I’ve been looking back through my backlist recently and smiling at the stories and the novels and the characters I’ve come to enjoy so much. I thought I might spend a little time taking you back through them in no particular order. I suppose one of the novels I can most identify with is Book 2 in the Executive Decisions series, Identity Crisis. The reason is probably obvious to every writer who uses a pen name. I wrote this post originally for Kay Jaybee’s lovely blog when Identity Crisis was just released, and with me expanding to urban fantasy and sic-fi, or trying to anyway, my own private identity crisis is ever-expanding. Enjoy the post and the excerpt, and if you’ve not read the Executive Decision series, but would like to, follow the links to all the fun.
The other day I went to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy, and when the chemist ask who it was for, I said K D Grace. I had a PR email yesterday addressed to Grace, and I had to do a double-take before I realised the email was for Grace Marshall. My husband occasionally gets referred to as Mr. Grace. Oh he’s used to it by now, and he doesn’t mind. It’s sort of like he has a double life as well, though a milder version.
I’m forever introducing myself as K D Grace, accidentally filling out forms as K D Grace, and answering the phone as K D. I know a lot of my erotica writing friends only by their pen names, and that’s how they know me. K D has been so much a part of me for the past three years that it’s no wonder she often barges into my non-writing life. And now there’s Grace Marshall. She’s a bit more subtle at the moment, but then she’s only been around for the past ten months. During that time she’s moved right in and made herself at home. She even has her own coffee cup now.
Living with Grace, K D, and Kathy all crammed into my inner space, I can so completely understand Garrett Thorne’s identity crisis. Garrett writes bestselling romance novels under the name of Tess Delaney. But Garrett is much better at keeping his identity secret than I am. I don’t really care who knows that Grace and K D and Kathy are all living fairly peaceably in the same crowded body. But Garrett has his reasons for wanting to keep his secret life secret, and he’s kept that secret flawlessly until Tess is nominated for the Golden Kiss Award and has to make her first ever public appearance. Now Garrett looks fabulous in a tux and tie … or out. But if he wants to keep Tess’s secret, he’ll either have to go to the award ceremony in drag or hire someone to do it for him, someone who’s the epitome of discretion. Not keen on wearing a dress nor having his chest waxed; against his better judgment, he hires the PR queen of intrigue and secrets, Kendra Davis, to be his Tess while he goes to the ceremony as her date. In spite of the fact that the two don’t like each other, a writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do, and to hell with the consequences.
And wow, are there consequences! Kendra has an identity crisis of her own, and it makes Garrett and Tess’s pale in comparison. Put together two people with major identity crises, who are likely to either kill each other or shag each other’s brains out, and let the fun begin. Here’s a blurb and a little teaser.
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?
Before Garrett could say anything else, the line went dead and he and Kendra sat staring at each other. Garrett reached for the remote and switched off the television. ‘So what do you think?’ He said. ‘I mean you are K. Ryde.’
She ran a hand through her hair and tightened the sash at the waist of the robe. In the kitchen they could hear the coffee maker gurgling out the last of the coffee into the pot. ‘Garrett, I work for Tess Delaney, not Don Bachman, and I think it’s up to you. You’ve done what was asked of you. It’s had better than expected results, and now I think you should do what you want. I mean a huge part of Tess’s appeal is her mystique. The more public she becomes the more she risks losing that mystique. If you do decide to have Tess make the odd public appearance, then I’ll happily oblige, but the more I pretend to be Tess Delaney, the more risk we run of her really being outed.’
He tugged a strand of her red hair. ‘You think I should do what I want?’ He scooted closer and brushed a kiss against her parted lips. ‘Because I’m pretty sure you have a good idea of what I want right now.’
She made a half-hearted effort to pull away from him. ‘Garrett, this is serious business, you know. I need to know, K. Ryde needs to know what to do next.’
He gently nipped her lip and felt her breath catch. ‘I know that, Kendra, believe me, I do.’ He guided her hand to rest against the bulge barely contained by his straining shorts. ‘But I can’t think very well at the moment. Perhaps if you could just help me out a little bit here –’ with his other hand, he slid open the bottom of the robe to reveal her lush thighs and beyond, ‘– then maybe I could concentrate on business a little better.’
She forced an irritated sigh that ended in a soft giggle as he pulled her to him, shoving the robe open still further, exposing her breasts to the explorations of his lips and the cupping of his hands as he eased her back onto the sofa, wriggling his way in between her legs. He had just worried open the sash and slipped a hand down to cup her and stroke the unbelievable warmth of her when a loud crash on the front porch caused them both to jump. She jerked the robe back around her, and he shot up from the couch like he was spring loaded.
‘What the hell?’ He scrambled to the door with her right behind him, tightening the sash of the robe as she went.
‘Wait, Garrett. Don’t open it.’ She reached for his hand, but it was already too late. He wasn’t thinking straight. How could he possibly be thinking straight when he had been just about to make love to Kendra Davis? He swung the door open wide and found himself, in nothing but his scant and somewhat bulging work-out shorts, with Kendra barely covered in his over-sized robe, on center stage to a sea of reporters. Cameras flashed, the press surged and before Garrett could close the door, the irritating Mike Pittman shoved a microphone in his face, shouldering his way into the breach of the door. Garrett remembered Pittman from Dee and Ellis’s meeting with the press a few weeks ago. The microphone might have been in Garrett’s face, but Pittman’s eyes and the lens of the cameraman’s camera were focused on Kendra, hair thoroughly mussed from last night’s romp, still tying the over-sized robe that was clearly his, and looking more than a little like she’d just been caught in the act.
‘So it’s true, then, Tess Delaney did spend the night with you after the Golden Kiss debacle?’
The Golden Kiss debacle! That slimy little rat! ‘Get out of my face.’ Garrett’s voice was a dangerous growl, and he wasn’t sure what would have happened if Kendra hadn’t pushed her way front and center.
‘Mr. Pittman,’ she said, in a voice way too good-natured for what Garrett was sure she must have felt. ‘The answer to that question is obvious. Where did you think I would be on such an occasion?’ As if to demonstrate, she ran her arm through Garrett’s and smiled up at him.
‘And what about Barker Blessing?’ Pittman pressed on. ‘Have you heard from him? From his lawyers?’
‘I think you need to talk to Mr. Blessing about that.’ She stepped forward into the man’s personal space and forced him back with nothing more than the power of presence. ‘If you’ll excuse us, Mr. Pittman –’ she shot a quick look around and offered a smile, and a polite nod to the rest of the rabble ‘– everyone. Coffee’s getting cold.’ Her smile turned wicked. ‘I’m starving, and Garrett promised to make me pancakes.’ Then she stepped back and shut the door in the man’s face — not slammed it — just shut it and turned to face Garrett, her back pressed against the door.
‘Make you pancakes?’ Garrett manages before she hijacked the conversation.
‘Rule number one,’ she said, before he could even utter the curse that was on the tip of his tongue ‘Don’t give the press any reason to up the ante.’ She shrugged. ‘Alright, you already blew that one last night, and this is the result.’ She nodded to the shuffling and mumbling they could still hear beyond the closed door. ‘This is why we needed things to go smoothly last night, and why we need them eating out of our hands now.’ She made her way into the living room and peeked around the edge of the curtain at the reporters on the lawn.
‘I blew it?’ He bristled and followed her to the window. ‘You’re the one who dumped your dessert in Blessing’s lap.’
And that was his fatal mistake. Would he never learn to hold his tongue around Kendra Davis? He could see the tension in her shoulders before she turned to face him. ‘It was dessert Garrett, just dessert, not your fist to the man’s face, not a law suit, not jail.’ She stood facing him with her hands on her hips, her eyes bright and fiery. ‘And would you have hit Pittman there, if I hadn’t stepped in?’
‘Oh you’re a fine one to talk about not resorting to violence,’ he said following her around the living room as she scooped together her clothing. ‘You, who nearly dislocated my jaw.’
She turned on him. ‘Oh pa-lease. You deserved it. You’ve deserved everything you got so far, and last night, well if you’d have just let me handle it, then this,’ she stabbed a finger at the door, ‘this wouldn’t be happening.’ She jerked off the robe and stood naked in front of him tugging her panties up over her hips and then shoving into the green dress. And fuck it was hard to stay focused with her doing that. Did she do that on purpose – get his cock’s full attention so his brain wouldn’t work? She probably did. She was a bitch, he reminded himself. How the hell could he forget the number one fact about Kendra Davis? The woman was a bitch. Interact with her at your own risk. He watched her stuff her stockings and garter belt into her bag like they were the enemy, and he was sympathetic.
‘Where’s the back door,’ she said.
‘Through the kitchen,’ he replied, his brain still half-occupied by her angry reverse strip-tease that had left him in a bad way. ‘Wait a minute. Where are you going? What are you doing?’ He followed her into the kitchen with her stumbling into her killer heels as she went.
‘Fixing it,’ she huffed. Then she fumbled in her bag for her iPhone. ‘Hi Dee. You home? Can you come get me. I’m at
Garrett’s.’ He was pretty sure Dee got the “don’t ask” warning in her voice. She would have to be deaf and stupid not to. ‘Come around back. The alley yes. Now.’ Dee lived close. Garrett hadn’t planned it that way, but it was a nice neighborhood. Kendra shoved her phone back into her bag and headed for the door. Then she turned her attention to him. ‘You stay put. Don’t go out until I give you the all clear. I mean it, or you can find someone else to fix your fuck-ups.’ Then she shoved her way out the back door, pulling it to carefully to behind her.