The Naughty Author Chicks are pleased to welcome Samantha Wayland to the blog today. Sam is celebrating her first release at Ellora's Cave entitled WITH GRACE. I have the distinct pleasure of being one of her critique partners, and I want to tell you that she writes the most beautiful friendships turned love affairs, particularly groups of three, I have ever read. And have I told you how hot they are? No? Well, I'm telling you now. Without further ado, let me introduce Samantha...
Okay, folks, I was going to start off by introducing myself, but instead I think we should all just take a moment to scroll down and look at the picture of David Boreanez in the bathtub...wow. Talk about summer distraction! Who can resist that guy? Not me, that's for sure.
And who, you may be asking, am I? My name is Samantha Wayland and the Naughty Author Chicks (isn't that a great blog name?) asked me to come visit for a day and to announce the release of my first book, With Grace, now available at Ellora's Cave.
I have no idea what it actually means to "squee," but I'm pretty sure I'm close to doing it I'm so excited about this book. So what, you ask, is it all about? Here's a quick overview:
Grace loves her boyfriend, Philip, she loves her job, and she might just love her boss, but she can ignore that. She and Philip are building a life together and it's almost perfect. So what if their sex life is less than spectacular?
Philip loves Grace absolutely. She's the only woman for him. But the more he gets to know Mark...well, he can ignore that. After all, he's well practiced at suppressing his real desires.
Mark lives for his restaurant, Valentine's, but he can't resist flirting with Grace, his hostess, any chance he gets. And he can't remember ever being more attracted to a man than Philip. Not that it matters, as they're committed to each other and he respects that.
A lawyer yearning to shed his inhibitions but afraid to turn up the heat, a brilliant PhD candidate with the secret desire for more spice, and the chef who craves them both. When three passionate people dare to fulfill their appetites, they find the perfect recipe for love.
Whet your appetite? I hope so! Of course, blurbs can be so funky. As an author, you're trying to tell the reader about your book and your characters AND share a little of your 'voice,' but do it all in under one hundred words. It's way harder than even that makes it sound. In any case, here's the first few pages, just so you can dip your toe in a little if you'd like...
EXCERPT from With Grace by Samantha Wayland:
Perched at the hostess stand, Grace Anderson surveyed Valentine's, one of the hottest bistros in Boston's South End, and smiled. Everything was exactly as it should be. Candles in cut glass and cleverly hidden light fixtures bathed the room in a warm glow. Ella Fitzgerald's sultry voice wove through the murmur of intimate conversations, while tempting scents from the kitchen stirred the appetite. It was decadent. Indulgent.
Settling back on her stool, Grace relaxed and let her eyes return to what she enjoyed watching most of all. While the job had a lot going for it, the single greatest benefit was that she had plenty of opportunity to ogle Mark, even if she often chastised herself for doing so.
Mark Valentine, owner and head chef of Valentine's, was her boss, her friend and her favorite innocent flirtation. Okay, maybe innocent wasn't exactly the right word. They were strictly friends, but the fantasies that ran through her mind were most certainly not friendly. Or rather, they were very friendly. Who could resist those broad shoulders? He was tall and lean but even his shapeless chef's jacket couldn't disguise the muscle definition hidden beneath. His dark hair curled against his crisp white collar, begging for her to run her hands through it and let the ringlets wrap around her fingers.
Even without his considerable physical assets, he was a joy to watch, for he was a master at working the room. He came out of the kitchen when he could, and by the time he finished visiting each table, every one of their customers would have a personal connection with Mark--and to Valentine's.
A pang of something shockingly like jealousy struck her when Mark turned his attention to the attractive woman at table nineteen. Under the glare of his full-wattage charm, the woman's eyes sparkled and a blush moved across her cheeks.
Lucky lady. Grace loved to be on the receiving end of that smile. Even seeing it from across the room, directed at someone else, no less, it sent a shiver down her spine and forced her to clamp her knees together before tightly crossing her legs.
What was it about Mark?
He had an uncanny ability to attract people. Take the nice-looking man who wasn't bothered in the least by his date gazing at Mark like he was the best thing on the menu. Or the older woman at table ten who had giggled like a schoolgirl when he'd bent to kiss her hand. Not a wonder why she was a regular.
With few exceptions, women wanted him. It could be in truth or in their fantasies, but it was real. It would have been threatening to the men around him, perhaps, except that men wanted him just as much--as a friend to go to the game with or for their own, more private, fantasies. Everybody felt some kind of attraction when they met Mark.
Grace was no exception, though their relationship was purely platonic. Recrossing her legs, she was forced to amend that thought. She wasn't immune to the sexuality that practically oozed out of him. She wasn't dead, after all.
Being the hostess at Valentine's was the perfect job for her. When she wasn't at work, she was finishing her PhD in nineteenth-century literature at Boston University. Someday she'd teach, lecturing about the rampant and fiercely suppressed sexuality of the Victorian era and how it manifested in some of the most famous and romantic books ever written. But for now she attended classes during the day and, since Valentine's served only dinner, worked in the evenings for Mark. When things got slow toward the end of the night, he'd often encourage her to work on her reading at the hostess stand.
Recently, though, there hadn't been as much time for that, as she'd accepted more and more of the responsibility of running the front of the house. She loved rising to the challenge of meeting Mark's standards. Valentine's was his baby. He lived and breathed it. Every ounce of its success was owed to his talent in the kitchen and his business acumen. That he trusted her to look after the bar, the floor and the door while he focused on the kitchen meant a lot. He obsessed about everything being right and now he trusted her to do that for him. And she did, every night, without fail.
At table twenty-three, Mark whispered into the ear of a beautiful woman seated with her equally stunning friend. Her response made him throw his head back and laugh, the sound reaching across the room. It was impossible not to respond. To smile.
Shaking her head, Grace turned her back and focused on the reservation book. Her awareness of Mark diminished, but only so much. He was still behind her, the barest tickle at the base of her spine. She knew he'd end up at her side. He'd claim he was checking on things, which might be true, but he wouldn't be able to resist making one of his outrageous comments. The man would flirt with furniture if he thought he could get a reaction. And god knew she couldn't stop herself from giving him one.
She ought to be appalled by some of the things he'd said to her, the way he made it his mission to see her blush. Not that there was much challenge there, given her fair complexion. But the truth was, she loved it. The double entendres were sexy, sometimes suggestive, but never lewd. His teasing looks were hot, if harmless. He had no way to knowing how he filled her head with the most delicious images. Or how many times he'd sent her home with her panties soaked from the daydreams he'd inspired.
It worried her a little that one of these days, Philip might figure out that her frequent state of arousal when she got home from work in the evenings wasn't all about him.
Philip. Her boyfriend. She shoved aside a pang of guilt. Screw that. Philip didn't believe he was the only sexy man on Earth and he didn't expect her to believe he was, either. Why should she feel guilty? Mark had no idea what he did to her, how easily he worked her up, and she would never be unfaithful to Philip, so there was no harm. Mark was a fantasy, a tasty treat to dream about. Philip was her scrumptious reality.
Speaking of Philip... She checked her watch. Eight thirty. He'd called a half hour before to say he would soon be leaving his office at the small downtown law firm where he worked. His promise to stop in and kiss the woman of his dreams on the way home had made her stomach flutter. The woman of his dreams. Imagine that. Sometimes Grace couldn't believe she'd found him.
She loved Philip completely. 'She'd never felt this way about any man before. Never been more sure that she wanted to spend her life with someone. They'd started to do things that signaled a longer commitment, like planning next spring's vacation, even though it was only late summer now. Like last night when Philip had hinted about how much easier life would be if she moved into his apartment.
She wanted to move in with Philip. And not because of convenience. His place was four blocks from Valentine's and not far from school, but none of that mattered. She wanted to move in with Philip because she wanted to spend as much time with him as she could. Between her classes, his long hours at the office and her working nights, there was never enough time.
She might bring up the whole moving-in thing tonight, after she'd unveiled her little surprise.
Just thinking about it made her heart pound. What if it didn't work? What if Philip was horrified? Her stomach roiled thinking of what might happen. She reminded herself to be optimistic. It might just turn out as she hoped. Or better.
The image of Philip Marsten, attorney-at-law, abandoning control and tossing her on the bed burst unbidden into her mind. Oh god, please. That's what she wanted. Uninhibited passion. Their sex life was great, but she wanted more. And she had a plan to get it.
The possibilities of what might happen made her nipples pebble until they hurt.
Yikes. She needed to get a grip. Hunching her shoulders, she leaned over the reservation book, hoping the long fall of her hair would disguise her flushed face.
It startled her when Mark's laughter rang out and for one moment, she imagined Mark tossing her on the bed, falling on her as Philip watched. Or better yet, as Philip joined in. Sucking in a deep breath, she wrapped a hand around the edge of the hostess desk, grasping it until her knuckles whitened. The very idea was outrageous. And ridiculously hot. She could feel her body swelling. Begging.
Good grief. That fantasy was too delicious. And one that, regardless of how things went with Philip tonight, she highly doubted she would ever share with him. More the pity.
As if conjured from her thoughts, Philip strode through the door.
"Hi!" she said, sliding from the stool and standing, her heart doing the funny dance it always did when she first saw him. She'd almost gotten used to it, but was smart enough to cherish each flutter anyway. His eyes sparkled, his mahogany skin a distinct contrast to his starched white shirt. His chalk-striped wool suit flattered his build, emphasizing his broad shoulders, flat belly and lean hips.
"Hello, beautiful." Philip's smooth deep voice whispered across the hairs on the back of her neck, making each one stand up.
She lifted her face, expecting his usual quick kiss on her cheek.
Her breath caught in her throat when his hand slid behind her neck, tilting her head back before capturing her mouth with his. She let her eyes drift closed when his lips brushed across hers softly, rubbing and enticing her, his tongue gently teasing her mouth open for a taste.
As quickly as he'd approached, he retreated. She was slow to open her eyes, savoring his touch, taking in his smile and heavy-lidded gaze, all of which spoke of the promise of more. She sucked in a lungful of brain-restoring air when he drew his hand from under her hair and brushed it down her arm.
"What was that for?" she asked, wondering at her husky voice.
Philip raised one brow. "What can I say? You look good enough to eat."
Her heart sped up. Yes. "I was just thinking about you, but the real thing is way better."
"Good. What time do you think you'll be home tonight?" His voice was soft. Intimate. There was no mistaking the direction of his thoughts.
A burst of confidence rushed through her. Philip never put his needs on display, but tonight he seemed different. More aggressive. She knew without a doubt this Philip was going to love her surprise.
Arousal spread through her body like smoke filling a bottle. She pitched her voice low, so as not to be heard by the nearest tables. "I'm supposed to lock up tonight."
Philip moved closer, dropping his head so his cheek brushed along hers before pulling back. When his nostrils flared, she wondered if he could smell her cream coating her thighs. He didn't say anything, instead rolling his hips forward, pressing the full length of his erection against her hip. Words were not necessary.
"I'll come home as soon as I can."
Philip's laugh was the sexiest thing she'd ever heard.
Jesus. Who was this Philip? And when could she rip his clothes off?
Well, I sure hope this makes you want to dive in head first, because the rest of the book gets even more exciting. We've got Mark the chef (yum!), some really nasty bad guys, two very delicious police detectives and a whole lot of people falling in love. If you'd like to read more, CLICK HERE. If you have questions for me or would like to learn about other upcoming releases, please stop by http://www.samanthawayland.com/ and leave me a message. I'd love to hear from you!
Many thanks once more to the Naughty Author Chicks for having me stop by today. You ladies rock.