Related to: 'Q&A with Rebecca Zanetti...'

Beth Kery chats about her new serialisation, The Affair

To celebrate the publication of the sizzling digital series THE AFFAIR over the past month, we catch up with bestselling author Beth Kery.

Meet Rebecca Zanetti . . .

Catch up with Rebecca Zanetti chatting about her new thrilling series, The Scorpius Syndrome . . .

Valentine's Bonus Treat

A Valentine’s treat for fans of Working Girl!

Enjoy this bonus scene from Shana Grey's sexy serial WORKING GIRL!

July Book of the Month

Are you ready for Second Chance Summer?

What do you do when you run into the man who broke your heart? Read on for an excerpt from Jill Shalvis' hilarious and heartwarming SECOND CHANCE SUMMER...

Catch up with J. Kenner...

Catch up with bestselling author J. Kenner...

Author of the amazing One Week Girlfriend series

Behind the scenes with Monica Murphy

We love Drew and Fable's story and the evolution of their romance in One Week Girlfriend and Second Chance Boyfriend. When did their story begin to take shape for you? Thank you! I love Drew + Fable too. The story began to actually take shape back in 2009 - well, Fable took shape. I tried my hand at a YA idea with the main character named Fable Maguire. It didn’t pan out (quite frankly, it was terrible). But Fable stuck with me. Fast forward to late 2012 and (sort of a spoiler alert!) I saw a story on my local news about a young, pretty female teacher who was arrested for having sex with her 17-year-old male student. It got me thinking. When females are victims of this sort of thing, everyone’s appalled. When it happens to a male, a lot of the time he’s made out as a guy who just scored with an older woman. So I wanted to write a male victim and a strong female who comes along and saves him. You’ve written numerous romance books both as Monica Murphy and Karen Erickson ― did you find you approached writing a new adult romance differently? Yes! First of all, I’d never written in first-person point of view (POV) before so that was a challenge, but one I enjoyed immensely. I prefer writing in first-person POV now! Also, with a new adult title, all emotions are heightened. It’s a very dramatic time of our lives and everything has a newness, a freshness to it. First time away from home, first real job, first real love, and first chance to make major mistakes and have to fix them on your own. I wanted to capture that — as a writer, there’s a lot to play with during this time period. And with a new adult, it’s not just about the romantic relationship either. There’s so much more going on. Yes, the romance takes priority (and with Drew + Fable, how could it not, considering the situation they’ve thrown themselves into!) but there are other things happening. Family responsibilities, school, family trouble (ooh lots of trouble), jobs — it’s all an important part of their lives. We never imagined that the word ‘marshmallow’ could be so romantic! You made it so special for Drew and Fable ― what inspired you to pick this? It’s so random it’s almost embarrassing. I wrote OWG during the holiday season. I got to the part where Fable suggested they needed a “rescue” word to send or say to each other, and I paused. Glanced around my desk. Saw the box of caramel covered marshmallows (that I kept to myself for fear my children would eat them all) sitting there and thought...marshmallow. I never meant for it to become this THING. It’s so awesome. When Drew + Fable get married, they need a marshmallow wedding cake, right? *winks* Drew and Fable’s romance is powerfully moving ― were there particular parts of their story you found emotional to write? Yes, definitely. As I wrote OWG and got closer to the end, I kept thinking, should I go there? Should I take it there? I hesitated for a bit and then thought, I’m going for it. I’m so glad I did. I think it made the story that much more emotional. What Drew has to deal with is pretty difficult. My biggest fear was that he’d look like a wimp. So glad readers didn’t think he was one. And when I wrote the end of Second Chance Boyfriend, I burst into tears. Those two are buried so deep in my brain it’s sort of scary. It was hard to let them go. I still haven’t. They make plenty of appearances in both Three Broken Promises and Four Years Later, especially Fable. Have you always wanted to be a writer? What do you love most about your job? I’ve always been a reader and when I was in high school, I took journalism classes and was on the school newspaper. I became an intern at my local newspaper in college. So yes, I always wanted to be a writer. I discovered Jude Deveraux and Judith McNaught books during my teen years and I remember thinking, ooh I could do that. But then life got in the way for many years. Back in 2005, I was at home with my two youngest and I decided to try my hand at writing again. I was first published as Karen Erickson in 2006. I’ve been working hard ever since. I have the best job in the world. Where else can you work at home, be there for your kids when they need you and fall in love with a different guy multiple times a year, yet you’re not cheating on your husband (LOL)? Oh, and search the web for pictures of hot men and call it “research”? You can’t beat that! Do you have the most fun creating your heroes or your heroines? Do you have a favourite hero or heroine? It really depends on each book I write. Sometimes the hero speaks more to me and sometimes it’s the heroine. Lame answer, I’m sorry… My favourite hero and heroine? Why, Drew + Fable of course. Those two changed my entire career. I adore them. Who are the authors you read for pleasure? There are a ton of authors I read for pleasure. It would take me a month to list them all. But the one I read without fail? The one who I make sure and preorder so when I get the notice the book is on my Kindle, I drop everything to read her latest? Jill Shalvis. Ack, I love her books so much! What are your guilty pleasures? Chocolate, pedicures and purses. We are so excited to read Three Broken Promises and Four Years Later! Can you give us any hints of what you have planned for Jen and Colin and Owen and Chelsea? I’m excited for everyone to read TBP and FYL too! Okay, hints… Jen and Colin’s book is by far the sexiest of the series. I think it’s because they’re an older couple and Colin is rather demanding (heh heh). Owen and Chelsea’s book is the longest book of them all. Chelsea is the complete opposite of Fable and Jen. And Owen…Owen was a joy to write. I just turned the book in and I’m a little in love with him. Okay, I’m a lot in love with him. And we have to ask – will we get to see some more of Drew and Fable in books three and four?! As I mentioned, YES. Yes, Drew + Fable are all over books three and four. Especially Fable — she’s in the opening scene of TBP. She plays a huge part in Owen’s book because, well, she’s his sister. I hope readers will love those glimpses of D+F.

Yasmine Galenorn on Whisper Hollow...

Catch up with Yasmine Galenorn talking about her spectacular parnaormal romance series, Whisper Hollow...

April Book of the Month

Stay behind with Master Professor...

Q&A with Beth Ciotta, author of the month and creator of the Cupcake Lovers series

Getting to the Heart of a Cupcake Lover

Your Cupcake Lovers series is the most irresistible combination of gorgeous romance and delicious cake! What inspired you to create this series? Thank you for your kind words! I have to say this series is a delight to write. As to how it all began . . . My American editor had approached me with the possibility of writing a small town series revolving around a ‘cupcake club’. My baking skills are limited, but I love eating cupcakes and I adored the idea of writing an on-going small town series featuring recurring characters and a running story arc — although each book highlights the romance of a new hero and heroine. As soon as I created the history and mission of this cupcake club — known as The Cupcake Lovers — everything fell into place for me. Sugar Creek, Vermont, and all of the characters that populate that fictional town, are as real to me as my friends and family. Researching cupcakes is a yummy bonus! Was it always your ambition to be a writer? What do you love most about your job? I’ve always been a creative soul. Although I dabbled with writing when I was quite young, my driving force early on was music. I started singing professionally at age fourteen and maintained a career as a performer (singing, dancing, acting) for more than twenty-five years. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I was seriously bitten by the writing bug. At that point my passion turned to storytelling, and that passion burns stronger by the day. As to what I love most about this job, that’s easy — making a positive difference in a reader’s life even if only for a few hours. Do you have favourites out of the characters you’ve created? What type of hero makes you melt? To date I have more than twenty books in print and more in the immediate pipeline, so that’s a lot of characters! I must admit, it’s quite difficult to choose favourites. I love all of my characters for different reasons. Focusing on The Cupcake Lovers series, as far as the ladies go, I have a real soft spot for Rocky and Rachel/Rae. Very different heroines, but equally compelling. I also adore Daisy Monroe, the eccentric matriarch of the Monroe family. She’s a hoot! As for the men . . . Jayce and Sam ring my bell big time. Jayce has a massive protective streak. Sam’s the strong, silent type—a widower raising two small children. Both men are deep and complicated and extremely alpha. Intimidating, yet sexy. I’m also head over heels for Luke. I adore his kind nature, his joy for life, and love of family. He’s a good man with a minor learning issue. More on the beta side, but just as sexy. Down-to-earth and charmingly irresistible. Who are the authors you read for pleasure? Too many to fully list, but here are a few. Nora Roberts, Julie Garwood, Heather Graham, Zoë Archer, F.Paul Wilson, Karen Marie Moning, Elle J Rossi, Stephanie Bond . . . Happily, the list goes on and on. If you could take only three essentials with you to a desert island what would they be? A riveting book to read over and over. A journal and pen to chronicle my adventure (or to make something up for escapism). Lipstick—preferably red. What are your guilty pleasures? Coffee—black and strong and lots of it. Chinese food. My dogs and cat. Movies. Reading. Who would be on your dream dinner party guest list? Daniel Craig, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Gerard Butler. (Is that wrong?) Your cupcake recipes are always mouth-watering! Have you tried them all? Which would you recommend we try to bake?! Hmm. Well, they’re not my recipes. My recipes need work. (Not that you heard that from me.) The recipes included in the back of the books were submitted by readers who are avid bakers! I haven’t tried them all, but I have tasted most and they are all equally yummy! I adore the fact that readers — Honorary Cupcake Lovers — are willing to share their recipes and I invite anyone to email me with a submission should they be inspired! We’re so excited to read ANYTHING BUT LOVE! Can you tell us a little of what readers can expect from book three in the series? ANYTHING BUT LOVE is quite close to my heart as it features two of the most gentle-hearted characters I have ever written. Luke and Rae possess hearts as big as the planet however they come from opposite sides of the tracks in more ways than one. This particular story focuses heavily on making the most of a life you didn’t plan. It also delves deeply into family members at odds and how those relationships evolve. Readers will be treated to an emotional tale sprinkled with the sexy set-up for book four — IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE. And of course, in addition to the romance and family drama, ANYTHING BUT LOVE features the on-going antics and adventure of the Cupcake Lovers!

What Happens In Vegas . . . stays in Vegas!

October Book of the Month

Get ready for The Weekend...

January Book of the Month

Wanted. You Loved Damien Stark. Now Meet Evan Black.

I know exactly when my life shifted. That precise instant when his eyes met mine and I no longer saw the bland look of familiarity, but danger and fire, lust and hunger. Perhaps I should have turned away. Perhaps I should have run. I didn't. I wanted him. More, I needed him. The man, and the fire that he ignited inside of me. And in his eyes, I saw that he needed me, too. That was the moment that everything changed. Me, most of all. But whether it changed for good or for ill . . . well, that remains to be seen. Even dead, my Uncle Jahn knew how to throw one hell of a party. His Chicago lakeside penthouse was bursting at the seams with an eclectic collection of mourners, most of whom had imbibed so much wine from the famous Howard Jahn cellar that whatever melancholy they’d brought with them had been sweetly erased, and now this wake or reception or whatever the hell you wanted to call it wasn’t the least bit somber. Politicians mingled with financiers mingled with artists and academics, and everyone was smiling and laughing and toasting the deceased. At his request, there’d been no formal funeral. Just this gathering of friends and family, food and drink, music and mirth. Jahn - he hated the name Howard - had lived a vibrant life, and that was never more obvious than now in his death. I missed him so damn much, but I hadn’t cried. Hadn’t screamed and ranted. Hadn’t done anything, really, except move through the days and nights lost in a haze of emotions, my mind numb. My body anesthetized. I sighed and fingered the charm on my silver bracelet. He’d presented me with the tiny motorcycle just over a month ago, and the gift had made me smile. I hadn’t talked about wanting to ride a motorcycle since before I turned sixteen. And it had been years since I’d ridden behind a boy, my arms tight around his waist and my hair blowing in the wind. But Uncle Jahn knew me better than anyone. He saw past the princess to the girl hidden inside. A girl who’d built up walls out of necessity, but still desperately wanted to break free. Who longed to slip on a pair of well-worn jeans, grab a battered leather jacket, and go a little wild. Sometimes, she even did. And sometimes it didn’t end right at all. I tightened my grip on the charm as the memory of Jahn holding my hand - of him promising to keep my secrets - swept over me, finally bringing tears to my eyes. He should be beside me, dammit, and the swell of laughter and conversation that filled the room was making me a little sick. Despite the fact that I knew Jahn wanted it that way, it was all I could do not to smack all the people who’d hugged me and murmured softly that he was in a better place and wasn’t it wonderful that he’d lived such a full life. That was such bullshit - he hadn’t even turned sixty yet. Vibrant men in their fifties shouldn’t drop dead from aneurysms, and there weren’t enough pithy Hallmark quotes in the universe to make me think otherwise. Antsy, I shifted my weight from foot to foot. There was a bar set up on the other side of the room, and I’d positioned myself as far away as physically possible because right then I wanted the burn of tequila. Wanted to let go, to explode through the numbness that clung to me like a cocoon. To run. To feel. But that wasn’t going to happen. No alcohol was passing these lips tonight. I was Jahn’s niece, after all, and that made me some kind of hostess-by-default, which meant I was stuck in the penthouse. Four thousand square feet, but I swear I could feel the art-covered walls pressing in around me. I wanted to race up the spiral staircase to the rooftop patio, then leap over the balcony into the darkening sky. I wanted to take flight over Lake Michigan and the whole world. I wanted to break things and scream and rant and curse this damned universe that took away a good man. Shit. I sucked in a breath and looked down at the exquisite ancient-looking notebook inside the glass and chrome display case I’d been leaning against. The leather-bound book was an exceptionally well-done copy of a recently discovered Da Vinci notebook. Dubbed the Creature Notebook, it had sixteen pages of animal studies and was open to the center, revealing a stunning sketch the young master had drawn - his study for the famous, but never located, dragon shield. Jahn had attempted to acquire the notebook, and I remember just how angry he’d been when he’d lost out to Victor Neely, another Chicago businessman with a private collection that rivaled my uncle’s. At the time, I’d just started at Northwestern with a major in poli sci and a minor in art history. I’m not particularly talented, but I’ve sketched my whole life, and I’ve been fascinated with art - and in particular with Leonardo da Vinci - since my parents took me to my first museum at the age of three. I thought the Creature Notebook was beyond cool, and I’d been irritated on Jahn’s behalf when he not only lost out on it, but when the press had poured salt in the wound by prattling on about Neely’s amazing new acquisition. About a year later, Jahn showed me the facsimile, bright and shiny in the custom-made display case. As a general rule, my uncle never owned a copy. If he couldn’t have the original - be it a Rembrandt or a Rauschenberg or a Da Vinci - he simply moved on. When I’d asked why he’d made an exception for the Creature Notebook, he shrugged and told me that the images were at least as interesting as the provenance. “Besides, anyone who can successfully copy a Da Vinci has created a masterpiece himself.” Despite the fact that it wasn’t authentic, the notebook was my favorite of Jahn’s many manuscripts and artifacts, and now, standing with my hands pressed to the glass, I felt as if he was, in some small way, beside me. I drew in a breath, knowing I had to get my act together, if for no other reason than the more wrecked I looked, the more guests would try to cheer me. Not that I looked particularly wrecked. When you grow up as Angelina Hayden Raine, with a United States senator for a father and a mother who served on the board of over a dozen international nonprofit organizations, you learn the difference between a public and a private face very early on. Especially when you have your own secrets to keep. “This is so goddamn fucked up it makes me want to scream.” I felt a whisper of a smile touch my lips and turned around to find myself looking into Kat’s bloodshot eyes. “Oh, hell, Angie,” she said. “He shouldn’t be dead.” “He’d be pissed if he knew you’d been crying,” I said, blinking away the last of my own tears. “Fuck that.” I almost laughed. Katrina Laron had a talent for cutting straight through the bullshit. I’m not sure which one of us leaned in first, but we caught each other in a bone-crushing hug. With a sniffle, I finally pulled away. Perverse, maybe, but just knowing that someone else was acknowledging the utter horror of the situation made me feel infinitesimally better. “Every time I turn a corner, I feel like I’m going to see him,” I said. “I almost wish I’d stayed in my old place.” I’d moved in four months ago when Uncle Jahn’s aneurysm was discovered. I’d taken time off from work - easy when you work for your uncle. For two weeks I’d played nurse after he came home from the hospital, and when he’d been given the allclear by the doctors - yeah, like that was a good call - I’d accepted his invitation to move in permanently. Why not? The tiny apartment I’d shared with my lifelong friend Flynn wasn’t exactly the lap of luxury. And although I loved Flynn, he wasn’t the easiest person to cohabitate with. He knew me too well, and it always made me uneasy when people saw what I wanted to keep hidden. Now, though, I craved both the cocoon-like comfort of my tiny room and Flynn’s steady presence. As much as I loved the condo, without my uncle, it was cold and hollow, and just being in it made me feel brittle. As if at any moment I would shatter into a million pieces. Kat’s eyes were warm and understanding. “I know. But he loved having you here. God knows why,” she added with a quirky grin. “You’re nothing but trouble.” I rolled my eyes. At twenty-seven, Katrina Laron was only four years older than me, but that didn’t stop her from pulling the older-and-wiser card whenever she got the chance. The fact that we’d become friends under decidedly dodgy circumstances probably played a role, too. She’d been working at one of the coffee shops in Evanston where I used to mainline caffeine during my first year at Northwestern. We’d chatted a couple of times in an “extra cream please, it’s been a bitch of a day” kind of way, but we were hardly on a first-name basis. All that changed when we bumped into each other on a day when extra cream wasn’t going to cut it for me - not by a long shot. It was in the Michigan Avenue Neiman Marcus and I’d been surfing on adrenaline, using it to soothe the rough edges of a particularly crappy day. Specifically, I’d just succumbed to my personal demons and surreptitiously dropped a pair of fifteen-dollar clearance earrings into my purse. But, apparently, not as surreptitiously as I’d thought. “Well, aren’t you the stumbling amateur?” she’d whispered, as she steered me toward women’s shoes. “With a shit technique like that, it’s a wonder you haven’t been arrested yet.” “Arrested!” I squeaked, as if that word would carry all the way to Washington and to my father’s all-hearing ears. The fear of getting caught might be part of the excitement. Actually getting caught wasn’t a good thing at all. “No, I didn’t- I mean-” She cut off my protests with a casual flip of her hand. “All I’m saying is be smart. If you’re going to take a risk, at least make it worth the trouble. Those earrings? Really not the bomb.” “It’s not about the earrings,” I’d snapped, then immediately cringed. The words had been a knee-jerk response, but they were also true. It wasn’t about the earrings. It was about my dad, and the grad school lectures and the career-planning talks, and the never-spoken certainty that no matter what I did, my sister would have done it better. It was about the oppressive, overwhelming weight of my life and my future that was bearing down on me, harder and harder until I was certain that if I didn’t do something to break out a little I’d spontaneously combust. Kat had glanced at my purse as if she could see through the soft Coach leather to the contraband inside. Then she slowly lifted her eyes back to my face. The silence hung between us for a full minute. Then she nodded. “Don’t worry. I get it.” She cocked her head toward the exit. “Come on.” Relief flooded through me, and my limbs that had frozen in both fear and mortification began to thaw. She steered me to her car, a cherry-red Mustang that she drove at more or less the speed of light. She careened down Michigan Avenue, maneuvered her way onto Lake Shore Drive, and came so close to the other cars as she zipped in and out of traffic that I’m surprised her convertible didn’t lose a layer of paint. In other words, it was freaking awesome. The top was down, the wind was whipping my hair into my face and mouth, and all I could do was tilt my head back and laugh. Kat risked our lives long enough to shoot me one sideways glance. “Yeah,” she said. “We’re going to get along just fine.” From that moment on, I’d adored Kat. Now, with Jahn’s death sending my universe reeling, I realized that I not only loved her - I relied on her. “I’m really glad you’re here,” I said. “Where else would I be?” She scanned the room. “Are your mom and dad around somewhere?” “They can’t make it. They’re stuck overseas.” The familiar numbness settled over me again as I remembered my mother’s hysterical sobs and the deep well of sorrow that had filled my father’s voice when he’d learned about his half-brother. “I hated calling them,” I whispered. “It felt like Gracie all over again.” “I’m so sorry.” Kat had never met my sister, but she’d heard the story. The public version, anyway, and I knew her sympathy was real. I managed a wavering smile. “I know. That means a lot to me.” “The whole thing sucks,” Kat said. “It’s so unfair. Your uncle was too damn cool to die.” “I guess the universe doesn’t give a shit about coolness.” “The universe can be a raving bitch sometimes,” Kat said. She exhaled loudly. “Want me to crash here tonight so you won’t be alone? We could stay up late getting so wasted that there’s no way in hell either one of us will dream.” “Thanks, but I think I’ll be okay.” She eyed me uncertainly. She was one of the few people I’d confided in about my nightmares, and while I appreciated the sympathy, sometimes I wished I’d kept my mouth shut. “Really,” I said earnestly. “Kevin’s here.” “Oh, yeah? And how’s that going? Engaged yet?” “Not quite,” I said wryly. I supposed we were dating since I’d slept with him twice, but so far I’d dodged the let’s-be-exclusive conversation. I wasn’t sure why I was so reticent. The sex wasn’t mind-blowing, but it did the job. And I did genuinely like the guy. But I’d spent the last few months holding him at arm’s length, telling him I needed to keep my attention on Jahn’s surgery, then his recovery. Obviously, I hadn’t planned on his sudden death. How horrible was it of me to think that now Jahn was gone, I had no more excuses to hand Kevin? Beside me, Kat craned her neck and scoped out the crowd. “So where is he?” “He had to go take a call. Technically, he’s working today.” “What are you going to do now?” Kat asked. “About Kevin?” Honestly, I was hoping to avoid doing anything on that front for the foreseeable future. “About your job,” she countered. “About the roof over your head. About your life. Have you thought about what you’re going to do?” “Oh.” My shoulders sagged. “No. Not really.” My job in the PR department of Jahn’s company might pay my bills, but it was hardly my life’s ambition, and Kat was one of the few people to whom I’d confessed that deep, dark secret. Right then, however, that wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have. Fortunately, something across the room had caught Kat’s attention, effectively erasing my lack of direction and purpose from her mind. She stood slightly straighter and the corners of her mouth tilted a bit, almost hinting at a smile. Curious, I turned to look in that direction, but saw nothing but suits and dresses and a sea of black. “What is it? Kevin?” I asked, praying he wasn’t heading our direction. “Cole August,” she said. “At least I thought I saw him.” “Oh.” I licked my lips. My mouth had gone suddenly dry. “Is Evan with him?” I forced my voice to sound casual, but my pulse was racing. If Cole was around, it was always a good bet that Evan was, too. Then I remembered what day it was and my pulse slowed as disappointment weighed down on me. “Isn’t tonight the ribbon-cutting for the hospital wing Evan funded?” Kat didn’t even spare me a glance, her eyes still searching the crowd. “Not sure.” She shot me a quick look. “Yeah, it was. You invited me before, you know, all of this happened.” I blinked back the sudden prick of tears. “Evan’s going to hate missing this. Jahn was like a dad to him.” Beside me, Kat took a quick step backward, startling me. “What is it?” She dragged her gaze away from the crowd, then frowned at me. “I . . . Oh, shit. I have to go make a call. I’ll be right back, okay?” “Um, okay.” Who the hell did she need to call right now? That wasn’t a question I pondered for long, though, because I’d caught a glimpse of Cole. And right beside him - looking like he owned the world and everything in it - was Evan. Immediately, my chest tightened and a current of electricity zinged across my skin. Technically, I saw him first, but it was my body’s reaction that caught my attention. Only after I felt him did I truly see him. And what a sight he was. Whereas Cole might be sex on wheels, Evan Black was the slow burn of sin and seduction - and tonight he was in rare form. He must have come straight from the hospital, because he was still in a tux, and although he was clearly overdressed, he appeared perfectly at ease. Whether in a tux or jeans, where Evan was concerned, it was the man that mattered, not the garment. He had the kind of chiseled good looks that would have gotten him plucked from obscurity in the Golden Age of Hollywood, and the kind of confidence and bearing that would have made him a box-office draw. A small scar intersected his left brow, giving the angel’s face a hint of the devil. He both came from money and had made his own fortune, and it showed in the way he held himself, the way he looked around a room, managing to take control of it with nothing more than a glance. His eyes were as gray as a wolf’s and his hair was the color of cherrywood, a deep brown that hinted at golds and reds when the light hit it just right. He wore it long in the back so that it brushed his collar, and the natural waves gave it the quality of a mane - which only enhanced the impression that there was a wildness clinging to the man. Wild or not, I wanted to get close. I wanted to thrust my fingers into his hair and feel the locks on my skin. I imagined his hair was soft, but that’s the only part of him that was. Everything else was edged with steel, the hard planes of his face and body hinting at a dangerous core beneath that beauty. I didn’t know whether the danger was real or an illusion. And right then, I didn’t care. I wanted the touch, the thrill. That desperate need to fly I’d been feeling all night? So help me, I wanted to fly right into Evan’s arms. I needed the rush. I craved the thrill. I wanted the man. And it was just too damn bad that he didn’t want me, too.

Cookies and cookbooks with Lauren Layne...

March Book of the month

Be enticed by Seduced By Fire

Daniel was standing inside the coffee shop, waiting, when Julie arrived on Thursday. She took a second to watch him from the window. Having arrived after work, he was wearing a beautiful dark suit that emphasized his blond good looks. He was drawing admiring glances from several women.

June Book of the Month

A tantalising excerpt from THE SUBMISSIVE - the seductive and scandalous erotic romance sensation

Nathaniel West was thirty-four years old. His parents had died in a car accident when he was ten. Linda Clark, his aunt, had raised him after that. Nathaniel had taken over his father's company at the age of twenty-nine. He'd taken what was already a profitable business and made it even more so. I'd known about him for ages. Knew of him in that society-page way those in the lower classes know of the upper class. The papers painted him as a hard-ass. A real bastard. But I liked to think I knew a bit more about the real man. Six years ago, when I was twenty-six, my mother had gotten into a really bad situation over credit card debt, following her divorce with Dad. She owed so much, the bank threatened foreclosure on her house. They would have been well within their rights to do so. But Nathaniel West had saved the day. He was on the bank’s board of directors and convinced them to allow Mom a way to save her house and get out of debt. She died of heart disease two years later, but for those two years, every time his name was mentioned in the papers or on the news, she would retell the story of how he’d helped her. I knew he wasn’t the hard-ass the world thought he was. And when I heard about his more . . . delicate tastes, my fantasies started. And kept on. And kept on, until I knew I had to do something about them. Which was why I found myself pulling into the driveway of his estate in a chauffeur-driven car at 5:45 that Friday evening. No luggage. No bags. Just my purse and cell phone. A large golden retriever stood at the front door. He was beautiful dog, with intense eyes that watched as I got out and made my way to the house. “Good boy,” I said, holding my hand out. I wasn’t overly fond of dogs, but if Nathaniel had one, I needed to grow used to him. The dog whined, walked toward me, and pushed his nose into my hand. “Good boy,” I said again. “Who’s a good boy?” He gave a short bark and rolled over so I could pet his belly. Okay, I thought, maybe dogs weren’t so bad. “Apollo,” a smooth voice said from the front door. “Come.” Apollo’s head lifted at his owner’s voice. He licked my face and trotted to stand beside Nathaniel. “I see you’ve made Apollo’s acquaintance.” Nathaniel was dressed casually today— a light gray sweater and darker gray pants. The man could wear a paper bag and look good. It really wasn’t fair. “Yes,” I said, standing and brushing imaginary dirt off my pants. “He’s a very sweet dog.” “He’s not,” Nathaniel corrected. “Normally, he doesn’t take kindly to strange people. You’re very fortunate he didn’t bite you.” I didn’t say anything. Nathaniel turned and walked into the house; he didn’t even look back to make sure I followed. I did, of course. “We’ll have dinner tonight at the kitchen table,” he said as he led me through the foyer. I tried to take in the decor— a subtle mixture of the antique and contemporary— but it was hard to take my eyes off Nathaniel as he strode along in front of me. We walked down a long hallway past several closed doors, and all the while he talked. “You can consider the kitchen table your free space. You’ll take the majority of your meals there, and when I join you, you may take it as an invitation to speak freely. Most of the time, you will serve me in the dining room, but I thought we should start the evening on a less formal basis. Is all this clear?” “Yes, Master.” He turned, and there was ire in his eyes. “No. You have not yet earned the right to call me that. Until you do, you will address me as ‘sir’ or ‘Mr. West.’ ” “Yes, sir,” I said. “Sorry, sir.” He resumed walking. Forms of address were a gray area, and I hadn’t known what to expect. At least he hadn’t seemed too upset. He pulled a chair out from a finely carved table and waited for me to sit down. Silently, he sat across from me. Dinner was already on the table, and I waited for him to take a bite before I ate anything. It was delicious. Someone had baked chicken breasts and topped them with a delectable honey-almond sauce. There were also green beans and carrots, but I hardly noticed them, the chicken was so tasty. It dawned on me, eventually, that there was no one else in the house, and dinner had been waiting. “Did you cook this?” I asked. He inclined his head slightly. “I am a man of many talents, Abigail.” I shifted in my seat, and we resumed eating in silence. I was too nervous to say anything. We’d almost finished before he spoke again. “I am pleased you do not find it necessary to fill the silence with endless chatter,” he said. “There are a few things I need to explain. Keep in mind, you can speak freely at this table.” He stopped and waited for my response. “Yes, sir.” “You know from my checklist I’m a fairly conservative dom. I do not believe in public humiliation, will not participate in extreme pain play, and I do not share. Ever.” The corner of his mouth lifted. “Although as a dom, I suppose I could change that at any time.” “I understand, sir,” I said, remembering his checklist and the time I’d spent completing mine. I really hoped this weekend hadn’t been a mistake. My cell phone felt reassuring in my pocket; Felicia knew to call the police if I hadn’t checked in within the next hour. “The other thing you should know,” he said, “is that I don’t kiss on the lips.” “Like Pretty Woman?” I asked. “It’s too personal?” “Pretty Woman?” “You know, the movie?” “No,” he said. “I’ve never seen it. I don’t kiss on the lips because it’s unnecessary.” Unnecessary? Well, there went the fantasy about pulling him to me with my hands buried in that glorious hair. I took a last bite of chicken as I thought more about what he’d said. Across from me, Nathaniel continued talking. “I recognize that you’re a person with your own hopes, dreams, desires, wants, and opinions. You have put those things aside to submit to me this weekend. To put yourself in such a position demands respect, and I do respect you. Everything I do to or for you, I do with you in mind. My rules on sleeping, eating, and exercise are for your benefit. My chastisement is for your betterment.” He ran a finger around the rim of his wineglass. “And any pleasure I give you”— the finger ran down the stem once and back up—“ well, I don’t suppose you have any qualms concerning pleasure.” I realized I was gaping at him when he smiled and pushed himself away from the table. “Are you finished with dinner?” he asked. “Yes, sir,” I said, knowing I wouldn’t be able to eat any more, my thoughts consumed by his remarks on pleasure. “I need to take Apollo outside. My room is upstairs, first door on the left. I will be there in fifteen minutes. You will be waiting for me.” His green eyes gazed steadily at me. “Page five, first paragraph.”

Pamela Clare discusses the I-Team...

Pamela Clare discusses her sizzling new I-Team series, and guilty pleasures...

July Book of the Month

Complete Me: a peek at J. Kenner's explosive finale

Fear yanks me from a deep sleep, and I sit bolt upright in a room shrouded with gray, the muted green light from a digital alarm clock announcing that it is just after midnight. My breath comes in gasps, and my eyes are wide but unseeing. The last remnant of an already forgotten nightmare brushes against me like the tattered hem of a specter's cloak, powerful enough to fill me with terror, and yet so insubstantial that it evaporates like mist when I try to grasp it. I do not know what frightened me. I only know that I am alone, and that I am scared. Alone? I turn swiftly in bed, shifting my body as I reach out to my right. But even before my fingers brush the cool, expensive sheets, I know that he is not there. I may have fallen asleep in Damien’s arms, but once again, I have awakened alone. At least now I know the source of the nightmare. It is the same fear I have faced every day and every night for weeks. The fear I try to hide beneath a plastic smile as I sit beside Damien day in and day out as his attorneys go over his defense in meticulous detail. As they explain the procedural ins-and-outs of a murder trial under German law. As they practically beg him to shine a light into the dark corners of his childhood because they know, as I do, that those secrets are his salvation. But Damien remains stubbornly mute, and I am left huddled against this pervasive fear that I will lose him. That he will be taken from me. And not just fear. I’m also fighting the damnable, overwhelming, panic-inducing knowledge that there isn’t a goddamn thing in the world I can do. Nothing except wait and watch and hope. But I do not like waiting, and I have never put my faith in hope. It is a cousin of fate, and both are too mercurial for my taste. What I crave is action, but the only one who can act is Damien, and he has steadfastly refused. And that, I think, is the worst cut of all. Because while I understand the reason for his silence, I can’t quell the selfish spark of anger. Because at the core of it all, it’s not just himself that Damien is sacrificing. It’s me. Hell, it’s us. We are running out of time. His trial will begin only a few hours from now, and unless he changes his mind about his defense, it is very likely that I will lose this man. I squeeze my eyes shut, forcing the tears to remain at bay. I can push the fear back, but my anger is like a living thing, and I am afraid that it will explode no matter how hard I try to quell it. For that matter, I’m afraid that suppressing it will make the ultimate explosion all the more brutal. When the indictment came through, Damien had tried to push me away, believing that he was protecting me. But he’d been wrong—and I’d flown all the way to Germany to tell him so. I’ve been here for over three weeks now, and there has not been a day when I have regretted coming, and I do not doubt that what he said when I arrived on his doorstep is true—he loves me. But that knowledge doesn’t diminish the sense of foreboding that has been rising within me. A trepidation that is especially potent at night when I wake alone and know that he has turned to solitude and Scotch when I want him in my arms. He loves me, yes. But at the same time I’m afraid that he is pushing me away again. Not in big steps, but in little ones. Well, screw that. I peel myself away from the cool comfort of our bed and stand up. I’m naked, and I bend to retrieve the white, lush robe provided by the Hotel Kempinski. Damien brushed it back off my shoulders after our shower last night, and I left it where it fell, a soft pile of cotton beside the bed. The sash is a different story, and I have to dig in the rumpled sheets to find it. Sex with Damien is always intense, but as the trial comes closer, it has been wilder, more potent, as if by controlling me Damien can control the outcome. Idly, I rub my wrists. They bear no marks, but that is only because Damien is careful. I can’t say the same about my ass, which still tingles from the feel of his palm against my skin. I like it—both this lingering sting and the knowledge that he needs my submission as much as I need to give myself to him. I find the sash shoved down near the foot of the bed. Last night, it had bound my wrists behind my back. Now, I tie it around my waist and tug it tight, relishing the luxurious comfort after waking so violently. The room itself is equally soothing, every detail done to perfection. Every piece of wood polished, every tiny knickknack and artistic addition thoughtfully arranged. Right now, however, I am oblivious to the room’s charms. I only want to find Damien. The bedroom connects to an oversized dressing area and a stunning bathroom. I check briefly in both, though I do not expect to find him, then continue through to the living area. The space is large and also well-appointed with comfortable seating and a round worktable that is now covered with sheafs of papers and folders representing both the business that Damien continues to run despite the world collapsing around our ears, and the various legal documents that his attorney, Charles Maynard, has ordered Damien to study. I let the robe drop where I stand and pull on the stunning trompe l’oeil patterned sheath that Damien cavalierly tossed over the arm of a chair after peeling it off me last night. We’ve spent a few hours escaping reality by shopping on Munich’s famous Maximilianstrasse, and I have acquired so many shoes and dresses I could open my own boutique. I run my fingers through my hair as I cross the room to the phone by the bar. I force myself not to go into the bathroom to primp and freshen the makeup that has surely rubbed off. It’s more challenging than it sounds; the mantra that a lady doesn’t go out unfinished has been beaten into my head since birth. But with Damien at my side I have thumbed my nose at many of the tribulations of my youth, and right now I am more concerned with finding him than with applying fresh lipstick. I pick up the receiver and dial zero. Almost immediately there is an accented voice on the other end. “Good evening, Ms. Fairchild.” “He’s in the bar?” I do not need to explain who “he” is. “He is. Shall I have a phone brought to his table?” “No, that’s all right. I’ll come down.” “Sehr gut. Is there anything else I can do for you?” “No, thank you.” I’m about to hang up when I realize there is something. “Wait!” I catch him before he clicks off, then enlist his help with my plan to distract Damien from his demons. Despite the age of the building and the elegance of the interior, the hotel boasts a modern ambiance, and I have come to feel at home within these walls. I wait impatiently for the elevator, and then even more impatiently once I’m in the car. The descent seems to take forever, and when the doors finally open to reveal the opulent lobby, I aim myself straight for the Old English–style bar. Though it’s late on a Sunday, the Jahreszeiten Bar is bustling. A woman stands by the piano softly singing to the gathered crowd. I barely pay her any heed. I don’t expect to find Damien among the listeners. Instead, I wander through the wood and red leather interior, shaking off the help of a waiter who wants to seat me. I pause for a moment, standing idly beside a blond woman about my age who is sipping champagne and laughing with a man who might be her father, but I’m betting is not. I turn slowly, taking in the room around me. Damien is not with the group at the piano, nor is he sitting at the bar. And he does not occupy any of the red leather chairs that are evenly spaced around the tables. I’m starting to worry that perhaps he was leaving as I was coming. Then I take a step to the left and realize that what I thought was a solid wall is actually an optical illusion created by a pillar. Now I can see the rest of the room, including the flames leaping in the fi replace set into the opposite wall. There is a small love seat and two chairs surrounding the hearth. And, yes, there is Damien. I immediately exhale, my relief so intense I almost use the blonde’s shoulder to steady myself. Damien is seated in one of the chairs, his back to the room as he faces the flames. His shoulders are broad and straight, and more than capable of bearing the weight of the world upon them. I wish, however, that they didn’t have to. I move toward him, the sound of my approach muffled by both the thick carpet and the din of conversation. I pause a few feet behind him, already feeling the familiar pull I experience whenever I am near Damien. The singer is now crooning “Since I Fell for You,” her voice cutting sharp and clear across the room. Her voice is so mournful that I’m afraid it is going to unleash a flood of tears along with all of the stress of the last few weeks. No. I’m here to comfort Damien, not the other way around, and I continue toward him with renewed resolve. When I finally reach him, I press my hand to his shoulder and bend down, my lips brushing his ear. “Is this a private party, or can anyone join in?” I hear rather than see his answering smile. “That depends on who’s asking.” He doesn’t turn to face me, but he lifts his arm so that his hand is held up in a silent invitation. I close my hand in his, and he guides me gently around the chair until I am standing in front of him. I know every line of this man’s face. Every angle, every curve. I know his lips, his expressions. I can close my own eyes and picture his, dark with desire, bright with laughter. I have only to look at his midnight-colored hair to imagine the soft, thick locks between my fingers. There is nothing about him that is not intimately familiar to me, and yet every glance at him hits me like a shock, reverberating through me with enough power to knock me to my knees. Empirically, he is gorgeous. But it is not simply his looks that overwhelm. It is the whole package. The power, the confidence, the bone-deep sensuality that he couldn’t shake even if he tried. “Damien,” I whisper, because I can’t wait any longer to feel his name on my lips. That wide, spectacular mouth curves into a slow smile. He tugs my hand, pulling me onto his lap. His thighs are firm and athletic, and I settle there eagerly, but I don’t lean against him. I want to sit back enough that I can see his face. “Do you want to talk about it?” I know what his answer will be, and yet I hold my breath, praying that I am wrong. “No,” he says. “I just want to hold you.” I smile as if his words are sweetly romantic, refusing to let him see how much they chill me. I need his touch, yes. But I need the man more. I stroke his cheek. He hasn’t shaved since yesterday, and the stubble of his beard is rough against my palm. The shock of our connection rumbles through me, and my chest feels tight, my breath uneven. Will there ever come a time when I can be near him without yearning for him? Without craving the touch of his skin against my own? It’s not even a sexual longing—not entirely, anyway. Instead, it’s a craving. As if my very survival depends on him. As if we are two halves of a whole and neither can survive without the other. With Damien, I am happier than I have ever been. But at the same time, I’m more miserable, too. Because now I truly understand fear. I force a smile, because the one thing I will not do is let Damien see how terrified I am of losing him. It doesn’t matter; Damien knows me too well. “You’re scared,” he says, and the sadness that colors his voice is enough to melt me. “You’re the one person in all the world I cannot bear to hurt, and yet I’m the one who put fear in your eyes.” “No,” I say. “I’m not scared at all.” “Liar,” he says gently. “You forget that I’ve seen you in action, Damien Stark. You’re a goddamn force of nature. They can’t possibly hold you. Maybe they don’t know it yet, but I do. You’re going to walk away from this. You’re going home a free man. There’s no other way that this can end.” I say the words because I need to believe them. But he is right. I am desperately afraid. Damien, of course, sees through my bullshit. Gently, he tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. “You should be scared. This is the kind of case that has prosecutors salivating.” “But you were only fourteen,” I say. “Which is why they’re not trying me as an adult.” I frown because even though he was only fourteen, he’s looking at a decade in prison. “But you didn’t kill Merle Richter.” That, after all, is the most important point. His expression darkens. “Truth is a malleable thing, and once I walk into that courtroom, the truth is what the court says it is.” “Then you need to make sure the judges know the real truth. Dammit, Damien, you didn’t kill him. But even if you had, there were mitigating circumstances.” Only recently had Damien told me what happened. He and Richter fought, and when Richter fell, Damien held back, refusing to step forward to help the coach who’d abused him for so many years. “Oh, Nikki.” He pulls me against him, his arm swooping around my waist and shifting me on his lap so quickly that I gasp. “You know I can’t do what you’re asking.” “I’m not asking anything,” I say, but the words sound brittle, because of course I’m asking. Hell, I’m begging. Damien damn well knows it, too. And yet he is denying me. Anger flares within me, but before it explodes, his mouth crushes against mine. The kiss is deep and raw and all-consuming, and warm desire blooms within me. It doesn’t erase my anger or my fear, but it does soothe it, and I shift closer to him, wishing I never had to leave the safety of his arms. His body tightens beneath mine, the bulge of his erection under his jeans teasing my rear as I shift my weight and lean closer, deepening this kiss and wishing like hell we were in our suite instead of in a very public bar. After a moment, I pull back, breathless. “I love you,” I say. “I know,” he says, and though I wait for the reciprocal words to come, he doesn’t say them back to me. My heart twists a little, and I force a smile. A pageant-quality All I Want Is World Peace kind of smile. The kind of smile I show the public, but not Damien. I tell myself that he’s just tired, but I don’t believe it. Damien Stark does nothing without a purpose. And though it is impossible to truly get inside that head of his, I know him well enough to guess at his motivations, and I want to jump to my feet and scream at him. I want to beg him not to push me away. I want to shout that I get it, that he’s trying to protect me because he knows that he might lose the trial. That he might be ripped from me. But goddammit, doesn’t he know that all he’s doing is hurting me? I believe with all my heart that Damien loves me. What I fear is that love isn’t enough. Not when he’s determined to push me away in some misguided attempt to protect me. So I don’t lash out. That’s not a fight I can win, but I can play the game my own way. With renewed resolve, I kick the wattage up on my smile and slide off his lap, my hand extended to him. “You have to be in court at ten, Mr. Stark. I think you’d better come with me.” He stands, his expression wary. “Are you going to tell me I have to get some sleep?” “No.” His gaze slides over me, and my body quivers in response as if he had physically touched me. “Good,” he says, and that one simple word not only conveys a world of promises but takes the edge off the chilly fear that has filled me. I allow the corner of my mouth to quirk up into a hint of a smile. “Not that, either. Not yet, anyway.” The confusion on his face brings a genuine smile to my lips, but he doesn’t have the chance to ask, as the concierge has approached. “Everything is ready, Ms. Fairchild.” My smile broadens. “Thank you. Your timing is perfect.” I take the hand of the very confused man that I love and lead him through the lobby, following the concierge to the front of the hotel. There, parked on the street beside a very giddy valet, is a cherry red Lamborghini. Damien turns to look at me. “What’s this?” “A rental. I thought you could use a little fun tonight, and the A9’s just a few miles away. Fast car. German autobahn. It seemed like a no-brainer to me.” “Boys and their toys?” I lower my voice so that the concierge can’t overhear. “Since we already have some interesting toys in the room, I thought you might enjoy a change of pace.” I lead him closer to where the valet stands by the open passenger door. “I understand she’s very responsive, and I know you’ll enjoy having all that power at your command.” “Is she?” He looks me up and down, and this time the inspection is tinged with fire. “As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I like. Responsiveness. Power. Control.” “I know,” I say, and then slide into the passenger seat, letting more than a little thigh show as I do. An instant later, Damien is behind the wheel and he’s fired the powerful engine. “Drive fast enough, and it’s almost like sex,” I tease. And then, because I can’t resist, I add, “At the very least, it makes for exceptional foreplay.” “In that case, Ms. Fairchild,” he says, with a boyish grin that makes this all worthwhile, “I suggest you hold on tight.”

May Book of the Month

Experience the Last Mile...

A gorgeous excerpt of Katie Ashley's gritty LAST MILE...

January Book of the Month

A sneak peek... Teardrop Lane

A gorgeous excerpt from TEARDROP LANE, Emily March's ninth Eternity Springs title!

Meet Shana Gray...

November Author of the Month