Friday Indulgences (hint:it’s about shooz), and a BIG CONTEST!

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Happy Indulgence Day! For us Entangled Indulgence authors, Friday is the day we get to talk to you all about our favorite indulgences. I have several, and wrestled for a long time (mostly with food options) before finally choosing *drum roll* shoes!

 

I LOVE shoes, and for a woman who sort of grew up as more of a tomboy, it’s a bit of a shocker exactly how obsessed I am.  And it’s not that I’m high maintenance all around. I buy my makeup at CVS, and my clothes mostly at Kohl’s, I do my own nails and even dye my own hair. But the shoes? That’s where I can’t help but indulge a little. I have red ones and pink ones and brown ones and black ones and black ones and black ones…do you sense a trend? My husband will gape at me and be all, “How many pairs of black shoes does one person need?” (his tone CLEARLY implying that one would be the correct answer). And I’m all “Well, I need a mule and a wedge and a proper pump and a kitten heel and a platform and an ankle boot and a knee-high boot and a flat and a sandal…” This goes on like the Bubba shrimp scene in Forrest Gump for some time until his eyes glaze over and he forgets what he asked me in the first place. (WIN!)

 

I think I love shoes for two big reasons:

 

1. Shoes never make me feel like leaping off a cliff when I try them on (unlike bathing suits, which should come with a flask of tequila tethered to the hanger to dull the pain).

 

2. They make me feel pretty and confident. Whether I’m striding in to a meeting all *clickety clickety* across a marble floor or I’m walking into a party and need a shot of confidence, I great pair of shoes gives me just a little boost.

 
Tell me, do you love shoes as much as I do?

Now for a little about my new Indulgence release, Wife for Hire! (Stick around to comment because I have an EPIC contest running too):

He needs a wife for three weeks…

Owen Phipps is out for revenge. His mission? To expose the man who stole his sister’s money and dignity. All he needs is a “wife” who can play along. Too bad his last best hope is an actress who tries to mace him with perfume when he offers her the role of a lifetime.

Lindy Knight is a real sap. She loves too hard, feels too deep, and often finds herself saying yes when she should be saying “Let me think about it.” She can’t believe her good fortune when Owen offers her more than enough money to hold off foreclosure until she can find a job. Three weeks at a resort, money she desperately needs, and she gets to help bring a criminal to justice? Score.

It seems easy enough until the first time a couples bonding game turns intimate, and they realize how dangerous their mutual attraction could be. Can they keep their hands to themselves long enough to find the evidence Owen needs? Or are the close quarters more temptation than they can handle?

Please check out the Entangled website here for an extended excerpt of Wife for Hire, and readers, stick around to comment, because, to celebrate the release of my new Entangled Indulgence, I’m offering to indulge YOU! One commenter on this post will win a $10 Barnes & Noble or Amazon gift card, so she (or he!) can buy a couple (or, if you buy from the Entangled Indulgence line, a few because they’re only $2.99!) new books. I’ll select a winner on Monday!

 

AND everyone who enters will also be eligible for my Let Me Indulge You contest. If Wife for Hire gets onto the Amazon OR Barnes & Noble top 100 list by September 18th, I will be giving away a $250 gift card to the salon or spa of one lucky winner’s choice. Every comment from my blog tour will be counted as an entry. Follow my whole blog tour? EACH comment = another entry! Extra entries will also be given for tweeting about Wife For Hire with the Amazon or B&N buy link and the hashtag #WIFE4HIRE or posting on Facebook! Entries will be tracked by Rafflecopter.com. Details are here!

 

So now to you, blog readers! Do tell. What’s your favorite indulgence? 

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The Bewitching Tale of Stormy Gale Excerpt

London, England, July 4th, 1841

As the sun crested the horizon beyond the Park Village row-homes of Albany Street, a turtle dove flew overhead. Shadows from the surrounding magnolia trees dappled the ivory exterior of the building in a dazzling display. From my hiding spot behind the hedgerow, I took a moment to soak in the lovely view, then another to enjoy the horrified, high-pitched scream that rent the cool morning air.

The sound warmed me right down to the cockles of my heart as I closed the now empty rat-trap with a satisfied snap. I was like the fucking Marines, right? Getting more done before 7:00 a.m. than most people do all day. Oo-rah!

There was already some activity on the street so I stowed the trap in a large basket I’d brought along with me. Despite the pleasant temperature, I pulled the coarse brown cape tighter around my shoulders, covering my telltale mass of black hair with its hood. Stripping off my leather gloves, I took a furtive glance around. All clear.

I shambled along the stucco building until its end then shifted onto the street. Buoyed by yet another successful mission, I magnanimously awarded a merit point to Ms. Blakeslee for her newfound bravery. Beyond that one initial scream, there had been no ruckus or fanfare this time. Apparently the little chit had learned that dealing privately with whatever came her way was preferable to running down the street in her unmentionables like a lunatic. Even with that, in my mind, the score was thirteen to one, with me in the lead. Not bad for a few weeks’ work.

I covered a good distance, skirting the perimeter of Regent’s Park, until the narrow cobbled streets gave way to wider avenues lined with rows of shops. Shielded by a large pickle barrel, I shucked my cloak, stuffing it into the basket along with my trap. The air grew warmer by the minute, and it was a relief to be free of the scratchy garment. Giving my hair a fluff, I stepped onto the now bustling city street, melding into the crowd.

Mission accomplished.

As I began my long walk home, the initial euphoria at a job well-done seemed to lessen with every step. Sooner or later, Dev would catch me sneaking in or out and ask me directly what I was up to. The thought of answering filled me with dread. He was going to be all, “You’re better than that, love.”

And I’d be all, “No, you’re better than that. I’m exactly equivalent to that.”

Then we’d argue, and he’d make me feel guilty. I didn’t want to feel guilty. I wanted to feel righteous. Besides, no matter what he said, it wouldn’t stop me. There was a job that needed doing and I was going to do it until it felt done.

So far, it had been easy to avoid the question. He’d mentioned my apparent fatigue recently but never asked the cause. We were busy enough that our daily lives could be pretty exhausting at times, so it hadn’t been all that odd. Lucky for me, he’d been obsessed with his latest invention over the past month. He’d been waking up at around four o’clock each morning and going straight to the workshop so my early starts hadn’t even registered with him. Bacon and I typically wouldn’t even see him until midday, when we headed over to Gilly’s House. I was on borrowed time, though. Word was getting around and soon enough, word would get to Devlin, if it hadn’t already.

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Chapter One of Conned from the Undercover Lovers anthology!

Undercover Lovers will be available on May 25th!

Who’s undercover?

Shane Madison – Dead sexy private eye posing as a Strippendale’s dancer

Tucker Lamb – Smooth as butter former conman posing as nerdy professor

Saffron Burton – Sensual food critic posing as just another customer

Katrina Killian – Brazenly sexual cop posing as a gang member

Four ultra-sexy stories by four great authors, with one theme.

Conquered by Cari Quinn – Serial monogamist, Emma Donegan, has never had a one night stand. But when she sees the sexy cop-stripper at a friend’s bachelorette party, she resolves to make her most risque fantasies come true.

Playing the part of a stripper is way out of private detective Shane Madison’s comfort zone, but the future of his business hangs on this one case. Too bad the incriminating evidence leads right to the irresistible brunette who keeps slipping tens into his g-string. He can’t let her distract him. Who knew it would be so hard… 

Conned by Chloe Cole – Human sexuality Professor Cricket Malloy likes bad boys, but when buttoned-up Science Professor Tucker Lamb needs help with an experiment on aphrodisiacs, she goes the extra mile to help him out. After all, he’s harmless…

Tucker Lamb was born into a life of a grifter. He’s always prided himself on his fast fingers and quicksilver tongue. Ever since being placed in the witness protection program, he’s been on the up and up, but something about Cricket Malloy makes him ache to see if his tongue is as fast as it used to be. 

Consumed by Dee Carney- It’s no surprise Chef August Jaeger’s rivals would do anything to discover the secrets of his signature dishes. When the curvaceous woman of his dreams shows up out of the blue, he grows suspicious. Fortunately, the best way to get to the truth is by offering a private dining experience that would teach her a passionate lesson she won’t soon forget.

Food journalist Saffron Burton has a job to do: find out what August is serving for Restaurant Week or lose her job. But with every course that passes her lips—and every minute in his presence—she’s finding what she really wants isn’t listed on any menu… 

Convicted by Dee Tenorio –  Crusty sheriff Cade Evigan doesn’t date convicts, not even ones as irresistible as Katrina “K.K.” Killian. The woman may have gotten under his skin—and once, on the hood of his car—but the sultry biker had criminal written all over her. He has to stay away.

When the shit hits the fan and the case she’s been working on for two years cracks wide open, Katrina heads straight to the hills to protect the one man she cares about. But some temptations are impossible to resist and she knows if she stays with Cade for the night, odds are her cover isn’t the only thing getting blown…

Conned
by Chloe Cole

Chapter One

“Oh my God. Oh, God. Yeah. Yeah, right there. Yes. Yes!”

For the first half a minute, Professor Tucker Lamb had tried to muscle through it, but the sounds coming from the adjacent classroom had gotten more animated and were now too distracting to ignore. His inseam was feeling decidedly shorter than it had a minute ago and his students couldn’t mask their reactions any longer.

Most of the girls wrinkled their noses and laughed softly to one another. Some of the guys tried to follow suit, but their half-hearted attempts came off as wooden. They couldn’t hide their fascination or the fact that they were extremely interested in finding out who was behind the very vocal “O”.

Tuck knew exactly who was responsible. Fortunately, his students were freshmen, so most probably hadn’t met the Human Sexuality professor, Doctor Eleanor Malloy. And it was a good thing, because there would have been a stampede to get out of his classroom and into hers.

She didn’t look like any “Eleanor” he’d ever seen and was better known as Cricket. She’d told him that her dad had given her that nickname when she was a child because she never liked to sleep, she just made noise all night long. He had to bite his tongue to keep from asking her if that was still the case and if she’d give him a shot to be the guy behind all the noise.

He’d met her a bunch of times since he started at Westside six months before, but he’d never had the good luck to work in the same building with her until today. The Psych building was cordoned off while a crew of exterminators dealt with an infestation of hornets. The department was scattered throughout the campus now, set up in every available classroom until they got the all-clear.

“Okay, guys. It sounds like Dr. Malloy’s lesson is winding down now, so let’s try to focus,” he said with a smile he hoped didn’t look as pained as it felt.

He wondered how many times she’d been slapped on the wrist for her outrageous classroom antics. There was no question she was great at her job and her students loved her. She was well known for making the material relatable and easy to understand. Moreover, he respected her because she practiced what she preached. She defended her subject of expertise like a wolverine and was very vocal about the fact that she viewed human sexuality as an integral part of life. There was nothing dirty or tawdry about it, thank you very much. Her attitude carried through to her teaching and no subject was taboo. She was fearless and he admired that.

But that fearlessness came with a price. In Cricket’s case, it made her a target for the school’s administrators. Tuck suspected that her appearance did little to help her case. Five foot nothing, a hundred and thirty-five pounds comprised almost entirely of tits and ass, she was like something from a tractor-trailer’s mudflap. A sailor’s bawdy tattoo. Or, he admitted ruefully, a science professor’s wet dream.

She was hell on wheels and exactly the kind of woman he would have gone for before

Now that he was on the up and up, though, she was exactly the kind of woman he needed to steer clear of. The kind of woman that stuck in deep and wouldn’t let go, like a barbed hook in a trout’s gullet. When he’d met her a few months back, he’d considered going for it anyway. But after ten long years of struggling, he’d finally become a man he could be proud of and he needed some time to settle into it. To make sure it stuck.

But, damn.

As a rule, he tried not to think about what Cricket’s uninhibited nature and utter fearlessness would translate to in bed. Most of the time, hell, all of the time, he failed.

 She was driving him bananas. Absolutely fucking crazy and he had no idea what to do about it. He rarely saw her for more than a passing hello, but every time he did, he had to avert his eyes. It was that or walk around campus sporting a massive boner. Not cool.

He wondered if someone would rat her out to the dean for the screaming O today. Not likely, but even if they did, there was little the man could do about that. Aside from the fact that she was smarter than he was and could talk circles around him, at the end of the day, statistics didn’t lie. Students flocked to her classes, their grades were consistently above par and when they moved on the next level course, they were better prepared than most. She was unorthodox, but she got the job done. 

 “I think I want to change majors,” one of the kids in the back row said, dragging him back to reality.

The other students chuckled, some nodding their agreement.

“Hey, hey. Science can be just as fun as human sexuality,” he protested.

“Yeah, right. Even you don’t believe that, Prof.”

True that.

“Seriously. The two subjects actually go hand in hand in a lot of ways. For instance, attraction, or what people refer to as ‘chemistry’? Those are measurable physical manifestations of hormones in your bodies. That’s all science.”

His class seemed riveted now and he continued, their enthusiasm fueling his. “You wouldn’t even feel that attraction if it weren’t for those natural chemicals running through your bloodstream. Then neurotransmitters take the wheel and start firing all over the place. Adrenalin pounds through your veins from the rush, dopamine and serotonin flood in from all the pleasure. Oxytocin is released as you complete the—” he cleared his throat, “act.”

Again, his students laughed.

“Then finally vasopressin sneaks in, making you want to snuggle and maybe stick around for the long haul.”

“I don’t think I have any of the last kind,” one of the boys in the front row deadpanned to another round of chuckles.

“Maybe you just suppress yours, Baxter. Okay,” Tuck continued, totally enamored with the topic as the kernel of an idea began to form. Maybe it was time to test his mettle after all. “I’m liking this track we’re on and it’s clear you guys are more interested in this discussion than any we’ve had so far, so let’s explore those connections in a deeper way. As you all know, the syllabus calls for a research paper next month.”

He put up a hand to silence the chorus of groans. “I know, I know, so here’s what we’ll do. Let’s make it a research project instead. A project on the relationship between science and human sexuality.” And, more importantly, the relationship between him and Doctor Cricket Malloy.

“If you still want to do a paper, go for it. If not, use your imagination. You can do a PowerPoint presentation, charts and graphs, create a survey or a video.”

Snickers swept the room.

“Not that kind of video. I mean a video chronicling your research. I’ll allow you to work in groups if you’d like, no more than three members per group so we still get a wide variety of topics and mediums. You’ll have three weeks to work on your projects and then we’ll spend the fourth week on presenting them to the class so we can all benefit from one another’s efforts.” He smiled at them. “This time next month, we’ll all be enlightened.”

The students chattered excitedly about their new assignment. While he was quickly building a reputation as a nice professor, he wasn’t on the short list of “cool” ones, so they were all amped about this turn of events.

“Each group should come to our next class with three possible ideas for my approval and we’ll go from there.”

As they put groups together, Tuck’s thoughts flipped again to the doctor in the next room, his plan coming into sharp focus. Despite every instinct warning him off, the prospect of getting close to Cricket Malloy sent his whole body tingling. The time was now.

A familiar but almost forgotten tightness took over his limbs. A surge of power thrummed in his blood. A hum of energy skimmed along his senses. The riot of heady sensations assailed him, pulling at him, urging him to get closer to the forbidden prize…sensations he hadn’t felt since the last time he was on the grift.

And damn, it felt good.

****

 

Cricket splashed some Irish Cream into her coffee then gave it a stir. Today’s lesson had been a fun one. The kids had really seemed to get it too, which was always validating. After two years she was starting to feel at home at Westfield and for the first time in her adult life, thought she might want to stay in one place for a while.

“Hello there, Dr. Malloy, welcome to Adams Hall.”

She turned to see Professor Tucker Lamb stroll into the staff lounge area. “Hello yourself. And thanks for the welcome. It’s not the same as home, but it beats the hell out of getting stung to death by a swarm of bees.”

She didn’t know him all that well, just from various union meetings and school events. He was always very polite, but reserved. Almost shy.

A little over six foot, sandy hair and nice hazel eyes, he was quite handsome. With just a little effort, he could have the better part of the school’s female population, students and teachers alike, wrapped around his finger. But he seemed entirely unaware of his appearance and was pretty much all business, so the initial response to his looks wore off fast. Instead of campus hottie, he was known as a good but tough professor.

She eyed him speculatively and wondered if he ever let loose, took off the tie and maybe used it on a pretty woman’s wrists. God, he’d probably be mortified by that thought. She could almost picture his face flushing with embarrassment.

Despite her lascivious thoughts, she vowed to be on her best behavior and not tease him. He wasn’t her type, anyway. She didn’t like jerks, but she did like ‘em bad. Not cheat on a woman or steal her money bad. More like spank her ass or ride a Harley bad. Too bad those guys mostly liked to cheat. She sighed and focused again on Tucker.

“I suppose that’s true, death by bees is not on my top ten list of ways to go.” He cleared his throat then said, “So, we, ah, heard your lesson today…” He trailed off, shifting his gaze away from hers.

She smothered a chuckle at his obvious discomfort then decided to put him out of his misery. “Oh, that. That wasn’t me. I was giving a lesson on the psychology of the fake orgasm. I rolled out the DVD of When Harry Met Sally and let Meg Ryan help me with the last part. That scene is classic and the boys’ faces were priceless. Up until that moment, I think they honestly believed they’d never had a girl fake it with them.”

His cheeks did flush at that, but he gave her a polite smile anyway. The devil in her smacked down the angel who had just convinced her to be good. “Did you know studies show that eighty percent of women have faked orgasm? And fifty percent admit to doing it on a regular basis?”

“I, uh, I did not know that. Interesting.” He pulled up a chair and eased his long frame into it. “And the psychology behind it?” He leaned in, as if he was truly interested in her answer.

She warmed to her subject quickly. “Surprisingly, or maybe not, a woman’s need to nurture often comes into play. She doesn’t want to hurt her man’s pride. Then again, sometimes it’s just that she wants to get it over with. Maybe she’s tired but didn’t want to disappoint her lover by saying no. There are a lot of different reasons. Suffice it to say, it happens. A lot.”

“And what about you, Professor?” He met her gaze with his own and a jolt ran through her. “Do you think those are valid reasons?”

For a second there, she had thought he was flirting with her. And since he’d never looked directly at her before, she’d never noticed how downright soulful his hazel eyes were. In fact, he sure didn’t look nervous now. Very interesting.

She took a long sip of her coffee before responding and in the meantime, the devil took hold of her tongue once again. “I don’t think there is a valid reason. And, in case you were wondering, I don’t fake it. Ever.”

He didn’t break eye contact this time and she thought she saw something in his face. Not embarrassment, but something hot. She looked harder and it was gone, replaced by his typical shy smile.

He cleared his throat and sat back. “Yes, well, it does seem counterproductive. And you’re a smart lady, so it stands to reason that you wouldn’t.”

She’d wondered if he would take the bait, but he’d chosen to retreat instead. It was kind of a letdown, but kind of cute at the same time. He was a bit of a puzzle and damn if that didn’t have her heart kicking up a notch.

She almost laughed out loud at her own reaction. She knew a sign when she saw one and if a nerdy professor not flirting with her was getting her all hot and bothered, she had obviously gone without a man for too long.

 She mentally started to calculate the months and was on eleven when Tucker spoke again.

“Actually, I’m glad I ran into you. I have a proposition for you,” he began.

Her eyes snapped to his. Maybe he was going to surprise her after all.

“Do you have any wiggle room in your syllabus?”

Okay, maybe not.

“Depends.”

“Your lesson got my students talking. They were so animated and engaged for the first time this semester. I felt like I needed to seize the opportunity to have a real moment with them. I’ve challenged them to do a project on the correlation between human sexuality and science. I wanted them to see that the science is a huge field and can be applied to almost any discipline. They were so enthralled by what was going on in your classroom, I figured what better way to make my point than with a topic they’re so enthusiastic about.”

“I’m intrigued.”

“I was thinking maybe we could do companion lessons. So your class could do the same type of project. Then we could get the classes together to share presentations and see how the classes differ in their approaches, do some cross-pollination, so to speak. What do you say?”

She took a deep sip of her coffee as she mulled over his proposition. It could be a great experience for the kids. And if she was being totally honest with herself, she had to admit she was more intrigued by Tucker Lamb with every passing minute. It couldn’t hurt to spend some time around a nice guy for a change, could it?

Oh, what the hell.

“It sounds like fun and the kids will probably learn something new and different. I’m in.”

It did sound fun and she was always down to shake things up a little. And along the vein of shaking things up a little…

“Hey, maybe we should do one too. A project, I mean.”

He stared at her for a second, nonplussed.

She tried to keep a straight face as she continued. “We’ll do one together. To present to the kids. How about… myths and truths of aphrodisiacs? I’ve always been fascinated with them, truth be told.”

“What—” He paused and cleared his throat. “What would our research consist of?”

She was definitely getting to him now. The pulse in his neck beat strong and she quelled the urge to close her teeth over that spot.

Oh yeah, way too long.

“We could set up controlled experiments using stimuli purported to create or increase sexual arousal. Sounds, tastes, smells and so on. We’ll measure deviations in pupil dilation, vitals and other data, depending on what equipment we can wrangle up. Obviously, we won’t tell the students who the test subjects were,” she said with a chuckle. “That would only start tongues a-wagging. But even at that, they’ll get a kick out of the results.” She shot him a grin. “So, what do you say?”

She wet her lips as a bout of nerves set her stomach jiggling. His hazel eyes had darkened to the color of a stormy sky and the sudden heat they gave off settled in the cradle of her thighs.

Tucker stared at her mouth for a long moment before responding.

“Yes. I say yes.”

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It’s hereeee!


Cover art for Captive Audience! WHOOT!!! Thank you Sable!

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When Are You Going to Write a REAL Book?

Ever hear this one? I have. And when I look at the people asking that question, people who invariably think that I write romance because it’s easy, or I write romance because I’m not talented enough to write in another genre, I think, “If I just ignore that stupid question, does that make me part of the problem? Is it my job to try to convince them that what I do is valid? That what I do is special, and a dream come true? That what I do is art, and that when people look at my art, it makes them happy?”
I’ll be honest here. When I first started writing romance, I used to lie. It would go down something like this:

“So, Bitsy tells me your an author. What do you write?”

“Romance novels.”

“Ah. That’s…nice.” (insert condescending smirk emoticon here).

“B-b-but, I, uh, the next phase of my plan is to write a mainstream bestseller.”
Chloe<——– pausing to assess reaction
“BUT, that would just be a stepping stone, you know, for money, so that I could write what I REALLY want, which is a work of literature. Like the next Dickens, you know?” quick peek, still not impressed, “Then finally moving to my true passion, all non-fiction, all the time.” we have a winner! “Mostly about the Civil War and stuff. It’s going to be epic.”

“Civil War. Impressive!”
Chloe <——– nodding sagely

“Yes, well, I am very deep, and cerebral, which I have now proven to you beyond a doubt.”

The last time it happened this way, I had some sort of epiphany, that was a combination of, “You can’t please everyone” and “F&%ck those people.” It was like I had woken up from a long sleep. Romance novels are read by over 50 million people, and the industry takes in over $1.5 billion annually. Why is it so popular? Because people love to read about love, and happiness, and sex. And I love to write about it. Romance writer’s, stand proud, don’t hide your work, or make excuses for it. Most of the people asking the question aren’t in the Peace Corps making annual trips to the Sudan digging irrigation ditches. And, if not, what makes what they do more important or valid than what you do? Embrace it. You’ll be surprised how much YOUR view of yourself and what you do, and YOUR confidence changes the way people react to you.
And if not, then f&%ck those people.

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