Christi Caldwell is here again with a an excerpt from her latest release, The Lure of a Rake. Don’t you love this cover?
Another breeze filtered the air between them. It rustled Cedric’s too-long, thick golden tresses, sending one tumbling over his brow, softening him, making him real—approachable, and not the sculpted model of masculine perfection able to command with a single look. He motioned to the wrought iron bench. “May I?”
Genevieve curled her fingers tight, hating this desire to run her hands through his tresses to explore their texture. “If I said no, would you leave?”
“Yes,” he said automatically. “But I’d attempt to convince you otherwise.”
Perhaps her soul was as wicked and wanton as she’d been accused, for she wanted to know what that convincing would entail. He stared at her pointedly and with a hesitant nod, she slid over onto the corner of the bench.
The marquess settled his tall, heavily muscled frame beside her, shrinking the space between them so that their legs touched. His cloak gaped slightly open. She swallowed hard. Unbidden, she stole a sideways look at the muscles of his thighs straining the fawn fabric of his front-flap breeches. Cheeks afire, she swiftly lifted her gaze, praying he’d not noted her scrutiny, and promptly stilled.
Head tipped back, with his eyes closed, the morning’s rays bathed Cedric’s face in sunlight. “Who was he?” he asked, unmoving from his repose so much that she blinked several times believing she’d imagined his question.
“My lord?” she asked tentatively.
“The gentleman to account for your wariness.”
She drew her book closer. “It would hardly be appropriate to speak of such intimate matters.”
“Bah, mine is hardly an intimate question.” Opening his eyes, the marquess picked his head up and favored her with a slow, seductive grin. “Were I to ask you the scent of oil you place in your bathwater or the fragrance you dab behind your ears, now that, I would allow would be intimate…for some.”
Despite a suitable wariness where this man was concerned, a smile pulled at her lips. With his charm, he was a rogue who could coax the queen out of her chemise. “Tell me, my lord, do you work at shocking a lady?”
“Hardly.” He winked. “I assure you, it comes quite naturally.”
Do you have a favorite rake in fiction?
I’m so pleased to welcome my pal Kris Kennedy to the Jaunty Quills. Kris writes amazing books – I mean, amazing. In fact, she’s one of my favorite historical romance writers. Her stories are sweeping, adventurous, and grounded in extraordinary historical events. If you love smart and sexy historical romance, these are the books for you.
Take it away, Kris!
Going Bigger, Hotter, Historical-er
Many thanks to my buddy Vanessa Kelly for asking me over to help spread the news about my newest book, CLAIMING HER.
I haven’t had an historical release for a few years, not since DECEPTION, which won RT’s K.I.S.S. Award for Best Historical Romance Hero of the Year in 2013. (And will be re-releasing next year.) But I think my NY publishing house had a hard time selling medievals, and I had a hard time making zero dollars, so I took a detour into contemporaries.
But I kept getting drawn back to historicals. They’re my first love, my heartbreak, my siren song. So, I came back.
My latest release, CLAIMING HER is set in Ireland, during the Elizabethan era, with an Irish warlord hero, and it’s really hot. Like, really hot.
I’ve been on the hunt for big, meaty, super-hot historicals. And I want medievals, or medieval-ish. I love Victorians & Regencies, but I want me some knights and warriors, too. I don’t necessarily want an erotic historical romance (well, wait, sure, sometimes I do…) But what I really want are stories of historical adventure, sweeping stories, immersive stories, steeped in history and character, but with the kind of no-holds-barred sensual heat you find in many contemporaries coming out today.
Ergo, my new collection, RENEGADES & OUTLAWS.
These are super-hot historicals with big bad alpha heroes and smart, capable heroines. Not erotic romance, but the sensual relationship is absolutely central to the characters’ arc, and the stories may push a few boundaries here and there (although I may have done that before (:eyes The Irish Warrior:))
The first in this collection is my novella THE KING’S OUTLAW, currently part of the USA Today® bestselling Captured by a Celtic Warrior anthology.
Which brings us to CLAIMING HER. It’s set in Ireland, 1589, with a dangerously handsome and ambitious Irish warrior hero, come home to claim the barony the Queen of England would not give him.
The heroine, he will discover, is not of a mind to be conquered.
Want a little excerpt??
Aodh Mac Con (pronounced like you would the beginning of “Aidan’) has just taken over the lady’s castle, and they’re, um, discussing it.
…“I am Rardove, sir,” she said boldly, quietly, and foolishly. “And I hold for England.”
He tipped closer. “That has just become a matter for negotiation, my lady. From here on, let us say England shall have to earn Rardove’s loyalty.”
She stepped back, her lips parting. He’d shocked her. The realization caused a small, strange tinge of disappointment in him, that a woman who’d held an English castle beyond the Pale with only ten men would be shocked by such a thing. It seemed somehow…diminishing. But then, Aodh had a taste for rebellion today, and nothing but more of the same would serve.
A movement at the far end of the hall caught his attention. One of his captains, Cormac, poked his head through a door, caught his eye and nodded, then ducked back out. Good. They’d made it to the north side, which meant they’d secured the entire castle. Rardove was his.
And so where was the hot satisfaction of conquest? The rush of triumph? Where was…everything?
Lying at the bottom of the same cold pit that had marked his life for too many years to count, no doubt. Intrigues, battle, courtly maneuvers, it was all the same: naught.
Apparently even coups of castles did not rise to the level of interest anymore.
He turned his attention back to Katarina. “My lady, if you will—”
All he saw was a blur of green silk, then her small, bunched fist smashed into his face.
The impact, hard and square, landed directly on his jaw.
Caught utterly unaware—as he’d never been before, never, not even when his father had had his head cut off—Aodh reeled sideways. The retreat gave enough room for her to launch herself forward and slam her shoulder directly into his ribs so hard and fast, he grunted and stumbled backward and hit the ground, her on top, twisting like a hellcat.
She jammed a knee into his bollocks, and he doubled over protectively, at which point she grabbed one of his fingers and twisted it back almost to breaking, while her other hand—so sinuous and slender it was all but ungrippable—snaked between their writhing bodies and tugged his accursed dagger out of its sheath.
With a roar, he lunged up off the ground, lifting her with him, and backed her to the wall. Predictably—dimly, he noted he was already predicting things about her—she wrestled like a firebrand. Whirling hair, arms, legs. Kicking, biting, punching, swiping with the knife.
First things first.
He caught hold of the feminine fist snaked around the hilt of his blade and slammed it to the wall above her head, gripping her wrist so hard she cried out, but she did not, of note, stop fighting. He finally had to pin her to the wall with his entire body, her toes dangling half a foot in the air, their faces pressed together, cheek to cheek, until he stilled everything that was writhing and flailing and kicking on her curving, rampant, berserker body.
Fire burned in his veins, urging him to smash and destroy. He reached over with his other hand and wrenched the blade out of her grip, then tossed it onto the ground behind him.
He inhaled slowly, forcing himself to calm. They stood like this for a moment, her body pinned between Aodh and the wall. He supposed she could still kick his shins, but she’d impact against his greaves, and it would hurt her far more than him.
She seemed to agree. At least, she didn’t move.
He pulled back a few inches, let her feet drop to the ground, and peered down at her. Breathing fast, she flung her head, spraying hair across her face. It was pale and beautiful, with slim, dark brows arcing over what appeared to be intelligent brown eyes. A shocking discovery.
“If you were a man, I would kill you right now,” he said in a low voice.
He waited for her response—everything now was a test, every moment a potential tipping point. Would she recoil? Be wise and retreat, apologize, surrender, run scared?
Would she be like everyone else?
She shifted the only thing he didn’t have restrained, her left hand, and laid what turned out to be the cold edge of a blade against the side of his throat.
“If I were a man, sir,” she whispered back, “you would already be dead.”
So, come on, ladies, give me some recommendations: what was the last big, sexy historical you read and loved?? One commentor wins a copy of the Captured by a Celtic Warrior anthology, which includes my story, THE KING’S OUTLAW!
And if you like big, sexy historicals like I do, sign up for my newsletter to be alerted whenever there’s a new release!
Recently I was lucky enough to attend the Romantic Times Booklovers’ Convention in Las Vegas. If you’ve never been and you love books, you are missing out. It’s packed with readers, authors, panels, booksignings, and lots of parties and free books.
It’s also fun for us authors to catch up with friends. My roomie this time was my old friend Sophie Jordan. Here we are with our morning coffee.
I also did a little shopping. I found this super cute storm trooper wallet in the hotel sundry shop. Who knew the Rio had such cute stuff in its shops?
The highlight of the convention was, of course, the giant bookfair. It’s so much fun to chat with other authors and readers who walk by. Here I am ready to sign!
I also saw two good friends and readers, Susan Knight and Kristy Birch.
Finally, I recognized Vikkas Bhardwaj walking around. He’s on the cover of lots of books, including my Christmas anthology, Christmas in Duke Street. Of course, I had to snag a picture.
By the end of the conference, I was ready to head home and catch up on sleep. But I had room in my bag for a few goodies! One of them is this cute gift bag my publisher gave to librarians and booksellers filled with books and other goodies. Want it? Just comment below, and one person will win it. (Winner chosen randomly and announced and contacted Sunday.)
On the morning of March 25, I got a fabulous phone call: Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress was named a finalist in the Short Historical category of the RITA® awards! The RITAs are the most distinguished award in romance writing, and for the rest of the day (and, ok, more time than that) I alternated between disbelief and happy freaking out.
My husband, Mr. R, has heard enough about romance writing over the years to know about the RITAs. So he suggested a celebration. “Whatever you want,” he kindly and perhaps unwisely suggested.
Me: Really? Like, I could buy a thing?
Mr. R: I was thinking dinner out, but…yeah, sure.
Because I had an idea in mind. And it was this.
The cotton candy maker promised to turn my house into the sort of candy paradise that Hansel and Gretel found in the woods (minus the evil witch, of course). We–meaning Little Miss R and me, though Mr. R was soon led by curiosity to investigate–began that evening with plain sugar, honing our craft.
Just kidding. There’s not really a craft to it. You try not to smack the cone against the heating element, that’s all.
Anyway, we had a good time making these little twirls of cotton candy. Not bad, I thought. It’s not exactly professional-grade floss, but then again this machine is the size of a toaster.
Then I invited some friends over for cotton candy, and for fun they pulled up a YouTube video featuring a cotton candy artist. Um, it was pretty amazing. And what we discovered? If you hold the cone horizontally, it doesn’t matter how little your machine is. You can make some big, fluffy treats. Behold: me looking like a goofball while making an impressive twist of cherry.
What did we learn from all this? Well, first, Mr. R probably learned not to give me carte blanche on celebrations, or I will turn our house into a carnival. But I also learned that making cotton candy is just as much fun as eating it. (Seriously. I made like five batches in a row.) I also learned that it’s good to have smart, curious friends who actually, y’know, try to figure out the best way to do things.
Tell me, what are your feelings on cotton candy? Or is there something else that makes you feel like a kid again? To one random commenter, I’ll send a print copy of my RITA-finaling book, Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress. International entries welcome. Winner announced on Sunday.
Maybe it’s because I have an older sister, but I’ve never really been competitive. What would be the point? She could whup me at any sport (and honestly, she still can, because I’m no more coordinated now than I was as five-year-old). She was faster at all those horrid card games where you have to put cards down at a furious rate, or remember to say “Uno” or “Squeak” or whatever. I’d play with her, sure, but I always figured I wouldn’t win.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t WANT to win. And hey, I still do. Though I get involved in fewer foot fights and hard-core games of Crazy Sevens than I used to, so the stakes are different now.
This week, I somehow found myself embroiled in two bookish competitions. Kensington Publishing Corp. is running a tournament of romance heroes, and Benedict Frost—the hero of my upcoming romance Fortune Favors the Wicked—got a nod to participate.
It would have been cool to advance to the next round—except for the fact that then Benedict would have been pitted against Vanessa Kelly’s hero. How could I ever ask people to vote against one of Vanessa’s heroes? They are marvelous. I love them. Instead, Vanessa and I concocted an elaborate bromance between our heroes. Just check #UltimateHero on Twitter to see what I mean. (Baked goods figure heavily. In a manly way, of course.)
Now we move on to the DABWAHA, the excellently-named tourney for the past year’s romance novels. I was gobsmacked and delighted that The Sport of Baronets got a nod in the novella category. Yay! Woohoo! Oh…wait. It’s up against Jeannie Lin’s The Warlord and the Nightingale in the first round. If you’ve never read Jeannie Lin‘s romances, you are missing out on excellent books. Go get her entire backlist. I’ll wait.
I’m not sure how to campaign against someone whose work I admire so much, so I’m mainly resorting to ridiculousness. Like this.
DABWAHA voting starts tomorrow at http://dabwaha.com. If you want to cast your vote for The Sport of Baronets, that’d be excellent—and if you vote for Jeannie’s novella instead, hey, I totally understand. Either way, I hope you get the chance to check out the finalists and find some new authors for your TBR.
By the way, if you haven’t read The Sport of Baronets yet, it’s FREE this week. Hannah and Bart’s love story is available from your favorite ebook retailer. Happy reading!