Thursday, April 5, 2012

Variety is the Spice of Life

By Angela Claire

Okay, I have to admit, my romantic fantasies span a wide range of scenarios.  I can get enthralled by the notion of being stranded on a deserted island with a hot guy as easily as I can imagine getting caught in a cabin during a storm with, again, a hot guy.  I’m as happy being transported to regency England as I am to nineteenth century Colorado.  As long as a hot guy is involved, my attention is engaged.  I guess that’s why I like writing romance so much.  It gives me an opportunity to leave my usual haunts (which unfortunately involve a desk with no hot guy behind it) and indulge my somewhat lurid imagination… always with a happily ever after ending, of course. 
But I am starting to get the feeling that not everybody is so flexible.  Those readers that like cowboys…er… like cowboys.  If they like futuristic space captains, they like futuristic space captains.  You get the idea.  They may not be happy with a pirate or a captain of industry, no matter how sexy he is.  That may be why we see lots of romance writers just tackling one type of time period and hero.  Lisa Kleypas, for example, wrote historical romances for years… one after the other… good ones too … before she tried to branch out with a contemporary or two.  Now, if I was Lisa Kleypas, I might stick with a good thing for quite a while too.  Her historical novels, I believe, are more popular than her contemporary novels.  But, darn it, Lisa may just want to mix it up now and then.  She may even want to try a medieval one just for fun.  Personally, I liked Lisa’s contemporary novels just as much as I did her historical ones.
I guess that’s why my novels have spanned so many different genres.  My debut novel, Saving McCade, is a contemporary complete with wrongfully convicted tech billionaire (hot of course) and the FBI agent who sets out to rescue him.  My second, Heart of Stone, involves a hard-working, hard-loving cowboy who meets the girl of his dreams in the old Wild West, but doesn’t know it.  (He’s hot too, of course.)  In To Catch a Pirate, I threw a swashbuckler into my repertoire just to shake things up.  Jamie Banion (hot, hot, hot…) is a gentleman pirate who tangles with the woman determined to send him to the gallows.  No, he doesn’t ride a horse and his hat is not as cute as a cowboy hat, but when he gets to unfastening a corset or wielding a saber… well, let me just say he’s pretty enthralling, in my book, er, view, anyway.
I headed back to cowboys by following up my historical western with four more novels in my Colorado Dreaming series before I came back to the present in my latest novels, Executive Perks and Pleasuring the Professor. Both of those are contemporaries, but the heroes are very different. One is a corporate raider on top of the world until he meets the woman who can take him down and the other is an embittered literary genius who has turned his back on the world. Both heroes are sexy and funny and bullheaded and, although no corsets are involved, those guys know how to have a little fun in divesting a lady of her garments.
 So what is my point here other than to reminisce about all the hot heroes I have known in my lurid imagination? I guess it’s just to advise that if you’re used to riding the range or flying in spaceships in your imaginary hook-ups, you might want to try spicing it up with a little variety. Give a good old clipper ship or a billionaire businessman a chance for a change of pace.  I bet you’ll be happy you did.
Assuming the hero’s hot of course…

Executive Perks by Angela Claire
Contemporary Romance
Ellora's Cave

Virginia Beckett had always known she’d run the family business. Ivy League degrees and a flawless pedigree prepared her for it. So when businessman Aaron Winston buys a stake in her company and threatens to launch a takeover, she plans to fight him off with every Wall Street lawyer she can buy. Fight his corporate advances, that is. His personal ones, she’s not so sure about.

Aaron Winston plays hardball. How else could an orphan from the Bronx end up with a successful business and boast-worthy bank account? He doesn’t plan on letting one corporate princess’s disdain for his methods get in the way of the deal, no matter how sexy she is. Although he wouldn’t mind removing that silver spoon and putting her luscious mouth to better use.

When a dead body ups the ante in their corporate war, Aaron and Virginia join forces in a trek that leads the unlikely lovers from fast-paced Manhattan to bucolic Connecticut to an isolated island off the coast of Oregon. Through it all, they learn nothing is more deadly than desire.


Clutching her can of cola as if it might prove to be some kind of weapon, Virginia Beckett looked royally pissed off. It didn’t exactly surprise him. Most of his targets were at first. So he knew that he should stay away from her for now and let her cool off. No good could come out of any one-on-ones between them at this point. But when he’d recognized her in the cafeteria, it had seemed like fate and he hadn’t been able to resist approaching her. For one thing, he was surprised by how sexy she was in person, with dark blonde hair and big gray-blue eyes, not to mention a killer body. Full, high tits with mile-long legs. They didn’t capture that kind of detail on the cover of Fortune. It made him half regret they weren’t meeting under friendlier circumstances.
Unfortunately, he’d already dropped a hefty amount into her company and wasn’t willing to kiss off the investment just yet. He knew what he should do was present her with the solution he had come up with, or march back to the conference room and present it to her and her lawyer. But he couldn’t resist teasing her first. Something about the uptight corporate exec vibe she was giving off made him want to for some reason.
“Any price?”
Virginia visibly relaxed, smiling smugly, and stood her ground, no longer inching away from him. “Greenmail is a dirty word these days,” she said, referring to the practice of certain corporate raiders of threatening to take over a company to extract a bribe from management to go away. “Just be careful not to get too greedy.”
Aaron flashed a gaze down her body, the gray silk snug against her tiny waist and the high curve of her breasts hidden by the demure neckline.
How about fucking you? Is that too greedy?
For one terrified second, he was afraid he had uttered the crude, completely inappropriate words out loud. He froze.
Since he was still standing and hadn’t been belted one, he assumed he hadn’t.
Instead he said, “You seem pretty fond of BFD and I’m going to assume it’s not for the same reason most CEOs cling to their jobs, namely for the fat pay packages and petty little fiefdoms.”
“For the sake of the civility of our negotiations, I’m going to pretend that you didn’t say that,” she murmured icily.
For half a second, he was tempted to say, “Good, then you can pretend that I didn’t do this either.”
He’d place his hands on her shoulders and gently nudge her back against the soda machine, then close the space between their bodies, feeling the luscious length of her against him, and before she could react, he’d kiss her lightly, his tongue tracing her soft, surprised mouth. The can she had been clutching would drop with a clatter to the floor and he’d move his hand down to her ass.
That’s when the slap would undoubtedly come, probably as hard as she could possibly make it, given her mood.
It would almost be worth it, though.
He cut short his daydream and smiled faintly. Smutty fantasies usually didn’t overtake him in the presence of business associates, not to mention about them. He chalked it up to surprise at how attractive she was.
“You didn’t hear me out. I said I’m assuming you’re not clinging to the independence of your company for those reasons. I’m assuming you have some kind of sentimental attachment because your family founded the company.”
“I wouldn’t call it sentimental. I’d call it a sense of value, of purpose, that you, with all your voracious gobbling up of companies, could never understand.”
“Whatever. I wouldn’t want to interfere with that. What I’m trying to say here is that I’ve thought about how we could make this a win-win situation and I’m willing to have you stay on as CEO of BFD. That’s a concession I almost never make. And if you agree to the merger to make BFD a subsidiary of Winston Enterprises, I’d be willing to give you an ownership stake in Winston as well as a hefty cash payment. Maybe even an operating role in the bigger company if it works out.”
“My, my, be still, my heart.”
He didn’t know what he’d expected, but she hadn’t even thought about it. In his book, that intransigence made her less than the businesswoman he’d thought she was. He found himself feeling a little less warm toward her.
“Again, no thanks, Mr. Winston. I meant what I said. BFD is my family’s company. It’s the only one I’m interested in running and I’m not interested in running it with any interference from any parent company or from you. If I don’t want you as a stockholder, what makes you think I’d want you as a boss?”
“As long as you make your numbers, you wouldn’t have any interference from me.”
“It’s all about the bottom line with somebody like you, isn’t it, Mr. Winston? Not people, not heritage—”
This was rapidly getting more heated than he’d intended. He didn’t back down from the argument, though. He rarely did. He was glad a quick glance around confirmed the cafeteria was empty. “I don’t know what people you’re talking about, but if you mean stockholders, mine are damn happy, thank you. And no, I don’t have a heritage to worry about. I made what I have. I didn’t inherit it.”
“Stole what you have, you mean,” she muttered, but loud enough for him to hear it.
“Fuck you.”
It just slipped out. Forget about smutty daydreams. She had managed to make him drop his cardinal rule of staying calm in initial meetings with a target, never losing his temper. But the thought that this corporate princess with all her family money was judging him and his methods unexpectedly infuriated him. Maybe he wasn’t as squeaky clean as she thought she was, but he’d done what he had to. Done things she’d never even imagine dirtying her hands with.
She popped open her Diet Coke and took a sip. “No thanks to that either.”
“Don’t be so hasty.”

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