Author: Cat Porter
Date of Publication: November 20th 2014
My resurrection, they call it.
They have no bloody idea.
Shipwrecked and lost, left for dead,
Abandoned by my own family.
Drugged and addicted.
My wife saved me, brought me home.
I didn’t even know I had a wife—can I trust her?
I know I want her.
We are two of a kind—the manipulated, the tossed off, the rejected.
Bitter disappointments, painful secrets, age-old jealousies are my new shipwreck,
and my wife my new opium.
Is satisfaction to be found in revenge or revenge in satisfaction?
One thing I do know, without each other we’re both doomed.
A sensual 18th century tale of deception, revenge, and the hunger for love and absolution.
His hands went to either side of her face, his molten gaze fell to her lips, and she held her breath. His mouth descended on hers, crushing her. She pushed at his chest and managed to tear her mouth away from his.
“What are you doing?” she whispered.
“Kissing my wife.” His lips and teeth nuzzled the line of her jaw and traveled down her throat. Heat sparked deep inside her, and she clenched her jaw to constrain it. How did this happen with just one touch from him, one kiss? For God’s sake, what was this?
It most certainly was a sort of madness. She had never felt this madness with Andrew.
“Perhaps you’re excited by the attention from all the ladies this evening?” Her neck stiffened against his hand.
“I only want your attentions, Lady Graven,” he said into the side of her throat. “Your attentions excite me.” He kissed the delicate skin under her jaw, wrapping a trail of molten heat around her. “It’s quite a combination really.” He let out a low laugh between soft kisses. “You arouse me, yet you keep me calm and even. I believe you’re my new craving.”
“You have quite a few of those it seems,” she said through short breaths.
His grip on her tightened. “I saw you with Charles just now, smiling, so very much at ease.” Justine blinked up at him. His tense fingers rubbed her scalp at the base of her skull. “I know I cannot give you that.”
“And what exactly would that be?”
“Effortless affability. I don’t seem to have it. I suspect I did once.”
“I can give you other things,” he breathed over her parted lips.
Brandon’s voice was full of dark promise, and his words pressed on her chest. But a gnawing question uncoiled in her brain, and her back remained stiff under his possessive touch.
“Yet you were all ease and laughter with Mrs. Treharne, enjoying each other’s company so very much all evening?” She rushed to get the words out before she lost the courage, before he kissed her again, for then she most certainly would not only lose her resolve, but her wits as well.
His eyes glittered in the shadows, and his one hand slid from her neck to rest against the wall behind her. The cool air stung her skin immediately. “Oh, she’s pretty to look at, as ever she was,” he said. “But I want your taste to fill my mouth.” His one hand spanned her throat. “I want to make you cry out my name. I like it very much when you do that, Justine. Just the thought makes me want to lift your dress up over your thighs right this very second and…”
He whispered in her ear how he would take her on the terrace and how he was sure she’d respond. Her eyelids sank closed, her breath deepened. Raw talk like that from his mouth only churned her blood with a ferocity, and he damn well knew it. A low cry escaped her, despite her best efforts at control, and their hips pressed against each other’s on instinct. She could no longer ignore the crude ache swelling within her, the heat prickling her skin, nor the hardness between his legs which throbbed right through her silk gown to her very core.
Her new lilac silk ball gown.
Because they were at a ball at a great house.
A great house filled with a great number of people. People they knew.
She pulled away from him, but he yanked her right back into his embrace, one hand pressing over her rear. His mouth descended on hers again, taking its fill.
It all became clear.
Amanda had aroused him, and now he had come to her, his wife, his legal bed partner, for his release.
How bloody convenient.
Justine shoved at his chest and twisted out of his embrace. His eyes flared, and he gripped her arms tighter. “Don’t!” she said. The stinging in the back of her throat inflamed. “Control yourself.”
His head jerked up at her “Don’t play games with me, Justine!”
“I wouldn’t know how, Lord Graven,” she said. “I could learn though, if you would like. You seem to be setting a fine example this evening.” His brows slammed together, his jaw stiffened.
“Brandon, there you are.”
Justine’s heart came to a screeching halt at the sound of that voice.
That voice that used his first name. Because she could. Because they had an intimate past, an age-old connection.
CAT PORTER was born and raised in New York City, but also spent a few years in Europe and Texas along the way. As an introverted, only child, she had very big, but very secret dreams for herself. She graduated from Vassar College, was a struggling actress, an art gallery girl, special events planner, freelance writer and had all sorts of other crazy jobs all hours of the day and night to help make her dreams come true. She has two children’s books traditionally published under her maiden name. She now lives in Athens, Greece with her husband and three children, and freaks out regularly and still daydreams way too much. She is addicted to the History Channel, her iPad, her husband’s homemade red wine, really dark chocolate, and her Nespresso coffee machine. Writing keeps her somewhat sane, extremely happy, and a productive member of society.
How did you come up with the idea for this story?
I’ve had an obsession with the 18th century since I was a little girl watching Masterpiece Theatre with my parents every Sunday and from a young age I’ve always enjoyed reading the classics and historicals, both romance and adventure, like the “Poldark” series by Winston Graham.The notion of an arranged marriage used to fascinate me to no end. But what happens if the husband and wife actually, truly, fall in love...how does that happen? I wanted to track that. Then I thought wouldn’t it be interesting if the two knew each other before, but in a totally different capacity and now they were being forced to see each other as husband and wife and live that new reality. There would be this interesting chemistry of being comfortable with one another, yet also living the tension within this new spousal/sexual relationship that was forced on them. I also wanted to explore reaching the point where you have to grow up and take control of your identity in your own way.
Where do you find your inspiration?
It’s this strange weave of feelings, experiences past and present twisted with evocative images or situations I see/read/hear on television or in books or in music. I make connections and then through that an idea hits me in the gut and buzzes there, that’s when I know.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I find that after the beta reading and the editor having a pass, revising is a magical time. You’re offered fresh angles, ideas, insights and suddenly you’re connecting the dots in a different way, suddenly it all makes sense on other levels, and you’re bringing out nuances and getting all excited about the piece all over again. Your characters are demanding and declaring and bleeding all over the floor, and it’s fantastic. Sometimes question every little thing too much. I often agonize over turns of phrase. Hell, I could revise forever, frankly. It’s a horrible compulsion. Sometimes you need to step away, take a deep breath, and get a good night’s sleep. And hire a proofreader for sure before you send the file off to the digital formatter!
What are your current projects?
I’m currently working on the second book of the Lock & Key series.
Tell us about your first book. What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work?
My first (traditionally) published book is a religious children’s myth, so it’s very different from “Lock & Key” and “Wolfsgate”! But the differences between L&K and “Wolfsgate” aside from the obvious- a bike club in contemporary South Dakota vs upper class society of 18th century England- is a remarkable two sides of the same coin idea, I think. In the bike club there aren’t the typical rules or restrictions (just those of their “tribe”), they live on the fringe of society and their moral compass is off the standard chart.
In the 18th century it’s all about following the formal rules and restrictions of society. People spoke indirectly and with much art about the all the stuff bubbling under the surface; it became a talent, that cleverness. In the biker world, talk is bluntly laid out in a raw, unabashed way without such rules governing behavior. In the 18th century world, there may be rules and restrictions (and bindings on their corsets, but no panties!). There is so much not said outright yet implied in their fancy speech and formal behavior, so much struggling to get through, so much crudeness and rule-bending going on underneath the gilded niceties. All that fascinates me just as much as the raw, brash in-your-face-no-shame culture the biker world represents.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Brandon, my hero is a privileged aristocrat who all his life took all that he had for granted. It’s not until it all gets taken away and he’s on his knees, that everything spins in a different direction for him. It takes an exile, a shipwreck, a near-death drug addiction, a forced marriage, and realizing that he’s lost everything through the deceit of members of his own family to bring him to his Ah-ha moment forcing him to get real. He realizes that the way he used to live his life, the way all his peers continue to live theirs, is about mindless self indulgence and game playing, which the new Brandon surprisingly abhors. The best part is that the wife that was forced upon him is someone he knows, his step-cousin whom he always treated like a little sister. Now she’s all grown up and there’s an intense attraction between them. Justine our heroine is the lifetime outsider who has her own struggles, but she’s the only one in the family who’s grounded at Wolfsgate physically and spiritually. She saves Brandon from certain death and saves him from himself. The big, brave love and vision of this quiet, unassuming young woman is his salvation on a personal and professional level. At the core of this story is the healing of two souls.
Does music play any type of role in your writing?
Music is really important to me when writing. I generate playlists for every story choosing songs according to the time period, mood, character journey or the atmosphere of a scene. I can sit there and have one particular song on replay for a long time as I write. Other times I need silence. I’m always listening to the playlist when I workout, walk home from taking my kids to school or while I’m doing housework...it keeps me in the “zone” of the story. I listened to a lot of Bach and cello music for this one and Depeche Mode.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?
I’ve traveled somewhat, so I understand the shock of returning home and seeing everything with fresh, new eyes and how that impels you to change aspects of your life. I’ve experienced a lot of death in my family and a few friends over the years, so I understand the bite of that kind of loss, the way it makes you look at everything in your life in a new way both good and bad.
What books have influenced your life most?
My first big classics, I think. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, DH Lawrence’s books, and Edith Wharton’s novels and A Tale of Two Cities, War & Peace, Crime & Punishment. The haunting, bittersweet scenarios, these strong characters who are trying their best and have these huge needs and wants for themselves, and especially the women who have to overcome such harrowing odds. Historical fiction I adored the Kristen Lavransdatter series set in post Viking/medieval Scandinavia- talk about world building! Also modern works like Henry Miller’s books recounting bohemian random wanderings and musings but so tightly written and incredibly free at the same time. Also, the “Autobiography of Malcom X”, that searing search for self and truth had a huge impact on me in college.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I really enjoy Kristen Ashley’s early work, and Shay Savage is one of my absolute favorites. I just started reading CD Reiss- she’s fantastic. I recently read a Jay Crownover novel for the first time and enjoyed it very much.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Brandon, a young aristocrat returns to Wolfsgate, his ancestral home after two years of being thought dead and lost at sea and another two years of being held prisoner by his addiction to opium. Upon his return he learns his uncle and cousin are responsible for his addiction and they’ve also married him off to his step-cousin Justine, who they are able to manipulate, in order to control his fortune for themselves. Justine, however, manages to bring Brandon back home, helps him through his addiction, and together the two of them struggle with a web of lies and deceit while an unexpected, intense attraction for each other explodes between them. The two of them both realize how much they need each other to overcome past hurts and losses and to deal with the uncertainty of their present. The desire for revenge battles with the desire for a new beginning as past loves and overwhelming compulsions beckon and blur the lines of trust and truth. Is satisfaction to be found in revenge or revenge in satisfaction? The wrong choice could spell disaster.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I want to thank my readers for their support and all their good wishes, they mean a lot to me! I very much appreciate that they took a chance on “Lock & Key,” and I hope they take a chance on “Wolfsgate.” I know many readers have never read a historical, (like I’ve never read a zombie book, for instance) but try it, you might like it! I really enjoy hearing from readers and being in touch. Social media never ceases to amaze me as an immediate gratification outlet for our enthusiasm. xxoxx !!
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
My webpage, via Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I love Pinterest!
Do you have a special time to write? How is your day structured writing-wise?
The moment I come home from taking the kids to school, I’m making a cup of coffee and sitting down at my laptop. And I don’t get up until I need to pick them up from school in the afternoon. Then after they come home and I help with homework and clean up a bit around the house (snort!), cook dinner, I’m at the laptop until midnight plus.
Why did you choose to write romance stories?
I enjoy romance because I enjoy that struggle the hero and heroine experience to be together. They’re struggling with what they think they want, what they think they need, and plenty of conflicting external drama. It gets messy, and I like picking through that real life mess and getting swept up in the bravery it takes to finally recognize and make a stand for what you really need, want and believe in.
What is for you the perfect book hero?
I read a recent article about why we love Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy so much, and how it’s because we see him become transformed by his love for Elizabeth. So true! That’s what I want in a book hero. I love a good Alpha who goes for what he wants and won’t take no for an answer, who’s hiding some dark secret maybe that he can only share with his woman eventually. But at the core is his transformation into the better person he can only be through his experience of connecting to this woman that he must make his. I find that journey of his extremely intriguing, breaking down the barriers, finally getting to the point of do or die, him making a stand and finding a new strength.
When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?
I have the beginning and I have the end. Those two are always very clear. But then many times, I have no bloody idea how to get from A to Z. That’s where the fun and the madness begins. You have to know your characters and be open to what they want.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing short stories and poems since I was ten. I was an obsessive reader as a child, and being an only child I had an intense imagination. Journal writing has been essential to my sanity throughout my life as well. It was and is the only way I could make sense of things and feel centered. About three years ago I started writing full time again. We live in Greece now and when the political and economic situation began to crumble here I had an extremely emotional, gut wrenching reaction, and I realized I had to keep centered for my children and myself. Focusing on writing again, and writing love redemption stories and continuing my children’s stories kept me sane and engaged in the positive and also helps keep me full of hope for a better day. I do it every day without fail. Like working out and taking my vitamins. No question. Ever.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It was about twenty years ago when I first got a few freelance articles published in New York City. One was in an international politics magazine (strange, but true!) and the other was in a small local newspaper. It was a fantastic feeling.
List three books you have recently read and would recommend.
I finally started reading the Outlander books this past July. I’m almost finished with book 2. Jamie...sigh. Jamie and Claire...big sigh. I really like Shay Savage’s “Transcendence” blew me away, it was so emotional and bittersweet. And the Evan Arden series, which funnily enough I never in a million years thought I’d want to read about a murdering sniper, but I tried it, fell for Evan, and was hooked in a big way. I enjoy Lorelei James’s brash cowboys very, very much. C.D. Reiss’s Spin and Ruin just now left me breathless.
Tell us something that people would be surprised you know how to do.
I’m a trained actress. After I graduated from college and worked for a few years in a couple of art galleries, I decided to make my actress dream come true and got into a theatre school in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of NYC and studied for several years. I auditioned and did the whole struggling actress thing, working odd jobs of all kinds both day and night from hostessing at restaurants to the night shift at law firms to special event planning and catering companies to make a buck. There was never a dull moment!
Will you write more about these characters?
Yes. I have plans on writing about another pair who appear in this story.