So Ylva Publishing, one of my houses, is kicking off 2016 with a blog hop. Which means a whole bunch of Ylva authors are posting blogs on set days during the month and each author alerts readers to upcoming blogs in the hop (see below for the list of authors who have already participated and to see who’s next in the hop).
Since I’m up in here hoppin’ for Ylva, I’ll mention the book I just released with them over the holidays called The Bureau of Holiday Affairs, which is a reboot of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday story. I think, though, I’d like to chat about what’s coming down the pike for me, but if you want to know the backstory behind Bureau, you can read it HERE.
Anyway, I thought rather than telling you stories about my sordid past (ha ha) or whatever else sordid, I’d chat a bit about some works-in-progress that I’m doing for Ylva, since readers might be a bit interested in what I’m doing now (and not the past), especially with the holidays all behind us n’ stuff.
FIRST, fellow author and editor R.G. Emanuelle and I are waist-deep in submissions to the second volume of our food-themed romance and erotica volume, Order Up. The first, All you Can Eat, was a Lambda finalist last year. We had so much fun doing it that we decided to put another one together.
For those not in the know, the anthology features stories that have to have food as a theme and they all include recipes at the end. Some of the recipes are real and you can try ’em out in the privacy of your own kitchen. Others are recipes that don’t deal with food, but they do deal with romance. Heck, you can probably try THOSE out, too, in your kitchen. Just be careful where you put certain parts. Just sayin’.
Look for Order Up this spring!
And SECOND, one of the other projects I’m doing is a novella that’s part of a novella series organized by my author colleague and co-conspirator in many things, Jove Belle and author Gill McKnight. The series is called “The Law Game,” and will feature novellas by a few authors that all deal with some aspect of the law (or opposition to it, as the case may be). The first novella will be released late spring, and then there’ll be a few more released in subsequent months (including mine! WOO!).
Other authors in the series include Jove Belle, Lee Winter, Jessie Chandler, Lynette Mae, and Gill McKnight and they’re all writing a range of stories, as you can imagine.
I decided to try my hand at something that I’ve described as a nutty mash-up of The Devil Wore Prada and James Bond (if Bond were a woman) with a dash of caper comedy and a bit of romance. It’s what would happen if a romantic comedy went on a date with a thriller and they got caught up in a Russian arms deal. Because that could totally happen! Amiright?
So anyway, below you’ll find an excerpt from this forthcoming novella, which doesn’t quite yet have a nailed-down title, though I’m tentatively calling it “If Looks Could Kill.”
Eleanor “Ellie” O’Donnell is part of a special investigative unit within the New York City Police Department. She’s tasked with figuring out the relationship between internationally known fashion mogul and all-around ice queen Marya Hampstead and a local Russian crime family. The only way Ellie can do that is to pretend she’s an aspiring designer and take a job as an intern at Hampstead’s fashion empire. And in the fast-paced world of clothes, critics, and competition, Ellie uncovers much more than runway gossip, including secrets that will kill far more than a bad outfit.
Copyright 2016, Andi Marquette
“Here’s the target.”
Ellie took the folder and opened it. A photo was fastened to the inside cover, and the woman in it stared out at her, almost glaring. “Wait.” She looked up at him. “This is Marya Hampstead.”
“Yep.” Rick took his suit jacket off and slung it over the back of his chair at his own desk. He rolled his shirt sleeves up, something he did when he was in the office, and straightened his tie. Rick was built like a prize fighter, and Ellie figured he had to have his shirts custom-made to accommodate his musculature. A long scar marred the underside of his left forearm, pinkish against the brown of his skin. He said he’d gotten it during his service in Afghanistan.
“The Marya Hampstead,” she said. “Fashion mogul. Bitch on wheels.” And ultra-hot, she finished to herself. Seemed beauty was wasted on people like her.
He clicked the remote and brought up the portfolio on the big screen that hung near his desk. Hampstead glared out at him now, too. “You’re quick, Els. Guess that’s why you’re part of this unit of NYPD.” He flashed her a grin.
She ignored the ribbing. “What’s the deal?”
He clicked to another photo that showed Hampstead with a well-dressed man entering what looked like a restaurant. She had her hand on his arm.
“That’s Lyev Koslov,” Rick said.
“Looks familiar. Is he part of the Koslov family here?”
“Yep. The Koslovs might be tied in with international arms dealers overseas.”
“Define ‘tied in’.”
“Daddy Koslov runs a company in Moscow that makes medical equipment. However, a couple of his shipments were intercepted in Turkey. The shit in the boxes was not scalpels or clamps.” He clicked to another photo that showed military-grade rifles and ammo.
“Where were they headed?”
Which was currently a hotbed of crazy, Ellie thought, with layers of civil war, violence, and whatever other atrocities people dealt out to each other. “So is Daddy Koslov or Lyev running them or is somebody else in the company using them as a front?”
“We don’t know. We’re trying to figure that out. We’re also trying to figure out what Hampstead’s relationship to Junior Koslov is. And what he’s up to with her.” He clicked back to the other photo.
“When was this picture taken?”
“Three months ago.”
Ellie frowned, skeptical. “The guy’s a businessman. She’s a businesswoman. Her dad does international banking in the U.K. They probably met at a party or some dinner or something and had a fling. That’s how they do it in those circles.”
“Totally possible. Except Daddy Hampstead spends a lot of time with Koslov holdings overseas, and we’re not sure what he’s up to. He’s been spotted in Moscow, cozying up to former KGB.”
“Practically everybody in the Kremlin is former KGB, including Putin.” Ellie picked up one of her cinnamon Jolly Ranchers. She unwrapped it and put it in her mouth. “Businesses over there are probably full of ex-KGB, too,” she said around the candy as its spicy kick filled her mouth.
“True. But Jonathan Hampstead has ready access to all kinds of international contacts, and he’d be able to get the money to help broker a few arms deals.” Rick picked up his diet Mountain Dew and sipped.
“So we’re targeting her to get to Daddy Hampstead.” Her tongue burned a little from the cinnamon.
“Even though she hasn’t been seen with him for three months.”
“But he might be hanging out with her dad, still.” Rick gave her a look over his shoulder.
“When was the last time she saw Dad?”
“Two months ago in London. He’s British. His ex-wife is Greek. She still lives in London, too, and it seems she’s still cordial with Dad and daughter. Read the file and see if you can fill in some holes. We’re starting this op in about a week. By that time, you’d better know Hampstead’s favorite music, what wine she likes, and the kind of toilet paper she uses.”
Ellie raised her eyebrows. “C’mon,” she said. “People that rich pay others to wipe their asses.”
He laughed. “Then find out what the servants buy.”
Ellie took a drink of cold coffee. “So how is this going to go down?”
“We’re putting someone inside.”
“Hampstead’s company. Fashion Forward publications.”
Ellie nodded, approving. “Ambitious. Who gets that job?”
He grinned at her, like a shark.
So there you go. A little taste of one of the things I’m up to this year! Thanks for joining me on the Ylva Blog Hop! Next up, head on over to Sandra Gerth’s corner of the world. Here’s the address.