Jack borrowed a tuxedo for his evening at the Winters’ estate, La Hacienda del Sueño. He felt like an actor himself, or an assassin, come to this great house to betray his host. As he was parking his car out in the drive, Sueño loomed above him against the starry night. Its lighted windows glowed like beacons, with old Josiah's turret for a watchtower. His enchanted princess waited inside as she'd waited for so many years.
Even when Jack walked into the warm parlor, when Tip rose to greet him with a smile, as he shook hands with the other guests, Jack's grim mood stayed with him. Her husband Maury, her friends Carrie and Hugh, Hugh's sister Genny and her friend, Sarah -- he saw them all as enemies. Jack saved his greeting to Violet for the last. He crossed to her chair, took her hand gently and smiled, a contrived polite recognition.
“Evening, Vi,” Jack said. “You look lovely tonight.”
“Well, thank you, Jack. It's so nice to see you.”
Violet did look lovely in a flowing dress of green silk with an emerald necklace at her delicate throat. At dinner, Jack found himself seated across from her. For this formal dinner the electric floor lamp had been whisked away. Silver candelabra stood on the long table and the sideboards. In the uneven, flickering light, she glowed like a dream-creature caught in the shadows of sleep. As the candle flames danced, her jewelry, the line of emeralds at her throat, her emerald earrings, caught the light and glittered.
During the entire evening, Jack fought with himself. In this dangerous territory he forced himself to ignore her when he ached to sit near her and watch her every gesture, hear her every word. Jack stayed close to Tip, mimicked what Tip did, tried to find things to say to Sarah, talked with Hugh about film and with Maury about gardening. When he glanced Vioet's way, more often than not he caught her glancing at him.
When, after the meal, Maury led the men to his study for a drink, Jack could think only of Violet. The others drank steadily. Jack nursed one glass of brandy and guarded every word he spoke. Now and then he would look at Maury and understand how a man could murder someone he hated. After a painfully long hour, they finally went down to the parlor to rejoin the ladies. Read More
Three Weeks to Wed by Ella Quinn
My next novel, Three Weeks to Wed, is the first book in a new series, The Worthingtons! The book starts out with eleven children and two Great Danes. I hope you enjoy this excerpt of Mattheus, Earl of Worthington, trying to find his mystery woman (Lady Grace Carpenter) after a night of passion.
Dawn had still not broken when Matt awoke. Soon he would be an engaged man. He finally understood the looks of love and possession he’d seen in his friends’ faces when they glanced at their wives. That was exactly what he wanted with his lady. Later, after the sun had made an appearance, he’d discover her name and how soon they could wed. Reaching for her, his hand found nothing but a cold, empty sheet. He listened for any sign of her in the chamber, but there was nothing. Hmm, she must have gone to her room, but why? There was no one in the inn but them. Perhaps she was concerned about servants. Although none of them seemed to appear until called.
Rising, he donned his dressing gown, walked down the corridor, then opened the door to her chamber. Empty. Nothing to even indicate she’d been there.
The clock on the mantel showed five o’clock. He went back to his room and tugged the bellpull. In a few minutes, the boots brought hot water for him to shave.
Matt waited until the water was poured into the basin. “The lady who was here last evening, is she downstairs?”
“I donno, my lord. Ain’t seen no lady,” the lad mumbled, and left.
Matt finished dressing and descended the stairs. His groom, Mac, was in the common room eating. “Where are the others?”
Mac finished chewing and swallowed. “Gone, my lord. Their coach ain’t in the yard.”
Something wasn’t right. Why would she have left and not told him? “Be ready to leave in half an hour.”
He looked around for the landlord and, not finding him, entered the parlor. Covered dishes set on the table, with one place setting. He wished he was sharing the meal with her and conversing as they had the night before. Hell. He wanted to be in a warm bed with her next to him.
Mr. Brown knocked on the door before entering. “My lord, you was wishful of seeing me?”
Finally, Matt would get some answers. “Yes, I want to know the lady’s name.”
“It would mean nothing, you see. Probably a very bad suggestion.” He held his breath, his entire body taut, not knowing what he wanted her to say. Of course, he wanted to kiss her, but he wanted to kiss her, not pretend it was some sort of lesson. Then again, he really wanted to kiss her no matter what the reason.
“Yes. Very bad.” She didn’t sound at all certain. “But if we did kiss, at least I could honestly say I’d been kissed. Should anyone ask.”
The relief that Charlie felt was nearly dizzying. “Very true. And I’ll let you kiss me, so there will be no doubt about who is kissing whom.”
“Oh, Charlie,” she said, almost sounding weepy. “You are the kindest man I know.”
Guilt gnawed at him, but not enough to change his mind. For nearly two years he’d imagined what it would be like to kiss Rose, and now he finally had his chance. He turned, his left arm resting on her mattress, the other straight by his side, right hand pressed flat against the rough wood floor. Then he felt her hand, just one, spanning his cheek, her fingertips at his jaw so that she might pull him toward her if she wanted to. Instead, she moved forward, keeping him still, until her nose butted up against his, making her laugh.
“You have to tilt your head just a bit,” he said, trying to keep his voice from shaking. He closed his eyes, even though it was black as pitch in the room.
“Tilt,” she whispered, her mouth so close to his, it was all he could do to keep that hand planted firmly on the floor and not drag her to him. And then, heaven on earth found him when her lips touched his, soft, hardly felt, but by God the most glorious thing that had happened to him in his adult life. She withdrew and he could almost picture her face, with her brow likely furrowed. It had not been much of a kiss. “There, we’ve kissed,” she said, but she was still so close he could feel her soft breath against his face.
“We’ve touched lips. We have not kissed.”
You need a wife and Emily is perfect.”
“She’s just lost her husband. How could she be perfect if she’s clearly not interested?” I angled my head toward the direction she’d gone.
“Her husband gambled and drank to excess. While she never once confessed it, I believe he hit her. He was cruel to her at the very least. She is not the least bit sorry he’s dead. In fact, if she weren’t such a nice person, she’d be dancing on his grave.”
The idea of anyone hurting Mrs. Woodhouse made my hands clench. She was too small, too… dainty—even with her lush curves—to protect herself from the likes of a man Olivia described.
“Then she can find a man she truly likes this time around. She’s young, beautiful. She’s a catch for any man in town.”
Olivia grinned. “So you think she’s beautiful?”
“Any conscious man would think so,” I countered.
“Then you should offer for her.”
I sighed, exasperated. “Why?”
“Because you and Xander need a wife.”
I shook my head. “We do not need a wife.”
“I see the way you look at the couples at Bridgewater. Everyone’s happily married. It’s hard, I’m sure, for you to witness since no one else marries like we do. Like your parents. You want a marriage with Xander like all of us at Bridgewater. Admit it.”
“Of course I admit it. I won’t marry any other way.” I put my hand up. “That does not mean that our bride should be Mrs. Woodhouse.”
Olivia pursed her lips. “She has to marry.”
My brows went up. “Again, why?” Read More
First meetings. They’re often memorable, but sometimes that happens in a way you rather wish
it hadn’t. That’s definitely the case for how our heroine meets the Scotsman of her dreams!
The water was cold. That was my first thought as I plunged headfirst into Loch Ness. One moment I’d been squatting on a boulder, peering into the peat-stained depths. The next, a squirrel darted out of a crevice and ran over the toe of my sneaker. I shrieked. The squirrel squawked. I lost my balance and pitched forward.
Frantically, I flailed my arms. There was no gentle bank where I had been exploring. Nothing but a steep, sharp drop-off between safety on dry land and potential drowning.
I wasn’t going to die. That was ridiculous. I’d only been in Scotland seventy-two hours. My adventure had barely begun.Still, I was desperately regretting my choice not to take swim lessons in elementary school. My mother had pushed and prodded, but I had resisted. This current misstep on my part was going to prompt a miserable case of I-told-you-so. Assuming I survived.
Gasping for air, I pushed my head above the surface and took a breath. The welcome oxygen was accompanied by a mouthful of water. Choking and spitting, the horrid truth began to dawn on me. This might be the end.
I wanted to cry or scream or even bargain with God, but I was too busy kicking my legs and trying to reach for a bottom that wasn’t there. The only thing my thrashing about had accomplished was to move me even farther from shore.
“Help!” I cried. The water closed over my head. For a moment, eyes wide open, I was part of the shimmery lake itself. My lungs were on fire, and my heart beat loudly inside my head. But I gazed in awe at the way sunlight painted underwater pictures. So beautiful…
My vision started to gray at the edges. Suddenly, a strong arm swept around me, anchoring beneath my breasts and dragging me toward the surface.
“Hang on, lass. I’ve got ye.” Read More
Nobody’s Princess Excerpt: From Chapter 1
“Is that the casting agent?” Piers demanded.
Tiffany glared as Lola’s name lit up her screen. The woman’s timing couldn’t suck more. As much as she needed to speak to Lola—and she really, really needed to speak to her—she didn’t want to answer the call now. Five days she’d waited for Lola to call back. Lola pretty much ignored every call she didn’t feel like taking. Conversely, when Lola wanted to speak to you, she wanted it now and would blow up your phone until she got hold of you.
She hit Ignore and slipped the phone into her pocket. Why today of all days? It must be some kind of cosmic joke. Could you calculate coincidence? You must be able to. Nearly everything broke down to numbers in the end. Her gaze strayed toward the tote again. Her book seemed to shimmer and pulse for attention. Perhaps she could just quickly . . .
“Hi, I’m looking for Tiffany?” A deep voice spoke from behind her.
Tiffany whirled on her four-inch heels and looked up. And up some more. Oh, thank you, sweet Jesus. Her white boy was here and he was gorgeous. His blond hair was cropped close to his scalp. It brought all your attention straight to that face. And what a face. You could break rocks on that jawline. The straight blade of his nose rescued him from pretty, but the mouth beneath it curved full and etched, made for nibbling on.
Tiffany did a quick, happy two-step. He even had beautiful blue eyes. He might be a shade on the tall side, but they could fake that a bit. Not as young as she’d first thought, but makeup would fix that. Two vertical lines between his eyebrows gave off a sort of don’t mess with me vibe. She beamed at him. “You’re perfect.”
He raised an eyebrow, and returned her smile cautiously.
Oh, yes, yes, yes. He had one of those smiles, all innocent on the outside until you looked into those bad-boy eyes. Scrap the Botox, those laugh lines were smoking hot. She did a quick body scan. Read More
Tall, dark, and possibly deadly?
I love stories when a woman’s in peril and doesn’t know which way to turn. You see that constantly in slasher films. The poor thing has fought her way past countless attacks and finally staggers to the front door. You hold your breath hoping she’ll make it. That shadow—is it the killer behind her? Run, run, run, your mind screams.
At last she does, tearing across the front yard, forest, field, whatever happens to be outside. She’s still not safe. There’s no civilization around except for the killer’s house where he’s kept her prisoner. Desperate, she bolts to a clearing and stops at a road. Headlights blink in the distance, a vehicle coming her way. She waves frantically, begging for help. A Mercedes finally slows, driven by a hot young stud in designer jeans and a polo shirt. Dumbly, he looks at her disheveled hair and blood streaks on her clothes. She tugs the door and shrieks, “Open, please. Let me in.”
To her relief and ours, he does.
She can’t stop talking about the nut who kidnapped then tried to kill her when she finally escaped the basement he had her chained in. Shivering, she begs this guy to call 911. To take her to the cops. To call the freaking National Guard.
Sorry, babe. He drives toward the killer’s house.
We all know what happens next when the camera cuts to the satisfied smirk on his face. He’s the second madman and she fell right into his trap.
I’ve always enjoyed the tension this convention generates. Not knowing—is this guy good or bad?
In Loving Lies, my erotic historical, I employed this device when Isabella first meets Fernando. She hardly expected him to come to her rescue and once he does, she isn’t certain why. Of all the times for him to show up, why now? Why for her?
The explanation he gives doesn’t sound reasonable at all. In fact, she’s certain he’s mad but can’t deny her overwhelming attraction to him.
Here’s the scene where they’ve just escaped capture and possible death. She appears to be out of danger, but is she?
EXCERPT: Loving Lies Read More
"Oh, where to begin! Do you ever read a story and then want to tell all your book friends to stop whatever they are doing immediately and read this book? Yeah? Well, that was me after finishing this book." ~LauraN - Praise for Crash and Burn, Love You Like A Love Song Book 1
TWO TO WRANGLE (HOTEL RODEO #2) BY VICTORIA VANE
A COUNTRY BOY...Maybe having a hot and heavy affair with the boss’s daughter wasn’t the smartest move. But Ty Morgan didn’t regret a moment with city girl Monica Brandt…until she left Las Vegas to return to her life in New York. When devastating news sends her running back, Ty can’t help but open his arms. His heart, however, is another matter.
AND A CITY GIRL...Now that Ty has what he’s always wanted—controlling interest in Hotel Rodeo—Monica is certain their time together is at an end—until Ty asks her to come on board as a partner. Maybe it’s just her money he needs, but the chance to stick close to the sexy wrangler sure could make work a whole lot more interesting.
GET READY TO TANGO.. Their partnership doesn’t come without a heap of problems. The two can’t agree on anything—except their iron-hot attraction. As the hotel’s grand opening approaches, the truth is all too clear: Ty and Monica must find a way to mix business with pleasure if they have any shot at dancing off into the sunset together…
TWO TO WRANGLE EXCERPT
“Do you have some kind of wrap or shawl you could wear with that dress?” Ty asked, wanting a moment to set things straight for the intruding jerk. “You might get cold later in such a little bitty dress.”
“Give me a minute and I’ll look for something,” Monica replied.
“Sure thing, Sugar.”
Evan scowled at the pet name.
Both men watched her walk away. Hot damn that dress was about to give him a heart attack. “You’d best stop looking at her like that. And I better never see your hands on her again either,” Ty murmured with a smile. Read More
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