by Lori Austin
Romancing The West is excited to host western historical romance author Lori Austin this week. Lori Austin is the pen name for NYT Bestselling Author and RITA® winner Lori Handeland. She's published world wide in several genres--historical, contemporary, series and paranormal romance, as well as urban fantasy and historical fantasy--by such publishers as: Dorchester, Kensington, Harlequin, St. Martin's Press, Harper-Collins, Simon and Schuster and Penguin/Putnam. You can learn more about Lori at either her Lori Austen website or her Lori Handeland website.
RTW: Welcome, Lori! First of all, let's hear about your new book, Beauty and the Bounty Hunter.
LA: Bounty hunter Cat O’Banyon, will stop at nothing to find the man who murdered her husband. When he places a bounty on her head, she knows she must get him before he gets her. So she teams up with con artist Alexi Romanov, who taught her every trick she knows. Alexi is a master of deceit, of disguise and of desire. He's difficult to trust and even more difficult to resist. And just like before, the two of them together are nothing but trouble.
See details at the end of this post.
You won't want to miss this one!
RTW: What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into Beauty and the Bounty Hunter?
LA: I've always been fascinated with the possibilities people found in the Old West. A person could leave their life behind in the east and start over completely. Cat and Alexi make the most of this possibility, over and over again, in my book.
RTW: If you lived in 1870, what modern convenience would you miss the most?
LA: Indoor plumbing. Always and forever, amen.
RTW: Three cheers for hot showers! Are there any common errors in western historical romances that bug you? If so, please set us straight.
LA: Most historical romances gloss over the filth, the disease, the smell. But I don't mind. If I want to read about reality, I read a research book. I'm not looking for that much truth in my fiction.
RTW: Why is Alexi perfect for Cat?
LA: Alexi knows everything about her and loves her anyway. No matter what she does, he's done worse and he'll never let her face her past alone.
Beauty and the Bounty Hunter
by Lori Austin
"Names don’t bother me.”
Men like Clyde did. Cat had devoted what was left of her life to bringing them in, and if she checked each and every one to see if he was the one . . . Cat gave a mental shrug. It was nothing less than she deserved for doing this job at all.
“Obviously not,” he drawled, “since you use so very many.”
Cat stilled. Did he want her to kill him?
The man flicked an elegant, dark finger at the lightly snoring Clyde.
“Does he know who you are?”
“I’m—“ Cat’s mind groped for the name she was presently using and came up blank.
“That is often the problem with lies,” he murmured. “So difficult to keep straight. Shall I help you to remember . . . Cat?”
Her trigger finger itched. Should she set it free? This man had seen what she'd done; he knew who she was. She really didn't have much choice.
"You plan to kill me with that?" A dip of his stubbled chin indicated the derringer pointed at his chest.
"You have been asking for it."
Laughter erupted, as startling as the applause had been. "Kitten, that wouldn’t even slow me down."
He might be right. She should get a little closer.
“They say Cat O’Banyon always gets her man.” He indicated the gun, the bound Clyde, then the room with a languid twirl of one gloved finger. “Is this how?”
“This?” She smoothed a hand down the satin-covered ladder of her rib cage, brushing the un-corseted weight of her breasts with her fingertips, curving her palm beneath one ripe swell. “Sometimes.”
If she kept his attention on her body he wouldn’t notice anything else. Like how close she was getting. Just another step and--
He snatched the gun and tossed it onto the bed. His other hand came down on hers where it still rested beneath her breasts. Then he whirled her into the shadows, his large, hard, male body aligning with hers.
Cat wanted to shriek and kick. Instead she went still and quiet. She’d learned disguise from a master, and it involved not only the outer trappings but also the spirit within. Cat O’Banyon wouldn’t panic at the brush of a man’s thigh along hers. Cathleen Chase on the other hand--
Cat shuddered, deftly turning the quiver from fear to arousal with the almost undetectable addition of a moan. She wasn’t stronger; she couldn’t fight. Not with fists. So she lifted her mouth, and she placed it on his.
She’d planned to take charge, to ensure he thought of nothing beyond this until the time he no longer thought at all. She failed miserably as soft and gentle, his lips countered hers. Slow and easy, as if he had eons of time to do anything that he wanted, and what he wanted was her.
This was nothing new. Men had desired her--it was how Cat made a living, or at least how she pretended to often enough—but they hadn’t desired her. Because she wasn’t Sissy the whore, or Betsy the barmaid, or Dorothy the dance hall gal. She was Cat—the woman who’d been born from the ashes that had tumbled across Billy’s grave nearly two years ago.
A sob nearly broke free. She trapped it in her throat, and the stranger set his hand there, as if he’d heard, as if he knew, as if he cared. His tongue flicked out, testing the seam of her lips.
Lust flooded in and, shocked, Cat gasped. He slanted her head with clever fingers, letting his thumb trail across her chest, leaving goose flesh in its wake.
She wrapped her arms around his shoulders. Funny, but when she touched him he didn’t seem so broad, and she had to reach higher than she’d thought, as if he were taller than he appeared. Her brow furrowed; memory flickered--a mirage—there and then gone and then—
He deepened the kiss, and he tasted like blue night, something dangerous but exciting, something that pulled you in even when you knew you had to get out. She drew in a breath, and he smelled even better—his scent reminding her of places that were green and sunny and gone. Warmth rolled off him; she wanted to bask in that heat like her namesake.
And as long as he was kissing her, he wasn’t paying attention to her hand, which had, seemingly of its own accord, slid across his shoulder—definitely more lithe than large, how peculiar—down his arm, across his oddly slim hip.
Her sigh masked the shift of her palm from his body to her own, the arch of her spine, the press of her breasts into his chest concealing the track of her fingers as they disappeared beneath her skirt.
His tongue traced her lower lip, tickled her teeth, slid through and danced a bit with her own. What would it be like to give in? To feel something more than nothing for a minute?
Cat was tempted, and because she was, she got careless. She concentrated on his mouth when she should have been concentrating on his hands. Ain’t that always the way?
He cupped her breast, one finger dipping beneath the lace and trolling across the nipple. A sharp tug shot through her, awakening sensations she'd forced into slumber long ago. That sob she’d been stifling erupted, becoming a howl of fury as it flew from her mouth. She yanked up her skirt and reached for the Arkansas toothpick strapped to her thigh.
“Looking for this?” He pressed the tip to Cat’s throat, and she froze.
She didn’t much care about living, but she wasn’t ready to die yet either. Not until she found the owner of the voice that whispered through her nightmares. Even if the interminable searching made her feel as if she were just chasing the wind.
Cat lifted her gaze, prepared to beg if she had to. Hell, she’d done it before.
Then her eyes met his, and everything changed
Whew! Can't wait to read it?
Buy links are all
at Lori's website.
RTW: What are you cooking up for us next?
LA: The second book in the Once Upon a Time in the West series, An Outlaw in Wonderland, will be released in June, 2013. In it you'll discover more about Dr. Ethan Walsh, who appears briefly in Beauty and the Bounty Hunter.
RTW: Anything else you’d like to add?
LA: I am so thrilled to be writing westerns again. I just love them. I hope we see a huge resurgence of the genre. It's been abandoned too long.
RTW: A lot of us have been looking forward to the resurgence of westerns, and I'm so happy you have this new series. Best of luck with your books, and thank you for gifting all of us with such wonderful stories. And now, let's hear about your giveaway!
I'm giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate to one random commenter today so you can purchase your choice of new books along with Beauty and the Bounty Hunter, released October 2.
RTW small print: Drawing will be held Saturday, October 13, 2012, at 9pm Pacific Time. Be sure to include your email address with your comment or we'll have to choose another winner.
Thanks for being with us this week, Lori!