Golddigger new release – Ruby’s in town.

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iBOOKS   AMAZON   NOOK   KOBO

 

Greetings from a snowy and frosty Christine!

I’m thrilled to bring you the next Golddigger short story, RUBY. Writing in the Golddigger world is a gift to an author. The characters chat to me every single day. There’s always something going on in the world, with more love stories to come and plenty of twists and turns.

 

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My name’s Ruby and I’m a GOLDDIGGER. Some women believe in romance and finding the one shit. Not me. Love left my heart a broken and bloody mess, like road kill on the freeway of life.

The long journey back to wellness brought me here, to success, fame and fortune. Sounds great, right? Except I value a helluva lot more, things a woman cannot put a price on, like independence and FREEDOM.

No man will ever again take away my sense of self. Not even Mr. Too-Hot-To-Trot Andre Martinez. His Latin machismo and arrogance puts my teeth on edge. Try telling that to my hormones which sit up and pant when he comes anywhere near me. The problem is, in his job as one of the top costumiers on the planet, he has his hands on my bare skin—a lot.

I might tremble. I might get hot under the collar. But I Will Not Give In. I won’t.

Will I?

WILL I?

Will she? You betcha. I had the best time writing Ruby and Andre’s story. This girl takes no prisoners. Enjoy!

Christine X

Golddigger short story, SUKKI, is out today!

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Greetings, my lovelies!

I bet you’re all pleased it’s Friday and time for another Golddigger short story extravaganza. Thank you so much for the Golddigger love. I appreciate the messages and feedback so much. My readers seriously rock.

Today it’s the turn of SUKKI. I had the best time writing this one. The hero, Jon Castro, is desperate to make amends for past wrongs. Will he convince Sukki to give him another chance? And if he does, will they live happy ever after? Grab the story and see.

 

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Jon

“Once upon a time there was a beautiful and sweet but dirt poor girl who met a wealthy guy with the world at his feet. Against the odds, they fell madly in love. But the guy was a complete dick and broke the girl’s heart.

My name’s Jon Castro. I’m a top ball player and I’m the dick.

The girl’s name is Sukki Silver. These days she’s a Golddigger. A fully paid-up member of the top burlesque troupe in the world. Yep, seems my sweet girl didn’t wallow for long in heartbreak and misery. In the time we’ve been apart, she’s moved on to carve herself a wonderful career, while I did my level best to destroy mine.

If you haven’t already guessed, I’ve had issues to work through. I say had because over the last two years I’ve been forced to deal with the emotional crap that kept me trapped in a past I found I can’t out-drink or outrun.

Basically I had two choices, deal or die. I chose to deal.

Now I’m in a better place, as part of my treatment is to atone for my many sins. To reach that goal I want Sukki back where she belongs — with me. Trouble is, she isn’t giving me the time of day. Who can blame her? See, love’s a tricky thing. Seems a man doesn’t choose not to love someone. The heart wants what the heart wants.

And this dick is back, and I’m gonna go down on my knees to make amends. Have you heard the phrase ‘talk’s cheap’?  I agree with the sentiment, which means actions speak louder than words. It’s actions Sukki needs from me. Will she give me a chance? Who knows? Nothing’s ever certain in life, but by God I’m gonna fight for her…

Wish me luck.”

iBOOKS   AMAZON USA   AMAZON UK   AMAZON AUSTRALIA  NOOK    KOBO

Next up, pre-order links for RUBY and PEARL. Two girls who know what they want out of life.

And on Monday, it’s another slice of Ludlow life, and we have tiaras, tantrums, and screaming good fun with the Ferranti family.

Hugs,

Christine x

ANOTHER SLICE OF LUDLOW LIFE WITH THE FERRANTI’S…

 

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Happy Monday, my lovelies!

Apparently, we’re about to have a polar vortex impact us over the next few weeks. Oooooooooh. Ice and snow is on its way. Oh, my. And I don’t know about you guys, but I think the world needs love – lots and lots of love – and kindness. Here is my tiny contribution to more love and kindness. The Ferranti family at home. And Sophia’s being… Sophia.

Enjoy!

***

The Dower House…

In the family living-kitchen space, Bronte and Rosie are enjoying mummy time with their babies. Tucked up in her stroller, three month old Mila is in a milk induced coma. Bronte lays a heavy-eyed Eve in her playpen with her blankie.

“Camomile tea?” Bronte asks her best friend and sister-in-law.

Since it’s winter the girls are wearing their usual house uniform of skinny jeans, worn white at the seams, and cashmere sweaters. Rosie’s sweater is fire engine red and Bronte’s is black. Rosie’s Uggs lie abandoned on the floor. She tucks her legs beneath her on the couch and accepts a polka dot mug. “Cheers,” she says. “Can’t wait for my first cup of coffee once Mila’s weaned. Alexander reckons it’s the camomile tea that has her sleeping through the night.”

Bronte makes herself comfortable in a fat velvet chair the color of blueberries. She lifts her socked feet up on the matching footstool. “Cheers,” she says, sipping her tea. “Could be, plus the fact she’s simply adorable and so laid back she’s horizontal. Of course, I’m her auntie so I’m probably biased. Eve is such a good baby, too. Nico reckons it’s because of all the love and attention she receives from the kids.”

Rosie’s inky hair is tied in a messy knot of glossy curls on top of her head. She grins wickedly at her best friend, who looks simply amazing with her ash blonde hair skimming her shoulders. “Six and a half years ago, we were foot loose and fancy free. You thought you’d never marry, never mind have a child. Now look at you, Mrs Ferranti. All loved-up with Nico and mama to four children.”

Bronte’s emerald eyes dance. “You can talk. Your mother is in seventh heaven with her, hint-hint, first grandchild.” Her eyes go sad as she whispers, “I so wish my mum and dad had lived to see theirs.”

Rosie’s bright brown eyes dim a little in heartfelt sympathy. “I miss them, too. With Christmas around the corner, it’s always hard at this time of year.” Then she makes a face. “The mother from hell is already dropping hints about grandchild number two.”

Bronte laughs. “I love your mother. She has no filter between her brain and her mouth.”

Rosie rolls her eyes. “Yeah, she’s a laugh a minute. I told her Alexander won’t be up to making more babies until his love muscle heals. Even though she’s in Cyprus, her shriek of horror nearly broke my cell phone.”

Bronte bites down hard on her trembling bottom lip. “How is the brave little soldier?”

“It’s been two weeks and the love muscle is still healing. My mother told him to dip it in neat TCP. You should’ve seen his face. Stoopid man.”

Bronte grins. “How are you coping with no sex?”

Rosie gives her big, big eyes, and purrs, “Who says we’re having no sex? Dontcha know Alexander Ludlow is nothing if not inventive?”

Bronte holds up her hand in mock surrender. “Okay. Okay. I do not want to know what my brother gets up to in bed.”

Rosie pouts. “You started it.”

The noise of children and a barking dog has them crane their necks to look out floor to ceiling windows into the garden and the kiddie play area built of smooth oak.

“How’s Jimmy Chew?” Rosie asks.

“A complete joy. Sophia’s his favorite human.”

“Hmm,” Rosie says, her eyes narrow as she watches her niece and nephews and the family’s Bichon Frise. “Bet I know why.”

Bronte follows her gaze. She goes utterly still. “That girl! She’s a little monkey.”

“Yup. Dunno where she gets her ruthless streak.”

“Her father,” Bronte says tartly. She shoves her feet into her ankle black Uggs, grabs her duck down jacket and heads out the door with Rosie hot on her heels.

Like her brothers, Sophia is dressed in jeans and a fleece beneath a hooded duck down jacket. On her blonde head sits a cream beanie with a huge fake fur pom-pom the color of ink. She sits on the swing with an open bag of chips in her hands.

“Sit!” she says to the wide-eyed pup bouncing at her feet.

Jimmy Chew’s butt instantly hits the ground.

Sophia gives Jimmy Chew a chip. “One for you. And one for me.”

Her twin’s face is fierce. “You’re not supposed to feed Jimmy Chew human food,” Luca says in a stern voice.

Si!” nine year old Tonio says. “Papa will punish you.”

Unrepentant, Sophia sends them a black look. “MY dog. My food. Piss off.”

“Mama says if you use that kind of language again in this house, you’ll get a smacked bottom,” Luca reminds her.

“And you can shut your big fat mouth, too,” a naughty Sophia says. She makes a horrible face. Then tosses her blonde plait over her shoulder.

“SOPHIA FERRANTI!” Bronte bellows in a tone that makes Miss Sophia’s green eyes go wide. She shoves the bag of chips in her pocket.

The angry tone of his mistress has Jimmy Chew make a high-speed beeline for the safe haven of Tonio who lifts him in his arms.

“You’re in big trouble,” Luca hisses to his twin under his breath.

“Poopie doo, girly hair,” the twin from hell says, referring to a very sensitive subject for her brother—his glossy curls. For good measure, she juts her chin.

Bronte and Rosie eye Sophia and the pup in Tonio’s arms. Bronte bends to sniff Jimmy Chew’s muzzle. Her chin’s bathed in puppy kisses.

“Cheese and onion chips,” she says. Turning to her daughter she holds out her hand palm up and wiggles her fingers. “Gimme.”

The unblinking battle of wills between mother and daughter is short and sweet. Mama wins. “Go to your room. No TV. No tablet. You may read. Papa will deal with you.”

Head held high, Sophia marches into the house.

Bronte turns to Tonio, shakes the packet. “How much did he eat?”

“Only a couple.”

“We TOLD her she’d get into trouble, but she ignores us, mama,” Luca says. “She keeps saying Jimmy Chew is HER dog. But he belongs to everyone.”

Bronte nods, her mind racing. The time has come for her daughter to learn a lesson, and she’s just the mama to do it. “Take him in, it’s too cold out here. Keep him in the family room in case he has an upset tummy.”

Luca’s face goes white. “Do you think she’s made him sick?”

“Well, we won’t know until we know, will we?” she says tartly. “One of you should have come and got me immediately. Jimmy Chew is EVERYONE’S responsibility. Papa will speak to you when he comes home.”

Rosie nibbles on her top lip as two miserable looking little boys trudge into the house with a wide-eyed, alert and perfectly fine little dog. “Omigod. Their faces. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Bronte turns to her. “That girl will be the death of me. When she’s wilful and naughty, my hand itches to spank her bottom. But, that wouldn’t work with her. Nope. We need to hit her where it hurts.”

“Where’s that?” asks a Rosie who was always up for learning a new parenting technique from the Ferranti’s.

“In the heart.”

 

Later, Nico, still dressed for work in one of his fancy suits, stands before his three children. In his arms is a bright and breezy Jimmy Chew. The kids are washed, teeth brushed and ready for bed. Between her brothers, her chin on her chest, sits his daughter. Even when she’s in the wrong her brother’s protect her.

“I am wondering,” he begins in a soft voice, “if we are the right family for a little dog who has already lost an owner. It seems we cannot look after him properly.”

Three heads lift, their faces white with shock. Sophia’s bottom lip trembles. “We love him, papa.”

Nico’s dark brows lift. “Do you? It does not look like it to me. There is a reason we do not give human food to dogs. Their digestive system does not deal well with sugar or fats. If you love him, Sophia, why would you want to make him sick?”

Her emerald eyes huge in her pale face, Sophia shakes her head. “But, I don’t want to make him sick. I just… just…”

“Just what?”

“I want him to love me,” she whispers as a fat tear tips over to run down her cheek.

“You think you can buy love? Do mama and I buy your love, Sophia?”

Eyes swimming, she shakes her head. “No, papa. You love me to the moon and stars and back again.”

Nico clears the huge lump in his throat. “Si.”

“So, what should we do with Jimmy Chew?” Bronte says from the doorway. In her arms is a drowsy baby Eve fresh from her bath. “I need to be able to trust my family to help me look after and care for him. Feeding him chips or cookies is not looking after him, is it?”

Three heads shake.

“I’m thinking that Jimmy Chew needs a family who will put his needs first and love him as he deserves to be loved. What do you think?”

Luca looks her right in the eye. “We love him, mama. We won’t ever let anyone give him human food. We promise!”

“Sophia?” Nico whispers.

His daughter takes a shaky breath. “I’m sorry. I promise never to feed him snacks or treats again.”

Nico nods. “Very well. There are doggie treats, but we do not use them to buy his love. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, papa,” three soft voices chorus.

“Okay. It is time for bed.”

All three troop past their parents and up the stairs. The sound of bedroom doors closing has Nico give Bronte big eyes. “Dio mio, that was harsh, cara mia. I feel like crying myself.”

“Don’t waste your sympathy on her. You didn’t hear her telling the boys to piss off and inform Luca he has girly hair.”

Nico’s dark brows lift as he nuzzles a delirious Jimmy Chew. “Little monkey.”

Bronte moves into his personal space. She lifts up on her tip-toes to give his five-o’clock shadow a kiss. “She’s headstrong. She’s ruthless when she wants something, like someone else I know.”

Handsome face serious, Nico nods. “Si. She is Italian.”

 

FINE

Naughty Sophia! I can’t help but love her anyway.

‘Til Friday, when The Golddigger short story, SUKKI, goes live, be good.

Hugs and love,

Christine X

Happy Release Day, ELLIE!(And 2 Vampyres in the top 20 in the iBooks Store in the USA)

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iBOOKS    AMAZON USA   AMAZON UK    AMAZON AUSTRALIA    KOBO  NOOK

 

Happy Friday!

After over twelve months of planning, writing Sean and Katherine’s story, and getting all my ducks in a row in time for Christmas – it’s now time for the first of The GOLDDIGGERS short reads. Aw, girls, have I had fun with these! Up first, our Ellie, who stole my heart. I hope she steals your heart, too:

A weekly tale of love and lust best describes the brand new short romance reads from USAToday bestselling author CC MACKENZIE. Let’s face it sometimes we’re in a hurry or not in the mood for a committed book relationship, or a series. Sometimes we want it quick and fast, a bit like a book one-night-stand.

The stories are set in the world of Burlesque with glitter, love, desire, music and dance where girls tease and tantalize. The stories stand-alone, unrelated to the next, except they are set in the same world of the GOLDDIGGERS. And CC will release an original story on a Friday to get you in the mood for the weekend.

The GOLDDIGGERS series of thirty minutes of fun romance from CC MACKENZIE – for busy people everywhere – grab one now!

ELLIE

 

I sure didn’t intend to see him.

Or fall for him.

Or have anything to do with the mesmerizing Noah Blake.

Meeting him had been a complete and utter shock to the system, my reaction took me by surprise. In my line of work, I meet new people all the time and none of them impressed me the way Noah did. Isn’t that just typical in life? A girl can meet hundreds of people and they don’t touch her where it matters, but then she meets the one who means everything…

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Thing is, I’m a Golddigger, and proud of it. We make the Pussycat Dolls look like kittens. We work hard to achieve one goal, being the best. And to do that we do not need distractions like, for example, men. A Golddigger’s focus is on one thing, her performance. A Golddigger’s priority is the continued success of our Burlesque troupe. Thing is, I learned the hard way men didn’t like coming a poor second in a woman’s life. They appeared to be panic-stricken by a career driven, successful woman. I’ve been called “hard work,” “stroppy,” and “pigheaded.”

Like the rest of the Golddiggers, being free of emotional ties works well for me. Trust me, I had no long term plan to live happy-ever-after.

But then I met Noah.

And he stole my diamanté encrusted panties, and my whole world fell apart…

 

Aaaand in other news, the Vampyre Legal Chronicles has been ripping through the bestseller charts in Amazon USA, but also the iBOOKS Store USA. MARCUS was #1 in Paranormal and Romantic Comedy and #6 in the store overall. JAMES is #19 in the paid Paranormal category and DANIEL has just broken the top 100 in the paid store, too. Three books in the top 100 is a huge deal for me. I haven’t been there since 2013 with the first three of the Ludlow Hall books. I’m sharing yesterday’s screen shot of JAMES for posterity.

 

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And don’t forget on Monday we have another peek into the life of the Ferranti Family, and a big surprise!

Sheesh. Am I busy, or am I busy…

Hugs,

Christine X

Marcus, book one of the Vampyre Legal Chronicles is taking the United States by storm tonight.

So thrilled to have a Bestseller #1 in three categories in Amazon USA tonight, and sales of JAMES, book two, are rocking. Thank you so much for the Scottish vampyre love.

I don’t normally share charts and numbers, but tonight has been truly amazing.

Thank you so much to everyone who’s reached out to me, joined the Vampyre mailing list and facebook page. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – READER’S ROCK!!

#1 in Paranormal

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#1 in Vampires and Angels

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#1 Witches & Wizards

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Buy HERE

Love and hugs,

Christine XXX

Fall in love with Noah in the Golddigger first short story… ELLIE

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CLICK HERE FOR BUY LINKS

Only seven days to go and ELLIE will be winging her way into your eBook/reading App. I cannot tell you how excited I am to bring you the first of eight 30-40 minute stories (depending on how fast you read). Each story is released every Friday to set you up for the weekend and well-earned ‘me’ time.

They are romances, heavy on comedy, focusing on the moment when two hearts beat as one. All the stories are set in the world of The Golddiggers, where Miz Birdie rules the roost. But, each romance is a standalone with no cliffhanger. They are the perfect length for the commute to work, or lunch break, or relaxing in the evening or weekend.

I can promise you lots of feel-good fun and laughter. And I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing these feisty ladies and the men who adore them.

And I have a Big Surprise coming in the next few weeks, but shh, don’t tell anyone.

 

Big hugs,

Christine X

New Ludlow Hall Release today… SEAN…

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iBOOKS   AMAZON  KOBO  NOOK

Happy Friday!

I can’t believe this is the tenth book set in the Ludlow Hall world (although when I count in the Ludlow Nights books it’s thirteen with BREAK THE RULES coming soon). Who’d have thought when I released RECKLESS NIGHTS IN ROME in 2012 it would lead to this!

Last night H and I were talking about the last four years and we goggled at the thought that by the end of this year there will be TWENTY-SIX books (including The Golddiggers) out by the end of 2016. And if I’m spared and well, there are incredibly exciting things coming for 2017/18.

A big hug and smoochies to my readers who keep me going every single day. I love receiving your emails and messages so keep them coming. For the Sophia Ferranti fans out there (and, boy, there are plenty) your favourite girl has a starring role in SEAN, just thought I’d put that out there. Hehehe.

Sean and Katherine and the supporting characters have been an absolute gift to an author, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve loved writing them.

On Monday it’s another Ludlow Hall sneak peek as we join the Ferranti twins on their first day of school. What could possibly go wrong?

Christine X

My favorite bad boy becomes a man…

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Hi, guys!

A couple of my readers reached out to tell me they had no idea I had a romantic suspense out there in the digital book world. And that they loved it. DESERT ORCHID was released around the time my mother passed away, so I didn’t do a lot of promotion for it. This story has been a bit of a slow burn, but the reviews are stellar right across all the distributors so I thought I’d give peeps a gentle reminder.

What readers are saying –

‘Regarding the suspense aspect, there were enough twists and turns and heart-pounding scenes to keep me, a mystery writer, intrigued. There are hints at the end of more stories to come about these characters. I cannot wait!’

Kassandra Lamb, author of the Kate Huntington mysteries

‘In this book expect the unexpected it does everything you want, it makes you laugh, makes you cry and the steamy parts are all there. It is the total package. And while you think you make have already read a book similar, let me assure you, you have not!
I won’t repeat the jacket cover as what help is that,you already read that. The Heroine is no push over and she has a thing or two to teach her “rock star”.
If you love romance, laughter some intrigue and HEA then this is not a suggestion, its a must read. 🙂 The book is a total delight and I have read it three times already. Thank you C C Mackenzie’

Amazon reviewer

 

 

 

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AMAZON USA     AMAZON UK    iBOOKS  BARNES & NOBLE   KOBO

There are plenty of thrills and spills in this one, here’s the back page and a sneak peak:

BLURB:

Think ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ meets ‘Taken’

He doesn’t want a country. He doesn’t want a wife. He doesn’t want love. He wants to forget.

 A young Arabian Queen must marry a wild, wicked and wilful Prince to save her people from civil unrest and protect the wealth of her Kingdom.

Charisse never expected to find love with a darkly brooding man who looks and lives like a rock star.

Growing up as a member of royalty isn’t everything it’s proclaimed to be. Khalid El Haribe learned that heartbreaking lesson five years ago and isn’t interested in ruling a small desert kingdom or marriage but he cannot forget the debt he owes his family. Perhaps doing his duty will atone for past mistakes? Meeting the beautiful and feisty Charisse comes as a pleasant surprise…the attraction between them burns as hot as the desert.

But tragic events in Charisse’s past threaten to destroy her Kingdom and her life, too. Can their fragile love survive?

 

EXCERPT:

Unfolding the stiff pages of the letter written by the fragile hand of her late husband, Charisse El Haribe’s fingers shook with the emotion that squeezed her lungs, her throat, and stung her eyes.

She shivered even though the temperature outside the palace, under a relentless sun, scorched the land at a steady forty-two degrees. Asim’s passing had been a blessed release for the ravaged shell of his body. But she still found it hard to believe he was gone. Poor Asim, his had been a life filled with suffering. His heart condition had been congenital, which meant no heir for the kingdom of Onuur. And Asim had borne his infirmity with grace, with a highly developed sense of humour and with fortitude.

As was the custom in her adopted land, Asim had been buried within twenty-four hours of his death.

Now she wondered how she could possibly carry on her life without him? The phrase was a cliché, but it was nevertheless very true that Asim had been her rock. And it wasn’t overly dramatic to say he’d saved her life, her heart and even her soul from certain destruction.

Had it really been six short years since he’d brought her, a traumatised sixteen year old, to this fabulous white palace? The structure had been built with Asim’s needs in mind, two thousand feet above sea level on the top of a mountain where the air was cool and clear, and where clouds sprinted across a magnificent expanse of a sky so blue it hurt the eye.

The faint scent of Asim’s signature cologne clung to the thick papers and his presence returned to her in an instant. With a deep inhale, Charisse pressed the missive to her lips. The scent eased the unremitting agony in her heart. And an extraordinary sense of Asim standing at her shoulder overwhelmed her. Even as the feeling brought her comfort, she knew he would expect her to face an uncertain future with bravery, with dignity. After all that he had suffered, the way he had courageously coped with the personal insults of a body reduced to skin and bone, the memory gave her strength.

Asim used to say that she’d given him extra years of life and Charisse hoped he’d been right. He’d been like a beloved father to her, a teacher, and most important of all, a true and loyal friend. And she’d loved him deeply with all of her fractured heart.

Ever since Charisse had been handed the letter from her darling Asim, by a stern-faced Minister of the Interior, she’d had the distinct sensation of waiting for an axe to fall.

The two women who sat opposite stared at her with eyes filled with grief and concern.

With a snuffle and a deep sigh, Boris’s immense head rested on Charisse’s knee. Big hazel eyes locked on her face. They were filled with unconditional love and an intensity that had her press a kiss to his shaggy head of fur the colour of tarnished silver. Charisse raised her index finger. The dog moved with a reluctance that made her bite down hard on her lip to lie on the floor beside his brother Rufus. Her raised brow had Boris hide his face in his paws and heave another great breath from his massive chest. Her Irish Wolfhounds were suffering the loss of Amir, too. She’d take them out for a run later with Diablo. Her stallion needed to vent his excess energy, and it would do her good to escape from the palace for a little while.

Clearing her throat, Charisse blinked to clear her vision and read the letter aloud to her captive audience.

“My darling, Charisse,

I am sorry to leave you. Please find it in your heart to forgive me, but God has need of me in heaven.

You brought joy, laughter, companionship and love to a lonely old man. You opened my eyes and my heart to what is possible for our people and for the future of Onuur. Namely, the children.

It is crucial that you continue your work, Charisse. And you must resume your studies! I know – nag, nag, nag.”

Charisse smiled into the swimming eyes of her sister-in-law, Yasmin. And into the brown eyes, sharp with a ruthless intelligence, of Arabella Faulkner, her bodyguard and trusted friend. Then she took a deep steadying breath and continued,

“You cannot return to the land of your birth. HE now wears a cloak of respectability and has become too powerful. You know too much, and that is dangerous. As I await to leave this earth, my greatest fear is that HE will attempt to strike you down. To prevent such an event I have already set in motion plans to secure your future. Plans that even a man such as HE dare not defy.

I have named Prince Khalid El Haribe as my heir. You must marry him within six weeks.”

 

Stunned disbelief had Charisse blink once, twice.

Her heart rammed to an emergency stop then roared too loud in her ears. She shook her head in denial of what she held in her hands written in black ink by that fragile hand.

She read it twice, three times.

Why?

Why on earth would Asim do such a terrible thing to her, to Onuur?

Looking up, she read her incredulity mirrored in the shocked eyes of her companions.

The dogs whined, and she silenced them with the lift of her forefinger.

A deep frown creased her forehead as she continued more slowly,

 

“I know you will be confused, even dismayed, by my choice of a husband for you, child. But please permit me to explain. Yes, Khalid is flawed. Yes, he is a womaniser. Yes, he is wild, wilful and out of control. But Charisse, there is nothing and no one you cannot tame if you can find it in your heart to forgive him and open your clever mind to his potential. Believe me, he has potential to be a great man and a good husband.

Now I am gone the stability of the country and the region is at risk. Greedy eyes are turned to Onuur. They will surely inflame unrest and undo all the good work we have achieved. Bloodshed, pain and loss must surely follow for the people of this land, which is why I have chosen Khalid.

He will bring with him the security and the stability of the house of El Haribe. The King and his sons are powerful and will protect you and our Kingdom. The King is in agreement with my plan. Look upon him as your father. The Queen will come to love you, too, if you give her a chance.”

 

Charisse gasped and jumped to her feet, the correspondence fluttering to a floor of polished white marble.

Two giant heads snapped to attention as the dogs rose as one and their butts hit the floor.

“I will not!” she cried.

The wolfhounds’ eyes, the colour of jet, tracked her as she paced to the open balcony and back. Wearing a loose top and flowing pants of ivory silk, her soft leather ballet pumps made little sound.

With a fluid movement of her long and lean body, clothed in black military fatigues, Arabella picked up the pages from the floor.

She stood and held out the letter to Charisse.

“Read all of it, Your Highness. We can have a nervous breakdown, if we need to, after we have all the facts.’

Charisse took a steadying breath even as her pulse was hammering in her throat and her eyes stung.

Arabella was quite right.

Where was her self-control?

Having a temper tantrum like a child changed nothing.

She wanted to cry enough tears to fill an ocean.

But tears changed nothing.

With a single nod, she took the letter and sank to the edge of the chair.

The dogs didn’t relax and their black eyes, anxious and watchful, never left her face for a moment. She couldn’t help it, her hand shook as she cleared her throat.

 

“Should you find yourself unable to marry Khalid, the White Palace shall remain yours in perpetuity. On your death it will return to the State. A sum of (she gasped) has been placed in banks in Switzerland for your personal use.

There are conditions to the marriage:

Khalid must not take concubines or another wife whilst you live.

He must provide you with a child within one year of marriage.

Good God!

If the marriage is annulled, the child will remain with you.

So you see, Charisse, you have a choice to make. Get to know Khalid. Open your mind. Help him find joy in service to our people. And at all times remember you are a Queen, beloved by the people of Onuur.

I die a happy and contented man, my darling, and for that I thank you.

Have courage.

All my love, Asim.”

 

Eyes stinging and with a hot rock lodged in her throat, Charisse folded the letter with great care and placed it on the table.

She felt the eyes of her companions on her as she stood, shoulders back and head held high. Like an automaton she moved towards open vast doors and stepped onto a wide stone terrace, which soared high above the valley below. Her sumptuous apartments covered the entire top floor of the palace. Asim had spared no expense ensuring her comfort, providing rooms that were light and spacious with the added luxury of private balconies. There was her office, a state-of-the-art kitchen, gymnasium, a lap pool, and covered deck for lazy days.

Not that she had many of those.

Charisse gazed out, unseeing, over the mountain tops and into the sea, miles beyond.

Up here, the climate was never still, never quiet.

A brisk wind toyed with the long tail of her platinum hair, whipping it around her face. The salty tang of the sea mixed with the scent of jasmine and tea roses planted in huge terracotta pots. A cry from above had her look up and narrow her eyes. A single raptor circled, gliding in the updraft of a cloudless sky.

Dear heaven she missed Amir so much.

But why had he never discussed his plans for the future with her?

They’d agreed never to keep secrets.

The ache in her heart swelled into unbearable pain as her face crumpled.

Her delicate fists pounded the top of the balcony.

A sympathetic hand touched her shoulder.

“Why didn’t he talk to me about this? Why am I not given time to grieve?” Charisse turned into Yasmin’s wiry arms and sobbed into her neck.

As she would an infant, her sister-in-law rubbed her back in lazy circles.

Her voice, filled with sorrow, was the merest whisper, “Hush, child. It has always been thus for the rulers of this land.”

Yasmin’s hand, the skin paper thin and wrinkled with age, tipped up her chin. Dark eyes identical to Asim’s stared into hers and Charisse recognised grief and a hideous loss. Gentle fingertips wiped the tears from her cheeks. Yasmin had lost her favourite brother and here she was acting like a spoilt child. And shame for her selfish outburst smacked her too hard. Yasmin kissed one cheek and then the other. “He prepared you for this day. The men have buried him and the women will weep. Asim was revered in this land. Your Prince has large shoes to fill.”

Charisse couldn’t stop the sting of outrage.

My Prince?”

She whirled, blue eyes blazing as she paced back and forth.

Alert, the dogs took positions in the shade and sat on their haunches like sentinels, one either side of the ornate arched doorway. Not once did their eyes leave her face.

“He’s a tom-cat,” she spat the words. “A drunk. A waster.”

“That’s right, your Highness, tell it like it is,” Arabella drawled and added. “Apparently, his art sells for a small fortune.”

Temper won the war of attrition with grief, and surged through Charisse.

She spun to face her friend with wide eyes.

“Have you seen what he calls art? If I want a visual lesson in what the intimate body parts of the female form look like, I’ll refer to a gynaecological compendium for facts, not fiction.”

Arabella winced at the tone.

“To be fair his work in oils has gathered critical acclaim.”

Bullshit.

Charisse wasn’t having that.

“Yes, by men who need to be titillated by Khalid’s so called interpretation of a clitoris, labia and perineum.” Utter fury spiked through the top of her head as her eyes pinned Arabella’s and it took everything she had to stop her voice shaking, to articulate every syllable, “There are children living in this continent who do not know what it is like to live without the unparalleled burn of an empty belly, who cannot imagine a future further than their next meal.” She took a very deep breath. “While he, who’s never known anything but health, wealth and a fawning society, does nothing but piss away his opportunity to make a real difference to his people.

“Oh, they might not have the good fortune to be born within the hallowed borders of Dhuma or Quaram, but our people are nomads. We are all brothers and sisters and we who rule have a responsibility to the hungry, the sick and the vulnerable of this region.”

 

Having heard it all before, and more, Arabella nodded.

“I’m not defending him. But he’s not had an easy time of it…”

Charisse flicked a hand, rudely interrupting her bodyguard and friend.

She wasn’t having any of that, either.

“He needs to get over himself and grow a pair. Onuur needs a real man, not a dick-swinging fool who cannot go six hours without a drink or a woman or three.”

“Charisse!” Yasmin’s soft voice held a censure that had anger leak out of Charisse like a deflated balloon.

God, she felt physically ill at the mere thought of such a man touching her.

She couldn’t do it.

Arabella frowned now, and sat at a stone table in the shade, drumming her fingernails on the table top. “You know we can’t believe absolutely everything they print in the press? Much of it is bound to be exaggerated.”

Charisse let out an unladylike snort that had Yasmin send her a look of mild reproach.

“If it swims like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck.”

Charisse’s temperament was usually easygoing. But now her temper bubbled and brewed quite nicely. And her chin tilted.

“He is not fit to lick my feet. And in my bed?” She hissed out a breath of sheer temper. “Never. I’d rather sleep with a…”

The shrill ring of the telephone, the land line, brought an abrupt end to her rant.

Arabella paused, waiting for her Queen’s nod of assent before picking up the receiver.

“Hello?” The bodyguard listened with a deepening crease on her forehead as her dark brows met over her nose.

Now what? Charisse wondered.

Arabella’s dark eyes flicked to hers. “Yes, I will inform her Highness.”

Arabella replaced the receiver and opened her mouth to speak when the distant whop- whop-whop of helicopters brought their attention to the land to the north of Onuur, to Dhuma.

Charisse stepped into her apartments, covered herself with a white hijab and stalked out to observe the approach of three vast military helicopters.

Vultures, she fumed.

As a mere woman, even as a queen, she had no rights.

The El Haribe Princes and their father would rule her land, her people.

Men who were so called modernists.

If she had to marry one, why couldn’t it have been the elder brother?

At least Sarif appeared to have standards, morals.

Although from what she’d seen on the news and on the internet Sarif’s face appeared to be carved from stone, his dark eyes too hard. Plus, he had a reputation for being relentless, even ruthless, in achieving his goals.

Emotions gripped her throat as a tsunami of guilt for the anger she felt with her late husband washed over her.

“Oh, my darling, what on earth were you thinking?” she whispered.

Her eyes narrowed into slits as the helicopters thundered around the Palace in preparation to land.

The racket, the vibration under her feet, spooked the horses in the stables far below and even from here she could hear Diablo’s frantic screams. The magnificent black stallion was already edgy since he’d picked up her grief and her pain. She’d need to take him out later and give him his neck or he’d be impossible for the stable boys to handle.

 

Helicopters the colour of the desert descended kicking up mini tornadoes, sand devils, in their wake.

And the analogy was not lost on Charisse.

One of them carried the very devil himself.

A man so bent on his own pleasure, on his own self-destructive needs, he’d even turned his back on his country, his people and his own family.

She needed time. Time to think. Time to plan.

Determination filled her heart. “I am in seclusion. I will receive no one,” she said, her voice firm and the tone harsh. And she hardened her heart to Yasmin’s sigh of disappointment.

“They won’t like it,” Arabella warned her.

Charisse kept her burning gaze on the helicopters hidden now among huge clouds of dusty sand as they settled outside the palace walls. Her people were covering their eyes and mouths with cloth to protect themselves from the sting of swirling sand. Since they’d never seen a military helicopter up close and personal, some of the children were holding their ears and screaming with fright and shock.

Anger felt a hell of a lot better than guilt and Charisse gave it free rein now.

Stupid, ignorant, macho fools.

Did they not realise the damage they were inflicting on a people and animals unused to such arrogant behaviour.

How dare they arrive at her home in such a manner.

“I will come to them when I am ready. Not before.”

*Finito*

I hope you enjoy reading Charisse and Khalid’s rocky road through villainy, mistrust and a scorching lust, to true love, as much as I loved writing them.

Christine X

IN MEMORIAM

 

BANNER FOR TWITTER

 

When an author hears from a rabid fan who’s bought everything, even vampyre stories when she doesn’t believe in such things, it is always a huge thrill. One such reader contacted me after my mom died asking for Daisy’s story. “Where the hell is it, Christine? I’m worried about that poor fatherless child.”

Those were the first words she wrote to me. And so began an almost daily Facebook chat. This woman loved and adored hot alpha males (the hotter the better). But she more than loved and adored strong women, like Bronte Ferranti.  In fact, she told me she wanted to BE Bronte, which just made me shake my head.

What I didn’t know until months later, when she let it slip, was that she was battling cancer and having regular chemo. Apparently, the nurses kept asking her why she was laughing, and she told them she was reading Bronte’s story and Rosie’s. She just adored Rosie. Rosie helped her get through the nausea.

So I got to know her really well, and she totally understood why I was having such a hard time writing Daisy’s story due to the circumstances surrounding my mom’s death. She told me to take my time.

When we enter the world we’ve created authors sometimes have a hard time dealing with feelings a story creates. A bit like hearing a song from the past that takes us right to a special moment that meant a huge amount to us.

Then I stopped receiving posts from her. I missed her messages and after a week contacted her niece because I was worried and had a bad feeling. Her last message to me was on a Sunday and she passed away very suddenly on the following Monday. To say I was devastated doesn’t begin to describe the sense of loss.

She was naughty. She was fun. She was brave. Her name was Susan Benson and A Daddy For Daisy is dedicated to her memory.

Christine x

FROM THE LAND OF THE KAMA SUTRA CAME THIS……

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Greetings my lovelies,

This summer I took a break from the keyboard to take time to heal a heart broken by bereavement. The journey to wellness continues and with the help of a wonderful woman, Debra Holland MS PhD, I’m learning to understand and accept feelings that have at times overwhelmed me and paralysed my creativity.

But this is me all y’all are dealing with and nothing ever keeps this writer down for long. I’m hoping to finish HER RULES in a few days. The book’s in final revision/edits. I’ll give you guys the cover reveal and taster next week. As soon as the work has gone through formatting and proofing by the awesome Jennifer Lewis Oliver, I’m diving into A Daddy For Daisy. Do I hear a Yay? Writing Daisy’s story has been a challenge because I was right in the middle of a heavy scene in the book when my mother died. And to be honest every time I read it through I’m an emotional wreck. But nothing worthwhile is ever easy, so I plan to hunker down in my office with scented candles and boxes of tissues to get me through it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that we cannot avoid the hard stuff, ever. And as Debra says, ‘You can use the emotions and the journey in your writing to help others.’  Amen to that.

Right, on to the reason for the title of this post, which some of you are probably thinking is a tricky piece of click-bait. Not so!!! If all y’all are sitting comfortably, I shall begin……

A couple of nights ago my fingers were doing a happy dance across the keyboard writing a fun scene from HER RULES. (It’s a pure joy being back in my happy place.) H knocked the door and popped his head in to see if it was safe to enter (in spite of a big red sign saying KEEP OUT) *Eye-roll* He had a huge grin on his face, so I surmised whatever he had to say was good news.

“What’s up?” I asked.

He made himself nice and comfy in a sofa chair and the grin morphed into a toothy smile.

“You’ve gotta read this. It’s a pretty intense review for Reckless Nights In Rome in Amazon, India.”

Now with almost fourteen books published and six in the pipeline, I have a policy – set in stone – that after the first few reviews of a new release (just to make sure my readers are happy bunnies) I don’t read reviews. And neither does H, usually. His job is to keep a track of number crunching a variety of data feeds. But for some reason what was happening in India had caught his eye and the way he was laughing I feared the worst. My heart sank.

“Is it crap?”

He shook his head and now his blue eyes were dancing.

“Nope. Four stars. But you have got to read it. I’ve sent you the link.”

A little bit narked that I had to leave a good bit in my work in progress, I did as I was told and went into my emails and clicked on the link.

Whoa.

Those awesome readers in India sure do their homework when they leave a review. Not only did the reviewer analyse the character traits of the hero and heroine, but she’d researched me, too. Bloody hell. So then it was on to the story. I’m not going to copy and paste the whole thing here, but the part that caught my eye and had tickled H was this sentence:

“A woman’s orgasm has never been so well explained in any of the books I have read till now.”

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I blinked and read it again.

Seriously?

I did that?

Me?

“Gosh, that’s simply amazing,” I said feeling proud.

My man blinked like a camel in a sand storm.

“Er, I think I had a hand in your orgasmic education.”

This might be TMI for some of you, but once we realized what he said we haven’t laughed so hard for so long in months.

Gotta love him.

Please feel free to share with the world a piece of writing that hit the spot for you. Keep it clean. And it doesn’t need to be about intimacy. It can be about anything that touched you, in a good way.

Big Hugs,

Christine XX

READ THE REVIEW HERE

For those of you struggling (I’m sending you virtual hugs) to cope with the ravages of loss, grab The Essential Guide To Grief and Grieving by Debra Holland  MS PhD (who also writes a fabulous historical western romance series).