Romantic suspense novelist, Jessica Lauryn, returns to "Open Mic Monday" with a DANGEROUS PROPOSITION...and a giveaway of a beautiful bracelet (see picture below post). Yeah, that's right--fun post, great excerpt AND bling! It's your lucky day. Welcome, Jessica!
Thank you, Amber! I’m very excited to be back on Kisses, Caresses and Whispers in the Dark! In my last post, I talked about The Pinnacles of Power Series, and mentioned how the heroes—Ryan, Alec, Colin, Lucas and Jack—must battle against their obsessions for power as they struggle to become the heroes they are destined to be. The desire to have power can be very tempting, and even the greatest hero is capable of struggling with his own desire to maintain power, and amass it. Today I’d like to talk about power in greater detail, and how it plays a common theme in romance novels today.
The heroes in my past releases—Alec and Lucas—have already begun to let go of their appetites for power as their stories begin. Alec Westwood, now a small-town doctor as Dangerous Proposal kicks off, has been fighting to step out of the shadow of his overbearing, older brother Colin for most of his life. At nineteen, in an attempt to show Colin up once and for all, Alec accepts an assassin mission, which he runs from before completing the kill. Lucas Ramone, hero in Dangerous Ally and former villain in some of my other stories, has been living in isolation for years, and consequently has had a long opportunity to let go of his appetite for power before his book begins.
Now, let’s look at Colin Westwood, Alec’s older brother and Lucas’s former partner, hero in my latest release, Dangerous Proposition. Unlike his predecessors, Colin’s appetite for power is at its peak when his story begins. He is now the sole chief operator of the series’ core focus group, Project Gemstone. And upon learning that one of his top recruits is missing in action, he keeps all knowledge and leads regarding his whereabouts to himself, even when the man’s daughter, heroine Julia Dyson enters the picture. Julia suspects that Colin is sitting on something big, but Colin doesn’t falter, no matter how attractive he thinks she is. He refuses to tell Julia the truth, and instead, makes her an offer that he believes will satisfy her curiosity (and his desires) while keeping all of the cards in his hands. He asks Julia to come to New York with him, and search for her missing father—as his mistress.
According to the Wikipedia, in politics and social science, power is the ability to influence the behavior of people. This definition makes perfect sense, when you think about it. In everything we do, there is a power structure in place—in business, in government, in family dynamics, in life. It is no wonder that is it so tempting to heroes—and heroines—to try and amass as much power as they can. And it is often very interesting to see how a person, or character, will deal with their obsession for power when they are hit on the head by one of life’s greatest curve balls—finding true love.
Since love is the central theme in all of our romance novels, there must be an equally (or almost equally) opposing force to challenge it. We writers often refer to that force as conflict. Conflict (which is synonymous with antagonism or opposition) is what sustains the plot of the romance novels we love, by presenting our characters, namely the hero and heroine, with challenges they will have to overcome before they can live happily ever after. Conflict is often internal as well as external, and it is more than likely that on some level, internal conflict will have something to do with a character’s personal struggle for power.
Sometimes a character may struggle with re-establishing power over their own life, like Lena Benson, heroine in Dangerous Proposal, who struggles to remain hidden from her maniacal fiancé. Other times, like with Colin Westwood, they are trying to maintain their own power, as well as establish power over others. Or, as is the case with Raphael Ramone, (villain in Dangerous Ally) and other villains/former villains, they may be trying to amass as much power as possible, and establish it over everything and everyone they cross.
The quest for power is one that will probably never be satisfied—in books or in real life—no matter how much time passes. But fortunately for those of us who love romance, this theme provides us with an endless variety of stories to tell and enjoy. After all, what could be more satisfying than reading about a hero who faces his demons, conquers them, and gains the true love he has been unknowingly seeking all along?
As he stepped into the hotel elevator, Colin loosened his hold on Julia. She was clearly terrified, but he didn’t suppose he was going to help her any by crushing her to death. Wincing at the sight of her tearstained face, he pressed the button for the second floor.
The elevator doors closed and he retightened his hold on her. He stroked her back, which was the same thing he had been doing for most of the ride there.
He sincerely hoped it was helping. Julia had stopped shaking, but her lack of chatter indicated that she was still very much in shock. Though he imagined any woman would have been in shock, had she just been held in a room against her will.
Only, Julia Dyson wasn’t any woman. She was as courageous and headstrong a person as he had ever known. Which was why it was worrying him so much that she hadn’t yet snapped out of her trance.
Maybe Dylan Rossler had done something to her. Maybe the bastard had hurt her, or worse, maybe he’d taken her against her will. So help that prick if he had touched one hair on Julia’s head…
Keeping Julia firmly within the groove of his arm, Colin stepped inside the hotel room and flicked on the light switch. After shutting the door, he double-bolted it behind them.
Short of a pale complexion, Julia didn’t appear to be injured. At least, it didn’t look as though she had any bruises. But he knew he wouldn’t feel better until he saw this for himself. Though it was completely unethical, he had half a mind to give her a physical. And if he actually believed he could perform one on her and control himself, he would do just that.
He led a trembling Julia to the bed. Looking into her tearful eyes, he knelt beside her, cupping her cheek. It killed him seeing her like this, killed him even more knowing that he was completely to blame.
Speaking as gently as he could manage, he said, “You’re safe now. It’s all right, sweetheart. You’re safe. I’m right here—no one’s coming after us. No one’s going to hurt you ever again.”
Julia nodded, but she said nothing, causing him to have a horrifying realization. Maybe something had happened between her and Dylan Rossler in that room. She’d been dressed when he found her, but that didn’t mean she hadn’t put her clothes back on afterward, or that Rossler had bothered to remove them at all.
Feeling as though he were on the brink of an explosion, Colin said, “Did that guy—I mean—Dylan Rossler didn’t…you and he didn’t—”
“Of course not! Holy crap, Westwood. What kind of girl do you think I am?”
“One who clearly has a death wish,” Colin muttered under his breath.
“Me?” Julia exclaimed. “I went over there to save your ass. Not the other way around.”
“Which you were obviously doing a phenomenal job with while you were locked inside that bedroom.”
Her chin squared. “You may have been the one to kick the door down, but I would have gotten out of that room with or without your help.”
“If you really believe that, Julia, then you really are naïve. Do you realize what Dylan Rossler would have done if I hadn’t gotten there when I did? Allow me to clue you in, since you’re obviously not aware. Because it’s the same thing every other red-blooded bastard at that party wanted to do to you!”
“You mean”—she bit her lip—“that he—”
“Was planning on having sex with you? Of course, Julia. Of course those guys thought you were sexy, of course Dylan Rossler wanted to have sex with you! I’m not blind. I can see what’s right in front of me. Any man at that party who didn’t want you was either gay or in a drunken coma!”
Her blue eyes narrowed, and Colin bit his tongue. He hadn’t intended to say all that out loud. Hadn’t intended to say any of it, in fact. But he was glad it had happened because he was done holding back.
There was something between him and Julia. A need that ran deep and had been building since that night in his bed. Sometimes it seemed as if it had been longer, particularly at moments such as this when he wanted nothing more than to toss her onto the bed, rip off that damned cocktail dress she was wearing, and sample every last inch of her skin.
He’d wanted to keep his desires to himself, wanted to keep things simple between them. The complications they were risking were great, and God knew he hated the idea that he might be taking advantage of Julia when her father was missing. But right now, he couldn’t seem to think about those things. And after everything they’d been through tonight, he was no longer sure that holding back was going to be possible.
“Does ‘every other red-blooded bastard’ include you?” Julia asked, blinking her blue eyes furiously.
Colin took a staggered breath. Narrowing his gaze, he approached her with two hastened steps. “If you didn’t want me to behave like a red-blooded bastard, Julia,” he whispered, “then, you shouldn’t have worn this dress.”
In the course of one disastrous evening, diamond smuggling kingpin Colin Westwood learns that his best recruit is missing in action, and that the man has been keeping a secret for years—he has a twenty six year old daughter. Determined to protect his identity, Colin vows to find the young woman, and keep her silent at any cost. Intrigued to learn that she is actually the attractive woman he kissed, he makes Julia an offer. Come to New York City with him to search for her missing father…as his mistress.
When Julia Dyson learns her father has been abducted, she believes his hidden profession may be to blame. But when she discovers a man’s name in her Dad's caller history, a man suspected of shady business activity and also her teenage crush, she decides to take matters into her own hands. She confronts her father's presumed abductor, resulting in an unforgettable kiss, and his offer of a dangerous proposition indeed.
Though becoming Colin’s mistress could very well be her undoing, Julia must choose—give in to her desires, or protect her already-broken heart…
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