The Book Launch Extravaganza!

I’ve been anticipating the big launch of The Pet Shop forever now, and when Maxim Jakubowski and I decided to share the launch party — with him launching his exciting new novel, Ekaterina and the Night, it was a great opportunity for me to work with the King of the Erotic Thriller. We couldn’t be more different in our writing styles, and that made for intriguing possibilities.

I was actually feeling a little smug when launch day dawned bright and sunny. When I launched The Initiation of Ms Holly this time last year, I was a frightened, uncertain newbie. The Pet Shop was book number two. I was an old hand at this launch business now. I was ready for it!

There’s a price to pay for smugness. There was a broken printer, there were trains running late, there was Lucy Felthouse and the fabulous Ian stuck in traffic on the M1, there were windows shattering in the train Kay Jaybee was on, and there were problems with getting enough books for the launch.

Okay, most people think I’m the Queen of Calm (rolling on the floor laughing uncontrollably) but by the time we got to Sh! the calm had cracked, and poor Raymond, the Birthday Boy, was having to deal with The Wicked Witch of the West.

But Sh! is an oasis of love and calm if ever there was one. There were hugs all around, a nice cup of coffee, and Renee’s peaceful influence assuring me that all would be well. And I totally trust Renee!

Over at the Bluu Bar next door, where the pre-party was due to kick off, Mel Jones was already anticipating the thirsty convergence with a bottle of wine, several glasses and more reassuring hugs. While Maxim and I briefly rehearsed the reading from the prologue of The Pet Shop that we were doing together, Kay Jaybee showed up with Rebecca Bond, and more reassurance that all would be well.

Back over at Sh!, Sh! Sweeties extraordinaire, Jo Wierzbicka and Sarah Berry greeted us with hugs and congratulations, and I felt like I’d come home. The pink fizz was already flowing and the guests milled about amid riding crops and collars and vibes and corsetry. Lexie Bay and her lovely husband, Doug, arrived. In the Fab Footwear Parade, Lexie was the clear winner with ‘Sh! pink’ heels sporting a whole garden of tiny leather flowers. The competition was stiff with Jo’s ‘there’s no place like home’ ruby slippers. Not to be completely left out, I wore the leopard print Pet shoes, which bit my feet rather sharply when I moved just right. I suppose that was appropriate under the circumstances.

I was elated to finally meet Marilyn Jaye Lewis, who was here visiting from the States and will be doing a reading at the Last Tuesday Society on Friday. And it was great to have Rubyyy Jones in attendance, looking rather Pet-like herself in black and leopard print.

The party started with Maxim and me doing a joint reading of the prologue of The Pet Shop, as ‘The Boss’ and his secretary, Anne O’Kelly argue about the appropriate gift to give employee, Stella James, for a job well done. It was the perfect lead-in to my introduction of Tino, the Pet, who is possibly my favourite of all the characters I’ve ever created.

Before Maxim read, we had one of three giveaways that were spread throughout the evening. Maxim gave away two copies of the many fabulous anthologies he has edited, and I gave away two Holly/Pets coffee mugs. But the biggie, and much coveted grand prize, courtesy of Xcite Books, was a great gift package complete with gift vouchers from Sh!

Then it was time for the Queen of Raunchy Poetry, Mel Jones, to titillate us all with extraordinary filthy verse. And she did NOT disappoint. Later Mel’s partner in poetry crime, Alan Wolfson also read some steamy kissing poetry. (Alan was also in the running for the Fab Footwear Award with his truly exquisite amethyst shoes) These two lovelies co-host the Kiss The Sky poetry event every other Wednesday at the Kiss The Sky Bar in Hampstead. I have a special place in my heart for KTS because I lost my ‘appreciation for performance poetry’ virginity there. I could listen and watch for hours! Here all this time I thought I was a Philistine.

After poetry, Maxim took the stage (or in this case the pink setae) and read the gripping ending of his novel, Ekaterina and the Night. I have to admit, I would have thought giving away the ending would be a bad idea, but in this case, Maxim knew exactly what he was doing (no surprise there). This eerie, sexy, moving ending definitely made me want to read the rest of the book and find out how Maxim GOT us to such an exquisite finale.

Having finally made it through the traffic, Lucy and Ian arrived at Sh! with scrummy cupcakes in tow — none of which survived the resulting feeding frenzy. Once they had arrived, it felt like the party could begin. As the evening continued, there were questions and answers, book signings, snatches of fantastic conversation with lots of people I wish I’d had a lot more time with. There was more poetry, there were more readings and there was lots of milling around upstairs with the fabulous vibes, corsetry and books. I noticed more than a few people leaving with large pink bags of Sh! yumminess.

I thought by my second launch I’d be able to manage my time a little better, but not so. I’d had visions of photo ops with all my favourite people and quiet conversations happening in front of the collar and cuff display. What was I thinking? My lovely husband, Raymond celebrated his birthday by taking pictures and never missing an opportunity to promote me. Bless him! But what I really needed was to be TWO of me.  That way, one of me could just take in the whole experience as an observer, taking note of the things I missed because I was signing books or being so excited to see someone I hadn’t seen for a while or answering questions. I would love to have taken in the nuances, experienced the whole wild amazing evening a little less fleetingly and held it all a little more clearly in my overwhelmed memory. Because it was wonderful! My book, my baby is out there for all the world to see! Maybe I’m not as much of an old hand at this as I thought, because Wow! Okay. Just wow!

Afterward there was a very late dinner, with nine of us squeezed together in the basement of Pizza Express reliving the events of the evening and catching up with old friends. Then it was back onto the streets amid the clubbers and smokers milling outside and the street venders selling sausages and grilled onions to those with the late-night munchies. We said our good-byes near Old Street Station to friends who had to catch the tube or bus or a taxi. Kay Jaybee, Rebecca Bond, Raymond and I had hotel rooms for the night, so it was back to the all-night hotel bar for a night cap amid a raucous hen party, all bedecked  in sparkly headbands and surly looking blokes who had clearly taken advantage of the bar’s five for £10 beer special. Then, at last, it was off to bed.

I had the pleasure of having breakfast at the Breakfast Club near Hoxton Square with Kay Jaybee and Rebecca Bond the next morning. We talked writing and more writing over eggs and bacon, pancakes and hash browns and fresh squeezed orange juice. And lots of coffee! Amid the clatter of breakfast dishes and the buzz of lazy Saturday morning conversation all around us, we talked of our plans and schemed our future take-over of the world. It was the perfect way to top off a great launch.

I can’t think of the launch without feeling very grateful for all the support and good will that I felt. Thanks to Maxim Jakubowski for being a great ‘partner in crime.’ Thanks to all the people who wished me well via Facebook, Twitter, email and snail mail. Thanks to everyone who came to the launch party, and especially to those who braved traffic, exploding train windows and other hazards of long journeys to get there. Thanks to Mel Jones and Alan Wolfson for sharing their deliciously raunchy poetry. Thanks to Xcite Books for furnishing the food, drinks and give away. And a very special thanks, once again to the incomparable Sh! Ladiez! There aren’t enough hugs and kisses to express my gratitude to you sweeties!

Dozing on the train, in the unseasonably warm sunlight on the way home, I relived the highlights of the fantastic Book Launch Extravaganza once again and tried to remember more of the bright, bubbly details that rushed by so quickly. I imagine I’ll be sifting through all that lovely excitement in my head for days to come. A book launch at Sh! is most definitely the gift that keeps on giving.


‘Weekend at Wilderhope Manor’ Launches Today

Congratulations to Lucy Felthouse on the launch of her hot new story, Weekend at Wilderhope Manor. Here’s a steamy peek.



When Stephanie and Jenny go to a Murder Mystery Halloween weekend at Wilderhope Manor, they’re expecting fun and games. But following creaky floorboards, spooky noises and an alarming encounter in the Manor’s grounds, the girls begin to wonder if there’s more to Wilderhope Manor than meets the eye. As they find frequent comfort in one another’s arms – and their bed – will the girls discover what’s causing the bumps in the night, or will they run scared?


The car trundled up the long driveway, the crunching of gravel beneath tyres the only sound as Stephanie and her girlfriend, Jenny, peered out of the windows at their surroundings.

Even at dusk the tree-lined driveway was impressive with perfectly maintained parkland, spanning for acres on either side of it. As Stephanie steered the Fiesta around a bend in the track, they both gasped. Their destination, Wilderhope Manor, had come into view and it was stunning. The Tudor style property was huge, with no less than three frontages visible from where they were. Chimneys with intricately built patterns jutted into the darkening sky, with tangles of ivy climbing parts of the manor, giving the place an appearance that was both beautiful and foreboding.

Presently, the driveway opened out into a gravelled area, which as far as Stephanie could tell, doubled as a car park for the weekend. Stephanie manoeuvred into a spot between two vehicles and killed the engine. As she turned to Jenny, she jumped, startled. Her girlfriend had leaned in close, making a scary face with her hands mimicking claws.

“Are you ready to be scared out of your wits, young lady?” Jenny rasped, wiggling her eyebrows and fingers theatrically.

Stephanie shoved her playfully, laughing. “Come on, you silly cow. It’s a murder mystery weekend, not a monster hunt. There will be no ghosts, ghouls or vampires involved.”

Stephanie got out of the car and closed the door. She’d already popped open the boot and started unloading their bags before Jenny appeared alongside her, pouting petulantly.

“But it’s Halloween tomorrow,” Jenny insisted. “Anything could happen. The veil between the living and dead will be at its thinnest, and this place is meant to be swarming with ghosts.”

“If you say so, sweetheart,” she replied, rolling her eyes. She was used to Jenny’s crazy beliefs by now. “Grab your bags and let’s get inside. It’s cold. You got the tickets?”

Jenny nodded, brandishing her handbag in response. Jenny picked up her overnight bag as Stephanie slammed the boot lid before locking the car, then followed her toward the grand entrance to Wilderhope Manor.

* * *

A little while later, they were installed in their room. They’d each been handed a “Welcome Pack” by the staff member who had attended to them at Reception, which consisted of their itinerary and instructions for the weekend.

As they unpacked, she voiced one of the thoughts that had run through her head. “Have you ever noticed how places never bat an eye at two girls sharing a room, and yet, if it’s two guys, they automatically assume they’re gay?”

“They’ll soon change their tune when they see your outfit for tonight!” Jenny replied, grinning cheekily at her. “It screams ‘lesbian’ with every stitch!”

“Whatever do you mean, you saucy wench? Someone with girl parts dressing as a distinguished gentleman does not a lesbian make.”

“True, but I wonder what it’ll do to you? Perhaps it’ll work in reverse and turn you straight!”

Buy Links:


Lucy is a graduate of the University of Derby, where she studied Creative Writing. During her first year, she was dared to write an erotic story – so she did. It went down a storm and she’s never looked back. Lucy has had stories published by Cleis Press, Noble Romance, Ravenous Romance, Summerhouse Publishing, Sweetmeats Press and Xcite Books. She is also the editor of Uniform Behaviour and Seducing the Myth. Find out more at You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.


Maxim Jakubowski Shares How NOT to Write a Sex Scene

I’m very excited to welcome The King of the Erotic Thriller,  Maxim Jakubowski, who has stopped by on his blog tour for his fantastic new novel, Ekaterina and the Night. Maxim is going to share very intriguing details about how NOT to write a sex scene.

I have the honour of partying with Maxim this Friday night in London in the big launch extravaganza at Sh! Hoxton. Ekaterina and Pets will be launching together, and there’ll be double the fun! You won’t want to miss it.

Welcome, Maxim! It’s fantastic to have you on A Hopeful Romantic!


I don’t plan my novels, let alone my short stories. They all begin with the germ of an idea, a title and an opening line, and then it’s in the hands of fate and my imagination as I improvise my way down the sometimes rocky and winding road, serenaded by the flashing cursor on my screen. A bit like a journey into the dark, although I sometimes have a glimpse of the finishing line, a sentence, a feeling, something I’m moving towards.

Sometimes, I take up a challenge when a friendly editor asks me to contribute to a themed anthology: hotel rooms, nudity, particular cities, vampires, voyeurism, a historical setting (the latter almost defeated me and I came up with a tale featuring Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, unable to go back any further through time…); it gives the writing journey a focus of sorts. But if the theme doesn’t connect with me, I’m unable to conjure anything up: fairy tales, female domination, spanking, bondage are just not ‘me’ somehow and I have regularly drawn blanks when it comes to those themes (and books).

In essence, everything I write is erotic. Even when I used to, so many years ago, write science fiction and fantasy and later crime thrillers, I was often criticised for introducing sexual scenes critics and readers often objected to. I just couldn’t see what the fuss was all about. After all, even in a genre setting, you have to come up with credible characters, men and women made of flesh and words, not just cardboard cut-outs. And what do men and women do in real life, they have relationships, contact, sex. So why should that important component in their lives be automatically excluded from the story, even more so when the sex became not just an act of titillation for the reader but an integral part of the plot insofar as it determined the characters’ psychology and action?

Eventually, I just gave up and pared my writing down of genre tropes and stuck to what I knew, enjoyed and wrote best: the erotic. Even today my crime thrillers are openly labelled as erotic and no doubt the strapline on my tombstone or my urn will read “by the King of the Erotic Thriller’ (the Times or Time Out, take your choice, I can’t remember who used the expression first)…

But even today, every morning while I stare at the white screen and see my story progress in leaps and stutters I always feel surprisingly wary when the moment comes for my characters to intersect, for sexuality to rear its head; the dreaded sex scene (although some of my critics would question that, insofar as they see my books and stories as an unending, continuous sex scene…). How am I going to describe the waltz of bodies, shedding clothes, embraces, sounds, colours, feelings yet again and do it well, play the right note. After all, I’ve written and published 11 novels and almost a 100 short stories and here I am having to uncover yet another variation, not repeat myself, another way of ordering the words in the right order to evoke something so wonderful and private and universal without repeating myself? Will I manage it again? My initial instinct is negative, fearful I am that I will this time come up with cliches and, worse, vulgarity. It’s my daily Rubicon.

So, I close my eyes, I evoke personal memories, the way my heart and my genitalia and the pit of my stomach once felt and, like a miracle, the words always come. OK, so some times the same words become over-employed (but that can always be put right in the later editorial revisions/process) but once the feeling overtakes me, the sex scene just flows, I’m floating on air again, sometimes I even shamefully must confess I get hard (an odd form of narcissim, I know). In most cases, I initially feel it’s going to be tough to extend the scene over more than a couple of paragraphs but invariably I end up up with a whole page or more and have to cut things short for fear of the sex scene taking on too much importance in the general balance of the story or the chapter.

In every sex scene I seem to pen, I imagine myself, like a deep sea diver, in the mind and skin of the protagonists. Whether they be male or female. I feel what they feel, I hurt when they hurt, I come when they come (metaphorically-speaking), I sigh when they sigh, my breath accelerates or slows down as theirs does. I am making love with myself (spare me the joke…), I’m fucking and being fucked, I am in love.

It works for me, that’s all I can say.

It feels real, and that is of paramount importance; makes it believable instead of yet another set of hydraulics and cliches, or wishful thinking. And the truth I have tried to inject into the sex scene illuminates the characters and becomes an integral part of the plot.

In my new novel, EKATERINA AND THE NIGHT, I have an ageing English film critic (did I mention I run an annual film festival, in civilian life?), a young Italian trainee journalist, an immortal female killer, the cult, French writer Boris Vian, a black jazz musician high on drugs, and sundry other men and women waltzing through the whirlpools of lust and love. And every time their clothes come off (or even if they don’t, let’s not be so literal…) I was them, fucking and being fucked, touched by the divine presence of sex, but I hope that when you read the book, you will not see me, unshaven and unkempt typing at my keyboard in a room overlooking a large green London garden with squirrels and pigeons on the lawn, but you will see Ekaterina, Emma and Alex Ballard, and they will have real faces and bodies in your mind. If they do, then I will have succeeded in bringing them to life in their sex scenes and between the lines of the novel.


Lolita meets Story of O, another memorable tale of love, sex and feelings from ‘the King of the erotic thriller’

When Ekaterina meets Alexander a shockingly sexy but tender romance develops.

She is a young Italian trainee journalist, who dreams of wild sexual adventures. He is the older Englishman who she believes can fulfill her fantasies. When Ekaterina is sent to interview the ageing writer Alexander in London, she is blinded by his charm and experience. Their relationship explodes in a sensual orgy, which defies society’s acceptance.

When a mysterious angel of death who calls herself Emma enters their lives, Ekaterina and Alexander know their days together are numbered.

A shocking climax set in Venice in winter brings the three protagonists together.

A tale of sex and tenderness that ranks alongside Jakubowski classic The State of Montana.


MAXIM JAKUBOWSKI worked for many years in book publishing as an editor (including titles by William Golding, Peter Ackroyd, Oliver Stone, Michael Moorcock, Peter Ustinov, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Paul Ableman, Sophie Grigson, Marc Behm, Cornell Woolrich, etc…) and launched the Murder One Bookshop, which he owned and ran for over 20 years. He now writes, edits and translates full-time in London.
Courtesy of Xcite Books, three lucky winners can get their hands on a copy of Ekaterina and the Night in their choice of paperback or digital format. (International entries welcome)

Simply leave a comment on this post to win. Be sure to check out the rest of the posts in the tour, because the more comments you make, the more chance you have of winning! Go here to see the blog tour schedule.

PLEASE leave your email address in the body of the comment. No email address = no entry. Winners will be drawn and contacted on the week ending 11th November 2011.

Ekaterina and the Night buy links:

Paperback (available in the US slightly later than the UK)



In London with Stella

Less than a week until my Pets party hearty in London! And just in case there is ANYONE left on either side of the pond who hasn’t yet heard The big launch date for The Pet Shop is October 14th, 7:00 pm at Sh! Hoxton. And I won’t be throwing the party alone this year. Maxim Jakubowski will be partying with me as he launches his new erotic novel, Ekaterina and the Night. He’ll be talking more about Ekaterina on Wednesday when he stops by on his blog tour, so you won’t want to miss that.

Last week, I gave you excerpts and a tour of the secret world of The Pet Shop, the place where Tino feels most at home. This week I’m taking you to our workaholic, Stella’s London, which is the perfect place to end The Pet Shop Tour, just in time for the big launch party!


The Gift

‘You can’t be serious,’ O’Kelly said, dropping her fountain pen to bounce on the polished wood floor and leave a spatter of black before she could manage to corral it. ‘You can’t really mean to give Stella James Tino for the whole weekend. Wouldn’t a nice gift voucher from Selfridges (find out details) be more appropriate?’

The Boss offered her a tolerant smile. ‘Didn’t she tell you she thought an occasional shag wasn’t too much to ask for doing such a demanding job?’

‘Yes, but she was joking, I’m sure she never meant that she expected –’

‘Well, she’s right. It isn’t too much to ask. She’s a very dedicated employee.’

‘Yes but –’

‘Hasn’t she met and surpassed our expectations since she’s joined Strigida?’

‘Yes, but — ’

‘You said she wasn’t in a relationship, right? And we would all agree she doesn’t have time for sex.’ He didn’t wait for her to respond. Instead he heaved a sigh and shook his head. ‘Sadly that’s the way of the world these days. All work and no play. Very sad. Very sad indeed.’

‘Yes, Sir. It is sad, but, Sir, Tino?’

‘Yes Tino.’

‘For the whole weekend?’

‘Yes, for the whole weekend, O’Kelly, from Friday night till Sunday evening. Every last second of it.’

O’Kelly sighed. ‘It’s not that the woman doesn’t deserve a weekend of blow-your-brains-out sex. God knows she does, but…’

‘But what, O’Kelly. Get to the point.’

O’Kelly squirmed uncomfortably in her seat. She found the whole thing a bit embarrassing, actually. ‘Well, sir, she’s just so..’

‘So what, O’Kelly?’

‘She’s just so tight laced, so prim and proper. I don’t know, all business. I can’t picture her being the kind who could appreciate or even be able to handle a weekend with Tino.’

‘Prim and proper? Really? You just told me she was joking about the company providing sex as a fringe benefit for its overworked employees.’

Stella Learns about The Pet Shop

She helped herself to a glass and found the gin. ‘Remember I told you my therapist said that with my relationship issues, before I got involved with a man, I should start with a plant?’

Stella nodded, ‘And if you didn’t kill the plant, work your way up to a gold fish, than maybe a cat or dog. Yeah, I remember. So?’

Anne plopped an ice cube in her glass. ‘What if I don’t like goldfish? And maybe I’m allergic to cats and I’m afraid of dogs? Well…’ She nodded toward the lounge where Tino was.

‘What? Is the RSPCA adopting out men these days?’

‘Even better. There’s a site called The Pet Shop. They set people up with Pets, and we’re not talking cats and dogs here, Stell. It’s temporary, only for a night, a weekend at the most.’

‘You’re kidding, right?’

‘Hon, I wouldn’t joke about something as yummy as Tino.’ She offered a wicked giggle. ‘Anyway, if I had to venture a guess, I’d say having a Pet occasionally would probably suit people like us much better than having a relationship. Our conversation the other day made me think a Pet might be exactly what you need.’

Stella had lamented to Anne that with the demands of her job, she had no time for a relationship, but someone working as hard as she did surely deserved a good shag once in awhile. They had been walking along the Serpentine at the time. Anne had laughed around the mango ice lolly she had been practically fellating. Stella had assumed that meant she had realized it was a joke.

Stella grabbed the gin bottle and poured herself a double.

Falling for Tino

She got out of bed and carefully slipped into the blue silk robe that hung over the chair next to the window, tying the sash loosely around her waist, then she tiptoed to the door, placed her ear against it. Somewhere deep in the city she could hear a siren wailing, but otherwise the flat was silent. Slowly, carefully, she opened the door, and caught her breath. There on the floor in the moonlight in front of her door lay Tino, curled around himself, his breath, the deep, even breathing of sleep. Very carefully she lifted her foot to step over him. She had just planted her foot safely on the other side of him, when he jerked awake and sat up suddenly causing her to lose her balance and land squarely astraddle him. He let out a deep grunt at the impact and she yelped and would have tumbled backward if he hadn’t caught her and pulled her to him, protecting her from the impact of the hard-wood floor with his body, his delicious, hard body.

‘Tino, I’m sorry,’ she gasped. ‘I didn’t know you were there. Did I hurt you? Oh god, I hope you’re okay. Too late she realized her robe had fallen open and the Pet’s gaze was locked on her breasts.

Rescue from a Near Assault

Then Tino bounded to Stella’s side, encircled her in a strong arm and half dragged half carried her away from the alley. He had her safely settled into a cab headed back to her flat before it hit her that in the midst of all the chaos Tino hadn’t uttered a single word.

Then the shakes took over. She tightened her grip around him and buried her face against his chest relishing the strong steady beat of his heart next to her cheek. He lay a warm kiss on the top of her head and pulled her closer.

The ride home didn’t take long. There wasn’t much traffic. Tino held her possessively as they climbed the stairs. Not entirely sure her shaky legs would hold her upright, she was thankful for his support. Inside the flat, she made straight for the kitchen and a G and T, then decided to skip the T.

She plopped down on the floor next to him slopping her gin. He licked the droplets from her fingers, and his eyes locked on her. ‘You need something stronger than water too, after tonight, don’t you, sweetheart?’ He continued to lick her fingers, then flicked his tongue up the edge of the glass still holding her gaze. She pressed it to his lips, tipped, and he drank. He drank until it was gone.

She stood long enough to grab the bottle off the counter and refill the glass, then dropped down next to him, sipping, and alternately holding the drink for him. ‘I know it’s against the rules. But I think our little outing calls for an exception to those rules. Just this once, don’t you? She sat the glass down and pulled him close until his large body curled around her. ‘I’m so sorry for what happened, Tino. But I’m so thankful you were there for me. I can’t even think of what might have happened if you hadn’t been.’





The Story Behind The Story: Taken By Surprise by Nichelle Gregory

The lovely Nichelle Gregory is my guest today on A Hopeful Romantic, and she’s sharing the story behind her sizzling paranormal romance, Taken by Surprise. Welcome, Nichelle!


Every story I’ve ever written has a backstory and Taken By Surprise is no different. This steamy erotic paranormal romance was originally penned for a submission call. I knew my heroine’s name would be Zori from the start. I’d had this name rattling around in my head for awhile to use. The name Zori has always evoked an image of a gorgeous, exotic female in my mind.

When I started working on Taken By Surprise, I knew I needed a unique heroine name that was memorable with a totally feminine feel. Finally, I was working on the right story and the right character for the name!

The Greek translation for Zori is: “Golden Dawn.” Beautiful, no? And so fitting for my wickedly beautiful heroine!

So, I had a name, but what exactly was Zori? I knew my hero would be a werewolf and I needed Zori to be just as fearsome. She had to be a supernatural being, but which one? I wanted to pick a female creature to write about that hadn’t been overly done. I wracked my brain for the perfectly fierce heroine. She had to be tough, yet sexy, scary, yet completely relatable to female readers.

And then it hit me! I would incorporate my love for Greek mythology and select one of my fave mythological creatures to base Zori after! Once I knew what Zori was, the rest of the story flowed. Taken By Surprise was one of those tales that literally wrote itself! The submission call I was crafting this tale for only wanted short stories of 5,000 words or less. Taken By Surprise ended up being just short of 4,000 words.

I was very pleased with how my edgy erotic tale came together. It was the first story in which my heroine actually died in the end! I submitted it and waited to hear if it would be selected for inclusion in the anthology.

Insert a *sigh* here.

My story wasn’t selected. I was a little bummed, okay, a lot bummed, but I’d told myself if my story wasn’t selected, I’d flesh out the rest it. I gave myself a new deadline and challenged myself in expanding the original work.

No longer needing it to be a dark erotic tale, I had to reshape the ending. We can’t have the heroine dying in an erotic romance! I took my time adding in parts, filling in scenes and making the story and characters pop with energy. The finished story ended up being almost 17,000 words and was even better than the original!

Taken By Surprise surprised me! I wasn’t certain I could truly broaden the story without disturbing the feel of it and I definitely didn’t expect it to be as long as it ended up being.

Lesson learned? Don’t let a rejection make you stop believing in your story. Do take another look at it, rework it if necessary, but pass it on to someone else who might just treasure your tale as much as you do!


Zori revels in the control she exerts over the opposite sex; no man has ever challenged her in the bedroom or out…until she meets Greyson. 

She’s beautiful, intelligent and sometimes deadly to the men who enter her bedroom. For Zori, voracious appetites for sex and food reign supreme. She’s never known rejection, romance or love…her life and heart has always been her own. The moment she sets eyes on Greyson, Zori makes it her quest to have him in her bed, but she’s finally met her match. Can two lovers with secrets face the truth and trust their hearts?


“Can I buy you a drink?”

“No, thanks.” Zori barely flicked a glance towards the handsome blond ogling her body as she walked by. Men could be so pathetic. She looked across the sunken dance floor to the bar against the back wall to see her target tilt back a bottle of beer. Her talons scrapped against the smooth floor as she waded through sweaty dancers along the wall to reach the other side of the club. As she approached, he turned around and their eyes met. A zing of anticipation raced through her blood as she moved next to him at the bar.

The thrill of the hunt always excited her.

She leaned against the counter, fully aware of his dark gaze running over her body as she pretended to inspect the bottles of alcohol on display in front of her. With a casual toss of her ebony tresses, she turned her face to see arresting brown eyes staring at her with interest. She moved a little closer to him with a practiced shy smile. “I’m Zori.”

“Greyson.” He offered a slight grin before taking another sip of his drink.
Up close, her guy was taller and bigger than she first estimated which pleased her. She felt sorry for the expensive suit straining to give way to the hard muscles concealed underneath. “Happy Halloween.”

Greyson lifted an eyebrow. “Back at you.”

The sexy smile curving his full lips tempted her to pounce on him right then and there, witnesses be damned.

“Are you here alone?”

He turned his body towards her, his deep voice carrying easily over the loud music.



His eyes moved from her folded wings down over the rest of her body.

Zori smiled, pleased, even though she’d heard enough compliments to last a lifetime. “Dance with me?” She began to move her hips to the seductive rhythmic pull of the DJ’s house mix which was tripling her desire to get him alone.

Greyson looked down at her feathered feet. “Can you dance in those?” His gaze lingered on her sharp claws.

Zori laughed. “C’mon.” She led him to the dance area and was even more impressed to discover he was a great dancer.

He pulled her in tight as she closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of his strong body moving against her own. She wrapped her arms around the thick column of his neck and drew in a tempting whiff of his sexy cologne. Dancing was nirvana. This was the one time she allowed her male partners to take the lead which Greyson did so masterfully. Their bodies swayed and dipped to the music as one and Zori enjoyed every minute of it.

“Can I buy you a drink?” Greyson asked several songs later when both of them were breathless and laughing.


She took his hand as he manoeuvred them back to the bar. He stood out with his good looks and in his fine suit and females noticed him, eyeballed him, to Zori’s annoyance. She flashed one chick who had the audacity to step in the way of his path a venomous look that clearly said: He’s all mine, lady.

And she could hardly wait.


Taken By Surprise is available now with Total E-Bound Publishing!


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Author Bio:

Nichelle Gregory has been in love with books and writing since middle school. A lover of the arts, she enjoys anything that embraces the creative nature within us all. Bringing believable characters to life that thrill and excite her readers is a challenge that continues to push Nichelle. She loves creating stories involving super sexy alpha heroes with divine heroines in magical, exotic, and fantastic scenarios. So, gone on . . . Indulge your secret fetishes and desires in one of my simply sexy stories!   Visit her website and blog


Thanks, Nichelle! As a lover of Greek mythology, and a lover of hot romance, I’d say you have a scorcher on your hands!

© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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