The Blessings of Ethan Blackstone

Cover image by Scott Hoover Photography. Josh Kloss, model. Cover design by Louisa Maggio.

Well, there you go.  I always said if there was more story to tell for Ethan and Brynne then I would write it.   Mr. Blackstone has been whispering in my ear for a while now, so I’ve decided it’s time to let you in on our secret.  Why today?  August 25th is memorable because five years ago on this date Ethan Blackstone was revealed to the world when Naked, The Blackstone Affair, Book 1 was published.  So, to celebrate the 5th birthday of The Blackstone Affair you shall have a fifth book.  (you are welcome)

The Blessings of Ethan Blackstone will be entirely in Ethan’s voice, echoing how All In (Book 2) was written.

Honeymoon Dating

Mr. and Mrs. Blackstone have a "date" on their honeymoon.

Mr. and Mrs. Blackstone have a “date” on their honeymoon.

~***~

“What are we doing on the beach?” I asked, as he  led me along the cool sand under my bare feet.

“Having our date.  Trust me, baby.  This is something I have all planned out for us.”

“I bet you do.  I am well aware that when you say date you really mean sex—”

My words were lost as we rounded a turn in the beach path and came out onto the shore. The waves lapped at the sand with the soothing sounds of water moving against earth.  A sliver of moon glowed up over the water, but the real beauty was the many glass jars lit up with tea lights set out on the soft sand of the beach. What seemed like hundreds of them flickering away around a pallet of blankets and pillows.  Off to one side, sat a bucket of iced drinks and what appeared to be little dessert cakes on a tray with some fresh fruit.

“It’s beautiful, Ethan.”  I could hardly speak as I realized what he’d done.  “How did you do…all of this?”

He led us onto the blankets and drew me down to sit beside him.  “It was my idea,” he began, “but I needed some help to pull it off.  Franco got it organized while we were at the party.”

I looked around behind us, imaging if the caretaker for our villa was lurking in the dark hoping for a glimpse.

“I know what you’re thinking, but you don’t have to worry, baby, Franco is not in the bushes watching, trust me.”

I laughed nervously.  “Well, if Franco is in the bushes somewhere, I am predicting he’s gonna get one hell of a show.”

“Now that’s what I like to hear.  My girl accepting the idea of a hot beach shag,” he whispered teasingly against my ear, his tongue flicking out for a lick along the shell.  “You like my surprise.”

My body came instantly alive, needing him so badly.  Ethan could get me hot with just the simplest look or touch.  He reached up and worked on the messy knot holding up my hair and unpinned it.  He was getting good at figuring out my hair.  It made me smile to watch him as he found the pins and pulled them, knowing how he’d be fisting my hair in handfuls and using it to dominate when we were deep into the sex.

“You’re smiling,” he murmured as he worked over my hair.

“I just love to watch you doing simple things.”

My hair fell free.  “This is not a simple thing to me,” he whispered, fingering through the tangled length with both hands.  His gaze grew smoky as he focused on my lips.  “It’s everything.”

~***~

 Rare and Precious Things is coming February 28th.

Preorder here:  Blackstone Affair BOOK 4

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Finally!

release dayRaine is breathing a sigh of relief and feeling like a long sleep would be the order of the day, except it is 1:00 am in the morning and I seem to have forgotten when I should be sleeping and what constitutes day or night.  Or maybe I just stay awake most of the time for the hell of it.  Just kidding…  Really, I am happily content that another book has launched and is safely into the hands of readers who tell me they like reading my books.  *big grin*  This is always a thrill for me, as I imagine it is for any author who creates characters that feel like they are real people, but especially because I created Ethan Blackstone and Brynne Bennett by accident.  I wasn’t looking for them or even thinking about their story.  Far from it–I was working on two other projects when I discovered the photo that would become the cover for Naked.  I love that I started the series on a whim and a whisper of an idea.  I often wonder what I would be doing right now if I hadn’t started writing their story.  Those two have come a long way in a very short time and I hope you enjoy the evolution of their love in Eyes Wide Open.

If you’ve been on Goodreads then you know that a 4th Blackstone book is in the works.  It will be more of a standalone story, taking Ethan and Brynne beyond the happily ever after at the end of most books.  There is so much more still to come for these two that I discovered while writing book 3, and I am eager to share it with readers.  Stories often take on lives of their own and just have to be told the way they wish to be told.  *shrugs*  It’s out of my control really.   No explanation or justification needed, merely a fact.  If you write, then you understand what I mean.blue suit

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite photos of the perfect physical interpretation of Ethan Blackstone, the sublime David James Gandy.  You can follow Mr. Gandy here: and I urge you to do so.  He is an interesting guy.  Not bad to look at either.  *wink*

 

xxoo R

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays, my dears.  Here is a little Christmas story I wrote for you.  It takes place about five months before the events in Naked.  There’s a little surprise in there too.  *grins*

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London, 24 December, 2011

The street was remarkably sparse considering it was Christmas Eve.  Probably because it was so damn freezing cold outside people were smart enough to stay in.  I know it’s totally cliché to be shopping for a gift at this late minute, but here I went pushing my way through the doors of Harrod’s in hopes of something really perfect for my aunt Marie.  I better get my ass in gear too, because I would be spending the day with her tomorrow and had nothing to show up with.

harrods_christmas_world_0810bMarie was hard to buy for because she was so unique and unconventional it was ridiculously difficult to top her lifestyle.  She also had money enough to get anything she desired.  She reminded me of Auntie Mame from the movie in a lot of ways.  From the exotic travels, to the rich, dead husbands, to the fantastic dresses in her wardrobe.

After three quarters of an hour I gave up and headed outside.  I stopped for a mocha coffee in the food court first.  I needed the caffeine and the warmth.

I strolled and I sipped and looked into shop windows from the street for anything of interest.  The bite from the cold air was going to put some color in my cheeks I was sure.  Well, at least I had hot coffee, and the Christmas carols piping out from somewhere sounded nice.  Very Christmas Carol-ish.  I’m sure Dickens would have been surprised to know that 250 years later, some of the same songs were still playing.  I loved history and it made me smile to see that some traditions hadn’t changed hardly at all in those long years.  Change isn’t always a good thing.  It spoke to strength of character when something withstood the tests of time.

I wish I could be more like that.

Some days I wondered how long I would last.  Despite my determination to be on my own in London, I missed my parents.  The decorating, and the baking, and the parties…

Well, maybe not the parties.  Parties were not really my thing anymore.   And I seriously wondered if I’d ever step foot in San Francisco again.  There was a good chance not.

Move on and change the subject–that one’s pretty worn out.

I came up to a shop window that looked intriguing.  Like a flea market or secondhand shop.  The name on the door was etched, Tucked Away.  And it certainly was.  There were tons of these small shops in London and some of them were beautifully arranged.  This was one of them.  I stepped inside and heard a bell jingle from a catch on the top of the door.

“Happy Christmas,” a cheerful voice called out.

“Happy Christmas,” I returned, to the smiling face of an older gentleman, in Brit uniform of sweater vest and tweed jacket.

The shop smelled good.  Like cinnamon.  I would bake at Aunt Marie’s tomorrow and I looked forward to that.  I loved to cook, but it lost something when there was nobody to cook for.  I felt a sigh coming and suppressed it.

scarf - hand knitted womens scarf with fringe  in alpaca wool whimsical purple blue olive green-f31382I gravitated toward a section of soft knits.  These were obviously consignment of some sort.  Not antiques.  Scarf and hat combos in so many colors.  I pulled out a dark purple set and fingered the scarf.  It felt like cashmere, it was that soft.  Probably lambs wool though.  I checked the price and raised a brow.   I wanted it.  Hell, I needed it on a day like today.  I looked at the price again and decided it was okay to splurge on myself.  It was Christmas after all.

Who in the hell are you kidding, foolish woman?  You still have nothing for Marie.

I think I was starting to panic a bit.  I sighed and kept looking.

I drifted around the shop, found nothing and eventually decided it was time to leave.  I stepped up to the counter to pay for my hat and scarf and caught the display of costume jewelry under the glass.  Now we’re talkin’.  It was very pretty stuff for one thing—vintage Bohemian fit Marie’s personality like a leather glove.  Score!

One piece stood out clearly to me and it was perfect.  A dove pin.  Silver with seed pearls on the wing and tail, a black crystal eye and a tiny heart charm dangling from its beak with a blue crystal in the middle.  A dove symbolized peace and God knows the world could certainly use some of that.  The best part was that I could picture my aunt wearing this pin.  I knew she’d love it.

I paid in a rush, almost giddy to have struck gold in my labors of gift-buying-angst.  Checking my watch, I knew I should get going and realized I still had a bit of a walk to my Tube station.

It was cold.

Frickin frigid.

Cold enough that I pulled on the new hat and wrapped the scarf around my neck right then and there on the street.  I checked my face real quick in the window of a parked car just to make sure there wasn’t something stupid looking in my appearance, not that I cared too much when it was so freezing.

I walked another couple blocks until I couldn’t stand the cold another second.  I pushed into the first place that had a door with a ‘We’re Open sign.  Fountaine’s Aquarium.  I was in a pet store.  Or more correctly, a tropical fish shop.  Worked for me.  It was warm and quite dim inside, the earthy smells of humidity from so much water made the air a pleasant change from where I’d just been.  I unwound my scarf and wandered around, stopping by each tank to observe and read the names of the fish.

The saltwater section reminded me of the trip to Maui when I was fourteen.  I’d gotten to snorkel and see some the same fish that were in these tanks.  I didn’t  know it at the time, but that vacation had been the last one for me with both of my parents together.  My mom and dad separated soon after, and there would never be another trip for all of us as a family unit.  Sad.   They had to fight to be civil to each other now.  Well, isn’t that the perfect oxymoron… ‘fighting to be civil.’

I stopped at one particularly interesting fellow.  It was a lionfish.  They are something else up close.  All those spiky fins hardly look real.  This guy seemed curious and came right up to the edge and fluttered at me as if he wanted to have a conversation.  He was cute.  I knew they were poisonous to touch, but still captivating to watch.  I bet that a saltwater aquarium was a great deal of work to maintain.

Simba looking“Hey Handsome,” I whispered to the fish.

“Can I help you with anything?”  a male voice asked behind me.

“Just admiring.  He’s really a beautiful fish,” I told the store clerk.

“Yeah, he’s been sold actually.  The owner is coming to pick him up today and take him home.”

“Ahhh, well I hope you’re happy at your new home then, Handsome.”  I spoke to the fish.  “Hopefully it’s someone who’ll spoil you with treats.”

The clerk agreed with me and chuckled.

I turned away from the tank, deciding it was time to brave the outside cold yet again and head home to my flat.  I still needed to wrap Marie’s gift and I had plans to bake tonight—some sugar cookies that I would take over there tomorrow.  It was a little tradition that we’d started and it was really fun piping on the frosting and sprinkles as we decorated the shapes.  My favorites were the snowflake ones.

I headed for the door to leave, adjusting my hat and re-wrapping the scarf halfway up my face, when someone entered the shop.  I stepped aside to let him pass and was impressed with an image of a tall person and a nice coat, but I didn’t look up at him.  My eyes were focused on what lay beyond the open door of the shop.

Snowflakes.London snow

It was snowing on Christmas Eve in London!

“It’s snowing?”  I muttered in amazement.

“Yeah…it is,” he said.

I stepped out into the white and caught the most appealing scent on him as we passed by each other.  Like some exotic spice mixed with an indulgent combination of soap or cologne.  It was nice when a man smelled so good, I thought.  Lucky girl…whoever she was getting to smell that all the time.

I went up to the window of a black Range Rover parked on the street and checked my hat in the window’s reflection like I’d done before when I’d started out.  It wasn’t really my vanity, but more that I didn’t want to look like a dork walking down the street.

The snow was falling heavier now, and I could see some flakes beginning to settle on my new purple hat, even with just the reflection in the glass.  I smiled at myself as I turned to go.

I was cold on my walk home.  Cold…but strangely content.  Snow for Christmas, for a California girl, all on her own in London at the holidays.   Something I never expected.  But I realized another thing as I made my way.  The small things in life are sometimes the most precious gifts we are given, and when you recognize them as they arrive, then you are truly blessed.

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