My best friend Christine Warren and I have an ongoing feud. Well, it’s not really a feud so much as an incredible amount of bitterness on her part. She’s absurdly jealous because the first romance novel I ever read was Diamond Bay by Linda Howard. The reason this makes her so angry is that she wishes she’d begun her lifelong affair with romance novels in a similar fashion – see, we both love The Howard. That’s what we call her – The Howard. Like, The President or The Beatles – she’s that important.
Why am I talking about my long and very embarrassing fan crush on Linda Howard? Because it all started with her.
I am a romance junkie, and have been ever since I picked up that dog eared copy of Diamond Bay from my neighbor’s stack of to-be-returned library books. I spent my weekly allowance on them, went through the meager collection at my local library within months, and scoured garage sales. Since I was all of twelve when this (minor) obsession began, my mother was less than thrilled. To her credit, she did not outright forbid me to read them, but rather asked me to reach for something slightly more age appropriate. When I asked her what she had in mind, she said, “What about Judy Blume? How about those kinds of books?” Sure, no problem. So I brought home Forever and Wifey, and she threw up her hands and told me to read whatever I liked.
I read everything I could get my hands on, but the books I liked best, the ones I remember years after reading them, are the ones that made me feel…something. Whether it made me laugh or cry, made me happy or made me sad, I just wanted to feel. There was a Silhouette Special Edition called One Lavender Evening by Karen Keast that is so achingly beautiful that even today, twenty years and countless re-reads later, it makes my chest tight and my eyes well up. Julie Garwood’s The Secret still make me laugh, and my heart pounds like mad even though I know what’s going to happen. And Diamond Bay by Linda Howard..that book made me feel everything, and to this day holds a place of honor on my bookshelf.
I didn’t become a romance junkie just because I love romance – I became one because these women, and scores more, are good writers. They tell stories of passion and betrayal, family ties and deep friendships, relationships that are real and bold and keep me on the edge of my seat.
Which brings me full circle, because all those things are also why I became a romance writer. Women like Linda and Judy and Karen, they inspire me every day to tell good stories. I only hope I can live up to their example.
Hannah Murray writes contemporary and erotic romance, often with a kinky edge and always with humor. Check out website for excerpts, “Behind the Book” tidbits, and a July contest! www.hannahmurray.net. Her latest story, The Boy Next Door, can be found in Secrets 27 Untamed Pleasures, available now from Red Sage Publishing.
The Boy Next Door – Isabella Carelli isn’t just looking for Mr. Right, she’s looking for Mr. Tie Me Up And Do Me Right. In all the wrong places. Fortunately, the right place is right next door. And the boy next door is just about ready to make his move…
“I really love my life,” Jacob drawled.
“Mine’s starting to look pretty good,” Isa said, her voice muffled by the comforter.
“Darlin’, you should see it from this angle,” he drawled, and sat back to admire his handiwork.
The tableau before him was straight out of his fantasies, the ones that had started the day Isa moved in next door to him. She was on her knees, her ankles tied to the bottom corners of the bed. He’d lashed her wrists together and then pulled them under her body and between her spread feet, tying the rope off on the footboard. The position held her shoulders pressed to the mattress and her ass in the air, and he couldn’t resist running a hand over the curve of her hip.
“Um… it’s not that I don’t appreciate the ingenuity,” Isa said, turning her face to the side and peering up at him from behind a curtain of hair. “But I’m feeling kind of exposed here.”
“I know.” He slid his hand around to her other hip. “I like looking at you like this, all spread out and helpless.”
She made a soft, purring sound at that. “Well, when you put it that way, I like it too. But it does beg the question.”
He was busy testing the firmness of her ass by gently squeezing and releasing the rounded cheeks. They were very firm. “What question is that?”
“Are you going to look all day, or fuck me?”
The question startled a laugh out of him. “Why Isabella, such language! What would your mother say?”
He saw her wince behind her hair. “Dude, are you trying to kill the mood? Don’t mention my mother.”
He was still chuckling. “Right. Good idea. But I can’t let that kind of language slide. It’s rude.”
She snorted. “Rude. Right. I’ve got my ass so high in the air it’s getting altitude sickness, and the word ‘fuck’ is just too crude.”
“That’s a dirty mouth you’ve got, darlin’. Maybe we should do something about that.”
She snorted again. “Oh yeah? Like what?”
“Like this,” he said, and brought his hand down on the curve of her ass with a crack.
Isa yelped. “Hey! Who said you could do that?”
“You did.” He ran his hand over the bloom of red his hand had left on her cheek. “Don’t you remember? A little bondage, may be a slap on the ass here or there.”
Isa’s voice was thick with suppressed laughter. “I don’t think that qualifies as a negotiation, pal. I was drunk!”
“That’s true,” he allowed. “Strictly speaking, you didn’t give your consent to a spanking. But since you’re here…” he slapped the other cheek.
She was giggling openly now, her body shaking with it. He hid his own grin and put on his best big bad man voice. “You’re laughing? This is funny?”
“Well, it does kind of tickle.”
She laughed again, the sound bursting out of her at the outrage in his voice.
“Tickle?” he said again. “I’ll show you tickle, woman!” He dug his fingers into her ribs, moving with her as she squealed and wriggled to get away. “Ah ha! Not so funny now, is it?”
She was laughing so hard she could barely breathe, her entire body moving and flexing against the ropes as she tried to evade his dancing fingers. “You asshole!” she managed to get out between gasps for air.
“Asshole? There’s that mouth again,” he rumbled and smacked her upturned ass, a little harder this time.
“Ah!” she gasped, her head coming up off the bed in shock. He rubbed his palm over her cheek, the sting from the initial blow fading into a spreading warmth. He repeated the action with the other cheek, and Isa moaned and dropped her head back to the mattress.