Appearing in The Lily and Dahlia Trilogies of Vivian Winslow’s incredibly steamy Gilded Flower Series, Violet Rai, or Vi, is Lily and Dahlia Baron’s sharp-witted BFF, who is always up for a party and a hot guy. But, in The Dahlia Trilogy, there are hints that Vi’s world is quickly coming apart.
Wild Violet (Book 1): In this flashback story, Vi, the strikingly beautiful daughter of an Indian business magnate and English supermodel, is enjoying a privileged lifestyle in New York City while a college student at NYU. Yet, in her senior year, Vi learns that her strict and traditional father intends to force upon her an arranged marriage and a career working for his conglomerate in Dubai. When Vi is paired with sexy Spaniard, Andrés Costas, in her ballet class, not only does she find herself falling for him, but he introduces her to a shockingly different world—one that offers her the prospect of escaping her father’s plans, but at a price.
Hidden Violet (Book 2): With her hidden past about to be exposed, Vi turns to her longtime friend and confidant, Thomas Squires, for help. Yet, they may just risk exposing their feelings for each other in the process. When Lily’s engagement to Alejandro is threatened by ex-lover Gustavo, Vi is forced to come clean with her best friend and possibly destroy the lives of those she loves. Now that her secrets are no longer hidden, Vi faces the most difficult challenge yet—how to build a new life for herself outside of the shadows.
True Violet (Book 3): Things are heating up for Vi in Dubai, and it’s not just the desert climate. Vi is starting to come into her own—having the hottest sex of her life and poised to take over her father’s multinational conglomerate. Yet, her suspicions are confirmed when she uncovers a plot to destroy not just her but her best friends’ lives. With an unlikely ally, Vi seeks to ruin those behind the plot. Will Vi be able to have it all and find her lasting happiness in the arms of the man she loves?
* Each trilogy of The Gilded Flower Series may be read independently, though the background from the earlier trilogies may be helpful to the reader. The Lily Trilogy is the first in the series, followed by The Dahlia Trilogy and then The Violet Trilogy. The entire Gilded Flower Series is now available.
Excerpt from Wild Violet
Sweat drips down Vi’s chest as they finish the barre work. Despite every window being open, there’s no respite from the heat for the dancers who pack in the two adjoining studios. Even in the summer, the class is full of people trying to keep up their skills for possible auditions, with the exception of Vi who does it because it’s one of the only times she’s able to feel happy and free. She takes in the mix of people as she gulps down her water—men and women, mostly in their twenties, although some teenagers who look like they could be ten years-old, the majority of them beautiful, and all of them with absolutely gorgeous dancer bodies. She tosses her water back into her bag and takes her place in front of the mirror.
“Today, half of you go there,” the instructor says in a thick French accent, making a slicing motion with his arm to divide the class and pointing to the other space. The dancers move obediently. Monsieur Renard appears to be about sixty-five and has perfectly coiffed silver hair that goes well with his perfect posture. Despite being dressed in pants and a collared shirt, he doesn’t have a drop of sweat on him. “The rest of you will be paired off. Pas de deux.”
Vi searches the room for a partner. This isn’t what she signed up for today. She likes M. Renard’s class because he demands perfection and complete control from his dancers. Every position, hip movement and alignment always has to be just right. It forces her to focus, to allow her thoughts and self-doubt to melt away and for those ninety minutes to just be. But it’s too late to leave. She doesn’t back down from a challenge.
“Mademoiselle Rai,” M. Renard points to her. “Why are you not with someone? Or is your partner invisible?” He chuckles and turns to talk to the pianist.
She smiles back and with her hands on her hips says, “Seems no one finds me worthy to be his partner. Perhaps you would like to be my partner, Monsieur Renard.”
He smiles and laughs, revealing yellow teeth stained from cigarettes and coffee. “Mademoiselle Rai, if I were younger, I would have you for a partner and you would not forget that experience.” He approaches her and says, eyeing her up and down, “Malheureusement, my youth is gone and the women along with it.” Not taking his eyes off Vi, he reaches out toward the right with his arm and snaps his fingers. “Monsieur Costas. Dance with Mademoiselle Rai. You are both beautiful. You will fit well together.”
Pointing to the girl who was originally paired with him, M. Renard instructs her, “You go dance with the others.”
Vi glances over at her new partner gliding toward her, ignoring the dirty look from the female dancer.
As soon as he reaches her, he places his hands on her waist and says, “You’re the lucky one who gets to dance with me today.”
She chuckles as she moves her feet and arms into fifth position. “The same can be said of you, Monsieur Costas.”
Vivian Winslow was born and raised in Southern California. Before becoming a writer, she made a career out of moving around the world every couple of years thanks to her husband’s job and her incurable wanderlust. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and two elementary school age children, and is grateful to finally have a place to call home for more than two years.
New York is the perfect city to indulge her love of fashion, the arts and especially food. If she’s not at home writing or running around the city with her kids, you’ll most likely find her eating at the newest restaurant in her beloved Lower East Side or having a cocktail at her favorite bar in Alphabet City. That said, she’s still a California girl at heart and would gladly trade in her heels for a pair of flip-flops to catch a sunset on the beach.