It's release day for Devlin's Grace.
I have a confession to make. Back in the days when I played with Barbie dolls, I never liked Ken. Ken came across as too perfect and such an all around good guy I loathed him. Even then I liked my boys a little dangerous and even bad to the bone, least on the surface. And my views didn’t change much – in high school my boyfriend swore and smoked and drove a hot rod GTO. After he graduated and I was a senior, I used to slip out behind the school so he could pick me up seventh hour while I should’ve been grading papers as a teacher assistant. We’d roar off and it worked fine until the teacher I worked for came looking for me one day and couldn’t find me anywhere on campus. Later I dated foreign students, rode on the back of motorcycles, went drag racing and raised more than a little hell. Once I got to know each of these wicked dudes, I discovered the sweet core hidden beneath the rugged exterior. It fit with the ideas gained as a child growing up in a blue collar neighborhood – real men are rough and tough but they can be sweethearts to their women. Not all but some.
So it’s no wonder some of my heroes have a defiant side or buck authority in some way. In my latest Rebel Ink Press release, Devlin’s Grace, out today, the hero comes across as bad to the bone. Here’s the blurb to offer a little more detail about the story:
When he rides out of the fog on his motorcycle, Gracie Alloway almost mistook him for a demon rising from the smoke and steam of hell. Except she's attracted to him from the first moment. Devlin's everything she's not - wild and a little wicked. But opposites attract because good girl, college student Gracie wants more of this bad boy.
Devlin dreamed up a fantasy woman back in Iraq a lot like Gracie and she evokes a side he hasn't shown anyone in years. She also dares to enter his personal space and take liberties no other woman's dared. Although he struggles with PTSD and other issues, Gracie won’t run and she refuses to abandon Devlin.
If she can just tame him and help him battle his demons. If he can teach her how to live a little bit more, they might just have a chance at a future together.
Bad boys redeemed by love are another of my specialties! Here’s an excerpt from Devlin’s Grace now available at Amazon.com, All Romance Ebooks, Bookstrand, and BarnesandNoble.com.
Just watching Dev at rest tickled her and Gracie almost dozed as she relaxed, too. Having a man sprawled out in her apartment might’ve seemed shocking at one time, but it didn’t now. She liked it. There wasn’t any strangeness about it and it felt like a home for the first time. Maybe she’d been lonelier than she knew, Gracie mused then Devlin began talking in his sleep. At first she couldn’t make out the words, just heard the mumbles, but he became restless, shifting first his legs then waving his arms. Roused from her own somnolent state, she leaned over and touched his face.
He erupted off the couch and hit the floor with his feet. Devlin stood on her braided rug then crouched as if he held a weapon. “Get out of the way,” he cried with frantic volume then he screamed, making a harsh and terrible noise. “Oh, God, no,” he shouted. “Christ, no. Not the fucking kids.”
Devlin choked and began to weep, still babbling, swearing and praying all at once. Gracie stared, shock delaying her reaction. Now she understood why he didn’t sleep much and she stood up. “Devlin,” she said, “Wake up.”
“They’re dead,” he said, still caught in the anguished nightmare. “Oh, Jesus.”
Gracie caught his hands in hers and held them. “Devlin, it’s a bad dream. It’s not happening now. Come on, wake up.”
When he stood erect, he seemed to tower over her ten feet tall. As she held his hands, he struggled against her and lunged at her. Afraid he might hit her while dreaming, something Gracie knew he’d regret, she raised her voice and used his name, the one he said he didn’t like. “Robert! Robert, listen to me. Wake up. It’s me, it’s Gracie. Devlin, come on, wake up!”
Matching dark eyes riveted on her face and all the pain absent when he slept filled them, brimming over as he awoke. His torment existed, almost tangible enough to touch and he stared at Gracie. As cognizance returned, his face shifted from agony to shame and he dropped her hands.
“I’m sorry,” Devlin said in a voice hoarse from shouting. “Whatever I did or said, Gracie, I’m sorry and I’ll go.” He turned away from her, groping to find the shoes he shed earlier and sat down to put them onto his feet. As soon as they were in place, he stood and moved toward the door, avoiding making eye contact with her. Within her chest, her heart shattered, broke the way a dropped china cup does when it hits a hardwood floor.
“Dev, don’t leave,” Gracie said. She moved across the room with speed to stand in front of the door and put her hand on his right arm. A little blood seeped through the bandage on his left. “I don’t want you to go. And, you don’t need to apologize.”
As if storm winds buffeted his body Devlin shook, trembled from his head and shoulders down to his feet. His face worked as he struggled to maintain control and misery turned his face into a tragic mask. “Gracie, oh, Gracie, I’m an asshole, a fucked up mess. I don’t deserve to be around someone like you and you deserve better. Let me go.”
Sorrow wreaked havoc on her emotions, destroyed her inner calm and yet in the dark depths of despair, Gracie wanted Devlin. Somehow she knew if he left, she’d lose him forever and she valued him enough to fight. “I can’t,” she said, simply. “I won’t.”
His ragged breath echoed in her ears as he struggled to be rational. “You should’ve let me leave,” Devlin said. “I need you. I can’t stop, Gracie. I can’t.”
His unconscious echo of her words reached her, but she paid no mind as his arms grasped her with such force she gasped. Devlin’s fingers bit hard into her flesh, holding her prisoner with an amazing strength, but she didn’t resist or even want to oppose. As he drew her into his rough embrace, Gracie wrapped her arms around him and held tight. She gripped him and sensed the shudders rocking him as they slowed. One of his hands caught the back of her head and held, his fingers tangled in her curls but despite his fierce hold, she knew no fear.
Devlin took her mouth and kissed it, his lips swift and savage against hers. He became the match to ignite her desire but even as her body came to life, Gracie knew what fueled him. He acted not with a sensual passion or even a hunger, but with need, pure and unbridled need.
His want stretched beyond any simple gratification or dream. He required her, her mouth and her kisses and her body to survive. As simple and basic as it might be, Gracie understood. In these moments, Devlin wasn’t making love or giving lust power. He sought life, simple and eternal and thought he could find it in her arms.
She realized it on a gut level and knew she was the life jacket tossed to a drowning man, the oxygen given the patient to survive, and the escape route to safety. Gracie offered herself, willing sacrifice to banish remembered death and to be the conduit to drain some of Devlin’s emotional anguish away. If she didn’t, he might die of it and she felt it, stronger than almost anything she’d known. As he kissed her, his tongue found her mouth and entered. His unshaven cheeks raked against hers, prickly and abrasive as sandpaper, but somehow she couldn’t mind, not when his extreme need roared like a beast between them.
Far from sexually experienced, she wasn’t a virgin but her few experiences, interludes with unhappy endings, were nothing like what Gracie knew now. His extreme need evoked a response within her and the passion born of his essential requirement birthed a greater, wilder desire within. She ached to please him, to take his pain and channel it back with love. As Devlin’s hands caressed her body, awakening it, Gracie gave him back the same. Her fingers touched him, fondled him and by the time he stripped away his clothing with urgency, she’d shucked her own. Gracie caressed his terrible scars, her mouth rained kisses on them and she took care not to injure his side where she’d pulled out the shrapnel.
Devlin ravished her, but with her full consent and participation. He took her the way a storm pounds the landscape, with force and power but with undeniable majesty. Even as he rubbed his naked body against hers, as his hands clutched her breasts and his mouth suckled at her nipples with harsh desire, Gracie gloried in it. He swept her with him in the turbulent floodwaters of his wild emotions and she clung to him for the ride.
“Bedroom,” she told him as their crazy lovemaking neared a peak.
Through his berserk yearning Dev heard her and they headed for her bedroom, mauling one another worse than a bar room brawl. In her pink and pretty sleeping space, he pulled the rose sprigged comforter from the bed and thrust it aside. Devlin put Gracie on her back against the soft sheets and he entered her without further foreplay. His cock rammed her hard, but she opened to him, her body squeezing him to caress, his pleasure becoming hers, too. He moaned aloud with pleasure and rocked her until they came in a burst of completion. Exhilaration exploded within and her body spasmed with a delight beyond anything she expected. In the final moments, their bodies become one force, living and loving. Such a powerful rush of physical wonder and emotional joy combined to carry Gracie to the stars and back she cried out with it, wordless and guttural.
Devlin shuddered against her then collapsed on top of her, his voice echoing in her ears. She had no idea what he said, but Gracie knew his emotion in her own and when she felt the soft moisture of his tears, she realized she’d been crying, too. Her arms went around him and held him close to her. He rolled so they could lie side by side, intertwined and close. Their lovemaking leached away his frenzy and he wiped a single tear from her cheek with one finger.
“Did I hurt you?” he asked. His voice was no more than a sigh in the night.
“No,” Gracie replied, hoarse yet happy.
“I needed you,” Devlin whispered. “Oh, Jesus, Gracie, I’m sorry if it was too much…”
“It wasn’t,” she told him. “Don’t apologize, Devlin, don’t.”
In the faint light shining from the living room lamp in the otherwise dark bedroom, Gracie watched a slow smile creep over his lips. “You liked it?”
“Well, yeah,” she replied. “I probably wouldn’t want it so intense every time but oh, yeah, I did.”
“Jesus Christ,” he breathed and it wasn’t meant as an oath. He said it with wonder, with shock and awe. “You’re a woman in ten thousand, then.”
From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I