Royal Watching with Sharon Buchbinder

He was the reluctant heir to the throne of a desert kingdom.

She was a virgin queen living far away in the south.

A little bird told him of her beauty–he had to meet her.

A traveling merchant told her of his wisdom–she had to meet him.

Something greater than either of them conspired to bring them together. When they met, could there be any doubt they were meant for each other? But would duty to country prevail over their pledge to one another? Only time and love would tell.

Sound like the stuff of romance novels? Yes, this was a romance writ large because it was an affair of state and royalty. And these characters appear in no less than four holy books: the Ta Nakh, the Koran, the King James Bible and the Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings).

In Biblical times, he who could kill or overcome enemy tribes became king. With lots of children and careful planning, his heirs would succeed him. But not all countries had the same traditions. In some parts of the world, women ruled by might or by right to the throne. For the royals, marrying and having children was an affair of state. Right up until recent times, it was not uncommon for the royalty of different lands to marry for the mutual benefit of their countries. In our modern era, heads of state and heirs to thrones have been granted the freedom to marry whom they choose–within reason.

Millennia before Prince William and Kate Middleton’s time on the world stage, people have been royal watchers. Some watched to see if they were in favor and able to gain, others to see if they were out of favor and about to lose–their heads! Still others watched because it was simply the best show in town.  So when the royalty of Israel met the royalty of Sheba, all eyes were upon them. Based on the appearance of these two royals in no less than four world religions, no one could resist watching the wise King Solomon and the beautiful Queen Makeda.

In researching my work-in-progress, Kiss of the Virgin Queen, I, too, have become a royal watcher–from a distance of over three thousand years.  My historical voyeurism has taken me down a circuitous path across time and cultures to their mythic romance.  Destinies entwined, some would say the Makeda/Solomon romance was beshert.

With construction on the first Temple well underway by the time King Solomon greeted the extravagantly generous Queen of Sheba,* he already had seven hundred (700) wives and three hundred (300) concubines. By marrying princesses of rival kingdoms, he had built an extraordinary alliance and ensured the safety of the trading routes. Curious about the man behind the legend, Queen Makeda traveled fifteen hundred (1500!) miles from Ethiopia to meet the wisest man on earth–and to ask him “hard questions.” When they met, the Queen was “left breathless by Solomon’s magnificence” (Coogan, Brettler, Newsom, & Perkins, 2001, pp. 508). The attraction was mutual–but there was nothing they could do about it. Or was there? The eyes of the world were upon them.

What do you think happened between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba?

While you’re thinking about a response and waiting for me to finish this epic romance, here’s an excerpt from KISS OF THE SILVER WOLF in KILLER KISSES

Prologue: The Hunt

He leaned down on his front paws, relieved the kinks in his back, and shook out his thick coat. Beneath the cold air, a hint of spring tantalized his senses. Under the moist leaves, between the tree roots, alongside the chortling streams, the sleeping earth mother stretched her legs and wiggled her toes too. He gazed at the pearl white moon as she rose on the horizon, full and iridescent in the February sky. Only a few days left to enjoy this part of his life.

Time for a run. He began to trot, then broke into a long easy gait, loping around the perimeter of his territory, through trees and winter-bare brush. He picked his way across a snow-melt-swollen stream, past massive rock formations and darkened houses, enjoying the feel of his muscles as they kept pace with his pounding heart. This was what it felt like to be alive.

Too soon he reached the asphalt and the end of his fun. Panting, he turned away from the road and walked at a slow easy pace, back to the pack’s meeting place. Time to speak to the Old One about the future. Midnight runs no longer suppressed his primal feelings, the visceral urge he felt when the full moon rose.

Each month, the call to mate was stronger—irresistible as the pull of the moon on the oceans—and on him. The females in the pack were off limits, bonded forever to their soul mates. Besides, their scents didn’t arouse him. No, the one he wanted was far away, almost an unattainable being. The moment he saw her smoky-eyed image, he knew she was The One. Often when he was alone at night, he gave into his dark urges and fantasized about holding her and making her his own. But in the morning, he was still alone, his dream-mate a dust mote on a sunbeam. He shook his head to clear his thoughts and stepped into the apple orchard.

Half-hidden in shadows beneath the moonlight dappled trees, the Old One nodded his head, a knowing glint in his bright orange eyes. The younger male trotted over to him and bowed his head. Half a dozen adolescents tumbled over and around the Old One, bit his gray ears, and nipped his toes. When the smaller ones looked up and saw the younger male, they yipped, hobbled over to him, and threaded between his legs. The Old One’s mouth opened in a grin, and his tongue lolled.

The younger male fell to the ground, rolled on his back, and the six pups leaped on his belly. He chuffed and pawed at them, cuffing each one lightly. He enjoyed the role of honorary Uncle, but what he really wanted was his own pups to play with. After a few minutes, he gave a great sigh and flipped onto his belly. The little ones seemed to sense his change in mood and hobbled off to play with sticks.

He locked gazes with the Old One. When will I have my own mate? It’s not enough for me to watch the little ones play.

The Old One winked and nodded. My job is to preserve the pack, to keep our people alive. I have chosen your mate. You know who she is. You have my oath.

The younger male shook his head. You didn’t answer my question. When? When do I get my mate and become Pack Leader?

The Old One leaped to his feet, glared at the younger one, and growled a deep throaty roar that belied his age. You dare to question me? Me? The one who saved you? Is that how you show your gratitude?

The younger male put his ears down and lowered his head, his nose touching the ground. Forgive me. I’m—I’m so lonely. My heart aches for a loving mate and my own pups. Every moon the urge gets stronger, the hunger greater.

The Old One came closer, grabbed the back of the younger male’s neck with his teeth. The large signet ring on his iron necklace clanked as he gave the upstart a small shake. The time is coming near. I promise. You will—

The unmistakable crack of a rifle sounded in the distance.

The Old One’s mate barked out orders to the other females. Grab the pups. Get them home. Hurry, hurry.

The younger male found a straggler hobbling along as fast as his legs permitted. He lifted him by the scruff of the neck. C’mon, little one. I’ve got you. You’re safe now.

A second shot rang out closer by.

The little one whimpered and shuddered in his grip. Please don’t let the hunters kill me, Uncle Zack. Please?

****

“I told you to hold your fire!” Special Agent Eliana Solomon stood by the abandoned mine and drummed her fingers on the butt of her Sig Sauer.

“Sorry, SirMa’am…I thought I saw a wolf in my night scope.” The newbie looked downward as she glared at him.

“This isn’t a hunting trip with your buddies. It’s an active operation and I’m in command. One more shot and I’m taking your rifle away from you. Got it?”

He gulped, clutched his weapon, and nodded. “Yes, Ma’am.”

She had asked for experienced soldiers; instead they sent a bunch of green boys. She understood the Middle East took precedence, but didn’t the Army get the concept of domestic terrorists?

The mission of Project Aladdin was to find jinn, the portals where they came through from a parallel dimension and to shut the gateways down. Contrary to popular TV images of a pretty girl in a bottle, the jinn, or genies, were not nice. Powerful shape shifters, they hated humans and wanted to take over the world. If a terrorist ever found a way to conjure and command even one jinni, the world would never know what hit it.

Despite her obsession and round the clock investigations, she’d been unable to make any progress. With her evaluation coming at the end of the month, she had to find something. Otherwise, she’d be exiled to a desk and spend the rest of her professional life analyzing emails. She shuddered at the thought of death by tedium and twisted the heavy signet ring on her left hand.

Strange energy signatures had been seen on satellite images of this area and identified as the type associated with jinn. The abandoned mine was the logical place for a portalbut so far the scout they’d lowered down into the shaft hadn’t reported anything. She glanced at her watch. He’d been silent for twenty minutes. He was supposed to be reporting in on the quarter hour.

Mouth dry, she keyed her radio. “What’s going on down there?”

Static.

“Hello. Can you read me?”

A long burst of static was followed by garbled voices. A man screamed.

She wheeled on the pale-faced young corporal holding a rope. “Get him out of there!”

He leaned back and grunted, red-faced with exertion. “Something’s wrong, Ma’am!”

She raced behind him, screaming at the stricken-looking young men huddling together. “Get over here. Help us get him out.”

Three of them put their backs into the effort, finally bringing the scout up into view. Limp-limbed, the young man’s head lolled back, his camouflage uniform covered in blood. They hauled him onto the ground and rolled him over.

A soldier held a flashlight as Eliana pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his face off. Something was on his forehead. She dabbed at it and stopped. The words burned into the man’s forehead told her all she needed to know. She stood on shaky legs.

Bug eyed, the corporal turned to her. “What is it? What’s it mean?”

She chose her words with care. “It’s Hebrew. It says: GET OUT.”

She flexed her fist and rubbed the heavy signet ring inscribed with pentacles and letters from an ancient language. She was going to need help from a source that some people said didn’t even exist.

 

PS: If you are interested in reading more the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, here are some books for you.

Budge, W. (Translator). (2007). The Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings). Lexington, KY: Silk Pagoda.

Clapp, N. (2001). Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen. New York, NY: First Mariner Books.

Coogan, M.D., Brettler, M.Z., Newsom, C.A.,  & Perkins, P. (Eds.). (2001). Kings 10:1-13 in The New Oxford Annotated Bible. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, p. 508-509.

Fraser, A. (2004). The Warrior Queens. New York, NY: Anchor Books.

Razwy, S.A.A. (Ed.) & Ali, A. Y. (Translator).  (2009). The Qur’an Translation. Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile.

 

Prescription for Change

In my novella, An Inn Decent Proposal, which appears in my anthology, KILLER KISSES, the heroine, a gourmet chef who wants her own kitchen, and hero, an ambitious hotelier, have an opportunity to bid on a rundown inn and restore it to its previous glory. Along the rock-strewn way to achieving this goal, they discover they need to make some changes in themselves, too, in order to achieve their happily ever after.

After a frenzied year of work and leisure activities, including over-scheduled vacations, exhaustion can take its toll. In addition to our overbooked lives, many of us are working at taking care of both children and parents–but not ourselves.  Even if your parents are independent and your children are grown, it is easy to fall into patterns of caregiving that are unhealthy.

Not only do we become spread too thin, but also we begin to stop enjoying things we once loved to do. When having sex becomes just another chore on your to do list, you need to take serious stock of your life. Sex is one of the great gifts of being alive at any age. Taking control of your time and life can re-energize your bedroom activities. My gift to you on the cusp of planning back-to-school, back to work, back to the hamster wheel, is to share this with you in the hopes that you will begin to take better care of yourselves, too.

SEVEN STEPS TO MAKING HEALTHY CHANGES

Step One: Admit that you have needs, too. We cannot be Wonder Woman all the time. If you crash, you can’t help anyone. Accept the idea that you need to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will be useless to your dependents. It is not shameful to take care of yourself. You have needs, too. One of them is a healthy sex life.

Step Two: Write down what you need, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Get thee to a doctor. Get your regular checkups. Inform your personal physician if you are a caregiver when you go for medical appointments and inform your doctor of any special stress or issues you are facing. Ask what you can do to improve your sex life.

Step Three: Write down what you will do about getting your needs met. Henriette Klauser says, “When you care enough to write down your goals, stand back.” Writing your goals down makes them tangible and your subconscious continues to work on them, even when you forget about them. Make a contract with yourself to change unhealthy behaviors and to start new healthy ones. When you write your goals down, they are more likely to happen. Set goals and stick to them. Tell your family and friends what you are doing–and ask for their help. “I have a quit date for smoking. I need your help.” Or, “I want to get more exercise. Could you please come over and watch Mom so I can get out for a thirty minute walk?” Quitting smoking, eating healthy, getting exercise improve not only how you feel, but how you feel about your attractiveness. It also revs up your sex drive.  

Step Four: ASK FOR HELP. People may think you WANT to do it all. Allow others to help you. We can be our own worst enemies when it comes to asking for help. We feel as if we ought to be able to do it all, that it’s shameful to ask for help. If a friend or neighbor volunteers and says, “If there’s anything I can do, let me know,” say, “Yes, I would love it if…” and you fill in the blank. Of course, you should be reasonable in your requests. It is okay to ask for help, too. The worst thing that will happen is someone will say no. More likely, they will say yes. Perhaps you have trouble letting go of control? Delegating not easy for you? Maybe family and friends want to help, but are waiting for you to ask them. ASK!

Step Five: Take action. Do what you say you will do for yourself. Don’t keep putting it off. Let go of non-priority tasks and take on activities that make you healthy, physically and emotionally. Have a date night. Spend time with your partner and make it pleasurable. Go to dinner, watch a romantic movie, light candles, take a shower or bubble bath together. Turn on the mood music and get out those special massage oils.  Make an appointment for you and your lover and keep it. Do NOT fill up that space with something else. Put it on your Google calendar with lots of reminders.

Step Six: Write about how you feel about your actions. Journaling has been found to be an effective tool for stress reduction. Keep a diary to record and track your emotional status. Sometimes we try to tell ourselves everything is okay, when it really isn’t. Denying your feelings of loss, sadness, loneliness, or being overwhelmed does not make them go away. When you put something in writing, it forces you to acknowledge your feelings and can motivate you to do something to improve the situation.

Step Seven: Start OVER again with Step One. Over time this will become natural, but right now, it will feel awkward.

What tips do you have for taking care of yourself and your sex life?

While you think about your answer, here’s an excerpt from An Inn Decent Proposal, which appears in my anthology, KILLER KISSES

 Now do you admit that my cooking makes men weak at the knees?”

He crawled to her chair, reached up and pulled her face down to his and slanted his mouth over hers. “Yes,” he breathed. “You have made my knees—and other parts of my body weak.” He pressed his lips against hers and she responded, opening her mouth. She tasted like pomegranates. He wanted more of her flavors. Now.

He ran a hand down her neck and found a hardened nub awaiting his touch through the thin lace. He lowered his head to her breast and sucked at the cloth, pulling her into his mouth until she moaned. Then he moved to the other breast, but pulled the blouse down, exposing a claret-colored nipple the size of a silver dollar. He licked and sucked at that large, lovely rosebud until she clutched at his hair.

“Stop.” She panted. “We still have dessert.”

“You’re my dessert.”

“I’m not too fat for you?”

He looked up into her eyes, his tongue longing to return to sucking on that big bud. “Skinny women don’t turn me on. I love your curves, your hips, your big beautiful ass, your full, delicious breasts, and your sweet, succulent nipples. I want to explore every inch of your luscious lovely thighs, right up to your—”

She pushed away from him, stood and took his hand. He tried to pull her back but she shook her head, smiled, and dragged him down a hallway. Illuminated only by candles, her bedroom contained a queen-sized bed, large pillows, and red satin sheets. A cooking cart with a chafing dish stood ready to serve.

She turned to him. “Get undressed.”

As he ripped his shirt and pants off, she released her hair from her ponytail and peeled out of her lace top and slinky pants. She wore no underwear. He swept his gaze over her large breasts, full hips and the red triangle of hair he wanted to sample next. He stood at complete attention, pointing straight at her. He reached for Genie, grazed a breast, and she shoved him back onto the bed. “Lie down.”

He complied, shivers running up and down his spine.

Hair draping across her face, she stood over him and drizzled warm chocolate sauce on his chest, belly button, hips, and erection. Then she dropped dollops of whipped cream in swirls along the same pattern.

“Just so you know, this is all homemade.”

Bending her head over her work, she quickly licked from his neck down to his belly button, and then in a slow, deliberate pace, continued downward. He groaned and grew harder and thicker with each lick.

He grabbed Genie and pulled her onto the bed. “I’m hungry, too.”

A dish in each hand, he drew wild patterns with chocolate sauce and whipped cream across her lush curves. After eying his handiwork, he licked his lips. “I think I’ll start with these two delicious mounds topped with these bright, red cherries. Then, I’ll follow the chocolate trail down to here.”

He slid a chocolate covered finger into her moist folds, sliding across her center, flicking her until she wriggled and arched her hips upward. He smiled, withdrew his finger and licked it. “Delicious.”

Between gritted teeth, she gasped. “Tease.”

“Look who’s talking. You’ve been driving me wild all evening.” Jim licked his way down the chocolate path. The pool of sweet brown liquid in her navel and below required extra attention to detail, and he lapped up every drop, first licking lazy circles on her soft thighs. She grabbed his head and pushed him to her silky triangle. His tongue probed her saucy folds, then nibbled at her hard nub until she moaned, screamed his name, and clutched his hair.

“I want you inside me.”

He crawled on his elbows, maintaining skin contact with each upward movement. He looked deep into her eyes and slid inside her. She rose to meet him at every stroke, urged him onward, and let him know with her touches exactly what she wanted: harder, deeper, stronger thrusts. She shuddered and screamed his name, he couldn’t hold on any longer. He came with a shout and fell on top of her.

She looked him in the eye. “Ready for the cheese course?”

Food and Sex

Do I have your attention now?

Is there a connection between good food and good sex? The answer is a resounding yes, according to sources as diverse as Discovery Health and the Social Issues Research Center. Food is part of the dating and mating ritual across all cultures. Both food and mating are essential to the survival of the species. Feeding your mate is not only sexy, but also a way of saying, “I will take care of you forever.”

Some people may go a bit overboard combining food and sex, as this fun loving couple did. But, hey, it’s their groceries, who am I to criticize? One super food that has been strongly linked to super sex is chocolate. Yes, dare I say it? Women are programmed to love it because it gives us pleasure and makes us feel happy and sexy. Consider giving yourself and your mate the gift of chocolate–in the bedroom. Be imaginative. Play with your food! That’s what my couple did in An Inn Decent Proposal.

In An Inn Decent Proposal in my anthology, Killer Kisses, Genie King is a Culinary Institute of America trained chef who is piqued by her high school heart throb, Jim Rawlings, when he tells her that he’s sure she’s “a solid cook.” Furious, she retorts, “Tell you what, Mr. Critic, you come to my house for dinner tomorrow night. My food makes men go weak at the knees.” She proceeds to seduce him with her sensual cooking. Starting with a chef’s amuse-bouche and ending with a decadent dessert in the bedroom, Genie brings Jim to his knees and makes him beg for more.

Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite.

With butterflies dancing the hoochie-koochie in his stomach, Jim stood on the front porch of Genie’s house at the appointed hour, clutching a dozen hot-pink roses, his finger poised to press the doorbell. A witch that appeared to have flown into the siding stuck out of the wall and cobwebs were draped over the light fixture.

Why was he so nervous? It was just dinner. Right? Visions of Genie’s teasing cleavage danced before his eyes. No. He wanted it to be more than dinner. A whole lot more. He took a deep breath and leaned on the bell.

Moments later, the object of his desire appeared framed by the doorway, fiery hair pulled up in a ponytail, her luscious breasts covered by a huge black apron that read, Never Trust a Skinny Chef.

He handed her the flowers. “Trick or treat?”

“Treat. Thanks. Come on in.” She stepped aside to give him room to pass.

He wanted to grab her in the doorway, drag her into the bedroom and take her right then and there. Down boy. No need to act like a Neanderthal. He cleared his throat. “Did you get a lot of kids?”

“About two dozen little ones with their parents. After dinner the teenagers came out in droves. Most of them weren’t even in costume. I ran out of candy bars and turned the light off at ten. What about you?”

“The Motel Seven wasn’t in the holiday spirit.” He grinned. “Just as well, I forgot my costume. The only thing I could have gone as was Adam.”

She blushed and said, “That would have been interesting.” She handed him a glass of champagne. “To celebrate our purchase, I thought we’d begin with a Perrier Jouet. And, since we seem to be in an Indian summer, we’re having appetizers on the patio.”

She led him through the living room under a cuckoo clock made to look like a green-and-red Swiss chalet. “Interesting timepiece you’ve got there.”

“My father gave it to my mother years ago, on their second date.” She opened the sliding glass door. “He wanted her to be reminded every hour of the day that he was cuckoo for her. Corny, hunh?”

He clinked her glass. “To corny love.”

She pointed to the small square white dishes on the glass topped patio table. “Tonight’s amuse bouche is salmon tartare on five-spice crisps.”

After he sat, she placed a cloth napkin on his lap. The simple motion aroused him. He shifted in his seat, grateful for the camouflage. He turned to the tasty morsels at hand, closed his eyes and crunched into what appeared to be a large wonton crisp—but with tastes of clove, peppercorn, cinnamon, fennel, and anise dancing on his tongue. Layered in with these flavors were salmon, wasabi, ginger, and a touch of spicy sushi sauce. He moaned, opened his eyes and saw Genie watching him.

He took a sip of champagne. “More please?”

“You may have two more—that’s it, or you won’t be able to enjoy the rest of the meal.”

He savored each bite and realized the chef was not on the patio with him. “Where’d you go?”

“Not to worry.” She appeared from another sliding glass door bearing a large platter covered with golden brown rings drizzled with a red sauce and garnished with something green. She placed the dish in front of him. “Sweet-and-spicy calamari, toasted peanuts, and cilantro.”

“Can taste buds explode?”

She inclined her head. “We shall see. Bon appétit.”

“Won’t you join me?”

She sank into a chair opposite from him. “Just for a few moments. I have kitchen duty, you know.”

“Yes, and I’m grateful.”

She smirked. “We’ll see how grateful in a while.”

Was that a signal? Was she coming on to him? His heart raced and his pants stirred. Focus on food, dammit. He reached for the calamari. Spicy sweet-and-sour flavors rioted with combined textures of crunchy light tempura batter and tender squid. He licked his fingers. “Dear God, please serve this in heaven.”

When Genie laughed, the smile reached all the way up to her sparkling eyes. “You approve?”

“Mmm. Yes. Why aren’t you married?”

She eyed him and took a sip of bubbly. “You first.”

“I was.” He grabbed another piece of calamari. “To a hot blonde blackjack dealer.” He crunched, savoring the flavors.

“And?”

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

“Not fair.”

“She left me for a higher roller. Your turn.”

She popped a piece of calamari into her mouth and ran her tongue around her lips slowly, getting every little crumb. His pants grew tighter. “Sommelier boyfriend became alcoholic.”

“Occupational hazard.”

She nodded. “I swore off romance for a while. Became best-friends-forevah with every gay guy in New York City. Lots of great shopping stories.” She sipped her wine. “Fell like King Kong diving off the Empire State Building for my new executive chef. Man was he hot.” She fanned herself.

A flash of jealousy surprised him. “And?”

“Hot, as in temper. As in throwing dishes, pots, anything at hand.” She shook her head. “He was Italian; I nicknamed him Mount Vesuvius. I left him and the job the day after he threw an iron skillet, missed me, and dented the wall.” She dusted her hands off. “That was that. He’s the reason I’m here.”

Jim reached over and grabbed her hand. Heat pulsed off her palm. “What’s his address? I’ll send him a thank-you note.”

She stood and gave him a Mona Lisa smile. “Save your thanks for when you’re done with dinner.”

That was definitely a come-on. He admired her lovely ass as she sashayed away and looked forward to the next courses.

As dusk fell, they moved into the dining room. She had placed the roses in a vase and set them on the buffet to the side. The table was set for two with fine china and glassware. Everything sparkled in the candlelight. She held a chair out for Jim, and once again placed a napkin on his lap, this time drawing out the ritual a tad longer. She was killing him. She breathed into his ear, sending frissons down his neck. “I hope you like the next course.”

Just to have something to hold onto—other than her—he clenched a soup spoon. And a white dish appeared in front of him in the center of which were large lumps of—

“Rich lobster soup with curry.” She poured a thick pink liquid around the lumps of shellfish.

The scent of curry rose on the steam grabbing his olfactory lobe, taking his brain to a new plane of existence. “Oh. My. God.”

“Some have likened my food to a religious experience.”

The lobster swam in the smooth soup with a hint of curry while his taste buds danced and sang hallelujah, hallelujah. “Any chance I could get this for dessert?”

She took her apron off and sat down. “Not tonight. I have other plans.”

The low cut lace top left little to Jim’s imagination. Torn between appetites, he wondered if there was an intermezzo. He needed to clear his palate—and knew just who he wanted to do it with.

Read the rest in Killer Kisses, available in Kindle or Print

 

Review – Killer Kisses by Sharon Buchbinder

I’m a big fan of buffets. There’s plenty of variety, and you can sample things you’ve never tried before without committing to a full course of the stuff. That’s why I like Sharon Buchbinder’s, KILLER KISSES  – A Short Story Anthology. From short to novella length, from sweet to sexy paranormal, there’s something for everyone inside the covers of this single author contemporary romance anthology.

Ms. Buchbinder has amassed a wonderfully varied body of work that drew me in from the very beginning with a short story set in the midst of a hurricane evacuation. Yeah, I know. Not your usual setting for romance, but the author pulled it off, giving me enough of a taste to keep me turning pages to see what else she had to offer.

If there is a common thread in all the stories, besides kisses of one sort or another (duh!), it’s a strong heroine. Ms. Buchbinder’s female characters are strong and capable. Life occasionally gives them a kick in the gut, but they get right back up and fight for what they want and need. Now that’s my kind of woman!

Subtly woven through the stories, the subtext of morality adds to the depth of the characters. It’s easy to like these people. I especially liked Sandra in THE LAKE PLACID CURE. She’s got a world of issues of her own to solve, but when she sees something that doesn’t look right to her trained eye, she’ll move heaven and earth to set it right.

A SIZZLING SMOOCH: BONDED FOR LIFE, sets up the characters later found in Ms. Buchbinder’s full-length romantic suspense novel, DESIRE AND DECEPTION, as well as the fictional town of Summerville, New York, whose inhabitants make an encore appearance in the next story, a novella – DELECTABLE AND DELICIOUS: AN INN DECENT PROPOSAL.

BONDED FOR LIFE takes us into the dangerous world of international drug trafficking. When Lola, a one-time resident, tries to sneak back into town, bringing trouble with her. An old high school friend, now a police officer, is there to serve and protect! And, he does both very well.

In AN INN DECENT PROPOSAL, we’re back in Summerville where two former residents, both looking for a new start in familiar surroundings, find themselves after the same thing – the old Summerville Inn. This is a much sweeter story than BONDED FOR LIFE, but the characters are deliciously flawed, lending a depth not often found in stories this sweet.

The anchor piece, KISS OF THE SILVER WOLF is perfectly capable of standing on its own, and adds a paranormal element to the author’s repertoire, with shape shifters living amongst us normal folk. Look close for the underlying messages about accepting ourselves for who we are and persecution of people and groups different from us. This story works on many levels, not the least of which is the theme of love conquers all.

I’ve purposely skipped a few stories, just so you’ll still have a few surprises waiting for you. Over all, I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It’s refreshing to find so much variety in one place, as well as stories that stimulate your brain and bring a smile to your lips. Pucker up. KILLER KISSES is a fantastic read from start to finish.

Roz Lee

KILLER KISSES is available HERE.

 

Galatea, Pygmalion, Pigmalion: A Rose by Any Other Name

Like many authors, my inspiration for my short story, PIGMALION, in my new anthology, KILLER KISSES, came from an old myth. The Greeks and Romans worshiped Aphrodite and Venus, respectively. In one of the versions of the myth of Galatea, a sculptor whose heart has been broken and hardened by a bad break-up decides to sculpt the perfect woman from marble. Possessed by some unknown power, he works day and night. As he works, the marble feels warmer to his touch and what emerges from the block of stone is a woman so beautiful, she takes his breath away. He falls in love with his statue and falls asleep at its life-size feet. He awakes to a living woman who steps down from the pedestal into his welcoming arms.

Centuries later, George Bernard Shaw, revisited this myth and updated the story with linguistics Professor Henry Higgins and his flower-seller student, Eliza Doolittle. His charming and tongue-in-cheek tale is available in full text for all to read at Pygmalion. The years have not dimmed his humor. Shaw’s use of the new technology of languages and all the gadgets and scholarship available at that time are put to good use to move the story forward, all contingent, of course, on a bet. If you are old enough to remember bell-bottoms, then you know this story later became the hit 1964 musical film, My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.

Fast forward to current times and you have my version of the myth retold in PIGMALION. In my story, the professor has become a female speech-language pathology graduate student, Levisa Harris, and the language-challenged student has become an accounting student from Pigtown, Baltimore, an area well-known for its heavily accented dialect.

Whether it is Galatea, Pymalion or Pigmalion, in this rose by any other name, all of the stories focus on the transformative power of love. Isn’t that what we all want? Here’s a little snippet to tease you into reading more from PIGMALION  and the rest of my anthology, KILLER KISSES.

She rubbed against him, and her legs felt weak. She whispered, “I’ve been struggling to keep my hands off you for four months.”

“We’ve waited this long, this is going to be special—for both of us.” He nibbled at her shoulder, and began kissing his way down to the base of her neck. “Time to take this off.” Her turtleneck sweater slid up over her long curls, exposing her black camisole. “Next.” He peeled the spaghetti straps down, removed the silk lingerie, then her bra. His lips hovered over her breasts, his breath warming her, thrilling her nipples.

Levisa moaned and shuddered with anticipation. She cupped her hands under her breasts, offering them up to him with abandon. She had never been this free with a man before. She’d always felt like an observer, not really involved, when she’d made love. But this time, this man, this aching need was different.

Oh my God, I’m so in love with him!

In a nearly hypnotic state, she watched him lightly lick her left nipple and then take it into his mouth, sucking and pulling. She groaned and grabbed his firm butt, pressing hard against the outline of his erection.

“Now?”

“Not yet.” He took her nipple between his teeth, tugging lightly. Levisa gasped as his hands slid up her skirt, between her legs, and stroked her thigh a torturous inch below her silk thong. She pulled at his waistband and unzipped his pants, barely recognizing her own voice thick with lust, “My turn to drive you wild.”

“I like the sound of that.”

“Get over here,” she ordered. Slowly, intent on teasing him, she eased his jeans down. As he stepped out of the pant legs, she tiptoed her fingers down his back, beneath the waistband of his underwear, and grabbed his butt. “Did I tell you, you have a perfect ass?”

A look of surprise flickered across Sam’s handsome face; then in a in a flash, still watching his expression, she yanked his briefs down to his ankles. His beautiful penis stood at attention, long and hard, waiting to be of service.

“Oh my,” she whispered in awe. “I admire a man who’s happy to see me.”

KILLER KISSES is available exclusively at Amazon

Six Sentence Sunday: An Inn Decent Proposal by Sharon Buchbinder

This is from AN INN DECENT PROPOSAL, a novella contained in my new anthology, KILLER KISSES.

He ran a hand down her neck and found a hardened nub awaiting his touch through the thin lace. He lowered his head to her breast and sucked at the cloth, pulling her into his mouth until she moaned. Then he moved to the other breast,  but pulled the blouse down, exposing a claret-colored nipple the size of a silver dollar. He licked and sucked at that large, lovely rosebud until she clutched at his hair.

“Stop.” She panted. “We still have dessert.”

“You’re my dessert.”

Please check out some other fabulous authors taking part in Six Sentence Sunday.