Sunday, February 7, 2016

Cerise went to #London #England, visited #Wellington's home, got #Regency pointers!

Wellington Arch
Across Street from entrance to Apsley House
Breathing life into a novel, especially an historical, demands research. While most of us think of dusty libraries as That Place, many authors get their kicks from traveling to the actual sites. That includes me.

Yes, it is expensive. Yes, it is time consuming, not only because you must plan well, but also because it takes weeks out of your writing schedule and you hope you don't get ill or the family dog doesn't! 
But oh, yes, it is gratifying. As the child's book says, Oh, the things you'll learn!

Reading about the Duke of Wellington, he who won at Waterloo and defeated finally the might of Napoleon Bonaparte, is a far cry from visiting his home.
After all, what does one learn from visiting another's home. Think on it. Do they love art? Do they dine in bed? How vast is their library? And when in country, gazing at some long deceased nobleman's home, you may ask, where did the servants live? And was there a wine cellar?

The facts you learn from a research of Number One London, so called because it sat originally at the post road out of the city, include:
  • It was originally built by another man, Baron Apsley, not a Wellesley.
  • The price to build it? £10,000 
  • The architect, Robert Adam, was one of the most celebrated masters of that refined style which we can call Palladian or Regency-Georgian.
  • Richard, Arthur's older brother, bought the house.
  • But he sold it to his more famous brother in 1817 because Richard realized his brother, famous beyond imagining after Waterloo victory, needed a stately home in London from which to...well...impress the masses and involve himself in the politics of the day.
What you learn from visiting Apsley House is amazingly complementary to those seemingly insignificant facts.
Marble statue of Napoleon
in main alcove
staircase to first floor

Walking through the house, you have that marvelous feeling of elegance, carefree expenditure on wall coverings, paintings and sculpture, appointments and upholstery. Robert Adams' attention to detail, the ceiling plaster designs, the cornices all add to the lavish feeling of air and light. The colors of yellow and red hit the eye and please you. The furniture is sumptuous, because they still do hold the annual Waterloo Dinner here each year to celebrate that 200-year-old victory that put Napoleon to an island and Britain to command all the seas.

One room of the house, on the ground floor, is entirely devoted to the Iron Duke's gifts from many nations and rulers who were freed from the threat of French imperial domination. The gold and silver, the banners abound.

Upstairs, the dining room with its enormous table and huge chairs may hold guests who can look up to find immense portraits of the men who gained from the victory at Waterloo. George IV was still Prince Regent or Prinny in June 1815, not to rule until 1820 after the death of his father George III. The emperor of Austria stands here as does the restored French Bourbon King Louis XVIII. King Leopold of Belgium is a handsome creature and you nod, understanding why Princess Charlotte fell in love with the man instantly.

The next room, a salon, boasts portraits, large and small, of all those who aided or served the Iron Duke in some capacity during the wars and in particular, the battle of Waterloo. It's wonderful to look upon the originals of many portraits one finds only reproduced in books or on the web.

The Banquet Room was added to the house later at a significant cost to the Iron Duke himself. In fact, he argued with the architect's expenditures. But to your eyes and mine, (and the Iron Duke would most likely agree) the expense was worth it. Why?

During the Battle of Vitoria in June 21, 1813 as Wellington chased Napoleon's brother Joseph (whom he'd named King of Spain) back into France, the king, poor man, ran so quickly, he left behind his baggage train.
What had he taken?
A wealth of art from the Spanish royal collection at the Prado. Luckily, though British soldiers looted much from Joseph's train, officers stopped the robbery before the Madrid collection could be seized. Wellington had the collection shipped home to England in the safe-keeping of his brother, Richard. After Waterloo and end of the wars, Richard turned over his brother's captured art to him. Wellington offered the art to the newly restored King Ferdinand of Spain. However, that man was so grateful for Welllington's services, he gave them to him. They are still here, hanging in splendor in the room where the annual dinner occurs to celebrate the victory.

A few tidbits from my tour?

  • The statue of Napoleon the Peacemaker by Italian sculptor Canova inspired my husband to remark after we left the house that he had the distinct impression that the Iron Duke respected Napoleon in many ways. In fact, he did. He thought that Waterloo victory was "a close run thing" and had studied Napoleon's military tactics and care of his soldiers for years. This was wise as it gave him food for thought and use among his own men.
  • The price of the house originally was £10,000. But what is that in current British and American currency? £1,480,000 or $2,145,482.00
  • The only portrait of a French woman in the Waterloo salon? That of Napoleon's sister, Pauline Bonaparte! Why would he have a portrait of her, you may ask? The British Government bought her house in Paris in 1814 for Wellington to live in after he chased Napoleon out the first time. After he won at Waterloo in June 1815, he resumed possession of it. The Hotel Charost on Rue Faubourg is famous for many reasons. Wellington lived in it after Waterloo. Much of the furnishings and paintings remain. Today the Hotel Charost is the official residence of the United Kingdom's ambassador to France.
And for a marvelous mystery about the Hotel Charost's purchase and Pauline's attempt to salvage items from the purchase, I hope you will read my new Regency romance, MASQUERADE WITH A MARQUESS, out soon.

More about Apsley here: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/apsley-house


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cerise went to #London, #Bath, #Osterley, #Hampton; shows pix, tidbits!

     Launching the newest in my travel series to hopefully inform, entertain and delight you, I am tickled to begin with a selection of pictures.  This past October, my husband and I went to England for a much-overdue trip. Yes, it was research. Yes, it included marvelous food and great restaurants and B and Bs. Yes, it included lots of walking. We took good shoes, wore layers for the chill...and had in hand our umbrellas.
   
     Where did we go?

    Hampton Court, Osterley Park, the Tower (for the empty-umpth time), St. Paul's (again!) and all the delights of Bath and riding the efficient Great Western Railway. In between, we dined. Hubbie is a restaurant reviewer and so we "feed" his passion. I'll share the best of the best with you!

     First stop was Apsley House that gorgeous home of the Duke of Wellington. With more details to come, I will tell you one fact struck my husband, who is not a history nut as are others in this family. He commented that Wellington seemed to respect Napoleon. Why else would he have a marble statue of the man in his foyer? It is true that the Duke did think the Frenchman's skills were to be respected, honored and feared. Here's the statue. We had no other pictures of the house as it is not possible to take them because flash deteriorates fabrics, art, decor, etc.

     After leaving Apsley, we walked along Piccadilly and stopped into a French patisserie
for French afternoon tea and divine pastries. One must keep up one's energy...and calorie count.

     We did the Royal Cavalry Museum and smiled at the officers. Patted the horses. Went on to the Royal Mews which we highly recommend for those of you who always get a charge out of watching Britain's royal family take a little jaunt down the Mall in fabulous carriages. One carriage that knocked my socks off was the 22 carat golden leaf carriage made for George III in 1762.  Here it is in all its fabulously gaudy glory!
George III's Gold State Coach, 1762. Interior art by Italian artist Cipriani.
Front Portico, Osterley Park

     We also toured that famous house Osterley Park in suburban London. This house, redecorated into a Palladian beauty by Robert Adam. Here the joys of the house included the Long Hall, meant for exercise when the weather prohibited one from walking outside.

     We strolled through London to find South Moulton Street, where once modistes had shops, and now many fabulous shops still cater to avid shoppers. Past Hanover Square, we went to that famous church St. George's.
Fashionable South Moulton Street now and during the Regency!






Monday, December 21, 2015

Cerise asks, What do gin, smuggling, shoes and London docks have in common during #Regency period?

Women's slippers, circa 1829
corsetsandcrinolines.com
During the Regency, all was not serene decorum in this bustling, growing city. While the ton dined and danced and courted especially in our Regency romances, the commerce that kept them on their toes and money in their pockets could be a raw and nasty business on the east end of town where the ships from all ports docked.

I doubt anyone would want to walk in these dockland areas if they could help it. Or even try because to walk the approximate 4+ miles from the docks to (for example) Mayfair would be dangerous. Plus the general challenge of walking over cobbles and uneven surfaces in what were (I cringe every time I see them) terrible shoes or boots seems daunting. And for a refined lady to walk in these rough and tumble dock areas would be unthinkable.

West India completed docks, 1802.
Public domain.
West India Docks, East India docks and London docks were areas inhabited by shipwrights, seamen of merchant marine and Royal navies. With men and goods of all kinds going in and out, it was a bustling area and, except for the demands of the Customs officials, largely unregulated. So you have ships coming in, being unloaded, goods stored in warehouses and transported from there. The nature of the activities there would inspire much criminal activity. Smuggling was the biggest problem and the private companies employed their own watchmen (later maritime police) to try to deal with it. Lawlessness of all types occured, including theft, avoidance of import taxes, prostitution and gaming. Add to this drunkenness, brawling and general poverty, and this area is not a safe place.


East India dock looking south towards the River Thames, 1806.
Public domain.
Indeed in 1824 when the bill for the building of St. Katherine's Dock (next to the Tower) was introduced in Parliament, much of the debate discussed not just commercial need for another dock (and its destruction of thousands of homes and displacement of people there to make way for it) but also the fact that those who remained would be subject to similar disastrous social conditions. Years later, when Parliament later debated the bills for establishing a police force, they'd cite not only love of gin among laboring classes, but also the lawlessness of those in the dock areas as justification for a group for regular law enforcement.
References:
To view a map of London's docks, plus other sections of the city, see this 1830 map in high resolution: http://www.motco.com/Map/81003/

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A #Regency lady must dress for breakfast, lunch, dinner in, dinner out, more. Cost of that is...?

Opera Dress, left. Promenade Dress, right.
From: 1811 Ackermann's Repository. Google books
     Readers of Regencies love their fashions. In an age marked by the simplicity of line, the simplicity of the look of the cloth, plus the growth of types of cloth available to dressmakers in Great Britain, women regarded their fashion as the key to their success socially.
     Fashion has always signaled status. The decrees of kings (think Louis XIV) and queens (think of Elizabeth I) and various injunctions of parliaments (think sumptuary laws during war times) have limited supply of types of fabrics and inspired protection of home-grown markets.
     But in Britain during the Regency, despite the harassment of a few French frigates and the Barbary pirates, those in Britain enjoyed the variety of fabrics shipped to their shores. Ladies adorned themselves in muslins and silks, satins and laces of all types from many ports of call.
     Here, for your enjoyment, I list a few types of garments and their accompanying costs. My aim is to show you what it might have cost a family to dress their darling girl or cost a lady to dress herself.

(Note well: I take these prices from Cunnington, C. Willett, English Women's Clothing in the Ninetheenth Century. 1990, pp. 34-73. These pages describe women's clothing during 1800-1821. In other words, this is the period of the Napoleonic Wars ending in 1821, the crowning of the Prince Regent in summer of 1821 as George the Fourth, and therefore by strict accounts, the end of the Regency. Also note as Cunnington says, that the costs he found here were ones he could find in advertisements and therefore, they may be the norm, not the most expensive nor least.)

Morning:
Nightgown: cambric muslin, 1+ pounds per yard (2-3 yards necessary)
Morning dress: 15-21 pounds each (ready made)

Undergarments:
Corset: 18+ pounds each
Drawers: cotton, at 3+ pounds each
Pantaloons: worsted, from 14+ pounds each
Petticoat: muslin, 3 pounds
Silk stockings with cotton feet: 7+ pounds a pair

Day gowns, at home:
A gown, muslin, 20+ pounds ready made
shoes: satin or kid, 4+ pounds a pair

Dinner attire, at home:
A gown, merino crepe at 5 pounds per yard
               sarcenet at 7/6 per yard
             
Dinner attire, party, full dress:
Gown:  5-7 pounds per yard  x 3 yards      
Hat/headdress: 4-7+ pounds each
Gloves: long over the elbow, 1+ pound per pair
Shoes: satin, silk, embroidered, 4+ pounds a pair
Cape/redingote: velvet at 7 pounds per yard

And to dress well, other accoutrements are necessary. They would include reticules, fans, parasols, handkerchiefs, and that final bit of embellishment, jewelry.

Now, at minimum of one each of these, we see that our lady's wardrobe costs 123+ pound sterling.
Note my summary here does not address the needs of a young gel making her first Season. Nor does it talk about levels of dress for different types of affairs each of which requires a degree of refinement, all translating to higher costs.
In today's money, how much does that translate to?
If the pound sterling in 1811 is now equal to 70+, then 123 is now equal to:
GBP = 8,622
And that amount in current USD = $13,081.00
With this kind of outlay, one can readily see why conserving fabric was not only a very good practice in all households, but protecting dresses with scarfs and collars and removable cuffs was sound financially. Then too, cutting down dresses to fit not only young girls in the household but also servants was a very practical matter.
Evening dress, left.  Promenade Costume, right.
1812 Ackermann's Repository. Google Books
Descriptions of above fashions, 1812 Ackermann's Repository.
Google books.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Cerise asks, With 10,000 a year, is Mr. Darcy really a rich #Regency man?

Darcy fans ask the burning question: How well would Lizzie Bennet really live after she married Mr. Darcy?

That leading statement that he had “ten thousand a year” sounds rich…but it’s enlightening to learn the facts.

To help you savor the possibilities of stepping into Lizzie’s shoes, I found a wonderful website that translates previous years’ British pounds into current British pounds. So for your titilation, here’s a sample of the real cost of living for Mr. Darcy and his bride. I’ve added to the cost of a hired carriage ride and the cost of paying his servants’ salaries. (Yes, all costs are those I took from original sources of the period, give or take a few years on the publication date of Jane’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE which is 1813.)

A London carriage ride, hired hackney, 1-2 miles
(ex: Charing Cross to Hyde Park Corner)                                    1-2 pounds

Ladies hat, chip straw                                                                 18 pounds

Lace trim, 6 shillings per yard

Gown: Fine India Muslin, white, 13 per yard*                        39-65 pounds
(3-5 needed for full length dress)
*Sewing extra
(Alternate fabric: chintz 7-8 pounds per yard)

Dinner party, food and wine, for 16-20                                         20 pounds
Dinner for family of 4, 3-4 courses                                                  5 pounds


To educate (a daughter) at boarding school, including
Transportation to, from                                                                   43 per year

Recommended expenditure for running complete household:
This from one current expert in the period...and the category that breaks the bank. Watch and see!
33% of all income should go to household expenses                              3300
20% to servants’ salaries, equipage (i.e. horse, carriage)                        2000
TOTAL:                                                                                                  5300

So, let’s do the math!
Darcy has income of 10,000 pounds a year.
To run his country home, he spends 55% a year of 10,000 =  5300. pounds

He gives one dinner party a month x 12 =  240.
1 ball for 100 = (equivalent of 5 dinners) = 200
Total entertainment of others per year     =                                        440.

5 new dresses for his wife, Lizzie = 65 x 5= 325
5 new hats for Lizzie,                              18 x 5=   90
Total for Lizzie:                                                                                       415.

What remains for him to expense:
·      Clothing for himself, rest of family
·      Education for children
·      Books, entertainment, etc.
·      His club dues, social responsibilities
·      Etc.
And of course, the total to run his London townhouse is not listed here. That amount would be approximate to that of running his country estate. So add another 5300 pounds to his annual expenses as a gentleman.

And by that rule of thumb alone, he would already be in debt by several thousand pounds.

And what does 10,000 pounds in 1813 equal in British pounds today?
638,000 pounds
Converting that into American dollars at today’s inflation rate, we get
$1,329,000.90

Darcy is a millionaire. But if he’s running two households, I hate to say this, he’s in financial trouble.
My Regency gentlemen are not broke. And I hope you will read all of the novels in which they star...and lavishly spend their riches on new wives!
Do anticipate my newest release, MASQUERADE WITH A MARQUESS, #3 in my REGENCY ROMP series! Soon, my dahlinks, soon!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Desiree Holt creates sizzling danger in new series, THE OMEGA TEAM! Starts today!

Welcome to The Omega Team, my newest action/adventure/romance series. To tempt you into their headquarters, Book #1 Raw Edge of Danger is FREE!!!! Yes, FREE!! Only available at Amazon. Hope you love it enough to take home all three stories.
 The Omega Team
Former Delta Force team leader Grey Holden came from a long line of military who believed the important thing was getting the job done, not your ego. They called themselves Omega Men. Athena Madero, left the police department angry at all the restrictions she faced as she tried to fight crime. They collided, literally, when both were working a covert investigation, the resolution of which resulted in the birth of The Omega Team. Others will join them as the agency expands its scope of activities, everything from hostage negotiation to hostage rescue to industrial espionage to fighting drug cartels to threats to national security. They will be led by Grey and Athena, whose passion for their work is only rivaled by their passion for each other. Welcome to a series that combines high danger with intense passion and heady romance. Are you ready to play?

Book #1
Raw Edge of Danger
For Grey Holden the mission was simple: get the goods on the bastard selling guns by the truckload to terrorist. Guns that were used in a firefight that killed his best friend. Lucky hadn’t been too lucky that night. Setting up shop in Tampa, where Lucky’s house was, where the money Lucky left him is held, and where the traitor rides high as a politician, he sets a course to take the man down and brand him for the trash that he is. Athena Madero has seen the fat cat politician waltz once too often on sexual predator charges at the police department. It sickens her and forces her out on leave and on a mission to get proof that will destroy the man once and for all. When these two collide, it’s a tossup which sparks hotter: their resentment for the intrusion of the other or the sexual chemistry that threatens to burn them alive.

Book #2
Mission Control
Krista (Kris) Gauthier and Mason Rowell are like oil and water from the moment they meet. He never expected the team from Mission Control, the security agency made up of former military, to send a woman to lead the team he hired to fix his problem: find out who is helping smugglers cross his land from the border. Their antagonism is only heightened by the sexual attraction that keeps blazing out of control. Neither of them is happy about the fact they keep falling into bed together and Mason, who values his unattached existence, can’t wait for the team to be finished and Kris to be gone. But when the bad guys are identified and caught and Kris is wounded in the process, the thought of losing her nearly destroys him, and makes him take another look at their relationship. 

Book #3
Lethal Design
Someone is putting a kink in Shannon McRae’s very orderly life. The video games she designs aren’t about electronic battles or gory crimes. Her projects include team building exercises for executives. It’s bad enough she’s plagues with possessions moved out of place, flat tires, strangers following her at night. But most importantly, someone is messing with her current project, corrupting the file so she has to rework it over and over. When activities escalate Athena Madero, decides it’s a case for the top security and protection agency The Omega Team, which she owns with her partner with Grey Holden. Owen Cormier has been isolated emotionally most of his adult life. Twelve years fighting wars haven’t made him warm and fuzzy. Then he discovers his new client is the one night stand he could never get out of his mind. When the case is over, will he just be able to walk away?



Saturday, November 28, 2015

SEALs are hot for @cerisedeland's MILITARY MONTH! Yum!

AMAZON BUY LINK:
http://amzn.to/10DR2pF

If you were saved by a SEAL from an abductor in a sizzling desert, you'd be grateful. You'd want to thank him. You'd also be astonished he came to visit you in the hospital and that he asked after you. You might even fall in love...and  seek him out to tell him that.
               * * * * *
Getting in the party mood for a weekend away with his SEAL teammates is no easy deal for “Zeus” Calderon. He’s hung up on a woman he saved from terrorists months ago, but he should be able to forget a gutsy blonde reporter who showed resilience and humor under fire. Shouldn’t he?

Kim Stansfield got the instant hots for the hunky Navy SEAL who led her out of harm’s way—and she’s got proof Zeus feels the same about her. He’s stubborn, but she’s devised a plan to conquer him.

When she shows up in Key West and surprises him on the beach, Zeus learns that once in a lifetime a man meets a woman he can’t forget—and every day without her is no easy day.


Excerpt, CONQUERING ZEUS by Cerise DeLand, 2012-3. All rights reserved.
   Pissed at himself for leaving Coyote and Ghost at the rockin’ Friday night beach bar scene hours earlier at Sunset Pier, he pushed through his temper and used it as fuel. Of all the women in all the joints in the world, the blonde bombshell who doesn’t walk in there tonight is the one I want.
   He pounded through the waves, spotting someone lean and female strolling the beach with a sizable dog.
   They were harmless. He had jumped in naked. No matter. Whoever it was would be long gone by the time he hauled his bare ass up the sands toward the house.

   SEALS ON FIRE:       PRINT: http://amzn.to/Uo5CSG       EBOOK:  http://amzn.to/1ndo6Sf

   He angled for the shore, fighting memories of doing a door-to-door in an Egyptian shantytown to find her. His team had landed the night before, marched hours over abandoned desert to the tribesmen’s village, then fanned out to search for her and her two fellow hostages. Amid machine gun fire, he discovered her in a tin-roof lean-to, weary and weak, dehydrated, blindingly beautiful and bravely smiling at him in her filthy rags.
   “Keep your head down,” he had whispered, pushing her to sit beneath the edge of the window in the hovel where the Bedouin tribesman had tied her to the post of an old iron bed frame.
   With a classic profile, Nordic and tall, Kim Stansfield, reporter and hostage, stared at him, sunburned and dazed from hunger and thirst. Despite her dire condition, she smiled, pointing at his face and the green and brown desert camouflage paint that disguised his features. “Are you wearing make-up?”
   “What? You don’t like a man to wear foundation?”   He fluttered his lashes at her, whipped an MRE drink from his vest and shoved it toward her. “Guzzle this.”
   Grasping the pouch with shaking hands, she downed it while he sawed off her chains with his Spyderco blade. She coughed, choked, then hacked some of it back up.
   “Cancel the guzzle. Sip it. Let me see how fit you are.” He ran his hands over her body, checking for sprains or injuries from beatings. God knew what these animals had done to a blonde Western woman who didn’t suit their ideals for dress or habits. After seven days of captivity, her body was still sleek, but limp from lack of nutrition. Outside, the rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire and bursts from his buddies’ Sig Sauers told him his team had run into her captors and it was his job to snatch her and run.
   “I can’t go with you,” she rasped, wiping drops of the liquid from the corner of her mouth with the sleeve of her dirty linen abaya.
   The hell you can’t. He shot her a look that spoke his thoughts. But hostages, especially women, needed assurances. He knew how to do that. Grandmothers, mother, sisters and cousins.  He had gentled them all.  The only man in a huge Tex-Mex family since his father had passed away when he was a baby, Jesus “Zeus” Calderon knew how to talk to women. “You’ll be fine. Do as I say.”
   This female, he knew, tended not to follow anyone’s orders. Not her newspaper editor’s. Not the American government’s. He had studied her top-notch professional background and her tough-as-nails character, all as part of his team’s mission prep. She might look like a runway model, but she was an Amazon in spirit and truth. Though she hailed from preppy American and crusty British diplomatic stock, Kimberly Morran Stansfield was a dare devil, thirty-one-year old investigative journalist who spoke fluent Arabic and had used her excellent skills to file stories from Bengazi and    Cairo during the Arab Spring. For more than three years in the Middle East, she had strolled through gunfire, air strikes and riots. Seven days ago, while working an angle on famine in Egypt after the overthrow of Mubarak, she had been abducted and held for ransom by a renegade tribe of Bedouin.
   “You don’t understand,” she objected, clutching his shirt in one fist. “They expected you. Planned for you.” She coughed again and he fretted about how deeply the spasms wracked her. “They’ll kill my cameramen Johnson and Hassan if you take me. Said they’d torture them first.”
   “No, they won’t.”
   “But—"
   “We’re getting your two guys. No worries. Then we’re putting down your captors.”
   “How many are you?” she asked, the reverence in her voice a prayer.
   “Enough.” He smiled at her then and it was as if the sun multiplied into a thousand more when she grinned back at him. “Drink all of that. Fast as you can. It’s got your meds in there.”
    She had a chronic condition of high red platelets. That was the reason the SEALs had come for her and her two colleagues as quickly as they had. Delay by even two more days and she would have died. Besides, this particular group of Bedouins had shown their hand at violence last year when they had kidnapped a French female television commentator. That woman they had brutally tortured and killed. Without a cause, save their own enrichment, this nomadic group tried to ransom those whom they abducted. And they always abducted women.
   “They’re cowards,” he told her as he checked her bare feet, concluding he would simply carry her with him. “And they’re dead meat.”
   Laughing hoarsely, she put a hand to her temple and swayed in delight. “Woosy. Think I’ve had too much to drink. Can you do that? Take them all?”
   “My only job is you.”
   She had laughed then, giddy with the strength of the MRE. Drawing his face down to hers, she planted a big fat kiss on his cheek. “Color me grateful, SEAL of my heart. Your wish is my command.”
* * * * *
    COME VISIT my website for more delicious tales: http://cerisedeland.com




Friday, November 27, 2015

Desiree Holts' WOLF MOON howls! Out today!

I have a longtime love affair with the wolf. Yes, he’s a predator. Yes, he kills. But he is such a majestic, magnificent animal that I am drawn to him again and again. Today launches a new wolf shifter series for me­.

Hot Moon Rising

A new wolf pack gathers…
Survivors of the devastation wrought by developers and a more savage pack, the Moonlight Wolf Pack struggles to find a new home for itself in the heat of Central Florida. Here you will meet Jesse and Charlie, the sheriff’s deputies who are their liaison to the human world; Alexa and Liana, the women they married; Derek Sawyer and Rand Molina, leader and lieutenant of the Moonlight Pack; and all those who make up their wolf family as well as those who will join them in the future.

It starts with Wolf Moon…
Shapeshifter Alexa Morgan fled her home in the north when her relationship with a human ended in disaster and the clan alpha shunned her. Now living in Florida, against all her better judgment she finds herself in a hot relationship with Jesse Farrell, the cop next door.  Despite her knowledge that the relationship is doomed, she cannot stay away from him. When Jesse, a gang task force member, is hurt one night on the job, Alexa begins to spend her nights tracking him, keeping him in her line of sight, determined to protect him. But she’s terrified of his reaction when he discovers her true nature. Will he accept her or bolt as her other lover did, leaving her destroyed once again.
And continues with Venus Moon and Blood Moon

Catch the special flash sale!
For three days only, beginning today, Wolf Moon will be on sale for 99 cents.

Excerpt:
The sound of the doorbell startled her. On tiptoe she peered through the peephole. She was stunned to see Jesse on her porch, dripping wet and shifting from one foot to the other.
She yanked the door open. “What’s wrong? It’s pouring rain. Why aren’t you inside?”
“Can I come in, please?”
“Oh, sure. Come on.” Yes, bring your fantastic body into my house.
“Sorry to bother you. I left my key on the counter this morning.” He raked his wet hair back from his forehead. “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”
Jesse always carried his car keys separately.
“In case I’m ever attacked,” he explained, “I don’t want anyone having a key to my house. I can keep an extra one of yours too, if you want.”
Another link to him she should have avoided.
“I’ll get it,” she told him now, “but come into the kitchen. You look like a drowned rat and you must be freezing. At least get that wet shirt off and let me make you some coffee.”
“I’ll drip all over your place,” he protested.
“Tile floors are easy to mop.” She took his hand. “Come on. I’d feel terrible if you got pneumonia and I could have prevented it.”
In the kitchen, she flipped the switch on the coffeemaker while he took off his shirt. Then she handed him a large towel from the stack in the laundry room.
“You look exhausted. Bad night?” Her heart pinched at the weary sight of him.
Jesse scrubbed a hand over his face. “Every night’s bad with the gangs. We’ve got a couple of new ones out there ramping up their so-called initiation requirements. That makes it pretty tense on the streets.”
He was a member of the sheriff’s gang task force, a thankless and dangerous job. On the night streets, he was a shadowy figure in jeans and t-shirt looking to stop trouble before it started. Even in a county as small as Palmetto, gangs were a big problem, many of them migrating south from Tampa.
She’d taken to waiting up for him, reassuring herself that once again he was home safely. If only she could find a way to protect him. Well, there was one if she transformed. But she had no idea how he’d feel about a giant redwolf following him around the county.
She ran a critical eye over him, noting his soaked jeans and pulled out another towel. “You’d better take off the rest of those clothes and let me put everything in the dryer. Coffee should be ready in a minute.”
“I’m all right, Alexa. Honest. I just need to get some sleep.”
How about in my bed?

Here is where you can get Wolf Moon:

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-wolfinwinterclothingwintersolsticerun-1921899-340.html


Meet the author:
Known the world over as the oldest living author of erotic romance, and dubbed by USA Today as the Nora Roberts of erotic romance, Desiree Holt has produced more than two hundred titles in nearly every subgenre of romance fiction. She is a winner of the EPIC E-Book Award, an Authors after Dark Author of the Year and of the Holt Medallion. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The London Daily Mail and numerous other national and international publications. She enjoys football and reading and her three cats, who are her constant writing companions.

“Get out the ice water and fan…Desiree Holt delivers smoking hot alpha heroes and red hot romances.” Lea Franczak, USA Today Happy Ever After blog

Learn more about her and read her novels here:
www.facebook.com/desireeholt
Twitter @desireeholt
Pinterest: desiree02holt
Google: www.desiree02holt

LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/desiree01holt

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Normandie Alleman gives us a hunky WEBMASTER!

An online connection.
Masked by anonymity.
No cameras. No pictures.
Curiosity ignited to intrigue.

I thought I knew what I was getting into, but had no idea how far we would go...

My intention was to test the waters, dip my toe in the wading pool. Instead I surrendered to the world of seduction and submission as he submerged me--body, mind, and soul--into an ocean of eroticism. 

Emails, texts, and hidden identities, were one thing. But now, coming face-to-face with the mystery man, the star of my fantasies, both terrifies and completely thrills me.  If all goes according to plan, he will intensify the exquisite bond we share by transporting me to that glorious intersection between agony and ecstasy. If not, everything we've built will come crashing down around us, destroying my dreams in the process.

Either way, there is no going back. Because I want more. Much more.
He always says, "For every ounce of pleasure, a price must be paid."

And I am going to pay...

Warning: If you’re not a fan of dirty talk or dominant alpha males, “Her Web Master” may not be for you, but if you're looking for a filthy online boyfriend who will make your toes curl, meet Sophie’s mysterious Dom.


Excerpt – (Abridged Prologue) Rated R:

I stared at the ice cubes in my glass, all that was left of my first drink. I was only allowed two, so I relished the sensation as bourbon sank deliciously into my bloodstream, numbing me ever so slightly. I tried to wait patiently for the next cocktail to arrive, but patience had never been my strong suit. An only child, spoiled rotten by my parents who’d all but given up on having children when I came along, I wasn’t accustomed to waiting. But today of all days, I needed that next drink to calm my frayed nerves.
      The restaurant at the Omni Hotel wasn’t crowded, about what one expected on a Thursday late afternoon. The elegant décor looked to be the result of a recent remodel, and I wondered who had done it. My mother would want to know the name of the designer. She served as the director of Fort Worth’s Junior Cotillion, as well as on a number of museum boards, and she’d taught me to stay abreast of all things related to the arts, but right now considering the hotel’s new look only helped distract me from an imminent meeting with the most important man in my life.
      I was excited yet anxious because this would be my first meeting with my lover.
      Our first meeting face-to-face.
      He’d left strict instructions for me to sit at the table he reserved for us. He requested I sit with my back to the entrance. This tricky move on his part allowed no way for me to see him as he entered. If his intention was to control and torture me, it was working. A loose strand of hair tickled my cheek, so I tucked it behind my ear. My hair wasn’t choosing this inopportune moment to misbehave. It always misbehaved.
      I watched for the waiter, again wanting that drink, but as much as I hated being outside my comfort zone, I loved the naughty, decadent feeling I got from doing something simply because my Master told me to. When I submitted to his demands, I stepped outside my safe little world, the one where my ex-husband ignored me for years, where all my friends had children, where I felt inconsequential. With him I wasn’t invisible. He relied on me.
      Sure it was for things of a sexual nature, but to me, that was something, and I felt fulfilled for the first time in ages.
      A few months ago, when I’d been supremely pissed at my cheating husband, I went online. I admit it, I’d been looking for trouble, which was mind-numbingly easy to find. I hadn’t intended to find a darker side of myself with needs that could never have been met by my philandering husband.  I’d never meant to find someone. I’d merely been looking, searching—for what, I wasn’t sure.
      What I did find was a whole new world of dominance and submission, self-inflicted pain as well as pleasure, and sexual satisfaction with a stranger. A man who reached out and touched me in corners of my soul I hadn’t known existed. We spoke every day, I performed sex acts upon myself at his command, and sent him reports on the intimate and sometimes humiliating tasks he gave me.
I was his submissive, and he was my Master, and every aspect of our relationship took place over the internet. I addressed him as “Sir”, but in our chats he went by the moniker, “MC.” We communicated only via Skype, email, chats and the occasional phone call. That is, until today.
I always insisted we not use a webcam, even though he implored me to do webcam “sessions.” My privacy was of the utmost importance to me, so I always refused. I’m a kindergarten teacher at one of Fort Worth’s finest preparatory schools! I couldn’t take the risk of being videotaped during our play sessions. So the only notion I have of what my Master looks like is a product of my imagination.
But today he flew to Houston to meet me in person. To have a real “play date.” In the flesh. A chill ran across my flesh, leaving a trail of goosebumps in its wake.
The waiter set my second bourbon in front of me. Always cognizant of my manners, I thanked him with a smile. I had been born into one of the wealthiest families in Texas and I’ve been given every advantage. I attended the right boarding schools, wore the right clothes, and behaved as any proper debutante should. And what had that gotten me?
An unfulfilling marriage to an unfaithful jackass and a lifetime of trying to meet other people’s expectations rather than my own. I sipped my drink then smiled. But not today. Today I was doing what I wanted for a change.
I would finally meet the man who dominated me for the past four months. My stomach roiled with anticipation. What would he look like? Would it matter? Of course whatever he looked like, he wouldn’t be the “Master” I’d daydreamed about.
Things never worked that way. It would be like conjuring an image for the hero in a book, and when a movie is made, the actor never matches the character in your head. Always a disappointment.
I’d tried to prepare myself for that from the beginning. I never pictured MC to be a handsome movie star. Instead, I envisioned him as rather average, with salt-and-pepper hair and kind features. For some reason I pictured him wearing glasses, possibly he had a beard.
In any case, it wasn’t his physical appearance that was captivating. MC awakened a primal response in me. He exposed my mind to a world in which I could be open about my sexual desires. A world where the wanton girl inside me was encouraged to come out and play, rather than squelched and pushed into a back closet where she had always lived. He controlled my sexuality, sensing my deepest, darkest needs. And it didn’t hurt that he made me feel cared for and cherished at a time when I desperately needed that. I wanted to please him.
Draining my second drink, I considered a third. I sighed deeply at the thought of the swats that MC would rain down on me for breaking his two-drink maximum. It made me wriggle in my chair, and the excitement between my legs spread down into my toes. My phone showed it was 5:12, and my tummy tightened. Any minute now… He told me he would be here at 5:15. The wait had been both excruciating and delicious at the same time—a perfect reflection of our relationship, a testimony to both pain and pleasure.
“Close your eyes, my pet.” The familiar voice came from behind my chair. It was a sound I’d come to crave and hearing it sent shivers of anticipation dancing down my spine. Suddenly, I wanted to freeze that moment in time, to stop things while things were still beautiful between us, before reality could mar the fantasy.
A hand circled my nape. His touch was like an electric current, setting my skin aflame. I leaned back against his fingers, shamelessly aching for more, though I knew I should maintain my composure because we were in a public place. But it was all I could do not to moan out loud.
He wrapped my long hair over his wrist and gripped it firmly. “I see you were looking at your phone. Did you think I’d be late?”
“N-n-n-no.”
“Good. I’m going to sit beside you, to your left, but you will keep your eyes closed until I tell you to open them. Do you understand me?”
“Yes.”
“What did you say?” He pulled my hair tight, and I immediately wondered if anyone in the restaurant noticed.
“Yes, Sir.” My heart thumped hard in my chest.
“That’s better.”
He let go of my hair, and I yearned for him to touch me again. I kept my eyes closed, though I knew I must look an odd spectacle.
“Was that your second drink?”
I nodded.
“I expect you to answer me properly.”
I squirmed in my seat. “Yes, Sir.”
“Would you like another one?”
“Yes, but you said I could only have two.”
“Do you plan to be a good girl today?”
“Yes, Sir.”
“Since you followed my directions so well and this is something of a special occasion, you may have another one. What would you like?”
“I’ll have a bourbon and water, please, Sir.”
“That’s a mighty strong drink for a young lady.”
I wasn’t that young, but I appreciated the chivalrous thought. “My grandmother taught me that if you drink bourbon and water it won’t sneak up on you the way sweeter drinks will. That way a lady can always take care of herself.”
“Smart woman, your grandmother.”
I listened as he ordered more drinks, my eyes closed the whole time, feeling ridiculous. Then I gave up and lowered my head, pretending to look at the ground. I’d spent my entire life being worried about what people thought of me. It was exhausting, trying to be perfect all the time.
Part of me was dying to cheat, to open my eyes to see what this dynamic man actually looked like, while the other part was enjoying the game and wished it could go on forever. Because once I saw his face, nothing between us would ever be the same. The fantasy would disappear, replaced by a yet-to-be-known reality, with only a few of the fragments of our mutual projection remaining.

and on Kindle Unlimited.

About the Author: 
A former psychologist, Normandie has always been fascinated by human behavior. She loves writing quirky characters that are all too human. Fiber arts, baking, and Pinterest are a few of her favorite pastimes. She lives on a farm with a passel of children, hunky husband, and a pet pig who’s crazy for Red Bull. If you’d like up to the minute new release info on Normandie’s books text RACYREADS to 24587.






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