This is taken from the beginning of the book where Elspeth / Miss James our heroine, has suddenly agreed to sign the contract Blackburn, our hero, has to make her his Painted Sister. A coveted prize to help him progress up the ranks of highly influential people called The Collectors
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At the study they stopped.
“It’s not too late to head home. Pack your suitcase and scurry away.”
Her eyes narrowed, his mocking tone he knew would generate a rise out of her. “I don’t make my decisions lightly, Mr. Blackburn.”
A hum of satisfaction sat in his chest as he replied. “I’m pleased to hear it.” And he was. There were a few hurdles yet to be completed tonight that she would need some backbone for.
Leaning forward he opened the door. “After you.”
His beauty walked through with all the pride and poise of the aristocracy.
Blackburn followed her through, then closed and locked the door behind him. A quick glance confirmed the contract lay on his desk along with a pen. The contract which for all intents and purposes, would make Miss Elspeth James his.
This is taken from near the middle of the book where Blackburn, our hero, is having Elspeth / Miss James our heroine, sketched and measured in preparation for designs to be made to tattoo her body. Blackburn is entering the room after giving Elspeth time to get started and to display some sensitivity that Miss James may find it uncomfortable to pose naked if two men are in the room straight from the onset.
Blackburn gave them forty minutes before heading up himself. More than enough time for them to be well underway into the life drawing and for Elspeth’s nerves to have settled.
As he neared he heard her laugh. A relaxed sound that fluttered around him like a promise of happiness. A sound she never made for him.
His jaw tightened. He braced, like he had always braced when facing the realities of the world and they were usually that he wold never be given, if he wanted he would have to take.
Outside his upstairs parlor he stood at the door and listened, his heart, oddly beating faster than it should.
“Adam, you’re tickling me.” Adam? His body stiffened. And then that laugh again. A rich sensual ripple of… enjoyment.
Blackburn pushed the door open to find Mr. Patterson to be exceptionally handsome and with this hands around Elspeth’s waist, his cheek pressed against her soft white belly and a tape measure somewhere in the mix.
Mr. Patterson was now laughing, Elspeth had her hand on his head grinning.
Everything inside Blackburn stilled. The confirmation of her virtue not days past stopped him from doing anything dramatic. Years of training stopped him from doing what any other man from where he was born would have done. After all he was a tactician.
“Am I interrupting?” His voice was artic. “It seems I am in the wrong room for a rendering of my Canvas.”
Mr. Patterson hurriedly disentangled himself from Elspeth and stepped away.
Elspeth’s hand fluttered to her waist and then dropped. The softness in her face from just moments before replaced by a strained, tight look. The look she saved for him.
His brows drew together and tension pulled across his shoulders.
“Adam… Mr. Patterson was measuring me,” her voice challenged him to find the wrong in it. He had after all arranged for her to be sketched naked and measured by said Mr Patterson.
Mr. Patterson was at the rendering he’d done and began walking it over to him.
All Blackburn saw was her too fast breathing, the flush over her skin, the distended nipples. That soft line of her scar in the blond thatch at the apex of her thighs. Cold fury at the idea that Mr. Patterson now knew of that small scar pulsed behind his temples.
Blackburn looked at the rendering.
Elspeth shone off the page. And, it was complete, front, back and sides. An impossible task in the time they had just spent together.
“That was fast.”
“Well I took the liberty of starting at home. I know Elspeth… Miss James so felt confident to start the drawing without her.” It was clear that the young Mr Patterson was an idiot and was perhaps looking to be maimed. The thought of them as a possible couple, that Elspeth had wondered what it would be like to be the focus of Mr Patterson’s affections was again oddly flammable to his equilibrium.
“You were confident you could draw her naked from memory?” Blackburn stalked towards the young man. This was not about love or affection, this had to do with ownership and sexual access. Blackburn understood very clearly that had he and Elspeth established their sexual relationship these odd feeling would be less likely. Being possessive of his sexual partners had never been an issue for him but not having what he wanted and seeing someone else closer to getting it had always irked him.
“Oh for God’s sake.” Elspeth stepped down from the pedestal and grabbed a robe from the nearby chair. “You are being ridiculous.”
“Am I?” Blackburn watched as she covered up her skin, which by the way was his now. Every square inch of it.
He looked at Mr. Patterson who was scarlet. Elspeth, it seemed, was impervious of Mr. Patterson’s wayward thoughts. Or the implication of it.
“I just need the measurements and I am done,” Mr Patterson said.
Blackburn raised an eyebrow and shot Mr. Patterson a look that had the man stepping back. There were men in London, who for very little would break a mans fingers at every bone.
“Perhaps you could take the measurements?” Mr. Patterson hurriedly suggested.
“Perhaps you are done?” Blackburn took another threatening step towards the soft spined fop and the apparently not so brave Mr Patterson moved quickly to collect his things.
Elspeth huffed from behind him as if he was the oaf in the room and not the pandering Mr. Patterson. Well, she would be making very different sounds in a moment.
I am a great believer in the role of beauty to shift consciousness.
The impact of a breathtaking vista, the perfection of a fern frond as it unfolds, the prisms of light as they shine for the smallest moment through a drop of rain. Beauty acts on us like displays of the human spirt; which are profoundly moving, inspiring and highly charged. Beauty I feel, hits us as hard but deep under the surface. It’s like when you are in the presence of perfect form, when the mathematics align and the whole is at the same time so perfectly natural, something inside you aligns with it and starts to shift to that frequency.
Karin Weber writes:
Amid so many insecurities in the world today, Małgorzata Chodakowska uses the uncompromising nature of her works to arrive at a sense of a security. Her medium is wood. usually from uprooted trees. The wood grains from the tree trunks of basswood, pear. cherry and oak come alive and follow her as she removes layers of wood to reveal larger-than-life sized ﬁgures. neo-realistic nude ﬁgures. clad ﬁgures, and busts – a process whereby the wood seems to shed its skin. the wood itself appears to be turned inside out. The ﬁgures are a continuation of the growth of the trees themselves. sprouting ﬁrst from the earth and then ﬁnding themselves rooted within the artist and her dreams, expectations and demands. her self image and her personal experiences. Behind the daily passions which remain hidden for most of us. the artist reveals what really moves people. as she exposes the timeless beauty of the creation of a human being
Her works are a romantic phenomenon in our present time. a time in which countless artists reject beauty in the name of modernity and denounce it as a “bad habit”. And what a great mistake that is! After all, beauty is a most basic need for all of us. read more here
Naturally given what I write, I think love is a form of beauty and the body a form of art. In The Painted Heart and in the subsequent series of The Painted Sisters, the body as a canvas and a form of living art is explored. In The Bound Heart I touch on the dichotomy between nudity in art and in life, the grey zone of porn and eroticism. Chodakowska uses the human form often naked or clad in ‘the wet look’ to fully show form and shape. There is a deep seated sensuality that comes from nature, through the wood, and often encased in metal. Elemental as it shifts us into our own natures.
Tutt Arts writes:
Chodakowska lifts her craftsmanship in wood and bronze to the magical world of experience in which the balance between beauty and perfection delivers the most beautiful tension. Her angelic figures radiate an paradise type authority, intriguing and most irresistibly attractive. The suggestion of perfection, the challenging energy of an equally powerful as subdued seduction. Her work is obviously highly respected in nowadays top sculpture art market. Chodakowska studied sculpture art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (1985). She continued her study at the Art Academy in Vienna (1988). In 1991, Chodakowska completed her dissertation in Vienna (Bruno Gironkoli). She has been honored with the highly selective granted ‘Masterclass Award ☞’. Read more here.
The Painted Heart is getting another postponement I am sorry to say.
I was planning to release later this month but it looks like that is more likely March 2017.
As consolation I am about 65-70% through Painted Trust which follows on from Painted Heart in the world of The Painted Sisters. It is part of a 4 book Historical Erotic Thriller series. If my rather hectic life permits I should have that out within a reasonable time after The Painted Heart releases.
My cover designer Hang Le is busy working on some wonderful branding for the new series which I hope to share with you shortly. Below is a peek, we are still fine tuning so still largely under wraps.
I also have plans for 3 more books in The Velvet Basement series. Be warned they are getting a bit darker. I have started the 4th book in the series, it is called The Fur Heart, (a Little Red Riding Hood theme). This series is really allowing me to explore the beauty of our dark secret selves and how that is often a symbol or metaphor of something more common in life or society. The Veiled Heart had neo-feminist themes, The Bound Heart held ideas of how we are constrained on the inside by our past, the role of art, the courage needed to live your passions. The Painted Heart again deals with neo Feminist themes around ownership, self-sacrifice and how freedom often is found outside of convention.
The other books in the series book 5: The Caged Heart (a Bluebeard theme) and book 6: The Silent Heart ( A Little Mermaid Theme). Again Hang Le has designed some gorgeous covers… below a sneak peek at The Fur Heart.
Here is a Snippet from the Painted Heart towards the beginning of the book.It is at the end of their first outing which was part of last weeks snippet here.
Her heart pounded. Blackburn looked down at his clothes. Her eyes followed and pressed against his trousers the hard, long length of him was clearly visible.
Her breath stuttered. Froze.
Elspeth spun around.
She burst out the door and the balding Mr. Howard gasped as she rushed past and headed straight for the front entrance.
That blasted bell clanged as she threw the door open and took off down the street in solid strides.
Her lips burned and her whole body was alight. Her breasts were sensitive and tight against her bodice. Her petticoats as they moved over her legs were a thousand hands.
That tongue… that tongue had the taste of caramel still, traces speared her mouth in a way that felt so immensely carnal as if it had plundered her maidenhood as it took every secret she thought she had.
And there certainly would be no thoughts of the shape in his trousers. In fact, there would be no reason to think of it ever again.
Here is a Snippet from the Painted Heart towards the beginning of the book. They are about to go on their first outing together and Elspeth is bristling about the way she is being crimped and display.
What had Agatha said? ‘He’s most likely simply a self-made man eager to hide his humble or nefarious start in life.’ Which meant he was ruthless, manipulative and cunning. That he knew how to get people to do as he wanted.
Well, she was armed against that. And although she agreed with Agatha’s assessment, she added her own items to the list of Mr. Blackburn’s shortcomings.
All of that made what she was wearing unpalatable.
She was forced into one of the viewing corsets, it pressed her breasts up and out like a white dove’s chest; as if she would start cooing at the sight of him.
Then there was her hair which was twisted into some fashionable coiffure. Her face, in fact everything, had been scrubbed, rubbed, and preened for the last two hours!
The girls were gushing over the ‘romance’ of it all and no amount of counter-argument on her part was heard or believed.
It was ‘love at first sight’, ‘a passion to be written about’, a ‘Cathy and Heathcliff in real life’.
The man had no idea of the hell he had unleashed into her well-ordered, if somewhat constrained life.
She wanted to stretch, needed something more but not this.
Here is a Snippet from the Painted Heart towards the beginning of the book. They have gone on their first outing together to see if they can ‘rub along.’ It has not gone well.. however it has clarified combustible attraction despite Miss James dislike of the the cold self made Mr Blackburn.
Blackburn’s jaw tightened. He ran a hand over his face and hair as he stood there in the dimly lit landing. His heart still pounded and the taste of her coated his tongue in something far more delicious than those damn caramels. His body hummed from the chase through The Velvet Basement. It hummed with the residue of predatory elation on catching her, on pinning her to him. Every muscle in his body was wound and waiting for a release that wasn’t happening anytime soon.
Certainly not with the help of the surprisingly passionate Miss James.
The clang of the cracked bell at the bookshop’s door heralded her exit.
Blackburn straightened his clothes, moved out into the bookshop after her, watched as she marched outside into the flow of pedestrians, past the front window, skirts swishing and elbows swinging.
An odd sensation sat with him, something he couldn’t quite pinpoint that tugged strangely on the inside.
Here is a Snippet from the Painted Heart at about the half way mark. The book is about a woman bought to become living art as a Painted Sister, women tattooed into living works of art. Our hero Mr Blackburn a ruthless self-made man is measuring Elspeth, our heroine, to accompany some life drawing that will be used to map out a design to be tattooed onto her body. He was been pushing her to sign a contract granting him sexual access to her. She has stubbornly refused. He is using a range talents to change her mind.
Blackburn pressed his cheek against her belly and wrapped the tape measure around her waist.
No hand came down to rest on his head. No fingers in his hair.
His jaw tightened.
He rose, wrote the measurements on the piece of paper on the polished mahogany side table, then squatted back down, threaded the tape between her legs and round her upper thigh.
The top of his hand passed close to her sex.… his knuckles brushing the soft down that covered it.
He looked up.
Elspeth’s eyes were close. She was closing herself off. No doubt in her mind she was negating all the want that was leaking out of her every pore, egging him on.
In front of him was her soft thatch… he looked at the thin white scar he was coming to think of as his. Damn her but she could try and ignore this.
He pressed forward, curls brushed his nose, pressed against his lips.
Her shocked intake of breath made him smile into the soft damp of her folds. His tongue flickered out.
And there it was, the weight of her hand as it rested on his head, the fractional tilt of her pelvis as she moved closer to his mouth.
It’s been a while. Working to push the books out in a 6-8 month window has drawn me away from my blog since mid last year. Apologies. I’ll start to share more of The Bound Heart over the next few weeks. It is a story I was worried about publishing, not sure my readers and supporters of The Veiled Heart, would make the jump with me. Thank you…you did.
The characters of The Bound Heart, Jamie Edwards a Shibari master with some particular sexual preferences and the persistent Olive Thompson, they are very close to my heart. Their emotional vulnerability and courage I found very moving. I love how they are who they unapologetically and that they recognise that in each other.
Hereis a sexy snippet from the start of the book. Jamie is leaving his job as a bookbinder, where he gets to see Olive every week. So along with it he is stepping back from Olive… but not before he has a taste. They are in the bookbinding workshop in the attic of the Bond Street Bookshop, Jamie has Olive siting on a work table, her skirts pressed up over her thighs and he standing between them. They have been kissing…it’s escalating…
“One more taste, Olive Thompson,” he whispered over her mouth.
Those soft lips pushed against his, her mouth open, and her warm, hungry tongue pressed against his.
Long, languid strokes and he was as out of breath as she was.
His fingers worked her jacket, loosened it as they kissed. Her breath hitched as his hand slipped down her chemise and over her breast. A hard nipple pressed against his palm.
She moved forward and pushed against his thigh, her hands pulling him forward. Her breath dragged through her mouth as they kissed.
He was going to lose control.
In this moment, he didn’t care if she deserved better.
He moved her hand down to his pants and pressed her against the aching need they contained.
She rolled her palm over him, bit at his lip. All he could feel was her. All he wanted was her.
Her hands worked at his trouser buttons.
A slight shift in posture and he reached down between them, found the opening in her drawers and pushed his fingers through.
The soft damp curls against his fingers, the wet folds a slick satin as he slid through them.
Olive has gone to Jamie and their first sexual encounter is just starting.
The corset was loose; Olive clutched it uselessly against her breasts. Every part of her rushing to what he promised and yet instinct still had her covering herself.
His head tilted to the side but her hands wouldn’t let go.
He reached out, gave the garment a gentle tug from under her tense fingers, and drew it away. His eyes burned brighter. Yet there was a softness in his face, just a little as he picked up the rope.
Her eyes looked over at the door. Then back to him and the rope. If she left they would never see each other again. If she stayed she knew right now, he would ruin her for any other man. Once they did what they were about to do she would hunger for something that only he could fill, a man who didn’t do love, didn’t do sleep overs or soft sex.
A man who would eventually move on.
THE BOUND HEART pre-order 1st Dec 2015 & Release 26th January 2016
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This is from the beginning of The Bound Heart. The story of Jamie Edwards a bookbinder and shibari rope master and Miss Olive Thompson a seamstress. It’s Jamie’s last week at the bookbinding studio and he makes sure he has a taste to remember Olive by before he leaves.
Available for pre-order now and released 26th January 2016
Jamie pulled the pins from her hair and threaded his fingers through the long, cool strands. His fist closed around them just as he had imagined; and gently, he tugged her head back. Her mouth opened more with the angle. He pushed his tongue in deeper. The sound she made was not the sound he expected. It wasn’t a whimper; it was a groaning open. She was opening under him, her chest and throat relaxing for him. His cock jumped in his britches. It wanted to be right where his tongue was. Where was his damn control now? It was leaving in long sure strides with each ragged breath, each wonderful press of her soft, warm flesh against him.
This is an unedited snippet near the end ofTHE BOUND HEART….
Jamie and Olive are starting on a series of photo plates for a rope competition in Paris, one where a lot is riding on the outcome. Olive is struggling with exposing herself so publically with something she finds intensely personal and private. She wants to wear a japanese fox mask to at least hide her face.
Jamie held the fox mask, ran his finger down the snout. He was such a hard man to read. Olive clasped her hands infront of her, uncertainty filling every pore.
“Mrs Okazaki gave it to me the night you brought me here. She said I was to keep it, that it matched my hair. But I don’t think my hair is light enough for a fox.” Jamie’s eyes softened.
“We’ll it’s closer than Japanese hair is probably what she meant.” He looked back down at the mask then stepped forward and placed it over her face. Moved her hair so it fell about the mask and covered the ties. “Fitting. You’re a fox kami, a nature spirit come to haunt me.” That half smile curled up on his mouth. Her chest ached for him. Longed for the man standing right in front of her. Her mind understood, her mind even accepted his rules and the distance he needed but her heart was crying out at his refusal to let her through, to let her past the black door he had on the inside. Jamie’s hand reached out and cradled her chin, his thumb stroked over her cheek. “I keep on expecting to see a kami standing next to my bed, the moonlight washing over her soft freckled skin. She came once but hasn’t come again.” Heat flushed up her face. Her arms crossed over her chest as she looked through the eye holes in the fox mask. “You know why.” She whispered. His jaw tightened. Then he leaned down, lifted the mask off and pulled her up against him. Kissed her hard, kissed her until they were out of breath. “Don’t slip away Olive.” She went to tug out of his hold but he held her tight. “I’m right here.” She whispered “And moving out of reach.” He whispered back She shook her head ‘no’. “Just step forward.” His lips pursed and his hold loosened.
THE BOUND HEART DUE OUT 26TH JANUARY 2016
PRE-ORDERS FROM 1ST DECEMEBER 2015
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Elsa Holland writes lush, sensual stories set in Victorian England. They skirt the edge of gothic eroticism and dark romanticism giving them a rich, moody feel (which has nothing to do with the bowl of chocolates at the side of her keyboard or the pictures she chooses for her desktop). Her heroines walk fearlessly through the dark and her heroes are exactly the kind of men you want to find there.
She lives with her Viking-stock husband and her follow-you-everywhere dog, in semi-tropical Queensland, Australia.
The Veiled Heart is at the Frankfurt International Book Fair for the next few days. Wish me luck <3
Nice to see it sitting at 29 in Gothic Romance today <3
#29 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Gothic
#53 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Gothic
#57 in Books > Romance > Gothic
It will go free for the first time end of the week.