In the aftermath of a wild, liquor-soaked party, three women from very different social classes are about to live out their forbidden desires.
Society girl, Nora Richardson’s passionate nature has always been a challenge to her ever-patient husband. Now he wants out of the marriage and she has just this one night to win him back. The catch? He wants to punish her for her bad behavior. Nora is offended by her husband’s increasingly depraved demands, but as the night unfolds, she discovers her own true nature and that the line between pain and pleasure is very thin indeed.
Meanwhile, Clara Cartwright, sultry siren of the silent screen, is introduced to a mysterious WWI Flying Ace. If Clara, darling of the scandal sheets, knows anything, it’s men. And she’s known plenty. But none of them push her boundaries like the aviator, who lures her into a ménage with a stranger in a darkened cinema then steals her jaded heart.
Working class girl Sophie O’Brien has more important things on her mind than pleasures of the flesh. But when her playboy boss, the wealthy heir to the Aster family fortune, confronts her with her diary of secret sex fantasies, she could die of shame. To her surprise, he doesn’t fire her; instead, he dares her to re-enact her boldest fantasies and Sophie is utterly seduced.
One party serves as a catalyst of sexual awakening. And in an age when anything goes, three women discover that anything is possible…
********* EXCERPT *********
Excerpt from IT STINGS SO SWEET
At home, from the safe height of my fancy penthouse apartment with its gilded furniture and velvet drapes, I find my stash in the sideboard and pour myself a shot of hooch. Downing it too quickly, I cough at the burn. Then I wipe my lips and hurriedly hide the evidence of my distress only moments before the doorman brings me the red roses and the note attached.
The man who sent them is waiting downstairs.
“Can’t you shoo him away, Charlie?”
“He’s not the sort to be given the bum’s rush, madam,” the doorman replies.
No, I don’t suppose he is. Leo Vanderberg has come at the worst time, but I find that I want to see him. Maybe the reckless aviator is just the tonic I need. “Alright, send him up. Wait fifteen minutes, then have the car brought around, won’t you?”
The penthouse, the doorman, and the driver are all perks of being a kept woman. I can afford without Teddy Morgan’s generosity, of course. But like I said before, I never turn down a gift. The days when I was clawing for crumbs in a cold one-bedroom apartment are over, but I haven’t forgotten them and I’m never going back.
When I hear the aviator’s footsteps in the hall, my pulse quickens. I can see his lean body in my mind’s eye, and those dark looks, hot and heavy. I still remember what he whispered in my ear, and it makes me a little shaky to think of it. I don’t have to guess what he wants.
When he comes in, I don’t turn around right away. “Why, Mr. Vanderberg, I didn’t expect to see you again so soon, much less bearing gifts,” I say, arranging the roses so that blooms are on fine display. I have to admit, their perfume lifts my spirits. “Are you falling in love with me?”
“Of course not. That would ruin the whole arrangement.”
I want to turn around and look him in the eye, but I don’t. “What arrangement would that be?”
“The one where I’m planning to debauch you and you’re planning to let me.”
My lips part in amusement. “I’m afraid I was thoroughly debauched long ago.”
“I’d like to test that—” He catches his breath when I finally turn from the mirror. He has both hands in his pockets, a languid slope to his shoulders, a snappy hat shadowing his face, but he can’t hide his surprise.
And his wide-eyed astonishment makes me laugh. “What’s the matter, Ace? Haven’t you ever seen a girl without powder on her nose before?”
“I—I just . . . I just need a second to get used to it, is all.”
“Is my skirt too long, my hat too wide, or don’t you recognize me without my war paint?”
“You look younger . . .”
“Like a farm-fresh freckled milkmaid? Like a sweet daisy ready to be plucked from a field?”
He shrugs. “Something like that.”
“Well, don’t let the baby face fool you. I only go out like this when I don’t want anyone to recognize me.”
“You’re Clara Cartwright. Why the devil wouldn’t you want anyone to recognize you?”
There is nothing I can do but lie. “Because, I’m going to a matinee at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. I can’t go there looking like myself. My handprints are in the concrete forecourt right next to Charlie Chaplin’s. I’d spend the whole afternoon signing autographs.”
He smirks. “Must be hard to be you.”
“Positively a trial.”
He’s still smirking—and I see it’s his natural expression, as if he has the utmost contempt for the whole world. “If you’re going to the matinee, Clara, let me take you. My treat.”
My voice is low and husky with regret. “I’m not interested, Mr. Vanderberg.”
“Yes you are. And like I said before, you can call me Leo.”
“I haven’t decided if I want to be on a first-name basis. At the party I got the impression you weren’t just another wet blanket . . . you seemed reckless. A little bit dangerous. But flowers and a movie? Rather conventional, wouldn’t you say?”
“The courtship’s for your benefit, doll, not mine.” Then he leans in and everything turns deadly serious. “See, it’s like this. When you’re in bed with me, squirming in embarrassment for all the filthy things you’ve let me do to you, it should comfort you to remember that I did court you as a lady . . . even though I intend to treat you as anything but.”
STEPHANIE DRAVEN is a bestselling, award-winning and RITA-nominated author of historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance. Her newest project, IT STINGS SO SWEET is a collection of 1920s historical erotic romances that celebrate sex, women, and the Jazz Age. Her most recent novel with Entangled Publishing, IN BED WITH THE OPPOSITION, is a mix of humor and sex-appeal set against the backdrop of a zany political campaign inspired by the career of Baltimore legend William Donald Schaefer. Both novels are fun departures from her more serious Greek mythology-inspired series for Harlequin's Nocturne line, the debut novel of which was nominated by Romantic Times for Best First Series. The series has earned critical praise for its originality and awareness of social issues and garnered the 2012 SWIRL award for excellence in multi-cultural romance literature as well as the CataRomance's Reviewers Choice Award. Writing historical fiction about Cleopatra’s daughter as Stephanie Dray, she won the Golden Leaf Award for SONG OF THE NILE. Stephanie is currently a denizen of Baltimore, that city of ravens and purple night skies. She lives there with her favorite nocturnal creatures–three scheming cats and a deliciously wicked husband. And when she is not busy with dark domestic rituals, she writes her books. StephanieDraven.com