- By Ember Casey
- Editions: ebook & paperback
- Published: May 28th, 2013
- Genre: Adult, Romance / Erotica
- In a Flutter: Steamy and Wicked.
Trapped with a billionaire in his mysterious mansion… Can she beat him at his own game?
Lily Frazer would do anything to save the Frazer Center for the Arts–even take on the infamous billionaire Calder Cunningham. When Lily breaks onto the Cunningham estate, she only wants to find and reason with Calder. (All right, all right, she wants to punch him in the face, too, but that’s Plan B.) As it turns out, the arrogant billionaire is willing to give her the money he promised, but there’s a catch: she must win it from him.
Lily isn’t about to give up the money without a fight (or let some haughty bastard seduce her), but she quickly discovers that there might be more to the brooding Calder than she initially perceived. As their games of cat and mouse become increasingly intense, she suddenly finds herself confused by her own emotions. Can she deny her attraction long enough to win the money she needs?
A contemporary, steamy take on Beauty and the Beast, His Wicked Games is a tale of devilish deeds, wild passions, and wicked romance.
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Calder Cunningham is a man with secrets. He’s been hiding out on his family’s massive estate since his father died a few months ago. When a crazy woman jumps the gates of his home and demands to speak with him, it’s all fun and games until a storm washes out the road and traps them together inside his sprawling mansion…
Then the games really get interesting…
How far will Lily go to save the Center?
How much can Calder push with this wicked games?
“Fine,” I say. “Then why don’t we make another bet? Double or nothing.”
His eyes flash. He’s intrigued.
“What did you have in mind?” he says.
Honestly, I don’t know. But I’m not about to let this opportunity slip through my fingers. I glance around, desperate for ideas, but I can’t even begin to think of the options in a house like this. Should I challenge him to another splash fight on the roof? Suggest a round of pool or darts in the game room?
Something he mentioned in passing during our tour pops into my mind.
“You said you used to play hide and seek with your sister?”
He raises an eyebrow. “Are you suggesting we bet on a game of hide and seek?”
In reality I have no idea what I’m suggesting. But Calder seems excited by the idea, so I decide to push it a little further.
“Perhaps,” I say, making a show of glancing around. “It’s fitting for a stormy day like today.”
“Am I to be the one to hide or seek in this scenario of yours?” he says, drawing near me again.
I don’t know what to say. He has the advantage either way. On the one hand, if he hid, then I—
What the hell am I thinking? How old am I—six?
“Forget it,” I say, shaking my head. “It’s a stupid idea.”
He moves toward me, and suddenly the wall’s at my back. Calder leans over me.
“It’s not stupid at all. In fact, I like the idea very, very much.”
“That’s just because you know all the good hiding spots,” I say lightly, trying to make a joke of it. I don’t trust the way my heart is beating. I don’t trust myself when he’s so close.
He chuckles and props a hand on the wall beside my head, closing me in.
“We can bend the rules easily enough,” he says. “Make it a little more even for you.”
I look up at him through my lashes. “And how, exactly, do you suggest we do that?”
His eyes darken as they hold my own.
“I’ll give you a massive head start,” he says with a wicked smile.
“That’s not an advantage. That should be a standard rule in a house this size. It probably takes half an hour to walk from one side to the other.” I frown up at him. “And who’s to say that I’ll be the one hiding?”
“As you pointed out, I know all the good spots already,” he says. “Besides, I rather like the idea of chasing you down. It’s very… primal, isn’t it?”
The way he says that sends a shiver down my spine.
“You still have the advantage,” I say.
He considers this for a moment, and I can’t help but notice the way his pulse beats in his throat. He’s thrilled by our little game, and the knowledge of this sends an echoing response through my own body.
“How about this,” he says. “I’ll give you a ten minute head start. After that, we’ll set a definitive time limit—say, an hour. You said yourself that it will probably take thirty minutes to walk from one side of this place to the other. I may have a more thorough knowledge of this house than you do, but I certainly can’t search every room in an hour. That should make things even.”
It’s a start, at least.
“Who will keep the time?” I ask.
“We’ll set the alarms on our phones.” He whips his phone out of his pocket and pulls up the clock function. I fish my own cell out of my bag of muddy clothes and follow his lead.
But when I look at him again, he’s frowning.
“I didn’t realize what time it was,” he says. He glances up. “I’m sorry, Lily, but I have to make a few calls.”
“Oh. Okay.” I tell myself the little dip in my belly isn’t disappointment.
He raises his hand to my cheek.
“After that,” he says, brushing his thumb across my lips, “then you bet your sweet little ass that I mean to hunt you down and claim my prize.”
“We did say double or nothing,” he says, a dark gleam in his eye. “I think it’s only fair with stakes this high that I get something for catching you.”
I’m almost afraid to ask the question. “What do you want?”
He leans toward me, and for a breathless moment I think he’s going to kiss me, but he stops just shy of my lips.
“If I win,” he murmurs, “then you’re mine. All night.”
My heart stutters in my chest. “Yours?”
“At my mercy,” he breathes. He runs a single finger down my neck.
“Should I be afraid?” I ask him.
An eager smile stretches across his lips. “Very.”
Q&A with Ember Casey
1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?
2. What would you say inspired you to write it?
I was actually working on a Young Adult book, but my critique partners kept telling me it was too… uh, adult. I started His Wicked Games as a writing exercise—a side project where I could ‘let it all out,’ so to speak. But this “side project” ended up taking over—the words poured out of me. And I’ve been writing romance ever since (and going as adult as I like!).
3. What was the source of inspiration for your protagonist? What about your antagonist?
The Young Adult story I mentioned in the question above was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast—and you can see the influence of that story on His Wicked Games. Lily, the protagonist, is initially driven by an intense need to help her father—a need that leads her to take on Calder Cunningham, our “beast” of a billionaire. Calder is, in a sense, the story’s protagonist, and I had a lot of fun playing the two of them off of each other.
4. Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
I think every writer has those times when the story just won’t flow—or when they just aren’t in the “mood” to write. I’ve found that the key (as with many jobs) is to just sit my butt down and write!
5. Your all time favorite book?
I’m going to cheat and pick a series – the Sevenwaters books by Juliet Marillier.
6. What made you pick that one above all others?
Juliet Marillier writes the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever read. Period. Through in some folklore and fantasy (I’m a sucker for fairy tales), and you’ve got some damn-near perfect books.
7. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
Up until this year, I’d work on books for a year or two at a time. I would write and rewrite and rewrite… and never show any of those drafts to anyone. I had to get several bad (bad!) books out of my system before I really learned how to write a novel.
8. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
For one thing, I now spend my days working by myself—that’s been the biggest change. (Prior to this, I worked as a pastry chef.) I was warned that the transition to working from home would be a little rough, but I underestimated how stressful it could be. I’m completely responsible for keeping myself on track—and for forcing myself to “clock out” for the day. If I don’t actively schedule “off” time for myself, I definitely start feeling a little crazy. I’ve had to re-learn how to balance my life–to make sure I leave time for friends and loved ones, for taking care of my body, and for giving myself the opportunity to let loose and still have fun every once in a while. 😉
9. Was there ever a time, during your work for the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
Most people will agree that writing and publishing a book is hard, time-consuming work. I won’t lie—there were definitely times when it felt like too much work. But I’m fortunate to have a number of amazing author friends and critique partners who totally get it and were always there to talk me through the rough times. Having a support system—especially one with people who understand the ups and downs of this industry—is crucial. And fortunately, with the internet, it’s easier than ever to connect with other people in the Romance world.
10. What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing?
My workday is split between writing and marketing. I also currently do all my formatting and design my own covers—I love that I have the chance to get my hands in all aspects of my career (not that that responsibility can’t be extremely stressful sometimes…). I’m active on Facebook and in several online groups—remaining part of that community is very important to me.
When I’m not writing, I try to keep active. I love hiking, and I’m currently training to do the Hadrian’s Wall Path in England (flying over there this fall!). I’m also a major foodie (as I said above, I used to be a pastry chef) and a not-so-closet nerd. I’ll let you use your imagination about exactly how nerdy I can get. (But, uh, if you want to see me in costume at Dragon*Con last year, you might want to check out my Facebook profile.)
11. How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?
Honestly, I try not to read reviews anymore (bad OR good). First of all, reviews are for other readers, not for me. Secondly, as many authors will be quick to tell you, reviews have a way of sticking in your head. The bad ones AND the good ones. Someone might leave a glowing review that says, “I really loved [x]! I hope there’s more [x] in the next book!” And then you start freaking out because there’s absolutely no [x] in the book you’re working on. It’s really easy to let one person’s opinion throw you.
For me, the right path was to cut myself off from reviews completely. That’s not to say I don’t accept criticism of my work—I have critique partners during the writing and revision process, and I talk all of their comments, concerns, and suggestions into consideration (often making my books much better in the process). The difference is that at that point I can still do something about those criticisms—but after the book is out there, I can’t do much about the criticisms that pop up in reviews (except stew on them for days and days). I’ve grown to accept the fact that not everyone will love my books, and that even those who do love my books won’t always love everything about every one, and the best course of action for me is to move on to the next book and do everything I can to make it better than the last.
12. Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series?
Yes! There are two more books in the His Wicked Games series – Truth or Dare (a novel) and Sweet Victory (a novella)— and you can bet there are lots of fun, sexy games in them! 😉
I’m also currently in the middle of a spin-off series called Her Wicked Heart, which follows a different but related couple.
13. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series?
My next release is Lost and Found (coming June 10) and is the final book in the Her Wicked Heart series. I’m also part of the Red Hot Obsessions Boxed Set releasing on June 16th. It’s my first multi-author bundle and I’m super excited about it.
14. What made you decide to become an Indie Author?
I had several friends who were indie romance authors before me, and after hearing about their experiences and studying the industry, I decided that self-publishing was the way to go for me. We live in an exciting time in the publishing world, and I believe there are merits to both the self-publishing and traditional publishing routes.
15. What would you say was the toughest part?
Learning how to do everything! I feel like being successful in the publishing world comes down to a willingness to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Trying every marketing strategy. Constantly tweaking your approach. Jumping onto every promotional train (and jumping off the ones that are slowing you down). There’s constantly something to do—and it can be exhausting! But I’m learning that hard work does pay off.
16. Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
I don’t do my own editing, but I do everything else myself! Fortunately, there are some amazing tutorials out there these days—though it still took a lot of trial and error for me to get anything up to standard (I will never, ever release my first attempts at a cover out to the world, haha).
18. How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to self-pub to when you hit ‘Publish’?
I’ve gotten faster along the way. His Wicked Games took about a year. Now, I’ve gotten the process down to about a quarter of that.
19. Where is your work being distributed, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks/Omnilit, some other distributor? How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
All of the above! I’ve put my books up everywhere I could from the very beginning (most recently, I’ve uploaded my books to Google Play at the suggestion of another romance author). Most people report they get their highest sales numbers from Amazon, but while that’s general true for me, I’ve had a few other vendors outstrip them from time to time. I had a couple of months where I had better sales at B&N, and this month (for reasons I still can’t explain), my books are doing extremely well at iTunes—I’ll probably end up doubling my Amazon sales for the month. I would suggest all indie authors, but especially those in romance, to make their books available in as many places as possible. There are huge, hungry markets of readers outside of Amazon!
20. If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change?
Hmmm…. Maybe forced myself to have a regular work schedule from the beginning? Honestly, as far as large-scale career decisions go, I’m not sure I’d change a thing. Sure, I haven’t had a huge, break-out hit (yet), but my sales have been steadily growing, and I’ve learned so much in the process. (How’s that for a cheesy answer?)
1. If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
Henry Cavill. Naked. In front of me. (duh)
2. If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
A survival guide. Because honestly, I’m not sure I could build a fire on my own.
3. Name your favorite fruit.
Banana (and no, not in a dirty way! Okay, maybe a little in a dirty way.)
4. Coffee or tea?
Tea! All the way! I actually hate coffee (I’m a strange one, I know)
5. Favorite season?
Fall. Because that’s about the time I can go outside again (I live in Georgia and if I even look outside in the summer, I get a sunburn)
6. How about favorite time of the day?
I’m a night owl. So about 11pm is when I get my second wind and feel like I can do anything.
7. Were you a boyscout/girlscout?
Girl scout! Oh yeah. I had every horse badge, acting badge, and jewelry-making badge they made. I also hated selling cookies, but I loved eating them. (Samoas, woot woot!)
8. Favorite food for breakfast?
Bacon. Ooh, or chocolate chip pancakes. Or Waffle House hashbrowns. Topped off with a mimosa, of course.
9. Latest book you’ve bought and read?
I’ve been reading How to Win Friends and Influence People (a little late to the game, I know), and it’s fascinating. It makes me feel like I can take on the world.
10. Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
I collect patches from every national park I visit (I’m an avid hiker) and pins from any major tourist site. This year, as one of my New Year’s resolutions, I started a travel/hiking journal, so now I’m one of those people who keeps tags and brochures and food labels and basically anything else I can glue inside.
11. Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
Cerulean blue. The best Crayola crayon.
12. Drama or comedy?
Comedy. I’ve gotten to the point where I actively avoid movies/shows I think will make me cry. Except for Game of Thrones. I’m addicted to that show (and the books!) in spite of my better judgment. Just ask me about my theories.
13. Have a fav quote or personal motto?
“A ship in port is safe but that’s not what ships are built for.” – Grace Murray Hopper.
I came to the realization about a year ago that I wanted to stop leading a “safe” life and take more risks. It was the push I needed to finally put a book out there in the world—and make a number of other huge changes in my life.
14. Cats or dogs?
Both! More to snuggle!
15. Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
Can I have both? A romantic dinner and then a night of dancing until I drop?
16. Favorite Swear Word?
Judging by which one I use the most often…. “Fuck,” haha. I swear a lot (maybe it comes from those years spent working in a kitchen?)
About the Author
Ember Casey is a twenty-something writer who lives in Atlanta, Georgia in a den of iniquity (or so she likes to tell people). When she’s not writing steamy romances, you can find her whipping up baked goods (usually of the chocolate variety), traveling (her bucket list is infinite), or generally causing trouble (because somebody has to do it).
Each Monday, Shurrn’s Indie Flutters will showcase an author who is self-publishing their book.
It should be noted that the general definition of “indie” does not necessarily mean “self-publishing only”, but for the purposes of this weekly post, I will only be showcasing self-published works. If you are interested in having your book featured in the Indie Flutters post, please see our BOM Review Request Form.
Thank You & Happy Reading!