Hello friends! Today we have the lovely and wonderful Portia Da Costa visiting with us! She’s been a part of the romance community for some time, and knows a lot about the changes, and is one of the star Black Lace authors. And she has stories with numerous other publishers as well. If you’ve never read a book by her before, you’re missing out – but no worries – here’s a chance!
THE STRANGER – Not Your Typical Hero
Portia Da Costa
In a publishing landscape of dominant billionaires, vampire warriors, Navy SEALS and other tough male leads, the eponymous ‘stranger’ in my new release from Black Lace, The Stranger, isn’t a typical hero, at least on first impressions. Paul – the name he later remembers – is something of a little boy lost, despite the fact that he’s a grown man in his twenties, or maybe early thirties. Turning up suddenly in the life of widow, Claudia Marwood, he’s an amnesiac in fancy dress, confused, clearly far from his home and his life, and grateful for shelter and a place to stay. The only things that are familiar to him are his senses and his body.
Claudia is a woman dwelling in loneliness, somewhat lost herself after the death of the older husband she loved, but after a period of mourning, she’s ready to embrace life and its pleasures once again. One look at the handsome stranger, who she first sees bathing naked in the river near her house, and her passion and her desires spring to life again in full flower, and she yearns to offer him solace and reassurance with her touch, and her body.
In this scene Claudia comes to the bedroom where the stranger is sleeping, ostensibly to check on him and make sure he’s not worried by a thunderstorm outside; but really, she’s drawn irresistibly to the sensuality and mysteriousness of the beautiful younger man who’s suddenly wandered into her life. It’s not long before she discovers that despite his amnesia and confusion, the stranger’s physical vigour and his powerful sex drive are still intact!
N.B. Something of a period piece now, The Stranger is a reprint of a title first written in the early 1990s, and thus predates a lot of the familiar technology we take for granted today e.g. mobile phones, high speed internet, GPS etc.
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Once she had got over the initial shock of the young man’s nudity, Claudia allowed herself to breathe properly again…
When Claudia finds a sexy stranger near her home she discovers that he has lost his memory along with his clothes.
Having turned her back on relationships since the death of her husband, Claudia finds herself scandalising her friends by inviting the stranger into her home and into her bed…
‘My name is Claudia Marwood.’ She twisted their fingers into the conventional grip of greeting, and her companion did the honours, shaking her hand.
‘And I’m…’ He grinned and shrugged.
‘The man with no name?’
He smiled again, then scrunched up his face, as if a physical effort might prise free elusive knowledge. ‘Is that from a film?’
‘Well, I’ve just remembered my first fact. Thank you.’ Leaning forward, he suddenly touched his lips to hers.
It was like being hit by the lightning outside. The fleeting contact of his mouth was electric, and filled Claudia with such a wave of passion that she couldn’t breathe for a moment.
This is insane, she thought. She was making a complete idiot of herself. ‘I’d better go now and let you get some rest,’ she said, and made as if to get up from the bed and run for it.
The hold on her hand turned to steel again. A carefully gauged, velvet covered steel, but steel nevertheless.
‘Stay.’ His voice was husky, already changing, ‘Please!’
She should have asked ‘why’, but she knew why. In the dim light, his blue eyes were steely too, almost polished; alive with a message that was unmistakable.
‘Are you sure?’ she asked, then had to smile, knowing that under any other circumstances this was a question the man would ask.
The stranger nodded, answering her smile with a beautiful and very male one of his own. ‘At the moment it’s the one single thing in the whole world I am sure of.’
Claudia was imprisoned by him. At the centre of their stillness, she felt the balance of power tilting on its fulcrum; her lost boy had found his way, and taken command.
‘Let me turn the light out,’ she said faintly.
‘Must you?’ His voice was teasing now: deep and intense, but flirtatious.
‘Yes, I think I must,’ insisted Claudia, fighting not to go under entirely. She drew a deep breath when he released her, then she reached out and flipped off the lamp.
‘I can imagine you,’ he said as she slipped off her robe, feeling glad of the darkness to hide her confusion. It was a long time since she had bared her body for a man, and even longer since she had been naked before a new man, a lover, not her husband.
The stranger lifted the covers, and shaking with nervousness and longing in equal parts, Claudia slid into bed beside him.
‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said, and then she was in his arms, her bare skin against the cotton of his pyjamas, her mouth sought by his for their first true kiss.
Expecting boyish haste, she was astonished when he began to kiss her quite slowly. His lips were gentle and mobile against hers, the pressure they exerted complex. Without thinking, she opened her mouth and his tongue darted forward, accepting her gift, searching and finding her own tongue with its tip. He tasted strongly of spearmint, the toothpaste she had left for him, and she wondered why she had never realised how such a common flavour could seem so exotic.
His hold on her was measured too, hands flexing just enough to keep her against him; no grabbing, no groping, no force. His body was warm and firm through the cotton that covered it, his erection a hot brand against her thigh.
Suddenly, his self-control seemed to rip away the years from her. She became the impatient adolescent, surging against him, anxious to explore his body, to touch and caress it. She scrabbled at the buttons of his pyjama jacket, trying to bare him, wanting to taste him, to devour him.
‘Hush!’ he whispered, reaching between them, taking both her hands in his. ‘There’s no hurry… I’m not going anywhere.’ He gave her fingers a little squeeze, then eased her onto her back and made her lie still, her arms at her sides.
‘You’re very lovely, Claudia,’ he said, letting his long hand settle at last on her breast, ‘So soft and warm. You make me feel so safe to be here.’
His fingers cupped her curves, first one, then the other, as if he were weighing and assessing her, the touch light and infuriatingly playful. Claudia longed for him to squeeze her, to be rough and forceful, to take her breath away, to ravish her. She shifted her thighs, trying to rub herself against him.
The stranger laughed softly. ‘I never realised I was so desirable. Did you want me this much when you were watching me by the river?’
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Portia Da Costa is a veteran British author of romance, erotic romance and erotica, who’s been published since the early 1990s. She loves writing about sexy, likeable people in steamy, scandalous situations, and has penned novels, novellas and novelettes for Black Lace, Harlequin, Samhain Publishing, Carina Press and a number of other houses, plus over a hundred short stories for magazines and anthologies. Best known for writing BDSM themed stories with modern settings, she’s also written Victorian erotic romance for HQN. Her contemporary erotic romance IN TOO DEEP was a recent Sunday Times Bestseller.
When Portia isn’t writing or reading she loves to chill out and watch the television, or spend time online, chatting with friends on Twitter, and on message boards and elsewhere. She lives in the heart of West Yorkshire with her husband and her adorable cat Alice.
So! As I said – we have two giveaways today! One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of The Stranger as soon as Portia gets her author copies. In the meantime, another lucky person will her/his choice from Ms. Da Costa’s self published books! (You can check them out here.) Whee!
Also – this was supposed to be a GA&AG interview… but you all know how things have been going, so I didn’t get those to her, so I have a challenge for all of you! To enter the drawing – respond to Portia, and also, I want to see what crazy questions you come up with asking her! You know how these zany interviews normally are. The crazier and more off the way the question is, the better!