The world is hot for romance & we can all thank EL James for the explosion. Julie Kenner is a successful author in many romance sub-genres & now she embarks on a new venture with erotic romance, RELEASE ME is on sale in December — will you fall for Damien Stark too?
Nikki Fairchild, the heroine in my upcoming novel, RELEASE ME, falls hard for the darkly sexy, enigmatic Damien Stark. Honestly, I can’t blame her. I’ve fallen, too.
There are so many things that make a hero appealing. In my case, I fell for Damien the moment he popped into my head. A former tennis star turned entrepreneur, Damien is a man who is accomplished, talented, brilliant–and completely enamored of the heroine. His past is full of dark secrets, but he holds them close to the vest, so that only hints are revealed to Nikki–and to the reader. But they color his actions, giving him a mysterious, dangerous edge. None of that, however, distracts from his desire and pursuit of the woman he wants–to hold, to protect, to please, to pleasure…
But I can show you what I mean. Here’s a short exchange between Nikki and Damien that takes place not long after they’ve met at an art opening. She’s returning from a walk on a beach with a male friend, and has come back to find Damien, with whom she’s had an enigmatic but heat-filled conversation, waiting for her:
I tilt my head up to look at his face. The minimal illumination filtering down from Evelyn’s balcony casts his features in shadows. His eyes, however, seem to absorb the light. The amber one, fiery and hot. The other one black and ringed with molten lava, so dark and deep I feel as though I could fall in and get lost. Windows to the soul, I think and then shiver.
“You’re cold,” he says, then trails a finger down my bare arm. “You have goosebumps.”
Well if I didn’t before, I surely do now…
“I was fine when I had a coat,” I say, and he bursts out laughing. I like the sound of it, so free and easy and always unexpected.
He slips out of his jacket and drapes it over my shoulders, ignoring my protests.
“We’re going back inside,” I say, shrugging it off and holding it out. “I’m fine, really.”
He takes my shoes from me, but ignores the coat. “Put it on. I don’t want you catching cold.”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” I snap, shoving my arms into the sleeves. “Do you always get what you want?”
His eyes widen, and I realize I’ve surprised him. “Yes,” he says.
Gotta give the guy points for honesty.
“Fine. Let’s go inside. Look at some paintings. I’ll tell you what I like, and then you’ll do whatever you want.”
He’s looking at me with a somewhat baffled expression. “Excuse me?”
“You just don’t seem like the kind of guy who actually takes anybody’s advice.”
“You’re wrong, Nikki,” he says, my name sounding like milk chocolate in his mouth. “I consider very carefully any opinion I value.”
The heat coming off him is palpable. I no longer need the jacket. Hell, the damn jacket is stifling.
I look away, at the sand, at the ocean, at the sky. Anywhere but at this man. I’m twisted up in knots, but that’s not the problem. The problem is, I like the feeling.
Damien is a man who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. In RELEASE ME, what he wants is Nikki, and the confidence with which he pursues her has an edgy, sexy, quality that sweeps Nikki off her feet. He is her fantasy made real. Here’s another excerpt, this one from their interaction over the phone when she’s being whisked home in his limo, and he’s called her on her cell phone:
It is suddenly very, very hot in the limo, and I seem to have forgotten the basic steps required for breathing.
I don’t think …
I realize the words are only in my head and try again. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“It’s an extremely good idea. Hell, it’s all I’ve been thinking about since I put you in that limo. Touching you again. Stroking you. Kissing you.”
I squirm, determined to hold it together. But I am weak and well-liquored, and my determination is fraying around the edges.
“Tell me you haven’t thought of it, too.”
“I haven’t,” I say.
“Don’t lie to me, Nikki. That’s rule number one. Never lie to me.”
“Is this a game?” I ask.
I don’t answer.
“Simon Says, Nikki. Have you played before?” His soft voice is like a caress.
“Is the privacy screen in place?”
I glance up. I’m at the very back of a very long limo. I can see the driver in the front, his shoulders in the black jacket, the stark white of his shirt collar. He has reddish hair, mostly hidden by a black cap. It seems to me that he is a million miles away. But he’s not, he’s right there, probably listening to every word we’ve been saying.
“He’s very discrete,” Damien says, as if reading my thoughts. “But why torment the man? The silver button on the console behind you controls the screen. Do you see it?”
I twist around and see a bank of buttons set into the paneling behind me. “Yes.”
“You didn’t say Simon Says.”
His low chuckle delights me.
“Good girl. Are you suggesting you’d rather leave it down? Think before you answer, Nikki. For what I have planned, most women would like some privacy.”
I lick my lips. If I push that button I’m saying yes to so much more than the damn screen.
Did I want that? He’s talking about seeing me naked. About touching me. About kissing me. About running his fingers over my skin.
I rest my finger lightly on the button, remembering the feel of his hand. Remembering how I almost let him get too close, how I almost revealed too much.
But he’s not in the car. I can do this. I can lose myself to the champagne and the night and the allure of Damien Stark.
But am I leading him on? Making him think that fantasy will become reality?
I swallow again, because I don’t care. I want the release. I want this man’s voice in my head and the fantasy of his hands on my body. He’ll deal. He has rules? Screw that. Right now, I’m making my own damn rules.
I press the button.
Slowly, the privacy screen rises, and I’m alone in the luxurious comfort of Damien Stark’s stretch limo. “It’s up,” I say, but my voice is so soft I’m not certain he heard it.
“Take off your panties.”
Apparently he heard it.
“What if I told you I already did?”
“I’m in public, Ms. Fairchild. Don’t torment me.”
“You’re tormenting me,” I retort.
“Good. Now take them off.”
I lift my skirt and slide my panties down. My shoes are already off, so it’s easy. I leave them on the seat beside me.
“They’re off,” I say. And then, because I’m making this into my fantasy, too. “I’m wet.”
His low groan sends a spark of satisfaction running through me. “No talking,” he says. “And no touching. Not unless I tell you to. That’s the game, Nikki.”
And, of course, it gets even hotter on the page …
In a lot of ways, Damien is like a gothic hero, dark and mysterious and desperately sexy. But he’s thoroughly modern, too, and he certainly isn’t shy about going after what he wants, on the tennis courts, in the boardroom, and in the bedroom.
So tell me, what makes a hero appealing to you? In a traditional romance? In an erotic romance?
Praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations,” bestselling author Julie Kenner’s books have hit lists as varied as USA Today, Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, and Locus Magazine. Julie is also a two-time RITA finalist, the winner of Romantic Times’ Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Contemporary Paranormal of 2001, the winner of the Reviewers International Organization’s award for best romantic suspense of 2004 and best paranormal of 2005, and the winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award for best mainstream book of 2005. She writes a range of stories including sexy and quirky romances, young adult novels, chick lit suspense and paranormal mommy lit. Her foray into the latter, Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom, was selected as a Booksense Summer Paperback Pick for 2005, was a Target Breakout Book, was a Barnes & Noble Number One SFF/Fantasy bestseller for seven weeks, and is in development as a feature film with 1492 Pictures. Julie also writes dark and sexy paranormal romances as J.K. Beck. Julie lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and several cats.
And, she’ll be posting sneak peeks at the book up until release day! http://www.facebook.com/jkennerbooks