Kathy: What book do you recommend everyone should read? Why?
Ms. Wilkinson: Phew, that’s a hard one; there are so many books I could recommend. I’m going to cheat and choose three. For the classic I’ll say Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, because it’s a moving portrayal of the joys and perils of love, and it reminds me how lucky I am to have been born in the West in the late twentieth century; Anna is so restricted by her gender and class. For a modern classic I’ll say Ian McEwan’s Atonement because it’s so clever and yet it still made me cry buckets for the lovers. And for the erotic must-read The Story of O, because it set the standard for so many that followed.
Kathy: What is your guilty pleasure?
Ms. Wilkinson: Only one? Argh! Cake, cake and more cake. Passion cake and Coffee and Walnut are my greatest weakness.
Kathy: Favorite meal?
Ms. Wilkinson: I’m pretty greedy and like most cuisine, but Thai is a firm favourite. Tofu green curry with noodles and lashings of lemon grass.
Kathy: If you could time travel, what time period would you visit?
Ms. Wilkinson: Into the future, though not too far. Maybe thirty years. I could glimpse how my sons turn out, what kind of old lady I become and whether or not to invest in Botox now. It would give me a chance to sort any potential problem areas out and lay the right kind of foundations. Not that I’m a control freak or anything!
Title: All of Me by LC Wilkinson
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Romance
Length: 302 pages
Actress Flick Burrow’s career is in the doldrums. Dumped by long-term boyfriend at the altar and nudging forty she escapes to Italy touring with a theatrical company.
Orlando Locatelli is a successful businessman. He’s rich, clever and drop-dead gorgeous.
When the two meet, the attraction is instant. But Orlando is 15 years Flick’s junior; he’s the controlling director’s son; his stepmother is possessive and destructive. He’s trouble and he’s determined to have her.
Sparks fly when a tour romance turns into something altogether more dangerous, threatening to reveal pasts, and desires, both lovers are keen to bury.
Mr Hot led me through to a brightly lit room, the light scorching my eyes after near darkness. He pulled up a wooden stool and gestured for me to sit. I did as I was instructed. Row upon row of bottles of oil, condiments, herbs and spices lined shelves that covered an entire wall. It was a store cupboard, and the strip lighting was harsh; every fine line, blemish and open pore would be visible. Inwardly, I cursed my lack of foundation once more. I felt exposed, stripped right down, and vulnerable. I shielded my eyes, allowing my hand to drop low enough to conceal most of my face.
‘Better here, fewer people. Can I get you a drink? Cup of tea?’ he said.
‘Something stronger might be better.’ I attempted to cover my embarrassment with humour. He did not laugh, or even smile. ‘Water would be great. Wouldn’t do to be seen drunk. Imagine what they’d make of that,’ I added quickly.
Through a gap in my fingers I watched him push open swing doors with considerable force and sashay out, revealing the bustle of a hectic lunchtime kitchen; he barked out an instruction in a language I couldn’t quite place. Italian probably, possibly Spanish. This was no ordinary waiter in more ways than one. He returned moments later.
Despite his blistering good looks, or maybe because of them, I wanted to get the hell out of there; I gulped down the water. ‘Thank you. Can you show me the other way out now please?’
‘It’s not too soon?’
‘I have to be somewhere.’
At the exit, he paused and looked into my eyes, the hazel fading to black as his pupils dilated. He ran his tongue over those sensual lips. I couldn’t breathe and for a moment I thought I might pass out. The attraction I’d felt was mutual; he was devouring me with his gaze; his desire was palpable. Had it been a movie, or an episode of the cheap drama I’d been in, we’d have thrown ourselves at each other, kissed passionately, before being interrupted by an angry chef brandishing a meat knife. I coughed; it broke the spell.
He leant forward to grab the door handle, the bouquet of his aftershave mingling with a distinct, very masculine aroma. I was soooo tempted, but this was real life, and my personal life was enough of a mess. He opened the door, leant forward to look up and down the street before turning back to me and nodding that it was clear. Neither of us knew what to say. I had no idea if he knew, understood, or even cared why the press were hounding me, and I wasn’t inclined to explain.
I held out my hand. ‘Thank you. You saved my life.’
He took my hand, but rather than shaking it, as I had intended, he lifted it to his mouth and kissed the back. A charge raced up my arm, exploding in my mouth and groin. ‘It was nothing. Anyone would have done the same.’
‘Thanks anyway,’ I gasped. I had to get out of there, and quick. My internal red light was flashing: danger, danger, danger.
I stepped into the street and, unsure which direction to take, turned right and walked; the skin on my hand still thrumming from the touch of his lips. I wanted to look back, and tried desperately to resist the urge. After a few metres, I gave up and turned my head. There was no sign of him.
I grew up in north Wales and now I live by the sea in Brighton with three fellas (my ginger sons and my husband) and a cat called Sheila. After many years working as a journalist, copywriter and editor of hagsharlotsheroines.com, I write fiction and work part-time as an editor for Cornerstones Literary Consultancy. All of Me is my first romance for Xcite. I hope that it is the first of many.
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