You guys!!! Today we have the awesome and lovely Joey W. Hill visiting with us! If you’ve never read any of her books before, let me tell you they are hot. Like – fan yourself hot. Blush and look around furtively as if there is anyone around you who can read your mind hot. But not only are they extremely sexy stories, they’re lovely and emotional. It’s pretty much the best you can want in erotic romances. I haven’t really got anything to add because this is a fabulous post too. Pretty much Ms. Hill is just fabulous all around.
It’s the Little Things…
When I’m doing research for a book, it’s the small details that will capture my attention and get integrated into the storyline, an important part of what makes the scene interesting, absorbing. For instance, I could say that Dick and Jane glanced at the Lincoln Memorial as they strolled past it, and throw in a couple general features about the memorial. However, what would be a lot more interesting is if Jane, trying to tease Dick out of a bad mood, takes them into the shaded and relatively cooler area inside the memorial alcove and challenges him to find the typo in the Second Inaugural Address engraved in the wall. Since he doesn’t see it right off, she has him come and stand right behind her, looking in the direction she’s looking. He has to slip his arms around her waist to align himself perfectly with her body, and then, somewhat distracted, he nudges her hair to the side to taste her neck. As she chuckles and exhorts him—a little breathlessly—to look at the wall, he stops in mid-kiss, because he sees it. The discovery, and the warmth of her body against him, make him feel better, and he realizes, with a reluctant smile, how good she is at that.
Better, right? As a romance reader, this is the type of scene that draws me into the characters. Romance is one of the few genres where it’s perfectly acceptable to “stop and smell the roses” to further the plot, since the main plot is about two characters falling in love. And since the pleasure of that journey is enhanced by a lot of sensory input, it makes the details of the setting even more critical. In the above example, you have the sense of the Lincoln Memorial as an active part of the scene, rather than just a backdrop, and you feel like you’re there. More fun with Dick and Jane for both author and reader (wink).
I haven’t often had to travel for research, since the Internet provides a wealth of knowledge these days in firsthand blog accounts, photos, videos, etc. However, I had the pleasure of seeing New Orleans in person when I went there last year to spend time with my mother and brother, as well as to research Hostile Takeover, the latest in my Knights of the Board Room series.
When I was doing my strolls/trolley rides through the city, I again was looking for the small details that would make the city come alive in the book as an active, contributing part of the romance. New Orleans excels in that area. For instance, this little clip gives you an idea of what I gleaned from a simple trolley ride…
When the day was over, instead of taking his car, they took the trolley. Marcie had never appreciated how narrow the wooden two-seat bench was. Ben necessarily stretched a long arm across the back, pressing her against his side, his thigh against her leg as they clattered along the track from downtown. Though she’d grown up in Baton Rouge, she was well acquainted with New Orleans. Still, it had been awhile since she was here.
She enjoyed recalling the landmarks as they went along, the crush of people wandering Canal Street, that view streamlining into St. Charles’ never ending offering of restaurants. Each had a unique flair, like bohemian middle-aged women, old enough to be comfortable and confident in their skin, yet young enough to exude color and style. As they passed through the religious school district, she saw a few students still on the grounds in their uniforms of crisp white shirts and navy pants or skirts.
Ben had them get off at Audubon Park to join the joggers and cyclists along the walkways there. In the quiet nooks where statues and gazebos sat by the water, they occasionally glimpsed homeless people camped, absorbing the tranquility the way they were. Ben guided her hand into the crook of his elbow, and they strolled that way. She imagined them doing it a hundred years ago, her in petticoats and a stylish hat, him in a suit that wouldn’t differ too much from what he wore now, at least in cut and style. The man did know how to dress.
If you go through the Garden District, in addition to Spanish moss, the old oaks are draped with a plethora of sparkling Mardi Gras beads, left there year round. It was too whimsical not to put it into a scene. Here’s a small clip from it:
When they left the park, they strolled along the broken sidewalks that led them into the residential areas. Tilting her head back, she studied the thick waterfall of colorful beads hanging from the oaks, competing with the Spanish moss. “I love that they let these stay in the trees.” Reaching up, she tried to snag a pretty silver strand, but she was too short. She gave a valiant hop, putting all her effort into it, and her fingertips brushed it. “Shoot.”
“Here, brat. Little tease.” He bent, wrapped his arms beneath her buttocks and boosted her up his body to give her the extra head of height she needed. Marcie caught the beads, untangled them and drew down two, a silver and a shiny green. She was hyper-conscious of his arms around her, the way her hips pressed into his abdomen. When she looked down, bracing her hands on his shoulders, she could tell he wasn’t unaffected, either. He let her slide down his body but kept her close until she rested between his feet. His hands adjusted downward, way low on her waist, curling over the tops of her buttocks, pinching the folds of her skirt between his fingertips.
“I could have done it with a few more jumps,” she defended herself. “It’s just about building momentum. But your help was appreciated.”
“Hmm.” He stared down at her, and the unfathomable look quieted her. Dropping the silver strand over her head, she put the green on him. Her fingers slipped over his hair, touched his neck and ears, rested on his shoulders when she was done, her thumbs touching his throat because he’d loosened his tie, unbuttoned the collar. Because he didn’t say not to do it, she stroked that small expanse of skin, scratched it with her nail.
His gaze heated, his hands dropping to take a firm hold of her ass, kneading, no matter the passing cars or sidewalk pedestrians. There weren’t so many of those here, but the occasional matronly dog walker could make her more self-conscious than the anonymity and colorful nature of a big Canal Street crowd.
It was exactly why he did it. She knew it was a test. So she didn’t look around, didn’t squirm away. “I’m going to do something now,” he said. “As I’m doing it, you tell me what goes through that imaginative brain of yours.”
Lowering his head, he nudged hers to the side with the touch of his mouth on her temple. Turning her face toward his broad shoulder, pressing her nose into the smooth line of his dress shirt over his pectoral, she shuddered as his mouth landed on the juncture of her throat and shoulder. He bit her there, a controlled motion, teeth slowly depressing as his tongue stroked her. Her breath shortened, and she almost forgot to do what he’d told her to do.
“You’re winding a rope wrap from below my knees to my ankles.” Her trembling increased as the pressure did, the clamp of the bite. “You do the same to my arms, from wrists to elbows, behind my back. My breasts…they’re thrust way out because of that. So you do a binding there as well, one rope above, one below, a crossed knot in the middle, and then you attach that to the arm wrap. You put me over your shoulder, completely helpless. You take me to a sofa, bend me over the arm and…”
He relaxed his jaw, then started that depression again, interfering with her ability to think. She was leaned into him, pressing harder against him.
“Do I let you come, or make you suffer? Make you beg?”
She smiled, though her fingers were digging into his biceps, holding on. God, how did he do this so well?
“I’d come at your command, right now,” she whispered.
“It takes a while for a sub to learn how to do that. Come at her Master’s command.”
“Not if she’s been practicing for seven years.”
There’s a full chapter one excerpt from Ben and Marcie’s story on my website if you’d like a formal introduction to them (smile). I’ll have the distinct pleasure of returning to New Orleans in August for the Authors After Dark conference. This is my third AAD, and I expect it will be the best yet, despite the fact the previous two have been awesome. Stella, the coordinator, and her troupe of volunteers, work so hard to make sure the event is memorable for readers, bloggers, authors and all the participants. This year they have all that going for them, as well as an incredible location. I hope to see many of you there!
In her March 10 post here, Stacey Kennedy did a great job of detailing the many wonderful things to do in New Orleans. One of the things I missed last time was the Bestoff sculpture garden next to the New Orleans museum. I have a thing for sculpture – it often figures into my stories (smile). No telling how that visit will manifest itself in future scenes!
Giveaway: Leave a comment or question and your email address, and you’ll have the chance to win the book-of-your-choice from my available and upcoming titles. I’ll contact the winner in a few days and announce who they are in the comments to this post.