Hello, and many thanks to lovely Lily for letting me loose here today.
My new Mischief novel, Master of the House, started – as these things often do – as a single idea or image that stuck in my mind until I had woven an entire story around it. In this case, I imagined standing in a woodland, looking over to a grand house and reliving a childhood memory of being bullied and humiliated by the boy who lived there. God knows why it happened like that – but I'd been interested in the idea of writing a bully and victim reunited story for a while, so I decided to run with it.
Here's the blurb:
Lucy Miles is resigned to covering stories for the local newspaper and sharing a flat with her hippy mother, until her first love reappears.
She should know better than to trust Joss Lethbridge, even if he is a Lord these days, but he has an intriguing proposition for her and the temptation to land the biggest scoop the Vale of Tylney has ever seen proves too much for her. As does his invitation to rekindle a passion that will set alight her submissive fantasies and untie his dominant tastes.
But for how long can playing roles remain pretence before their games become an emotional connection?
And perhaps you'd care for an excerpt?
The scaffolders were still at work on the east wing when we entered the Hall through the back kitchen door.
'Don't want Fran to know I'm back,' muttered Joss, leading the way through the hanging copper pots and pans and wooden worktops. 'She'll waylay me with a VAT registration form or something. I'm taking the afternoon off, as far as she's concerned.'
'You know her?'
'Willingham isn't exactly the metropolis, Joss, people do tend to know everyone in the village.'
'Yeah, I suppose.'
'Nearly thirty and still clueless about real life, aren't you?'
He looked over his shoulder at me, frowning.
'Are you saying that my life isn't real?' he said.
'No. But, for God's sake, don't ever check your privilege. You'd never get to the end of it.'
'I've no idea what you're talking about.'
'No, I don't suppose you do. Look, I'm only joking. I'm nervous.'
I was pretty close to vomiting, actually, and after all the pickles I'd consumed this wasn't an appealing prospect.
The back stairs were like old friends with whom I'd been unexpectedly reunited and, in just the same way, they brought a lot of memories to the fore as I climbed them behind Joss.
Chief among them was that first time, treading cautiously on the creaking boards, feeling that I was being allowed inside a sacred inner sanctum. And knowing that, by the time I came down, I would no longer be a virgin.
Joss had been holding my hand that day, looking down at me from time to time with ardent eyes. Oh, how I missed those ardent eyes.
He'd asked me at the bedroom door if I was sure. I wasn't, but I said I was.
Certainty came when we fell together on the bed, all wrapped up in each other's heat and scent, kissing as if we'd never get the chance again.
He was so sweet with me, so gentle and kind. He wasn't the same person who'd whipped my legs with a bramble, he just couldn't be.
I was so stupid, but at least I'd had the excuse of youth.
What excuse did I have now?
The upstairs landing was just as I remembered it, but shabbier. Everything had a faded, regretful look. Outside Joss's bedroom door was a recycling box full of bottles.
'Nice touch,' I said. 'Classy.'
'Fuck off,' he said, quite reflexively and without real malice, then he spun around to face me and said, 'God, sorry. I don't mean that. Don't fuck off. Please.'
'It's all right,' I said, with a little grin. 'I'll make you pay for it.'
He smiled back, but nervously.
'I'm sure you will. Anyway – enter the palace of delights.'
The palace of delights, also known as Joss's bedroom, had seen better days. The four poster bed was still splendid and glamorous, but the duvet was on the floor and the antique bedside table overflowed with clutter.
I picked my way over a discarded dressing gown and slippers, aiming for the window.
'Sorry about the mess,' he said, snatching them up as I negotiated my path. 'I would have cleared up if I'd thought…well, I wasn't expecting us to end up here. Not yet.'
If you want to know what happens in Joss's palace of delights…the book is available right now:
Thank you for reading! And thanks again, Lily!