Hi Dani and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new releaseThe Ultimate Seduction
Hi Sara! Thank you so much for having me today. I love visiting you and HJ’s awesome readers.
If you had to summarize the book for the readers here…
Ryzard Vrbancic is the leader of a new country seeking recognition at the UN. Tiffany is trying to sign him up as a customer to her family firm of civil engineers, to help rebuild after his civil war. Except, they don’t know who the other is when they meet, dance, and spend some personal time in a nearby cabana. (wink!)
The next day she’s horrified to realize who she slept with. Ryzard is intrigued by her, and also by her extremely well connected back ground. He pursues an affair, even kidnaps her onto the high seas. She questions his motives, but because she has issues about her scars, she thinks an affair might be a type of therapy for her. They’re both a lot deeper than they give the other credit for and neither sees a future, but they’re falling for each other. I won’t spoil the end.
Opening line of the book:
Tiffany Davis pretended she wasn’t affected by the hard stare her brother and father gave her as she entered her father’s office.
Please share a few Random facts about this book…
It’s part of a series collaboration with Maya Blake and Victoria Parker.
It was the first book I had worked on start-to-finish with my current editor, Laurie Johnson, (whom I love and dedicated the book to!)
I gave my heroine the name Tiffany because I thought it sounded uptight and princess-y, which she was before her accident on her wedding day. Then I mentioned blue peacock feathers when I talk about her mask because they’re so distinctive, especially the blue. When I went looking for masks for my Masked Desires Contest, there was a mask with peacock feathers called The Tiffany. FATE!
It’s my sixth sale to Harlequin Presents.
I included a reference to Santana (because he has that delicious hot S.American/latin vibe and the book opens in Venezuela) and also mentioned a Ouija board. Both names were taken out by copy editors. I wondered if Ouija is too obscure. Have you ever heard of them?
Please tell us about the characters in your book?
Tiffany is the daughter of a senator running for President. She knows ALL ABOUT being the smile behind the man. She was always meant to marry a family friend’s son, whom she loved like a brother and thought she could make a decent life with. She was settling, making her family happy as that was always the expectation. Support Dad’s aspirations, that kind of thing. But Paulie got drunk and crashed the car as they were leaving the wedding. She’s a scarred, virgin widow and has convinced herself she’ll never find a man to love her.
In grade school, Ryzard was sent away by his parent to Germany from his country on the Black Sea because it was at war. It has been unsettled for decades, It was for his own safety, but he has felt like an outsider all his life because of that. He often didn’t have the papers to work in other countries, but couldn’t go home, was teased for being different. At QVirtus, he belongs. And when he returned to his country and led the civil war that has finally freed it from oppressors, he fell for a woman who helped him feel at home in Bregnovia again. But she died in the struggle and he’s not prepared to risk his heart again.
As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Ryzard having a past love surprised me. I didn’t know that would happen until the tattoo over his heart appeared.
Honestly, a lot can surprise me as I’m writing as I am a bit of a pantser and I sometimes just reach for something that I don’t personally expect, hoping it will make the story fresh for the reader.
The First kiss…
He was a stranger, she reminded herself, but her lips felt swollen and she desperately wanted the pressure of his mouth—
A clap of thunder exploded in the sky.
Jolted, she found herself smothered against his chest, his hard arms tight around her, one hand shielding the back of her head, fingers digging in with tension. Her mask skewed, cutting into her temple. Beneath her cheekbone, his heart slammed with power.
The claps and squeals and whistles continued and his arms relaxed enough she could fix her mask and look up. Fireworks painted the starscape in flowers and streaks of red and blue and green that dissolved into sparkles of silver and palms of gold.
As people moved into their space, he steered her away from the crowd, into a corner around a partition where they were hidden in an alcove. She set her hands on the concrete rampart and leaned back into the living wall he made behind her, eyes dazzled by the bursts of color reflected on the water as the fireworks continued to explode before and above them. The band switched to an orchestrated classic that matched the explosions, filling her with awe and visceral excitement.
Already fixed in the moment, they became one being, she and this stranger, their bodies pressed tight as they watched the pyrotechnics. His hands moved over her, absently at first, shaping her to his front. She responded, encouraging his touch by rubbing her buttocks into the proof that she could still arouse a man. When his hands cupped her breasts, bold and knowledgeable, she linked her own hands behind his neck, arching into his touch, reveling in the pressure of his palms and the thumbing of her nipples.
Dropping her head to the side, she turned her face and lifted her mouth, inviting his kiss with parted lips. He bent without hesitation, nothing tentative in the way he captured her mouth. Thorough and unhurried, he continued to caress her as he took sumptuous possession of her lips.
She ran her fingers into his hair, greeting his tongue with her own, inhibition melted by pure desire. Distantly she was aware this was out of character, but she wasn’t Tiffany. Not the Tiffany of today and not the old one either. Tonight she was the woman she wished she could have been. She was everywoman. Pure woman.
Tonight she had no man to think about but this one. She didn’t care that she didn’t know him. She and Paulie hadn’t known each other either, not really, not the way a husband and wife should. Not in the biblical sense. She hadn’t slept with him or any man.
But she wanted to. She had ached for years to experience sexual intimacy.
What scene was the hardest to write? Why?
The dance scene! Who doesn’t love a sexy dance sequence in a movie, right? I wanted to try offering that to readers and you’ll have to be the judge as to whether I got there:
Tiffany’s heart pounded so hard she thought it would escape her chest. One second she’d been slightly drunk, lost in the joy of letting the salsa rhythm control her muscles. Now a stranger was doing it. And doing it well. He pulled her around into a waltz stance that he quickly shifted so they grazed each other’s sides, left, right, left.
She kicked each time, surprised how easily the movements came back to her. It had been years, but this man knew what he was doing, sliding her slowly behind his back, then catching her hand on the other side. He pushed her to back up a step, bringing one of her arms behind his head, the other behind her own. A few backward steps and they were connected by only one hand, arms outstretched, then he spun her back into him, catching her into his chest.
The conga beat pulsed through her as he ran his hands down her sides. Her own flew to cover his knuckles, but she didn’t stop him. It felt too amazing. His fingertips grazed the sides of her breasts, flexed into the taut muscles of her waist and clasped her hips to push them in a hula circle that he followed with his own, his crotch pressed tight to her buttocks.
Sensual pleasure electrified her. No one touched her anymore. After being a genderless automaton for so long, she was a woman again, alive, capable of captivating and enticing a man. She nudged her hips into his, flashing a glance back at him.
He narrowed his eyes and held her in place for one deliberate thrust before he spun her into the dance, their energetic quick steps becoming an excuse to look at each other as he let her move to the farthest reach of his hand on hers.
She had been a bit of a tease in her day, secure in the knowledge everyone knew she was engaged. She’d been able to flirt without consequence, enjoying male attention without feeling threatened by it. This stranger’s undisguised admiration was rain on her desert wasteland of feminine confidence. Climbing her free hand between her breasts to the back of her neck, she thrust out her chest then let the music snake up and down her spine as she flexed her figure for his visual pleasure.
His feral show of teeth encouraged her while his sheer male sexiness called to the woman in her, urging her to keep the notice of such a fine specimen. He might have started out his evening in a tux, but at some point he’d stripped down to the pants and the shirt, which was open at the collar and rolled back to his forearms at the sleeves. The mask he wore was vaguely piratical in its black with gold trim and wings at his temple, but the nose piece bent in a point off the end of his nose, suggesting a bird of prey.
And she was the hunted.
Her heart raced, excited by the prospect of being pursued. She wanted to be wanted.
Splaying her feet, she allowed her knees to loosen. The slit of her skirt parted to reveal her leg, and she made the most of it, watching him as she rolled her hips in a figure eight, showing off her body, enticing him with a come-hither groove.
He planted a foot between hers, surrounding her without touching her, hands raised as if he was absorbing energy from her aura. The sultry tropical air held an undertone of spicy cologne and musky man. Reaching out, she shaped the balls of his hard shoulders with her hands and climbed them to the sides of his damp neck, sidling close so they sidestepped back and forth, swaying together in time to the music, bodies brushing.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
Dance scene, haha! No, um, probably the one where they meet after their night together. He winds up loosening her mask and sees what she’s hiding.
The scene runs a gamut of emotions from his indignation thinking he was set up, then he slowly begins to figure out her identity. She’s mortified, wants to leave, but then her scars are revealed and she’s devastated. He feels like a heel for making her reveal what obviously pains her. Plus, the whole scene takes place in an underwater room I called a ‘human-arium’. I would love to see that on film 🙂
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
Don’t hold such thick, hard shields against each other.
What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2014?
Today I’m trying to get a lot of stuff put to bed before I start traveling mid-July to mid-August. I’m hoping to clear my schedule so I only have to answer a few emails and pick away at my WIP which is the fourth book in the Makricosta series (Demitri’s story!) (If I don’t respond to comments, it’s because I’m out of wifi.)
Right now, August, I have four titles out. This one plus The Dani Collins Erotic Romance Collection, which contains Mastering Her Role and Playing The Master. I also have a Chatsfield short called The Secret In Room 823. If you like the hot books, check out all of those as The Secret has a bondage thing going on and the erotic romances are… well, erotic.
In late September, look for Hometown Hero with Tule’s Montana Born Homecoming Series. In November I have The Russian’s Acquisition and then I’ll have a Christmas story with Tule as well. Busy!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: One signed print copy of THE ULTIMATE SEDUCTION (worldwide)
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: I and my collaborators had a lot of leeway with our rules for the club. We had gadgets and computer chips, very Bond-like. What would you include in a club that offered *everything* (nothing too sordid. It’s not a brothel, lol. Just sinfully extravagant.)
As she stepped into the empty meeting room, however, she had to admit that this particular man’s world was astounding. Given the industrial decor she’d traversed to get here, she had expected more of the same with the conference rooms. Instead she was in an aquarium—a humanarium—in the bottom of the sea. Stingrays flew like sparrows across the blue water over the glass ceiling and a garden of tropical fish bobbled like flower heads in a breeze, poking from the living reef that fringed the glass walls.
Amazed, she set down her black leather folder on a table between two chairs in the center of the room and walked the curved wall, keeping one hand on it to maintain her equilibrium as the distorted image of swaying kelp made her dizzy. She reminded herself to breathe and oriented herself by turning back to the room to take in the pair of chairs on the white area rug. They faced the windows and were separated by the table that held a crystal decanter of ice water and two cut crystal glasses.
As she leaned her back against the window, the door panel whispered open and he stepped in. Her stranger.
Shock ran through her in an electric current that held her fixed, stunned.
Yes, that was the mask from last night, and she recognized his powerful build even though he was dressed differently. His gray shirt was short-sleeved, tailored close to his muscled shoulders and accentuated his firm, tanned biceps. The narrow collar of his shirt was turned down in a sharply contrasting russet, drawing her eye to the base of his throat.
She watched him swallow and lifted her gaze to his green-gold eyes.
How had he found her?
Behind him, the door whispered closed. The noise seemed to prompt him into motion. He took a few laconic steps into the room, hands going into his pockets. He wasn’t taken aback by their incredible surroundings. His eyes never left their lock on hers as he paused next to the chairs, lifted a hand and removed his mask. He dropped it into one of the chairs, still staring at her.
Barefaced, he was beautiful. Not pretty, not vulnerable, but undeniably handsome with his narrow, hawkish face and sharply defined cheekbones. His blade of a nose accentuated the long planes of his cheeks to the rugged thrust of his jaw, making his mouth appear sensual by comparison, even though his lips weren’t particularly full.
They weren’t narrow either, and neither were his eyes, but the keen way he watched her spoke of focus and intelligence.
Don’t think about last night, she ordered herself, fighting the inner trembling of reaction.
“You could have given me your name last night and saved us taking up a room when they’re so highly in demand.”
Her throat closed as she processed his thick accent first. It was more pronounced when he spoke above a whisper and charged his deep, stern voice with husked layers. Then his words sifted through her mind, allowing her first to absorb that he recognized her, but didn’t know her name. How—? The criticism in his tone penetrated, distracting her. She was rather sensitive to being called thoughtless, willing to admit she’d been quite the spoiled brat before she’d learned that even charmed lives could be hexed.
Finally she grasped the whole of what he’d said, and it sounded as if he thought she had known whom she was messing around with last night. Which meant he hadn’t come here because he was looking for her, but because…
Oh. My. God.
“Ryzard Vrbancic?” she managed faintly. Please no.
His gorgeous mouth twisted with ironic dismay. “As you can see. Who are you?”
“I’m about to make you an offer you can’t refuse.”
Tiffany Davis takes her first delicious step into the exclusive masquerade ball hosted by the secretive Q Virtus gentleman’s club. Here, behind the mask, Tiffany can hide her scars and reveal her true self—a powerful businesswoman with an offer for the president of Bregnovia, Ryzard Vrbancic.
Astounded by her audacity, only the fire in Tiffany’s eyes makes Ryzard look twice. He has no interest in her business deal, but the promise of a woman who can match his ruthless determination makes him eager to seduce from her the one thing she’s not offering….
After a brilliant debut in the UK with No Longer Forbidden, a Mills & Boon Modern Book Of The Month January 2013, Dani’s first Harlequin Presents, Proof Of Their Sin, won the Reviewer’s Choice by Romantic Times Book Reviews for Best First In Series. While her focus is Harlequin Presents, Dani also writes romantic comedy, medieval fantasy, and coming August of 2014, erotic romance. Whatever the genre, she always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.
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Please also check out The Dani Collins Masked Desires Contest for a chance to win the masquerade masks and a second chance at The Ultimate Seduction (N.America only). http://danicollins.com/contest/masked-desires-contest