What inspired the premise for your story?
The Power of Tess is a true love story at its heart. My husband is my muse for all my “White Knight” books.
Why is the setting to your story so important?
Since I read Gone With the Wind as a child I have loved southern belles and the south. I think geography effects people in many ways and I try to choose the right one for each story. The Power of Tess is deeply influenced by the south though the heroine has moved on from living there to go to college. I have set my stories from Alaska to LA.
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I have been a teacher, a painter, a writer. I have been all three. But writing—writing has always called to me the most. Now I indulge my muse full time and I am very humbled and grateful for that.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
I’ve had milestones that have reinforced that I am a writer, like being accepted multiple times by different publishers for publication, but I guess since I first started writing stories and poems and devouring books in my teens I’ve felt like a writer. I used to be teased by my family that there could not be any books left in the library that I had not read!
How long did it take to get your first book published?
Less than a year from the time I started writing it. I know I was lucky and am very grateful that it went that way for me. Like most writers, I have a sensitive soul and too much criticism can harm your muse. I try to use proper criticism to instruct my writing so that I will become better with each word, each paragraph, each story.
What were your aspirations as an author and have any of them come true?
Yes! I wanted to be published, and I have been 9 times. I wanted to be able to write full time, and I do. Next, it would be nice if more people got to read my book. And I should mention, all the author’s monies will be donated to women’s shelters. I don’t write to make money, but because I have to get it out or go crazy.
What have you learned about the publishing industry since you’ve signed that first contract?
So much! And there is still so much to learn. The publishing industry is in flux and it’s hard on publishers and writers alike.
What genres do you normally write in?
I’ve written in many genres: romance, erotica, new adult, science fiction, shifter, vampire, fantasy, contemporary, historical, thriller. It depends on what the story requires. Mostly written in the first person as I like to feel the heroine inside me, channeling her words and her viewpoint.
What was the first book you ever published?
Under my real name I wrote four full length novels for Champagne Books:
Forever Man/ Forever Woman/ Forever Clan/ Forever Angel
As Angelina J. Windsor for Ellora’s Cave Publishing, my current publisher, and my new sisterhood:
A Christmas Shift
The Power of Tess
The Power of Sunday Rose (to be released soon)
Never Back Down (also to be released soon as part of an anthology)
Hello Forever (also to be released soon as part of an anthology)
Layering Time (sequel to Hello Forever)
With many, many more in the works.
I thank you for having me visit with you today. It was fun!
Angelina J. Windsor
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Date of Publication: January 20, 2015
Word Count: 54,000
Cover Artist: Allyse Leodra
Tess is a sheltered Kentucky girl attending college in Los Angeles. In desperate need of fast cash for her grandmother’s medical bills, she answers an online “modeling” ad showing people having the kind of fun she’s never experienced. She’s all for it until she discovers what the position is really for. She’s never even had sex, for heaven’s sake, and now they want her to do what?!
Jonathon, filling in for his sister to run Rosemère Agency, an exclusive escort service, offers her a job with a twist. All her clients will be hands off until the end, when she’ll lose her virginity to the highest bidder. Jonathon promises the payout will be spectacular. Torn between lust for her off-limits boss and her need for money, Tess must use her power as a woman to find a way to save both her self-respect and her grandmother.
Reader Advisory: This story has graphic sexual language and scenes—no closed bedroom doors (or other rooms) here!
An Excerpt From: THE POWER OF TESS
Copyright © ANGELINA J. WINDSOR, 2016
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
“There are two types of orgasm, Tess. I wonder if you have experienced either.” My prospective new boss, Jonathon Rothschild, smiles wickedly at me as he pronounces judgment. It’s not really a question so I remain silent and chew on my lower lip. He’s not my idea of a pimp, that’s for darn sure. He’s handsome, witty, clever and probably dangerous and he’s managed to talk me into taking this outrageous escort position with his firm, Rosemère Agency. His deep blue eyes seem to see right through me and it escalates my edgy feeling.
“But unfortunately I cannot be the one to assist you with that. My role here at the agency strictly precludes my physical involvement with any of our young women,” he says looking me in the eye. Do I detect a note of reluctance in divulging that information?
Was it just ten days ago I had sent off my resume and photo for an ad I encountered online? I had been surfing for summer acting jobs when it popped up. It promised travel and fabulous financial rewards. The kind of money to live out the rest of my days as a woman of leisure if I were so inclined. But it was the image of people having fun on a yacht that had stirred me to action. I couldn’t remember the last time I had fun. Harlan County, where I’m from, has two types of people: those looking to live off the proceeds of the coal mines and those looking to leave. Neither of them knows a whole lot about how to have fun.
In all honesty, today is my second time up to bat with the agency. Last week I think my exact words were, “Not over my dead body.” Now I was here trying to find his terms acceptable. One phone call from home had clinched the deal.
He leans forward, tenting his fingers on the luxurious desk and continues, “We can set you up with men we call ‘specialists’—men who are just looking for companionship and not much more than maybe watching you pleasure yourself. Or maybe you’d like to be the aggressor and learn the tricks of a dominatrix?”
At my horrified stare he says, “I thought not. Black leather would not suit you, Tess. You’re more a hearts and flowers kind of girl. Learn your type, that’s the first order of business.”
He looks down to check his notes as he had done throughout the interview. I find this strange for a man who should know the business inside and out—no pun intended. I take the opportunity to check him out more thoroughly. Last week I’d been too shocked to remember much about him except his piercing blue eyes and thick, light brown hair sun-streaked with stands of pure gold. My fingers itch to tuck the one piece that has shifted out of place back into submission and then continue down to stroke that broad chest. His suit emphasizes his trim build all too well. I judge his age to be between thirty and thirty-five. He has years of experience on me. I’m just finishing my third year of college studying business administration. Before I left Harlan County, my Gran—who raised me after my parents were killed by a drunk driver—had insisted I have a backup plan to my dream of becoming an actress. Though she supports that dream, she is too wise not to be aware of the odds against it. Her voice fills my head, “Best you get yourself some real education, Sunshine. No accounting for tastes in Hollywood.”
Jonathon looks at me, the slight crinkles at the corners of his eyes rising as he smiles. “There are positions for working as a submissive available. Nothing dangerous of course—that’s strictly against the rules. Bondage is a requirement and some light punishments if you don’t immediately obey a command. A lot of our young women like to play at this role. Apparently they find it,” he quirks his lips, “fun.”
I was stunned by the suggestion and it must have shown because he immediately changes tactics.
“I see you’re not into Fifty Shades of Grey. Though it can be satisfying for both parties, if handled properly,” he says grinning wolfishly.
I have an instant mental picture of his tying me up and having his way with me. The image brings out a light sheen of perspiration all over my body, despite the air conditioning I found chilly only moments ago dressed as I am in my favorite summer dress.
I’m satisfied that I’ve presented myself quite well for the interview. My dress is cut square in the front and it’s sleeveless. Tight and white, the fabric is thinly scattered with red cherries with long green stems and I’m not unaware of the symbolism. I’m wearing red enamel earrings and red high-heeled shoes, the only dressy shoes in my closet. I’ve kept my make-up light and my hair simple by pulling it off my face with a red hair band. I only worry that I’ve done the matching thing too much. But I can never seem to find the time to polish my nails. I check them out now to keep my mind off the obvious and wince at how neglected they are. Gran would be outraged that I had let myself go so badly. It was just that going to school and working part time at the campus bookstore during the school term was a punishing schedule.
I look up at Jonathon again and can’t seem to help myself from further imagining his beautiful hands on me, doing what he wanted—touching me where he wanted. I seem to be all helpless in this clear image, trussed up with soft restraints… Whoa! This is another first for me, daydreaming at the exact wrong time. Why on Earth does my new boss have to be such a hunk?
“See, this is how you learn about yourself. Deciding what your tolerance levels are.”
“I think I would prefer not be touched by someone I don’t know, if that’s a possibility,” I manage to squeak out, disliking the sound of my own voice. I feel myself blushing at the idea of anyone watching me masturbate. This surreal conversation is discombobulating, to say the least. Never in my wildest dreams—I stopped myself right there. Well, okay, sometimes I’ve dreamed of eyes watching me. Kind of turns me on. And wouldn’t that be better than a stranger touching me? So that decision was not so hard after all. And I certainly wouldn’t mind this man watching. Maybe I know more about my type than I could ever have imagined going into this thing. I fidget in my chair, not certain how I feel about these new erotic thoughts. Sure, I’ve daydreamed about romance before, but never this “instantly aware of my urge to have sex with a complete stranger” kind.
I think I detect a flicker of relief in his deep blue eyes that instantly vanishes. Why would my choice matter to him? I mean, considering the hands-off policy of his agency.
“We make all our prospective clients sign a contract before we’ll take them on. It lays out everything in black and white. You will need to read it to be certain you understand their side of things to protect yourself. My sister, that is, we pride ourselves on a well-run business.”
“Your sister?” I pounce on this bit of information. “This is not your usual work, is it?” The idea gives me hope that he’s out of his territory—that he’s not a real pimp.
His expression becomes even more guarded as he replies, “Actually, you’re right. I don’t usually run things around here.”
That explains the notes. I feel relief and I’m not sure why. Maybe I just don’t want a man I’m feeling something for to be in the world’s oldest profession?
His eyes fill with concern as he continues, “Katherine owns the business. She’s having a baby in a few weeks and her doctor has ordered complete bed rest.”
A woman. Well, there are famous madams in history. Heidi Fleiss. My mind went blank. I couldn’t think of any others. I wonder if Katherine is even her real name. Is the business of high-end escorts so accepted now that people used their real names? I have no experience in such things and, quite frankly, never thought I would have. But never say never, as my Gran would say. Circumstances change, child, and you might need to grid your loins for more than you expect. But we women, we can do whatever we have to do—we’re strong that way. Once again she was right as rain. But this—no way could I ever share this with her. What I could do for her though, I would do without complaint. Being from a holler in Kentucky comes complete with strength of character ground in. It comes from years of learning to live with the worst that life can unexpectedly send your way. Life in the coal mines was still a reality for many friends and neighbors, and what affected them, affected us all.
He picks up the thick agreement lying on his desk.
“I apologize for getting off topic. You’re not here to be subjected to family issues. Now, back to the escort’s contract. If you’ll sign now we can get things in place for you to start accepting clients in a few days.”
“I may need time off for a personal matter in a few weeks. Is that a problem?” I am not going to mention my situation in this room. It just feels wrong. Though any stalling tactic would be appreciated right now. I am scared silly to sign, if the truth be known. I’ve heard before that most people can’t handle the truth and here I am working so hard to manage a hard truth: I need this job and the money it promises.
“That shouldn’t be a problem. So, if you have no more questions—”
God almighty, can I really do this thing? But the money is fabulous and I will need great wads of it for the foreseeable future.
“I should add your acting ability will be of help. Just pretend you’re acting a part when you are with a client. Most prefer that anyway—especially if you can make it feel real. Having that skill on your resume is one of the reasons we contacted you. That and your obvious physical beauty. In fact your beauty is almost distracting.” He smiles as if to lessen the blow. “We’re always looking for long-haired, blue-eyed blondes. And that lilting southern accent doesn’t hurt a bit.”
“Red,” I correct him, wishing I had not let my roommate Sally talk me into coloring it a few weeks back.
“My roommate is studying to be a cosmetologist. She thought blondes have more fun.” But what would Sally think of this choice? My heart sinks as I imagine what she would say. Well, I’ll just have to keep my nocturnal activities secret until I can move out. Soon as I have the money I’ll get a cheap apartment and Sally will be none the wiser.
“Even better. Blue-eyed redheads are rarer than blondes. During your make-over it can be fixed.” He’s already filled me in that the agency would be outfitting me with the necessary clothes and accessories to fit into the jet set crowd upfront. “The company pays for the uniform,” were his exact words. I’ve spent the last years in jeans and tee shirts so pretty clothes do sound nice. My limited budget does not allow for new clothes, but second-hand ones from local flea markets. Today’s dress is only one of two hanging in my closet.
He gives me a direct look from those blue, blue eyes, seeming to be thinking about something.
“You turned us down last week. What’s changed, Tess?” His voice softens with the asking and I almost spill my worries. But this man is going to be my boss—at least until his sister gets back—and I need to keep a professional distance. I jump into the made up explanation for the change of heart, that I wanted a compete change having recently broken up with a boyfriend.
“Well, after thinking about it a little more—”
His cell phone’s rings saving me from lying.
His voice is curt as he answers whoever is on the other end, “I’ll be there as soon as I can. Just in the middle of something right now. Check with Sean.”
He puts the phone down and turns to me. “Sorry about that. My other business interests need attention. This one—” his quick gesture encompasses the whole room “is a sideline. Katherine asked for my help and I promised her to keep things going for her until she’s able to come back.” He runs his hands through his hair, pushing it back, and gives me a devastating smile that I feel all the way down to my wiggly toes. Darn, but he has it, that indefinable thing that draws me to him.
“Now, as you know you always have a choice on whom you spend time with. Until we see how you do, we’ll only let you take on one client anyway. Some of our employees only ever see one client, as that is enough money for them. Some of our clients also insist on exclusivity. We cater to the elite of the elite here at Rosemère, which highly affects operations. We’ll be sending the information packets on individual clients that we match with your skill set by encrypted email and you can choose to accept or not. Is that clear?”
I nod my head. I like the idea of control. Perhaps this won’t be so bad after all. No touching, new clothes, and choices in what men I see. And maybe just seeing one will be enough to pay the bills. I sincerely hope so though too bad Jonathon isn’t the one I could choose to see. That would not feel like work at all.
“Do you need more time to think about this Tess?”
His question surprises me. Until this moment it seemed he wanted me to sign as soon as possible.
“No, I think this is what I have to do,” I smile at him, feeling brave and very liberated in my approach, though a little voice is whispering, are you really sure about this? I squelched it by focusing on Gran and her problems. She’d done for me all these years now I would be there for her.
“Good.” He takes a black and gold pen from his jacket pocket and hands it to me.
I bite my lip as I look at him holding the pen out to me. It gave to mind Snow White and the poisoned apple. Though this bearer was a thousand times more attractive than the old witch in the fairy tale. But it could be just as full of poison, that little voice of conscience squeezed the thought in edgewise, just with prettier packaging. Not helping. Okay. Get your mind straight, Tess. Can you do this thing? Without letting myself be trapped by doubts or conscience I grab the pen from him. I take a deep breath.
“There’s one more thing I guess I should mention,” I say as lean I over his desk. I look at the signature line he indicates with a well-manicured finger and then shakily write “H. Tess Summerlin” on the document. It’s barely legible. “I’m a virgin.”
About the Author:
If, to quote Robert Louis Stevenson, to forget oneself is to be happy, than Angelina J. Windsor is most happy when she is immersed in the lives of my characters. Writing is all about giving your heart and soul to your storytelling. Obsessed with ideas and writing since she was one of those, the dreaded teenage poet, she spends time every day bringing worlds to life. For that journey she is humbled and grateful.
She writes in multiple genres (multi-published) across the writing
spectrum, from hard science fiction to sweet romance, though she is quite drawn to racy characters that have plenty of attitude to spare. She can only hope her books touch your life albeit briefly in our busy world, and give you moments of absolute freedom as you fly with her to other worlds. Thanks for reading! And may all your stories have a happy-ever-after.