Posts tagged with: erotic romance

The Pleasure of Jess Michaels’ Company!

Jess 4I’m delighted to introduce a newcomer to the lair, Jess Michaels!

In 2006, I went to my very first Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta, and one of the very first people I met was the lovely Jess Michaels who took me under her wing and showed a very bewildered newcomer the ropes. At that stage, we were both published by Avon. We’ve both since moved on to other publishing ventures, but the friendship has remained and I’m delighted today to bring her here to talk about her latest release, the very steamy PLEASURING THE LADY.

Here’s the blurb:

Once the game begins, there is no tearing your gaze away.

The Pleasure Wars, Book 2

Her mother’s madness and her father’s and brother’s irresponsibility have relegated Lady Portia to the life of a wallflower. The only shining light in her life is her best friend, Ava, who is suffering a rift with her own brother.

Portia’s quest to help takes her to the notorious Donville Masquerade in the hells, where—behind the safety of a mask—she witnesses shocking public acts of sin. And succumbs to the touch of Marquis Miles Weatherfield.

jess 1Unfortunately, they’re discovered. And now, tainted by scandal, she and Miles are destined for a marriage neither of them want. But Portia makes a bargain that raises even Miles’s eyebrows.

In return for saving her mother from the asylum, Portia will do anything Miles wants in bed. Shocked by his driving desire for Portia, Miles agrees. As they explore every wicked desire, every forbidden act that pleases them, they discover something that goes far deeper than flesh. But the lies that brought them together could be the very wedge that drives them apart.

Warning: This book contains wicked encounters, erotic voyeurism, lies, a brief threesome, and unexpected kindnesses.

You can find out more about Jess and her books on her website: http://www.authorjessmichaels.com/

Jess, welcome to the Bandita lair! And congratulations on your latest release PLEASURING THE LADY. Can you tell us about this story?  

Sure! PLEASURING THE LADY is about Portia, a woman who has been a wallflower for years, thanks to a very sad family history. She wants to help her closest friend, so she ends up going to an underground masquerade where she has a very unexpected encounter with someone she knows, Miles, Marquis Weatherfield. Of course, he doesn’t realize she is a lady until it’s far too late and they are forced to wed, despite wide differences between them. Whether or not they will allow passion to turn into love will really depend on them. :-)

Jess 2Sounds hot! What were the inspirations behind this book?

I love the forced marriage trope in romance and I hadn’t written one for a long time, so I was excited to get to write Miles and Portia’s love story. Portia was such a nice character in TAKEN BY THE DUKE that I knew I had to give her a worthy hero! Miles has to become worthy. :-)

PLEASURING THE LADY is book two in the Pleasure Wars series. What an enticing title! Can you tell us about the series as a whole and what’s coming up next?

Thanks! So The Pleasure Wars is about two families in a very Romeo and Juliet-esque type feud that culminated in a horrible night when the Earl of Windbury ran off to elope with the Duke of Rothcastle’s sister. He made chase and the three of them were in a terrible accident. She was killed and both men were badly injured. In TAKEN BY THE DUKE, Rothcastle decides to exact his revenge by kidnapping Windbury’s sister, Ava, and ruining her. PLEASURING THE LADY features Ava’s best friend Portia, who goes into the underground to try to find Windbury. And the third book is about the woman Ava hires to seduce and spy on Windbury in an attempt to force a reconciliation. So it has drama and lots of very sexy sex!  The next book in the series is BEAUTY AND THE EARL (Windbury’s story), which will be out April 15, 2014. TAKEN BY THE DUKE and PLEASURING THE LADY are available now!

Jess 3What else is coming up for Jess Michaels?

I’m very busy! I recently contracted two more series with Samhain and I’ll have four books out in 2014 and again in 2015! All erotic historical romance, which is what I’m solely concentrating on at this point. I’m really excited, I love Samhain and I’m loving building my brand there. The cool thing is that I have promised myself what my husband and I jokingly call a “Big Year” in 2014, which means I’m putting pedal to the metal and focusing as much energy as I have solely on my writing and career. Within reason. I will still have nephews to play with and cats to pet.

As this is your first visit to the lair, we’d love to hear about your writing journey.

Well, I started writing full-time in 1999 thanks to my very supportive husband. I contracted my first erotic romance in 2003, a novella that was in SECRETS, Volume 11 from Red Sage. The next year I sold three books to Avon and spent the next eight years writing for them (as Jenna Petersen and Jess Michaels). I also wrote zombie comedy as Jesse Petersen.

In 2012, I was actually considering giving up writing entirely (it is an exceedingly difficult profession and there had been several contributing factors that made me want to give up) when Samhain said they wanted to revive the Jess Michaels name (which had been inactive for several years). I took a chance and found my publishing home. By the end of that year, I had decided to focus entirely on Jess Michaels and here we are!

Jess 5Erotic romance is hot in all senses of the word right now. What are your thoughts on the meteoric rise of this genre?

You know, it’s funny. I’ve been writing erotic romance for almost 10 years now, so it’s definitely not new. I do think readers respond to the very intense situations of erotic romance and the dark heroes that seem to be especially prevalent in erotic romance. Erotic historical romance is a smaller genre, but there are some great writers here. I think we also offer a very different set of consequences in our stories. People have always had really HOT sex, but if you get caught in the Regency period… well, you’re going to see a very different result than if you get caught in today’s world. I hope fans of erotic romance with contemporary or other settings will give us a try!

But I think that’s a great question for readers. Why do you think erotic romance is awesome? What’s your favourite book in the genre? Have you tried erotic historical romance?

BanditBootyGet commenting, people! Jess has very kindly offered a download (Kindle or Nook, international) of the first book in the Pleasure Wars series, TAKEN BY THE DUKE. Good luck!

There’s No Denying Christina Phillips!

cp 4I’m delighted today to welcome back a good friend and a fabulous writer, Aussie via the U.K. resident Christina Phillips.

Christina is here to tell us about her hot new romance for Ellora’s Cave, BLOODLUST DENIED, featuring a duke who is really a vampire. Or is that perhaps a vampire who is really a duke? Whatever, he sounds like one hot vampire dukish dude!

You can find out more about Christina and her wonderful books at her website: http://christinaphillips.com/

You can also find out about Christina on social media:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ChristinaPh_Ash

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/christinaphillips.author/app_151503908244383

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3216349.Christina_Phillips

CP 1You can buy BLOODLUST DENIED from Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Bloodlust-Denied-ebook/dp/B00D93NMVY/ref=la_B003G299V0_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1371518369&sr=1-3

Christina, welcome back to the lair. You’re one of our favorite guests. Congratulations on your new release from Ellora’s Cave, BLOODLUST DENIED. Can you tell us about this story?

Thanks so much for having me back in the lair, Anna! I always enjoy hanging out here and having fun (I’m not just talking about Sven, honestly!!)

BLOODLUST DENIED is a dark Regency romance about a vampire duke and a heroine who is a Maiden of Death. Alexius lost his beloved wife millennia ago, and his existence now is dedicated to hedonistic pleasure. He takes what he wants, and he wants Morana.

But for a reason he cannot fathom he wants more from her than merely her blood. She entrances him with her seductive dance and fearless manner and he decides to keep her until he tires of her.

Morana, an immortal vampire hunter, is irresistibly drawn to Alexius despite his aura of danger. But after one sizzling encounter she flees, knowing they can never have a future together.

CP 2Three years later Fate draws them together once again. Abduction, bondage and decadent seduction feature in Alexius’ plans for retribution, but before the sun rises dynamics have shifted and he’s the one fighting the silken bonds of captivity.

But as they fall under each other’s erotic spell the past and present collide and unless they discover the truth behind the lies, Death will triumph once more.

Sounds great! What were the inspirations behind this book?

I’ve always loved reading Regency romances but had never written a book set during that time. Then about four years ago, after I’d finished FORBIDDEN but before it sold, I saw a call for musical inspired stories from Ellora’s Cave.

The concept really fascinated me, and it obviously excited my muse too as I immediately had an image of a dark haired seductress dancing in a sordid London back alley. Then the hero appeared from the shadows and I was hooked! Especially when he turned out to be a very bad assed vampire living as a peer of the realm! As it turned out I never did submit this book to Ellora’s Cave at the time due to other deadlines, but last year I dusted it off, gave it a good edit and submitted it. Funny how things work out! 

CP 6What’s coming up next for you?

At the moment I’m working on the second book in my Highland Warrior Chronicles. These books have been acquired by Ellora’s Cave and feature gorgeous Scot warriors and their brave Pictish princesses. The books are set in the ninth century during the turbulent time when both Scot and Viking coveted Pictland so there’s plenty of juicy conflict! I have the unedited blurb of the first book, HER SAVAGE SCOT, up on my website if you want a sneak peek.

Since we last saw you, you’ve released another Roman Britain story, BETRAYED. Can you tell us about this story? Are there more Roman stories to come? I hope so! I love them!

Thank you Anna! I absolutely love my Roman/Druid world and can’t tell you how thrilled I am that BETRAYED is finally out there.

I would just like to say that BETRAYED can easily be read alone without having read the previous books set in this world.

BETRAYED features Nimue, an acolyte of the moon goddess Arianrhod. Nimue made a brief appearance at the end of CAPTIVE when she was charged by the Briton king to protect his wife and daughter. Until that point I had no idea about a third book, but Nimue so fascinated me that I had to discover what happened to her after she disappeared. BETRAYED picks up her story at that point.

CP 5Brave, loyal and passionate, Nimue is determined to complete her mission no matter what. But her confident exterior hides a vulnerable core. She’s tortured by secrets from her past and when she realises that she is falling in love with Tacitus—a Roman officer and her people’s bitterest enemy—her world is turned upside down.

Tacitus is a loyal warrior of Rome, from a privileged patrician background. But he’s tormented by his past and determined not to follow in his father’s footsteps. Honorable almost to a fault all he sees when he looks at Nimue is a beautiful, fragile woman that he must protect at all costs. It’s beyond his comprehension that she might be a warrior in her own right.

Here’s an excerpt from a review: “Tacitus is a wonderful hero, masterful and passionate…  I recommend this novel to all lovers of erotic romance, especially those who like a historical theme and a strong heroine and a leading man who is the embodiment of male sexuality and virtue. ” 5 Stars A Readers Review http://areadersreviewblog.com/2013/04/29/betrayed-3-in-the-romandruid-series-by-christina-phillips/

I have a fourth book, TAINTED, going through the editorial process at the moment. This features Gawain, a Celtic warrior haunted by his past and pledged to rid his land of the Roman invaders. This is also the story of Antonia, a Roman patrician abused and discarded by her powerful husband, who wants only a quiet life with her beloved father. But she hides a deadly secret that could be her undoing. These two wounded souls connect, initially only for a purely physical relationship, but it soon evolves into something much deeper. A dangerous love that Rome will never allow.

CP 7We haven’t seen you since late last year when you visited us to tell us about your wonderful ARCHANGEL OF MERCY under your Christina Ashcroft moniker. What’s been happening in your life since then?

Life has been manic since then! Actually it’s been manic for the last couple of years! I was delighted in January to discover that ARCHANGEL OF MERCY was a finalist in the Australian Romance Readers Favorite Paranormal Romance Awards. Apart from that I’ve barely managed to poke my head out of the editing cave this year, as I’ve been working on revisions for BETRAYED and BLOODLUST DENIED for Ellora’s Cave, edited the follow up book to ARCHANGEL OF MERCY and have been working on a Secret Project. I’m a bit knackered…

I know you work very closely with your talented (and lovely!) critique partners Amanda Ashby and Sara Hantz. Can you tell us a little bit about this relationship and how you go about working together, especially when Amanda and Sara are writing young adult stories and your books are hot, hot, hot!

By the way, in the photo from left to right, it’s Sara, Amanda and Christina! A rogues’ gallery if ever I saw one, :-D

CP 3It sounds crazy, doesn’t it! But it works wonderfully for the three of us. We met more than ten years ago on the e-Harlequin boards, when we were all targeting different lines. Over the years we moved onto different things but the funniest thing is, it was Amanda and Sara who first suggested I try writing an erotic romance.I totally blame them for me finally getting published!

But for the more nitty gritty, we work well together because we each have different strengths that apply across all genres. Amanda has an amazing editorial eye for the “big picture” plot structure and pacing. Sara is our logical one and is fantastic when it comes to grounding us and asking “but why/how” (“just because” does not cut it with her!). I’m the Emotional Punch one and have a beady eye for continuity.

I’m giving away one e-copy of BETRAYED to one commenter and one e-copy of BLOODLUST DENIED to a second commenter. Just let me know whether hot warriors or hot vampires are your favorite kind of hero and why?

BanditBootyOoh, two chances to win? You’re too good to us! OK, people, get commenting and good luck!

BELLA’S TOUCH…another experiment.

Bella's Touch cover

Hey! Come on over to the bar! Sven has mixed us up a pitcher of white Sangria. Doesn’t it look lovely with all that fruit floating around in it? We can chat here while the cabana boys are cleaning the Lair’s pool area.

Me: So, I tried my hand at a novella.

You: Why?

Me: To see If I could do it.

You: To see if you could do it? What the heck does that mean? You’ve written eight full length manuscripts. Of course you can write a novella.

Me (with a shrug of my shoulders): I didn’t know that. It was another experiment for me.

You, (looking at me with a squinty-eyed suspicious look on your face): Care to explain this?

Me (pouring us both another glass of white sangria): Thought you’d never ask. Let’s go back to the beginning.

You: The beginning of what?

Me: The beginning of my writing career.

You (taking a healthy drink of the Sangria hoping it dulls the idea of going THAT far back in time): Why the beginning of your writing career? Why not to the beginning of the novella?

Me: Yes, we have to go back to the beginning, because like all my writing, BELLA’S TOUCH is an experiment. When I first started writing, I had this lovely story in my head, (sort of, as a true pantser, I never know the whole story when I start writing), and wanted to try my hand at writing. It was an experiment on whether or not I could write a coherent, cohesive story from beginning to end. Could I, little ole me, actually write a book? That was the first experiment.

You: Oh, okay. So what was the next one.

Me, laughing and sipping my sangria: Oh, that’s easy. Could I write a second? It too was an American historical romance with characters from the first book. Then came the next experiment.

You: Which was?

Me: Could I write a contemporary? I did, but I fear that is the book that will stay hidden under my bed. But it served a purpose. It taught me that yes, I could write contemporary romances.

You: I assume there’s another experiment after that?

Me: Why, yes there was! Could I write a story where all the action takes place in the time frame of a week. See all three of my previous books took place over a year’s time. I also wanted that book to be a Romantic Suspense book. That’s how I came to write KIDNAPPED.

You: Aha! Good experiment, since that books is now published and doing pretty well, so I hear.

Me (grinning from ear to ear): Why yes it is. I wrote a number of contemporaries after that, HUNTED, CLOSE TO HOME, CLOSE TO THE EDGE, but alas, despite great critiques, finaling and winning contests, I hadn’t sold a darn book. So, time for more experimentation. Why not erotica?

You (draining your glass): Sue, why not?

Me (filling our glasses again): That’s when I wrote THE SURRENDER OF LACY MORGAN. I thought if I was going to write an erotica, it had to have a good plot and believable characters. It needed to have a natural dominance and submission that seemed to be more prevalent in an earlier time period. And my two heroes would need more than being just good buddies to spend so much time traveling together, but I don’t write M/M books, so they had to be brothers or in this case, blood brothers. The good thing about that particular experiment was that it not only turned out to be a story I was proud of, but it SOLD!! 

You: Yes it did! So what was the next experiment?chemistry-lab-equipment-bottles

Me: Could I write a story that only had 30,000 words. All my other books took 80,000+ words to tell. I wanted to submit it to the Lacy Morgan’s publisher, so it needed to be an erotic novella. But I don’t really get into two people meeting and boom, immediately boffing in the bed, or on the table, or in the closet, or in the elevator against the wall. My characters have to have some sort of reason to go at it that fast or time to get that reason. Rule #1 about novellas…the time is compact, both for the writer and the story. Not enough time for the characters to develop a reason to get hot and bothered. Solution: Give them a past. Two characters who once loved each other, but have been separated.

You (actually starting to follow this conversation, or maybe it’s the wine): Oh, good idea.

Me: yep, I thought so. So here’s the blurb for the book:

Michael Barclay, an artist with a promising career before him, came home from the Civil War a broken man on the edge of despair. Wounded and sure his life as an artist is over, he’s ended his engagement to his beautiful muse, Bella.

Arrabella Taylor arrives at Michael’s rural Ohio home uninvited, but with great determination to confront her former fiancé. She means to find out exactly why he’s broken their engagement and try to convince him what a mistake he’s made. When she discovers he’s not only wounded from the war, but broken in spirit, she takes drastic measures to reawaken the artist soul deep inside Michael and rekindle their love.

But is Bella’s touch enough to save not only Michael, but both of them from a danger in Michael’s past that threatens their future?

You: Sounds interesting.

Me: It was. It’s a historical erotic novella, so be prepared for lots of sex! And BELLA’S TOUCH came in at just under 30,000 words! 

We cling glasses.

Here’s an excerpt:

December 1866

The ladder-back chair clattered to the floor as Michael Barclay shoved away from the table, one hand grasping the last bottle of whiskey like a lifeline.

“Dammit,” he muttered, stumbling sideways in the darkness and grabbing the edge of the table to keep vertical.

Once steady, he lifted the bottle and took another long swig, the liquid burning its way down his throat. He wiped the tears that sprang to his eyes and took another drink.

Thunder rumbled in the background.

He hunkered down below the tabletop, holding his breath, waiting for the whistle of a cannonball zooming past.

Nothing.

He listened again. More thunder. Distant, but headed his way.

Just a storm brewing.

With a sniff all he could smell was the damp air of a late Ohio autumn as the rain started up in earnest again. Winter would be here soon.

He relaxed and took another swig of the whiskey before standing straight.

He hoped the bridge didn’t get washed out and Higgins could get through with his new supply of whiskey. Not that it really helped.

If he was lucky, pretty soon he’d pass out for the night—oblivious to the pain, to the memories. Even in the dark, without the liquor he still saw the bodies littering the battlefield, the soldiers’ blood soaking the ground, their moans and wails still ringing in his ears.

God, how he hated the sound.

And the smell. The wretched acrid odor of gunpowder, burnt flesh and blood.

His stomach heaved and he lurched from the room, kicking an empty whiskey bottle across the floor as he went. Managing to find the bucket he dragged it to the bedside before he fell face-first onto the large blurred object in the room he hoped was his bed.

Funny thing, the nausea suddenly passed. At least when he lay down the room and his world quit spinning. He felt almost normal.

He snorted a harsh laugh.

Normal?

Nothing would ever be normal again. He’d come home half a man. He’d never teach again. He’d never make a living. Never marry Bella.

Bella.

Sunshine in a world of gray.

That’s what he thought the first time he’d seen her.

A dreary New England gray day in the beginning of winter. A cold Nor’easter had drained the trees of the last of their colorful leaves, dumping several inches of snow on the brown landscape. Nothing like his home in the rolling forested Ohio Valley.

He and several other students stood on the doorstep of the head of the art department. They’d been invited to a lecture on studio techniques of Vermeer. Rumor had it libations were always served when the professor held these at-home gatherings. Truth be known, his funds were low and he’d come for hot food and drink more than the boring topic of painting techniques used by a man long dead.

Then the door opened.

Thoughts of food and his ravenous state disappeared. The cold, stark landscape around him dissolved.

Before him stood the most beautiful, golden creature he’d ever beheld.

Professor Taylor’s daughter Arrabella seemed to glow with joy as she smiled in welcome. Her golden-blonde hair was piled on her head in such a fashion that her curls formed a halo about her heart-shaped face.

“Gentlemen, you’re just in time,” she said. “Father has just begun his lecture.”

Her sapphire-blue eyes twinkled with some inner humor as all the men on the porch doffed their hats and hurried into the warmth of the house.

As the others filed past, Michael drank in every inch of her.

Tall for a woman, he guessed she’d be only a few inches shorter than his six feet. The ocean-blue velvet gown she wore fit her straight shoulders and long arms snugly, as well as her bust, which left little doubt how well her breasts would fill a man’s hands. The bodice tapered over her flat stomach down to a skirt that flared out over her wider hips.

What would it feel like to hold those hips as she rode him?

“And what of you, sir? Don’t you wish to come inside? Or would you prefer to continue standing in the cold measuring me?”

The lightness of her voice, filled with amusement, brought him out of his lustful thoughts. He stammered his reply and started past her, only to have her lay her hand on his, a soft smile on her face and kindness written in her eyes.

“This is your first visit, isn’t it?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Please call me Arrabella. Ma’am is my mother.”

He returned her smile. “I’m Michael, Michael Barclay.”

“Go to the kitchen first, Mr. Barclay. If you wait until after the lecture, the other students will have eaten all the food,” she said with a conspiratorial wink.

From that day on, he’d lived for every moment spent with her.

Temple Rivers Returns to the Lair

Today we have erotica author Temple Rivers returning to the Lair to discuss her latest release, erotic novella, “Improper Seduction.”

Temple:      Hi, Jo, and thanks to the Romance Bandits for having me back.

 

Jo:       I’m curious, and I’m sure our readers are too, about how and why you came to write erotic stories.

Temple:      That’s a good question.  In one word: money.  Sex sells and modern women seem to like more spiciness in their romance novels.  Witness the popularity of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy by EL James.

 

Jo:       What distinguishes erotica from plain old smut, though?  Isn’t this just glorified pornography?  By the way, we’re a PG-13 site, so we’ll have to use lots of euphemisms today.

Temple:      In a way, yes, it is.  But at the heart of good erotica is a romantic story to tell. At least that’s the way I look at it.  If I just wanted smut, I’d watch a video.

 

Jo:       What distinguishes your novellas from the other erotica in the publishing industry today?Kindle

Temple:      Both my novellas are historical erotica, so it plays sexier just because it involves acts and words that have a forbidden quality to them, especially in the Victorian period.  I don’t seek out erotica in general – I know, isn’t that strange?  But I like the kind of ramped up sensuality that can get a women (or man) turned on for her partner.  I don’t write kink or fetishes or perversions, although I realize those are individual tastes.  I write what I think people in a committed relationship might try out in their own bedrooms.

 

Jo:       So, like classed-up smut?

Temple:      (Laughing).  I guess you could call it that.

 

Jo:       Tell us about your soon-to-be-released novella, “Improper Seduction.”

Temple:      First, I love the cover design.  The release date is February 1, and it’s a cougar story – younger man, older woman, but since it’s set in 1890 England, the age difference between Baroness Charring and Thomas, the stable master, is less than 10 years. 

Thomas is actually the son of a duke, but born on the wrong side of the sheets, as they say, so he has no money or title.  He’s attracted to Chastity, the married lady of the manor, because she seems lonely and unfulfilled, and he’s drawn to her vulnerability.  He also likes the maturity of “older women.”  They’re like fine wine that’s seasoned with age, he says. 

Of course, when the Baron returns to Charring Manor, there are bound to be fireworks.

 

Jo:       One reviewer said that you write “sweet erotica.”  Can you comment on that?

Temple:      Well, I try to make the romantic elements as tender as the erotic elements are spicy!

 

Jo:       Here’s a comment from a reviewer of your already released novella, “Willing Seduction”:

“The book description says it’s an erotica novella, and it really is, hence making this book Rated M for Mature. What the description failed to mention is that it is also a historical romance that actually turned out to be a sweet one.”

 

Thanks for visitinTEMPLE RIVERSg with us today, Temple.

Readers, you can find Temple Rivers’ books at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords in e-book form.  Here’s the link for “Willing Seduction” and watch for the release of “Improper Seduction” on February 1:

http://amzn.to/ISWYUj

Temple is giving away to one lucky commenter a free ebook of “Willing Seduction” or “Improper Seduction,” when it releases.

Temple, do you have a question for our readers?

 

Temple:      Thanks for having me, Jo.  I’d like to ask your readers how much sensuality they like in their romance novels.  Are you going for a hot, hot read, or do you prefer sweet and closed-door romances?  Do you enjoy reading novellas or are they too short for you?

Christina Ashcroft and the Archangel

I always love hosting a personal friend in the lair. Today’s guest Christina Ashcroft and I met way back in 2004, well before either of us was a published author, at the Romantic Novelists Association conference at Leicester in the U.K.

Christina, originally from England, now lives in beautiful Western Australia and we’ve been lucky enough to meet up since at various Romance Writers of Australia conferences (although not as often as I’d like! Perth is a long way from the east coast where most of the conferences are held).

I’ve long been a fan of Christina’s hot, dramatic, passionate books set in Roman Britain written under the Christina Phillips name. I’m delighted now to introduce her as Christina Ashcroft, a new star of paranormal romance, with her debut Archangel Of Mercy. Here’s the blurb:

When Aurora Robinson attempts to open a rift between dimensions to embrace her true heritage, an arrogant Archangel is the only one who can save her from the jaws of hell. And while she owes Gabriel her life, she’s determined not to fall at his feet-despite the desire she feels whenever they’re together.

After his wings were brutally destroyed millennia ago, Gabriel has no compassion for humans like those who ruined him and betrayed the ones he loved. But when he inexplicably finds himself defying ancient protocols to rescue a woman from a fate worse than death, he is shocked by the searing attraction he feels for a mortal.

As the ancient forces that seek to punish Aurora for her actions close in, Gabriel offers the tempting woman protection at his private sanctuary. But as they both succumb to their desires, they discover an even deeper connection-one that threatens to consume them.

You can find out more about Christina’s dual writing personalities at her websites:

http://christinaashcroft.com/

http://christinaphillips.com/

Christina, absolutely lovely to have you in the lair! Congratulations on the release of the first book in the Archangel series, Archangel Of Mercy, which is out from Berkley Heat this month. Can you tell us about this story?

Hi Anna, thank you so much for having me back in the lair! It’s always so much fun in here!

I’d love to tell you about my gorgeous Archangel, Gabriel. He’s one of the Fallen, but not in quite the way you might expect. He and his fellow Archangels used Earth as their playground millennia ago, and of course some of them fell in love with mortals. But the consequences of what happened in the past haunt Gabe today and he protects his shattered heart and guilt riddled soul behind a tough façade.

Aurora is a typical girl-next-door—except she has a unique heritage, and by trying to discover her roots and help her mother she unleashes an ancient force who are determined to punish her for her actions. As a consequence of this she is the catalyst that causes an Archangel to fall from the heavens… and into her arms.

What were the inspirations behind this book?

Ever since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by the Mayan prophecies that December 2012 marks the End of the World. The mathematical precision of their calendars are mind boggling and their ancient knowledge of the heavens phenomenal. As I got older I discovered the Mayans hadn’t discovered this knowledge themselves. It was handed down to them from a far more ancient civilization. And suppose this knowledge had been handed down previously from an even more ancient race of people?

I’ve also always loved the myths and legends that surround Atlantis. But what if that wasn’t merely a legend? What if a lost continent had once existed and been home to a technologically advanced civilization that rivals our own today?

It was only when I began to uncover the distant, mist shrouded past of the Archangel Gabriel that I began to understand the immortal he was today, and that was when he finally opened up enough to let me share his story.

Can you tell us about the Archangel series as a whole?

Each book is a stand alone romance between the Archangel and his heroine, so although it doesn’t matter if the books aren’t read as a series it would give a richer understanding of the world and background if the books are read in order. There is a thread that runs through the books that involve the ancient (and rather nasty) alien species, the Guardians.

What can we expect from the second book?

The second book, Archangel Of Death, is Azrael’s story. At the end of Archangel Of Mercy Azrael is horrified that Gabe has fallen again. He can’t understand why any Archangel would want to put themselves through that kind of torture because all too soon mortals die. And when they do, a part of the Archangel’s heart dies too.

Well, who could resist that kind of attitude? I knew straight away that Azrael was going to be my next unwilling hero! And who better for his heroine than someone from a race he has always despised and done everything within his power to eliminate?

Rowan is a dhampir and Azrael truly doesn’t stand a chance from the moment they meet. Because Rowan is nothing like the dhampirs Azrael fought nine hundred years ago when he saved the life of a legendary phoenix. In fact Rowan is nothing like any woman he has ever met. I loved writing this book and can’t wait until it hits the shelves!

As you know, I’m a huge fan of your sexy Christina Phillips historicals set in ancient Britain which involve forbidden love between the locals and the Roman invaders. You can imagine how thrilled I am to hear that books 3 and 4 in this series will soon be out. Can you tell us what’s going on with your Romans and Druids?

Thanks Anna, I was absolutely delighted when Ellora’s Cave picked up the next books in the series, Betrayed and Tainted.

Betrayed is Tacitus and Nimue’s story. Nimue, an acolyte of the moon goddess, appeared right at the very end of the second book, Captive, and she immediately fascinated me. While trying to protect the Briton queen she is captured by her bitterest enemy, but soon discovers the Roman tribune who’s enslaved her is far from the brutal barbarian she imagined. As for Tacitus, he’s never met a woman like Nimue before and has trouble accepting that this beautiful, ethereal woman could possibly be a warrior—let alone one of Rome’s deadliest enemies. I had a lot of fun tying these two up in knots!

In Tainted I mixed things up a bit, and have a Roman noblewoman, Antonia, who falls for tough Celt warrior, Gawain. Antonia’s had a hell of a life with her brutal former husband, and arrives in Britannia determined to make a new start without the complication of a man telling her what to do. Then she meets Gawain, and makes the decision to embark on a brief liaison. Gawain, of course, is more than happy to accommodate her since he doesn’t do commitment and is trying to stir rebellion against the Roman Legions. But as I’m an evil author and love torturing my hero and heroine, nothing goes according to their plans and they fall in love. Rome is not amused!

I also notice that we’ve got a novella called Bloodlust Denied coming up from you soon. Wow, I’ll be wallowing in delicious Christina Phillips/Ashcroft lusciousness. Can you tell us about this novella?

I’ve always wanted to write a lush Regency Romance and a few years ago an idea came to me of a tortured Regency duke who had lost the only woman he had ever loved many years before. Well, once I started thinking more about the story I realised this was no ordinary duke and he hadn’t lost his beloved a handful of years ago. No, my twisted imagination turned my sexy duke into a very bad ass vampire indeed, and any sense of morality he had once possessed had died along with his wife over two thousand years before. In Bloodlust Denied Alexius meets Morana and despite himself is fascinated by the way she shows no fear of him. Unfortunately for Alexius, Morana is no ordinary human either – she’s a Maiden of Death, pledged to rid the world of vampires.

 

Thanks, Christina! Wow, lots happening with you.

 

I have a copy of ARCHANGEL OF MERCY and some gorgeous swag to give away to one lucky commenter. The contest is open internationally to wherever The Book Depository delivers. Just leave a comment on the post or, since it’s nearly Christmas (or The End of Days if we’re going with the Mayans!) let me know who you would love to find stuffed in your stocking on 25th December (or, alternatively, who would you love to find brandishing awesome weapons in order to fight the Apocalypse!)

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Be sure to come back to the Lair on December 13 when we kick off the annual 12 BANDITA DAYS OF CHRISTMASPrizes and recipes every day!! Roosters. Starbucks goodies. Books. Dragons. Books. Cookies. Godiva. Books!! (By Banditas and friends like Dianna Love, Miranda Neville, Annie West, Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, JD Tyler, Deb Marlowe, Marquita Valentine, Addison Fox, Lydia Dare and many more!) You know you want the cookies, for sure, so come home to the Lair for the Holidays! Who knows, you might win something, and you’ll be guaranteed to have fun!!

Maggie Robinson Has Got a Little List!

With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan!

I have for you today the very model of a modern romance novelist, Maggie Robinson.

OK, fine, I’ll forget the G&S from now on. I promise, under threat of the snicker snee.

Maggie is a lair favorite and goodness me, she’s been busy lately. She has a whole stack of great things to tell us about, including her latest release LORD GRAY’S LIST, the first instalment in the London List series. This sounds absolutely luscious.

You can read reviews and an excerpt here: http://www.maggierobinson.net/books/lord-grays-list/

Maggie, absolutely lovely to have you back again! We love having you visit us. Congratulations on LORD GRAY’S LIST, the first book in the London List series released by Kensington Brava on 30th October. Can you tell us about this story?

I’m so happy to be back! The Banditas throw the best parties. LGL is a war of wits and will between Evangeline Ramsey, a strong, independent businesswoman, and Lord Benton Gray, the man who inadvertently broke her heart years ago. Here’s a little blurb:

Sometimes scandal comes looking for you…

Every Tuesday, The London List lands on the city’s fashionable doorsteps. Valets and viscounts alike can’t wait to read all the news that’s not fit to print. When Benton Gray’s scandals appear week after week on the front page, he’s forced to take desperate measures—he’ll make a gentleman’s agreement to buy the newspaper and shut it down. But when he meets the person responsible for reporting the gossip, Ben finds he’s no gentleman. It’s his lost love Evangeline Ramsey, wearing trousers and wielding a poison pen!

Sounds like great fun! What were the inspirations behind this book?

I saw an article on the illustrated blog “Missed Connections,” followed shortly thereafter by vintage lovelorn ads. I dreamed up a Regency-era newspaper that would be a clearinghouse for needy people looking for love and jobs, financed by the scandal on the front page. Originally, the book was called “Lord Craig’s List”, but the marketing department was a little leery of that, LOL.

Well, gray is definitely the shade du jour! The London List sounds like a delicious source of scandal. Can you tell us about the list and also about the series as a whole?

The paper has all the lists of anything one might need, naughty or nice. In the next book, February’s e-book exclusive CAPTAIN DURANT’S COUNTESS, Captain Durant reports for a very unusual job with scandalous consequences. The last book, LADY ANNE’S LOVER (August) has Lady Anne going undercover as a housekeeper who burns everything but the hero’s heart.

Love the titles. I notice that you’ve sold a series set in Edwardian London to Berkley Sensation for release next year. Yay, more Maggie Robinsons to read. Can you tell us about the Ladies Unlaced books?

Oh, I’m so excited about these. I’ve been dragged into the twentieth century, LOL. There are cars! The Evensong Agency finds a temporary husband for the heiress of IN THE ARMS OF THE HEIRESS in the first book (July), and Mrs. Evensong finds her own in the second (November). Yep. That’s four books next year. People are going to get sick of me.

Never! Maggie, you write a sizzling hot love scene. Can you give us any insight in how you go about creating these steamy encounters? 

My agent kept writing “more” in red when she looked over my manuscripts, so you can blame her. I used to be satisfied with a sentence or two. I always think my scenes are much more mental than physical, so what do I know? I had one reviewer rate the heat level as “YIKES!” which I thought was a little bit of an exaggeration. ;)

Personally, I often skim those long, long sex scenes in a book, and have to gird my own loins to write one. Speaking of which, here’s my question: Are you a skimmer or do you savor every thrust, lunge and lick? Who has written the hottest scene you’ve read? (I need inspiration.)

One commenter will get a copy of LORD GRAY’S LIST, or any book from my backlist if you’ve been wonderful enough to have already bought a copy.

Get commenting, people! This book sounds delicious!

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Be sure to come back to the Lair on December 13 when we kick off the annual 12 BANDITA DAYS OF CHRISTMAS! Prizes and recipes every day!! Roosters. Starbucks goodies. Books. Dragons. Books. Cookies. Godiva. Books!! (By Banditas and friends like Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, JD Tyler, Deb Marlowe, and many more!) You know you want the cookies, for sure, so come home to the Lair for the Holidays! Who knows, you might win something, and you’ll be guaranteed to have fun!!

Maggie Robinson

by Anna Campbell

I’m delighted to bring back to the lair for your reading pleasure Maggie
Robinson. Maggie is here to tell us about her latest historical romance MASTER OF SIN.

This book has been garnering rave reviews everywhere. For example, Romantic Times Book Reviews said:

Robinson crafts an intelligent, powerful, emotional, highly sensual love story with a damaged hero and an exceptional heroine, moving the story beyond the typical and into the unconventional. Readers will become so invested in the characters that the fast pace and heated sexual tension only add to the delight. Fine storytelling.

You can find out more about Maggie and her books at her website: www.maggierobinson.net

Maggie, welcome back to the lair! Congratulations on the release of your latest book MASTER OF SIN, the last in the Courtesan Court series. Can you tell us about this story?

I’m thrilled to be back and rubbing shoulders, etc. with the lair’s cabana boys again! The blurb-writers at Kensington are much better at this than I am, so I’ll just cheat and quote the back of the book:

Andrew Rossiter has used his gorgeous body and angelic face for all they’re worth—shocking the proper, seducing the willing, and pleasuring the wealthy. But with a tiny son depending on him for rescue, suddenly discretion is far more important than desire. He’ll have to bury his past quench his desires—fast. And he’ll have to find somewhere his deliciously filthy reputation hasn’t yet reached…

Miss Gemma Peartree seems like a plain, virginal governess—or so she hopes. True, she has a sharp wit and sharper tongue, but handsome Mr. Ross wouldn’t notice Gemma herself. Or so she hopes. No matter how many sparks fly between them, she has too much to hide to catch his eye. But with the storms of a Scottish winter driving them together, it will be hard to keep her secrets. Keeping her hands to herself might prove entirely impossible…

What were the inspirations behind this book?

Andrew appeared as a quasi-villain in MISTRESS BY MARRIAGE, and I just couldn’t get rid of him. I sent him to Italy on the page, but he kept shouting from afar. I’d given him sooo much baggage I couldn’t imagine turning him into a hero, but he was insistent. That makes me sound kind of crazy, but there you go—I wanted to give him his own HEA after torturing him so viciously.

Can you tell us about the Courtesan Court series as a whole? Will you be revisiting this scandalous address in the future?

The series is loosely connected by the un-mistressy women who accidentally wind up living on Jane Street, fictional home to the most exclusive, expensive courtesans in London. I revisit it very briefly (but pivotally—is that a word?) in December’s LORD GREY’S LIST.

I see on your website that you’ve recently sold CAPTAIN DURANT’S COUNTESS to Kensington Brava. Can you tell us about this book?

I’m excited to have a digital-first book fall between LORD GREY’S LIST and LADY ANNE’S LOVER. This is my new series, the London List trilogy, where a newspaper, kind of a combination Craigslist/National Inquirer, links the characters. In CDC, a broke ex-Army officer responds to a most unusual advertisement. He’s desperate for a job, but the requirements for this one may prove to be his undoing.

Ooh, sounds intriguing! What’s next for you?

I’m working on a super-secret project, hopefully another trilogy. It involves research, which I love. Amazon is delivering to me daily.

I’m in awe of your productivity. Do you have any hints on time management for us (um, me?)?

Ha. Well, it helps that my four kids are grown and gone, and I quit my library clerk job when the high school girls wanted to read my books, LOL. My husband is extremely supportive and does almost all the cooking except for holidays, when I still put my arm into the turkey’s nether regions. I get up very early and write until late morning, unwashed and unbrushed, aiming for at least 1000 words a day. In the afternoons I try to be normal, but it’s not working.

And can you give us a taster of your delicious new romance MASTER OF SIN?

Here’s the first paragraph:

Andrew Rossiter was on the cusp of reformation. He could taste it, sweet as the wine Giulietta had passed him at dessert from their picnic basket, bold as the wind that whipped the sails of their little yacht, tempting as the green coast of England would be at this moment. Alas, he was cruising the Mediterranean, the city of Savona in the distance, still steeped in sin, and rather bored with it. The only saving grace was the sight of his little son drowsing on a velvet tufted cushion, his small fist curled under a distinctive Rossiter chin–square, dimpled and determined.

Thanks, Maggie. You have many fingers in many pies right now! Great to get your update and good luck with MASTER OF SIN! Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation going?

Anna is famous for her tortured heroes, and I hope Andrew Rossiter can hang out with them. Who is your favorite reformed master of sin in fact or fiction? One commenter will win a signed copy of MASTER OF SIN!

Pay Attention

by Cassondra Murray

I’m about to tell you a secret.

It’s the secret, I think, to why we fall in love with heroes, both fictional and real. I think it’s the secret to romance.

We’re approaching Valentine’s Day, and to illustrate the secret, I’m going to tell you about one of my best romantic gifts ever. It was from my husband, a few years after we were married. Now let me preface it by saying he’d made his share of blunders in previous years. There was the anniversary when he gave me a rug.

Yes, a rug.

Poor fellow. He’s learned a lot since then.

But this best year ever, he left me a note that asked if I would pick up something for him at an office downtown at 11:00 in the morning. I went. The receptionist handed me a wrapped box with my name on it.

Inside was a set of lingerie from Victoria’s Secret and a note that told me to go to a florist around the corner. The florist gave me a bouquet of gorgeous wildflowers and a note that told me to go to my chiropractor’s office. The chiropractor’s receptionist gave me another box with another gift and another note. That one sent me next door to the massage therapist for an hour-long massage.

V-day. The day that men dread. The one day of the year specifically dedicated to that thing most men find completely baffling—romance.

But if you think about it, romance, in all of its forms, boils down to one thing. When we’re dating and falling in love, this one thing comes naturally. Men do it with great focus, and to that focus, if there’s any chemistry at all, women respond with intense passion. It’s irresistible, you see, this one thing that is ultimately romantic.

I’ve already told you what it is.

The one thing guaranteed to bring about romance is….paying attention.

Once we’re in a committed relationship we tend to forget that. We begin, perhaps, to take one another for granted a bit. Or maybe we get too busy. Life gets in the way. Maybe we get lazy.

This next week, roses will go for three times the normal price because demand is so high. But honestly, is it really ROSES we want? I don’t think so, though they are lovely and wonderful to receive. It’s not chocolate either, though that never hurts. Jewelry isn’t a bad substitute, but that’s what it is—that’s what they all are–substitutes. Tokens. Material attempts to say what we feel–or at least what we want to feel.

Paying attention is how we’ll know what to give to our beloved on the day set aside for romance. Paying attention is what will make the gift work, because really, the true gift–the gift only the loved one can give– is the attention. The tokens we give—the dinner out, the evening in, the meal cooked and served—that’s the external indicator. It’s very telling that people run
around like mad at the last minute looking for something….ANYTHING….to give to their love for Valentine’s Day. Those people haven’t paid attention, and often the gift will be nice but will….well…it’ll ring just a tad hollow.

Because it’s the attention we crave. That undivided attention we got from our mate when we first discovered one another. That belief that we were truly interesting enough to arouse deep passion in another person. Having someone know us at a level far deeper than surface. To be known—to be seen—and to be loved and appreciated. That’s addictive. We want it, and we never stop wanting it.

I’ll remember that scavenger hunt forever because he cared enough to pay attention to what would make a wonderful day for me, when I hadn’t even asked for anything. Wasn’t expecting anything. It was stunning, and I was speechless.


Here’s that ad again….the one I used in my Killer Kisses blog last fall. Really now, does this guy look like he’s thinking about the football playoffs?

Sometimes it comes down to something as simple as turning off the tv. If you’re a guy, the first time you kissed her, I’m betting you didn’t have one eye on CNN.

Ladies, The first time he kissed you, I bet you weren’t worried about who’d get off the island on Lost. The first time, I bet you were looking at, and thinking about, each other.

All those novels we Banditas write–and the ones we ALL devour as though they were the very air we breathe? Those heroes tend to be…well…focused…on the heroine. And I think part of the fix we get from the stories is living out the fantasy of having that undivided attention many of us haven’t experienced since we were dating. Based on the entertainment men frequently choose, I have to wonder if part of the fix for them is also the fantasy of having someone who’s not just hot, but hot specifically for them. Maybe, maybe not.

Could that be the secret to rekindling that first-time feeling? Remembering to really look at one another again, inside and out? Stopping long enough to pay attention?

So how about you, Bandita friends? What’s the most romantic thing someone’s done for you?

Have you done something incredibly romantic for someone else—something he or she LOVED?

What sets your senses tingling and captures your focus like nothing else?

What’s your idea of an incredibly romantic, but real-life, here-and-now possible date? And what about it makes it romantic? Is it the setting? Is it the person you’re with?

How do you recapture the romance in the craziness of modern life?

When was the last time you, or your significant other really, truly paid attention?

Is there a character in a novel that stops your heart and takes your breath because…..he’s paying attention?

Denise Rossetti Swings by the Lair

Christine Wells writes: Denise Rossetti may not own bucket boots but she has a killer pair of red CFM heels–you can see them on her website. This Australian author of erotic romance and sizzling fantasy romance has written two novels and two novellas for Ellora’s Cave and has just scored an impressive 4 book deal with Berkley for her scorching fantasy romance series.

Her latest release is her novella, Coming on Strong, in an Avon Red anthology called A Red Hot New Year. Denise also happens to be my critique partner and an all-round wonderful woman. So please welcome her with a hearty Bandita cheer!

A Red Hot New Year, out November 27 from Avon Red

4.5 Stars from Romantic Times

This New Year’s Eve, turn up the heat . . .
At the stroke of midnight a new year begins—a time for passionate resolutions and brand-new pleasures; a time to let go of past restraints and embrace new sensual boundaries. Four masterful writers offer a quartet of boldly erotic tales guaranteed to heat up those winter nights.

Coming on Strong by Denise Rossetti
Sam Jones’s laid-back charm and Aussie drawl have never failed him – until he meets Gina McBride. The little Yank has to be the most skittish woman he’s ever met, and the most intriguing. Making love with her is an experience that makes Sam’s eyes roll back in his head, but she won’t do it with the light on. Then there’s that sexy little growl in the back of her throat when she comes, and she’s so strong…

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Visit Denise’s website to win an ARC of A Red Hot New Year! Contest closes 30th November.
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Finding Your Own True North by Denise Rossetti

I’m absolutely fascinated by the creative process – the way it’s so different for each of us, the utter joy and satisfaction it can bring. For me, writing is the most creative thing I do. I can knit very well indeed, sew a little, even garden, but that’s it. And in these areas, I’m a craftsperson, not an original artist.

But writing? Ah, that’s something wonderfully organic. The stories well up from somewhere inside me, no planning, no outlines with dot points. Mind you, it’s never easy – never! Dorothy Parker said, “I hate writing, but I love having written.” I don’t hate it, not at all, but heavens it’s difficult! I have to dig deep for every word. Plod, plod, plod, word after word, sentence after sentence, until The End. And I purely adore having written!

A few weeks ago, I was a tutor in an online workshop for Romance Writers of Australia. Romance 101 Bootcamp. There were other authors lending their considerable skills to character development, pacing, conflict. I was asked to do a session about the Writer’s Life. We talked about the Writer’s Compass and its four Points – Priorities, Personalities, Place and Space, and Permissions.

The participants impressed me with their clear-eyed courage as they did the soul-searching required to examine the place of creativity in their lives, each one looking for her own True North. And then I was awed all over again as they formed resolutions, declared them and followed up a week later by reporting on the changes they’d made. They were inspirational.

BTW, I warned them I’d probably come over like a Bossy Big Sister, or a noisy little cattle dog, nipping at their heels. The metaphors are a trifle mixed, but you get the idea, I’m sure! So here we go…

If you’re honest and brave, you can assess the PRIORITIES in your life relative to each other – family, work, finances, health, spirituality, community – and then add in your creative pursuit, whatever it may be. It’s that thing you do for yourself alone, the thing that gives you the gift of joy. Music, Art, Craft, Writing, Dance, Acting, Gardening. Whatever.

You will know too, how the PERSONALITIES around you usually react. Some will be indifferent, others will support you magnificently in your quest for creativity, and some – well, they won’t. Or can’t.

But what many women find difficult, I think, is giving themselves the PERMISSIONS they need. Permission to do what, you may ask? Ah well, you’re the only one who knows the answer to that.

Permission to sit quietly, all alone, staring into space? Permission not to be perfect, to hit an off-note on the piano, to write a sloppy draft? Permission to buy takeout for dinner? Permission to let someone else comfort a crying child? That’s a hard one, isn’t it?

All too often, sheer desperation compels us to carve out our own time and space, but without giving ourselves real Permission to do so. The result?

Guilt. Or exhaustion, because you’ve had to steal your “me-time” from sleep.

I’m a terrible mother/wife/partner/colleague. I’m so selfish. What about dinner/ballet practice/career/laundry? They’ll never understand. I wish I hadn’t… Sound familiar? Are you already saying to yourself, yeah sure, giving myself Permission sounds good, but I can’t because… Fill in the dots.

What makes your Priorities and Permissions worth less than anyone else’s?

It was years ago that I first read Virginia’s Woolf’s A Room of Her Own, and it made a tremendous impression on me. Such irony and intelligence, so exquisitely written. Back in 1928, Woolf pointed out that in order to write, a woman must have five hundred a year and a room of her own. I don’t think too much has changed, do you? (You can get it here for free – It’s short. Read it.)

Yes, financial independence is easier to come by, it’s even expected of women these days, but that room of one’s own… This is what I’ve called PLACE AND SPACE, because physical place and psychological/emotional space are intertwined. Of the two, mind-space is the most vital, because not everyone has the luxury of a study to themselves. I don’t. I share with two people I love beyond measure – my husband and my daughter – but it bothered me so much that I finally bought an office divider from a second hand store and set up my own space behind it. As a side benefit, I no longer have that prickly, vulnerable sensation in the nape of my neck as I sit with my back to the door. You can see my Place and Space here. You can also see that tidiness is not something I value. *smile*

Paige Cuccaro runs a wonderful site called The Cave – with photos of writers’ Places and Spaces. It runs from Susan Elizabeth Phillips to Laurell K. Hamilton to Lisa Kleypas to Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer. Fascinating and revealing all at once!

So, think about the Writer’s Compass and its four Points. I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially on Permissions and on Place and Space. And please, you don’t have to be a writer to join in!

What have you given yourself Permission to do that has pointed you at your personal True North, given you the joy and the frustrations of the creative process ? How have you set up your Place and Space? Alternatively, what have you found most difficult and what is your solution?

Three lucky readers who comment will win signed over-sized postcards of my Ellora’s Cave covers. And don’t forget the contest to win a signed ARC of A Red Hot New Year on my website!

And in the interests of Full Disclosure, I should tell you that my children are old enough to be independent, My Beloved does the shopping and the cooking and we have a cleaning lady. But I do have a day job and I’m still Officer In Charge of the cat’s litter box.

Colette Gale Fires up the Phantom

Interviewed by Anna Campbell

ANNA: Colette, thank you so much for coming over to party with the Banditas today. I can’t wait to hear about your new release Unmasqued, an erotic re-telling of The Phantom of the Opera. What an intiguing premise! But first I’d like to ask you about your writing history. Give us the goss on Colette Gale before she was published!
COLETTE: I’m ecstatic to be here! The Banditas have really made quite a name for themselves in such a short time–I’m completely impressed. Thanks so much for having me. Okay, the writing history. Well, Colette Gale is actually the pen name of my alter ego who writes historical paranormals, and who has been a guest here on the Banditas in the past. But Unmasqued is Colette’s first book, and we won’t talk about that other girl today, other than that she is multi-published. :-)
ANNA: I’m so looking forward to reading it and finding how you deal with the sexual tension between the members of the central triangle in the story. Can you tell us about Unmasqued?

COLETTE: Well, the story came about because of my dissatisfaction with the ending of Lloyd Webber’s musical version of The Phantom of the Opera. I mean, he made the Phantom passionate and attractive, and showed us how much he and Christine loved each other–and even more so in the film version–and yet he has Christine leave the love of her life to run off with that milquetoast Raoul at the end! Quelle horreur!

(I must confess that I’ve seen the Phantom play many times, and that when the movie came out, I had this hope that maybe Lloyd Webber had tweaked it enough for it to end the way I thought it should have ended. But no.)

So I set about writing my version of the story, explaining why Christine left with Raoul, forsaking her passion for Erik (the Phantom). It started off being just a fun project for my alter ego, when she was between other books (those historical paranormals), but when she finished the book, her agent wanted to see it–and then she sold it.

The book is an erotic novel–not an erotic romance. There is a line between the two, in my opinion, and although Christine and Erik do have their happy ending, as one would expect in an erotic romance, and they do not have intercourse with anyone other than each other, the book leans more toward erotic fiction. In fact, when I sold this book, my editor and I–and all of her colleagues–had long discussions about where this book belonged.

Did it belong as an erotic romance (yes, because there’s a love story at its heart and a happy ending), or a straight erotica (yes, because the sexual situations are more like what one would find in that type of novel)? It really is sort of smack dab between them.

The book is definitely not for everyone, because it’s not merely explicit sex scenes between the main characters. The settings, the motivations, the situations, are all important to the story, yet they’re sexual and erotic in nature.

(I talk more about my opinions on erotic romance v. erotica, and erotica v. porn during this interview at Bam’s site.)

ANNA: I gather you’re drawn to darker heroes (I’m sure that’s one of the reasons we get on so well!). Tell us about your Phantom, and how he’s different from Leroux’s original creation, and Lloyd Webber’s as well.
COLETTE: Oh, Erik is such a tortured hero–in all three versions! Leroux created a horrible, murderous genius, Lloyd Webber romanticized him, and I took it a few steps further and made him complete hero material. Hot, possessive (in a good way), honorable, and madly, madly in love with our heroine.

He is probably the most tortured hero that I’ve ever written. I loved doing it, because I knew from the beginning how much he loved Christine, and how much of a risk it was for him to reveal himself to her. He’d watched her from the shadows, gotten to know her and to love her through his tutoring–but to actually talk to her, touch her, be with her…he was risking everything. So at first, his fear is obvious through his need to control the situation, to keep her from really seeing and knowing him–because once she did, he feared her rejection. Yet, he can’t stay away from her.

Yet, Christine was never afraid of him. Ever (well, except when she takes off his mask, but that’s well into the book). She recognizes their connection, their kinship, their passion, and she wants to get to know him.

ANNA: Your byline on your website is “seducing the classics” which I think is brilliant. I notice your next book is a re-telling of The Count of Monte Cristo story. Can you tell us a little more about this?
COLETTE: Yes, my next book will be released in May and it’s titled MASTER: An Erotic Novel of The Count of Monte Cristo. I loved writing this book more than I thought possible. The book by Dumas is fabulous–if unbelievably complicated and long–and it was a challenge to streamline it enough to focus on the love story between Edmond Dantes and Mercedes Herrera while explaining what else is going on behind the scenes, but I had a blast doing it.

For those who aren’t familiar with the story, here’s the back cover copy for the new book:

Betrayed by his friends, Edmond Dantes spent fourteen years imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Now, miraculously freed, he returns as the rich and powerful Count of Monte Cristo, seeking revenge on the four men who sent him to jail…and determined to have the woman he has never been able to forget.

Mercedes Herrera was devastated when the man she loved disappeared and was never heard from again. After searching for Edmond, she had no choice but to marry one of his friends…and for the past fourteen years, she’s lived in an empty, abusive marriage, mourning the loss of her love.

When the Count of Monte Cristo arrives in Paris to put his plan of vengeance into play, Mercedes alone knows Edmond Dantes has returned. But this harsh, angry man sends chills down her spine even as his very touch reminds her of the passion they once shared. She realizes soon enough that his plan to avenge himself on the men who incarcerated him also includes another sort of revenge…on her.

From the seaside town of Marseille…to the exotic caves of Monte Cristo Isle…to the glittering ballrooms of Paris unfolds an erotic battle of wills and unquenched passion between one of literature’s most famous pairs of star-crossed lovers.

As I said, it was so much fun to write. And for those who are familiar with the story, I’ll also divulge that Haydee has her own subplot, and so do Valentine and Maximilien.

In comparison to Unmasqued, I would say Master is a little less edgy and dark, though no less erotic. However, my goal when I write erotica is to arouse and titillate, as well as to tell a story, and I try to keep to the promise of at least one orgasm (the characters, not the reader!) per chapter–and I’d say that aside of one chapter in Unmasqued and one in Master, that pretty much holds true.
ANNA: Do you have any more classics in your sights? Why do you think people keep returning again and again to these archetypal stories?
COLETTE: I’m currently working on another proposal to my editor, and we have several ideas in mind for future classics that are just begging to be seduced. :-) I think the reason people like these kinds of stories, and like to be able to get more explicit, is because often the setting and situation are inherently sexy–but at the time they were written, sexual explicitness wasn’t exactly mainstream.

For example, in the original Count of Monte Cristo, there is a scene in what is described as Aladdin’s Cave (which is on the Isle of Monte Cristo) in which not only does the eating of hashish occur, but also an orgy. Yeah. But it’s only alluded to, not described in detail. (I, uh, took care of that little detail when I wrote my version.) And there’s lesbianism in the book as well, and a whole host of sexual innuendo–in Monte Cristo as well as in the original Phantom novel (don’t try and tell me that Christine spent a week with the Phantom and nothing happened. Uh, no.), and other classics.

Now we have the ability to tell the stories that have always been behind and beneath the words in all their glorious detail.

Having said that, I know that I have certain literary favorites that I would hate for anyone to mess with in this way (Little House on the Prairie, LIttle Women, Pride & Prejudice)…and there are people who feel the same way about Phantom and Monte Cristo, and others. And that’s okay. To each his own!
ANNA: Who are some of your favorite writers?
COLETTE: As far as erotic fiction goes, I’ve been influenced by Bertrice Small’s Skye O’Malley books, The Story of O, Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty series, and Madeline Oh’s PowerExchange.
ANNA: Can you give us some insight into your creative process?
COLETTE: I have no idea where I’m going most of the time, until I get there. :-) I write basically one draft, cleaning and revising as I go.
QUESTIONS:
Do you think there’s a difference between erotic romance and erotica? Do you have a favorite classic that you wish had gone further? Have you found yourself wanting to rewrite a book or a movie’s ending? Which movies? Which books? Why?
WIN:
Colette would love to give one of our honorary Banditas a copy of her new erotic novel Unmasqued. A comment will be chosen at random on Wednesday, 8th August. Good luck!