(Archives: Parts of this post appeared on the British Romance Fiction Blog in 2012)
Sometimes in the summer months, I like to showcase some of my backlist — sort of my walk down memory lane, if you will. Today I’d like to talk about my first-Born, The Initiation of Ms Holly, which later became the first book of The Mount Series, along with Fulfilling the Contract and To Rome with Lust are now available as a box set. The Initiation of Ms Holly led readers into a world in which the main character, Rita Holly, a good bit of the novel blindfolded.
I gleaned a lot of inspiration for my erotic romance, The Initiation of Ms Holly, from being stuck in the Eurostar Tunnel in the dark on a malfunctioning train; at least that was the catalyst. But the idea of being forced to use our other senses as a replacement for the over-developed sense of sight has always intrigued me and has played a role in several of my short stories. I wanted to create a world in which my hero and heroine would be forced to rely on other senses.
Often in novels, we literally see the world through the eyes of the author, and our eyes are constantly at the forefront of our Panoply of the Senses, with television, films, internet, even books. We get a visual glut of input with not nearly enough attention paid to the other senses. As writers, it’s not unusual for us to view our heroine or hero up close and personal in our mind’s eye. In many cases we may even have already picked out the perfect actor or actress to portray them in the inevitable movie that will surely follow.
A good bit of the first three chapters of The Initiation of Ms Holly takes place in the dark or with Rita Holly blindfolded. But the novel goes way beyond a few chapters in a blindfold. Rita is not permitted to see the face of her lover, Edward, until she completes, to the High Council’s satisfaction, the initiation ritual into the secret society, of which Edward is apart — The Mount. Neither is she allowed to have sex with him until she is a full-fledged member.
What I wanted to do was create a world in which our most common method of being attracted to each other – sight, and our most common response to falling in love – sex, are taken away. Rita and Edward are left with only their other senses and with their wits to overcome the obstacles set before them, that is IF they care enough about each other to endure the challenge. And Vivienne, the sexy, but vicious head of the High Council of The Mount, has no intention of making it easy.
It’s an archetypal story — not being able to experience one’s lover through the sense of sight. In Greek mythology, Psyche is not allowed to see the face of her lover, but he is so tender, so engaging so charming. And since he visits her in the dark of night, it’s a fair assumption that he’s good in bed too! Whatever he does, he does it well, caring for her in ways that inspire love. But of course it’s not enough. Psyche needs to SEE the man she loves to reassure herself he’s as wonderful as she believes him to be and not the monster her sisters tell her he is. Of course he’s neither man nor monster. He’s Eros, the god of love, himself, and she has broken his only command – not to look upon his face. Let the fun begin! The tale of their love and Psyche’s abandonment and reunion with Eros is one of my very favourite myths. The Initiation of Ms Holly is a modern retelling of that story, all dressed up and turned about and set in London.
Which brings me back to the other senses. Can we truly trust what we can’t see with our own eyes? Most mammals trust their noses far more than their sense of sight, and there have been studies done that suggest we humans still have those latent mammalian olfactory abilities. We just don’t use them anymore. Barn Owls can hunt quite effectively in total darkness by using only their amazing sense of hearing. Could we actually recognize true love with our sense of smell, could we recognize the heartbeat of our lover, or the shape of his face against our fingertips? Could we rely on the sense receptor in our skin to define for us what we can’t see? How much of what is unseen could we perceive with our ears or with our sense of taste? Edward tests some of Rita’s other senses in the beginning chapters of The Initiation of Ms Holly, with some very yummy results. ‘I don’t have to see you to appreciate you,’ he tells her upon their initial meeting in the pitch black of the train.
For me, toying with the senses and how they affect our desires and feelings for other people, how they affect our perception of intimacy, provides one of the most fascinating angles to any story. If we can’t see our lover, can we trust our other senses to tell us if we’re living with a monster or with a god? And even if we do see our lover, do we trust what we see with our own eyes to be the whole truth?
Rita and Edward’s journey is fraught with sensual twists and turns as well as the usual emotional mine fields that litter the path to love – jealousy, doubt, lack of trust, fear of loss, and all sorts of other tantalizing goodies. Emotions and senses – put the two together and watch the fireworks. Sometimes what we see with our own eyes is not to be trusted. And sometimes we CAN smell a rat. So the journey of a thousand miles, the journey to love, begins with a kiss in a dark train – at least for Rita and Edward. That and some very expensive chocolate.
The Initiation of Ms Holly Blurb:
Journalist, Rita Holly, never dreamed sex with the mysterious Edward in the dark of a malfunctioning train would lead to a blindfolded, champagne-drenched tango, a spanking by a butch waitress, and an offer of initiation into the exclusive mysteries of The Mount. Desperate to save her threatened job, she agrees, scheming secretly to write an inside exposé on the club that will make her career. But as she delves deeper into the intrigue of The Mount and the lives of its members, she soon discovers that her heart may have other plans.
The Initiation of Ms Holly Excerpt:
He practically fell on top of Rita, his hand grazing her left breast in the complete darkness. She yelped and grabbed him to keep from losing her balance.
‘God, I’m sorry!’ He gasped. ‘Bloody nuisance, this, isn’t it?’ His voice was warm, melodious, by far the most pleasant thing that had happened to Rita since she left Paris. ‘Oh dear. You’re trembling. Are you all right?’
‘I’m claustrophobic’ her words were thin and shaky, as though she didn’t fully trust herself to let them out. ‘It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t know where we are.’ For an embarrassing moment, she realized she was still clinging to him, but the embarrassment passed, and suddenly she didn’t care. If they were going to die trapped in a train in the Eurostar tunnel, buried beneath a gazillion gallons of water, she’d just as soon not do it alone.
He either understood, or was too polite to leave her in such distress. He wrapped his arms around her engulfing her in a muscular embrace, the scent of which was maleness barely masked by deodorant and some spicy cologne, both fading at the end of a day much longer than either of them had anticipated. ‘Don’t worry.’ In the darkness, he misjudged the distance between them and his lips brushed her earlobe. ‘It’s just an electrical malfunction. Anyway we’re better off down here than in the snowstorm up above. Sounds like all of London is shut down. Who’d have expected snow this late in the spring? Never mind that, where else do you get the chance to cuddle strangers in the dark?’
He pressed a little closer to her, and she was relieved to find other thoughts, thoughts more welcome than those of their predicament, pushing their way into her head. He felt good, broad-shouldered and tall, easy to lean on.
‘Why are you huddled here in the corner rather than hunkered down in your seat?’
She concentrated on his warm breath pressing against the top of her ear. ‘I was on my way back from the loo when the lights went out and…’
‘And this is as far as you got.’
She nodded against his chest, homing in on the reassuring sound of his heartbeat.
‘Shall I help you back to your seat then?’
The train lurched forward, and she yelped again, tightening her grip around his neck. ‘No, please. It’s better if I just don’t move.’
There was a long pause. ‘Do you want me to stay with you?’
She realized the poor man had little choice clenched in her strangle hold, as he was. ‘I don’t want to be any trouble,’ she lied.
He readjusted his stance and tightened his embrace. ‘No trouble at all. I can’t think of a better way to pass the time than in the arms of a beautiful woman. You are beautiful, aren’t you?’
In spite of the stress she felt, she forced a laugh. ‘Gorgeous, actually. Too bad you can’t see for yourself.’
He ran a hand down the contour of her spine to rest low on the small of her back. ‘I don’t have to see you to admire you.’
The thought that the man was rather cheeky barely crossed her mind before he lifted her fingers to his lips and planted a warm kiss across the back of her knuckles. ‘I’m Edward. I’m from London. Clearly you’re not.’
‘Rita,’ she replied. ‘I’m from Seattle, but I live in London now.’
‘Well Rita, from Seattle, we’ve established that you’re an exotic beauty. Perhaps you’d like to return the favour.’ He lifted her hand to his face and guided it gently over the slight stubble of his cheek. As her hand cupped his well-formed chin, he pulled her middle finger into his mouth and nibbled it, teasing the pad of it with his tongue. Suddenly her struggle to breathe had nothing to do with being claustrophobic.
‘Well?’ He asked pulling her hand away to massage her fingers. ‘What do you think? Am I acceptable?’
If he was cheeky, she was downright brazen. She stopped his words with her mouth, amazed at how easily she had found the mark in total darkness. Perhaps it was the darkness that made her so bold, but whatever it was, he didn’t disappoint. His mouth was warm, opening eagerly to the probing of her tongue, responding in kind, caressing her hard pallet, nipping at the fullness of her lower lip before pulling away just enough to speak.
‘There, you see? It’s not so bad being in the dark, is it? The other senses are too often overlooked, which is very sad, since they offer such exquisite delights.’ His hand moved up to cup her cheek, and he raked a thumb across her still parted lips. ‘Taste, for example. Few pleasures exceed that of the tongue.’
She heard him fumbling in the darkness, then she heard the rattling of foil. ‘Open your mouth,’ he whispered. ‘I have something that’ll make you feel better, guaranteed. Oh don’t worry, it’s nothing illegal.’
Reluctantly she opened her mouth, which he primed with a wet kiss, then slipped a chocolate truffle between her lips. It was covered liberally in cocoa and warmed exquisitely almost, but not quite to the steamy melting point of his body temperature, which only enhanced the sharp, edgy flavor that separates expensive chocolate from the cheap stuff.
She gasped her surprise, then moaned softly at the intensity of the taste.
‘Don’t bite,’ he kissed her jaw, then her throat. ‘Savour it, roll it around in your mouth. There are places on the tongue that taste only sweet and places that taste only bitter or salt, or sour. Chocolate can have all those flavors. Caress it in your mouth like you’re making love to it, and you’ll be amazed at what you taste.’
She cheeked the truffle, slurring her words as she spoke. ‘I thought I was tasting you.’
He chuckled softly. ‘Everything tastes better with chocolate.’ Without another word, he took her mouth, plunging his tongue deep against the melting truffle, whirling it, lapping at it, sighing with the pleasure of it. The more liquid and heated the truffle became, the more liquid and heated Rita became.
They were still gobbling hungrily at each other’s mouths when the conductor’s voice came over the intercom. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, a train has just arrived to tow us into Ashford. Upon our arrival, another train will be waiting for those of you who wish to continue on to London St. Pancras. For those of you who would prefer, arrangements have been made to put you up at a hotel in Ashford for the night and get you safely on your way in the morning. Once again, we apologize for the inconvenience.’
The car erupted in a buzz of conversation as people discussed their options and their relief that at least something was finally happening.
‘What will you do?’ He asked.
‘I’ll stay,’ she said, almost wishing the conductor had kept his mouth shut long enough for round two. ‘With all the snow, I can’t get home even if I do get to London. You?’
‘I have to go. Business. It would have been lovely to continue the fun in a hotel room. But I can’t. Not this time. Come on. Let me help you back to your seat.’
When they arrived in her car, by the light of his mobile, she found her place much more quickly than she would have liked. ‘Give me your phone,’ he said once she was seated.
She did as he asked. He keyed in something and handed it back. ‘Now you have my number. Text me.’ Then he gave her a brain searing kiss and left as the train lurched forward and gathered speed. She hadn’t even seen his face.
“Skillfully written to provide a provocative blend of kinky sex with subtle mystery. Simply put, this book is a page-turner for the erotic reader.” The Romance Reviews
“The Initiation of Ms. Holly is so hot I am still tingling a day after I finished reading this novel. This spicy number will heat you up and keep you fully charged for days to come.” – Coffee Time Romance
“This story had an exciting plot with some twists and turns, a cast of very colorful characters, some angst, a plethora of amazing and erotic sex and lastly a beautiful love story. Rita and Edward went through all kinds of kinky hell to get where they wanted to be….and I loved being on this journey with them! A great first read for me by K.D. Grace. Can not wait to get my hands on the next book in The Mount series, Fulfilling the Contract.” Violet Blue
“A thoroughly enjoyable erotic read which ticks all the boxes and leaves the reader feeling satisfied with their choice of fiction… I can’t wait to see what this talented author comes up with next.” Miz Love Loves Books
“Oh.My.God. The Initiation of Ms. Holly is simply to die for. The Initiation of Ms. Holly is one of the best erotic stories I’ve ever read. If you want hot, steamy, and kinky with a great story, this should be at the very top of the list. Buy this book!” Grade: A+ BookingIt
“The Initiation of Ms Holly is erotic fantasy at its best. The sexual scenarios are wonderfully varied and imaginative, and unfailingly arousing. I flew through the book, devouring one luscious sex scene after another, as eager as Rita herself for the next trial.” Erotica Revealed
“A wonderfully hot book, which will have you running down your vibrator batteries in no time… the best erotic novel I have read for a very long time.” Kay Jaybee, author of The Collector
“A book that grabs you from the very beginning… full of wild and steamy encounters. It’s definitely worth keeping your head as you follow the book through to its climactic ending and unearth the deepest, darkest secrets of The Mount and its members.” Lucy Felthouse, editor of Uniform Behaviour
“This is a wild fast paced compulsive read… you can’t help but get swept along by this incredible storyline and page after page of excellently written sex scenes, where we feel real emotion between the individual characters involved. I have to say the girl on girl scenes were written with an incredible sensuality, delicacy and beauty as well as being super hot.” Midnight Boudoir
“All in all, there was a nice balance of reality and passion/imagination that kept this story flowing nicely. I hope that you guys get a chance to pick this book up – it’s a nice twist on a story that’s not necessarily original, but had a very original spin on it.” Eager Reader
“Holy Hell this book was hot! Like melt your e-reader hot! This book is totally worth the 4.5 stars I’m giving it, the plot flowed nicely and wasn’t predictable… the sexy wasn’t just hot it was HAWT. If you are looking for a fantastic erotic read, look no further!” 4.5 out of 5, Swoon Worthy Books
“The first thing I realized about this book was it is extremely erotic. Like off the charts erotic… this story had an exciting plot with some twists and turns, a cast of very colorful characters, some angst, a plethora of amazing and erotic sex and lastly a beautiful love story. A great first read for me by K.D. Grace.” The Sub Club Books