Today I'm doing something different on my blog. I've invited my friend and colleague, Tina Donahue, a multipublished, award winning author to blog about her new release, Take Me Away, here on my blog. She is having a contest in which you can win one of her backlist books. You can't go wrong with any book you might choose. Tina is also my partner in crime on the author/reader loop we co-own, Sweet N Sexy Divas. Now I'm going to let Tina take you away for a bit.
What Do You Want In a Guy?
As a romance author, I have the pleasure of creating the best guys on earth. Alpha males who are commanding yet cherishing, good-looking (some seriously handsome, others sexy in a rough/masculine sort of way) and self-sufficient (yep, all of my guys work – some are even rich).
Along with brains and a great personality, my guys have it all.
And yet, there is one element that is more important to me than all the rest. And that’s loyalty. What good is a perfect guy who isn’t there for the woman when she needs him most? Those times when she’s hurt, angry, scared. When her nose is running and her face is red because she’s been sobbing.
Those are the times when all the rest – the looks/brains/wealth/Alpha characteristics – don’t matter. What’s important is a sense of loyalty. That the guy will do the right thing by the woman. That he’ll be there for her in that moment of crisis.
That’s what I chose to address in Take Me Away, my newest erotic romance (released May 6). In it, Lexi’s been let down or taken advantage of by everyone. And then she meets Kyle. Here’s a blurb and an excerpt to show you what I mean:
She’s everything he escaped…and all that he desires
Three years ago, Kyle turned his back on a pro-football career and being the target of tabloids or gold-digging groupies. Craving privacy, he gets it at his roadhouse in Northern California until Lexi Sands invades his life. Indulged and surely phony, she’s exactly what Kyle fled. An actress since childhood, Lexi’s fresh out of an anger management program, court-ordered when she lashed out at a badgering paparazzo. Weary of the press’s harsh scrutiny, she sees Kyle’s secluded cabin as the ideal place to hide out and him as a damn-near perfect alpha male. Deliciously virile. Protective. Principled. She offers him serious cash to let her stay for two weeks, assuring there will be no complications or touching. Yeah, right. Passion flares, along with tenderness. Kyle recognizes how lonely Lexi really is, while she’s falling hard. Through intimate days and impassioned nights, they explore their most shameless needs, until a cruel betrayal exposes their growing love, forcing a choice neither anticipated.
(In this scene, Lexi’s just finished talking to her younger sister. Their parents want the sister to get into showbiz like Lexi to help support the family. Lexi doesn’t want that for her sister. She just wants her to be happy. During the call, Kyle inadvertently comes in.)
“Please, just listen to me,” Lexi said, her voice thick with tears.
Fuck. Kyle headed down the hall, then pivoted, remembering Buddy Baby, taking him to his doggie bed. “Stay,” he warned the pup, his voice low but harder than it had ever been.
The animal gave him a startled look, then hunkered down to the corduroy cushion, its small body shaking.
Oh hell. “Please,” Kyle added in a nicer tone, patting the poor little thing on its head. With a parting wink, he hurried down the hall, stopping just short of his bedroom door. Head cocked, he listened.
“You have to quit worrying about me,” Lexi insisted, her tone stronger now. “I’m fine. I want you to concentrate on school. That’s your job.”
Okay, so it wasn’t Jacqueline in there with her. Kyle waited through a long pause filled with silence, as though Lexi was listening to someone on the other end of a call. On his phone?
“I know it’s summer vacation,” she said, “but you have a reading list for fall, right? So get on it. Do good. That’s what will make me happy, Autumn.”
The name registered immediately. She was speaking to her kid sister.
“Please,” Lexi said, “don’t let them do this to you. No, no, no, no,” she insisted, clearly interrupting the girl. “Don’t do it out of guilt or for any other reason. I’ll be there for you. I’ll never let you down, no matter what I have to do.”
Kyle wasn’t about to consider what they might be discussing. Feeling awkward for having eavesdropped, intent on returning to the roadhouse and sleeping on his office sofa, he backed up. Straight into Buddy Baby.
Before Kyle could untangle his feet, his shoulder hit the wall. As he spit out a curse the pup yelped, then ran around his legs into the master bedroom.
“Sweetie, I gotta go,” Lexi said, her voice low and breathy. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
The phone’s receiver clacked as she dropped the thing into its cradle.
Uncertain what to do, Kyle waited for Lexi to join him in the hall, confronting him about sneaking up on her like countless paparazzos.
He heard her rough sighs and Buddy Baby’s whimpers. Rubbing the back of his neck, Kyle entered the room. The pup lay near the nightstand, chewing on another of Kyle’s old mocs, its manner tentative as it eyed him then Lexi.
Head down, she sat on the edge of his bed, her hair hiding her face.
Kyle stared at the strawberry blonde color and what he could see of her mouth. Free of the black lipstick, her lips were now the color of a blush. An oversized blue tee, large enough to fit him, hung limply on her narrow shoulders. Her legs and feet were bare, her toes long, the nails unpolished.
A surge of lust battered him, complicating the sympathy beneath. The way Lexi held herself reminded Kyle of how cowed his pup had been when he warned the animal to stay in its bed.
Did she think he was going to bitch at her for using his phone?
On what sounded like a cautious breath, she fisted her fingers into his bedspread, no doubt waiting for the worst.
It broke his inertia. Giving Buddy Baby a stern look to stay where he was, Kyle went to her. “You okay?”
She brushed the tears from her face and looked up, the skin around her eyes puffy and red. “Sure.” Her mouth trembled.
Kyle’s heart made a funny turn in his chest. “Lexi?”
Sucking her lower lip, she shook her head.
At any other time, with any other woman, Kyle would have offered a word of comfort or whatever plausible lie he could think of, then escaped as quickly as possible. After a moment’s hesitation, he sat next to her on the bed, his weight shifting the mattress, causing its springs to squeak. With even less pause than he would have guessed, Kyle took Lexi’s hand.
Her fingers curled around his as Jacqueline’s had in his office. Unlike that moment, Kyle squeezed Lexi’s hand, holding it gently but firmly, letting her know he didn’t want her to pull away. “What happened?”
She cleared her throat. “Nothing.”
She sighed. “I was just talking to my kid sister, that’s all. I’m in here because I didn’t want to use my cell phone, I don’t know who’s listening in or intercepting the calls. I’ll pay for the long distance. Forty dollars should cover—”
Gently, Kyle interrupted, “I don’t want your money. Use the phone all you want.” He laced his fingers through hers and rested their hands on his thigh. “What happened? Is she all right?”
Lexi’s head remained tilted to their hands. A moment passed and then another and another. At last, her thumb stroked his.
The tingle it created shot up Kyle’s arm to the back of his throat. Every hair on his body felt as if it were standing at attention.
She nodded, then shook her head.
At a loss as to what she was trying to convey, Kyle was about to ask her when he recalled his question about Autumn. Taking a calming breath, he tried to steady his voice. “What happened with her?”
A faint whimper escaped the back of her throat.
She spoke quickly, the words rushing out as though she could no longer stop them. “The paparazzi are starting to gather outside my parent’s house, waiting to see if I’ll show up there. I wanted to protect Autumn from them, but the bastards are beginning to hound her too. Do you know what that’s like for a fifteen-year-old kid? If they take her picture and splash it all over a magazine, making her look bad, do you know what that will do to her self-esteem and confidence?”
After seeing the press’s effect on Lexi, he had a fair idea. Even so, he assured, “They can’t do that. She’s not a public figure like you are.”
“You think they care about that?”
“What about your parents, can’t they call the cops or something?”
Tightening her fingers around his, she spoke in a voice limp with despair. “My mom’s out, probably with her latest lover, and no way would Dad chase them off and risk losing the publicity. He lives for stuff like this. He and Mom always insisted that Autumn be in the business like me. I told them to back off from her. To let her be whatever she wants, that I’d make enough for everyone, but only if they leave her alone.”
Stunned to silence, it took Kyle a moment to find his voice. “And they aren’t doing that?”
She whimpered. “Not since I went into treatment. They’ve been pressuring her to go to The Disney Channel’s stupid cattle call. Disney needs a fresh face for a new series like their Hanna Montana franchise. My parents think Autumn would be perfect for it. She’s even willing to try out for the part and every commercial that’s being made if it means letting me quit the business. I told her I don’t want her doing that. That I’d make back the money Dad lost on his dumb investments.”
Another surprise. “Your father’s a day trader?”
“I don’t know. I guess. He was my financial manager until I fired him. He’s still not talking to me. The last I saw of him was in court when he gave a statement that he knew I was out of control and that I should stay in treatment no matter how long it takes. In other words, until I let him control my money again.”
Kyle’s belly churned. He couldn’t find the words to describe a parent that would do such a thing to their own child.
Lexi’s body trembled with her quiet weeping. She whispered, “I’ve got such a fucked up life. I can’t let that happen to Autumn.”
“It’s okay. Everything will work out.” Lame advice Kyle knew, but he hadn’t a clue what else to say. Wanting to comfort, he wrapped his free arm around Lexi’s shoulders.
They were narrower than he would have guessed, so delicate he couldn’t quite catch his breath. On her own ragged sigh, she released her weight into him, her cheek to his shoulder, her free hand on his torso.
The warmth of her body seeped into his, relaxing his joints, weakening his resolve to simply offer a good hug, to assure her that things would look better in the morning, then let her have his room while he slept in the spare.
At the heat of her breath on his throat, its feathery touch, Kyle’s lids sank. Beneath her palm, his abs jumped. Their other hands remained joined, Lexi’s thumb still stroking his.
Kyle bit back a moan at the intense pleasure such a small movement created. He inhaled deeply, captivated by the fresh scent of her shampoo, a fainter rose than her perfume. Stirred by it, his cock continued to thicken.
She knew. Her hitching breaths quieted, signaling an end to her tears and the start of something else. Kyle felt it in the way her body softened against his, her lack of resistance, the same as when he’d kissed her earlier.
Don’t do it, Kyle’s mind ordered. Let her go.
His arm tightened around her shoulders.
Take Me Away is Available Now!
Buy Link: http://www.jasminejade.com/p-9333-take-me-away.aspx
To celebrate the release of Take Me Away, I’m offering a contest today. One lucky commenter will have her choice of one of my following ebooks**:
1. Adored – RWA award-winning; EPIC 2011 Finalist; 4 Stars RT
2. Deep, Dark, Delicious – EPIC 2011 Finalist; 4 Stars RT
3. Lush Velvet Nights – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Golden Nib Award
4. In His Arms – SIX 5 Star Reviews; 4 Stars RT
5. Sensual Stranger – 2011 Book of the Year (erotic); 4 Stars RT
** Winner chosen at random.