Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Zoë Archer’s James Sherbourne from Devil’s Kiss.
James Sherbourne, Earl of Whitney, is a gambling man. Not for the money. But for the thrill, the danger – and the company: Whit has become one of the infamous Hellraisers, losing himself in the chase for adventure and pleasure with his four closest friends. Which was how Whit found himself in a gypsy encampment, betting against a lovely Romani girl. Zora Grey’s smoky voice and sharp tongue entrance Whit nearly as much as her clever hands – watching them handle cards inspires thoughts of another kind. Zora can’t explain her attraction to the careless blue-eyed Whit. She also can’t stop him and his Hellraisers from a fiendish curse: the power to grant their own hearts’ desires, to chase their pleasures from the merely debauched to the truly diabolical. And if Zora can’t save Whit, she still has to escape him.
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a copy of Devil’s Kiss.
The holiday season has once again returned, whether or not I desire it to do so. It seems that the progress of time is one of the few elements that neither myself nor my fellow Hellraisers can control, and thus with a combination of apprehension and weariness I had to this day venture forth to purchase gifts.
I opted to forgo my usual trip to the Strand, where fashionable, affluent Londoners such as myself make our purchases. Instead, in the spirit of advancement, I ventured to one of those modern “shopping malls” that seem to have grown so popular in the Colonies.
To whomever may be reading this journal, I must make my confession: the experience was hellish.
Firstly, not for love (of which I have none) nor money (of which I have an abundance) could my coachman find a suitable place to park my carriage. No sooner had we spotted an available situation and rushed there will all undue speed, than some upstart driver with a yearning for death darted in front of us and obtained the situation for themselves! I left my coachman upbraiding one such driver with the foulest of language and made the rest of the journey on foot.
Inside, I was certain that the gates of Bedlam had been thrown open and all the inmates of the lunatic asylum now filled the shopping mall. Indeed, the crowds were so thick and unruly I thought perhaps they might be staging a public execution in the so-named “food court.” This was not the case, however, though I do believe that the mounds of grease-laden “chow mein” might constitute corporal punishment.
As you well know, dear journal, I have no closer friends than my fellow Hellraisers. The five of us are nigh inseparable. We spend our hours roving London in continual pursuit of pleasure. Almost nothing is denied to us—a benefit of our wealth and station. The Hellraisers know the nocturnal city better than a parson knows his Scripture, and where one of us goes, the others are certain to follow. As I’ve no wife nor family—nor have a desire for either—it stands to reason that I would purchase holiday gifts for the other Hellraisers.
Given that I have little patience for anything that does not involve cards or other games of chance, I made certain to keep my shopping goals clear and direct. The sooner I finished my expedition to the mall, the sooner I could return to the hazard table.
Abraham Stirling, Baron Rothwell, is perhaps my oldest and closest friend. Bram and I have known each other since childhood. Since his return from fighting in the Colonies, he has been determined to immerse himself in sensual pleasure. For him, I ventured into a shop calling itself Victoria’s Secret, and there purchased scented oils and a variety of diaphanous and miniscule garments to be worn by his latest paramours. The young woman who sold me these items mistakenly believed I was purchasing them for my “girlfriend.” I was quick to assure her that I had no such thing—I’ve not the interest nor desire to pursue a longstanding intimate relationship, nor does any woman I have yet encountered tempt me to do so—and that the gifts were for my very close friend, Bram. She gave me a rather peculiar look, but I ignored it and continued on my way.
Leo Bailey is the only man amongst us Hellraisers that is not of genteel birth. Indeed, as a self-made man and son of a saddler, he is more determined than any of us to force his way into the ranks of the elite. Unlike the other Hellraisers, Leo actually works, making his fortune on the Exchange. I found an excellent bargain on a leather portfolio at one of the shops within the mall, but a boorish man attempted to tear the thing from my hands. The encounter nearly degenerated into fisticuffs, yet I emerged victorious.
Of all the Hellraisers, the Honorable John Godfrey is our resident scholar. The clerk at the bookshop endeavored to sell me something called a Nook, but I derisively informed him that John possessed too many books to fit into something so ridiculously small as a nook. He would require a structure as vast as the rotunda at Ranelagh. I did, however, purchase a fine set of books on the history of Parliament—one of his favorite topics.
For Sir Edmund Fawley-Smith, the most genial and mild-tempered of the Hellraisers, I obtained a handsome flask. Briefly I entertained the notion of giving Edmund a locket, in which he might place a miniature of Rosalind. As Rosalind has been married to someone else for many years, it would serve no purpose to encourage his melancholy pining for a woman he cannot have.
For enduring the crowds and unrelenting chaos, I decided to reward myself, and procured something the clerk called a “poker caddy.” It is an ingenious device, holding both playing cards as well as tokens. When I entertain the Hellraisers at my home for cards, we will be able to play for hours without interruption. I cannot think of anything more enjoyable.
As I struggled through the throng with my packages, returning to where I hoped I might find my carriage, I could not help but muse. Whilst these gifts were pleasant enough, none of them could truly provide any of us Hellraisers with our deepest desires. They were but palliative. Our restless hearts demand more than mere objects could bestow. But how might we gain that which we so desperately need? I fear no earthly power could ever provide it.
Now I have put myself in an ill humor. There is one certain antidote to such a condition. I will join the Hellraisers at our favorite tavern, and thence we shall proceed to doing what we do best—raise hell.
Meet Zoë Archer!
Devil’s Kiss is the first book in the Hellraisers, Zoë Archer’s new paranormal series about five men who make a deal with the Devil. In exchange for their souls, they each receive a power of sorts, but love is their only chance at redemption and literally saving themselves from Hell.
Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there’s nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master’s degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating heroes in tall boots and butt-kicking heroines. Her Blades of the Rose series—featuring dashing men and fearless women—were released Fall 2010. Zoe and her husband live in Los Angeles. Visit her website at www.zoearcherbooks.com.
Want to purchase Zoë’s novel?
Blades of the Rose
- Warrior at Amazon | Book Depository
- Scoundrel at Amazon | Book Depository
- Rebel at Amazon | Book Depository
- Stranger at Amazon | Book Depository
Guardians of the Dark (with Bianca D’Arc)
Thank you Zoë for taking part in Literary Escapism’s Black Friday!
Contest Time! Zoë is giving away a copy of Devil’s Kiss. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: What kind of gift do you believe would provide the Hellraisers with which they desire? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.
Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.
The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
All Black Friday contests will remain open until December 31st at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the snazzy new plug-in I have. Have you checked out the other Black Friday contests yet? Check out the Master List to see all the Black Friday giveaways
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.