.

I now have three calendars on my wall, one on my phone, and one on my computer. All with the purpose of knowing what is do for different things and keeping track of my deadlines. These things have helped. But clearly not enough.

However, this cinched it for me, this was the slap to the forehead, the eye opening experience, the wake up call I needed. It is definitely time to rein it in and make more time for me.

Now, I just have to figure out how.

So, I ask you, ladies and gents, because I know you all are as crazy busy as I am, what has worked for you? How do you multi-taskers keep on top of your tasks and still find “me” time? What are you best time saving/stress relieving tricks?

 

Is it Romance or Mystery?

I love to read.

I read romance, mysteries, thrillers, action-adventure (um, Clive Cussler anyone?), fantasy, science fiction … well, you get the picture. I read.

On good days (when I am not recovering from eye surgery), I read a book a night. It is how I relax and clear my mind before going to bed. So, I read a lot of books.

Dangerous Edge of ThingsEvery once in a while I read a book that blows me away, and then I have to read everything the author has written. Once such author is Tina Whittle, who writes the Tai Randolph series for Poisoned Pen Press. Now, if you can’t tell from the name of the publishing company, Poisoned Pen is a small indie press that publishes mysteries. I have read other authors published by Poisoned Pen, and they publish excellent books.

When I read the Publisher’s Weekly review of the first Tai Randolph book, The Dangerous Edge of Things, I was intrigued because the chief character, Tai, has inherited her uncle’s gun shop in Atlanta, Georgia. She finds a body across the street from her brother’s house where she is staying temporarily and becomes involved in the investigation, mostly to clear herself or her brother from  being under suspicion. Having been a guide in Savannah (especially the graveyard tours and anything to do with the Northern War of Aggression aka The Civil War), Tai is a good researcher and begins digging into the dead female’s background.

Mystery?  Yes, since there is a death, and she is an amateur sleuth. But her involvement and the potential for danger to herself (or so it seems to her over-protective older brother who is out of town at the time she discovers the body) has her brother asking for personal protection for Tai from his employer,  Phoenix Confidential, which does mostly corporate personal and premises security.  Thus, we meet Trey Seaver.

I must pause to fan myself.  Because at the moment Trey comes into the novel, the subtle — and Tina Whittle uses a very delicate brush here — dance of attraction between Tai and Trey begins.  At this point, the book becomes a romance and a mystery so intricately woven together that I am jealous I am not Tina Whittle.

While Tai is the lead character in this series, it is Trey who makes it a unique romantic mystery.

Yes, Trey is a hunk — all Irish dark hair and blue eyes and a body honed by Krav Maga.  Swoon-worthy. But Trey is damaged. He had a car accident which resulted in a severe  brain injury.  Because of the damage to his brain, his reasoning ability has been limited to linear thinking, plus he lost much of his past and a sense of who he was. After the accident, he created a whole new persona from a GQ magazine, the Italian issue, and, thus, he dresses in Armani, drives a Ferrari, wears a Bulgari watch, and lives in a modern black-and-white decorated condo — all inspired by that issue.

He recreated himself on the outside, but on the inside he is still seeking, healing — all memories and emotions are blunted. Trey deals with things as black or white — there are no shades of gray in his world.  There is right or wrong, legal or illegal, good or bad, on or off.

Since Trey had been an Atlanta cop, a member of their elite SWAT team (and we later find out in book three, a sniper), he had to quit law enforcement because his ability to make instant judgment calls was gone. He was hired by Phoenix for his almost computer-like ability to assess premises weaknesses and how to put security protocols into place to make the premises more secure.  He’s most comfortable with numbers and his desk work, although the female owner of Phoenix likes to trot him out because he is eye candy.

Tai, on the other hand, is a seat of the pants, intuitive, creative  thinker. She’s impulsive. She’s messy. She’s reads people well. She knows who she is and where she’s come from and attempts to get beyond a childhood which while not deprived materially was less than emotionally supportive.

Tai and Trey have issues (who doesn’t?), but Tai’s strengths are Trey’s weaknesses.  And Trey’s strengths are Tai’s weaknesses.  They complement one another; they find they make a great team while getting to the bottom of the woman’s death, which has ties to Phoenix, both Trey’s and Tai’s brother’s employer, and big Atlanta money.

But the linchpin of the Tai-Trey connection is she doesn’t treat him as an invalid. Since she didn’t know Trey before, she has no preconceived notions about how he should act, so she accepts him for what he is and works with his strengths and covers for his weaknesses.  Yes, there are times she is frustrated with Trey, but she is also a very compassionate person. Yes, Tai’s impulsive acts, which usually get her into hot water, frustrate the by-the-book Trey, but  he knows she has a reason and her instincts are good.  So they learn to deal and work together,

And thus, the path to romance begins. First, with common goals (justice), and then with trust, and finally with desire.

Yes, Tai and Trey start with sex, but the romance builds with each book.  By the end of the first book, Tai and Trey have met the goals  (bad guys are caught), they are a team and trust the other to cover the other one’s ass, and then they connect sexually. These books are  not erotic romance, but romance. Most of the sex is off-scene, but Whittle’s prose fans the flames of my imagination and I have a damn good imagination. Plus, Trey when aroused is intense and focused. Is there anything sexier than a man who is goal-oriented for both himself and his partner in sex?  I  don’t think so. Fanning myself here.

In the second book, Darker Than Any Shadow, which centers on the Atlanta’s Spoken Word Poetry Team vying in the Performance Poetry International contest, and in the third, Blood, Ash & Bone, which takes Tai and Trey to Savannah for a Civil War re-enactor’s  event, the romance builds.

Throughout the series, so far, Trey’s old partner continually gets mad at Tai for pushing Trey into situations where he just might explode — remember? — on-off, good-bad, black-white.  Because of his law enforcement training, the post-accident Trey pursuing a murder suspect in a high speed chase becomes a potential for disaster, because his switch to seek justice has been turned on and he can’t turn it off.  But Tai can.  She has touched some part of Trey, and his healing brain is finding pathways to becoming more sensitive to the nuances in the world around him.

It might sound like a cliche but Tai provides the healing power of love, trust, and her belief that Trey is more than his MRIs. And Trey is giving her stability she never had as a child of social-climbing parents. While Trey can’t express emotions well (she has to instigate kisses and touches early on in the series), he promises her that as long as she needs him, he will show up.  Showing up is important to Trey, and Tai also shows up for him.

I also like this series, because the writing is tight. Each word is chosen carefully, and the sum total has a powerful impact.

Example:  This short bit of narrative is near the end of the second book and shows how Whittle with her tight, simple prose paints the picture of their burgeoning romance. An injured Tai has stayed behind at Trey’s place against her inclination to be at the poetry slam finals. Trey has asked her to, because he can’t (because of his inability to multi-task) protect her and her childhood friend Rico, who is in the slam finals, at the same time. Tai agrees because she understands Trey and doesn’t want him to worry. Then she is attacked in his very secure apartment, and Trey has rushed to her side, driving 120 miles per hour in the city of Atlanta to get to her.  When she realizes he has abandoned his precious Ferrari at the lobby door, leaving it open for anyone to steal,  Tai comes to a realization:

…I looked him right in the eye, and  for the first time since he’d burst in the door, he met my gaze directly.

And what I saw there took my breath away. His eyes burned like I’d only seen during high arousal, clean blue flame. I recognized it, yes, from the heat of passion, but not like this. And I knew what I was seeing was Trey, all of him, no persona, no safe wall, the real beating-heart whole of him.

I hitched in a breath, but still the tears came. He held my face, thumbs light on my temples. He was a little shaky from the adrenalin afterburn, but rock solid underneath. I snuffled my wet face into his neck, and with no prompting, his arms went around me.

“It’s not just sex,” I mumbled against his skin.

He froze. “This is about sex?”

“No, it’s not. That’s the point.”

“But–“

And then I kissed him full on the mouth, which hurt a little, but then he kissed me back, real gentle, and then it was a little about sex. But mostly it was the other thing, the big good thing. And when the kiss was done, he sat beside me on the sofa, one arm around my shoulders. I leaned into him, my warm good-smelling rock.

Excerpt from Darker Than Any Shadow (Poisoned Pen Press, Trade print edition, 2012), p. 283.

My heart turned to mush during that scene. Plus, at the end of Blood, Ash, & Bone, I literally cried happy tears. Now, I can’t wait for the fourth book, which she is currently writing, to see where she takes Tai and Trey next.  If I had to compare this series to any other, I would compare it to J.D. Robb’s Death series; Tai and Trey have the same emotional impact for me as Eve and Roarke.

So, if you are in the market for a darn good romantic mystery series with unique characters and setting, interesting mysteries, and a touching romance with hints of intense sex, I recommend the Tai Randolph series.  The books are available in hard cover, trade paper, and e-book.  I own both the e-books and the trade paperbacks.  Yes, I loved these books so much, I bought them in paper and e-book — and that should tell you something about just how good they really are.

Tina’s web site.
cover1_darkercover1_blood

Series or stand alone

So yesterday I got my copy of Wolf with Benefits by Shelly Laurenston.

I devoured it in a day, less than actually. I love her writing, have done for a while know and every time a new book of hers is out I have a total meltdown until I get me sticky little mits on it.

Then I got to thinking, do I love these stories because I love the way Shelly Laurenston writes, of course. But would I love them just as much if they weren’t part of a series? Hmm I don’t know. With each book new characters are introduced but also characters I’ve loved in previous books return, my personal favorite in this series is Dee-Ann Smith.

So how about you? Do you love series or are you more of a stand alone person??

Neither answer is wrong, I’m just interested, well nosy to be honest.

I have my own series, Shifters of Hillside, and I’m currently working on another series…..I know glutton for punishment right.

But I do love a series, not only to write but to  read as well and I don’t think that will change.  Is there a series that you love? Something that you would recommend?

OK I am heading back into my writing, did I mention I had the week off work?? I know *squeal* you have no idea how excited I am.

Until next time remember: Making the shape of an “L” with your finger and thumb and putting that to your forehead in the universally recognized symbol for “loser” whilst looking at your Dom/me…..just plain silly….don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

What is it with these shifters anyway?

I come to you, confused and fascinated.

I’ve always read and written paranormal, but have not always gravitated toward shifter books. I know that may sound odd coming from someone who has written about selkies and shape-shifting gods and bear shifters (my newest venture, coming in May). Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I don’t appreciate them, I just haven’t always picked up shifter books first. In a way, I’m exploring them for the first time, and have really enjoyed reading some of my fellow Love, Lust and Laptops authors.

When I was younger, I was in love with vampires. I mean, come on, they reek of sex appeal. I would rather have Lestat than the Wolfman anyday!

That being said, there is a definite appeal to shape shifters.  What is that appeal?

I think one of the biggest factors is the animal side to these men. For the heroine, knowing there is a beastly, hungry part of her man is quite intoxicating. Knowing he can throw you up against a wall with abandon, and not have to worry about his bad back. He can become so enflamed, he will bite and scratch as he makes love to you. Yum.

Is it the pack mentality that many shifters have? The need to be among their own kind, and to bring you into the fold? That’s kind of nice too.

Or is it the whole mating issue? The fact that a shifter man can know from one kiss, or even from a scent, that he has found his mate? Also very appealing.

I think my favorite aspect of shifter books is the possessive feeling those men have toward the heroines. The feeling that if they’re not in the same room with her, or touching her, that something is off. Hell, something is just wrong. They need to be with their women. Okay, in reality, you might need to take a little break from your partner, but in romance lit, this is fun to consider.

I would love to hear your comments. Tell me what you love most about shifters! Tell me what you don’t like. Is there a fictional shifter you’d welcome between your sheets? As I embark on my newest series, The Gemini Island Shifters, I want to know! 😉

Why I love Love Lust and Laptops

Breaking news. The winner of the Jaci Burton giveaway is Laura Podrasky.  Check your email, babe.

Now back to your regular scheduled posting 🙂

One of the ladies the other day said that being part of this blog rocked and I have to agree. I have done group blogs before where you just turned up and posted on your day but this group is different. We’re tight. We like chatting outside of the blog, and do we ever chat. Their is lots of respect, support, love, encouragement and fun behind the scenes.

I do hope that spills over into what you read. It certainly gave rise to the ten days at Lucky’s Bar and Strip club and I do hope that we can do something similar in the future.

So, now that we have been going a while what more do we have to offer?  Lots of fun guests, and I have to admit being able to interview the authors that I love to read is no hardship. The ten free reads are, as we speak, being formatted for publication at a number of places as a freebie so that more people can enjoy them. And last but not least we now have a newsletter. Fingers crossed it will be out in April.

Want to sign up look up and to the right…see the spot?  What will you get in the newsletter? Well articles, news, snippets, excerpts not available elsewhere. Our first newsletter will be turned over to celebrating the work of our very own Becca Jameson. What is she sharing? I have no idea because she is playing hard to get. But I do know it will be something worth reading.

So, as readers how are you enjoying the blog so far? Any suggestions about what you would like to see more of? Any guest suggestions? I have no shame so toss me some names and I will gladly humiliate myself and ask them to join me on the purple crushed velvet couch…I can’t promise they will say yes though.

And finally, a huge thank you to all our readers. This is a bigger, faster, and far more exciting ride than I ever expected when I emailed Rosanna and asked what she thought about me asking some other Liquid Silver Authors to join us in a group blog.

Hang on tight and stay with us, it is turning out to be one hell of a trip.

Guest – Kyoko Church

My guest today on the purple, crushed velvet, couch is Canadian author Kyoko Church. I recently met Kyoko at my local romance writer’s group. Yes, I live in Australia and now, apparently, so does Kyoko. She still has that funny Canadian accent but we will beat it out of her and she’ll be speaking with a nasal twang in no time at all.

Kyoko: Aw, come on! You’re not supposed to say it’s funny, you’re supposed to say it’s cute or sexy! I don’t want you to beat it out of me! That’s right, I’m a BDSM author that’s not so into the beatings. Lol. So sue me. Sensual dominance is more my thing.  🙂

Thank you for agreeing to be my guest.

Kyoko: Thank you for having me! I’m honoured to visit the purple crushed velvet couch. Purple being my fav colour, and all.

Lillian: So, first things first. What was your journey to becoming an author?

Kyoko: I was taking some writing classes and wrote some non-paying parenting articles online and tried submitting a few regular short stories to literary journals with no success. Then one day this sexy story formed in my head and I couldn’t get it to leave me alone. It just went around and around in my brain until I had to write it down in order to be able to have any other thoughts!

After I wrote that story I sent it to the only place I knew published that kind of work, Black Lace Books in the UK. I liked reading their books so it seemed like the natural place to start. Their editor liked the story and said he wanted to publish it. After receiving only rejections on my regular short stories, my first erotica submission, “Delayed Gratification,” got accepted right away. I figured, well, better go with what works!

Lillian: Is writing a fulltime obsession or a part time pleasure?

It was a part time pleasure until I made the decision to move here to Australia. Then I decided to dedicate myself to writing full time.

Lillian: What genre or genres do you write and what motivated you to write them?

I write erotica. As mentioned, at first it was just about going with what worked. But the more I do it the more I love it and the more I realize how it fulfills me. It allows me to explore my fantasies, wonder over them, analyse them. I believe it was Socrates who said “the unexamined life is not worth living” and I couldn’t agree more. I think it makes me a fuller, happier person. Plus, I just have a blast writing about naughty things!

Lillian: As I mentioned above, you have just moved from Canada to South Australia. Why the move, and how do you think your new location will affect your writing?

Almost twenty years ago I made the decision to stay in Canada to be with my husband while the rest of my family moved to South Australia. Last year I was finally able to convince him that it was time to give living in Australia a turn. It ended up easier to convince him after all of our trips here to visit my family. I’ve always loved this country and through our visits he grew to as well. He appreciates the “work to live” as opposed to “live to work” attitude that Aussies have. And of course the weather is a bonus! Plus we live in the Hills and it’s just beautiful here. But for me the biggest motivation was to be reunited with my family. Being able to drive five minutes down the street to pop in on my sister after spending my whole adult life only being able to see her for a few weeks every few years is a dream come true! I’m hoping being deliriously happy in my surroundings affects my writing positively. I really don’t want to go for the whole tortured writer thing.

Lillian: When I first emigrated from the UK many many years ago I was shocked at how bad Australia’s idea of fashion was. What has been the most surprising thing you have discovered about Australia?

Ha, ha, ha!! That’s funny. I’ve been visiting here since I was a child and I remember the fashion being really different too, as well as the music and tv shows. But all that’s changed now, with how accessible everything is thanks to the net, social media, etc.  I mean damn, I turn on the radio here and hear Ryan Seacrest! I know, I’m not saying that’s a good thing, I’m just saying!

I thought I was pretty used to things from all my visits but living here is different than visiting so there have been some surprises. I had never seen the Hills in winter because I always visited in summer so I had no idea how beautiful it is when it’s so green! And it’s always surprising when I find there are still words Aussies say that I haven’t learned yet. I thought I had it all down saying capsicum instead of pepper and rocket instead of arugula. Then someone comes along and says ‘rort.’ Rort? What the heck is rort?? Lol.

Lillian: I have just read your new release ‘For Her Pleasure’, and it’s not your usual romance with an alpha male and a happy ever after.

That it is not. Lol. I know, my mother – who knows kind of what I write, but not really – keeps wanting to recommend it to her friends. I appreciate her support of my work but I keep wanting to say… it may be a bit of an acquired taste! This is not your grandmother’s Fifty Shades!

Maybe you can tell us what inspired the story and why you chose to write it the way you did.

Inspiration came from all sorts of places, as is usually the case, I think. But one of the big ones, funny enough, was from watching Mad Men. Do you watch? I LOVE that show! It’s so well done. My favourite character is Don Draper, because sometimes he’s just so fucking sexy I want to die! But a very close second is the character of Joan, played by Christina Hendricks. First of all, look at her. (And if you don’t know who she is or what I’m talking about, you can check out this board I have on Pinterest!) I mean, I’m pretty hetero but even I want to fuck her. And the way they write for her is brilliance. She pulls off bitch like nobody else. I love it when two opposing things are put together to show each one off in a brighter way, if you know what I mean. The way she can say the absolute worst thing, but all in that silky smooth voice with those big green eyes and heart stopping smile is just awesome.

And it got me thinking. Joan from Mad Men would be the best Domme ever!

That got the ‘what ifs’ flowing, which is always where great stories come from for me. What if Joan was a Domme? What if the humiliation she enjoyed inflicting – because she so obviously enjoys it – was an erotic one? What if there was a guy who got off on her doing that? And things just went from there.

Lillian: The book is very sexy. Do you struggle to write sex scenes or do they just flow?

Thank you! So glad you think it’s sexy. Sex scenes almost always just flow for me. I find if I’m struggling it’s because I’m writing parts that are not sexy in order to get to the sexy. When that happens I will often just start writing the sexy bits and fill in the blanks after … and I often find I don’t really have to fill in much. I mean, I don’t know about you, but when I’m reading a sexy book I sometimes just skim to get to the good bits. I know, I’m a bad girl like that. J But I figure if I do that, others must too. So I just try to make all my stuff the good bits! So if you want one big horny parade of naughty adventures, buy my books!

Lillian: What is in the future for you? What books do I need to add to my TBR list?

Aw, you’re going to read more of my stuff? I’m so flattered! You can see all of my books and short stories on the Read Me page on my blog, www.kyokochurch.blogspot.com. I have a trilogy called The Draper Estates and I’m working on Book Three for that series currently. Plus I just found out this week that Sweetmeats Press has accepted one of my short stories. If you’re unfamiliar with what they do you should check them out at http://www.sweetmeatspress.com/. They are a unique publisher because they pair erotic fiction with beautiful (and totally explicit!) illustrations.  So I am absolutely thrilled about their acceptance and totally excited to see what their artists come up with for my work. And it will be in print as well as digital! I haven’t had a print copy of my work in a while!

Now some questions just for fun.

Okay! Yay!

Chocolate or sex?

If you tack “or sex” onto the end of any choice, I’m pretty much gonna go for sex every time. As I said, I’m a bad girl like that. And I don’t like chocolate that much!

Hot or cold?

That’s difficult! It depends! But right now I’m looking out at my pool… so I’m going to go with hot.

Dom or Sub?

Oh, now you’re just being mean. You’re gonna make me choose that? Okay. Sub. *blush*

Jimmy Choo’s or Manolo Blahnik?

Okay, now you’re outing me as total fraud! I know what I said in my book, but I actually don’t know that much about high end shoes! Lol. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love shoes. I’m just a little too thrifty for to go for the really posh ones.

Thanks for playing along.  🙂

Thanks for sending such great questions! It was total fun.

Want to know about Kyoko’s naughty book?

 

For Her Pleasure

Blurb:

Imagine an average guy with a wife, a job, average house, average car, average sex life… Well, not exactly. He has a secret he finds so embarrassing that he never talks to anyone about it. And then one day he meets her…

An architect chairs the newly formed Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Committee. When the consultant he hires to help him organize the new committee turns out to be a red haired bombshell, he tries to rein in his untoward thoughts.

But when she uncovers his embarrassing little secrets, this married man ends up in a relationship that’s so wrong on every level of his carefully put together life.

How long will he let his burning carnal desires threaten everything he’s worked so hard for?

Excerpt:

When he got back to his office she was stretched out on the leather sofa beneath the large picture window that looked out high over the city. Her feet were up, Kate Spade heels on the floor. Again, those red toenails.

He shut the door behind him.

‘I hope you don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I made myself comfortable while I was waiting. Been on my feet all day.’ The look she gave him then could only be described as imploring. Imploring in a way that sucked his gaze back to those gorgeous feet. An inexplicably helpless feeling bloomed in his chest.

‘Have a seat,’ she said, indicating the sofa beside her.

He settled uncomfortably at the other end, not knowing where to look or how to position his body. She chuckled. ‘A little closer, silly,’ she said, lifting her foot up, offering it to him as he moved closer. He blushed but took it, gently. Her foot was surprisingly small and slender, the skin pale so the red toenails stood out sharply.

His mind raced. Raced. Everything in his brain screamed how wrong this was, how they were the two people in the entire building most aware of the wrongness, charged as they were with informing the entire company on the intricacies of how wrong everything about a man touching a woman’s foot in a work setting was.

Especially when said man was pitching a tent in his pants.

But he absolutely could not stop. His dick screamed back at his brain to shut the fuck up, just shut up for once and let me have this one.

Well, what harm would a little consensual foot rub do? That was the key word, right? Consensual. He began to massage slowly.

‘Wait a second.’ He looked up. ‘Turn to me a little,’ she said. ‘That’s right. Now lift your knee up onto the couch.’ He did so and jumped as she placed her other foot gently but firmly against his crotch. ‘Keep rubbing,’ she commanded, gesturing at the foot in his hand. ‘I just want to make sure you’re not getting excited.’ Fire exploded in his face. He looked away from her, at her foot, then looked away from that.

She laughed. ‘It’s OK,’ she cooed. ‘I know you like my feet. And I do need a foot rub right now. So you rub my foot.’ He hesitated. ‘Do it,’ she said, not laughing now. ‘But I just need to make sure, you know, for legal reasons, that you’re not being a disgusting pervert and getting all excited about my pretty feet. I need to make sure this foot rub is just about you doing something I’ve asked you to do for me. Alright? For massage therapy purposes.’

How could he be so confused and at the same time his dick be growing? Did she mean it? Of course she didn’t, but he couldn’t be sure.

He rubbed, obediently trying to clear his mind, trying to think of anything but her slim foot in his hands. But there was also the pressure of her other foot against him. And then she started making little noises. Little whimpers, groans of pleasure. ‘Mmm, that’s right,’ she purred. ‘Ooo, right there, that feels so good.’  He was helpless. He sat helplessly rubbing her sexy foot while his cock grew with a mind of its own.

‘Oh my god, what is going on?’ She looked at him. ‘I can feel you, you know,’ she said, wiggling her toes against his stiffness, only worsening matters. ‘God, what horny little thoughts are going through your head? Was it the noises I was making?’ she chided. ‘I was only enjoying the foot rub! You weren’t thinking that’s what I sound like when I fuck, were you?’ Oh! To hear that word. To hear that word come out of her mouth. It hung in the air, like a spark, like an echo. A mere half hour ago she had been standing in the conference room lecturing on what constituted inappropriate language in the workplace! But he could not deny that he had never heard that word sound so fucking sexy ever before. A hard slap of a word and when she said it he immediately wanted nothing more than to do it. With her. Now.

He stared into his lap, unable to respond. ‘Well, if you are going to act like a horny, little dog, then that’s how I’m going to have to treat you.’

This is how it was that the chair of the sexual harassment committee of X Architects found himself on all fours on the floor in front of this goddess, pants around his knees, praying, hoping against hope that no one opened the door to his office that he didn’t think to lock, while he humped his straining shaft against her foot like some kind of human lap dog.

It was sheer and utter madness. And he was powerless against it.

Even though she didn’t make it easy for him, did things like swing her foot away, complain that he was going too fast, laugh, force him to keep all four limbs on the ground, to not use his hands, even still his little problem reared its ugly head.

He spurted, hips helplessly bucking, after two minutes.

Oh no.

Here it comes.

He knelt in front of her and braced himself. He steeled himself against the familiar onslaught of feeling – frustration, anger, shame – that always raged through him like a firestorm, burning through everything in its path. But instead of the usual reactions of disappointment, pity, anger or worse, the yawning silence, pregnant with judgments and unspoken resentment, there was something different.

Giggling. Like tinsel. Like glasses chinking together, crystal laughter.

‘My, my, my, we are the eager little beaver, aren’t we?’

Heat rose, he could hear the blood pump through the vessels in his head.

‘That’s OK, sweetie,’ she said and she leaned over, put her lips right next to his ear, so he could feel her breath on his skin. ‘Mistress has all sorts of ways of dealing with a horny little puppy like you,’ she whispered.

Oh fuck.

‘Starting with,’ she said, dipping her finger in the creamy mess on her foot, ‘rubbing your nose in it.’ She swiped her finger across the space between his nose and his upper lip. A moustache of his own shame. The sharp, acrid odour immediately brought a fresh jolt of humiliation. ‘You may not rub or wash that off,’ she announced. She took his chin with her fingers, stared right into his eyes. His heart pounded in terror. ‘You will wear your disgusting mess on your face. It will be there for all of the rest of your meetings today.’ Oh god. ‘And when you go home and kiss your wife.’ Oh god! ‘And when you put your head on your pillow tonight.’ She sighed then, closed those gorgeous eyes and smiled.  ‘When you have your shower tomorrow morning you may wash it off then.’ He realized then he wasn’t breathing and took in a gasping breath.

And suddenly he realized something else. Something astounding.

He was hard again. Harder than he had been the first time.

There was shame. But no anger. There was humiliation. But no frustration.

Pure humiliation. Not blazing, like the white hot heat of the firestorm of his secret torment, but rolling in slowly, like molasses, covering him, turning his insides liquid, enveloping him in a mass of humility, shrinking him down, making him want to place his hard, needy little cock before her in an act of complete submission.

And what she did then made it throb and ache even more.

She leaned in and placed the smallest little kiss with her full, soft, pouty red lips right on the tip of his nose. Like the period at the end of a sentence.

There it was. Just like that. Turned a hair to the left. His torment died.

His kink was born.

Buy Link

Amazon

Kyoko Church discovered the power of the written erotic word when she was 16 years old and penned a very explicit missive to her boyfriend detailing all the naughty things she wanted to do to him. When he received it, boyfriend was impressed. When he found it, father was not. For the next 18 years she hid her naughty thoughts in shame until she found a community where they were once again appreciated for the well-imagined smut they are. Her short stories have been published in anthologies by Black Lace, Rubicund Publishing, Xcite Books and HarperCollins Mischief Books. Book One, Nymphomania, and Book Two, Sapphic Secrets, in her Draper Estate Trilogy were published by Xcite in 2012. For Her Pleasure was published by HarperCollins Mischief in February 2013. A Canuck by birth, she has recently made Australia her home. She is currently learning to drive on the left and say G’day convincingly.

Website: kyokochurch.blogspot.com

 

Jaci Burton Interview and Giveaway

Closed for comments. 

Enjoy the interview and be sure to leave a comment for your chance to win an autographed print copy of Jaci’s book Thrown By A Curve.

Lillian: Today my guest on the purple crushed velvet couch is the wonderful New York Times best selling author, Jaci Burton. I have to admit to having a huge fangirl moment when Jaci agreed to let me interrogate her. Relax Jaci, I promise to be gentle. So far everyone I have interviewed has escaped unharmed.

Jaci: Totally relaxed here and eager to get started!

Lillian: So, firstly a huge thank you, Jaci, for agreeing to be my guest.

Jaci: Thanks for inviting me to be here! 🙂

Lillian: In preparation for this interview I went and checked out your website. There goes hours of my life I’ll never get back.  You have been a very busy lady and you have some delicious book covers.

Jaci: Thank you! I’ve been extremely lucky in the book cover department, thanks to my publisher.

Lillian: For those people who have never heard of you maybe you can start by telling us a bit about the genres you write and why you chose them.

Jaci: In the the past I wrote in a lot of different genres, which you’ll be able to tell if you browse around my website. Right now, though, I write primarily contemporary romance.

When I first started out, I wanted to get a feel for who I was as a writer, which I strongly encourage every new author to do. You really don’t know who you’re going to be and where you belong until you find what you love. So I dabbled in different genres—everything from paranormal to romantic suspense to futuristic and fantasy. It took me a few years to decide I really loved contemporary romance most of all. I’ve been writing contemporary romance for several years now and that’s where I’m the happiest.

Lillian: How did you get your big break in publishing?

Jaci: I had always written very hot love scenes, which didn’t really fit the market I was trying to break into at the time. That’s when I found Ellora’s Cave, who was publishing digital erotic romance. I thought they’d be a good fit for me, so I submitted a book to them and they published my first book. It was a very exciting time for me because I felt they really marketed the kinds of books that fit my voice back then. Plus digital publishers back in the early 2000’s were the few publishers who allowed their authors to push the envelope as far as writing whatever they wanted to write, topic and genre wise.  In 2005 I signed contracts with Berkley and with Bantam Dell which allowed me to expand my reach into traditional print publishing as well as digital publishing. Currently I’m writing for Berkley and very happy there. It’s been a thrill ride for me, for sure.

Lillian: I do have to admit to being a big fan of your Play by Play series. What inspired you to write books about sports heroes?

Jaci: I actually have the awesome Maya Banks to thank for the idea for the Play by Play series. I was going to propose a new series to my publisher, and needed to come up with a new idea. She suggested I write a sports series and thought it’d be perfect for me. I owe all the thanks to Maya for that idea. She’s kind of brilliant that way.

Lillian: Are you a big sports fan?

Jaci: I’m a huge sports fan and have been ever since I was a child. I was born and raised in St Louis, Missouri, which is a big sports city. My dad was a sports fan and there was always sports on television and on the radio when we were kids. My love for football, hockey and baseball grew out of being surrounded by it during my childhood.

Lillian: Just in case you can’t tell from my funny nasal accent, I’m an Aussie not an America, and added to that I really don’t do sport. American football, for the uninitiated, seems to be about spending as much time grabbing each other’s butts and standing around in huddles talking, as it does playing something that seems to have very little to do with kicking a ball. As for baseball, I know it’s a bit like the rounders I played at high school. The only thing I remember about that is if you daydream on first base you can anticipate not seeing the ball before it hits you in the face and breaks your nose. So, how do you manage to write the sports sections in your books so that they make sense to non American couch potatoes like me?

Jaci: And conversely, me being an American knows nothing about that whole rugby thing other than it seems the guys hug each other while turning around in a big circle, then try to beat the crap out of each other while piling on. It’s funny how sports differ in different countries, isn’t it? But hey, I do know soccer, which seems to be a universal sport!

As far as writing about sports, I try to keep in mind that not everyone who reads my books actually has an understanding or liking for the sport I’m writing about. Plus, I’m writing a romance, not a sports book, so while I might pepper the book with sports references or an occasional game situation, I don’t want the entire book to be a sports journal. But I hope the book has enough flavor and explanation that anyone who doesn’t ‘get’ sports will at least have an idea about what’s going on, be able to follow it and not get lost.

Lillian: Of all the characters in your Play by Play series I have to admit to having a real soft spot for Liz. How hard was it to take a kick arse take no prisoners sports agent and have her fall in love without changing her character?

Jaci: I love Liz. She’s undoubtedly my favorite female character in this series. She’s strong, successful in what has traditionally been a man’s field, which is a sports agent, and while she’s made mistakes along the way, she’s atoned for them and learned from them. Liz is very smart, so she takes in every new situation and adapts. As far as changing her character, I think everyone changes as they grow. I’ve put Liz in a lot of my Play by Play books—likely because I love and adore her so much. And I’ve continued to see growth and change in her character as she moves along in her relationship with Gavin. It’s fun to see that. But Liz will never really change who she is, which is a strong, dynamic character who works hard and loves fully.

Lillian: As I mentioned before the covers on your Play by Play series are works of art. I’m happy to admit that I’m so shallow I bought the Perfect Play so that I could lick the cover.  The fact the story was fantastic was a bonus and I was hooked on your books for life. How much input do you have in the cover design, and how important do you think the cover of a book is to gaining reader’s attention?

Jaci: Thank you! And hey, that’s not shallow at all. Those covers are definitely lickable. 😉

I’ve been madly in love with the Play by Play covers since The Perfect Play landed on my desk. I give full credit to the Berkley art department for their skill and imagination in giving me the best covers I’ve ever received. As far as input, my editor and I discuss the concept of each book and how we might want the cover to look as far as the tone and feel of the character. But frankly, I give the art department free rein to create the cover as they see fit. I’m a writer, not a cover artist, so it’s not my field of expertise, it’s theirs. And so far, they’ve done an amazing job.

Lillian: Do you have to do a lot of research for you books? What is the strangest or most outrageous thing you have ever done in the name of research?

Jaci: Fortunately, I love sports and I love going to games. I have a pretty good understanding of the sports I write. Though, honestly, watching a sport and writing about it are two different things. There is a level of research you have to do to make sure you get the plays written correctly, and that each season is played during the right times of year, and you don’t have a player doing something they wouldn’t ordinarily do in a game situation. So in that respect, I have researched each sport rather extensively.

As far as the strangest or most outrageous thing I’ve ever done in the name of research? Hmmm… That’s a loaded question. What won’t writers do in the name of research? I tend to ask people in various professional fields a lot of very strange questions. Once they find out I’m a writer doing research for a book, they’re generally very nice about answering those questions. When I was writing romantic suspense, I’m sure I worried the detective I was interviewing when I asked him questions about the different ways you could kill someone and how not to leave evidence on the body. But, again, book research.

Lillian: If Jaci Burton wasn’t a writer, heaven forbid, what do you think you would have done with your life?

Jaci: I actually had a full time career before I became a writer. I spent many years in the corporate world, in management. Daily reports, sales meetings, doing budgets and things like that. Quite boring, actually, and not nearly as exciting as being a writer.

Lillian: When you’re not writing what do you like to do with your spare time?

Jaci: I love to be outside whenever the weather permits. WE have a garden in the summer and we grow vegetables. We ride on the motorcycle and we travel. WE love to go to the casino and gamble, though we don’t win as often as we’d like to. I also love to watch TV and watch way more than I should, but I’m hooked on so many shows it’s like an addiction. Uh, I’ll just call it research.

Lillian: Is writing a full time occupation for you? And if it is how do you keep things fresh so you don’t start to feel like it’s just another job?

Jaci: It is a full time job for me and has been for several years. But since every book is a new adventure for me, with new characters and new situations, it’s like starting a brand new job with every book, so how could it possibly ever get boring?

Lillian: What does the future hold? What books do you have coming soon or in progress for us to look forward to?

Jaci: I just turned in Melting the Ice, Book 7 in my Play by Play series. This is Drew’s book and it’s all about hockey again.

Right now I’m working on Holiday Games, a Play by Play holiday novella that will release in November. Since we talked a lot about Liz earlier, I’ll tell you that it focuses a lot on Liz and Gavin’s relationship, but it also includes the entire Riley family. I’m having so much fun writing this novella.

Coming up in June is the next Play by Play book, One Sweet Ride. It’s an auto racing book and features Gray Preston, who I know everyone is going to fall madly in love with.

In July is the release of the Hot Summer Nights anthology, which features Hope Smolders, my novella introducing my new Hope contemporary romance series.

In September, Hope Flames releases, the first single title in my Hope series. I’m so excited about this new series and I can’t wait for everyone to read it.

Now some questions just for fun:

Movie or a good book?

Movie. Followed by a good book (I know…I cheated on this one)

Sex or chocolate?

Sex. Followed by chocolate (I can’t help myself. I cheated again)

Hot or cold?

Definitely hot. I hate the cold!

Motorbike or sportscar?

This is a tough one. But I do love sports cars (Don’t tell my husband I didn’t choose motorcycle)

Football or Baseball?

Oh, come on. Don’t make me choose. But I do love football.

Leather or silk?

Leather on him. Silk on me. (Still cheating here.)

Lucky’s: Liam by Christy Gissendaner

The house lights dimmed as the spotlight formed a circle of illumination on the stage. A cloaked figure entered from stage left. He lifted his head, but a white domino mask disguised his face.

Erin O’Reilly, who’d just walked in to join her father near the bar, sank onto a stool and twisted in her seat to watch the show. “Who is that?”

Her father patted a paunch formed by too many beers and not enough crunches and belched. “It’s the new kid, Liam. Tonight’s his first performance.”

Erin didn’t visit Lucky’s too often, but she’d seen the male review a couple of times. Most of the guys didn’t approach her. As the daughter of Padraig “Lucky” O’Reilly, she was considered hands off. Judging from the well-oiled, well-toned bodies of the dancers, it was quite unfortunate. She wouldn’t mind a few of the guys having their hands on her.

Like the guy on stage now.

He tossed back the blood-red hood of his cloak. Only the barest of dark stubble lined his skull. Erin shivered and clenched her thighs. She was a sucker for a shaved head.

His body was engulfed by the cloak, but he was tall and appeared well formed. Pulsating Latin music poured from the speakers as he sauntered toward the pole in the center of the stage. Erin held her breath and waited to see what he’d do.

He didn’t touch the pole as she’d expected. Instead he passed it and headed down the middle of the stage, which extended well into the crowd. At the end of the runway, he paused and seemed to survey the audience as if looking for someone.

The ladies, even some of the men, in the audience seemed to hold a collective breath as he turned his head slowly left and right. He went back to his left, toward the bar, and lifted a hand. He pointed a finger at Erin and then crooked it.

Lucky guffawed and slapped his meaty thigh. “I’ll be damned. The new kid certainly has balls.”

Erin gave her father a dismissive snort and then shook her head at the dancer on the stage. She mouthed “No” and crossed her arms over her chest. No way was she going to be dragged onto stage to perform for the man-hungry audience.

Liam assumed a military stance and again crooked his finger. Geez, what would it take for him to get the hint? She lifted the shot of tequila her father had ordered for her, tossed it back, and then slammed the glass onto the counter. “No way in hell,” she mouthed again.

The audience went wild as their gazes swung back and forth between her and the dancer. Erin hated being the center of attention, but as chants of “Do it” filled the bar, she had to laugh.

She nudged her father. “You didn’t have anything to do with this, did you?”
“Who me?” Lucky affected his most innocent expression as his lips twitched. “Of course not.”

Erin’s eyes narrowed. She wouldn’t put it past her father to have arranged this entire skit. He was all about money and entertainment. If he thought it would draw a crowd, he most certainly would embarrass his youngest daughter in public.

Obviously tired of her continued refusal, Liam vaulted from the stage and strode through the sea of heavily made-up women straight for her. Erin panicked. It was one thing to be beckoned from the stage. It was quite another to be fetched.

“Lucky, do something!” She clutched her father’s arm as if he would save her.

“For the last time, Erin, my name is Dad.” He snorted and reached for his beer. “You kids have no respect for your dear old pa.”

The dancer reached her. He came to a stop before her and swept into an elegant bow. “My lady, please join me on stage.”

His voice was silky smooth, like melted caramel. As he straightened, she was captured by his gaze. His eyes were wonderfully blue, a deep sapphire heightened by the whiteness of his mask.

Lucky pried her hand from his upper arm. “Go with Liam. It’ll be good for business.”

Erin shot him a baleful glare. “Seriously? Anything for a dollar, huh?”

“Don’t be like that, baby girl.” Her father shooed her. “Go. It’ll be fun.”
She lifted an eyebrow. “I’ve got an idea. How about you go on stage with him, and I’ll just sit here and watch.”

Amusement flitted through Liam’s eyes as he glanced at Lucky. “Not a good idea. He hung up his thong years ago.”

Erin grimaced and held up her hand. “Ugh, a mental image I don’t need.”

Lucky straightened and pulled back his shoulders. “I’ll have you know I dampened more panties back in my days as a dancer than these young bucks can dream of.”

Erin pretended to gag. “TMI, for sure.”

“How do you think I caught your mom?”

Erin put her hands over her ears and slid off the stool. “For the love of Christ! I’d rather be on stage.”

Liam gave her a slow smile and reached for her. Erin put her hand in his and allowed him to tow her back toward the stage. She muttered under her breath as he brought her into the spotlight.

What in the hell was she doing?

*

What in the hell was he doing?

When he’d applied for a stripper job, Liam McNamara never expected he would be performing in front of Erin O’Reilly on his first night. The gorgeous redhead grew up in his neighborhood. She and her sister had lived with their mother in a brownstone across the street from his building. The O’Reilly girls had gone to a proper Catholic school, while Liam attended the local public school. In college, he’d finally crossed Erin’s path. They’d had a couple of the same classes and hung out at a bar on weekends. They became friends, even though he’d wanted more. One night, he’d finally gotten up the nerve to ask her to dance.

Erin had taken one look at his lanky form and two left feet and laughed.

“When you learn how to dance, come ask me again.”

He couldn’t blame her really. To look at him back then, no one would’ve suspected he’d trained as a dancer for most of his life. His favorite had been hip-hop, but his mother had forced him to attend ballet classes. As a teenager, he’d learned some slick dance moves from the older kids in the neighborhood. The untrained street dancers taught him more than his professionally trained instructors could ever hope to.

He’d given up the dancing dream after graduating college and took a proper job in public relations. Yet he hadn’t been able to stop dancing. He needed the outlet, a chance to exhibit his hidden passion. So, when he’d seen the ad for a performer at Lucky’s, he jumped at the chance. Not only would he be working for the father of his dream girl, but he’d earn some spare cash. It seemed a win-win situation … that was until Erin had walked in the door.

Liam had expected to have a couple performances under his belt before Erin came to the bar. He’d learned from some of the other dancers she showed up every now and again to check on her father, but she seldom stayed more than a couple of minutes.

So he had approximately one-hundred-and-twenty seconds to make an impression. He’d vaulted from the stage and finally convinced her to follow him.        Now she stood before him, primly dressed in a pair of jeans and a green sweater. Her vibrant hair was pulled back in a ponytail. She was the quintessential girl next door … if the girl next door came with an ex-stripper for a father and a pair of lush breasts that tempted him to drop to his knees before her and bury his face in them.

Erin crossed her arms and gave him a look that clearly said Get on with it. He lifted his hand to cue the music, and the deejay quickly cut to the song he’d chosen for his performance. When Doves Cry by Prince was one of his favorites. It was a sexy song with a great beat.

Erin continued to eye him as the intro started. He pushed back the sides of his cape, revealing the bare chest beneath, and did a slow pirouette before her. Her eyes widened as he rushed up and pressed her against the stripper pole.

“Relax,” he whispered as he ground his hips against her. He lifted her hands and held them over her head. His body continued to move in time with the music, a sexy sway that normally drove his partners wild. He’d practiced his moves at his favorite dance club and women usually fell all over themselves to dance with him.

He should’ve known Erin would be a challenge. She remained stiff as a board and showed no reaction to his provocative dance.

“Leave your arms up,” he instructed and moved away from her. He turned to face the audience. He rolled his hips and smiled as the catcalls began. Now this was the reaction he was used to.

His feet began to move in a complicated pattern he’d created a few weeks before. He’d practiced in front of the mirror until he’d committed the steps to memory. Dancing was the easy part. Removing his clothes as he did so was where the complications ensued.

He untied the string to his cape and allowed it to fall from his shoulders. The audience went wild. His black pants were rip-away. He’d bought them online at the suggestion of Devlin, another dancer he’d met a few days before, and he hoped the Velcro ripped like it was supposed to. Gathering his courage, he grabbed the sides of the pants and pulled them away from his body. Cheers from the crowd assured him he’d done just fine.

He still wore his domino mask and a black g-string. He turned to head back to Erin. The sight of his bare buttocks should be enough to satisfy his audience. It was time to amp up the sex factor of his performance.

Erin’s hands gripped the pole above her head. Her breasts pushed against the soft wool of her sweater. She looked eminently fuckable poised against the pole. His dick jerked to attention. Only by extreme force of will was he able to keep it from becoming a raging hard-on. Maybe he should’ve jerked off first as some of the guys had suggested.

It was too late now.

He reached around Erin and grasped the pole near her back. He lifted his leg and wrapped it around her hip. He leaned backward and gave a saucy wink to the audience before straightening and thrusting his hips against his partner. He gripped the pole and gave an exaggerated mimicry of the sex act. The crowd whooped and hollered for more.

The exuberance of the audience filled Liam with energy. He wanted this performance to be memorable. He wanted to make Lucky proud. But most of all he wanted to prove to Erin he wasn’t the geeky kid she remembered from college. He was a man now, one who’d come into his own and was determined to show his talent.

He lowered his leg and turned around. He backed up to Erin and reached up to take her hands. “Touch me,” he commanded.

Her fingers trembled within his grasp. “The customers aren’t supposed to touch the dancers.”

“You’re not a customer, Erin. Just do it.”

He heard her gasp, and he silently cursed. He hadn’t meant to let her name slip. He put her hands on his chest, and she took the hint. Her fingers trailed up and down his oiled torso. He prayed for the strength to keep the blood from pooling in his cock. It seemed to have a mind of its own as it gave another twitch.

He spun around and grabbed her ponytail with one hand. He pulled her head back, exposing her pale throat and the anxious fluttering of her pulse beneath the delicate skin. He nipped her and ran his tongue along the side of her neck.

The song drew to a close. He lifted his head and gazed at Erin.

She returned his gaze. Curiosity burned within the green depths of her eyes. “Who are you?”

He couldn’t help the cocky grin that crossed his face. “It doesn’t matter.”

Her eyes narrowed. Before he could stop her, she reached up and snatched the mask from his face. In the split second before the spotlight turned off, he saw shocked recognition on her face.

*

Erin went to find her father.

As soon as the stage went dark, Liam had disappeared. Last she’d seen, he’d gone up the stairs to one of the private rooms. Figures, she snorted to herself. Just when she’d found a dancer she wouldn’t mind sharing a room with, someone beat her to the punch.

Lucky was still at the bar. Molly, who’d been talking to him, scurried away when she caught sight of Erin.

Erin rolled her eyes and slapped her father on the arm. “Are you still chasing after that poor woman?”

Lucky did his best to look innocent. “What makes you think she doesn’t chase me? I’ll have you know your old Da is still quite the catch.”

“Sure you are.” Erin slapped her hand on the counter and caught the attention of the bartender. “Another tequila, please.”

While she waited for her drink, her father watched her with a considering gleam in his eye. She turned her head and lifted an eyebrow. “What?”

Lucky gave her a wide smile. “Did you enjoy the dance?”

Erin tossed back the tequila the bartender handed her. She grimaced at the fiery burn in her throat. “What the hell are you doing hiring Mac?”

Her father appeared confused. “Mac?”

“Yes, Mac.” Erin waved her hand in a big arc. “You know, the boy I liked in college.”

“Oohhh,” Lucky drew out the word and scratched his head. “I thought his name was Liam.”

“It is. Liam McNamara. Everyone called him Mac.”

Her father laughed so hard his belly jiggled. “This just beats all. My daughter has a crush on one of my dancers.”

Erin glared at him. “I do not.”

Lucky imitated her by lifting his own pale red eyebrow. “Yes, you most certainly do. Baby girl, you know I have a rule. The dancers can’t date my daughters.”

Erin opened her mouth to make a retort, but the words never left her throat. A male body insinuated itself between her and Lucky. “I’ll make it simple then. I quit.”

Erin stared at the back of Liam’s head as she leaned in close to him. He smelled heavenly, all manly musk mixed with the scent of the oil on his body. “What the hell are you doing?”

Liam tossed her a look over his shoulder. “I think it’s pretty damned obvious. You wanna get out of here?”

Erin had known him for years, but the Mac she’d once known had never been so forceful. Her veins throbbed in response. She stood on her tiptoes to look over his shoulder at her father. “Goodnight, Lucky.”

Liam took her hand and led her away. They left Lucky muttering to himself about the lack of respect in today’s generation.

Giggling, Erin clung to Liam’s hand. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone stand up to my dad before. Well, other than me of course.”

Liam held open the door for her to exit into the cool night air. They stepped onto the sidewalk, and he turned toward her. “Stripping wasn’t really for me.”

The glow of a streetlight illuminated his face. Erin stared at him, reveling in the strong features and the promise of boyish good lucks that had finally been fulfilled. She nervously wet her lips with her tongue. “That’s a shame. You were pretty good at it. Where did you learn how to dance anyway?”

A smile played about his lips. “It’s a secret.”

She leaned in close and whispered, “I promise not to tell anyone.”

“Is that so?” He bent his head, and his question whispered across her lips.

“Yes,” she barely breathed the word.

Liam kissed her. She couldn’t imagine a more perfectly perfect kiss. They’d lost contact after college, but when he touched her it was like coming home. They’d always seemed to bump into each other at different points in their life. How could they not share this one soul-stirring kiss?

Erin pulled back first. She stared into eyes that had darkened to indigo. “Come home with me.”

She wanted to take back the words as soon as she’d said them. She wasn’t like her father, a horn dog who would bed anything with a pulse. But something about this moment just felt right.

Liam looked down at her. “Are you sure?”

She grabbed fate with both hands and nodded. “I’m sure.”

*****

Erin flipped on the switch and flooded her tiny apartment with light.

Liam followed her into the living room and glanced at the view of the New York skyline from her window. “Nice.”

She smiled and tossed her keys onto the coffee table. “It’s not much, but it’s all I can afford on a teacher’s salary.”

“It’s a great apartment. I wish mine was this nice.”

Erin stood in the center of the room. He could sense she was nervous. Hell, he was too. It wasn’t every night he went home with his dream girl. He recalled the feel of her lush curves pressed against his body during the performance. His dick hardened immediately. He had to have her.

Erin’s gaze traveled south. She focused on the crotch of his jeans. Her eyes widened the tiniest bit before she lifted her gaze back to his face. “So, what do you want to do?”

He stepped closer and reached for her. “I thought maybe we could finish what we started years ago.”

She wrapped her arms around him and angled her head for a kiss. “I had the biggest crush on you back then.”

He stroked her cheek and leaned down to kiss her. He pulled away, satisfied by the flush staining her pale skin. “You were all I thought about.”

Her brows drew together in a fierce frown. “Why didn’t we act on it then? Why did we wait four years?”

Liam shrugged. “I guess I was too shy to make a move.”

Her frown faded into a smile. “And I was too stubborn to admit I wanted you.”

His heart melted at the look on her face. “Forget about the past. We can start new.”

She pressed against him. “As long as we don’t start slow. I’ve waited a long time to have you in my bed.”

Liam grabbed the hem of her sweater and tugged it over her head. She wore a pale green bra underneath. He flicked a nipple, and it puckered the lace. “I don’t want to wait anymore.”

“Good.” Erin took his hand and led him to her bedroom. She kicked the door closed behind them and removed her shoes before she turned to face him.

He drew in a shocked breath as she unfastened her jeans and slid them past her hips. She reached behind to unhook her bra and tossed it aside. Wearing nothing but a cream-colored thong, she approached him. “You have too many clothes on.”

He reacted instantly. Grabbing the hem of his T-shirt, he pulled it off and dropped it to the floor. She unfastened his jeans and helped him shuck them as he toed off his shoes and socks.

Erin pulled back to study his tight black boxer briefs. Humor lit her eyes as she lifted her gaze to his. “Quite a wardrobe change there.”

He shrugged. “G-strings aren’t really my thing.” He toyed with the elastic band of her thong. “Your underwear, on the other hand, is quite intriguing.”

She gave him a slow, sexy smile and towed him toward the bed. She let go of him and turned to crawl onto the four-poster. He had a great view of her ass as she slithered across the mattress and shoved aside the blankets.

He tumbled in after her and scrambled to cover her body with his. They kissed, the passionate embrace born of long-suppressed desire. He ripped his lips from hers and trailed kisses along her neck and down to her breasts. “You don’t know how long I’ve wanted to do this.”

She arched into his caress. “I think I have an idea.”

Liam did as he’d dreamed and took her nipple into his mouth. He laved it with his tongue and delighted in the sounds she made. The tiny whimpers and soft sighs spurred him to action.

He moved a hand between her thighs and toyed with her. She was damp as his fingers plucked her clit and then slid between the slicks folds of her pussy.

Erin parted her thighs and panted. “Condom?”

He hated to leave her, but he had to find his jeans and pull the condom out of his wallet. He hurried back to the bed, shoving down his boxers as he went. He ripped open the package and rolled the latex down the length of his arousal.

Erin got to her knees and reached for him. They tumbled to the bed in a tangle of limbs. Somehow she managed to climb astride him. Liam’s cock nearly burst at the hot look she gave as she brushed her lower body against his erection.

“Now,” she instructed as she grasped hold of his cock and placed it at the entrance to her body.

Liam groaned and arched his hips. She ground down and took him inside to the hilt. She immediately set up a fast rhythm, her hips rolling and grinding down upon his erection. He grasped her hips and tried to slow her down. “You’re going too fast.”

She reared over him and shook her head. “No, it’s perfect. We’ll go slow next time. I promise.”

Hope blossomed at the mention of a next time. He held on, grit his teeth, and prayed he could last longer than her. Several torturous moments later, Erin changed the angle of her movements. Her breath panted past her lips, and he knew it was time. Liam’s hips surged upwards, seeking more of her, as he plunged and retreated.

Finally Erin collapsed upon his chest. Tremors racked her body as he sought his own release. With a growl of completion, Liam poured himself into the condom. His body relaxed and dropped back onto the mattress. He wrapped his arms across Erin’s back and let out a sigh of contentment.

Her breath tickled his chest as she spoke. “You never did tell me where you learned to dance.”

He chuckled and smoothed his palms down to her buttocks. “I actually learned when I was a child. I took dance for years.”

She straightened and gave him an astonished look. “No shit?”

He lifted a hand and touched her cheek. “I was embarrassed. Not many of my friends took ballet.”

Her eyes softened. “Oh, Mac. You could’ve told me.”

He pulled her down for a kiss. “And ruin the surprise? No, thank you.”

She kissed him back as she moved to lie next to him. He gathered her into his arms. “So, how did I do?”

She raised her head and gave him a considering look, one that reminded him of Lucky when he’d first auditioned for him. “Not bad. Not bad at all. I may need a repeat performance.”

He laughed and shook his head. “I quit, remember?”

She gave him a mischievous look. “I can install a pole in here.”

His cock stirred to life again. “But only if you use it with me.”

Her green eyes darkened with desire and something more, something vaguely resembling love. “Then you have a deal.”

THE END

Lucky’s: Devlin by Parker Kincade

DEVLIN

by Parker Kincade

“Face it, cousin. You lost.”

Devlin glanced up from his cards. “Hand’s not over yet.” He tossed a few gold coins, adding to the large pile in the center of the table. “Call.”

“That’s not what I’m talking about,” Rory said.

Beside him, Flanagan snickered. “He’s right, Dev. Admit defeat. I call.” He added his coins to the middle.

“They have a point,” Brogan agreed. “Call.” More gold.

Not to be outdone, Brogan’s twin, Bronaugh, chimed in as he tossed his cards down. “I’m out. It’s over, Devlin. Time’s up.”

“Shut up. All of you.” Devlin glared around the table at his cousins, allowing his irritation to show. “She’s an emotionless shrew. Not even Aonghus himself could seduce that woman.”

“As if the Irish love god would care about one tiny fae,” Rory said.

“Don’t think I didn’t consider calling on him, but I’ve never had a taste for cheating. Unlike some people.” Devlin looked pointedly at the twins.

“We don’t cheat,” Bronaugh argued.

“Manipulation isn’t cheating,” Brogan joked. “It’s creative.”

Devlin shook his head. Someday, those two were going to get into big trouble. He hoped he was around to see it.

For the last six months, he’d been consumed with this damned bet—seduce the fae known as Keira or do his cousins bidding for a month. Did they forget Devlin had been charmed with an allure women couldn’t resist? It was like a fucking pheromone that oozed from his skin. He could tone it down, but turning it off was impossible until he took a mate. And if he decided to turn it on thick … well … women didn’t stand a chance. There was no way he could lose.

And then he’d met Keira. Once.

He’d found her deep in the Amazonian rain forest, bathing in a hidden pool. Her hair floated on the water as she’d moved and swayed in a slow seductive dance that had made him hard. He’d settled on the edge of the pool, mesmerized by the tune she hummed. She was tall, her body curved in all the right places. The tattoos that banded her biceps shimmered, familial tattoos much like his own. Her muscles were well defined, indicating strength. He wouldn’t have to worry about hurting her if he took her rough. Knew instinctively she’d like it that way.

He’d held his breath, waiting for her to turn … and when she did his whole body felt the movement.

She was breathtaking. With eyes the color of fire and her breasts … sweet fuck, her breasts. Pert and round, her nipples barely visible through the hair that tumbled over them. But, not so hidden he didn’t see them pearl when she’d noticed him.

Keira had approached him slowly, as if she’d been as entranced as he was. He’d sat, motionless, his purpose momentarily forgotten as she caressed a finger over his lips.

They’d both jerked with the contact, and her curse burned his ears.

And then she’d run. And kept on running until he’d exhausted himself with the chase. All over the damn planet he’d followed. Each time he caught up with her ended the same way. She’d calmly demand he leave her alone and then vanish again, leaving him perplexed and pissed off. He chased her until, finally, his time had run out and he came home.

He’d failed, but damn, admitting defeat meant he’d be at the mercy of his cousins, a position he didn’t relish. He hadn’t lost a bet to them since they were kids, and, gods be damned, if they sent him to the fire pits to collect another Caorthannach egg, he’d kick all their asses. The shit that thing spit had melted the hair right off his legs. Along with some skin.

He tossed his cards, face up, on the table. “I may have lost the bet, but I’m about to take your money. Ace high flush, fuckers. Beat that.”

Groans filled the room, and Devlin took great satisfaction in raking the gold to his side of the table.

Rory sat back and folded his arms across his chest. “We’ve discussed it and have come up with a fitting task for you.”

“Let’s hear it.” Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as he thought. He could only hope.

“You’re going on a trip.” Flanagan sounded way too happy for Devlin’s liking.

“And just where am I going?” His voice was cautious, wary.

“Where better for a leprechaun to go than Lucky’s?” Rory howled with laughter. “Get ready to shake your shillelagh, Dev. For the next month, you’re one of Lucky’s Charms. It’s all arranged.”

Devlin relaxed and gave them a wicked grin. Oh, he knew the place. “What? That’s the best you could come up with? You want me to strip for a month? Not much of a   challenge—” He broke off, narrowing his eyes at them. “Wait. Why? What’s the catch?” There was always a catch.

Rory laughed. “The rules were set. You lost. No questions asked.”

Devlin sighed, unable to believe his luck. “Well, cousins … it looks like I’m headed to New York.”

*

New York City

Four weeks later

Midnight.

As the outside world slept, in here, they were just getting started. Music pumped in time with the racing heartbeats, the smell of sweat and liquor heavy in the air. Time had no meaning in this place. The only things that mattered were that the booze kept flowing and the men kept shaking their dicks at the ever-growing crowd. Two things guaranteed at Lucky’s Bar and Strip Club.

His last dance complete, Devlin changed into leather pants, leaving his chest bare. Dancing in a G-string on stage was one thing, parading around the bar in one was another. He couldn’t bring himself to do it. He might be done shaking his ass on stage, but his bet demanded he remain until closing. That meant he was still on the clock and available to any horny female who wanted some private time with him.

The last few weeks had been unremarkable. His cousins’ ulterior motive had yet to present itself. Hell, he’d had fun.

Now, with two hours left on his bet, he was on edge. Waiting for the shoe to drop.

He propped himself up at the end of the bar. “Hey Colm, can I get a whiskey?”

“Sure thing, Dev.” Colm poured a generous amount of the amber liquid in a tumbler and slid the glass in front of him. He’d barely taken the first sip when the smell of cheap cologne filled his nose. There was only one man around that smelled like second-rate Old Spice. Padraig “Lucky” O’Reilly was a piss poor excuse for an Irishman if Devlin had ever seen one. He had a hard time believing the overweight, balding man standing beside him owned this place. It made him want to gag to think Lucky had actually been a stripper, back in the day. By the way he looked now, that had to have been a hundred years ago. Devlin was grateful he hadn’t been around for that.

“Good crowd, tonight, eh?” Lucky’s grin more a leer as he shoved a fat, round cigar between his lips.

Devlin shrugged, uninterested in the portly little man that actually believed he’d employed him. If Lucky knew the truth, he’d swallow his shamrocks.

“You should stay on here. The ladies like you.”

Devlin snorted with disgust as Lucky waggled his overgrown eyebrows. “I’m done when we close tonight. It’s time for me to go home.”

“I’d make it worth your while.”

“I doubt that.”

Fucking humans. Blissfully unaware of their own ignorance.

This asshole was offering him money. As if he didn’t have piles of gold stacked in the vault underneath his home, on his private island in the Muir Éireann. As the only son to King Bres, ruler of the leprechauns, Devlin’s only financial worry was how he’d make room for more.

He snorted at the ridiculous image humans had of his kind. At six-foot four, his dark hair and gray eyes were a far cry from the tiny golden-haired men of human lore. And you wouldn’t catch him dead in a green suit and goofy-looking hat. His skin wasn’t fair or freckled, but tanned and tattooed. The intricate designs that banded his wrists delineated his heritage, an indication of his royal blood and warrior spirit.

While leprechauns were indeed male, that’s where the truths ended. Rainbows didn’t house pots of gold in their roots, but the rain that caused them gave Devlin strength as the ground soaked up its healing tonic. He was nature’s champion, creating balance in a world destined to destroy itself.

He could drink as much alcohol as he wanted without getting drunk. He could move with the speed of lightning when necessary, but he’d never run from a fight. He was possessive and would do anything for those he loved.

And apparently, he wasn’t a half bad stripper, either.

At least the guys here were cool. His kind thrived on camaraderie, and in truth, he missed his poker nights with his asshole cousins. As much as he looked forward to taking more of their gold when he got home, he’d enjoyed the playful banter of the strip club. He wasn’t much for human males, but for these guys, he’d make an exception.

“Give me another month. Come on, what do you say?” A beefy palm reached out, and Devlin ignored it, signaling to Colm for a refill.

“No.”

Lucky frowned and dropped his hand just as a strange sensation surged across Devlin’s tattooed wrists.

What the fuck?

His magic might not be as strong in the human realm, but it was still powerful enough to wipe this strip joint off the map … along with every city within a thousand mile radius.

Devlin’s gaze scanned the crowd, searching for what had triggered the sudden surge to his power. Lights flashed and the music blared to life once again as the next guy prepared to take the stage. Devlin darted his eyes away. The only dick he wanted to see tonight was his own. Preferably as it sank into the heat of a certain … fuck.

Dammit, he enjoyed women. All women. Their luscious curves, soft and warm. He loved the sweet sounds of release that escaped from their pouty lips as he rode them, drove them over the edge while he found his own release. Human, shifter, fae … hell, he’d even done a vampire or two. But, he hadn’t done any riding of late, his mind too preoccupied with the only woman to ever deny him. Preoccupied, hell. He was fucking obsessed.

Keira.

Even her name had the power to make him rock hard. Her amber eyes blazed in his memory and fueled his arousal each night as he jacked himself off. He was certain her allure was grounded in the fact she’d rejected him. A new and unpleasant experience. One he didn’t care to have again.

Devlin drained his glass. She posed a challenge. That was all. Nothing more.

At least that’s what he kept telling himself.

Another surge to his power pulled his gaze to the entrance. His lungs seized as liquor spewed from his lips. Standing in the doorway, looking entirely too edible in her skintight jeans, was the woman who’d haunted his dreams.

What the hell was she doing here? Was she looking for him?

The way she glanced around the bar, he doubted it. She appeared to be whispering to the guy manning the door, whose name Devlin couldn’t remember. The guy waved her through, and she handed over a wad of cash before he directed her toward the stairs on the left. The guy turned and signaled Liam, Lucky’s newest charm, to come over.

Damn, with that amount of cash, she’d either be in a private room the rest of the night, or Liam was about to receive a very large tip.

Keira’s ass wiggled as she shifted from one foot to the other, hesitating briefly at the bottom of the stairs. Nervous, was she? She should be.

Of course, Devlin had no intention of letting Liam touch her. Aside from the fact that it was Liam’s first night and he looked a little nervous, there was no way another man would get his hands on Keira. Not tonight anyway. Tonight, she was all his. He’d have her … oh yes, he’d have her, all right.

And then he’d be able to get her out of his head once and for all.

Devlin abandoned his drink and went to head off Liam. Disguised for his act, Liam was dressed in a cape and domino mask, a getup that would make the women around here crazy. They loved a man of mystery. He wondered if that’s why Keira had asked for him.

The thought sent a surge of unexpected jealousy through his veins, which he promptly shut down. He had nothing to be jealous about, for gods’ sake.

Devlin stopped Liam at the door with a grin. “Liam, buddy, I have a proposition for you.”

Liam’s eyes went wide behind the mask he wore, and Devlin laughed.

“Nothing like that, man. Relax. I want this private dance. You can keep the money, but turn around and walk away.”

Devlin felt Liam’s relief. “Thanks, Dev. I’m a little wound up preparing for my first stage dance. I won’t take the money, though.”

“I don’t need it, trust me. And it’ll be worth every penny if you let me go up. I take full responsibility, I promise.” Not that Keira would complain. But she would scream. He’d make sure about that.

Liam clasped his shoulder and squeezed. “She’s all yours. Good luck.”

Luck. He took the stairs two at a time and rounded the corner at the top. He reached out with his power, sensing the room she was in. He approached the door and whispered a few ancient words to block her from disappearing on him again. He’d make his own luck tonight.

He entered the room. The door closed behind him with a soft snick. He turned the lock, further securing her—them—in.

“Hello, Keira.”

She spun around to face him, her surprised expression quickly turned to panic. “What are you doing here?”

Her voice was like sweet honey for his taste buds, smooth as silk, seductive. He closed his eyes for a moment and savored the sound. Blood filled his cock, causing it to bulge against his leather pants. “Hmm. Does it matter? I’m more interested in what you are doing here.” He circled around her, surrounding her with his scent.

Her nostrils flared, and she waved her hand around the room. “You son of a bitch. Did you gate this room?”

“I did.” It was a spell only he could break. “We have things to discuss. Like what you’re doing here.”

“What does it look like I’m doing?”

“I must say, I’m surprised. I thought you weren’t interested in this kind of thing.”

“Who do you think you are? You don’t even know me. You think I’m not interested in men … in sex? Just because I didn’t—I don’t—want you? Obviously, you were mistaken.”

This woman infuriated him. He glanced at her lacy tank top. Her nipples were hard. His mouth watered at the memory of their shape, their color.

Didn’t want him, his ass. He could smell her arousal, her need. She wanted him all right. And he would prove it.

“Obviously.” Devlin walked her back until she fell onto the couch. “You paid for a lap dance—”

“Not from you.”

“Ah, sweet Keira. But, it’s me you get.” He leaned over her and braced his palms against the back of the couch, caging her in. She smelled so fucking good. A mixture of sweet honeysuckle and rich red wine. He wanted her scent all over his body. In his mouth, on his skin. He wanted to roll in it until no amount of showering or soap would rid him of it. He put his mouth against her ear, felt her tremble. “What’s it going to be, mo pheata?”

“I’m not your pet. In fact, I’m not your anything. Can’t you take a hint?”

He grabbed her hands before she could push him away. He bit back a groan at the contact, her soft skin an assault to his senses. “If you are so unaffected by me, then you won’t mind letting me do my job. You paid for a dance, a dance you will have.”

He’d laid down the gauntlet. She couldn’t refuse him once money had changed hands. All the fae, his race included, were bound by honor, commitment. Once their word had been given—in the form of words, a handshake, or money—it could not be broken. It was the reason he’d spent the last month in New York, stripping for strangers, unable to fuck anything but his own hand—both because of this woman.

She wouldn’t deny him again.

Her chest expanded as he straddled her hips, keeping his weight from pressing her into the couch. “We have a no touching rule.” He clasped her wrists and pulled them over her head. He conjured a set of handcuffs, attached to the floor by a chain behind the couch, and shackled her in one quick movement.

Keira’s back arched as she pulled on the restraints, giving him a fantastic view of her breasts. “You seriously think these are going to hold me?” The cuffs disappeared, and she brought her hands back down to her lap, careful not to touch him. “Not.”

Devlin couldn’t keep the smile from his lips. “So, there will be touching then.” He shrugged. “You won’t hear any complaints from me, baby.”

Her brow furrowed as she realized her error. “Tricky fucking leprechauns,” she mumbled. “Untrustworthy bastards, the lot of you.”

“Now, now. I offered to restrain you. You made the decision to take them off, thereby forfeiting the ‘no touching’ scenario.” He frowned at her expression. “Really, Keira. Am I so horrible?” He trailed a finger down the side of her face, mesmerized as her delicate lashes brushed against her cheeks. “I’m a generous lover. I’d make it good for you.” Even as he said the words, they turned to ash in his mouth. Why did the idea of a night with her suddenly seem like not enough?

Keira pushed him so hard he toppled back, barely catching himself before he fell on his ass.

“Why?”

“Why would I make it good for you?”

“No, why do you keep pursuing me?”

Devlin opened his mouth to answer, only to realize he had no idea what to say. At first, it had been about the bet. His cousins had challenged him, and he’d accepted. Now, all he knew was he wanted to be inside her. To feel her heat surround him and hear her sigh his name. She’d never uttered his name, he’d realized. He’d do anything to hear it pass her lips now.

“Don’t you feel it?” Her soft lilt was tinged with a touch of sadness.

“Feel what?” The inferno that raged through his balls? The need to lose himself in her. Hell, yeah, he felt it.

Keira surged to her feet, squaring off with him so fiercely his cock hardened further. “This.” She slapped her palms flat to his chest and, gods help him, he almost came. Power surged through him, electrifying his veins. His skin hummed with pleasure. He shifted, uncomfortable in his pants. He pressed a palm to his erection, fighting like hell to ward off the brewing orgasm.

Keira kept a hand on him and moved the other between her legs, mirroring his movements. Devlin jerked as the bands around his wrists vibrated, as if preparing to jump from his skin. He threw his head back on a moan.

It can’t be.

But, the proof was right in front of him, inside him. Keira was the light to his dark, the soft to his hard. The fire and passion in her spirit matched his own. She was the one made just for him.

His mate.

Keira was his fucking mate.

Devlin grabbed her wrists and jerked her hands together in front of him. “Is this why you ran?” When she remained silent, he shook her with a gentleness he didn’t feel. “Answer me.”

“You think I don’t know what you’re after? I’ll not be tied to a man who doesn’t want me. Let me go!” She struggled, but was no match for him.

“Gods be damned, Keira. I haven’t been able to think about anyone else. You’re in my thoughts, in my dreams. I chased you because I couldn’t fucking help myself. From the moment you touched me that day at the pool, I was lost to you. I didn’t understand … I didn’t realize…” Devlin searched her face, unable to voice what was going on in his mind. He’d never felt more whole, more complete than right now. Standing in a private dance room of a strip club, he’d finally figured it out.

“I want you, Keira. Whatever you think about me, never doubt that.” He took a deep breath and eased his grip. “If you want to go, I’ll remove the gate. I’ll release you from your obligation to stay. But know this, if you go, I’ll not follow. Your choice will be made.” He felt the weight of his promise crash over him. If she took him up on his offer to leave, he was sure it would kill him. Their race could live without their mates, but they’d never find comfort or happiness in the arms of another. Sexual release, yes. But even those brief moments would be tainted with sadness and loss.

The tension in the air was tangible as they stared each other down. Keira studied him, as if she could read his heart through his expression. He wasn’t sure what she saw, but she shook her head, the movement so slight he almost missed it. “I don’t want to go.”

“Mine,” Devlin growled before slamming his mouth to hers. He wasn’t gentle. He pushed his tongue against her lips and demanded entrance. She opened, offering him her mouth, her tongue, and he took full advantage. She leaned into him as her flavor melted over his tongue. She tasted as she smelled—like tender honeysuckle. He’d never get enough.

His need to get inside her overwhelmed him. He broke the kiss and leaned his forehead against hers. This room was not the ideal spot for them to consummate their relationship, but it was all they had. He couldn’t wait, and by the way she panted against him, neither could she.

“I need to see you, Keira.”

“Yes,” she breathed.

He gripped the hem of her shirt and peeled it from her body. He growled in approval at her lack of bra and bent to suck a nipple between his lips.

Keira moaned and pushed her fingers through his hair, holding his head in place. He sucked, nibbled, and teased her tight bud, then moved on to the other, giving it the same attention. “Devlin.”

He froze, pulled back to look her in the eyes. “Say it again,” he demanded.

He hissed as her nails scored down his chest, his stomach. She popped the button of his pants, reached inside, and wrapped her fingers around his length. “Devlin.”

Fuck the preliminaries. They had a lifetime to explore each other. And explore they would. He’d know every inch of her skin, every place she loved to be touched, licked. He’d spend hours feasting, devouring her. Later.

He popped the button of her jeans and, as much as it killed him, removed her hand from his pants. She kicked off her shoes and quickly pulled her jeans down her legs. He watched her strip, as he followed suit, and within seconds, they were both naked.

Devlin was on fire, his power surged, creating a current that flowed between them. He’d never felt anything like it.

He fisted his length, his hand stroking of its own accord. “Last chance to change your mind, Keira.”

She went to her knees in front of him and licked the tip of his cock. “Last chance, Devlin,” she said before she wrapped her mouth around him. Her lips stretched, pulled tightly around his wide girth.

“I’ve dreamed of your mouth on me. Fuck, that’s so good.” Her tongue swirled, teased his sensitive flesh. She braced her hands against his thighs and sucked him deep, holding him in her throat until he thought he’d lose his mind. Her hum vibrated through his balls, and he jerked from her. “I’m not coming in your mouth the first time.” He gave her a mischievous grin. “We’ll save that for later.”

Keira looked up at him and blinked, a look of pure innocence on her face as she wiped a finger across her swollen lips. “I knew you’d be delicious.”

The woman was driving him insane. “You thought about how I’d taste?” His words came out on a groan.

“You aren’t the only one who’s dreamed of this, Devlin. I avoided you in life, but in my dreams … every night you’d fuck me.”

He was about to make her dreams a reality.

“Come here.” She squealed as he helped her up and spun her around, pushing her playfully to the couch. She leaned forward, bending over and presenting him her beautifully curved ass. Never one to pass up an opportunity, Devlin swatted an ass cheek with his palm. She gasped and threw him a heated glance over her shoulder.

Interesting.

“You won’t run from me again. Ever.” He brought his palm down on the other cheek and she jerked forward, then moaned and pressed back into his hand. “I think you like that.” He dipped his hand between her legs and found her wet folds. He slid two fingers into her, then a third. Stretching, preparing her. “I think you like that a lot.”

“Devlin. Please. Haven’t we waited long enough?”

He removed his fingers and brought them to his lips. His first taste of her rocked him. Addicted him for life.

She turned and eased back, laying herself across the soft, black velvet of the couch. The perfect backdrop for her fair skin and golden hair.

“Gods, you’re beautiful.” He reached down and caressed the lines of her tattoo, knowing soon, it would adorn his arm. By consummating their union, they connected not only their lives, but also the lives of their families. They would retain their own family markings on the right, but their left markings would move, transferring to the other. From this day forward, everyone who saw Keira would know she was taken. She would belong to him as he belonged to her.

He moved his body over hers; his knees pushed her legs as wide as the couch would allow. His cock nudged her entrance; her wet heat filled him with a surge of lust. “Look at me, Keira.”

Her gaze was one of unbridled need. She arched her hips, tried to force him to move.

“You’re mine. Say it.”

“Yours,” she panted.

He drove his hips forward, her slick channel opening around him. She was tight, so tight he was afraid to move lest he end this before they started.

She wrapped her legs around his waist and squeezed his hips between her knees. “Slow and easy later. Fuck me, Devlin,” she demanded.

Devlin lost what little control he’d held and pounded into her soft flesh. Sweat covered their bodies, the scent of sex heavy in the air. Keira’s hips thrashed under him, meeting him thrust for thrust. Her moans grew louder with each stroke.

He threw a spell over the room, cloaking it from the outside world. “Scream as loud as you want, sweetheart. No one will hear you.” He slowed his pace and leaned back to press his thumb to her clit. “Come for me, Keira. Let me feel your pleasure.”

Her fingers dug into his biceps; the bite of pain raced to his groin. Her scream rang in his ears as she broke apart around him, her pussy clenched tight around his cock. His head fell back as her release flowed through their connection, turned her pleasure into his. The tattoo at his wrist vibrated as his balls drew up tight. The powerful sensation sent him spiraling. He shouted as his orgasm tore through him. He shook, every molecule in his body shifting as he filled her sweet body with his essence.

Her soft sigh drew his attention. Reluctantly, he eased out of her. Stretching out beside her, he pulled her close. “Are you all right?”

She held her wrist up, showing him his mark. “Hmm, that was amazing. Guess you’re stuck with me now, huh?”

He turned his arm and inspected his new ink with wonder. His mate. His life.

“Never stuck, love. I’m proud to wear your mark. Always.” He kissed the top of her head, content and satisfied. “So, you never told me what you were doing here tonight.”

She looked at him, her expression twisted in annoyance. “I lost a bet. I didn’t know you were here, and, once I regain some brain function, you can explain all about what you’re doing here. As for me, I was sent here to get a lap dance. Which I still haven’t gotten, by the way. I’ll need you to pay up.”

Laughter burst from his chest. “A debt I’ll happily pay. Anytime, baby.” Devlin was happy to know his mate shared his competitive spirit. He’d look forward to challenging her, as well as devising delicious ways to make her pay up. But he was curious. “Who’d you lose a bet to, mo pheata?”

She shook her head and snickered, leaning over to nip his lip. She gave him a wicked grin. “Your cousins.”