Thanks so much for having me over on Illustrious Illusions for day two of The Executive Decisions Blog Tour.
Don’t forget that I’m celebrating the tour by giving away two print copies of the first book of the trilogy, An Executive Decision. Enter to win at the end of this post.
Circle of Friends
The Executive Decisions Trilogy didn’t come into the world easily. I could build a large bond fire with the original rejection letters for the early version of the first novel, then called The Executive Sex Clause. That was over five years ago. A lot has happened since then. I’ve published nine novels under two different names, and Fifty Shades of Grey exploded onto the literary scene, making the time was right to revisit The Executive Sex Clause.
One of the few agents who bothered to actually critique the original manuscript offered the advice that would ultimately open the door for the trilogy. She told me that there were too many characters in the novel.
It took me a long time to figure out exactly what to do with all those characters without destroying what I thought was the beauty of the book, which was the friendships that played a major, if sometimes confusing, role in Dee Henning and Ellison Thorne’s lives.
The friends made the story because they were real, and complex people. That meant that ultimately the answer to the agent’s criticism was that the friends were book-worthy in their own right! The original couple, Dee and Ellis, are workaholics who can totally see the logic of an Executive Sex Clause in their working relationship, but their hearts have other ideas.
Overworked CEO Ellison Thorne has no time for sex, let alone romance. The only answer, at least where his retiring business partner Beverly is concerned, is a no-strings sex clause in her replacement’s contract, designed to make Ellis’ busy life easier – and hotter. But she’s joking, right?
When Dee Henning takes over Beverly’s job, sparks fly between her and Ellis, but work takes priority in driven Dee’s life too. Can one night of passion in a Paris hotel room prove Beverly’s Sex Clause is their secret to success in the boardroom and the bedroom, and what will happen if that private clause becomes public knowledge?
Dee and Ellis’ friends rally around them, as good friends do, when the situation gets rough. And sometimes rallying friends cause problems of their own. The line between being helpful and meddling is very fine.
Identity Crisis is Garrett Thorne and Kendra Davis’s story. Garret is Ellis’s slightly younger brother, the troublemaker and the bad boy of the Thorne brothers … or is he? What Garrett gets up to when no one else is around is astonishing, and it can only be kept secret for so long.
Kendra Davis is Dee’s friend, who, along with Harris Walker, form the Three Musketeers. Kendra is the queen of PR, a genius at spin and fixing celebrity screw-ups. But she’s back in Portland after mysteriously selling her lucrative PR firm and taking some down-time to rethink her life. Her claim to fame is her volatile temper – at least the way Garrett sees it. Blaming him for nearly breaking up Dee and Ellis before their relationship could begin, she has slapped him soundly and then tried to drown him in the lake at a bar-b-q run-amuck. But perhaps the two protest too much.
Identity Crisis Blurb:
PR rep extraordinaire, Kendra Davis, is elated when she gets the chance to work for her hero, reclusive, romance novelist, Tess Delaney. Her elation is short-lived when she discovers that Tess is none other than Garrett Thorne, the bad-boy brother of business tycoon and eco-warrior, Ellison Thorne, who is engaged to her best friend, Dee Henning. Kendra blames Garrett for the comedy of errors that nearly destroyed their relationship. Garrett doesn’t like Kendra either, but he’s desperate. His alter-ego, Tess has been nominated for the prestigious Golden Kiss Award. No one knows who Tess really is, and he needs Kendra to play Tess for the awards.
When Tess is stalked by a rabid fan, the two unite to protect her identity. With Kendra, the body and Garrett the soul of Tess Delaney, is there room in this strange ménage for romance? Can a woman who doesn’t exist understand their hearts even better than they do?
Successful New York gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, is the woman everyone would love to hate but just can’t quite manage it. She was engaged to one Thorne brother and married and divorced the other. She’s the last person Dee’s friend -- wildlife photographer extraordinaire, Harris Walker, wants anything to do with. But she wants Harris’s work in her new West Coast gallery, and the woman is not used to taking no for an answer.
Successful NYC gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, is ex-fiancée to one Thorne brother and ex-wife to the other. Though the three have made peace, Ellison Thorne’s friend, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, still doesn’t like her. When Stacie convinces Harris to exhibit his work for the opening of her new gallery she never intended to include him in her other more hazardous plans. But when those plans draw the attention of dangerous business tycoon, Terrance Jamison, Harris comes to her aid. In the shadow of a threat only Stacie understands, can she dare let Harris into her life and make room for love?
Too many characters was the key to transforming The Executive Sex Clause into An Executive Decision and the Executive Decisions Trilogy. The friendships that are revealed, that develop and evolve over the course of three novels give a sense of continuity and a sense of family. A dear friend of mine once said you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. Dee Henning and Ellison Thorne chose wisely, and the Executive Decisions Trilogy is all the stronger for it.
Identity Crisis Excerpt:
Book 2 of The Executive Decision Trilogy
Before Garrett could say anything else, the line went dead and he and Kendra sat staring at each other. Garrett reached for the remote and switched off the television. ‘So what do you think?’ He said. ‘I mean you are K. Ryde.’
She ran a hand through her hair and tightened the sash at the waist of the robe. In the kitchen they could hear the coffee maker gurgling out the last of the coffee into the pot. ‘Garrett, I work for Tess Delaney, not Don Bachman, and I think it’s up to you. You’ve done what was asked of you. It’s had better than expected results, and now I think you should do what you want. I mean a huge part of Tess’s appeal is her mystique. The more public she becomes the more she risks losing that mystique. If you do decide to have Tess make the odd public appearance, then I’ll happily oblige, but the more I pretend to be Tess Delaney, the more risk we run of her really being outed.’
He tugged a strand of her red hair. ‘You think I should do what I want?’ He scooted closer and brushed a kiss against her parted lips. ‘Because I’m pretty sure you have a good idea of what I want right now.’
She made a half-hearted effort to pull away from him. ‘Garrett, this is serious business, you know. I need to know, K. Ryde needs to know what to do next.’
He gently nipped her lip and felt her breath catch. ‘I know that, Kendra, believe me, I do.’ He guided her hand to rest against the bulge barely contained by his straining shorts. ‘But I can’t think very well at the moment. Perhaps if you could just help me out a little bit here --’ with his other hand, he slid open the bottom of the robe to reveal her lush thighs and beyond, ‘-- then maybe I could concentrate on business a little better.’
She forced an irritated sigh that ended in a soft giggle as he pulled her to him, shoving the robe open still further, exposing her breasts to the explorations of his lips and the cupping of his hands as he eased her back onto the sofa, wriggling his way in between her legs. He had just worried open the sash and slipped a hand down to cup her and stroke the unbelievable warmth of her when a loud crash on the front porch caused them both to jump. She jerked the robe back around her, and he shot up from the couch like he was spring loaded.
‘What the hell?’ He scrambled to the door with her right behind him, tightening the sash of the robe as she went.
‘Wait, Garrett. Don’t open it.’ She reached for his hand, but it was already too late. He wasn’t thinking straight. How could he possibly be thinking straight when he had been just about to make love to Kendra Davis? He swung the door open wide and found himself, in nothing but his scant and somewhat bulging work-out shorts, with Kendra barely covered in his over-sized robe, on center stage to a sea of reporters. Cameras flashed, the press surged and before Garrett could close the door, the irritating Mike Pittman shoved a microphone in his face, shouldering his way into the breach of the door. Garrett remembered Pittman from Dee and Ellis’s meeting with the press a few weeks ago. The microphone might have been in Garrett’s face, but Pittman’s eyes and the lens of the cameraman’s camera were focused on Kendra, hair thoroughly mussed from last night’s romp, still tying the over-sized robe that was clearly his, and looking more than a little like she’d just been caught in the act.
‘So it’s true, then, Tess Delaney did spend the night with you after the Golden Kiss debacle?’
The Golden Kiss debacle! That slimy little rat! ‘Get out of my face.’ Garrett’s voice was a dangerous growl, and he wasn’t sure what would have happened if Kendra hadn’t pushed her way front and center.
‘Mr. Pittman,’ she said, in a voice way too good-natured for what Garrett was sure she must have felt. ‘The answer to that question is obvious. Where did you think I would be on such an occasion?’ As if to demonstrate, she ran her arm through Garrett’s and smiled up at him.
‘And what about Barker Blessing?’ Pittman pressed on. ‘Have you heard from him? From his lawyers?’
‘I think you need to talk to Mr. Blessing about that.’ She stepped forward into the man’s personal space and forced him back with nothing more than the power of presence. ‘If you’ll excuse us, Mr. Pittman --’ she shot a quick look around and offered a smile, and a polite nod to the rest of the rabble ‘-- everyone. Coffee’s getting cold.’ Her smile turned wicked. ‘I’m starving, and Garrett promised to make me pancakes.’ Then she stepped back and shut the door in the man’s face -- not slammed it -- just shut it and turned to face Garrett, her back pressed against the door.
‘Make you pancakes?’ Garrett manages before she hijacked the conversation.
‘Rule number one,’ she said, before he could even utter the curse that was on the tip of his tongue ‘Don’t give the press any reason to up the ante.’ She shrugged. ‘Alright, you already blew that one last night, and this is the result.’ She nodded to the shuffling and mumbling they could still hear beyond the closed door. ‘This is why we needed things to go smoothly last night, and why we need them eating out of our hands now.’ She made her way into the living room and peeked around the edge of the curtain at the reporters on the lawn.
‘I blew it?’ He bristled and followed her to the window. ‘You’re the one who dumped your dessert in Blessing’s lap.’
And that was his fatal mistake. Would he never learn to hold his tongue around Kendra Davis? He could see the tension in her shoulders before she turned to face him. ‘It was dessert Garrett, just dessert, not your fist to the man’s face, not a law suit, not jail.’ She stood facing him with her hands on her hips, her eyes bright and fiery. ‘And would you have hit Pittman there, if I hadn’t stepped in?’
‘Oh you’re a fine one to talk about not resorting to violence,’ he said following her around the living room as she scooped together her clothing. ‘You, who nearly dislocated my jaw.’
She turned on him. ‘Oh pa-lease. You deserved it. You’ve deserved everything you got so far, and last night, well if you’d have just let me handle it, then this,’ she stabbed a finger at the door, ‘this wouldn’t be happening.’ She jerked off the robe and stood naked in front of him tugging her panties up over her hips and then shoving into the green dress. And fuck it was hard to stay focused with her doing that. Did she do that on purpose – get his cock’s full attention so his brain wouldn’t work? She probably did. She was a bitch, he reminded himself. How the hell could he forget the number one fact about Kendra Davis? The woman was a bitch. Interact with her at your own risk. He watched her stuff her stockings and garter belt into her bag like they were the enemy, and he was sympathetic.
‘Where’s the back door,’ she said.
‘Through the kitchen,’ he replied, his brain still half-occupied by her angry reverse strip-tease that had left him in a bad way. ‘Wait a minute. Where are you going? What are you doing?’ He followed her into the kitchen with her stumbling into her killer heels as she went.
‘Fixing it,’ she huffed. Then she fumbled in her bag for her iPhone. ‘Hi Dee. You home? Can you come get me. I’m at Garrett’s.’ He was pretty sure Dee got the “don’t ask” warning in her voice. She would have to be deaf and stupid not to. ‘Come around back. The alley yes. Now.’ Dee lived close. Garrett hadn’t planned it that way, but it was a nice neighborhood. Kendra shoved her phone back into her bag and headed for the door. Then she turned her attention to him. ‘You stay put. Don’t go out until I give you the all clear. I mean it, or you can find someone else to fix your fuck-ups.’ Then she shoved her way out the back door, pulling it to carefully to behind her.
Identity Crisis is Available from:
About K D Grace/Grace Marshall
Grace and KD both believes Freud was right. In the end, it really IS all about sex, well sex and love. And nobody’s happier about that than she is, otherwise, what would she write about?
When she’s not writing, Grace is veg gardening. When she’s not gardening, she’s walking. She walks her stories, and she’s serious about it. She and her husband have walked Coast to Coast across England, along with several other long-distance routes. For her, inspiration is directly proportionate to how quickly she wears out a pair of walking boots. She also enjoys martial arts, reading, watching the birds and anything that gets her outdoors.
Grace and KD have erotica published with SourceBooks, Xcite Books, Harper Collins Mischief Books, Mammoth, Cleis Press, Black Lace, Erotic Review, Ravenous Romance, Sweetmeats Press and others.
K D’s critically acclaimed erotic romance novels include, The Initiation of Ms Holly, Fulfilling the Contract, The Pet Shop. Her paranormal erotic novel, Body Temperature and Rising, the first book of her Lakeland Heatwave trilogy, was listed as honorable mention on Violet Blue’s Top 12 Sex Books for 2011. Books two and three, Riding the Ether, and Elemental Fire, are now also available. She was nominated for ETO’s Best Erotic Author 2013 and 2014.
Grace Marshall’s sizzling hot romance novels, An Executive Decision, Identity Crisis, The Exhibition are published by Xcite Books.
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