Sorry I’ve been away so long. RomCon took up last weekend, and work has been so incredibly busy that I’ve barely had time to breathe. I had a wonderful time meeting readers — thank you, Batbabes for my lovely bracelet! — and other authors. I met Julie James in person. She’s gorgeous and smart as a whip. I got to spend more time with Tara Janzen and Cindy Gerard, the dynamic duo. Loretta Chase got my bracelet untangled from my hair. Good times!
And now... I have an announcement.
It took much more time than I thought it would, but Sweet Release, my very first novel, is available again. For the past year, the only place readers have been able to find it is in used book stores. Even the ebook versions were taken down after I got my rights to the novel back from the original publisher.
Now, Sweet Release is available for download on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com and a bunch of other formats.
What a strange experience it was to go back to this book, which I hadn’t read since it was published in 2003! As I read it, I decided that my writing has improved dramatically since I wrote that first book. Some things actually made me cringe.
But the story is still incredibly precious to me. It took me seven years to write, a year to edit and then I had to find an agent…
In all a decade of my life went in to Alec and Cassie’s story. I started writing it when Alec was 7 and Benjy was 4. Benjy’s fascination with pirates folded into the story in Jamie’s character, which was created with him in mind.
The book doesn’t contain new material, but it is freshly edited. I took the published version of the manuscript and edited it line by line, removing all the cringe-worthy bits and improving the actual writing without changing the story.
For those of you who haven’t tried my historicals or haven’t tried this series, here’s the blurb from the back of the book:
For five pounds in sterling, the convict was hers. Though Cassie hated the slave trade, her Virginia plantation demanded the labor, and she knew this fevered man would surely die if she left him. But as his wounds healed and his muscled chest bronzed in the sun, Cassie realized Cole Braden was far more dangerous than his papers had indicated—for he could steal her breath with a glance and lay siege to her senses with a touch.
Abducted, beaten, and given a new name, Alec went from master of an English shipbuilding empire to fourteen years of indentured servitude in the American colonies. There, he was known as Cole Braden, a convicted ravisher and defiler of women. And while he longed to ravish the auburn-haired beauty who owned him, he knew his one hope of earning her love—and his freedom—was to prove his true identity. Only then could he turn the tables and attain his ... Sweet Release.
And here is an excerpt from the “shackling scene” that everyone loved when Cassie decides to play a game with the convict she owns and loves:
“You’re on time, convict.” It took every ounce of determination she had not to smile or giggle. “That’s good. It will go easier on you.”
Cassie could see in his eyes the moment he understood her game. His look of confusion was replaced by surprise and then amusement before his gaze grew cold and hard. “I’m to be punished, then?”
“I can no longer tolerate your insolence, convict. I mean to teach you a lesson.” It was good she had rehearsed her lines. It would have been impossible to say them else.
Was she really going through with this?
He leaned against her bedpost nonchalantly, crossing his arms. Defiant and confident, he reminded her so much of the man he’d been when she’d first purchased his indenture. “And what makes you think I’ll cooperate, mistress, when I could just as easily break your pretty neck?”
“You’ll find what I have in mind far more pleasant than what you’ll receive if you disobey.”
“I see.” His gaze raked over her body in blatant sexual appraisal, and she shivered in anticipation. “And just what do you have in mind?”
He raised an eyebrow, then untied his shirt and slowly pulled it over his head. It fell, forgotten, at his feet. Candlelight cast the bronzed muscles of his arms, chest, and abdomen in glorious high relief. He reached for the opening of his breeches and began to untie them, his muscles shifting beneath sun-bronzed skin.
Cassie felt desire flow like warm brandy through her veins. “Slowly, convict.”
His gaze locked with hers again as ever so slowly he pulled on the ties, undid his breeches, and let them drop to the floor. He was rock hard, his sex thick and heavy.
She found she could scarcely breathe. “Your hair. Remove the thong.”
Not breaking eye contact, he reached back with one hand, and his dark hair slid free, falling just below his shoulders. He looked untamed, fiercely male, and, with his lash scars, not a little dangerous. He stepped toward her.
She stepped back and pointed to the bed. “Stop! The shackles. Lock one end around your right wrist, then pass the chain behind the bedpost, lie down, and lock the other end around your left wrist.”
He looked at the bed and saw the shackles. She heard his quick intake of breath and saw a shadow pass over his face. Then it was gone.
“Don’t you trust me, fair mistress?” His voice was dark as sin and soft as velvet. His eyes held the allure of every man who’d ever tried to beguile a woman into a false sense of sexual safety.
“Never.” She smiled and spoke in a rich, seductive voice she didn’t know she had. “But I will have your complete cooperation.”
“I see.” Naked, he walked to the bed, picked up the shackles, and closed one end around his right wrist. It locked with a click. He sat and moved backward across the bed, then reached behind his head and passed the chain behind one of the bedposts. “What makes you think these chains will protect you?”
“Do it, convict.”
He lay down, then reached back to cuff his left wrist. Click. He lay diagonally across the bed, completely vulnerable. His arms were stretched over his head. His chest rose and fell with each breath. His rigid sex stood defiantly against his abdomen. His legs, spread slightly, stretched the length of the bed, his feet hanging just over the edge. A tremor passed from Cassie’s belly to her sex.
His gaze, cold and menacing, bored through her. “Do you like what you see?”
“Aye, convict. And it’s good for you that I do.” Almost trembling with excitement, she loosened her bodice until her breasts were visible. Then she moved to the bed and began to caress him, first his feet, then his ankles and calves. Where her hands touched, her lips and tongue soon followed. She heard his breath quicken, felt his muscles tense, and reveled in his response. She worked her way up his muscular legs and over his powerful thighs, but, although she touched the sac that carried his seed, she did not touch his shaft. “You’ve a remarkable cock, convict.”
He groaned in frustration. The chains caught on the bedpost, clinking as he strained against them. “Is this to be my punishment then? To be tortured with kisses, soft hands and words?”
Some part of her she’d never known awoke within her, and she felt herself grow more daring. Like a cat toying with its prey, she stretched across the bed beside him. She ran her fingers teasingly on his abdomen, outlining his erection.
“Your punishment is that you shall see, but you shall not touch. You shall want, but you shall not receive—not until it pleases me.”
Coming soon... Carnal Gift.
This is Jamie’s story. All grown up and off to Britain to ask Parliament for help at the beginning of the French and Indian War, he visits a friend of his, a nobleman, Lord Byerly, to ask for his support in Lords. But Byerly is a changed man, and offers him a poor Irish girl as a gift to warm his bed.
That’s how the story begins, but this won’t be Carnal Gift as you all know it. More than 100 pages were cut from the story before it was published, changing the book entirely. I finished writing it after covers were printed, and it was simply too long. On top of that, the original publisher had a limit on how many pages they would publish. They didn’t bother to tell me that. So I had to endure the distress of seeing an entire subplot disappear from eh story and then watch as a book I hadn’t written was released with my name on it.
But now the book will be published as I wrote it with all 100 pages restored. Not only that, but I gave it a re-edit, as well. I have to say the writing here was light years ahead of Sweet Release, but it was still good to clean it up and update it a bit.
Carnal Gift isn’t up yet, but it will be sometime next week. I’ll let you know when it is available. It’s a long, meaty read now. I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally have the book I wrote available for you to enjoy.
Please help me get out the word about these two stories through Twitter, Facebook, reviews, blogs, etc. Thank you!
To celebrate the re-release of my first novel, I’m giving away an ebook copy of Sweet Release. To be included in the drawing, all you need to do is post below.
Have a great weekend!