Welcome to our first week of celebrating
Today we will take a look at the Power Exchange series, with excerpts, plus a list of AJ's favorite things, and a chance to win one of her books!
First Up, Power Exchange
From the moment Detective Gavin DeGrassi steps into the world of BDSM to solve the brutal slaying of Dom George Kaiser, his course is not his own. Mesmerized by the context in which the victim lived and the images of the lifestyle seared into his soul, Gavin must find a way to navigate these unknown waters. With his personal life in upheaval due to marital trouble, and his professional life uncertain with the assignment of a new partner, Gavin needs all the help he can get understanding the case.
Enter Ben Haverson, a psychologist and a well known Dom. With Ben’s help as a consultant and attention to Gavin's own murky truths, Gavin delves deeper than he ever thought he would into the world of restraints and paddles. Forced to scrutinize his true nature and his innermost desires, Gavin has a choice: keep the fear of submitting at bay, or dive in and solve the case with the knowledge he gains. When another victim is discovered, Gavin’s choice is made for him, and he’s pulled headlong into the deepest, most emotional journey of his life.
Unfortunately for him and Ben, a killer has noticed, has taken stock, and has set his sights on the D/s pair. Can Gavin outwit him, or will his first exchange of power be his last?
Talcott waved his hand to dismiss it, and I breathed again. "Sawyer, DeGrassi, I'd like you to meet Dr. Benjamin Haverson." He stepped aside, and a man I hadn't noticed standing there moved forward with a warm smile and his hand extended. I stared for a moment before realizing it looked rude that I hadn't shaken his outstretched hand.
Hastening to my feet, I slid my palm against his, clearing my throat. "Gavin DeGrassi. Nice to meet you." Okay, at least that came out without too much trouble.
Dr. Haverson was young, early thirties, which made him about my age, with deep brown eyes and a warm smile. His face exuded innocence and an open honesty rarely seen in anyone past puberty. With delicate features, a full mouth, and artfully mussed dark brown hair, he was fit for Hollywood, and it was all I could do to keep my jaw shut. Instead, he was standing in the Second precinct with his hand in mine. Which I was still shaking. Well beyond the acceptable timeframe men adhere to during a handshake. I dropped his hand and shoved mine in my pocket, kicking myself for the slip.
"Nice to meet you," he said, eyes dancing as though my faux pas hadn't bothered him in the least. I heard Trent snort behind me. Great. All I needed was to have him say something asinine and embarrass the hell out of me. Haverson rounded the edge of my desk to accept Trent's much more acceptably timed handshake."Dr. Haverson is a therapist with ties to the BDSM community," Talcott explained. "He's your requested consult on this case. Get everything you need from him. I'm not only talking about help with questioning witnesses. If there's something you don't understand, ask him, like the whatevers you were just looking up online, DeGrassi. He has clearance to know the details of the case." In other words, use the expert and keep this quiet, even around the station. Something inside me bristled at that.
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Second in the series, Safeword
Everywhere Detective Gavin DeGrassi looks he’s reminded of his attack by the Breath Play Killer. It’s in the house he lives in with his partner and Dom, Ben Haverson. It’s in the sympathetic yet pitying looks he receives from his fellow detectives when he returns to the force after a year-long hiatus. It’s in the suffocating coddling of his entire family, and the relentless reporter demanding an exclusive of his ordeal.
Most of all, it’s in his lack of submission to Ben, who isn’t convinced Gavin’s recovered enough to trust the power exchange between them.
The miraculous recovery of two teen boys from a twisted kidnapper gives him heart, and Gavin's determined to prove he can handle anything despite increasing strain between him and Ben, painful nightmares, and panic when anyone touches him.
But his next case is too close for comfort: a friend and colleague found raped and murdered in a fate chillingly similar to what could have been his own, and this killer isn’t stopping with one cop. As the body count rises and taunting souvenirs are being hand-delivered to Gavin, he faces a frustrating lack of leads, a crushing need to prove himself, and a sinking suspicion the imprisoned kidnapper’s reach is further than originally thought. A miasma of uncertainty and fear threaten to suffocate him when he asks a question with which he’s overwhelmingly familiar: what happens when a victim is pushed too far?
“What are you doing in the dark?”
I nearly jumped out of my skin at the sound of Ben’s voice right behind me, and let out a squeak as warm hands fell on my shoulders. I launched myself out of the recliner so fast my skull cracked the underside of Ben’s chin as he leaned down to kiss the top of my head. Get away, now! a panicked internal voice screeched. The clack of Ben’s teeth was audible both inside my head and out, his head whipped back with the force of the blow.
“Oh, Ben, I-I’m sorry,” I stammered, rushing around the chair, hands on his biceps to steady him.
He blinked rapidly for a moment, his brown eyes shining in the glow from the big flatscreen on the wall above the fireplace. He smiled thinly at me, the gap in his top front teeth more prominent in the flickering shadows.
“I’m okay, Gav. I shouldn’t have grabbed you like that.” He pulled away from me to flip on the wall switch, bathing the room in the soft glow from the wall sconces. “I’m surprised you’re watching the news. Weren’t you there in court?” Strange’s preliminary hearing had been that day.
I glanced at the screen and snorted. “Yeah, just trying to see how much of a tool they made me seem to an audience of millions.”
“Why would they make you seem like a tool? You didn’t have to testify until the trial, I thought. And now there won’t be one. I heard on the radio Strange changed his plea to guilty and the judge gave him two life sentences for Jeremy Trexall’s kidnapping, and Colorado’s looking to do the same for Marshall Schofield. Plus the federal charges for transporting a minor across state lines. It’s over, right?” He moved to the closet in the foyer to hang his overcoat.
“The defense changed their plea, so yeah, he got the book thrown at him without my help. But The Walking Mouth shoved a microphone in my face yet again, asking if the boys’ recovery would compare to my own. I couldn’t let that go with a simple ‘no comment.’” Ben scowled at me and I immediately went on the defensive. “Hey, what happened to them has nothing to do with me, and I told her as much.”
“And?” he asked, waiting, arms crossed over his chest. He knew me too well.
“And I reminded her they are minors whose names she only knows because of the media attention surrounding their kidnappings and rescue. They should be treated with the respect any other juvenile victim is given, not that Aldrich understands respect.”
“Uh-huh.” He wasn’t going to let it drop until I told him everything I said.
“And then I might have insinuated there’d be certain consequences if she even thought of hounding them the way she’s hounded me since I went back to work.”
“What sort of consequences?” His tone took on a softer quality, one I recognized as agreement with my sentiment if not my methods.
“Uh, I may have told her,” I turned away, mumbling the rest. “I’d make her eat her microphone.”
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And third, Consent
Cole, what’s wrong?
Former detective Gavin DeGrassi likes his new life and his job as a university professor, molding the minds of the next generation of law enforcement. It keeps him in the field he loves, but out of the media and out of the danger he seems to draw. He’s settled and happy with his partner and Dom, Ben Haverson.
Until a middle of the night phone call from his brother, Cole, whose desperation and fear yank him back into the world of criminals and countdowns. Only this time, the stakes are much higher.
Detective Myah Hayes, Gavin’s sister-in-law and former partner, has a past of her own, one that has returned to claim her. With only their instincts and the help of a rogue CSI, Gavin, Ben, and Cole will do whatever it takes to find Myah, following a flimsy trail of evidence to Chicago, where all is not what it seems—dirty cops, moral pimps, and a nest of snakes who call themselves businessmen.
They’re on a collision course with the worst of humanity, and more than Myah’s life is caught in the vortex. Can they find her, and if they do, will there be anything left to save?
Content Warning: contains scenes of rape and graphic violence and may not be suitable for sensitive readers. Discretion advised.
“Uh.” The generous detective looked between me and the door. “He might need this.” He held up a lighter, face grave.
Normally, I’d have laughed and watched my brother storm back in to get a light, asking him if he needed to borrow a lung to smoke the cigarette, too. Instead, I plucked it from the man’s fingers, thanked him quietly, and followed Cole to the parking lot, where he was digging in his car.
“Got your fire,” I said, coming up behind him. He squawked and banged his head on the doorframe. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to sneak up on you.”
He glared at me and swiped the lighter out of my hand, the sound of the tobacco catching the flame scratchy in the pre-dawn light. It reminded me of our childhood, when our dad used to smoke a pipe on occasion. The memory held none of its usual comfort.
“You okay?” “What the fuck do you think?” he snapped.
“I think you’re going to fly apart soon if you don’t talk to someone,” I answered matter-of-factly.
“Yeah?” His entire being was pure challenge: jutted jaw, fierce gaze, tensed muscles ready to spring. “You some kind of expert on missing wives? Or do you think because your boyfriend is a shrink, you know everything?”
I ignored the barb. “I think that because I’m about three seconds from punching someone, and I love her in a completely different way than you. If it were Ben, they’d have to fucking sedate me, so truthfully, you’re doing way better than I would be.”
He exhaled a gust of smoke and looked away, jamming a hand in his jeans pocket. “I need to do something, Gavin. This sitting shit is going to break me far more than seeing something upsetting about what’s happened to her. I know they won’t let me get involved, but goddammit, I have to do something.”
That they were allowing us to stay at the precinct while they analyzed the evidence the crime scene techs had gathered was a courtesy not afforded to families in typical cases. Cole was lucky enough as it was, but I knew he wouldn’t see it that way.
“Maybe they’ll let me talk to Sugar, see if he can give me something. He’s gotta have been through that video footage enough by now.”
What scared me about the way Cole looked right then was the utter bleakness. His normally vibrant blue eyes were washed out gray, red-rimmed and swollen. His face was nearly slack, except when he clenched his jaw against a shiver. He wasn’t functioning, and he had no business going anywhere near evidence in that state. It would only lead to him jumping to erroneous conclusions. Or worse, fucking up some crucial link to Myah’s whereabouts.
“Think he’ll spill?”
I shrugged, trying not to let him know I’d seen through him. He was distraught, and who could blame him? “Only one way to find out.” And filter anything he does tell me. “But you have to promise me something.”
Wariness shrouded his face, but he didn’t balk like I expected. “What?”
“If there’s no news yet, we all go home, get a few hours of sleep, and come back when there’s something being reported.”
He was already shaking his head.
“Cole, they’ll wake us up if something happens, but you’re not going to do anyone any good if you’re incoherent and delirious.”
“So, what, she’s probably out there somewhere, uncomfortable as fuck, going through who knows what, and I get to lie down on a comfy bed with a nice pillow and drift off to dreamland? Fuck. That. Noise.”“Lay on a bed of nails for all I care, as long as you get some rest. You’ll be more helpful to Myah if your eyes are fresh.” Trump card played.
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AJ's favorite things:
It’s really hard to come up with a list of my favorite things because they change a lot. My favorite foods are generally restaurant foods, since I’m not a huge fan of cooking. I can do it, but I don’t enjoy it. One of my favorite things to do is go to Red Lobster and order every dessert on the menu. I don’t do it often, usually after a particularly hard day or a celebration, and I always bring most of them home, but it’s become tradition. Who says you can only order one dessert?
My music tastes are pretty eclectic, and I build a playlist of songs for each book I write, something to help me get in the mood of the story, or fit with a particular character’s motivations. Some I’ve had on repeat in the past are Ben Cocks’s So Cold, Eli Lieb’s cover of Pink’s Try, Rachel Platten’s Fight Song, Secondhand Serenade’s Never Too Late, Kodaline’s All I Want, Hurts’s Stay, Muse’s Undisclosed Desires, Kongos’s Come With Me Now, Arctic Monkeys Do I Wanna Know (that one, I’m getting plot bunnies from). Usually very brooding, somewhat haunting, or outright in-your-face type songs. I’m always on the lookout for new music.
My favorite book(s) are Edmond Manning’s The Lost and Founds series. I have never, EVER been so invested in a character’s motivations and circumstances as I have been in Vin Vanbly’s. I love that man beyond all belief.
I don’t really have a favorite vacation spot or place to go. I’m a homebody, and while I have traveled some, I haven’t seen near enough of the world to be able to pick a favorite. Of the places I have been, though, I’d have to say England rates way up there. That might have more to do with the company I keep there than the location, since my fiancée lives there until the U.S. government gives us the paperwork for her to move here and marry me.
If I had to pick a place to blow $100 it’d be in a yarn shop. I’m not sure I’ll live long enough to knit all the yarn in my stash, but I’m not about to give up trying. Most of what I complete are gifts for others or I donate them to shelters. I love knitting, particularly socks, but I hate wearing anything on my feet, so other than the occasional scarf or a sweater, I don’t keep my finished projects.
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Thanks for joining us today to celebrate AJ Rose, and be sure to come back next week as we feature more of AJ's books, plus five little-known facts about her, and another chance to win!
Until then, happy reading!