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Party Of Three – How it all began

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Many years ago, before I was married or had kids or had even moved to Australia, I was single and living in South Africa. I had a very cool group of friends and tried to see them as often as possible. But real life tended to get in the way a lot. Work, commitments, family. To ensure we got to see one other often, we started getting together on Sunday nights. Last minute plans to meet somewhere for dinner. As the weeks turned into months, the plans became less last minute, and more of a standard weekly event we all looked forward to.

Every week we’d choose a really cool restaurant, make our booking and spend the night eating great food, drinking loads of alcohol and just enjoying being together. Those dinners soon became known as “The Sunday Night Supper Club.”

There were always a core group of friends who attended, and as time passed, others joined. Girlfriends, boyfriends, casual friends, out of towners. Some stayed and became part of the core group. Others didn’t. As relationships ended, some of the girlfriends and boyfriends left the club. Some stayed permanently – as couples got married. Then we went through a stage where a whole new group of people joined us. The next generation. Yep, some of us had kids, and we brought the newborns along in their baby seats. They’d sleep silently while we enjoyed our dinners. (Of course that only lasted a few months. when the babes got a little older, we’d leave them at home with sitters).

When we moved to Australia, one of the hardest things to leave behind was that Sunday Night Supper Club. It took years to accept that we no longer had a standing dinner date on a Sunday night.
I still miss those evenings out. And the friends we dined with.

A gift from the Club when we left for Sydney. It's hanging on our wall now. (And if you can read the plaque, you'll see it says, Sydney Supper Club 2003. Unfortunately, that subtle wish for the future never came to be.)

A gift from the Club when we left for Sydney. It’s hanging on our wall now. (And if you can read the plaque, you’ll see it says, Sydney Supper Club 2003. Unfortunately, that subtle wish for the future never came to be.)

I guess that’s the best thing about being an author. I can make the past come back to life. Which is what I’ve chosen to do with Party Of Three, my novella from the Down and Dirty boxed set.
It’s the first book in a brand new series, titled…The Sunday Night Dinner Club. And yep, you’ve got it. The series focuses on a group of friends who have a standing Sunday night arrangement to meet for dinner.
(In case you’re wondering why I substituted the word ‘supper’ for ‘dinner’… Well, Aussies don’t think of supper as dinner. For an Australian, supper is more like tea after dinner. And since this series in set in Sydney, I had to get the terminology right.)

So…read on for your first glimpse into the new series. (Oh, and if you’re wondering if the characters are based on real life friends from South Africa…well, my lips are sealed.) ;)
DaDPoT.001

Party Of Three: The blurb:

Two men, one woman and a whole menu of opportunities.

Sunday Night Dinner Club, Book 1

When Spencer Allen arranges an impromptu date with Chelsea Holden, the beautiful restaurant owner he’s lusted after for months, he discovers an unexpected obstacle in his quest for true love—his best mate.

Levi Barret’s always been reluctant to give his heart to one woman, until Chelsea catches his attention. Now he’s finding it difficult to think of anyone else.

Levi’s interest in Chelsea could spell the end of a lifelong friendship…or the beginning of a whole new relationship.

Warning: Be sure to keep a safe distance from the oven. When things heat up in this kitchen, sparks are going to fly.

Party Of Three: An excerpt:

He gasped hoarsely. “You’ve got me so fucking turned on, I could take you right here in the middle of Centennial Park and not regret it for a second.”
She didn’t bother answering. Not with words anyway.
She tunneled her hand into his hair, massaging his scalp and steering his head so his mouth was aligned with hers once more. Her eyes smoldered, her lids lowered to half-mast and breath puffed from her mouth. Then she took his lips with hers and proceeded to blow his world clean away with her kiss.
Last night, Levi had told Spencer he really liked Chelsea. This morning, those words made a mockery of his true feelings. He didn’t just like the woman. He was already halfway in love with her.
And God knew, Levi had not loved a woman in a long time.
He nudged her thighs apart, making space for himself between her legs. Then he bent his knees slightly and repositioned his hips, sighing in relief as his cock came to rest in the V of her thighs.
The urge to thrust against her almost did his head in, and repressing that urge about killed him, but outside, in the open like this, he had no choice. If he gave in to his impulses, he’d be arrested for public indecency.
It was Chelsea who broke the kiss this time round. “If we weren’t standing in the middle of Centennial Park,” she whispered in his ear, “I’d insist you fuck me. Hard and fast and right here against the paperbark tree.”
“Chels.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “You’re killing me.”
“You started it.”
With his eyes closed, her scent was even more alluring. Sweet and spicy and totally addictive. He couldn’t help it, couldn’t stop the urge to grind against her—and was immediately rewarded by her muffled whimper and barely repressed shudder.
“Never would have needed to start this here if you’d agreed to marry me.”
“Can’t marry you, Levi.” She trailed her lips up to his ear and nibbled on his lobe—which instantly turned into an erogenous zone.
He tilted his head to the side to give her easier access. He moved his hands up her waist and rested his thumbs on her ribs. All he need do was brush them upwards and he’d caress the curves of those stunning breasts. “Give me a reason. One good reason and I’ll stop asking.”
A slow release of her breath tortured the side of his neck as she freed his ear and pulled back. Her shoulders seemed to sag against his chest.
Levi opened his eyes to find himself staring into hers. While he could still clearly see his desire reflected in those green pools, he saw something else too. Something he wasn’t altogether sure he liked.
She blinked several times but didn’t lower her gaze. “I don’t think you’re going to be happy with my reason.”
“If it keeps us apart, you’re probably right.”
“I want you to take me, Levi. I’ve wanted it a long time.” She licked her lips, and Levi found it almost impossible not to claim her tongue again. “For you to finally, finally fuck me.”
He muttered something unintelligible—mostly because intelligible speech failed him at that point.
“But…”
Shit, he hated that word. “But?”
“But you’re not the only one I’ve wanted for a long time.”
———–

Down and Dirty releases on the 27th of June at B&N and Amazon.
Meantime, you can pre-order it from:
You can pre-order Down And Dirty from -

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/449107
ARe – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-downanddirty-1553399-166.html
AU iBookshttps://itunes.apple.com/au/book/down-and-dirty/id891299799?mt=11
US iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/down-and-dirty/id891299799?mt=11
Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/down-and-dirty-14

Happy reading,

Jess

Beverley Oakley joins us on the Diva couch

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Once again, please help me welcome my dear friend, historical romance author, Beverley Oakley to the Diva couch,

Jess

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, from my dad’s house in South Australia I watched the awful television footage of the Victorian fires encroach on my home town of Gisborne and the house round the corner go up in flames. At the time I didn’t know where my kids or husband were, so it was very frightening. Especially since I had no wifi or phone connection.

Anyway, all was well when I flew in, though the sky was thick with smoke and as I drove from the airport I could see both sides of the Calder Freeway disappear into fields of charcoal, a desolate wasteland as I drew closer to my home. Many people had evacuated but fortunately, unlike Black Saturday’s fires of 5 years ago, when 173 people burned to death, no one was caught by surprise. 

So, now to what’s occupying me at present. Yes! I have a new book out with Ellora’s Cave called Dangerous Gentlemen and I’m delighted to be a guest on Down Under Divas to talk a little bit about it. 

Regency London’s underbelly of vice and vermin is as fascinating to me as the glitz and glitter, and Dangerous Gentlemen, an erotic Regency intrigue, has a good dose of both. It’s about a viscount’s daughter who poses as a prostitute in order to save her life.

 

I love stories of mistaken identities, and there are plenty in this one. My heroine, Hetty, believes her life depends on pretending to be someone else, my hero is mistakenly believed to be a villain, while Hetty’s sister has her own little scheme up her sleeve, based on her own deception. (Believe me, beautiful Araminta is a real piece of work!)

So do read on. There’s plenty to whip up your indignation, horror and lustful fantasies with a guaranteed HEA (bearing in mind that my wonderful editor on the first round of structural edits demanded to know when she got to the last chapter: “BEVERLEY, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?” – but I’m happy to report all was happily resolved.

Here’s the blurb followed by an extract:

Sequel to Her Gilded Prison

Shy, self-effacing Henrietta knows her place—in her dazzling older sister’s shadow. She’s a little brown peahen to Araminta’s bird of paradise. But when Hetty mistakenly becomes embroiled in the Regency underworld, the innocent debutante finds herself shockingly compromised by the dashing, dangerous Sir Aubrey, the very gentleman her heart desires. And the man Araminta has in her cold, calculating sights.

Branded an enemy of the Crown, bitter over the loss of his wife, Sir Aubrey wants only to lose himself in the warm, willing body of the young “prostitute” Hetty. As he tutors her in the art of lovemaking, Aubrey is pleased to find Hetty not only an ardent student, but a bright, witty and charming companion.

Despite a spoiled Araminta plotting for a marriage offer and a powerful political enemy damaging his reputation, Aubrey may suffer the greatest betrayal at the hands of the little “concubine” who’s managed to breach the stony exterior of his heart.

A Romantica® historical Regency erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

And here’s the extract:

By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, please exit this site.

An Excerpt From: DANGEROUS GENTLEMEN

Copyright © BEVERLEY OAKLEY, 2014

All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

This takes place during a ball when Hetty has nicked off to the mending room to nurse her wounds after her sister has been perfectly hateful. Here she meets a young lady in a similar state of dismal spirits.

Miss Hoskings, who declared she was not going to emerge from the mending room until the night was over, bade Hetty a gloomy farewell once Hetty’s skirt was mended but Hetty wasn’t sure she felt like reentering the ballroom either. The only person of any interest had left and she had no wish to endure Araminta’s preening self-satisfaction as she recounted her success with Sir Aubrey who, if he really were such a dangerous man, would consequently be of even greater interest to her sister, she supposed. No, Hetty had no chance.

“Make sure you turn the right way. The ’ouse is a fair rabbit warren of rooms and the gennulmen’s quarters that way.” The old crone stabbed a finger up the stairs to the left. “Even that Sir Aubrey what’s staying ’ere got hisself lost. Put ’is head in ’ere just afore you came to inquire as to which way was the lobby so he could order hisself a carriage.”

Miss Hoskings straightened, her look suddenly interested. “Sir Aubrey is a houseguest, I believe,” she said with a sharp look at Hetty. “Handsome gentleman, don’t you think? And with that unusual hair.”

Just the mere mention of him made Hetty’s heart leap. So Sir Aubrey’s room was just down the passage and up the stairs? She hesitated as the old seamstress closed the door behind her, plunging her into the gloom of the dimly lit corridor.

The stairs beckoned a short distance away.

What would be the harm in a quick look? No one would see her and she could always claim she’d lost her way. She’d be believed and besides, all the chambers would be empty since everyone was at the ball. The night was still young and no one would be returning yet.

Hetty, curious by nature, found this too tantalizing an opportunity to resist. With a furtive look around her, she hurried left and up the stairs, at which point two corridors at right angles disappeared into darkness. Choosing the one to the right, she found herself face-to-face with a series of closed doors.

Foolish, she chided herself. Of course they were closed and she could hardly open them. As she turned back toward the ballroom, a faint light shining from the crack beneath a door that was slightly ajar gleamed beckoningly.

With a furtive look over her shoulder, she approached it, and when she gave the door a little nudge with her foot, it swung open.

Excitement rippled through her.

“Hello?” she asked in a low voice. She took another step into the room. “Is anyone in here?”

Silence greeted her. A low fire burned in the grate before which was a table, against which were propped several items, including a familiar silver-topped cane. Her breath caught in her throat. The last time she’d seen that cane was when Sir Aubrey had exchanged several words with Araminta in the street as Hetty had been bringing up the rear with Mrs. Monks. Of course Sir Aubrey had not looked twice at her, excusing himself before having to be introduced to the younger sister and the chaperone who’d nearly closed the gap.

Heart hammering, Hetty closed the door behind her and went to pick up the cane.

How fortunate to have stumbled into Sir Aubrey’s room, she thought when she observed the fine coat lying upon the bed, apparently discarded in favor of what he was wearing tonight.

He really was a nonpareil, wearing his clothes as if they were an extension of his athletic physique.

Yet he was dangerous, she had to remind herself. Meaning she should not be here, which of course she shouldn’t, regardless of whether he was dangerous or not.

But how such a scion of good breeding and genteel society could be guilty of such a heinous crime as treason, Hetty could not imagine. And surely the story of the runaway wife was a gilded one. It was all the stuff of make-believe and Cousin Stephen was only telling Hetty he was dangerous to curb her schoolroom daydreams.

Turning, she saw half protruding from beneath the suit of clothes what appeared to be the edge of a silver, filigreed box. It was partly obscured by the overhang of the counterpane, as if it hadn’t properly been returned to its hiding place.

A moment’s indecision made her pause but soon Hetty was crouching on the floor, closing clammy fingers around the box. Might it contain secrets? Ones that would reveal, conclusively, what Cousin Stephen claimed was true?

Alternatively, proof that would exonerate Sir Aubrey?

Hetty fumbled for the catch. Dear Lord, this was too exciting for words. Perhaps Sir Aubrey was a secret agent working for the English, and Stephen had no idea.

Perhaps he was—

Protesting door hinges made her squeal as the door was flung wide. Hetty let the lid of the box fall and retreated into the shadows as Sir Aubrey strode into the room.

He was breathing heavily as he shrugged off his jacket with a curse, raindrops spattering into the hissing fire as he raked his fingers through his hair. A curious stillness overtook him and he froze, obviously sensing all was not as he left it.

He sniffed the air. “Orange flower water,” he muttered, stepping closer to the fire, fumbling for the tinderbox on the mantelpiece to light a candle.

Immediately he was thrown into sharp relief and as he stared at Hetty, it was not his look of shock and suspicion that made her scream—but the copious amounts of blood that stained his shirtsleeves and once snowy linen cravat.

“God Almighty, who are you?” he demanded as his gaze raked her finery. “You’re no parlor maid, that’s for certain.”

Gaping, unable to formulate a sensible answer, Hetty finally managed, “What happened to your arm, Sir Aubrey? Are you injured?”

“Sir Aubrey, is it? So you know who I am but you still haven’t told me who you are?” He grunted as he looked down at his arm, the bloodied linen shredded over the long graze. “It’s not as bad as it looks and I assure you, I gave a good account of myself.” His laugh was more a sneer. “Indeed, my assailant lies dead in the gutter.”

Hetty gasped. “Dueling?” Myriad questions crowded her mind. Could this be to do with Araminta? Had Sir Aubrey left Araminta in the middle of the ball to fight some other contender for her affections?

“Dueling?” he repeated. He shook his head and Hetty drew back at the coldness in his eyes. “There was nothing noble about my activities this evening. I was set upon in a dark alley. A short scuffle ensued, I drew my knife, then…” With his hand, he made a gesture like the slitting of his throat, adding, “I am slightly wounded but as I said, my attacker does not live to repeat the insult.”

Her horror clearly amused him, for his eyes narrowed while his generous mouth quirked. He looked like an incarnation of the most handsome demon she’d ever seen depicted in the fairy stories she loved to read.

“We all have enemies, madam. Enemies who must be eliminated if we are to breathe freely.”

 

Aubrey was enjoying the girl’s wide-eyed terror. No doubt she imagined he’d sliced the throat of a footpad, not the snarling, mangy cur who had leapt upon him as he’d been returning from his brief assignation to settle a gaming debt incurred by his favorite reprobate nephew.

Taking pity on her, he said reassuringly, “Don’t worry. I won’t hurt you.’ Her wide-eyed look as he removed first his jacket, then the bloodied shirt he tossed upon the bed before he rose to his full height, bare chested, afforded him the most amusement he’d had in a long time. “So, you’re the girl Madame Chambon sent?”

She simply stared at him and he nodded appraisingly as he sat on the bed and pulled off his boots. “You had me fooled for a moment. I thought you really were some innocent who’d lost her way in these catacombs.” Had he not been so jaded he might have been ashamed at the assessment in his tone when he added, “My faithful procuress threatened to one day surprise me—and that I’d not be able to tell the difference.” He chuckled and put out his hand. “Well, come into the light so I can see you better. After the god-awful night I’ve had, you might be just what I need. The retiring sort—for I’m sick to death of women who like to play games.”

Like that Miss Araminta Partington, he thought. Now didn’t she like to play games, with her speaking looks and half-whispered promises? Which wasn’t to say he hadn’t enjoyed his brief assignation with her in an antechamber behind the supper room. He’d been on his way out to settle his nephew’s wager when Miss Partington had waylaid him before proving extremely amenable to a kiss and a fondle. But of course that was as far as it could go and the throbbing of his engorged cock after that little encounter had been one good reason to slip unnoticed out of Lady Knox’s townhouse.

Unsatisfied desire had made him restless in every sense, and while he’d imagined a feisty coupling with whichever ladybird sent to him, this young lady’s contrived innocence was having a curious effect upon him. It would seem Madame Chambon had read him correctly, for even he hadn’t realized how tired he was of worldly sophistication.

“Yes, here.” He patted his knees. “No need to carry the pretense to quite such extremes. That’s right. I want you to sit on my lap so I can…observe you better.”

“Sit on your lap?” she squeaked as he tugged at her hand and her rounded bottom landed on his thighs.

He ran his hands over her contours appreciatively. She was rather a nice little thing with a familiarity that tugged at his memory. Plump and almost pretty. Not quite, but with that slightly gawkish look about her that indicated she was in transition to womanhood and might go either way—turn into a swan. Or not.

He rather fancied she had the makings of a beauty, though that didn’t concern him now since he had her only for one night. Madame Chambon would have sent her on approval. She seemed vaguely familiar. It was quite possible he’d seen the chit at the brothel and unconsciously dismissed her on account of the very reasons Madame Chambon had sent her—for her innocence and youth.

He ran his fingers through her fine light-brown curls and contoured her neck appreciatively, amused that she tensed as if this had never happened to her before. Well, if he liked her, he’d see her as often as he wished over the following month. By the time the abbess presented him with one of her exorbitant accounts, he’d know whether the girl gave value enough to continue the arrangement.

If she pleased him as much as his former mistress Jezebel had, Aubrey would indeed be seeing more of her. The next hour or so would tell.

“Oh sir!” she cried, jumping up as his hand came into contact with her breast. “What are you doing?”

He grinned as he tugged her back down and resettled her across his knees. “Madame Chambon has trained you well. Now I suppose you’ll tell me you’re a virgin.”

She nodded vigorously. “I am, sir. Indeed I am and—”

His scowl made her stiffen with apparent terror. Oh, she was good.

“Really?” He reached for the cutlass that had fallen from his belt and now lay at his feet. Idly he stroked the blade, stained with the dead dog’s blood, while he contemplated her. She was indulging in the charade perhaps a little too enthusiastically but then, as he narrowed his gaze and saw how frightened she really seemed, it occurred to him that every whore had to be broken in sometime and perhaps Madame Chambon had decided to play a little trick on him.

She’d told him he needed softening. That the effects of the opprobrium directed at him since poor Margaret’s death had stripped him of his humanity. Perhaps tonight was the time to cultivate his more tender side.

“A virgin?” Before, he’d spoken with blatant skepticism. Now he would allow that she could be telling the truth.

She nodded, her eyes riveted on the blade he was now using to clean his fingernails.

“So this will be your first time with a man?”

She drew in a trembling breath and repeated stupidly, “First time with a man?”

He tried not to sound irritated. There was only so much of the play-acting he could take. “Madame Chambon obviously selected you on account of your innocence. She knows my proclivities and that experience is my preference but I can be gentle. I won’t hurt you.” He grinned as he was struck by the responsibility of breaking in a virgin. One who would always remember her first time with him, no matter how many paying customers she serviced in her working life.

He licked his lips as he watched understanding dawn, adding as he traced the edge of her décolletage with his right forefinger, “In fact, I promise that you’ll quite enjoy the experience. God knows, you’re going to endure enough during your career, so you might as well start off on a good note. Now, shall we begin?”

AND NOW FOR THE VIDEO WHICH YOU CAN SEE HERE

Please drop by and visit me at my website or blog

Or twitter: @BeverleyOakley

And you can buy Dangerous Gentlemen here.

Tara Lain – writer of the Beautiful Boys of Romance

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RC ~ Today’s guest is Tara Lain. I was lucky enough to ‘meet’ Tara when we were both contracted by the same publishing house, Etopia Press. And each year at RT we manage to grab a few seconds to say hi in person. And I have to say she’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Now you all get to meet her too! Take it away Tara!

 

Ready to Meet the Beautiful Boys of Romance?

Hi everyone. I’m Tara Lain and I write the Beautiful Boys of Romance. Thank you so much to the Down Under Divas for inviting me today to their MM romance celebration!  There’s some FREE goodies down at the bottom of this blog so be sure to check them out.

Yep, I write MM romance. Have you ever read one? I’m guessing many of you have but If not, you might want to give it a try. After all, the average reader of MM romance is a woman between 20 and 60. And most writers of MM romance are women. Surprising, huh?

I had never read M/M romance until a few years ago.  In fact, I didn’t even know that M/M fiction existed and, if I had known, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to read it. I didn’t own an e-reader so I bought my paperbacks from Amazon. But I did like erotic romance. I was reading a favorite  erotic romance author’s MF paranormal books and loved them, so I ordered another book of hers from Amazon without reading the blurb! Imagine my surprise when it arrived and was a M/M book. I started to read, kind of looking over my shoulder to be sure no one was watching!  I loved it and was totally hooked! I was writing my first novel at the time, a MF romance about an older female scientist who has a passion for her younger male research partner. I loved the dynamics of the MM so much, I added another man to the story and Genetic Attraction was born. It’s an award-winning MMF ménage. Then I had to go back and explain how the two men fell in love in The Scientist and the Supermodel. Just like that, I was a MM writer!

TL_GeneticAttraction_coverin

Now I write my Beautiful Boys of Romance in all descriptions. One of my recent releases is a quirky, LGBT contemporary erotic romance called Hearts and Flour about the unlikely attraction between a vegan, raw-food fanatic and a cupcake baker.

HeartsandFlour_ByTaraLain_453x680

 

I currently have 17 published books, three more in various stages of contracting, and three works-in-progress. All but one have either gay or bisexual heroes. As you can tell, I’m thoroughly hooked on writing MM fiction. Here are a few things I’ve learned reading and writing male/male books:

  • Male/male books have fewer gender stereotypes. It’s not unusual in these books for both men to be hunky alphas, for one of them to be more effeminate but still very dominant, or any combination. My artist character in Fire Balls is tiny and effeminate but also a black belt in karate and a dominant in bed, while big, hunky JJ LaRousse in Snow Balls is more queen than quarterback.
  • If you are a female reader, you don’t have a woman in these books with whom you automatically identify so you get the experience of identifying with a man. And you get to choose which one or ones you most want to relate to.
  • If you’re a gay man reading a M/M book, you get to see your world imagined by someone who has no limitations of your real life constraining the fantasy. No “but that never happened to me so it can’t happen.” You get a bigger fantasy.
  • You get to see two men (or more if you read my books LOL) in love which is very cool. It’s not the same as women in love with men. It’s just not. Since, for many male couples, marriage and family isn’t yet the common practice (hope it will be soon), the relationship has to be about more than security or fulfilling family or societal expectations. There’s a “pure love” quality to MM romance which I find just irresistible.
  • Gay or bisexual men still bear huge burdens of discrimination so, even if those issues play a small role in the story, you get to admire the bravery of men who declare their love for each other.
  • Men can be just as sappy and emotional as women. I know. I read MM romances by male writers too.  The deeply felt emotions pour from the pages and the ever-after is just as happy.
  • And, of course, the simplest reason. If like me you adore men, then two is better!

I think authors of gay romance contribute to people’s understanding of the world and help us see, as Jambrea said, that sex is sex and love is love. I’ve had and continue to have many gay friends who have made my life better and I’m happy, in a small way,  to be able to pay that forward.

But all the serious stuff aside, if you own an ereader, you don’t even have to glance over your shoulder like I did to see who’s looking!  LOL I hope you’ll let some beautiful boys creep into your reading among those alpha males and feisty females.  Bet you’ll be a convert too.

I have a FREE read for you. Over at the MM Romance Group on Goodreads, you can download my newest release, Love You So Hard. This story was written to a prompt from a reader and here is the picture I used as inspiration!

BottomYousohard

I also hope you’ll come over and check out my brand new website www.taralain.com . I just switched over to the new format, and hope you like it. Leave me a comment and let me know if you do.

Last but not least, leave me a comment with your email on this blog post and I’ll give one commenter an ebook copy of Hearts and Flour.

And don’t forget my next release is Cataclysmic Shift, a MM paranormal, and it’s out July 23rd!

Thanks so much for coming by! : )

 

profpixcopy

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 20. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

 

Jambrea Jo Jones ~ Why I Love and Write M/M Romance

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The last week of June here at the Down Under Divas is dedicated to some of the most amazing, incredibly, talented m/m and m/m/f authors we Divas know. The GLBT genre is a powerful one and what better way to start this last week of GLBT writers than with Jambrea Jo Jones.

The Divas know Jambrea Jo Jones (aka JJJ) via International Heat You may know her via her hot hot hot m/m and m/m/f books. Don’t know who Jambrea is? It’s time to start….NOW!

Lexx

The wonderful world of m/m (man on man action)

Hello, my name is Jambrea Jo Jones and I love gay men. I love gay men in love. Okay, now that I feel like I’m standing up in an AA meeting I’ll tell you a little more.

I first found out about gay romance by winning a story written by Ally Blue. It was a good story so I thought I’d try reading another and picked up a TA Chase story. I was hooked. I loved seeing two men meet and fall in love. I can’t explain it, I just—love it. Of course that is reading gay romance. I never thought I’d write it. Or…um….watch gay porn. But I did and I do.

It started off innocently enough. I had a story about a brother and sister. She was in a predicament because of her brother. It was supposed to be because of who her brother was sleeping with. At first it was a girl, but the story wasn’t working so I gave him a boyfriend and boom! Story ready to be written. His book would be second and I’d written myself into a corner. It was an erotic romance so I would have to write about sex. What did I know about gay sex? Nothing. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I couldn’t even picture it. Hell, I had a hard time picturing straight sex  most of the time and I really didn’t watch straight porn. I don’t like it.  I put his story aside and wrote a sweet m/m romance called Runaway Man. Only real sweet thing about it was the lack of sex.

Then one of my publishers had a call about flowers and their meanings. At the time someone in my life had died and I had a strong feeling and needed to write a story. It’s called Heart Song and with that story I wrote my first sex scene. I had to explore and I asked around about where to find gay porn. I had no idea, like I said I didn’t even watch straight porn.

Boy it was fun finding sites and I never went back. I am proud to say that I LOVE GAY PORN. Lol  And in watching it found out that sex is sex just as love is love. I think that is the most important thing and I’ll say it again. Sex is sex just as love is love.

(Hottest cover EVER! ~ Lexx)

I mostly right gay romance now in about any genre—sci-fi, romantic suspense, contemporary and paranormal, even some horror. I’m willing to try anything once when it comes to writing because I also read just about anything.

Why write gay romance? I mean, I’m not gay, so why? It feels right and my characters are gay for the most part. If I tried to make them straight, I wouldn’t be able to write my stories. I think that is the way of most writers. If you force something in a story, it doesn’t flow. You need to go with what feels right for your people. Like I have a marine series—there might be a gay character in there, but the main guys that are getting a story? They aren’t gay. Same with my shifter series—well, I ended up with a main couple being gay, but that came along as I was writing the story, which happens to some great series. The Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward, The Troubleshooters by Suzanne Brockmann, Hearts of Fame by Lexxie Couper and Because series ( I don’t know if it has an actual series name) by Mari Carr.

So is gay romance for you? Maybe not, just like with any book people will love them, like them or hate them and that just goes with what you like to read. Like I’m not big on inspirational romance, just isn’t my thing. Nothing wrong with that because there are plenty of books around for each of us.

Thank you to the Down Under Divas for having me on their blog and I hope you enjoyed my talk on gay romance. You can find me at www.jambrea.com or email me at anytime at binojo2@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

Special guest author – BEVERLEY OAKLEY

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It is my absolute pleasure to once again welcome Beverley Oakley to the Down Under Divas. Yes, I’m biased when it comes to Bev, but I love her work, and have for many, many years. She and I belong to the same incredible critique group, and she (and the group) have been my support and my rock for ten years now.

So when I have an opportunity to brag that Bev has a new book out, believe me, I am going to brag. And guess what?

BEV HAS A NEW BOOK OUT!!! A hot historical from Ellora’s Cave.

So, now you have a choice. You can ignore the rest of the post and get straight to EC and buy the book. (Just click this link.) Or you can read the post and then get to EC and buy the book. Either way…BUY THE BOOK!

;)

Jess

Welcome Bev….

Her Gilded Prison

By Beverley Oakley

Hi Sami, Jess, Lexxi and Rhian. Thanks so much for having me here to guest blog.

And hi everyone ‘out there’. I hope your Easter holiday plans are taking shape nicely. I’m gearing up for the trip of a lifetime immediately after the break to do a two-week camping/motorcycle trip through California with my husband before heading off to the Romantic Times Convention in Kansas City where I’m looking forward to meeting up with fellow erotic romance writers and old friends like Jess, Sami, Rhian and Lexxie.

In the meantime I have all the excitement of my first Ellora’s Cave erotic Regency Historical to nurture and promote. Her Gilded Prison was released on Friday.

Now, I’m a real devotee of BBC period dramas and could watch every Jane Austen remake a dozen times, as I have the Downton Abbey series this past year. I love these stories and they unashamedly inspire my own Regency and historical romances, except that my stories go beyond the bedroom door. Way beyond.

HerGildedPrison

Her Gilded Prison is an older woman, younger man story and as the story unfolded I was surprised by developments. I’d never considered writing an older woman younger man story. In fact, the heroine was supposed to be Araminta, the exquisite, self-centred daughter of Lady Sybil, my long-married new heroine. However Araminta was going through the worst phase of her fiery adolescence. She just did not deserve to be the heroine of her own book. When she’s grown up a bit she’s getting her own story in Book 3.

Her Gilded Prison begins as my hero Stephen Cranbourne, the gorgeous, randy twenty-four year old heir apparent of ageing Viscount Partington, starts his journey to take up his new position. En route he’s waylaid by an attractive, scheming fortune hunter… with consequences that return to haunt him.

Once ensconced on Lord Partington’s estate, The Grange, Stephen sets several feminine hearts aflutter and it’s hard to say no when the viscount’s vibrant, beautiful daughter, Araminta sets her cap at him.

But another contender for the viscountcy knocks Stephen from his perch.

Edgar, Viscount Partington’s cabbage-headed clodpoll of a nephew turns up from the battlefield, not having died a hero, but having disappeared a deserter.

This is when my real heroine steals the show. Always overlooked, lovely, loyal Lady Sybil, Viscount Partington’s neglected wife, realises that she must take bold measures to ensure the estate and title does not go to Edgar.

And for this she needs Stephen’s help.

Below is an extract from the first chapter.

HER GILDED PRISON

Chapter One

The three men were on their knees, heads craned forward, eyes fixed with prurient interest on the amorous adventure playing out on the gossamer web before them.

“He’s launching in, for God’s sake! Dipping his wick—if you could only see it! Look at him.” The young Earl of Barston’s breath was hot on Stephen’s arm, his gaze rapt as he asked in an excited whispered, “She’ll kill him for it?”

Stephen’s host, Sir Archie Ledger, laughed coarsely. “You say he knows his reward is death?” The young baronet jostled his companions for a better look and his eyes bulged with excitement.  He twisted his head to dart a glance at his wife who sat calmly embroidering at the far end of the drawing room, before adding under his breath, “The fuck of eternal damnation, eh? I reckon that’s what I got.”

It was no secret Sir Archie had been pressured into marriage following an indiscretion with the lovely but sharp-tongued Miss Julia Preston.

Lady Julia raised her head at the commotion and her voice cut like scissors into the schoolboy game Stephen was orchestrating. “I say, gentlemen, what’s more interesting than paying some attention to the ladies? Mr. Cranbourne, I want you to please take a seat by me and tell me all about your new benefactor.”

The three young men huddled closer, eyes still fixed on the spider’s web just below the escritoire. “Take cover, gentlemen, here she comes.” Sir Archie’s tone soured. “No, it’s no good. She’s found us. Story of my life. Fun’s over.”

Stephen, still on his knees, blinked to see first Lady Julia’s well-turned ankle and then, as she bent down, her lovely face. As her lively green eyes locked with his he wondered at Archie’s discontent. She was a diamond of the first water.

“What is so fascinating, gentlemen?” Her intimate murmur sounded as if it were just for him. Her gaze was certainly focused on him as her mouth curved in a secret, knowing smile.

Stephen sucked in a breath and found he was quite unable to answer. Since he’d come back from war he was unused to mixing in such elite company, though he remembered frequenting houses like this when he was a boy before his mother’s decline.

Just when he assumed she’d solicit her husband for information, she brushed his hand with hers, the smile that was just for him still in place.

Good God, he thought he’d imagined it before. Now, with Sir Archie still on his haunches to her right, reluctantly in the process of rising, Stephen was quite clearly being conveyed a secret message. Lady Julia admired him. He forced himself to breathe evenly as his cock sprang to attention. He could not rise now, for God’s sake. He must keep them watching at least a few seconds longer.

“She’s going to devour him.” The urgency in his voice that had nothing to do with the mating spiders.

“Nothing happening.” Archie sounded bored as he groaned and gripped the table leg to heave himself up. Stephen had wondered at a match between the spindly-legged, chinless baronet and the ravishing debutante conducted in such haste the season before. He’d not thought about the lovely Miss Julia again until news spread that the couple had been blessed with twin boys within a barely timely eight and a half months of their nuptials.

Now Lady Julia looked as dewy fresh and desirable as she had when Stephen had admired her in the ballroom as a young man experienced in battle but completely unprepared for London society. His mother had left him little of the vast fortune she’d frittered away through drink and gambling but enough to at least deport himself like the gentleman he’d been born.

He managed. Just.

“No, nothing happening,” muttered Barston, rising unsteadily. “I’ll wager a thousand monkeys you’re all hot air, Cranbourne.”

Lady Julia, who’d straightened, bent at the waist to peer again at the scene that had so excited the gentlemen. “Oh, my goodness, the spider jumped!” she squeaked, twisting round so suddenly she tripped over her husband’s arm and fell full length upon Stephen.

For a second he just lay beneath her, eyes wide with shock as her soft curves molded his hard—very hard—contours, not all of them his bones.

“Get up, Julia. Cranbourne, do you accept the wager?” Archie, who sounded as if these were everyday occurrences, took his wife’s elbow and hauled her to her feet. But not before Julia had slanted a knowing and very provocative look at Stephen.

“What? Er, yes,” Stephen mumbled, paying only half a mind. He rarely gambled these days. He had only to recall his wretched, fatherless youth and the antics of his feckless, beloved, wager-mad mama.

“Good fellow!” A hearty handshake followed as Stephen rose. He took refuge behind the back of the Egyptian sofa and forced a strained smile at his hosts.

“I do love an unusual wager.” Lady Julia adopted a pose of rare solidarity beside her husband. “So this big, bold, female spider—obviously a prime article in the arachnid world—has just suffered the amorous attentions of her tiny, boring, timid, ineffectual husband.” Her knowing smile broadened and her words were heavy with emphasis as she enunciated each one. It was impossible to miss her meaning and Stephen could only wonder that Archie didn’t bristle at the obvious allusion to their own marital situation. She stroked Archie’s arm while asking Stephen in silky tones, “You’re the celebrated man of science in the room, Mr. Cranbourne. Please explain in…explicit terms…the courting rituals of the spider world.”

Stephen flicked a glance at Archie. Fortunately he appeared to be his usual good-humored self—and just as keen for information as his wife.

He cleared his throat. “The male spider will court the female and…and then after he…”

“Impregnates her?” Lady Julia supplied with an inquiring smile.

“That’s correct, yes, the female will devour him.” Stephen let out his breath in a low whistle as his erection finally subsided. God, he hoped Archie hadn’t noticed. Lady Julia was a diamond of the first water but she was dangerous and Stephen wasn’t in a position to alienate the few advantageous connections he’d made since his unexpected elevation in the world.

“Nonsense!” Archie let out a guffaw. “The male of every species is infinitely superior in every respect and I’ll wager the insect world is no exception. Cranbourne, if this pretty boy spider is still safely in his love lair, gazing raptly at his lady love in two hours, then I’ve won the wager.”

END OF EXTRACT

That was a bit of fun. Gorgeous Stephen had better take care, hadn’t he?

You can buy Her Gilded Prison at Ellora’s Cave

and read more here:

www.beverleyoakley.com

www.facebook/AuthorBeverleyOakley

http://beverleyeikli.blogspot.com

https://twitter.com/#!/BeverleyOakley

The Trinity Masters – An Awesome New Series from Mari Carr and Lila Dubois

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Authors of awesomeness (a self proclaimed title) Lila Dubois and Mari Carr have a new book out! They’ve finished their first menage story (heh–that sounds dirty) and I have them on the blog today talking about it.

Thank you for having us! We’re really excited about this book. Not only is it our first collaboration, but it’s the start of a great new series called The Trinity Masters.

Elemental Pleasure Cover

Elemental Pleasure, focuses on Carly, Preston and Lance, who are members of the super secret society the Trinity Masters. A secret society that demands the members be in menages are picks out their love interests What could go wrong?

When Carly Kenan joined the secretive Trinity Masters in college, she knew that one day she’d have to pay the piper. That day has come. Returning to Boston, Carly meets former Marine Lance Glassco, a mathematician for DARPA, and Preston Kim, a celebrated chemist. Though on the surface they have nothing in common, it’s clear the Grand Master thinks that together the three of them can do something amazing. And that’s why he’s declared that Carly, Lance and Preston must unite. In a ménage.

Tempers flare as they struggle to understand each other, but their physical attraction is explosive, and the sex leaves all of them begging for more. Pushed beyond her limits, Carly runs from Lance and Preston. What she doesn’t understand is that she now belongs to them, body and soul…and they belong to her, too. When Lance uncovers a dangerous crime in Preston’s firm, Carly is caught in the crossfire and the struggling lovers are forced to move beyond desire…to trust.

The Trinity Masters have the power to make careers and change lives, but there’s a price. All members know that the day will come when the Grand Master will select them, and pair them with two others. For the Trinity Masters the strongest bond isn’t a pair, but a threesome.

This book has sex, mystery, sex, adventure, sex, and two men who are alpha males in completely different ways.

Here’s where you can get the delicious Elemental Pleasure:

Amazon

B&N

Smashwords (all other formats)

Here, just for you, is the prologue and first chapter. Yum!

Elemental Pleasure

Copyright 2013, Mari Carr, Lila Dubois

Prologue

The Grand Master sat as his desk and studied the files lying there. Three people. Three lives. Their destinies lie in his hands.

Leaning back in his leather chair, he let his gaze travel over the portraits on the walls—paintings of the men who’d served in this position before him. Men who had been called to lead one of the most powerful organizations in the world. They had taken their position seriously, understood the gravity of their choices. His decisions, like theirs, could influence the future and bring fate to its knees.

The Trinity Masters were a secret society, as old as the U.S. sect of the Masons, but unlike them, the Trinity Masters were still a secret. It had been started by some of America’s founding fathers as they sought to replicate the networks and relationships that drove European society in America, a country that was wild and new. Hundreds of years later, the Trinity Masters counted some of the most powerful people in politics, science, the arts and even religion among its members. It was credited, though only in secret, for developing the relationships that had driven much of America’s success.

Being a member meant access to people, money and power.

In exchange, you gave them your future. And that future was the Grand Master’s to decide.

He looked at the pictures again. A pretty, dark-haired woman. Brilliant, creative. An attractive, serious-looking scientist, driven, powerful. And the final, a soldier. Strong and courageous.

Yes, he decided. All the pieces were there. He sealed the letters, prepared them for the messenger. It was time. Together, they would make a powerful bond.

A perfect trinity.

Chapter One

She’d made a deal with the Devil, and now the Devil had called to collect.

Carlene Kenan pulled her scarf up around her neck. At home in California it was a sunny, warm seventy degrees, but early March in Boston was still winter, and the wind whipped down Boylston Street as she stood outside the imposing Boston Public Library.

Carlene rubbed her cheek against the baby soft cashmere of her scarf. It cost more than her parents had made in a month when she was growing up. Those days were long gone, thanks to a deal she’d made nearly ten years ago. With her dark hair pulled up in an elegant chignon, a black wool coat, cream scarf and knee-high black boots she looked exactly like what she was: a beautiful, successful woman.

Had it been worth it? Her success had surpassed even her wildest dreams, but all her success had come at a price. Now it was time to pay up. She wouldn’t know if had been worth it until she went inside.

The city moved around her, everyone with somewhere to go, something to do. Another minute ticked by, but Carlene still couldn’t bring herself to mount the steps and face the consequences of her achievements. Someone bumped her, forcing her forward a step, and she hitched her designer bag higher. The man who bumped her, chatting away on his phone, turned to glare. When he caught sight of her he stopped mid-word, fumbled out a smile, then slunk away.

She mounted the steps. It was something she’d done a hundred times before while a student at Harvard. A computer science major, the public library had always been a chance for her to get away from her electronics, and to honor the lineage of scholars and invention that had been trailblazers to the world she knew.

And in her junior year the library had started to play a new, and secret, role in her life.

The grand hallway, with its arched and illustrated roof, was bustling with people, though the noise was muted, the hush of a library. The heels of her boots clicked against the stone floor as she made her way to the elevator. She rode it to the top level, where there were fewer people. By the time she reached the rare book room she was alone in the quiet hallway that smelled of books and secrets. There was a keypad on the door. She paused, realizing his instructions hadn’t included a code. Surely it wasn’t the same one the society had used when she was in college?

Pulling off her leather glove, she folded and tucked it into her pocket. As she reached out, she noticed her fingers were trembling. She curled her hand into a fist, willed herself to be calm, then reached out again.

333

There was a click as the door opened. Carlene turned the handle and let herself in, careful to close the door behind her. The code was the same. She wondered what else would be the same.

The rare book room was small, with each rack dedicated to a subject. There were a few tables, each with a box of cotton gloves placed precisely in the center, so the rare books could be handled without picking up corrosive oils. Behind a section containing maps and diaries said to belong to members of the semi-secret Masonic Temple was a section of wall with a triangle inscribed into the plaster. She touched her scarf, which hid the chain she wore with the same symbol hanging from it. Below the triangle were three words. “Mitimur in Vetitum.”

“We strive for the forbidden,” she whispered, tracing the words.

Her stomach clenched and her fingers trembled. She was terrified of what she’d find beyond that door, of what she’d discover in the temple of the Trinity Masters.

With their help Carlene’s company was now one of the fastest growing in the industry, and at only thirty-two she was well on the way to becoming very, very wealthy.

Taking a deep breath, she placed both hands on the triangle relief and pushed. A section of wall popped in, and then slid to the side, disappearing into a pocket. She passed through and waited in the darkness on the other side as the door shut, sealing her inside.

Once the door was fully closed the lights clicked on.

The small foyer was exactly as she remembered. The room was small enough to be mistaken as a closet, if anyone who was not a member ever found their way in here. The walls were paneled wood, the floor the same carpet as the outer room. An empty book cart took up a third of the floor space. Turning to her right she examined the panels there. There were numbers etched into the wood, seemingly at random.

The Grand Master’s instructions had said she was to open box thirty-one. Pressing her finger against the number she felt a click. When she pulled her hand back a small tray popped out of the wall. Reaching in, she took out a key and a small piece of paper.

You’ll find garments in room C. Right hand corridor.

Wait until you hear the bell.

-Grand Master

The note was written by hand, and Carlene shivered a little. The Grand Master was the head of the Trinity Masters, and a man of unspeakable power and influence. No one knew who he was, though there were plenty of rumors. At the Trinity Masters annual gatherings, hidden inside library benefit galas, Carlene had done her share of gossiping about who he might be.

Now she wasn’t curious, she was afraid.

Note and key in hand she moved the cart out of the way and, with another push, opened the door hidden in the back wall. It revealed a narrow elevator. When she pressed the button, the door opened and Carlene stepped in. She took a moment to gather herself as the small, wood paneled elevator took her down to the sub-basement. When the elevator stopped and the door slid to the side, she bit the inside of her cheek to center herself.

A long marble hallway stretched out in front of her. Columns supported the double-high arched ceiling, which was a smaller replica of the grand hallway above. Her footsteps rang as she made her way along the hall, the sound bouncing off the walls to echo down to the grand double doors at the far end. There were no books here to muffle the sound. At the midway point there were openings in the walls, one to the right, another to the left. She’d been in the left hallway before. There were changing rooms there, elegant as the locker rooms in a fancy spa. For ceremonies all members wore robes to protect their identities, and those with the most need for secrecy had private dressing rooms.

As she turned right she wondered if that’s where she was going—to a private dressing room. Now that she had been called to the altar by the Grand Master, she supposed she’d earned a private dressing room.

After all, she was about to meet her husbands.

Or maybe it would be husband and wife.

Her hands shook, and it took her a few tries to get the key into the lock on room C. Once in she found a small but well-appointed room. A white robe waited on a hook. Normally they wore gray.

Setting her purse on the vanity she touched the robe. “It’s like a wedding dress,” she whispered.

It would be the only wedding dress she’d ever wear.

In exchange for the Trinity Masters’ help, she’d given up her future, specifically her choice of whom she would marry.

Throughout history the world had been secretly controlled by relationships that defied societal standards. Some of those relationships had come to light, the most famous of which had been Vice-Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, who’d been in a relationship with Lady Emma Hamilton and Sir William Hamilton. The gossip papers of the nineteenth century had called it an affair between Lady Emma and Lord Nelson, but it had been so much more. The three-way union between them had helped end the Napoleonic wars, and both Emma and William had mourned Lord Nelson after his death.

The Trinity Masters believed that when three people were united it created a bond far stronger than the pedestrian two-person marriage, and that these marriages, if made between those with power and intellect, had the capability of changing the world.

Carlene slid out of her clothes, leaving on the corset-bra, panties and garter set she’d bought especially for today.

She’d joined the Trinity Masters as a college junior, at age nineteen, when the idea of some crazy secret ménage marriage had seemed like a fun lark. In her twenties she’d enjoyed herself, knowing that there was no need for her to worry about falling in love or getting married. By the time she was twenty-eight and her friends were married, some expecting children, she finally understood what she’d really given up.

However, the consequences of crossing the Trinity Masters were too dire to contemplate, and so here she was, waiting to meet the people she’d share the rest of her life with.

She checked her hair and makeup in the mirror before raising the hood and tugging the chain out from under the robe so it lay on her chest in plain sight, the triangle glinting in the low light.

Taking a seat on a velvet chair, she breathed deeply, trying to calm herself.

A bell rang, the deep sound vibrating through her. She looked up as a door in the wall opposite where she sat opened.

Rising to her feet, Carlene took a breath and walked through.

Preston Kim stretched and then slowly sat up as the bell rang. He was in one of the Trinity Master’s private dressing rooms. It wasn’t the first time he’d merited the honor of one of the private rooms, but it was the most important.

Preston smiled and rose to his feet. He pulled the black hood over his head, hiding his dark hair and eyes.

It felt like Christmas morning. Anticipation hummed through him, and yet he didn’t want to rush. He wanted to savor it, wanted to remember every detail so that he’d one day be able to tell his children how dad had met Mom and Mom, or Mom and other Dad.

The same way his parents had told him.

Preston was a legacy to the Trinity Masters. His parents—Dad and both Moms—were members. His biological mother had married his father in a traditional ceremony several years after the three had been married by the Grand Master. He and his sister were raised by all three parents. He’d grown up knowing he was the child of something special, powerful, and secret. His Dad, Mother, and Imo—the name he and his sister used for their other mother, which was a bastardization for the Korean word for aunt—were now all immensely powerful in the world of education. They’d been joined together by the Trinity Masters at a time in their lives when it seemed they had nothing in common—an electrical engineer, a junior political aide and a mathematician. Many years and two children later, his father, the engineer, and Imo, the mathematician, owned an educational company that developed much of the technology and curriculum used at the country’s leading science magnet schools. His biological mother was a lobbyist, who worked to keep the money flowing to education no matter what happened to the national budget.

And now it was Preston’s turn to meet his partners.

The call from the Grand Master had been both welcomed and poorly timed. Though he’d been waiting for years to be called to the altar, his company was having financial trouble, with lower profits than projected in the last quarter. He’d walked away from a financial report—which was far from his favorite reading material—to fly to Boston. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to put work concerns away. Today was too important.

The door opened and he stepped through.

The room on the other side was small, intimate, not the massive gathering room with its stone altar. The floor and walls were marble. Three high-backed wing chairs sat in a semi-circle, facing a large metal medallion in the center of the floor. A rectangle of lighter colored stone led him to the chair farthest to the right. A soft sound made him look left, and he saw two other robed figures, one in black and one in white, emerging. Turning his attention to the center, he followed the path in the floor and took a seat in his chair. There was the rustle of fabric and the pad of feet as the other robed figures took their places. In the shadow of his hood, Preston grinned.

Light illuminated the bronze medallion with the Trinity Masters symbol and logo, as well as the chairs, but the corners of the room were cast in darkness. It couldn’t have been more than a minute before a patch of shadow detached from the wall and came forward to stand in the center of the medallion. He wore a black robe trimmed in gold. A heavy chain draped his shoulders.

The Grand Master.

Preston sucked in a breath. He’d been introduced to the Grand Master as a child, and seen him at the galas and initiation events, and yet he still scared Preston. He knew, from hearing his parents’ whispered conversations, that if crossed, the Grand Master was ruthless. It was said that he’d not only ruined members who disobeyed their laws and ignored their vows, but had them imprisoned, sometimes even killed.

“Welcome.” The Grand Master’s voice was deep, commanding. His hood moved from side to side as he looked at each of them. Preston thought he caught a glimpse of a nose or chin in the darkness off the hood, but he couldn’t be sure.

“Grand Master,” he murmured in greeting. He heard the others do the same.

If the robe colors hadn’t given them away, the voices would have. There was one man and one woman. He felt a small moment of disappointment. Secretly he’d hoped for two women—he’d always thought his father’s life seemed more than agreeable, but growing up as he had made him more open-minded than most. He would accept the other man into his life, and into his bed, if they were attracted to each other.

Preston had never been with another man, but there was a first time for everything.

“When you joined the Trinity Masters, you made a vow. You pledged your lives to our cause and our traditions. The time has come for you to meet your partners, your lovers, your spouses.”

The words rang, echoing off the walls. He thought he heard a small sound of distress from the woman, hidden in her virginal white robe.

“When I call your name, stand and remove your robe.”

Preston’s belly lurched. This was it.

Lance Glassco’s fingers tightened on the arms of the chair. The wood groaned as his knuckles turned white. He wanted to jump from his chair and pull down everyone’s hoods. He hated the secrecy, hated not knowing what was going on.

Hated not having control.

Joining the Trinity Masters had been a blessing. Without them stepping in at several key points in his career, he would probably be dead, another fallen Marine in some desert. As it was, he was a proud United States Marine Corps Reserve Officer, and mathematician for DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the research and development arm of the Unites States Armed Forces.

Personal relationships weren’t his strong suit. He needed rules and guidelines, and relationships—or more accurately women—didn’t come with either. Knowing that the Trinity Masters would someday step in and tell him who to marry had relieved him of the burden of worrying about it.

It wasn’t until he’d gotten the letter from the Grand Master that he realized exactly how much control he’d given up. He had no say in who he’d marry, and he didn’t even get to pick if they’d be men or women. Since receiving the letter, his frustration had grown to the point that he could now feel it boiling under his skin.

“When I call your name, stand and remove your robe.”

Lance froze, his shoulders cramping from the tension in his arms and back.

“Carlene Kenan.”

To his left the figure in the white robe rose from her chair. Her hands were slim with painted nails.

He was glad at least one of them was a woman.

She threw back her hood and Lance jerked in his seat. She was beautiful, with creamy pale skin and dark hair. Reaching back she did something so that her hair fell down around her shoulders in pretty waves. He wanted to bury his hands in her long tresses, to taste those pink lips. Her gaze met his, though he doubted she could see his face under the hood. Then her face moved from him to the other man, before looking at the Grand Master once more.

The Grand Master raised a hand, and Lance frowned when he noticed he wore gray gloves. The Grand Master motioned to her, the twitch of his fingers impatient.

The woman, what was her name? Carlene, that was it.

Carlene’s fingers moved down the front of her robe, undoing the small hook and eye catches that held it closed. As she did, the robe fell apart a bit, giving him teasing glimpses of flesh.

When the robe was open, she grasped the edges. There was an expression on her face that Lance couldn’t read.

He sat forward, anxious to see what she hid under the enveloping material. Her gaze focused on him. She raised her chin and dropped the robe.

Lance was sure he’d break the chair he gripped it so hard. She had long legs and full, lush breasts. She wore some lacy thing over her belly and breasts. A tiny pair of panties covered her sex, and garters held up dark stockings. Her face was beautiful in a way that made him think of the porcelain dolls his mother collected, but her body was lush and soft, made to be touched and stroked.

Lance sat back, his frustration gone, replaced by a need to have her.

He grinned.

And have her he would. She was his.

“Preston Kim.”

Lance had been so wrapped up in imagining what he’d do to Carlene that he’d forgotten this wasn’t just about the two of them. He looked to his right, where the other figure in black now stood. The hood fell back to reveal a tall man with a lean handsome face. He had dark hair and slanted eyes that probably meant he was at least part Asian.

Preston’s gaze focused on Lance, and Lance felt the challenge.

Black velvet dropped to the floor. The other man wore a pair of dark boxers. He was trim and muscled. Lance was sure he could take him in a fight, but it wouldn’t be easy. Preston reminded him of some jungle cat, maybe a black panther.

“Lance Glassco.”

Finally it was his turn to stand. Lance rose to his feet. Impatient he stripped off his robe, throwing it to the floor. He looked at Carlene, saw her brows go up as she caught sight of him. He’d kept up with his physical training while in the reserves. He wasn’t vain, but he knew that physically he was a good specimen. And his Mama always said he was handsome.

“You now belong to one another. Come forward.”

Barefoot, they approached the Grand Master, stopping when they too stood on the medallion. He grasped each of their right hands, bringing them into the center. Taking the chain from around his shoulders he bound their wrists with it. Lance saw Carlene shiver as the cold metal touched her.

Lance’s hand was on top of hers, and he squeezed her fingers. She looked at him, and Lance smiled. She tentatively returned the friendly gesture.

“Preston,” the Grand Master said.

The other man stepped forward, his hand, which lay atop Lance’s, tightened, and Lance tensed. Reaching out with his free hand, Preston cupped Carlene’s face. Her eyes widened as Preston pulled her head to his.

He kissed her long and deep, their cheeks only inches from Lance’s face. Desire warred with jealousy. Lance wanted to be the one kissing her, and yet he liked seeing Preston touch her. That didn’t make any sense.

Lance hated things he couldn’t make sense of.

The instant Preston pulled back, Lance jerked Carlene to him. Burying his hand in her hair he nipped her lower lip, demanding she let him in. When she took a breath he pressed his tongue into her mouth, tasting her sweet flavor.

Preston touched his bare back, hand sliding over skin and muscle. Startled, Lance ended the kiss when Preston reached for him.

Lance knocked his hand away. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Dark eyes examined him. “The same thing we just did with Carlene.”

They stared at each other, right arms held awkwardly, hands still bound together by the chain.

“Don’t touch me,” Lance snarled. It wasn’t that he had a problem with men touching each other, but if anyone were going to do the touching, he would initiate. Not Preston.

Preston raised one brow. “You must have known there was a chance you’d be placed with another man.”

“I did, and that changes nothing. We have a woman.”

“Oh, you must be fucking kidding.”

They both jerked, then looked at Carlene. Her lip was curled. Lance wasn’t good at reading people, but he was pretty sure the look on her face was one of disgust.

“You have a woman? I really hope you don’t mean me.”

Lance frowned. “You are our woman.”

“I’m not your fuck toy, or some baton you’re going to pass back and forth.” She jerked her wrist free of the chain and took a step back, rubbing the marks it had left.

“Carlene.” The Grand Master’s voice was menacing and dark, dripping with warning.

She stopped in her tracks.

“You are incorrect. You are theirs…and they are yours.”

The Grand Master reached out and undid the chain from their wrists. Preston and Lance both stepped away.

“Your relationship is yours. You will choose how to live your lives, but there are rules. No one must know about the trinity and you may never stray outside your marriage.”

The Grand Master focused on Lance. “You have one month. At that time you will return here and be formally bound in the marriage of the Trinity Masters.”

The words echoed in the suddenly hushed space.

“Now, go.”

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Aussie Author Showcase Day 6 – Donna Hanson

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Hi, my name is Donna Maree Hanson and I’ve been at this writing gig for about 12 years now. After all this time I can say I’m not longer a raw recruit. Rayessa and the Space Pirates was something I tried to write back in 2003 as a short story for a local anthology called Elsewhere. Things were going swimmingly with the story until the pirates turned up and as it was already about 8,000 words (the longest short story I’d written at the time),so  I ran with it and ended up with a novel of just on 30,000 words. Rayessa didn’t get out much, in the story and as a story because she laid around in my harddrive for many a year, until recently.

I heard about Harlequin Escapes new digital imprint so I thought I’d submit Rayessa. I hadn’t thought of it as a romance, but more an adventure story. I did think it was young adult though. However, after going to the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in August (Great conference!), I realised that Rayessa was a romance, as well as a number of other manuscripts I had written. Of course, I could have kicked myself for being so dense. I wasted a lot of time submitting to places that probably weren’t interested because of the romance.

I had in the last couple of years had paranormal romance short stories published, but Rayessa is the biggest work yet to be published. Rayessa and the Space Pirates is a young adult space opera. I am working on more stories with Rayessa and space pirates so we will see if she gets to go on more adventures.

 

Here is the snazzy cover. 

Rayessa and the Space Pirates_cvr

Here is the  blurb

Sixteen year old Rae Stroder lives in a hollow asteroid, a defunct refuelling station, with a brain-damaged adult, Gris, for company. Low on supplies, they’ve been eking out an existence for years. Everything changes when Alwin Anton, ultra-clean, smart and handsome AllEarth Corp company auditor, arrives to find disarray. Full of suspicion, he interrogates Rae, threatening her with prosecution for theft. He uncovers the fact that she is not Rae Stroder at all, when space pirates attack.

During the attack, Rae is taken prisoner and Alwin Anton escapes in his space ship. The pirate women prepare Rae for sale on the infamous Centauri slave markets. All seems to be going badly, when she is purchased by a mysterious Ridallian. Meanwhile, the space pirates are out to kill Alwin Anton because he holds the secret to Rae’s true identity. It’s a race against time to unravel the intrigue that is Rae’s past to secure her future.

Here is an extract from chapter two.

The crackling of the communication console woke me up. Still dazed from sleep, I didn’t quite recognise the sound. An indistinct voice sounded over the interference. I shook my head, dislodging my confusion and disbelief. I hadn’t heard external comms for quite a while. The voice grew louder and more distinct.

‘Outpost 311…in…read me. Outpost…’

I scrambled up and threw the seat cushion back on the chair. While rubbing sleep from my eyes, I straightened my chest plating and eased the back of my metal skirt away from my chaff marks. I should’ve undone the ties before I slept, but I had been too lazy and too tired to even think about it.

‘Outpost 311…please respond…’

I jumped. ‘Huh?’ Startled into action, I plopped into the command chair and spun around to activate the automated response and telemetry readouts.

‘This is outpost 311 receiving,’ I said in my best vidmovie tone. I’m sure Dad would’ve been proud of me.

‘Captain Stroder?’ came the surprised, posh-sounding voice.

I had to think quickly. It wasn’t a good idea to give things away too easily (especially when you didn’t know who it was). ‘Um, I’m the only Stroder here. Who are you and what do you want?’

I called up the telemetry and stared at it for a while. I traced the blip with my finger and tried to make sense of the readouts. From what I could tell the small cruise ship was still a way out but it was heading directly for the outpost. Turning the communication console off for a moment, I keyed the commlink.

‘Gris,’ I hissed urgently. ‘Gris.’ No answer. ‘Wake up, Gris. This is an emergency. We have a ship coming in. Wait.’ My eyes danced over the readouts looking for the ship’s ID. ‘Here’s the signature. It’s from AllEarth Corp. Who in hell is that I wonder?’

I reactivated the communications console. The impatient male voice was berating the outpost. ‘…are you reading me? This is Alwin Anton, representative of AllEarth Corp. Please activate landing beacon and ready the landing bay. I repeat…’

‘Shit, shit, shit,’ I began to fidget then pounced on the landing protocol checklist from where it hung on the wall. ‘Gris. What do I do? They’re looking for Dad. It’s official, not some scummy pirate. Gris?’

A crackle of static and I could hear him. ‘Ummph,’ groaned Gris into his commlink. The sound of him waking up flooded through the centre. He must have bedded down in one of the service conduits, probably on the other side of the air filters where it was warm. ‘Gris here. What…is…it Rae?’

‘Gris, thank god,’ I said, grateful to hear his mumbling. I scanned the checklist. ‘Ah, power up landing bay Alpha, quickly. We have official visitors. Then get up here and help me find the protocol sheets for official visitors—or was it for emergencies?—that Dad stashed away’

‘Visitors?’ he said, slowly enunciating the word. I could picture him, standing slack faced, mouth agape as he said it.

‘Yes, god dammit. Real visitors. Maybe they’ll have real food.’ I snapped off the commlink. I hoped that Gris understood what I was saying and would go and ready the landing bay.

I leant over the console and tried to get my bearings. Lights were flashing all over the place and displays were projecting three-dimensional images of the ship approaching in front of my face. I was shaking so hard I nearly tipped out of my chair. I had to get a grip. Clearing my throat, I opened a channel to the incoming ship.

‘Welcome to outpost 311, Mr, er, Anton. Landing bay Alpha is at your disposal. The Lollydrop will find all services available,’ I said in the same vidmovie accent I’d used before, though with a bit more polish. I flicked off the switch and mumbled to myself. ‘Except fuel, supplies, amenities and every other goddamn thing it’ll want.’

Gris entered while I was rummaging through Dad’s records. He’d been an old-fashioned man, keeping paper books as well as storage wafers.

‘Pirate,’ Gris grunted. I knocked my head on the cupboard I was leaning into and groaned.

‘Ow,’ I said as I rubbed my wounded noggin. I pulled myself out and bounded to my feet. ‘Really, Gris, you think he’s a pirate? His ship signature is genuine, matches the auto update we had two years ago. Look,’ I added with a smile. ‘I’ve never heard of a pirate that would call himself ‘Alwin Anton’ have you?’

 

The link at www.escapepublishing.com.au will lead you to your favourite digital book store. My website is http://donnamareehanson.wordpress.com and Rayessa has her own blog at http://rayessaandthespacepirates.wordpress.com/ Check out her emergency checklist!

 

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The Diva’s want me to answer some questions from their special diva couch. Here goes.

Question

  1. Imagine you had a time machine—oh let’s just call it a Tardis. What time period would you travel to and why?

That’s easy. The Regency Period in England. Of course, I’d be fully immunised, have lots of money, and an excellent wardrobe. Why to meet my Mr Darcy, of course.

  1. Favourite comic book superhero?

That would be Thor. And oh yeah, Chris Helmsworth has nothing to do with it. It was the mighty hammer that got me. (Okay Chris Helmsworth solidified his position as my fave.) I always thought it was cool that he had these chats to Odin.

  1. If you could kiss any fictional hero from history, who would it be?

Is this a trick question? Because fictional means not real right? But from history means they existed for real. I’d say Mr Darcy. He had to be real. He really did. Move over Lizzie. He’s mine!

Last one:

  1. What super power would you like to have and why?

I think staying young but being able to build on my experience. I guess that’s what you call immortality. Oh well if the shoe fits. I probably need a psychiatrist now.

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