All Eden Bancroft has ever been to her high-profile politician husband is a trophy wife, born and bred for the part. She believes she has no choice but to play it—until she meets a talented chef and restaurant heir who makes her feel loved for herself alone. The more her husband uses and belittles her, the more deeply Eden falls for Kaleb. Even with Mitchell’s congressional campaign in full swing, the lovers manage to find brief stolen moments together. When her husband is wounded by a bullet from a disgruntled lobbyist, Eden must stay by his side. What she learns can set her free, if she has the courage to take a stand.
The Taste of Good Champagne
Eden saw him coming toward her and something, some strange new feeling she didn’t understand, caught at her heart. He was handsome, but it was more than that. His walk, as he strode to her, was confident. A smile played at his lips.
“Good evening,” he said smoothly.
“It would have been,” she replied, pushing the bottle towards him. “It’s corked. Too bad, too. The food is pretty decent.”
“Decent?” he countered. “Don’t you mean delicious?”
The smile tempting his mouth broke full and wide. She had intended to really let him have it—there was no excuse for serving wine that had essentially turned to vinegar—but his smile stopped her. When she didn’t return it, and didn’t say anything, he picked up the bottle and looked at the label.
“Yeah,” he said. “I wouldn’t have ordered this. It was already selected when I came on board. Let me give you something else.”
“No,” she said. “Thanks, anyway.”
“Come on. You’ve got to let me do something for you.”
“You can’t do anything for me,” she said softly, looking into his eyes.
He broke into a grin. “Well, that’s a matter of opinion.”
He was flirting with her, and Eden had a sudden, reckless yearning to find out how far it could go. With his piercing brown eyes, dark hair and full, inviting lips, he had a kind of sultry Joe Manganiello quality. He had big, powerful hands and he was built like a middleweight boxer. He looked more like a prizefighter than a chef.
“Maybe you could leave me alone,” she said, even though it was the last thing she wanted.
“Not a chance,” he told her with a devilish grin, then turned and walked away.
Eden glanced across the room to see Mitchell and his mother still table-hopping, working the crowd, as Mitchell slugged back a Coors Light. He had never learned to savor the subtle nuances in wine, any more than he had learned to savor his wife. And then the handsome young chef was back, standing before her. He was holding two tall champagne flutes and a bottle of wine, its label hidden by a linen cloth expertly tucked around it.
“I told you I don’t want anything,” she said.
“You’re not having a good time, are you?” he asked. She remained silent but he persisted. “Don’t you want your husband to be a congressman? Or don’t you want—”
“Of course I do,” she interrupted.
“. . . him to be your husband?” he finished.
That caught her by surprise. She hadn’t thought anyone could see through her façade of happy, perfect wife. Feeling vulnerable always made her angry, and she bristled. “But he is my husband,” she said. “I believe we were discussing the bad wine you served.”
“You’re right. We were.” He set the glasses on the table in front of her and poured out the sparkling liquid. “Taste this,” he said.
“What is it?”
“Just taste it.”
Intrigued, she took a sip. She was surprised. “Veuve Clicquot?”
He nodded. “For you, only the best.” He put the emphasis on you and she smiled at him. “Finally,” he added, pouring himself a glass. “It’s nice to see you smile.”
“Was I?” The elegant taste of good champagne lingered on her tongue. She wondered what his kisses would be like.
For a few moments they talked about the Champagne Region in France. A strange mix of emotions assaulted Eden. Sharply aware of the raw, primal need this man awakened in her, she forced herself to focus on what he was saying instead of the tantalizing way his lips curved. His knowledge of wines surprised her. He told her he had lived and trained as a chef in Paris and Provence. They were deep in conversation when Mitchell returned to the table.
Ignoring Kaleb, he leaned toward his wife. “Eden, did you bring my speech?” he demanded. “They want me to go up now and I—”
“Of course, darling,” she broke in before he could get wound up. She opened her bag and pulled out the speech. Mitchell grabbed it.
“Well, that’s a relief,” he retorted brusquely. Grabbing Kaleb’s champagne flute, he drained it and then hurried up to the microphone. He hadn’t bothered to thank her. She turned her gaze again to Kaleb.
“Look,” he said. “I’ve got to go and get dessert out, but I’ll be back. Don’t leave, okay? There’s something I want to ask you. You’ll wait?” He looked deeply into her eyes. All she could think of was how much she wanted to kiss him.
GUEST POST: Writing Supporting Characters
Writing supporting characters is always fun. There’s no pressure to make sure they adhere to a certain formula, i.e. the heroine must be (usually) young, innocent and beautiful and the hero must be strong, gorgeous beyond words with muscles to match, and (at first) seemingly immune to the charms of the heroine, as she is to his.
Supporting characters can be whatever the author wants them to be, as long as one rule is observed—they must be just that. Supporting. YA author S. Alex Martin, who also wrote Get It Write Tonight: Characters, says, “Simply put, supporting characters should influence your main characters—and the story—in a significant way.”
Supporting characters are vital. Not only do they give the hero and heroine someone to talk to (instead of having all that infernal, internal dialogue) they help to define the traits of the main character(s) as seen through the eyes of others. Writing them can be a bit tricky, however. You can’t fall in love with them to the extent that you allow them to take over the story.
In The Congressman’s Wife co-author Arie Pavlou and I created supporting characters stronger than we intended them to be, and holding them back wasn’t easy. Although there was a great temptation to let them hog center stage whenever they appeared, we held them mercilessly in check. We wanted Kaleb and Eden, our two star-crossed lovers, to tell the story.
The villain can also be a supporting character, even though he or she is trying to undermine one or more of the main characters. We have two equally compelling villains: Russian mob boss Sergei Komarovski and Mitchell Bancroft, Eden’s high-profile, abusive husband who is running for congress when the story opens.
Writing villains, for me, is always enjoyable. You can make them as mean and nasty as you need them to be to propel your story forward, while also endowing them with a soft spot. We gave Mitchell a couple of tender moments with his six-year-old daughter, without allowing those moments to redeem him in anyway.
There’s also Mitchell’s domineering mother, who tries to control every aspect of his life, including his wife and children; Alice, the mousy, shy publicist, who yearns to be closer to him; and Kaleb’s friend, Royal King, a Native American/Jamaican mob boss. In the second and third books of the trilogy, King will do battle with the Russian crime lord who, in essence, owns Mitchell, the ego-driven politician.
And Alice, dear sweet insignificant Alice, will get her wish in The Congressman’s Mistress, moving from supporting to main character to fill the title role. From their first physical encounter, which Mitchell’s mother engineers in chapter one, you’ll want to scream the time-worn admonition at Alice, “Be careful what you wish for. It could be your undoing.”
About the AUTHORS:
Charlene Keel has written over a dozen novels and how-to books as well as multiple episodes of popular TV shows such as Fantasy Island and Days of our Lives. Her Dell book, Rituals, was the basis for the first made-for-syndication soap opera. Recently she co-authored The Tracks, a YA supernatural trilogy. Shadow Train, the final installment, won a Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewer’s Choice Award. Keel has also written screen adaptations of novels by bestselling authors, and has worked as editor or managing editor for a few international magazines. In her spare time she ghostwrites books and screenplays for celebrities, doctors, corporate moguls, spies, strippers and anyone who has an interesting story to tell.
Blog – Red Sky Book Blog: https://redskybookblog.wordpress.com/category/charlene-keel/
Arie Pavlou is a popular chef who attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and then perfected his craft at some of the top-rated Michelin restaurants in France and New York. He has lived and worked in France, Cyprus and the U. S. and is an avid world traveler who speaks five languages. He enjoys all sports and has a talent for knife-throwing, which he perfected at Le Cordon Bleu. Currently Chef de Cuisine at the renowned Bridgehampton Inn in New York, his specialties include Caramelized Baked Alaska, Winter Salad, Roast Lamb Fondue, Wild Game and Poached Pears with Mint Ice Cream. The Congressman’s Wife is his first novel, and he’s currently writing a cookbook.
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