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Shameless Selfie: Identity Crisis

 

We’ve all had the experience, when you get well and properly stuck into a good book. When the experience becomes far more than just reading. It becomes an obsession. It becomes an experience. In so many ways it feels like you’re right there with the characters on the pages. Time goes completely away when we spend time with our favourite authors in their latest novels. And who hasn’t wondered about those mysterious people inn the shadows behind the computer screen tap, tapping away at the stories we love. What are they really like? What really inspires them? How can they write such amazing stories. I don’t know about you, but I have fantasies about what my favourite writers must be like, about fan-girling majorly with them one-on-one.

But what happens when you find out your fave author isn’t the person you thought they were, but in fact they’re exactly the person who irritates you most, and they need your help. Identity Crisis is the second of the Executive Decision novels and a case of way more secret identities than can truly be kept secret for very long. Here’s sizzling except, in which Garret and Kendra go for an unexpected swim.

 

Identity Crisis: Book Two of the Executive Decision Trilogy (Click Here for Book One | Book Three)

 

 

 

PR rep extraordinaire, Kendra Davis, is elated when she gets the chance to work for her hero, reclusive, romance novelist, Tess Delaney. Her elation is short-lived when she discovers that Tess is none other than Garrett Thorne, the bad-boy brother of business tycoon and eco-warrior, Ellison Thorne, who is engaged to her best friend, Dee Henning. Kendra blames Garrett for the comedy of errors that nearly destroyed their relationship. Garrett doesn’t like Kendra either, but he’s desperate. His alter-ego, Tess has been nominated for the prestigious Golden Kiss Award. No one knows who Tess really is, and he needs Kendra to play Tess for the awards.

When Tess is stalked by a rabid fan, the two unite to protect her identity. With Kendra, the body and Garrett the soul of Tess Delaney, is there room in this strange ménage for romance? Can a woman who doesn’t exist understand their hearts even better than they do?

 

 

 

An Unexpected Swim — Identity Crisis Excerpt:

 

‘You look poorly slept with’ Ellis said, giving Garrett a hard slap on the back.

‘Can’t say the same about you,’ Garrett said. ‘Either one of you.’ He gave Dee a hug and took the bottle of Sam Adams his brother offered him. He leaned back against the deck railing, glancing out over the golden mid-day glow of the Water Hole, as Harris’s little private lake had been dubbed.

Stacie came to his side. ‘It’s friendlier on this half of the deck,’ she said nodding over to where Harris and Kendra huddled around the grill with Wade Crittenden. Ellis and Dee’s secretaries and their spouses along with several other people Garrett didn’t know, people he figured were friends of Dees milled around down by the water.

‘Give them some time,’ Dee said, following her gaze. ‘They’ll warm to you.’

Garrett’s gaze came to rest on Kendra Davis dressed in a baby-blue bikini top and a pair of shorts that made her legs look like they went on forever before they joined her luscious bottom up under what he could imagine was nice soft cotton. Damn, it would be easier to dislike the woman if she didn’t look so good. Garrett’s jaw still ached in muscle memory when he recalled the hard slap she had given him down in Wade’s office back on the day when no one was really sure what would happen between Ellis and Dee and everyone was waiting and nail-biting to see how the two would deal with the sharks of the press waiting to accuse Ellis of sexual harassment. Falsely accuse, of course, but that never stopped them. Garrett still felt awful about the role he and Stacie had inadvertently played in that nightmare. One more item to add to his guilt list where his relationship with his brother was concerned. Dee and Ellis had forgiven them, and it was clear all was well in paradise, but Dee’s friends didn’t seem nearly so willing to forgive and forget. In spite of being closer to his brother than he’d been in a very long time, he still wished there was a way to make things up to him and Dee.

He watched as Kendra put her arms around Harris from behind and gave him a tight squeeze from where he leaned over the grill, tongs in hand. He’d been told they were just friends, but if that wouldn’t make a man stiff, he didn’t know what would. Garrett had given himself a hard-on several times thinking about Kendra Davis’s enthusiastic slap. How pathetic was he? Of course in his fantasies, what followed the slap was a lot more fun for him than what had actually happened. Still, he would have liked it if she at least loathed him a little less.

‘So what’s up, Bro?’

Garrett turned his attention back to Ellis, but before he could say anything, Stacie spoke up. ‘Tess Delaney’s been nominated for the Golden Kiss Award.’

‘Really? That’s fantastic!’ Dee threw her arms around Garrett and gave him a proper bear hug. Ellis had obviously told her about the lesser Thorne brother’s secret life.

Ellis gave him another hard slap on the back. ‘Congrats, Tess. You must be all aflutter.’

Garrett gave a quick glance around to make sure no one else was close enough to overhear.

‘So,’ Ellis continued. ‘If Tess has been nominated for such a big honor, then why do you look like you’ve had an encounter with a freight train?’

‘They want to out him,’ Stacie said, sipping daintily at her Margarita. ‘Tess, I mean.’

‘Shut up, Stacie,’ Garrett said between gritted teeth.

‘Out you, what do you mean out you?’ Ellis asked, and he took the stance Garrett was too familiar with, the one that said he wanted the straight answer and he would have it one way or another.

 

 
Once he was finished with the whole tale and starting on a bottle of something from one of the local micro-breweries he’d never heard of, he was pretty sure he wasn’t happy with the way everyone else who’d just heard his sad little story seemed to be smirking.

‘Why don’t you ask her?’ Stacie nodded to Kendra, who was now engaged in conversation with Wade Crittenden as though he were the most fascinating man in the whole world.

And in spite of himself Garrett couldn’t keep from offering her an admiring glance.

Ellis laughed. ‘Not sure he could survive a date with her, incognito or not.’

Dee elbowed him in the ribs, but even she couldn’t hold back a snigger.

‘All joking aside,’ Dee said, ‘PR is Kendra’s forte and this is sort of a PR task, specialty, no doubt, but still, Tess Delaney needs someone who knows her work really well and is really comfortable around big crowds, someone who could move with the movers and shakers and blend right in. Surely that’s what Tess Delaney would be able to do.

‘Tess Delaney? What’s this about Tess Delaney?’ No one had noticed Kendra until she stood in their midst. Her blond hair slightly wind-blown, her bright eyes at least a couple of shades bluer than the sky, and Garrett so did not want to be thinking about the way she looked.

‘Nothing.’ Garrett gave them all a warning glare, grabbed Stacie by the hand and practically dragged her away. He knew Ellis and Dee would be the epitome of discretion. Stacie he was never too sure about.

‘Apparently Tess Delaney is looking for some specialty PR help,’ Stacie managed over her shoulder before Garrett could drag her away. Damn it, the woman had a big mouth. He was sure she’d done it on purpose.

As he escorted her briskly off the deck, he overheard Kendra ask Ellis, ‘Do you know Tess Delaney?’ But he couldn’t hear his brother’s response because Wade was suddenly asking him how he liked his new house.

 

‘Ellis, do you know Tess Delaney?’ Kendra asked again. ‘If she needs help with PR I’m her girl.’ She lifted her glass in a toast, way more excited about any lead that would give her a chance to meet Tess Delaney than she cared to admit.

Ellis and Dee shot each other a meaningful glance, and whatever the meaning was, Kendra had every intention of getting it out of her friend the first chance she got.

‘I know her, yes.’ Ellis spoke as though he wasn’t overly willing to let the words out of his mouth. ‘I don’t know the details of what she’s looking for, Garrett didn’t exactly say.’

‘Garrett knows her too?’

He shot Dee another glance, then shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot. ‘Better than I do, really. Maybe you should talk to him.’

Talking to Garrett Thorne was not something that Kendra really wanted to do, and for someone who was so good at giving nothing away at the negotiating table, Ellis certainly was not good at keeping his discomfort to himself when it came to talking about romance writers. ‘What is Tess Delaney an ex-lover or something?’ She asked.

Ellis nearly choked on his beer. Dee pounded him on the back and Kendra could tell she was trying hard not to laugh. He shook his head. ‘No, nothing like that. Honestly, she’s much closer to Garrett than she is me. Why don’t you talk to him?’

            She looked over the deck railing to where Garrett was now chatting with Wade. He was the last person she wanted to talk to, but it would be really something to spend time working with Tess Delaney. And the truth was, she was bored with being a lady of leisure. Though she was set for money for a long time to come, even had the funds set aside to buy a house whenever she got round to actually looking for one, a bit of interesting work, a chance to pick the brain of the woman who created such tantalizing tales would be the perfect distraction. She waited until Garrett was alone, down on the dock. He’d stepped aside to answer his cell phone. She’d just catch him when he hung up and ask him a few basic questions, then leave him to his ruminations and that would be that. It couldn’t take too long.

 

‘Now’s not a good time, Don,’ Garrett hissed into the phone. ‘I’m at my brother’s engagement party.’

‘Tell Ellis congratulations for me,’ his publicist said. ‘This’ll only take a minute then you can get right back to the party.’

Garrett gave a gargantuan shrug. ‘What do you want?’

‘I just wanted to let you know that I’ve put it out among some of my close friends and more respected colleagues that Tess Delaney is looking for a PA.’

‘You did what?’

‘Well, I didn’t know what else to call it. I thought I could maybe screen the candidates for you. I also know some folks who have connections with the actors guilds and they may be able to send some possible candidates as well, I mean we have to get on this, Garrett, that is if you’re absolutely sure you won’t just go to the award banquet as yourself.’

‘I already told you, no. Let me do the screening. If this woman is going as my date, I need to at least like her and trust that she knows enough about my work to pull it off.’ Though in all honesty he was finding it very difficult to imagine how he’d ever find someone who would understand Tess Delaney on a level that could convince people she was the woman that lived inside Garrett Thorne’s mind. But then, he wasn’t the one she’d have to convince, was she? She’d just have to convince Tess Delaney’s fans, and writers were often quite different than their loyal fans imagined them to be.

‘I insist.’ He interrupted Don’s list of reasons as to why he should choose the future Tess Delaney rather than Garrett.

There was a moment of silence and for a second Garrett thought they’d lost the connection. ‘Alright then,’ Don spoke at last. ‘I’ll send you the resumes of the candidates. But remember what I told you. She’d better good, or you’re outed. It’s not my call. That’s just the way it is.’

Garrett hung up without saying good-bye. ‘Asshole,’ he growled, as he stuffed the BlackBerry back in his pocket.

‘So tell me about Tess Delaney.’

Garrett jumped. He hadn’t even seen Kendra until she was right on him.

‘Jesus,’ he said. ‘Do you always sneak up on people like that? Were you listening to my conversation?’ The minute he said it he realized his mistake and the phantom burn from her hand to his left cheek flared with a vengeance.

She thrust her hands on her hips and glared at him. ‘I wasn’t sneaking, and why the hell would I be listening to your conversation?’

He thought she was going to turn around and leave, but instead she took a step closer. ‘Ellis just told me that you know Tess Delaney. Is that true?’

‘Why?’ He stepped back dangerously close to the edge of the dock.

‘Well Stacie said she needed some kind of PR help and PR’s my specialty.’

‘She doesn’t need your kind of PR help,’ he said.

‘What the hell’s that supposed to mean? And how would you know anything about PR needs. I’m damn good at what I do, and if anybody could solve her PR problem, I could.’

‘Oh I doubt that,’ he said. Another big mistake.

She took another step closer, folding her arms across her chest, and if looks could kill, he’d have been well dead and buried. ‘Why don’t you let her be the judge of that,’ she said.

‘Trust me on this, you’re not right for the job,’ he said. ‘I know Tess Delaney, and she’s looking for someone way more cooperative than you are.’ Jesus, why the hell couldn’t he keep his mouth shut?

The smile she offered him had no humor in it at all. In fact the curl at the edge of her luscious lips was down-right dangerous. ‘Oh I’m very cooperative with my clients. I promise you Tess Delaney will be very happy my work, and you know why that is, Thorne? It’s because I keep my nose out of other people’s business and do my job, something you wouldn’t know anything about, would you?’

He felt her words like a slap, and yet, even as he was regretting it, he still couldn’t keep his fucking mouth shut. ‘So what are you going to do for Tess Delaney, Huh? Slap her around? Throw your drink at her?’

The words were barely out of his mouth before she gave him a hard shove. He waved his arms wildly, teetering on the edge of the dock, then just before he went over, he grabbed her around the waist, and they both went off the end hitting the mirror bright water of the lake with a huge splash while Ellis and Dee and all the rest of the guests looked on.

 

 

 

 

Available from:

eBook:

Xcite Books
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon AU
Amazon CA
Barnes & Noble
iBooks UK
iBooks US
Kobobooks.com

Print:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
The Book Depository

 

 

Reviews:

 

risquereviews“Outstanding! Marshall weaves together a wonderful and brilliant story. With so many twists and turns, the author keeps you on your toes from the beginning right up to the very end. What I also loved is that even if you did not read the first book in the series you are not completely lost in this book. Overall, this was a fabulous book! I can’t wait for the next book!” 5 out of 5, Risque Reviews

 

 

“…I enjoyed this book very much, with its fascinating mix of love, hate, passion, violence, mystery and action. The outcome was a page-turner that I whizzed through even faster than its predecessor. Definitely recommended for hot romance fans… I’m now eagerly awaiting book three.” Erotica For All

“A great romance novel with a good out lined concept to keep you turning the pages of this book. Highly recommended to all lovers of Woman’s fiction, Romance with heart thumping passion and a good dash of suspense.” 5 out of 5, Lynelle Clark

“I have absolutely fallen in love with Kendra and Garrett. The tensions in the book perfectly transitions from hate to sexual and finally fear. The emotional highs and lows keep the reader intrigued, and the mystery keeps them hooked. I have been unable to put the book down until the momentous revelation at the end. Just when you think you have it all figured out, Ms. Marshall changes all the rules.” 5 out of 5, Coffee Time Romance

“This book pulled me in and had me on the edge of my seat with all the mystery, suspense, and hot, hot, loving. It was refreshing to read about a very romantic bad boy with a protective streak. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.” 4.5 out of 5, The Jeep Diva

“All in all, I found Identity Crisis to be one incredible read and cannot wait now to finish off with the third book in The Executive Decision Trilogy, The Exhibition. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a bit of diverse, hot, steamy reading that will have you clutching the bed sheets for all the right reasons.” 5 out of 5, Blood, Lust and Erotica

 

The Executive Decision Trilogy Now Available in a Box Set!

Exec Box setI’m very excited to announce that the entire Executive Decision Trilogy is now available in a box set! An Executive Decision, Identity Crisis & The Exhibition are all three now available in one intense, sizzling, yummy package from Amazon. If you liked Interviewing Wade, you’ll love The Executive Decision Box Set. Go ahead, indulge yourself with the rest of the story, and what a story it is! Here’s your chance to meet the rest of the Pneuma Inc inner circle and indulge in the sometimes funny, sometimes hair-raising, always steamy adventures of Dee & Ellis, Kendra & Garrett, Stacie & Harris as they battle their way to success, happiness and, of course love. The Executive Decision Box Set is a binge reading must for those who like an intense, fast-paced story with hot romance between characters who are more than up for the task.

 

 

 

Here’s what you get:

 

An Executive Decision – Book One in The Executive Decision Series

 

Overworked CEO Ellison Thorne has no time for sex, let alone romance. The only answer, at least where his retiring AED new coverbusiness partner Beverly is concerned, is a no-strings sex clause in her replacement’s contract, designed to make Ellis’
busy life easier – and hotter. But she’s joking, right?

When Dee Henning takes over Beverly’s job, sparks fly between her and Ellis, but work takes priority in driven Dee’s life too. Can one night of passion in a Paris hotel room prove Beverly’s Sex Clause is their secret to success in the boardroom and the bedroom, and what will happen if that private clause becomes public knowledge?

 

Identity Crisis – Book Two in The Executive Decision Series

 

This romantic suspense novel is recommended to hopeless romantics who know love triumphs over all.

IC new coverTess Delaney is the hottest property in romantic fiction, but the reclusive Tess has a secret – she’s really the alter ego of Garrett Thorne, bad boy brother of business tycoon Ellison Thorne. When Tess is nominated for the Golden Kiss Award, Garrett recruits PR specialist, Kendra Davis, to keep his secret and be Tess for the awards despite their mutual animosity.

Hatred turns to scorching passion, but when Tess is stalked by a rabid fan, an identity crisis is eclipsed by a battle for survival. It seems Tess, the woman who doesn’t exist, just might understand Kendra and Garrett’s hearts better than they do.

 

The Exhibition – Book Three in The Executive Decision Series

 

TE new coverSuccessful NYC gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, is ex-fiancée to one Thorne brother and ex-wife to the other. Though the three have made peace, Ellison Thorne’s friend, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, still doesn’t like her. When Stacie convinces Harris to exhibit his work for the opening of her new gallery she never intended to include him in her other more hazardous plans. But when those plans draw the attention of dangerous business tycoon, Terrance Jamison, Harris comes to her aid. In the shadow of a threat only Stacie understands, can she dare let Harris into her life and make room for love?

 

Buy The Executive Decision Box Set Here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

Excerpt from The Exhibition:

 

Outside someone shouted, ‘Hastings, check the crappers.’

Before Harris knew what hit him, Stacie pulled him into the cubicle at the other end of the row and locked the door behind him talking in a fast whisper. ‘Sorry about this. Not very professional, I know, but I promised to do my best to keep us out of jail, and I’m thinking groping in the ladies’ room’s not what this raid’s all about.’ The words were barely out of her mouth before she launched herself at him lips first. Damn it; he wanted to be mad at her. They were about to go to jail, for fuck sake! But instead of giving her a piece of his mind, he kissed her right back, hard, and felt her yield and open, and his tongue was in heaven sparing with hers, tasting, testing, thrusting. He found himself hoping that the inevitable arrest would wait until after he got his fill of Stacie Emerson, and that could take a while. She felt way better than she had even in his fantasies, and when his badly-behaving hands moved down to cup her magnificent bottom and pull her closer, she returned the favour and gave his ass a good grope. As though that gave him permission to explore, he slid anxious fingers inside her trousers wriggling down past a miniscule thong to cup an impossibly soft, impossibly firm buttock that gave a muscular clench in his hand, forcing her hips forward until she couldn’t possibly miss the press of his appreciative hard-on straining his jeans to get closer to her.
In the hall the noise got louder and the door burst open.

She had just managed a good firm stroke to the front of his trousers that had his full attention and then some, when a heavy-handed knock on the door caused her to yelp, and he nearly fell back onto the commode.
‘All right, you two, tuck it in, and come on out.’

 

 

‘Grace has this amazing knack of creating sexual tension not just through a few pages, but the whole damn book… ending in incredible sex.’ – Midnight Boudoir

 

I Make Another Executive Decision

Interviewing WadeKnowing that everyone is gearing up for a long weekend, and for some people that will involve relaxing in the sunshine with a good read, I thought I’d continue on with the spirit of the Interviewing Wade Blog Tour and Giveaway by giving you something to read. It was the first three Executive Decisions novels that led fans to demand Wade’s story. And while Wade is a secondary character in each of those novels, his role is vital and vibrant. I’ve decided to celebrate the release of Interviewing Wade by sharing the first chapter of each of the first three Executive Decisions novels with you, so to begin with, here is chapter 1 from Identity Crisis.

Happy Reading! And be sure to check out all the  Interviewing Wade Blog Tour and Giveaway sites and sign up for the Amazon Gift Card!

Blurb Identity Crisis:

Book Two of the Executive Decision Trilogy (Click Here for Book One , Book ThreeInterviewing Wade)

PR rep extraordinaire, Kendra Davis, is elated when she gets the chance to work for her hero, reclusive, romance novelist, Tess Delaney. Her elation is short-lived when she discovers that Tess is none other than Garrett Thorne, the bad-boy brother of business tycoon and eco-warrior, Ellison Thorne, who is engaged to her best friend, Dee Henning. Kendra blames Garrett for the comedy of errors that nearly destroyed their relationship. Garrett doesn’t like Kendra either, but he’s desperate. His alter-ego, Tess has been nominated for the prestigious Golden Kiss Award. No one knows who Tess really is, and he needs Kendra to play Tess for the awards.

When Tess is stalked by a rabid fan, the two unite to protect her identity. With Kendra, the body and Garrett the soul of Tess Delaney, is there room in this strange ménage for romance? Can a woman who doesn’t exist understand their hearts even better than they do?

 

Chapter 1 of Identity Crisis:

Identity Crisis‘Excuse me.’ The man sidled in next to Kendra at the bar all casual-like. ‘I couldn’t help noticing you sitting here all by yourself, and I was wondering if I could I buy you a drink?’

Kendra lifted her barely touched rum and Diet Pepsi. ‘Thanks but I already have one,’ she said without looking up from her novel. ‘And I’m not alone.’ She nodded down to her Kindle. She was just getting to the good part. All she wanted the man to do was go away and leave her alone.

Honestly, she was so engrossed in her novel that she thought he’d done just that until he cleared his throat loudly and sat down on the stool next to her. ‘So, whacha reading that has you so enthralled?’

‘Tess Delaney’s latest, Learning the Business.’ She kept reading. Surly eventually he’d figure out she didn’t want to be disturbed. There was a time it would have embarrassed her to say that she was reading a romance novel, but now she didn’t think too much about it, not when it was a Tess Delaney novel.

But apparently the man wasn’t very bright. He scooted slightly closer as though he might read over her shoulder. ‘It must be really good. I mean this is the Boiling Point. Most people don’t come here to read.’

She heaved an irritated sigh and closed her Kindle. ‘Yes the book’s very good. Tess Delaney’s best so far. And no most people don’t come here to read.’ She downed her drink in one go and jammed the Kindle into her bag making no efforts to hide her irritation. It barely registered as she slid off the stool and headed out the door passed the mountain-sized bouncer that the man hadn’t been bad looking. He was in a nice suit like he’d just come from some office somewhere, and if it wasn’t for Tess Delaney, Kendra probably could have had him in the park on that nice little secluded bench behind the shrubbery if she’d wanted to. That would have been a nice kinky beginning to the weekend. That was what she’d come to the Boiling Point for, wasn’t it? She figured she’d dance a little, flirt a little and with a little luck get nicely laid. She hadn’t done that in a while. Was she losing her touch?

She cursed under her breath. Whoever this reclusive Tess Delaney was, her novels were ruining Kendra’s sex life with her damn romance and love and not settling for just having a tumble a handshake. What the hell was the matter with her? A fantasy, that’s all it was, just a fantasy. Nobody really got a happy ever after!

But when the man at the Boiling Point so rudely interrupted her, she’d left Lisa and David with the sexual tension sizzling between them, and she was pretty sure they were going to get laid even if she wasn’t. That being the case, she sure as hell didn’t want to miss out on their fun. She felt like a damned voyeur. She headed out across the park at a quick pace. It was a short walk back to Dee’s. She’d order herself some nice Chinese and curl up with Lisa and David for their boardroom romp. God, what was getting into her? Was she just getting old? Harris never let her forget she was
AED_teaser2the oldest of the Three Musketeers. By two months, she reminded herself. And Harris was joking. It wasn’t that she wasn’t horny. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to start out the weekend with a sweaty romp with some hot guy. It was just that, well she knew it would never feel like it felt when David and Lisa’s anger gave way to lust and they ended up humping each other’s brains out on the floor of his office. Oh it wasn’t that Tess Delaney didn’t write good love scenes, they were fabulous, in fact, hot and steamy and pulse racing. But that was just it, Tess Delaney wrote love scenes, not sex scenes. Lisa would have never had a one-night stand with some guy she just met at a bar, and David would have never gone looking. There was chemistry, real chemistry in a Tess Delaney novel, and though Kendra seriously doubted if such chemistry, such romantic feelings really existed, Tess Delaney had drawn her in and made her wish like hell that they did.

As she often did, she was house sitting for her best friend, Dee Henning, who had been in New York on business. Well she was probably back home now, but she’d be having a very steamy romp of her own with Ellis Darby over at his place. Against all odds, Dee and Ellis were a couple almost straight from a Tess Delaney novel. In fact, if she didn’t know better, Kendra would swear that Tess Delaney had been hiding in the closet or under Ellis’s desk taking notes for this novel. Wow! If this was what it felt like for Dee and Ellis, if this is what they experienced when they were together, then she was damn-well jealous. She’d never admit it of course. And as the Chinese food arrived and she scrounged in the fridge for the Diet Pepsi Dee always kept on hand for her, she found herself wondering if maybe she should stop reading Tess Delaney novels. It was pretty stupid really. It only made her want what she knew she couldn’t have. Dee was Dee. Dee had a way of pushing through, of never giving up, of never settling until she got what she wanted in the relationship department, or any other department. Sadly, Kendra wasn’t like that. She wasn’t an optimist where love was concerned. She never had been, even as a child. She knew better. But since her return from California, she’d found it really difficult to get back into the clubbing scene. That meant that the only sex Kendra was getting these days was sex for one.

Dee’s two red tabbies, McAlister and O’Kelly, heard the rattling of the bag from the Chinese food and came to investigate. Kendra handed over the bag to the felines and settled onto the floor in front of the coffee table to eat her spring rolls and kung pow chicken with cheap wooden chopsticks.

Just as David and Lisa clawed their way to the mother of all simultaneous orgasms, Kendra’s iPhone rang, and she dropped a spring roll into her lap, then grabbed it up with her fingers while David and Lisa quickly dressed, embarrassed by all the feelings that they shouldn’t be having. It was Harris on the phone.

‘Hi Ken. Surprised I caught you.’ She could hear the concern in his voice. ‘Weren’t you going to the Boiling Point? Are you alright?’

‘Fine,’ she said, ‘I’m fine, just having some Chinese before I head over,’ she lied. ‘What’s up?’

‘Just wondering if you can pick up some extra beer for tomorrow, maybe some soft drinks It’s supposed to be hot. Plus, with the guest list being what it is, well, I don’t want to run out of lubricant.’

‘In that case, better get some hard stuff too,’ she said. Harris, Dee and Kendra had been best friends from high school and that bond had grown stronger during university and beyond. After all those years, they were still the Three Musketeers. Tomorrow Harris was throwing a little bar-B-Q out at his lake cabin, sort of an informal engagement party for Dee and Ellis. She’d work up a lot more enthusiasm for that little soirée if Ellis’s jerk of a brother wasn’t going to be there along with that Stacie chick, with whom it sounded like the two Thorne brothers had quite a history. Kendra liked Ellis. She liked him a lot, and she’d never seen Dee so happy. However, Ellis’s brother and Stacie, well they were both trouble. The two of them had bumbled about until they’d nearly destroyed the relationship between Ellis and Dee before it happened. Though that had not been their intention and they had both been very contrite, Kendra didn’t place much stock in good intentions. It didn’t matter, though, Garret was still Ellis’s brother, and apparently he was coming with Stacie as his date, even though she was his ex-wife. A perfectly good bar-B-Q ruined. But she supposed if Dee and Ellis could forgive the two, she would have to at least try.

After she hung up she made a quick note to herself to pick up drinks and returned her attention to Lisa, who was now coming clean with her best friend about sleeping with her boss.

 

TE_teaser2Pale morning light filtered through the bedroom window, illuminating the delicate curve of Amanda’s shoulder and the swell of her breasts, which rose and fell in the even breathing of sleep. For a second he wondered if he were dreaming, but then he reached out and ran a finger along her cheekbone and watched the twitch of muscles and heard the soft moan escape her lips. It was no dream and, as memories of the past night flooded back to him, he wanted her all over again.

 

‘Damn it. It’s not right. It just doesn’t feel right.’ For the third time in the last half hour, Garrett Thorne shoved back the chair from his desk and moved to pace in front of the French doors that led onto the balcony. It had not been a stellar day for writing, and there were deadlines looming. He was prolific. Tess Delaney was prolific. He could whip out the novels almost as fast as his publisher wanted a new one, but for some reason, there was just no flow, no chemistry between Jessie and Amanda, and fuck if he cared, to be honest! The last thing he really wanted to write was another billionaire story. But this one was an oil tycoon in Texas, his editor said. A unique approach, his editor said.

‘Think kinky Dallas all wrapped up in a black and grey book cover,’ Garrett grumbled out loud. ‘Yep, that’s unique alright.’ He’d been joking when he brought up the idea, just joking. But hell, he didn’t have any other ideas at the moment, and that was very unusual for Tess Delaney.

At the moment he just wasn’t thinking like Tess Delaney, that was the problem. He was thinking like Garrett Thorne, and Garrett Thorne wanted to kick back, have a couple of beers in front of the television and … well actually, Garrett Thorne wanted to get laid. But he’d only been in Portland just long enough to get settled into his new house. He didn’t know anyone here, and the truth was, he wasn’t into one-night-stands, and he certainly wasn’t anxious to put his heart out there again after what happened with him and Amy. She’d sent him a free ticket to watch her dance the lead role in Sleeping Beauty in New York, but of course he wouldn’t go. He just couldn’t ride that roller coaster again. Not for the first time, he found himself thinking that if he really were Tess Delaney, if there was such a person, she would just get on with it.

He sat back down at the desk and took a sip of the neglected glass of cabernet. Out of the stack of waste paper he saved up from read-throughs, he took a piece and began to write on the back with a fountain pen.

 

I’ve never really thought about what Tess might look like, other than to notice how deliciously comfortable she is in her own skin. And that makes her outrageously sexy. Tess doesn’t really think much about romance and love and struggles of the heart. She just gets on with it. Tess is more practical that Garrett is. Tess knows that sometimes you just need to get laid, that sometimes you just want it to be easy for a little while.

He chuckled to himself and drained his glass of wine.

Tess isn’t really my secret, so much as I’m hers. She can cover for me, and she does. She knows I’m the twit who wears his heart on his sleeve, and that I write all about it. Tess covers for me in a way that’s far more elegant and natural that I could ever be.

Sometimes I wish she were real. I suppose this is a testament to how neurotic I am, but sometimes I wish she were my lover, tough and strong and comfortable in herself and able to slap me around a bit when I need it. Jesus, what am I writing here, Tess Delaney, Bad-Ass Dom? No denying that thought gets my attention, even if it makes me a bit uncomfortable.

Still, I suppose Tess’s fans see her as far more straight-laced that that. She’s hardly the kind who would fuck the lesser Thorne brother, is she? Though she might beat me into submission from time to time, she’d definitely go for the hero at the end of the day. And when she catches the public eye, she’s the paragon virtue, the teller of tales of the heart. Ah! Tess Delaney! Where the hell are you when I need you?

Beneath it, he scribbled a heart with an arrow through it, then stood to pace again. He was just ready to sit down and try once more with Amanda and Jessie when his BlackBerry rang.

It was his publicist. ‘Damn it, Garrett, don’t you ever read your emails?’

Garrett plopped down at his desk and pulled up his gmail account. ‘Why should I, Don? I can always count on you to call me in a panic if I need to know something.’

IC_teaser2Don cursed, not quite under his breath. He’d been Garrett’s publicist long enough not to be required to be polite, and certainly Garrett wasn’t at times … most of the time, actually. ‘Tess Delaney has just been nominated for the Golden Kiss Award.’ He didn’t wait for Garrett’s reply, but ploughed on, as he usually did, trying to get as much said as quickly as possible before Garrett hung up on him. ‘You do know what that means, don’t you? You do know what a big deal that is, what a coup? And if Tess wins, well, it could very well eclipse anything else she’s done up until now, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what it would do for sales.’

‘The Golden Kiss? Tess was nominated for the Golden Kiss?’ Garrett almost managed to let the excitement of such an honor sink in before Don was off and ranting again.

‘This year the awards banquet’s in Portland, well that’s right there for you, isn’t it? And frankly, Garrett, your agent, your editor and I, well we all think it’s the perfect opportunity to out Tess Delaney as a local boy gone romantic. And I think –’

‘No!’ Garrett said, feeling as though the bottom had just dropped out of his stomach. ‘There’ll be no outing Tess.’

‘Calm down, Garrett. Don’t hang up. Just listen to me, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s well worth considering. Outing Tess Delaney can’t do anything but help sales and if you win , well it would be –’

‘I said no,’ Garrett repeated, no longer listening to Don’s long litany of reasons. ‘I won’t out her, and you can’t make me. And that’s final.’

He was just ready to hang up when Don said, ‘well, actually, we can. We can make you. Your publisher is riding your editor who’s riding me, and unless you’re dead or dying, Garrett, they want you at that award ceremony. I suppose you could go in drag, but then to be honest, I think you’d make a very ugly woman, and I don’t think you’d be keen on the chest waxing beforehand either.’

‘Goddamn it, Don, I don’t want Tess outed! I’ve told you before, I write better when no one knows, when everyone thinks I’m just Ellison Thorne’s worthless brother. I don’t mind going. But not as Tess. There has to be another way, or I’m warning you there’ll be trouble. You know I don’t have to write for Romancine.’

‘Well, actually you do. You’re under contract for three more novels.’

Garrett gripped his BlackBerry tighter. ‘I can make it miserable for all of us.’

Don’s huff of a sigh into the phone sounded like an explosion. ‘Jesus, Garrett, can’t you ever just do what you’re asked? This is a big deal, the biggest. It’s a huge honor to even be nominated, and it would be the perfect time to let the real Tess Delaney take her bows … his bows rather. Think how it would boost sales?’

‘Sales are already good, Don.’ Garrett made a desperate reach for his wine glass only to discover it empty and the bottle was still in the kitchen.

‘Good, yes, but this could be better than even you, even Tess, could imagine. Garrett, we’ve thought this out, really thought this out and there’s no logical way for Tess Delaney to make her first live appearance ever without letting the world know that Tess Delaney is really bad boy, Garrett Thorne. It’s like a PR dream-come-true.’

In the kitchen Garrett refilled his glass spilling a trail of wine across the granite counter top before drinking back half the glass. ‘Come on, Don. What if I can’t write when everyone knows I’m Garrett Thorne? Then what? Did you think about that? I mean it’s no secret what a neurotic mess I am, just ask my brother. Don? I can always get another publicist, you know?’

‘Alright! Damn it!’ The curse was loud enough that Garrett held the BlackBerry away from his ear. ‘Alright.’ There was a long pause, and Garrett was perfectly happy to wait. Tess Delaney books were top sellers, and the mystery of the woman behind them was discuss in more than a few coffee klatches and girls’ nights out. He did have some weight to throw around where the issue of his outage was concerned, and throw it around, he would!

‘Okay, look. The solution is simple, then,’ Don said. ‘Find someone else to be Tess Delaney, I don’t know, an actress, a friend, someone you can trust. Then you go as her date’

Garrett gulped the rest of the wine and emptied the bottle into his glass. ‘You’re kidding, right?’

‘This is not my kidding voice, Garrett. I’m serious. The way I see it, this is your option. You either come as you are and out Tess Delaney as Garrett Thorne or you come as Garrett Thorne, Tess Delaney’s bad boy date. I mean we could get some serious PR mileage off that, Tess Delaney dating Garrett Thorne.’

Wade_teaser2‘How am I going to pull this off?’ Garrett said, as much to himself as to Don. He was already going down the list of women who might play Tess Delaney. The obvious choice was Stacie, but everyone already knew who Stacie was and she had a reputation of her own to keep, as well as the fact that she was his ex-wife

‘Not my problem,’ Don was saying. ‘If this is how you want to play it, that’s totally fine, but you’d better find someone and she’d better be good or your ass is outed. I’m sorry, man. They want to break ground by having their big name romance writer be noted as a man. They figure women will eat it up. That’s what Romantacine wants. The way I see it, you hire yourself a Tess Delaney or you come clean. I don’t care which you do, but you have to do one or the other. Think about it. And read your fucking emails, for Chrissake.’ He hung up, leaving Garrett white-knuckling the BlackBerry to his ear.

 

End of Summer Beginnings: Identity Crisis Chapter 1

Welcome to the beginning of my End of Summer Beginnings Posts! As everyone is frantically trying to fit in one last dose of the summer sun and a smidge more holiday before autumn is upon us, I thought it was time for a bit of temptation. One of the best parts of summer holidays is a good read to match the summer sizzle, so with that in mind, for the next two weeks, I’m sharing First Chapters of all my novels. Today I’m sharing more  hot romance, Grace Marshall, style and chapter 1 from Identity Crisisbook two of the Executive Decisions Trilogy. Enjoy!  (Follow hyper-links to learn more and to find buy-links)

 

IC new coverBlurb Identity Crisis:

Book Two of the Executive Decision Trilogy (Click Here for Book One | Book Three)

PR rep extraordinaire, Kendra Davis, is elated when she gets the chance to work for her hero, reclusive, romance novelist, Tess Delaney. Her elation is short-lived when she discovers that Tess is none other than Garrett Thorne, the bad-boy brother of business tycoon and eco-warrior, Ellison Thorne, who is engaged to her best friend, Dee Henning. Kendra blames Garrett for the comedy of errors that nearly destroyed their relationship. Garrett doesn’t like Kendra either, but he’s desperate. His alter-ego, Tess has been nominated for the prestigious Golden Kiss Award. No one knows who Tess really is, and he needs Kendra to play Tess for the awards.

When Tess is stalked by a rabid fan, the two unite to protect her identity. With Kendra, the body and Garrett the soul of Tess Delaney, is there room in this strange ménage for romance? Can a woman who doesn’t exist understand their hearts even better than they do?

 

Chapter 1 of Identity Crisis:

‘Excuse me.’ The man sidled in next to Kendra at the bar all casual-like. ‘I couldn’t help noticing you sitting here all by yourself, and I was wondering if I could I buy you a drink?’

Kendra lifted her barely touched rum and Diet Pepsi. ‘Thanks but I already have one,’ she said without looking up from her novel. ‘And I’m not alone.’ She nodded down to her Kindle. She was just getting to the good part. All she wanted the man to do was go away and leave her alone.

Honestly, she was so engrossed in her novel that she thought he’d done just that until he cleared his throat loudly and sat down on the stool next to her. ‘So, whacha reading that has you so enthralled?’

‘Tess Delaney’s latest, Learning the Business.’ She kept reading. Surly eventually he’d figure out she didn’t want to be disturbed. There was a time it would have embarrassed her to say that she was reading a romance novel, but now she didn’t think too much about it, not when it was a Tess Delaney novel.

But apparently the man wasn’t very bright. He scooted slightly closer as though he might read over her shoulder. ‘It must be really good. I mean this is the Boiling Point. Most people don’t come here to read.’

She heaved an irritated sigh and closed her Kindle. ‘Yes the book’s very good. Tess Delaney’s best so far. And no most people don’t come here to read.’ She downed her drink in one go and jammed the Kindle into her bag making no efforts to hide her irritation. It barely registered as she slid off the stool and headed out the door passed the mountain-sized bouncer that the man hadn’t been bad looking. He was in a nice suit like he’d just come from some office somewhere, and if it wasn’t for Tess Delaney, Kendra probably could have had him in the park on that nice little secluded bench behind the shrubbery if she’d wanted to. That would have been a nice kinky beginning to the weekend. That was what she’d come to the Boiling Point for, wasn’t it? She figured she’d dance a little, flirt a little and with a little luck get nicely laid. She hadn’t done that in a while. Was she losing her touch?

She cursed under her breath. Whoever this reclusive Tess Delaney was, her novels were ruining Kendra’s sex life with her damn romance and love and not settling for just having a tumble a handshake. What the hell was the matter with her? A fantasy, that’s all it was, just a fantasy. Nobody really got a happy ever after!

But when the man at the Boiling Point so rudely interrupted her, she’d left Lisa and David with the sexual tension sizzling between them, and she was pretty sure they were going to get laid even if she wasn’t. That being the case, she sure as hell didn’t want to miss out on their fun. She felt like a damned voyeur. She headed out across the park at a quick pace. It was a short walk back to Dee’s. She’d order herself some nice Chinese and curl up with Lisa and David for their boardroom romp. God, what was getting into her? Was she just getting old? Harris never let her forget she was the oldest of the Three Musketeers. By two months, she reminded herself. And Harris was joking. It wasn’t that she wasn’t horny. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to start out the weekend with a sweaty romp with some hot guy. It was just that, well she knew it would never feel like it felt when David and Lisa’s anger gave way to lust and they ended up humping each other’s brains out on the floor of his office. Oh it wasn’t that Tess Delaney didn’t write good love scenes, they were fabulous, in fact, hot and steamy and pulse racing. But that was just it, Tess Delaney wrote love scenes, not sex scenes. Lisa would have never had a one-night stand with some guy she just met at a bar, and David would have never gone looking. There was chemistry, real chemistry in a Tess Delaney novel, and though Kendra seriously doubted if such chemistry, such romantic feelings really existed, Tess Delaney had drawn her in and made her wish like hell that they did.

As she often did, she was house sitting for her best friend, Dee Henning, who had been in New York on business. Well she was probably back home now, but she’d be having a very steamy romp of her own with Ellis Darby over at his place. Against all odds, Dee and Ellis were a couple almost straight from a Tess Delaney novel. In fact, if she didn’t know better, Kendra would swear that Tess Delaney had been hiding in the closet or under Ellis’s desk taking notes for this novel. Wow! If this was what it felt like for Dee and Ellis, if this is what they experienced when they were together, then she was damn-well jealous. She’d never admit it of course. And as the Chinese food arrived and she scrounged in the fridge for the Diet Pepsi Dee always kept on hand for her, she found herself wondering if maybe she should stop reading Tess Delaney novels. It was pretty stupid really. It only made her want what she knew she couldn’t have. Dee was Dee. Dee had a way of pushing through, of never giving up, of never settling until she got what she wanted in the relationship department, or any other department. Sadly, Kendra wasn’t like that. She wasn’t an optimist where love was concerned. She never had been, even as a child. She knew better. But since her return from California, she’d found it really difficult to get back into the clubbing scene. That meant that the only sex Kendra was getting these days was sex for one.

Dee’s two red tabbies, McAlister and O’Kelly, heard the rattling of the bag from the Chinese food and came to investigate. Kendra handed over the bag to the felines and settled onto the floor in front of the coffee table to eat her spring rolls and kung pow chicken with cheap wooden chopsticks.

Just as David and Lisa clawed their way to the mother of all simultaneous orgasms, Kendra’s iPhone rang, and she dropped a spring roll into her lap, then grabbed it up with her fingers while David and Lisa quickly dressed, embarrassed by all the feelings that they shouldn’t be having. It was Harris on the phone.

‘Hi Ken. Surprised I caught you.’ She could hear the concern in his voice. ‘Weren’t you going to the Boiling Point? Are you alright?’

‘Fine,’ she said, ‘I’m fine, just having some Chinese before I head over,’ she lied. ‘What’s up?’

‘Just wondering if you can pick up some extra beer for tomorrow, maybe some soft drinks It’s supposed to be hot. Plus, with the guest list being what it is, well, I don’t want to run out of lubricant.’

‘In that case, better get some hard stuff too,’ she said. Harris, Dee and Kendra had been best friends from high school and that bond had grown stronger during university and beyond. After all those years, they were still the Three Musketeers. Tomorrow Harris was throwing a little bar-B-Q out at his lake cabin, sort of an informal engagement party for Dee and Ellis. She’d work up a lot more enthusiasm for that little soirée if Ellis’s jerk of a brother wasn’t going to be there along with that Stacie chick, with whom it sounded like the two Thorne brothers had quite a history. Kendra liked Ellis. She liked him a lot, and she’d never seen Dee so happy. However, Ellis’s brother and Stacie, well they were both trouble. The two of them had bumbled about until they’d nearly destroyed the relationship between Ellis and Dee before it happened. Though that had not been their intention and they had both been very contrite, Kendra didn’t place much stock in good intentions. It didn’t matter, though, Garret was still Ellis’s brother, and apparently he was coming with Stacie as his date, even though she was his ex-wife. A perfectly good bar-B-Q ruined. But she supposed if Dee and Ellis could forgive the two, she would have to at least try.

After she hung up she made a quick note to herself to pick up drinks and returned her attention to Lisa, who was now coming clean with her best friend about sleeping with her boss.

 

newgmbuttonPale morning light filtered through the bedroom window, illuminating the delicate curve of Amanda’s shoulder and the swell of her breasts, which rose and fell in the even breathing of sleep. For a second he wondered if he were dreaming, but then he reached out and ran a finger along her cheekbone and watched the twitch of muscles and heard the soft moan escape her lips. It was no dream and, as memories of the past night flooded back to him, he wanted her all over again.

 

‘Damn it. It’s not right. It just doesn’t feel right.’ For the third time in the last half hour, Garrett Thorne shoved back the chair from his desk and moved to pace in front of the French doors that led onto the balcony. It had not been a stellar day for writing, and there were deadlines looming. He was prolific. Tess Delaney was prolific. He could whip out the novels almost as fast as his publisher wanted a new one, but for some reason, there was just no flow, no chemistry between Jessie and Amanda, and fuck if he cared, to be honest! The last thing he really wanted to write was another billionaire story. But this one was an oil tycoon in Texas, his editor said. A unique approach, his editor said.

‘Think kinky Dallas all wrapped up in a black and grey book cover,’ Garrett grumbled out loud. ‘Yep, that’s unique alright.’ He’d been joking when he brought up the idea, just joking. But hell, he didn’t have any other ideas at the moment, and that was very unusual for Tess Delaney.

At the moment he just wasn’t thinking like Tess Delaney, that was the problem. He was thinking like Garrett Thorne, and Garrett Thorne wanted to kick back, have a couple of beers in front of the television and … well actually, Garrett Thorne wanted to get laid. But he’d only been in Portland just long enough to get settled into his new house. He didn’t know anyone here, and the truth was, he wasn’t into one-night-stands, and he certainly wasn’t anxious to put his heart out there again after what happened with him and Amy. She’d sent him a free ticket to watch her dance the lead role in Sleeping Beauty in New York, but of course he wouldn’t go. He just couldn’t ride that roller coaster again. Not for the first time, he found himself thinking that if he really were Tess Delaney, if there was such a person, she would just get on with it.

He sat back down at the desk and took a sip of the neglected glass of cabernet. Out of the stack of waste paper he saved up from read-throughs, he took a piece and began to write on the back with a fountain pen.

 

I’ve never really thought about what Tess might look like, other than to notice how deliciously comfortable she is in her own skin. And that makes her outrageously sexy. Tess doesn’t really think much about romance and love and struggles of the heart. She just gets on with it. Tess is more practical that Garrett is. Tess knows that sometimes you just need to get laid, that sometimes you just want it to be easy for a little while.

He chuckled to himself and drained his glass of wine.

Tess isn’t really my secret, so much as I’m hers. She can cover for me, and she does. She knows I’m the twit who wears his heart on his sleeve, and that I write all about it. Tess covers for me in a way that’s far more elegant and natural that I could ever be.

Sometimes I wish she were real. I suppose this is a testament to how neurotic I am, but sometimes I wish she were my lover, tough and strong and comfortable in herself and able to slap me around a bit when I need it. Jesus, what am I writing here, Tess Delaney, Bad-Ass Dom? No denying that thought gets my attention, even if it makes me a bit uncomfortable.

Still, I suppose Tess’s fans see her as far more straight-laced that that. She’s hardly the kind who would fuck the lesser Thorne brother, is she? Though she might beat me into submission from time to time, she’d definitely go for the hero at the end of the day. And when she catches the public eye, she’s the paragon virtue, the teller of tales of the heart. Ah! Tess Delaney! Where the hell are you when I need you?

Beneath it, he scribbled a heart with an arrow through it, then stood to pace again. He was just ready to sit down and try once more with Amanda and Jessie when his BlackBerry rang.

It was his publicist. ‘Damn it, Garrett, don’t you ever read your emails?’

Garrett plopped down at his desk and pulled up his gmail account. ‘Why should I, Don? I can always count on you to call me in a panic if I need to know something.’

Don cursed, not quite under his breath. He’d been Garrett’s publicist long enough not to be required to be polite, and certainly Garrett wasn’t at times … most of the time, actually. ‘Tess Delaney has just been nominated for the Golden Kiss Award.’ He didn’t wait for Garrett’s reply, but ploughed on, as he usually did, trying to get as much said as quickly as possible before Garrett hung up on him. ‘You do know what that means, don’t you? You do know what a big deal that is, what a coup? And if Tess wins, well, it could very well eclipse anything else she’s done up until now, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what it would do for sales.’

‘The Golden Kiss? Tess was nominated for the Golden Kiss?’ Garrett almost managed to let the excitement of such an honor sink in before Don was off and ranting again.

‘This year the awards banquet’s in Portland, well that’s right there for you, isn’t it? And frankly, Garrett, your agent, your editor and I, well we all think it’s the perfect opportunity to out Tess Delaney as a local boy gone romantic. And I think –’

‘No!’ Garrett said, feeling as though the bottom had just dropped out of his stomach. ‘There’ll be no outing Tess.’

‘Calm down, Garrett. Don’t hang up. Just listen to me, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s well worth considering. Outing Tess Delaney can’t do anything but help sales and if you win , well it would be –’

‘I said no,’ Garrett repeated, no longer listening to Don’s long litany of reasons. ‘I won’t out her, and you can’t make me. And that’s final.’

He was just ready to hang up when Don said, ‘well, actually, we can. We can make you. Your publisher is riding your editor who’s riding me, and unless you’re dead or dying, Garrett, they want you at that award ceremony. I suppose you could go in drag, but then to be honest, I think you’d make a very ugly woman, and I don’t think you’d be keen on the chest waxing beforehand either.’

‘Goddamn it, Don, I don’t want Tess outed! I’ve told you before, I write better when no one knows, when everyone thinks I’m just Ellison Thorne’s worthless brother. I don’t mind going. But not as Tess. There has to be another way, or I’m warning you there’ll be trouble. You know I don’t have to write for Romancine.’

‘Well, actually you do. You’re under contract for three more novels.’

Garrett gripped his BlackBerry tighter. ‘I can make it miserable for all of us.’

Don’s huff of a sigh into the phone sounded like an explosion. ‘Jesus, Garrett, can’t you ever just do what you’re asked? This is a big deal, the biggest. It’s a huge honor to even be nominated, and it would be the perfect time to let the real Tess Delaney take her bows … his bows rather. Think how it would boost sales?’

‘Sales are already good, Don.’ Garrett made a desperate reach for his wine glass only to discover it empty and the bottle was still in the kitchen.

‘Good, yes, but this could be better than even you, even Tess, could imagine. Garrett, we’ve thought this out, really thought this out and there’s no logical way for Tess Delaney to make her first live appearance ever without letting the world know that Tess Delaney is really bad boy, Garrett Thorne. It’s like a PR dream-come-true.’

In the kitchen Garrett refilled his glass spilling a trail of wine across the granite counter top before drinking back half the glass. ‘Come on, Don. What if I can’t write when everyone knows I’m Garrett Thorne? Then what? Did you think about that? I mean it’s no secret what a neurotic mess I am, just ask my brother. Don? I can always get another publicist, you know?’

‘Alright! Damn it!’ The curse was loud enough that Garrett held the BlackBerry away from his ear. ‘Alright.’ There was a long pause, and Garrett was perfectly happy to wait. Tess Delaney books were top sellers, and the mystery of the woman behind them was discuss in more than a few coffee klatches and girls’ nights out. He did have some weight to throw around where the issue of his outage was concerned, and throw it around, he would!

‘Okay, look. The solution is simple, then,’ Don said. ‘Find someone else to be Tess Delaney, I don’t know, an actress, a friend, someone you can trust. Then you go as her date’

Garrett gulped the rest of the wine and emptied the bottle into his glass. ‘You’re kidding, right?’

‘This is not my kidding voice, Garrett. I’m serious. The way I see it, this is your option. You either come as you are and out Tess Delaney as Garrett Thorne or you come as Garrett Thorne, Tess Delaney’s bad boy date. I mean we could get some serious PR mileage off that, Tess Delaney dating Garrett Thorne.’

‘How am I going to pull this off?’ Garrett said, as much to himself as to Don. He was already going down the list of women who might play Tess Delaney. The obvious choice was Stacie, but everyone already knew who Stacie was and she had a reputation of her own to keep, as well as the fact that she was his ex-wife

Xcite FB campagne for Exec Dec trilogy‘Not my problem,’ Don was saying. ‘If this is how you want to play it, that’s totally fine, but you’d better find someone and she’d better be good or your ass is outed. I’m sorry, man. They want to break ground by having their big name romance writer be noted as a man. They figure women will eat it up. That’s what Romantacine wants. The way I see it, you hire yourself a Tess Delaney or you come clean. I don’t care which you do, but you have to do one or the other. Think about it. And read your fucking emails, for Chrissake.’ He hung up, leaving Garrett white-knuckling the BlackBerry to his ear.

 

Sex and Creativity

TE new coverI’m working hard on the final rewrite of The Exhibition, the third novel of The Executive Decisions Trilogy, and I can’t immerse myself in a major writing project without being reminded of just how closely linked sexuality and creativity are. Since I’m up to my ears at the moment, I’m sharing an archive post with you today that talks about just that subject, a subject I think is always worth revisiting. I hope you enjoy it.

Sex and creativity are often seen by dictators as subversive activities.  –Erica Jong

My husband knows I’m always looking for interesting articles about sex. He sent me one the other day about masturbation as a treatment for restless leg syndrome (It’s orgasm that actually seems to help. The means is optional.) This led us to an impromptu  discussion of all of the other benefits of sex. Sex is a good sleep aid, sex can help with weight loss, sex can improve skin, hair and nails, just to name a few. There was even a recent article in Psychology Today about semen as an anti-depressant. The jury, however, is still out on whether sex is an aid or a deterrent to creativity.

For the naysayers, abstinence has long been touted as a way to focus sexual energy for creative purposes. On the other hand, a study at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne and the Open University showed that professional poets and artists had almost twice as many sex partners as other people. The study also showed that the number of sex partners increased as creative output went up. The conclusion drawn was that the more creative you are, the more sex partners you were likely to have.

I’m sure that’s a simplification, but I wonder which came first: the sex or the creativity? Is it the creative force that makes us horny, or is it being horny that makes us creative? My guess is that every writer, poet or artist would answer that question differently. However, I don’t think there’s any denying the close connection between the creative force and sexuality. Nor do I think that’s particularly surprising. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Freud was right. It IS all about sex. But I wonder whether we really understand just what sex is all about.

Yes, the basic biology is obvious, but we humans haven’t had sex simply to procreate in a very long time now. We’ve evolved to want, to expect, even to need more from the sex act than just the next generation. Perhaps that goes hand-in- hand with our cultural evolution, what sets us apart from our animal cousins — at least in our own eyes. For humans, all things seem to have evolved two meanings. First there is the concrete realm in which we’re born, nurtured, thrive, reproduce and die. But we develop another level of meaning when we no longer have to use all of our energy just to survive. When starvation is no longer an issue, food and its preparation and presentation become art. When keeping out the cold is no longer an issue, clothing becomes fashion, and magazines tell us how we can be walking galleries for the art of clothing. When finding shelter from the elements is no longer necessary, our very homes become an artistic expression of ourselves. In a world where all our basic needs have evolved more than one meaning, the artistic expression becomes as important as the function.

But all of these necessities are mundane. Sex is not. For our ancestors, sex was the magic by which two people become three. Today sex is the magic by which two people become one, or by which one person becomes more herself or himself. On one hand procreation has given way to re-creation,  but on the other hand, how can an act that has evolved from the very need to create the next generation be rooted in anything but creativity?

How can the process of creating be anything but sexual? Writing a story is a penetrative act resulting in something larger, something much more alive than the words on the page, than the idea conceived. That’s heady stuff. That’s the writer in full rut. It’s intimate, it’s messy, it’s rough and tumble, it’s voyeurism and exhibitionism and full-on heat. If it isn’t, then there hardly seems to be a point.

That being said, anyone who has had good sex, lingering sex in which time seemed no longer to exist, will recall that what mattered was the wonder of the act itself, the amazing intimacy with the other. Any writer or artist knows that experience up close and personal. At some point the creative act itself becomes the sum total of existence. The writer’s world shrinks to and expands out from that act, and the end no longer matters.

So how did I get from masturbation for restless leg syndrome to once more worshiping at the altar of the Divine Creative Sexual Force? Well I suppose it’s all just a part of the journey isn’t it? And besides, where else would I go with it?

And here’s a little excerpt from Identity Crisis, book two of the Executive Decisions Trilogy, to make your weekend sizzle.

Blurb:

PR rep extraordinaire, Kendra Davis, is elated when she gets the chance to work for her hero, reclusive, romance novelist, Tess Delaney. Her elation is short-lived when she discovers that Tess is none other than Garrett Thorne, the bad-boy brother of business tycoon and eco-warrior, Ellison Thorne, who is engaged to her best friend, Dee Henning. Kendra blames Garrett for the comedy of errors that nearly destroyed their relationship. Garrett doesn’t like Kendra either, but he’s desperate. His alter-ego, Tess has been nominated for the prestigious Golden Kiss Award. No one knows who Tess really is, and he needs Kendra to play Tess for the awards.

When Tess is stalked by a rabid fan, the two unite to protect her identity. With Kendra, the body and Garrett the soul of Tess Delaney, is there room in this strange ménage for romance? Can a woman who doesn’t exist understand their hearts even better than they do?

IC new coverExcerpt from Identity Crisis:

Garrett had just pulled out his cell phone to call again, when he looked up to find Kendra standing at the bar with a drink in her hand, and his knees nearly gave from relief. One of the designer fashion boys was chatting her up. And immediately the relief was replaced with something a lot more tetchy. He shoved past a knot of Goths who mumbled and gave him a few nasty looks, but he was way past being polite at the moment.

‘The Porsche outside, it’s mine,’ Fashion Boy was telling Kendra, preening with one hand while he held a beer in the other. ‘Bought it with my bonus from last year. It’s one helluva ride.’ He moved in closer. ‘If you’re interested.’

‘I’m not.’

‘She’s not.’

Both he and Kendra spoke at the same time.

The man raised his hands and backed away, and Garrett grabbed her by the arm, none-too gently and marched her toward the door. ‘Where the hell have you been?’ He said, half shoving her out into the warm summer air, past the curious gaze of the bouncers.

‘What do you mean where have I been?’ She yanked her arm away. ‘I was dancing. I looked around and you were nowhere to be found. So I went to the bar to wait. I figured that would be the first place you’d look for me, and why are you so angry?’

‘Why am I so angry? You scared the shit out of me, that’s why I’m so angry.’ He jerked her closer to him. ‘One minute you’re dancing with me and the next minute the incredible hulk steps in between us and then you’re gone.’

‘Where are we going?’ she said, pulling back.

He jerked her forward. ‘Home, damn it. We’re going home where it’s safe.’ He half marched, half dragged her through the parking lot across the road and to the edge of the park before she gave him a shove, pulled away from him altogether and turned on him.

‘Fuck you, Garrett! I haven’t done anything wrong and even if I had, you’re not my father. I’ll go home when I’m damn good and ready.’

‘So what? You want to go back and ride banker boy’s Porsche, do you? Is that it? He buys you a drink and you let him give you a ride.’

That she didn’t slap him was the first shock, the second was that she didn’t turn back to the Boiling Point, but that she headed on into the park at a pace that a race horse would have struggled to keep up with.

‘I bought my own drink, you asshole. And I came with you. You’re the only one who gets to give me a ride.’

‘Kendra. Kendra, I’m sorry. Kendra wait!’ He struggled to catch up with her. ‘I just panicked when I couldn’t find you. I’m sorry, okay. I panicked.’

‘And you just assumed that I was on the make. Fuck you, Garrett! Fuck you!’

It was then that he realized she was leading him off the main path into the darkened edge of the park. ‘Kendra, where are you going?’

She didn’t respond, so he kept following her up a winding path deeper into the center of the park.

At the top of the hill in a grove of hawthorn trees and rose bushes in fragrant full-bloom, there was a bench. The leaves of the trees admitted a tiny pool of light from the street lamps just above it. ‘Kendra, where the hell are you going?’ He grabbed her hand, and she turned on him so quickly that he thought for sure this was when she would slap him, certainly he couldn’t blame her, but instead she fisted both hands in the front of his hoodie and pulled him to her in an angry kiss, then one hand migrated into the front of his track bottoms, and inside his boxer.

‘God, Kendra, what the –’ she swallowed up his words, biting his lip, sucking his tongue, licking at the back of his teeth and his hard pallet until he couldn’t breathe. Her fist around his cock was a strangle hold and even in its discomfort it felt like he was in heaven. ‘Kendra, I can’t …’ He tried to push her hand away, but the other hand snaked in and jerked his bottoms and boxers down over his ass until he could feel the night air on bare flesh. He wriggled and squirmed his heart racing in his chest. ‘Jesus, Kendra, you can’t be serious. This is a public place. What if someone –’

She bit his lip hard enough that he wondered if she’d drawn blood, and his cock surged so strongly in her hand that he feared he’d come right there. ‘Shut up, Garrett,’ she growled against his mouth. ‘I need you to fuck me, so just shut up.’

He heard the crackle of foil and with a slight of hand that nearly took his breath away she sheathed him in the condom, then with hands that seemed as full of anger and need as the rest of her, she ripped open the fly of her shredded jeans and shoved them down. Christ! There were no panties! ‘I need you, Garrett.’ She struggled to breath. ‘I need you to fuck me right now. I can’t wait. Right now. Right now!’ She turned her back to him still shoving and pushing at the jeans until they were down around her thighs and the rounded heart shape of her bottom shown in the pale light. Then she bent over and rested a palm onto the seat of the park bench. With the other hand, she reached behind her, grabbed his hip and pulled him up close until his cock pressed into the valley between her buttocks. ‘Do it, Garrett. I can’t stand it any longer. Do it now!’ She wasn’t trying to be quiet. She wasn’t trying to be subtle. She didn’t care that there were other people still using the park, that they might get caught, and Garrett felt like he’d burst at the very thought of what they were doing – and where. She opened herself to him and shifted her hips, while he, with one hand low on her back and the other on his cock fumbled and maneuvered until he slid home. She grunted a curse and pushed back onto him hard, and they both cried out as they began to thrust.

Her beret tumbled off behind the park bench and he grabbed at her ponytail as it fell free reining her in with it. He yanked her back toward him like it might help him control her somehow. He yanked her back until he could bury his mouth against her neck, rake her pulse point with his teeth, suckle and nip until the sounds coming from both their throats were feral groans and grunts.

With a quick movement, she unhooked her bra, grabbed his free hand and guided it to the bounce and the fullness of her breasts, nipples tight and puckered against the rake of his thumb. Then she grabbed his hand from her hair and guided his fingers to her mouth, licking and nibbling before she shoved them down between her legs, down to the heavy strain of her clit.

They were both too far gone to hold back much longer, and it took little more than a stroke between her legs before she came, growling and straining and nearly collapsing onto the bench as he came juddering in hard waves inside her.

It was only as their breathing began to return to normal that he could hear her sniffles. As he pulled out, she stood and wiped her nose on the back of her hand, then jerked her jeans up as though they had made her angry somehow.

She stuffed her bra into the pocket of his hoodie with a hard shove, bent to retrieve her beret, and was already heading down the path before he could deal with the condom and get settled back into his track bottoms.

Blrub for The Exhibition:

(Out soon!)

Successful NYC gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, is ex-fiancée to one Thorne brother and ex-wife to the other. Though the three have made peace, Ellison Thorne’s friend, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, still doesn’t like her. When Stacie convinces Harris to exhibit his work for the opening of her new gallery she never intended to include him in her other more hazardous plans. But when those plans draw the attention of dangerous business tycoon, Terrance Jamison, Harris comes to her aid. In the shadow of a threat only Stacie understands, can she dare let Harris into her life and make room for love?

 
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© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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