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Kathleen Rowland Launches One Night in Havana with a Great Giveaway

 

One Night in Havana

#34 in the City Nights Series from Tirgearr Publishing

by Kathleen Rowland

 

Kathleen will be awarding 3 lucky winners a $10 Amazon Gift Certiticate. Winners will be chosen randomly with Rafflecopter. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here.

 

About the Book:

A desperate competition and sizzling attraction leads to dangerous desire.

 

New York Marine biologist Veronica “Roni” Keane is attending the Havana Bay Conference in Cuba. Tomorrow only one grant will be awarded which will provide the winner with professional recognition, resources for a project, and living expenses for two years. She hopes to continue her deceased father’s work, but smooth operator, Carlos Montoya, has won many grants in the past.

 

Carlos, a freelancer for the Havana Port Authority, works to help protect Havana’s reputation as a bastion of safety. As international travelers flock to the island, attracted by its 1950’s time-warp and colonial architecture, the drug business is running rampant, particularly on Roni’s cruise ship. Something’s not right, and when her scuba tanks are tampered with, Carlos brings in the military police to investigate. For her safety, he keeps her close, but he craves her body.

 

Their attraction leads to a fun night with a bit of kink. But Roni finds herself in more trouble than she bargained for when the criminals blame her for alerting the military police and come looking for her. Can Roni trust Carlos to protect her? Will she stay in Havana if Carlos wins the coveted grant, or kiss her lover goodbye?

 

An erotic romance with mystery.

 

Amazon Buy Link

 

 

Excerpt:

 

Chapter One

“Why, Veronica Keane.” A voice heavy with a Spanish accent drawled from behind her. “A dive bar?” A taunting tsk. “What do we have? A slumming New Yorker?”

She stiffened and closed her eyes. She knew that voice and its owner, Dr. Carlos Montoya, a finalist like her, competing for the same damn grant at the biggest Cephalopoda conference of the decade. Her heart pitter-pattered against her ribs. To turn toward him would intimate distress, or worse yet, weakness. She wouldn’t fail to win this grant, not when she was a final contender. “I like this funky little place.” Sia Macario Café, smack in the center of Havana, allowed her to observe locals and their daily lives.

“You need to eat with all the mojitos you’ve downed.” The big tease wasn’t counting. This was her first drink, but his rumbling, sexy timbre hinted at all kinds of dark, hot promises. She’d rubbed shoulders with the Cuban scientist all week. This splendid specimen of Latin male brought on a physical ache that punched low.

A flare-up stirred fear. For her own good, she needed to resist. “I ordered camarones enchiladas.” By now she knew the menu on the chalkboard by heart. She tipped her head back to whiff grilled shrimp soon to arrive in sofrito sauce with fried sweet plantains.

“The flan is good. Just like my abuela makes.”

“I bet. Your grandmother would be happy to hear that,” she said, knowing he brought out the best in most people. Two days ago he’d invited her and a handful of others scuba diving. The chance to ogle him had been one of the perks. He’d worn nothing but swim trunks, his bare chest on display. Every glistening muscle was finely etched. Not a drop of fat on him. Since he’d not given her the time of day, she’d checked him out without him noticing.

The hard-bodied host had led the way toward habitats of soft-bodied creatures. To find where invertebrates lived was never an easy task. Octopuses squeezed into narrow passages of coral for protection and gave females a place to keep their eggs. She’d discovered the remains of a few meals nearby.Octopuses scattered rocks and shells to help them hide.

This grant meant so much to her and no doubt to him as well. Veronica mindlessly toyed with the gold necklace around her neck, but anxiety crackled through her brain. Unlike this man of action, she lacked the flamboyant personality necessary to talk people into things. Carlos had that ability. He’d made friends with judges on board while she’d conversed with an older woman about a box of scones made with Cuban vanilla cream.

That day the wind had picked up to a gale force, and this woman named Bela with Lucille Ball red hair needed help walking to her home. The half mile down the seaside promenade, The Malecón, had provided her with time to practice her Spanish. Turned out Bela was Carlos’s grandmother. She’d worked as a maid when the Castro government came to power. When private homes were nationalized, titles were handed over to the dwelling occupants. Bela owned a crumbling home in the respected Verdado district and rented out rooms.

What Veronica detested about Carlos was his abnormal level of talent for schmoozing. Not that he wasn’t charismatic; he drew her like a powerful magnet with emotions hard to untangle. Why was a self-assured woman who ran her own life thinking about a man who commanded everyone around him?

She inhaled a breath and turned around on the barstool, caught fast by a gut punch of Carlos Montoya in the flesh. She sighed and surrendered to the tendrils of want sliding up between her thighs.

Tall and muscular, his lush dark hair curled to his collar giving him a wild, roguish appearance. His face was lean and chiseled. His mouth full and tempting. His eyes the smoky-gray of a grass fire and fringed with black lashes as dense as paintbrushes. He smiled. A faint hint of mockery curved his mouth, a sensual mouth she imagined to be either inviting or cruel. Or both at the same time when he leaned over a woman with a diamond-hard gleam in his dark eyes while she drowned with pleasure. She fought a fierce desire to run her hand across his broad chest, tip her face upward, and…

His breath tickled her face.

Not going there. She blinked and forced her mind to focus. Carlos Montoya was not the kind of man you lost focus around. But that image of putting her mouth full on his and peeling away his shirt once introduced in her mind was impossible to expunge. Pointless even to try.

He was an intimidating blend of intellect and sexy danger. Both qualities had her leaning back against the bar’s edge. If it weren’t for him, she’d have a chance at winning the grant.

His lips twitched. “You’re staying on one of the cruise ships, am I right?” He rolled up the sleeves of his linen jacket to reveal a dusting of manly hair.

”Yes.” Her cabin served as her hotel room while attending the January meetings with perfect high-seventies temperatures. His eyes locked with hers. She willed herself to move and yet she remained seated, clutching heat between her legs, a wetness so intense that her breath stalled in her chest while her heart hammered faster. Soon she’d return to freezing New York City.

“So, Bonita, give.” He slid onto the bar stool next to her. “What brings you down from a lofty ship to grace us lowly Cubans with your presence?”

Bonita. Pretty lady was not an endearment coming from the mouth curved in a taunting smile, but not a slight either. Not with his deep, melodic voice speaking words as if he knew secrets about her. What secrets did he know? Would he pry into her personal life? She doubted this bad-boy college professor acknowledged boundaries.

“Just drinks and dinner.” She scrambled for composure. “Aren’t we attending a world-class conference? I find the local population to be friendly and kind. That’s not slumming.”

The bartender set down a saoco. “Hope you like it, senorita.”

“Gracias,” she said. “Very nice, served in a coconut.”

“Ah, the saoco,” Carlos said. “Rum, lime juice, sugar, and ice. The saoco,” he repeated, disbelief heavy in his words. “Um. Wow. Once used as a tonic for prisoners of the revolution.”

“Medicinal?” She couldn’t help it. She chuckled and sounded as if a rusty spoon had scraped her throat raw, but it was genuine. The warm glow in its wake was welcome and needed. .

He leaned an elbow on the bar, his beer bottle with the green-and-red Cristal label dangling between his fingers. “Be careful with that one.” He dipped his head toward the front door as if he needed to go somewhere soon.

That fast, the glow snuffed out. She cleared her throat and gripped the fuzzy surface of the coconut container.

He placed a five-peso coin with a brass plug on the counter and whirled it. The spinning motion mirrored a dizzying attraction going on in low parts of her belly.

She cleared her wayward mind and nodded toward artwork on the opposite wall. “I plan to buy a painting tonight.”

“Don’t buy anything unless the seller gives you a certificate. You’ll need one to take art from Cuba. Artists deal in euros in case you don’t have pesos.”

She’d come prepared but said, “Thanks for the info.”

His coal-black eyes widened as he gazed from her head down to the tiny straps around her ankles as if she wore high heels and nothing else. “You give off a Barbie doll image,” he replied and stood up.

“Huh?”

“Where’s Ken, anyway? Kenneth Morton. He came with you to the talks in Antarctica. Five years ago.” He grinned, and the mortification in her belly gave way to a longing which she had no business feeling toward her competitor.

“Ken and I broke up.” She hesitated for a moment. “You have a gift for remembering names. Like a salesman.”

“A person’s name is, to that person, the most important and sweetest sound. Back then I introduced myself to Ken in the men’s room.”

“I remember now. Didn’t you give a talk on a specialized pigment in the octopus?”

“Ahh, si.” He splayed his fingers over his chest. “A pigment in their blood is—”

“—called hemocyanin. Turns their blood blue and helps them survive subfreezing temperatures. Were you awarded something?”

“The antifreeze protein grant? No. It went to a deep-diving photographer. He wasn’t chicken about getting lost or trapped under the ice.”

She slid from her stool and strutted around, jutting her chin in and out like a chicken. “Bock, bock, bock, bock, bock, begowwwwk.”

He chuckled. “Cute chicken dance. Very cute in that skimpy black dress.”

Her cheeks heated, and she clutched her necklace. He’d seen plenty of women in body-fitting attire. In Cuba, women wore dresses to meetings. If she’d harnessed sexier mojo, she’d have livened up presentations. Her presentations with an abundance of dull data went south. She slid back against her stool and clutched her purse to her stomach as if the small satin bag could calm the nerves playing deep down kickball. She belonged in her tidy New York office filled with computers, modems, and research manuals. Not in this softly lit café where passion oozed from a man’s pores, and artists displayed their canvases. Here was where Havana’s trendsetters congregated, and Ernest Hemingway wrote about desire.

“Good luck with your purchases, Veronica Keane.”

Okay, so they weren’t going to pretend they were going head to head for the grant.

As if he had more to say, he grinned at her, his perfect white teeth flashing.. “Do you find us different, like apples and oranges?”

“What am I, an apple or an orange?”

“Hmm. You’re an apple.” He was doing that sexy voice thing which made her brain shut down. Heady.

It started with an unexpected spark, an instant attraction, the jolting jab of oh-I’m-feeling-something. Something like a flashfire in her belly, but now they were talking. “Am I the apple of desire? Want to take a bite out of me?” She pulled in a breath. Had she really said that?

Bonita, do I ever.”

 

“Tomorrow is the final ceremony.” Would she watch him walk to the podium to accept the grant?

 

About the Author:

Book Buyers Best finalist Kathleen Rowland is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high-stakes suspense with an erotic love story sure to melt their hearts. Her latest release is One Night in Havana, #34 in the City Nights series.

 

Kathleen also has a steamy romantic suspense series with Tirgearr Publishing, Deadly Alliance is followed by Unholy Alliance. Keep an icy drink handy while reading these sizzling stories.

 

Kathleen used to write computer programs but now writes novels.   She grew up in Iowa where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and raced her sailboat on Lake Okoboji. Now she wears flip-flops and sails with her husband, Gerry, on Newport Harbor but wishes there were lightning bugs in California.

 

Kathleen exists happily with her witty CPA husband, Gerry, in their 70’s poolside retreat in Southern California where she adores time spent with visiting grandchildren, dogs, one bunny, and noisy neighbors. While proud of their five children who’ve flown the coop, she appreciates the luxury of time to write.

 

If you’d enjoy news, sign up for Kathleen’s newsletter at http://www.kathleenrowland.com/

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

Shopping for A Billionaire’s Honeymoon—Just 99c Until 19th January!

Shopping for A Billionaire’s Honeymoon (Book 11 in the Shopping series)

Author: Julia Kent

Release date: January 31, 2017

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance

*****

Description:

He is addicted to his phone and his new role as CEO. I’m addicted to getting some on my own honeymoon.

One of these things is not like the other.

I am pretty sure a serial killer’s lair is the only place in the world where I could stash my new husband so he can’t manage the acquisition of our new company.

And that seems a little drastic.

But only a little…

All I want is one week alone with him. Hours in bed, legs tangled together in ecstasy, room service and long walks on the beach in Hawaii.

Not vying for his kisses around a Bluetooth microphone. The Borg aren’t sexy in real life.

So I’m taking matters into my own hands and hitting “reboot” on our honeymoon.

We’re going to a place so remote that no one can find us.

Not even my mother.

Shopping for a Billionaire’s Honeymoon is now a full-length book of 150+ pages, with both Shannon and Declan’s points of view. Originally published with only Shannon’s viewpoint, this expanded edition is a result of reader feedback. People wanted to know what Declan was up to – so here you go. This book is meant to be read after Shopping for a Billionaire’s Wife and/or Shopping for a CEO’s Fiancée, but if you read it out of order (or even as a standalone), that’s fine. Shannon and Declan forgive you. 😉

Buy links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2idvTWZ
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2hkjFrh
Amazon Canada: http://amzn.to/2izYeY4
Amazon Australia: http://amzn.to/2izXJxb
Nook: http://bit.ly/2izRZ6C

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2i1YETg
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2hJCZSb
iBooks: http://apple.co/2hKfjdX
*****

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

*****

Excerpts:

#1

Shannon

Let’s do an inventory of this fine day. My day-after-I-got-married day. In Vegas.

After fleeing my Momzilla mother.

Today is supposed be Day One of my honeymoon after marrying the billionaire of my dreams.

(Let’s not count the night before).

Woke up to the lovely sight of my husband’s tousled dark hair sliding down my torso so he could feast on me for breakfast.

Had actual breakfast in bed after room service delivered mixed berries, cream, bacon, and maple-soaked carrot-cake french toast, and the best damn coffee on the planet from the coffee chain I now own.

Made love with my delightful husband in the giant jetted bathtub in our suite. Turns out I’m as bendy as a Cirque du Soleil performer when I need to be. Maybe Mom’s insistence that I attend all those yoga classes she teaches has a silver lining after all.

Dressed and prepared to hop the corporate jet for Hawaii, kisses interspersed between readying ourselves for the trip. Undressed twice. Dressed twice. Declan insisted I not wear panties for the plane trip.

“But I’m already a member of the Mile High Club,” I’d protested.

“Not as a wife.”

He had a point.

Panties abandoned.

Found his brother, my best friend, a former colleague and an Anterdec chauffeur all married to each other.

Notice something a little different about that last one?

Yeah. Me too.

Day One of my honeymoon had promise, but now? Now it’s a little too real.

We’re on the plane, settling into our seats, and I’m doing my best not to think about my poor best friend and her chaotic mess back at the Anterdec resort where Declan and I just spent nearly a week trying to figure out our entire life.

Which we did, successfully, to my utter surprise. After fleeing our wedding in a helicopter and lying to my Momzilla mother, we managed to get to Las Vegas, ensconced in a resort on the Vegas Strip that Declan had designed himself as an intern in college. By the time my crazy family caught up to us, we’d steeled ourselves for the inevitable fallout.

And got so much more than we expected, in more ways than one. We’re married now. Husband and wife.

That’s really all that matters.

That, and honeymoon sex.

Lots and lots and lots of honeymoon sex. It’s my wifely right to walk funny for the next few days.

And his husbandly duty to make it so.

 

#2

Declan

It’s criminal what Shannon does to me. We just had sex, spooned and cocooned, breathing in each other’s air and imprinting each other with scent and time.

And yet she makes me want more.

Spread among the mussed bedsheets, she looks like a divine being poured her into the bed, all long, rolling hair and sultry smiles. How can a body smile at me like that? Yet it does. It sings to me, a song of joy and fire that touches the very root of me.

I climb on the edge of the bed and yank her by the ankles, hard, making her squeal.

You know what you do with criminals?

You handcuff them.

Sale blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Kryssie Fortune’s Heroes of Westhorpe Ridge Holiday Series Boxed Set Launch & Giveaway

 

 

Kryssie is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate and 3 ebooks of Submission, Secrets, and the Soldier to lucky winners during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember there is a chance to enter every day, so please follow us along on the tour. You may find the tour locations here.

 

 

About the Boxed Set:

 

Kryssie Fortune’s holiday series, Heroes of Westhorpe Ridge, is now available in a convenient e-boxed set!

 

 

Marriage, Mobsters, and the Marine:

 

 

Abigail Montgomery, a small town schoolteacher with zero self-confidence, dreams of the Dickensian Christmas her family never enjoyed. Each month she attends a masked BDSM club, but her next visit will be her last. If she doesn’t marry within the next year, her brother won’t inherit Montgomery Hall. Desperate, she advertises for a husband.

 

Jared Armstrong, a former Marine sharpshooter and occasional Dom needs $125,000 to get his family out of a hole. His solution–to marry Abigail Montgomery for her money. His only regret is his wife won’t accept his spanking lifestyle.

 

Gradually, Abigail comes to dream of making their marriage real, but she promised Jared a divorce two years after their wedding. Can they share some Christmas magic as their relationship faces extortion threats, a kidnapping, and an attempted murder? Or will Jared break her heart when he walks away?

 

 

 

Sex, Scandal, and the Sheriff:

 

 

Jasmine Stewart (Jazz to her friends) falls for the blond stranger when he spanks and seduces her at a Washington soiree. Later, when she discovers her flatmate is trying to draw her into a spy ring, she goes to the authorities. The ensuing publicity costs her her job, her security, and her future. Starting over in Westhorpe Ridge is her only option.

 

Sean Mathews, former SEAL and Westhorpe Ridge’s sheriff, can’t forget the woman he spanked when he visited Washington, but he thinks she’s a spy. When she turns up in Westhorpe Ridge, he tries everything to make her leave town. Despite their misunderstandings, though, they can’t keep their hands off each other.

 

As Year’s Eve looms, the spy ring resurfaces. Jazz will need all of Sean’s SEAL prowess to survive. But because his wounded leg cost him his speed in the water, will it be enough?

 

 

 

Desire, Deceit, and the Doctor:

 

 

Twelve years ago, Mandy Devlin moved away from her friends and family–under threat. If she returned in the next ten years or told anyone who fathered her baby, her boyfriend’s great-aunt would bankrupt her family. She’s a single mom who dreams of her lost love and a good spanking. When she’s finally free to return to Westhorpe Ridge, the last person she expects to see is Adam–the man she loved and lost so long ago.

 

Dr. Adam Montgomery doesn’t know he has a son. Thanks to his great-aunt’s will, he has nine months to find a bride or he loses Montgomery Hall and the fifteen million dollars she left him. Although he seduces Mandy on his first night home, he still believes she betrayed him twelve years ago. No way would he marry a woman like her.

 

As Valentine’s Day looms, someone tries to kill Mandy. Is Adam trying to get rid of her? Or can Mandy trust him to protect them?

 

Note: All of the books in this set were previously released as single titles.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Loose id | Kobo | B&N

 

 

 

 

Excerpt from Sex, Scandal, and the Sheriff:

He held her close and breathed in her essence. “I’m a moron, okay. Jazz Stewart, please will you come to the New Year’s party with me? I’ve already bought us tickets, and like a fool, I assumed you’d come with me. If you say no, then I’m staying here with you even if I have to pitch a tent in the parking lot. No way am I seeing in the New Year with anyone but you.”

She sniffed. “Really? But you hate it when I touch you. I’m going crazy trying to work out what’s going on between us.”

He kissed her so hard her toes curled. Finally, keeping his arms around her, he smiled down at her. “I’m making a real mess of courting you, that’s what. I decided to take things slow and win your friendship, but keeping my hands to myself has left me on edge. I can’t go a minute without thinking how much I love you. Jazz, I can’t live without you, and I’ve made some real special plans for you and me tomorrow night. Every tear I’ve made you cry twists my gut until I want to curl up on the ground and bellow like a castrated bull. Understand one thing, Jazz. You’re my best and only girl.”

“Lovely imagery you got going on there.” She giggled and rested her head against his chest. Being back in his arms made the moon seem bigger and the stars brighter, more twinkling diamonds than pinpricks of light, but they paled alongside her handsome sheriff. “Yes. I’d like to go to the party with you, but I’ll have to drive into Polka Springs again tomorrow to find a new dress. I’m not wearing my red one, not after I wore it for Jones. I might call Abigail and ask her to come with me. Oh God, Abigail and Jared. I ran out on them. What must they think of me?”

He kissed her again. “Probably that you’re a beautiful woman who deserves better than an idiot like me. I’m an ass for hurting you, but can we continue this inside?”

She smiled but shook her head. “We should stick to your plan. Being friends counts for a lot, and while I’m already buzzing with anticipation for tomorrow night, I’ve had a strange day. Kiss me good night, and I’ll see you after I’ve been shopping for the party. Sean, now I know what’s happening, I like how you’ve taken the time to court me.”

Sean’s kiss sent Jazz’s hormones dancing, but when they finally broke apart, she walked to her door and watched him until he vanished from view. Waiting until tomorrow left her frustrated, but she’d let him organize his surprise. Her body burned at his every touch, and, once they’d seen in the New Year, she planned to drag him into bed. Humming under her breath, she decided that sounded like a plan.

Not taking her eyes off his car as he drove off, she reached behind her for the light switch. Before she found it, a man’s hand clamped around her wrist, and he dragged her inside. Something sharp stuck into her arm. Her body went limp and her brain turned dormant as the drugs knocked her out.

 

 

 

 

 

About Kryssie:

 

 

 

Kryssie Fortune writes the sort of hot sexy books she loves to read. If she can sneak a dragon into her paranormal books she will. Her paranormal heroes are muscular werewolves, arrogant Fae, or BDSM loving dragons.

 

Kryssie likes her contemporary heroes ex-military and dominant. Her heroines are kick ass females who can hold their own against whatever life – or Kryssie – throws at them.

 

Kryssie’s pet hates are unhappy endings, and a series that end on a cliff hanger.

 

Her books are all stand alone even when part of series. Plot always comes before sex, but when her heroines and heroes get together, the sex is explosive and explicit. One review called it downright sensual.

 

Kryssie’s Social Links:

Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Website

 

 

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Forsaking Hope by Beverley Oakley: Tour and Giveaway

 

Forsaking Hope

Fair Cyprians of London

By Beverley Oakley

 

Beverley is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here.

 

Forsaking Hope Blurb:

 

Two years ago, she missed their secret assignation and disappeared without a trace. Now the divine “Miss Hope” is in Felix Durham’s bed – a ‘surprise cheering-up gift’ sourced by his friends from London’s most exclusive brothel. Felix is in heaven – and he wants to stay there.

So does Hope, but she can’t.

Hope Merriweather lives by a code of honour – even if she’s a prostitute.

Having sold her soul, she’s prepared to sacrifice everything else to protect what she believes in.

Even if honour – in her eyes – comes at the cost of thieving and breaking hearts. Including her own.

 

Available for preorder here:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

 

 

Excerpt:

Chapter One

 

Wilfred Hunt.

If there was a name to tip Hope into the abyss of despair she was hearing it spill from Madame Chambon’s lips now as the older woman directed Hope to take a seat in the reception room, presumably so Madame could loom oppressively over her.

With her hands on her ample, expensively padded hips, Hope’s benefactress—procuress, employer and gaoler were other monikers—sent Hope a beetling look that needed no interpreting: Regardless of Hope’s true feelings, Hope must project the required show of warmth and delight at being the chosen one.

Madame patted the side of her faux curls. Years of hot irons had reduced her hair to the texture of wool but her crowning glory these days was supplemented by the lustrous locks of those girls who dared cross her – before they were thrown back into the street from where most had come.

Nevertheless, Hope had to make her resistance clear. Surely Madame who knew her history would understand her loathing for this man, above all others. “I shan’t do it,” she whispered. There was little evidence of the willful child and wild adolescent who’d been the despair of her family. “I won’t—”

Outside, the noise of the traffic rumbling over the cobbles and the shrill calls of competing vendors settled upon the tense silence. Madame Chambon’s other girls, ranged around the sumptuously appointed room on red velvet upholstered banquettes, watched the exchange with prurient fascination. Hope knew it had been a calculated ploy of Madame’s to conduct her interview in public so that Hope would serve as an example to them.

No one crossed Madame Chambon.

The shrill cry of a fishmonger caused Madame to look pointedly out of the window. With something between a smile and a sneer, she smoothed a Marcel wave. “Is that where you plan to return, Hope? The gutter?” Her nose twitched and in the sunlight that filtered into the room, the grooves chiselled between mouth and chin were thrown into harsh relief, highlighted rather than hidden by the thick powder she used to conceal her age.

Madame Chambon’s comfort, now and into retirement, depended on obedient girls. Hope knew that as well as anyone. She’d had to bury her rebellious streak just to ensure food in her belly.

The Frenchwoman raised a chiselled brow and began to pace slowly in front of her girls. A painter with an eye for beauty would have been ecstatic at capturing such a spectacle on canvas. The discerning young man about town who visited 56 Albemarle Street was frequently rendered ecstatic by the range of delights Madame Chambon’s girls offered in addition to the visual.

“You forget yourself, Hope. I put a roof over your head and deck you out as handsomely as Mr Charles Worth ever did for his most discerning customer.” There was acid in Madame Chambon’s tone. “But for me, you’d be starving and glad of the pennies you could trade for a grubby stand-up encounter in a dark alley.” Madame Chambon thrust out her bosom and breathed through her nose, her response a calculated warning to the other girls arranged in various languid poses about the ornately decorated reception room that intransigence would not be tolerated.

“Mr Hunt has requested you.” She paused and when Hope remained silent, though her stance and expression left no one in any doubt as to her horror regarding this enforced assignation, went on. “Remember what I told you—what I tell all my girls when they first come here? The past must be forgotten the moment you step over my threshold. You are reborn, remodelled, refashioned into the most exquisite delectation of womanhood. A marquess, a prince, is well recompensed for the tidy sum he hands over in order to enjoy your sparkling wit, to converse with you in French, or if he chooses, on philosophy…to enjoy your charms…and,” she added significantly, “your gracious hospitality and tender ministrations to his needs. That is our agreement and you are no different. If Mr Hunt wishes you, Hope, to attend him at his residence then you will go.”

Faith, one of the kinder girls, patted Hope’s arm in silent solidarity. Hope didn’t expect any of them to speak up in her defence. Not when they all relied on Madame Chambon as much as she did to provide them with the necessities of life. Anything more than that was part of a strict contract that indentured a girl for life unless she was able to secure a generous benefactor to settle Madame’s severance bill. The fine clothes were part of the charade, necessary to entice a more elite clientele. Hope’s exquisite wardrobe did not belong to her though she’d have forsaken all the dupion silk and Spitalfields lace for the freedom of the gutter and to be mistress of her own destiny – and her body – if she could only be sure of a plate of gravy and potatoes every second day.

Closing her eyes, she hung her head, the carefully coiffed curls that fell forwards brushing against her tear-streaked cheeks. It was as well that they not be in evidence. Tears, weakness, vulnerability were like a red rag to a bull where Madame Chambon was concerned.

“How long…do I have to prepare myself?” She was not so stupid she couldn’t admit defeat when there was no alternative. Obduracy was beaten out of one, but tears ensured a girl got the very worst next assignment. Their clients weren’t all marquesses and princes, though they did require a very fat pocket book.

“Tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow.” Hope repeated it in a leaden tone, and stared at her hands, clasped in her lap; white-knuckled. As white as the rabbit-fur that edged her fashionable black-and-white striped satin cuirass. Hope had the tall, slim figure suited to the scandalously tight tie-back skirts that were all the rage, the back flowing into a train adorned with elaborate swags and trimmed with bows. She’d turned heads the length of Oxford Street as she’d promenaded along the pavement following a walk through Hyde Park earlier that afternoon. In fact, for the first time in two years, she’d almost felt happy as she’d pretended a sense of freedom in the afternoon sun, blocking her mind to the prison to which she was returning.

She drew in her breath and forced herself to be brave, knowing the punishment she’d invite for daring to speak her mind. “Please tell Mr Hunt I will see him again under sufferance.”

Madame Chambon’s voice was surprisingly caramel. “Well then, now that you have made your objection clear, Hope, you will be pleased to hear that Mr Hunt’s desires are not only motivated by fond memories of your no-doubt mutually satisfying congress. I believe he wishes to acquaint you with news of your family.”

Hope hid her shock. “I have no family.” With care, she modified her tone so it was as leaden as before though emotion roiled close to the surface.

“Not even a sister?”

Hope raised her chin. Here was the chink and Madame knew it. The woman did her research.

Aware that the other girls who surrounded her were tense with anticipation, Hope struggled not to respond. Camaraderie existed at surface level but one never knew when it might profit one to have the dirt on a fellow prostitute. It was, clearly, another reason Madame Chambon had chosen to make this conversation public.

“Mr Hunt will see you at nine tomorrow evening,” said the so-called Frenchwoman who, it was whispered, was from the gutters of Lambeth, not Paris. “At his apartments in Duke Street. Now go and prepare yourself for Lord Farrow. Married to a monolith like the venerable Lady Farrow, he likes his girls vivacious and free-spirited. There’ll be less coin in your pocket if you sully the transaction with that long face, Hope.”

 

 

About Beverley:

 

Beverley Oakley was seventeen when she bundled up her first her 500+ page romance and sent it to a publisher. Unfortunately drowning her heroine on the last page was apparently not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley became a journalist.

Twenty-six years later Beverley was delighted to receive her first publishing contract from Robert Hale (UK) for a romance in which she ensured her heroine was saved from drowning in the icy North Sea.

Since 2009 Beverley has written more than thirteen historical romances, mostly set in England during the early nineteenth century. Mystery, intrigue and adventure spill from their pages and if she can pull off a thrilling race to save someone’s honour – or a worthy damsel from the noose – it’s time to celebrate with a good single malt Scotch.

Beverley lives with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony opposite a picturesque nineteenth century lunatic asylum. She also writes Africa-set adventure-filled romances tarring handsome bush pilot heroes, and historical romances with less steam and more sexual tension, as Beverley Eikli.

 

You can get in contact with Beverley at:

 

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

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Blindsided has a Cover!

That’s right! Blindsided has a cover and it’s a fabulous one! I’m so excited to share it with you. It’s September and only a scant few weeks until Blindsided, book 2 of Medusa’s Consortium, is available to read and enjoy. September 29th is the big date. Stay tuned for preorder dates coming soon! In the meantime, feast your eyes. And then enjoy a little tease.

 

 

Blurb:

In New York City away from those she loves, living with the enigmatic vampire, Desiree Fielding, Susan Innes struggles to come to terms with life as a vampire whose body serves as the prison for a deadly demon.

When Reese Chambers arrives unexpectedly from England, desperate for her help, she discovers that Alonso Darlington, his lover and her maker, has been taken captive and Reese has been warned to tell no one but her. Before the two can make a plan, Susan receives her own message from a man calling himself just Cyrus. He not only holds her maker prisoner, but also her lover, the angel Michael. If she wishes to see either of them alive, she’ll come to him and not tell Magda Gardener, the woman they all work for and fear.

With no help coming from Magda or her Consortium, Susan and Reese must turn to the Guardian – the terrifying demon now imprisoned in her body. He alone can help them, but how can she possibly trust him after all he’s done?

 

 

All Dreams are Uninvited — Blindsided Excerpt:

It was a dark place where she found him, with walls so high only the small patch of starlight was visible above, but she was a vampire now. She didn’t need the light, and he, well he had never needed the light, had he? He stood naked with his back to her. He was broad of shoulder. There were white scars like latticework across muscles stretched taut over his shoulder blades. At first she thought they were from a whip, but as she drew nearer, she saw that they were more geometric in form, as though perhaps they were some sort of ancient ceremonial writing. She traced the shapes of them with the tips of her fingers, and his muscles rippled with the sensation. With a start she realized she’d never seen his body before.

“That is because I have none,” came his reply. “Only in dreams can I wear the flesh of my choosing.”

“You’ve worn flesh often enough. I would have though it was always of your choosing,” she said, making no effort to hide her bitterness.

“It was not my own though. That pleasure, I have never known.”

“Only in dreams, you say. Then this is a dream.”

“You know that it is.” He didn’t turn to face her but leaned in toward her, and she slipped her arms around him and rested her head on the flat of his back. His belly tensed at the touch of her hands, and he caught his breath in a soft moan. “Touch is what I longed for most,” he said. “I thought the lack of it would drive me insane while I languished in my previous prison. But here, with you, I’m closer to touch than I would have thought possible. I do not mind it, you know. It is no hardship to be here nestled inside you, close to your heart.”

She released him and took in their surroundings once more. “This is the place I’ve created for you?”

He pulled her arms back around him and sighed with contentment as she laid her head against him once more. “This is how I have decorated. The place you created for me was only the shape of myself, both boundless and infinitesimal. Oh it did not matter. I could see through your eyes, feel through your flesh, even though it no longer lived as it once did, even though you never spoke to me. I hoped that someday you would.”

“And when I refuse, you come uninvited into my dreams?”

“All dreams are uninvited, Susan, and perhaps this time it is you who have come uninvited into my dream.”

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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