Wicked, Not Sordid
The Ultimate Seduction, 21st Century Gentlemen’s Club
Last year, my editor called me with an offer I couldn’t refuse: the opportunity to collaborate on a trilogy that takes place in a modern version of an old Gentlemen’s Club.
First of all, we all know those stuffy old club members might have been titled, but they were not always gentlemen. I was working with Maya Blake and Victoria Parker and of course our first thought was BDSM or something equally kinky. Category romance was growing up fast, I thought!
But no, our editors quickly assured us that while they were prepared for characters to have some vices, they were looking for rascals and rakes, not degenerates.
This wound up making the challenge more interesting as we decided on the club name: QVirtus. Yes, members would gamble and party, perhaps seduce a virgin now and again, but never for sport. It would be genuine attraction on his part, passion on hers. ‘Hostesses’ would swan around in red designer gowns, serving drinks and fetching, well, anything our members desired (within reason.) We called them petite q’s. They would be beautiful, not unlike Playboy Bunnies, but sleeping with members was career suicide.
As I sat down to write this blog post, I considered how and why this safer version of the playground appeals to me and hopefully to readers. Where is the line between wicked and sordid? Rake and write-off?
I think it all comes down to honor, which was a huge component of those old clubs. I’m kicking myself now that I didn’t include a duel. (Hashtag Spoiler.) But I open the story with the heroine describing my hero as a despot. Loosely defined, that’s someone who rules with absolute power.
Not exactly honorable, right? But even though he led the winning side in his country’s civil war, basically creating a new country, his intentions are good (peace and prosperity.) He stole all the previous oppressor’s money, but he’s earmarked it for the country’s recovery, making him a likeable good guy. (lol)
You’ll see by the titles that all three of us have heroes who toe the line between decency and debauched: The Ultimate Playboy (Maya Blake, July), The Ultimate Seduction (Me, August), and The Ultimate Revenge (Victoria Parker, Aug). All of our heroes could have walked off the edge of reprehensible behavior and all think about behaving without conscience.
In each one, their personal ethics (along with the heroine and the Presents Promise) pulls them back. The very fact that they might have fallen morally, but didn’t, makes them honorable and therefore likeable. Incorrigible, but not ignoble.
"I'm about to make you an offer you can't refuse."
Tiffany Davis takes her first delicious step into the exclusive masquerade ball hosted by the secretive Q Virtus gentleman's club. Here, behind the mask, Tiffany can hide her scars and reveal her true self—a powerful businesswoman with an offer for the president of Bregnovia, Ryzard Vrbancic.
Astounded by her audacity, only the fire in Tiffany's eyes makes Ryzard look twice. He has no interest in her business deal, but the promise of a woman who can match his ruthless determination makes him eager to seduce from her the one thing she's not offering….
EXCERPT FROM THE ULTIMATE SEDUCTION:
Ryzard followed the man’s gaze and his entire being crackled to attention.
Well beyond the pool’s light, in a corner mostly blocked by a buffet table and ice sculpture, a woman undulated like a cobra, utterly fascinating in her hypnotic movements timed perfectly with the music. Her splayed hands slid down her body with sexy knowledge, her hips popped in time to the beat, and her feet kick-stepped into motion.
She twirled. The motion lifted her brassy curls like a skirt before she planted her feet wide and swayed her weight between them. The flex of her spine gave way to a roll of her hips, and she was back into motion again.
Setting down his drink, Ryzard beelined toward her. He couldn’t tell if the woman had a partner, but it didn’t matter. He was cutting in.
She was alone, lifting her arms to gather her hair, eyes closed as she felt the music as much as heard it. She arched and stretched—
He caught her around the waist and used the shocked press of her hands at his shoulders to push her into accepting his lead, stepping into her space, then retreating, bringing her with him. As he moved her into a side step, she recovered, matching his move while her gaze pinned to his.
He couldn’t tell what color her eyes were. The light was too low, her feathery mask shadowing her gaze into twin glinting lights, but he reacted to the fixation in them. She was deciding whether to accept him.
A rush of excitement for the challenge ran through him. After a few more quick steps, he swung her into half pivots, catching each of her wrists in turn, one bare, one clad in silk, enjoying the flash of her bare knee through the slit of her skirt.
How had she been overlooked by every man here? She was exquisite.
Lifting her hand over her head, he spun her around then clasped her shoulder blades into his chest. Her buttocks—fine, firm, round globes as if heaven had sent him a valentine—pressed into his lap. Bending her before him, he buried his nose in her hair and inhaled, then followed her push to straighten and matched the sway of her hips with his own.
Tiffany’s heart pounded so hard she thought it would escape her chest. One second she’d been slightly drunk, lost in the joy of letting the salsa rhythm control her muscles. Now a stranger was doing it. And doing it well. He pulled her around into a waltz stance that he quickly shifted so they grazed each other’s sides, left, right, left.
She kicked each time, surprised how easily the movements came back to her. It had been years, but this man knew what he was doing, sliding her slowly behind his back, then catching her hand on the other side. He pushed her to back up a step, bringing one of her arms behind his head, the other behind her own. A few backward steps and they were connected by only one hand, arms outstretched, then he spun her back into him, catching her into his chest.
The conga beat pulsed through her as he ran his hands down her sides. Her own flew to cover his knuckles, but she didn’t stop him. It felt too amazing. His fingertips grazed the sides of her breasts, flexed into the taut muscles of her waist and clasped her hips to push them in a hula circle that he followed with his own, his crotch pressed tight to her buttocks.
Sensual pleasure electrified her. No one touched her anymore. After being a genderless automaton for so long, she was a woman again, alive, capable of captivating and enticing a man. She nudged her hips into his and flashed a cheeky glance back at him.
After a brilliant debut in the UK with No Longer Forbidden, a Mills & Boon Modern Book Of The Month January 2013, Dani’s first Harlequin Presents, Proof Of Their Sin, won the Reviewer’s Choice by Romantic Times Book Reviews for Best First In Series. While her focus is Harlequin Presents, Dani also writes romantic comedy, medieval fantasy, and coming August of 2014, erotic romance. Whatever the genre, she always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.
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DANI'S QUESTION FOR YOU
What’s your take? Do you like rakes and rascals? Would you rather see characters stay firmly inside society’s rules and expectations? Or do you find the ones who push the boundaries without breaking them appealing on some level?
I’d love to send a signed print copy of The Ultimate Seduction to one lucky commenter.