Please welcome talented author and friend Julie James! You are about to be totally charmed with this tale of teenage love. Leave a comment for Julie, and qualify to win your choice of either Just the Sexiest Man Alive or Practice Makes Perfect tomorrow morning!
Inspiration from a Hawaiian Vacation by Julie James
Ahh. . . Hawaii. Warm tropical breezes, white sandy beaches, the scent of hibiscus in the air. . . what’s not to love? When Beth told me about her upcoming release, Paradise Rules, my first thought was that she’d picked the absolute perfect setting for a romance.
Every time I think of Hawaii, I smile. Why, might you ask? Well, perhaps it has to do with the fact that I’ve received two diamond rings from different men during my travels to the Aloha state.
Now, before you start thinking I’m some diamond-digging trollop, let me clarify. The second ring came from my husband, when he proposed during our trip to Maui and Kauai. That’s a story I’ll keep for myself. The first ring, however, turned out not to be a real diamond, and I wasn’t even actually in Hawaii when the “man”—a sixteen year-old boy—gave it to me.
Want to hear the full story?
Okay, here it is: I was fourteen years old, and it was the summer before my sophomore year of high school. My sister, who was nine at the time, and I were spending the weekend with my grandparents, who lived in a Chicago suburb about a thirty-minute drive from our house (this becomes relevant later).
I can’t remember exactly where we were going—probably nowhere important—but it was one of those lazy summer afternoons and my sister and I decided to go for a walk. We’d gone a few blocks when a cute boy drove by on a purple Honda Spree scooter (remember—this was the early 90’s).
The boy on the purple scooter slowed when he saw us, pulled over, and introduced himself to me. His name was Dave, he had spiky blond hair, gorgeous blue eyes, and a purple scooter. My fourteen year-old, early 90’s self was smitten. And that’s how Dave became my first boyfriend.
Distance, of course, was our main problem. Being only fourteen, I had no car, and Dave had a full-time job that kept him busy during the day. Apparently Dave grew tired of only seeing me on the occasional weekends I visited my grandparents, and decided to take some initiative. But for some reason—maybe it was his job, although frankly I’m going with poor judgment—he decided to visit me at two o’clock in the morning.
So picture it: in the dead of night, he hopped on his purple Spree scooter and drove thirty miles to my house. (Keep in mind, since Spree scooters top out around thirty-five miles per hour, this was not a quick trip.) But what Dave didn’t think about was the fact that there were two problems working against him in his endeavor: (1) I didn’t know he was coming, and (2) he didn’t know which bedroom was mine. Problem #2 turned out to be the bigger one, and came to a head when David showed up at my house in the middle of the night and apparently decided, “Oh—this must be Julie’s,” and knocked on the window.
To my nine year-old sister’s bedroom.
Seeing a strange man staring into her bedroom window, my sister screamed and ran to get my parents. Quite a lot of commotion ensued, and then my mom stepped outside. Dave scrambled out of our bushes and said, as easily as if it was noon, “Hi, there—I’m Dave. Is Julie home?” To which my mother replied that Julie wasn’t in the habit of receiving visitors before sunrise, and sent Dave on his way.
A few days after the visit from “That Strange Boy in the Bushes” (as my parents now called him), I was going on a trip to Hawaii with my sister and grandparents. Dave had a gift, he said, that he wanted to give me before I left. I didn’t see or hear from him for a day or so after that, so I assumed he must have forgotten.
Oh, he had not.
Cut to me at the airport. My family boarded the plane and got settled into our seats. We were literally minutes from take-off when I suddenly heard my name being called over the intercom, asking me to come back out to the gate. (Remember—this was pre-9/11.) The whole plane, including my grandparents and nine year-old sister, watched as I de-boarded. When I got out to the gate, there was a circle of flight attendants standing off to the side, smiling. Front and center was Dave, holding a small jewelry box. No clue what he had told the airline attendants to get them to pull me off the plane, but keep in mind—I was fourteen.
By now a crowd had gathered, and everyone watched as Dave got down on one knee (yep, remember, we’re still fourteen and sixteen years old at this point) and pulled out this diamond(ish) ring and says something about how it’s a promise ring, etc., etc. The crowd cheered when I accepted the ring, and I think we probably hugged, and then amongst the clapping I reboarded the plane, having some serious “˜splaining to do to my grandparents about why I now had a diamond(ish) ring on my finger.
As I sit here now, reliving this story, something occurs to me. I’ve never known exactly where or when the desire to write romance and romantic comedies came to me, but I’m thinking that it might have something to do with that day in the airport. I can vividly recall the thrill of that moment—even though I knew it was crazy—when I first saw Dave standing at the gate with his diamond(ish) ring. The smiles on the faces of the flight attendants, and the cheering of the crowd that had gathered. Because everyone, at every age, loves a happy ending.
Speaking of endings, you’re probably wondering what happened to Dave. We dated for the rest of the summer, although living thirty miles apart, attending different high schools remained an issue, as did my sneaking suspicion that Dave was a bit. . . well, over the top. Eventually it ended—as it turns out, not all distances can be conquered by young love. Not even with a purple Spree scooter.
But that’s the great thing about young love—it can happen more than once, lots of times even. And shortly after Dave took off into the sunset on his purple Spree scooter, summer turned into fall and something else happened that would become forever embedded in my formative romantic teenage mind.
I met The Bad Boy.
Whose name was Jason.
Those of you who’ve read Just the Sexiest Man Alive might recognize the name. . .
Find out more about Julie here.
Click here to order Julie’s books.
The ultra alpha male. The guy who pretty much just takes what he wants and when he wants, to hell with the consequences. He’s the fireman, the soldier, the Greek tycoon seducing his born-again-virgin secretary. He’s all over the place, and some readers just can’t get enough. * Stands up and raises hands * Count me in as one of them! Now I’ve written and read beta heroes as well for some diversity, and if done right they can be just as swoon-worthy. But most of the time I prefer them alpha. There’s something about just letting a guy take charge…. right, sorry, drifted for a moment there.
But seriously, in real life, would we date these guys? I’m sorry, but any guy that tells me that I can’t go out with the girls wearing a sexy little dress is going to get the look of death from me. So while I prefer reading about these alphas, I’m not so sure I could ever date one in real life.
Anyway, here’s an excerpt from my book Take Me, which is out recently from Kensington Aphrodisia. Leave a comment and tell me whether you prefer to keep your Alpha fantasizing in the books/movies, or stretch it over to real life. I’ll draw one winner to receive a copy of this book!
She stumbled to the middle of the chamber, swinging around to face him. Her breasts rose and fell beneath the fabric. “You need to explain.”
A predatory smile crossed his face and he reached for the tie around his neck. “I don’t need to explain anything, princess.”
His voice was cold, not even a trace of the accent. Who was he? A shiver ran down her spine and she took a few steps backwards.
He pulled off his suit jacket and dropped it to the floor. “Take off your dress.”
Her pulse slowed and then accelerated right back up into double time. The heat that spread throughout her brought a flush to her body.
She ran her tongue across her lips. “No. I will not.”
“Agreeable indeed.” He raised an eyebrow. “All right. If you will not remove it, then I will do so for you.”
He lunged and her scream reverberated through the chamber. Her dress ripped as he caught the hem and jerked.
“No!” She twisted away, causing the dress to split halfway up her hip.
He jerked hard on the fabric he held in his fist, catching her off balance and sending her sprawling to the
“Barbarian!” she screamed trying to scurry away.
He fell to his knees and straddled her, grabbing her wrists in one hand and forcing them above her head.
With his other hand free, he grabbed the bodice of her dress and ripped hard. Her breasts spilled free and she closed her eyes with a groan.
The room went quiet, with only the sounds of their ragged breathing to break the silence.
“By gods, Talia,” he rasped. “You’re more beautiful than I imagined.”
She shook her head and tugged at her wrists. She tried to hold onto the anger inside her, but there was a more dominant emotion fighting to take hold. Hot fire spread through her body, locking the breath in her throat and hardening her nipples.
“Oh gods. This makes no sense,” she confessed huskily. “I should not want this.”
His eyes darkened. “But you do.” The calloused pad of his thumb smoothed over one nipple and she gasped, heat moving between her legs. “You do, princess.”
He lowered his head and nuzzled her throat, kissed the pulse that beat there before sliding up toward her ear. His palm, wide and rough, cupped her breast. He caught her earlobe between his teeth and bit gently.
Talia’s hips arched off the floor, a guttural cry escaping past her lips. It was back, this strange heat and almost drunken state of arousal she got when he got near her.
He rolled her nipple between his finger and thumb. Another tremble rocked through her body and hot cream gathered in her pussy.
“I can smell your desire for me.” His fingers moved between her legs and rubbed lightly between the folds—the sensation so intense the muscles of her cunt clenched. “Unfortunately, fucking you will have to wait.”
“I…I don’t understand.” She squirmed, desperate with the need for him to press his fingers inside her.
His lips moved against her ear, his words just a whisper. “My name’s not Alan.”
The odd response brought her up from the thick depths of desire. “W-what?”
His hand moved away from her pussy and slid over to wrap around her right thigh. His expression turned somber, hard. “I’m sorry, princess.”
She saw the flash of the needle, just before it swung down and jabbed painfully into her thigh.
“No!” She struggled again, panic slicing through the fog of desire, but it was too late. Her flesh burned from whatever he was injecting into her.
Oh Gods! What had he just done? She struggled harder, managing to free one wrist because of the terror—induced adrenaline.
“Hold still.” He recaptured her wrist and held her down, kissing the tears that rolled down her cheek. “Just relax.”
She shook her head, but the movement made her dizzy. The lights above her head left tracers. Opening her mouth to speak, she found her tongue thick and the words stuck in her throat. Why? Why had he done it?
“That’s it, princess. Close your eyes,” he whispered and smoothed his thumb over her lips.
Her eyelids grew heavy, too heavy, and finally she closed them, almost certain she would never wake up.
#17 Bella! Congrats, Bella! Write me at email@example.com, and I’ll forward your information to Lisa. Sending out an apology to Lisa and her readers because for some unknown reason, my website was down for several hours yesterday. It looks like people found their way back, however, which is good, because it was a terrific post, Lisa.
Up next, the Paradise Rules contest continues! If you haven’t entered the big contest, make sure you do now, as the drawing is October 5. Shelli Stevens is here, talking about those yummy alphas and giving away a copy of her latest, Take Me!
Welcome Lisa Marie Rice to the Paradise Rules Contest!
I can’t imagine a better job than mine. For five, six or eight hours a day (if a deadline is near), I morph from an (ahem) non-svelte middle-aged lady into a young, attractive woman in the prime of life.
It’s even better the second time around, as a writer, reliving your youth as your heroine.
Romance writers, on the whole, have as their underlying theme the depiction of that moment in time when a young woman finds her life’s mate. It’s such an exciting and scary period. I was young and single for a long, long time—longer than most— and I ran in a pack of twenty somethings, then thirty somethings then fortysomethings whose lives remained unchanged from their twenties, so I had a chance to study this part of one’s life up close and personal.
Falling in love—ah, it’s so wonderful. Such an exciting time, with every cell in your body feeling alive and sexy. You walk around in a bubble of happiness and excitement. And yet this time of your life is so incredibly perilous. Because if you get it wrong, you’ve punched a hole in your life and, worse— if you have had children with the wrong man, you’ve punched a huge hole in your children’s lives. According to the divorce statistics, you have about a 50-50 chance of getting it right, which are not fantastic odds.
We’ve all seen what happens when it goes sour, we’ve all seen lives torn apart by the Husband from Hell. A friend falls for a pretty face and spends the next ten years embroiled in custody battles, her life blown up in her face. And of course, you know it can happen to you. After all, unless you grew up with the man you marry, how do you know what hidden vices are there? Maybe he’s a con man or a drunk or an abuser. Add to this the fact that most young women are also struggling for their place in the sun, trying to make a career for themselves, hoping for success and, well, riches.
How do you know how it will all work out? Whether that man who’s currently breaking your heart will turn out to be a great husband and dad, whether your kids will be healthy and happy, whether that struggling little company you founded with your college roommate and you’re working ridiculous hours for will take off? The short answer is—you don’t. It’s only looking back that you’ll know that it all turned out okay. And that’s why nobody really enjoys those years. Not really. They are years full of ups and downs, gut-wrenching anxiety, years of kissing a lot of frogs, working too hard, playing too hard, hoping it will all turn out okay in the end.
Well, when you’re a writer you get to go back and relive those exciting, dangerous years, and even though you put your heroines through the paces, even though for a while there she wonders whether that exciting, mysterious man might actually be a murderer, even though she is put in dire peril—YOU know it all works out. And in the meantime, writing your story, you become your heroine. You don that youthful body, feel the juices flowing again, feel those surges of energy and hope and prickling fear and yes, well, sex. How you yearn for that man! The shape of his hand, the cut of his jaw, his thighs, they all drive you wild. Kisses are not familiar, they are new and intoxicating. His taste drives you into a frenzy. The sex is hot in all senses, it’s like turning into molten lava. Your heart pounds, your hands shake. It’s new and scarily intense and every single cell in your body is alive with the wonder of it.
Oh man, once you do that for a living, how could you ever do anything else?
Lisa Marie Rice“˜
Dangerous Passion’ out now from Avon Red
Order Dangerous Passion here.
Leave Lisa a comment and qualify to win a copy of Dangerous Passion tomorrow morning!
Loretta, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll forward your information to Fiona! Thanks to all for particpating to Fiona for guesting. Remember that the EC anthology comes out today from Ellora’s Cave!
Up next, Lisa Marie Rice talks about the benefits of being a romance writer…and she’s giving away a copy of Dangerous Passion!
Fiona’s here, and she’s giving away an e-book of the BRAND NEW Ellora’s Cavemen anthology which comes out tomorrow to one commenter on her feature! Woo Hoo! Plus, she just saw this cover herself for the first time this morning, so it’s also a cover debut. Hot, huh?
Purchase the Ellora’s Cavemen Flavors of Ecstasy anthology tomorrow, Tuesday 9/22/9 here.
Blurb from Pitch Black Fiona’s contribution to the Flavors of Ecstasy
Breathless seduction in a glass elevator above a darkened Kiev covers up deactivation of Katherine Belaya’s implanted GPS tracker. Nicholai Rostov may have just saved her life or led her into a trap set by the Russians. Her lust for him is simple nerves, adrenaline pumped high by threat of bullets. As they fight for survival, Kate’s trust in Nick may be the only thing that’s keeping them alive.
BK: Thanks so much for joining us here today!
What future projects are you especially excited about?
FJ: Thanks so much for having me here Beth! I have a few future projects up my sleeve ““ I’m currently “brainstorming” a fallen angel story with the idea that our Earth is both hell and heaven depending on one’s outlook. I’m really excited about it as I love mythology type stories but haven’t really done one before.
BK: Ooh, that sounds really good.
Every writer has moments they cringe when they read past stuff, and moments when they think…yeah, that’s good. Would you please share with us a sample of your writing of which you are particularly proud and say why you like it?
Umm honestly? I am afraid to read anything that’s been “polished and published”. I’m afraid to find passages that would make me cringe or go “wtf were you thinking” or “why didn’t you linger there, it’s a punch moment!” This is especially true as I learn and grow as an author (you know my penchant for writing books and writing classes). Instead I concentrate on making each new story better and better using the tools I’m accumulating.
(Beth butting in. Oh, why are these authors having so much trouble answering this? Lol. Talented and modest, apparently. Since Fi wouldn’t comply, I’m including an excerpt from a novella called Cold Victory which Fi let me read in advance. It’s not edited, but it certainly highlights some of Fi’s terse, powerful prose and one of her trademarks—sizzling sexual tension.)
Excerpt from Cold Victory
She couldn’t move, couldn’t force herself to think. In a slow controlled motion, he banded his other arm around her, bringing her flush against him, back to chest, her buttocks pressed against an unmistakable arousal.
“I keep thinking about this,” he muttered in her ear, his rough voice an unwanted and delicious rasp over her senses. “I can’t get it to stop.”
She couldn’t speak because her throat went dry.
“You’re my officer. Hell, you shouldn’t be on this ship.” His breath caressed the sensitive shell of her ear. “And yet I want the hell out of you, without regard to sanity or protocol or code of conduct. Do you know why, Officer Scott?”
Wild tight shivers danced over her skin. “It’s not going to work.”
“We’re in agreement.” He led her to the nearest bulkhead, turned her around so that she faced him, thigh to thigh, chest against chest. Her nipples stabbed out, aching for his touch, her lips tingling when he lowered his mouth close to hers. “Let me propose a solution. We get it over with. And consider it done.”
She tried to speak, couldn’t get the words out. Then his mouth claimed hers and Zoya couldn’t do anything but grip those muscled arms.
He lips moved over hers, devouring her moans, her breaths, her hunger, his taste driving her mad. His skin felt moist under her fingers, heat over rock hard muscles. Her pulse was a dull roar in her head when Stark tore his mouth away to spin her around, so that she had to brace her hands on the cool plaster of the bulkhead, facing away from him once more, vulnerable and aroused.
“Do you think of it, Officer Scott?” That dark, dangerous voice caressed her ear. His large palms spanned her waist, slowly moving up over her ribs. “Do you think about how I would touch you?”
She couldn’t answer through the roar of heat.
“Do you think about what I’d do to you?” He cupped her breasts in those wide palms, lifted them, running his thumbs over the aching nipples. Mindless, she let her head fall back to be cradled on his wide shoulder.
“I know how you would taste. How you would feel when I’m inside you.” Rough breaths and breathless words.
She shuddered when his teeth scraped at the sensitive skin just below her ear then trailed fiery kisses to the hollow of her neck. She wanted him to slide his hands under her uniform, to touch her skin without the barriers of clothing.
“Do you think about it, Officer Scott?”
She exhaled sharply, fought for words.
“Tell me what you want.”
Zoya didn’t recognize the soft low tone as hers. “Just touch me.” She pushed at the arousal pressing into her buttocks, grinding herself against him for some semblance of relief. Slow, his hands left her breasts to start a torturous path over her belly, lower, finally cupping the center of her heat. The firm touch of his palm seared her through the dark fabric of her uniform.
BK: Love Fi’s writing style. It’s very unique. “Wild, tight shivers danced across her skin.” Okay, you wouldn’t show off, so I did for you. Now can you tell us about a “˜blush moment,’ an especially humorous or mortifying moment in your writing career?
FJ: Well, I once had an editor tell me “does he really have four hands??” Talk about mortifying!!
BK: Snort. What are you working on right now, and when can readers look forward to seeing it?
As I mentioned earlier the angel story ““ tentatively titled Tarnished Angel, and a contemporary spy sequel to Pitch Black, my upcoming release in Ellora’s Cavemen.
BK: You just won the dream vacation of your choice. Where would you go? Why? Who would go with you? What book would you bring with you? What would you make SURE you left behind?
FJ: I think I’d go to Alaska. I’ve always been a Bob Ross fan (the guy who paints on TV) and he does these gorgeous nature paintings inspired by Alaska. Its cold and snowy and gorgeous. Aside from my husband, I’d drag along my paints and the easel he made me. What would I make sure to leave behind?? Hm… Not sure! I’m pretty content in my life, so I can’t think of anything I’d have to escape.
Thanks so much for having me Beth!
BK: My pleasure, Fi. That was so nice, what you said. I’m going to tell your hubby you said that when you get here. 🙂 Learn more about Fi and her books here.
Stay tuned: We’ll take some pics of us in Tahoe and post one.
Here’s a pic of us at Tahoe!
Leave Fi a comment and qualify to win a free download of the Ellora’s Cavemen anthology, the Flavors of Ecstasy, which includes Fi’s story Pitch Black.
How dare today’s guest author be late with her entry!
Well, I guess I’ll forgive her since Fiona Jayde is in the midst of traveling hundreds of miles to visit me in Tahoe. So stay tuned! I’ll have her put up her feature when she gets here. AND, she’s going to be giving away the newest Ellora’s Cave Cavemen anthology–she’s a participating author. So keep checking…she’ll be putting up her entry whenever she gets here. I won’t even let her say hi before I put her to work.
Hope you guys had a terrific weekend. I’m so excited about the guests this week at the Paradise Rules contest–Fiona, Lisa Marie Rice, Shelli Stevens, Julie James, Lucy Monroe…and OH, on Friday, executive editor at Samhain, Laurie Rauch!
(Sorry guys–I saved this as a draft instead of publishing it and leaving for the airport in the wee hours of the morning. It should have gone up before Opal’s contest, so rest assured Opal’s contest is still on until Monday morning.)
So, the winner of my tote/book/jewelry, etc. is Dina! Congrats, Dina! Write me at email@example.com with your information and tell me which book you’d like, as well. Thanks to everyone who participated. If you haven’t won yet, keep trying, because we have some fabulous authors and prizes coming up in the next several weeks.
Up next, talented author Opal Carew steams up Beth’s blog. 🙂 Winner announced Monday morning.