I had a grand plan…I was going to do the cover reveal for the re-issue of my Ripe series. Alas, life got in the way for my cover designer, so we’re a tad behind. But I do have a sneak peak at part of the cover for RIPE FOR SCANDAL.
I’m seriously in love with this cover, and I can’t wait to show you the while thing next month. I’ll be doing the typography this weekend and getting all three books off to thr formatter ASAP so they can be re-re-released in April.
I have some exciting news as well: Scribd will be releasing the series in audio, which I’m really excited about. Audio is something readers ask for all the time, and I’m so glad that they’ll finally have the chance to enjoy the books in the format they prefer.
I got the rights back to my “RIPE” series and my wonderful cover artist (and real life BFF) is currently working on new covers for them. I can’t wait to show you what she comes up with!!! One of the opportunities this opens up for me is to release a mirror version of RIPE FOR SEDUCTION with more of Phillip and Margo. One thing I’m definitely going to do is add their reunion scene back into the book.
When I started RIPE FOR SEDUCTION, I wasn’t aware that the Devere siblings were going to be of the “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” variety, but oh, what fun they were to write once I figured it out! Roland Devere, our hero, is a joker who never takes anything too seriously. He’s the embodiment of the English gentleman’s credo “never turn down a bet.” And I had just the bet for him. One based on a real offer made by an eighteenth century rake to a furious widow who quite neatly turned the tables on him. It’s a story I’ve been wanting to write for years. And it made me think of the wonderful ROUND IRELAND WITH A FRIDGE (by Tony Hawk, not the skateboarder). If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend tracking down a copy.
As I began writing the story of Roland and Lady Olivia Carlow (the victim of a bigamous marriage in RIPE FOR SCANDAL), there was undeniable chemistry between Olivia’s father Philip (a sunny man of intellect) and Roland’s very (very!) naughty widowed sister Margo. Margo was an utter surprise to me. She took one look at Philip and decided, “That. Yes, I’ll have that.” And so she did.
Here’s the scene I was forced to trim. I’m really looking forward to restoring it to its proper place in the book. What do you think? Should I release a duology with more from Margo and Phillip? Let me know in the comments.
Philip & Margo’s Reconciliation
Philip found the door Devere had directed him to easily enough. With every step he was half afraid one of her servants would appear to say the comtesse had commanded them to send him away.
He pushed the door open. Margo lay in her bath. The long tub was draped in linen to protect her from splinters, but she wasn’t wearing a bathing shift as a Frenchwoman would have done.
She opened her eyes at the sound of his boots on the floor. Philip shut the door behind him and stood waiting to see what would happen. From across the room he heard the thump of Maldon’s tail and then the hound’s low-pitched whine of greeting.
“It seems a long way to come for an ancient, one-eyed dog,” Margo said.
Philip nodded as he tossed his hat aside and shrugged off his surtout. He draped the loose overcoat over the back of the chair that he dragged to the side of the tub. He dangled his fingers in the water. “It’s a very special dog, though.”
Margo made no attempt to cover herself. She put out one hand, water spiraling down her arm and over her breast.
“Hand me the sponge.”
Philip did as he was bid, then watched with great appreciation as she wet the large sponge and sluiced it over her limbs. One dark curl slipped from the wrap that held her hair up. It spread itself over her breast, the tip curling around her nipple, like the hair of an undine.
“Apparently Paxton will not be returning with the promised towels. Could you bring me my dressing gown? I hate a tepid bath.”
Philip crossed the room to fetch the dressing gown that was spread across the foot of the bed. Maldon padded over demanding to be greeted, and Philip gave the hound a scratch.
Margo stood up as he approached with her dressing gown and his jaw dropped. He’d never really seen her naked. Not like this. Just furtively in dark rooms as they tumbled into beds, and even it wasn’t like this. She looked like the statue of Venus he’d seen in Florence as a boy making the grand tour: rounded perfection, with long legs and two dimples where her hips met her back.
The earl helped her out of the tub and held the robe while Margo slipped her arms into it. In truth, her bath wasn’t yet cold, but she couldn’t stand to have the conversation she feared they were about to have naked. She wanted enough on to be able to storm out if the situation called for it.
Arlington looked as though he’d swallowed his tongue. Good. Margo tugged the small linen towel from her head and let her hair fall. She used it to dry her face and hands.
The earl simply stood and watched. She didn’t want to talk, or explain. She wanted to drag him to the bed. What would he do if she tried? Margo tossed the towel aside, stepped into the earl so they were chest to chest, and kissed him.
His hand knotted in her robe, pinning her to him. Margo felt a surge of wickedness lick though her. He kissed her roughly, hungrily, but when she attempted to steer him toward the bed, he stiffened and stopped her.
“Stop trying to distract me,” he said.
Margo draped her arms about his neck and leaned back just enough to see his face. His mouth was serious, but his eyes were smiling. “As you wish, my lord.”
Her dressing gown hung open. He twitched it shut. “I didn’t come all the way to Paris to bed you.”
Margo wrinkled her nose at him. His cock was hard against her belly. Whatever his intention, bedding her was most certainly on his mind.
“Or not just to bed you,” he added. His hands slid around her waist, fingers fluttering over her hips.
“No,” Margo said, “You also came for your dog.”
“Damn the dog.”
She raised one brow. “I wasn’t going to give him back anyway.”
“Consider him a wedding present,” the earl said.
Margo shook her head. “Think of the scandal.”
“Which you’ll love.” He cupped her cheek with one hand, his thumb sliding over her lips.
“And your daughter?”
“Who do you think sent me?” he said before kissing her.
It’s Mycroft’s “gotcha” month, and in honor of my current beast, I thought I’d talk about Mastiffs during the Georgian era. I grew up with Newfoundlands, Great Danes (aka Boar Hounds) and Irish Wolfhounds (all period breeds for my Georgian characters, though Wolfhounds and their cousins the Scottish Deerhounds were exceedingly rare during this period). I absolutely adore big dogs, the bigger the better.
I lucked into a copy of The Complete Dog-Fancier’s Companion; describing the Nature, Habits, Properties &c. of Sporting, Fancy, and other Dogs from 1819 a few years ago. It talks about various breeds, instructions for rearing, training, and basic care (the veterinary advice is quite frightening), and has an amazing rant about the evils of blood sports that ends with: For the sake of humanity, it is to be hoped, that the cruelty exercised on the animal, had- been repented of by his master, the greater brute of the two [emphasis in original], and that there are none at present who could be guilty of a similar outrage.
One of the breeds featured is the Mastiff. Now, you know I’m prejudiced, as I own one, but they truly are magnificent dogs. My first book, Lord Sin/Sin Incarnate, featured an Italian mastiff (a Neapolitan in modern terms) named Caesar. Ripe for Pleasure (which I just got the rights back to, and will be re-releasing with a new cover!), features a mongrel mastiff or butcher’s dog (basically a Bullmastiff) that was inspired by my sister’s dog, Slag and my best friend’s dog, Talullah (both littermates of my first Mastiff, Clancy).
The mastiff is much larger than the bull-dog, and every way formed for the important trust of guarding and securing the valuable property committed to his care. Houses, gardens, yards &c. are safe from depredations whilst in his keeping. Contained during the day, as soon as the gates are locked, he is left to range at full liberty: he then goes round the premises, examines every part of the them, and by loud barkings, gives notice that he is ready to defend his charge.
Well, my boy sleeps all night (ok, he sleeps most of the day too, LOL), but he does snap-to at the slightest hint of intrusion or danger and I’ve no doubt that he’d defend me and his “turf” if there was ever a need to do so (and let me tell you, the UPS man and the occasional religious evangelists are in no doubt of this either; though now that Jorge the UPS man has been introduced he no longer gets anything more than a tail-wagging hello through the window).
Much of what the author of my little magazine says elsewhere is surprising either for its prescience or its enduing common sense. At one point he notes that people commonly suppose dogs to be the civilized descendants of wolves! Remember this is 1819, before Darwin’s Origin of the Species. Under the training section the author advises: When you correct him to keep him in awe, do it rather with words than blows . . . When he hath done any thing to your mind and pleasure, you must reward him with a piece of bread. Sounds just like puppy training class to me, LOL!
Another book published in 1800, the Cynographia Britannica, said about the breed:
What the Lion is to the Cat the Mastiff is to the Dog, the noblest of the family; he stands alone, and all others sink before him. His courage does not exceed his temper and generosity, and in attachment he equals the kindest of his race.
I’m simply drawn to these giant dogs like no other I’ve ever encountered, and after owning one of my own, I can’t imagine ever owning anything else (ok, I can imagine owning most giant breeds, but they’re basically a type of mastiff or a mastiff spin off).
I certainly find my love for them popping up in my books. I need to branch out and give the people in my next book something else . . . I can see some kind of coach dog for them maybe (aka a Dalmation). And someday, I’ll write someone a cat…