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Written in Stone
Author: Viviane Brentanos
Genre: Contemporary Romance Erotica
Release: February 2011
Editor: Anne Duguid
Line editor: Penny Ehrenkrantz
Cover artist: Delilah K. Stephans
Word count: 80,304
Warning: Adult Content: Contains some love scenes, including strong references to homosexual practices and some strong language.
Dumped five days before her wedding,
Cassandra Hall decides not to waste the honeymoon. She sets off to London. What was supposed to be her dream week turns into a nightmare time of introspect, self-doubt. Then she meets James, literally falling at his feet in an attempt to save his Afghan hound from colliding head on with the traffic.
James is witty, charming, too good-looking and also--not available. Despite this, Cassie is captivated by him. What follows is a week of fun, companionship and a bonding that Cassie has never experienced.James, sensing Cassie’s unhappiness, goes out of his way to make up for her jerk of a fiancé’s rejection. He is drawn to her vulnerability--something he finds disturbing, threatening to shatter all he thought he knew about himself. Cassie, he senses, is falling in love with him. He ought to back away but cannot. Cassie bravely makes her true feelings known and when he rejects her, he knows he has broken her heart. He is left confused, guilty because....James has a secret.
Watercolour grey light filtered through the gap in the partially drawn curtains, collecting pinpricks of dust in its shadowy fingers. Despite the warmth of the room, Cassie shivered. So much for the promised Indian summer. Served her right for believing the Channel Four weather girl. Perhaps if Annika—or whatever her name was—spent more time on studying the met office predictions than on her daily wardrobe, she might occasionally get it right. Cassie sniffed. Not that the weather mattered. She wasn’t going anywhere—except perhaps home. Staying in London was a stupid idea.
Glancing at her watch, she winced. Ten a.m.? She’d slept through breakfast and dinner. Her grumbling stomach was proof. For the first time in days, a dreamless slumber had left her strangely calm. She was done reliving that nightmare of a week. Swallowing against a parched throat, she rubbed at gritty eyes. Knees folded under her butt, she shuffled across the bed and reached for the phone. “Okay Martin,” she punched down to reception, “let’s see if this hotel is worth the price you paid. Hello… I would like some coffee sent up, please. Java, naturally and some fresh croissants—French. Yes now! Thank you.” She fell back against the mountain of pillows and giggled. Well Martin did say she had to learn to be more assertive.
Hands folded, her arms behind her head, she stared up at the nymphs and cupids frolicking in Arcadia. Someone’s idea of tasteful art? She wanted to vomit. “Well, Cass.” She wriggled her nose. “Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so what are you going to do about it?”
Perched on her left shoulder, Miss Self-Doubt whispered gleefully in her ear. “Nothing, you pathetic, weak creature! As always.”
She was right, of course. All Cassie’s life she’d been a doormat, first bending to her mother’s will and then, although he’d been more subtle, to Martin’s.
A faint tapping inside her skull made her sit up.
Miss Kick-Ass shoved Self-Doubt off her perch. “Oh pur-lease!” she hissed. “Get off your cross, you poor excuse of a woman. Take control. You’re young, bright. Tell the world to go and screw itself.”
Cassie chortled. She liked this new inner voice of reason. Swinging her legs round, she jumped to her feet. “You are so right.”
She wandered over to the dressing table mirror, feet buried in thick cream carpet. Dragging her fingers through turbulent tresses, she frowned. “Oh well, that’s a hundred quid’s worth of extortionist stylist down the drain.” But then she doubted even ten cans of hairspray could have saved her coiffure from the ravages of her mad flight across the rain-battered park. She couldn’t help a glimmer of mean satisfaction from sparking. If her mother could see her now, she’d reach for her happy pills.
A too pale face jumped out at her, making her draw in her breath. Dark smudges betrayed the days of fitful sleep and endless tears. “Damn you, Martin!” Reaching out, she stroked the cheek of this stranger staring back at her. A sigh clawed its way to the back of her throat. Clenching her fists, Cassie swallowed it away, banishing it, she hoped forever, along with the fresh wave of loneliness lapping at her heart. “I can do this,” she whispered. “I know I can.”
She dressed with meticulous care, as she laid out outfit after outfit on top of the bed. Most she discarded into a crumpled heap, throwing them back into her suitcase. She didn’t have to dress to please Martin any more. Adrenalin kicked in as she reveled in her newfound freedom. Grabbing her much beloved and missed worn and scuffed jeans, she held them against her chest, glad she’d sneaked them in when Martin’s back was turned. He abhorred her in trousers of any shape or size. Well there was no more Martin, and as she wriggled her legs into the skinny jeans, she began to wonder if it was such a bad thing after all. Pulling the ecru polo neck over her head, she decided not. At least she got to wear her worn and cracked tan boots—flat boots.
Next, hair. She gathered her unruly mane back off her face and tamed it into a sleek French plait. It was a look Martin hated. He was more of a catwalk siren man. “Mmm,” Cassie twisted and turned. “Very ‘Town and Country.’” Reaching for her make-up bag, her hand hovered over the expensive array of beauty products. Mouth twisted into a rebellious pout, she tipped the entire contents into the wastepaper bin. Some chambermaid was about to have her day made. “I am no one’s mannequin,” she whispered.
The mirror challenged her. A salon perfect eyebrow arched. “Are you sure about this?”
“Okay so I am not a total masochist.” Rummaging in the basket, she retrieved the mascara.
Five minutes later, she studied her reflection, satisfied. A confident, poised young woman met her stare head on. Cassandra Hall had neither room nor need of men in her life. Placing her fingers against the doppelganger image, she smiled. “Me, myself and I. That’s how it’s going to be.”
The internal phone rang out, and she jumped back into uncertain reality.
“I am so sorry to disturb you, but there is a Mr. McIntyre in reception who wishes to speak to you.”
Cassie froze. Was Martin up to his old tricks again? She wouldn’t put it past him to send someone to check up on her. He treated her like a child. “I don’t know any Mr. McIntyre,” she snapped.
“One moment please.”
She strained to hear the muffled conversation.
“Yes, sir…certainly, sir…Hello? I am sorry, madam, but Mr. McIntyre is most insistent. He wishes me to tell you Madonna is anxious to thank you for saving her life.”Cassie’s fingers tightened around the receiver, her knuckles white against the oyster pink of her French manicured nails. How had he found her?
With a sharp and witty sense of humor (there were plenty of times I laughed out loud while reading the exchanges between characters), Ms. Brentanos tells the story of James and Cassandra—two loveable and well-matched protagonists. I have to admit, when it comes to romance, I’m a skeptic, but Brentanos won me over with her affable, fluid writing style and British charm. To sum it up: Brentanos has written a romance that is accessible and enjoyable for even the romance skeptic. This is definitely a must read.
LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Written in Stone. Unputdownable, lovely, heartbreaking, very funny, wonderful British voice, and just so yum I could read it all over again. Miz Love Loves Books TOP RATED...READ FULL REVIEW
Viviane Brentanos has already earned a five-star review on this site for a previous submission. I admit, when I saw her second submission, I selfishly snagged the story because I wanted to see what all the raves were about. I can see why now. Her writing is very fluid, and very colorful. As a writer myself, and one who loves to try to achieve new twists on old subjects, I was very impressed with her handling of the storyline. One Hundred Romances Project 5 stars...READ FULL REVIEW
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Customer Reviews:(Monday, 18 April 2011)
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