Good Morning Readers,
Please make welcome today's very special guest, British author Rob Appleton. It's always an honor to have this young man drop by. I know Rob has a contest for your fun and a wonderful excerpt for your reading pleasure. Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Rob and Sloane's new release...Tabs
You’re invited to the galaxy’s most prestigious beauty pageant. Clothing optional. Romance and danger…fully provided…
Cocky young detectives Gerry Rappeneau and Sebastian Thorpe-Campbell arrive at the premier lunar resort expecting a week of eye candy and long massages. With a half-billion-credit purse up for grabs, this year’s pageant is the focus of a hundred worlds. And beauty isn’t the only thing in the eye of the beholder.
One contestant, Evelyn Lyons, is attacked and her assailant killed. Surely a simple case of a stalker gone mad, as nothing bad ever happens at the Selene contest. So the brochure says.
The closer Gerry gets to Evelyn, the more he is convinced she’s hiding something. His meticulous character sparks with her wild, sassy nature, and they embark on a torrid affair. Their forbidden romance isn’t the only thing set to ignite in Pont de Reves.
Sebastian’s infatuation with demure Claire Villiers, another contestant, threatens to put all four of them in harm’s way.
A deadly trail of corporate conspiracy, monstrous assassins and hot bikini wax is more than anyone bargained for in this incendiary erotic mystery. Get ready for some serious heat on the dark side of the moon.
The fabulous Sloane Taylor and I had a blast collaborating on this smoking hot sci-fi mystery novel. Our exclusive excerpt takes place after a tense casino scene in which Sebastian and Claire shared some heat across the baccarat table. But Sebastian’s partner, Gerry, has just uncovered evidence that puts Claire in harm’s way…
“Excuse me, Ms. Villiers.” Sebastian grew lightheaded as he leaned in close to her shiny brunette curls and Mystique perfume. “Will you come with me, please.” It wasn’t a question.
She neither looked up at him nor reacted in any way surprised. “What for, Detective?” she asked with sultry confidence, separating her red tower of ten thousand plaques into two even piles. “Am I under arrest?”
“No, but your life may well be in danger.”
He watched her beautiful, swan-like neck for a reaction. Sure enough, the lump in her throat seemed to roll like a heartbeat in slow motion. Fear.
“Come on. I’ll escort you back to your room. And don’t worry; you’re safe with me.”
She nodded. Sebastian helped her off her stool, then scooped up her chips and kept her close as they walked to the caisse. No words, only half smiles, ricocheting glances, and a mutual shortness of breath betrayed the rising attraction he perceived. Sebastian thought she looked devastating in a bride of Dracula sort of way—eye shadow, spidery eyelashes, black gloves, a somewhat Gothic, figure-hugging evening dress. There was also a caginess about her, a taciturn depth that seemed to scrutinize the world from beneath her sweet exterior. He could feel the intensity effervescing through his pores, like the shared taste of champagne during a French kiss.
Claire stuffed the credit discs in her soft, black purse and wrapped the handle’s silver beading around her knuckles. The sucker looked heavy. She’d done well at the baccarat table.
“Good night, sir, madam,” said the doorman.
“Yeah, ’night.” Sebastian turned to Claire. “Here, let me carry that. It’s too much for a little lady to haul about.”
She brushed his hand away and, to Sebastian’s genuine surprise, she offered him her other one. A bone-deep frisson gripped him. He almost tripped over his own heels as he sidled closer and took her hand. A breathless sensation. Warm butterscotch with the tingle, but not the crackle of static. All the way to the hotel foyer, his heart and his head and his hand occupied the same space—molded in the supple magic grip of Claire Villiers.
“Aren’t you going to tell me what this is about?” Her sideways glance melted the last of him.
“Detective Rappeneau says you’re in trouble. Do you know a woman named Evelyn Lyons?”
“She’s another Selene contestant—blonde, from Yordan.”
“I don’t know her.”
They reached the empty elevator. Sebastian pressed three.
“Well, she seems to know you. Her room was ransacked tonight, and whoever did it seemed to be interested in your profile—it was found among Ms. Lyons’ things. Coincidence, wouldn’t you say?”
“Yes, I would.” Her expression remained inscrutable, her posture stately. “What do you think it means?”
Sebastian didn’t believe her, but he thought it was wise to play along until Gerry called. Branding her a liar felt wrong on every conceivable level of his conscience, not the least because he had an erection the size of the Washington Monument. He cleared his throat. “We don’t know yet. But I promise I’ll keep you safe until we find out.”
“Thank you, Sebastian,” she said. A glowing smile extended to her eyes.
Christ! Even the sound of the word “pleasure” in close proximity to her sent a typhoon raging through his brain. He had to stop thinking with his dick. If Gerry was right and Claire was in the crosshairs, a horny bachelor would be as much use to her as paper stilettos. He was armed, yes, but what use was that if he couldn’t hold the fucker straight?
“Won’t you come in?” She let go of his hand and retrieved her room card from her purse.
“I think I’d bett— No! Don’t touch it!” He grabbed her arm as she shoved the card into the lock. Yanking her away from the door, he sickened at the affirmative click. He stepped out of a quick cold shower of shame. His mind had been wandering. He’d almost let her open the door to her room without checking it first. Unforgivable.
Claire rubbed her arm where he’d manhandled her.
“Stay here.” He sprang into action with his palms pressed against the cool metal grip of his Kruger. “Don’t…move.” He smashed the door open with a single kick and swallowed the geography of the room in a split-second glimpse. No threat that he could see. A bit of a mess near the wardrobe—clothes left on the floor or tossed over the back of the chair. But that could just be Claire’s untidiness. Otherwise, the room resembled Evelyn Lyons’ to a fault. Expensively accoutered, spacious, big window. Sebastian darted out into the middle of the room, his firearm trained on the Jacuzzi area, then behind the wardrobe, behind the door. He checked under the bed, inside the wardrobe.
“It’s all right, Claire. You’re safe to come in.”
No reply. His heart plummeted. He made ready to tear outside, to chase her and her kidnapper to the ends of the moon, and kill anyone who got in his way. Then she slinked inside and, expressionless, eased the door shut behind her.
“We’ll just stay put…wait for the word from Gerry.” He sank his pistol into its holster. Claire took his jacket and hung it up behind the door.
“Can I get you a drink?” she said.
“No, thanks. I’m good.”
“A bite to eat?”
“Nah, best not get too comfortable. But I think it’s time you came clean about—”
Claire reached for his hand and pulled him toward her. Her freckled face was clearly a strawberry red, her lips trembling. She wrapped her arms around him, holding him close. Sebastian nestled his chin in her soft, dark brown curls, twining her warm fingers with his. They swayed to an inner beat, their slow dance a syncopation of heartbeats on the skip. Breathless, he leaned back until she looked up, her big, hazel eyes glinting and full of want. What a gentle creature she really was beneath the glamour. A vulnerable, fragile beauty. A lady.
And now for a mini Selene contest of our own. To be in with a chance of winning a copy of Claire de Lune, simply nominate one man and one woman you think are the most beautiful in the world. The only rules are they have to be living and famous. Leave your choices in the comments section and I’ll pick the winner in a few days. Have fun!
Claire de Lune is available to buy at Amber Quill Press, Amazon Kindle, All Romance Ebooks, and all good digitial book outlets. Also coming soon in paperback.
Robert Appleton has a website here, and Sloane Taylor has one here. Drop by and say hello.