I am delighted to welcome back Rachel de Vine to the blog, to talk about her newest book, Snatched, which was released on 9 September, and written under her new pen name of Juliette Banks. Glad to have you, Rachel. For those who don’t know you, tell me a bit about yourself.
I write erotic romances as Juliette Banks, but some of you may also know me as the author Rachel de Vine. I am British and live in a beautiful rural part of England. However, I also like travelling to remote and unusual parts of the world, and have visited places as diverse as Tibet, Bhutan, Peru, Namibia and China. Our world is so beautiful and I hope that it will always remain so, and I see myself as being so lucky to have the freedom to travel that was denied many previous generations. I hope I never take it for granted.
Just curious, but what is it that attracts you to romances as an author?
It’s because I am an incurable romantic, and I write erotic romances because I am always attracted to the sexuality and sensuality that is within so many of us. I like to write about interesting characters who often have to survive life’s challenges before they can reach the happy ending they deserve.
Awww, that’s lovely! So, does that mean Snatched has a happy ending, then? But I know you’re not going to to tell me! How about telling me a bit about this book, instead?
Well, it’s a newly edited and greatly revised and expanded version of a book previously released under the same title. I’d like to mention something first: This tale, set in Eastern Europe in the mid-19th century, is one of passion, sacrifice and hope, in an age where poverty made life a daily struggle to survive. It contains some explicit sexual scenes, including spanking, as well as erotic horror themes. I wouldn’t want to offend your readers, so if this kind of content offends, please don’t buy this book.
It’s nice of you to mention it, Rachel, although I doubt you’ve got a huge amount to worry about with most of my readers, to be honest! So, come on, give me some more details of the story.
Okay – I will! Here’s a summary:
It’s the worst day of Laryssa’s life when bandits snatch her beloved daughter Sofiya, carrying her away to places unknown. Vowing to save her, come what may, Laryssa sets off on a long and difficult journey to find the eighteen-year-old.
When she stumbles across a half ruined castle in the middle of a forest, she realizes she’s found the very place where Sofiya is being held by four men. In desperation, Laryssa begs to be allowed to stay with them, to cook and clean, and even offers her body for use to the leader of the gang, a man called Bhodan. Not knowing who she really is, he grudgingly accepts.
Bhodan is a dark man with a troubled past. With livid scars marring his otherwise handsome features, he is gruff, ruthless, and cold. Somehow Laryssa, the woman he has employed to cook and clean for himself and his men, and to service him sexually whenever he desires it, manages to see past his harsh exterior. Her growing attraction to him is undeniable, and no one is more surprised than Bhodan himself to discover that he is beginning to reciprocate those feelings.
Sofiya is not the only girl to have been captured by the gang; Hanna, a girl close to her in age, was already being held when Sofiya arrived. Laryssa is desperate to rescue them both, but knows she must bide her time until the moment is right.
When the four men decide to leave the women alone to go thieving, Laryssa sees her chance. However, she is unprepared for the emotional dilemma she will face when only one of the men – Bhodan – returns. He is badly wounded, and she finds herself unable to leave him alone, as he will undoubtedly die.
Torn between the love of her daughter and the passion Bhodan has awakened in her, Laryssa faces a tough choice. Should she send Sofiya and Hanna back to their village alone to face their demons, or should she accompany them and risk losing what could well be her last chance of experiencing boundless passion and love after years spent alone? Can she forgive Bhodan for what he has done in the past, or will she decide that her daughter’s happiness is more important than her own?
Wow! It’s really interesting. I love the sound of the power dynamics in this book. Do you have an extract that you can share?
Of course! Here you go. There are two:
Excerpt 1 (PG)
She reached the heavy oak door and tugged the bell pull, the sound echoing in the corridors beyond. For a long time it seemed as though the bell was going to be ignored, but eventually the woman heard a shout from above. Looking up she saw a man staring down at her from an open window.
“What do you want woman? Why are you ringing the bell? Be gone with you.” His voice was cold and harsh.
“Sir, I beg you, please let me in and listen to what I have to say.”
Cruel laughter came down from above.
“You can beg all you want, but you have nothing to say that we would want to hear. Be gone with you before I come down and beat you and throw you to the wolves.”
She heard a second voice. “Who are you shouting at brother? Who is outside?”
“No one to concern us, Bhodan. Just a mad woman who is begging us to let her in.”
“Begging us, eh? Now that is something that we have never seen here, a woman begging to come inside. Usually they are begging to leave. I must come and see what sort of crazy woman we have at our door.”
A second face appeared at the window above, but it was too dark to make out his features. He peered through the gloom, trying to see the woman’s face in the dark below. Then he disappeared. A few moments later the heavy oak door creaked and groaned as it opened and a man appeared carrying a lantern.
The woman looked wearily at him and tried to suppress a feeling of revulsion when she saw his face in the lantern’s light. Here was a man who might once have been handsome, but whose appearance was savagely mutilated by two livid scars that crossed his face. He looked about forty and had jet-black hair with a few streaks of grey and dark eyes, and was slim but with broad, powerful shoulders.
He recognized the look of horror that the woman was unable to hide completely. It was a look that he had come to know so many times over the years since he was so disfigured as a young man. His voice lashed out harshly.
“So, do you still want to come inside, woman? Do you want to come forward and take a closer look?”
The woman was momentarily struck dumb, but seeing that the man was about to close the door she found her voice. “Sir, I beg you. Will you please give me shelter? I fear I will die out here.”
“And you think that is of any concern to us? You have not walked here unintentionally. The road ends here. There are no other dwellings. Speak quickly before I close this door.”
“Sir, I am a lonely widow. I have no home and no money and I have been thrown out of my village. I heard that you were outsiders too and I thought I might find shelter here for a while. I have skills. I can cook very well and sew clothes too. I can make your life here much more comfortable and I expect nothing except food and somewhere to sleep.”
The man had already begun to turn away. The woman was desperate. “I will even come to your bed if you wish.”
The man paused and a half smile came to his ravaged face. “My, my, you really are desperate aren’t you? Do you think you can look at this face while we are fucking? Or would you have to close your eyes?”
“Sir, all men look alike in the dark, as do all women. I am no beauty and my figure is no longer girlish, but I still feel passion in my loins and could satisfy a man just as well as a young woman, with the added advantage that I would cook you a tasty meal afterwards.”
He laughed, but the humour did not spread to his eyes.
She should hate him, but her body told her differently.
Excerpt 2 (R)
She was fairly certain that as long as she kept them content with her cooking, and Bhodan content in his bed, the men would allow her to stay until she had worked out a way of getting them all safely away from this place.
That night, Bhodan came for her again, but did not repeat the rough treatment of their last coupling. This time, he paused at the kitchen door and watched her combing her long hair, which she normally put up into a bun during the day. The anger and aggression previously in his face and demeanor had gone.
“Come. I want you.”
He wondered why, after just a short time, this woman was getting inside his head. Throughout most of his life, he had been careful to allow no one to penetrate the armor-plated exterior he had so carefully constructed. There had been many women over the years, and Laryssa was just one more. And yet, there was something about her, an indefinable ‘something’ that drew him to her. He liked her calmness, her bearing, her soft voice and, yes, her body, which responded so well to his touch, and which set his own body alight in ways he found unfamiliar and strange.
Laryssa followed him and, despite herself, couldn’t help a shiver of expectation pass through her body, the traitorous body that had been reawakened after its long slumber. Why was this man able to make her feel truly alive for the first time in her life? Even though she felt anger about being beaten the previous day, she was ashamed to admit to herself that there was a small part of her that had found the experience exciting.
“Take off your clothes.”
She did as she was told, feeling a tremble in her belly, not of fear, but of anticipation. “Turn around.”
She turned slowly, and Bhodan walked towards her and ran his hand down her back, and over the bottom he had so harshly beaten the day before. He was checking to see whether she still bore the marks. The bruising had faded somewhat, and there was no permanent scarring. He was relieved.
He pulled her backwards so her back rested against his chest, and ran his hands over her breasts before moving one hand slowly and gently down over her belly and over the lips of her sex.
Laryssa took a sharp breath as his fingers began to explore her moist, hidden parts, swirling around her clitoris until she longed for him to enter her. This man, with just a touch, was able to light a fire within her that she had never experienced before.
He bit her earlobe, and when he spoke, his voice was husky with desire. “Such a sweet body. No wonder the other women drove you away. They must have been afraid that their husbands would push you up against a tree to gain access to this hot little cunt whenever their backs were turned.”
OOOH! Yummy! A taste just isn’t going to be enough, is it?! Where can we all get hold of Snatched?
I have some links for you, so you can buy the book, if you wish:
That’s brilliant, thanks. If readers want to connect with you, where can they find you?
It’s been a pleasure having you on the blog again, Rachel. Good luck with the book.
Thank you for inviting me to your blog, and I hope your readers will read and enjoy Snatched.