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Shanna Germain Shares The Story Behind the Story of Her Novella, Safe Haven

The Story Behind The Story

It’s my pleasure to welcome Shanna Germain to a Hopeful Romantic to talk about her fabulous novella, Safe Haven, which is in Xcite’s One Long Hot Summer anthology. Another one of the lovely Secret Library volumes.

 

The idea behind Safe Haven was one I’d been thinking about for a long time, but just hadn’t found the time and impetus for. I grew up on a farm where we were always rescuing animals – or having rescue animals brought to us – and that seemed like the perfect backdrop for two people to meet and fall in lust and love. And it also seemed like the kind of woman who ran a rescue farm would be the kind of woman who was a perfect heroine. She’d have to be strong and independent, but also big-hearted and determined. Of course, I also wanted to give a huge helping of unmet lust, just to make sure things really sparked.

When The Secret Library said they were looking for novellas with strong women and hot men, I just knew that it was time to find the characters to populate the steamy idea I’d been carrying around.

I found the perfect image of Kallie right away – a natural beauty with intense eyes who loved animals and had this crazy, world-changing laugh and smile. Gauntlet – the puppy who features predominantly in the story – was also easy to find. I knew he needed to have one white paw and those big puppy eyes that just melt your heart.

It took me much longer to conceptualize Darrin, the alpha male hero type. Most of the guys I write don’t really fit that mold; I like to create characters that are a little bit broken, often a little socially awkward, but who really do it for the right partner. So I wanted to find a way to combine the two elements – a man who was clearly an alpha male in one situation, but who was really soft and vulnerable in another. When I found an image of a dark-haired, charismatic man holding a camera, I realized that was the key to Darrin’s character. Behind the camera, he could be the strong silent type. In front of it, he could be something else entirely. And sexually? Sexually, he could be the kind of man who was happy to take control, and just as happy to give it up—to the right woman.

There were sparks from the first meeting (as you can read below), but by the end, things got even hotter—and sweeter—than I expected. I always love when that happens.

One Long Hot SummerExcerpt

It wasn’t one of the Eric’s hired hands. And it wasn’t, at least as far as Kallie could tell, a new rescue animal. And if it was fresh hell, it was incredibly sexy fresh hell in jeans and black boots. A fresh hell of a tall, curly haired man pushing a motorcycle up her gravel drive. As he walked, the horses were following him, keeping as close to the fence line as they could, tossing their heads and snorting at him.

A second later, she realised they weren’t snorting at the man. They were snorting at the wriggling bundle of fur that was bounding up the driveway after him. Great. So it was a random drop off. She wanted to stop them right there and tell them that Safe Haven was full. She didn’t have time or room for any more strays. Not even cute strays. Especially not cute strays. She had enough trouble on her hands.

But her voice, which had so recently been crooning at a huge horse, now seemed stuck in her throat.

‘Hey there!’ the man called as he got closer. He raised one hand off the motorcycle in something like a wave. He wore a thick silver ring on his middle finger, and her eyes were drawn first to its glint, and then to his long fingers and strong wrists, then to the length of his bare arm, the lightly tanned bicep that was offset by the blue fabric of his T-shirt. ‘Are you Kallie?’

She started to say no, even though she knew it wouldn’t do any good; someone had obviously sent him, even though everyone knew Safe Haven didn’t rescue dogs or cats, and it definitely didn’t rescue beautiful, curly haired men with motorcycles and fantastic smiles. But she started to deny her birth name anyway, because this was trouble walking up her driveway. She could feel it. Even the horses could feel it.

Then he lifted up his sunglasses, pushing them up on his head and any words she might have said completely disappeared.

He had blue eyes. Not just blue eyes, but poppy-blue eyes. Fall-into-a-dream blue eyes. Sky on the first day of summer blue. Almost surreal in their bright gaze, surrounded by small wrinkles as he gazed at her. She heard her own sharp intake of breath and felt stupid for its sound in the mostly quiet day.

‘Kallie, right?’ he asked.

She nodded. Look away from his eyes, she thought. Just … look anywhere else. But she couldn’t. They were so blue, threaded with silver that shone funny in the sunlight.

‘Oh, good,’ he said. He looked away – she was so grateful for being released from his gaze that she could hear her heart thumping in her chest – and kicked his bike stand to settle it on the gravel. Then, he bent down and picked up the wriggling bundle of fur that had been stalking his boot laces.

In contrast to the man’s intense blue eyes, the puppy’s curious brown gaze was a hundred times easier to take. His tongue lolling to the side, he settled into the man’s arms and gave a happy yip. The puppy licked his fingers, and the man gave a quick, delighted laugh.

Kallie’s heart did something funny in her chest. She stuck her hand in her pocket, realised she still had half a carrot in there, and pulled her hand out quickly, trying to wipe the wet off on her jeans without being obvious.

The man didn’t seem to notice her movements. He reached for the puppy’s single white paw and made it move up and down in the semblance of a wave.

‘Hi, I’m Gauntlet,’ the man said, his voice a growled approximation of a puppy voice. Kallie choked back laughter, and ended up just coughing in the process.

‘Are you OK?’

‘Fine,’ she said after a moment, although she clearly wasn’t. She was the world’s biggest dork. She cleared her throat, and finally found her voice. ‘But … Gauntlet?’

The man looked at the puppy in his arms as though he’d just seen him for the first time. Then the man smiled. Dimples. Wrinkles. Oh sweet heaven. She was in so much trouble. She thought her libido had dried up after Erik left – an event her friend Stephanie called the Double B, “the Big Breakup” – but clearly that wasn’t true. Go back to the barn, girl. Now. Before you get yourself in more trouble.

*****

Shanna Germain claims the titles of writer, editor, leximaven, wanderluster, vorpal blonde, Schrodinger’s brat, knife licker, flower picker and tire kicker. Her poems  essays, short stories, novellas, articles and more have found homes in places like Absinthe Literary Review, Best American Erotica, Best Gay Romance, Best Lesbian Erotica, Blood Fruit: Queer Horror, Pank, Storyglossia and more. Visit her at www.shannagermain.com

BUY One Long Hot Summer: http://thesecretlibrary.co.uk/?page_id=8757

 

Jess Pritchard Tells Us More About Her Art

Some of you may remember that I had three very talented, very lovely artists volunteer to illustrate several scenes from Body Temperature and Rising at my launch party last February. I have had the fabulous Fuschia Ayling and the amazing Shay Briscoe on my site telling us about their lives as artists and what inspires them and sharing some of their work with us. Today, I am joined by the third of those artists, Jess Pritchard. Welcome Jess, and thanks for the interview.

 

KD: Have you always known you’ve wanted to be artists, Jess? What inspired the choice?

JP: Hahaha, I err, I wanted to be an English teacher… but I hated kids. I started doing art because I wasn’t allowed to watch TV on weeknights when I was young; I just sat in my room on my own. Boredom eventually took over and I started doodling in the back of my maths book etc and it went from there. Pretty boring story really…

KD: Tell us a little bit about yourselves.

JP: My full name is Jessica Christine- Anne Pritchard, I was born and raised in Walsall, Birmingham (shithole, never go) I went to a Catholic school and lived a strict and pathetic life at the hands of my deranged parents until I moved to Kingston last September for Uni, where I met the lovely couple; Fuchsia and Shay.

KD: Why did you choose to make sexuality the central theme in your artwork?

JP: Sexuality is a weird one for me, I shied away from it because my Mother was always so uncomfortably open and often disgusting when she talked about it to me, in an attempt to be nothing like my Mother I never explored it, and in a Catholic school, that is all too acceptable… But I realised what a waste it would be to keep this beautiful erotic-ness to myself and often the things I explore are the things a lot of women can relate to, it makes me feel fucking awesome.

KD:  Where do you get your inspiration?

JP: Daydreaming mostly… Oh how Arty! But yeah, daydreaming… and not being afraid to share stupid insecurities/stories/feelings I have, because those that see my work have never seen them as stupid, which is encouraging. I am a ridiculously honest person, doesn’t help with social circumstances but it makes for really confessional work, which is my favourite…

KD: What’s the hardest thing about being an artist?

JP: Trying to please everyone, and trying to find your place…

KD: Who inspires you, as an artist?

JP: The person I was/am, the people around me. I am also heavily inspired in spite of my Mother. Artists include Anslem Kiefer, Jenny Saville, Tracey Emin, Alphonse Mucha… oh so many!

KD: What’s the best thing about being an artist?

JP: Getting up in the morning and knowing what you’re doing is what you love and knowing there are absolutely no limitations at all… ever.

KD: What are you working on now?

JP: I have a few commissions on at the moment, illustrating a book for a friend of mine, never like to plan too far ahead because projects seem to jump out of nowhere and take over for a while, I’m always kept very busy 🙂

KD: Future plans?

JP: I’ll let you know. Maybe have a shitty art shop in Cornwall and be a batty old lady that wears capes and has rings on each of her fingers and only eats what she grows…

KD: Thank you, Jess! It’s been a total pleasure to have you on my site. And getting a peek at some of your wonderful work is a special treat. Best of luck on your creative journey!

 

Guest Blogger Zara Stoneley Tells Us About Her New Novel, Forfeit

I’d like to welcome Zara Stoneley to A Hopeful Romantic. Zara is stopping by on her blog tour to tell us about her new novel, Forfeit

 

Wow, it’s so exciting to be here talking about my book. I’ve only been writing erotica for a short time and I’m a bit overwhelmed that I’m now published, and talking about it with such an amazing, established author!

I thought today I’d try and give you a bit of insight into the characters in Forfeit and where they came from.

Forfeit is very much about control, and relinquishing it, and I knew from the start that the story would only work if I had a heroine who knew her mind and was normally ultra controlled. This meant I needed a hero who could be dominant, knew what he wanted, and was determined but also very understanding. And so along came Cat and Brent.

In a lot of romances, erotic and non-erotic, it is the hero who is the damaged party, who needs the understanding and the love of the heroine to mend him. But I wanted to shift the emphasis away from this kind of relationship. This story is mainly about Cat, and it is Cat who has a real issue about being in control. And if you need to be in control it’s normally for a reason….

Cat has done what a lot of people do when they’ve had bad experiences in the past – they lock them away, bottle them up, build barriers so that no-one can uncover them and they can’t happen again. She’s not a loser though, her experiences have coloured her view on life but she’s realistic, she’s an independent career girl who has dealt with the past, locked it up and thrown away the key. But by throwing away the key she’s thrown away a part of herself.

So why is Brent the man for her? Because he’s not the kind of guy who will ever settle for second best, he wants all of Cat – mind, body and soul, but he recognises that until she accepts herself she’s not going to relinquish control and let him explore those deep dark corners.

I loved writing about Cat, loved the way Brent stuck with her even though it scared him a bit too and the only reason I hated saying good bye at the end of the story was that I felt I hadn’t really told much of Brent’s story. He’s got a bad boy reputation, but once he meets Cat he can’t help caring, which proves that who you really are wins out in the end… but maybe that’s a story for another day.

Excerpt

He raised her hand to his mouth, sucked long and hard on each finger in turn. ‘But then you turned all ice maiden on me and I never could resist a challenge.’ His voice had dropped to a husky drawl, and then he smiled, a lazy smile that turned up the heat from simmer to boil.

She swallowed, trying not to react to the sensations he was driving through her body. ‘So this is just about a challenge?’

‘Oh, I think it’s gone far beyond that, don’t you, darling?’

His hand was firm under her chin, tilting her face up so she met his gaze. ‘Do you trust me?’

She nodded wordlessly, already feeling that familiar tingle running through her body at his touch. He’d left her feeling awkward at the pub, making her raise questions that shouldn’t be raised. Now the softness of his gaze, the almost tender way he touched her, sent a shiver of unease mingled with a desperate need right through her body. She’d given her body permission to enjoy the pure, unbridled lust he inspired in her, but her emotions were different, and the want that tugged at her was more than just primal right now.

‘I don’t want anything you don’t want to give, Cat.’ His voice was soft as though he knew. He leant forward, his lips skating over hers, and then he was slowly unbuttoning her top. He eased back as he let the fabric slip from her shoulders, his eyes drawing her nipples to hard peaks that scraped against the lace of her bra. Two warm hands settled on her shoulders, then ran slowly down over her breasts, splaying out to her waist as though he was sculpting the body that stood before him. She felt the sigh that eased out of her taking with it any lingering unease. She loved the touch of his hands, the dark look that clouded his eyes; wanted just to be here. Whatever the cost.

There was the softest hint of a smile on his generous mouth, a slight parting of lips that drew her finger to them. His mouth closed instantly at her touch, his teeth holding her still, his tongue caressing the fingertip for a moment, and a thrill ran through her, sending her stomach muscles into delicious spasms.

ForfeitBlurb

Cat’s life is falling apart – her boyfriend’s dumped her, she’s lost her home and she’s about to quit her job. Her boss, Brent, has a solution: become his wife for a year, to help him land a big promotion. But Cat’s had a taste of Brent before, and she knows he’s a bad boy who loves women and leaves them. So she agrees to marry him, but tells him there’s to be no sex. He adds his own condition: if she as much as talks to another man in that time, she must pay, by acting out 12 of Brent’s kinkiest sex fantasies. When she breaks the rule, the forfeit is on: but opening up and letting Brent into her heart, as well as her bed, could be the most dangerous game of all …

Available from – Xcite Books, Amazon (UK), Amazon (US), Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks and all other good e-book sellers.

About the author

Zara is a writer and lover of all things romantic, from the sensual to the sexual, who knows that naughty can be nice. She lives in the UK, but whenever she can she heads off in search of some sunshine and inspiration for her stories.

She love sexy high heels…good food….good wine….music…coffee (lots and lots of coffee)… and Italy. All things Italian from the countryside to the culture, the wine to the food…and of course the sexy men.

She’s been a consultant, a teacher, a mother, a wife, a lover… and has always been a writer and she’d love to hear from you.

Where you can find her-

Blog: http://zarastoneley.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter: @ZaraStoneley

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZaraStoneley

Email – zarastoneley@gmail.com

 

Sex in a Holy Place by Lucy Felthouse

My lovely guest today is right on schedule with her plans to conquer the world, and I can’t think of anyone who’d be better set in charge of it. Plus she writes really hot smut. Welcome, Lucy Felthouse, who is here to tell us all about sex in a holy place.

 

Writing about sex in a holy place was certainly not my intention when I started writing BITE WITH HEIGHT. The story was wholly influenced by a visit to Paris, and in particular, the Sacré-Coeur, but I wasn’t expecting my characters to get it on within the premises. It just kind of… happened.

When I visited the beautiful building seated on the highest point in Paris I was completely inspired and I knew that it would feature in my work at some point. The more I explored, the more I started getting ideas of a paranormal nature. When I actually sat down to write BITE WITH HEIGHT I didn’t know precisely where it was going to go. I just knew that my main character would share my passion for the Sacred Heart.

When the story progressed and it became apparent that my characters were going to get down and dirty on the roof of the building, I didn’t hesitate. It’s not gratuitous sex within a holy place, written purely to shock. It’s an integral part of the story – but of course it’s still naughty. And that’s why I love it – it’s actually a very sweet romantic tale (especially for me!) but there are some rather taboo elements within it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much I enjoyed writing it, especially since there’s a sequel in the works…

Here’s a little taster:

Meg laughed, tugging Grace in for another kiss. This time both girls were on the same page, and the kiss was toe-curlingly sensual. Soon, Meg pulled away, only to trail her lips down the other girl’s throat and begin planting soft kisses and trailing her tongue across the delicate skin there. Grace gasped, and tangled her fingers in Meg’s hair.

“Trust me,” Meg said softly, fearing Grace thought she was going to bite her. “I will never do anything you don’t want me to.”

“I know. It just feels damn good, that’s all. Don’t stop.”

“Oh, I have no intention of stopping.”

When Grace didn’t reply, Meg began to undo the buttons of her shirt, eventually parting the sides to reveal Grace’s body. She was so pale she could almost be a vampire herself. She had pert breasts, not overly large, nor small. Just right in fact, thought Meg as she cupped them together and trailed her tongue up the deep cleavage she’d created.

By now Grace had shrugged off her shirt and let it fall to the floor. Pushing her so the back of her knees hit the bench behind, Meg maneuvered Grace into a sitting position. Kissing down her stomach, she began to undo her jeans, then smiled into the girl’s flesh as Grace’s hips pushed towards her. From innocent to rampant in a matter of minutes. Meg loved Grace more every second.

“Shall we get these off then?” she asked, tugging at Grace’s jeans. The response came by way of some mad wriggling. The jeans joined the shirt on the floor. Grace was now clad only in her underwear – her shoes having been kicked off along with the jeans. And by God, she was stunning. With pale skin and black bra and panties, she looked quite the vamp. For a non-vamp, that is.

Meg slipped her fingers into the waistband of Grace’s panties and tugged them down, the other girl once more assisting with some jigging around. Looking up at Grace, Meg assessed her facial expression, as if looking for permission to continue. Grace nodded, almost imperceptibly. Meg needed no more prompting.

*****

Bite With Height

BITE WITH HEIGHT

When Meg spots a young woman alone in the Pigalle district of Paris at night, she’s intrigued. She has to know her story and find out why she looks so sad and alone. After introducing herself, Meg realizes that she and Grace have a lot in common. But when they decide to go and grab a drink together, they discover a mutual love that could bond them forever.

Available from:
Noble Romance
Amazon UK
Amazon US
All Romance eBooks
BookStrand
Barnes & Noble (Nook)

*****

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 and Xcite Books. She is also the editor of Uniform Behaviour and Seducing the Myth. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

The Story Behind the Story of ‘To Touch The Knight’ by Lindsay Townsend

 

I’m very happy to have Lindsay Townsend at Hopeful Romantic to share a little of the truly fascinating story behind the story of her exciting novel, To Touch The Knight. Welcome, Lindsay! Do Tell!

Thank you so much, KD, for having me as a guest on your blog today. I’m chatting a bit about my forthcoming romance, ‘To Touch The Knight’, which is due out in July – not long now! KD asked me to cover the story behind the story of ‘To Touch The Knight’, which I’m delighted to do.

In my novel, the heroine Edith presents herself as a strange princess with her own seductive costumes, language and customs. One of my inspirations for this particular desperate deception was a real-life fake from the eighteenth century, the Princess Caraboo.

This ‘princess’ was a young woman who appeared in a Gloucestershire village in 1817, dressed in unusual clothes and speaking a strange language. Upon investigation by the local magistrate, it was discovered she called herself Caraboo and later a sailor said he knew her language and translated her story. Caraboo claimed to be a princess from an island in the Indian ocean, who had escaped after being captured by pirates.

The magistrate, Stephen Worrall, and his wife, took in Princess Caraboo. She lived with them for several weeks, famous and fêted by the local community.

In reality Princess Caraboo turned out to be Mary Baker, the daughter of an English cobbler. When the hoax was revealed due to her picture in the ‘Bristol Journal’ being recognized, the Worralls arranged for Mary to leave for Philadelphia.

Mary did go to America but returned later to England and died there. It was the story of her unusual deception that inspired a 1994 film, ‘Princess Caraboo’ and partly inspired my own novel, ‘To Touch The Knight’.

Taking the story of Princess Cariboo as a starting point, I wondered how it would be if a woman felt compelled by circumstances to undertake a similar deception, in the Middle Ages and with far higher life-and-death stakes, and so Edith was born.

My hero Ranulf  also has his own inner demons to defeat through the story. He is a fighter who must come to terms with his grief at the death of his wife and also a mystery surrounding her death. When Edith and Ranulf come together, they are both in different ways lost souls who find themselves through each other. It’s set against a period of massive trauma and change, too – just after the Black Death of 1348.

The so-called ‘Black Death’  was  known during the Middle Ages as either the plague or the pestilence. It’s now believed there were two main types of plague – bubonic (in which sufferers presented with huge pus-filled tumors or buboes) and pneumonic, spread in the air, which killed in less than three days. Both struck Europe from the far east in 1347, spreading swiftly from Italian ports through Europe and arriving in Britain in 1348. There was no known cure for any of the plagues and over a third of the population died. It was a terrifying time, made worse by the common belief that the disease was a judgment of God.

It was a dreadful time, but for the survivors it was also a chance to better themselves, particularly for peasants, for farm labor was in short supply. Edith decides to use the chance in another way, in order to save herself and her fellow villagers.

Thank you so much for having me today, KD!

I’d like to leave you, if I may, with the blurb and an excerpt from the first chapter of my novel, ‘To Touch the Knight’.

Here’s the blurb:

As a pestilence sweeps medieval England, a low-born woman has only the sharpness of her wits–and the courage of her heart…

Edith of Warren Hemlet plays a dangerous game. At the knights’ tourneys across the land, among the lords and ladies, she is a strange foreign princess. But in the privacy of her tent with the other survivors of her village, she is but a smith’s widow with a silver tongue. They are well-fed, but if discovered, the punishment is death. And one knight–fierce, arrogant, and perilously appealing–is becoming far too attentive…

Sir Ranulf of Fredenwyke cares little for tourneys: playing for ladies’ favors, when his own lady is dead; feasting, while commoners starve; “friendly” combat, when he has seen real war. Still, one lady captivates him–mysterious in her veils and silks, intoxicating with her exotic scents and bold glances. Yet something in her eyes reminds him of home…and draws him irresistibly to learn her secrets…

And here’s an excerpt from the first chapter, where Edith encounters Ranulf for the first time:

Edith was walking with the bundled sheets to the shallow, slow-moving stream when she realized that another was there before her. A man, big and muscled enough for a knight but not in armor, was sitting on the river-bank with his boots off, dangling his bare feet in the clear water.

Large, fine feet they were, too, and very clean. She stood in the shade of a young beech tree, shielded by its fresh leaves, and watched him; this nameless knight. He was new to her, and a pleasure to look upon, with a trim waist and good shoulders. He slowly kicked his legs in the water and she noticed the dark swirls of down on his calves, less lustrous and straighter than his fair-going-to-russet shaggy, badly-clipped hair. She wondered if the tiny dark fish were nibbling his ankles and laughed softly at the foolish idea. He was handsome, she conceded, if long, clean-shaven features as regular as a mason’s new carving of a king were to one’s taste – and they were to hers. On his feet, standing proudly on the daisy and speedwell studded grass, he would be tall as a castle keep, but wiry, with a rangy strength she admired when he skimmed a pebble across the river.

Here’s where you can find Lindsay:

Lindsay Townsend, historical romance. http://www.lindsaytownsend.net

or follow me at Twitter: @lindsayromantic

 

Thanks for stopping by, Lindsay!  It was lovely to have you. ‘To Touch The Knight’ sounds like a fabulous read — even more so now that we know the story behind the story.  I’ll now be waiting anxiously to July to get my copy!

 
© 2017 K D Grace
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