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An Excerpt From: Pleasure Cruise
Copyright © MICHELLE M. PILLOW AND MANDY M. ROTH
From: The Powers That Be
Re: Pleasure Cruise, Cruise Line Corporation, Pilot Program
Due to the dwindling population of certain supernatural factions and the reluctance of the supernatural kind to take mates for all eternity, we will be establishing a comprehensive program to repopulate the various supernatural species. Many of the supernaturals we’ve observed are unwilling to take mates from within their own population. This reluctance has been exacerbated in large part by the old grudges still held from the Middle Ages. In addition, the ratio of supernatural females to males have widened considerably. There are significantly fewer females for men to choose from. We assume Global Climate Change is to blame—if not, it does seem a good scapegoat.
In an unprecedented move, we will now be allowing humans on the Pleasure Cruise to participate in the preordained mating process. Because of existing prejudices against supernaturals in human culture, some human participants will not be aware of the paranormal elements on the cruise. However, these humans will be blessed with a sixth sense so as to subconsciously recognize their mates upon first sight. We do not wish to have a boat full of frightened humans defying our will. Some resistance is expected, but in the end, we gods know what’s best for them.
We do expect some opposition amongst the supernatural factions to this plan. Not all species will be happy to have their food source considered as suitable mate material. If questioned, you are authorized to cite declaration thirteen: The gods have willed it so. If they continue to question our judgment, turn their names over for possible smiting. We expect banshees and leprechauns to give us the most problems. You all know how they are when dealing with change.
It is our hope that, by introducing humans into their bloodlines, the supernatural will be less reluctant to take a mate. All humans who mate themselves to a supernatural will be blessed with eternal life. They will also be given the gift of procreation. If this goes well, we will be slowly introducing humans into our other business ventures as well, including Pleasure Air and Pleasure Train.
Clare grimaced as she looked at the gangway of the cruise ship and took a deep breath, trying to steel herself to get on board. The walkway looked nothing like she’d imagined. It was a long, plastic-covered hallway leading from the second story of the check-in building.
A long strand of wavy, blonde hair worked itself out of her loose ponytail. Kira had talked her into the highlights, and every time she saw them it caused her to pause. Frowning, she pushed the lock of hair out of her face and reached down to grab her duffel bag. It was the only bag she’d managed to convince the rather pushy bag boys at the port loading zone to leave in her care. Of course, this was seconds before they demanded a tip for carrying her belongings two feet and handing them off to the next person. Already the cruise was starting off on a sour note.
Slinging the bag over her shoulder, she looked around. She felt like a product in an assembly line. First stop, luggage drop-off. Wait in line. Second stop, health declaration. Wait in line. Third stop, check in. Wait in line. Fourth stop, go upstairs to, yep, wait in line. Fifth stop, photographer. Clare sighed. Apparently waiting in multiple lines was a major memorable event on a cruise ship. And finally, wait in line to get on the boat.
Cruising on a luxury ship wasn’t something she’d ever imagined herself doing. No, she was a career-driven woman who never thought of anything beyond deadlines and new deals. Clare was still shocked Kira had gotten her to agree to this trip.
“Welcome to the boat of love. I wonder what will happen on this week’s exciting journey? Will the captain steer the boat off course and into a giant iceberg? Or will the tired executive toss herself overboard due to lack of intellectual stimulation and line waiting?” she muttered, a little too sarcastically.
“That was the Titanic that hit the iceberg. And for the record, I graduated with honors… summa cum laude, baby. And I’d gloat but you graduated with the same honorable distinction,” Kira, answered, batting her eyes in a dramatic fashion.
“I know. If you recall, I was there. Besides, I wasn’t implying you aren't intelligent. Though I am happy to see you’ve decided to admit you’re smart. Why you always feel the need to hide it is beyond me,” Clare said. “You’re the top of your field. You should be proud of it, not ashamed. If men are intimidated by that, they don’t deserve you.”
“And then I’d never get laid.” Kira shrugged, as carefree as ever. The line inched forward, winding slowly through the clear plastic hallways. “I’m not ashamed. I just don’t want to be labeled as some boring pinstripe workaholic prude because I happen to be good at my job. I hate stereotypes.”
“We’ve already agreed to disagree on this topic. Because I love you like a sister, I’ll let it drop.” Clare did her best to appear chipper. This was a vacation, after all.
“Thank you,” Kira answered, grinning. “I don’t complain about your boring life and you don’t complain about my wild one.”
“Okay, dropped.” Kira winked before whispering, “For now.”
“You know I’m not used to taking trips like this. I spend my life avoiding time-sucking getaways. You can’t get more useless than sailing on a boat that goes absolutely nowhere. Does this thing even make port anywhere interesting? Did you even check?”
Kira pursed her lips.
“You didn’t check the itinerary the booking company sent you?” Clare asked, surprised. Kira had refused to send it to her.
Kira shrugged again. “I looked to see what time to board. Don’t worry about it. Anyway, continue, you were on a pretty good rant of some sort.”
“Can’t a girl be left in her nice little pessimistic place?” Clare grumbled. “Even you have to agree that drowning might be preferable to learning how to play shuffleboard.”
Kira laughed. “Yes, I totally agree about the shuffleboard thing. Besides, with my lack of grace, I’d only end up slipping in front of the world’s sexiest man. Hopefully, he’d be a lawyer. Then he’d want to talk to me about a possible lawsuit. We could discuss it over a lovely night of screwing.”
“Kira!” Clare scolded.
Tossing her hands in the air, Kira snickered. “Just kidding. But thanks for taking on the stern mother role you do so well.”
“Someone has to try to keep you in line.”
“Ah, yes. Considering I’m a grown woman and have a mind of my own, the key word there is try.”
“Believe me, I know.” Clare took a deep breath. This was an old argument. She could no more control Kira than she could the shining of the sun. She loved her friend despite her quirks. The only thing she could do, as a friend, was to be supportive of her. “If one more person tells me to control you I’m going to scream. Short of locking you in the house, I’m screwed.”
“Tell them to kiss your ass. You aren’t my keeper, and if they want to try the job on, let them. I could use a good laugh.” Kira’s words were clipped. Clearly she was annoyed with the entire topic.
Deciding to make Kira smile, Clare changed the subject. The line moved, inching slowly forward. The people around them were busy pointing at the boat and paid no attention to their conversation. “Just think, if you do manage to fall while playing shuffleboard, you may end up with a hot doctor on board to care for you.”
“Oh my… I can’t believe you just said that. There may be hope for you yet, Clare. I’m proud of you.”
Thoughts of the endless times she and Kira had made fools of themselves around hot guys popped into Clare’s mind. Chuckling as the plastic hallway finally opened up to the fresh sea air, she took in the sights and sounds of the ship. It was breathtaking, much bigger than she had expected the boat to be, but Clare would wait to admit that to Kira. She waited to see what her friend would do next to try to cheer her. The woman had an endless supply of one-liners and the dirtiest mind in the world, but that was part of what made Kira unique. If Kira’s personality had been the same as Clare’s, they never would have become friends. Thankfully, it wasn’t, and neither one of them could deny how beautifully they gelled. Kira was the yin to Clare’s yang.
“Okay, getting a little touchy-feely,” Kira said, making a face. “Before we grab each other and hug for the entire week, can we at least find our stateroom? I love ya to death, babes, but this bag is heavy.”
Clare snickered, knowing that as open as Kira was, she didn’t like to get weepy. “It’s a deal. Besides, some of that body glitter you always wear might get on me. My luck, I’d spend the entire week with hives.”
“I’m willing to risk it. Heck, I’d even sit with you and hand you anti-itch cream as needed. Not as sexy as suntan lotion by the pool, but what are friends for?”
Picturing the scene in her head, Clare rolled her eyes. “Thanks for not saying you’d rub it on for me.”
“Ha, I almost said that. Damn, you know me well.” Kira sighed and rolled her shoulders. “Are we there yet, Mom? Seriously though, the boat of love joke sort of fits. It’s a floating paradise. That’s what the brochure claims anyways.”
It was early evening and a purple haze spread beautifully over the rolling waters of the ocean. A cool breeze whipped Clare’s gray T-shirt against her slender frame, and a strange feeling unfurled in her gut. Her knees weakened in apprehension, and her feet refused to move from their spot. Slowly, she began to back away from the large ship.
Great, I’ve reached whole new levels of neuroses.
Clare laughed softly and did her best to stay on top of their conversation.
“At least we look good in swimsuits. Unlike...” Kira pointed toward a short man with a gut that hung a good six inches over the top of his tight swimsuit. He glanced in their direction and cast them a smarmy smile. Kira leaned in and whispered, “I’ll bet he wears a budgie smuggler.”
“Budgie…? No, I don’t want to know. Kira, tell me again why I let you talk me into this?” Clare gave her a pointed look.
Grinning, Kira innocently tipped her head. Clare wasn’t buying it. “Because you never have any fun, you’re too serious and you’re too polite to say no to a birthday present from your very best friend. Who was very willing to kidnap you if need be to get you on board.”
Clare’s lip twitched as she fought back a laugh. That answer was so very like Kira. Everything she did in her life screamed carefree and confident. She oozed sex appeal from her long, straight black hair to her dark red lips. Her green eyes flashed with constant mischief. Regardless of what she was doing, she always looked like she was up to something sinful. From Clare’s experience, she usually was. Life without her, while quieter, would also be boring.
“Sometimes I really want to bop you over the head with a wet noodle,” Clare mumbled.
“Who says that? Bop me with a wet noodle? What are you? Pushing ninety? Man, Clare, we really need to get you out more. Oh, but if you’re willing to make the wet noodle a dildo, I’ll think about letting you.”
That did it. A steady stream of giggles escaped them both. They’d been friends for a long time and neither one of them took the comment seriously. Clare looked over the ship and shook her head. She’d really hoped that being friends with someone as carefree as Kira would’ve rubbed off on her. So far, unfortunately, none of Kira’s confidence and exuberant behavior had come her way. Next to her friend, Clare knew she looked like the ultimate prude. Just thinking of it caused a wave of sadness to overtake her. Perhaps she was.
Perhaps? I’ve spent the last three weekends alphabetizing my collection of dictionaries from around the world just because it annoyed me that they weren’t in order.
“You’re going to have to select another weapon for me to use. I’d freak out about hitting you with a dildo,” Clare whispered, not a fan of even saying the word out loud.
“A horse whip?”
"5 CUPIDS! This is a fun book filled with SEX, SEX, SEX. From the humorous and smart prologue to the erotic ending, this book is a winner...The nice twist to the idea of a singles cruise for supernatural beings is so creative and a wonderful bouncing off point for a whole heap of books on a supernatural dating service or should I say mating service..."Marina, Cupid's Library Reviews. March 2005
Rating: 5 Stars
Heat level: O
"A delicious romp between the sheets, Pleasure Cruise has all the ingredients to make a scorching passionate story that is highly enjoyable...Ms. Pillow and Ms. Roth have created a stunning success of yet another collaboration. A fast moving tale with many humorous interactions between the characters, Pleasure Cruise is a very sexy supernatural tale that I absolutely love. I look forward to reading other mystical hook-ups on this endearing cruise line." Francesca Hayne, Just Erotic Romance Reviews
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat level: O
"The Pleasure Cruise is the first offering by Ms. Pillow and Ms. Roth for Ellora’s Cave. The book is fun and had me laughing...I look forward to reading more from these wonderful authors." Ann Lee, Just Erotic Romance Reviews.
"5 HEARTS! Pleasure Cruise is an absolute pleasure to read! Multi-dimensional characters leap off the page and become very real....This reviewer enjoyed the plot, the idea of such a cruise, especially to meet a soul mate that the gods had ordained, is unique and exciting. This scintillating story will capture the reader from the first page on and the fast moving plot will hold one’s attention until the end. Both authors are very talented in their own right and together, it was a sure thing that they would pen a hot, erotic, highly entertaining story. This reviewer has been looking forward to reading this story since it had been announced, and she was not at all disappointed. Fans of both authors will be thrilled with Pleasure Cruise and Ellora's Cave certainly has another winner."
Valerie, April 2005 Loveromances
"Two of my favorite authors have joined forces to bring us a thoroughly entertaining paranormal tale of love and lust. The characters are funny, sexy and oh so interesting to watch. Don't miss out, climb aboard the Pleasure Cruise!" Dee Gentle For Paranormal Romance Reviews July 2005
"The authors of this tale, Mandy M. Roth and Michelle M. Pillow (M&M), make a dynamic duo as they group together to present a tale filled with hot sex, funny images, sexy men and... did I mention lots of hot sex?!!...Just remember to turn the air conditioner on before you pick this one up... because once you begin, the temperature just keeps going up!"
Reviewed By Johnna © May 2005
4 1/2 BLUE RIBBONS! The formidable duo of M&M has done it again. Ms. Roth and Ms. Pillow's unique rapport shines through their characters...You will enjoy reading about this love cruise; I know I did."
Jodi, Romance Junkies, May 2005
"4 1/2 Unicorns! Pleasure Cruise is a mystically funny story that brought me into a world that is both fun and passionate." Lyonene, Enchanted in Romance, May 2005
"4 ANGELS! Pleasure Cruise is a wonderful collaboration between Ms. Pillow and Ms. Roth. The premise is unique and sets up for many sequels. It is a fast paced, funny and highly erotic book filled with all an Ellora’s Cave reader could want. If you are looking for something to tickle your funny bone as well as raise your temperature, Pleasure Cruise will definitely do the job!" Susan, Fallen Angel Reviews
"4 HEARTS! ATTENTION: if you love erotica with vampires and werewolves and all manner of supernatural beings, run and buy Pleasure Cruise. The super-talented duo of Michelle Pillow and Mandy Roth have written another great story..." Miaka Chase, The Romance Studio, July 2005
Coffee Time Romances
"4 CUPS! With great leads, fun scenery and hot love scenes, Pleasure Cruise can dock
at my port anytime." Darnée, Coffee Time Romance, April 2005
"4 LIPS! The collaboration between Michelle Pillow and Mandy Roth culminates into a must read book that is funny and not to be missed." Two Lips Reviews
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