Posts Tagged ‘author post’

Lia Riley’s Off the Map MAP!

IMPORTANT: This is a ‘Special Feature’ web post! Spoilers do pop up! If you don’t want to know about the locales of the Off the Map series or haven’t read where our couple end up in Inside Out, check back after you’ve read the book!

Never has love spanned across so many continents than Lia Riley‘s stunning duo of Bran and Talia: their relationship started on the busy streets of Australia, flew over to North America, Tasmania and Africa, settling finally at the doorstep of the Golden Gate Bridge . . .

As Bran and Talia explore the world, they do so in the footsteps of their creator Lia Riley! Did you know that every place they visit was inspired by her own experiences or the people around her?

As we celebrate this week’s publication of Inside Out, follow along on the map below to read into how each place in the Off the Map trilogy stemmed from the author’s own life.

And try not to get jealous. 🙂

 

Australia/Tasmania

‘I studied abroad in regional New South Wales, where I met and fell in love with my now husband. Long-distance international relationships are tricky, and often require a leap of faith to succeed. In our case, I moved to Hobart, Tasmania at twenty-two, leaving behind family, friends, a state I loved (Montana), two classes shy of finishing my degree. The first six months that my boyfriend and I lived together were challenging. I had to take remote college courses to graduate, visa issues limited my work options, and homesickness proved a struggle. Out of any of the Off the Map books, Sideswiped (Book #2 Off the Map), felt the most personal.’

 

Africa

‘I wanted Talia to experience the Peace Corps, so choosing Malawi as a destination was a no-brainer. My younger sister spent almost three years in the country, running HIV/AIDS education and women empowerment programs. She kindly spent the majority of our time together last Christmas reading my first few chapters of Inside Out (Book #3 Off the Map), and pointing out everything I got wrong (and promptly fixed). I’m in her debt on that one. Big time.’

 

 

Santa Cruz/San Francisco

‘I live in Santa Cruz, a quintessential California beach town, on the northern edge of Monterey Bay. It’s known for its great climate, stunning coastline, redwood forests, funky locals, and socially liberal leanings. It is also home to the University of California, Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an oceanfront amusement park operating on the main city beach. Last winter, I strolled through the Boardwalk, and noticed a cave in the sandstone cliffs along the San Lorenzo River. As a good smutty-minded romance writer, a naughty plot bunny hatched, and I went straight home and wrote the whole Boardwalk cave smexy scene. It’s the only scene in the book that I didn’t make any edits on, LOL. Living local to a book setting has its advantages!

Only an hour away, San Francisco is an amazing, eclectic city perfect for a vibrant couple like Talia and Bran (although I predict these two will move around a bit).’

 

Inside Out is out now in ebook, along with Upside Down (#1) and Sideswiped (#2)! All three will be released in paperback in 2015!

A Christmas memory from Jessica Blair (William Spence)

Tomorrow we publish Whispers in the Snow by Jessica Blair, our first ever Entice saga novella! Just reading it gets us in the holiday spirit and inspires us to think of days gone by.

In this special author post, Jessica Blair shares her Christmas memory and how she found out Santa might be all that he seems . . .

 

 

****

He comes in the night! He comes in the night!

He softly, silently comes;

While the little brown heads on the pillows so white,

Are dreaming of bugles and drums.

 

‘Mum, I’ve asked Father Christmas for the Boy’s Own Annual and it will be too big to fit into this.’

 

‘Don’t you want me to hang your sock up as usual?’ his mother asked.

 

‘What’s the use?’ he snapped grumpily, throwing the sock off the bed.

 

‘As you wish,’ she replied.

 

With his lips tight, he thumped his pillows angrily.

 

‘Settle down, Billy,’ she said with soothing authority. ‘Go to sleep; otherwise Father Christmas won’t call.’

 

‘What’s the use?’ he muttered.

 

Mum was awake early, listening for any movement in Billy’s bedroom. Hearing him stirring, she slipped out of bed without waking Billy’s Dad.  She found Billy, emptying the contents of his sock, not looking particularly thrilled even though he knew later in day the there would be presents from his Mum and Dad and grandparents.

 

As she sat down on the bed, she said, ‘What’s this pillow doing on the floor?’

 

Billy craned over the edge of the bed. ‘Dunno, Mum.’

 

She picked it up.  ‘There’s something in it,’ she said, placing it on the bed.

 

His natural curiosity was sparked and he automatically looked inside. His attention was caught, but what was it? He reached in; his hand closed round something. He tried to drag it out but it was heavy. He stretched in with his other hand; his head disappeared into the pillowcase. He pulled. His head re-emerged and was followed by a large thick book.

 

His eyes widened, stunned by the title: Boy’s Own Annual.

 

He looked at her. ‘Mum, he got my letter!’

 

‘And he thought to bring a pillowcase!’ she pointed out quietly. ‘Come on. Let’s tell your Dad.’

 

Billy scrambled down off the bed, took the book into his arms, went out on to the landing and headed for his parents’ bedroom to find his Dad.

 

Then he stopped in mid-stride and looked curiously at his mother who smiled because she had read his thoughts. The last words of the poem, laced with his wonderment of discovery, came slowly from him.

 

‘Then, children, be good to the little old man,

When you find who the little man is.’

 

Whispers in the Snow by Jessica Blair is out December 4th from Piatkus Entice and is the perfect holiday read!

Cara McKenna on her inspiration for HARD TIME

Cara McKenna on why she didn’t have a Hard Time setting an erotic romance in a prison . . .

 

I couldn’t tell you precisely when I knew I wanted to write a book about a convicted felon, only that it was a year or more before I ever thought to pitch the idea to my editor. It was a vague sort of wish-list idea, jotted down on my mental notepad and left to sit around in a dusty corner of my head while I attended to contracted projects.

As I’d first envisioned it, the romance would be a purely epistolary one, comprised solely of letters between an inmate and a woman on the outside—a correspondence born of both curiosity and caution, then steadily evolving into something more intense and explicit, and always a touch dangerous. Though I never articulated it to myself, I had imagined that it would be a passionate but doomed affair, the felon serving a life sentence and having no chance at parole (and guilty of his crime, as well.) Loads of longing and hollow hope, leaving it to the reader to imagine what might have happened if the two had been able to be together, that sort of thing—more lit fic than a true romance. More of a concept piece than the novel that little seed ultimately grew into.

Last autumn I’d been struggling to come up with an idea that really clicked for my next book, the third of a three-book contract. I’d been wanting to revisit Darren, Michigan—the struggling Rust Belt city I created for an earlier story, After Hours—and had been wondering what sort of sub-setting I could use. After Hours was set on a locked psychiatric ward (I love grim, institutional stories, whatever that says about me.) Cousins Correctional Facility already existed in that world; many of its inmates wound up at the psychiatric hospital. The moment I realized I could set this new book in a prison, I was instantly infatuated with the notion. (Readers who are familiar with my backlist may have noticed that my heroes are often pretty pent-up, not having gotten laid in a while for a variety of reasons, so writing one who’s been locked up for five years…? Right up my weird alley.)

It took a little effort to convince my then-editor that a story about a felon could be sexy, as opposed to plain old scary, but in the end, I think my naked obsession with the idea swayed her. At least enough to run it by the editorial director, who thankfully shared my enthusiasm.

There’s a point in Hard Time, about halfway through the book, where the heroine discovers that the hero is about to be paroled. (She’s an outreach librarian, in charge of the prison’s literacy program.) By then they’ve been interacting cordially in public and exchanging secret, heated letters for months, but she’s suddenly faced with a reality she hadn’t anticipated. Every worry she has—Is he really as good a man as he seems? Is he dangerous? Is it wise to try to pursue him in the larger world? Will our heat even translate into a kiss, and beyond?

These are some of the same worries I had, myself. Or perhaps more pointedly, Can I pull this off? Will readers stand by this heroine, if she chooses to pursue a romance with a felon with a heinous crime in his past? Will readers feel the depth and strength of her infatuation and understand her decisions, or condemn her as an unforgivable fool?

Well, Hard Timee is out now, and I’m sure readers are falling into both of those camps. It’s not the easiest romance, certainly, but I hope some readers will enjoy that about it, and embrace the contentiousness. Many questionable decisions dot the paths of both characters’ lives before they ever meet and embark on their risky love affair, and writing it was a bit of a risk in itself.

I can say already, however, that the risk has paid off, at least for me—few books have been such a joy to create.

 

 

———-

Cara McKenna writes contemporary romance and smart erotica, sometimes under the name Meg Maguire, and has sold more than thirty-five novels and novellas to Penguin, Piatkus, Harlequin, Samhain and Signet Eclipse. She’s known for writing no-nonsense, working-class heroes with capable hands and lousy grammar. She was a 2010 Golden Heart finalist, and a three-time Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee. Cara writes full-time and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her own bearded hero.

www.caramckenna.com

https://www.twitter.com/caramckenna

Erin Knightley’s English Adventure – Part 3

In this last installment of Erin Knightley‘s adventures in England, we come back to the beginning, to that fated day when she would finally try . . . black pudding . . .

Which brings us back to the hockey puck . . .

We were staying at a delightful little bed and breakfast that was probably a good 200 years old, tucked away deep in the country. The floorboards were squeaky, the stairs precipitously steep, and the bathroom roughly the size of my broom closet. In other words, it was terribly rustic and charming. But when the kind innkeeper got it in his head that we should try his famous black pudding, well, what was a girl to do?

So I ate it. The pudding, with the oh-so-appetizing ingredient of pig’s blood, somehow passed my lips, and it was . . . not awful. Meatier than I expected, a little bready like stuffing, and not at all gelatinous like us Americans expect when encountering something called pudding. Thank God – things would have gone very differently if it had been wiggly! Still, I can now say that I have experienced it, and when my characters refer to it, you can rest assured this author knows what she’s talking about.

And no, I won’t be eating it again 😉

So wrong-side driving, a bit of rain, and one slightly embarrassing mishap involving a radiator, a sleepy, robe-wearing innkeeper, and a nearly melted television aside, this trip was truly everything I hoped it would be. I certainly hope that my writing will be that much richer in the future because of it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to treat myself to a cream tea. I’ll leave the pudding to you, dear reader.

 

Come back soon, Erin! We promise we won’t make you eat pig’s blood again! WE PROMISE!!!!!

 

The Baron Next Door is out now in both paperback and ebook. The Earl I Adore releases on the 6th of January 2015  in both paperback and ebook!

Erin Knightley’s English Adventure!

Blightly was honoured recently with a visit from one of our favourite authors, Erin Knightley! Her warm and clever Regency romance The Baron Next Door had only just come out in paperback and we were getting reading for the upcoming sequel The Earl I Adore!

Over the next three days Erin will be telling the story of her trip to England where she visited the inspirations for her books! Keep reading below for Part 1 of Erin Knightley‘s English Adventures!

 

 

 

 

I sat there, staring at the plate before me, trying to figure out how I had gotten into this. The eggs, rasher of bacon, and toast were normal enough—delicious even—but beside them was a round, black, hockey puck slab of food, the likes of which I had never laid eyes on.

“Go on,” the innkeeper said, nodding encouragingly. “You’ll love it, I promise!” His charming enthusiasm was endearing, despite the eyebrow-raising breakfast he had just set in front of me.

Right. When in Rome, etc., etc. I took a deep breath, cut the tiniest morsel you have ever seen from the black disk, and crossed my fingers that my constitution was as good as my characters’ in the Regency world in which I write. 

I, Erin Knightley, romance author, world traveler, and thoroughly modern girl, was about to try black pudding.

So, dear reader, you may be wondering how I came about finding myself in this position, some 4,000 miles away from my cozy little house on a lake in North Carolina and the obligatory bowl of cereal with which I usually break my fast.

It had all started with an email. “Congrats!” it had said, the exclamation point effusive coming from my wonderful agent. “Piatkus has purchased the UK rights to both The Baron Next Door and The Earl I Adore!” It went on to explain that in a few short months, my Regency-set novels would be on the shelves of the country I had adored since the moment I picked up WHITNEY, MY LOVE back in the ‘90s.

And thus began my giddy, gleeful planning of a trip to England to coincide with the debut of The Baron Next Door. Not only could I meet my new publisher, sign books, and stay at the quaintest of quaint bed and breakfasts across the country, but this was my chance to really research the places I wrote about. Oh, to wander the venerated halls of manor houses, to visit the streets Jane Austen had tread, and traverse the ‘rolling countryside’ so often described in Regency-set novels (guilty!). I wanted to sample the traditional English fare, take tea with a side of scones, and discover what, exactly, clotted cream was.

Check back tomorrow for more of Erin’s story!

The Baron Next Door is out now in ebook and paperback!

An extract from Tracy Anne Warren’s THE MAN PLAN!

The first two installments of the sexy Graysons series are out now on Entice: The Last Man on Earth and The Man Plan! If you haven’t read them yet, we’re super jealous. We wish we could start over and consume them both again for the first time!

Below, Graysons author Tracy Anne Warren introduces an extract from The Man Plan by sharing with us her love of romance and writing, a passion we can clearly see in her books,

 

 

 

Dear Reader:

Every so often, someone asks me why I write romance and the simplest answer is because I love to read romance. My love affair with romance novels began when I was a teenager. It was only natural then, I suppose, that my interest in writing merged with a need to tell my own stories of courtship, love and commitment.

There is something deeply satisfying and pleasurable about reading romance novels. It is the sense of happiness and hope these stories provide. The idea that despite all the challenges and disappointments and sorrows that exist in the world, there is also joy and kindness and steadfast love – the sort that will stand the tests of both time and trial. For me, there is nothing quite like settling down with a great romance novel and letting myself get swept away by characters who will stay with me long after the last page is finished.

I hope you will be swept away too when you escape into the fictional world of the Grayson siblings and discover how each of them finds happiness and lasting love.   Cheers,

Tracy Anne

 

Prologue

Bang.

The church door swung back hard on its hinges, caught in an icy blast of wind that raked James Jordan’s short hair and cut beneath the thick dark wool of his coat. He barely acknowledged the chill as he jogged down the stairs, strode across the concrete pathway, too deadened inside to be troubled by a little nip from the elements.

He’d been so happy just a short while ago, buoyant and brimming with anticipation. The late-December sky had been clear and sunny when he’d arrived for the ceremony, as if it too were celebrating the day. Now it was swathed in gray, broad clouds lumbering above in sullen gloom.

How could she have done it? he wondered. Madelyn, his friend, his love.

How could she have crushed him on this, the day they were supposed to have wed?

She’d suffered as she’d told him, he knew, the words passing from her lips in a strange, strangled whisper.

Sorry, she’d said, but I can’t marry you.

She loved him, but not that way, not enough to promise herself to him for a lifetime. Her face had been ruddy and swollen from tears as she pleaded with him to understand.

But he didn’t want to understand. Not now. Perhaps not ever. Nor did he want to forgive. She’d hurt him, betrayed him, shamed him in front of their guests, their families and friends.

Yet the humiliation was nothing, not compared to the chasm that had opened deep inside him. The pain of knowing he’d lost her.

He clutched a set of car keys—hastily borrowed from his best man—inside his fist. The hard-edged metal teeth bit into his hand. He squeezed harder, craving the pain.

He had to get away.

Had to be alone.

Where?

What did it matter where?

Just away. Anywhere away.

“James, wait,” a soft voice called to him, satin-slippered feet rushing up from behind.

He walked onward without pause.

A slender hand reached for his shoulder, plucked at his coat sleeve. “Please, James. Please stop.”

He walked on. He didn’t need to look to recognize the identity of the speaker. Ivy Grayson, Madelyn’s teenage sister. “Let me be, Ivy.”

She kept pace with him, undaunted. “You shouldn’t go, not this way. Please stop.”

He did, finally, halting at the neat black iron gate to the fence that surrounded the church’s rear yard. With a sigh, he turned, found her standing, slender and pretty in her bridesmaid’s finery. Tiny fresh rosebuds were arranged in her fair hair, the flowers the same deep pink as her long formal gown.

“There’s no reason to stay,” he said in a lifeless tone. “The wedding’s off.”

“You shouldn’t be alone,” she insisted gently.

“But that’s exactly what I want to be.” He saw the distress in her blue eyes. “I’ll be fine,” he assured her. “Don’t worry about me.”

“But I will worry.” She bit her lip. “Why don’t I come with you?”

“No,” he said, more harshly than he’d intended.

Her face fell at the rebuke.

A fresh gust of wind swept over them on its rush toward the west. Ivy shivered in her thin garment.

He frowned. “Why’d you come out here without a coat? You’re freezing. Go back inside.”

She wrapped her arms around herself, shook her head. “No, I’m okay. It’s not that cold.”

He made a rude noise and began unbuttoning his coat. He slipped it off, revealing the fine, hand-tailored black tuxedo he wore underneath.

His wedding clothes.

He draped the coat over her shoulders, drawing the flaps closed in front.

Ivy sighed as heat enveloped her.

His heat, his scent trapped in the sleek silk lining and soft cashmere wool. She drank it in, all of it, luxuriating in the exquisite sensations. Despite her height—she stood five feet nine in her bare feet—his coat hung on her, voluminous as a tent. The hem just barely cleared the ground.

“I can’t take your coat,” she protested. “You’ll be cold.”

“I thought you said it wasn’t cold,” he chided mockingly.

“No. I said not much,” she hedged.

They eyed each other for a long moment, the air between them easy with the familiarity of years. For an instant the tension eased from his jaw as his natural sense of humor asserted itself. Then his eyes hardened again.

She read his pain, her heart aching. “I’m so sorry. Maybe I could talk to her—”

“No. There is no talking to her. She’s made up her mind. It’s done. She doesn’t want me.”

“I don’t understand her. Any woman would be thrilled to be yours. I’d marry you in an instant,” she blurted, saying the words she’d never, ever meant to say out loud. Revealing a wish she’d kept locked away inside her heart for such a very long time.

“It’s nice to know someone still would after today.”

Aware he thought she was joking, she lifted her chin. “I’m serious. I’ll marry you. I know I’m only fifteen, too young yet for you, but if you’d wait, I wouldn’t leave you at the altar. I’d make you happy. Grandma Bradford was only seventeen when she got married.”

“Ivy—”

“I know you still love Malynn,” she said, using the name she’d given her sister long ago, when her toddler’s tongue couldn’t wrap itself around the harder word “Madelyn.” “I wouldn’t expect you not to. But maybe as time goes on it won’t hurt so much. Maybe in a couple years there’ll be room in your heart for me. If you loved one sister, why couldn’t you love another?”

“Shh, Ivy. Enough.”

“I love you, James.”

He closed his eyes for a brief moment before meeting her gaze. “I love you too, sweetheart. We’ve always been the best of friends, haven’t we?”

She nodded, a spark of hope flaring to life inside her.

“And we’ll continue to be friends, good friends, no matter what. But, Ivy, as flattered as I am by your proposal, it wouldn’t be right. There’re a lot of years between us, too many years. Besides, what would you want with an old man like me when there’re so many young guys just waiting for a chance to be with a beautiful girl like you?”

“But I don’t want any of them. I want you. And you’re not old,” she protested.

“I’m thirty-one. When I was fifteen, thirty-one sounded as close to ancient as you could get without actually being dead. Come on; admit it. You know I’m right.”

She shook her head. “I don’t see you that way. I see you as you, as James. Your age doesn’t matter to me.”

“But it matters to others; you know it does. Your parents, your family, your friends—what would they think?”

She knew exactly what they would think, and they wouldn’t approve, no matter how much they liked James. And they did like him, even adored him. Her parents had all but adopted him years ago, when a then-teenage Madelyn had dragged him over from the house next door.

Maybe he was old enough to have known her since she was a baby. But she didn’t care. She loved him.

He gave her a sympathetic smile. “I know you won’t believe me, but six months or a year from now, you’ll look back on this and wonder what you could have been thinking. You’ll have met some great guy at school. You’ll be worrying about which college to attend and what dress to wear to the prom. I’ll be the last thing on your mind.”

A lock of her hair came free of its carefully styled knot and blew across her face. He reached out to tuck it behind her ear. She caught his hand, pressed his palm to her cheek and closed her eyes. “You’re always on my mind,” she murmured earnestly.

When she opened her eyes again, he met her look and sighed. “Ivy, you seem to have forgotten that until a few minutes ago, I was going to marry your sister. I love Madelyn and I wanted her for my wife. Getting over her is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But I’m going to try my damnedest and so are you. You’re going to get on with your life and get over this . . . this crush you have on me.”

He pulled his hand away.

A tear slipped down her cheek. “You’re going, then?”

“Yes, I’m going.”

“When will I see you again?”

He tucked his hands in his suit pockets, hunched his shoulders. “I don’t know. A while. I have some business in Europe I’ve been neglecting because of the wedding. I may see to that.”

“Be careful.”

“I’m rarely anything else; you know that.”

“You’ll need your coat.” She slipped it from around her shoulders and held it out to him. “Mine’s inside the church.”

He shrugged into his coat. “You’d better run on. Someone’s probably looking for you by now.”

But she stood her ground, her eyes serious and intent. “She’s a fool, you know, to have let you go,” she stated, her words those of an adult.

He paused, then pressed a kiss to her forehead. “You’re a sweet girl. Don’t ever let that change.”

He turned and unlatched the gate.

She watched him walk away, the skin on her forehead and cheek hot and tingling where he’d touched her. She wished he’d kissed her on the lips, but it was too soon for that.

James was right about a great many things, she knew.

She was too young for him.

Her family would disapprove.

And less than an hour ago, he’d been pledged to marry her sister.

But not anymore.

Before, Ivy had been willing to let him go. For Madelyn’s sake. For his sake. Because she’d known he loved her sister, and above all else, she wanted him to be happy.

But now he was free. Now he could be hers. And he was wrong about her feelings; they would never change.

She loved him.

She always had.

She always would.

And someday, she promised herself, he was going to feel the same.

Special message from Lia Riley to her UK readers!

Hey there, I’m Lia Riley, author of the OFF THE MAP series. These books sunk their hooks into my heart and I am excited they are now available outside the United States.

Writing Upside Down, Sideswiped and Inside Out was a fun and rather surreal journey. I had a vague inkling for a New Adult story, about an American girl who travels to Australia, but originally conceived a different plot. Instead, when I started writing, Talia and Bran barged into my brain, took over and steered the action in a completely different direction (thus the series name!). Next thing I knew, I had a surly surfer who wouldn’t behave and a quirky heroine hiding her obsessive-compulsive disorder beneath a veil of self-deprecation. I had to type as fast as possible to keep up with their hijinks (those two do love their banter). Upside Down was written in one dizzy month.

Throughout these books, I explore the idea that love – real love – takes you down unimagined roads within yourself, to places you wish didn’t exist while discovering possibilities you never imagined. When you find the person up for taking that challenge with you, there’s no adventure more terrifying, pivotal or beautiful.

Talia and Bran bounce between Australia, Malawi, Antarctica and coastal California. As they are tested by life’s challenges, they discover the courage to claim love and learn that sometimes in order to find yourself, you need to venture off the map.

I threw everything I had at the page. It wasn’t easy, and often felt raw and uncomfortable, but I hope you find something special to take away from their journey. I’m so proud of Talia and Bran and where they end up. Thank you for reading!

 

xoxo

Lia Riley

 

The first in the OFF THE MAP series, Upside Down, is out now! Join in on the inspiration at the Off the Map Tumblr page and be sure to enter the competition to win loads of Australian goodies! There is less than 24 hours to enter!

The inspiration behind Darkest London . . . by Kristen Callihan

On the 29th we published the first four in Kristen Callihan‘s rich and exciting Darkest London series! And to help celebrate we have a special web piece written by the author herself, fresh-faced from the RWA convention in Texas!

 

Piatkus: What can you tell us about Firelight, and the inspiration behind it? And what do you think of the setting and characters?

 

Kristen: Firelight  is what I like to call a weed book, in that it popped up without warning . . .

 

One minute I was putting on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast for my young daughter, and then next, I started to wonder, what if the ‘beast’ was not outwardly ugly but had to hide himself behind a mask? What if who he was, and what he was hiding, made him the prime suspect of a murder mystery? And what if ‘Beauty’ was determined to solve this mystery and save her beast?

 

Of course this tale needed a setting; some place dark, atmospheric and full of danger; a place where murder most foul could play out on a grand scale. What better setting could there been than London? To me, Victorian London and Gothic tales go hand in hand. Flickering gas lamps, narrow alleyways shrouded in murky fog, glistening cobbles echoing with the sound of footsteps, all of it is a veritable feast for the senses. Is it any wonder that London became a character in its own right?

 

I’ve had such fun with this great city. From the British Museum to Big Ben to Trafalgar Square and St. Paul’s, the landmarks play their own roles and characters often have an emotional connection to them. In truth, during the course of research, I’ve grown quite attached to London myself!

 

The Darkest London series are stories of action, mystery and romance, revolving around characters who hide what they are from normal human society. And while the characters often have extraordinary powers, they crave for love and acceptance, as we all do. I hope you enjoy reading the books, and invite you to sink into the sensual and often dangerous world of 1880s London.

 

Firelight, Moonglow, Winterblaze and Shadowdance are out now in ebook, and in paperback later this year!

Samantha Young – Deleted Scene 2!

And Samantha Young has done it again! Another sneaky deleted scene for readers to enjoy before the publication of Fall from India Place . . . TOMORROW!

Try to breathe now, peoples . . .

 

 

****

It wasn’t snowing. For this I was thankful. Snow was for when you were curled up safe inside with a fire roaring in a grate. It wasn’t for when you were driving a rental and taking the less than direct route to Dunoon, Argyll. Rather than driving west toward Greenock and then catching the ferry over, we were driving northwest to Loch Lomond and then turning back on ourselves but on the other side of the lochs that convened into the Holy Loch at Dunoon.

We were doing this because we wanted to take in a bit of the country, and although it was cold, no snow meant driving conditions were good.

Mostly we were doing this because Ellie hated the ferry.

Joss, Braden, Nate and Liv left at the same time as us in their rental late Friday afternoon for the large lodge Joss and Braden had booked for the weekend in one of his favorite spots. However, they were taking the ferry so they’d be arriving before Marco and I, who were riding in Adam’s rental with him and the ferry-hating Ellie.

Marco didn’t mind. He hadn’t seen much of the highlands and was sitting in the front passenger seat quietly taking in the passing scenery.

“I don’t know why Jo decided not to come. I thought she was going stir crazy in the flat,” Ellie said.

I glanced to my side, looking up from my ereader to take in Ellie’s frown. Her cheeks were even puffier now, as were her lips. Her baby bump was pretty huge, too. She was wearing a thick, knitted, turtleneck sweater, wooly leggings and Uggs. Her long hair was stuffed under a knitted hat that had a giant bobble on it.

Completely adorable. As was the way Adam hovered over her every second of every minute.

“She was. But her hormones are all over the place. Cole said he wasn’t going because he didn’t want to be a third wheel to four couples and then Jo decided she didn’t want to go either. One minute she was fine, the next a mess. And being around you, Els,” I added dryly, “Someone who is handling this pregnancy with the same aplomb as your last doesn’t help Jo feel any better.”

“Aplomb?” Adam grinned teasingly at me in the rearview mirror.

Marco snorted.

I narrowed my eyes on my boyfriend. “What are you laughing at?”

He threw a small smile at me over his shoulder. “Babe, you used the word ‘aplomb’.”

“It’s a good word,” I huffed.

He chuckled, turning to look back out his window.

“I have to say it’s nice to have an American guy in our group, Marco,” Ellie said randomly. “We’ve only had the American female perspective until now.”

Confused, I wrinkled my nose. “And how is being an American going to change his response? He’s a man. As far as I can tell they generally think the same way whether they’re Scottish, American, Chinese or Lithuanian.”

“Lithuanian?” Ellie wrinkled her nose right back at me. “What an obscure choice.”

“It’s hardly obscure. I could have said Tuvaluan.”

“Tuvawhatan?”

“Tuvaluan. The country of Tuvalu.”

“I’ve never heard of it.”

“Exactly.”

Adam glanced at Marco before looking straight ahead at the road. “You sure you want to get involved with a Nichols sister?”

I watched as Marco smirked at my brother-in-law. “At least they’re not boring.”

Adam grunted. “You might make it after all.”

Great. There was no telling what could happen if Marco actually became friends with Adam and Braden. I shot a panicked look at Ellie but she grinned at me like an excited five year old.

~

Marco, Adam, Ellie and I followed Joss down the wood-cladded hallway of the huge lodge we found ourselves in. Situated on the hill of the holiday park, set somewhat away from the other, smaller lodges, the massive open plan lounge and kitchen had floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a deck with a hot tub. It also looked out over the stunning Holy Loch. A coal fire was already burning by the time we arrived. Nate and Liv were curled up on one of the many sofas, a blanket wrapped around them, looking like something out of an advert for lovers’ weekend breaks.

Delicious smells wafted toward us from the opposite end of the room in the kitchen where Joss and Braden were already cooking. As soon as we arrived Joss led the four us into the back of the lodge. We hit a T-hallway and Joss pointed left at the top.

“Els, Adam, you’re across the hall from me and Braden. The door on your left.”

Ellie nudged past us grinning. I couldn’t help but laugh. My sister was in such a good mood these days she’d make even the grumpiest person happy.

Well, maybe not Jo.

Joss looked at me and then Marco and a knowing gleam appeared in her eyes. “You two are on the right across from Nate and Liv. Door on your left. Dinner will be ready in half an hour.”

She wandered back down the hallway and Marco picked up our weekend bags and led me into our room. It was a great size and we had our own ensuite.

“This is nice.” He dropped the bags on the bed and looked at me. “Like really nice.”

I shrugged. “Braden has a taste for luxury.”

“I know. I build his apartments and houses.”

I smiled. “Right.” I looked back at the door, chewing on my lower lip.

“What are you thinking?”

“Two things really.”

He slowly made his way over to me, sliding his arm around my waist. I moved into him naturally, my hands coasting up his chest. Nothing felt as good as being in his arms. Nothing. “I was thinking you seem pretty comfortable here. Not that I’m not glad… I’m just surprised.”

Marco frowned. “What’s surprising about that?”

“You’ve never really come across as the weekend-break-in-the-highlands kind of guy.”

His features softened with understanding and he gave my waist a squeeze. “I’m here because your family is important to you and I want to get to know them.”

I melted into him. “That’s such a good answer which makes the next thing I’m thinking a real bloody pain in the arse.” Marco waited for me to elaborate. “The walls are thin and Nate and Liv are across the hall. We can’t have sex.”

Marco bent his head to scatter barely-there lip brushes along my jaw. He whispered into my ear. “We can’t have loud sex.”

I shivered and sighed, turning my face to nuzzle his jaw. “No sex.” But I didn’t sound that convincing.

His hand slid down my back to caress my butt. “I think I can change your mind.”

“Mmm.” I pushed my hands under his shirt, feeling his hard abs. “I think you can too.”

“We better not start anything.” Marco replied gruffly. “We’ve got dinner in a little while and I don’t think I’ll make the right impression if I go out there sporting a hard on.”

I giggled, wrapping my arms tighter around him. “Perhaps not the right one but I’ll definitely be the envy of all the women.”

He laughed, kissed my neck and patted my bum. “Let’s leave this room before I throw you on that bed and fuck you senseless. Loudly.

I laughed and reluctantly let him drag me out of the room.

 ****