Congratulations to Nicola M. Cameron on your new release!
Hello, and thanks so much for having me on today! Lady of Thorns is the third book in a series that was never supposed to be a series. I’ve been describing it as “Lady Mary from Downton Abbey goes head to head with Alan Shore from Boston Legal—and hijinks ensue!” While I’ve resigned Danaë and Matthias to the background for now, fear not, Mattaë fans—book four will run in parallel to the events of Lady of Thorns and covers what happens when Matthias arrives in Hellas for his first official visit after the wedding.
In the meantime I do hope you enjoy the story of Amelie and Alain, and I can promise that they’ll make another appearance down the line as I now know where I’m going with this series. All I will say about that is: buckle up, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Mwahahahaha…
Love was never supposed to be part of the deal…
Lady Amelie de Clerq’s prickly demeanor and earth mage abilities have earned her the nickname “Lady of Thorns,” keeping potential suitors at bay and making her the butt of the nobility’s jokes. Determined to attract a husband who will love her for herself rather than her fortune, she decides to embark on a journey of sensual self-discovery.
Alain LaPorte, wily lawyer and toast of the capital’s social set, has been summoned to Lierdhe to oversee business negotiations with a neighboring earl. When Amelie asks Alain to tutor her in the bedroom arts, he agrees to introduce the virgin mage to pleasure. But lessons in lovemaking soon turn into a matter of the heart, forcing both Amelie and Alain to confront their fears about intimacy, loyalty, and love.
LaPorte returned with two goblets of wine and handed her one, the deep garnet of the liquid lit with reflected fire from the candlelight. “I’m glad you came. I must admit, I was afraid you’d changed your mind.”
Amelie took a deep sip, hoping the cool, tart wine would help soothe her nerves. “I had to persuade my maid that I didn’t require help getting ready for bed.” As it was, she wasn’t sure that she’d convinced Jeanette with her excuse that she planning on going back down to her office. “I apologize if I kept you waiting.”
“No apologies necessary.” He showed her to a pair of chairs set on either side of the fireplace and sat down. “You look lovely.”
She plucked at the light blue wool of her gown, wishing she had worn something more alluring, or at least with a lower neckline. Her mother’s closet was full of silky, clingy dresses with daring necklines, and she would have given a great deal to rummage through them. Instead, I come to him dressed like some awkward girl.
Which I suppose I am. “Thank you. You look very handsome.”
He smiled at that. “Thank you, my lady.”
A silence fell after that. She fidgeted with the goblet, wishing she didn’t feel like such a fool. The weight of his attention was tangible, causing her stomach to flutter. “I don’t know what to say now,” she confessed.
“You don’t have to say anything. Drink your wine and let me look at you.”
Her mouth dried again at that and she took a quick sip from her goblet. “I’m sorry about the plainness of my gown. I’m afraid I don’t have anything appropriate to wear to—” A seduction. “—something like this.”
His lips quirked at that. “I asked you to leave what you had on because I liked it. Pretty gowns make for lovely gift wrapping, true, but it all comes off in the end anyway. Besides, there’s a certain appeal to a gown such as yours.”
“I don’t see what that could be,” she muttered into her goblet.
“It’s what it represents. Youth, innocence, an unknown territory ripe to be explored. I suspect it’s the reason why so many men have a fondness for deflowering virgins—they relish being the first man a woman has known intimately.”
She tried to lock the question behind her jaws, but it popped out. “Do you like that?”
She slouched lower in her chair. “Oh.”
He held up a hand. “Not to say that I have anything against it, mind you. Everyone has to start somewhere, after all. But I don’t fetishize it to the degree that other men do. I see it more as a starting point on a very pleasant journey.”
She hadn’t thought of it that way. “And you don’t think less of me for my request?”
“Not at all, my lady. You know what you want, and you wish an experienced tutor to help you achieve it. It’s all quite reasonable to me.” He settled in his chair, sipping his wine. “As I’m playing tutor to you in this area, are there any questions you wish to ask me?”
There were, actually. “Will it hurt much?”
“It shouldn’t. If I make sure you’re aroused and open first, you should be able to take me without discomfort.”
Take him. Those simple words set warmth rolling through her lower belly. “So, no gushing blood or rending pain, then.”
He rolled his eyes. “That might be the case if a maid beds a huge brute of a man who’s only interested in his own pleasure. But that won’t be the case with you, I can assure you. I’m confident enough in my ability to couch a lance without causing you harm.”
Even if there would be pain, she was prepared to bear it for the promise of pleasure afterwards. She wondered how many women he’d taken to bed, but found she didn’t want to know the answer. “How do we do this? Go from sitting here to naked and in bed?”
Alain studied her, then drained his goblet. “Like this, my lady.”
Nicola Cameron is an expatriate Chicagoan who has lived in England, Canada, Holland, and Sweden, and keeps a confusing amalgamation of languages in her head as a result. Currently located in the clavicle of Texas, she has finally mastered the proper use of “y’all,” much to her Chicago family’s dismay.
Despite a healthy interest in sex since puberty, it wasn’t until 2012 that Nicola decided to try writing about it. As it turned out, the skills she picked up during her SF writing career transferred rather nicely to erotic romance. When not writing, she wrangles cats, smooches her husband, makes dolls of dubious and questionable identity, and thanks almighty Cthulhu that she doesn’t have to work for a major telecommunications company any more (because there’s BDSM, and then there’s just plain torture…).