Friday, May 01, 2009

Sinful Breadcrumbs

Hi guys! Well, as promised, I'm here with a few details about Lord Wallingford and his book, Sinful. I'll try to drop a few juicy tidbits at the beginning of each of month. I hope you'll enjoy them and they'll tide you over until May 2010!

So, I thought I'd start by telling you a bit about the book. It takes place a few months after Addicted leaves off. It's Spring, and most of the book takes place in the north of England, where Lindsay and Wallingford have their estates. Near Bewdley is a village called Evesham, a delightful, quaint, little village with a lot of fruit trees. Evesham inspired me. We have lots of blossoms in Sinful. Orange blossoms, quince and cherry. Wallingford is very, very creative with them. It must be the artist in him!

Years ago, when I was in England, I had the opportunity to travel to Wiltshire, to Stourhead. Stourhead's gardens are world renknowned. My day was just gorgeous, and I came away knowing that one day I would use the gardens on a grand estate, for just the right hero. Wallingford is that hero. He appreciates beauty in all forms. I've included a few pictures of Stourhead, especially the temple. Wallingford's garden has a temple, and there is much misbehaving in those gardens! lol!

The bridge in the mist was most inspiring, and I wrote a scene with Wallingford standing on the bridge in the drizzle, looking down into the water contemplating his life, and Jane. I think it's very atmospheric that picture, and it really set the tone perfectly for that scene.

CindyW asked in the last update if Wallingford dances in his book. He does, Cindy, a few times in fact. But only one special one with Jane, and it takes place in his studio cottage.

This is a picture of the cottage that sits in the gardens at Stourhead. I loved the romantic, gothic look of it and knew I had to have it in Sinful. So, this cottage is Wallingford's art studio. It's his oasis, and the only place he can truly be himself. NO ONE has ever stepped foot inside it, but this is where he brings Jane, time after time. Some of the best scenes (I feel)take place in that cottage. Wallingford is just a man here, and this is where Jane truly falls in love with him.

Music is always a big inspiration for me when I write. The first draft was written to the Pride and Prejudice movie soundtrack. The soft piano pieces are just so haunting, and I was able to really connect Wallingford's emotions with those pieces. However, there is one song, and in particular one part of it that really worked for him, and a scene where he is lying in bed, smoking, trying to pretend that he's not hurting over something that has happened between he and Jane. That song is Outside by Staind, and the lyrics are:

All the times that I've cried. All that's wasted. It's all inside.
And I feel all this pain, stuffed it down, it's back again,
And I lie here in bed, all alone. I can't mend

I heard from my editor a little bit ago, and she says they've already briefed Sinful's cover. She told me that she's very excited about the idea, and that she could tell me that "the cover will have a lone man on it, barechested and shot from the back' WOO HOO!!!! I'm so excited. I do believe that this will be the first lone male cover that Spice has ever produced! I can't wait to share it with you when it's done.

And now for a little excerpt. Keep in my that these teasers are first draft, unedited and may nor may not make into the final book. This is just for fun.

Hope you enjoy a little bit of Wallingford!
Have a great weekend, guys!

Mathew followed his friend’s gaze and saw that it was focused intently on Jane. He didn’t care for the amused glint in Raeburn’s eye, nor did he care for the smug smile that parted his lips.

“My God,” Raeburn drawled as his smile widened, “you’ve gone and done it. You’ve fallen for the little pea-hen.”

Matthew stiffened. “Don’t call her that,” he snapped, his gaze lingering on Jane and the curve of her graceful neck and the whisps of red hair that caressed her skin.

“Why not? You do,” Raeburn taunted. “I specifically recall hearing you say she was nothing but an unremarkable and dower spinster.”

“Well perhaps I might have been wrong,” he snapped.

Raeburn placed a hand over his heart and took a mocking step backward. “Wrong? The Earl of Wallingford mistaken about a woman? Impossible, my friend. You are never wrong where women are concerned.”

Glaring at his friend, Matthew fumbled inside his jacket pocket searching for a cheroot. After locating the wooden box of matches, he irritably swiped a sulphar match against the stone railing and lit the cheroot, inhaling deep breaths of smoke before waving the flame out and tossing the match to the ground.

“Admit it, Wallingford, the pea hen has somehow managed to catch your eye.”

He caught Jane laughing as she sat down beside Anais. Even through the French doors he was aware of her, aware of the way the lamplight would reflect in the glass lenses of her spectacles—aware of the way the firelight would dance along the deep auburn highlight in the hair that was pulled so severely back. Despite the distance between them, his body was as aware of her as if she were standing beside him. He saw her laugh again, then clasp Anais’ hands in hers. Her face turned pink and he was drawn in by the simple pleasure of watching her unguarded and laughing. She was full of life and exuberance, and her skin fairly glowed as she smiled and laughed with Anais.

“She is no colorless bird,” he murmured, not knowing if had intended to say the words aloud.

“Is that so?” Raeburn asked as his gaze narrowed on Jane.

“Indeed,” he murmured, secretly smiling as he remembered her flailing about in the water that afternoon. Grinning, he recalled the colorful epitaphs that had fallen so easily from her lips as she clung madly to his shoulders. “There is something about her,” he said, unable to keep his gaze from her. “Something I cannot describe or understand. She is not the least bit beautiful by Society’s standards, and yet I have not looked at another woman since I met her at your wedding. There is something about her face that draws me in.”

“You find her beautiful?” Raeburn choked.

“Is that so damn hard to believe?” Matthew growled, tensing as his body filled with anger and a fierce protectiveness he had never felt towards a woman.

“Aye, it is,” Raeburn said with a grin. “It is almost unbelievable. I’ve never known you to look at woman with more than a passing glance. Your gaze strays to the most superficial trappings. But it seems you have looked deeper where Miss Rankin is concerned. You’ve seen beyond the spectacles and her severe manner of dress and seen the beauty within.”

“You’re talking rubbish, Raeburn,” he grunted, as he took a long, calming drag on his cheroot. “Obviously your honeymoon has made you into a romantic halfwit. You’re romanticising whatever this...this attraction is I hold for Miss Rankin. An attraction, I fear that is fuelled not by lust or affection, but by pride. She won’t have me, you see, and I am afraid that my ego cannot bear it.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he knew them for a lie. Knew that at first when he had pursued her at Raeburn’s wedding it might have been a case of bruised pride. However, he had to admit that those were not his feelings now. He had looked deeply—today most especially—and had seen the loveliness in Jane. And what was more, he felt strangely possessive of that rare beauty. He knew he must be the first man to really notice Jane’s beauty, and that realization made him selfish, made him want to hide her from all men. He wanted her to be his, yet he didn’t want her to think that he could be hers—that there could be anything lasting between them. But when he thought of her with another…

“I don’t believe you, you know,” Raeburn said beside him. “You see, I’ve known you too long, and I’ve seen you with too many women—women I may add that you have never looked at quite the way you look at Jane.”

“I don’t know what you mean, Raeburn, nor do I care.”

“You don’t have to pretend, my friend. I understand how damnably confusing the whole thing can be.”

“What whole thing?” He asked as he studied the blunt end of his cheroot.

“Giving your heart to another.”

He laughed, a hollow, bitter sound from deep in his chest. “I have no heart to give, surely you know that.”

Raeburn looked at him with a strange intent gaze. “You have one, I’m sure of it, you just have to find it. However, I’ll wager it’s locked up tighter than the crown jewels.”

Matthew grunted and looked away. Raeburn knew nothing. He had no heart. He was heartless. He was not kind, he was selfish and merciless. He had not given anything—most importantly his heart—to Jane Rankin. And what was more, he didn’t have it in to offer anything meaningful to any woman.

“Night, old boy,” Raeburn muttered. “I’ll see you in the morning for a few hours of fishing?”

Nodding, Matthew turned his back on the French doors and the glittering lamplight pouring out from the salon and looked up at the black velvet sky. Christ, his mind was a mess. He was thinking things he had never once thought of—never once cared about.


He stiffened, like he’d been hit with a lash. Jane’s voice, low, husky, tore into his flesh and he curled his fingers around the stone balustrade. How the intimacy of hearing her call his name in the dark made his blood grow hot. How he hated the weakening of his resolve. He was not the man Raeburn was, he reminded himself. He did not love women, or care for their feelings. He did not think of them as wives and mothers and lovers. He thought of them of sexual beings—beings to be fucked and discarded. He was callous and cruel, and he was only deluding himself into believing that he was something other than a libertine.
He doubted that whatever transpired between him and Jane this week would mean a damn to him once they returned to London. He doubted he would even care, or remember all her sordid little secrets. He was damn certain he would not remember the feel of her wet body clinging to him, or recall the way he had felt strong and masculine, protecting her and whispering away her fears with soft words. He would not allow himself to remember the way she had looked up with admiration as he carried her to the river. No, damn it. He was no God damned knight in shining armor. His past a cesspool of debacles and debauches. He could not change what he was, and what was more he didn’t think he could bear to. Because caring who he was would mean that he would have to care about Jane and her opinion of him; and caring about Jane Rankin was something that would only cause him pain.

“Matthew?” she whispered, but this time she rested her hand on his forearm. It was the first time she had ever willingly touched him, and the image of her small hand on his coat sleeve played havoc with his mind. He felt himself begin to soften, begin to believe in this that could not be.

As he looked down at her hand, anger began to rage inside him. And as irrational as it was to feel angry with himself, it was even more irrational to wish to lash out at Jane.

“Do you wish for me to meet you in your studio?” she asked, her voice quiet and unsure. “Or perhaps-”

“It is our bargain, after all, isn’t it Jane,” he snapped, hating the venom he heard in his words, and sound of her startled gasp. Christ he despised the fact that he was lashing out at Jane because he was confused by what he was feeling. He felt utterly worthless and deserving. “As you’ve been attempting to tell me we have struck a bargain, and as we have both given our word, we cannot go back. So, yes, I want you in the studio. You are here for me to paint, and I am here to tell you whatever it is you want to know about me.”

“I think I learned all there is this afternoon,” she whispered, and he saw a fleeting glimmer of what he thought might be hope in her eyes. Hope that perhaps his reputation might be overblown, hope that he was really a gentleman who carried ladies safely from danger. Hope that he was anything other than the notorious, sinful earl.

“Is that what you think?” he asked, lowering his head so that he was glaring at her.

“I think I know you better than you think I do.”

He smiled cruelly. “My dear, you haven’t even begun to know the worst of me.”
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