in print part of the NAUGHTY BITS 2 Volume
co-authored with Lisa Renee Jones
Harlequin Spice Briefs
Release Date (Ebook): August 1, 2008
Release Date (Print): March 1, 2010
The search for a rare flower rumored to possess magical aphrodisiacal powers had led Drs. Olivia Markham and Jordon Brooks into the remote heart of the Mexican jungle. But a mysterious native tribe dedicated to keeping the Estela flower from reaching the outside world required the two stunning scientists to experience its powers firsthand to convince them of its dangers.
Paired with two breathtakingly sexy warriors, Olivia and Jordon drink the sweet essence of the Estela and are overwhelmed by lust so intense it nearly consumes them. Their warrior lovers seem to intuit their deepest, most secret desires, and in their experienced hands, their overpowering hunger is satisfied again and again until, at last, the effects of the drug subside.
Flashlight in hand, Dr. Olivia Markham pushed through the vines and vegetation as her glance scanned the tall palm trees fringing the overgrown footpath. With the setting sun unable to penetrate the thick canopy of leaves overhead, she had to rely on artificial light to find her way. Not that she knew her way—she didn't—which was why she, along with her best friend and fellow research partner, Dr. Jordon Brooks had joined a local tour group that had just embarked on a weeklong safari.
The heavy, humid atmosphere closed around her, making it difficult to fully inflate her lungs with air. She swiped her damp bangs from her forehead, hardly able to believe that her research into aphrodisiacs had landed her smack dab in the middle of the Riviera Maya jungle—a far cry from her research lab at the University of Texas, she mused.READ MORE
The tour group had been traveling from sunup until sundown. Judging from the grumblings coming from the other group members up ahead, it was clear they were ready to stop and set up camp for the night. So when Olivia's stomach started to grumble, she stopped mid-stride, twisted around, and spoke to Jordon in whispered words. "How much farther do you think it is?"
Olivia waved her flashlight toward her friend, momentarily blinding her. Without warning, their bodies collided with a thud, and the air rushed from her lungs.
Gasping, Olivia stumbled backwards, her heavy backpack throwing her off balance. With her hands flailing, her flashlight tumbled to the ground; unable to right herself, she landed in a thump a few feet away from her light.
Jordon dropped to her knees. Panicked, she reached for Olivia and gushed out, "Olivia, are you okay?"
"I'm okay, but ... I can't speak for the damn bush I fell on," she said, lightening the mood. "If I didn't know better, I'd swear it was a cactus."
Jordon crinkled her nose and panned her light, taking in the flattened foliage. "Not a cactus, just the exposed roots of a Pacaya palm tree," she said.
Olivia pushed her damp bangs back with her palm. "Oh Yeah? Tell that to my ass."
She shimmied forward to retrieve her flashlight and then looked around. Sure enough, Jordon was right. It was merely Pacaya palm roots—they'd done enough research over the past few months to know the foliage intimately.
Stifling a chuckle, Jordon shook her head and reached out to her. "Need a hand?"
"I think I need a minute to catch my breath first." Olivia gripped her chest and wheezed loudly to emphasize the point.
Laughing at Olivia's exaggerated antics, Jordon plunked down beside her and went to work brushing dirt and insects from her cammy jacket.
Olivia pulled off her rucksack and took a moment to compose herself. The hard truth was, Olivia and Jordon were both strong, streetwise city girls who'd trained emotionally and physically for the weeklong excursion, but despite their preparedness, they somehow found themselves a little vulnerable, and a whole lot out of their element in the primitive jungle surroundings.
While they rested and filled their lungs, Olivia knotted her long auburn hair at her nape and then glanced around. She swept her flashlight over the flora, scanning the area from ground to treetop as she searched for the bright ivory petals of the Estela flower.
Rumor had it that the Estela, which meant star in English, could actually glow in the dark--hence the name, no doubt. Rumor also had it that the leaves, when ingested, had very potent, very magical aphrodisiacal powers. This was the only reason Olivia and Jordon, her colleague, were fighting their way through a jungle at this particular moment in time, instead of working at their private laboratory.
Unfortunately for them—and their research—rumor also had it that the flower was merely a legend, and no proof of its presence had ever been found. Even the townsfolk, including their tour guide, had been pretty closed mouthed about the flower's actual existence.
Jordon angled her head to peer into the dark path. "We'd better get moving before we lose the others."
Olivia glanced behind her, and flicked her light over the untamed path. "Shouldn't there be a guide following up the rear to ensure no one gets lost?"
"I guess it's up to us to keep up." Jordon climbed to her feet. "Come on."
Olivia stood, threw her rucksack over her shoulder, and then stilled. "Listen."
"What am I listening for?" After a quiet moment, Jordon turned in a circle, hearing only the crunch of twigs and underbrush beneath her hiking boots. "I don't hear anything."
"Oh shit," Jordon said, as understanding dawned. "Let's move it. We'd better pick up the pace before we really get left behind."
Pushing through the vines, they rushed forward searching for their tour group. A few moments later, they came upon the others who were already setting up camp.
Following Jordon's lead, Olivia dropped her bags and hooked her flashlight onto her belt. She was grateful that they'd finally reached their destination.
Olivia went to work on finding a spot to set up the tent, while Jordon rooted through their bags for food. The minute they were both rested and fed, the two had plans to scope out the area.
Before she had time to secure a spot, their guide approached with two lit lanterns and spoke to them both in broken English. "Follow me." As he handed Jordon a lantern, Olivia took that moment to study him. Splashes of colored paint, with symbols she didn't understand, covered his dark skin, making him look wild, fierce and...carnal. Long black hair fell forward as he dipped his head to meet Olivia's gaze straight on.
He made a low guttural sound, and lowered his voice for their ears only. "Come and learn."
Marveling at the turn of events, Olivia cast Jordon a skeptical glance, her expression conveying her disbelief; a heady mixture of concern and anticipation whipped through her blood. After refusing to even discuss the flower's potent powers, or even its mere existence, could he really be guiding them to it?
Moving with grace and agility, he turned his back to them, and stepped from the beaten path into one that appeared less traveled. Jordon held the lantern high, lighting the dark jungle before them.
Olivia stood stock-still and said in a whisper, "What do you think caused his change of heart?"
Jordon's frowned deepened, as she slowly shook her head. "I really have no idea at all. But I think we should at least follow him to find out." With that, Jordon picked up her rucksack and stepped forward cautiously. Olivia scooped up her own pack and followed closely behind.
Without speaking, their guide led them deep into the jungle interior. Despite their hunger and sheer exhaustion, they trekked onward, following in silence, anxious to discover the magical flower—a flower that would take them from obscurity to making their mark in the scientific world.
What felt like hours later, but in reality could have been only twenty minutes, Olivia and Jordon found themselves overlooking a tall cavern. From their elevated position, they couldn't see into its depths, but they could hear the rustling sound of water below. They both crouched down and peered into the darkness. They could see a faint light deep below. A fragrant scent curled around her, and Olivia inhaled, pulling the unique aroma into her lungs; she wondered if the scent was coming from the Estela flower, and if the faint light was from its glowing petals.
When a twig snapped behind her, Olivia stood and turned to face their guide. Jordon placed the lantern near the cliff, and moved in beside her. Their guide waved his hands forward, gesturing to the thick rope dangling over the edge. "It is what you seek."
Her heart racing, Olivia narrowed suspicious eyes and said, "You want us to go down there?"
Their guide nodded. "It is safe. I will follow."
Jordon twisted around, hunkered down and grabbed the rope. She tugged, testing it. Always the risk-taker, Jordon tossed Olivia a reassuring look and shrugged. "It seems safe enough."
Was it really possible that they'd find the Estela flower in the belly of the cavern?
The guide answered Olivia's unasked question. "What you seek, you will find, down there. Auga," he added in his native tongue, bowing his head.
They'd find the flower in the water?
Olivia noted the moment of hesitation in Jordon's eyes, before she quickly blinked it away. "What do you say, Olivia? Are you game?"
Olivia knelt down beside her friend and tried the rope. She drew a fortifying breath, gathered her bravado, and shot Jordon a glance. "I say we've come too far to back down now."COLLAPSE
I have to say, I am loving Harlequin's Spice Briefs line. Each of the stories I've read published for this line has been a tasty little erotic treat that delivers a lot of romantic punch for such a short read.
In particular, I have to say that PRIMAL INSTINCTS co written by Lisa Renee Jones and Cathryn Fox is among my very favorites. The fact that this story was penned by two authors who have earned a place in my list of favorite authors made it irresistible to me, and once again, both authors lived up to my expectations.
Let me start off by saying that this story is a wonderful erotic interlude with two couples. It is not the typical romance in which the couples end up together at the end, but then Harlequin doesn't bill this line as romance. They promote them as erotic short stories, which is exactly what PRIMAL INSTINCTS is, and deliciously so!
For such a short story, there is actually a lot of story here, especially considering we have two separate couples that star in this book. The fact that this brief is told entirely from the perspective of the women makes that possible. The men are a bit of a mystery, but their personalities shine through and we learn enough to want more from both Chale and Amador, along with Jordon and Olivia.
Although this is a complete story, it feels like it could be a sort of a prologue, and I am crossing my fingers that Ms. Fox and Ms. Jones return to these characters with full-blown romances for each in the near future. My appetite has certainly been whetted for more...
PRIMAL INSTINCTS is the perfect indulgence for when you want a quick and very sexy read.