Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Cassidy meets Dmitri: Murder in Moscow excerpt

Chapter Three

Dmitri saw her get up and waved but she was gone before he could catch her eye
        “I win!” Ivo laughed.
        But Dmitri was pushing his way through the crowd. “Back in a sec.”
        He wasn’t sure why he was following her. He had a liking for redheads but chasing them about wasn’t his usual style. This one had something special about her that called to him.
        It wasn’t the willowy body, although that was worth a second and third look. It wasn’t the face either. She had lovely large eyes but the eyebrows were uncompromisingly straight. The aquiline nose, high cheekbones and sweetly curved mouth might have been beautiful if it hadn’t been for her closed, remote expression.
        It was the look in those large slanting hazel eyes, he decided. She looked a little sad, wistful even, but she stood tall, alert and straight shouldered. It was the look of a soldier. The whole look was an odd combination of vulnerability and strength. A steel Bambi
        He was no more than a few seconds behind her going out of the door but when he looked up and down the street, she had vanished.
        “Looking for the redhead?” one of the bouncers asked knowledgeably. “She went around the corner.”
        “Bloody hell! Into the alley?”
        “Yup. Walking fast too.”
        Cassidy was moving down the alley. A few steps down from the street she passed a large dumpster. It was full to the brim with bottles. Revelry’s empties, she thought. They were clearly doing a roaring business.
        As she moved away from the well-lit road, the alley became pitch black. Just as she judged she was half way down, she spotted the steel streetlight. It shed no light. Cassidy’s heart beat faster. Glancing up, she saw the bulb was smashed. It was second nature to double-check; the light was clean. It had been broken recently. The dark was calculated.
        She could see a shape coming towards her.
        “This way,” a hoarse whisper said in Russian.
        Cautiously she walked forward, her nerves on edge. Somehow she’d expected English. She framed her query carefully, speaking softly so her accent wouldn’t be too obvious. “Got a question for me?” Sometimes people freaked at this point and needed a reminder
        There was a chuckle in the dark. Cassidy froze. Something was wrong. This was going pear-shaped. And like a fool, she didn’t have a weapon.
        Cassidy began to back up slowly and quietly. A tiny flare of moonlight, peeking between the rain clouds, briefly illuminated the alley. To her horror she saw not one silhouette in front of her but two. A split second later a noise behind her told her there was another one stepping out from behind the dumpster. From the sound of a zip, he’d been quietly peeing there, invisible in the dark. Now he was blocking her retreat
        Cassidy’s heart was trying to jump out of her throat. This wasn’t just going pear-shaped; it was a major fucking disaster. She carefully took a lungful of air and willed herself to relax. This wasn’t a time to panic; this was a time to plan
        From their concerted movements, the three silhouettes were a pack.
        “Man, you only have to whistle and they come running, Maxim,” the one behind her sniggered
        Not agents but robbers, Cassidy thought.
        It was a huge relief. Professionals were fast and to the point; amateurs were easily distracted. She reached into the small shoulder bag she’d slung diagonally across her chest to frustrate Moscow’s pickpockets, took out her purse and threw it at the two in front of her. “Here’s all I’ve got,” she said. She half turned, managing to keep them all within her sight as she inched towards to bright street beckoning beyond the alley
        She could see the two men looking to the ground for her purse. Unbeknownst to them, she now had her office keys in her hand. The bunch was comfortingly heavy; the metal poking out from between her fingers.
        It was too dark to see. The two cursed loudly as they gave up looking for her purse. Thank God her dark trouser suit provided good cover. She wasn’t sure how well they could see her. Maybe if she faked out the one behind her, she could get past him and out into the open where she’d be safe. Meanwhile the two in front of her were becoming more and more confident of their prey.
        “Here pretty, pretty,” one of them hissed
        “Come on, let’s party.” That was the chuckler. He was edging closer to her
        Cassidy came to a swift decision. “Please don’t hurt me,” she whimpered. “Please!”
        Rough laughter from both sides caused her to back to the wall. “Oh please,” she whined again, her voice shaky with fear. “Oh my God, please.”
        Her ruse worked beautifully. Now supremely confident that their prey was weak, frightened, and helpless, the three men moved in - and within range. As one reached out to grab her shoulder, Cassidy leaned back and aimed a front snap at his crotch. He screamed and dropped to the ground, clutching himself and moaning
        Cassidy took half a step forward, and then lashed out, her foot circling up high and round in a powerful crescent strike. Unfortunately, he saw her move and stepped back rapidly. By his smooth action, Cassidy realised he had some martial arts training. He also outweighed her by 20 kilos and she’d lost the advantage of surprise. Time to act fast.
        The third man stood still. He hadn’t expected her to fight back and now he wasn’t sure what to do. He was the weakest point. It was time to crush him and exit
        Cassidy feigned a hook kick to his hip and when he took the bait and half turned to avoid it, punched him in the throat. He twisted at the last second so it hardly connected but the keys in her hand punctured the skin. The second he felt the blood trickling down his skin, he panicked.
        “You fucking bitch!” he screamed. “I’ll kill you.”
        The fight had moved them closer to the street. In the dim light that filtered through into the alley, Cassidy could now see the two men quite clearly. Unfortunately, they were too close to her. There was no way she could cut and run. They’d catch her in a second. Worse, as they were now on their guard, Cassidy knew her chances of fighting it out and winning were diminishing fast. She’d try a scissor strike. If she could lure them in closer, she could take these two out in one go
        She heard the sound of running feet coming towards her
        More trouble, Cassidy thought. If they had reinforcements, she was definitely dead.
        The one with the martial arts training was fumbling in his pocket. Frightened he had a gun, Cassidy knew she had no more time for trickery and deception. She went in fast and close and took him in the solar plexus with a swift eagle strike. As he slumped, his hand came up with a knife.
        The sight of it produced a surge of fear that provided an extra spurt of strength and determination. Cassidy moved in close and banged her hands over his ears, bursting his eardrums while she kneed him in the balls. He folded like a sack, retching with a high squealing sound
        “Are you all right?” With surprise Cassidy saw it was Dmitri. He moved lightly, stepping over the unconscious man at his feet. Cassidy hadn’t seen him go down. It must have been fast. As her first victim stirred and tried to sit up, Dmitri gave him a casual kick in the ribs. “Stay down,” he ordered. It was a hard voice, used to command. The man slumped instinctively
        Police, Cassidy thought. He must be plainclothes division.
        Looking around he smiled at her. “That was great,” he said. “Karate with a bit of Muay Thai improv. Or was it taekwondo? Either way, love it!”
        “Thanks,” Cassidy said warily. Having done routine paperwork like converting her drivers’ license and getting her residence card, her experience was that the Moscow police always had their hand out. She wondered how much this would cost her
        Dmitri saw with interest that his redhead was completely unmoved both by the attack or his appearance. She was breathing a little fast but otherwise she looked cool and composed; as if it was completely normal to stand about talking while three muggers were heaving their guts up all over the street. She really was something. He grinned companionably at her. “Let’s get this scum cleared away, huh?”
        He put his fingers in his mouth and whistled. Instantly there was an answering call
        Shit, Cassidy thought. She didn’t want to be mixed up with official reports even though clearly the handover was off
        Dmitri saw her wariness and thought she might not remember him. Men were probably trying to get her attention all the time. “Remember me? I’m Dmitri. We met earlier. Can I buy you a drink?”
        Cassidy stared at him. “What?”
        “A drink. I really wanted to ask you to dance but after this you must be thirsty, so drinks first and a dance later?”
        He was drunk, Cassidy decided. No sober man would ask her for a drink while stepping around three semiconscious, retching, groaning men. Dmitri looked sober but he must be plastered. Cassidy stifled a groan. A clandestine meet that had been a complete fuckup and now a tanked up copper looking for a date. Terrific. This just couldn’t get worse
        Three of the bouncers came running down the alley. With a few terse instructions from Dmitri they grasped the fallen attackers by their arms and began dragging them rather ungently towards the street.
        “They will keep an eye on them while we call the cops,” Dmitri said cheerfully. He stooped and picked up her wallet. “Yours, I think?”
        She couldn’t catch it all as he spoke quickly but she got the general gist. “Thanks.”
        As the small procession began walking slowly up the alley, Dmitri took Cassidy’s arm, tucking it into his. Her first impulse was to pull away. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had touched her. Then the warmth of his hand as he gently rubbed her arm sent a shiver through her. The tiny movement of his fingers on her arm set her heart beating faster. She had a sudden wish to lean into him and kiss him
        For a moment, Cassidy stared at him, totally confused.
        “You still haven’t told me your name, beautiful girl,” he said companionably
        “It’s Cassidy.”
        He instantly switched to English. “You speak terrific Russian! What are doing in dark alleys? Are you a spy?” Dmitri chuckled as she stiffened. “Just kidding!”
        “I took a wrong turning,” Cassidy said lamely
        “Right. It’s so hard to tell the difference between a well lit main road and a dark alley,” he said cheerfully. “It’s ok, I’m very discreet. I won’t ask any more questions. So where are you from exactly? And are you married? I hope not. I’m single and very available. I also love redheads. Do you like Russian food? Can I take you for dinner tomorrow?”
        His flirtatious chattiness was such a contrast to the tense scene before that Cassidy felt a bubble of laughter rise in her; she giggled
        Dmitri looked at her and felt his heart skip a beat. The giggle was deliciously bubbly and came with a smile that lit up her face. The cool detached ice-queen vanished, revealing an elfin girl with a mischievous smile and an engaging sparkle in her hazel eyes. The transformation was almost magical.
        This is what he’d sensed when he’d first seen her. This is what had made him go after her. Dmitri resolved that he wouldn’t let her rush off again; he wanted this mysterious, wonderful, exciting girl.
        Back in the brightly lit street, the queue in front of Revelry gazed with interest as the bouncers dragged the three groaning men to the kerb and dumped them there unceremoniously. Spotting a police van cruising by, Dmitri gave them a friendly wave. They immediately stopped, pulling up in front of the trio on thepavement. “These three attacked my friend,” Dmitri announced.
        Two uniformed cops instantly examined Cassidy. “What happened?” one of them asked
        “I...erm...” Cassidy thought fast. She had no explanation of why she’d turned into the alley
        “She’s a bit drunk,” Dmitri said, “and she’s with me.”
        Instantly the suspicious looks vanished. Without asking another question, they cuffed Cassidy’s assailants and bundled them roughly into the van
        Dmitri casually handed them some cash. “Can we come and make statements later?” he said. “We need a drink.”
        “Any time,” one of the officers assured him. “We’ll keep them on ice. In fact, come tomorrow. We’re too busy tonight to do paperwork and these bastards can rot for a while.”
        “Terrific, thanks.”
        “Erm, Dmitri, did you mess them up?” the policeman asked apologetically. “We don’t want another death in custody. We’ve had two this week and the boss is fed up with paperwork.”
        Cassidy blinked. She knew she’d understood him properly. She also knew from the newspapers and stories told at the office that Moscow police could be very heavy-handed yet this openness was shocking. She would never get used to the casual way Russians accepted flagrant breaches of human rights.
        Dmitri was about to tell him to ask Cassidy but a glance at her face made him change his mind. It was the ice princess standing next to him again. Clearly she wasn’t happy about this turn of events. It didn’t occur to him to question her; he instinctively covered for her. “It’s not serious,” he said evasively. “A few kicks and a neck wound that’s more bloody than dangerous.”
        “Right. Drop by tomorrow, ok?”
        “And you too,” the policeman said to Cassidy. “We need you as a witness.”
        She nodded, glad they’d assumed Dmitri had taken them all out by himself. He must be a well-known martial arts expert, she thought. He must be quite senior too by the respectful way they deferred to him
        The policeman looked at the trio in the van. “I know this lot,” he said darkly. “I shall be glad to have a word with them later myself.”
        Cassidy knew she ought to be appalled by the implication. This time though, she was secretly rather pleased. From the way these had moved in, it was obvious they had worked as a team before. Cassidy was certain there were women out there, not as lucky as her, who’d been attacked and raped by them. Human rights be damned, she thought to herself. Knowing they’d be beaten “while resisting arrest” was giving her a warm glow of satisfaction.
        The police drove off, waving in a friendly way
        “You’re on the force?” Cassidy asked Dmitri
        “Like Star Wars?”
        “Like copper. Police.”
        “Nope, I’m ex army though. And I’m local so they know me.”
        “Oh, right.”
        “Let’s have that drink.”
        “I should go.”
        “We have to get our story straight,” Dmitri reminded her. As Cassidy hesitated, he gestured to Revelry’s front door. “Just one drink.” She was still keyed up from the fight but not in shock. This was one tough girl, Dmitri thought. He patted her on the arm, adding persuasively, “It wouldn’t do to make them suspicious by presenting different stories.”
        He was right. Her instinct was telling her to get out fast but she knew that was just a reaction from the ‘flight or fight’ response caused by the attack. This wasn’t the time to listen to her body; this was where her brain had to lead. She had to follow through as if it were a mugging or they’d be suspicious.
        Cassidy quietly cursed Sparrow-Hayes. This was getting way too complicated. “All right.”

Want to read the whole story?
Murder in Moscow at Amazon   
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Murder in Moscow at Barnes and Noble
Murder In Moscow At Smashwords      (Use Coupon Code: WH66U at checkout for 50% discount. Promotional price: $2.00  Expires: July 1, 2014)

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Sneak Peek: The Bonus by AJ Adams (Hardcore! Adults only!)

Please note this book contains scenes of erotica, hardcore brutality, dubious consent and reluctant sex. It is for adults only.

Kyle: Beginning
The girl was scrambling madly, trying frantically to maintain her balance. They’d stripped her, tied her hands behind her back, looped the hangman’s noose over the tree branches above, and stood her on the slick surface of an ice block the size of a refrigerator. If she could keep still, the melting ice would vanish slowly underneath her, and she’d strangle little by little. One slip, and she’d hang herself.

Clearly Arturo was indulging in his favourite game. He’d let her suffocate, then slap her back into consciousness, pass her around for a gangbang, and, if she survived the night, set her up again. She might survive two days but the odds were she’d be dead by morning.

Arturo is a sick bastard. He says his games put the message out that he’s not to be messed with, but I know he gets a kick out of it. I can see it in his eyes. They’d love him in Gitmo. He’d fit right in.

“You talked with him?”

Arturo was sitting on the terrace, planted in his favourite rattan peacock chair, and drinking an iced Dos Equis. Arturo has a lot of enemies, so he lives in a compound guarded by a small army. As he rarely leaves his home, he has created a small paradise for himself: a mansion with a dozen bedrooms, and a formal garden, a rose garden, and a family style backyard, complete with swimming pool and barbeque pit. We were in the yard, but despite the blow-up crocodile that was floating in the pool, the entertainment was definitely adult.

The men were gathered around the girl, hooting and hollering. As a rule, they stick around in case Arturo needs something, but they don’t hang with him on his terrace. As his brother, I have my own chair on the terrace, also rattan but with a low back. I’m not fond of peacock chairs; I like to see what’s behind me, even if it’s a solid wall. Paranoia is part of my business.

Arturo reached into the mini-bar behind him, and pulled out another cold one for me. One long gulp took care of half the Dos Equis. It was a typical scorching afternoon. Even the flies were too hot to move.

“And?” he asked me impatiently. “What did he say?”

“You were right. He talked. Not to the Federales, though. He was negotiating with the Gulf Cartel.”

Arturo swore foully. You’d never guess he was a graduate from Princeton; most of the time he talks like a grunt. “How bad is it?”

“He never got past the first stage. He gave them nothing they didn’t already know.”


“He wasn’t in any condition to lie to me.” The velvety smooth chill of the Don Equis was heaven. I decided I’d get drunk tonight. The job had taken twelve hours, and it had been gory too. Even after two showers, I still felt as if I had blood in my hair. I needed a break.

“Just him?”

“He involved his woman. I took care of her too.”

Arturo frowned. “Shame he brought her into it.”


“Disloyalty is a disease,” Arturo frowned. “You made sure their deaths send a message?”

He never takes anything for granted, does Arturo. He knows there’s no way in hell I’d do a job half-assed but he still asks. He’s the ultimate micromanager.

To punish him a little, I drank down the rest of the ice-cold beer and tossed the bottle in with the other empties instead of answering him. The girl was teetering on the edge of the block. Incredibly, she seemed to be considering jumping off it. It would certainly be quicker than anything Arturo had in mind but from the way they’d tied the noose, and the length of the drop, it was unlikely she’d break her neck.

“Hey! I asked you a question!” Arturo nudged me in the ribs. “Did you make an example of them?”

“I crucified them.”

“Madre de Dios!” Arturo crossed himself.

“He was called Jesus; it seemed appropriate.”

Arturo paused for a scandalised moment, and then burst out laughing.

I waited until he’d finished. “They had a kid. She’s four.”

Arturo pulled a face and sighed. “It’s a terrible thing to kill a child.”

Yeah, he would think that I’d taken her out. “She’s visiting her cousins for the weekend. When her mother doesn’t show up to collect her tonight, they’ll investigate and find the bodies.”

Arturo heaved a staged sigh of relief. “Ah! Excellent! She still has family. She’ll be cared for.”

Typical Arturo. He’s not married, and he doesn’t have kids, but he’s always acting the benevolent patriarch. It’s just play acting. If he got into a jam, and he thought it would give him an edge, Arturo would traffic that four year old in a heartbeat. And that’s why I like working for him; Arturo never makes mistakes. He doesn’t have a sentimental bone in his body. That’s a good thing because a soft heart gets you shot in the head.

“You deserve a bonus!” Arturo was in a good mood.

A squeal followed by a roar of appreciation made us both look up. The girl had jumped and now her body was writhing frantically at the end of the rope, desperate for air. Her arms and legs were tanned, but the rest of her was milky pale. She wasn’t local, and she didn’t work for us, yet she must have crossed Arturo in some serious way. Arturo is vicious but he doesn’t act unless you give him reason, and even then, girls usually get off with a beating. Only the ones who inform on us to the Federales or one of the other cartels are given this treatment.

“Who is she?”

“She came with him.” Arturo indicated a lolling form hanging from the cross bar of the swing set that stood on the far side of the pool. Arturo had set it up the second his first niece was born, and now its solid metal frame was coming in useful in ways the manufacturer had never imagined.

From the blood splatter, and the electric drill lying nearby, Arturo had had quite an entertaining morning. I didn’t recognise the figure either. “Who’s he?”

“Some kid from town. He tried to buy product with these.”

Arturo tossed a roll of dollars my way. Just one touch was enough. The printing was piss poor and the paper was ordinary stationary quality. Now I knew why Arturo was sending a message: they’d tried to buy product with counterfeit. “Fucking idiots. A three year old wouldn’t be taken in by this shit.”

The girl’s face was now dark red. She stopped struggling. Another thirty seconds, and she’d be beyond even Arturo’s reach. And believe me, you’ve got to be out of this world entirely to be sure he can’t get to you, especially now that I’m working for him. I can track anyone, anywhere, anytime. It’s one of my many skills.

Seeing she’d been brave enough to take the leap, I decided to keep my mouth shut and let her go out quick, but as I said, Arturo is nobody’s fool. Suddenly aware that his fun was about to come to an abrupt halt, he yelled a warning. Instantly, everyone standing around was rushing for the rope. I guess none of them wanted to fuck a corpse. Like the morons they are though, they tugged at the knot and forgot to hold onto the rope. The girl spilled onto the ground, landing on the far side of the ice block.

Before they could reach for her, she surged back to life. With astonishing resilience, she snapped her body, shed the noose, and took to her heels. Man, that girl could run!

It was a pity though that her hair was all over her face. She had no idea where she was going. She slammed into the compound’s back wall, doubled back, evaded the grabbing hands that reached for her by pure luck, and then headed straight for the terrace, finally cannoning into me. I instinctively put my arms around her and planted my feet on the ground. She’d been moving at a hell of a lick and the chair creaked horribly and rocked with the momentum, but held steady. Arturo always buys quality stuff.

“Dear God please help me! Don’t let them kill me!”

Her hot body, slick with sweat, was pressing up against me. Her face was in my neck, her legs wrapping around mine. She couldn’t use her hands but she clung like a limpet. She smelled of sweat, fear and a sweet, flowery soap. An old-fashioned scent. Lavender maybe. Or rose. I’m not a gardening man.

Terrified they’d drag her back and hang her again, she was whispering frantically in my ear, her voice hoarse, her tone pleading. “Habla Ingles? Take me home with you. I’ll be yours! I’ll do whatever you want!”

Instantly my cock hardened. The girl froze for a moment, then rubbed against me, promising, enticing. “Chingat!”

Hearing the insult, my hands gripped her arms tightly with instinctive anger.

She gasped. “Oh crap, no! Not fuck you, I mean, fuck me! You understand? Oh Jesus! Amor. Joder.”

She was babbling now, terrified I wouldn’t understand her offer. As if I could think of anything else but having her. I could see the pale white skin of her swelling breasts tipped with sweet rose nipples, tight and taut with fear. I could feel them through my shirt as she writhed against me. She was rubbing against my cock lasciviously, making her offer clear in a language every man on the planet would understand instinctively.

“I’ll do anything you want. Just take me home with you. You won’t regret it, I swear.”

She spoke with an unusual, light, lilting accent. Not an American. Or a Canadian. Not Australian either. English probably.

The men came crowding round, laughing, catcalling and demanding to have their toy back.

“C’mon, chismoso! Give her back!”

“Yes, we had her first!”

She didn’t need to understand what they were saying; their message was a universal one too. “You want me!” Her voice cracked desperately in my ear. “Come on, take me to your place.”

She was kissing my neck, but I could feel tears. She was crying. I grabbed a chunk of her hair, and pulled her head back so I could see her face. Wide spaced dark blue eyes, a small nose that would have been pretty if it weren’t dripping, and an oval face framed with shoulder length black hair. Although she was clearly terrified, and tears were running down her face, she tried to smile. She had guts.

Frightened by my silence, she moved slightly, riding my rock hard cock that was threatening to tear out of my jeans, and setting her breasts jiggling right in front of my eyes. I couldn’t help it: I dipped my head and licked a nipple. The tight bud set in the soft skin quivered. The girl gasped and pulled away but as everyone around us roared in laughter and yelled obscene encouragement, she shuddered and deliberately leaned towards me, offering herself.

“I can show you a good time,” she whispered.

It was just too tempting. I leaned back in my chair, holding her slightly away from me so I could see her body. The ripe, luscious hips and the sweetly dimpled thighs decided it.

I looked towards Arturo and knew his answer before I even spoke. He was grinning like a bastard, and when I said, “You mentioned a bonus...” he burst out laughing again.

He’s pretty generous, Arturo. When we were kids, he was always the first to share his toys.

The Bonus is rated 4.2 over 50 reviews on Goodreads. To read The Bonus visit Smashwords, Barnes and Noble or Amazon

Friday, 18 April 2014

Sneak Peek: Discovering Daniel by Nadine Christian

Title: Discovering Daniel
Author: Nadine Christian        
Genre: Young Adult
Tour Host:
Lady Amber's Tours

When a shocking memory surfaces that Ava McCoy can’t understand, she looks for answers. With her parents and her Uncle Sam trying to convince her that she is only chasing dreams, she is determined to prove that they are wrong, the vision too vivid in her mind to be anything but truth. When her investigation reveals another world so shocking and yet so familiar, it feels as if the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together – with only one question left unanswered. Who is Daniel? The very memory of him draws her to the sea. Then, the ocean brings her the answer she’s seeking. Daniel himself. United, Daniel and Ava must find out why everyone wanted to keep them apart – and who is now trying their best to do it again. They must find the answers – before they succeed. Before Ava loses Daniel all over again – this time, forever.

Sneak Peek:
Her reflection wavered in the water, the ribbon cutting a line in the wavering picture of herself once more. Her mouth frowned down at the face in the water. The watery reflection frowned back. She grinned and the face in the water grinned back too. Laughing now, she pushed the tip of her nose up with her finger and the girl in the water did as well.
Behind the reflection something moved, and she blinked hard. Bubbles rose, breaking the surface with gentle burbles, carrying what sounded like a tinkling laugh with them. A shimmer of scales darted under the boat and she leaned further out in surprise. That fish was big, she thought and waggled her ribbon enticingly. Then a face, pale and smiling peered up at her, black hair fanning out in the water, blue eyes crinkling in the corner with delight. The face suddenly crossed its eyes and poked out a pink tongue and Ava reared back in surprise, dropping her ribbon in shock.
The momentum carried her in a jerky marionette step across the boat, and then her legs caught the side of the boat, and in what seemed like slow motion, her arms wind-milling, she went backwards over the side.
She heard her father shout out, and then water filled her ears, cold and deafening. Salty fluid filled her mouth and nose and she breathed involuntary as she shrieked in fright. Within seconds, her jacket had righted her in the water, but she struggled to draw a breath. Vomiting a copious mouth of nauseating warm salty water, she coughed hard enough to bring tears to her eyes, and then the tears began in earnest. Legs and arms heavy with fright, she bobbed in the water like a cork, panting with the urgency to get her breath back.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Why write romance?

I was asked a question during an interview a few weeks ago that I think is asked of all of us romance and erotica authors:  How do you feel about contributing to a genre that is, for the most part, not taken very seriously by the mainstream publishing market or the media? Why choose to follow a path when then the deck is stacked against you in such a way?

In my experience mainstream publishers and the media like what pays best and as romance is consistently a big seller they like it fine.  There aren’t worldwide statistics available but according to Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2013 romance fiction sales were worth $1.438 billion in 2012 and was the top-performing category on the best-seller lists in 2012.  And that’s just the USA.

It’s impossible to see how much romance erotica sales are worth as sub genres like historical romance, erotica romance, paranormal romance and so on are all lumped together.

There aren’t statistics for the Malaysian market, but what I can say is that while we have some rather strict rules about what may be published locally (it’s a Muslim country) industry gossip and my own sales tell me that ebook sales points like Kobo and Smashwords are fuelling a boom for all types of romance - including romance erotica and dark erotica.

As for having the deck stacked against me: that’s true for everyone who writes and for a lot of other industries too - especially if you’re a woman. It is never easy making it to the top whether your business is aviation or zoology but that doesn’t mean you have to lie down and give up. Risk is all part of life and I like living life to the full.  

Check out Storm Chase romance and romance erotica on Smashwords and Amazon 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Sarah Daltry: Orange Blossom excerpt

orange_blossomOrange Blossom, the penultimate title in Sarah Daltry's bestselling New Adult romance series, Flowering, is available now! 

Title: Orange Blossom
Author: Sarah Daltry
Cover Design: Shoutlines Design
18+ New Adult Contemporary Romance
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"I’ve never understood a year. A year was always a measurement of something bad for me. A year in my father’s prison sentence, a year since my mom’s death, a year left of school before I could get far, far away from here. Now, as I look down the end of my college career, with only a little more than a semester to go, a year seems like something magical. It has been a year since Lily chose me, since she sat with me on the old swing set and made a decision that I was worthy of her. And every minute of the entire year has been better than the last."

obteaser2 You already know their stories: Lily, the perfect princess, always living someone else's life. And Jack, the broken boy, who had stopped believing in hope. Somehow, though, they found each other and what was one night blossomed into a love story. Now, a year later, Jack and Lily are dreaming of the future. Despite all of his promises to himself that he would never be indebted to anyone, Jack makes a new promise - this time to Lily - that he will be there for her forever. But when life unravels for them, he starts to pull away, and Lily worries he's out of reach for good. When Jack does the unthinkable, Lily is left destroyed. Is it possible to have a happily ever after? Does love ever really save anyone? Listen to the Playlist or watch the Trailer!

He’s smiling. Not that smirk he gets when he’s bitter but also pleased about something. It’s not the smile that says that he knows happiness is temporary. When he lines up his Skee-ball shot, there is a smile on his face that is pure. Genuine. It’s like taking a step back and seeing Jack in a photograph. One from years before his life went crazy.

He’s just a dorky kid playing Skee-ball and he’s so happy when he nails the shot. He does an awkward little dance and it’s the kind of thing about Jack that makes me love him. He’s gorgeous and sexy and aggressive yet sweet. He’s kind and considerate of me, both sexually and in general.

But I don’t love Jack for that. I love him because there is light in the world in the space he takes up. I know he doesn’t see it, but he’s inside himself. From the outside, all I see is the absolute electricity and fire that fills the air around him. 

“That’s how it’s done,” he tells me when he finishes his game, wrapping up his ridiculous stack of tickets.

I’m so going to lose, but I don’t care. He’s happy. I just almost wish I was better at this, so we could stay here longer, so that Jack could be this part of himself for as long as he needs. 

“I think you’re perfect,” I say. “Because I’m good at Skee-ball? Shit, that’s all it takes?” I shake my head. “No, but you tell me all the time. I don’t think I ever say it to you. I don’t like the idea of perfection. It’s too much of a standard to live up to, but I don’t think you even understand. It’s cheesy and probably cliché, but I just can’t imagine how I could breathe without you. How did I exist before this?” 

He looks down, uncomfortable because it’s one thing to tell Jack he’s hot or sexy; he can handle that and he gets cocky and ridiculous when I tell him that. But this part of him, this vulnerability, he buries it so deep that drawing attention to it makes him want to disappear.

But I don’t want that. I want him to embrace it, because it’s sweet and beautiful. “Don’t look down,” I say and I lift his face to look at me. His eyes explode with light, the way fireworks do on New Year’s when the sky is like ink and then it’s suddenly on fire.

I lean in and kiss him, feeling his hands tighten on my arms and his lips opening against mine. He’s scared. I can feel it in the way he kisses me today; he feels himself falling and he’s trying to hold on and I need to figure out how to be steady enough to hold him.

“Trust me,” I plead. “Let me take some of what you’re feeling. I can handle it, Jack.”

He nods. “Another day. Today, I just want to stay here, to be here with you, where it’s safe and comfortable and my entire world is this. Where strawberries and popcorn and Skee-ball and shitty plastic toys are the entirety of what exists.” He pauses. “I promise, Lily. I will. Soon. But let me hide from it. Just for a little longer?”

“Okay, but don’t hide from me, okay?” I ask.

“I’ll try,” he offers and it’s okay that he can’t promise.

He’s honest and I would rather he is than say something he knows is a lie. I’m not fragile. I won’t break if he hurts me. I just don’t want him to worry about doing it. I never signed up for it to be easy. I knew from the start that it wouldn’t be.

“Now, stop distracting me. Unless you want to concede defeat?”

“Never gonna happen,” I say and I settle in to play more Skee-ball.

I don’t really care about winning since whatever the prize ends up being is going to be more of him, regardless. But I try my best and actually win two games in a row. Of course, that’s as long as it lasts.

When he beats me, by eight games, he gloats in his victory, but he ends up using his tickets to get me a green plastic piggy bank. The options are pretty bad, but I love that he picked the bank, because it’s hideous and cheap and we spent far more than we could even fit in the bank.

I love it because I’ll never use it, but it will always be like this day – something that doesn’t really belong but needs to exist because the world is simply better for it being there. 

About the Author: Sarah Daltry writes about the regular people who populate our lives. She's written works in various genres - romance, erotica, fantasy, horror. Genre isn't as important as telling a story about people and how their lives unfold. Sarah tends to focus on YA/NA characters but she's been known to shake it up. Most of her stories are about relationships - romantic, familial, friendly - because love and empathy are the foundation of life. It doesn't matter if the story is set in contemporary NY, historical Britain, or a fantasy world in the future - human beings are most interesting in the ways they interact with others. This is the principle behind all of Sarah's stories. Sarah has spent most of her life in school, from her BA and MA in English and writing to teaching both at the high school and college level. She also loves studying art history and really anything because learning is fun. When Sarah isn't writing, she tends to waste a lot of time checking Facebook for pictures of cats, shooting virtual zombies, and simply staring out the window. Sarah has also written Bitter Fruits, an urban fantasy romance, and Backward Compatible, a gamer geek romantic comedy.

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