Exclusive Excerpt 2: Falling Star

Sometimes it takes finding your heart to find your voice…

Holy skittle-eating walrus. Briana’s senses were so overwhelmed, she couldn’t even swear coherently inside her own head. Her entire universe had shrunk to the magic place where Gareth’s fingers connected with her skin, and it was all she could do to stop herself from orgasming just from his touch on her back. She hadn’t even realized that was physically possible.

His hands glided down her spine again and she moaned helplessly, unable to stop the sound from streaming unbidden from her normally controlled mouth. Her skin flared in sensation, sparks and heat tracing in an afterglow wherever Gareth touched. This wasn’t a massage; this was foreplay. If she rolled over and the slightest breeze wafted past her nipples, she’d probably come there and then.

Attempting to keep herself from grinding against the table, Briana drew a steady breath and shuddered as Gareth’s fingers traced over her neck. Goosebumps immediately sprang up. So good. She wanted to tell him, wanted to speak the words out loud so he’d know how wonderful he was.

Where did that come from? Brianna never wanted to speak; silence was her friend, a mantle against the world. She didn’t want to talk evernot when her manager begged her to do radio interviews, not when she was asked to present at the Grammysnot even when a few words might have helped her case against that douchebag Rogers.

No. Briana and silence were a perfect match, in a life that yielded no other pairing as strong as this one. Silence protected, silence attacked, and silence highlighted. It wasn’t, as some people believed, a ploy to protect her vocal cords. Her silence meant that when she sang, her voice was all the more precious, because it was the only time it was used. Diluting the purity of her music with empty words was pointless. She wasn’t about to change that for chitchat with the handsome spa dude.

But still, the desire to engage in conversation lingered. Who are you, Gareth? Do you know my music? Would you like to kiss me? How simple would it be to ask and be answered?

You’re enjoying this so far?’ Gareth asked, a rhetorical question considering her physical reactions. Was it her imagination, or was his voice thick with lust? Hell, who needed words? Maybe it was as easy as rolling over and smoothly making an offer with her eyes to take this little oil-fest into the bedroom. After all, that was how it had worked with the rest of her hookupsGod knew most guys weren’t interested in talking anyway.

Now. Do it now! She turned her head to the side and looked back to where Gareth stood over her, but before she could flip over, he said, ‘Ms. Brite … I hope I’m not being too forward, but I really need to say something to you.’

Her breath hitched as she lay straight again. Well, this was promising. Maybe he was about to ask her if she wanted to take things further, and then she could casually nod and agree as if it wasn’t all she’d been able to think about for the last hour.

I need to say thank you.’

Thank you? What for? With her face mushed into the table hole, her brow creased in confusion.

His knuckles found a knot below her shoulder blade, and he firmly stretched the lumps out as he said, ‘For your music. I … I lost my mom last year, and the only thing that helped me get through were your songs.’

Several emotions hit Briana at once: pride, curiosity, sorrow. Of course she received thousands of daily PMs and tweets praising her music, and she genuinely appreciated them all, but this was different, more intimate in a way she couldn’t understand. She desperately wanted to ask which songs in particular he’d loved, her interest almost winning over her vow of silence.

As if he heard her unspoken question, he replied, ‘Every track from Enshroud really hit home for me.’

Enshroud? Pride took over now. That album was her baby, but it had tanked so badly, she could have thrown a party for everyone who bought the record and held it in a broom closet.

Gareth continued. ‘It was brilliant. It spoke to me. You’re incredibly talented.’

Blushing furiously, something she seemed to be doing often around this man, she said, ‘Thank you.’

It took a moment for her to grasp that she’d spoken, and when the realization landed, she gasped, clamping her lips shut tightly, grateful that she was face down. I spoke? What the hell? It had been years since she’d talked; it was her natural state to keep all the words inside until she was songwriting.

But within half an hour, this man with the magic hands had managed to ply her voice from her chest, and Brianna wasn’t sure how. Maybe he didn’t hear me, she reassured herself, hoping desperately he’d change the subject.

Possibly she’d gotten lucky, because Gareth continued to talk in a tender tone. ‘I can hear that you love what you do. It came through in every note of that album, even the sad songs. When someone loves their work, you can tell. I love massage, even if it’s not my main area of expertise.’

What is? She badly wanted to know, and the words almost tripped out of her again. Dammit. Come on, Brianna. What did she care about the massage boy’s hobbies? In fact, this was sure to be an angle, anyway. This guy was probably an actor or songwriter, hoping to butter her up for connections.

But he surprised her again, speaking as though their conversation wasn’t one-sided. ‘I’m actually trained across a few different natural therapies. I’m a qualified dietician, I’ve studied reflexology, and I’m a naturopath too. Massage was something I did to support myself when I was studying, and it’s still paying the bills now.’

Wow. She felt oddly inferior, something that didn’t often happen to her. She was proud of her career, but realistically her natural talent and inherited good looks weren’t something she’d earned or studied for. This was a guy who’d dedicated himself to his passion for years on end.

She shifted on the table, feeling so relaxed, she was almost boneless. With a lazy twist, she turned her head to look back at him, asking ‘why?’ with her expression.

He understood. ‘Why all the natural healing stuff? It fascinates me. It’s not that I don’t believe in modern medicine because I definitely do, but our bodies try so hard to keep us healthy, and sometimes just a few changes can shift someone’s entire life. Like you.’

Me? With her face back in the table hole, she frowned, her forehead pushing upwards against the towel surrounding her head.

One of your shoulders is higher than the other. Did you know that?’

She hated that flaw, the way her left shoulder seemed to always shrug upward slightly. But rather than whine about it, she’d made it work for her, turning that little shoulder shrug into her trademark photo pose.

It’s because you’re tight under here.’ Gareth’s hand slid below her armpit, digging through layers of skin and muscle until he found a tender spot.

He pressed in firmly and Briana squeaked, another unbidden sound Gareth had managed to elicit.

Just breathe, Briana. I’ve got you.’

If anyone else had done it, she would have furiously pulled away for causing her such intense pain, which was now streaking from her armpit to her fingers and radiating up her neck too. But something about Gareth gave her pause, allowed her to trust he knew what he was doing. She took a deep lungful of air and tried to melt into his ministrations.

After about ten painful seconds, something gave a dull pop under his fingers and she gasped in surprise as the ligaments around her shoulder released.

Try sitting up for a second,’ he said, backing away from the table.

Awkwardly, Briana levered herself up, keeping her towel clutched around her chest. She turned her head experimentally. Her shoulder felt … good, looser. She smiled at Gareth in gratitude.

And check this out.’ He moved close in front of her, and her senses came alive at his nearness. Gareth’s hands touched her shoulders as he said, ‘This side is lower now. It’s not perfect, but we can keep working on it while you’re here.’

Rolling her shoulders, Briana grinned widely. Her shoulder had been tight for years, since …

Her smile faded away as she put together the timeline. Since I fell out with my parents. She was seventeen, and suddenly on her own, dealing with everything by herself. Her shoulder had locked up one day and never let go.

As if following her thoughts, Gareth ran his finger down her bare arm before pressing gently on another sore place. ‘Sometimes our bodies hold onto stress in a very literal way. Places like this are often tight when we try to shoulder the weight of the world on our backs.’

Who are you? Briana felt her spirit shift, the darkness inside her relenting in the presence of this man who was so calm and deep. There was so much more to discover about him, she could sense it, and her soul clamored to dive into his depths and explore. Her mouth twitched, the questions poised to tumble out, so she clamped it shut.

His gaze was trained on her lips, and his face creased into empathy. ‘Brianna … everyone on this island has signed non-disclosure agreements. If you want to talk, ask me something, you can. You don’t have to be the mysterious, silent singer here. You can just be you.’

They’d drifted closer, Gareth stepping in, her leaning forward, their bodies near, the air heady around them. This moment. It was perfect. Perhaps for one night, she could just be a girl, taking a chance on a guy she liked.

Briana stood and pressed herself against him, only the towel separating her naked chest from his hands. ‘Gareth,’ she whispered, filled with a sense of rightness that he was the man to break her silence, that here in his arms, she could be someone else.

Swiftly, she angled her face up and closed the gap between their lips. Gareth’s eyes flew open, and the connection she felt between them was breathtaking.

Which was why she was even more shocked when he stumbled backwards and said loudly, ‘What are you doing?’

Flummoxed, Brianna shrugged, her left shoulder suddenly hitched high again. What do you think I’m doing?

His cheeks spotted with color, he moved to the other side of the table and began to collect up his things. With his eyes shuttered low, he said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Ms Brite. I shouldn’t have let that happen.’

Let? Briana couldn’t have spoken if she wanted too. She’d been so sure their attraction had been mutual, and her face burned in mortification.

He seemed to realize his mistake, rambling, ‘I mean, of course I’d like to kiss you. You’re gorgeous, and I’m honored that you’d even want to.’

Then what’s the problem? She let out an exasperated tongue click.

He eased past her, taking obvious care not to touch her as he did so, and began to fold the table up. ‘I’m your massage therapist, and it wouldn’t be right for me to take advantage of you. Star Island has strict policies. Staff can’t have inappropriate contact with guests.’

Smiling sensuously, Briana sidled around the table and ran her fingers along his arm. I won’t tell if you don’t …

He pulled away. ‘Briana, I could lose my job.’

So? I’ll hire you. God, he was hands-down the best masseur she’d ever had. Mentally, she began drafting a contract for himdouble his current pay, take him on the road with her when she went on tour in six weeks. Easy.

But then he faced her, and there was torment in his expression. ‘I know it sounds like a cop out, but I need this job. It’s not just about the money.’

Please.’ She hadn’t meant to speak again, definitely never intended to beg; it just kind of happened. Feeling the situation slipping out of control, she threw her ego on the floor, and said, ‘Please. Stay.’

The moment grew long. Her body was still trembling from the after-shocks of his touch, and her heart was attempting to shield itself from these new, intense emotions. Slowly, Gareth lifted her hand to his mouth and he kissed her on her palmsomewhere she wasn’t sure she’d ever been kissed before. The unexpected gesture sent lust pooling between her already warm thighs and her knees buckled. ‘Gareth …’

I can’t. I’m sorry.’

With that, he twisted away, grabbed his table and bag, and disappeared out the door, leaving Briana in a haze of disbelief and desire.

31718 (1)Sometimes it takes finding your heart to find your voice…

It wasn’t her fault…

Somehow a run-in with a handsy, but influential, talk show host has landed Briana Brite in big trouble with the press, and even though it was the host that wouldn’t take no for an answer, Briana finds herself banished until the scandal blows over.

It’s not his place…

Gareth might work for some of the richest people in the world, but his job as a masseur at the luxurious Star Island resort is just that – a job. And he really needs the money and the tips and the hours. Getting involved with resort guests is grounds for immediate dismissal, so the last thing Gareth needs is a troubled pop princess making waves.

It’s not meant to be…

However, when Gareth meets Briana, he realises that she’s more than just her voice, more than the media storm, more than even her management knows. But when it comes to his job and his livelihood, how much will he risk for a holiday fling?

Exclusive Excerpt: Falling Star

Gareth is a masseur on the luxurious Star Island. His next client is the enigmatic pop star, Briana Brite, known for her silent persona off-stage.

In his head, he pictured Briana Brite. He knew her image mostly from the smoky artwork on her indie album, a blonde beauty with a defiant jaw jut that seemed to project an image of quiet allure and confidence.

But there was something in her eyes. Hell, he was probably kidding himself, but he’d looked long and hard at Briana’s picture and with his talent for seeing below the surface he felt as though he could see past her image, down to the darker places inside that her music spoke of.

Speaking of speakinghow will we do this without talking? Gareth knocked on the ajar bungalow door, waiting in the tropical air just turning to dusk. Sometimes his clients preferred silence while he worked, but they always began with a few simple questions about pressure and injuries.

When no one answered, after a few minutes Gareth pushed the door open. ‘Hello?’

Still no response, but the door was open and he was expected, so he took it as tentative permission to enter. He followed the hall to the main living area of the bungalow, and the view took his breath away. Not the pink ocean reflecting the setting sun outside the windows, but the angel standing before him wearing nothing but a towel.

Her corn silk hair tumbled around her bare shoulders, which were dusted with tiny freckles. Her mouth parted into an alluring smile, which was quickly quashed by her teeth finding her lower lip and biting it. Delicate hands held the towel over her frame, but the material barely concealed the voluptuous body within. Instantly, Gareth knew she’d be warm and pliable to touch, her skin with heavenly give under his fingers, soft flesh ripe for gripping firmly.

She raised a hand and waved in greeting, a rosy blush rising in her high cheekbones, and the gesture went straight to his heart, shocking it into an unsteady rhythm. She was literally heart-stoppingly beautiful.

Oh no … Something was happening to him, something he’d sworn only minutes earlier never happened to him. Gareth shifted the table in front of his groin, attempting to disguise the bulge growing there. Get it together. You are a professional, and she’s a client. A gorgeous, captivating client, but still a client. Concentrating on not sounding like a squeaky-voiced teenager, he said, ‘Hey, I’m Gareth, your masseur.’

She smiled in reply but remained silent. Gareth spoke to fill the space where a normal interaction would have taken place. ‘And you’re Briana. So, now we’re introduced, I’ll set up. Where would you like me to put the table?’

With a languid wave, she gestured towards the windows. ‘Okay, great,’ said Gareth, walking forwards and trying to regain some of his professionalism while feeling distinctly shaken. ‘You’ll need to tie up your hairI have a tie if you need one?’

Shaking her head in dismissal, she left the room, and a waft of citrus followed her. She smelled of pink grapefruit and sugar, and the sensuous combination sent another sucker-punch to his crotch. With shaking hands, Gareth opened his table and unzipped his bag, drawing out a bottle of scented massage oil. He was warming it between his palms when Briana returned, her hair now secured in an adorable top-knot.

I’ll just go into the other room to give you a moment to lie on the table,’ said Gareth. Privacy for most clients was still important before and after a session, no matter how much skin he saw during.

With a cat-like grin, Brianna looked back at him over her tanned shoulder. Before he could turn away, she’d lowered the towel to the line of her lower back, and stretched herself along on the table face-down. A low, happy groan rolled out from her throat, as if she really needed this.

So help him, he did too. He needed to lay his hands on her; the pull towards her body was almost supernatural. He clung to his professionalism by his fingernails, remembering to ask, ‘Do you have any injuries or sore places I need to know about?’

Face down, Brianna shook her head, her hair knot flopping back and forth. Gareth paused for a moment, admiring the sight of Briana’s back, all that exposed skin ending where her plump ass cheeks swelled, covered by the towel. His passion for healing and helping had always made his job seem effortless, but for the first time, he walked towards a client feeling as though he was divinely privileged.

Turning her head to the side, Briana caught his eyes with hers and winked. The small gesture electrified him. He definitely wasn’t imagining the silent flirtatious tone here. A bright red buzzing had begun inside his head, warning of danger. He’d relied on that buzzing before, when clients had made innuendos about ‘extra services’ or in the case of one single client in her fifties, mistaken his professional care for personal touching and decided it meant they had a deep romantic connection.

Normally if he had even an inkling of strangeness, he would relate the Star Island code of conduct in a very casual manner while preparing to start: let me know if this pressure is good, would you like music on, as part of procedure I have to let you know all Star Island spa treatments are strictly non-sexual, would you like a complimentary reflexology hand treatment…?

It’s what he should have said, but he pushed the feeling down. This was Briana Brite, the biggest superstar in the music world. She’d made a career out of being desirable, unattainable; this was probably just her being her, and him taking it the wrong way because he was going on ten months without sex. Don’t embarrass yourself.

Okay, I’m going to begin now,’ he said formally. Inside his head though, he was babbling. Just a client. Just another client, he tried to convince himself one last time. He poured a generous handful of oil into his palm, watching his shaking fingers descend to her smooth back. I will not enjoy this. I will not get my kicks from feeling up a vulnerable client. She’s just like anyone else.

He truly believed it. And then his hands connected with Briana’s skin, and he was hopelessly, sinfully lost.

31718 (1)Sometimes it takes finding your heart to find your voice…

It wasn’t her fault…

Somehow a run-in with a handsy, but influential, talk show host has landed Briana Brite in big trouble with the press, and even though it was the host that wouldn’t take no for an answer, Briana finds herself banished until the scandal blows over.

It’s not his place…

Gareth might work for some of the richest people in the world, but his job as a masseur at the luxurious Star Island resort is just that – a job. And he really needs the money and the tips and the hours. Getting involved with resort guests is grounds for immediate dismissal, so the last thing Gareth needs is a troubled pop princess making waves.

It’s not meant to be…

However, when Gareth meets Briana, he realises that she’s more than just her voice, more than the media storm, more than even her management knows. But when it comes to his job and his livelihood, how much will he risk for a holiday fling?

Falling Star will be available on August 20th. Preorder now from your favourite
e-tailer: iBooks, Booktopia, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Nook, Kobo, Google

Forced Proximity: sexy sea-lion edition

By Kate J. Squires

Contrary to what all the internet dating sites would have you believe, the majority of Aussies do not meet their partners online (sorry not sorry, Tinder.) Most of us still meet our partners the old-fashioned way: because we couldn’t avoid them. Friends of friends, the co-worker down the hall, the study-group buddy we keep getting paired with—there are people in our lives who are thrust into our circles, and sometimes we fall in love with them.

And the tighter the circle, the greater the chance we’ll end up falling into the arms of the other party. For example, when I used to work on board a cruise ship, I couldn’t believe how many pairings there were—it was quite an incestuous little family, with couples hooking up, breaking up and reforming every five minutes. People bounced merrily from bed to bed, but when everyone was stuck on a floating party boat 24-7, it wasn’t that surprising. The romantic highs and lows were so extreme, I ended up using the experience as inspiration for my book Heat Wave.

Taking this concept even further, think about jailhouse romances and the potential to fall for someone you never would have looked twice at because you’re incarcerated in the same building together—OiTNB, I’m looking at you. Even male sea lions (and don’t ask me how I know this) will actually form sexual relationships with other males when they are housed in a male-only environment.

‘I love you, bro!’ ‘I love you more!’

‘I love you, bro!’ ‘I love you more!’

In romance, this kind of love is called ‘forced proximity’. It’s the couple trapped in an elevator, the cop partners constantly on stakeouts together, the single billionaire dad forced to deal with his son’s perky nanny. There’s something magical about watching couples discover a love they never expected, because the close quarters bring emotions to the surface much faster.

Nowhere is this more evident than on reality TV. I adore The Bachelorette (but I can’t stand The Bachelor, go figure) because watching the intelligent and gorgeous men FALL TO PIECES over a woman they’ve just met is wildly entertaining. Like, they’ve literally been in the house for five minutes, and already they’re declaring on camera, ‘She’s the one! I just know it! I should propose right now!

If you’re anything like me, you watch shows like The Bachelorette feeling slightly superior, smirking with your friends: ‘Oh god, no one falls in love that fast!’ But remember that each date between contestants is normally around eight hours long—so while we might only see five minutes of that as awkward conversation on an elegantly decorated love-seat with so many candles you wonder absently if there might be a fire-code violation happening, they’ve got more time than an ordinary date to connect.

And even sexy couch-time itself is a sort of forced proximity. Can you imagine a director barking orders at you from off camera: ‘Hey guys, great kiss! Can we do that again, but with twenty percent more tongue?’ As a couple, you’d have to laugh your way through moments like these and bond over them.

“Omg, here we are, sitting on this couch completely naturally, and this isn’t forced or weird at all!”

“Omg, here we are, sitting on this couch completely naturally, and this isn’t forced or weird at all!”

Contestants are forced to spend time together, forced to speak, share meals, even give sensual mud baths, so is it any wonder that they fall in love hard and fast? Everything about the situation heightens feelings, and with no real-world problems to worry about, the couple in question is free to let their love run rampant, like a weed or that nasty yeast infection you can’t seem to shake…

So, indulge in forced proximity! Whether trapped on a cyclonic island or bound together in a marriage of convenience, accepting a rose or stuck on a cruise ship, there’s so much to love about this sub-genre. And if forced proximity works half as well in real life as it does in fiction, I need to superglue myself to Alexander Skarsgard, pronto.


[Editor’s note: Kate J. Squires has already received a thank-you note for the page of Alexander Skarsgard images she supplied with this blog post.]


It may not be the love boat, but this cruise is definitely setting sail for sex, adventure and love.

Feed Your Reader – Late September Releases!

25079 (1)

From Wattpad Queen and Rising Star Kate J Squires comes a scorching new story…It may not be the love boat, but this cruise is definitely setting sail for sex, adventure and love.


The fabulous New Adult series from Shona Husk continues: he wants to shut out the world; she wants to invite it in…

Available Now

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An all-access pass to Sex, Love, and Rock ‘N Roll. Because what happens on tour doesn’t always stay on tour…He might be an alpha-male, but she’s an alpha-female, and you know when two alphas collide, there’s nothing but sparks

Coming 24 September

24876An all-access pass to Sex, Love, and Rock ‘N Roll. Because what happens on tour doesn’t always stay on tour…It’s just supposed to be a fan meet-and-greet. But when fan club president Andi decides that they all need to work out their issues in a very unconventional way, Theo can’t decide if she’s a nightmare or his very deepest fantasy come true…

Looking to Engage in Some Piracy Today

After all, International Talk Like A Pirate Day only comes around once a year.

So, ahoy, me hearties…check out this booty fer yer readin’ pleasures! Tales of piracy and the high seas to whet any appetite!

Best enjoyed with rum…


Nothing like a mutiny to force a good man into questionable deeds…A rip-roaring tale of a sea voyage, a mysterious past, and a man who will do anything to prove his innocence.


Pirates come in all shapes and sizes – and time periods. Escape to the future where justice is harsh, the night is long, and pirates are just as sexy as ever…


Not all sea-stories need to be tales of violence and crime. Sometimes ‘booty’ can take on a whole other meaning…Arrr!

Winter Warmers Kick Off This Month – Check out June’s First Round Releases!

24265A fresh, exciting, sexy new voice in contemporary romance, Kate J Squires debuts with a scorching novel about sexy singles, intense competition, a cash prize—and no touching allowed.


Kicking off a brand new romantic suspense series from Lee Christine is A Dangerous Arrangement: a violinist with a secret, a billionaire with a problem and a race against time set on the beautiful Amalfi Coast.


Introducing Marnie St Clair, a sexy, sweet, seductive new voice in rural romance! She went from having everything to having nothing—except what she really needed.


The final book in Nicole Murphy’s steamy, sexy science fiction trilogy brings back an unforgettable character for her own unforgettable story …