On The Road Again!

I’m guest blogging today with historical romance author, Mia Marlowe.  We’re chatting about the sexy contemporary romances I write with my husband under the pen name of V.K. Sykes.  Drop by for a chance to win a copy of our latest book, Hot Number, or a copy of Mia’s latest, Touch of a Lady!

See you at Mia’s blog!

#SampleSunday: Hot Number by V.K. Sykes

Some of my newer readers might not know that I also write sexy contemporary romance with my husband, under the pen name of V. K. SykesHot Number is set in Las Vegas, and it features Sadie Bligh, a geeky math professor from Chicago, and Nick Saxon, the assistant chief of security at a large casino.  Sadie is having a really bad year–her work life has flat-lined and her social life…well, that’s pretty much non-existent.  Desperate to shake things up, she heads to Sin City with a friend for a wild week of fun.  The thing is, Sadie’s not really sure how to do fun, which is apparent in her first meeting with Jake:

“See that big guy standing a couple of rows over, beside the pillar?” Cassie nodded toward her left. “Don’t look right away.”

Sadie tried to appear nonchalant as she swung her head around. When she located the pillar and the man in question, she realized he was staring directly at her, his gaze hard and assessing and implacably fixed on her. Not on Cassie. Not on anyone else at their roulette table. On her.

She desperately wanted to avert her eyes, but something kept them locked in position. Maybe it was the intensity of his focus, or the heat emanating from his dark eyes. Even from this distance she would have sworn they were about the deepest brown she’d ever seen, so deep they looked almost black.

Most men would be embarrassed to be caught staring so shamelessly at a woman. But not this guy. He never even blinked.

“He’s staring at me, Cass,” she hissed.

“No kidding. Hell, I wouldn’t mind a hunk like him looking that way at me. Whew, he thinks you’re hot, Sade.”

Sadie swallowed nervously. If that intense gaze was a come-on, she wanted nothing to do with it. “Uh, I don’t think so. He looks like he thinks I’m an idiot.”

Cassie gave a reluctant laugh. “Maybe you’re right. Now that I think about it, I’d say he’s casino security. He sure looks the part. I guess he’s probably keeping an eye on you to make sure you don’t bowl over anybody else.”

Casino security. Cassie probably had it right. She should just ignore him. No doubt he would lose interest as long as she didn’t do anything else to cause a commotion.

Sadie lowered her gaze, staring down at the colorful piles of chips on the table. But the man’s image had burned itself into her retinas. Though his frowning stare had unnerved her, she had to admit that his looks were mesmerizing. Everything about him left one overwhelming impression: big, tough, and more than a little dangerous. The deep navy suit and white open-necked shirt accentuated his tanned, rugged features, as did his black hair and heavy five o’clock shadow. A gorgeous specimen. Gorgeous, but scary.

Then again, casino security agents were supposed to look scary, weren’t they?

Lifting her head, she braved another peek at him, letting her gaze run over his brawny chest and broad shoulders. Then she returned to those hard eyes and almost fell off her stool. They were still relentlessly fixed on her, and still making her as edgy as hell.

She sucked in a shaky breath, her head spinning both from the effect of the alcohol and that unnerving inspection. “I need to get out of here, Cass. Not just away from this table. I mean right out of the casino.”

Cassie looked dumbfounded. “What are you talking about? We’ve just started to play. Is that guy the problem? If it’s bothering you that much, I’ll go tell him to back the hell off.”

Sadie quickly shook her head. “Please, no more drama tonight. I’m not sure what’s wrong. I just feel really uncomfortable all of a sudden.” She swiped the back of her hand across her brow, surprised at the perspiration beading on her forehead despite the near-frigid temperature of the casino. “You stay, okay? I need to go up to my room for a while.”

“You sure? You want me to come with you?”

“I’ll be fine. I’ll rendezvous with you later.” Sadie grabbed her drink, scooped up her small stack of chips and gave Cassie an air kiss.

Unfortunately, the shortest route to the elevators ran directly past Mr. Scary Security Man. She gave a quick thought to walking straight up to the guy and telling him to lay off the surveillance, just like Cassie had threatened to do. But that idea, along with her courage, disappeared in the time it took to process it. No. Better to steer completely clear of him tonight and hope not to see him again.

By the time she reached the main aisle, a quick glance to her left told her he hadn’t moved. But at least he wasn’t still looking straight at her. She turned to her right. Going in that direction meant she’d have to practically circle the casino floor. Just what she needed—extended navigating in her skyscraper boots. But so be it. She needed to get back to her room, calm down, and remind herself why she was here in the first place.

As she stumbled along, trying to keep her balance, she belatedly realized that she should have left her drink back at the roulette table. She did not need another accident—or more alcohol, for that matter.

Spotting a casino waitress serving drinks at a nearby Pai Gow poker table, Sadie pivoted to head in that direction. The last thing she felt before becoming airborne was a small tug on her spike heel as it caught in the carpet. Then she crashed head first into the poker table. Her drink sailed out of her hand as she landed heavily onto the hard surface.

She didn’t move right away, so dazed she barely realized what had happened.

A shocked female screech blasted out from somewhere behind her. “What the hell?”

“Holy shit, lady!” another voice lashed out. “You just screwed the best hand I had all night!”

Sadie’s stomach gave a sickening lurch at the man’s nasty tone. With her face buried in a pile of chips and her butt sticking up in the air, she was too stunned to fully comprehend the profanity-laced invective hurled her way. While nothing felt broken except her pride, her thighs throbbed where they’d made a bruising impact with the edge of the table.

She groaned, not just with the blossoming pain but with the humiliating realization that she’d made an ass of herself again. If only a chandelier would land on her head and knock her senseless, she would be happy. But no such luck. She knew she had to get up and apologize to…well, to everyone in sight. Maybe to the whole damn world.

Wedging her hands underneath her chest, she began to push herself up when a pair of very big, very strong hands clamped around her hips and lifted her backward off the table. Those same hands then set her carefully on her feet. She shoved the hair out of her eyes and gave a horrified squeak at what lay before her. The table was a disaster, with cards and chips flung haphazardly. Her drink had smashed, scattering booze, ice cubes and shards of glass over the chip tray and onto the poor dealer. Brushing himself off, the young man glared at her with undisguised contempt.

Upright now, Sadie carefully turned around to thank whoever it was who had helped her off the table.

She must have looked like a wide-mouth bass as her gaze met the obsidian eyes of Mr. Scary Security Man. Stomach lurching—this time all the way into her throat—she had to bite her lip to keep from letting out a groan of dismay.

“Are you all right?” he asked through clenched teeth.

His deep voice, as dark and menacing as the rest of him, shot a ripple of anxiety along her already over-taxed nerves. She had just enough of her wits left to notice him scanning her body from head to foot.

Dropping her gaze to the floor, she struggled to compose a dignified reply. Then she dredged up a smile and forced herself to look at him.

“It would seem so, thank you. I suspect I’ll be rather sore tomorrow, but apparently no lasting harm has been done.” She glanced back at the chaos she’d left in her wake. Players were collecting their chips and leaving the table in a huff. “Other than possibly ruining the surface of a card table and destroying some winning hands. But I suppose I shouldn’t minimize that.”

She tried to straighten out her rumpled shirt, noticing how his eyes followed her hands as she smoothed the fabric over the top of her jeans.

“Ma’am, I’m with casino security,” he said in a calm voice. “Please come with me.”

Without waiting for her reply, he grasped her wrist in one of his big hands. His touch was firm but not harsh, and Sadie felt a surprising and unfamiliar jolt as warm fingers closed around her bare skin. Not fear. This was something…well, she didn’t know what it was, but it still made her nervous.

Now that she’d declared her lack of injury, his eyes had reverted back to chips of black ice. She caught herself wondering what they might look like if something lit them and turned them to burning embers. He’d probably resemble Lucifer himself.

“I simply tripped, for heaven’s sake.” Sadie shook out of his grip, wincing at the shrill tone to her voice. But she didn’t want to spend a second more with this man than she had to.

His mouth thinned into a brutal line. “I can’t detain you, ma’am, but I can remove you from the Desert Oasis Casino. Not just for tonight, but permanently. You might prefer the option of talking to me for a few minutes.”

Cassie rushed up to her, breathless. “Sadie, are you okay? I heard the crash, but I didn’t know it was you till one of the waitresses told me.”

She gave Cassie a shaky smile. “I’ll live. Just a pair of bruised thighs and a whole lot of bruised pride.”

The security man began to look both annoyed and impatient. “Ma’am, please. Come with me.”

Darn it. There was obviously no point in arguing with the pig-headed brute. Better to get it over with than cause yet another scene.

“All right, Sheriff, lead on,” she replied, ladling on the sarcasm. “Do your worst. I’m ready.”

He shot her a look of sheer disdain and waved her in front of him.

“Hey, wait a minute! Just where do you think you’re taking her?” Cassie demanded. “Who the hell are you to treat my friend like that?”

“Casino security, ma’am. I’m simply taking her for questioning. It shouldn’t take too long. But the longer we stand here, the longer it’ll be.”

Cassie planted her feet like a prizefighter, ready to deck him if need be. “I’m going with her. I’m not letting her go off with you alone.”

The security man fixed Cassie with the coldest stare Sadie had ever seen and, sure enough, her friend bristled with outrage. She had to get the situation under control before Cassie wound up getting herself in big trouble, too. “It’s okay, Cass. I can handle this. I’ll catch up to you as soon as the law here is done with me.”

The big man switched his glare to her and then gave a sharp nod. “As I said, follow me.” He turned and strode off at a rapid pace.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she burst out, exasperated by his mental density. “Sheriff, it appears necessary to remind you that I’ve been having a certain degree of difficulty with this footwear. I really could use some assistance. Or would you prefer to have to hoist me off a card table again?”

The man stopped and turned as gracefully as a panther. A big, terrifying panther. Cassie was right—the brute was undeniably handsome, in a dark, rugged, and altogether intimidating way.

“Sorry,” he said, sounding genuinely apologetic. “You’re right. I should have thought about that. Here, ma’am, take my arm.”

Sadie almost fell over, yet again. Where had that gentlemanly behavior suddenly come from? Cautiously slipping her hand into the crook of his arm, she encountered an impressively hard set of arm muscles. They flexed beneath her fingers and her edgy feeling returned. This time down low in her belly and between her thighs.

As he led her away, Sadie couldn’t help but wonder what kind of trouble she’d stumbled into this time.

Hot Number is currently available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords for only $2.99.  And don’t forget to check out our other books, CaddyGirls, Fastball, and Hardball.

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

#SampleSunday: HOT NUMBER by VK Sykes

Here’s an excerpt from my latest VK Sykes book, one of the sexy contemporary romances co-written with my husband.  Hot Number is set in Las Vegas and it features Sadie Bligh, a geeky math professor from Chicago, and Nick Saxon, the assistant chief of security at a large casino.  Sadie has an uncanny knack for getting into trouble, which brings her to the attention of Nick.  In this scene, Nick–Sadie has nicknamed him “the sheriff”–has just pulled her off the dance floor of the casino’s club.  He takes Sadie to a quiet little bar in town for a “chat.”

It had to be the darn mojitos again. As she gazed at Nick, no doubt looking like a moonstruck teenager, Sadie found herself contemplating crawling into his lap and wrapping her legs around his waist. That’s how turned on she was after his little intervention at the casino.

When he charged across the crowded dance floor of Esprit, he’d reminded her of a bull with a hapless matador dead in its sights. The guy she had been dancing with—if that’s what you could call what he’d been trying to do with her—had looked first astonished and then more than a little alarmed when he caught sight of Nick. Her partner hadn’t been wrong to see impending mayhem in the sheriff’s coal-black eyes. Maybe it had just been a caveman moment for Nick, but she’d loved it anyway. She’d have happily gone anywhere with the man then, even back to the dreaded gulag if that’s what it took to be alone with him.

They sat at a small table in a bar that might have been physically near the Strip, but was light years away from the glitz of Las Vegas Boulevard. With worn brown carpet on the floors, Michelob neon in the front window, and waitresses that might have been working Vegas since Bugsy Malone opened the Flamingo, it had a down-in-the-mouth charm that spelled relief after the Strip’s relentless glam. When Nick ordered a Bud, she’d made it two, even though she usually hated the taste and smell of beer. But not tonight. Tonight the cold brew tasted delicious.

Round five to the sheriff.

Smoothing the silky and slightly damp bodice of her dress down over her breasts, Sadie contemplated the best way to provoke a response in the strong but silent type leaning back in the chair next to her. Nick had hardly said a word on the ten minute drive from the Desert Oasis. Not that he’d ever been a fountain of words at any time they’d been together. He seemed more comfortable with interrogation than small talk. But that wasn’t a particular problem, since her father had always told her she could talk enough for any two human beings.

A little stab of pain sliced through her haze of pleasure. With effort, she forced away memories of her father, her job, and anything to do with her life back in Chicago. All she wanted to think about right now was Nick Saxon.

She gave him what she hoped was a sultry smile. “All I can say is you sure have a funny way of cutting in on a dance, Sheriff. My partner probably had to go back to his room and change his underwear.” To her surprise, her voice actually came out in a soft purr. Sadie had never purred at a man in her life.

He studied her, his face expressionless but his eyes gleaming hot. “Didn’t I tell you to call me Nick?” He slugged down the rest of his beer and gave the waitress a hand signal for refills.

She’d tried once or twice on the ride over to call him by his first name, but ‘Nick’ and ‘Sadie’ registered a discordant note in her ears. She wondered how long it would take her to stop thinking of him as the sheriff or as Saxon. Nick was surely a manly name, but Saxon sounded so lustfully medieval. Somehow, it seemed part and parcel of the fantasy this Vegas trip had become. “Sorry. Nick, it is. And you ducked my implied question.”

His mouth thinned in a way she was beginning to recognize. “I didn’t like the way he groped you,” he said in something approaching a growl.

That almost blew her concentration. Finally, the guy had let out some feelings. “But what made you think I didn’t welcome that poor man’s ardor? I told you, Cassie and I came to Vegas for the express purpose of having ourselves a riotously good time. I was well on my way tonight until you launched into the fray like a pit bull on steroids.”

He snorted. “Nice analogy. But did you really welcome what he was doing?” His gaze told her he didn’t believe a word of it.

Nick was right, of course. Still, she wasn’t giving up just yet. Teasing him was more fun than she’d had in a very long time.

She shrugged, enjoying the way the movement brought his gaze down to her breasts. “I might have. Maybe,” she said thoughtfully.

He tipped back in his chair, his eyebrows arching in polite disbelief.

“Well, not so much, truth be told,” she finally admitted. “He was pretty grabby.”

“That’s what I thought.” There was a trace of smugness in his tone. “You just like to yank my chain with all those quips and hundred-dollar words. I’ll bet it would drive you crazy to know I actually get a kick out of it.”

Wow. A guy who likes the way I talk. Prince Charming, where have you been all this time?

You can read more excerpts from Hot Number here and here.

Hot Number is currently available on Amazon and Smashwords for only $2.99.  It’s also available at Barnes & Noble and at other e-tailers.  And don’t forget to check out our other books, CaddyGirls, Fastball, and Hardball.

Have a great Sunday!

#SampleSunday: HOT NUMBER

Here’s an excerpt from my latest VK Sykes book, one of the sexy contemporary romances co-written with my husband.  Hot Number is set in Las Vegas and it features Sadie Bligh, a geeky math professor from Chicago, and Nick Saxon, the assistant chief of security at a large casino.  Sadie is having a really bad year–her work life has flat-lined and her social life…well, that’s pretty much non-existent.  Desperate to shake things up, she heads to Sin City with a friend for a wild week of fun.

“Sadie, you do not look like a hooker,” Cassie said. “You look sexy.”

Professor Sadie Bligh cast a doubting glance at her friend before doing a pirouette in front of the mirror for one last look at the derrière she’d managed to squeeze into skintight designer jeans. “Come on, Cass, these jeans are insane. If I had a dime in my back pocket, you could tell the year it was minted. And this top…” She peered at her reflection, assessing the scooped neckline that plunged precariously close to her nipples. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”

Cassie gave an exasperated sigh. “Tight is good, Sade. Guys like tight things. A cute guy wouldn’t give you a second glance if you were wearing one of those schoolmarm pantsuits you always pick. You’d have figured that out by now if you’d ever looked past the top of your math books.”

Sadie ignored that low blow as she tried to calculate just how large her behind looked in her new and way-too-expensive jeans. “Please tell me my butt isn’t as wide as I think it is,” she pleaded.

This time, Cassie let out a snicker. “Just think J. Lo, and you’ll be fine.”

Sadie grabbed a throw pillow off the bed and took an uncoordinated swipe at her friend’s model-perfect rear end. “You are congenitally incapable of speaking the truth, but I love you anyway.”

Abandoning the perusal of her butt, Sadie shook out her unruly mass of auburn curls, then twisted open the pricey lip gloss Cassie had insisted she buy. “What if I run into some professor I know when I’m dressed like this? I’ll never be able to show my face in academia again.”

Cassie rolled her eyes but Sadie didn’t care. She had every intention of ragging her friend nonstop for talking her into this ill-conceived Las Vegas blowout, even though she knew Cassie had been right to make her flee Chicago and her deepening depression. Of all her friends—not that Sadie had that many close friends—only Cassie truly understood what a life-changing disappointment she’d just suffered.

Disappointment didn’t even begin to describe the blow to her spirit that threatened to pull her under. Getting passed over again for the prestigious Eagleton Mathematics Prize had made Sadie feel like a hopeless loser—nothing more than an imposter in a high-powered world where she’d never be more than Professor Anthony Bligh’s precocious but insufficiently talented daughter. Devastated, and feeling like her career and her life were slipping out of her hands, she’d been ripe for Cassie’s prescription: get the hell of out of Dodge. In Sadie’s case, Dodge was the math department of the University of Chicago, the same department where her father conducted his own research.

Cassie sauntered over to the king-sized bed in Sadie’s hotel room and flopped down, her long, tanned legs making a dramatic contrast to the white duvet. Sadie glanced at the whiter-than-white skin of her own chest and arms, liberally dusted with freckles. Crap. Maybe she should have made that visit to the tanning salon, after all.

“If you do see one of your colleagues here, chances are he’s doing even worse things than we are,” Cassie drawled. “You know what they say about what plays in Vegas.”

“Stays in Vegas. I get it.” Sadie reached for her champagne flute, but paused before taking a sip. For all her brave words, her stomach was tied in an anxious knot. “I do want to go for it. I want to try every damn thing I never thought I’d have the guts to do. The problem is I’m not sure I’ll be able go through with it.”

Cassie leapt back up and rushed over to give her an encouraging hug. “Hey, enough with the doubts, Professor. Damn straight you’ll go through with it, because I’m going to be right behind you, kicking your J. Lo ass if I have to.”

They stared at their reflections in the floor-length mirror for several long seconds. Sadie looked forlorn and uncertain—which she hated—and Cassie looked concerned.

“Don’t get so down on yourself, Sade,” Cassie finally said. “You took a big whack when those assholes on the prize committee stiffed you. No wonder you’re a little uptight and scared.”

Sadie nodded, trying to smile for Cassie’s sake. Her best friend knew her better than anyone, but even she couldn’t begin to understand what losing the Eagleton meant. Most mathematicians would have been over the moon just to be nominated for the most coveted award in the entire field. Not her. Winning was all that counted, something her father had drilled into her again and again. To Anthony Bligh, second place meant first loser, and he hadn’t bothered to hide his disappointment when the Eagleton results were announced. The memory of that unpleasant phone conversation—conducted in polite, stiff tones—still made her feel sick to her stomach.

“Nothing’s mattered except that prize, Cass. It’s all I’ve worked for since Dad won it.” Not just once, either. Her father had captured the Eagleton three times. She gave a hollow laugh at the thought that she could even compete. “How crazy am I to do that?”

Cassie jabbed her shoulder. “Like you’d be elected Mayor of Crazytown in a landslide.”

Sadie laughed again, but this time it felt a bit more genuine. “What we’re going to do here is plenty crazy, too. You know that, right?”

Cassie shook her straight, shoulder-length blond hair and threw her a haughty look. “Some people would call it crazy. I prefer to call it therapy.”

Sadie couldn’t repress the prickles of apprehension dancing up her spine. She wished she could convince herself that they were caused by the blast of cold air from the overhead vent. “Cutting loose in Vegas isn’t really going to change anything, at least not for me,” she said dubiously.

Cassie began to look impatient. “Well, to paraphrase John Lennon, all I’m saying is give crazy a chance.”

Sadie knew when to sound the retreat. After all, she had agreed to this adventure of her own free will, and it wouldn’t be fair to Cassie to chicken out now. “You’re a dangerously unbalanced woman, but all right. If we’re going to let loose, dressing up like bimbos is as good a place to start as any.”

Cassie grinned with relief and grabbed her champagne flute, raising it in a quick salute. “Amen to that. Now, pull on those wicked boots you got at Neiman Marcus and let’s get down to the casino. There’s a progressive slot machine, a margarita, and some hot guys on that floor, and they’re all calling my name.”

You can read more excerpts from Hot Number here and here.

Hot Number is currently available on Amazon and Smashwords for only $2.99.  It’s also available at Barnes & Noble and at other e-tailers.  And don’t forget to check out our other books, CaddyGirls, Fastball, and Hardball.

Have a great Sunday!

My Big Fat Sexy Contemporary Romances

Some of my newer visitors to the blog might not know that I have a writing alter-ego – it’s VK Sykes, and under that name I write sexy contemporary romance with my husband. As you can imagine, it’s very interesting to write books with my hubby, but I have to say that we have a lot of fun doing it.  The sex scenes, though, I have to write those.  When I let him do it they’re only about three paragraphs long.  He’s a little shy when it comes to that sort of thing!

We’ve recently released two new books.  Fastball is a sports romance, and is a prequel to our award-winning book, Hardball.  Here’s the blurb for Fastball:

Baseball reporter Maddie Leclair has spent years chasing her dream job—covering the major league team, the Philadelphia Patriots. Now that she’s landed the assignment she intends to make it big, with feature articles on the front page of every sports section in the country. But to do that, she needs to score an interview with the most private and elusive athlete in baseball, Patriots’ superstar Jake Miller.

On the rebound from a devastating injury that knocked him out of play for a season, Jake has a lot to prove to the suits in the front office. He’s sure he still has what it takes to win, and he’ll be damned if he lets anything get in the way of his climb back to the top.

The last thing Jake needs is a pushy female reporter distracting him. But one look at Maddie and he knows he’s in trouble. He finds himself trying for a different kind of play, one that involves bedrooms and not baseball stats. Sleeping together could damage both their careers, and Maddie is all about saying no. But when it comes to the game of love, Jake is playing to win.

Jake is one of my favorite heroes.  A big, strong, straight-up guy who always wants to do the right thing.  If you like sports romance or athlete heroes, I think you’ll like Fastball.

Our latest book isn’t a sports romance, but it’s a lot of fun.  Hot Number is set in Las Vegas, and revolves around the heroine’s determination to put her old, hard-working and boring life behind her for a little excitement in Sin City.

Here’s the blurb:

Geeky but brilliant college professor Sadie Bligh has failed once again to win the most prestigious award in mathematics. All she has to show for her life’s work is a flat-lined career and a non-existent social life. So when her best friend suggests a wild week in Las Vegas, gambling and hooking up with hot guys, Sadie decides she has nothing to lose.

But Sadie’s first night in Vegas involves an unfortunate run-in with a mojito and a poker table, drawing the attention of the casino’s deputy chief of security. Nick Saxon thinks Sadie’s a problem, but she thinks he’s incredibly sexy. Since she’s come to Vegas to let loose, Nick just might fit the bill.

With a sick mother to care for and a boss who hates his guts, Nick has enough on his plate, and the bundle of mayhem called Sadie Bligh spells nothing but trouble. She’s also funny and smart, and the sexual energy between them could light up the Vegas strip. But when she’s fingered for counting cards at the blackjack table, Nick is faced with a stark choice: protect her and risk getting fired, or toss her out on her sweet behind and risk never seeing her again.

I love Sadie.  She’s whip-smart, funny, and vulnerable all at the same time.  She was a lot of fun to write.  If you like very sexy contemporary romance with a lot of humor and heart, I think you’ll like Hot Number.

Both Fastball and Hot Number are currently available on Amazon and Smashwords for only $2.99.  Within a few weeks, the books should also be available for the NOOK and other e-readers at sites like Barnes & Noble and the Sony Store.

Happy Reading!

PS.  If you’ve read and enjoyed my books, I’d be thrilled if you could post a review to Amazon, B & N, or Goodreads.  In fact, posting reviews for books on those sites is one of the best ways you can support your favorite authors.  Thanks!!