Hi Jade and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Lyon Hearted!
Hello, and thanks so much for having me!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Last year, I launched the Lyon’s Den shared world with Into the Lyon’s Den. It was my job to set up the gaming hell—the Lyon’s Den—with interesting characters. One of the people I created was the Abacus Woman—Li-Na, a Chinese woman who handled all the money. She never spoke above a whisper and every young buck wanted to try to claim her as his own. Almost instantly, readers wanted to know more about her. Who was she? How did she come to London?
Lyon Hearted is Li-Na’s story. She’s been trapped for five years doing nothing but painting in the mornings (her secret love) and accounting for the Lyon’s Den. When a handsome art dealer—Lord Daniel—sees her painting one morning, he is determined to sell her art to all the Chinoise-mad aristocrats. But Li-Na’s paintings mean a great deal more to her than just spots on the canvas. Lord Daniel and Mrs. Dove-Lyon (the hell owner) hatch an exciting scheme to get Li-Na to trust him. It starts in London, goes to a remote corner of Cornwall, and then lands them finally in Carlton House in front of the Prince Regent. It’s a fantastic ride, and I was so lucky that I got to write this story.
Please share your favorite line(s) or quote from this book:
Today was a squiggly day.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- The heroine draws her emotions in dots, dashes, squiggles, etc. It was a fun way to show what she was feeling. Hence my favorite line above!
- I did not delve into any sexual abuse. Given the way Li-Na came to England (sold to a ship’s captain by her first love’s father), there was likely significant abuse during the passage to London. But I didn’t want to delve into that. It’s too dark and not the right tone for this book. So I had Li-Na process the trauma during the last five years as the Abacus Lady, thanks to the help and frank talk of the Upstairs Ladies at the Lyon’s Den. Which means that this book became a “stepping into life” story without the baggage of trauma weighing down every word.
- The hero assumes he has guardianship over his nephew (after the boy’s father dies). Turns out, all that needs to happen to gain guardianship is that the boy signs a document stating that he wants his (evil) grandfather as his guardian. The child is tricked into signing, and suddenly Lord Daniel has to fight for his nephew in Church Court. (Church Court has jurisdiction over guardianship matters).
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
Lord Daniel sees Li-Na’s art. He’s an art dealer, and she’s painting in the Chinese way. Given that the ton was mad for all kinds of Chinoiserie, he could make a fortune selling her art. That starts the story rolling, but what he really loves about her is the way she fights for what she wants in a very different way than he’s used to seeing. As for her, well, he’s different than any man she’s ever met. Patient, kind, and with a view of the world that expands her thoughts. This book is a meeting of minds that expands them both as they discover their bodies as well.
Did any scene have you blushing, crying or laughing while writing it? And Why?
Li-Na paints her thoughts as dashes and dots and the like. But one day, she starts to draw her thoughts about Lord Daniel. What starts as a landscape becomes very erotic. I had fun imagining all sorts of ways to put penises in a landscape. That’s not what she does. Well, not exactly. But it cracked me up.
Readers should read this book….
If you like East Meets West stories. These two are mature adults. They have ingrained attitudes and feelings that need to change before a happily ever after happens. But they also have some laugh-out-loud moments and some very erotic moments. It’s a fun mix of culture clash while adults fall in love.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have in the works?
Regency Scotland! Lord Scot comes out later this month, and I’m starting to toy with its sequel Lady Scot.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Enter to win a signed copy of Into the Lyon’s Den, a connected Lyon’s Den book , or an eBook copy, if the winner prefers. Plus, receive a $20 Amazon gift card to pick up a copy of Lyon Hearted, or any other titles that strike the winner’s fancy!
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: I wanted to see more diverse characters like Li-Na in historical romances, so I started writing more of them! What do you want to see more of in your romance books?
Excerpt from Lyon Hearted:
Without thinking about it, Li-Na picked up her brush, wet the ink, and began to make marks on the paper. She thought of Lord Daniel’s words like waves, and she painted them as such. She thought first of him talking to his horse, and she drew heavy, flat waves like the grumbling she remembered. She recalled their first breakfast when she was still frightened of him. His gruff statements were short, but to the point, rising steadily in irritation when she did not give him the answers he wanted. Those were the waves hitting the boulders by the cliff face and bursting upward.
Their conversation about the goddess Yao Ji by the sand had been inquisitive. He asked leading questions, and she drew them as long lifting waves further out to sea. Her answers were the undertow of the waves, pulled into him like water drawing upward into a wave.
And then she thought of his illness, of their nighttime reminisces, and the way he made her laugh as he complained about his gruel. These conversations could not be drawn clearly. They were mixed too much with memories of his body. In the space of one day, she had gone from a general awareness that he was a strong, handsome man, to intimate knowledge of the shape of his frame, the bulk of his muscles, and the ebb and flow of the hair on his body.
She had washed every part of him. She had held his joints, stroked his muscles, and marveled at the beauty in his body even when it was wracked with fever. There was little fat on him, so she had spent hours tracing the contours of his anatomy. And she had washed his most intimate place.
What was a man’s organ except for the repository of his seed and the method by which he forced a woman to carry it? It was nothing more than masculine flesh, and yet she could not dismiss it from her thoughts.
Lord Daniel was not a man who forced himself on women. So what then was his organ but the holder of his seed? It was large and strong like him. The tip was shaped like an arrow but not one that pierced. It was smooth and blunt, as if he could charm his way to what he wanted rather than force.
What fanciful thoughts! And scandalous, too. Worse, she realized she’d been painting her thoughts as they’d wandered through her addled mind. What she’d drawn were seagulls flying across the sky, but they were not any bird that existed in nature. They were male organs with wings and clouds that doubled as veins or—
She darkened her brush and blotted out her thoughts. The ridiculous birds became storm clouds, dark and furious. She did not want to think about such things. For the first time in years, she was not surrounded by ladies who served men’s needs. She did not have to listen to their coarse discussions of every part of a man. Not just his intimate bodily functions, but the way he gambled for pleasure, or gossiped about his compatriots.
For the last five years in London, she had been made excruciatingly aware of men and their desires. Now—here—she was free of the constant service to men, and yet what was she thinking about? A man, his thoughts, and his organ.
Disgusted with herself, she grabbed the paper off the easel and tore it up. She’d had dozens of new and different experiences in Cornwall for her paint. Why would she draw a man’s penis with wings? She tore her thoughts into a thousand tiny pieces and threw them to the wind. She wanted them to flutter into the ocean to drown in the waves, lost forever. But the wind took them a different direction. Instead of toward the water, the pieces blew back toward the castle to be caught in the gnarled bits of shrubbery or trapped against stone. Not drowned then, but scattered here and there, like seeds to torment her whenever she came across them again.
She thought about chasing the pieces down and burning them, but she chanced to look at his lordship then. True to his word, he had been silent the whole time. She had assumed he’d slept because the man was never so quiet. But now she saw him watching her with a dark, steady gaze.
The tiger watches his prey.
She flushed crimson when she met his gaze. He had seen what she’d drawn before she’d blotted it all out. Did he understand it?
“A pity,” he said as he watched a scrap of paper tear free of a branch before dropping near a boulder. “What were you thinking when you painted it?”
She didn’t answer. She couldn’t.
He straightened off the rock and came close to her. “Have you ever drawn anything like that before?”
She shook her head.
“Were you thinking of me?” he asked. His lips curved. “Did I provide the inspiration for that?”
She swallowed. “I have never tended a man’s sickroom before. You needed to be washed often. It allowed me a chance to study in ways I never have before.”
His smile was slightly crooked as if he mocked himself as he spoke. “You may study more if you like. It won’t be the first time I’ve posed, though I’d ask you to make me more handsome.”
Her eyes widened in surprise. “You have modelled for such things?”
He shrugged. “I was younger then and full of myself. And I’d just discovered that erotic art sells very well.” His expression sobered. “I would be honored if you chose to paint me.”
She had been painting him for days. She’d drawn his tiger eyes, his large tiger hands like thick paws. She’d made a study of his spine and the curve of his flanks. This was the first that she’d drawn his organ though, and she thought it funny that she’d made it into sea birds.
She hadn’t realized she was smiling until he touched her face. She didn’t realize he was that close until she felt his fingers trail across her cheek and jaw. His thumb rolled over her lips as if measuring the contours of her mouth.
“How experienced are you with men?” he asked.
She didn’t know how to answer that. She had a great deal of knowledge about men, but he was wholly outside her experience.
“Are you a virgin?”
She shook her head. “Not after the trip to England.”
He winced. “I’m sorry. I would kill every one of them if I could.”
Her lips curved at his vehemence, and her insides softened that this tiger man would fight them for her. The entire voyage had been a horrible blackness on her life that had taken years for her to paint out and burn.
But life in the Lyon’s Den had softened that pain, and she could now think of it without darkness consuming her. She had listened to the women there, as much as they would talk to her. And she had learned that she was not the only one who had been abused by men. They had shown her by example that she could survive. And they had said, too, that sex could be pleasurable.
Li-Na had never felt the urge to find out if that was true. Then she’d come to Cornwall. Now she feared that it was all she thought about. Could it be pleasurable with him?
She had thought about that a lot.
“The past is done,” she said. “And I will not dwell on it anymore.”
He nodded. “You have loved though, yes?”
“Yes.” She had loved the eldest Zhong son until the moment he had abandoned her to his father’s fury.
“He kissed you.”
It wasn’t a question, but she answered it anyway. “I have already told you so.”
“You spoke of a first kiss in a schoolroom over a mathematical text. That is the kiss of a boy. Have you ever kissed a man?”
She flinched away from the memory. The sea captain was buried in her memory beneath layers of black ink.
“I have not,” she said, startling herself with her boldness.
He grinned then spread his arms. “May I offer my services, then, as model? If you draw such things, you should at least know the experience of it.”
As he stood there, his hands open and his arms spread wide, the wind blew a gust against him. His clothes pressed tight to his body, outlining the muscles of his chest that she remembered. It also revealed a bulge in his pants beneath his falls. Larger than she remembered, thicker than she’d drawn. She wondered if the head expands or just the stalk? How would it look now—how would he look when not lost in a fever.
She itched to know.
She looked back at his face. He’d been studying her expression and must know what she’d been looking at.
Did she dare? “I want to see.”
He grinned and stripped out of his coat. When he pulled off his shirt, she realized that he intended to reveal himself here and now.
“But…we are outside!”
“No one comes here,” he said. “Not even Mrs. Hocking or her sons. It’s on the opposite side of the road and blocked by the wall. But it has a good view, which is why I brought you here.”
The view now was of him as he unbuttoned his pants and then his falls. She stood there watching, her heart accelerating and her eyes wide, as he undressed completely. Within moments, he stood before her in full sunlight, his very masculine body naked and erect.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Li-Na lives in a black and white world, painting her feelings onto canvas by day and counting money in the Lyon’s Den at night. She’s found safety in the dark ink and the heavy clack of her abacus, but is it really a life?
MAN OF ART
Lord Daniel can’t draw worth a damn, but he can sell what he finds. And what he finds is Li-Na, a woman of such sublime talent that he will go to extraordinary measures to capture her art. When she refuses to leave her safe cocoon, he conspires with Mrs. Dove-Lyons to bring her to Cornwall where she will have everything she needs to paint. And if her art requires a more personal connection, then he willingly offers up himself as inspiration.
A SLOW SEDUCTION
Li-Na will not give up her soul to this powerful man, no matter how many castles he owns. She paints him as a tiger hunting in the jungle. She feels him watching her, protecting her, and tempting her until her canvas is filled with his eyes, his mouth, and his caress. But she cannot surrender the only part of her still alive. Unless being consumed by him is the only way to bring color back to her heart.
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Meet the Author:
A USA Today Bestseller, Jade Lee has been scripting love stories since she first picked up a set of paper dolls. Ball gowns and rakish lords caught her attention early (thank you Georgette Heyer), and her fascination with the Regency began. An author of more than 40 romance novels and winner of dozens of industry awards, her latest releases are the Lords of The Masquerade series, Lyon Hearted, and Lord Scot (Coming October29) .
And don’t forget Kathy Lyons! She’s Jade’s paranormal half. Check out her new shifter series Were-Geeks Save the World.