Portia Da Costa - purveyor of erotic romance and erotica to the discerning woman since 1994


Please be aware that this excerpt contains sensual content that is only suitable for adult readers who are comfortable with frank language and descriptions of erotic scenarios

The Gift - click for larger versionBackground

Previously published as KISS IT BETTER, this newly reimagined seasonal reprint THE GIFT contains a special Christmas epilogue


Pleasure with a perfect stranger...

Jay Bentley is a man with issues. Haunted by physical and psychological demons, he seeks solace and sexual oblivion in the pursuit of an exquisite erotic daydream from his youth, and the reality of a woman who has illuminated his inner fantasies since a brief meeting years ago.

Sandy Jackson has always known that a certain magic is 'missing' from her life. She's feisty and philosophical, but her dreams are filled with heated images of a handsome Prince Charming she once encountered, a man who will kiss everything better and gift her with glorious, dangerous pleasure.

But the past is an illusion, and the present fraught with conflict and uneasy compromise… can two passionate lovers reconcile their differences and slake their burning sensual hunger for each other in a wild and daring liaison?

Available from:

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Also from Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Waterstones Books and iBooks


Her neck did the prickle thing again and, before she could stop herself, she looked round again, searching for Mr Hard-Case Stalker with the sexy goatee beard.

And there he was of course, but this time he didn't bother to hide the fact he was looking at her. In fact, he nodded slightly, tipped his glass, and favoured her with an enigmatic half-smile. Sandy flashed him a vague semi-smile of her own in return, although she tried not to make it too encouraging. For some reason - she couldn't work out why exactly - she wasn't all that sure she wanted to talk to him. He looked like a brutally attractive serial killer, and there was something about him that scared her and made her nerves twang. He was probably perfectly nice when you actually got to know him, but looking at him now was like having him walk straight through her soul.

Not my type. Not at all. Too battered. Too macho. Probably far too complicated.

The wine in her glass was indifferent, but she sipped at it anyway. It wasn't strong enough to act as an anaesthetic, but she had to do something to take her mind off 'The Man'.

And her feet. Why in God's name had she let Kat persuade her into wearing these stupid heels? They looked fabulous and did wonders for her legs. But they were seriously killing her and it demanded an Oscar-winning performance just trying not to show it. Sweat popped out at her hairline as she smiled brightly at one of the Teapot's patrons, wishing someone would turn the central heating down. If she needed to make a quick getaway, she certainly couldn't run for it tonight.

A psychic sideswipe made her almost spill her dreary wine.


A powerful fist seemed to clutch her innards.

What, after all this time? Why think of such ancient history all of a sudden?

A memory both sharp and fuzzy zipped through her mind, bringing with it cold fear and the warm fleeting image of a face. A smooth young male face, almost angelically handsome. Long, thick, rather shaggy dark hair. A soft voice and soft lips on hers, her saviour whispering, 'Kiss it better.'

But as soon as the impression appeared, it began to fade again, leaving her shaking her head and, back in the present, glancing around.

Shrugging off the last of her disorientation, she focused on her surroundings.

This was the first time she'd ever been to the Waverley Grange Hotel and, probably like most people here, she was curious about its rumoured reputation. The place was supposed to be a den of rampant sexual iniquity beneath its sleek veneer of luxury and old-world charm, and some of the prints on the wall of the Lawns Bar certainly seemed to confirm the provocative whisperings.

Sandy fanned herself with her fingers. God, it was hot in here. And that was even before you got near the saucy artwork.

In front of her was a stylised photograph of a naked couple tangled up in a complex mandala of limbs, sweat and sensuality. Sandy sincerely hoped the rather prim Mayor's wife didn't catch sight of it, because its blazing frankness made her own blood stir and pulse. The man's hand was between the woman's legs and, even though the resolution was indistinct, she could almost feel those ghostly fingers touching her. They seemed to move in the cleft of her pussy, stroking and paddling and playing. She almost whirled around again, imagining the man from the cafe just behind her. Or maybe someone else, someone impossible, from a dream.

The sensation made her giddy, and the claustrophobic crush of real bodies around her made her heart trip. Excusing herself, she slid away between two other art connoisseurs who'd been attracted to the photograph. Someone wasn't using quite a strong enough deodorant, and she wrinkled her nose as she moved on in search of fresher air.

Next to a window, she found another art photograph on the wall. It showed a handsome man with long dark hair also standing beside a window, in dramatic shadows. He was gazing out into the middle distance with a pensive expression on his face and, like the couple in the previous shot, he was stark naked.

Not my type either. But you do look familiar.

Narrowing her eyes, Sandy leaned close, and then chuckled, recognising the rather sexy owner/manager of the hotel, to whom she'd been introduced a short while earlier.

'So, is he your type?'

Sandy rocked - literally - on her silly heels. She knew exactly who was standing beside her, and the deep and strangely raw voice really seemed to fit him. She'd only heard it briefly in the Teapot because Kat had served him, but it was unmistakeable, never to be forgotten.

Schooling herself to stay calm, she turned slowly towards the hard man with the beard, who'd been watching her and who was now only a couple of feet away.

'Not really.' She dared to look up at him. His eyes were sharp and intelligent, dark grey and glinting with a strange disquieting light. Shaken, she returned her attention to the man in the photo - the rather glamorous Signor Guidetti. 'But I do believe that's our esteemed host, the hotel manager.'

'Indeed it is.'

For several seconds, they stared at the image in silence, then, as one, they scanned the room, looking for the hotel's suave, slightly flashy Italian proprietor.

'So, why isn't he your type?'

Put on the spot, Sandy frowned. What business was it of his? Yet still the ghost from her past resurfaced.

'He's too groomed. Too slick. Too perfect.'

Unlike you.

She suppressed a flinch. Up close, her tough-looking man was tougher than ever. Tall, he towered above her, his shoulders broad and his lean yet muscular limbs strong looking beneath a rather beautiful lightweight suit in midnight grey. His buzz-cut hair was dark and looked velvety against his fine nobly shaped skull. He had the look of a Roman Emperor, civilised yet savage.

But it was his face most of all that made her swallow. She was both intrigued by it and also faintly frightened. His features were even, sculpted and masculine, and just as imperial as his cropped hair. But the network of fine white and pink scars that traced the planes of his high cheekbones, his mouth and jawline, framed by his crisp dark beard, spoke eloquently of pain and suffering.

'Unlike me.'

The fierce damaged face softened in a smile as he echoed her thoughts, and Sandy almost gasped. Once again, a fleeting sense of memory almost rocked her.

© Portia Da Costa and Virgin Books 2009

Available from:

Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Kindle UK and Kindle US

Also from Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Waterstones Books and iBooks