In His Hands (Blank Canvas, #3)
by: Adriana Anders
Series: Blank Canvas
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
The rules are simple:
Never speak to outsiders.
Never yearn for something more.
And never, ever seek the pleasure of a stolen kiss…or a whispered promise that with him, she can finally be free.
Abby Merkley has been a member of the Church of the Apocalyptic Faith since she was a child, and there’s no way out…until her darkly handsome, brooding neighbor defies the rules and takes her into the safety of his arms.
He should frighten her, but everything inside Abby thrills at Luc Stanek’s rough manners and shockingly gentle touch. He excites her, ignites her, leaves her shaken and wanting more. But evil men follow in her footsteps, and it may take more than one fierce beauty to defend her loving beast.
Hi Adriana. Welcome to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
Hi Kim! Thank you so much for having me! I’m fab!
Can you please tell me about your Blank Canvas series?
Blank Canvas is a dark, gritty, and sexy contemporary romance series about taking back power. The first standalone in the series, Under Her Skin, features a heroine who has escaped from an abusive ex. Several months later, she arrives in a small town where she plans to have her tattoos removed. When she meets Ivan, the ex-con, beast of a blacksmith next door, the last thing she needs is for him to add her to his collection of strays, but she just can’t seem to stay away.
Speaking of Under Her Skin, what else can you tell me about Uma and Ivan?
As a survivor of abuse, Uma isn’t looking for a relationship. She wants to get her ink removed and leave town, but Ivan is a big, mean-looking, teddy bear of a man and slowly, somehow, he finds a way to help—even if it’s just by letting her take charge.
In By Her Touch, Clay Navarro is an undercover DEA Agent and Georgette Hadley is the doctor tasked with “returning him to normal”. What is it about these two that make them right for each other?
It’s a Beauty and the Beast story. Georgette is a widow who has given up on any sort of love life, but when Clay walks in, scarred both inside and out, she can’t help but want to heal him. What I love about these two is that they’re not looking to be saved, they don’t need that in order to survive, but when they’re together, everything is better. The noise goes away, the loneliness subsides, and love pretty much saves the day.
Abby Merkley and Luc Stanek are the heroine and hero of In His Hands, the third book in the series. Both characters have seemed to have suffered a great deal. What do you love about these two?
Oh, Luc. Luc, Luc, Luc. He’s just a farmer at heart, snubbed by his fancy French family, and he’s happiest with his hands on his vines. I love his connection to the earth and how painfully reclusive he is, but so broodingly handsome. Abby is the opposite. She’s outgoing and gregarious and wants to save the world, if only she weren’t trapped inside the cult where she grew up. She makes her way over the mountain to Luc’s vineyard and sparks fly, and when the cult hurts her, Luc takes matters into his own hands.
I’ve read some of your reviews. One reviewer was shocked to discover that you’ve only written three books. This series has been called dark and emotional with beautiful and vulnerable characters. There’s definitely violence involved in this series. How do you determine how far to push the violence and still have your stories remain romantic?
It’s tough because, at the end of the day, romance is about the Happily Ever After, right? But even those who suffer deserve happiness. Inspiration for this series came when I heard the true story of a woman who was tattooed against her will by her partner. It happens to real people, right here in the US (and no doubt elsewhere). I guess for me, the tougher the situation, the harder a character has to claw to get out—and the greater their hope and redemption at the end.
I like that! Why do you choose to write dark romances with characters having or currently going through hell with deep scars, as opposed to more light hearted romances?
My books have been called dark, but they’re not dark in the way of romances that deal with taboos or pushing the limits of what’s acceptable. I am an optimist at heart and I think that’s what readers take away. I don’t write to make characters suffer, but to give those who have suffered a sense of hope, a new life—light at the end of the tunnel.
You currently have three books under your belt. What’s next for you?
I’m super excited to be part of Rogue Desires, a resistance romance anthology just out last month.
When all else fails, find love.
Eight brand new romances for fans of the West Wing, fired-up #resistance fighters, and everyone who ever had a crush on that guy at a protest...
Here are the buy links:
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2urDuaY
Beyond that, I have two series in the works—one is an action-packed, sexy contemporary and the other is sexy and twisty. All I’ll tell you is that they both involve people forced to work closely in order to survive. More on those to come!
I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more. Adriana, thank you for answering some questions for me.
Thank you so much for having me! I LOVE these questions!
In His Hands
Abby took her glass, her hand brushing Luc’s in the process.
It sent a zing of awareness down her arm, reminding her of how little she knew about life out here, about men and women and reality.
Was this man a seducer? No. No, he was too gruff, too straightforward, all matter-of-fact with no frills. She quelled a tremor with a warming sip from her glass, but deep inside, something raw and uncontrollable reared its head, trying hard to burst free.
Another sip, and Abby rolled her head on her neck. She sucked in a deep, shaky breath to relieve the nerves that bubbled up, reveling in the feel of this shirt she had on—big and soft, like the pants, and brazenly open at the back. She’d wear men’s clothes all the time, she decided. No starch, lace, or modest undergarments. No struggling with too many buttons and ties.
“How do you feel?” Luc asked, shifting the sofa cushions as he sat down beside her, close enough to feel his warmth. It took Abby a moment to understand he meant her burns and not the cotton rubbing her breasts into achy points.
She blushed and coughed, but her nipples didn’t go down.
“Much better, thank you.” She lifted the glass and sipped again, glancing sideways at his profile. “This seems to be helping.”
He smiled—oh, goodness, he was lovely—and she squeezed her legs together, hard.
“It’s been known to do the trick.” He turned the glass to the single lamp in the room and eyed its dark glow.
“Would this be different if I were a normal woman?”
He stilled, looking slightly suspicious, before lifting the glass higher and asking, “This?”
She pointed toward him with her wine. “Sitting with me. Having a drink.”
After another brief silence, he set down his glass and shifted beside her, suddenly seeming too big for the sofa. “I’m not exactly a normal sort of man.”
“I figured as much,” she said with a smile of her own. “But what if…what if we’d met in town? At the market, maybe. What would it be like?”
She took another swallow of wine, and it lit her right up. Or maybe that was his interested gaze.
She sputtered, nearly losing half her sip in the process. “Well, thank you very much.”
“No, not you. I mean me. I’m not good at being natural.”
“Okay. When you meet someone, usually. What’s it like? You go out to dinner? To see a movie?”
“Oh. Yes, I suppose so.”
He opened his big hands, looking almost as clueless as she felt. “Well, not me. I don’t go out to dinner.”
“What do you do?”
He looked to the side, and she couldn’t tell if he was searching for the right answer or sifting through memories. “My encounters with women tend to be more…casual.”
She pictured him in loose, low-slung jeans, slouching and shrugging in that way teenagers did. Casual. “What’s that like?”
His expelled breath sounded frustrated, and she came dangerously close to letting him off the hook, until he answered. “It’s just sex, I mean. No real relationships. Well, I had one, but…” He trailed off, leaving her with nothing.
She wanted much more. Sex? She wanted to know. Instead, she asked, “How did that start? Your one relationship.”
Even that word felt funny. Grown-up and modern.
He frowned. “She told me she wanted me. We fuc—” He cleared his throat, which had turned a mottled red, the color disappearing into his neckline. Abby had to see how far down it went. The need was ravenous, pulsing, painful and hot. “We did the…sex.”
“Where?” she whispered, picturing a barn or a vineyard—she had a hard time imagining this man anywhere but in the great outdoors.
“Why do you want to know?”
“I…” She couldn’t tell him the truth, could she? That she liked him. That she was curious. That she had absolutely no idea how to be normal, but there was this demon inside, stretching her skin painfully taut in its bid to get out. “I want to do it right.”
The look he gave her said she was crazy, and yet there was something else in that expression.
“What, with me?”
“Yes. How… How would you touch me? If I were normal?”
“How would I—”
“Start? How would you start?” She barely forced the words out through a throat that was hoarse with embarrassment, not to mention that yearning inside her— coarser and baser than anything she’d felt. This wasn’t an emotion, exactly—more of a compulsion. “Where would you put your hands?” the demon goaded.
He looked at them—his hands—where they sat on his knees. Such vital parts of this man’s body, cut and scarred and torn apart and missing a piece. They were lived-in and beautiful. Hands that had seen a thing or two, like these softly folded mountains with their low profile and vast knowledge of time. Would they feel that way on her? Experienced? Wise?
Sounding as frayed as she felt, he said, “I told you, I’m not good at speaking.” It wasn’t until the words sank in that she understood the underlying meaning.
“You’re good at”—she swallowed, more brazen than she’d been in all her twenty-two years, because, despite the accusation that put those old scars on her arms, she’d never actually seduced a man before—“doing, though. Is that what you’re good at?”
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Adriana Anders has acted and sung, slung cocktails and corrected copy. She’s worked for start-ups, multinationals and small nonprofits, but it wasn’t until she returned to her first love—writing romance—that she finally felt like she’d come home. Today, she resides with her tall French husband, two small children and fat French cat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she writes the dark, gritty, emotional love stories of her heart.
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