What’s the last book that kept you up all night
reading under the covers?
What’s funny is that I’m such a night owl — as those who follow me on Twitter know — it’s not unusual for me to stay up all night writing. So my own books keep me up all the time! But a couple of weeks ago I had a cold and had several days where I got so into the two books I was reading that I couldn’t even tell if it was night or day. Every time the cold meds wore off I woke up and started reading again. Every waking hour.
I kept switching back and forth between the two books because they were both so good I wanted to make them last longer, you know? Those books were THE DUCHESS WAR by Courtney Milan and IT’S SO EASY, the autobiography by Duff McKagan of Guns ‘N’ Roses. It gave me a bit of whiplash to be going back and forth between a historical romance where a woman’s reputation is at stake and a true life sex-and-drugs tale of the macho world of early-90s rock and roll, but I did it anyway.
The thing I loved about THE DUCHESS WAR was how realistic it was. Sure it had a bit of the historical romance feel of “the olden days,” enough to let me escape into that world, but it wasn’t so escapist as to be fluff. The characters stuck by their principles, real historical details enriched the story, and when the sex scenes came along they didn’t just devolve into a montage of cliches but presented real interactions rooted in the characters. Loved that! I try to do that in my own books, making the sexy bits sexy but unique to the characters and the situation.
Meanwhile, IT’S SO EASY had a happy ending! I suppose reading a rock autobiography could count as research for the rock star romances I’m writing, but that makes it sound like work. Reading Duff McKagan’s book was pure enjoyment. He comes of age, finds true love, and settles down into a happily ever after. Can’t ask for a better book to keep me up all night.
The first book in a steamy new rockstar series that will appeal to fans of New York Times bestselling authors Sylvia Day and J. Kenner.
Ricki Hamilton and her sister have just inherited a vast estate in the Hollywood hills. Unfortunately, with that legacy comes the most exclusive club in Hollywood history, a secret BDSM establishment where only the rich and the naughty come to play. Ricki wants nothing to do with this business, and is trying to find ways to get out of having to run it . . . until she meets Axel―a sexy enigmatic rock star who makes her want to submit to needs she didn't know she had.
“Okay, where were we?” Sakura drank a bit more of the sake. “Last time I’m going to say this: if Axel did anything sketchy, beyond carrying you off for a lark, anything that violated the rules of consent, then his name is mud in the BDSM community and you definitely shouldn’t be inviting him to join your club. But nothing you’ve told me so far really sounds all that sketchy. He carried you off, you willingly had some light role play and heavy sex; you played the submissive role and had, if I’m not mistaken, some of the best sex in your life. And that’s why you’re upset.”
“Because the sex was good?”
“Because you discovered that letting someone else be in charge is a turn-on for you. Ricki, let me assure you, being submissive in the bedroom isn’t the same thing as being subservient or second-class to the pushy men in your life.”
I dug in my heels. “That’s easy for you to say because you’re dominant.”
She sighed. “The other thing is, really, if something’s going on in your head, it’s probably got more to do with you than with him. The way to straighten it out is to talk it out with him. Axel may be fairly new to serious dom role play but I know for a fact that he knows about aftercare.”
Aftercare. I huffed. He’d tried to take care of me and I’d kicked him out. Sakura was making sense but I couldn’t quite put it all together in my mind. It was a lot to take in at once. “Okay, I confess. The thing is, when I’m near him? All common sense flies out the window, Sarah. I literally can’t get together with him to talk about this without melting into a puddle.”
“Ahhh.” She seemed to think that explained a lot. “Well. Have you tried calling him?”
“Of course I haven’t. I don’t even have his number.”
“Yes, you do.” She gave me a sly, knowing smile. “I programmed it into your phone before I gave it back.”
“You sneaky thing!” I pulled my phone out to see if what she said was true: sure enough, there was an Axel Hawke in my contacts now.
There was also a text from Paul. Schmitt’s pressing me to schedule an appointment with you, his message read. Y/N?
“Tell him he can have an appointment with me after he gives me a slot to address the CTC board of directors,” I said aloud.
Sakura sipped her tea. “Huh. Speaking of pushy men in your life. Schmitt?”
“How did you guess?” He couldn’t want to talk about the upcoming kinky dungeon party. He’d want to meet with both me and Gwen for that. “I have no clue what he wants now. I guess I have to meet with him to find out.”
“Don’t be silly. Have Paul get an agenda from him. No agenda, no meeting. If the items are too sensitive to put on an agenda, well, that gives you the answer in another way.”
“Right. Why didn’t I think of that?”
“You’ve got to stop thinking of yourself as at the beck and call of these guys in suits, Rick’. Start thinking of yourself as the Queen of the Universe whom they all serve.”
“What are you talking about? I’m already Queen Bitch of the Universe twenty-four-seven these days and I’m tired of it, Sarah.”
“Tsk tsk. I didn’t say bitch. You do pretty well with your staff; I’ve seen it. You’re firm, fair, but very definitely in charge and demanding your due.”
“But they’re my employees. Of course I can be all leader-like with them.”
“And I’m telling you, act like that with these executives and lawyers in the club or they’re going to treat you like Cy’s little girl forever.” She set her sake cup down. “You’re afraid that being a sub in the bedroom means you’ll be submissive to these jerks, too? Don’t let it happen. I don’t care that they’re three times your age. You can buy and sell every one of them. Act like it.”
“I have a ‘game face,’ ” I said in my defense. “Ice queen.”
“Drop the ice and just think queen. Think: crown on your head.” She pointed to the top of her own head where a tiara would go and I felt myself sitting up straighter without even trying. “Demand their respect and you’ll get it, Ricki. Axel already respects you a hundred times more than these assholes.”
I tried to imagine what getting on the phone with him would be like. Part of me longed to hear his voice again. But what exactly did I want to say to him? Could I make him understand the reasons why I couldn’t be with him? Could I make him understand what was going on in my life? “I just don’t know, Sar’. What do you say to a guy who’s turned your whole world upside down?”
The door slid aside and there was our waiter with a gigantic wooden tray shaped like a boat in his hands, well laden with a display of fish as colorful and gorgeous as a jewelry display at Tiffany’s. He sailed it onto our table, gave us another smile, and then retreated again. The arrival of such a feast distracted us completely from the fact that Sarah never answered my question.