Meet Vivica St. James

As many of you know, the third book in the St. James Family Series, Kiss of Life, is coming this fall.

This may or may not be the final cover… haven’t decided yet!

Pretty exciting, right?

The book will feature wild child Vivica St. James, the cousin of Annata and Toni. I figured since it’s been awhile, I’d do a little refresher course on Vivvy, because I love her (and she’s Granny’s favorite, shhh don’t tell). She’s such a fun character to write – bad-ass, vulnerable, womanly, and childlike all at the same time. I see her as Annata’s kindred spirit, but I doubt Annie would appreciate the comparison! She loves and lives hard, but she also makes some very bad decisions along the way. So let’s dive in, shall we?

10 THINGS ABOUT VIVICA ST. JAMES

1. She hasn’t seen her family in years, but now she’s back.

At the beginning of Kiss of Ice, Annata reveals she hasn’t seen her cousin in over five years and she rarely calls home. It was revealed in Kiss of Fire that Toni hasn’t seen Viv since she was a teenager. Vivica hasn’t talked to her brother Holland in years and didn’t even call home when he was injured overseas while serving in the military. Vivica has been angry with her brother for a long time because she feels he abandoned her when she needed him most. The only person she talks to semi-regularly is Granny.

2. She was once a successful print and runway model… but she’s not working as much as she used to.

In Kiss of Ice, it’s revealed that Vivica has been on billboard ads in Times Square. In Kiss of Fire, Toni reveals that for years, she’s bought fashion mags to thumb through and look for pictures of her cousin. However, pictures of Vivica are appearing less and less. When Toni makes a surprise trip home to Louisiana, she’s surprised to find Vivica hiding out at Granny’s house, looking very unmodel-like in a pair of men’s overalls. She’s also 27 and aging out of a profession that feeds on young girls.

3. She smokes like a chimney.

Vivica is a chain smoker in her teenage years. Not sexy, but realistic to the kind of person she is. She also has an addictive personality and tends to overdo drugs and alcohol. By the end of Kiss of Life, she’s clean and sober, but it’s a long road she has to travel.

4. She’s been in love with the same boy since she was 17.

Despite dating suave and sophisticated men from all over the world (she’s partial to rich Italians), she’s only ever loved one boy – Niko Hernandez, a half Puerto-Rican, half Samoan kid from Brooklyn Heights. The two met in high school and she’s never forgotten him. Especially since he’s the one she gave her virginity to… very willingly.

5. Her mother Cassandra has been missing since she was 17.

Kind of how I see Viv… Add freckles and a gap between her two front teeth!

Alcoholic Cassandra St. James has been AWOL under mysterious circumstances since Vivica first left home. Vivica and Holland have never been particularly interested in digging up their mother from whatever hole she fell into, but that will change in Kiss of Life.

6. Vivica is half-Vietnamese.

Cassandra, her mother, is Vietnamese, and her father, Richard, was black. Unlike the rest of the St. James clan, she inherited her mother’s black eyes instead of her father’s golden-brown eyes. She is described as ‘alien-like’ in Breaking the Ice and is not traditionally pretty. Her high school nickname was ‘Ugly’ and, according to O’Donovan in Kiss of Fire, she’s not exactly attractive… but there’s something about her that catches the eye and holds it.

7.Β  She’s friends with rock star Cee from The Burning One.

I’ve mentioned before that The Burning One was supposed to be a spin-off of Kiss of Life, but I jumped the gun on Cee’s story. Well, in Kiss of Life, we’ll catch up with Cee and Indira and see how those two crazy cats are dealing with wedded bliss.

8. She’s a liar.

Vivica is a liar who will say anything to get what she wants. She will also blackmail, cheat, and steal and has no qualms about it. She comes from a very hardscrabble childhood and she’s convinced that if she doesn’t take what she wants, she’ll never get it. Obviously, she has a huge hill to climb if she’s ever going to be honest with herself and admit what she really needs from Niko and her family.

9. Her father died under mysterious circumstances.

Richard St. James died when Vivica was very young and what happened on the night of his death remains a mystery. The only thing everyone knows for sure – Cassandra was at his side the night of the car accident that took his life. Cassandra’s the only one who knows the truth, but she’s not talking.

10. Her favorite cereal is Cocoa Puffs, but she’ll settle for Lucky Charms.

Vivica can often be found with her hand in a box of dry cereal, munching away as if her life depended on it. Vivica grew up in a house where there was often nothing but dry cereal to eat, so to her, there’s nothing more comforting than a handful of Cocoa Puffs. She’s eaten in some of the finest restaurants in the world, but give her a box of cereal and she’s set.

So there you have it. My girl Vivvy is one tough nut to crack, but it’s going to be so fun to finish her and Niko’s story! I can’t wait!

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Mid-Year Book Release Update

Sooo summer is upon us (in the Northern Hemisphere, that is) and I’ll admit I’m not writing as much as I should… It’s so nice out and there’s so much to do and blaaaaaah blah blah.

What I’ve been doing instead of writing…

However, I assure you Stone Cold Knockout is coming, slowly but surely. I’m about two-thirds of the way through and I’m working on it everyday, bit by bit. I’m hoping for a June 25th release date, but I think that might be a little optimistic. It’s looking more like late June/early July.

Other book news:

I’m working on a novella about a rescue in the Grand Canyon featuring a Black Woman/Native American Man pairing that I hope to have out in July. I’m also working on a DARK (we’re talking scary dark) erotic novel that I’m going to put out under another pen name in July. Maybe I’ll tell you what it is, if you ask nicely. Tee hee!

Next, I hope to have Kiss of Life out in September and a short novella featuring Holland St. James out around the same time as well. As you may remember, Holland is Vivica’s brother and Annata and Toni’s cousin, and he showed up last in Kiss of Ice. The novella will set up the last book in the St. James Family Series, Kiss of Night, which will be out in 2015.

Lastly, I’m still planning book one in my new suspense series, A Devil Named Dixon, for November. I’m still in the brainstorming stages for it, but I am super excited about it.

Whew! That was a lot of info. Hope everybody is having tons of fun in the sun!

 

A KISS OF FIRE sneak peek!

Kiss of Fire

Mark Kiss of Fire as a to-read on Goodreads.com!

I’m working furiously on Kiss of Fire, the follow up to Kiss of Ice. Kiss of Fire will definitely be available in March. Anyway, here’s a fun sneak peek* to hold you over!

*as always, sneak peek is subject to change in the final book! πŸ™‚

Toni watched herself in the mirror at the studio, as she practiced her routine. But her mind wasn’t really on the dance of the Lilac Fairy. No. All she could think about was Sebastian O’Donovan. A.K.A. The Asshole.

He was sexy. He was sexier than he had any right to be. And Jesus, he was almost as old as Annata. But surprisingly, that didn’t seem to matter to her. Christophe was younger than Nat and they got along fine. Better than fine. Older men and younger women had been getting together for all of time. Other than the clichΓ©d aspect of it, his age didn’t bother her at all. But it seemed to bother him. She wondered why.

God. Why did he have to be such an asshole?

They would be good together. The sex between them would be fire. Red-hot. She knew that it would be. She’d wanted to jump him at the hospital, and he was wearing a damn paper gown. She’d wanted to lick his face. Who knew a few days worth of beard and a few gray hairs would be such a turn on? Maybe it was just sexy on Sgt. O’Donovan. Everything about the man was sexy.

The only problem was, he didn’t want her. He’d made that quite clear. Maybe it was because she was black. Maybe it was because she was too young. Maybe she’d been right about the ex-wife thing. Maybe he was heartbroken and not ready for another relationship. She didn’t know. Whatever the reason, the outcome was the same. She was turned on with no outlet for her passion.

So she danced.

She danced until her muscles ached. She danced until her legs shook with the exertion. She danced until her toes felt like they were going to break. Only then did she stop. She pulled off her pointe shoes, and whimpered at the pain. All she could do was wrap up her toes, slide on her Ugg boots, and hobble to the train. But at least her mind was on the hurt, and not the sexual frustration.

She found herself riding past her train stop and heading for Annata and Christophe’s. They were supposed to be back from Paris that evening, she wasn’t sure what time. They’d probably be jet-lagged and want alone time, but she didn’t care. She was in the mood to be the bratty younger sister.

She rang the doorbell when she arrived and saw the lights on at the townhouse, figuring she would be courteous as opposed to using her key and tromping right in. The door swung open and her sister stood there, barefoot in a sleeveless white dress, a big smile on her face.

β€œLook at you, ringing the doorbell like a guest,” Annata St. James said, her hand on her hip and an eyebrow raised. β€œTrying to pretend like you didn’t eat all the food and drink all the coffee in the house while we were gone.”

β€œIt’s the mice. I swear.” Toni stepped in and hugged her older sister, breathing her in. She smelled like coffee, mint, and Christophe. It was comforting. She’d missed her Natty, like she always did when her big sister was away. They were fourteen years apart in age, and Nat was almost more of a mother figure to her. She definitely looked up to her sister more than she looked up to their mother, who was a quintessential, traditional Southern housewife.

β€œIs that my favorite sister-in-law?” Christophe was calling from the kitchen.

β€œShe’s blaming mice for the lack of food in the fridge. I think we need to call the exterminator,” Nat said, following Toni into the kitchen. β€œEither that, or change the locks.”

Christophe stood against the center island, effortlessly handsome in jeans and a cashmere sweater, opening a bottle of red wine. He held out an arm for Toni and she stepped into his embrace.

β€œIgnore Annie. She ordered sushi already anyway.”

β€œEel? Did you get extra?” Toni wagged an eyebrow.

β€œYes, dear. You’re lucky we love you so damn much,” Nat said, taking the glass of wine Christophe offered her.

β€œSo how was your trip? Are you about to pass out from exhaustion?” Toni asked, sipping on her own glass and hopping up on one of the metal stools at the counter.

β€œWe slept on the plane,” Christophe said, sliding an arm around Nat’s waist and pulling her close. β€œAnd we have tomorrow off.” He pressed a kiss to his wife’s neck.

β€œChristy finally hired someone to take over International Paris, so hopefully we won’t have to go back for awhile.”

β€œYay!” Toni clapped her hands. β€œYou two travel too damn much.”

β€œNow, remind me when your show opens?” Nat said, pressing a finger to her temple. β€œI don’t think I put it on the calendar.”

β€œOpening night is June 23rd,” Toni said.

β€œOkay. You hear that?” Nat poked Christophe in the chest. β€œCalendars clear.”

β€œGot it,” he said, with a smile.

β€œWe might have to go to Shanghai some time in June, but we’ll make sure it’s not then.”

β€œYou don’t have to come, you know. It’s not that big of a deal,” Toni waved her hand.

β€œDon’t be ridiculous,” Nat fiddled with her earring. β€œThis is a big deal, right? The Lilac Fairy is a big fucking deal.”

β€œYes, it’s kind of a big deal,” Toni said, giggling.

β€œOkay then. No arguments.”

β€œSo, my lovely Toni, I know you didn’t come over here empty-handed,” Christophe said, looking at her expectantly. A wide smile spread over Toni’s face.

β€œI brought a little somethin’ somethin’,” Toni said, hopping up and reaching for her purse. β€œI figured you guys would want to relax a bit after traveling.”

β€œYou figured right. Roll that shit up,” he said, downing the last bit of his wine.

β€œOoh!” Annata looked up from her phone, a smile on her face. β€œI am so excited.”

An hour later, when the sushi was gone, they sat out on the patio and smoked and drank until all the weed and wine was gone as well. Nat lay on Christophe in the hammock and Toni curled up in a chair beside them. The spring air was crisp, but not too cold. It was a perfect night with two of her most favorite people.

When Nat dozed off, Toni caught Christophe’s eyes over her sister’s head. She could still remember the first time they met, at the hospital after the accident. She’d been so destroyed and he’d been so kind. In the weeks after the accident, he’d kept in touch with her and helped her through the shitty time, until Nat returned to the city. Christophe was one of the good ones. She smiled at his expression. He looked so… at peace. Stoned, but at peace. Like all was right with the world. And it was. For the most part. There was the nagging little issue in the back of her mind. O’Donovan the Asshole was still there, bothering her. God, she wished she’d never gone to see him. She wished she’d never met him!

β€œYou love her so much,” Toni said to Christophe, her eyelids heavy. He laughed, high off his ass.

β€œI’ve loved her so long, it’s as easy as breathing,” he said, his voice strained. Then he coughed. Toni erupted in giggles.

β€œWe’re so high.”

β€œI know. It’s fucking awesome,” he said, looking up to the inky black sky.

β€œTell me the story again,” Toni said, propping her head on her hand.

β€œWhat story?”

β€œThe story. How you knew my Natty was the one.”

β€œOkay,” Christophe smiled like the drunk in love person he was. His fingers stroked Nat’s arm. β€œShe called me a… hold on. Let me remember the exact words.”

β€œ A ‘pathetic, entitled piece of shit’,” Nat supplied, her eyes still closed.

β€œRight, that’s it,” he said, laughing.

β€œI’m so sorry, baby. Really,” she said, lifting her face. He planted a kiss on her and then she settled against his chest again.

β€œI mean, she was kind of right. Rude as hell, but right,” Christophe said laughing. β€œAnd I just looked at her. I stared right into those golden-brown eyes and I felt my life change. I just didn’t realize how long it would take before she felt the earth-shattering love I felt.” He pressed his cheek against Nat’s hair. β€œAnd then we fucked. After we fucked, I was a goner.”

β€œEw!” Toni raised her hands to her ears, laughing. Nat slapped him on the chest, eyes still closed.

β€œTruth. Stone-cold truth.” Christophe raised his hand in a scout’s honor. β€œYour sister is the best fuck I’ve ever had or will have.”

β€œI should hope so,” Nat mumbled, a smile on her lips.

β€œThat’s cute. Gross, but cute,” Toni said, laughing. β€œWhat about you, Nat? When did you know?”

β€œAfter we fucked,” Nat said with a laugh.

β€œThat is a lie!” Christophe said, his voice rising. β€œYou made me work so fucking hard for it.”

β€œHow else would you appreciate it if you didn’t have to work hard for it?” she opened her eyes and looked up at him.

β€œYou’re so full of shit.” Christophe said, stroking her cheek. β€œI think you didn’t know you loved me for sure until I proposed.”

β€œNo. No! I remember the exact moment. We were – sorry, Toni – we were at that hotel and we were fucking-”

β€œWhich hotel?”

β€œThe hotel, when I was home from Hong Kong. And then we got stoned, and I was in love with you.”

β€œAh.” Christophe looked off. β€œDamn, that was some good weed.”

β€œI’m glad I could contribute something to the love story of Christophe and Annata,” Toni said, giving a light bow. β€œSeeing as how I couldn’t be in the wedding,” she said, tossing a little dig her sister’s way. Their families would never forgive Nat and Christophe for eloping. Nat stuck her tongue out at her sister, but didn’t say a thing.

β€œSo what about you, Toni?” Christophe rolled his head to look at her. β€œYou got anybody in your crosshairs?”

β€œUm. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t think he’s really interested in me.”

β€œIf he doesn’t see how great you are, then he’s a jackass.”

β€œI know right?!” Toni said. β€œI’m going to let you tell him that.”

β€œI will. I will tell that motherfucker to his face,” Christophe said, his voice slurring a bit. Nat was giggling now as well.

β€œI think it’s time for bed,” Nat finally said, in between giggles. β€œIf we stay down here any longer, I’m gonna pass out and then you won’t get lucky tonight, Mr. Van der Kind.”

β€œDon’t tease me, woman,” Christophe said and they carefully extracted themselves from the hammock. Nat pressed a kiss to Toni’s forehead on the way past.

β€œAre you going to stay tonight?” she asked. Toni nodded, feeling very tired all of a sudden. β€œOkay, dear. We’ll do brunch or something tomorrow, okay?” Toni nodded again, and then twisted around in her chair to watch Nat and Christophe through the kitchen window. They stopped at the foot of the stairs and kissed, wrapping their bodies around each other like they were starving for each other. Toni felt wistful all of a sudden. She sighed deep. She was so happy for them. But she wanted to be happy, too. More than anything she wanted someone to share her life, and her bed, with. O’Donovan, why do you have to be such a dick? she thought desperately, turning her eyes to the starless sky.

Reviews!

reviewsFor all you St. James Family series fans out there, if you liked Breaking the Ice and Kiss of Ice (or even if you didn’t like them!) I’d love if you could take a little bit of time and rate them on Goodreads, Amazon, and B&N! I appreciate the feedback, even if it’s negative.

In other news, I’m trying really hard to make a special (self-imposed) Valentine’s Day deadline for a standalone book I’ve been working on. It started as a novella, but it’s ballooned to a full novel. More details to come!

Kiss of Ice now available for Kobo!

Kiss of Ice is now available for Kobo users here.

I’m pretty excited to get Kiss of Ice out to new readers!

In other news, I’ve been hard at work on the follow-up Kiss of Fire. I’m hoping to have it available by the end of March, so fingers crossed. I’m also hoping to have a new novella out for Valentine’s Day, but we’ll see πŸ™‚

Kiss of Ice now available for Nook…

Kiss of Ice is now available here for the Nook, via B&N.

Now, I’m a little uneasy about this, because I’ve never used a Nook. Also the B&N site is way harder to navigate and search than Amazon. But I’m excited to get Kiss of Ice out to more readers. If you’re a Nook reader,Β  feel free to let me know how you like the Nook system!

-Lavender