I recently re-released a bunch of my older titles. I thought it might be fun to do a little blast from the past this week as the old becomes new!
One of my very first series centered around a group of teachers at Lowell High School. Well, three of these stories (Bound by the Past, Covert Affairs and Scoring) have had a facelift! New covers and some revisions. Bound by the Past was previously titled Retreat and I did some fairly substantial edits on this one. I added to couple scenes and changed up the climax–tried to make it a bit longer and more suspenseful. This was one of the VERY first books I ever wrote and it’s always sort of been in the back of my mind that I’d like a do-over in terms of adding to the intensity of the story.
As for Covert Affairs (previously Covert Lessons) and Scoring, I simply went through and cleaned up my writing! It’s interesting to see how much my writing has changed (and hopefully grown) since 2008/09 which is when these books first appeared. And…I’m going to admit…I think I used to write a hell of a lot dirtier! I actually blushed a bit while re-reading these. Oh my! I was shameless in my younger years–snicker.
Lowell High, book 1
She’d never been lucky in love…until she met him.
If it weren’t for bad luck, Meg Williams wouldn’t have any luck at all. As if traveling to a tropical island on Valentine’s weekend in a nasty storm isn’t bad enough, she’s doing it alone after finding her boyfriend in bed with another woman. Enduring the trip from hell, she arrives on Eden Isle only to discover that her hotel reservation has been lost and there are no vacancies anywhere on the island. Disheartened, Meg heads for the hotel bar.
Rob Madison is used to being in the limelight due his wealth and power. Used to being pursued by women for his fortune. When he meets Meg and realizes she doesn’t know who he is, he decides to spend the evening as a regular guy. Discovering she doesn’t have a place to stay, he offers to share his penthouse with her.
As the night progresses and their mutual attraction becomes apparent, Meg wonders if her luck has turned, while Rob wonders if one weekend in each other’s arms will be enough…
Lowell High, book 2
Jon and Night grew up in a cult and were trained as BDSM Masters. Only when undercover agent Reilly infiltrated the Commitment Church did the boys learn of the cult’s seedy underside and help to destroy it.
Years later, Jon’s job as a teacher—and his love for colleague Carly—bring him close to the normal life he’s always craved. Just when happiness is within his grasp, Reilly returns. An incarnation of the cult has resurfaced with Jon’s evil mother at the helm. Reilly wants Jon and Night to go undercover to stop her once and for all.
Shocked by his mother’s return and his BDSM past come back to haunt him, Jon is terrified of Carly discovering his dark secrets. Including the darkest of all—his complex relationship with Night and his unrelenting urge to share Carly with his best friend.
Bound by the Past has been revised and was previously published as Retreat.
Lowell High, book 3
Gangs are taking over the hallways of Lowell High School. Desperate to save her alma mater, teacher Kelly Finch reaches out to at-risk students in an effort to steer them from more dangerous pursuits. Still, gang activity is rising, and when the superintendant seeks help from an undercover task force, Kelly is forced to play host to the most arrogant, infuriating, sexy man she’s ever met—Lt. Jared McNally.
The opinionated pair clash constantly, especially when Mac sets his sites on Kelly’s favorite student. As the intensity of the mission grows, so does their attraction. Sparks fly in and out of the bedroom, but if they’re going to make the school safe once more, they need to find a way to keep their covert affair under wraps.
Covert Affairs was previously published as Covert Lessons.
A Lowell High short story.
Never accuse Coach Tony Peterson of being a quitter, on the gridiron or in his personal life. For a year, his attempts to date Lowell High’s hot little choral director have failed. Melanie Ward is convinced that touchdowns and tempos don’t mix, despite Tony’s irresistible charm. When Tony finally wrangles a date, he schools Mel in blazing explorations of the physical kind.
But for Tony, the night isn’t just about scoring—he’s playing for keeps.
Scoring was previously published and is a Lowell High 5K word short story.
Tomorrow marks the release of the final book in the Compass series. It’s very sad to say goodbye to these characters as they’ve become like family to me over the past few years. Compton Pass would be at the top of my vacation places if only it really existed!
The deepest falls aren’t always the hardest.
Compass Girls, Book 4
Darkness has crept into Sterling Compton’s charmed life, relentlessly stealing what’s left of her grandmother’s memories. When she happens upon a compelling stranger leaning against a broken-down pickup in the middle of nowhere, grief and a gut-deep attraction spur her to take that too-safe life by the horns.
From the instant Sterling emerges from her Jeep, Viho is drawn to her carefree spirit. Her innocent offer of a ride turns into the ride of his life in his truck bed—and he forgets why he meant to avoid Compton Pass at all costs.
He should have known that karma was waiting to laugh in his face. Especially when Viho figures out Sterling’s father is the one who stood between him and the man he should have called “father”.
Yet it’s tough to hate someone who offers him a job. Especially when he and Sterling realize there’s a living tie on the way that will bind Viho to her family forever—if he can convince her she’s much more to him than an obligation.
Sometimes it’s hard to let go, but every story has an ending. This one has a Native American hero with a chip on his shoulder the size of Wyoming and a vulnerable heroine who has a gift for polishing up diamonds in the rough. Some scenes may tug heartstrings so hard it’ll hurt, but the oh-my-god orgasms make up for it.
Putting out one hand, he said, “Viho.”
“Interesting name.” She shook it, marveling at how he swallowed her fingers with heat and a gentle pressure that didn’t crush her but didn’t treat her like she was delicate filigree either.
“I could say the same.” He flashed her another semi-smile. “Mine’s Native American. It means Chief.”
“Seriously?” Sterling nodded, impressed. “So are you royalty or something?”
He certainly had an air of nobility about him, despite his commoner’s clothes.
“Nah.” He shook his head a bit. “I guess I could have been. If we still had chiefs, my grandfather would have been it. The small reservation I grew up on looked to him for approval. But getting involved in our government wasn’t my path. Causing a rift in our community was never my intention. And besides, I’m nobody’s leader.”
“How did you know that?” she wondered. After today, she was starting to doubt herself and her life choices where she never had before.
At first, she didn’t think he intended to answer. She figured that was a pretty personal thing to ask a guy you’d spoken fewer words to than you’d say to a drive-thru attendant in the course of ordering a meal. But something about him made her feel as if they’d known each other for a hell of a lot longer than three point two seconds. Maybe it was the way he didn’t pressure her, letting her take the lead in their interactions and conversation, unlike most guys she met, who were eager to pinpoint anything they had in common. Some way to get closer to her, either because they were interested in moving up the ranks at Compass Ranch or because they wanted in her pants. Or both.
Instead, Viho reminded her of Jake, widely recognized as the best man around for taming wild horses. He had that same aloof patience that lured in the wild beasts and made them believe they were safe. And they were. Jake lived up to that implied promise. He cared for all his creatures, went above and beyond to see that they had everything he could give them.
It also could have been the sadness she sensed lurking behind Viho’s spectacular eyes that struck a chord.
“First, the place I grew up wasn’t the norm. It was culturally conservative. Dominated by a few extremist families that would never have seen past my less-than-pure blood. I’d have spent my entire life outvoted by the rest of the council regardless of how worthy my ideas were of their support. We’d have wasted everyone’s time in one giant pissing match, no one moving forward. It’s probably cowardly, but getting more involved seemed like a waste of time. Turning that tide was impossible. It never sat right on me anyway. Politics. People shouting over each other instead of understanding the other’s point of view. I’ve always enjoyed being outside, alone, listening to nature…”
No wonder he hadn’t been worried about spending the night outdoors.
“What does it tell you?” she asked.
And he shut down as surely as if she’d called him a loser.
“Hey.” She paused her examination to lay a hand on his wrist. They both shivered in response. His skin was balmy against hers and his pulse jumped beneath the pads of her fingers at the contact. “I wasn’t kidding around. Not making fun of you. I was serious.”
“Oh.” He sighed. Suddenly he seemed to age, and Sterling realized he was significantly older than she’d first thought. Maybe thirty-five or forty to her twenty-four. A man with some experience didn’t sound like such a bad thing to her. Hopefully, she hadn’t come off as some punk kid harassing him. “I guess I should have said that when it’s quiet around me I can hear myself think. And I don’t feel as out of place in the universe. If I stop listening too long, I start to feel like I don’t belong here and never have. And that’s totally a strange thing to admit. To anyone. But especially to…you know, you.”
He scrunched his eyes closed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“I guess that means we’ve passed that awkward introductory stage of our relationship.” With that lame attempt at a joke, she released him and tried to concentrate. On his words. On the truck. On anything but putting her hands on him again. Maybe sliding her palms beneath his shirt to steal some of his warmth and map the contours of his prime body.
Because suddenly, she really wanted to show him that he was in the exact right place in the cosmos, and so was she.
“It’s kind of weird, you know. I’ve always thought I knew where I was meant to be. But lately, things are changing, and I think that might be worse. Finding out that how you thought things were supposed to be isn’t going to last forever, and that your life is your family’s, not your own.”
“I know exactly what you mean, Sterling.” He gazed at her with such intensity that she had to clear her throat and deliberately turn away. “And when that anchor gets yanked up and you start to drift, it’s easy to get dizzy. To lose your way.”
“Is that how you ended up stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere?” She recalled the black, red and white bedroll she’d spotted in the bed of the truck. It looked like he’d used it. A lot. Not just for picturesque camping trips to manicured grounds, either.
“I suppose it was the start of that path.” He shrugged, kicking a rock into the distance.
The grief radiating off him reminded her too much of what she’d been feeling when she left Compass Ranch earlier—the pain she’d been trying to obliterate, if even for a few hours.
So she steered the conversation to less dangerous ground. Like the cooling weather.
Viho rewarded her change of subjects with the hint of a smile and the loosening of his tense shoulders. As they chitchatted, she tinkered with his engine. It quickly became clear that his assessment was accurate. The thing was toast.
Surrendering, she turned toward Viho at the same instant he leaned in for a closer look. They plastered together. Instinctively, her hands flew to his chest to brace herself. And she smeared grease all over his soft, charcoal cotton shirt.
“Son of a bitch.” She tried to wipe a smudge off and only splattered it more. “I’m so sorry.”
“No problem.” His easygoing nature counterbalanced her impending freak-out, which would only enhance the social awkwardness that had always plagued her. But when he reached down, grabbed the hem of the tee and whipped it over his head, he struck her dumb.
Muscles rippled as he moved, hardness covered with smooth, tan skin she wished she had a right to touch. “Uh…”
“It was an accident. No harm.” He wadded up the fabric and tossed it into the back of the truck.
Except there might be some damage to her heart if it didn’t start beating again where it’d nearly exploded in her ribcage. It was time for her to admit it. She had never drooled over a man, not even a movie star or that guy she’d exchanged some heated emails with through an online matchmaking site, the way she lusted after Viho. Instant and vicious, attraction seethed between them.
“Sterling,” he murmured.
“I think we’d better wrap up here so you can take me into town now.”
“What if I don’t really want to do that anymore?” She couldn’t stop herself from being honest when he’d been so open with her earlier.
“Then I’ll wait for the next person to come by.” He shrugged, but she didn’t miss the flash of disappointment in his warm stare.
Did he think so little of himself that he didn’t understand her implication?
“Viho, this is not the time to be dense.” Brave, sure, she could be. But making the first move in this situation… Well, that was a little outrageous, even for her.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” He encroached on her personal space then, and she loved it.
“I think I’d rather stay here with you and listen to what nature is telling me right now.” She wiped her hand on her skirt, then reached up to his cheek.
“You can’t mean that.” His eyes went wide. “Are you for real? Maybe I didn’t drink enough water today. I’ve been stuck out here for a while.”
Sterling smiled. She knew she was doing the right thing. He’d needed to find her as much as she’d needed to discover him today. For whatever reason, they were here in the same place at the same time. Wasting that opportunity—divine or pure dumb luck—would not be wise.
Sterling might not have believed in fate before, but she could be converted.
“Does this seem like I mean it?” She launched herself at Viho then, sure he wouldn’t allow her to fall. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she went onto her tiptoes.
He didn’t leave her straining for long. His broad hands cupped the back of her thighs and lifted her to his level. The tips of her boots dangled off the ground as their bodies aligned. Locking them tighter, she wrapped her legs around his hips and crossed her ankles even as her hands rested on either side of his neck. A breeze cooled her ass when her skirt rode up due to her very unladylike position.
Holding her as if she was as dainty as her cousin, Hope, he stared into her eyes until she lunged forward, plastering her lips on his before he could bring either one of them to their senses. That was when his gentlemanly exterior sheared away.
Here in New York, the leaves on the trees are changing color and I’ve spent the past week preparing to take all my tropical plants inside for the winter before the temperatures get too cold for them. It’s a busy time – and my favorite time of year!
As you can see from the map on the right, the leaves are just starting to change for us here on Long Island. We’re a little behind the inland elevations, but that’s okay because it means we get much milder weather (aside from the occasional hurricane). Believe it or not, the NY State website has a weekly update on “Fall Foliage”. Seeing the leaves change – especially upstate – is an annual event!
As the year turns colder, I tend to get more productive. Writing is an indoor activity and when the weather is cold and the nights are long, I tend to spend a lot more time writing. I’ve been working on my writing schedule for the next few months and while it’s ambitious, I think with the colder weather coming in, it just might be do-able.
My plans going forward include releasing the follow-up to JACOB’S LADDER, which is called HER WARRIORS on 11/11. It’s a paranormal BBW shifter mange, which is something a little different for this series. I haven’t written a ménage in a while and I wasn’t really expecting there to be one in the String of Fate series… Heck, the String of Fate series was supposed to end with Jake! But this book just wanted to be written and I went with it. I hope you all will like it.
After that, I really want to finish up the four kings of the Arcana series. My plan at the moment is to release KING OF STARS in December. I really hope I can stick to that plan. I seem to have stalled out a bit in preparation for the JACOB’S LADDER release, which sometimes happens, but it annoying. Such a big release kind of consumes all my attention and I slack off on the new writing, so my productivity goes almost to zero.
For next year, I want to get Matt’s book out early in the year. That will finish up the five brothers of the Redstone Clan and I’m planning one heck of a plot twist for that particular book that will change pretty much everything in that world. Exciting!
I’m also looking at finally getting back to the StarLords series. I’ve been meaning to do that for a long time and I’m hoping I can finish up that series later in the year.
There are a few other projects in my mind, including a few water-based shifter stories and perhaps a return to the Dragon Knights world. I also am hoping to get into some new projects. New worlds. New stories. Maybe even a new pen name! I’m not really sure how it’s all going to go yet, but I’m working on plans right now and will continue to make tweaks and changes to the plan as we go along.
For now… more shifters next month and with any luck, space opera in December. Then back to shifters in January, and then…? We’ll just have to see where the road leads…
La di da la la… ok I’ll stop singing now. I’m popping in on Bianca’s week to talk about something old (well, oldish) that I’ve made new again. My previously published book, Just One Taste, has gotten a makeover! It’s all the same goodness inside with a brand new package (and a new price to bout :)). Look at the pretty cover Valerie made me.
This is a fun and sexy little story about mistaken identity, wine and of course compelling sex :). And there’s a lesson or two on US-Australian relations in there as well. I do hope you check it out. The story is live on Amazon and Smashwords for now, but more links are on the way.
Just One Taste
Sarah Harrington has moved from New York to Australia to expand her father’s chain of wine bars. It’s a hectic job that leaves little time for a social life, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to ignore her carnal needs entirely. She contacts an exclusive escort agent who promises to send her a man capable of fulfilling her every desire.
David Genero is nothing like the practiced lothario Sarah expects, yet the night that ensues is more intensely passionate than any she’s experienced. Sarah is just starting to consider making David a kept man when she realizes the chilling truth—David isn’t an escort at all. He’s a vineyard owner who’d planned to approach Sarah with a business proposition. She thinks he set her up but the truth is David barely expected to speak with Sarah, let alone sleep with her. It’s an honest case of mistaken identity that resulted in the best night of David’s life.
And for David, one taste of Sarah will never be enough
“What’s going through your mind about me, Sarah?”
Sarah held her breath and plunged in. “I suppose I’m wondering how long it’s going to take for you to kiss me.”
* * *
To say that was the last thing David had expected to hear would have understated his shock dramatically.
Kiss Sarah? He’d been thinking of little else since he first slipped into the lift. Had his interest been that obvious? How bloody embarrassing. Heat flushed his face. It intensified when Sarah laughed. “You’re a very intriguing man, David.”
“The sentiment is mutual, Miss Harr—”
She held up a hand to halt the formality. “Don’t you dare start calling me that now.”
That was a fair request, considering she’d already worked out he’d been undressing her in his mind since the second he laid eyes on her. David considered apologizing again but he was beginning to sound ridiculous. The adage his mother taught him had served him well throughout his life. Honesty is the best policy. “I’d be lying if I said I don’t find you extremely attractive, Sarah.”
She smiled. “I’d hate for you to tell a lie.”
David responded to the curve of her lips in kind. “You won’t hold the fact I’m acting like a tongue-tied adolescent against me, will you?”
“Why would I? It’s very cute.”
David’s heart gave a solid thump because she’d labeled him cute. Get a grip, Genero. “And you must be used to men falling all over you. You’re handling me so well.”
Interest flared in her eyes and David wondered if “handling me” was the right term to use. The images it conjured made the already significant issue he was dealing with in his trousers worse. Sarah’s fingers were long and tapered as they held the champagne flute, her fingernails French tipped and shiny white. David couldn’t help but imagine those pretty hands stroking up and down his cock, fondling his balls.
“What I’m not used to,” she said, “is reticent men.”
“Meaning?” David choked the query out, still distracted by the thought of her toying with his dick.
“When I said I wondered when you were going to kiss me, I never said I didn’t want you to.”
For the second time in as many minutes, Sarah had managed to shock David dumb. She didn’t shy away but let him see the desire, the amusement, behind her bold stare. Then she took a single step forward and turned her face, proffering her cheek.
The wild pounding of David’s heart slowed—a little. Was this some American custom he’d never heard of? People in France kissed each other on the cheek all the time, even the blokes. So maybe filthy-rich heiresses from New York did it too.
Well, he didn’t want to be culturally insensitive. Yeah, that’s why you’re going to kiss her. Poor excuse or not, David was willing to latch on to it. Anything to get closer to her, even for the briefest time.
He took a step forward and bent his head. Reacting on instinct, he placed a hand on her elbow. Through the wool dress her flesh warmed his palm. The fragrant waft of designer perfume teased his senses as he leaned into her. David couldn’t distinguish one perfume from another but he did know Sarah’s chosen fragrance was intoxicating.
As his cheek brushed hers, he heard the scrape of his stubble abrading her smooth skin and cursed that he hadn’t had a chance to shave. Sarah didn’t draw away from the roughness, instead pressing her cheek closer. Her hand rose to lie across his chest and David’s heartbeat accelerated in response. She must have felt it knocking fiercely against her palm because her hand flexed, those long fingers curling against his flesh and fisting his shirt in the process.
This was supposed to be a perfunctory brush of cheeks but it was fast becoming so much more and David was within inches of making a complete fool of himself. If she leaned any closer to him she’d soon discover what should have been a polite, businesslike gesture had given him the hard-on from Hades. And he hadn’t even pressed his lips to her skin.
So do it. Kiss her cheek like she’s your grandmother and let her go as quickly as you can.
David tilted his head, brushing his lips over her cheek. He got a tantalizing sense of how good she’d taste if he had the freedom to sample more of her, and he couldn’t prevent a groan from rumbling deep down in his throat.
Sarah answered it with a silken purr before sinking closer to him, like a vine wilting in the sun. Her body bowed and melted, her breasts pressing to his chest. Her nipples poked through her underwear and thick wool dress, which only made him aware of how stiff and distended they must be. As stiff and distended as his dick was. Almost.
David struggled to maintain his sense of decency as the soft crush of her body made everything inside him respond with animalistic enthusiasm. He started to draw away but she turned her face so their lips met before he could avoid the contact.
She parted her lips against him, brushing her mouth from side to side until David groaned and pulled her closer, lost. Suddenly he was kissing her, full and robust on the mouth, tasting the champagne on her tongue and the forbidden nature of what he was doing. All of it made his head spin and thoughts of his uncle’s beloved vineyard spiral away like readily discarded flotsam.
What am I doing? He was quite possibly ruining everything. Would Sarah Harrington do business with him after he kissed her like this?
Would she do business with him if he rejected her?
Once in a while, strange things happen when you’re a writer. In my case, the String of Fate series has given me a little surprise. You see, Book 4 in the series was never supposed to exist! It’s called HER WARRIORS, and I didn’t really intend to write it. It just wanted to be written and wouldn’t quit!
The String of Fate was supposed to be three stories about big cat shifters. It started way back in 2010 with CAT’S CRADLE, which I had written before my mother died. After she passed, although I didn’t really want to start a new series right then, I gave it to my editor at Samhain because she advised me it was important to keep putting out new books.
I wasn’t writing anything new because, let’s face it, I was a mess after losing my Mom, who was also my business partner (we were both lawyers who specialized in business consulting) and my best friend. I didn’t write anything new for about a year. And anything I wrote after, was sloooooooowwww. It took me a long time – years – to get back in the saddle and really start writing again.
So CAT’S CRADLE was out there for a few years and finally, earlier this year, I continued it with the release of KING’S THRONE. I had a goal to finish the trilogy this year. So I pushed to finish the third book of the planned trilogy, JACOB’S LADDER, and put it out this year as well. I figured that would be it and I’d have finished another series. Yay.
But it didn’t quite work out that way.
At the end of JACOB’S LADDER, there were these characters clamoring to find out what happened to them next. I decided to play with the story line and keep going, figuring I might get a short story or novella out the exercise that I could use for promotion or something. But the story just kept going… It poured out thousands of words at a time. Flowing like… well… like something kind of magical. I LOVE when that happens!
Before I knew what happened, I had a full-blown novel on my hands. A menage – which isn’t part of the series to that point – and it’s a little less focused on the action/adventure than the previous book. You see, there’s a giant battle at the end of JACOB’S LADDER. HER WARRIORS picks up after the battle and sort of follows the characters to their new place. (I don’t want to say too much here in case of spoilers.) There’s no giant battle scene in this one. It’s more peaceful, but there is a lot of emotional drama and the introduction of a new character that I, personally, find very compelling.
I want to get this book out before the big Christmas season, when nobody has any time to enjoy a peaceful few hours with a book. So I’m doing a break-neck turnaround on this, and will release it on Veteran’s Day (US). That’s 11/11/14. The preorder links have just started going up. It is available for preorder on Amazon, iBooks, and Smashwords. (Kobo coming soon.) It’ll also be available in print for preorder on Amazon shortly.
Here are the buy links for each book in the series:
King’s Throne – Amazon (exclusive)
I’m not sure where we’re going from here, but it sure looks like the String of Fate series isn’t finished with me yet! There are some rather compelling characters that might hound me until I write their stories too.