"If you're looking for a big dose of fun to go along with your romance, look no farther than Inara Lavey's Ripping the Bodice. This story positively sparkles with wit and humor...Along with that humor, Ms. Lavey has given us an absolutely addictive cast of characters who are colorful and well-developed and almost larger than life."--Bookwenches.com
"The story was well-written and I enjoyed it immensely."--4-martini review from The Girls on Books
"Old school romance daydreams + embarrassing contemporary situations * two potential heroes = exponential fun." --Love Romance Passion
"Had me laughing out loud..."--Nixy Valentine
"Ripping the Bodice is a classy read that kept this reader's interest from beginning to end. Inara Lavey seasons sexual passion, love, romance and wonderful wit and charm into this delightful tale." --Coffee Time Romance
Got sex and romance on the brain? So does Cassandra Devon. She also has hard-boiled
private eyes, dashing pirates, jet-setting super spies and other sexy rogues entertaining her in her surprisingly explicit subconscious. All these erotic daydreams make it hard to stay focused on Cassandra's current dilemma: namely, rebuffing the advances of Connor, a wild Irish rascal who wants to play the starring role in her fantasies. Cassandra is only interested in getting together with Raphael, the tall, dark and handsome man of her dreams. May the best romance hero win!
Walter Mitty meets Erica Jong in this wickedly funny and sexy hot comedy-romance from the author of Succubusted.
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April 26, 2009
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Excerpt from Ripping the Bodice by Inara Lavey
The sun was setting, orange and violet flames diving into the cerulean surface of the ocean. Cassandra stood silhouetted against nature's glory, her beauty rivaling the sun itself. Or so Rafe thought as he stared at her from the seawall at the edge of the beach. Glints of cinnamon, gold, and flame shimmered in the masses of her tawny mane. He could see her perfect profile etched in the colors of the sunset, the seductive curve of her breasts showcased by a low-cut bodice while a full red skirt both concealed and yet somehow accentuated her womanly hips and dancer's long legs. Those legs - Rafe had long imagined them wrapped around his waist as he satisfied his lust within her moist warmth. Yes, he'd imagined how it would be between them ever since he'd happened upon her bathing nude in the pond behind her father's plantation, never imagining anyone would be bold enough to watch her - or brazen enough to make his presence known. Rafe smiled, his mouth curving in the dangerous yet sensual expression that had led so many willing women into his bed. So many women, and yet the one he most craved had so far eluded his desire. Tonight he would put an end to the chase. The verbal sparring between them had been exhilarating, but the time for such foreplay was at an end. He would have Cassandra Devereux writhing in ecstasy before daybreak. Yes, by God, she would be his. He grew hard, the heavy cotton of his breeches straining against the strength and size of his rising lust. As if drawn by the sheer force of his desire, Cassandra turned away from her perusal of the ocean and looked towards the seawall. Their eyes met. Electricity crackled in the air between them, drawing them together as if connected by a physical current until they faced each other, only a foot apart. "I knew you'd follow me out here." Cassandra's rich, sensual voice was husky with anticipation, fear of the unknown and desire warring within her. She knew there could only be one resolution to the tension between them. "You know what I want, Cassandra." His cobalt blue eyes seared into her soul, the heat within his gaze creating a matching heat at the center of her being. If he could affect her so strongly with just the look in his eyes - she grew faint at the thought of what his touch would do to her. Cassandra felt herself growing - yes, wet - between her legs as desire coiled within her stomach and spread throughout her body. "Y-yes." A pulse beat a rapid rhythm in the hollow of her throat, matching the rapidity of her heartbeat. "You want it too." It was not a question. Cassandra stared back at him, green eyes lambent with the flames of her growing need for him. She wanted Rafe Dumas with every fiber of her being. The touch, the taste, the smell of him. "Yes." Firmly, this time. Rafe closed the final distance between them and brought his mouth down on Cassandra's in a demanding, possessive kiss, the searing heat of his lips wiping the memory of every previous kiss she'd had from her mind. No other man existed - past, present or future. His tongue explored her mouth, one hand buried in her hair and the other pressing her body against his so she could feel the bulge of his manhood against her loins. She moaned with desire as he ravished her mouth with his, then moved to the sensitive skin of her throat and shoulders, lips and tongue warm on her flesh, traveling slowly down to the rise of her breasts. Cassandra made a brief effort to stop him - surely, this was more than she could bear--and Rafe captured both of her wrists behind her back and held them there with one strong hand while he used his teeth to gently tease the peaks of her nipples beneath the fabric of her bodice. "No going back," he said roughly. "From the moment I first saw you swimming at your father's Caribbean plantation, your eyes flashing emerald fire when I revealed myself, I knew I would make you mine. You know you felt the same way." "Yes," Cassandra said breathlessly. "Since the day I saw you astride your wild black stallion, your lean yet well-muscled torso bare in the hot Caribbean sun, your expression so aloof, yet still able to touch my very soul, I knew I was meant to be yours. Take me, take me now!" she panted. Rafe seized the fabric of Cassandra's bodice between both hands and ripped it down the front, setting the glory of her womanly globes tumbling free as-- Brrrrrrrrrrrrng! I groaned as the phone rang, rudely pulling me out of my dreams of heaving bosoms and throbbing manhoods and back into my salt box office at Gilman's Paper Products. I'd been sneaking in a well-deserved R&R (reading and romance) break with Passion's Tropic Fury (now lying with a cracked spine on the floor) and had fallen asleep. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrng! "Damn. Right at the good part, too." Reluctantly lifting my forehead off the pressboard surface of my desk, I surreptitiously wiped up a little puddle of drool that had formed during my impromptu nap. Romance heroines never drooled. Luckily, there was no dashing hero to witness my embarrassment. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrng! I glared at the phone. Could anything be more strident and irritating? I grabbed the receiver before it rang again. "Gilman Paper Products, Cassandra Devon speaking. " I groaned again - albeit silently - when I recognized my caller. I should have known better than ask rhetorical questions, even to myself. The voice on the other end of the line was the equivalent of nails on chalkboard mixed with broken glass, all stirred together with a lot of whine. Ethel Kelly, owner of Twee Fairy Stationery and a customer service manager's nightmare. In other words, my nightmare. "Cassie, is that you?" I gritted her teeth and girded her loins for battle. "That's Cassandra, Mrs. Kelly. And yes, it's me." Mrs. Kelly ignored the correction, as she always did. "Cassie, that order of Baby Angel bags hasn't arrived yet and I ordered it two weeks ago." She paused for effect. "Two weeks." "Let me check your order in the computer and make sure it was shipped." This was a familiar game. Mrs. Kelly would place an order online, change it over the phone at least three times, then invariably lose track of it when it arrived at her store. I had originally pictured a labyrinth of Gilman Paper Products boxes stacked to the ceiling in cavernous storeroom. Having been to Twee Fairy Stationery to drop off a replacement for a supposedly misrouted order, I knew the reality was simpler; the missing box was in the store bathroom with a stack of pink Charmin on top. I waited while my ancient PC pulled up the order - why Mr. Gilman refused to update the office's archaic computer system was one of life's great mysteries - and tuned out Mrs. Kelly's litany of complaints in favor of mentally packing for my three day Palm Springs getaway with my not-quite-boyfriend Mike. He was picking me up straight from work tomorrow, which meant none of my usual last minute tossing-in-whatever-I-grab-first routine (my preferred method for packing). Sure, it netted mixed results, but it was less stressful than picking and choosing, folding everything carefully and then ending up with the wrong clothes anyway. The order came up and I reluctantly tuned back into Radio Kelly. "--three times since I placed that order. Three times." "Here you go, Mrs. Kelly," I said brightly. "Yup, shipped out two weeks--" "Two weeks!" "Yes, two weeks ago, delivered UPS Ground on the following Tuesday. According to UPS's records, you signed for it." "Are you calling me a liar, Cassie?" Mrs. Kelly's voice crackled with outrage. "Of course not, Mrs. Kelly." I used my patented "soothing psychotic clients" tone, honed to perfection since Twee Fairy became one of Gilman's clients. "I'd never imply that. There was obviously a mix-up and--" I paused and listened to her squawk, then stepped back in with "--yes, I realize time is money.--" Squawk. "No." Squawk squawk. "Yes, of course." Squawk two weeks squawk. "I'll see to it immediately. " I punched the intercom button. "Jan, please tell Mr. Gilman that Mrs. Kelly wants to speak with him." I hung up the phone, opened a desk drawer and pulled out some of my emergency chocolate. I bought it compulsively, shoved it in drawers and cupboards at home and work. I was a chocoholic Survivalist, rich in See's candy and Lindt bars instead of canned foods and ammunition. A knock sounded at my door. "Come in!" I ripped open the wrapper and took a bite. Mmmm. Dark chocolate with orange. Just a hint of bitterness. Appropriate after my conversation with Twee Fairy Kelly. The door opened and Stacy, our office admin, burst into the room. Stacy is a force of nature, a hurricane disguised as a petite blond twenty-something. She never just enters a room. She strides, whirls, explodes, sometimes dances, but never just walks. She favors bright primary colors and regrettable '60s fashions, like today's turquoise minidress and hot pink vinyl boots. I like Stacy, but she exhausts me. I eyed the stacks of mail clutched in Stacy's French-manicured hands. "Oh, Stacy, that's not all mine, is it?" Stacy dumped the lot of it on my desk with an apologetic shrug. "Sorry, Cassie." I sighed. "It's Cassandra, Stacy." Stacy made a face. "But Cassandra is so old fashioned." "What's wrong with that?" Before she could no doubt tell me exactly what was wrong, Passion's Tropic Fury, still lying on the floor, diverted Stacy's attention. "Oh, you've got one of Rosalia Devereaux's first books!" I tried to grab it, but Stacy had already swooped in and snagged it. "I was just glancing through..." Stacy was oblivious to my embarrassment. "Isn't she the best? I love her books! They're sexy and romantic, and the people are so real! I can't believe she's been writing since, like, the '80s!" The tinny theme from Gone With The Wind heralded a call on my cell phone. I looked at the readout and recognized Mike's number. I answered it eagerly. "Hi, Mike!" "Hey, Cass babe." I winced, but didn't bother correcting him. At least he didn't use Cassie. "Hey yourself. Can you hang on for a sec?" "Sure, babe." Holding one hand over the speaker, I looked at Stacy, who was engrossed in the novel. "Would you like to borrow it?" "No, thanks, I've already read this one," Stacy said, not taking her eyes from the pages. "I just like rereading the love scenes. They're so romantic." "Isn't Jan calling you?" "No." Definitely not getting the hint. "Stacy, I've got a personal call." "I don't mind." "But I do," I said very gently. She looked up from the book. "Oh. Do you want me to leave you alone?" "That's kind of what I had in mind." "Okay." Stacy smiled without malice and took one last lingering glance at Passion's Tropic Fury before setting it gently on my desk and leaving, shutting the door behind her with her usual enthusiastic slam. Finally. I took my hand off the speaker. "I'm back. Sorry about that." "S'okay, babe. I got all the time in the world for you." Mike was a deejay on a popular morning radio show and always sounded like he was on the air. He was dark and intense in a Gabriel Byrne kind of way, wore leather bomber jackets and designer jeans, and favored fifteen-year-old single malt scotch. We'd been dating for two months, had been having decent, if non-Earth shattering, sex for one month, and I was hoping the weekend away was Mike's way of taking our relationship to the next step: i.e. exclusive. "I'm glad you called," I said, relaxing back in my chair, pushing a stray lock of brown hair out of my face. Just plain brown. No glistening gold or shimmering cinnamon highlights, although it was thick and wavy. I hadn't cut it in years, finding it easier and cheaper to keep it out of my face with industrial strength hair clips. "It's been one of those weeks and I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this weekend." There was a pause on the other end of the line. "Mike? You there?" He was. But our plans for the weekend weren't. Turned out Mike's best buddy decided to throw an impromptu bachelor weekend camping and fishing for Mike's other best buddy, who was getting married - six months from now. No, they couldn't do it another time. This was the only weekend the entire fraternity was available. They'd rented a cabin in Big Bear. Yes, he realized I'd canceled previous vacation plans in San Diego with my best friend, Valerie, to go away with him this weekend. He was "really sorry, Cass, babe, but the guys wouldn't understand if I don't go." "So you have all the time in the world for me, except this weekend." "I'll make it up to you next month. Or the month after, depending on the station's golf tournament dates." "Sure, I understand." "I knew you would, babe." I heard relief, but absolutely no guilt in Mike's voice. That sealed the deal. "I understand you'd rather spend the weekend belching with your beer buddies than with me in Palm Springs." My tightly controlled tone began to rise. "Aw, babe--" "Don't worry about making it up to me next month...oh, or the month after or whatever month ends up working into your schedule, because I won't be around!" "Now, don't be like that--" I hit the "end call" button, turned my phone off, and jammed four squares of bittersweet orange chocolate into my mouth. Emphasis on the "bitter." As I chewed, I grabbed a letter opener and began ripping open my mail. Truth was, I was as pissed at myself as I was at Mike. I'd canceled my plans with Val to go to Palm Springs with Mike, so maybe this was just karmic payback. Okay, I'd given her two weeks' notice instead of twenty-four hours. And she already had her plans made before inviting me to join her and share a free hotel suite courtesy of her cousin, who did some sort of advertising work for the hotel. But still, I'd essentially dumped my friend to be with a man. A man with whom sex was only so-so, although I hoped time would bring more "shattering" to the "Earth," something currently supplied by a reliable vibrator. And now the man in question had dumped me to be with his friends. I swallowed the irony along with the rest of the chocolate. I sliced open a thick cream vellum envelope, releasing an invisible cloud of fragrant and potent tea rose. I smiled even as my sinuses closed up from the olfactory assault. Tea rose was Val's signature fragrance; she'd been drenching herself and all correspondence (including bills) in it since I'd met her at college. I took a deep breath, held it and read the letter, written on hotel stationery: Dear Cassie-- I hate that name. It's too bad you couldn't make it down here, the weather's been perfect and the suite at the Esmeralda Hotel is just heavenly. Raphael and his friend Connor have been showing me all over Emerald Cove and the rest of San Diego and there's all sorts of fun people staying at the hotel. Hope you have fun in Palm Springs. I heard it's the rainy season there. Call me if you change your mind. Love, Val. Hmm. Well, why not? I could get a plane ticket to San Diego with no problem. I had the vacation time and I needed the break. I turned my cell back on, ignored the "new voice mail" notification, and dialed the number on the stationary. ""Hello? Yes, I'd like Room 15, please..."