Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday's Safe Word Shelf: Half a Man by Scarlet Blackwell


Summary:
In a world torn apart by war, solace is hard to find… 

It is 1919, less than a year after the end of the First World War and a recovering Britain is in the grip of the influenza pandemic. Times are hard. Victory came at a price for everyone left behind.

Crippled veteran of the Battle of the Somme, Robert Blake, is looking for someone to ease his nightmares of France. He carries never ending guilt over the fate of his commanding officer in the trenches. He turns to educated rent boy Jack Anderson for physical solace.

Jack didn’t go to war but faces struggles in his own way, selling his body to earn enough money to survive. The two are drawn inexorably together from the start, not expecting how deeply they will soon become immersed in each other’s lives.

Publisher's Note: This book was previously released by another publisher. It has been revised and re-edited for release with Totally Bound Publishing.


Followers of my reviews now that I absolutely love historical tales so when I saw this was a post-WW1 story, I just hoovered it up as it's one of my favorite time periods.  Having one of the main characters wheelchair bound drew me in too, my grandfather was in a wheelchair by the time I was born, he wasn't paralyzed but he couldn't walk(he had MS) so when I see a character like Robert, my interest is piqued even further.  Throw in Jack, a book shop clerk/rent boy, doing what he has to to survive, and you have a recipe that screams "TRY ME!"  So I tried it and loved it.  Half a Man may be a bit shorter than I would have liked because there were areas that could have been expanded on to make it an ever greater tale, but those missed scenes did not detract me from not being able to put it down.  I've never read Scarlet Blackwell before but it most certainly won't be the last time, I look forward to checking out her backlist.  A truly inspiring story that proves you're never too broken to experience life to the fullest.
RATING: 


February, 1919
Jack Anderson watched from the window, agog, as the car swept up the tree-lined driveway to the country manor. The house perched atop the grounds, as though overseeing its environs, leaded windows flashing in the wan winter light. Despite the tidiness of the gardens, the driver’s expensive livery and the ostentatious car, something about the house suggested neglect, dereliction. He was shown into the grand house by the butler and waited patiently at the foot of the sweeping staircase while the man took his hat, gloves, scarf and coat. Jack looked at the paintings on the walls, the marble floor, the glittering chandelier, and the vast corridor stretching out before him. All was silent, the atmosphere closed and still. He coughed nervously. Really, most of his business was dealing with rich men, but he wasn’t sure he had ever been to a house quite like this before.

“This way, sir.” The butler led him down the hall.

Jack followed, wiping damp palms on his jacket, telling himself this was no different from any other engagement.

The butler opened the door to a large living room. “Mr Jack Anderson, sir,” he announced loudly, as though his employer was deaf.

“Thank you, Clarke,” came a soft voice.

The butler stepped aside and looked pointedly at Jack. Jack hurried inside, crossing the hardwood floor swiftly. The door closed behind him and Jack stood looking at a man in a wheelchair.

Sitting down, it was difficult to tell, but he appeared tall, his body lean in a smart dark suit with white shirt. His black hair was brushed back neatly from his pale face with brilliantine and his eyes were an unusual mix of grey-green. He was handsome, but he looked sickly, like he hadn’t been out of the house or seen sunlight in years. His gaze carried a certain look of wariness and undisguised sadness.

He perused Jack with an enquiring gaze, eyes roaming over his body and back up to his face. Jack tried to stand tall, like a soldier awaiting inspection.

Finally, he coughed to break the silence. “Jack Anderson, sir,” he said. He moved forward and held out his hand.

“Forgive my manners,” the man said, shaking it briskly. “I’m Robert Blake. Do sit down.”

Jack stepped back to a chaise longue behind him. He glanced around the room. Expensive furniture was lit by the light from the huge windows and rugs scattered the highly polished floor. In a corner was a floor-to-ceiling bookcase, a large oak desk before it. To the far side, a fire blazed in the hearth, warming the chilly room.

“So, Mr Anderson…”

“Jack, please,” Jack said.

“Very well, and please call me Robert.”

Jack inclined his head in acknowledgement.

“My secretary saw you?”

“Yes.”

“He explained what I was looking for?”

“A companion,” Jack said politely.

“Just so. And he explained my”—Robert gestured vaguely to his own body and the chair—“circumstances.”

“Of course.” Robert was a war veteran, now confined to a wheelchair. His secretary had not expanded beyond this and Jack had thought it imprudent to ask.

“Very well. I’ll pay you for your time today, and should I wish to take further advantage of your services, it would be for an hour a week, if that’s agreeable to you.”

“Yes.” Jack was rather unsure about what providing services to a man in a wheelchair consisted of, but he suspected it might be the easiest money he had made in some time. He wasn’t hugely successful. He still worked two days a week in a bookshop in London to supplement his income, but this might be just the job for him, even if the nature of his employer’s circumstances unsettled him somewhat.

“Well then,” Robert said. “Tea?” He pushed his wheelchair closer to the occasional table and lifted the teapot.

“Thank you.”

“Milk and sugar?”

“Just milk.” Jack got up to take the fine china cup and saucer with a polite ‘thank you’.

“And a biscuit or a cake? My cook is legendary in these parts.”

Jack took a delicate little currant bun, placed it on a side plate and withdrew to his chaise longue. Robert poured himself some tea. He sipped, watching Jack over the rim of his cup.

Jack took a bite of his bun. Certainly he had yet to go anywhere where his employer seemed less inclined to get down to the business in hand than here. It struck him then that maybe this was actually a job interview—that nothing but a formal chat would take place. He would have to be careful. He didn’t want to make a fool of himself by suggesting anything when Robert had brought him here merely to drink tea and eat cakes.

Author Bio:
Scarlet writes erotic romance.

Scarlet would rather stick pins in her eyes than go on Facebook but now sees the necessary evil of it. Please join her there for useless writing-related ramblings and hot men musings and ease her in gently. Bah.

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Falcon by Victoria Danann

Title: Falcon
Author: Victoria Danann
Series: Knights of Black Swan, Next Generation #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: October 28, 2016
Summary:
The knights are losing the war with the mutated virus. Humanity's extinction is a possibility.
Black Swan needs a miracle.

Who would guess that it might come in the form of a womanizing vampire?

"Reminiscent of My Familiar Stranger."

The next generation of the Knights of Black Swan have been inducted and vested with all the privileges and responsibilities of the B Team legends in whose shadows they took their training. K Team is coming into their prime as servants of The Order, with most of their lives ahead. Or so each one hopes.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Victoria Danann, brings us a sizzling new take on the Knights of Black Swan. The boys are all grown up and bursting at the seams looking for action.

Black Swan believed they'd found the cure for the vampire virus, but it mutated and the resurgence threatened to be the extinction of humanity within a generation. Help comes from a most unexpected source, a vampire.

Meanwhile, the new Director of Operations is cute, curvilicious and has Falcon reeling. And he doesn't need distractions when he's busy saving the world.

"Grabs hold and won't let go." - The Paranormal Romantic

The epic saga that has won BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES the past three years in a row (Reviewers Choice Awards, the Paranormal Romance Guild) continues with a new crop of vampire hunters that we already know and love.

Grab your copy TODAY and find out why KBS is called astonishing, breathtaking, nail biting, spectacular, unique, and a wild and sexy ride.


Ram’s swagger looked a little wilted as he found Storm and Kay having a quiet drink and flopped into one of the bar’s cushy lounge chairs next to them.

“You in shock?” Kay said. “Do we need to order whiskey and a blanket?”

“Aye. Shock. Those women…”

Storm smirked. “How many?”

“All of them. They’re all in the space that used to be my temporary home. Elora. Litha. Rosie. They’re actin’ like ‘tis the event of the century. Dressin’ my sister up like she’s auditionin’ to dance at the Moulin Rouge.”

“They having fun?”

“Aye. That’s what’s so scary about it all. And the noise level…”

“Mr. Heavy Metal is complaining about noise?” Kay asked.

“Well, I would no’ want to say they’re screechin’ exactly. But when they get excited, their voices get high pitched and they do this thing where they… I can no’ even explain it.”

“Squeee?” Kay asked.

Ram’s eyes got big. “Aye. ‘Tis exactly that. Squeee. Sounds more like a banshee than anythin’ else.”

“Did you leave your children with them?” Kay asked.

Ram screwed up his face. “They’re with Nanny, but you are guiltin’ me for leavin’ them in the apartment. Great Paddy. They may develop psychosis. I should get them out of there while they’re still sane.”

“What makes you think your children are sane?” Storm teased.

“Ho now. You can chide me all ye wish, but do no’ be disparagin’ the fruit of my loins.”

The waiter arrived at the arm of Ram’s chair. “Triple whiskey,” he said. The waiter raised an eyebrow. “’Tis no’ your place to judge. ‘Tis my night off and I’ve been forced to flee my humble home.”

Ram didn’t wait for an answer before turning back to his teammates.

“So what’s this all about anyway?”

“No’ sure I’m at liberty to say.”

His teammates held a silent conversation with each other. Kay cleared his throat. “In that case, it would be wrong for us to press. So we won’t ask.”

Ram gaped at Kay. “Seriously? You’re no’ puttin’ up more of a fight than that?”

“Well, if you’re not at liberty to say…”

“On second thought, I’m sure Glen would want me to advise my trusted friends and teammates.”

“Only if you’re sure…” Kay said.

Ram proceeded to tell the story, which was fairly accurate for being third hand at that point. “So I’m gettin’ Rev to go out with you tonight. If it turns out this Jazz Man is what he says he is, I’m no’ takin’ any chances with my sister. That prancin’ poofer she’s married to would be sendin’ an army to join my da’s own army and all of them would be after my head. I’m very fond of these beautiful blonde locks, as you both know.” Storm and Kay both nodded thoughtfully. “So I’ll be playin’ bodyguard to her highness tonight.”

“You know we’ll be patrolling the neighborhood around midnight. We could maybe swing by Dublin Down. Just say hi. Make sure everything’s going okay.”

Ram grinned. “You fuckers are dyin’ to get a look at him.”

Kay shrugged.

Storm wanted to appear nonchalant, but couldn’t help sneaking a glance at Ram when he said, “I’ll bet Elora would like to sashay by there tonight. We know she has a thing for talking vampire.”

Ram caught the mischievous gleam in Storm’s eye and knew Storm was teasing, but it was also a dig that didn’t go down easy. After three children and years of married life, the way Baka and Elora had interacted, back in the day, still bothered Ram. And Storm knew it.

Rammel carefully set his whiskey tumbler down on the table beside him before launching himself out of his chair so fast it looked like he’d been sitting on an eject mechanism. He flew across the space that separated them and attempted to get Storm in a headlock.

“What are you doing?!?” Storm wheezed, turning red and trying to get his breath while Ram’s forearm squeezed his windpipe. “It was a joke!”

Ram didn’t respond to that protest because he didn’t care if it was a joke. He jerked Storm out of the chair by his neck, which was a testament to Ram’s strength because Storm was still a big well-muscled guy. As soon as they fell to the floor together, Ram hauled back and launched a fist that caught Storm in the side. Storm reacted by rolling over so that he could get enough room to clip Ram on the side of the face. Kay, of course, was yelling and doing his best to break it up, but in the process took punishing hits from both of them.

Several of the other knights came to assist Kay and fifteen minutes later, the three veteran members of B Team were standing in the Sovereign’s office, being called on the carpet like they were kids.

“The. Hel.” said Glen, clearly furious. “Every trainee in Jefferson Unit has already heard that B Team were brawling in our own club lounge, rolling around on the floor like… like…”

“Brawlers?” Kay suggested.

“Famous legendary elite vampire hunters indeed.” The sarcasm was dripping from every word Glen uttered. “A fine example you set for the next generation tonight.”

“He started it,” Storm mumbled.

“You did not say what I think you just said.” Glen looked incredulous. “Is this some kind of midlife crisis?”

That hit a mark. All three men looked horrified. “We’re no’ yet even thirty-five,” Ram protested.

“You’re acting like you’re not yet five.”

Ram glared at Storm. “There are just some things you do no’ say about an elf’s mate.”

Glen pulled back and studied Ram for a minute. “I don’t believe there is any power in heaven or hel that could make me believe Engel Storm insulted Elora Laiken.”

“Well,” Ram hedged, “he did no’ insult her per se.”

“Per se,” Glen repeated.

“Aye. Per se.”

Glen threw up his hands. “You know, I don’t really care what happened. If you were Z Team, I’d just roll my eyes and say, ‘What else is new?’ The three of you are going to be guest speakers at one ethics and decorum class per grade during this term.”

“Oh, for…” Kay started.

“Not. Another. Word.” Glen walked over and opened the door to his office. “Get out. And shame on you.”

Standing in the outer offices, Kay looked at the door that had been shut in his face and said, “I didn’t do anything! In fact I tried to stop it.”

Ram and Storm started walking down the hall toward the elevator. Storm turned to Ram and said, “Look what you did now.”

“You want me to? Pull your shirt up so I can see.”

“There’s nothing to see. You on the other hand are going to need some ice soon if you don’t want that eye to swell shut.”

Ram reached up and touched it. “You got me good.” He smiled.

Storm’s face split into a proud smile. “You’re gonna be wearing my mark for a while. Elora’s gonna chew your royal rear end when she hears about this.”

By that time Kay had caught up. From behind them he said, “Maybe you two are having a midlife crisis.”



Jax #2
Summary:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Victoria Danann, continues the breathtaking new take on Knights of Black Swan with a sizzling follow up to Falcon. The Next Generation of Black Swan knights continues the struggle to rid the world of "deadheads", virus infected vampires who are barely more cognizant than zombies. Jax, one of the vampires turned by the immortals, joined the fight and became Falcon's partner. For six hundred years Jax has seduced women, drunk their blood, and left them feeling blissfully satisfied, but without memory of the event. It was a good and manageable life as a vampire. Certainly it worked for him. Until now. The deliciously wild redhead remembers. And she's pissed.




Author Bio:
New York Times bestselling author of thirteen romances. Victoria's Knights of Black Swan series won BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE SERIES for the past THREE YEARS IN A ROW. Reviewers Choice Awards, The Paranormal Romance Guild.

Her paranormal romances come with uniquely fresh perspectives on "imaginary" creatures, characters, and themes. She adds a dash of scifi, a flourish of fantasy, enough humor to make you laugh out loud, and, occasionally, enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. Her heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, werewolves, hybrids, psychics, or past life therapists. Her heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners... usually.

The rich characterizations come from being a lifelong student of behavior, casually, and a serious student of behavior academically. She also studied comparative religion, myths, and Dark Ages history.

Victoria lives in The Woodlands, Texas with her husband and a very smart, mostly black German Shepherd dog.


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EMAIL: vdanann@gmail.com



Falcon #1

Jax #2






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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Saturday's Series Spotlight: The Order of the Crimson Lotus by Suzanne Quill


Series: The Order of the Crimson Lotus
Author: Suzanne Quill
Genre: Historical Romance

The Ravished Rose
Summary:
Attractive, capable, intelligent, Elizabeth Mannings returns to London after two years on the Continent, looking forward to experiencing her first Season and finding a man to love and marry. Instead, she is brutally attacked, forcing her to flee London and abandon her hopes for the future.

Allan Ridgefield, Earl of Ridgecrest, no longer has a need for love, having had his heart crushed two days before his wedding when his childhood sweetheart fell from her horse and died. Ten years later, he desperately seeks a marriage of convenience in order to meet the terms of his father’s will and retain his estates and title.















The Improper Seduction
Summary:
Geoffrey Chisholm doesn’t want to be the head of a family, no less a marquess. But, his life radically alters when a cousin dies. At five and thirty, he must manage estates, marry, and provide an heir. A difficult chore considering how jaded he has become with affairs in the ton. He refuses to leg-shackle himself to just any woman; she must be one for whom he has some feelings.

Most women live to marry or must do so for family or finances. Angeline Hartley, her father’s estates unentailed, has no requirement to wed. Two years past her thirtieth year, she is on the shelf, her life contentedly complete. After the Marriage Mart and encounters with local gentlemen, she has vowed to remain unattached. After all, men do it when they have no need of a wife.

But Geoffrey meets Angeline and entices her to sample the intimacies of lovemaking. The coupling is explosive and now two strong-willed individuals must decide if they will give up personal stubbornness to make a bond for a lifetime.






Only You
Summary:
Denied the right to marry his beloved Jessica due to his depleted estate, Jonathan Stratton, the Earl of Sheffield, travels the world in search of his fortune. Not only does he gain wealth, he learns the ancient Tantric sexual teachings of the Order of the Crimson Lotus. Returning after a five-year voyage, which was only supposed to take three, he finds Jessica more beautiful and desirous than when he left and married another.

Heiress Jessica Esterly, Lady Wickham, is beside herself. Not only was she forced to marry a man she did not love, she discovers him to be a debauched, avaricious rake of the first water. To make matters worse, she's having nefarious nightmares and hauntings that are threatening to drive her mad.

Then Jonathan returns, handsome, wealthy, and ready to love her and share the ancient Tantric mysteries of the Order of the Crimson Lotus.

How is she to tell Jonathan of her impending madness? How is she to tell him her husband will kill her rather than give up any of the funds her inheritance provides?





If Love Were Enough
Summary:
Priscilla Brunell, Marchioness of Rutherford, is in desperate need of a son and heir. Her seventy-year-old husband of ten years has died leaving her a virgin and the protectress of his estates. If she can’t produce a son in the next nine months, the current heir, Damon, will succeed in ruining the family fortunes in a matter of a few years due to his gaming and womanizing. Dare she ignore her morals and pass another man’s child off as her husband’s? Can she do so without losing her heart?

Soon to be the Viscount Brookfield, Brandon Bradley arrives at a house party at the insistence of his dying father. In all rights, he should be home marrying Estella and begetting his heir. Estella is certainly pleasant and attractive, but in all their years of friendship he has never felt anything but a cold distance from her. Then he meets Lady Rutherford. Not only can she help him through his grief, he is immediately attracted to her. Can he let down his father and Estella merely for his own benefit? Can he break the pattern of society and marry for love?


The Ravished Rose
“I know this is very awkward for you. It is for me, too. I, at least, had a momentary glimpse of you back in London. I knew you were attractive and from what I have heard, you have at least a degree of intelligence.”

A degree of intelligence, she thought to herself with disdain, his condescension raising her ire. Indeed! I’ve had the best education. I’ve read the classics, speak French and Italian fluently, and acceptable Spanish and Russian. I’ve even had some Latin. My logic is impeccable when I choose to use it. A degree of intelligence, indeed! She rallied to control her feelings before she erupted in his face.

Allan continued, “To you, however, I am an unknown quantity. You must be very intimidated by me, your new surroundings, and everything that has happened.”

Everything that had happened? Had her father told him the details? Did he know what she had actually been through?

“I hope this marriage of convenience will turn into a friendship, at least, over time. I will not force you to do anything you do not wish to do. Elizabeth, I will never force my attentions upon you. If at some point we both choose to, we may have greater intimacy, but for now I don’t think that is appropriate.”

Elizabeth stood as still as the post she clung to. Had she heard right? He would not bed her tonight? She did not have to tolerate his hands on her body, the intimacies she did not want?

“Elizabeth, did you hear me?”

She let out a quiet gasp of relief. “Yes, my lord.”

He started to go, then stopped and turned back to her. With great care, he laid his hands on the sides of her face, tilting it up.

Elizabeth stiffened once again.

“Look at me,” he said firmly but gently.

Her body trembled, her eyelashes fluttered as she reached for all of the strength she could to gaze up, to face the man she had married, her husband. When their eyes met, she was sure he could see the fear, distrust, the sense of danger that must reflect in her eyes.

She could see . . . What? His eyes were clear and blue. They held strength and coldness, but something more. She could see gentleness, like his voice. He could take her if he wished. He certainly had the size and strength to do it. But that did not show in his eyes, nor his touch. Both were gentle now. Tender to her.

His voice broke into her thoughts. “Elizabeth . . . may I kiss you good night?”

What should she say? What should she do? He was her husband. He had promised not to force his attentions. His hands strong and warm against her face, his eyes delved deeply into hers. “Yes, my lord,” she heard herself say, not knowing from where the answer came.

He bent over her to gently brush his lips on hers. Then he pressed his mouth to hers, firmly, tenderly.
Shivers coursed through her body, not missing a spot. His energy poured through her. The heat in her heart rose.

The Improper Seduction
“Lady Angeline,” Geoffrey began, “I will be off shortly.” He would for sure if he didn’t get his rampant sex away from her immediately. “I thought it best to come to say goodbye. And, before I take my leave, I thought I should tell you your father has given me leave to court you.”

Angeline turned upon her heel, her eyes blazing, the seafoam depths now a raging sea, wrath plain upon her angelic face. “I think not, my lord. I have no desire for your attentions,” she said with scorn. “You shall only be wasting my time and yours in such a fruitless endeavor. Leave me be. I do not wish to be the center of your marital goals. Surely there is some other woman who would be easier met to satisfy your needs.”

“There is no one else I wish to assuage my needs, my lady,” Geoffrey assured her as his rod twitched within his trousers. “And to attain your interests ours will not be a proper English courting.”

Throwing caution to the wind and taking the bold path, Geoffrey lowered his voiced and asked, “Tell me, my lady, have you ever felt the pleasures of a man? Have you ever swelled under the feelings of desire?”

The heat and color rose to Angeline’s face so quickly Geoffrey could not help but see it.

“That is none of your affair, sir. What I have or have not felt is no one’s business but my own. Your questions are most improper.”

Geoffrey moved a few steps closer, putting him less than a foot from her. He could easily reach out now to stroke her hair, her breasts, to raise her skirts from over her sensual derrière. “I thought not, based upon our little encounter this morning. My dear Angeline. . .”

“I gave you no leave to call me by my Christian name,” she spat out at him. “Please desist from these efforts and leave me be.”

Eyes still glaring, she refused to give him the satisfaction of backing off. She remained rooted in place before him, her cheeks an explosion of red color.

“Lady Angeline,” he went on, ignoring her reprimand, “let me be blunt. Do you truly wish to die a virgin? Do you have no thought to leave this plane having some knowledge of the secrets held between a man and a woman?” he quietly demanded. Only inches from her face, her lips, pink and full, enticed him to take them with his own.

*****

Angeline was startled and appalled by his inquiry. “That is no business or concern to you, my lord.” But the heat was pooling in her abdomen.

What was it like to feel such things with a man?

“Ah, but it is, my lady, because I choose to be the one to teach you the pleasures between the sexes. You may never marry, me nor anyone else, but you shall not go to your grave pristine and untutored. You shall know the very meaning of passion and desire.”

His eyes were heavy-lidded and held a glint of knowledge she knew she wished to share. But she would not. Especially not with this. . .this. . .rake.

Only You
“No, no, that’s not all of it!” She jerked away from him. “There’s more, you see. You’ll not want me after you know but I must tell you. I am . . . I’m losing my mind. I’m going quite mad. I know I am. The sounds, the visions . . .” Jessica collapsed against his shoulder and sobbed once again.

“Mad, Jessica? What are you talking about? There’s no one in your family who has ever gone mad, no such tendency. Whatever would make you think you’re going mad?” Jonathan nudged her gently away so he could scan her tear-stained face. Tears were still coursing down her cheeks.

“Truly, Jonathan, I’m not making this up. I wake in the middle of the night for no reason at all. Then I hear sounds, awful sounds.” Jessica’s voice cracked with anguish.

“Tell me about the sounds, my heart, I’m listening.” He cleared his mind of all other thoughts as he held her gently to his chest, his only concern now her current state of safety and well-being.

“Moans and groans and chains. They start softly at first. I can barely hear them when they start. They sound so far away.” Jessica’s eyes glazed as she seemed to go into a trance. Then she came back to herself abruptly. “They get louder and closer. Soon they’re right inside my room. And then it comes. I know not what it is.”

“You see something, my heart? Something appears to you?” he inquired with care.

“Yes, yes. It’s white, I think, and not quite there. It seems to float. It groans and moans. Sometimes I think it calls my name. Sometimes it reaches out to me.” Her voice was still strained, her face downcast.

“Who have you told about this? Who else has seen or heard the vision?”

“No one else that I know of. I told Martin. He told me I was dreaming, having a nightmare. He says they can recur when a conscience is not clear. That there has never been a ghost in the house before. He suggested I might grasp a little tighter on to reality,” she said forlornly.

“I see,” Jonathan said, his mind reviewing all she had said. “It’s all right, my heart, maybe it was a bad dream. Maybe it’s not. Promise me you’ll let me know the next time it happens.”

“I never know when it will happen, Jonathan. It just does.”

“I know, Jessica, but I’m here now, you don’t have to go through this, or anything else, alone. Promise me. Promise that you’ll come to me or send a message the next time it occurs. Maybe I’ll see it, too, or maybe I’ll be able to figure out what it is.”

“Yes, Jonathan, I’ll let you know. It would be a relief to share my nightmare with someone. It would be even better if I could make it go away. I promise, I’ll let you know.” She dropped her head against his shoulder. She was so tired, tired of being scared, tired of crying, tired of being alone and lonely.

If Love Were Enough
Priscilla thought of her last moments with Robert, how he held her hand so weakly, his hand frail and dry clasping hers. He had looked into her eyes, but the twinkle had dulled in his. Still, his earnestness, his caring, had been apparent.

He counseled her to find another and to marry once again. But he begged her not to be dictated to by Society. She would have money from his estate. She should look for a man to love her not her fortune. Look for someone who could gratify her in all the ways his old, arthritic and impotent body failed to do. She should find someone who would teach her the full meaning of marriage and the conjugal relations that could be shared within its bounds. She should seek gratification that could be given by another.

Tears ran down her cheeks again, and she dabbed at them as she tried to regain her composure. She turned her face away again using the brim of her bonnet to hide the image of her grief.

She was afraid and intimidated by such thoughts. Of course, she knew what should happen in bed between a man and a woman. But that never happened with Robert because of his maladies. After waiting so long, she feared she would not be able to release herself to someone else’s care and tenderness, no less return the same intimacy with him.

Robert asked too much of her, considering he could never demonstrate what she should expect to give or have returned.

But she had smiled and reassured him amidst her tears. She agreed she would try. If it never occurred, it would not be her fault, nor would it be a promise broken since it was predicated on deep feelings that would never exist.

But she would have a man bed her in hopes of an heir. And, if she could manage it and get over this incessant crying, she would like to make it this handsome stranger who had some of Robert’s younger features and seemed so much kinder than she could have ever hoped.

Her companion shifted next to her. A shiver ascended her spine once again. She was sitting too close if she could sense him so easily.

And she could breathe the scent of him.

This man did not smell of ointments and age. He smelled of sandalwood, leather, and something indefinably male. She knew too little of the world in general and men in particular to be comfortable in his company.

But he did quirk her interest. And he could solve her problem. He could unknowingly gift her with a son.

Knowing what an old man felt like beneath her hands, what would this Corinthian, with his muscles and strength, feel like when her fingertips slid over his skin?

She felt heat pool in her belly as her thoughts meandered to the intimacies she could share with him.

And he, being a rake of the first water, would know what to do with a lady, to her, to deliver on the promises whispered between them before the mating.

Author Bio:
Suzanne Quill, the nom-de-plume for Susan Dudics Dean, has been pursuing a fiction career for over fifteen years. With prior experience writing articles for interior design trade magazines and local newspapers she decided to find a more creative outlet for her vivid imagination. Inspired by romances from such icons as Amanda Quick, Diana Gabaldon and Mary Balogh, she chose historicals as her first genre. She is currently writing a sensuous series called The Order of the Crimson Lotus. The series includes: If Love Were Enough, Only You, An Improper Seduction, and The Ravished Rose. All are offered through Soul Mate Publishing and Amazon.com.

Currently a member of Romance Writers of America and the Washington Romance Writers Chapter, Suzanne lives in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. She is happily married, has a beautiful daughter, two inside cats and two outside cats. After years of running a successful interior design business that started in Southern California, relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area and finally in the Greater Washington D.C. Area, she has finally retired to pursue her writing dreams full time.

Look for more in the Crimson Lotus series soon and contemporary romances under the name of Susan Dean in the near future.


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The Ravished Rose

The Improper Seduction

Only You

If Love Were Enough

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