She stood defiantly even as she shivered in her damp clothes. The crew had gathered to look at her, a small soaked package, clearly female with soft lean curves, flared hips and breasts. It was the fabric covering her hands, face and neck ensuring not even a slice of skin was seen that was causing the restlessness.
What was she hiding? What was under them?
The bounty hunter had said she was not diseased. What then, maimed, grotesque, disfigured?
Then again, they’d all seen the women in the east, cloaked in their black full body coverings with nothing but dark luminous eyes to be seen. Whispers to foreigners questioning the practice was that the garment concealed some of the most beautiful women in the world.
Whichever related to the little bounty in front of them, it was something best known than kept a secret.
“Take off her face covering.” Captain Jax motioned to his First Mate, a ripple of unease curling in his gut. Trouble. This little package was going to be trouble.
Snippet taken from the start of Book 1 of the Pirate of Pleasure: His Bounty, due out in an Anthology called Secrets later this year.
Betrothed Launched globally 14th February and is #1 Best New Release in Russian Literature.
It was in the Once Upon a Christmas Wedding Anthology from Mid Oct 2019 – Mid January 2020 where it received reviews like this one from Estela on Goodreads that made my day!!
THE RUSSIAN BETROTHAL by Elsa Holland
Starring Miss Georgina Franklin and Prince Vladimir Demetri James Petroski.
Long time childhood betrothal…. in disguise trope.
Holy babushka, Batman… this story was so freaken hot…. and wowza those postcards!! I tooooootally ugly cried AF!! I loved everything about this story… and I loved every second that I spent reading about Georgie and Demetri’s road to HEA!!
Georgie is the kind of heroine that I love… she is strong and feisty and fights for what she wants. She had so many little defiant moments that I kept shouting “huzzah” for her.
Demetri is all kinds of delicious!! He has to choose between his growing attraction for Georgie and family obligations. Awww man!! Ya gotta love a tortured and conflicted hero… they are the yummiest!!
So many misunderstandings that they had to weed through, but these two couldn’t fight their attraction for each other. They were so beautiful together…. they made my toes curl!!
This is my first Elsa Holland story and I’m about to check out all her titles!! I’m putting her on my “New Favorite Author of 2020” list!! Can’t wait to read more books from her!!
PAINTED STRENGTH, Lila and the Lion Tamer, is Book 2 in the Painted Sisters Series; a thriller romance series about girls who have been tattooed as living art and a ritualistic serial killer trained to track them down and kill them to return their skin to the men who bought them. It is set in late Victorian England and due out end of the year/early 2019.
This snippet is at the beginning of the book, Lila our heroine, almost fell off the high wire again and the circus manager, Mr Spencer has closed down her act and given her two choices, leave or work the back tent with the whores. Count Stephan, the Lion Tamer who has never said a word to her, has stepped in.
Bailey & Bailey Circus, Bath, 1899.
Spencer’s face was all screwed up as he looked at her. He was put out. The Count had a lot of sway, he handled the big cats but he was also a wealthy man who contributed a lot towards funding the Circus.
“You his ‘darling’ then?” the manager asked.
The Count looked down at her. It was hard to read him in the dim light. His skin was bronzed, jaw square, a masculine face with brown eyes, nothing pretty or soft. He had hair the color of the Sahara desert, of golden sand that shone like burnished satin tassels. His head tilted to the side in question at her silence. She could walk out right now and take her chances on the street. They weren’t good. Or she could take the chance the Count held out to her.
Lila lifted her chin and flipped back her head as she turned and faced Spencer.
“I thought you knew?”
His response was priceless, he hated not knowing everything that went on under the big top. His weasel eyes squinted into narrow slits then he turned to the Count.
“Well she’s your responsibility. She is housed with you and paid by you out of your share.”
The Count didn’t flinch. “Naturally.”
She on the other hand jerked. “I share with the tumblers.”
Spencer had already turned and was almost out of the space. “Not anymore….darling. Remember my warning you’re out or in the back tent if you muck this one up.”
That left just the two of them.
“What were you thinking with all that darling, darling, darling? Couldn’t you save me and not land me in your trailer? You’ll have to move out.”
Her hands were on her hips and her costume felt far too tight as her chest heaved.
The Count turned and walked away.
“Where are you going? We need to sort this out. Where will you be sleeping?”
“Grab your things. I lock the trailer at ten PM. After that you can work it out with the lines men.”
The lines men all slept under the stalls.
“This is not finished!” Lila called after him.
The Fur Heart is the 4th book in The Velvet Basement Series. The series can be read in any order. The Fur Heart is the story of Miss Phillippa Bancroft and Prince Alexi Ulyanov and their journey to claim and tame the beast within.
London, 1898. At a salon gathering of artists, poets, writers and philosophers along with the nobility that support them.
Phillippa glared across the salon at Prince Ulyanov. The gold epaulets on his military uniform caught the lamp light as he leaned against the sideboard, a glass of burgundy in hand as if he wasn’t depraved. As if she hadn’t been an unwitting and unwilling witness to his depraved acts. He should be slinking away at the sight of her not staring at her all night as if she were complicit in that act. As if she were stretched out on the buffet table available for consumption like the succulent venison they had all gobbled up at dinner.
Phillippa stood and excused herself from the surrounding discussion. In long, confident strides she walked towards him, the arrogant easterner who didn’t even look alarmed at her imminent confrontation. Well, he should be. He liked to feel the sting of pain . . . then she was going to show him her bite.
This snippet is part of the Weekend Writing Warriors 8 sentence snippet that is shared by a group of amazing writers every Sunday. I hope you enjoy it and click the link HERE to find other writers. This is the beginning of Painted Trust, a Historical Thriller Romance due for release 27th Feb 2018.
The heroine sees the hero for the first time. Edith has just entered the hero’s home for the first time, as a patient wails in the background from the surgery at the back of the house. She’s late and they want her to get started straight away.
The howls increased in volume taking up residence through the house as if the wild winds had slipped under the front door and joined them.
Double doors at the far right flung open hitting the walls on either side. Clap. Clap.
The two burst of syncopated thunder, echoed through the air as a stallion of a man strode into the foyer.
Cowardice legs took an involuntary step backwards .
I am having a great couple of weeks putting writing first. The best thing about dodgy internet is that all those pressures to stay on-top of your regular responsibilities are forcibly removed.
I make it to a cafe every now and again with excellent internet like Clear – pictures below. ( Clear was burnt down a couple of years ago, no insurance and all the cash money in the safe was also burnt. They set up somewhere else as they saved money and prepped the site to build the new Clear cafe below. The fire also took out a Balanese family home behind the restaurant and I understand the owner of Clear rebuilt the family’s home before the restaurant. They have a motto, ‘what’s good for people is good for business’ it’s a tough call living that kind of mission statement as a business AND I am confident it works.)
My lovely man… has been taking care of logistics for me – bringing back food and drinks so I can skip group dinners as well as heading out so I have time to write in peace & quiet.
We went for a drive on the motorbike the other day and he showed me a secret track he’d found around the back of the Monkey Forest in Ubud. But before that, he stopped in front of a statue he found and loved; he wanted me to see it. (note the wonderful way the monkey is gazing at his woman and where his right hand is)
Love is an amazing thing. I find I write in a genre that is highly under-rated and often scoffed at, but at the heart of it, has assumptions that romantic love heals and gives hope and direction in peoples lives.
Sensuality and sexuality is not something I think can be taken out of that equation when writing about romantic love. The process of joining with another person when your feelings are deeply engaged rattles the cage of things deep under the surface.
I once read that ‘love brings up everything unlike itself in order to be healed.’ Over the years I have seen that unfold time and time again. It’s as if, when someone loves you there is a part of you that says ‘let me show you why I’m unlovable’ and ‘suff’ that is not easy for people to live with comes out. If they leave it just proves the point ‘I’m unloveable’ but if they stay….. if they stay and you have nothing left to throw at them to prove your unlovability, I think you enter a ‘state of grace.’ A place where you can trust at a deep enough level to simply be who you really are.
This is taken from near the middle of the book where Blackburn, our hero, is having Elspeth / Miss James our heroine, sketched and measured in preparation for designs to be made to tattoo her body. Blackburn is entering the room after giving Elspeth time to get started and to display some sensitivity that Miss James may find it uncomfortable to pose naked if two men are in the room straight from the onset.
Blackburn gave them forty minutes before heading up himself. More than enough time for them to be well underway into the life drawing and for Elspeth’s nerves to have settled.
As he neared he heard her laugh. A relaxed sound that fluttered around him like a promise of happiness. A sound she never made for him.
His jaw tightened. He braced, like he had always braced when facing the realities of the world and they were usually that he wold never be given, if he wanted he would have to take.
Outside his upstairs parlor he stood at the door and listened, his heart, oddly beating faster than it should.
“Adam, you’re tickling me.” Adam? His body stiffened. And then that laugh again. A rich sensual ripple of… enjoyment.
Blackburn pushed the door open to find Mr. Patterson to be exceptionally handsome and with this hands around Elspeth’s waist, his cheek pressed against her soft white belly and a tape measure somewhere in the mix.
Mr. Patterson was now laughing, Elspeth had her hand on his head grinning.
Everything inside Blackburn stilled. The confirmation of her virtue not days past stopped him from doing anything dramatic. Years of training stopped him from doing what any other man from where he was born would have done. After all he was a tactician.
“Am I interrupting?” His voice was artic. “It seems I am in the wrong room for a rendering of my Canvas.”
Mr. Patterson hurriedly disentangled himself from Elspeth and stepped away.
Elspeth’s hand fluttered to her waist and then dropped. The softness in her face from just moments before replaced by a strained, tight look. The look she saved for him.
His brows drew together and tension pulled across his shoulders.
“Adam… Mr. Patterson was measuring me,” her voice challenged him to find the wrong in it. He had after all arranged for her to be sketched naked and measured by said Mr Patterson.
Mr. Patterson was at the rendering he’d done and began walking it over to him.
All Blackburn saw was her too fast breathing, the flush over her skin, the distended nipples. That soft line of her scar in the blond thatch at the apex of her thighs. Cold fury at the idea that Mr. Patterson now knew of that small scar pulsed behind his temples.
Blackburn looked at the rendering.
Elspeth shone off the page. And, it was complete, front, back and sides. An impossible task in the time they had just spent together.
“That was fast.”
“Well I took the liberty of starting at home. I know Elspeth… Miss James so felt confident to start the drawing without her.” It was clear that the young Mr Patterson was an idiot and was perhaps looking to be maimed. The thought of them as a possible couple, that Elspeth had wondered what it would be like to be the focus of Mr Patterson’s affections was again oddly flammable to his equilibrium.
“You were confident you could draw her naked from memory?” Blackburn stalked towards the young man. This was not about love or affection, this had to do with ownership and sexual access. Blackburn understood very clearly that had he and Elspeth established their sexual relationship these odd feeling would be less likely. Being possessive of his sexual partners had never been an issue for him but not having what he wanted and seeing someone else closer to getting it had always irked him.
“Oh for God’s sake.” Elspeth stepped down from the pedestal and grabbed a robe from the nearby chair. “You are being ridiculous.”
“Am I?” Blackburn watched as she covered up her skin, which by the way was his now. Every square inch of it.
He looked at Mr. Patterson who was scarlet. Elspeth, it seemed, was impervious of Mr. Patterson’s wayward thoughts. Or the implication of it.
“I just need the measurements and I am done,” Mr Patterson said.
Blackburn raised an eyebrow and shot Mr. Patterson a look that had the man stepping back. There were men in London, who for very little would break a mans fingers at every bone.
“Perhaps you could take the measurements?” Mr. Patterson hurriedly suggested.
“Perhaps you are done?” Blackburn took another threatening step towards the soft spined fop and the apparently not so brave Mr Patterson moved quickly to collect his things.
Elspeth huffed from behind him as if he was the oaf in the room and not the pandering Mr. Patterson. Well, she would be making very different sounds in a moment.
The Painted Heart is getting another postponement I am sorry to say.
I was planning to release later this month but it looks like that is more likely March 2017.
As consolation I am about 65-70% through Painted Trust which follows on from Painted Heart in the world of The Painted Sisters. It is part of a 4 book Historical Erotic Thriller series. If my rather hectic life permits I should have that out within a reasonable time after The Painted Heart releases.
My cover designer Hang Le is busy working on some wonderful branding for the new series which I hope to share with you shortly. Below is a peek, we are still fine tuning so still largely under wraps.
I also have plans for 3 more books in The Velvet Basement series. Be warned they are getting a bit darker. I have started the 4th book in the series, it is called The Fur Heart, (a Little Red Riding Hood theme). This series is really allowing me to explore the beauty of our dark secret selves and how that is often a symbol or metaphor of something more common in life or society. The Veiled Heart had neo-feminist themes, The Bound Heart held ideas of how we are constrained on the inside by our past, the role of art, the courage needed to live your passions. The Painted Heart again deals with neo Feminist themes around ownership, self-sacrifice and how freedom often is found outside of convention.
The other books in the series book 5: The Caged Heart (a Bluebeard theme) and book 6: The Silent Heart ( A Little Mermaid Theme). Again Hang Le has designed some gorgeous covers… below a sneak peek at The Fur Heart.
Here is a Snippet from the Painted Heart towards the beginning of the book.It is at the end of their first outing which was part of last weeks snippet here.
Her heart pounded. Blackburn looked down at his clothes. Her eyes followed and pressed against his trousers the hard, long length of him was clearly visible.
Her breath stuttered. Froze.
Elspeth spun around.
She burst out the door and the balding Mr. Howard gasped as she rushed past and headed straight for the front entrance.
That blasted bell clanged as she threw the door open and took off down the street in solid strides.
Her lips burned and her whole body was alight. Her breasts were sensitive and tight against her bodice. Her petticoats as they moved over her legs were a thousand hands.
That tongue… that tongue had the taste of caramel still, traces speared her mouth in a way that felt so immensely carnal as if it had plundered her maidenhood as it took every secret she thought she had.
And there certainly would be no thoughts of the shape in his trousers. In fact, there would be no reason to think of it ever again.
‘Where do you get the ideas to write what you write? Why do you write about the topics you do?’
I hadn’t really thought much about it until I watched a recent interview with Kate Grenville and she said:- writers write to answer a question…. that they are by nature curious.
I thought about that, about my own writing process and I think it is true, I do ask myself questionsand I am curious about the things that I choose tow rite about.
It starts with something that captures my imagination. Something that makes me ask.. how does that work?
The Veiled Heart started as a writing exercise. I was given ” a teacher and mechanic meet in a shop buying condoms and end up having sex in a car’. We I had to rejig that a bit for a Victorian story but the question I had to ask myself was:- why would a normally reserved and respectable Victorian woman have sex in a carriage with a stranger?
It’s true, I could have just had a liberal promiscuous character but that wasn’t interesting to me. I wanted to know what would make anyone of us do something like that, what circumstances would make it a step we would take.
The start of the story gives insight into the culmination of life events that made her take such a dramatic and unexpected leap into the sensual world. The rest of the novel was seeing what would happen after that event and resolving the aspects of her past which drove her to take that leap.
The Bound Heart came from a character my writing friend threw out one night with a group of writers… Jamie, the bookbinder, who was into bondage. We all laughed but days later the idea of a bookbinder.. a man of precision and into rope.. I started to wonder what kind of rope, who he was, why he was the way he was, what he was looking for. It left me wondering where the passion for rope work might come from, what some of the underlying elements were, the philosophy, the beauty. I wanted a story that explored that. I wanted a story that would take readers who might have images of bondage as a dark act, one of pain and humiliation and show a world of rope that was all about beauty, about sensuality and connection, that had a deep sense of history.
I also wanted a story where it was not so much the heroine being drawn into a sensually dark world but a man being broken by a sensually light world. I wanted a story that showed the power of intimacy rather than what acts you do.
With both Novels I feel I answered those questions….to my satisfaction at least!
The Painted Heart, the next story coming out in The Velvet Basement series, is a beauty and the beast story. I’m looking at what the alchemy is that turns a beast into a prince… Why can we sexually want a man or woman he don’t necessarily like. And how sometimes getting what your heart really wants is the scariest thing of all.
Here is a Snippet from the Painted Heart towards the beginning of the book. They have gone on their first outing together to see if they can ‘rub along.’ It has not gone well.. however it has clarified combustible attraction despite Miss James dislike of the the cold self made Mr Blackburn.
Blackburn’s jaw tightened. He ran a hand over his face and hair as he stood there in the dimly lit landing. His heart still pounded and the taste of her coated his tongue in something far more delicious than those damn caramels. His body hummed from the chase through The Velvet Basement. It hummed with the residue of predatory elation on catching her, on pinning her to him. Every muscle in his body was wound and waiting for a release that wasn’t happening anytime soon.
Certainly not with the help of the surprisingly passionate Miss James.
The clang of the cracked bell at the bookshop’s door heralded her exit.
Blackburn straightened his clothes, moved out into the bookshop after her, watched as she marched outside into the flow of pedestrians, past the front window, skirts swishing and elbows swinging.
An odd sensation sat with him, something he couldn’t quite pinpoint that tugged strangely on the inside.
Here is a Snippet from the Painted Heart at about the half way mark. The book is about a woman bought to become living art as a Painted Sister, women tattooed into living works of art. Our hero Mr Blackburn a ruthless self-made man is measuring Elspeth, our heroine, to accompany some life drawing that will be used to map out a design to be tattooed onto her body. He was been pushing her to sign a contract granting him sexual access to her. She has stubbornly refused. He is using a range talents to change her mind.
Blackburn pressed his cheek against her belly and wrapped the tape measure around her waist.
No hand came down to rest on his head. No fingers in his hair.
His jaw tightened.
He rose, wrote the measurements on the piece of paper on the polished mahogany side table, then squatted back down, threaded the tape between her legs and round her upper thigh.
The top of his hand passed close to her sex.… his knuckles brushing the soft down that covered it.
He looked up.
Elspeth’s eyes were close. She was closing herself off. No doubt in her mind she was negating all the want that was leaking out of her every pore, egging him on.
In front of him was her soft thatch… he looked at the thin white scar he was coming to think of as his. Damn her but she could try and ignore this.
He pressed forward, curls brushed his nose, pressed against his lips.
Her shocked intake of breath made him smile into the soft damp of her folds. His tongue flickered out.
And there it was, the weight of her hand as it rested on his head, the fractional tilt of her pelvis as she moved closer to his mouth.
Emmanuelle de Maupassant is surveying erotic writers and will be doing a series of articles on her findings. You can find her here if you want to watch out for them.
I thought I’d share some of my answers for those of you interested in my relationship with writing as I see it.
How would you describe your writing style and your choice of sub-genres?
I write Victorian erotic romance. It’s lush, sensual and has a darker underbelly than the usual historical romance. It boarders on gothic eroticism and dark romanticism, yet when the line is drawn in the sand it falls into erotic romance.
Have you written fiction or non-fiction without erotic elements?
No. Love, intimacy and sex are core themes in all my work. I don’ see that changing in the near future.
Do you have any major cultural influences (eg. in theatre/ film/art/music/theatre)?
Not consciously, no.
Conscious cultural influences I feel lie more often in the academic side of writing. Writing to express a point or explore an area/idea/topic with intent.
There are subconscious influences that drive us and come out in repeated symbols and themes, I certainly find them coming through my work.
I think by nature writers with a high erotic content tend to be sensualists and respond to mediums where that sensuality is engaged. I use visuals a lot and music. I watch a lot of films, I paint (badly) and I play music (poorly).
Do you tend to read works by other authors within the erotic genre?
What appealed to you about their work?
Make me feel it. I want deep point of view, immediacy and deep visceral responses… and I’m not talking about the fast flickering tongue or that hard thrusting… thumb, I mean the emotions. I want to feel a heart ripping out of its chest, a stomach churning and twisting with the fear of anticipated rejection and judgement, the deep slow burning of want from a distance. There are lots of ways to write sexy and turn people on, or be clever about the nature of sex and to show what’s behind it. But the writers who make me feel the emotional landscape leave me breathless.
How far does your writing reflect :
a) your own emotional/sexual history/experience?
Sexually it doesn’t. I write things I have done and things I haven’t. Thriller writers don’t kill to write well about murder.
Emotions and life experience including sex, create values and themes in your life, I think we gravitate to or receive themes and values that reflect us and our journey.
b) your own fantasies?
It doesn’t, I think readers would find my fantasies rather boring.
I write to reflect my characters and their fantasies. Stories take something and amplify it. Sometimes my characters and their journeys confront me and I am out of my comfort zone writing or publishing their stories – but I do, and will continue to do so in the future.
c) experiences you have read/witnessed/been told about second-hand?
It’s possible. We are bombarded with information and stimulation and when stories come who knows what has informed their crafting. Again this question speaks more to writing from the brain down to the page… get an idea, research & explore then write a story. I write from the gut out. I believe I experience the flow of the story from the formless to the page as a thread from the collective unconscious. Story and writing is a nebulous feeling that travels through me onto the page.
I think this relationship with the collective unconscious in the writing process and our role to translate it is part of the writer’s role. That we reach down into the archetypal waters and bring those waters back in the form of images, words and story. For me that’s writing which is alive. Each story is a quest of some kind given to the writer to transmute into words as free from their own filters, limitations and fears as possible. That process is a part of living writing.
What inspired you to begin writing fiction with erotic content?
I had no intention of writing erotic romance. But I shouldn’t have been surprised when it became a strong focus of my work; it’s an area of people and life I find the most interesting.
Have your motivations changed since first writing? If so, how? What do you primarily wish to accomplish through your writing?
When I started, writing was a vehicle to tell story. It still is but as I developed, the writing process became a profound vehicle of experience in itself, something to pursue in its own right.
Are there ‘taboo’ areas you are interested in exploring but feel constrained by current regulations / commercial viability / social conventions?
My motivations are not academic, I don’t consider that I write erotica or eroticism, all of which have boundary pushing intentions.
I write erotic situations as a consequence of my characters and their stories. I am not driven by the erotic landscape in and of itself. My characters may yet lead me to controversial boundaries but they haven’t yet.
Olive has gone to Jamie and their first sexual encounter is just starting.
The corset was loose; Olive clutched it uselessly against her breasts. Every part of her rushing to what he promised and yet instinct still had her covering herself.
His head tilted to the side but her hands wouldn’t let go.
He reached out, gave the garment a gentle tug from under her tense fingers, and drew it away. His eyes burned brighter. Yet there was a softness in his face, just a little as he picked up the rope.
Her eyes looked over at the door. Then back to him and the rope. If she left they would never see each other again. If she stayed she knew right now, he would ruin her for any other man. Once they did what they were about to do she would hunger for something that only he could fill, a man who didn’t do love, didn’t do sleep overs or soft sex.
A man who would eventually move on.
THE BOUND HEART pre-order 1st Dec 2015 & Release 26th January 2016
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