How Reviews Spurred Lily Harlem On to Write Stockholm Surrender
It’s a pleasure to welcome the lovely Lily Harlem back to A Hopeful Romantic with the story behind her sizzling novel, Stockholm Surrender. Welcome Lily!
Be they good or bad reviews are part of the territory when you’re an author. I am happy to say that the vast majority of reviews for my books are positive and it completely thrills me to know readers have enjoyed my stories.
One book however seemed to create a bit of a Marmite effect. People either loved it or hated it. It is a free short read that came out at Ellora’s Cave a couple of years ago called Stockholm Seduction. It is about a Penny Tipping, the British Foreign Ministers daughter, enjoying a gap year in Australia. She is kidnapped by a hunky surfer and…
Actually it’s probably easier for you to read the blurb –
I was having a fabulous extended gap year in Oz. Sun, sea, sand and seriously hot surfers rolling in on every wave. Mmm, what could possibly be better?
But then I was taken…taken against my will. Stolen like a prized object. I was tied up, held for ransom. I didn’t know if I would survive, if I would walk away alive. And then, to top it all off, I was tortured in the sweetest, most delicious, most sensual way imaginable.
That was when I realized my fun down under had only just begun.
To be honest I didn’t think much more about this story after it was released. It was just a taster for people to hear my voice and sample my style without having to pay for it.
Then about a year ago I was wandering around Amazon looking for something to read when I came across reviews for Stockholm Seduction. I was surprised to find that it either had the ick factor or the ‘more’ factor. Here are a couple of reader comments from either side of that spectrum.
“A woman is kidnapped, and decides to have sex with her captor? The message in this short story is disturbing on so many levels.”
“I was panting to know what happened when he found her next! I’ve read romantic short stories before, and they always left me hollow, but Lily’s left me craving. I would definitely recommend this e-book if you want a quick read with steamy scenes, hot men, and women that know what they want and are not ashamed to admit it. I get excited shivers thinking what the author could do with a full length book!”
This got me really thinking and I headed over to Goodreads to see what readers had said there. The overwhelming comments were to the effect of “this story is too short” and “where is the rest?”
So me being me, I got my naughty mind whirring and over the next few weeks waited to see if the characters would talk to me again. I wanted desperately to oblige the people who had taken the time to comment on the book and give them the rest of the novel.
Luckily Penny and Ty were desperate to have their steamy tale told and soon it was evolving in my mind and flowing from my fingertips at a rate of knots.
But like all novels there are stumbling blocks. In this case I had the basics of the plot already written, not only that those facts were published, out there in the world. There was absolutely nothing I could do to undo anything. The delete button was non-existent for that crucial first part of the novel.
So what I had was Ty Winters trying to free his friend James Hill from Thai prison by holding Penny Tipping to ransom. He wanted a better human rights lawyer and her influential father to help release him from a harsh sentence for a minor crime. From the word go Penny and Ty have a very strong attraction to one another that Ty in particular struggles with – that was never part of his kidnapping plan. What I did do in the original short story that helped immensely though was leave it on a Terminator-type line “I’ll be back.” So that was a nice springboard to leap off of in chapter one.
One of the reasons I enjoyed writing this so much was because I got to send Ty and Penny to Bangkok one of my most favourite cities. The colours, the vibrancy, the smells and the people really flooded my head again as I wrote this section of the story and I hope my love of Bangkok comes across in my descriptions.
James was an interesting character, who when I wrote the initial short story wasn’t someone I thought I would ever meet. He was just a name plucked out of the air and a reason for Ty to take Penny. But then, writing Stockholm Surrender, I had to meet him. I was very glad I did, he was quite a challenge. Why? Because I needed him to be a suitable best mate for adrenaline-junkie Ty, which meant he too had to have a streak of wildness about him, but at the same time having a death penalty hanging over his head and living in hell for so long had to have some effect on him. By that I mean physically, emotionally and sexually. Luckily Penny was incredibly empathetic to his vulnerability and masculinity and the scenes with James flowed deliciously onto the page.
So I guess, now that the novel to accompany Stockholm Seduction is out there I have to say a big thank you to everyone who asked for more from Penny and Ty. Because if they hadn’t taken the time to poke me into action this story would never have been written. And that folks, is the story behind the story.
Thanks so much for having me today KD, its always fun to come and hang out on your blog. Below are more details for Stockholm Surrender.
My soul was in turmoil. Ty Winters had not only kidnapped me in Oz, my heartstoppingly gorgeous surfer had also stoked my darkest desires, bringing all my fantasies to the surface. So Oxford wasn’t going well. Until, that is, he creeped from the shadows—desperate, sexy, dangerous and wanting a piece of me, literally!
He teased me with a taste of his carnal skills, leaving me burning with frustration then forced to stand by as he fought for his beliefs using my lust-addled body as his most powerful weapon.
Oh, my kidnapper knew just how to get what he wanted, giving me just what I needed, while hiding our relationship from the British foreign minister and police. Because sometimes two people are meant to be, even in the most unconventional circumstances and twisted situations. We could fight the world, but we couldn’t fight our passion.
Reader Advisory: This book contains a steamy scene where Ty shares Penny with his best mate—lucky girl!
Excerpt from Stockholm Surrender
With my window letting in the sounds of the city, I spread my notes on my bed and tapped away on my netbook. The history of law was everyone’s most hated subject, but I knew the sooner I tackled it the better. Leaving it to the last minute would be crazy.
Eventually though, as darkness claimed the hall grounds and the lampposts flicked on, I decided to call it a day, or rather a night. Saved my work and flopped back on the bed. I would just stretch out for ten minutes before I got up to change and get ready for sleep.
But sleep wouldn’t wait, and before I knew it I felt myself drifting. Falling into a dark, dreamy world. My eyes were heavy, my breathing shallow. I let myself go—float into a world of thoughts and nothingness, white clouds and black sleep.
“Shh!” Ty said, his eyes wide and his nose practically touching mine.
Hastily, I nodded. Oh my god. Was I dreaming or was Ty really here, lying on the bed with me?
He hesitated then lifted his gloved hand from my mouth just a fraction. “You are going to keep quiet, aren’t you?”
“Yes, of course,” I whispered.
This was no dream.
“Good, ’cause I don’t want that copper who’s stalking you to come crashing in.”
“He won’t. I promise.”
Ty lifted up, reached over and shut the window. With a snap, he drew the curtains then pulled off his gloves.
“Is that how you got in?” I asked.
“Really, up the tree, and…” Something was different. I realized what it was. “Why has the lamppost gone off?”
“I tripped it, didn’t want anyone seeing me breaking into the foreign minister’s daughter’s bedroom.” He grinned naughtily.
“And did they?”
“No, I shouldn’t think so, not at three in the morning.”
“Three?” I glanced at my bedside clock. Sure enough, it was three a.m.
He chuckled and lay back down next to me. “I guess you got carried away with your studies. I used to be like that.”
“Yeah, don’t look so shocked, I have a first in sports science.” He touched his finger to the bald patch of my scalp and a rush of heated desire poured through me. “I know all about the human body,” he whispered, “and exactly what it needs to stay healthy and happy and…satisfied.”
Unable to suppress a whimper of pure lust, I slid my hand over his shoulders and tugged him closer. “I wish you would damn well give me some of the satisfaction I need.”
“You’re always so demanding, and so…damn…horny.” He touched his lips to mine, soft and gentle, his tongue peeking into my mouth and past my teeth to tangle and turn and explore. “Oh Jesus, Penny, you drive me crazy,” he murmured. “You do know that, don’t you?”
“Good, because that’s how you make me feel.”
He stroked down the column of my neck, dipping his fingertip into the hollow of my throat and down my sternum. “I want you so bad,” he said, “but there is something we have to do before we can be together.”
“What?” What could he possibly need to do other than put on a damn condom? His erection was growing by the second against my hip. All I needed was for him to get inside me like he had before. Thrust and grind and do that thing to my clit he was so bloody good at. Just the thought of it had me shivering.
“Wait,” he said, reaching behind himself.
Suddenly a tight strip of tape slapped over my mouth. Gone was the luscious kissing of moments ago and in its place foul plastic stickiness.
“Mmmph!” I managed, trying to project massive indignation with my eyes.
“It won’t take long.”
I tried to reach for the tape, intent on pulling it off, but he had both my hands harnessed in just one of his.
“Sit.” He pulled me upright, tugging at my sweater. “We need this off.”
His breaths were rapid and hot on my face as he moved his hands quickly and efficiently, freeing my arms from the sweater before swiftly dragging it over my head.
“Ah fuck, white,” he said, staring at my pretty lace bra. It had delicate scallop details over the rise of my small, pert breasts and a tiny pale blue flower in the center between the cups. “White is my very favorite.” His voice was almost wistful.
“Mmmph!” I mumbled again. Why did I have this tape on? I said I wouldn’t shout for Roger. Why didn’t he believe me?
“Shh, shh, just for a minute, baby, just for a couple of minutes.” He stood, still holding my wrists tight, and nudged the straight-backed chair out from under my desk with his foot. “Up, come on, sit on here, quickly.” He glanced at the door.
As soon as I was on the chair he was behind me, wrapping what felt like cord around my wrists. I yanked but the binding was tight and attached me to the rungs.
“It’s okay,” he soothed by my ear, his breath warm and tickly. “It’s okay.” He slid his hand over my bare shoulder, tracing the strap of my bra right down to the cup.
I arched my spine, needing his touch so desperately. Ty in my fantasies would have his hands all over me by now. Ty in my fantasies would already be ravishing me until we were both desperately trying to muffle our screams and panting for breath.
But this wasn’t fantasy, this was real. Ty was really here, really tying me up again. And for god’s sake, why was this stuff on my mouth?
He poked his fingers into my bra and tweaked my nipple. I whimpered and fluttered my eyes shut. His caress sent sinful licks of wantonness raging though me.
“Damn it, Ty,” he muttered. “Think of James.” His body heat left me and the next thing I knew he was pulling off my jeans, exposing my tiny white thong. “Ah, fucking hell, what are you trying to do to me?” he groaned, wearing a very real expression of pain.
I couldn’t answer.
He reached back onto the bed for a small, brown leather rucksack. He delved into it and pulled out a newspaper and a camera.
“It’s yesterday’s,” he said. “But your father will still get the message.” He tilted his head and smirked lopsidedly. “The message that I can get to you whenever I want, wherever I want, bodyguard or no bodyguard.” Carefully he laid the newspaper on my lap. It was sort of folded up onto my belly so that the headline was visible. He took a step back and held up a small, silver digital camera. “I would say smile,” he said with a shrug, “but I guess it’s not appropriate.”
That was the goddamn understatement of the year. Dad was really going to flip at this one. Me in my underwear, gagged, tied to a chair in my room with Roger snoozing outside, just a few feet away. The shit was really going to hit the fan. Big-time.
I heard the camera click once then Ty was back next to me. He folded up the paper and shoved it along with the camera into his bag.
“Mmmph,” I said, shifting on the chair.
“I’m sorry, so sorry,” he said, bending over me and peeling off the tape. It tugged and stung as it pulled my skin. “Baby, I’m sorry, I just needed to do that.” He shoved the tape into his bag too.
“For fuck’s sake,” I hissed. “That stuff is foul and what the hell are you playing at?”
He stooped and pressed a soft kiss to my lips. “Sorry, I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”
I allowed my mouth to become pliant and open, let him in to search and gently tease my tongue with his in slow, languid movements. He tasted divine, like fresh water, a hint of vanilla and turned-on man. As he kissed me reverently, indulgently, my irritation with him dissolved as though it were a spoonful of sugar in hot tea. This was what I’d been waiting for, this moment with Ty. The man I shouldn’t want but did. The man whose tenacity and loyalty I admired even though everyone else thought he was a brutish thug who should be hung, drawn and quartered.
“Ty,” I gasped. “Please, untie me.”
“Mmm, in a minute. I kinda like having you at my mercy.”
He smiled, slow and sexy. “It gives me all kinds of dirty ideas.”
Stockholm Seduction – FREE – http://www.jasminejade.com/p-8620-stockholm-seduction.aspx
Stockholm Surrender – http://www.jasminejade.com/p-9743-stockholm-surrender.aspx
About Lily Harlem
Lily Harlem lives in the UK with a workaholic hunk, a crazy cat and an old dog. With a desk overlooking farmland, she allows her imagination to run free and revels in being able to use the written word as an outlet for her creativity. She won the Lovehoney award for erotic fiction in 2009 and has been writing non-stop ever since and is now multi-published by both US and UK houses as well as featuring in numerous anthologies.
Where you can fine Lily Harlem
Facebook author page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lily-Harlem-author-page/200182030094568