Looking for Your Next Romance? Check Out the New Release Blitz for A Cordial Agreement by Ryan Loveless (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: A Cordial Agreement

Author: Ryan Loveless

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: LC Chase

Ryan Loveless Artist: Alexandria Corza of Seeing Static

Release Date: May 17, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 118 pages

Genre: Romance, BDSM, age gap, gay, asexual, bisexual, contemporary, rich/poor

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Synopsis

Can a wealthy but frustrated CEO and a guilt-ridden stripper find what they need in a consensual, nonsexual whipping boy arrangement?

Billionaire mogul Grant Jessup, fifty-three, buries his sexual tastes and the reasons behind them—the stresses of his business empire and family. In contrast, Jim Sieber understands the regret that makes him seek pain and penance. As an asexual averse to erotic touch, Jim sets strict boundaries. But as the relationship evolves, Grant struggles to respect them, and both men realize for their association to continue and perhaps grow into real feelings, they’ll have to explore new ways to satisfy each other.

Excerpt

JIM SIEBER kept his attention on the television in front of him, pretending to be engrossed in the telenovela playing. He didn’t need to be fluent in Spanish to know Ricardo was in deep shit with Sofia. Occasionally he caught a glimpse of the bartender in his peripheral vision and doubled down on his TV viewing. Behind him, a steady slap of leather against bare skin pulled a rich, throaty holler from a man. Jim sat at the corner of the bar, loosely surrounding his double whiskey with his long fingers. He sensed a few stares, but people left him alone. He’d figured they would after his first time when a man had snaked his hand around Jim’s neck and called him boy. Jim had twisted the man’s thumb so far back he’d almost broken it. “Not your boy,” Jim had said, after he’d forced the man to his knees in pain. Evidently, word had gotten around. No one had approached since.

It was his own damn fault. He didn’t know why he’d come to an S&M club if he wasn’t going to get involved. He hadn’t come to watch. Hell, he wasn’t watching, not anything except the telenovela. The beatings going on behind him could have been happening on another planet. But he had to stop himself from flinching with every stroke he heard, and curled his fingers into his glass with every scream. He’d come here because he’d wondered if pain would make him forget. No, not forget. He’d come here because he’d wondered if pain would absolve him. Sure, he could have tried boxing or started a bar fight, but he didn’t want to be arrested, and his boss got huffy about facial injuries. A respectable S&M club had seemed like his best option. Except for the red flag that Jim hadn’t considered, and which had stopped him from taking action. As the subs walked past after their sessions, hugged against their Doms, he knew why he could never do that. Aftercare involved touching. It might turn sexual. Jim’s skin prickled at the thought, a march of ants that he couldn’t shake off.

So he stared at the television and talked to no one.

“Hey. Hey!” Jim jumped and blinked. The bartender was talking to him. He thumbed to a set of stairs leading up to a balcony and a single door. “Boss wants to see ya.”

“Boss?” Jim asked.

“Wouldn’t keep her waiting,” the bartender said.

Jim looked around, expecting to find some muscle waiting to haul him up, but he saw a clear path to the stairs. “Okay.” He considered his glass.

“I’ll keep it for you, if you want it later.” The bartender pulled it off the bar. So that settled it. Jim headed for the stairs. At the top, he knocked. The door flew open. A woman with an olive complexion and straight black hair reaching to the middle of her back beckoned him in. He’d expected leather, lace, and high heels. She wore smart black slacks and a maroon shirt tailored to hug her waist and not strain at her bust. The amount of cleavage on view from the two open buttonholes would have been acceptable in any corporate boardroom. Instead of heels, she wore what looked like bedroom slippers. Not the sexy kind, either. More like the “home alone with a Harlequin novel and a mug of hot chocolate” kind. He relaxed instantly. The image reminded him of many pleasant nights spent with his mother when he was a child. With almost nothing between her feet and the floor, the top of her head barely reached Jim’s nipples. As soon as she closed the door, the sounds from downstairs disappeared.

“Soundproofing?” Jim asked.

The woman smiled and extended her hand. “I couldn’t concentrate without it. I’m Tanya Wyatt. You can call me Tanya or Miss Wyatt, whichever you’re more comfortable with.”

“Jim Sieber.” He left the implication that she could likewise call him whatever she wished unsaid. They shook hands.

“Come sit down, Mr. Sieber. Take the seat of your choice.”

He followed her back to her desk. As she sat in her chair, he noticed his options—a straight-backed wooden chair or a pillow on the floor. He chose the chair. If Miss Wyatt noticed his fraction of a second of hesitation, she didn’t comment.

She folded her hands and made a serious expression.

He waited.

“Mr. Sieber, when a new person comes to the club and doesn’t engage in activities, whether that is actively, voyeuristically, or simply socially, for a week, we understand. This is a new experience for them, and we appreciate their need to acclimate at their own pace. Some people can take two or three weeks before they are ready to take the next step.”

Jim’s throat tightened. “So?”

“You have been coming for nine weeks, and aside from nearly breaking Henry’s hand, you haven’t spoken to anyone.”

“So, you called me up here because I haven’t made any friends?”

“I’ll put this bluntly. My staff and clients are starting to wonder if you’re police. Are you the police, Mr. Sieber?”

“No, ma’am, I’m not.”

“Then what can I do to help you achieve your goals here? Because unless you’re here to improve your Spanish, I’m guessing that you’re not getting what you need out of your visits.”

Jim wished he’d brought his drink along. He stared down at his hands, which had subconsciously assumed the position like they were gripping a glass. “It’s hard to explain.”

“I want to help you.”

On the cusp of voicing his needs, he felt stupid. “I should go. I’m sorry. I won’t come back.”

“Truffle?” Miss Wyatt asked. Jim blinked in surprise as she opened a box on her desk and offered a tray of cocoa-dusted chocolate drops to him.

“Thank you.” He took one and popped it in his mouth before he could think about it.

As he chewed, she spoke. “People come here for a variety of reasons. They aren’t all what you might suspect. So, if you’re thinking that you’re out of place because your reasons don’t match what you believe they should, believe me when I tell you that you are wrong. Look at me.” She gestured at herself. “I’m a heterosexual woman who owns and operates an exclusively male S&M club. What are my motivations? Why do I do this? I bet they aren’t what you think.”

Jim wasn’t sure if she wanted an answer. He stopped chewing to let the chocolate dissolve on his tongue.

“Delectable, isn’t it? A good friend goes to Belgium on business. He always brings me a box. He’s a considerate man. We won’t talk about his personal life.” She offered a bland smile that Jim interpreted as “I’m sure you know what I mean.”

“Is he a client here?” Jim asked.

“He’s a dear friend.” She smiled again. “Another?”

Jim shook his head. “No, thank you.”

“I’ll have one.” She closed her eyes as she chewed. Jim watched her jaw and throat move. She didn’t seem to be putting on a show. For a moment, he wondered if she’d forgotten him.

“I, um, I’m not sure I’m comfortable here.”

Miss Wyatt opened her eyes with the laziness of a cat waking. “In the office or in the club?”

“Here.” Jim gestured, taking in everything. “Everything’s so sexual. If you knew what I do for a living, you’d think I’m weird to say that, but….”

“But sexual is not what you want from your experience here,” she finished.

He nodded.

“So what do you want? Pain? You said not sexual, so I assume you don’t want pleasure?”

“Sex isn’t pleasurable for me.” He cringed. He hadn’t meant to share that.

“Mr. Sieber, if you’ve suffered a trauma and you’re here to work through it, I have to advise you against this. I can direct you to other resources—”

“I wasn’t traumatized. I’m not interested in sex. I don’t like… being touched like that. It makes me uncomfortable.” That put it mildly.

“Well. You might be the first asexual we’ve had here that I know of.”

“I don’t sign autographs.”

She laughed. “All right, you’ve explained why your goals aren’t sexual. Let’s talk about why you’re asking for pain. Are you a masochist?”

“No, ma’am.” He dug his heels into the carpet as she unraveled him.

“But you want to be hurt.”

She sounded sure. He glanced up, wondering if he should put up a front and demand to know why she’d jumped to that conclusion instead of asking if he sought to hurt someone. Her thoughtful expression shut him down. She looked ready to explain his life for him. And worse, she would be right.

“Yes,” he said, instead of the protest he’d halfheartedly intended. “I want to be hurt.” He said it aloud, slowly, to hear himself.

“Why?”

One look at Miss Wyatt told him she already knew why. She wanted him to say it.

“Because I deserve it.” He swallowed.

She kept eye contact and gave a small encouraging nod.

“Because I’m guilty of something and I… I want to be absolved.”

“Mr. Sieber, are you a fugitive?”

“No, nothing like that.” He realized what he sounded like, talking of guilt and absolution with such fervor.

He fell back in relief when her lips twitched into a smile. She reached across the desk. He grasped her hand.

“Mr. Sieber, I give you my word that I will match you to a client who will respect your boundaries. As for the absolution you desire, I’m afraid you’ll only find that if you’re willing to let yourself.”

“Thank you.” He began to shake with relief. He’d have what he needed soon. Everything would be okay.

“Now. Let’s go downstairs so I can introduce you properly to our bartender, Noel.” She pulled a pair of heels from beneath her desk and quickly swapped her slippers for them. “You have a lot of paperwork ahead of you, young man, and you’re going to need a soda to help your nerves.” He jumped when she touched his shoulder. “This is a big step.”

“I’m ready.” He stood up and walked to the door, where he waited for her. “Thank you, Miss Wyatt.”

THREE MONTHS Later:

Tanya Wyatt never failed to add excitement to his day, so Grant Jessup had allowed himself a rare nonbusiness lunch when she’d invited him out. Of course Rory had scowled at him. His leaving meant she needed to cancel a meeting on his account, but it was a one-on-one and it involved spreadsheets. Frankly, Grant was glad to be free of it. He still had heartburn and acid reflux from the day before after two acidic meals, one featuring citrus and the other tomato sauce. It had worsened overnight.

A new box of chocolate truffles sat on the table between Grant and Tanya. Grant had dutifully handed them over upon arrival, kicking off a conversation about his most recent European business trip. Then, when the waitress carried away their entree plates, Tanya slipped the truffles into her bag. Recognizing the significance of the action, Grant glanced around for eavesdropping ears.

“So, what’s the occasion?” he asked.

“There’s a young man I want you to meet. He started coming into the club about five months ago. I haven’t been able to match him yet. He’s breathtaking but asexual. He only wants to be beaten, but the Doms I’ve paired him with get handsy. It’s counterproductive to his needs.”

“So you think I could keep my hands off him?”

“You have a considerable amount of restraint. You are possibly my last hope. Plus, given what you’re currently looking for, I think he’d be a good match for you as well.”

Grant considered it. “How attractive?”

“Greek god.”

“Mercury or Hercules?”

“Narcissus.”

Grant arched an eyebrow as his heart clenched with a mix of youthful guilt and nostalgia. Tanya had touched a nerve she couldn’t possibly know about. Unless… she’d been to Grant’s home. She could easily have seen the painting of Narcissus that hung in Melanie’s former office. Melanie had left it and a number of other paintings behind after the divorce. Tanya might have guessed it belonged to Grant.

“You’d trust me to work out my frustration on his ass? I know how protective you are of your clients’ bottoms, Tanya.”

“Oh, you won’t touch him until you and I have spent at least forty hours together and I’m positive you know how to recognize when your temper isn’t in check.”

Grant gave a light snort. “Please. I didn’t get this rich by losing my cool.”

“That’s my point. You’re so good at hiding when you’re about to boil over that I wonder if you even know when you’ve reached the point before it’s too late. I’m not about to put a whip or any other implement in your hand before you’ve proven yourself to me, especially considering your reasons for doing this. You can keep your temper in business interactions, but you’re talking about family.”

Grant sighed. He didn’t care for Tanya’s methods, but he respected them, and if this plan worked out, it would meet a need he’d been looking to fill for a few years. “Fair enough. I suppose you’ll want to start this training the usual way.”

“Naturally.”

“You know, I think it’s hilarious how you’re protective of everyone’s ass but mine.”

“Darling, no Dom gets in my club without getting whipped by Miss Wyatt. You know that. If you can’t take it, there’s no reason I should let you dish it out.”

He sniffed. “I don’t see why one needs to give repeated proof. You’re a perverted woman.”

She grinned. “If you made yourself more of a regular, I wouldn’t have to keep reassuring myself.”

“Come on, Tanya. I can’t exactly be seen there, no matter how discreet you insist everyone is. My family is already in the tabloids more than I’d like.”

“I know. So, I’ll see you at mine at ten tonight?”

“Fine.” He dug into his pocket for a pillbox and pulled out an omeprazole tablet. “When do I meet this young man?”

“Heartburn or ulcer?” Tanya asked. She nodded at the tablet as Grant put it into his mouth and swallowed with a bit of water. It wouldn’t be as effective with food already in his stomach, but it was better than not taking it.

“Heartburn, but ulcer is around the corner I’m sure.”

“What does the doctor say?”

“Says I have too much stress in my life and I need to cut back.”

“Are you going to listen to him?”

He smiled. “Why do you think I take so many trips to Europe?”

“Grant, I know you take pride in your job, but—”

“It’s not a job. It’s a career. It’s the family business that I built on my father’s framework, so whatever you’re about to say, stop.”

Tanya put her hand up and changed the subject back. “He works at a strip club in upper Manhattan. I don’t want you to meet him yet, but you can send one of your spies to check him out.”

“And by ‘spy’ you mean Rory?”

She smiled. “I do. See you tonight, babe.”

Grant sighed, already anticipating the pain in his ass the evening would be.

Purchase

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Overdrive | Google Books

Meet the Author

Ryan Loveless is the author of numerous M/M romance novels and short stories. She is honored to be recognized as a Rainbow Book Award winner (several titles), an Epic eBook Awards finalist (In Me an Invincible Summer), and a Florida Author and Publisher Association bronze medalist (Ethan, the young adult adaptation of Ethan, Who Loved Carter). She lives in New York with her family, a sentence that brings her great joy to write.

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Ryan Loveless on Characters, Writing, and her new release His Cursed Prince (author guest blog)

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His Cursed Prince by Ryan Loveless

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Release date: Dec 28, 2018 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Ryan Loveless here today talking about characters, writing, and her new release His Cursed Prince. Welcome, Ryan. 

 

 
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Ryan Loveless

 

 

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?  And how much  of yourself goes into a character?

 Yes, the less research needed, the more likely I am to write it. I can turn anything into an hours long research project, so I like to keep things as lowkey as possible or else I get buried and never get anywhere. Case in point: my home is filled with Victorian history books from about 15 years ago when I had a plotbunny in that era. The research I wanted to do drowned me and the book was never done, even though I finished a draft. On the other hand, I did a lot of research into brain trauma and recovery for Ethan, Who Loved Carter and I loved it. However, I had a strong motivation to write that book because I wanted to do a character with Tourette’s, like me. I didn’t have as much motivation to stick with the Victorian story.  His Cursed Prince is set in a fantasy world mixed with reality. I had to look up the names of some flowers and that’s about it. It was wonderful.  

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed? 

 I have a story I hope to revisit one day. I put it aside because it is basically my story, of what would happen if I went back where I’m from. I stopped when I realized I was writing my own family. It got too hard to process that and I got uncomfortable with it. I struggled with the character’s motivation for returning home because I kept thinking, “Well, I wouldn’t go back for that reason.” 

  •  Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?  

 I mainly recall my Stephen King phase as a young teen. All my life, I’ll read anything put in front of me. Romance is not my go-to (that would be realistic fiction YA or detective stories), but I do read it. In the last four or five weeks I’ve read Crazy Rich Asians, The Good Neighbor: Fred Rogers’ biography, Nurturing the Wow, about bringing spiritualism from a Jewish perspective into parenting, Fawkes, a magical-realism retelling of the Gunpowder Plot, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertali (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda), Dumpling, and a few days ago I started Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years, about the later years of Elizabeth I, and Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, which I’ve had the ARC of forever and decided to read because the buzz is amazing. (Sidenote: I was home sick for 2 weeks. This much reading is rare.) For the record, I recommend all of these books.  

  •  Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?  

Not a person, but a reality: Always having books around, reading as much as I could, and growing up in a rural area where I was isolated a lot. I have siblings, but they were out of the house working on the farm and I was at the house. There were kids my age around, but we all worked and didn’t see each other much, so there was a lot of time to let my imagination go while I was shucking corn or pulling weeds or cleaning. We did some writing contests at school and then I did an english major with a writing emphasis at college. Reading is still a huge influence. I also love talking to my author friends like CJane Elliott and Carolyn Gray who are so passionate about writing. Since I started a job that I love a few years ago, I’m not as intent with writing as I used to be, but it’s still a wonderful feeling to make those words happen. I get a lot of joy out of reading other people’s words too.  

  •  How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going? 

Any way you can get words to a person is great. I do wish more people knew that they can probably get ebooks from their library. It will automatically return, so no late fees! And if your library doesn’t have a book, you can request it and they will probably buy it. Ask your librarian or visit your library’s website for more information! 

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part) 

I almost exclusively work with LC Chase now through Dreamspinner, and as far as I can tell, the way it works is she reads my mind.   

  •  Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why? 

 I think everyone’s favorite is Ethan, Who Loved Carter (also available in YA adaption!) But my personal favorite is “In Me an Invincible Summer” because it’s exactly what I wanted it to be. It took about 3 years to write, lots of consultations to get the ins and outs of an actor’s life right, and I got to write somewhat unlikeable characters and get myself to fall in love with them.  

  • What’s next for you as an author? 

 Dreamspinner will be releasing another novella in May, called A Cordial Agreement. Edits are all done and once again LC Chase read my mind to produce the cover. I’m trying to write more this year too, and my first project is a prequel to Invincible Summer focusing on Hunter and Chris. There will be some surprises there. I’d also like to revisit Paeder from Pop Life and This is Our Love Song at some point. I love writing him. 

  •  If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest? 

 I think if you love a character, you should write it and not worry. Like Paeder has a lot of issues. Derek has issues. Hunter. Oh my God. Most of my characters do. If you’re going to say that someone is too flawed to be a love interest, I think it sends a negative message because we are all flawed. We are all worthy of love. It doesn’t need to be exclusive of those flaws. It can be including them. We have flaws AND we are worth love. 

  •   Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened? 

 In Me an Invincible Summer, This Is Our Love Song, His Cursed Prince, Last Chance Charlie, A Cordial Agreement, quite a few fanfics. I had the Year of WIPs in 201X and then 201Y was the Year of Finishing WIPs. I’m hoping this year will be the Year of Finishing Anything I Start.  

  • If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why? 

 I know that the best place for me to write is in the dining hall of Grand Central Terminal with my battery full, wi-fi off, and the noise level at a dull roar. It keeps me focused. Some people want a cottage on a lake, I like hustle and bustle. (But I also want a cottage on a lake for non-writing days.) 

  •  With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away? To move past? To widen our knowledge? Why do you write? 

 I read for self-care and I hope that someone will read my stories for the same reason. I am happy to provide a distraction from the real world. If someone reads my books and then feels like they had a little reprieve, I’m glad about that.  

 

 

Here’s the blurb:

 

Three facts about Tuckington Belle:

1. Given the choice between illegally scaling the royal castle’s walls to steal flowers for a client at his family’s dress shop or going on a date with a girl his brother set him up with (“He’s fertile, and he can sew!”), Tuck will scale the wall like a spider after a fly.

2. If, upon knocking himself unconscious when he falls off the wall, Tuck wakes up bruised, blindfolded, and inside the castle, where—based on the unearthly wails heard nightly—the prince no one has seen in ten years is probably a ghost, Tuck would still choose this over a date with a girl.

3. Tuck thinks it’s time to admit he’s gay.     

 

Three facts about Prince Frederick George Deor (Read and approved with great reluctance by Lord “Protocol is Protocol. Stop Being a Pain About It” Todd):

1. He brought a curse upon himself and now bears the skin of a snake. 

2. He can’t take his eyes off the injured thief recovering in the castle.

3. Friendships born from lying and insisting the other person wears a blindfold can blossom into true love—which he needs to break the curse.

About the Author

 
Ryan Loveless is the author of numerous M/M romance novels and short stories. She is honored to be recognized as a Rainbow Book Award winner (several titles), Epic eBook Award finalist (In Me an Invincible Summer), and a Florida Author and Publisher Association Awards bronze medalist (Ethan). She lives in New York with her family, a sentence that brings her great joy to write.

You can contact/follow author Ryan Loveless at:

Twitter: @ryanloveless