Some months are quiet, but not, as it turned out, October!
At the start of the month, the latest Dept 57 book, Bloody Crystal was released. I adored writing this one, as it was set partly in a place that my husband and I love, Llandudno in Wales. But I told you all about that last time!
Then I got word that Strangers No More was being moved up to fill a vacant release spot, so that came out at the end of October. The story of a woman who needs plastic surgery to further her career as a journalist and news reporter. It was fun writing it, and showing the other side of cosmetic procedures, where it benefits someone. Her lover already wanted her, but he was worried, too. Would the new nose change her, would she let him make love to her in the light?
And then I had to prepare for a big release for me, in November. It’s big, because it’s my first mainstream romantic suspense, and my first release with Carina. As yet, I haven’t heard officially about the second book in what I want to be a trilogy, but I’m keeping everything crossed! Learning To Trust will be out towards the end of November. If any of you here are reviewers, there’s a copy on netgalley that you can pick up.
So all go here in the Connolly household!
The Festival of Romance was great fun, and I met some lovely people, and renewed my friendship with others. Jean Fullerton was there, doing one of her wonderful talks – if you ever get the chance to see Jean, I can highly recommend it. I took part in Charlie Cochrane’s first 150 word workshop, and I read the first 150 words of “Shifting Heat.” I was on the paranormal panel, and that was interesting, as paranormal is a fairly new romance genre for the UK market. I have no idea why the greats haven’t caught on yet, but they probably will in time, as how do you ignore someone as good as Nalini Singh?
And for November – I’ve signed on to NaNoWriMo! I must be mad, but I needed to get a book done, and that boot up the backside can really help. So far I’m only 6,000 words in, but I do want to get on and get it written, at least the first draft.
Finally – yesterday, so hot off the press, so to speak, I got an offer of a contract from Decadent Press. I’m so please. It’s a story about a haunted ocean liner, but it’s paranormal, not realistic, as I’ve given the characters and the ghosts attributes they don’t usually get! I’m so glad this story is getting an airing.
I write several stories that I have no home for, just because I need to write them. Recently, I realised that although I write in several genres, that’s because it’s the best way to explore an issue that interests me. So the venture into romantic suspense is because I want to explore trust in extreme circumstances – who do you trust, when you’re not sure about anything anymore? And where do you find the courage to do it? So I’m planning to change my tagline to reflect it. I’ve had several thoughts, but I haven’t discovered the final one, yet. I like “All roads lead to romance,” but it’s too clichéd, so I’m still working on that theme. Rebranding, in a way, but I don’t like to think of myself as a brand. More a force of nature! If you can think of a good tagline, there’ll be a little thank you gift on its way to you!
And I’ve been working towards Romantic Times next April. I’m on at least one panel, and I’ll be around all week, so I’d absolutely love to see you there, if you can make it. In these troubled times, we all need a little romance to warm us at night.
Strangers No More – a new story from Ellora’s Cave
Over 18’s only, please.
Whitney slid her keycard into the slot of a hotel room door in downtown L.A., the kind of hotel that hosted conventions and business meetings. Anonymous and huge. The green light flashed and she pushed the door open.
Someone dragged her into the room and slammed her against a wall. The door clicked shut, blocking out the only light available. The room was in pitch darkness, the windows covered, the lights out. She hit the wall with a soft thud, her face against the paper.
Her attacker grabbed her around the waist, his free hand dragging her head back by her hair, and then his mouth crashed down on hers, taking her with a hot desperation that flung her into the whirlwind. Now she couldn’t think. Now she could only feel. His hips pressed against hers at an awkward angle but he twisted them against her and she felt the insistent bulge of his erection.
The moment his lips came into contact with hers, she knew him. Knew that pressure, the way his mouth felt against hers, the way he flicked her lips with his tongue in an unspoken request—demand—that she open for him.
When she didn’t obey immediately, he nipped her bottom lip and when she opened her mouth to protest, he surged in, soothing the bite with his tongue in a gentle caress before resuming his fierce attack on her. She tasted him, peppermint and a touch of something else, something fruity. He’d had a glass of wine recently. He never met her drunk, but he sometimes tasted of wine and sometimes brandy. She loved it. It added a tinge of danger, the threat that he might get carried away and ignore her needs. But he never did.
“Never” being three times. They said that three times and one was hooked. Three cigarettes, three shots of heroin, three “Stranger Danger” encounters. The man with no name gave her what she needed, what she craved. He fed her addiction and she fed his.
He took her mouth with an intensity she could respond to only with the kind of helpless acceptance she never demonstrated in her real life. The life outside this door. Whimpering, she followed him when he withdrew, begging for more. With a grunt, he turned her around so her back pressed against the hotel wallpaper. Her backbone rolled against the hard surface but she welcomed the discomfort. He wasn’t going to stop. He seemed as desperate as she was. That had connected them from the first time, and he was no less desperate now. He wanted her.
Here, in the dark. No excuses, no explanations needed here.
He connected with her again, tilting his head to bring his mouth down on hers in a deeper, harder fusion. He swept his tongue around her mouth in total mastery. She opened for him and lifted her chin to meet his demands. He was much taller than she but then most people were. He must be over six feet, with the kind of abs a girl could get lost exploring. What a way to lose direction.
She grasped his shoulders, felt the rough edge of a T-shirt under her palms and groaned into his mouth. She loved the mounds and dips of his body. Fuck, this guy was ripped. Whoever he was.
He pressed against her, his pecs to her shoulders, and bent to kiss her. Sliding his hands around her waist, he lifted her with a convulsive motion, making her gasp for breath. The thick cotton of his pants rasped against her jeans, the only sound in this hushed room. Lifting his head, he spoke in Greek. He had a deep, gravelly voice and he rarely spoke much. Just to give her instructions. Her Greek was better than her Mandarin, but hardly fluent. In this situation, it didn’t have to be. “Skirt,” he said now. “Not trousers.”
It took her a minute to process the words, and she had to concentrate. Maybe it was time to buy that teach-yourself-Greek DVD. By the time she’d taken a step, he was on her, dragging down her zipper before he shoved her jeans down her legs. He thrust his hand between her thighs but the pants weren’t far enough down her legs for her to open them properly. Bending, he dragged off her sneakers and tossed them aside. They landed in dull thumps. Then he was back, tugging at her jeans again. He got one leg completely off but the other leg tangled around her ankles. She kicked, but it didn’t help.
With a rough word of frustration, a word she guessed must be a Greek curse, he stood once more, lifting her and setting her on a nearby table, dumping her as if she were a doll on the polished surface. She could only hope it would hold her weight because he didn’t give her a chance to protest. She gripped his shoulders as he pressed his nose against her crotch through her panties and inhaled noisily. His soft groan told her he liked it, that he wanted her.
He stood and her hands dropped to his chest, slid down the thin fabric over his lean but powerful muscles. Not bulky with gym-pressed goodness but strong as if he used them for his work. Maybe he was a builder or a construction worker, or maybe he worked at sea. Maybe a soldier.
She wanted him hot, exploring her near-naked body, taking her, forcing her to do what she wanted. Because he knew she wanted it too. He must know, from her response and the perfect way he took her.
He pushed his hand between her legs, forcing them open, and slid a finger under the elastic of her panties. She’d worn red silk for him. Stupid, unless she told him the color, but the texture was great and she knew she was wearing red. She needed that jolt of courage before she came here, or wherever he told her to be. Always a hotel, a good hotel. She found the keycard waiting for her at the desk when she asked for Nikos Sandaloros. Not his name, she was sure. She’d Googled it and found nothing relevant. She never called him Nikos. Only “Stranger”.
Her colleague Jay—reporter and thriller writer—has a secret to match Whitney’s. He’s her Stranger. He doesn’t give a damn about her face, but how does he tell her? Now Jay has two secrets. He put her forward for the surgery. Once he tells her, she’ll kick him out of her life, but he has to take that chance. He only wants her to get the job. Because she already has him. Hook, line and sinker.