After a lengthy break, our fortnightly "A Bite Of" segment is back!
Today I would like to introduce the amazing Denise Rossetti with her book - The Dark Rose - which is the much anticipated final in her "Four Sided Pentacle" series.
Can you in five words describe your book?
Deeply sensual, fantasy/SF/steampunk, gasp-a-minute adventure. (Am I cheating? LOL)
The Dark Rose is the fourth and final book in the Four-Sided Pentacle series, so of course, I had to write it or die of severe frustration! Not only was a Happy Ending required for Rose and Quin, it was essential to tie up every possible loose end in the series. A handy by-product was saving the Universe-As-We-Know-It. I like high stakes - can you tell? *grin*
As for the gorgeous Rosarina... I relish the idea of a woman so innately sensual that her face stops men in their tracks, but I purely adore knowing that she also has a fine, subtle intellect. Rose is a secret agent and she's on a deadly mission. The fate of her homeworld depends on well she can manipulate the Technomage, Quin - a man as infuriating as he is brilliant.
In The Dark Rose, we have two people who recognise their match on a deep, instinctive level. But guess what? They're too darn clever to trust each other. Rose is a challenge Quin can't resist. He's a threat she's been ordered to...eliminate.
Ah, I love that dynamic.
You can read the whole first chapter on my website - http://www.deniserossetti.com/rose.html
And without further ado, here is the excerpt:
"So," she said, "what are you doing on Green IV?"
"I could ask the same of you."
Gently, Rose pressed her fingers into a muscled forearm clad in superfine cloth. Quin slowed and stopped, staring down at her. Not even the flattering light of the lanterns could soften the hardness of his features or disguise the way he studied her cleavage, giving her breasts the same concentrated attention he'd given the glowglobe.
Lifting her chin, Rose inhaled. "You first."
With tremendous satisfaction, she watched his pupils dilate. A weapon that worked. Thanks be to the Sister.
The Technomage moved on down the path, drawing her with him. "I'm running extensive tests on the Machine. The Fitzgerald asked for me specially."
"He doesn't have people of his own?"
"Not with my experience and skill." He said it without a trace of vanity, as if it were an acknowledged fact. As they reached the side of the great house, Quin reached over Rose's head to open a set of tall carved doors. "What about you? Fresh fields to conquer?"
"I, too, was invited." She swept past him into a small vestibule, dimly lit and populated only by a stone warrior snarling out of the gloom and a set of side tables with slender legs. The smell of furniture polish was strong, but not unpleasant. In the sudden silence, the sound of the doors swooshing shut reverberated like a shout.
Rose caught her breath, but she continued calmly enough, "The Harte wishes to establish a school for the young people of the Sciony. He asked me—"
Quin's deep chuckle bounced off the walls, a surprisingly rich sound that enveloped her in the strangest mix of warmth and affront.
"What's so funny?" Was that a dimple?
"Ah, Rose." He snorted, still grinning like a boy. "You? A schoolteacher?" When he skimmed a fingertip over her cheek, she jerked her head away, the jewels on the poniards thrust through her coiffure tinkling like tiny deadly bells.
"Yes, me," she snapped. "Like you, I have experience and skill to offer."
"I bet," Quin murmured, moving so close his body heat gave her gooseflesh and her nipples hardened in a stinging rush.
Rose's fingers curled into her palms. Godsdammit, it would be the work of seconds to draw one of the thin jeweled daggers and use it to puncture his masculine pride, but that would never do. Instead, she breathed deep and waited until his gaze was drawn once again to her cleavage. She suppressed a thin smile. No need for panic. Everything — including Quin, especially Quin — was under control.
"You forget," she said mildly. "Prue and I own the best known courtesan house in the Isles. Our apprentices learn everything required for the profession — the art of conversation, physical grace, singing and music, business sense, basic self-defense." She paused. "Good manners."
Unable to resist, she tilted her head and flashed a brilliant smile. When he blinked, she wanted to crow.
Quin gave his head a shake, like a dog emerging from the water. "Social graces." His lips thinned. "Nothing of any lasting worth. It's all just ... surface, for show."
"You couldn't be more wrong." When he would have spoken, she placed her fingers against his lips. Immediately, he gripped her wrist, holding her there.
She said, "Social graces make societies function, like, like ... oil in the gears. Manners allow people to show they care for each other, to negotiate."
She held his gaze, his eyes dark and unreadable in the poor light. "Wars begin when the social graces fail," she said.
Quin turned his head and nipped the pad of her finger, his tongue flicking over her flesh so lightly she might have dreamed it if not for the sudden jolt in the pit of her stomach. "For such a beautiful woman, you're far too serious."
Patronizing—! She snatched her hand back. "I believe I came to the garden to view the roses." Moving toward the door, she said, "Good night, Quintus. I wish you joy of the Machine."
"Not so fast." His arm barred her passage. "Come and see the Harte's portrait gallery with me." He smiled, no doubt under the impression he was coaxing. Instead, he looked like a direwolf contemplating a steak. "More interesting than flowers. I guarantee."
Oh yes, that it would be. Such a complicated man, so many layers.
"I don't think so."
Footsteps approached from a nearby passageway, accompanied by a number of voices in cheerful semi-inebriated conversation. A woman giggled and a man replied, laughing. Another chimed in.
Quin cursed under his breath. "For Science' sake, I want to talk to you. In private."
Rose patted his broad chest, right over his heart. "Life is full of disappointments," she purred. "Another time."
He slipped an arm around her waist. "Don't scream." He scooped her up.
"What? Aaargh! Quin, put me down!"
"Quiet. They'll hear you." With rapid strides, he moved toward a flight of stairs at the far side of the room and charged up them.
Speechless with shock, Rose gripped his shoulders for dear life. She had visions of tumbling down the stairs to land in a tangled heap at the feet of the Harte's guests. What's more, she'd bet every cred in her strongbox she'd be the one underneath, cushioning his fall. Deep and regular, Quin's breath puffed warm against her hair as he climbed. He wasn't even panting, damn him. Rose's admirers had called her many things — voluptuous being among them — but no man, however besotted, had ever referred to her as small.
Rigid against Quin's chest, she kept very still, acutely conscious of the strength of his arms, his boot heels thumping down on the carpeted treads. Those boots! Vividly, she recalled her first sight of him across the Harte's ballroom, leaning against the plinth of a statue, all leashed, indolent power. He seemed to enjoy leaning. Over-the-knee boots were completely unsuitable for evening wear, but together with tight cream breeches, they emphasized the solid shapely muscle of thigh and buttock in a ... well, a wonderfully physical way. Sister have mercy, she had a job to do, but she wasn't blind, and it had been a long, long time ...
Love it Denise! Thanks for sharing.
If you'd like to see what Denise is up to, you can find her at these websites;
Buy links for The Dark Rose -
Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/Ohf83l