Sunday, January 19, 2014

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: All About Charming Alice by J. Arlene Culiner #ContemporaryRomance #novel

by J.Arlene Culiner

  • File Size: 331 KB
  • Print Length: 167 pages
  • Publisher: Crimson Romance (August 12, 2013)

Alice Treemont has given up hope of meeting the right man and falling in love. Living in depopulated Blake’s Folly, a quirky community of rusting cars, old trailers, clapboard shacks and thirsty weeds, she spends her time cooking vegetarian meals, rescuing unwanted dogs and protecting the most unloved creatures on earth: snakes. What man would share those interests? Certainly not Jace Constant whose life in Chicago includes elegant women, fine dining and contemporary art.
 Jace has come to Nevada to research the new book he’s writing, but he won’t be staying; as far as he’s concerned, Blake’s Folly is hell on earth. He’s disgusted by desert dust on his fine Italian shoes, dog hair on his cashmere sweaters and by desert bleakness. As for snakes, he doesn’t only despise them: they terrify him.
 So how is it possible that each time Alice and Jace meet, the air sizzles? That she’s as fascinated by him as he is by her? That they know their feelings go deeper than raw desire? Still, it looks like this relationship is doomed before it starts: Jace won’t be around for long, and Alice wants to avoid the heartbreak of a short fling.
 In need of some juicy romantic gossip, the other 52 residents of Blake's Folly have decided Alice has been alone for long enough. The attraction between her and Jace is obvious to everyone, so why worry about essential differences? If you trust in love, solutions do appear. But don’t those solutions call for too many compromises, too much self-sacrifice? 


By the time dinner was over, real complicity seemed to have grown between Rose and Jace. But Alice was in a black mood. Both had forgotten she even existed. Never satisfied, she chided herself. One minute you want everyone to ignore you, and the next, you’re furious when they do.

Still, it would have been nice if Jace had resisted—just a little—Rose’s charm.

She glanced up at the ancient wooden clock ticking loudly on the opposite wall. Rose showed no sign of leaving, nor Jace, of tiring. Alice was beginning to feel like a chaperone. Might as well leave the two lovebirds alone.

 She stood. “Don’t forget to turn out the lights, Jace.” Her voice sounded raggedy, sour. For heaven’s sake, what difference did it make to her if his interest in her had been so short-lived? She hadn’t wanted his attentions, had she? The fact that he’d let her drop so quickly showed how right she had been in her estimation of him, of the male sex in general.

 “Goodness gracious,” exclaimed Rose. “Look at the time.”

 “Time for bed,” said Jace, rising. Alice looked at him sharply, searching for innuendoes, trying to see if she could intercept a knowing glance between him and Rose. There wasn’t one. In fact, they were making an effort at showing that there was nothing more than polite friendliness between them.

 “Bye, Alice,” said Rose and gave a little flutter of her hand.

 “I’ll lock the door after you,” said Jace.

There, that would give them time alone. Look at how quickly Jace had jumped at the chance to see Rose to the door. Alice stacked the dishes in the sink with a grim violence and tried not to notice how long he was gone, although it seemed to be hours. But she was less angry with the two of them than she was with herself and her evident jealousy. 

She was so lost in morose thoughts that when Jace reappeared with a dishtowel in his hand, she jumped. He picked up a plate and began to dry it.

 “What do you think you’re doing?”

 “Drying the dishes,” said Jace calmly. “If we share the job, it’ll get done faster.” He examined her face. “And you are exhausted.”

 “But you’re a paying guest! You can’t do chores.”

 “I can. All you have to do is charge me extra.” He grinned.

 “Look—” Alice began.

 “You’re dripping soap all over the floor.”

 She was. The suds slid down over her hands.

 “You can’t stop me from doing what I want, you know,” he said, shaking his head. “I’m a pretty determined guy.”

 “I’ve noticed,” she answered grimly. Turning back to the sink, she tackled the rest of the dishes and found, despite her best intentions, that her mouth had twitched itself into a smile. 

Okay. It was ridiculous, denying the pleasure his presence gave her. Standing here, side by side, doing this simple domestic chore together, it was as if they’d been doing it for years, that’s how natural it felt. She tried to calm the fluttering of her heart. He was only being nice. A polite guest.

 When the last dish had finally been put away, she moved swiftly to the door. No reason on earth to prolong this intimacy a minute longer. He followed her out to the long dark corridor where only a feeble lamp burned. Pausing at the foot of the steps, she turned.

 “Thanks.” She kept her voice cool, impersonal and dismissive although her nerves were pulled as tight as catgut strings on a violin. “Sleep well.”

 He was standing too close, once again. He always did, come to think of it. The warmth of his body reached her in the dim, secret shadow. She saw his eyes drop to the curve of her lips and felt his want. She knew how he felt. Despite herself, despite her determination to resist, the slow flame was burning in her belly too.

 He raised his hand, lifted her chin with the tip of his strong finger.

 With any remaining resistance, she tried to shake her head. “No,” she whispered. She saw the gleam in his eyes. He would never accept “no” if he wanted something. Hadn’t he said that?

 But he didn’t make a move.

 She was the one who stepped in closer, letting her breasts caress the tightness of his chest. She was the one who sought his lips. She was the one who showed him she wanted him.

 In the split second before his eyes closed, she saw the heat, the pleasure and his astonishment. He lowered his mouth to her warm, questing one, brushed her lips, once, twice. Brushed them again. Then the kiss deepened, expressed infinite desire. She soared, responded, melted, felt her hips lifting, arching against him, and when he groaned softly, she felt a thrill of triumph.

 “Alice.” It was a gasp, a plea and a declaration, all at the same time. He pulled her closer.

She also wanted more, wanted him in her bed, wanted his nakedness against hers. But was it worth it? Worth the heartbreak of being a temporary partner in a lusty short affair? Here was raw desire. But what about other emotions? What about caring? Love? Those things weren’t even in the picture. They hardly knew one another.

 “Stop, please, Jace!” She saw how his eyes gleamed, burned into hers. Hot, cold, hot, cold, they seemed to sayHe was angry and excited, curious and confused.

Taking a deep breath he stepped back as if needing all his strength to do that.

Tease, she chided herself bitterly.

 They were both silent.

 “I want you,” he said finally. “Just like you want me.”

 “I need time,” she whispered raggedly. Time to think, to weigh up the consequences, to reconcile herself to the misery of a one-night, or one-month affair: a simple conquest.

 “Alice Treemont,” he said, his voice a caress. “Alice with braids, a haunted house, the desert, and dogs. You have a wonderful erotic power, and I want to make love with you.”

 “Good night—” Her voice caught.

 His finger traced a line down along her cheek, down her neck, between her breasts. She shuddered, almost wavered. Then, just that quickly, she turned, raced up the stairs in the shadow of the dim light. Didn’t look back.

 The dogs followed sleepily, dark forms padding after her.

 “Lucky dogs,” she heard Jace murmur.

 All About Charming Alice can be bought at:

J. Arlene Culiner
Author of: All About Charming Alice
Crimson Romance Release date: August 12, 2013
J. Arlene Culiner, born in New York, raised in Toronto, has spent most of her life in England, Germany, Holland, Turkey, France, Greece, Hungary and the Sahara. She now resides in a 300-year-old former inn in a French village of no real interest. Much to everyone’s dismay, she protects all living creatures—especially spiders—and her wild (or wildlife) garden is a classified butterfly and bird reserve.

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