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Archive for April 13th, 2009

Coming out April 21st from Samhain Publishing. I’ve been in the mood for a tearjerker lately but haven’t found a new one to add to my collection and have just been doing some rereads of older Sharon Sala books. I think, come next Tuesday, I’ll be adding this to my collection. Doesn’t the blurb sound great?

dk_butterflytattoo

Just when the darkness seems permanent, fate flips a switch.

Michael Warner has been drifting in a numb haze since his lover was killed by a drunk driver. As the anniversary of the wreck approaches, Michael’s grief grows more suffocating. Yet he must find a way through the maze of pain and secrets to live for their troubled young daughter who struggles with guilt that she survived the crash.

Out of the darkness comes a voice, a lifeline he never expected to find—Rebecca O’Neill, a development executive in the studio where Michael works as an electrician.

Rebecca, a former sitcom celebrity left scarred from a crazed fan’s attack, has retreated from the limelight and from life in general, certain no man can ever get past her disfigurement. The instant sparks between her and Michael, who arrives to help her during a power outage, come as a complete surprise—and so does her uncanny bond with his daughter.

For the first time, all three feel compelled to examine their inner and outer scars in the light of love. But trust is hard to come by, especially when you’re not sure what to believe when you look in the mirror. The scars? Or the truth?

Warning: This title contains a three-hankie redemptive romance, a man with a complicated past, a heroine who’s stronger than she knows, and tender, explicit sex scenes that may just break your heart—and make you believe in love once again.

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book-31

Young widow Samantha Hardcastle longs to find her late husband’s heir and bring him into the family. Even so, restaurateur Louis DuLac won’t respond to her calls or letters—or knocks at his New Orleans door. All alone, Samantha succumbs to the sensual refuge offered by a gorgeous stranger. Who turns out to be Louis DuLac.

Louis never knew his father’s identity. Now this trophy widow wants him to take a DNA test to prove—or disprove— that he is a Hardcastle. No problem—if Samantha agrees to spend another evening with him….

Thanks for having me back to chat about the third book in my Hardcastle Progeny series, The Heir’s Scandalous Affair. How scandalous? Silhouette Desire likes authors to write a letter to readers at the beginning of each book, and here’s the one for this story:

Young beautiful women who marry rich older men are often treated cruelly in the press. These “trophy wives” seem to be objects of intense fascination and resentment, as evidenced by the ghoulish obsession with Anna Nicole Smith after the passing of her wealthy older husband.

The coverage of her life and tragic death made me wonder how it would feel to be subject to such envy and loathing. It sparked the idea for The Heir’s Scandalous Affair, in which young widow Samantha Hardcastle has to find her way in the world after the death of her billionaire husband Tarrant.

With the eyes and cameras of the world upon her, Sam finds herself falling in love with the one man she should stay far, far away from: her husband’s illegitimate son. I hope you enjoy Sam and Louis’ roller coaster romance.

When I set out to write the story I was fascinated by how someone goes about their life when everyone they meet has a preconceived idea about them. Sam, my newly-widowed heroine, is nervous and self-conscious, and feels a great responsibility to protect the Hardcastle family she married into. My hero Louis, on the other hand, has lived a free-wheeling existence in Paris and New Orleans and couldn’t give a damn what anyone thinks about him. He’s never known who his father was, and can’t see why it would matter. In this scene he takes Sam out for a picnic on the bayou and encourages her to face some of her hang-ups:

Sam took a bite of spicy sausage. The boat engine throbbed in a steady pulse, and water slapped against the sides.

She could feel Louis’ eyes on her as she licked her lips. His gaze oozed over her like fresh honey. She should be offended that a man she barely knew felt free to stare at her like that.

Except that she’d already slept with him.

“Were all your husbands older than you?”

Louis’ strange question jerked her out of a sensual fog. “All my husbands.” She grimaced. “You make me sound like Zsa Zsa Gabor.”

“I think she made them wait until they put a ring on her finger before she slept with them.” He winked and bit off a chunk of bread.

Sam’s mouth fell open. Then she drew in a breath and reached for her sense of humor. “You’re right. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”

Her mother had repeated that phrase many times during her teen years, when Sam was competing to be Miss Corn Dog or whatever title came with the pageant of that week.

She frowned. “In fact, I was a virgin when I married my first husband.” She looked right at Louis. “And yes, he was older.”

Louis’ expression didn’t reveal any opinion, negative or otherwise. “What went wrong?”

“Who knows?” She shrugged and looked out at the waving grasses. The sun hung low on the horizon, bathing land and water in a thick golden soup of light.

You probably do.”

She glanced up. People didn’t usually talk to her like this.

Like what?

Rude.

But Louis just watched her, eyes twinkling with mischief as he ate.

“Okay. Let’s see. I married him so I could get away from home because my mother ran me on the pageant circles like I was a prize bull and I knew I’d never get to go to college as long as there was a penny to be earned from parading me in front of an audience. To be brutally frank, I’d probably have married anyone.”

“I doubt it. Who was he?”

She rankled at his dismissive comment. “He owned a car dealership in our town. He was safe and solid and he treated me nicely.”

“Did you get to go to college?”

Sam’s gut tightened. He’s already figured out the answer. She studied his face for mockery, prepared to defend herself, but all she saw in his eyes was warm interest.

“He didn’t want his wife working or going to school.”

“Jealous.”

“Exactly. And after two years of trying to be the perfect little wife I’d had enough.”

“See? You know exactly why you divorced him.” Louis shifted his legs as he cut the engine. The wet cotton of his pants clung to his muscled calves. A reminder of the strength and power of his body. How he’d held her close and…

She averted her gaze. She’d certainly never had feelings like that for her first husband.

Or even her third.

Guilt snaked through her. How could she have fallen so quickly into another man’s arms? She’d promised Tarrant that she didn’t miss sex. That she didn’t need crude lust or graceless fumbling to be happy.

So why did her skin tingle at the simple nearness of this man?

Samantha doesn’t trust her own instincts and Louis’ biggest task is convincing her that she needs to live her life, and not worry about how it will look in the papers. I’m pretty sure it’s my most emotional book to date, and probably the most complicated as well, since the characters from the previous two Hardcastle stories also make an appearance. A couple of readers confessed that the initial premise kind of freaked them out and they had to get past it before they could read and enjoy the book. I knew I was taking on a challenge in choosing a controversial subject, so it’s encouraging that several people have also told me that this is their favorite of my books to date.

Do you think it was scandalous of me to choose a trophy wife (who’s already been married three times!) as my heroine? How do you feel about a woman sleeping with her stepson—even though they’ve never met and are the same age? One person who leaves a comment will win a copy of The Heir’s Scandalous Affair.

Jen

http://www.jenlewis.com

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