Dear wonderful readers,
It’s that time! The Wicked, My Love book release world tour. Yay!
We are playing a wicked little game for this release called Kiss, Marry or Kill. Bloggers give me the names of fictional characters or celebrities, and I decide if I will kiss, marry, or 86 them. I’ll be posting each blog stop here and on my Facebook page and Twitter. There will be many chances to win a copy of Wicked, My Love. So have some fun and play the game along with me!
But that’s not all! I’m touring with the Enemies to Lovers Tour, which features the amazingly talented Bec McMaster, Kristen Callihan, and Sara Humphreys. We’re hopping around the web, talking about what makes the Enemies to Lovers trope so fun to write and read.
If you need a little break (and laugh) in your day, check out the prologue to Wicked, My Love posted below.
Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to chatting at one of the tour spots.
———- Wicked, My Love excerpt ———–
Nine-year-old Viscount Randall gazed toward Lyme’s coast but didn’t see where the glistening water met the vast sky. He was too lost in a vivid daydream of being all grown-up, wearing the black robes of the British prime minister, and delivering a blistering piece of oratorical brilliance to Parliament about why perfectly reasonable boys shouldn’t be forced to spend their summer holidays with jingle-brained girls.
“You know when your dog rubs against me it’s because he wants to make babies,” said Isabella St. Vincent, the most jingled-brained girl of them all, interrupting his musings.
The two children picnicked on a large rock as their fathers roamed about the cliffs, searching for ancient sea creatures. Their papas were new and fast friends, but the offspring were not so bonded, as evidenced by the line of seaweed dividing Randall’s side of the rock from hers.
“All male species have the barbaric need to rub against females,” she continued as she spread strawberry preserves on her biscuit.
She was always blurting out odd things. For instance, yesterday, when he had been concentrating hard on cheating in a game of whist in hopes of finally beating her, she had piped up, “Do you know the interest of the Bank of England rose by a half a percentage?” Or last night, when she caught him in the corridor as he was trying to sneak a hedgehog into her room in revenge for losing every card game to her, including the ones he cheated at. “I’m going to purchase canal stocks instead of consuls with my pin money because at my young age, I can afford greater investment risks,” she’d said, shockingly oblivious to the squirming, prickly rodent under his coat.
Despite being exactly one week younger than he was, she towered over him by a good six inches. Her legs were too long for her flat torso. An enormous head bobbled atop her neck. Her pale skin contrasted with her thick, wiry black hair, which shot out in all directions. And if that wasn’t peculiar enough, she gazed at the world through lenses so thick that astronomers could spot new planets with them, but she needed them just to see her own hands. Hence, he took great glee in hiding them from her.
“You’re so stupid.” He licked fluffy orange cream icing from a slice of cake. “Everyone knows babies come when a woman marries a man, and she lies in bed at night, thinking about yellow daffodils and pink lilies. Then God puts a baby in her belly.” He used an exaggerated patronizing tone befitting a brilliant, powerful viscount destined for prime ministership—even if “viscount” was only a courtesy title. Meanwhile, Isabella was merely a scary, retired merchant’s daughter whom no one would ever want to marry. And, after all, a female’s sole purpose in life was to get married and have children.
“No, you cabbage-headed dolt,” she retorted. “Cousin Judith told me! She said girls shouldn’t be ignorant about the matters of life.” Isabella’s Irish mother had died, so Cousin Judith was her companion. Randall’s mama claimed that Judith was one of those “unnatural sorts” who supported something terrible called “rights of women.” He didn’t understand the specifics, except that it would destroy the very fabric of civilized society. He would certainly abolish it when he was prime minister.
“Judith said that for a woman to produce children, she, unfortunately, requires a man.” Isabella’s gray eyes grew into huge round circles behind her spectacles. “That he, being of simple, base nature and mind, becomes excited at the mere glimpse of a woman’s naked body.”
He was about to interject that she was wrong again—girls were never right—but stopped, intrigued by the naked part. Nudity, passing gas, and burping were his favorite subjects.
“Anyway, a man has a penis,” she said. “It’s a puny, silly-looking thing that dangles between his limbs.”
He gazed down at the tiny bulge in his trousers. He had never considered his little friend silly.
“When a man sees the bare flesh of a woman, it becomes engorged,” she said. “And he behaves like a primitive ape and wants to insert it into the woman’s sacred vagina. My cousin said that was the passage between a woman’s legs that leads to the holy chamber of her womb.”
“The what?” Where was this holy chamber? He was suddenly overcome with wild curiosity to see one of these sacred vaginas.
“Judith said the man then moves back and forth in an excited, animalistic fashion for approximately ten seconds, until he reaches an excited state called orgasm. Then he ejaculates his seed into the woman’s bodily temple, thus making a baby.”
His dreams of future political power, the shimmering ocean, fluffy vanilla-orange icing, and a prank on Isabella involving a dead, stinking fish all seemed unimportant. He gazed at his crotch and then her lap—the most brilliant idea he ever conceived lighting up his brain. “I’ll show you my penis if you show me your vagina.” He flashed his best why-aren’t-you-just-an-adorable-little-thing smile, which, when coupled with his blond hair and angelic, bright blue eyes, charmed his nannies into giving him anything he wanted. However, his cherubic looks and charm didn’t work on arctic-hearted Isabella.
“You idiot!” She flicked a spoonful of preserves at his face.
“You abnormal, cracked, freakish girl!” he cried. “I only play with you because my father makes me.” He smeared her spectacles with icing. In retaliation, she grabbed her jar of lemonade and doused him.
When their fathers and nurses found them, she was atop the young viscount, now slathered in jam, icing, mustard, and sticky lemonade, pummeling him with her little fists.
Mr. St. Vincent yanked his daughter up.
“She just hit me for no reason,” Randall wailed, adopting his poor-innocent-me sad eyes. “I didn’t do anything to her.”
“Young lady, you do not hit boys,” her father admonished. “Especially fine young viscounts. You’ve embarrassed me again.”
“I’m sorry, Papa,” Isabella cried, bereft under her father’s hard gaze. Humiliation wafted from her ungainly body and Randall felt a pang of sympathy, but it didn’t diminish the joy of knowing she had gotten in trouble and he hadn’t.
The Earl of Hazelwood placed a large hand on the back of Randall’s neck and gave his son a shake. “Son, we didn’t find any old sea creatures, but Mr. St. Vincent has come up with a brilliant idea to help our tenants and provide a dependable monthly income.” He turned to his friend. “We are starting the Bank of Lord Hazelwood. Mr. St. Vincent and I will be the major shareholders and we will add another board member from the village.”
Even as a small child, Randall had an uneasy, gnawing feeling in his gut about this business venture that none of Mr. St. Vincent’s strange terms, such as financial stabilization, wealth building, or reliable means for tenant borrowing and lending, could dissuade. He was never going to get rid of that rotten Isabella.
Through the years, he and she remained like two hostile countries in an uneasy truce; a lemonade-throwing, cake-splatting war could break out at any moment. Randall would indeed follow his path to political fame, winning a seat in Parliament after receiving a Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s College, Cambridge. He basked in the adoration of London society as the Tory golden boy. To support Randall’s London lifestyle, the Earl of Hazelwood signed over a large amount of the bank’s now quite profitable shares to his son.
He came home from Parliament when he was twenty-three to witness Isabella standing stoic and haunted with no black veil to hide her pale face from the frigid January air as they lowered her father into the frozen earth. Having no husband, she inherited her father’s share in the bank and began to help run it. The two enemies’ lives would be hopelessly entwined through the institution born that fateful day in Lyme, when Randall learned how babies were made.
For the next five years, bank matters rolled along smoothly. Then the board secretary passed away unexpectedly, leaving his portion to his young bachelor nephew, Mr. Anthony Powers.