Another release day, here at last!
The Corrupt Comte, my historical erotic romance set in 1820 Paris, has arrived at ebook retailers near you, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as the publisher’s site, Samhain. A back-cover blurb and excerpt are featured here, in case you’re wondering if a tortured French spy and a stuttering English heiress are your cup of tea.
On Sunday, Mandi over at Smexybooks posted a snippet of one of my favorite scenes in the book—but be warned, this NSFW excerpt is, well, NSFW. Many thanks to Mandi for featuring Gaspard and Claudia in all their desperate glory!
Writing The Corrupt Comte was an immense labor of…um, not love, exactly, because there were many times when I wanted to throw my laptop across the room. It was nothing at all like the experience of writing Wild Burn, which felt so easy and natural and always, always fun. But Gaspard Toussaint, the hero of Comte, was determined to be difficult.
Gaspard and Claudia started life as secondary characters in my very first romance-writing effort, Love Songs, though I eventually cut all the scenes featuring them. Love Songs, a fluffy category-length Regency romp, is set in 1823, three years after the events of Comte, and Claudia and Gaspard were already married, flitting about London, with a toddler at home. I had described Gaspard as an effeminate Frenchman dressed in garishly foppish fashion, and Claudia as his curvy, adoring wife, who didn’t seem to mind that her husband flirted with everyone, male and female, and oozed sexuality.
Anyone who’s read Comte will know that the Gaspard and Claudia sitting on the cutting-room floor of Love Songs are not the Gaspard and Claudia of The Corrupt Comte.
Once scrapped from Love Songs, I took a second, longer look at Gaspard and Claudia as a couple, and starting tweaking. Gaspard’s backstory almost wrote itself, and then I was working on a manuscript I had titled “Midnight Raptures.” In that draft, Claudia was stunningly beautiful, with minimal stuttering, limited dimensionality, and an external motivation so bland I might as well have smeared the computer screen with mayonnaise and called it a sandwich. I stepped away from “Midnight Raptures” and began work, in earnest, on the first full draft of Wild Burn.
That was almost two years ago.
Needing to know whether or not I was crazy for constantly thinking about Gaspard and Claudia even while entrenched in the beginnings of Delaney and Moira’s story, I sent the first half of “Midnight Raptures” to a pair of writer friends, Ruthie Knox and Serena Bell, who were both immediately and totally supportive, in the way that early career authors often are. (Ruthie was also integral in the final titling of this novel. Fun-with-alliteration FTW!) Eventually, after finishing and submitting Wild Burn for consideration at various places, publishers and agents alike, I came back to Gaspard and Claudia, buckled down, and rewrote their story to be a little less blah.
I submitted it to my editor at Samhain, who’d also acquired Wild Burn two months prior. Within days, she’d gotten back to me and said she’d fallen in love with Gaspard. I signed a contract.
Then the real work began.
It started as an effort to increase the wordcount of Comte, just so it’d be a longer novel (the manuscript I sold to Samhain came in at just under 55,000 words). More words, mostly structured around playing up the heat level of the sex scenes, gradually turned into all new words, and soon, the original 55,000? Turned into 80,000, with all but 20K or so completely new. Claudia got some agency. Gaspard got some (more) torture. The spy plot with Gaspard’s compatriots (Sabien, Maxence, and Audric) received at least three chapters more air-time than in the previous version(s) of the novel.
And the villain? Well, the villain has a giant document filled with his villainy, past, present, and future (as in, for the books following The Corrupt Comte), currently sitting in a folder on my desktop right now. What is seen of him in Comte is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
The point is, Comte didn’t flow for me, not as all of my other work has. Which, I suppose, is why I love it more than I love anything else I’ve done. Gaspard and Claudia own a jagged-edged piece of my heart, and I can only hope that, after you read their story, they own a piece of yours, too.