New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice’s first foray into erotic romance, THE FLAME, earned accolades from some of the genre’s most beloved authors. “Sensual, passionate and intelligent,” wrote Lexi Blake, “it’s everything an erotic romance should be.” J. Kenner called it “absolutely delicious,” Cherise Sinclair hailed it as “beautifully lyrical” and Loreli James announced, “I look forward to reading more!” Now, Christopher returns you to the world first introduced in THE FLAME with an all new novel of The Desire Exchange…
Emily Blaine’s life is about to change. Arthur Benoit, the kindly multi-millionaire who has acted as her surrogate father for years, has just told her he’s leaving her his entire estate, and he only has a few months to live. Soon Emily will go from being a restaurant manager with a useless English degree to one of the richest and most powerful women in New Orleans. There’s just one price. Arthur has written a letter to his estranged son Ryan he hopes will mend the rift between them, and he wants Emily to deliver the letter before it’s too late. But finding Ryan won’t be easy. He’s been missing for years. He was recently linked to a mysterious organization called The Desire Exchange. But is The Desire Exchange just an urban legend? Or are the rumors true? Is it truly a secret club where the wealthy can live out their most private fantasies?
It’s a task Emily can’t undertake alone. But there’s only one man qualified to help her, her gorgeous and confident best friend, Jonathan Claiborne. She’s suspected Jonathan of working as a high-priced escort for months now, and she’s willing to bet that Jonathan has uncovered some possible leads to The Desire Exchange—and to Ryan Benoit. But Emily’s attempt to uncover Jonathan’s secret life lands the two of them in hot water. Literally. In order to escape the clutches of one of Jonathan’s most powerful and dangerous clients, they must act on long buried desires—for each other.
When Emily’s mission turns into an undercover operation, Jonathan insists on going with her. He also insists they continue to explore their impossible, reckless passion for each other. Enter Marcus Dylan, the hard-charging ex-Navy SEAL Arthur has hired to keep Emily safe. But Marcus has ulterior motives for taking the job; he, too, has a burning passion for Emily, and he turns out to be as rough and controlling as Jonathan is sensual and reckless. As Emily searches for a place where the rich turn their fantasies into reality, she will also be forced to decide which one of her own long-ignored fantasies should become her reality. But as Emily, Jonathan, and Marcus draw closer to The Desire Exchange itself, they find their destination isn’t just shrouded in mystery, but in magic as well.
“I’m sorry,” Marcus says.
“For the fact you so totally and completely misinterpreted what I said.”
“I’m hanging up now. It’s a little late for mansplaining.”
“And for not turning you around and taking you right over the hood of that Aston Martin to show you how wrong you were.”
Her breath catches, but another Emily responds. “Charming,” she whispers.
“Your hand seems to think so,” he says.
He’s right. The warmth she’s been feeling against her thigh is coming from her own palm. Just the sound of his voice has charmed her fingers onto her thigh. And he can see it all. The parted taffeta drapes blowing in the breeze, the tangle of silk sheets sliding down across her white T-shirt, the rise and fall of her chest as she tries to get back the breath he just stole from her.
“It’s not gonna be that easy,” she says.
“What? What isn’t going to be that easy, Miss Blaine?”
“Put a little distance between us and then you turn into Christian Grey, when there’s no risk and you don’t have to—”
“Don’t have to what?”
“I want to hear what you said.”
“Arthur said he assigned you to me because you made some comments about me that got back to him. I want to hear them. The comments.”
“They weren’t comments,” Marcus says.
“Then what were they?”
“About my weight?”
“About your eyes. You were coming down off the front porch of the main house one day and when the sunlight hit your eyes, they were so beautiful they looked like a painting.”
“Well, now…that’s kinda sweet.”
“And then I said if I ever get inside that woman I’m going to do whatever it takes to make her look into my eyes the whole time. To make her feel like there’s no one else except for me, and nothing else in the world except for what I’m doing to her body.”
She hopes her sharp intake of breath is too soft for the microphones to pick up, but she doubts it. And besides, her silence is telling enough.
“Watch that hand, Emily.”
“Is that how you said it? In exactly those words?”
“I said it in a way Scott could understand. He was the other guy on duty that day. He doesn’t read books with big words. Just magazines with big guns.”
“I see too,” he says. “But I’d like to see more.”
Before she can think twice about it, she draws the sheet back a few inches, exposing the crotch of her panties to the ocean breeze, revealing it to the darkened bedroom and it’s myriad of hidden but prying eyes. Revealing it to Marcus’s tortured hunger for her, on which he seems to temporarily lose his grip every few hours or so.
Me, I’m the reason he loses control. I’m the thing he wants but doesn’t want to want…yet.
Fear sends gooseflesh up her thighs, fear of being exposed, fear of moving too fast, fear of giving too much of herself away too soon. But they’re her thighs and her panties, goddammit, and for the time being, this is her bedroom, and she’s technically alone, so what is there to be afraid of—
“Are the cameras recording?” she asks the darkness.
“Not unless I tell them to.”
“Don’t tell them to.”
“Then show me more. Quid pro quo, you know.”
“Never reference Silence of the Lambs when you’re trying to get a woman naked.”
“You have a real mouth on you, Miss Blaine. Do you know that?”
“I do. And that’s why you keep talking to me.”
“Or it’s just my job.”
“There are other jobs, with quieter people.”
She tries to suppress a smile. Beneath the sheet, she works her arms out from her T-shirt, then slides the entire thing up and over her head before dropping it to the carpet. Just at the moment when Marcus probably believes she’s about expose her breasts to the open air, she rolls over onto her stomach.
About Christopher Rice
After publishing four New York Times bestselling thrillers by the age of 30 and being declared one of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive, award-winning writer Christopher Rice became the first author to make his erotic romance debut part of the 1,001 DARK NIGHTS series. THE FLAME: A Desire Exchange Novella kicked off a steamy new series set in New Orleans, featuring magical candles and a sexy new breed of supernatural beings, The Radiants, who are devoted to helping heroes and heroines realize their heart’s desire. THE FLAME earned accolades from some of the biggest names in erotic romance and was quickly followed up by THE SURRENDER GATE: A Desire Exchange Novel, available from Evil Eye Concepts as a Blue Box Special. Aside from authoring eight works of dark suspense, Christopher is also the co-host and executive producer of a streaming Internet radio show he launched with his best friend, New York Times bestselling author Eric Shaw Quinn. Each Sunday at 8 PM ET/ 5 PM PT, THE DINNER PARTY SHOW WITH CHRISTOPHER RICE & ERIC SHAW QUINN brings you a new episode at TheDinnerPartyShow.com