Get Lost in This Story…
TAINTED BY TEMPTATION on sale today!
Which were more dangerous–his secret desires…or her own?
Cruel false gossip and scandal follow Velvet Campbell everywhere she goes in London—and for the sake of her sanity she must get away. Accepting a position as a governess at an estate in remote Cornwall, Velvet hopes to start over, untainted by rumor. But she finds to her dismay that her new employer—the darkly handsome Lucian Pendar—is, himself, the subject of whispered insinuations…that he hurled his wife to her death from nearby treacherous cliffs.
But angel or demon, Lucian affects Velvet in ways she never dreamed possible, causing her heart to race, stealing the breath from her body with a look. As their mutual attraction grows, there is no resisting the passion that flares between them. Yet, as secrets from both their pasts rise to the surface, Velvet is haunted by one inescapable question: has she found a kindred spirit, her destined love…or placed herself in dire peril?
“That’s where Mr. Pendar threw his wife off the cliff,” the housemaid pointed out to her traveling companion in the mail coach. “See, there’s his house.”
Threw his wife off a cliff? Shock jolted through Velvet Campbell.
Her fellow occupants crowded against Velvet to see the jutting spike of land. An imposing square-built hall of dark gray stone perched on the outcropping like a demonic gryphon. Below the sinister house, a rocky cliff dropped down and down to jagged teethlike boulders. Waves gnawed hungrily against the rocks waiting for any scraps the gryphon might drop—or to devour the beast itself, should he fall.
That house contained her new living quarters. Mr. Pendar had employed her. What kind of man threw his wife over a cliff? A wave of dizziness assaulted Velvet.
“They found her broken, bloody body on those rocks,” added the maid. “Not three years gone.”
Velvet’s stomach roiled. She wished she could plug her ears or cover the mouth of the young woman spewing the local lore. He’d written his wife had passed, but he hadn’t spoken of the violence of her death.
Velvet shook her head. Gossip was often exaggerated, or just plain wrong, but a shiver slithered down her spine and moisture beaded her upper lip.
“That must be a hundred foot drop,” murmured a rotund cleric. “May God have mercy.”
The idea of falling so revolted her, she retched. She swallowed repeatedly, fighting against the bile rising in her throat. She fumbled in her reticule for her handkerchief. Her fingers brushed the letter from her employer, and her heart thumped erratically. With the limp lawn, she dabbed at the perspiration and wished for an end to this journey.
Velvet wanted to look away, but the sight of her future home mesmerized her, though the darkness of it repelled her. It was as if the house had been built to defy God and nature.
The thin young man who had tried for the last twenty miles to engage Velvet in conversation pressed closer. “Beautiful view, is it not?”
Beautiful was not the word she would have chosen. Daunting. Menacing. Those were the words that jumped to mind. “Quite,” she answered dryly.
“Can’t say I like that house there disrupting the vista.” He pushed his thigh against hers. She turned away, lest her refusal to look out the window give him encouragement.
Velvet forced her gaze beyond the crashing waves pummeling the jagged rocks. Under the threatening skies, the ocean eased into white-capped swells that did not look as hungry, but dark and murky and every bit as dangerous. But if she had her druthers, death by drowning was a thousand times more preferable than death by falling.
She leaned back in her seat wishing she could think of anything other than the plummet and Mrs. Pendar’s violent death. She closed her eyes reminiscing about the easy green roll of the hills and dales of Dorset where she’d grown up. But instead her mind’s eye recalled the last sight she’d had of her brother: his face twisted in terror. Her eyes jerked open.
“’Tis said her ghost wanders the cliffs at night,” whispered the girl. Not that a whisper was effective in the cramped coach.
“What happened to him?” asked the friend.
“Nothing?” repeated the girl with the appropriate amount of horror and fascination.
The girls’ conversation interested Velvet more than she wanted to let on. He wasn’t in prison. Surely that meant he hadn’t murdered his wife.
“He had scratches on his face, but he said she fell.”
“And they believed him?”
“No one saw him do it.” The storyteller shrugged, her expression smug. “At the inquest his servants gave testimony that he hadn’t left the house.”
“Then he couldn’t have done it.”
The former housemaid gave her companion a look that suggested the girl was far too naive. “A lot of them heard her screaming at him. I was to start work there a fortnight later, but no decent woman will work for him now.”
“Oh my,” said the country girl.
Velvet pressed her lips together. She had been called much worse than “less than decent.”
“Fitting house for Lucifer.”
The name Lucian formed on Velvet’s lips. His name was Lucian Pendar, not Lucifer, but she resisted the urge to blurt it out. The young man pressed his leg harder against hers.
She rearranged her skirts, piling as much of the excess material between the encroaching young man and her limbs as she could.
The road finally began to curl away from the cliffs, moving farther inland. Velvet unclenched her fist.
“His fortune comes from smuggling, you know,” said the informed maid. “My grandda told me the Pendars smuggled French brandy when good Englishmen were dying fighting the French.”
Another quarter hour of swaying and mumbled conversation about brutal deaths and how there were those who misused their authority dragged by. Velvet resisted the urge to voice her opinion. In her experience men in power could get away with anything—or at least they believed they could. But as her father had always said, God would be the final judge.
The coach drew to a halt. Velvet clutched her reticule to her bosom and made her way to the door.
The storyteller stared. Her smugness was gone. “You aren’t getting out here.”
“Yes, I believe this is my stop.” Velvet lifted her chin.
An hour away from the inn where they stopped for lunch, the coachman had said. She no longer had her father’s watch to check the time, but it felt like a year since she’d paced the yard while the others ate.
You’ll see the house afore we reach it, the coachman had told her. Then he’d given her a look. Iffen you’d don’t want let out there, it’ll be the inn at Lands End.
Of course, I shall get out there, she’d answered. She had no choice. She was expected, and her new employer had paid her fare. If she didn’t arrive, she could add theft to the accusations leveled against her.
The coachman opened the door. “Here you go, miss.”
Relieved to be free of the close confines and the five other passengers, Velvet descended the stairs. “It was good to meet you,” she said generally. Even better to take her leave of them and the gossip making her dread her new position.
The young housemaid paled. She reached her hand out as if to call Velvet back...
Today, I am thrilled to host my fabulous critique partner at Get Lost in a Story. So please help me welcome Katy Madison and wish her a Happy Release Day!!! There’s a lot of excitement about her Avon debut, which puts a modern twist on the classic gothic romance, and that Anna Campbell calls “A firecracker of a book!”. I can attest that the praise she’s receiving is well worth it! J.
So, let’s get right to it. Allow me to introduce Katy…
Heather: How often to you get lost in a story?
Katy: Every day.
Heather: Where do you read and how often?
Katy: Mostly in bed at night, but also during commercials when I’m watching TV. I read daily, it helps me calm my mind so I can fall asleep. I used to read 9 books a week b.c. (No, I’m not that old. b.c. meaning before children.) Now I read 1-3 books a week. Occasionally more if I’m being a glutton. Santa brought me an e-reader, so that number might go up.
Heather: Be honest, when reading 1st person...do you miss the hero’s POV?
Katy: In word, Yes. But that won’t stop me from reading a first person book or enjoying the story. I don’t think I’ll ever write one in first person, because I identify so much with my heroes. Yes, my gothic romance is in 3rd person, which is a bit of a departure from the traditional, but hey, I’d rather know what is going on in the hero’s head rather than have to have a long reveal by a housekeeper.
Heather: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Katy: Okay, I can’t narrow it down to one, but a few that I love are: Dirty Dancing, The Breakfast Club, The Princess Bride, In the Heat of the Night—I watch that one just to hear Sidney Poitier say, “They call me Mr. Tibbs.” And Shrek. I know one thing that appeals to me is the how people deal with class issues, be it the “in” crowd and “out” crowd in The Breakfast Club, or an ogre and a princess in Shrek. I love to see class differences leveled.
Heather: What was the first story you remember writing?
Katy: Actually when I was cleaning out my parents’ house, I found a little book I had made and given to my father. I’d illustrated it too. I’m guessing it was first or second grade. I have vague memories of handing it to my father. I do remember writing a short story in third grade and volunteering to read it to the whole class. (Given how shy I was, that was pretty impressive. I think I was expecting applause, but got complete silence instead.) The first novel I ever wrote was an awful gothic I penned long hand during my senior year of high school. I didn’t have the chops to write that complex of a story. But even though I knew it was horrible halfway through, I made myself finish it anyway.
Heather: If you couldn’t be a writer anymore, what profession would you take up?
Katy: I’d either be a dancer or a lawyer. But both of those professions would require that I get out of my jammies on a regular basis, so I’d rather be a writer.
Heather: What is your favorite tradition from your childhood that you would love to pass on or did pass on to your children?
Katy: Okay this may sound weird, but eating vegetables. My mother always fed us balanced meals for supper and required us to eat our vegetables and drink our milk—not to offend any vegans—but I hope I’m passing on good eating habits to my children. And they know that vegetables are part of a balanced meal—and no, potatoes don’t count as vegetables, unless they’re sweet potatoes.
Heather: Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?
Katy: Absolutely. If I can learn anything from them I try to apply the knowledge going forward. But I much prefer the glowing ones!
Heather: Tea or Coffee? And how do you take it?
Katy: Tea. Always and only just plain tea, no fancy flavors for me. Hot or cold with sugar. Occasionally a bit of milk. I love the smell of coffee, I’ll drive by the Folger’s building just to smell the coffee, but I cannot stand the taste.
Heather: What color would you make the sky if it wasn’t going to be blue anymore and why?
Katy: Pink! Mostly because I love pink, and sometimes the sky is pink with a sunset and it is beautiful.
Heather: Which era would you least like to have lived in, fashion-wise and why? Most?
Katy: Least? The Victorian era. I already don’t like to get dressed too often. I can’t imagine being laced into a corset and putting on thirty pounds of clothing. The most, maybe ancient Greece, because their flowing clothes look so comfortable, but I’d really miss modern conveniences and shoes. I really like modern shoes with high heels. So when I do get dressed, I like today’s clothes best of all. Can you imagine living without zippers or snaps or elastic? I can’t.
Heather’s GOTTA ASK – Katy’s GOTTA ANSWER J
What is the thing that scared you the most while about writing this particular book?
Katy: The love scene on the edge of the cliff. I was very afraid of writing this scene for fear if I didn’t do it well it could seem like a rape, but it was integral to the book. Love scenes are always tough, but this one was especially challenging. Just in case anyone was worried, it’s definitely not rape, and that’s all I’m going to say about it. J
GOT A QUESTION YOU’D LIKE TO ASK YOUR FANS?
Do you like dark tortured heroes? Why?
WILL YOU HAVE A DRAWING FROM THOSE LEAVING COMMENTS?**
Katy: Yes, one lucky commentator will win a free copy of TAINTED BY TEMPTATION.
Thanks so much for being with us today, Katy! Where can your fans learn more about you on the web?
And don't forget to join us tomorrow when Angi hosts Sandy Blair!
And don't forget to join us tomorrow when Angi hosts Sandy Blair!
**Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North American addresses only. If an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) is available, the author may utilize that option for International participants. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.