Category Archives: Tempt
Happy election day! Need a break from the stress? Pick up a copy of 6 Dirty Secrets and escape from it all!
A love story for the ages…
That’s what we all want, isn’t it? A love so deep and so strong it can conquer all and withstand even the darkest of nights?
For me this wasn’t just daydreaming about a fairytale romance. If I was ever going to love someone he needed to be a fighter. No one else could endure the secrets that surround my family or survive the sacrifices that would be required to escape them. An ordinary love and an ordinary man simply wouldn’t do.
Enter: Darcy Higgins. My brother’s best friend. We’ve spent our lives slamming into each other and breaking apart. We’re all bad decisions and terrible timing, but I’ve loved him from the moment we met and he’s fought for me over and over again. We have a love that defies reason. A love that will, I hope, survive the mountain of secrets and lies that stand in our way.
This isn’t any love story.
This is my love story. And it is most definitely one for the ages.
Writing this book was a labor of love and I hope you enjoy getting a chance to see what really happened between Nicki and Higgins from Tempt. I need a good stiff drink and few days off. My next book is going to be one dirty sexy romp of a good time. Stay tuned for details!
Happy (early) Valentine’s Day! This week is my favorite for all the love reasons: my sister’s wedding anniversary, plus it was this week (16 years ago!) I met my husband, went on our first date, and decided dating other people was dumb. So of course I thought it was the perfect time to release the next book in the Tease series!
Burn is available at all the usual places and only 99 cents for the first few days. The price will go up to $2.99 soon!
Early reviews are very positive. This one is pretty much my favorite:
“I have trouble calling Burn a novella as it is such an excellent, well-designed story! Ava doesn’t believe in love because of her rough past but when she meets Michael Sutherland everything changes! While that may sound like the beginning of many romance stories, that’s where the similarities end. Right from the start these characters come at you with brutal honesty towards each other and I felt like I was right there experiencing everything with them! You get to see their raw passion and the deep relationship they are building.” -Goodreads reviewer
I see my friends falling in love. Head over heels, passionately, intensely, erotically, in love.
And all I can think is how incredibly stupid they are.
Love is the most dangerous thing there is, don’t they know that? Love will break you. Love will take everything you care about. Love will erase you. I know this because I’ve lived it. There’s nothing I want less in my life than love.
And so far, I’ve done a damn good job of keeping people away. My friends don’t really know me and I haven’t spoken to my family in years. I use men when I need them because that’s all they’re good for. It’s best to keep everyone at arm’s length. Or better yet, a good mile or two.
All of this was working brilliantly until Michael-fucking-Sutherland snuck up on me. It happened so fast, so completely unexpectedly, that it was over before I knew what I’d done…I’d let someone see the real me. He cut straight through my barriers and lies as if they weren’t even there, like some sort of superhuman sex god.
And even worse? I think I liked it. I think…I think I liked finally being seen. It’s unlocked something inside me that was better left buried and forgotten, and now I’m on the verge of being as supremely stupid as all my love-drunk friends…something Michael Sutherland seems damned determined to make a reality.
***Burn is a stand-alone novella in the Tease series.
Hello everybody! Welcome to this stop on the Valentine’s Rewind Blog Hop! I’m Alexis, your host for this stop. I write steamy, emotional, knock-your-socks off erotic romances and today I’m bringing back TWO couples for one very important reason. My two series were born out of the same (unpublished) book. Part of that story went into creating Jake and Eve from The Storm Inside. The rest of that book is Adam and Elizabeth’s story in Tease. Today I’m uniting the families (this feels very gangster mob…should I have a gun for this??) and explaining how they are (still) connected. This might also be a lead-in to a new book.
I hope you enjoy it!
Goodwood (Adam & Elizabeth…with a little Theo & Allison)
I was one of those people.
You know the ones, they say money can’t buy happiness. I walked around honestly believing that money and happiness were, at their core, unrelated.
But the truth? The truth was money could buy a whole lotta happiness. Case in point: money had purchased Elizabeth a slot at the Goodwood Revival in West Sussex. And the look on her face as she gunned Theo’s Mercedes 300SL down the winding track was nothing short of pure joy.
“I had no idea she was so proficient behind the wheel,” Theo murmured, his hand tucked inside Allison’s as they stood beside me watching Elizabeth’s run.
I chuckled as Allison threw me a shrug. She and I both knew all too well that Elizabeth was a pretty amazing driver. Allison’s face mirrored mine. We wore giant smiles as we watched. Theo on the other hand? He had some pretty wide eyes and a slack jaw.
“She could’ve been a driver if she’d wanted to. Lucky for her, she’s got me.” In the last year I’d managed to get her track time in my AMG, and a run in one of my team’s cars. Working for a Formula 1 racing team had come with far more perks than I’d originally dreamed. I occasionally kicked myself for waiting so long, but then again, if I had taken the job in Brackley working as a design engineer for Mercedes AMG, I might not have met Elizabeth. At least not when we did.
“Lucky indeed,” Allison murmured, giving me a much longer look than she had before. This one, if I wasn’t mistaken, was meant to be a statement on the current state of my relationship with her best friend.
We lived together and there was no one else on the planet for me…but Elizabeth wasn’t the kind of girl who wanted a ring, to change her name, or have a big wedding. She liked things the way they were. And because of how far she’d already come, I wasn’t going to be the one to push the idea of making our relationship more permanent. Most mornings I woke up thanking my lucky stars the drop-dead gorgeous woman who could drive a stick and command a classroom full of brilliant college students was still in bed beside me. I was a lucky fucking bastard and I knew it.
Asking her to marry me would push her over the edge. I wanted to love her, not hurt her. But Allison didn’t agree. Of course, she was also the one who’d been pushing Elizabeth since they became college roommates. She was a lot more comfortable with the boundaries Elizabeth could handle.
The crowd erupted in cheers as the cars on the track crossed the finish line. I watched with a ridiculous amount of pride coursing through my veins as Elizabeth navigated the car into the line headed off the track, wondering if Allison was right. Maybe it was time to test the waters.
“Could you grab us another round, and we’ll meet you down there?” Theo murmured in Allison’s ear.
She nodded and smiled. “See you there. It’s time to celebrate.”
We strolled across the grounds, making our way between exceptionally well-dressed groups. The fun thing about Revival was that it was a period festival. You didn’t have to dress up, but most did. Theo was in one of his throwback three-piece gangster suits. Allison was dressed to match in one of her champagne-colored gowns, and I was in one of my standard suits. After Elizabeth had the car squared away she’d be slipping back into her bright red dress as well.
Between the clothes and antique racecars, the music, and the food, I felt like I’d stepped back in time. Maybe it was time to act like we were in someone else’s life.
Theo cleared his throat. “Thank you for arranging all this, Adam. It’s more than perfect.”
I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out the red velvet box. “It’s been my pleasure. I don’t think you could have picked a more appropriate time or place for this.”
He grunted and came the closest Theo ever came to smiling when Allison wasn’t around. “If her parents have their way, we’ll be here in this exact same spot one year from now for the wedding. Her mother is losing her mind. The minute she saw the pictures of Revival she started seeing the perfect wedding in her head.” He shrugged. “It gives her a year to plan the wedding to end all weddings, and I think Allison will be okay with it since she’ll get to have a period wedding.”
He tucked the box into his pants pocket and straightened his suit. I had to give it to the man, he had a style all his own and he made it work.
“How did you know?” I asked.
He cocked an eyebrow. “Please, please tell me you aren’t pulling this shit. You’re supposed to be my mature friend.”
I just barely managed to hold in a snort. “Ummm…what?”
“My mature friend.” He waved his hand through the air as we wedged between a particularly enthusiastic group dressed in WWII uniforms. “Higgins is clearly the guy who gets me in trouble, and James is my girly guy. You, my friend, are supposed to keep my ass out of trouble while being wise and practical about women. James has the over emotional crap all under control. Please tell me you aren’t switching sides on me. I don’t think I can handle being married without a mature friend.”
“Okay…” I drawled as I tried to figure out what Theo was talking about. “You’re saying I’m the guy you call when Allison’s been standing in the closet for an hour saying she has nothing to wear even though she has an entire closet full of clothes?” Girls were often very confusing.
“Yes!” he exclaimed. “Exactly. I love that woman with everything I have, but sometimes I don’t get her at all. I need someone to call and say ‘what the ever living fuck’ to so I don’t say it to her. Higgins will never get that. James will just call Allison and tell her what I said.”
“So it’s up to me.” I clapped him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry my friend. I wasn’t asking you anything mushy. I promise.”
He sighed and pulled to a stop. “Good. What are you asking me?”
I tried very hard to put myself in Elizabeth’s shoes. Her level of distrust was earned a hundred times over. I wished that I could wave a magic wand and make her problems disappear, but I couldn’t. And sometimes, I had no idea what kind of fire I was playing with.
“By all accounts, you’re the last man who should be jumping into marriage with that cheesy fucking grin you’ve got on your face, but you have it, and you seem really happy about the choice you’ve made in asking her today.” I shrugged and shifted uncomfortably on my feet. “How do you know when you can move forward without the past pulling you back?”
His face fell and then his jaw ticked as anger took over. “Fuck everyone who ever hurt the women we love. Fuck every one of them.” He shoved his hands in his pockets. “I got a clean break. That past was always coming for me. It was like quicksand. No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape it. Then I got a gift. I was able to surgically sculpt the past right out of my life. Everything pulling me back…it’s gone. I was left with a choice. Do I wallow in the doubts, or do I cut ties and fucking run?” He shook his head. “The choice was pretty clear. I’d take a life of ups and downs with that woman,” he cocked his head toward Allison as she came toward us with a bottle of champagne in her hands, “over anything else. Period.”
“What on earth are you two talking about? Elizabeth is waiting!” Allison huffed as she shot right past us and over to the car, oblivious to the fact she was about to be engaged.
Elizabeth was grinning from ear to ear as she threw her arms around Allison. Her cheeks were red and her eyes were bright. She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
“Thank you!” she squealed as she launched herself into my arms. She smelled like petrol and exhaust. Not to mention, the fire retardant suit she was wearing was itchy as hell.
And I didn’t care about anything other than the look in her eyes.
I brushed her sweaty hair back from her face. “You’re happy?”
“So fucking happy!” she breathed, and then kissed me.
Like, kissed me. It was deep and it was dirty. “I always forget how horny you get after driving fast…” I murmured against her lips.
“So horny,” she shook her head, her breathing growing deeper.
“Champagne, then shower sex?”
She shivered as she jumped out of my arms and yanked the zipper down on her suit. “You sir, have a date.”
Fifteen minutes later we were all a little tipsy. I was relieved when Theo whisked Allison away to complete his plan. It left me alone in a fast car with a fast woman that I happened to be madly in love with.
“What are you thinking so hard about over there, lover?” she drawled, feet up on the dashboard, hair spilling everywhere. We had the seats pushed back and down as far as they’d go—which wasn’t far. Not that being squeezed into a small space was a bad thing.
I ran my hand up her leg (the fire suit was now long gone and she was in leggings and a t-shirt) and to the spot I knew would make her sigh.
And sigh she did.
“Oh, Adam…you better get me up to our room. Now.”
“In a minute. Let me warm you up first.”
She groaned and closed her eyes, sinking into the discrete pleasure I was giving her. Everyone outside the car was so busy they weren’t paying any attention to us…or where my hands were wandering.
She lit up for me, her chest rising and falling, her cheeks flushing as I applied pressure in the ways she liked it best. We’d been like this from the moment we met. We sparked. We fed off each other. She made me a better man, and I stood by her side while she put the past behind her. We were good for each other. We were a team. And we were damn good together—in every way possible.
But could she see that through the fog of everything else?
“What are you thinking?” she whispered.
I was so deep in thought I hadn’t realized she was watching me. “About you.”
“What are you thinking about me?”
“That I want to spend the rest of my life with you. That I want everyone to know we belong to each other. That no matter what happens, or where it happens, no one can keep up us from each other.”
She studied me for several long beats, her eyes practically digging inside me. “So what’s stopping you?”
I swallowed. The emotions swirling around the tiny car were far bigger than anything I’d ever dealt with before. “I don’t want to scare you. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt you.”
To my complete surprise, she grinned, then twisted around so that she was leaning toward me, our lips almost touching. Her eyes drifted from my mouth up to my eyes. “I double dog dare you to ask me the question you’re thinking right now.”
Her breathing was ragged. She was turned on, excited, and she was absolutely terrified.
I looked up and waited until it felt like we were wrapped up by some invisible cloak, connected from the current buzzing across my scalp, all the way down my spine, and into my toes. “Will you be my wife?”
She stopped breathing and so did I, and then her head started bobbing up and down, eyes still locked on mine. “Yes,” she finally breathed.
“Yes?” I growled as some sort of alpha-instinct kicked in. I took her face in my hands and pulled her closer.
“Yes,” she repeated, her voice several octaves deeper than it had been a moment before.
“Well isn’t this an interesting development,” I said a split second before I kissed her. She melded into me and it took everything I had not to brand her right there in the driver seat of Theo’s car with all of the revival watching.
Instead I cradled her against me and dropped my hand back down to finish what I’d started.
“Are you absolutely sure you’re ready for something this big and permanent?” I wanted to be absolutely positive this was what she wanted.
She shuddered in my arms, her nails digging into my shoulder. “Yes!” she cried out, a little louder than was prudent, not that we ever cared what anyone thought. “I moved here to cut all those ties. They’re gone, Adam.” Her panting grew deeper, more erratic. She was close and I was about to lose my damn mind.
“I love you, Elizabeth.”
Her eyes flew open, locking with mine as she pulsed against my hand. “I love you too, Adam. I want to marry you. I need to make sure those eyes and lips and hands are legally mine to have and to hold and all that shit.”
She grinned as her post-orgasmic high blissed her out.
“Oh, I’m yours babe. I have been since you grinned at me over your book at Seychelle’s. How about we take this to the shower and explore all the ways you can use and abuse me for the rest of our lives?”
“Someone’s at the door!” Elizabeth yelled from the bathroom. We were…well we were significantly cleaner than we’d been an hour and a half ago. She was drying her hair and getting dressed for dinner while I watched football highlights.
The last person I was expecting to see staring at me through the hotel door peephole was my grandfather.
I ripped the door open. “Senator?”
He grinned and threw his arms open. “Adam! It’s good to see you.” Secret Service, or bodyguards, or whoever the heck traveled with him overseas, stood to either side with more down at the ends of the hallway.
“What are you doing here?” I asked as I hugged him and invited him inside.
“Same as you. I’m a special guest at Revival this year. I saw your lovely girlfriend listed as a driver today and tracked you down.”
“She’s just getting dressed for dinner,” I stammered as I took in the sight of my grandfather, one of the longest serving and famous United States Senators, sitting in my suite. What in the hell was going on? “Can I get you a drink?”
“A scotch would be lovely, if you have something decent.”
I held up the bottle we’d brought with us and poured him two fingers. He immediately downed half of it. That’s when I knew something was wrong.
“Senator McKinley!” Elizabeth gasped as she stepped out of the bathroom dressed in a sexy vintage red cocktail dress and stilettos. Her lips were red, her eyes were dark, and I was suddenly struck by the realization that I couldn’t wait to escape tomorrow to find a ring to put on her finger.
My grandfather shot to his feet and kissed my fiancée on both cheeks. “You look lovely, Elizabeth. And you drive like a bat out of hell.”
“Thank you,” she blushed, throwing me a curious look over his shoulder. “Sit, let’s talk.”
He cleared his throat and my nerves spiked. Were my parents hurt? Was there a terrorist threat? He was the head of the intelligence committee…
“I’m glad I caught you. I was going to set a meeting with you for next week.” He shot the rest of his scotch and set the glass down. “I’m running for president. The announcement is set for the first.”
My jaw dropped. Sure, we all knew the Senator would run one day. It was an inevitability. But now? And with this look on his face? There was more.
“Congratulations. We’ll help in any way we can.” Well, as long as Elizabeth could handle the spotlight. The Senator would understand if we limited our involvement…unless this was about her family.
“I appreciate that. I do need your help on one matter. We’ve been doing the necessary background checks. Digging in places we’ve already dug, but you know how it is when you take things to this level.”
I nodded. I hated it, but I understood.
“We’ve hit one small, new bump in the road. Your aunt. Lydia. Her husband’s finally died and our investigators have discovered she has a son. He’s just a couple of years older than you.”
I instinctively reached for Elizabeth’s hand. She squeezed it. “Aunt Lydia?” she asked.
I nodded. “My mom’s oldest sister. She married this…drunk,” I shrugged as I tried to find the appropriate words to explain the family black sheep. “The family was opposed to the marriage. She was being rebellious and stupid. The man was abusive and went through money faster than he could earn it. Lydia thought he was the answer to her high-profile family nightmares.”
“Your family cut her off?” she guessed.
The Senator stared at his feet, listening but not joining the conversation. This had to be killing him. Letting Lydia go was the regret that always haunted him.
I sighed. “Yeah. The minute she married him, they cut off all ties and told her she was on her own—which was exactly what she wanted. To be free of the family.”
“I’ve kept up with her over the years,” the Senator murmured. The pain…it was so raw and evident in his voice. I couldn’t imagine what it was like to have a child hate me. “Nothing formal or too specific. Just making sure she was alive. We knew she had a son, but we lost track of him for several years. We weren’t sure we’d want to reestablish contact after Jake died, but my investigators have informed me that the son is a good man with a nice family. And that he has no idea about us.”
That wasn’t surprising. From what my mother had told me, Lydia would have done anything and everything to stay as far away from the McKinleys as possible.
“You want me to make contact.” I guessed. There was no way I could ever say no to the haunted look in my grandfather’s eyes.
“You’re close in age and profession, actually. He’s an engineer as well. He’s got a wife and a couple of kids, so I thought,” he glanced at Elizabeth, “perhaps the news would come easier from the two of you.”
“Before the media digs up the connection and surprises them on their doorstep.” And turns a perfectly happy family’s life upside down.
“We’ll go straight from here,” I said.
Elizabeth nodded. “Of course. I’ll make it work.”
If anyone understood what these people were in for, it was her. I needed her help desperately.
“Where are we headed?” I was already fifteen steps into a plan.
“Tampa,” my grandfather said. “The weather should be nice this time of year.”
(Jake & Eve)
“Yes, yes, yessssss!” Eve moaned above me as she came. “You are a freaking genius!” She collapsed on my chest, panting. “Happy house birthday…” she sighed as she quickly moved from exhilarated to sex-drunk, slurring her words.
I chuckled and wrapped my arms around her, looking out at the thunderstorm. The kids were on a play date with Natalie and I’d brought home this ridiculously expensive chaise lounger for our upstairs screened-in porch to celebrate a full year of living in our new house.
Just as the daily afternoon thunderstorm rolled in.
Life is all about timing.
“I take it you like it,” I said as I dropped a couple of kisses on the top of her head.
She nodded. “Does life get any better? I think not.”
She had a very good point. I’d just had amazing sex in the middle of a thunderstorm, on my porch, with the most beautiful woman in the world. Not to mention our two daughters were happy, healthy, and entertained while we indulged in a little marital bliss. Life did not get any better.
We really should have known better than to say that out loud. My phone started ringing from the bedroom. I ignored it.
Eve burrowed in closer and started to drift off. My phone rang again, which was weird, but I ignored it again. Natalie, Lily, and Marie all had a special ringtone. If there was a problem with the kids, I’d know. Whoever was calling me, it was not about the kids.
“I love Sam and Max, I do. But this is nice…” she sighed again.
Peace and quiet was a luxury once you became a parent. But peace and quiet, alone with your spouse? Might as well sell it on the black market. It’s that valuable and rare.
“We need to take advantage of our babysitters more often. We get caught up and forget to schedule down time,” I agreed. That was probably my fault. It was baseball season. Eve barely had enough time to eat, sleep, and spend time with the kids. I needed to pick up the slack and plan the alone time…like I did today.
Obviously planning had its benefits.
“Your phone’s ringing again, Jake. I think you better see who has a stick up their ass before I remove it for them.”
I chuckled as I rolled Eve to the side, offering her my t-shirt as I slipped away. “Here, babe. I’ll be right back.”
By the time I ducked inside, my phone was already ringing again. I was annoyed until I saw who it was.
“What?” I barked. Charlie, my private investigator, only called like this when there was an emergency.
“We have a problem.”
My heart took off. “The kids?”
“No,” he quickly reassured me. “Your family is safe. We have more obtuse problems to deal with. Something I didn’t see coming.” His voice was laced with disappointment. Charlie was the best and he took his job very seriously. Missing a piece of the puzzle was the kind of thing Charlie took personally.
“What is it?”
He took a breath and let it out. “I’ve been contacted by a representative of Senator McKinley. You know the guy?”
I knew of him… “What did he want?”
“That’s the thing,” Charlie said. “He says the senator is your grandfather and the family wishes to make contact. They have a representative landing at TIA now.”
I knew I’d heard every word he said, and yet not one made a lick of sense. “I’m sorry…what did you just say?”
“You said your mother’s family disowned her when she married your father, right?”
“Yeah.” I sank down onto the bed. It really wasn’t safe for me to stand any longer.
“Well, her family is the McKinley. The McKinleys. The political dynasty. They disowned her and have had zero contact until they reached out to me.”
I always knew my mother had taken a twisted joy in punishing her parents by marrying my father. I’d assumed it was your typical overbearing parents not wanting their daughter to marry the abusive alcoholic. A few times I’d imagined she was from a rich family. And yeah, on one of those occasions I’d let myself pretend I was descended from royalty, but I’d never imagined I was right. The McKinleys were American royalty. And apparently…my family?
“Is this a joke?”
Charlie laughed. “Nope. I’ve got the documents they sent me and they line up with the holes I’ve never been able to fill in your family history. I’m assuming this representative they’re sending will have more information. Do you want me to be there?”
I nodded, then realized Charlie couldn’t see me. “Yeah. If you can.”
“I’ll be there. You might want to have someone watch the kids.”
“I’ll take care of it. When will they be here?”
“Four o’clock. I’ll see you then.”
He clicked off and I let the phone dangle from my fingers.
“What’s wrong?” Eve asked, standing naked in our doorway.
“It’s just family shit. Charlie is bringing someone over to talk to me. Can you call Natalie and ask her to keep the kids?” The sooner I found out what the hell this all really was, the sooner I could get it out of my life.
In a blink she was kneeling in front of me. “Tell them to take a hike. We’re busy.” She squeezed my hand.
“Not this time, babe,” I whispered. “We can’t ignore this one.” There was only one reason Senator McKinley—if he was my grandfather—would be making contact now. He had to be running for president. If I ignored this we’d wind up with a sea of reporters on our lawn. It would disrupt our lives so much more than a single meeting with a representative. “It’s one meeting to clear up some confusion. By dinner we’ll be free and clear and back to normal. Promise.”
Eve ran her hand down the side of my face, across my shoulder, and over my bicep. Then she squeezed my arm and rested her head on my knee. The anxiety I was feeling evaporated. It was like that one movement erased it from existence.
I returned the gesture and brushed back her hair. “I love you, Eve Spencer. That’s the only thing that matters in this fucked up world. Loving you and Sam and Max. You don’t have to worry about what this meeting is going to do to my head. I’ve got too much to at stake to let the past pull me back.”
That was the thing about love…it was never about happily ever afters. It was about the fight. True love was in the battle. Standing side by side with your partner, defending each other and celebrating life’s victories. Love was messy and it was beautiful.
Her worry lines disappeared, then she smiled. The sweet, slow, seductive kind. “Damn, you’re sexy when you pull the defensive father card,” she growled.
She’d said that on more than one occasion since the girls entered our lives. Something about men in love with their daughters being the ‘hottest thing ever.’ I was absolutely fine with that.
“I have my problems, we know that. But I will never allow anything to hurt my girls. All three of you. You’re my world.”
“And you’re ours.” She sat up and ran her hands up my thighs. “How long until this meeting?” Her right eyebrow arched up.
I glanced at the clock on my phone. “An hour.” I really liked where this seemed to be heading.
“Then how about I give Natalie a call while you start the shower. I think we need one more round of stress relieving exercise before we face the firing squad.”
“I love the way you think Mrs. Spencer.”
“I love the way you love me, Mr. Spencer.”
As she sashayed around the bedroom, stark naked and mine, I was struck by one very overwhelming thing: I was the luckiest man who ever lived. Despite all the hell I’d survived to get where I was, I’d do it all over again. Going head first into the storm allowed me to come out on the other side stronger than ever. Loving my girls with all my heart and soul was the only way to love them, and I couldn’t do that if I hadn’t dealt with my past. I’d weather a hundred storms for the chance to live this life.
And nothing from my past would take it away from me.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed reading REVIVAL, a look at how Tease and The Storm Inside connect! The next stop on the hop is Rebecca Grace Allen. Be sure to comment on each story to be eligible for the massive giveaway at the end. Thanks for joining us for #ValentinesRewind! ♥
I think it’s time to spice things up. Burn is one of the hottest things I’ve ever written (which we all know is saying a lot.) Here’s a little peek (it’s a bit NSFW):
“I actually have a thing about restraint . . . ” he said. “No restraints. Ever. I prefer mind games.”
“Mind games?” This was either going to be awesome or a deal breaker.
“Roll over and put your hands above your head. Don’t move. Not one muscle. You can be as loud as you wish . . . but do not move.”
Oh . . . mind games. Instead of physically restraining me, Michael got off on mentally restraining me. I could definitely play these games.
Once I was settled exactly as Michael had requested: on my back, hands clasped above my head, legs spread, he settled over me and took my right nipple into his mouth. He sucked and licked. He worked me until I was damn near incoherent, then pulled back.
I was about to implode from holding still (I made sure to tell him exactly how hard it was to keep from moving since he’d specifically requested I be loud) when he reached over to the nightstand and opened another condom.
He took his time rolling in on, with his eyes locked onto mine. There was some sort of connection taking place. His mind games weren’t just tricks to help us get off on a sexual high. This was more. This was two very fucked up souls finding solace in each other.
“Who are you, Ava?”
I swallowed. I was naked to this man, literally and emotionally. There was desperation in his eyes. There was no way I could lie to him—no way I could ever hide and be able to live with myself.
“I’m not sure if I know the answer to that yet,” I whispered. “I haven’t had a chance to find out.”
It was the most honest answer I’d ever given anyone. It was terrifying to admit I was more reaction than anything else. Ava Hanson wasn’t really anyone specific. She didn’t stand for something or build anything. She was a result of circumstances, just fighting to get through each day.
It was soul crushing every single time I thought about it.
His eyes softened. “You’re a survivor.”
My heart skipped a beat. “And who are you, Michael?” As far as I could tell he was a psychic sex god, but I knew that was as much a mask as the one I wore.
“I’m a fighter,” he said with a nod. “I don’t know much, but I know that.” A look came over him—a focused, lust-filled, determination—as he prowled across the mattress.
BURN is out Feb 9th! Pre-Order it now for only 99 cents!
It’s Tuesday, which means you deserve a teaser. Oh, and it’s exactly one week until BURN hits shelves!
“I’ll win.” A flutter of hope filled my chest as the mood lightened. It was gone just as fast as it appeared. Michael leaned forward in a flash so that we were nose to nose and I had no choice but to stare into those devastating baby blues.
“No, babe. You won’t. I’m the best there ever was.”
“And the cockiest.” I loved a good challenge and Michael was bringing out my competitive side.
He smiled. “Oh, I’m cocky. I’m also good.” His eyes dropped to my lips for a split second. “You know that.”
I tried very hard to keep my breathing even, despite the fact that Michael was turning me on in every way possible. “And you know I’m so good you’ll forget your own name.”
He sucked in a breath and swallowed. I watched as his Adam’s apple moved up and down. Oh god. I wanted to watch him as he moved over me, all over again. Memories weren’t enough. Not with him right here.
BURN is out Feb 9th! Pre-Order it now for only 99 cents!
One of the magic ingredients of serials is pricing. It’s magic because the pricing is what allows readers to find you, but it is also magic because of all the options it provides you. When you’re writing a single novel you only have one product to work with, and you likely only have a little wiggle room in the pricing of that single product. But over the course of writing a serial you instantly create a small backlist that gives you a few more options for testing your market, finding your audience, and learning where your sweet spot lies.
For someone brand new to the industry or still building a customer base, 99 cents and free are your best friends.
99 cents is low entry point for readers. If you have a great cover, gripping blurb, and fantastic first few pages, then you are likely to start selling a few copies, even without any fan base. Most readers are happy to pony up 99 cents for something new and exciting. Plus, once you get the first three books in your serial out you can lower the price of your first book to FREE! And free can be magical.
There are a lot of marketing options out there for free books. Even using the hashtag #FREE (and combo that with #iBooks or #Kindle) on Twitter will grab you a few eyeballs. If you combine that with some inexpensive advertising and politely ask some relevant blogs on Facebook to post your freebie then you can start to generate some buzz!
Why is free magical?
It sucks in new readers, helps build reviews, and your mailing list. Free books get more reviews because they get in front of more eyeballs. More reviews means more options for paid advertising. It also makes you look good! But the real gold mine is in building your email list. Put a link in the back of your book asking readers to signup for your mailing list to get an alert when the next book in the serial releases. Facebook comes and goes, advertisers decide who makes the cut, but everyone who subscribes to your newsletter sees what you send out. My biggest jumps in sales are always after a newsletter goes out announcing a new release and my biggest signup point is the back of my first free book in a serial.
And by the time Book 5 comes out you’ve got a nice little fan base going. I recommend going wide to all the retailers (unless you don’t have the time/energy.) Release to all retailers and make Book 1 permafree until sales taper. When your sales taper off is the time to reevaluate your sales strategy, reprice your books and your bundle.
Here’s what my pricing strategy looks like:
Book 1: 99c/Free (when book 3 releases)
Book 2: 99c
Book 3: 99c
Book 4: 99c/$1.99 (after the series is complete)
Book 5: 99c/2.99 (after the series is complete)
Box set: 3.99
I play with my prices all the time. For a while I actually put my Tease series in KU (due to family issues I didn’t have the time or energy to keep up with all the retailers and sales strategy. For six months I focused solely on Amazon.)
Kindle Unlimited did affect my pricing strategy, but I was surprised by how successful it was. Even with the first book at 99 cents instead of free, readers kept picking it up! Instead of buying each book individually (because I had raised the price of every book in the series) they purchased the box set. The box set looked like a really great deal since buying the series one at a time wound up costing close to $10. The series also did well with Kindle Unlimited readers. Not so well that I stayed with KU, but for the circumstances we were in at the time, it was a very effective change for my serial.
And that’s what I want you all to keep in mind. There is no single formula for success. Don’t be afraid to change things up. Follow your gut instincts and keep in mind that your readers come first.
Pricing is one of your biggest assets in serial writing. The flexibility, options, and strategy give you so much to work with in a short period of time. In my next post I’ll be discussing the writing process and how to schedule your serial. You can also check in tonight on First Draught! The entire show is dedicated to serials! You can find the links and information on the First Draught website!
Tempt: Volume 3 is here! AND Tempt: Volume 1 is now FREE on all platforms!
And you know what else? I am so in love with this series! Things have gotten hot and intense in Tempt 3 and it only gets hotter and intenser (yes, I’m stretching the limits of English right now, go with it!) in Tempt 4 (which is coming very soon!) Scroll down for the information you need and THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart! xoxo
Fight or flight, the most basic human response. A moment where you have to decide whether to risk everything or run away. Once you choose, there’s no going back.
I never guessed the problems that followed Theo Sutherland could be so dark. It was almost impossible to believe that the quiet billionaire was actually a criminal. And not just any criminal, but a brilliant thief-turned-traitor with a bounty on his head.
Being with Theo was dangerous for both my heart and my safety. But together…oh, together we were magic. Passion and emotion that exploded in the most intense pleasure I’d ever known. Theo knew me without knowing anything about me. It was as if he filled up the parts of me that never felt quite whole.
How could I walk away from that? People went their whole lives without ever feeling what we’d built in a few short months. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to choose when the time came, and the time was coming fast. The past was ready for revenge and the only question was whether it took me down with it.
Get it now!
Tempt: Volume 1 is now FREE everywhere! Find out what Tempt is all about!
That’s all that separates us from the life we’ve known and everything that could change it.
Was all it took to change mine.
Theo was rich and handsome, brilliant and powerful, but he wasn’t a hero or a prince charming. And let’s be honest, I wasn’t exactly a damsel in distress. I wanted Theo, so I took him. Hard and passionately without any regard for the consequences.
At first it was just sex. Wild sex. Fantastic sex. But once wasn’t enough and I got greedy. In all fairness, so did he. One thing led to another and before either of us knew what was happening our lives were tangled up and messy. Inextricably linked. I’d fallen in love with a stranger.
And that was the problem.
Theo Sutherland was a man with a dark past and a price on his head. My life was at stake just for being with him.
One kiss was all it took to make me believe in love.
One heartbeat was all it took to turn him into the hero he never thought he’d be.
Start reading now for free!
School is back in session! This means a couple of things. Number one: I have a regular work schedule again (thank the heavens above!). Number two: I know my kiddos are in good hands for the rest of the school year. Yes, I’m happy to report three solid months of worrying who their teachers and classmates would be has resulted in good placements for both of them. (Because it is clearly a 1:1 correlation between my hours spent worrying and the results that had nothing to do with it.)
I’m busy working on TEMPT3 this week! Here is a look at the music, food, drink, and television helping me get this work done!
Music inspiration for the week comes courtesy of Imagine Dragons covering Taylor Swift’s Blank Space mashed up with Stand By Me. The singing starts around 1:30 and it is so freaking fantastic!
I’m using one of my staple go-to moves to get through the week: crock pot chicken breasts.
What is this, you ask? The simplest of hacks! I slow cook a sheet of chicken in the crockpot for about 6 hours (along with one cube of chicken bullion and 1 cup of water). When it’s done I shred the chicken and use it for: quesadillas, chicken salad sandwiches, nachos, chicken tacos, Asian chicken salad, and… chicken. I typically get 1-2 dinners and up to 2 lunches out of this (depending on how much chicken I actually cook and how much we stuff into the quesadillas). Which means that I get two days worth of cooking out of one crock pot. Winner!
Side note: this freezes very well. I divide them up into quart-sized freezer bags in the amount I need for another meal and freeze! Voila! Thaw in the microwave for quick use, or pop into the fridge the night before/morning of. Easy peasy.
This week is brought to me by Smithwicks! I love this beer, but it’s not something I like to drink all the time. A six pack every few months satisfies my craving!
The Anne’s are binge-watching Sons of Anarchy! Yes, we’re a decade late to the game, but we are totally hooked! I was skeptical after the first couple of episodes, but DANG does this show hit its stride after that! Jax’s speech to Tara did me in and I’m so hooked it’s not even funny. The complexity of the characters is what sells this show. I’m excited that there are so many seasons to watch!
All right… I should probably finish writing this book! Thanks for stopping by!
Y’all, I’m a walking talking Eeyore disaster today, but it’s all good because TEMPT is HERE!!!! I won’t bore you with my post card and packing disasters, instead I’ll give you the links and good vibrations from Theo and Allison.
In other good news, I’ll be in NYC for the very first time for Romance Writers of America next week! I’ll be presenting “Surviving Self Publishing” along with Mary Chris Escobar and Anne L. Parks! I’ll also get to see all my friends and fan girl over my favorite authors. If you live in the city let me know and we’ll see if we can meet up!
In the mean time, download some TEMPT and have a nice night!
“Tempt blazes off the page! The moment Allison and Theo meet, you know they’re meant to be together.” — Vivienne Thorne, author of The Lady Taken
Smart girls don’t use their bodies to get what they want.
Smart girls don’t pursue men they can’t have.
Which means I must have lost my damn mind. Since the night I tripped into sexy, reclusive genius Theo Sutherland I’ve given in to my body’s desires. Now the need to possess a man I can’t have is overriding my typically excellent smart girl sensibilities.
To everyone else Theo is cold and commanding, but with me he’s sweet, sexy, and almost shy. He shows me a side of him no one else knows, maybe even himself. And that makes me want to conquer him at all costs.
I want him.
He just doesn’t know it yet.
Tomorrow is the big day! Tempt: Volume 1 releases on all platforms! But today I have one last special sneak peek and this time it’s extra special because it is an alternative point of view. Tempt is told exclusively from Allison’s perspective, but every so often I write scenes from the other character’s side as a way of flushing things out. In this case it is how Theo meets Allison in the speakeasy. We get a little look at Theo and how he ended up catching Allison on the dance floor. It’s not polished and perfect, but it is a fun look! Enjoy!
I resisted the urge to scratch my neck as the host led me up the small set of stairs to the private party room overlooking the club. Well, not really a club. Not in the traditional sense anyway. This was a speakeasy.
“Theo! Bloody hell man! You’re actually here.” Higgins, a very old friend of mine, howled across the room.
I lost the battle. I scratched my fucking neck. Places like this made my skin crawl. Too many people, too desperate to escape their dreary lives. Too close to everything I wanted to forget.
I stopped where I was and waited for him to jog across the small room. “I can’t believe it. Theo Sutherland actually came to my party.” He shook his head, grinning like a fool and holding his hands out like he was going to hug me.
I stuck out my hand. “This is a nice place you’ve got here, Higs.”
He frowned at my hand and ignored it, just like I expected him to, and hugged me instead. “You can be cold to everyone else, but not me, my friend. Never to me.” He clapped me on the back and despite my better judgment, I clapped him back.
“How’ve you been?” I said.
He waved his hand around the room filled with fifty of his closest friends and (most likely) business partners. Higs never did anything alone. At least he’d finally stopped asking me. “Fucking good. The club is a huge hit. Apparently the more exclusive and secretive you make something, the more desperate people are to get inside and spend loads of money.” Then he hugged me again. “I can’t believe you’re here. It’s been too fucking long.”
“How are Bix and Diane?” Two more from my past that I couldn’t quite seem to escape.
“Good, good. They won’t be here tonight. You don’t have to worry about that. How’s Nicki?”
My shoulders instantly tensed at the name of my sister. “Same.”
Higgins made a face. “Sorry. How you holding up?”
“Business is good.” I’d gotten lucky with iON Innovations. It was the right company to start at the right time. Cutting edge technology was an increasingly crowded marketplace, but staying focused on bringing efficiency up was good business.
“I didn’t ask about work, Theo.”
I shrugged. “I am my work.”
“That’s the fucking saddest thing I’ve ever heard.” He waved at a roaming waiter and grabbed what appeared to be two shots of bourbon off the tray. “Just for an hour or two, forget the past. Forget Nicki. And for fucks sake, forget work. Be that smooth bastard that could charm the nickers off an old lady and ask someone to dance. When was the last time you danced?”
Forever. “It’s been a while.” I took the shot. It burned all the way down.
Higgins put another shot in my hand and pushed me toward the balcony. “There. Go watch some fine women dance and let the bourbon do its job.”
For some reason I did exactly that. Below was a stage filled with a live band playing a jazz number. The dance floor was sunk down from the booths and bars that surrounded it. Dancers of all types were spinning and hopping. Some very good, some very bad. My foot tapped to the beat.
I missed dancing. Spinning a beautiful woman across the floor. Feeling the curve of her hip beneath my hand. Having her trust in my ability. Dancing was sex—clothed—out in the open and on display for everyone to see.
I held in a groan. I really needed to get out more. I glanced from couple to couple. All having fun: smiling, laughing, red cheeked and full of life.
That was when I saw her. She had a spark I could see from here. She was alive in a way that I was not. She looked like she could take on the whole world and win. It was fucking sexy as hell.
“Ah, yeah man. She’s a looker. Fucking good dancer.” Higgins had returned with a mouthful of food and highball in one hand. I don’t know what surprised me more: that Higgins thought she was gorgeous too, or the way I reacted to that knowledge. Something I thought long dead inside me roared to life. “Keep your eyes to yourself.”
His eyebrows shot up. “Shut the fuck up. You have a thing for the blonde? If I’d only known it would be that easy…”
It wasn’t that easy. It was just her. She was different—I needed to know that woman. But she was dancing with someone and I wasn’t about to walk down and introduce myself if she was attached to someone else.
So I watched her dance. Lip between her teeth, a mischievous twinkle in her eye, feet flying. She didn’t dance like she was following steps—she danced like the music was inside her. She felt the music and her body reacted.
My body reacted.
My brain blew straight past the dance floor and was picturing her in my bed. Writhing under my touch, moaning into my kisses, coming apart because of me.
That light in her eyes… I wanted to get lost in it. Drunk on it.
She walked off the dance floor to a booth with another man and woman. They all laughed and drank, having fun. Was that what I was missing out on? Was that what fun could look like?
Or maybe it was just her. Maybe she lit up everyone and everything around her. I studied her a little closer. Her hair was curled in a 40’s style, long hair framing her face. Her lips were dark red, eyes lightly lined to highlight the blue of her irises. The dress was fucking fantastic. A deep blue with a full skirt that sparkled under the lights. I’d seen her carefully chosen bloomers when her last dance partner flipped her over his arm.
I wanted to see those again.
I held my breath hoping she returned to the floor with a different man. If she did then I knew I’d at least have a shot of getting a dance, even if she was dating someone. A dance wouldn’t be nearly enough, but it would be something.
I got my wish. A minute later the other guy in her group took her hand and led her out onto the floor. I was amazed by how quickly she changed her style to match his.
“You better get in there.” Higgins pointed to the pair. “Or you’re going to miss out.”
Why was I hesitating? “Maybe I don’t want to get in there.”
Higgins snorted. “Yeah you do.”
That’s when her dance partner spun her in close and held her there, practically whispering in her ear. Pure jealousy exploded inside me along with something that scared the piss out of me.
What the fuck was that?
All I knew was that I needed to get down there. To put myself between her and every other man. Before I knew what I was doing I was downstairs and pushing my way through the dance floor.
I’d just spotted her blonde head when I saw her lose her balance. I moved quickly, catching her just as she started to fall.
An electric charge shot up my arms as her skin made first contact with mine. She was soft and supple beneath my hands. Her hair danced along my skin as it fell forward. Her sweet citrusy scent drugged me. I wanted to feel all of this over and over.
I couldn’t stop that reaction. I kept happening. It was like I had no control over this impulse I couldn’t name.
I was so completely fucked.
I should never have let Higgins talk me into getting out for a night.
I’m so excited to finally get this story rolling! I have so much fun writing serials and I’m looking forward to several weeks of excitement as Theo and Allison’s story unfolds. Have a great Monday everyone!