Monday, January 27, 2014

Dracula, villain as hero? NBC's new version rocks my world! Yours?

    Dracula, that arch villain, has become a romance hero. While I am no regular reader of paranormal romances, nor even its cousins sci-fi or fantasy, I get a kick out of this Friday night version of the Bram Stoker's infamous villain.
    Always intrigued by the historical figure, the famous leader who held back the hordes of infidels from his domain by pitting them on spikes, I have read the original and a few fictional interpretations of that event. But this version strikes me for its ingenuity—and its wide appeal to many of those whom I "visit" with on Facebook and Twitter.
    I ardently appreciate this version of Dracula and thought I would tell you why. (Perhaps you agree!)
    I think Jonathan Rhys Meyers and the writers have done a smashingly good job of giving Dracula a pair of motivations that make the audience cheer for him. Aside from the fact that Meyers played that other ruthless "hero" Henry VIII of England recently, he can appear dangerously seductive. Always a good trait for a romance hero!
    Believable as a man out for revenge, this Dracula also has a soft spot for the (seeming) reincarnation of his beloved wife. Hence, we have the merging of Dracula's goal to destroy those who destroyed and turned him into the creature he is with the new goal to be united with his wife/modern-day Mina. 
    True, it is no small feat for a blood-sucking vampire to find true love or everlasting happiness with that lover. But women who read (and write) romance, whether or not they are like me and avoid paranormal sub-genre, will recognize the signs that there may be a resolution to this impossible love affair.
    Jonathan Harker has been transformed here as well. A nice guy, he seemed a suitable match, if a rather boring one for Our Heroine, Mina. Yet, the writers have taken his character and shown him to be opportunistic and easily confused. Never good material for the characterization of The Guy Who Gets The Girl in the End. Now we even see him falling in with The Villains of the piece. His motives may seem "normal" yet we really don't care for him. Our affections are firmly with Our Hero Dracula…and we see that Our Heroine Mina is enthralled by him as well. 
    The bigger questions are two.  First is will her affection last? If we are to take the last bedroom scene in the season finale to be a true indicator of her desires and her love, then we can say yes. After all, heroines do not go to bed with just any old dude. And this Mina tends to be a clear thinker, seeing Jonathan Harker for what he is and is not, even if she is scurrying to learn precisely what Alexander Grayson/Dracula truly is.
    The second big question is of course, can we have a happily ever after for these two lovers. I see possibilities for that answer to be yes. Mina, in her present form, is a scientist, God bless her. And her goal, as she stated it in an early episode, is "to cure death."  If she can, viola! We have Nirvana!
    Or rather poor Dracula does…and hence, so does she.
    Marvelous resolution to a seemingly impossible problem. This is the stuff of good romance—and the folks at NBC's new version have done a darn good job of making it delicious.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Stripper with Spice by Afton Locke! Oh, yum!

Buy eBook:
Thank you for hosting me today. I’m excited to talk about the spice TARRAGON, and my latest release, Stripper With Spice, a contemporary erotic romance.

Ten-Gallon Tarragon

I confess, I’m not aware of ever having eaten tarragon. Apparently, it’s good in soups and sauces. I love the way the word sounds, though. I was surprised to learn this spice is related to the American sagebrush, which makes me think of the Wild West. I haven’t yet written any erotic cowboy stories. With so many authors doing a fantastic job at that, I’m not sure I could compete.

But the West has lived within me since I was 12. For some reason, I became fascinated with it then, reading every book on the subject I could find and plastering my wall with drawings of canyons and cacti. I even bought cowboy boots and a hat. Back then, I’d never set foot out there. When I grew up and got a job, Arizona was my first destination. By now, I’ve been to nearly every western state. I especially enjoyed revisiting Texas for a writer’s conference last year. My eyes about popped out of my head from all the male, western eye candy strutting around in boots. A few years before that, a couple of drop-dead gorgeous dudes in cowboy hats at the Montana airport turned me into a babbling, lust-crazed idiot.

While I’ve never dated anyone from the West, I had a country boyfriend once that was the next best thing. He was tall and looked mighty fine in jeans and a western shirt. He even talked with a slow, country drawl. Best of all were his cowboy boots. He ambled around them so naturally, as if he’d just gotten off a horse. I love the decisive, manly sounds those wooden heels make on the floor. My husband has boots too, and we used to do country western dancing when it was popular. After several attempts to teach me the two step, though, I think he gave up. Unfortunately, the boots have grown dusty as life and work schedules intrude.

Even though my story has an eastern setting, I couldn’t help letting a little western flavor intrude. Carlos’s stage name is Cool Hand Carlos, and he dresses in a sexy cowboy outfit while he does his slow, sultry dance routine. Although Janice has a hard time handling his stripping career, she’s just as entranced by his western stage persona as everyone else. Male performers work magic and each is as unique as a particular spice.

Stripper With Spice

Publisher:  Ellora's Cave Publishing
Release Date:  10 January 2014
eBook ISBN #:  978-14199-49050
Stay tuned for reviews and more:

Watch the Book Trailer:

Getting back on her feet after unemployment, Janice treats herself to an erotic-romance convention. After winning a two-hour fantasy date with Carlos Aguilar, a young stripper, she decides to have a one-time fantasy fling.

When Carlos entices her back to the bedroom—and a few public places—for more sizzling sex, he unleashes her passions, including a secret desire to be a chef. Janice learns there’s more to this heartthrob than a hot body, but job security comes first.

To convince her he’s more than a fantasy, Carlos teaches her trust with his body. But when that trust is finally tested to the limit, she’ll be torn between clinging to safety and taking a chance on a whole new life.

Excerpt (explicit)
Stripper With Spice - Copyright © AFTON LOCKE, 2014 - All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

I chose you.

He looks and sounds so serious and honest, how can I not be completely convinced? His words echo inside my head as he grips both sides of my face and lowers his mouth to mine in slow motion. The thrill bubbles return to my bloodstream as if the elevator cable has just snapped, dropping us to the basement.

Unlike last night’s, this kiss is slow and full of promise. He samples my mouth as if we have all the time in the world. A flash of mint-flavored tongue pierces my soul, tearing a moan from my throat. With one hand still on the button, I raise my other to his shoulder. Feeling the bare, hot skin there fuels my desire, pushing me dangerously close to the edge of self-control.

“Do you want this as much as I do, Janice?”

God, yes. I need more…all of you.

I reply by sliding my hand across the tiger-striped fabric over his back. The warm satin, with muscles moving under it, is just as sexy as bare skin. His hips dance against mine—rubbing, thrusting and teasing. My fingers move to the worn waistband of his jeans at his side, wanting to pull them off. My body throbs, needing him as I’ve never needed anything before.

When he pulls my finger off the close-door button, the door opens to reveal an annoyed looking family of five waiting to get on. The parents, obviously noticing Carlos’ wild vest and our heavy breathing, exchange a disgusted look.
Carlos takes my hand and leads me off the elevator. My heart races as we walk down the corridor. Luckily, the carpet absorbs the trembling in my legs so it doesn’t make a sound.

He stops at one of the doors. I fixate on the way he slides his keycard from his back pocket and inserts it into the door reader. It’s something I’ve done myself a million times without thinking, but this is different. This is foreplay.

The door responds with a little click and a flashing green light. I guess we just got the green light for wild, hot sex. My heart accelerates even more. If it goes any faster, he’ll have to call a paramedic. I can read the headline now.
Boring financial analyst dies from anticipating sex with a hot cover model.

I check my watch. Fifteen minutes have passed.

“We still have plenty of time.” He ushers me inside and closes the door behind me.

The room is completely dark because the drapes are drawn. It’s as if we’ve entered a private cave, hidden from the world. This is it, I think as Carlos flips on a dim lamp. We’re really going to do this. We’re going to have sex.

“Come in and make yourself comfortable,” he says.

I stay where I am but gaze around the room, noticing with approval how neat he is. His clothes hang in the closet and his toiletries are laid out on one corner of the sink. The smoky-brown bottle probably contains the mysterious mesquite scent. I wish he were a slob so I could tell myself it would never work between us.

It doesn’t take long for my attention to stumble across the centerpiece of the room, the large bed. Is it another stage? Is the perfectly pressed red cover the curtain? Unlike the platforms we shared for the photo shoot and lap dance, this one is completely private.

What if he doesn’t like my performance?

Coming Soon

Rock My Boat

Workaholic CEO Rhonda Simms embarks on a Caribbean cruise to create an ad campaign for a big maritime freight client. She finds it impossible to concentrate, however, when Simon Mann, a blue marlin shifter, sets his sights on her. From a private, hands-on safety briefing to a wild ride in the ocean, he rocks her ordered world.

Simon drowned years ago in a shipwreck caused by Rhonda’s client, and he’ll do anything to be a normal man again. As his mate, Rhonda is the only person who can help him.

Tired of being so responsible, Rhonda is ready to let loose with a shipboard fling. Mating with Simon could cost a lot more than her virginity, however. Will she stick to her present course or will she let this sexy alpha rock her boat?

This story will be part of the Tall, Dark & Alpha boxed set, which will release 10 March 2014.

Where readers can find me


Newsletter - The Love Chronicle:


This post is part of the Stripper With Spice Blog Tour.                  
The grand prize for the tour is the winner's choice of a wall-mountable black scroll spice rack or The Spice Lover's Guide to Herbs and Spices book (U.S. shipping address only).
To be eligible, COMMENT on this post. The comment MUST relate to the spice I’m posting about in at least ONE of these ways:
 1) How you cook with it or use it in food OR
 2) How you use it as a natural remedy OR
 3) How it reminds you of a particular man or intimate encounter

The tour winner will be announced at on January 18th.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Spicy erotica, thrilling suspense, Barcelona with my pix for UNTIL NOON #4 in series by me and Desiree Holt!


Desiree Holt and I have had such fun with European set thrillers for our erotic suspense series, NEMESIS.

This time out in UNTIL NOON, we start with a murder and an investigator called to the scene high on a hill top in Montserrat, northwest of beautiful Barcelona.  (Ever been there?)

Oh. You must.

I do describe the monastery atop this extraordinary mountain range in western Catalonia. But nothing is so breath-taking as going there.  And if you can't go soon, why not read about the sights, sounds, delectable foods and museums in our 4th novel in this series?

Nemesis centers around a security company executives, all women, who run investigations and protection services for people all around the world.

In this one, Raul Cordona arrives at a murder scene near the famous Benedictine monastery of Montserrat. He's received a call from Nemesis's home office to look into the suspicious death of a friend of theirs.

When Raul arrives, he meets one of his best friends who happens to be the homicide detective on the case…but Raul also spies a woman he knew intimately for hours two years ago. Sadly, he never knew her name though indeed he knew every marvelous curve of her body. Raul must learn not only why she is at the crime scene but also what happened to the murdered man.

The two challenges combine into a fast paced tale of UNTIL NOON.
Need a nibble??? OF course you do!
Copyright 2014, Cerise DeLand and Desiree Holt. All rights reserved.  
(By the way, these are all my own photos in this blog!)
Interior done in gold leaf of Monastery Church at Montserrat

Montserrat, Spain
   Raul Cordona eased up on the gas pedal of his rental to climb the winding road to the monastery near the summit of the mountain. He had visited this famous site as a boy twice, once with his class and the last time with his mother. Remembering how she’d gasped in delight when she’d entered the sanctuary, he smiled. He loved the interior of the church, gilded with gold leaf that blinded the eyes. Inside, he always felt at peace.
   Today he would feel none. True, Raul had been surprised by the phone call from his boss Adam Malloy in Texas, asking him to end his vacation and seek clues to the death of one of his friends. Adam was like all the other principals in the security firm of Nemesis—they respected their employees’ downtime and Raul had just helped finish a case with two other associates. He deserved a break. But he understood Adam’s concern.
   Adam had told him the regional Catalan police, the Mossos d'Esquadra, had been called to the scene.    They suspected his friend’s death on this jagged mountainside might not have been an accident. Raul was not only within driving distance of the monastery just outside of Barcelona but was also an expert in homicide detection. As a former detective for Houston PD, Raul had seen scores of murders, analyzed them and occasionally unraveled others’ plans for it. He’d even stopped one Mexican drug cartel henchman from killing his own jefe.
Exterior of Church at Montserrat
 He pulled his SUV into the parking lot, killed the engine and allowed himself a second to appreciate the stark beauty of the serrated mountains that spilled thousands of feet down to the rolling plain leading to the coast and Barcelona. Buttoning up his jacket, he noted one car surrounded by police tape. The victim’s perhaps? One SmartCar stood in the last space to the right. The only other vehicles were four police cars and an ambulance parked at odd angles. Scanning the ridge of the mountain, he saw a few people in police uniforms and got out of his car.
   A brisk wind blew, chilling him to the bone. He hurried up the sidewalk, past the candy factory, the souvenir shop and the church. No tourists wandered about, most likely sent home by the police. At the end of the walkway, a policewoman stopped him to ask for credentials.
Summit of Montserrat with funicular building in foreground
   He dug from his wallet his employee card for Nemesis but told her that her boss, Homicide Detective Enrique Petron, had put his name on the list of those to be admitted to the cordoned-off area. She didn’t bother to check any paperwork, just waved him toward a rock-strewn path.
   He hurried on. Atop one ridge uniformed men stood in groups, talking. Another man took pictures. A group of emergency medical techs stood on a different outcrop, conferring, holding a stretcher between them. Climbing became more difficult with each step. More weeds and stones obscured the path.   Terrain like this made Raul glad he’d worn hiking boots.
   At the top of the ridge, the two stretcher-bearers saw him and pointed him down the opposite side. He nodded in thanks and took the steep drop at a more careful pace. At a small clearing, he paused. Below, three men assessed the position of the dead body at their feet. One of them was his boyhood friend Enrique Petron, the Spanish police detective and the other two looked like they might be his assistants,   Raul took one good, hard look at the dead man. Sprawled in an ungainly pose, he looked like a rag doll who’d been throw over the edge. Raul’s gut wrenched, the man’s broken corpse tearing his sense of justice that a human being had died so violently.  
Rough terrain of Montserrat.
You would not want to fall down here!
   His gaze caught on a sharp movement to the far right of the body. An attractive brunette scrambled down the rock-strewn path, her long curls glistening in the dying rays of the sun. The shimmer blinded him but revived visions of that same chocolate-and-caramel-colored hair drifting through his fingers, sliding over his skin, teasing his cock.
   No. Folly to think that she would be here.
   He stepped forward, teetered on a slippery stone, then righted himself to stare at her.
   She picked her way down the gulley beneath the funicular with a catlike grace that knocked his breath from his chest. He squinted. She couldn’t be his phantom lover. Yet she seemed the right height. Five-five or five-six. The right build. Ample breasts. Lithe figure. One that fit his own with a precision that had shocked him the one night he had enjoyed her over and over again. He wanted to shout at her, make her turn to face him so that he could consign her to his long list of women who never turned out to be his long-lost lover.
  But she paused, tipped her head. As if she heard his unspoken demand, she spun and he had to grab a tree branch to keep from yelling at her. Her perfect oval face, her luminous dark eyes, her lips were all the right shape, color, size. No. This can’t be. His cock hardened, lengthened. Oh yes, every part of his body knew this woman. Remembered the hours she had surrendered every bit of herself to him. Recalled how he fit inside her hot creamy folds. In his thirty-four years, only this woman had made him instantly hard—and instantly brain dead. Stifling a curse of frustration, Raul clenched his fist.
   After one night with her—and two years hungering for her—this attraction should not occur, Cordona. She stepped out of your bed and your life without a word. Not goodbye. Not thanks. Not even a good “fuck you”.
   But of course, he had fucked her. Thoroughly. Three times in the space of the few hours when she had graced his bed in Brussels. And she had loved every mind-blowing second of their encounter.
   Just like I did.
   “Señor Cordona,” Enrique Petron called to him from the bottom of the crevasse where the body of    Tony Graham lay like a mangled heap of trash. “Por favor.” He beckoned as if the two of them had only recently become acquainted. “Come here, let me ask you your opinion about this.”
Enrique and Raul had known each other for two decades, vacationed together often, even partied with women together back in their teens when they were young, loco and stupid. They had met at school in Switzerland. A finishing secondary school for young men, the Citadel of Bern was an elite private institution catering to the brightest offspring of Europe’s diplomatic corps. Raul’s father had been the charge d’affair in the Argentine Embassy to the Vatican, while Enrique’s served in the similar post for the Spanish Embassy. Both older men were security experts, married to American women and their sons had followed in their footsteps. Enrique was the senior detective on the regional Guardia Civil police force, while Raul had left his job three years ago in Houston homicide to track international killers for one of the most renowned global security firms, Nemesis.
   Flipping up his collar against the biting wind, Raul made his way down from the craggy trail and praised his own foresight to wear warm clothes. The temperature at this elevation could be twenty or more degrees cooler than along the sunny coast. When Adam Molloy had called him two hours ago from Houston to tell him about this death, Raul had grabbed all his clothes and donned layers to keep him toasty.
View of mountains surrounding monastery facing east
toward Mediterranean and Barcelona.
 “Tony Graham is…was a good friend of mine,” Adam had told Raul. “I just got a call from his wife that a few tourists spotted Tony’s body on a hillside in Montserrat. We don’t know much yet but I’d like you to take a look at this for me. Nothing official for Nemesis. And I know you’re on vacation after that Paris job with Lane and Isabella, but you are the closest of our operatives to the scene.”
Raul had jumped on the opportunity to help Adam. Over the past few years, Adam and his wife Nicole, one of the partners in Nemesis, had pulled quite a few strings for Raul. So before he hung up, he had asked Adam to send any info on Graham to his phone. “A bio. Employment records. Anything you can tell me about his character. And by the way, any idea what he was doing up in Montserrat in October?”
   “Not much. His wife, Serena, just told me that he was on a job there in Barcelona. Tony is a private investigator. Owns his own company headquartered in London. Two partners. That’s all I know for now, but I’ll send over whatever I can get my hands on. Thanks for this.”
   “No problemo.” Minutes later, Raul had checked out of his beachside hotel north on the Costa Brava and sped south in his rental car to the mountaintop tourist attraction.
   The tiny town approximately thirty miles outside Barcelona had only a thousand residents. But high on the treacherous side of the serrated mountains, monks operated a one-thousand-year-old church, a school for boys, a printing press, a candy manufacturing plant and one of the finest, highest net-worth art galleries in Europe.
Now in the thirty-degree chill factor, Raul shivered as he descended the slope. Feigning indifference to the brunette who spoke with one of Enrique’s team, Raul wondered what in god’s name she did for a living that she was allowed to poke around at the crime scene of a murdered private investigator. So much for bedding women whose name you do not know.
   At Raul’s approach, Enrique walked over to Graham’s body. When he spoke, his voice was at a low pitch. “Notice anything odd about his position?”
   “The head is turned at an odd angle.”
   “Sí. That’s what I thought too. Even though he fell the distance from the top up there of say forty or fifty feet, would he die?”
   “The terrain on this side is not as steep as on the north face. From up there, he would have rolled. I think that means he would break a few bones. But a man so young and fit could stop his fall. Don’t you agree?”
   Enrique huffed, bending to examine the body and clucking his tongue.
   Raul stole another glimpse of the woman who fascinated him. Dios, she was luscious.
Enrique rose. “Sí, sí. I agree. How then would he break his neck that severely?”
   “Where is your forensic analyst?” Raul asked, angry at himself for allowing the woman to steal his attentions from business. “What does he say?”
Enrique bit off a Spanish epithet. “Not here yet. Still in bed with his new wife.”
   “Ah, good for him,” Raul offered with sarcasm. “So you think Graham’s neck was broken before he fell?“
   “I’ll let my forensics man tell me. But whatever the answer on his neck, I do question if he fell or if he was pushed.”
   Raul flared his nostrils.
   Enrique frowned as he studied the body again. “Anything else seem out of sorts about his position?”
   “Looks like his trouser pockets are turned out.”
   Enrique winced. “True. We’ve searched his coat. He has no wallet.”
   Raul’s mind snapped on a sequence of deductions. Raul wanted to laugh. “This is a robbery? Ridiculous.”
   Enrique crossed his arms. “That is my thought, but we haven’t found it.”
   “How did you ID him?”
   “His rental car in the parking lot near the visitors center.” Enrique pointed toward the lot and the auto with police tape around it. “Rental agreement proves it is his.”
“And the rental company re-confirms this?” Raul pressed.
Enrique nodded. “Sí. That car is not stolen. We asked for the fax of the rental company’s copy of his driver’s license. This is the same man. Anthony Graham, age forty. Resident of London, England.”
“Neck broken before he was thrown over the hill. Wallet taken to make it appear like a robbery.” Raul squinted back up the hill, forcing himself to ignore the brunette several paces below. “I’ll look around at the top. See if there are any signs of a scuffle. Better have one of your boys come with me, just in case.”
“Right. I want no problems with chain of evidence—or you being here.” Enrique’s eyes danced.
“You can cover for me. I know your turn with me in Houston PD did you a lot of good.”
   A brief smile flashed on Enrique’s face. “Taught by the best. Go look at the top of the cliff and tell me what you find.” Enrique tipped his head toward the path. “That way you will stop eyeing the candy.”
   “Candy?” Irritated that he hadn’t been cool about his interest in the svelte brunette, Raul wanted to ignore any affirmation that he might be attracted to the woman—but couldn’t summon the lie. “How can you tell?”
   “Mi amigo, I can smell the way she singes your heart.”
   “Hell with that.” Raul chuckled. “Never my heart.”
   Enrique waved a hand at him. “No. Your cojones. Did she reject you?”
   Reject me? He’d assumed that at first, but as the days marched on, Raul knew she had another reason to run. He’d wondered what it had been. “No, not that.”
   “Hmm. If she did, she was the only one to ever do so. Interesting. I will send her up to you.”
   Don’t. “Why?”
   “She must learn what you know about him.”
   “And who is she?” he asked. Damn his soul. It was his eagerness to fuck her again that was not a good idea.
   “So. You need an introduction?”
   “I do.” Wish to Christ I didn’t.
   Enrique teased. “What am I? Your social secretary?”
   “Tell me, Petron. You know that you probably have a murder on your hands here. And I have information from my employers about the dead man that can save all of you time and heartache. How can she be here? Why did you allow her?” Raul insisted.
View of Barcelona's Las Ramblas at night
from a roof-top restaurant!
 “She is a criminal investigator for the European Union.”
   Alarms went off in Raul’s head. Whatever her name or her proclivity to fuck a man blind within hours of meeting him, she had the same kind of profession as he did. Any coincidence that might have occurred to him about their meeting two years ago melted away. Until he reviewed what he’d been working on that night he’d pushed between her legs and lost himself, he would be very careful renewing his acquaintance with her. Had she worked for the EU then? Was her interest in him purely personal or had there been another method to her madness? He drove a hand through his hair. Damn if he could recall what he had worked on the night he lost his mind with her in his arms. “You have known her before today?”
   “No. I saw her badge. She is, as you say in the States, good to go.”
  “Good to be here. Why?”
   “She’s investigating the work Graham was doing for a major oil company.”
   “Which one?” Raul asked, his gaze devouring the willowy figure of the woman who had lived in his memory for far too long and whose raw sexuality had spoiled him for so damn many other females.
As if she too recalled the abandon of their lovemaking, she looked straight into his eyes.
   He might never be certain, but at that moment, he felt her tremble in recognition. And enjoy the memory too?
4 Cats Restaurant where Picasso
ate, drank and created logo
for restaurant owners!
   Scenes of how she had laughed with him in the bar where they’d met ripped through him. Memories of her warm mouth, ravenous for his. Her body, elegant in her passion, long and reedlike, her breasts, firm mounds. Her pussy, tight as sin, glossed with dark brown hair, fat labia, soaking wet with cream, all for him. The way she came with abandon. The delight in sucking him off as if she’d never tasted any other man. The way she let him have her, on the bed, against the wall. In his shower. Every time, she had come, crying her joy as her sweet cunt milked him dry.
   “Did you hear me?” Enrique taunted him.
   “No,” Raul admitted, knowing he sounded like a sleepwalker. “Tell me again.”
   “Roca Oil. Their main refineries are down on the Barcelona waterfront.”
  “De nada, my friend. Now go look at that path and stop ogling Señorita Terrasona.”
   “That’s her name?” Raul asked, steeling himself to sound indifferent.

   Pilar. Pilar Terrasona. You and I are going to get to know each other again. This time, I need to know not just your name but what you do for a living and why you are here. That means that this time, 
lady, you and I are looking at no sex. All business.

Statue to Christopher Columbus
in Barcelona on waterfront!
Don't you want to go there now?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sex and Romance with Edgar Allen Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher redone with a dash of spice!

Sounds creepy, right? That’s what I thought at first when I began looking for a horror classic to pair with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (published by Totally Bound May 2013) Poe was always my first choice, but I had a minor issue. Everything he writes is gloomy, depressing, and typically ends in multiple gruesome deaths. Sexy.
What brought me back to Poe was The Fall of the House of Usher. It’s always been one of my favorites, but it seemed to be impossible to reconcile with Madeline and her brother dying horribly, as well as Madeline only being in the entire story at all for no more than a dozen or so sentences. But when I re-read it, my thoughts went to a couple of different ‘what-if’s’, and I came up with a story line that turned doom and gloom into a happily-ever-after.
To give you a little hint as to how I morphed the story without changing any of Poe’s original words (part of the Clandestine Classic rules), I’m including the following excerpt from when Edward – Roderick’s boyhood chum – is finally able to locate the mysterious Lady Madeline Usher and sneak into her room late at night.
Gloom, dread and fear possess the House of Usher and its inhabitants. But Edward sees nothing but light and love in the fair Madeline. Can he save her from the deadly illness that has plagued the Usher family for centuries—before it is too late?
Invited to the gloomy, decaying House of Usher by a boyhood chum, Edward is perplexed by his friend’s mysterious affliction. Roderick tells him that it is a curse on his family, and that all of the Ushers must eventually succumb. Upon briefly viewing Roderick’s sister—the lovely Madeline—Edward determines to save both her and Roderick from their awful fate.
But there are strange twists and turns that Edward encounters in his quest to discover the truth of the puzzling illness. Is the valet Henry up to no good? Does the house itself hold some unnatural sway over its residents? Or is there an even more sinister explanation? When Edward finally chances to meet the Lady Madeline secretly, he has no doubt that only his love and resolve can save her.
One night, it appears that he hasn’t acted soon enough. Is there still hope that he can rescue sweet Madeline from the clutches of the evil House of Usher?

Excerpt from The Fall of the House of Usher
By Edgar Allen Poe & Morticia Knight

    “I am afraid I have no wine or any drink other than water to offer you.”
Here she was, for all practical purposes a prisoner in her own home, and yet she was worried about being a proper hostess. I was quickly reaching the conclusion that my affections for this woman were building as each moment passed between us, and I was determined to find a way out for her.
   “Please, Madeline, do not worry about me, for I have had all the hospitality your brother has to offer. I am only regretful that I could not bring you more without causing undue question. Please, my dear, eat. You must be famished.”
   “Thank you, Edward. I have been considering all day just how thoughtful it was for you to offer to help me. I know it is at a great risk, especially as you do not know me and should not care what happens to me.”
   “Why do you think that I should not care? Even if you were nothing more to me than your brother’s sister, that alone should compel me to be interested in your well-being. Anything less than that would make me an animal, and not worth your consideration.”
   “Oh?” she said, and popped a grape into her delectable mouth. After consuming her treat, she continued. “Then you desire to be worthy of my consideration?”
   I flushed a little. I was not entirely sure what she meant. She was a gentlewoman, and I had not detected any signs of coquettishness in her, so I was a little confused as to what she was suggesting. If indeed there was anything she wished to suggest.
   She finally laughed at what I am sure was a stunned expression on my face.
   “I do not understand…”
   “I am sorry, Edward, I should not tease you. I am being perfectly awful. It is just that I feel so much lighter since I met you earlier, so much freer. I suddenly feel as though everything is going to be fine. And having a handsome man to come and rescue me, why, it is just like in the fairy tales.”
I had not been called handsome since my younger school days, and I had never cared one way or another until that very moment. To have this stunning woman think of me in that regard caused a little giddiness to wash over me.
   “You are much too generous, Lady Madeline. But I accept your compliment gratefully. And I wish you to know that my concern for you exceeds my allegiance to your brother.”
She had been eating a bit of bread with some cheese, and she put it back down on the napkin. “Really? Why is that?”
   I immediately felt that I had spoken in haste. I was not sure where the conversation might go, and under the circumstances—being alone together in her room at night—I needed to be careful. She was waiting on me to answer.
   “Well, I do not wish to discomfit you in any way, but I find you to be a very engaging and lovely woman. I believe had we met outside of your current situation, I would have sought to court you as a proper gentleman.”
   “Oh. I see.”
   She looked down, and I had the sense that what I had said disappointed her in some way, but I could not fathom why.
  “What is it, Madeline?” I reached across the table and took her hand in mine. The heat between us was palpable, and I could feel my excitement growing. It was a dangerous situation for us both.
   “I am hopeless when it comes to talking with a gentleman. There has been little opportunity for me to converse properly with men in society. In addition, I have been accustomed to speaking plainly with Roderick my whole life. I was only ever given the chance to have one season before Roderick insisted I stay with him here at the mansion. I was but sixteen at the time, and now, well, I am just an old maid.”
She looked down at the ground and tried to pull her hands away from me, but I would not allow it. This time it was I who knelt before her.
   “Sweet Madeline, whatever do you mean? You have said nothing to offend me. And the last thing I would ever consider you to be is an old maid—you are a wondrously beautiful woman. It is I who feel as if I have said something wrong.”
   She sighed, but relaxed her hands into mine. She still would not meet my gaze however.
   “I am just afraid that you are placating me with talk of courting if things were different. I am sure you do not say it in earnest, and I would not expect it of you.”
   I was perplexed. I had never been one to do well with females myself, and seemed to consistently cause them to turn away from me through my words. Even the daughter of my friend had eventually tired of my attentions. I had considered recently that I would like to take a woman in marriage, but I was unable to find any who caused a spark in me. Until Madeline. I had only sought to keep from sounding too forward, and thus to be perceived as a rake trying to court a lady in the middle of the night while she was being held captive. It seemed rather bizarre.
   “You have misjudged me, Madeline. I am not seeking to appease you whatsoever. I do see you as a woman whom I would want to court, but I was afraid you might think me too brazen. I have not been what I would consider to be the most eloquent of men when it comes to conversing with young ladies, but I implore you to believe me in this matter. I feel a strong attraction to you that goes beyond just helping a good friend’s sister. I would court you in any way that I could, under any conditions, and hope that you do not take offence to that.”
   This time she looked me straight in the eyes. “Can it be so? I believed that Gregory was serious in his attentions, yet he abandoned me after that last day. I have never even received so much as a letter from him since. Just recently, Roderick mentioned that Gregory is engaged to Victoria, a woman younger than me, and with only a slightly less substantial dowry than mine.”
   So that is it then, I thought. The poor thing had been cast aside, and her paramour had not even endeavoured to fight for her when an easier target had made itself available.
   “I should not tell you any of this,” she continued. “The girls my first season warned me against speaking my mind openly. They said I did not know how to play the game of matchmaking properly.    They told me that the only way to win your desired man’s heart was to feign disinterest and turn up your nose. None of their advice made sense to me. How is one supposed to know when to cease acting indifferently, so that they can get to the stage of engagement?”
   I laughed heartily at her question. By Jove if I had not wondered the very same thing. When a woman seemed uninterested in me, I simply walked away!
   She tried to pull her hands away, mistaking my laughter as mocking her.
   “No, no, Madeline. Listen to me. I too have felt that way when I was interested in a woman. They would ignore me, so I gave up. Maybe they were all actually madly in love with me!”
   She laughed then too, a charming musical sound, and I was relieved that she was not cross with me.
   “Let us speak plainly then, Madeline, as it would seem that is what we do the best.”
   “Quite right, Edward, I agree.”
Available now at Totally Bound:

All Romance ebooks:

Morticia Knight Author Bio 

Erotic Romance author Morticia Knight enjoys a good saucy tale, whether it is contemporary, paranormal, historical, ménage, M/M or BDSM - she loves it all! One of her passions is bringing people's fantasies to life on the page, because life is too short for even one boring moment. Her stories are volcanic in heat, deep in emotion, and sprinkled with doses of humor.
When not indulging in her passion for books, she loves the outdoors, film and music. Once upon a time she was the singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She currently resides on the northern coast of Oregon, where the constant rain and fog remind her of visits to her family in England and Scotland when she was a child.
For 2014, Morticia has additional installments coming out in the historical M/M romance series, Gin & Jazz, as well as her best-selling Uniform Encounters series.

Find her here: 

Twitter: @morticiaknight

Saturday, January 4, 2014

When you go shopping, don't you want to go to The Department Store's Ground Floor, Toys and Games? New! by Jorja Lovett!

    Thanks for having me here today to share my new release. I've always found something romantic about those old department stores and I'm having so much fun writing this series. Each book will focus on one floor of Kelsey's store and the hot encounters between staff and customers. As Toys & Games suggests, book one is the tale of one couple having a little fun outside working hours…

Buy Now from Totally BoundAvailable 3rd January from Amazon and All Romance


Jen is the new girl in the toy store but it's not long before the boss' son Jamie teaches her how to play.

Recently bereaved, Jen White hopes her new job in the toy shop at Kelsey's Department Store is a fresh start. One ripped pair of stockings later, she catches the eye of the boss' son, Jamie. She's not looking to replace her partner but he soon makes her realise she doesn't want to spend the rest of her life celibate. And die a virgin.

Jamie Kelsey's a screw up. Well his father still thinks so, even after he's tried to make amends for losing the family's fortune. The store's in trouble but with his father still stuck in the dark ages and refusing his help, he's worried it's too late. With a little help from their newest employee, he starts to make his mark on the store. He's sworn off women to concentrate on his career but when Jen comes to him looking to further her sexual education, it's an offer he can't refuse.


   “Where are you taking me?” Jen pulled on her coat over her uniform. She wasn’t sure where Jamie usually dined but she was certain she wasn’t dressed for the occasion.
   “Okay, I lied. We’re not going out to lunch. I hope you’re not too hungry.” He grabbed her hand and whisked her out onto the streets of the city centre.
   Jen’s stomach rumbled in defiance, but in this instance she’d rather sate her curiosity than her appetite. “I can wait, but what’s so important?”
   “Something you said got me thinking. There’s only so much I can teach you. Some things, well, you’ll just have to discover for yourself. I’m taking you to Gresham Street.”
   “Gresham Street? Where all the sex shops are?” Her voice dropped to an embarrassed whisper as they moved through the throng of shoppers and tourists towards the seedier end of town.
   “Yeah. You’re under no obligation to wear a long mac and sunglasses, I just thought you might like to have a look around.”
The closer they got to the gaudy shop windows, the more she felt like a young innocent being led into a den of vice. She was so out of her depth.
   The door chimed as they walked in, but the inside of the premises was more inviting than the closed shutters and neon lights outside suggested. She’d expected some dark, dingy backstreet dive crawling with furtive middle aged men. Instead, she found a normal shop whose customers were ordinary young couples and groups of girls having a giggle.
   “See? You didn’t set off their newbie alarm after all.” Jamie grinned, and taking her by the hand, led her over to the mannequins modelling their range of sexy lingerie.
   “I wouldn’t mind splashing out on some new underwear.” The pretty, flowery sets she wore no longer reflected her mood. She wanted something bold, something daring to show off to her lover.
   “I wouldn’t mind splashing out on these.” Jamie held up a pair of crotchless black panties.
“They’re not very practical.” Jen ignored the innuendo to search through the rails of lace and silk.
   “Oh, I don’t know. I think I would find them very handy.” He twanged the black string underwear but she didn’t bite.
    “What about these? Which one do you prefer?” She picked out a red lace plunge bra and a padded leopard print one, holding each one to her chest in turn.
   “I like them both.” Jamie snatched them off her and stuffed them into her basket along with the matching thongs. She was on the right track at least.
   They moved on past the rainbow of coloured dildos and strap-ons. One penis at a time was plenty for her. She paused at the bondage and fetish section and cocked her head at some of the oddly shaped black rubber, wondering which orifice they were intended for.
   “I think that’s a bit far out for even me.” Jamie zipped the mouth closed on a gimp mask and walked away.
   “What about embracing your inner Dom?” Jen flicked the end of a leather flogger at his backside.
   “I might be an arsehole but I like my bed partners to know their own mind. Besides, something tells me you wouldn’t make the perfect submissive either.” He grabbed the leather strands and yanked her towards him for a kiss.
   “But that means you get to spank me for misbehaving,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
   “Okay, we’ll take it.” He tossed it in the basket. “Along with one of these.” And added a double sided paddle to the purchases.
She bypassed the nipple clamps, quite happy for Jamie to do her tweaking for her, and hovered by the display of tubes and lubes.
   “Mint or strawberry?” They both promised extra pleasure.
Jamie arched an eyebrow at her.
   “I know, I know. Both. This is adding up to one expensive lunch break, Mr Kelsey.” Fun didn’t come cheap. Well, the experimental kind at least.
   “If I can’t spend my cash on sex toys and lube what can I spend it on?” 

Buy Now from Totally Bound

Available 3rd January from Amazon and All Romance Author Bio:Jorja Lovett is a British author with both Irish and Scottish roots, which makes for a very dry sense of humour. Writing since she was old enough to wield a pen, it wasn't until she joined her crit group, UCW, that she pursued her passion seriously.Now, with Joe Manganiello as her permanent muse, if she can leave the pause button on her Magic Mike dvd long enough, she hopes to spend the rest of her days writing steamy romances.Author Links: Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Website