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SO much cleaning to do…

One of the side effects of NaNoWriMo is that housekeeping in the Cameron manse usually falls by the wayside while I try to make word count. This year, however, I’m 1) well ahead of schedule (more on that below), and 2) still have to do the cleaning that fell by the wayside while I was editing Lady of Thorns. So I’ve instituted a plan of writing for a half hour, then cleaning for a half hour, then writing, then cleaning. Or in the last couple of days’ case, writing/raking. Sweet mother of Cthulhu, but we have a lot of leaves in the front yard. I’ve already raked up 8 bags’ worth and there will be at least another eight bags to go.

But it’s got to be done because otherwise they blow all over the street and I feel like a slacker (plus it’s not good for the lawn to be covered with leaves). That being said, after the last two days of raking I kinda feel like I’ve been beaten by Mob enforcers so I may well take today off from raking (the leaves aren’t going anywhere, after all) and focus on vacuuming the downstairs. Because 5 cats + 2 humans = one hell of a lot of hair/fur/dander. Thank Zoroaster for Dyson vacuums, that’s all I have to say.

In other news, my NaNoWriMo projects are a skosh over 30,000 words, one of them will be out on December 5th as a holiday novella (Red Robin and the Huntsman, set in the Two Thrones universe), and I just found a memory on Facebook from 2011 stating that I’d be happy if I could write a book a year, plus assorted short stories. Ha. Ha. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, I was a sweet summer child back i 2011, wasn’t I?

Oh, finally, if you’ve read Lady of Thorns could I ask you to leave a review on your preferred site? Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, it’s all good. I just need more reviews. Thanks!

Lady of Thorns is LIVE!

And the third book in the series that was never supposed to be a series is LIVE, people! A huge thanks goes out to my awesome beta readers L.D. Blakeley, J. Kathleen Cheney (both of whom are awesome writers, so go check them out), Theresa Eastridge, and Peter White, and to everyone who pre-ordered the book. I hope you all LOVE it, and remember, reviews on your preferred site put you in the will!

Love was never supposed to be part of the deal…

Lady Amelie de Clerq’s prickly demeanor has earned her the nickname “Lady of Thorns,” keeping potential suitors at bay and making her the butt of the nobility’s jokes. Determined to attract a husband who will love her for herself rather than her fortune, she decides to embark on a journey of sensual self-discovery.

Alain LaPorte, wily lawyer and toast of the capital’s social set, has been summoned to Lierdhe to oversee business negotiations with a neighboring earl. When Amelie asks Alain to tutor her in the bedroom arts, he agrees to introduce the highborn virgin to pleasure. But lessons in lovemaking soon turn into a matter of the heart, forcing both Amelie and Alain to confront their fears about intimacy, loyalty, and love.

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Pour me an absinthe, Gert

As of this afternoon the final line edits for Lady of Thorns were finished and it is officially ready for release next week on Halloween. Not only am I bloody well delighted about that, but I am really, really happy with the way this book turned out. It has a thoroughly solid emotional basis, both characters and plot are fully fleshed out, and it feels like one of the best books I’ve written to date. Also, as my beta Peter said, “Yay for fun books where antagonists are inner demons!”

Yeah, I do a lot of work with inner demons in this one. Amelie and I share a couple of problems about body image and growing up feeling unattractive and insecure about our looks. It was interesting to do a deep dive into the mindset created by that and, in effect, psychoanalyze my own issues by projecting them onto Amelie. Granted, I didn’t have a sexy Alain to walk me through that particular psychological minefield, and I’m still working on said issues and probably will be for the rest of my life. But I think I’m getting a better handle on loving myself and my wacky body the way it is, instead of pining for some impossible ideal.

It also helps that Ramón thinks I’m gorgeous and says so every day. He’s so sweet.

So, yeah, Lady is done, and Cross Current is back on the Scrivener screen and will be my NaNo novel this year. I’m currently at 13K on it, and hope to get it done before I have to report for jury duty on November 29th. And if not, I’ll just bring my iPad and write while I’m waiting in the jurist holding room. I’m hoping to get the last two Shifter Woods novellas knocked out as well so that I can release all four novellas as a boxed set before 2018.

Assuming the cats allow me to work. Seriously, how can a small creature one fifth my size be that annoying? I ask you.

Mid Week Tease: Lady of Thorns #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This is the last snippet from the third book in my Two Thrones series Lady of Thorns that I’ll be teasing you with. And I mean that this time!

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Amelie held up the missive. “I received a letter from Marcus, of all people.”

“Oh? What does he have to say?”

Clearing her throat, she read:

My dear Amelie:

I’ve just received word of your upcoming wedding to Counselor LaPorte. Allow me to pass along my best wishes, as well as an explanation for my hasty departure in the spring. As you know, I left Illium due to my dear brother Antonious’s clumsy efforts to frame me for his attempted assassination. I had hoped that my grandmother would temper matters at the palace, but it seems that Antonious is still determined to see me dead, and had sent assassins to Lierdhe to achieve this. I was able to dispatch them with Roylus’s help, but I couldn’t bear the thought of putting yourself or your good lady mother in danger so I decided to leave and take any further threat with me. Please know that I will always have the greatest affection for you, and if LaPorte puts a foot out of line I will be pleased to sweep you away and make you the happiest woman on the continent, as well as the richest.

All my love,

She laid the letter aside and slid down into Alain’s waiting arms. “So he didn’t leave because of me. Well, not because of my looks, in any case. I feel a bit guilty now for being so angry at him when all he was doing was protecting me.”

Alain kissed her temple. “Don’t feel bad. I’m afraid our friend will always have an adventurous life, what with his family and all. If he truly does care about you, the best thing he could do for you is take the target off your back.”

“Which he has.” She slid her leg up his. “As long as you keep me happy, of course. Who knows, I might enjoy being the kept woman of a robber baron or whatever scheme Marcus is pursuing these days.”

“Oh, really.” Alain clambered over her, giving her a firm kiss. “Is that a challenge, my lady?”

She grinned up at him. “I do believe it is, counselor. What are you going to do about it?”

“Well, clearly I need to stop my wayward bride-to-be from looking elsewhere for her pleasure.” He slid a hand underneath her pillow and pulled out pieces of soft cotton rope. “Perhaps if I tied you to the bed and drove you insane with pleasure, that might keep you from straying?”

A delightfully wicked heat flared to life inside her. “Perhaps,” she drawled. “But you’ll have to be very forceful to hold my attention. I’m quite strong-willed, you know.”

“Yes, I’m quite aware of that,” he drawled back. Plucking up one of her hands, he tied one end of a rope around it, then bound it to the headboard. “Luckily for me I’m equally as strong-willed. Quite a match for you, don’t you think?” Repeating the process on her other hand, he tugged the bedcovers from her body before sliding down the mattress with more ropes. He secured her ankles to the footboard, siting back to admire his work. “There. You’ll be hard-pressed to chase after Marcus like that, sweetheart.”

She squirmed in her bonds, enjoying the soft but firm grip on her limbs. Pretending to yawn, she arched her back, letting her nipples rub against the thin fabric of her nightgown. “Oh dear. It seems that I’ve been captured by the most dangerous, vicious street rat ever to stalk the streets of Mons. Whatever shall a poor, innocent noblewoman do?”

“Surrender to her captor, of course.” Running his fingertips along her calf in a ticklish caress, he stroked the underside of her knee. “Especially as he plans on ravishing your helpless body.” His fingers trailed upwards, dragging the hem of her gown up and exposing her spread thighs and the fluff of dark curls between them. “Look what we have here. Could this be where her ladyship hides her secret treasure?”

Amelie tossed her head, fully into her imaginary role now. “You’ll never make me give in, villain. Never!”

“We’ll see about that.” His fingers dipped between her legs, stroking and teasing. “It seems you like this, you naughty girl. You’re wet as a spring shower.”

She held in a giggle, relishing the way he played with her slick outer lips and clitoris. “Nonsense. I hate everything about it.”

Smirking, Alain leaned down and kissed her mound before shifting his oral attentions to her damp, aching flesh. Amelie wished he’d gagged her because the way his tongue was dancing on her clitoris promised to bring her to climax quickly and very strongly. Dammit, and Sibeal and Tomas are in the next room, and Maman and Stefan are down the corridor. It’s not fair!

Just as she was about to tumble over the edge, he stopped, blowing a cool breath over her. “Not yet. Not until I say, my lady.”

She whined, raising her hips in a silent plea, but he ignored it in favor of scattering kisses and nibbles on her inner thighs. Once her passion had ebbed sufficiently, he returned to his efforts, sliding two fingers inside her and adding a wonderful massaging tease to the sensual work being performed by his lips and tongue.

He backed off twice more, leaving her more and more wound up until she was straining against the ropes and biting her lip deep enough to taste blood. “Alain, please,” she finally begged in a ragged voice. “I can’t stand this anymore!”

He lifted his head, licking her wetness off his lips. “You don’t climax until I say so,” he murmured. “And quite frankly, I don’t think I’ll be letting you do it anytime soon. If I do, you’ll just get up and run after Marcus.”

“I won’t, I swear it,” she gasped. “I’m yours, now and forever.”

He kissed her clitoris and she shuddered at the sensation, so powerful now that it was just this side of pain. “Mm, still not convinced. You’ll have to do better than that.”

“How?” It came out as an embarrassing wail.

“Tell me how beautiful you are.”

She stared down at him, momentarily drawn out of her erotic haze. “What?”

He rested his chin on her mound. “Tell me that you’re beautiful. Make me believe that you believe it. You do that, and I’ll let you climax.”

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Mid Week Tease: Lady of Thorns #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m teasing you with yet another snippet from the third book in my Two Thrones series, Lady of Thorns. By this point Alain’s sensual education of Amelie has progressed admirably — perhaps too admirably. I believe a certain lawyer’s heart may be thawing just a bit towards his fractious, sexy student, muwahahaha…

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Alain had set Colombe onto the task of procuring some soft cotton rope. His clerk had performed admirably as usual, and a hank of the stuff, neatly cut into useful lengths, now resided under the pillows.

But erotic restraint required a certain mindset for both parties to enjoy it, and he’d nettled Amelie with his questions about young Vandenberghe. His concern was honest; the earl’s heir was certainly handsome enough, and his blood made him an appropriate candidate for the Lady’s Consort, but there were neither shared interests nor frisson between Amelie and Vandenberghe the Younger. A pretty face would pall if there was nothing interesting behind it; with that lack of connection, Alain feared that Amelie would wind up turning to a lover for comfort within the first year.

And it won’t be me. By that point he would be back in Mons, pursuing his legal career and his next bed partner. There was nothing more than physical attraction between the two of them, he was aware of that, but he was surprised to find that he wanted her … happy.

He tugged her into his arms, brushing a soft kiss across her lips. She responded, molding against him with that mind-melting ease that made him re-consider the hidden ropes. No, another time. I know what I want to do with my spirited little minx tonight.

He eased the nightgown from her shoulders, kissing them as each one was bared. “Have you ever heard of soixante-neuf?”

She blinked up at him. “I have not. I wasn’t aware there were that many positions.”

“It’s not a number so much as a description of what the participants look like.” He smiled at her confused expression. “Let me remove my clothes and I’ll demonstrate.”

He stripped quickly, laying his breeches and shirt across the footboard of the bed while Amelie crawled onto the golden velvet bedspread. The color lent a glow to her pale skin and dark hair, making her look like an otherworldly goddess waiting to receive her due devotion. He felt himself thicken in anticipation, but didn’t try to encourage his erection more than that.

He joined her on the bed, stretching out in such a way that they were roughly top to tail. It gave him a wonderful view of the dark moss that crowned her mound, with a hint of the feminine cleft at the bottom. “This position allows the participants to enjoy each other orally at the same time.”

“I see.” She reached out and stroked his shaft, running a fingertip around the edge of the head. “Oh, I see. Sixty-nine. Yes, we would look like the numbers, wouldn’t we?”

“Indeed.” He leaned forward and rubbed his nose against her crispy curls, following it up with a kiss. He could already smell her desire, warm and humid, and looked forward to dipping his tongue in her honey. “Granted, it’s not as straightforward as lying back and receiving your lover’s attentions and then returning the favor, but I find the distraction rather useful in extending the festivities.”

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Mid Week Tease: Lady of Thorns #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! This week I’m back to Lady of Thorns for my teasing snippet (mainly because I’m on deadline to finish it by Friday and yeah, WHEE). Amelie is back in Alain’s bedroom for more one-on-one instruction when he mentions an, um, advanced course of study. Ahem.

Oh, and yes, that is a Star Wars in-joke there. I do love my meta pop culture references…

Many thanks to Angelica Dawson for hosting us, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

Alain got to his feet when he heard the scratching on the door. It opened and Amelie peered around the oak panel. “May I come in?”

He couldn’t stop the curl of anticipation that went through him. “Yes, please.”

Tonight she wore the same plain wrapper she had the night before, but when she undid the belt and let it slide off her shoulders he almost swallowed his tongue. Underneath she wore a short, silky gown of pale yellow with a low décolletage that framed her collarbones and the subtle curves of he breasts. Lower down it clung to her hips, and he imagined he could see the pink dots of her nipples and the dark fluff at the tops of her thighs through the delicate material.

“I’d forgotten I had this,” she admitted, draping the wrapper over a chair and walking into his arms. “It’s one of my ceremonial gowns from when I was younger. Do you like it?”

The way he was rapidly swelling in his breeches was physical proof of that, and he pressed his groin against her. “You are absolutely luscious. Although I have to wonder why a girl was wearing something so revealing.”

“It was an overgown. I wore a white chemise underneath.” She draped her arms around his neck and sighed happily. “Although I have to say, I much prefer wearing it this way. It’s extremely soft, don’t you think?”

He groaned as she executed a little shimmy against his throbbing cock. “You’re a minx, woman. It’s soft and very lovely, but I’d much rather be touching your skin.”

“I see.” Another wiggle. “The nice thing about this gown, counselor, is that it’s short. Quite easy to lift.”

He was never one to overlook a hint. Sliding his hands down, he gathered the hem of the gown and pulled it up until he’d bared her firm, silky rump. “If you continue to be this naughty, I may have to spank this beautiful bottom of yours.”

The glint in her eye turned challenging. “You might find that something of a challenge.”

He stroked the lovely curves, gently pinching one. “Not if I tied you to my bed first.”

A soft inhalation and a widening of her eyes was his answer. Interesting. She likes a bit of spice with her lovemaking. “Would you enjoy that?” he purred.

“I … I don’t know.” But her sped-up breathing and the color in her face indicated otherwise.

Tying a beautiful woman up and turning her into a writhing bundle of sexual need was one of his favorite activities. “I’d be very careful and use the softest ropes so that your skin wouldn’t carry a mark. But you wouldn’t be able to move when I was done. You would be completely at my mercy, your body turned into my own personal playground. And believe me, Amelie, I would play with you for hours until you begged me for release.”

She shivered deliciously at his words. “I don’t know if I could stay quiet if you did that.”

“Oh, a soft cotton gag would mute any noise you made.”

“Then how could I beg you?”

He brushed his lips over her ear. “You would whimper, of course. Widen your eyes and plead with me silently. Strain against your bonds towards my hands, my mouth, my cock. There are all kinds of ways you can beg without words.”

That lovely scent of fruit and cream from her skin deepened, taking on a hot note of mulled cider, and she squirmed. “You’re a wicked man, counselor.”

“Mm, I know.” He pushed his thigh between hers, gently rubbing against her heated flesh. “It’s why you like me, my lady. You need more wicked men in your life.”

She groaned as his hands cupped her ass, squeezing. “I like nice men, too.”

“I can be nice. Allow me to demonstrate.”

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Mid Week Tease: Lady of Thorns #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Sorry about that! We’ve been kind of focused on Harvey here in Texas and I forgot today was Wednesday. As always, thanks go out to Angelica Dawson for making Mid Week Tease possible. And with that, here’s another saucy little snippet from Lady of Thorns, where Lady Amelie de Clerq, tired of her offputting reputation, has convinced the rakish lawyer Alain LaPorte to tutor her in lovemaking skills. In this bit, she decides that she wants a bit more, erm, hands-on instruction. As you do.

Check out the link after the snippet to see more awesome Mid Week Teases!

Amelie turned onto her side to face Alain, resting a hand on his chest. “But you haven’t had any pleasure yet.”

“On the contrary, I gained a great deal of satisfaction from yours.” He took her hand, bringing it to his lips for a kiss, then drew it down and wrapped it around his rigid erection. She squeezed gently, enjoying the sensation of soft skin over a warm, heavy core. “I enjoy my partners’ delight as much as I enjoy my own. It was immensely exciting for me to feel you reach your peak under my fingers and mouth and know I brought you there.”

She wasn’t sure why his statement pleased her so much, but it did. “Still, I do think that it’s time for the gander to enjoy some of the same sauce as the goose, don’t you?” She stroked him experimentally. “Show me what you like.”

“All right, then.” He rolled onto his back, throwing an arm around her and pulling her with until she was cuddled against his side. “While that fine object in your hand is the center of most men’s desire, there are other places that will pleasure him nearly as much.”

He tugged her hand loose and guided it until she cupped the warm, silky sac of his scrotum. “Many women have a tendency to overlook this part during lovemaking. If you learn how to play with a man’s stones properly, I can guarantee that he’ll worship you and do whatever you ask.”

That sounded promising. She considered the firm, egg-like shapes in their furry pouch, stroking her thumb experimentally along the grain of the hair. His testicles shifted under her touch, tightening closer to his body. “Oh. Did I do that?”

“You caused it, yes.” She could hear the amusement in his voice. “They rise and lower depending on stimuli — heat, cold, the touch of a beautiful woman.”

“Flatterer.” Fascinated, she continued to explore. She’d always thought that a man’s parts were somewhat ungainly, a floppy tube and bag that seemed added as an afterthought rather than as part of a grand design. But up close, so to speak, she could see the appeal of the organs. They really were rather marvelous, a combination of softness and firmness that drew her touch like a flock of doves to a dish of birdseed.

Her hand slipped under his balls and he spread his legs wider, allowing her to tease the springy hair in that shadowy furrow. “There is something you can do if you reach further back, but I would recommend that we save that for a future lesson,” he said, sounding a touch breathless now.

His comment was intriguing, but she was more interested in the more accessible parts of his body. She arched her neck and licked the nipple closest to her, letting the tip of her tongue toy with it as he’d done to her. He rewarded her with a low, pleased growl and she stepped up her efforts, sucking the hard nub before delicately worrying it with the edge of her teeth.

That caused him to suck in a breath. “Teeth. Yes. They’re an acquired taste with many men, but I happen to like them when they’re applied with care.”

“Good to know,” she mumbled, giving his nipple a slightly firmer nibble before running her tongue around it, then around the edge of his areola. “Why do men have these, anyway? It’s not as if you’ll ever feed a baby.”

“I have no idea. But I’m very glad I have them, especially at the moment.”

“Mm.” She shifted so that she could take his other nipple in her mouth. His chest hair was crisp and a bit prickly against her chin, and this close the scent of his skin was mouthwatering, a combination of musk and clean linen over something utterly male. His taste was even better, salt and a hint of savory that reminded her of woodsmoke. She decided she could run her tongue over him for hours, learning the different tastes and textures of his body.

His cock, however, had other ideas and throbbed once against her wrist. She let his balls slide out of her palm, turning the gesture into a caress of that lovely fat shaft. It seemed harder than before, the veins standing out now. “I think someone’s impatient.”

“He can wait.”

She wasn’t sure if she could. “Please. I want you, Alain.”

He urged her to look up at him. “Are you sure? We don’t have to do this at all tonight if you don’t wish to. There are a number of other things I think you would enjoy—”

“No.” The slow desire in her began to build again. “I want you inside me. Now.”

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Mid Week Tease: Lady of Thorns #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! Thanks as always go out to the lovely Angelica Dawson for making Mid Week Tease possible. And now, here’s another sexy snippet from my current WIP Lady of Thorns (Two Thrones 3). The prickly Lady Amelie and the clever lawyer Alain have cooked up a plan between them to get Amelie comfortable with physical intimacy, but I don’t think either of them expected what’s about to happen. Whee!

Make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

“Now, may I take off your chemise?”

Wordless, she nodded. With an unhurried grace he undid the ties at the neckline and eased it off her shoulders, letting it fall to her feet. Her nipples pebbled up in the cool air and she struggled to keep her hands at her sides, aroused and ashamed at the same time.

He seemed to understand and took her hands in a gentle grip, holding them away from her body while he studied her with what she prayed was an appreciative smile. “Oh, yes. You’re a graceful willow, with a bottom as ripe as an apple.”

She bit her lip. “I’m many things, Alain. Graceful is not one of them.”

“Mm. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that.” He let her go long enough to lean down and grasp the bedcover, drawing it back. “Get in before you grow chilled.”

She did, appreciating the camouflage of the bed linens and the lingering heat from the warming pan one of the maids would have swept over the sheets. “Are you joining me?”

“In a moment.” Giving her a lazy smile, he slowly stripped off his shirt, letting the garment fall to the floor next to her chemise. She swallowed hard, unconsciously rubbing her thighs together in anticipation.

His torso wasn’t the heavily muscled body of a farmer or warrior, built to wield a sword or a scythe. Instead, he was pale and lean, with well-defined shoulders and light brown hair softly thatching the flat pads of his pectorals. His nipples were small and dusky pink, only a few shades darker than his skin, and the cool air had caused them to stand up. A fine trail of hair led downward across a belly as lean as the rest of him, disappearing into the waistband of his breeches.

Still with that infernal smile, he pulled off his boots. Only then did he undo the ties of his breeches, pushing them down in a slow tease. More hair appeared first, a darker brown than the trail leading to it, then the thick root of his penis. Amelie couldn’t help the small sound that escaped her when it bobbed free, a goodly length with the smooth skin stained a dusky rose in the firelight. Darker veins were starting to show beneath the mushroom cap, and she saw a tiny bead of moisture caught in the eye there.

He planted his hands on his hips, clearly enjoying her stare. “Do you approve?”

She tried to swallow. “It’s very … nice.”

He peered down at it. “Nice?”

His mock-incredulous tone made her giggle. “I’m sorry. That’s not an appropriate thing to call a man’s pride and joy, is it? It’s very handsome.” The dryness returned to her throat. “And thick.”

“Ah. Thank you.” He grasped the shaft, squeezing it and causing the veins to distend. “I think you’ll come to appreciate the extra heft.”

He finished kicking off the breeches and climbed into bed as Amelie scooted over. “Now,” he purred, turning onto his side and propping his head on his hand, “before we begin, do you have any questions?”

She could feel the heat coming from his naked body. A sudden urge to cuddle into his arms and soak in the warmth surprised her. “I—no. But thank you for asking.”

“This is for your edification, Amelie, as well as our mutual pleasure. If you have any questions at any point, you need only ask.” His expression turned gentle. “And if something displeases or hurts you, tell me immediately and I’ll stop.”

His simple, quiet kindness caused tears to rise, and she blinked quickly. She didn’t want to cry, not now. They had much better things to do. “Kiss me again, please.”

“With pleasure.”

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Mid Week Tease: Lady of Thorns #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies! Hope you’re ready for a hot scene from my forthcoming fantasy romance Lady of Thorns. Tired of her reputation as the stiff, standoffish Lady of Thorns, Lady Amelie de Clerq has asked Alain LaPorte to tutor her in lovemaking, but she’s about to get more than she ever expected.

As always, a huge thank you to Anglica Dawson for making this possible, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

“How do we do this? Go from sitting here to naked and in bed?”

Alain studied her, then drained his goblet. “Like this, my lady.”

Getting to his feet, he held out his hand. The fluttering in Amelie’s stomach grew, but she rose and took it. A tingle raced over her skin, surprisingly similar to the feeling of worked magic. But this isn’t magic. Is it?

The heat from the fireplace combined with the warmth from his body as he took her into his arms. His hands spread across her back, the touch sinking through her gown and into her skin. “May I kiss you?”

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. He lifted her chin and brushed their mouths together, catching her lower lip between his own in the softest of bites. Her nipples pebbled up, rubbing against the cotton of her chemise as her body responded to this sublime seduction. His tongue slipped between her lips, a clever intruder that probed every corner of her mouth. She met it boldly with her own tongue, delighting in how this man could set her on fire with something as simple as a kiss.

He pulled away, hazel eyes dark now with desire. “There is honey in your kiss, my lady. The sugared touch of your lips is sweeter than the ripest fruit.”

She couldn’t help smiling at the poetic compliment. “All the better to feed a hungry man, counselor. The bounty of my harvest is yours.”

“Mm, and I intend to take full advantage of your bounty.” Another kiss, deeper and richer, and Amelie drowned in the golden pleasure of it. When they parted this time, they were both breathing heavily. “May I call you Amelie?”

Her first name on his lips, a privilege restricted only to her immediate family, sent a wicked tingle though her. “If I can call you Alain.”

“Of course. Lovers should be on a first name basis, don’t you think?”

She smothered a delighted squeal when he swept her up, carrying her to the bed. Setting her down again, he cupped her face and gave her the most passionate kiss yet, his hands stroking down the column of her neck to her shoulders. Her breasts ached with a sweet need and she wanted his hands on them.

“I’m going to undress you now,” he murmured. “And then I’m going to start at the top of your head and kiss every part of you.”

She couldn’t believe that she whimpered at his statement, but there was no denying the soft sound that escaped from her. She let him turn her, felt his fingers work at the laces of her bodice. As it loosened she shivered, imagining his touch on her breasts, her belly, the soft flesh between her legs.

The bodice fell away from her, a shed skin ready to be stripped away. He pushed it down her arms, exposing her shoulders and pressing his lips to one. “Beautiful,” he murmured.

She wasn’t sure if it was the compliment or the feel of his lips that sent more bolts of desire crackling across her nerve endings. Quite frankly, she didn’t care. She needed more.

He urged her gown to her hips and then to the floor, helping her step out of it. Removing her stays was interspersed with more warm, sweet kisses across her shoulders and neck, whispered endearments filling her ears. She gasped when he nibbled on one lobe, the wet heat of his mouth a most delightful shock.

And then the stays joined her gown on the floor. She turned back to him, clad only in her chemise and stockings. Her nervousness returned, and she didn’t know where to look, finally staring over his shoulder at the waiting bed.

A crooked finger slid under her chin, urging her to look at him. “What is it?” he asked.

“I feel … exposed.” it sounded ridiculous, but it was true. When he was behind her, she could enjoy his caresses knowing that he couldn’t see her. Now, however, she was acutely aware that he was face to face with the Lady of Thorns, and the echoes of every cutting comment sounded in her head.

“That’s because you are. Exposed, and lovely enough to make my head spin.” He paused. “You don’t believe that I want you, do you?”

Her eyes stung, and she blinked to hold the salt water at bay. Damn it all, was she truly that transparent? “I believe that you’re willing to adhere to our agreement, which is kind of you.”

“No, it’s not. I’m afraid you’ll find that I’m not a kind man, not in the slightest.” His voice lowered. “My lady, a man may lie about his wealth, his occupation, even his family name. But one thing he cannot lie about is when he’s attracted to a woman.”

His hand slipped around hers and drew it down. She knew instinctively what he was doing but still gasped when he pressed her hand against the heavy, warm length in his breeches. The muscles between her legs contracted in a unexpected clench at the physical proof of his desire.

He folded her fingers around him, keeping her palm pressed against his hardness. “I wanted you from the first moment you walked into the king’s study, travel-stained and exhausted as you were. If we hadn’t had other matters to attend to, I would have pressed my suit then and there.”

Amelie could still remember the acrid stench of the privy that had been the only avenue of escape from the mage-proof chamber where her mother had jailed her. With only enough time to crop her hair short and change its color, she had spent a sleepless night riding across country to reach Mons and plead for Matthias’s help. “I was a fright,” she muttered. “How could you have wanted me?”

“You were stunning. A warrior goddess come to earth to claim fealty from the king.” His hand began to move hers, guiding it up and down the heated ridge. “Although I prefer your own hair color. The blonde didn’t suit you.”

“I meant it as a disguise.” Her thoughts were fragmenting, split apart by the promise of his flesh against her palm. The growing ache between her thighs throbbed, making her wonder what it would be like to feel him inside her, filling her. Would it be as delicious as the gossiping girls promised, or would it be yet another disappointment? “You don’t mind that my hair is brown?”

“It’s not brown. It’s sable, with streaks of caramel and auburn in the sunlight.” He studied her irises. “And your eyes are the color of rich, dark sherry with a hint of russet in their depths.” He leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose. “Your nose is lovely and delicate, and as I already mentioned there is honey in your lips. Your skin is soft and creamy and gives off the most delicious scent, and I can’t wait to worship your breasts with my mouth.” He moved his mouth to her ear, breath warm on the shell. “Or that sweet flesh between your thighs. Mark my words, Amelie, I fully intend to taste you there tonight.”

The thought of his mouth between her legs caused that area to grow alarmingly wet. “You can’t,” she whispered, delighted and shocked at the same time.

“Oh, I can. And I’ll enjoy it. You may well become my favorite dessert.”

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Mid Week Tease: Lady of Thorns #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, lovelies, and many thanks to the lovely and talented Angelica Dawson who makes Mid Week Tease possible!

This week I’m featuring a rather intriguing scene from the third book in my Two Thrones series, Lady of Thorns. In this teaser Amelie is trying to talk Alain (who is quite sought after by the noblewomen of Mons for his skills in the bedroom) into going to bed with her–for science! Or at least for experience. Will Alain agree to this most unexpected request? Keep reading to find out, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

LaPorte blinked once, slowly. “I … beg your pardon?” he finally said.

Amelie stiffened her spine. “You heard me,” she said evenly. “I would like you to take me to bed.”

The counselor blinked again, leaning back in his chair. “Yes, that’s what I thought you said,” he murmured, his voice slightly faint. “My lady—”

“Before you refuse, hear me out,” Amelie said quickly. She had to get this out before her courage failed. “I don’t mean this to be some sort of grand affair. I like and admire you, and I find you to be a handsome man, but I have no romantic feelings for you.”

If LaPorte’s eyebrows rose any higher, they would merge with his hairline. “No?”

“No.” She licked dry lips. “I mean this to be—a course of study, for lack of a better word.”

She waited, watching him. To her relief he didn’t burst into laughter, or seem angry. In fact, he seemed more curious than anything. “Study.”

“Precisely.” This next part would be exquisitely embarrassing, but there was no other way except through it. “Lierdhans are comfortable with sensuality. Clearly, I don’t share that same sort of ease, but I believe it’s from lack of practice, not any sort of inherent lack in myself.” The thought of the pleasure that had sent white sparks shooting across her vision the night before danced in her memory, and she could feel her cheeks heat even more at it. “If your earlier statement is to be believed, I do possess certain … charms.”

His head came up slightly at that, but he said nothing.

She took a deep breath and plunged on. “I would like to feel more comfortable with physical intimacy. But I can’t gain that experience without a willing partner. And few men wish to brave the Lady of Thorns, so I sit here at an impasse.” She tried to smile, but felt it quirking towards bitterness. “And throw myself on your mercy.”

“Ah-ah.” The counselor lifted one finger. “First off, you needn’t throw yourself on anyone’s mercy, least of all mine. I believe I already said that what you require is a man of stronger mettle than those you’ve encountered to date. If they aren’t willing to risk the thorns, they don’t deserve the rose at the heart of the briar.”

Tears rose in her eyes at the unexpected compliment, and she quickly blinked them away. “Thank you.”

Another finger joined the first. “Second, are you sure you don’t wish to save this sort of exploration for the man you will marry? I can assure you, few husbands would be horrified to find their wife virgin on their wedding night.”

She imagined Daniel climbing into bed beside her, while she lay there like a corpse from sheer embarrassment. “That’s assuming I marry at all, which doesn’t seem to be likely at this point.” Yes, snap at him. That will entice him, I’m sure. She took a breath and softened her tone. “Counselor, I know how strange my request must sound, believe me. But at the moment my virginity is more of a millstone around my neck than something I can gift to a man I don’t know I’ll ever meet. I wish to be relieved of it by a man of experience and tact.”

LaPorte didn’t smile, but a certain glint entered his eyes. “While my colleagues at the Law College might wish to debate you on the topic of my tact, I do admit that I possess a certain amount of experience in the pleasures of the flesh.” The glint sharpened. “Do you use childbane?”

Her cheeks felt even hotter if that was possible. “Since my first courses. It’s common practice for Lierdhan girls once they become fertile.”

“Good. Then we won’t have to wait for you to procure a dose or for it to take effect.” There was something in his expression now that made her heartbeat speed up. “We can start after dinner tonight.”

Her mouth dried. “Tonight?” It came out as a squeak.

“Unless you have an objection.”

She hadn’t expected him to agree this quickly. She’d racked up a number of arguments, logical reasons why their bedding would be a mutually beneficial arrangement. For him to say yes so easily came as a shock. “No, no objection.”

The smile he gave her had a definite predatory cast. “Good. After you retire for the evening, come to my room.”

Your room?” That, she hadn’t expected. In her mind, their encounters had always taken place in the familiarity of her own bed.

“For the purposes of discretion. This being your home, you would be able to explain your presence in the halls late at night better than I could. Also, there may be some blood. If your sheets are stained outside your courses—”

“That would be difficult to explain,” she concluded, wishing she would stop blushing. He was being logical, dammit. “Although I can lift blood out of fabric with a spell easily enough.”

“Good to know if it becomes necessary. There’s also the fact that I’m at the far end of the guest wing, while you reside in the family wing. There’s less likelihood that someone will interrupt us in my room, or hear any—noises.”

Her embarrassment dimmed as a soft heat bloomed to life between her thighs. “Eminently sensible,” she got out.

He gave her a brief, appreciative nod. “I do my best, my lady.

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