Nov 2, 2014

Sunday Smooch - Rebel's Bargain

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  Annie West but first 

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Tammy!

Can you please contact Rachel (at) rachelbailey (dot) com to receive your copy of Cover Story.

Also, a reminder to Fedora that you won Stefanie London's giveaway the week before. Please contact her at Stefanie (at) Stefanie-London (dot) com to receive your copy of Breaking the Bro Code.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Annie West's REBEL'S BARGAIN.

When the thrill–seeker strikes a deal!

Five years ago, Poppy Graham married Orsino Chatsfield beneath a confetti of paparazzi flashbulbs. But Orsino spent more time chasing the rush of adrenaline than with his wife and, in her darkest hour, he let her down. Their split was bitter and Poppy’s striven for independence ever since. But now her arrogant husband is back…

Injured in a climbing accident, there’s only one person Orsino can turn to…his deceitful wife! They have unfinished business and he’ll face it before he walks away for ever. But the blazing passion between them reignites in an instant, leaving Orsino to wonder whether it will kill or cure!

Scene set-up

Poppy and Orsino had a passionate love affair years before, marrying quickly and then separating acrimoniously and very publicly when things fell apart. Now, badly injured after an ice-climbing accident, Orsino has manoeuvred Poppy into looking after him while he recuperates, thinking to make her pay for some of the pain she caused him. What he hadn't bargained on is the need he still has for her, physical and, though he hates to admit it, emotional.
Smooch  -

‘This way.’ It was Poppy, beside him again, her voice as colourless as a mountain brook. She swept one arm in a wide gesture and he located the door. 
Slowly he paced beside her, his good hand clenched around the walking stick, his body tense with effort.
The big door swung open with a whoosh of crisp air. He hesitated then stepped out, relishing the cocktail of smells bombarding him: exhaust fumes and dust, smoke and spicy cooking. It was so different to the scoured smell of the hospital. He heard bustling life surround him. Relief battered like a wave, making him light-headed.
Not even to himself had he admitted to fear that he’d never leave the hospital. Yet he felt a weight slide off his shoulders.
‘Orsino! Orsino! Over here!’
He blinked, trying and failing to focus on the faces surrounding him. His heart drummed in his chest and a cold sweat broke out on his brow. Something suspiciously like panic twisted in his gut.
A hand closed around his sleeve.
Poppy. She was there beside him.
He breathed deep, hating the way tension eased because he wasn’t alone. Hating the fact that she felt the way his arm shook. She of all women.
It was one thing to imagine her pandering to his every whim while he regained his strength. It was another to have her guess how much this cost him. To know how much he needed her right now. His pride smarted.
Gritting his teeth, Orsino walked on, aware of the warmth of her hand through the sleeve of his jacket. Aware too, of the curious leap of excitement he felt being close to her again.
As they walked slowly the voices grew strident and blurred faces crowded close.
‘Can you see, Orsino?’
‘How close did you come to death?’
‘Are you and Poppy reconciling? Are you in love after all this time? How about a kiss for the camera?’
Poppy spoke. ‘The car is straight ahead.’ There was nothing in her tone, neither stress nor sympathy. She might have been talking to a stranger.
He hadn’t expected her to feel anything. He’d had her measure since the night five years ago when he’d discovered what she really was.
Why did it matter that he’d been mistaken in the hospital, imagining he’d got under her skin? Why did it matter that he meant nothing to her?
Yet it did.
Because almost dying out there on the mountain, he’d faced the terrible truth that some part of him was still connected to her.
The realisation was like salt poured on an open wound. A wound he’d believed healed. His gut churned with the force of his reaction as years of resentment came flooding free.
Someone jostled them and his stick clattered to the ground. He reached out and found himself grasping soft cashmere and even softer hair. His fingers tightened.
‘That’s it, Orsino. Just one kiss!’ Around them the paparazzi pressed closer.
‘Can you stand while I reach for your stick?’ Poppy’s words were innocent enough but her ice-cool tone struck him again. To her he was an encumbrance till the divorce, a necessary responsibility. No more.
Five years ago she’d made a fool of him. Even now, when he’d blackmailed her into dancing to his tune, he hadn’t dented her self-assurance much less her emotions.
Impotent fury spiked.
He would get a reaction from her.
Planting his feet more solidly, he released his hold and heard her breath sigh out. But before she could draw away he lifted his hand to the back of her head, to the silk tresses that moved as she jerked beneath his hold.
Her tangy, sweet scent filled his nostrils.
‘Orsino?’ Her voice wobbled.
Now that was a reaction.
He looked down into wide eyes. The fiery burn in his belly flared and spread as he held her tight and slanted his mouth over hers.
Poppy could have broken away from him. She should. He held her with one arm only, the plaster on his other arm pressing against her middle.
His splayed hand held her firmly but not unbreakably.
So why did she hesitate as his mouth captured hers?
Maybe it was the surprising restraint in the touch of his cool lips against hers. It reminded her of the first time they’d kissed. Then he’d scooped her close, his shoulders blocking out the world, leaving her cocooned in the passion that swirled like a maelstrom between them. Yet he’d taken her mouth with a gentleness that had been more devastating than any urgent caress. He’d undone her with one simple kiss, because she’d felt not only desired but cherished.
His mouth moved now against hers, pressing gently. Poppy felt the years peel back, as if awakening to a man for the first time.
A shudder ran the length of her body as nerve endings sprang to life.
His tongue swept the seam of her lips, coaxing a response that rippled through her, from her mouth down to her tingling nipples and her toes curling in her boots.
Orsino’s hand moved in her hair, long fingers strong and hard and ridiculously erotic given all he did was hold her.
Her heart hammered into her breastbone and her eyes fluttered shut as her lips moved tentatively against his.
Sensation flooded her, the sound of blood pulsing in her ears, the tensile strength of him against her, the dark chocolate and spice deliciousness that was the shockingly familiar taste of Orsino on her tongue.
He pressed closer and reason finally surfaced from the inchoate thoughts tumbling through her mind.
She pulled back, eyes wide at her body’s betrayal.
Impenetrable dark glasses stared back at her. Her eyes dropped to the thin, mobile mouth that had so easily worked magic on hers. She caught a gleam of dampness on his bottom lip, the sheen where her mouth had met his.
Wrenching free of his hold, Poppy staggered back, heart pounding, her breath sawing from her lips.
Still he stood unmoving while all around them cameras clicked and whirred and reporters climbed over each other for a better view.
She felt like she’d had an out of body experience. It sure wasn’t her body that had responded to Orsino so eagerly. It couldn’t be. She’d eradicated him from her system.
Pity your body doesn’t know it.
The snide little voice came from inside her head.
Imagine what would have happened if he’d had two hands to work with.

I'm thrilled to be see REBEL'S BARGAIN on sale now (though in you're in Aus/NZ paperbacks won't be in stores till the 15th). You can find it in all the usual places including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Harlequin. To celebrate I'm giving away a copy to someone who leaves a comment here.

As Orsino is a thrillseeker, how about sharing the most daredevil thing you or someone in your family has done. Or perhaps the daredevil exploit you've always wanted to try but probably never will.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from Louisa George's 'Enemies with Benefits' will be posted!

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver


  1. The only thing I can think of right now is that I climbed a mountain without a trail (our family was helping to take down a very tall tree on a ranch). It was steep in places, and my long legs couldn't get enough knee space out front to climb, so my husband and BIL grabbed my arms from up above, trying to haul me up. Somehow I got twisted around and faced downward, and they had to twist me back and drag me over to where I had more knee room/a place to put my feet. All this when I am scared s***less of heights. It's a wonder I didn't pee my pants, LOL.

    1. Laney, heights can be terrifying, can't they? I remember going bushwalking and unexpectedly finding myself halfway up a sheer cliff! Good thing you had help, by the sound of it.

  2. Hi Annie

    Woohoo on the release and the smooch this is a fantastic story sensual and passionate with lots of sizzle I loved it :)

    I am a chicken at heart and there is nothing that I can think of that I have done that woudl classed as daring as Orsino and I am not sure there is anything that I would truly want to do LOL

    Have Fun

    1. Helen, thanks so much. I'm chuffed that you enjoyed the smooch.

      Hm, maybe something daredevil like opening a brand new book?

  3. Ooh, what a fab smooch, Annie. :-) I'm really looking forward to reading The Rebel's Bargain.

    Hmm…thrill seeking activities and me aren't really on a first name basis. Though, you know, enrolling in a PhD feels pretty daredevil to me.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      I'm glad you like the snippet. It was fun to write!

      You really are a thrill seeker, enrolling in a PhD! Lots of work but I know it will be worth it. Can't wait to call you Dr.

  4. Annie, a delicious Sunday Smooch! I have Rebel's Bargain right next to me. I can't wait to read the rest of it!

    Hmm, most daredevil thing I've done? I can't think of anything truly wild unless you count six hours of roller-coasting in one day. I would LOVE to sky-dive some day. That'd really be a rush!

    1. Vanessa, six hours on a roller coaster in one day? Is it even possible? You must have a stomach of iron. It sounds like sky diving was made for you!

      Hope you enjoy Rebel!

  5. lynwill301@hotmail.comNovember 2, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    sounds like a winner congrats Annie about the only wild thing I have done was a few hair raising rides on motor bikes when I was younger----Lyn

    1. Hi Lyn,

      Motor bike rides. Now, that's definitely a thrill. Personally, I like to have a car around me when I'm on the road. Wimpy, eh? Thanks for the congratulations.

  6. Thank you for the fabulous smooch!!

    I'm not a daredevil at all, but my younger sister is.

    Years ago she decided she was going to Israel to work on a kibbutz. So she learned Hebrew & off she went. That was just the start of her big adventure.

    1. Mary, your sister sounds like one determined woman. Sensible of her to learn the language before she left.

      So glad you enjoyed the kiss scene.

  7. Annie, I love reunion stories, but even more, I love stories where one character is healing and the other is caring for them, so this book sounds right up my alley!

    Though I have to admit that I'm not even a little bit of a dare devil. In fact, I'm a complete fraidy cat!

    1. Rachel, me too. I like to think about adventure, but it's nice doing it in a comfy chair.

      Ah, I'm glad you think this story might be a nice fit for you. It's my first full length reunion story. I have my fingers crossed readers enjoy it!

  8. I like second chance stories especially where the hero recognizes how much he really needs the heroine. It's Sunday here in the US so I expect that it's really Monday in Australia. and the contest is over, but I look forward to reading your book in the future.

    1. Hi Ruby, no the contest isn't over yet. It runs all week!

      So glad to hear you enjoy second chance stories. It was enormously satisfying discovering what happened when Poppy and Orsino got together again and how much they did need each other. Hope you enjoy it.

  9. LOVE ANNIE, I've read many, many of her books. Love them. And she is a sweetie.

    1. Hi Christina, and thanks for the kind words. How lovely of you!

  10. Fabulous smooch, Annie! Reminds me what a sexy read Rebel's Bargain is. One of your best! I loved watching Orsino and Poppy find their way back to being together. Lovely stuff.

    1. Hi Anna, Blogger ate my earlier comment! Just wanted to thank you and say I agree. This one is definitely one of my hotter stories. Poppy and Orsino just can't seem to step away from each other, can they?

  11. Fabulous smooch - I can't wait to read this one! I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the Chatsfield books, especially yours.

    I'm not much of a daredevil but I did abseil once during a school camp - probably the most terrifying thing I've ever done.

    1. Oh, Stefanie, I tried abseiling once, on a 50m vertical face. Not for me. I saw them later teaching people on gentler slopes. That would have been kinder to a 12 yo!

      Hope you enjoy the series, and Rebel's Bargain. I'm reading my way through the set and having a ball.

  12. Oh, sizzling smooch Annie! Delicious! I love a reunited story.
    Daredevil? Me?? Not really, although I'd love to jump off the Skytower in Auckland (it's a controlled jump not a bungee, so you're held upright with wires)...haven't quite managed to pluck up the courage as yet though.

    1. Louisa, I'm glad it hit the spot!

      I've never heard of a controlled jump. Bungees just sound so dangerous but this sounds almost doable. If you ever get the nerve do let me know how it is!

  13. The most daring thing I did was moving from family and friends in Wisconsin to Florida and getting married!

    1. Cindy, that's pretty daring. That's a long way. Good on you!

  14. Wow, Annie! That is one heck of a kiss! Emotional and intense and I can't wait to read the rest!

    1. Susanne, I'm smiling at your response. Hoping you like the rest of the story as much.

  15. Scorching Smooch, Annie! Orsino and Poppy's reunion travels one very bumpy road! I really suffered with these guys until they "found" each other! Great story!

    My most dare-devil exploit - probably white water rafting on the Trisuli River in Nepal - many years ago! I fell off the raft and got caught underwater for a hair-raising few seconds... actually it wasn't too bad from my point of view but my poor dh thought that was the end of me. They'd told us what to do if it happened and once I got myself aligned with my feet downstream, I popped up to the surface.

  16. Sharon, I'll try to remember that if ever I get swept into white water. Feet downstream - check! What an adventure.

    Ooh, so glad you enjoyed Rebel's Bargain. Now that's really cause for a smile!

  17. That sounds delicious, Annie! Thanks for the excerpt! I'm pretty much NOT a daredevil (even the Ferris wheel is a bit much ;) ) but admit a secret interest in riding a motorcycle... not that I'd actually do it at this point :D

    1. Hi Fedora. So glad you like the excerpt! It was fun to write.

      Personally I adore Ferris Wheels. Especially with the right person. But motor bikes definitely have a certain allure.