Today I’m going to talk about covers. I’ve been very lucky with all of my publishers because they’ve all depicted my books so accurately. This is especially true of my cover for Saving Lady Ilsa. The models portrayed on the cover actually look like the characters as well.
Though I must admit, I was torn when I saw the nakedness of the female model. Today, I thought I would ask you, the readers of erotic romance, what you think of such risqué covers? Is this too much skin, or does it promise you’ll find the heat level inside you’re hoping for? Does it matter either way when buying an ebook that you’re going to read on the privacy of your own computer or device? Or given the privacy of ebooks, do you enjoy indulging in a little extra risqué with your cover images? Inquiring authors want to know.
Here’s chapter four of Secret Seduction, a free short story which takes place parallel to Bradford and Ilsa's story in the servants' quarters
Chapter Four: Secret Seduction
Angelina shifted from one foot to the other, on the verge of darting back inside. She’d agreed to meet Todd for a picnic on her one day off, but what had at the time sounded like a romantic outing now seemed like a terrible mistake. She’d love another of his delicious kisses, but to tempt him with forbidden treats was a dangerous game. Boys who received kisses next expected more than a kiss, and it was the more that frightened her.
She whirled around and started back toward the manor, only to find him sauntering toward her with a basket in his arm covered by a red cloth.
“Er, Mr. Jones, I’ve been thinking...”
“Come, let us talk about it on the way, shall we?” He looped his arm in hers and urged her along.
“About the kiss we shared-” Wonderful scents rose from the basket. “Where did you get that?” Heavens, if he’d stolen it!
“From my mother. She’s cook at Mayfair.”
“Well, more a mother to me than my own. You were saying about the kiss?”
She straightened her shoulders and pulled her arm free of his. “It occurred to me that kissing you was a mistake.”
“A mistake? Did you find it repulsive?” He led her off the path through a narrow cut in the bramble.
“No of course not-”
“Did I have halitosis?”
She sighed, fighting a smile. “No, Mr. Jones, you did not have halitosis.”
They emerged in a secluded meadow she’d never noticed before, not visible to the path or the nearby road. He set the basket down under a fluttering Maple tree and spread out the blanket. “What was wrong with it, then?”
“There was nothing wrong with the kiss,” she insisted. “But I fear it gave you the wrong idea about me.”
He sat on the blanket and began removing items from the basket. Among baked goods, bread and cheese was a long stalk of green grapes from Mayfair’s vineyard. Her favorite kind, and a rare treat indeed.
“I think you are lovely, kind and beautiful. Am I mistaken?”
Exasperated, she put her hands on her hips. “What I mean to say is that boys who receive kisses soon expect more than kisses. I wish it to be understood, there shall be no more than kisses occurring between us.”
“Do you mean you intend to kiss me again?” He grinned rakishly.
He chuckled. “I’m teasing you, Angel. Please, sit. I invited you today for nothing more than a nice picnic, I promise.”
She sat on the blanket, careful to keep the basket between them. “Are you certain you’re allowed to have this?”
He placed a hand to his heart. “I swear the constable is not out hunting me.”
Angelina accepted a golden brown meat pie. Her mouth melted on the first bite. If only she could cook this well, she’d be promoted to the kitchens for sure.
“Though there is a condition.” A spark of mischief glinted in his eyes. “From this moment on, you must cease addressing me as Mr. Jones.”
She set down the pie and wiped her fingers on a linen napkin bearing a monogrammed “T”. “We are friends now, Todd.” She offered her hand and he squeezed her fingers. “And you may call me Angel, if it pleases you.”
His warm smile told her it did. A warm rush of delight swirled inside her. It pleased her, too.
They ate all the food and then lay on their backs watching fluffy clouds pass by, calling out what each cloud reminded them of until the setting sun tinged them in pink.
“I should return. Mary was expecting me to sew with her this afternoon.” She kept to herself that on the afternoons of their one day off a week, they hid themselves away and worked on the pretty nightshifts they planned to wear for their husbands on their wedding nights.
Angelina suppressed a twinge of regret. Mary already knew who she planned to marry. She and Lucas were so sweet on each other some days Angelina wanted to cry for them, other days she wanted to shout at them.
She looked over at Todd. He rolled onto his side and propped his head on his hand. If she were to marry a servant, he would be the one. She could stare into his green eyes forever.
“You haven’t asked me for the kiss I promised you,” she whispered.
She leaned forward and placed her lips against his. This time he was gentle and restrained, letting her choose when to be bold. She tipped her head and parted her lips, urging him with a touch of her tongue. He inched closer on the blanket and cupped her cheek. There ceased to be anyone else, anything else in the world but the two of them and their wonderful kiss.
The rumble of a carriage passing on the road dragged her out of her dream. They rose silently and packed up their basket. He walked her back to the servants’ entrance to the kitchen.
Todd removed his hat and bowed. “My lady, thank you for a lovely afternoon.”
Tears pricked her eyes as she watched him go. How very easy it would be to fall in love with Mr. Todd Jones. She could not lie to herself. She already was half in love with him.
But marrying a servant was not part of her grand dream, she reminded herself, whether she loved him or not.
* * *
There are two word hints for today: “of” and “the” (though this is not necessarily the order they fall in the word jumble)
Thank you Debra for having me! Don’t miss me tomorrow at Passionate Reads for another hint and the next chapter in Secret Seduction. For the first chapters and all the information on my contest, visit my website.