Thursday, September 24, 2015

S.E.X. Spotlight ~ Best Kept Lies by Helena Maeve

Love in the Time of Power Games
It’s no secret that I enjoy world-building which involves immovable institutions conspiring to make life difficult for my characters. In one of my earlier releases, Flight Made Easy, the state effectively forces men to serve as either militia or chattel under a rigid, oppressive regime. In Courting Treason, vampires and humans navigate a tepid peace while the powers plot to end it. It’s little surprise that in sitting down to write Best Kept Lies and the next five books in the Shadowplay series, I would wind up with another villainous organization.

In this case, though, the bad guys aren’t bad so much as they are made up of characters much like my protagonists. Grigory is a perfectly normal guy, except that he happens to be a Russian spy working undercover in Italy to recruit a British agent onto Moscow’s payroll. He has friends, who are all spies, and a flat he sees now and again when he’s not charged with stealing state secrets. He considers himself part of the machine—and happy to be that way—until a rival agent abducts and makes him an offer he can scarcely afford to refuse.

Karim’s intentions are no less pure than Grigory’s. He, too, is loyal to his country and wholeheartedly believes the mission he’s been tasked with. Their respective agencies have trained them to be efficient at their jobs, a duty they’re both happy to uphold until their paths converge.

The problem with oppressive systems is that they’re only as resilient as the men and women who give their lives to form and uphold them. At the end of the day, one little crack in that utterly human wall can become a dozen, a hundred, and before you know it, the whole thing comes crashing down. It is why two enemy agents fraternizing for their own pleasure cannot be borne. Grigory knows this when he goes to bed with Karim for the first time. He knows it the second time, too, when lust alone can’t justify the mistake.

He knows it in signing Karim’s death warrant to ensure his own survival. But disposing of Karim is not as easy as he’d like. Weakened by his affection for Karim and worn down by the years of service he’s already given Moscow, Grigory soon finds himself at a crossroads—turn himself and his lover in, and pray that Moscow’s justice is swift, or risk stepping outside the bounds of his organization in hopes of something better? There’s only one way to find out.

Excerpt from Best Kept Lies:

Grigory shifted his weight. “Well? Are you coming or not?”

“I’m sorry?” Karim’s earlier cheer was suddenly dialed down to zero, easy smiles concealed behind a guarded expression.

As victories went, it wasn’t much. Grigory took what he could get.

“You’re walking me home,” he flung back over his shoulder. “Easier to explain why I’m meeting strange men in bars if it seems like I’m screwing them.”

Depravity was pardonable. Treason was not.

Grigory stalked out into the street without waiting to see if his companion would follow. The click of Karim’s oxfords on the cobblestones was its own opening move. Grigory slowed his long strides to allow Karim to fall into step beside him.

They didn’t exchange a word as they negotiated the maze of pedestrian-only streets back to Grigory’s hotel. The front desk was unmanned and the elevator lacked CCTV, but that didn’t mean they weren’t being watched.

“My superiors would like proof of your willingness to cooperate,” Karim murmured, as though picking up the thread of their conversation in Piazza Novona.

He didn’t look at Grigory when he spoke, so Grigory didn’t look at him.

“And I’d like proof of their willingness not to destroy my life with a single DHL delivery. Life is filled with disappointment.”

The elevator doors crept open slowly. Grigory slid through the gap, rummaging for his room key in the back pocket of his slacks. A small part of him wondered if he’d left too much of a mess in the room. He’d remembered to drop off his soiled clothes at the nearest dry cleaner’s, at least. The evidence of Karim’s tender handling had been erased.

He expelled a sigh as he flicked on the lights in the room. The bed was made, the carpet vacuumed. Fresh flowers drooped in the vase on the narrow coffee table wedged between window and sunken armchairs.

“It’s not that I don’t appreciate your sense of humor,” Karim went on, “but the sooner you accept—”
The chances of catching an MI6 agent unaware were pitifully slim. Somehow, Grigory was able to palm Karim’s cheeks with both hands and press his lips to his in a rough kiss without his fellow spy ducking out of his reach, let alone breaking his fingers.

Karim’s breath fled his mouth in a rush as they parted.

What becomes of the Russian spy who lands himself in the crosshairs of a rogue British agent?

Grigory Antipov’s work within the intelligence community is exemplary, but attracting too much attention is against his interests as a spy—a lesson painfully learned the night he is abducted off the streets of Rome. Captivity is a dangerous thing and Grigory already operates under a cloud of suspicion, given his predilection for male company. Luckily, his stint in British custody is short-lived, a mere flex of muscle from Agent Karim Awad.

Karim’s objective is obvious. Lure Grigory into Section’s clutches and turn him against his own people—expose him to the wrath of Moscow if he refuses. His mission brief may not specify the methods to be used, but Grigory soon discovers that Karim is a man of many talents. With powerful interests at play and the threat of deadly force in the air, Grigory faces an impossible choice—surrender to his fate or sacrifice the only man whose touch makes him feel alive after so many years.

General Release Date: 22nd September 2015

About Helena Maeve:
Helena Maeve has always been a globe trotter with a fondness for adventure, but only recently has she started putting to paper the many stories she's collected in her excursions. When she isn't writing erotic romance novels, she can usually be found in an airport or on a plane, furiously penning in her trusty little notebook.

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2015 ©Evelise Archer All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.

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