When my publisher asked if I’d like to write a story set in my Melbourne After Dark series to give to readers for free, I jumped at the chance! Any time I can give back to the readers who support my career, I’ll take it.
This book is set at the same time as Unmasked and Hard Deal. If you’ve read Unmasked, you’ll be familiar with the Carmina Ball which is the central event for the series. In this book, we have Jason Allbrook next-in-line for his family’s architecture firm. He’s also the brother of Hard Deal’s hero, so you’ll get a little sneak peek at book #2.
Masked Seduction book #1.5 in the Melbourne After Dark series
When Jason Allbrook gets an email from a “secret admirer,” he laughs it off. Then he receives a package containing a masquerade mask and a request to meet at the Carmina Ball.
Dedicated to the family business, Jason has been working twelve-hour days without any thought to his own wants…or needs.
Maybe he should meet this masked seductress. After all, how could anyone dare resist such an enticing offer?
Subject: Something missing from your life…
I know something is missing from your life. As someone who cares about you, I’m concerned.
So I’ve taken it upon myself to help you out. Think of me as a Good Samaritan. You need a little more excitement in your life and I’m prepared to give it to you. Keep your eyes open—something will be coming your way very soon.
Where did the idea for Bad Bachelors come from? The question also known as: what kind of crazy person dreams up an evil idea like this?? When I was first working on the proposal for this series, the idea was more of a match-making app. However, I saw an article talking about the creation of the review website Yelp, but for people. In the end, I think it was an April fool’s joke. But the plot bunnies were running wild at that point, and who am I not to give a good home to some adorable little plot bunnies??
So, I switched my idea from being about match-making to being about a “bachelor review” app. While the series itself is absolutely a rom com and highly focused on the romance, I did want to use the app as a way to highlight how social media influences behaviour and perception. We got the internet when I was sixteen, and I have been on Twitter and Facebook for over a decade.
I’ve also worked in an information and internet security team for several years as well (which is why you’ll find elements of social engineering, hacking, phishing etc. popping up in my books from time to time). Needless to say, I have a fascination for online behaviour and the pros and cons of social media’s impact on our world.
That’s the background of Bad Bachelors. Like I said, this is absolutely a romance book. But if you like stories that have something meaty in the background, then this might give you an idea of what to expect. I can’t say too much about the thread that runs through the stories without spoiling anything. But, for those who’ve already picked up a copy, there’s more to come about the mysterious creator, why it was created and Manhattan’s reaction to it.
As for the characters, Darcy and Reed are possibly two of my favourite heroine and hero combinations ever! They’ve got a great frenemies to lovers vibes, sexual tension that’s off the charts and there’s so much banter is made my heart full writing every word. Plus there’s a pinch of family drama as well, just to keep the characters on their toes.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into the idea for the series and that I’ve piqued your interested in book #1. Check out the following links to see where you can buy a copy of Bad Bachelor in your location.
The start of 2018 has been a crazy busy time. I’m hard at work on my Bad Bachelors series (posting this between writing sprints for book #3, Bad Influence) and I’ve also been getting ready for the Melbourne After Dark series to launch with Harlequin Dare. Exciting times!
So far, there are three stories in this series:
Unmasked (April 2018)
Hard Deal (September 2018)
Masked Seduction (free online short, date TBD)
I’ll be doing some giveaways of print copies in the lead-up to release day. These are almost always done via my Facebook Group and newsletter, so be sure to join sign-up to both of those groups to be eligible to enter.
Copies of the GORGEOUS UK print edition – I am totally in love!!
In the meantime, here’s a look at Lainey and Damian from Unmasked.
From chapter four…
Holding her, Damian nudged the door open with his foot and let it swing shut behind him. The click of the automatic latch was like a single firework in the quiet room, the sound echoing off the tiles and rattling around in her brain.
He set her on the marble countertop. Lainey glanced around. The room was like no other bathroom she’d ever seen—the taps were gold and ornate, and fresh flowers sat in a vase that was most likely crystal.
They even had a fancy hand soap dispenser that resembled a Fabergé egg.
“Let’s have a look at the damage.” He crouched in front of her, pushing her dress up so he could get to her foot.
His fingers made quick work of the strap on her sandal, and with one hand bracing her ankle, he slipped the shoe off.
The action was so soft and caring that Lainey’s heart caught in her throat. The warmth of his fingers was like an aphrodisiac, potent. Intoxicating. Her blood hummed at the contrast of it all—the firmness of his grip mixed with the careful, tender touch.
“I think you can keep the foot,” he said, his tone serious. But the twinkle in his eye gave him away.
It appeared Damian did still have a sense of humour, much to her delight.
“You think?” Lainey peered down and wriggled her toes. The light glinted off the shimmery black nail polish she’d chosen because it reminded her of the stars against a night sky. “The word think isn’t something I want to hear when we’re discussing amputation.”
He chuckled and lifted her foot higher to inspect the sole. “I’m going to rub my thumb across the ball of your foot. If you feel any pain, then there could be glass under the skin.”
She nodded, her breath stuttering like a car engine failing to turn over. Lainey wasn’t sure she’d be able to detect pain—or anything else—as Damian inspected her.
For an encounter that shouldn’t have been in the least bit sexual, every nerve ending in her body was singing as though it was Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve and every other damn holiday all at once.
“Do you feel anything?” He looked up.
Seeing a big man like him on his knees, looking up at her through that sexier-than-sin mask, touching her as though she were the most precious thing in all the world…
“I think I’d be a statue not to feel something,” she said, her voice low and soft. “But I’m not in pain.”
He held on to her foot for a moment, his eyes fixed on her. Her calf was cradled in his palm, the heat from his skin working its way through her, turning her veins to threads of fire. Thank God she had a mask on so he couldn’t see her face heating up. They stayed there—locked in that moment, frozen by intimacy—until he cleared his throat and slipped the shoe back onto her foot.
“So I’ll be alright, Doc?”
“Better than alright.” He stood. The tuxedo fit him perfectly, hugging his shoulders and tapering down to his waist in a line so mouthwateringly divine, it stole Lainey’s breath. The only thing ruining the effect was the red wine stain. “I’m glad we checked—the last thing you want is a glass splinter.”
“Exactly. Cinderella had glass on her feet, and look how that turned out.”
He raised a brow. “She got the prince, didn’t she?”
“The prince had to rely on the fit of a shoe.” Lainey shook her head. “What she got was a dude with a bad memory and a foot fetish.”
Get a copy of my USA Today Bestselling romantic comedy, Pretend It’s Love, for only 99c for a limited time.
One fake relationship, shaken not stirred…
Bar manager Paul Chapman is sick of his family’s traditional ideals. But now that his ‘golden child’ big brother is tying the knot, Paul’s screwed. His ex will be there…and she’s having his cousin’s baby. Unless he wants to show up to the wedding alone and face his family’s scrutiny, he needs a girl on his arm. Now.
Cocktail specialist Libby Harris has spent her life earning the nickname Little Miss Perfect. But she’s deviated from her father’s life plan. If it fails, she might as well kiss his respect—and her dream—good-bye. Her only hope? Convince the hottest bar in town to take on her product.
Luckily for her, the owner’s brother is sexy as sin and in need of a perfect girlfriend…
From the scene where Libby and Paul go to have dinner at his parent’s house and “debut” their fake relationship…
“Let’s go,” he said, holding out his arm to Libby. “It’s showtime.”
She stood taller against him, having changed into a pair of her signature crazy-high heels. As much as he knew his relationship with Libby was fake, he couldn’t help imagining what she’d look like in only those heels. Like dessert and heaven and sex rolled into one, he’d bet.
Her hand rested lightly on his arm, her body pushed against him. She teetered on the unsteady paving of his parents’ front steps. Each bump of her hip sent a shot of heat through him.
He’d spent the afternoon trying not to think about how attractive she was with that mane of red hair and that perky butt encased in faded denim. In all likelihood he’d failed but, judging by some of the looks she’d thrown him, the feeling was mutual.
“You’re asking for trouble in those shoes,” he said, forcing his attention to something safer than Libby’s distracting curves.
“I’m asking for trouble anyway.” She offered him a sly smile as he rang the doorbell. “The shoes are just the cherry on top.”
Paul was about to ask her what kind of trouble she preferred when a thumping noise came from the house followed by footsteps. “You’re not scared of dogs, are you?”
Libby’s eyes widened as she stepped toward the door. “Not really…I don’t think.”
At that moment the front door burst open and the Chapmans’ very large, very excited Great Dane burst forth. He immediately locked onto Libby and jumped up, throwing his paws over her shoulders.
“Oh my God!” She wobbled on her heels, but Paul grabbed her around the waist from behind, preventing her from toppling over and taking the dog with her.
She stumbled back against him, her ass pushing squarely against his groin as she tried to wriggle free from the dog’s grip. If she hadn’t known about his attraction to her before, she would now.
Trust his libido to come back in full force with the one girl who had a “no sex” policy.
“Down, Cavallo!” His mother’s voice rang out over the commotion. “Siediti!”
The dog relinquished, its large tail thumping against the doorframe. Even seated, the top of his head came up to the bottom of Libby’s ribcage. Cavallo sniffed her and then proceeded to wipe a long strip of doggy drool across her jeans.
“I am so sorry,” his mother said, shooing the dog inside. “He gets very excited when we have guests.”
“It’s okay.” Libby blinked, looking down at her jeans and then back up to Paul, stifling a smile. “Excitement is a natural thing.”
Paul tried to subtly adjust the front of his jeans so his hard-on wouldn’t be noticeable, but the quick flick of Libby’s eyes told him he’d been well and truly sprung.
The countdown is on!! Bad Bachelor will be hitting shelves in 5 weeks time. This book has been in the making for so long, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to start sharing it with you. To whet your appetite, here’s a a sneak peek at Reed and Darcy:
She brought up the Bad Bachelors app and looked at her favorites list. The profile for Darren Montgomery sat at the top, his picture smiling up at her.
Darren was the IT manager who built furniture in his spare time. He had a solidly positive rating corroborated by several reviews…but not too many reviews. There was a fine line between the two, she’d discovered. Too many reviews could mean commitment issues, higher potential for crazy exes, or some other reason why things continually didn’t work out.
But Darren could be an option. He was kind and funny, according to one reviewer. A true gentleman, said another. The only negative thing was that apparently he worked a lot.
That wasn’t so bad.
“Not you too,” a deep male voice came from close behind her. Reed. “Is everyone using that goddamn app?”
His voice was like liquid sex. Hot, deep, smooth.
Get ahold of yourself, Darcy. Remember the thing about not becoming a puddle?
“Research is important. If women read reviews online before they buy a book, why wouldn’t they read reviews before they go on a date?”
“Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I thought dating was about getting to know someone without any preconceived judgments.” No apology for his tardiness…as she’d expected.
“If you’d actually taken the time to get to know more women, you wouldn’t be in such a bind.”
To her surprise, he laughed. “You know what? I like you, Darcy.”
The words bounced around in her brain, colliding with the questions she would never dare ask—like whether her attraction was reciprocated. Today, he looked less done than he had on their previous meetings. His dark hair was rumpled, like he’d run his fingers through it one too many times. He didn’t wear a tie, and his open collar revealed a sliver of tanned skin. Reed certainly wasn’t the stereotypical pasty office worker, that was for damn sure.
“Close your mouth, darlin’. You’re staring.” His lips quirked.
And just like that, her buzzing anticipation was replaced by the resounding urge to toss a drink in his face. “You wish, Reed. You’re not my type.”
“Oh no? You’d prefer Five-Star Darren, would you?” He inclined his head toward her phone and she snatched it out of his line of sight. “Nice guys aren’t good in bed.”
Her face was so hot she had serious concerns about spontaneous combustion. “And I suppose you’re the authority on what constitutes being good in bed.”
“I see my reputation precedes me.” The smirk bloomed into a full-blown wolfish grin. “My offer still stands, by the way. If you want to throttle me, I’m definitely up for it.”
“You…just.…” The words stuttered out of her mouth like a toddler had taken over her brain and was mashing the controls with its fist. “You’re a jerk.”
He shrugged and signaled for her to follow him. “I’ve been called worse.”
“I thought we were going to discuss the guest list,” she said, annoyed that he was getting under her skin so quickly.
“We are. But I’ve got an appointment in the financial district, so we’re going to conduct our meeting on the way.”
“And what exactly am I going to do down there?” Her protest might have had more weight if she hadn’t immediately followed him out of the café like a devoted puppy.
“Whatever you like. The company driver will bring you back whenever you’re ready. Don’t worry. I wouldn’t leave you stranded.”
“How do you know I don’t have somewhere to be?”
“Do you?” His gaze swept over her. “I can tell you’re not going to work.”
Damn it. She should have worn something other than a pair of tattered denim shorts, a black House Stark T-shirt, and Dr. Martens. “Okay fine, I don’t have anywhere to be. I’m just pointing it out so you know how rude you sound.”
He blinked. “So we’re still having the meeting?”
“Yes,” she huffed.
They stopped beside a black car with tinted windows. Out of nowhere, a driver appeared and opened the door for them. Darcy suddenly felt underdressed, which was stupid since they were only going for a ride.
“So tell me: What’s so appealing about Five-Star Darren?” Reed asked as they slid into the backseat. A glass partition separated them from the driver.
“None of your business.” Oh God, they were not having this conversation. Not while a billion dirty thoughts were driving her to distraction. Damn him, why did he have to mention sex?
Her hormones hadn’t been this rowdy since she was in high school. But the second he got close and his clean, warm scent invaded her nostrils, it was like the sexy bits of her body started doing tequila shots.
“Oh come on, you can trust me. I might even be able to give you some advice.” His brown eyes twinkled. They were framed by full, thick lashes—the kind of lashes that had no business being on a man.
God, they were far too close in the backseat of the car. Her bare leg was mere inches from his, and the scent of his aftershave invaded her nostrils. It was crisp, clean, with a hint of citrus.
“You were late today,” she blurted out, hoping the abrupt change in conversation might steer him away from delving into her nonexistent dating life—and perhaps jolt her brain into not focusing on how good he smelled. “Half an hour late and I was sitting there, waiting.”
“My meeting ran over and my phone died. I could have gone back to the office to email you, but that would have meant being later than I already was.” He reached for a bottle of water that sat in a compartment in the door. When he offered her one, she shook her head. “I apologize for keeping you waiting.”
“Thank you. I appreciate it.”
“Now, back to your dating life—”
“No. We’re not having this conversation.” She held up a hand. “Besides, why do you care?”
“Because, after careful deliberation, I’ve decided that you are interesting.”
“Gee, thanks.” Darcy snorted. “I’ll pass on that so-called compliment.”
“You do know ‘interesting’ is usually a code word for ‘weird,’ right? It’s not much better than telling a girl she has a great personality.”
“What’s that a code for?”
“You are interesting…in the non–code word sense. Even if you do think I’m a jerk. And Five-Star Darren would be a terrible match, for what it’s worth.”
Curiosity tugged at her. She knew nothing about the dating world, and it was clear he was well experienced. Surely there wouldn’t be any harm in gleaning some information from him…for research purposes, of course.
“Why’s that?” she asked.
“All these women have rated him highly, yet they haven’t stayed with him. Why would that be?”
“I don’t know.” She frowned. “Maybe it just wasn’t the right time.”
“For all those women?”
Okay, so that did sound a bit suspicious when he put it like that. “But the reviews—”
“What do the reviews say?”
She pulled up Darren’s profile on the app and scanned down the page. “‘Great guy but the timing wasn’t right.’” She shot him a smug look. “See? Told you.”
“He’s a total gentleman, but they didn’t have many common interests. Uh, another one says their jobs made dating too hard but that he was a nice person. Apparently, he’s romantic, but there wasn’t enough spark.” Darcy kept scrolling. “He’s kind and funny, a great conversationalist. I can’t see any red flags here.”
“He’s got a small dick.”
Darcy almost choked. “Excuse me?”
Reed shrugged. “Or he doesn’t know how to make a woman come.”
“Stop,” she hissed, the heat flushing through her body in a way that was entirely too pleasurable. Totally, totally inappropriate. “You can’t say that.”
“Why not? It’s just sex. And sometimes you have to look at what people aren’t saying to understand what they are.” He nodded. “Words can be unreliable like that.”
The countdown to the release of Bad Bachelors is on! I can’t wait for you all to meet my plucky, tattooed librarian and the baddest bachelor in Manhattan. So far, the start of this series is receiving some amazing reviews, including a starred review from Booklist:
Publisher’s Weekly also called it a “heartfelt novel” and had the following to say: “London tosses in lots of delicious plot curves—including the identity of the Bad Bachelors founder and the real reason Reed hates libraries—along with achingly flawed characters who’ll have readers rooting for their romantic success… London’s skillful writing and expert characterization carry the day.”
After the closure of Harlequin’s Blaze imprint (sob!) I was thrilled to be asked to write two stories for their brand new, soon-to-be-launched Dare imprint. Dare stories are super sexy, contemporary reads with an international flavour. My duet, Melbourne After Dark, features two best friends who sneak into a high-society masquerade ball to capture their targets in disguise. One girls gets the right guy, and one gets the wrong guy!
Book #1 Unmasked will be out in April 2018 and I am so excited to share the cover with you. Dun dun duuuuuuuuun!
Cinderella is about to get wicked… But can a naughty fantasy have a happily-ever-after?
Lainey Kline has one goal before she leaves Melbourne forever: transform herself into a sexy siren, sneak into the season’s most glamorous masquerade ball and seduce Damian McKnight. Only there’s a teeny little problem—one deliciously hot night isn’t nearly enough. Now Lainey wants more. But while getting naked is one thing, taking off their masks is quite another…
“Dare is Harlequin’s hottest line yet. Every book should come with a free fan. I dare you to try them!” —Tiffany Reisz, international bestselling author
The cover above is the North American cover, and this will only be available in digital. In the UK and Australia Dare books will be available in print as well as digital, and will have their own Mills & Boon branded covers. The UK edition is the one with pink writing and the Aussie cover is the one with blue writing.
If you’re in the US or Canada and you want a print copy, Book Depository is your friend. Unmasked is already up for pre-order and they offer free international shipping.
I’m so excited for these books to be out in the wild. The Dare line will feature a variety of stories with everything from bikers to CEOs to royalty. My books will have the same laugh-out-loud rom com vibe as the rest of my stories, but will be a little higher on the heat spectrum (if you’ve read and enjoyed my Blaze books, you can expect a similar heat-level.)
Happy Saturday!! Millionaire Under the Mistletoe is currently on sale for only 99c across retailers. It’ll be discounted for a limited time only, so if you’re looking for a sexy and emotional holiday romance then one-click away!
“With the beauty of a white Christmas, some funny encounters, and a little holiday magic, MILLIONAIRE UNDER THE MISTLETOE is a charming romance that will warm you up this Winter. ” – Books of All Kinds
Stella Jackson would rather stab herself in the eye with her own stiletto than return to England. Especially in winter. But to fulfill her grandfather’s last wish, she has to spend Christmas at the estate she inherited from him…with the one man she wishes she could forget.
Self-made millionaire Evan Foss wants one thing from Stella—her estate. But thanks to their rocky past, he’s the last person she’ll sell to. So when she takes him up on a bet, with the estate as the prize, Evan can’t believe his luck. The only problem is that seeing her now, sexy and all grown up, tempts Evan to finish what started years ago between them.
An excerpt from Millionaire Under the Mistletoe…
“We’re having fun now, aren’t we?” She sipped her wine, trying to figure out how to handle the situation.
You’re on thin ice right now. What are you going to do if you get back to his apartment and he puts the brakes on again?
There was a big difference between now and four years ago—she had something he wanted: the estate. Which meant she had the upper hand.
“I am.” He carved off a piece of his steak and chewed. “But that wasn’t exactly the type of fun I was talking about.”
The way his lips moved as he ate was startlingly erotic. The man was talented with his lips, he’d given her a kiss hotter than the depths of hell—a kiss that’d been branded into her memory and continued to replay over and over in the back of her mind like a needle skipping at the end of a record.
“And what kind of fun were you talking about?”
“The primitive kind.”
The close ceilings and dim lights of the restaurant gave a false sense of intimacy, but she’d have to remind herself that they weren’t alone. Not yet. There was still time to back away, before she started sliding into bad decisions.
Would it be so bad? Sex is just sex, you can keep it separate.
“The carnal kind,” he said. “The kind that’ll leave you aching tomorrow morning.”
She was already aching from the low tone of his voice. The sound rubbed over her, creating sparks against her nerves and causing a tight bundle of heat at the apex of her thighs. At this rate, the fancy lace knickers she’d purchased today would be soaked through before they got done negotiating terms.
“What’s changed?” she asked, stalling.
“We’re adults now.” He leaned forward. “We’re free to make our own decisions.”
Her stomach fluttered, and she couldn’t seem to tame the pulsing deep within her. Hearing the invitation in Evan’s voice was doing nothing to help her gain control of the situation.
“And how do you know I’m attracted to you?”
“It’s obvious.” He laughed, the low, gravelly sound made goose bumps break out along her skin. “I knew it the second you kissed me back.”
Her face grew hot. Had she been that transparent? He had kissed her, not the other way around. “You’re overconfident.”
“You’re bluffing.” The words came out as a growl. There was something about it that roused her primal side, the side that wanted to take control. “Tell me, I want to hear you say it.”
“Tell you what?”
“How much you enjoyed it.”
“Do you want me to lie?” She tipped her chin up at him, desperate to put him off his game the way he’d done to her. But Evan was a master at upsetting her grip on solid ground—he had her slipping and sliding, her heart thudding in her chest. This game of cat and mouse pleased her far more than it should have.
You can’t keep up. He’s better at this than you are, he has more experience.
But she wanted to play. She wanted to best him…and then she wanted to be taken to bed.
“The characters in this book were fabulous….If you’ve never read a Stefanie London book, this is a great place to start. If you’re a fan of her other books, you’re going to love McKenna and Beckett.” – Goodreads review
“A quirky, sparkly, funny romance that is typical Stefanie London. Beckett and McKenna’s story is filled with witty banter and a sharp dialog that is filled with one liners delivered by McKenna that literally will leave you with tears of laughter.” – Goodreads Review
More makeup videos…
I’m back with more makeup tips! This video features tips on applying foundation for an even finish, and techniques for stopping makeup from creasing. You can view the video here.