Published March 3rd 2014 – Add it on Goodreads
Take a trip to the dark side with 12 books by some of the hottest names in edgy romance, including USA Today Bestselling authors CJ Roberts, Eliza Gayle, and Aleatha Romig!
Pam Godwin - Beneath the Burn
Skye Warren - Wanderlust
Claire Thompson - Enslaved
Cari Silverwood - Take Me Break Me
Annabel Joseph - Comfort Object
Aleatha Romig - Consequences
Shoshanna Evers - The Man Who Holds the Whip
Annika Martin - The Hostage Bargain
Jasmine Haynes - Take Your Pleasure
Eliza Gayle - Play With Me
Pepper Winters - Tears of Tess
CJ Roberts - Captive in the Dark
For pre-order and release week only, this set will cost 99 cents. These full-length e-books would cost over $40 if purchased separately. This set will only be available for a limited time, so order your copy now!
Bad Boys, and Why We Love Them
My name is Annabel Joseph, and I’m a bad boy addict.
I know it’s wrong. I know they’re bad for me, but I can’t quit ’em. It’s probably because my first book boyfriend was Leo Kovalensky in Rand’s We The Living. (Yeah, I grew up in a weird home. But I digress.)
I remember getting into it with some authors on a romance chat board about how heroes“should be.” Kind, protective, responsible, loving, romantic. I raised my digital hand and said, “I like heroes who are mean sometimes.”
Jaws dropped, tongues lashed, lectures ensued. “Romance heroes can’t be bad, Annabel!
They have to be heroic or you’re doing it WRONG.” I backed out of that argument because I wasn’t going to convince any of them otherwise, but in my heart I knew there was a place for bad boys in romance. I knew because I’d written a bunch of them, and those books (and bad boys) were the ones my readers talked about the most.
I can’t explain the Bad Boy mystique, I just know there’s something about a man who’s not perfect, who’s rough around the edges, who doesn’t always know the right thing to do or say. There’s something about watching a bad boy dig himself deeper into trouble with the heroine, and then seeing him realize that, bad as he is, love is badder and stronger than any of his faults. I suppose that’s the key to it all. Love always prevails.
If the hero’s perfect and love prevails, yeah, sure, it’s sweet, but what else was going to happen? He’s perfect, for God’s sake. But when a bad boy finds love…well, that’s something special. There’s extra effort, a pressing need for redemption that makes my heart ache and worry, and then swell with joy when the bad boy finds his way to his Perfect Girl, the one who understands and accepts him, flaws and all.
The hero of my book, Jeremy Gray, is a Bad Boy Extraordinaire: selfish, haughty, demanding, sexually deviant. But he’s one other thing too…a damaged, scared man who really just wants love. I hope you’ll order MAKE ME: Twelve Tales of Dark Desire to meet my bad boy Jeremy, and many other bad boys who’ll make your heart ache and swell. As well as some other parts, hopefully.
I was huddled beside my things on the stairs when he found me. He didn’t say anything, and I didn’t acknowledge him. He leaned down to pick up the eviction notice, holding it between his perfect fingers and scanning it with a frown.
“I’m sorry, Nell. Think of it as tough love.”
“You’re a sociopath.”
He sat down beside me, taking off his sunglasses and holding them loosely in his hand. “I’m not a sociopath, just desperate. I’m supposed to leave in four days. And I really, really want you to come with me.”
I breathed deeply, considering my next step. Punch him? Call the police? Gouge out his eyeballs? Listen to what he has to say…
“There are a million girls in L.A.” I said, hugging my knees more tightly to my chest. “A million girls who would probably jump at this opportunity. So why me?”
“Because I want you. There may be a million girls, but I want you. Kyle told me…” His voice trailed off as he thought better of it. “I heard that you were different. That you were smarter, deeper. That you were tough. That you were petite and beautiful. When I met you, I saw it was all true. I want you, not anyone else. If there’s someone better out there, I don’t know where she is and I don’t care. My mind’s made up.”
“I’m a person, Jeremy. I have a life. I have the right to self-determination.”
“I do too. If I want you, I can do whatever is in my power to attain you, within the law.”
“Within the law? You used slander and entrapment to get me fired from my job. Then you had me wrongfully evicted from my apartment. Now I’m homeless, and I can’t even… I can’t even…”
God, I needed my mom, but we hadn’t spoken in years. I was estranged from my whole family. I could call my friends, but they wouldn’t believe the story of what was going on with me, even if I could make it make sense in the retelling. And I’d signed his stupid confidentiality contract, on top of everything else. I hugged myself, feeling powerless and confused. Why was I even sitting with him? Why, even now, did some part of me want to insinuate myself into his arms?
“The thing is,” Jeremy said, “I really want to help you. I think you and I could have a lot of fun together. I think this could be mutually beneficial, this arrangement I’m proposing. The only reason you can’t see that is because you’re so angry and afraid of how I went about making it happen.”
“It’s not happening. I hate you so much, I can’t even explain how much I hate you right now.”
“It’s okay to hate me, to be afraid of me, to despise me. I don’t care. Just know that I would never do anything to hurt you, really hurt you, no matter what it seems like. Come with me, and belong to me for a while. Relax into it. Don’t think about it so much.”
“You’re a psycho,” I muttered, burying my head in my knees.
We sat there for a few moments, and then he reached over and put his hand on the back of my neck. He threaded his fingers into the wavy curls of my shoulder-length hair and started to rub my scalp and nape. I wanted to tell him to stop, but I couldn’t. It felt so good, so comforting.
My mother used to caress me that way to soothe me when I was tired or afraid.
“Listen, what do you want more than anything else in the world?” he asked quietly, when I was reduced to putty in his hands.
I didn’t answer.
“Because you know what I want? I want you to come traveling with me these next four months. That’s all I want. A partnership with you. Simple and erotic and enjoyable and exciting and fun. That’s what I want most on earth. Now, what do you want more than anything else? Something I can do for you. Tell me.”
I shouldn’t have answered, but I did.
“I want to go to college. I want to finish my degree.”
“Finish?” he asked in surprise. “What degree have you already started? Medical school? Law school?”
“Comparative cultural mythology.”
He laughed. “I see now why you turned to waitressing and sex work.”
I pulled away from him and didn’t reply.
“Well, listen, if you stay with me for the term of the contract and work for me, then when you’re no longer in my employ, I’ll pay your way through college. Any university, any degree you want—bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, whatever. If you can’t get into the university you want, I’ll pay your way into it. Anywhere you like. That’s in addition to the salary I’m already prepared to pay you, the salary I quoted you before. That’s what I can offer you. Maybe it sweetens the deal.”
And damn it, I guess it did.
A little-known fact about me—I attended Harvard University for two years following a stellar high school career and a perfect score on my SATs, and began what I hoped would be a lifelong career in the study and publication of papers on mythological tales and documents. But I had to leave because of my fucked-up family; a father sent to jail, a suicidal mother spiraling out of control, siblings with their heads up their asses. I did what I could, then finally washed my hands of the whole morass, but it was far too late to return to my studies, and the money was gone.
The money. Why was life about money? I’d been trying to save, but it was hard. University tuition was steep, and scholarships were hard to win when your application essay detailed your adventures as a submissive for hire. I put away what I could each month by cutting corners where I was able. I quit the gym to save money and exercised at home with workout DVDs from the public library. I stayed out of the pricier lingerie boutiques and shopped the end-of-season sales at Victoria’s Secret. I turned down dinner invitations, bowed out of barhopping with friends to put money away for the future. Still, after five years of determined saving, I barely had enough saved to cover one semester at Harvard, much less an entire degree.
But now, after a short stint of indentured servitude, I could get my life back on track. Maybe he was some twisted gift from the universe, this horrible man. He was the money, the influence I needed to move forward.
I crossed my arms over my chest, still refusing to look at him.
“I don’t know you at all,” I said. “I don’t think this is completely safe.”
“That’s what all the paperwork is for. You know how this works. If you would have looked over the papers completely, I think you would have felt better about everything. Jesus, I paid a lot of money to have them drawn up. Fortunately my lawyer is very discreet.”
“And perverted. To write up contracts like that.”
“Yes. Sure. The contract is perverse, and by no stretch of the imagination admissible in court. But it’s a job, Nell, a job that I think you’d enjoy very much. You live the lifestyle. It’s in your heart, it’s in your blood, it’s in your will. I think that’s why this is so hard for you. You want to be my submissive, but I think you’re ashamed.”
It was true. I despised myself for secretly craving the arrangement he suggested. “You hide too,” I pointed out. “You hide the way you are. From the public, from your fans.”
“Only as much as I have to. I do have a public persona to uphold. But I’m not ashamed of it. I think power exchange is beautiful. I think you are too. I think everything about you is beautiful.”
“You don’t even know me.”
“Not yet. But if I get my way, I’ll know you very well.”
I rubbed my eyes. I was too tired to come up with any more protests or recriminations. Deep inside, I knew I’d already made up my mind. He knew it too.
“For now.” I looked over at my things, then back at Jeremy Gray sitting beside me. “But what do I do? What now?”
Jeremy pulled out his phone.
“I’m going to call someone to pick up your things, and we’re going to go to my place. We’re going to sit down with my lawyer and go over the paperwork page by page. When we’re done, I think you’ll agree to start a relationship with me, but if you decide not to, I’ll get your eviction reversed.”
“And if I do agree to this ‘relationship’?”
“We’ll go to dinner tonight and tip off the paparazzi. Our first date.” He turned away from me to bark into his phone. “Kyle, come over. She’s ready now.”
Thank you for considering MAKE ME: Twelve tales of dark desire. We hope you enjoy your trip! Please check out the contributing authors to find out more about their books and upcoming events.
Aleatha Romig - Consequences
Skye Warren - Wanderlust
Eliza Gayle - Play With Me
Cari Silverwood - Take Me, Break Me
Jasmine Haynes - Take Your Pleasure
Pam Godwin – Beneath the Burn
Annabel Joseph – Comfort Object
Claire Thompson – Enslaved
Annika Martin – The Hostage Bargain
Shoshanna Evers – The Man Who Holds the Whip
Pepper Winters – Tears of Tess
CJ Roberts – Captive in the Dark