24 Jan 2011
Thank you to everyone who entered my contest to win an ARC of my February release, Scent Of A Man, and I hope you enjoyed reading the excerpt.
And the winner is:
Please let me know your email and I’ll send through your ARC.
There’s only a month to go before my next novel Scent Of A Man is released. And you know what that means, right???
Yep, a giveaway!
If you’d like the chance to win an electronic ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Scent Of A Man, all you have to do is answer this question:
Q: What is a Scentinel?
(Hint: check the blurb below)
Leave your answer in the Comments field of this post, and don’t forget to leave a contact email so I can contact you if you win *VBG*
On January 24th I’ll draw one random commenter from those who’ve correctly answered the question. And for those of you who’d like a sneak peek, I’ve also included an excerpt below.
SCENT OF A MAN
By Maree Anderson
(Available February 2011 from Red Sage Publishing)
The one woman who can resist him is the only woman he’s ever wanted….
Joseph is a highborn Anglian noble living in a harshly religious society where the Council and their clerics enforce chastity, and women are oppressed and treated like chattels. Overnight, Joseph undergoes a rare transformation and becomes a Scentinel, a man who exudes powerful sexual pheromones that make him irresistible to females. His people believe he is evil and will execute him on sight. He’s on the run, starving and desperate. He has nothing more to lose–or so he believes.
Liliana is a “morally corrupt” Europan woman with an agenda. She’s a creature even rarer than Joseph, a Null who can neutralize Scentinel pheromones. Her mission is to do whatever it takes to bring Joseph safely to Europan shores. There, he’ll join Empress Vashti’s elite band of Scentinel spies — provided he survives his training with his sanity intact, and learns how to suppress his pheromones at will.
And falling in love with the man she must ultimately betray was never part of Liliana’s plan.
SCENT OF A MAN – Excerpt
By Maree Anderson
“You might as well stop pretending. I know you’re awake.”
Her words startled him into a betraying grunt and, accepting the inevitable, he levered himself up onto his elbows. Pain spiked his wounded arm and he grit his teeth, determined to show her no further weakness.
He spied her toward the rear of the cave, squatting on her heels, stirring the contents of a pot over a barely adequate fire. Smoky tendrils curled around her lithe form before drifting up, seeking an exit. She appeared undaunted by the bloody violence of the previous night, unchanged. From her masculine dress to her equally masculine confidence, she was an enigma, her delicate beauty housing a strong-willed, capable, ruthless human being, perfectly able to take care of anything life threw at her. Or so he surmised.
He hauled his aching body upright, wrapping a blanket around his loins. “Liliana,” he said, rolling the soft syllables on his tongue. In the old tongue her name meant “flower”. Such a pretty name—feminine. And such a misnomer. Given her skill at tracking, killing and evading, she would make some man a fine son.
She spared him a tight smile. “So good of you to remember my name. How hungry are you?”
His stomach rumbled. Loudly. “I must admit to being famished, Madam.”
Her smile relaxed, became more genuine. “Come and eat then. It’s not what you’re used to, but it’ll fill your belly well enough.”
He bridled at the underlying condescension woven through her words. “I suppose you think I’m too good for—” He peered into the pot and wrinkled his nose. “Whatever this is.”
“Gruel. Appetizing enough with a handful of dried fruit and some honey.” She dished him out a large helping. “And are you?”
“Eh?” He drew his brows into a frown.
“Too good for this? Too class-conscious to share a bowl of gruel with someone like me?”
He blinked at the harshness of her tone. He had no status, no family to call his own, and no reason to consider himself bang up to the mark in any way, shape or form. He was infected, sullied, shameful. “Me?” He snorted. “I think not, Madam. I might hazard a guess and say that despite your unprepossessing appearance, the reverse applies.”
He ate his breakfast, conscious of her gaze on him, probing, gauging. He did his best to ignore her, spooning up his gruel with unseemly haste. The days since Bashima had woken him with her caresses had taught him that regular meals were a thing of the past. A man who could never be certain of his next meal could ill afford to be overly fastidious.
She waited until he’d scraped the bowl clean before she spoke. “Tolerable?”
“Very. Thank you, Madam.”
“You’re welcome, Joseph. And as there is no need for unnecessary formality, ‘Liliana’ will do quite well, thank you. I have tea if you would like some. It’s herbal—quite pleasant, though.”
“Please.” He shook his head, grimacing at the absurdity of it all. He was making polite conversation over a cup of tea as though he were perched on one of the ridiculous, spindly-legged chairs in his mother’s parlor instead of sitting practically naked in a cave with a strange woman who claimed to know all his secrets.
“What’s upsetting you?” she asked.
He sipped his tea and cast an assessing glance over her. Her face gave away nothing. Clad her in a suitable gown and bonnet, and she would appear demure enough to grace a front row pew at church. “You.”
“Oh.” Her lips curved in that knowing, superior smile. In any other circumstances he would have reprimanded her and shaken her until that smile slid from her face. Now, he held his tongue and waited for her response.
“I suppose that’s my cue to tell you who I am and why I’m helping you.”
“And if I tell you, will you believe me? And more importantly, what will you do about it?”
He set down his cup and pierced her with the exact same look he’d used to great effect when his valet crossed the line between over-familiarity and the degree of subservience Joseph expected of him. “That remains to be seen.”
The tinkle of her laughter echoed throughout the cave.
He amused her? He surged to his feet and lunged, intending to administer a thorough shaking that would teach this—this—godless creature to—
He was falling. He landed flat on his back, staring upward, trying to make sense of what had happened. One moment she’d been squatting on the ground, laughing at him, annoying him immensely. The next, she’d bounced upright and swept his feet out from under him with one cleverly angled ankle. What kind of female was she to best a man so effortlessly?
Above him, the cave’s ceiling gleamed silver. He spared a thought to wonder what mineral might give that effect, then climbed to his feet. He winced as he dusted himself off. He didn’t bother to rewrap the blanket round his hips. Nudity seemed a trivial embarrassment after such a thorough trouncing at the hands of a slip of a girl barely half his weight.
His sore arm ached. He glanced down at bandage she’d tied over his injury. It was speckled with blood and stained by the salve she’d used. Shame scorched his cheeks. She had saved him from the dog and whatever harsh retribution the villagers had planned. She’d rescued him, dressed his wounds, fed him. He owed her his life, and he’d repaid her by attempting to shake her like some disobedient little girl whose manner had gotten on his nerves.
It was on the tip of his tongue to apologize, but the words choked in his throat. Apart from his father, Joseph had never apologized to anyone. “How did you do that?” he asked instead.
She didn’t insult him further by pretending not to understand his question. “I’m trained in all methods of self-defense.”
“You moved so swiftly, I only saw a blur.”
“Tell me who you are, and what you want with me.”
“What makes you think I want you?”
He hesitated, recalling her words last night. You’re a valuable commodity…. “If you do know everything about me, as you claim, then you are doubtless aware that my father has disowned me. You have no intention of ransoming me. Stop playing games and tell me the truth.”
She considered his demand, her head cocked to one side.
“I can endure it, whatever it is you’re planning,” he said. “The good Spirit knows nothing you could do to me could possibly make my life any worse than it already is.”
“You might be surprised,” she muttered, her eyes darkening with what he thought might be despair before she visibly rallied, resuming her customary, ever-so-slightly superior air. “Very well. The truth, then. I’m in the employ of Empress Vashti of Europa.”
His jaw dropped and he stared at her.
“You’ve heard of Europa, I gather?”
“A den of licentiousness and depravity!”
“Ah.” Her lips quirked. “You have heard of us.”
(Scent of a Man © 2010 by Maree Anderson)