Title: The Merry Widow
Author: Adriana Kraft
Genre: Erotic Romance
The millennium arrived with such promise—will it deliver for recently widowed Merry Delaney?
So much for all the anticipation about the new millennium. Merry Delaney’s life is still in a rut and shows no signs of changing. Sex? A fading memory, gone long before her husband actually died. Excitement? Hardly the hallmark of an accountant’s life. At forty-two, what can she look forward to?
Until her best friend takes Merry’s predicament into her practiced hands. One passionate kiss unleashes possibilities Merry never dreamed of—and she wants to sample them all. Men? Women? Young? Old? Ménage? Toys? Yes, to all, to pleasure, to making up for lost time.
Enter Chicago Detective Jim Barnes, who solicits Merry’s help with a mob funds-skimming case. Can the scorching passion that soon smolders between Merry and Jim survive the escalating mob threats of exposure? Having discovered a zest for sex, will Merry ever again be satisfied with one man?
New Year’s Eve 1999
It was starting. Merry had awakened to her alarm, brewed the coffee, warmed up her favorite pastry, and now sat curled up on her living room couch wrapped in her plush bathrobe and focused on the TV screen, where the Samoans had just begun to welcome in the new year. Her favorite channel would be live for the next twenty-four hours, tracking the celebrations—or lack of—as the world turned toward the new millennium.
The Millennium. Y2K. She was so tired of all the doomsday hype—as an accountant, she’d had ample advance notice to bring all her software up to date to accommodate the changeover. People were treating it as if it might be the end of the world—hardly, even if her world had ended.
Maybe she could glean at least a small shred of inspiration from the rest of the world. How did you pick up and move on when everything you knew had changed? Tomorrow would be one year—to the day—since Dan had died. She shuddered. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to spend this day alone.
Merry parked the car in her driveway. She got out and breathed deeply. She loved the richly fragrant springtime air. One of the best decisions she and Dan had ever made was purchasing this acre of land with its large old two-story house. Mature oaks and maples added to the sense of purpose and security of the place. This was home. Her home. And if she did kick up her heels and fall on her face in the process, she’d always have this place to return to.
She stopped by a lilac bush and sniffed, then closed her eyes and let the scent waft into her nostrils. This would do. Life would be just fine. Camille loved lilacs as much as she did. It was another passion they shared.
Merry shook her head. Was she acting like a skittish teenager? She’d have to put her best friend out of her mind. They’d seen each other’s bodies nude countless times, so why was she now imagining Camille’s in such a tantalizing way?
The crushed rock driveway crunched under the tires of a car entering. Merry cranked her head around as if she’d been caught doing something naughty.
She compressed her lips. She didn’t recognize the modest gray sedan or the brawny dark-haired man prying himself out of the driver’s seat. He gave her a crooked smile and a nod and walked toward her. Sauntered, she corrected herself.
“Mrs. Delaney? Mrs. Merry Delaney?” the man asked, reaching into his inner coat pocket and pulling out a badge.
“Yes, I’m Merry Delaney.” Her breath caught. “What’s wrong? Is it Tiffany? Has something happened to my daughter?”
The man shook his large head. He could pass for a Chicago Bears linebacker. His dark eyes penetrated.
Was he staring into her soul? Was he stripping her naked? Where did that thought come from? So maybe he was just the first man to show up since she’d decided it was time move on.
“I’m Detective Jim Barnes of the Chicago Police Department, Mrs. Delaney. I’m investigating a case that you may be able to shed some light on.” He looked around the front yard. “If it’s not too much trouble, could we step inside? This conversation might draw less curiosity if we conduct it indoors.”
“Of course, Detective Barnes. Forgive me.” She reached for her keys and unlocked the front door. “Come on in. I’ll make some coffee.”
“Don’t bother on my account.”
“No problem. It’s already made—I just have to push a button. I almost always have some ready to go.”
Now why was she rattling on so? Was it because she was unsure what questions he was going to ask? Or was it his physical presence? He was a solid male specimen—no question about that. And she couldn’t quite get away from him long enough to collect her thoughts. He’d followed her into the kitchen. That was okay. She was more comfortable in her kitchen than most anywhere else in the house.
It was a large kitchen with every convenience she could get her hands on. She liked to cook—maybe that was why her daughter was establishing a catering business. Merry was a little self-conscious about the kitchen’s size. She knew some families lived in apartments not much larger. But she loved the large island sitting in the middle with pots and pans hanging overhead. She didn’t have a lot of time for cooking, so when she cooked, she wanted her space well-organized and efficient.
She noticed the detective taking in the entire setting. If he was impressed, he showed no sign of it. His gaze raked up and down her body. Her red top and the white skirt that fell just above her knees should be conservative enough even for a cop.
He seemed to focus on her lips. Could he tell those lips had just been kissed—by a woman?
“You’ve got a real nice place here, Mrs. Delaney. You must like to cook. Or do you have a live-in cook?”
Merry shook her head and grinned. “No, never that. I enjoy my privacy too much, even if I could afford it. And I do like to cook, when there’s time. And please call me Merry. Mrs. makes me feel older than I like to think I am.”
“You don’t look too old,” he assured her. His lips thinned, perhaps passing for a smile.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
Extasy Books https://www.extasybooks.com/the-merry-widow/
Share a holiday family tradition:
There’s something about a room lit only by the Christmas tree lights. Since childhood, I’ve loved to sit in the quiet living room, smell the pine tree, and bask in the glow of the lights. Perhaps that’s why a tradition my husband and I started when the kids were young was to gather in the living room, turn off the lights except for the tree, light a few candles (enough to see by), and then read The Night Before Christmas out loud.
Those kids are grown now and have kids of their own, so we have an empty nest. But still on Christmas Eve, however late we stay up, we read The Night Before Christmas together in our living room with just the light of the tree (no longer a pine smell, alas) and a candle or two.
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood?
Have you ever felt like life was passing you by? That shut-down feeling that separates you from everyone you see? They seem to be normal, happy, satisfied, and you just can’t connect. Worse yet, you don’t have the energy to do anything about it, to take even that first baby step toward making a change.
That’s what Merry Delaney is experiencing as the world turns toward the new millennium, New Year’s Eve 1999. She’s an accountant, for pete’s sake. Her life consists of managing the math for other people’s lives. She’s been a widow for the past year, but something inside her died long before that, as she watched her husband’s M.S. take over his body and felt him withdraw from her.
Mr. Kraft and I co-write erotic romance and romantic suspense under our pen name, Adriana Kraft. The Merry Widow combines both – intense eroticism with underlying suspense. But it is so much more than that. We wanted to capture a woman’s transition from that dark place and explore the process as she opens up and begins to say yes—slowly at first, and then pell-mell into the fast lane, a New Year’s transformation.
Naturally, in our story, Merry’s journey of self-discovery is filled with sexual adventure—we write erotic romance, after all. But it’s also filled with choices she must make as she samples new experiences and begins to fall in love at the same time. Will she settle for less than what she truly wants? We hope not—and we hope the same for you, our readers. Happy New Year!
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When it’s Time to Heat Things Up
Award winning author Adriana Kraft is a married couple writing Sizzling Romantic Suspense and Erotic Romance for Two, Three, or More. Whether readers open our romantic suspense or our erotic romance, they can expect characters they care about, hot sex scenes, and a compelling story. Our suspense stories deliver one man, one woman, danger and intrigue. Our erotic romance is edgier and nearly always includes ménage or polyamory, sometimes with two women and a man, sometimes with two (or more) couples. We write our Erotic Romance stories to entertain, of course, but most of all we write them because we believe in happy endings for all who fall in love, whatever their gender, sexual orientation or numerical combination.
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