It was a night of exquisite rapture that changed Lady Octavia Grenville’s life forever. Not only did she long for sexual pleasure—but as a succubus she needed it to survive. Now she is intent upon learning to control her powers and searching for the child she was forced to give up, a quest that takes her into the arms of the rake who ruined her…
Matthew, the Earl of Sutcliffe, is not the man Octavia once knew. He is now a vampire, but one doomed to die in a fortnight unless he can win a woman’s love. The only one he desires is Octavia, but she wants him merely as a sexual plaything, a source of erotic delight. Somehow he must expose his own heart in order to find hers…
RT BOOKreviews gives Blood Fire 4 ½ stars and says, “An unusual allegiance of villains adds special interest to this love story. It’s not your typical Regency romance, but is laced with the era’s flair and imbued with the full flavor of a paranormal. Page’s imaginative character development and an exciting plot are well worth the read.”
Read an Excerpt
This excerpt contains explicit sexual material and is intended for readers 18 years of age and older.
A Lady’s Erotic Quest
London, March 1821
“I want the delicious, delectable, and thoroughly handsome Lord Sutcliffe,” Lady Octavia Grenvale said in a whisper. “And I want him exactly as he is shown in my book: without a stitch of clothing.”
Leaving her best friend, Eliza, staring at her in shock, Octavia slipped out of her bed and crouched on the floor. She held her finger to her lips as Eliza began to protest. Eliza frowned, but rolled onto her stomach on the bed.
Octavia took one last glance at her closed bedroom door. The door was safely locked, key in the keyhole. No one could interrupt or come in. Taking a deep breath, for it was hard for her to move so quickly, she drew out a large, leather-bound book from beneath the bed. A piece of satin ribbon stuck out from the top.
She hauled the heavy book onto her comforter; then she sat on the edge of her bed. Her legs shook from just that little bit of exertion, and her arms were weak and tired. Her heart struggled to beat, but she was not going to give in and rest.
She wasn’t going to just close her eyes and let herself die. She had too many things to do first.
She flipped open the book to the place she had marked. On the page, there was a colored print of a young man. A young, naked man. The picture depicted him lying on his side on a disordered bed. Sprawled on a counterpane of dark blue, he grinned toward the viewer. The artist had rendered rugged, sensual lines that bracketed his beautiful mouth. And dimples—beautifully depicted dimples that made her heart ache each time she looked at his smile. Dark chocolate-brown hair fell rakishly over his brow. As for his magnificent body . . .
Octavia let her gaze move down his body, and her heartbeats sped up. Her pulse was strong and thundering, not unsteady. Her skin went warm, instead of being chilled and covered in goose bumps. She felt weak and achy, but in a good way.
Lord Sutcliffe’s body was like nothing Octavia had ever seen. Of course, as a delicately reared young miss, she had never seen a real, live, in-the-flesh, undressed man.
Her upbringing had been rather unusual. She drew the illustrations for Father’s books and stories on his travels, which sometimes required her to depict the male body in very little clothing. But the gentleman in this erotic picture made every painting, statute, and real male pale in comparison.
He had the most spectacular muscles. Enough to make her drool. He had slender hips and long legs. The artist had drawn all of him. Even his male part—the privy part—and it stuck up straight along his abdomen, pointing at his navel.
She glanced to Eliza. Her friend’s cheeks were bright scarlet. Octavia waved airily at the picture. “That is what I want,” she said matter-of-factly. “Before I die, that is what I want.”
Eliza’s blush vanished in an instant, and she went pale. “Stop speaking of dying. You are not going to die, Tavie. You are going to get better.”
Octavia sighed. She had been afraid for a long time—afraid of dying, of losing the rest of her life, of never having love or a husband, children, and household of her own.
But fear eventually wore you out. You couldn’t feel it anymore. You were simply too drained.
Now that she couldn’t feel anymore, Octavia had decided that if she was going to die, she was going to experience a few things first. For a start, she was not going to die a virgin.
“I am going to die, Eliza,” she said. “I am certain of it. The physician is, too.”
She had come to terms with dying. But the people she loved had not. “I know Father believes I am going to die. He has tried every cure they can think of.” Octavia shuddered as she remembered the bloodletting and the noxious concoctions she had drunk. Father had even brought in men who were not doctors, who sold quackery. Of course nothing had worked. “Father is fighting it, but deep down in his heart, he believes it is going to happen. I can see despair in his eyes, no matter how much he tries to hide it. I know that if my father has given up hope, I am done for.”
“But why on earth would you want to do . . . things”—Eliza glanced nervously to the closed bedroom door —“with Lord Sutcliffe?”
“I don’t think I have enough time to find a husband before I go.” She gave Eliza a buoying smile. “So it will have to be a love affair. Perhaps one that will only last one night. In that night, I intend to experience everything.”
“Tavie, you can’t ruin yourself with Sutcliffe. Your father despises him.”
Octavia felt her cheeks heat. “I’m not going to ask Father’s permission, for heaven’s sake. I don’t want him to ever know about it.”
“You think Sutcliffe would keep it a secret?”
“Sutcliffe will not know who I am.”
“How are you going to do that? How could he not know who you are when you are”—Eliza gave
a strangled sound— “naked with him.”
Imagining that brought a pleasant rush of warmth through Octavia’s body. An ache followed it—one that throbbed between her legs. It agitated her as much as an unreachable itch. “I have a plan, but since I cannot go outdoors, you are going to have to help me.”
“Help you plot your own ruin? How can I call myself your friend if I do that?”
“I can’t ask anyone else. Anyway, when I am dead and gone, how will you feel if you deny me this last wish?”
“Stop that!” Eliza cried. She nibbled her fingernails. Octavia heard the crisp sound of them snapping beneath her teeth.
“I don’t know when I’m going to die, Eliza. Please help me with this.” She met her friend’s troubled gaze with a pleading one. “You will feel terrible when I’ve gone and you know you didn’t help me.”
Eliza chewed through another nail. “What do you want me to do?”
“Help me put together a costume, of course. And hire a hansom cab for me—so I can go to the masquerade two nights from tonight.”
“The one held by the Duke of Glencairn—”
“You are not going there! It’s not a respectable event!” Eliza cried. “Everyone knows the duke holds that for his shockingly scandalous friends, and the only females there are demireps and courtesans.”
“I can hardly interview gentlemen for the position of bed partner during the afternoon stroll in Hyde Park.”
Blushing fiercely, Eliza pursed her lips. She looked up to the heavens, her raven curls bouncing, and as though she’d been given divine help, she asked, “How do you know the Earl of Sutcliffe will be there?”
“I invited him,” Octavia said, and it was hard not to be smug at her cleverness.
“I forged an invitation—Father has some correspondence from Glencairn, so I used my artistic skills to fake one.”
For years she had drawn and painted pictures to go with Father’s books of his travels. Her years of painstaking work had come in handy for forging. “So will you help me, Lizzie? I could go without a disguise. I could even walk across London to get there.”
The Duke of Glencairn did not have his scandalous parties at his home, a massive ducal residence on Park Lane. He had acquired a house on the fringes of Mayfair for his bacchanalias.
Glencairn had been a patron for some of her father’s travels. But despite His Grace’s generosity, Octavia had always disliked the duke, since he was so heartless toward his wife. The duchess was young and pretty, but the duke’s infidelities had seemed to sap away all her vitality and strength. The duchess was always pale and unhappy.
Octavia wondered what it was like to live with heartbreak every single day. She knew what pain was: She’d felt it dearly when her mother had died. But eventually that hadn’t hurt so much. Marriage to an unfaithful man must be a living hell.
But she was willing to use the duke to get the one thing she wanted so desperately: Lord Sutcliffe.
“Everything is set up perfectly, Eliza. There’s nothing to worry about. Nothing can go wrong.”
Eliza bit off a bit of her thumbnail. “All right, I will help you. But I don’t know what you are going to do afterward when you become healthy, but you are ruined. You will get better, you know. So you will have to marry Sutcliffe.”
Octavia didn’t argue, but she wouldn’t get better. There was no reason to fear a forced marriage with a man known as the worst rake in London. It was reputed the Earl of Sutcliffe had indulged in the wickedest things on his travels: bacchanalias, opium dens, brothels where the pleasures involved punishment and pain. It was said Sutcliffe had learned how to make a woman reach pleasure by just speaking to her.
Octavia had never known pleasure. But she’d heard about it, and she wanted to know what it was like.
Her father had adventured around the world; so had the Earl of Sutcliffe. She had never gone anywhere, or done anything exciting. And now that she was dying, she wanted to live as much as she could.
In two nights, she was going to have an adventure of her own. She knew she was never going to get well. She knew the doctor believed she was so weak that she could die any day now.
She had one night—one night in which to fit a lifetime of pleasure.