by Madelynne Ellis
Following the publication of A Gentleman’s Wager, the phrase I heard most often was: “So when are you writing the sequel?”
Sequel, thought I. I don’t think so. You see as much as I loved the characters (and Vaughan is still my favourite out of all the characters I’ve created), I’d reached the close of their story. I knew roughly what happened to them in future, but I didn’t feel any desire to flesh out the details for an audience. None whatsoever. And that’s how it remained for the best part of five years.
So, what changed?
Coincidence mostly… It went something like this.
1. Ms Mathilde Madden informs me over lunch that I really do want to write about Vaughan again. She also mutters something about gothic and vampires.
2. While researching a location for a story (for Love on the Dark Side), we happen to drive through the village of Pennerley... the same village from which Vaughan’s title is derived. I’ve never been to this place before. I originally chose it at random by browsing a map of the UK. (NB: I never did finish the story I was researching.)
3. At the end of the same day, we decide to take a minor detour on the way home to visit a castle. As we approach the castle, I’m struck by the realisation that this is where Vaughan lives. In each room, I see him laughing, prowling, brooding.
4. I start dreaming about Vaughan, nothing concrete mind, just impressions and vagaries.
5. I get on with writing other stories (see #2).
Some weeks later…
6. I go in search of a dictionary and instead sit down and write the outline of Phantasmagoria. It comes out of nowhere and leaves me feeling shocked and excited. I contact Black Lace and ask them if they’re interested in a sequel to A Gentleman’s Wager. They are.
7. OMG! They want it by when?
Sequels, it turns out are damned hard to write, especially when the world decides to go to hell in a hand basket around you.
Phantasmagoria is released in the UK on the 6th March, and US on 29th April. A Gentleman’s Wager is reprinted on 1st April. I hope you’ll consider reading both…
Here's the blurb and a teaser.
1800 – Three years after escaping to London with her bisexual lovers, Bella Rushdale wakes one morning to find their delicate ménage a trois about to shatter. Vaughan, Marquis of Pennerley, has left without any explanation. Determined to reclaim him and preserve their relationship, Bella pursues him to his family seat on the Welsh Borders, where she finds herself embroiled in his preparations for a diabolical gothic celebration on All Hallows Eve – a phantasmagoria. Among the shadows and phantoms, Bella and her lovers will discover shocking truths about each other.
‘Let go!’ Bella fought against Vaughan’s hold, but remained trapped between the flexing steel of his warm body and the wall. Vaughan quashed her cries, forcing his tongue into her mouth and kissing her hard.
Nobody else ever kissed her with the same knee-buckling intensity, with a taste that washed straight to her quaint. She’d never been able to resist his kiss. Never.
‘Get off me,’ she snarled, when he finally pulled back for air.
‘Not yet.’ He locked an arm across his chest, while his body still pressed against her as unyielding as pig iron, and with his free hand he lifted her hem.
Her arousal exposed, Bella turned her head away from his scalding breath. ‘I’m not your plaything. Not even your mistress.’
‘You’re my lover.’ His breath troubled the pulse point in her throat. ‘If not my mistress, what are you, some slattern that needed a bed for a night?
She snapped her teeth at him, but he merely laughed and pushed his fingers into her heat. His thumb worked bitter circles around her clitoris, driving her onto her toes, gasping for breath. Arousal so thick it felt like bellyache knotted her lower half. Slickly, his fingers worked their magic, driving her to the brink of joy, and transforming sharp words into sharper breaths.
She couldn’t speak. She felt his cock lying unbearably hard against her hip, so full of promise.
‘Sing for me, my nightingale. Come.’ He dragged his lips down the side of her neck and sucked. She couldn’t fight it. Shards of frosty hatred cracked into sparklers of delight. The swirl of his thumb, the twist of his fingers brought such sweet, swift pleasure, her limbs trembled.
Bella’s pulse raced with need and expectation. She managed to win one arm free, and immediately dug her fingers into his bottom. The muscles clenched and unclenched as he rocked against her thigh, taking his pleasure from the friction. The dance of their bodies slowed, as her breaths became shallow and ragged. Everything was concentrated in her clit and the tingle of her nipples. The whole world seemed to contract into one point as she gasped into his chest and her orgasm rendered her soft and pliant.
Bella snuggled against his shoulder, her eyes wet with tears, content for a moment to simply exist in his embrace.
‘Now you’re even.’ Vaughan disentangled their bodies, and stepped back. ‘Don’t ever presume to tell me whom I can bed in my own house.’
She felt the blood return to her face. Her eyes narrowed, but so did Vaughan’s. Was this battle of wills really what she wanted? She longed for Lucerne’s easy smile, the safety of his embrace.
Vaughan was the most exciting, sexually aggressive man she’d ever met. The most perverse, the most infuriating, and it hurt to love him.
God, how it hurt!
Fancy more? You can read the Prologue here. You might also like to check out Indiscretions, a short story which bridges the gap between A Gentleman’s Wager and Phantasmagoria.
PS: Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of Phantasmagoria.
Friday, February 29, 2008
by Madelynne Ellis