Today sees the publication of my eighteenth novel, and my third contemporary romance novel, 'Defaced'.
I've been wanting to write a dark romance novel for a while now. The genre incorporates my love of all things dark and twisty, with my love of romance. It allowed me to write the usual nail biting suspense you normally find in my books, while exploring new territories and pushing boundaries.
Let me warn you, if you've not read anything in this genre before, prepare yourself to find some parts difficult to read. This isn't a mills and boon novel. This deals with issues of abuse - both mental and sexual - kidnapping, and trafficking. But it also incorporates the redemptive, healing power of love, and some pretty damn hot sex scenes as well!
I absolutely loved writing Defaced. It was one of those books that poured from my fingertips and had me thinking about the characters while I lay awake at four in the morning. I knew I wouldn't be able to let Lily and Monster go yet, and the characters are far from reaching the end of their stories, or the paths they need to follow to heal themselves fully, so I'm happy to say this will be a trilogy, with the next book released spring 2016.
Here's the blurb!
Hidden away from society by his criminal father, there lives a man who has never entered the outside world. Now, having taken over his father’s business, he has all the money and power he could dream of, yet still he refuses to let himself be viewed by the rest of society.
Traumatised by an event in her past, Lily Drayton has a phobia of being touched. Though she helps people externally with her skills as a laser therapist, she refuses to let anyone in, emotionally or physically. When Lily is kidnapped on the way home from work one evening, she discovers she’s not the only person who keeps themselves cut off from the rest of the world.
A man owns her now—a man both dangerous and enigmatic. Drawn by his dual beauty and hidden pain, he awakens something inside her, something she believed was long dead. Brought to a room without windows, she’s given an impossible task: to make her owner acceptable to the outside world.
Can altering his face change who he is as a man, or is he truly a monster, both inside and out?
If you'd like to purchase a copy of the book, you can do so from the following places!
Keep reading for the first chapter!
The boy cowered in his room as the footsteps in the hallway outside grew louder … closer. His heart beat hard, thumping against his ribcage, and his mouth ran dry. Swallowing against the tightness in his throat, his eyes locked on the closed door.
Part of him willed the door to open, while the other part prayed it would remain shut. Though he was without a clock in his room, he knew what time it was. Every day was the same—meals brought to his room by the people who worked for his father, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All interspersed by his lessons.
His father’s lessons came with both reward and punishment in equal measures.
The door cracked open and he huddled farther in on himself, his arms wrapped around his skinny knees. It didn’t matter how small he made himself, he would never be able to resist the force of his father.
The door swung open. The man himself stood in the open doorway, silhouetted against the brighter light from the hall. The boy’s bedroom, though beautifully furnished with everything he could need, had no windows—no way for him to get out, or for someone else to get in. Occasionally, if he’d grasped a particular mathematical equation quickly or some other concept in the studies his father worked him so hard at, he’d be allowed outside to run around the grounds of their huge home, but never for long, and never unsupervised.
“Hello, little monster,” his father said. “Are you ready for your lessons?”
He lowered his head in shame. “Yes, Father.”
He knew what monsters were from the books he read—terrifying creatures that preyed upon the weak and vulnerable. Yet, somehow, he felt he was the weak one, though his father would never let him voice his concerns. But his father must be right. He knew he was monstrous to behold—why else would no other person look directly at him? He simply needed his insides to catch up with what was so clearly on the outside.
His father, as always, wore a sharp grey suit. His features were hard, but handsome, with a smoothly shaven jaw. The boy had never seen his father with as much as a five o’clock shadow. His dark hair was now almost fully salt and peppered with white, but beautifully cut and smoothed back from his wide forehead with product. The boy didn’t know how old his father was. He could have been forty or sixty. He didn’t even know his own age, though he knew he was no longer a small boy, but not yet a teenager. He’d never been told of a birthday, a way to mark his passing years. Only his reading, to which his father allowed him almost uncontrolled access, allowed him to make these assumptions.
His father’s eyes never stopped on the boy’s face. Instead, he looked everywhere apart from directly at his son. The boy knew he was different. Though his father rarely allowed him from his room, and would not allow mirrors inside the luxurious prison, he still had his sense of touch. Lifting his hand to his face, he felt the slightly raised, softer flesh which ran down one side of his face. The line where the two different skins met ran almost perfectly down the center of his forehead, along the inside of the left side of his nose, curving down his cheek to skirt his mouth and finally end at his jaw line.
Yet, despite his revulsion, his father seemed intent on his education, tutoring him in science, math, English, history. He even taught the boy about finances, the complications of managing a business—profit, tax, and loss.
He saw other adults, people who worked for his father. They brought him his meals, or supervised him during the times he was allowed to roam outside, or through the seemingly endless hallways and rooms of the house. Even now, he didn’t think he had seen the whole property. But those he encountered made him want to hide back in his bedroom. He saw how they looked at him, their eyes skirting over one side of his face, their cheeks heating, or else draining of color, before they glanced away. He sensed their revulsion, dismay, awkwardness. What was so wrong with him, only a child, to be able to cause such powerful emotions in adults? On the odd occasion, one of his father’s employees lost that sense of revulsion, and began to grow close to him—perhaps not looking him in the eye, no one did that, but patting his leg, and offering him some affection, some comfort. When that happened, somehow, his father always knew, and the boy never saw that person again.
His father finished the lesson. “You did well today. It pleases me to see you learning so well.” His father reached out to ruffle the boy’s hair, and his heart sang with pleasure. Human contact was something he got so rarely, it made him want to crawl into the man’s lap and rub his head against his chest.
Knowing such displays would be punished, instead, he ducked his head. “Thank you, Father.” He hoped the effort he’d given would be rewarded. “Does that mean you’ll let me walk outside again?”
His father’s shoulders stiffened. “Is that all you work hard for? A little sunlight and fresh air?”
His stomach coiled in on itself, retracting. He’d made a mistake. He shouldn’t have spoken. “No … I just …”
The blow came from out of nowhere, knocking him from his chair and spilling him to the floor. His ear rang, his vision on one side blurred and dancing with stars.
His father’s huge form stood over him. “The sunlight and fresh air are not made for someone like you. They will never be your friends. Daylight will only make people more frightened of you—you are meant to be one with the dark.” He reached down and grasped the boy’s jaw in his viselike grip. “What are you?” he demanded.
“A monster,” the boy whispered.
His father’s fingers dug harder, pain clutching the boy’s entire face. “Say it louder. What are you?”
“A monster!” he said, again, but this time his voice was a wail.
“Again!” his father demanded, giving his face a shake.
“A monster! A monster! A monster!”
His father finally released him. “Good. And don’t ever forget it. The moment you think you are normal, that people will treat you the same as the rest, that is the moment they will see your weakness and they will kill you.”
His father turned and left the room. The boy rocked in the corner, clutching his smarting cheek and ringing ear. His father’s words rang in his head…