Whips? Yikes. Why? I know. What are we thinking, right? No woman in her right mind should even go there...
But wait. We're not talking real life here. We're talking wicked, forbidden fantasies, those secret, fleeting, murky images that speed you to fruition after a long day, or heighten that special moment in the bedroom. You'd never dwell on them in daytime. They belong to the dark hours, when you're a very different animal, a female seeking pleasure.
For a reader, the safest place to explore these is definitely on the page. But for a writer it's quite the opposite. After dark, a blank page is a very dangerous place. Forbidden fantasies? Wicked secrets? Anything can happen...
In Saffina's Secrets, book 2 of the Suiting Saffina series, Saffina's already tasted the delights - and some of the downsides - of a whip or three as her wealthy, cynical guardian, a master in the arts of both discipline and pleasure, offers to broaden her education with a trip abroad.
He's broadened it already in some surprising and highly disturbing ways, and she's eager for more, as keen to explore the new appetites he's aroused in her as he is to awaken them. But in 1816, France is a dangerous place for some, especially wealthy English lords who live on the fringes of society. If he hopes they'll enjoy an idyllic stay in the luxurious chateau they first visit, he's in for a shock.
Where his checkered past was something of a problem in England, here in France, now open to English travellers after long years under Napoleon's autocratic rule and steady, unrelenting warfare, her guardian soon finds old enemies closing in.
But Saffina's enthralled. A real French Chateau? And real French aristocrats? Only a few remain, no longer persecuted now a new king is on the throne. Instead they lend a touch of class to the gatherings of nouveau-riche politicians and power-hungry officials. She'll mingle with some of the most powerful men in France, and she means to have fun.
She happily falls in with her guardian's plans to find her a husband, all the while nursing a special secret of her own - she's already found one. But she's well aware how hard he'll be to win, and that her stern guardian would strongly disapprove.
Vaguely aware of her guardian's past, but blithely unaware of its true depth, Saffina happily joins in the fun - from teasing the elderly Marquis, their leering host, to flirting outrageously with a serious and very presentable young man, a rising star in the new regime - much to her guardian's fury.
She's thrilled to hear there's a resident ghost. Better still, she finds the chateau has secrets of its own, including midnight trysts with whispering lovers, hidden passages, and even a magical maze...
But she soon learns that other guests, including her stern guardian, also have secrets. When she discovers the full scale of the threat they pose, the frothy, gothic sex-romp she'd hoped for during their visit takes a dark and sinister turn. She must use her wits and her beauty to the full to save those she loves most. Even a famous historical figure has a vital role to play.
But just when she thinks all's well, she's astonished to find more drama in store when she learns what really lies hidden in her guardian's dark past and drives his murky character. The secrets he now reveals, and one in particular, throws her whole future into jeopardy.
I loved writing this story because it struck me it's a long time since I read one quite like this. I found it terrific fun linking in some actual touches of history here and there to keep it real. The story may be all about a fraught, intense and passionate affair, but the drama - and the dangers she faces - was altogether possible, given the times, the place, her character and the politics of the age.
Like I said, a blank page late at night can be a very dangerous place. Who knows what awaits the unwary writer? Or what wicked secrets she'll come up with next?
About Flora Dain:
Flora is a multi-published author who is married with two children and lives in the UK. She loves reading, writing, good reviews, cold, crunchy ice cream and hot, smooth movies. And especially connecting with readers-a real thrill!
Saffina's Secrets Blurb:
He'd taken her in hand, now her guardian takes his ward abroad to find her a suitor. But unknown to him, she's already found one…
When Saffina's stern guardian takes her to France, his aim is to find her a suitor. Hers is simply to enjoy his strict instruction in the arts of pleasure for as long as she can. Aware she's unlikely to lure a sophisticate like him, she vows to keep her feelings for him a secret. But at the magnificent château they first visit, nothing is what it seems. A sober young man who takes her fancy has a hidden agenda. Her hosts are famed libertines. Her guardian's rakish past sends him urgently to Paris, and she learns the château is haunted. Worse, her hated former governess, now her maid, ties her to the bedposts at night to assist her 'training'-but the real reason is to amuse a mystery night visitor. Saffina relishes the nightly amusement while awaiting her guardian's return. Then she learns he's in mortal danger…
Get your copy of Saffina's Secrets now from Totally Bound, Amazon and other retailers.