All Thanks to Tara Buckley

In December 2011, Harmony Road Press began its publishing empire with a single novella by the erotica author, Tara Buckley. A week later, we added Christina Thacher to our stable of authors. A year after that, Magdalen Braden’s Love in Reality.

We’ve recently relinquished to Tara Buckley all our rights to publish her two erotic novellas. They’re no longer on sale as Harmony Road publications. This was a mutual decision, and we hope it benefits Tara both professionally and financially in the months and years to come. We wish her all the very best in her future endeavors.

And we thank her for jump-starting Harmony Road Press. She’s been a good friend, a fantastic writer, and a constant source of inspiration. Without her…well, let’s just say that this site would be a very different sort of place and Harmony Road Press a different sort of business.

We can’t say what will happen with Tara’s career. If we learn anything, we’ll post it here. In the meantime, just know that it’s all thanks to Tara.

Introducing Magdalen Braden

Magdalen Braden

Magdalen Braden

This year we’re excited to bring out a brand-new contemporary romance series by Magdalen Braden. Here are her answers to all those questions you’ve been burning to ask:

Q: How did you become a romance writer?

The usual way: I read romances almost exclusively in my misspent youth. I wrote my first romance novel (lost now, thankfully) in my late teens, and my second one in my mid-twenties. They were crap, of course, but they were complete and I even submitted them. That demonstrated a level of dedication and ambition I rarely had at that age. (I’m a late-bloomer!)

Q: You’re also a part-owner of Harmony Road Press – why did you decide to indie publish your books?

I write books I personally want to read. I’m hoping that other people find them and enjoy them too. Indie publishing lets me work toward that goal, where traditional publishing would probably pass. (Urban legal romances aren’t in vogue this year.)

Q: What are The Blackjack Quartet books about?

After I graduated law school, I clerked for a federal judge. Fascinating to see what that job is like, particularly as there are strict rules on what sorts of conversations a judge can have with a lawyer appearing in his/her court.

So I thought, What if a new federal judge walked out and fell in love at first sight with a lawyer he’d never met? Fifteen years later, that story—Blackjack & Moonlight—was a finalist in the Romance Writers of America® (RWA) 2012 Golden Heart® contest.

But the judge, Jack “Blackjack” McIntyre, doesn’t live in a vacuum. He’s got twin nieces who are in their mid-twenties, and a former colleague who leaves the Justice Department for private practice. Lots of people to fall in love. As they have Blackjack in common, it’s his quartet!

Q: So they’re something like TV’s The Good Wife, but Philadelphia-based?

I love The Good Wife because the legal solutions are always so clever. My books have a bit less legal intrigue but a guaranteed happy ending! And more sex.

As for Philadelphia, well, I went to law school there, clerked there, worked for two different Center City law firms, and still have friends in the legal community who feed me all the gossip. (Which we mix in with fictional gossip from my fake Philly lawyers. Just as my characters do, you can read all the shocking and funny items at www.PhillyLawLife.com.)

Q: What was it like to be a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart contest?

It’s like getting selected for a sorority. One day I was a solitary writer, the next day I had 62 fellow finalists. (We’re the Firebirds. www.ghfirebirds.com.) Our support of each other’s careers has been humbling and inspirational. That’s the real prize for being a finalist—having a sense of community and belonging.

Q: Why did you choose a reality TV theme for your first book?

Different things will snag my imagination. In the case of Love in Reality, it was this image of a contestant on a Big Brother-style reality show getting to know the producer who’s hidden behind smoky glass, asking her questions. Once I’d pictured that, everything else was a series of questions? Who is she? Why’s she on a show she didn’t apply to be on? Who’s the producer? Why’s he attracted to a contestant when that’s strictly against the rules? By the time I’d answered those questions and a hundred more, I had a plot.

Q: What’s coming up next in the series?

The Cost of Happiness, also known as “The Angsty One.” (Love in Reality is The Funny One, Blackjack & Moonlight is The Sexy One, and Lost and Found is The Romantic One.)

It starts out being about how the heroine’s mother ruins Meghan’s legal career, forcing her to work as a paralegal. Dan Howard, coming from Blackjack’s office, is thrilled to have such a sharp colleague, regardless of her job title. They get involved, but it’s not smooth sailing. Not even close.

Going Free with Roman and Juliet

Roman and JulietAfter finishing three novellas in The Aerie Doms erotic romance series, Christina Thacher wanted to end with a shorter story. You can read Roman and Juliet for FREE at any of these stores:

Amazon | B & N | Apple | Kobo | Sony | Smashwords

Q: We gather your latest hero Roman is a rancher. That’s a bit of a departure from your usual “urban professionals” … why cowboys this time?

Cowboys sell! Well, I assume they do. Certainly some of the review sites I follow on Twitter seem to go crazy for a sexy cowboy. The trouble is, I don’t know anything about cowboys, so I made Roman a rancher, which I take to be a businessman who owns a lot of land that might be called a ranch. So I guess he’s more of a “rural professional.” LOL

Q: Roman and Juliet is also a shorter story, which you asked us to give away for free, at least initially. What do you hope to achieve by doing that?

I want more people to get to know my voice and the sort of story I write. Roman and Juliet isn’t as much into the BDSM as The Aerie Doms’ “Heart Trilogy” (The Locked Heart, The Frozen Heart, and The Secret Heart), but I suspect Juliet and Roman will end up incorporating some restraints and power exchange into their sex life going forward. And that’s really what I want new readers to understand: it’s a continuum: I don’t write about straight vanilla sex (well, not mostly; see my last answer for the exception to the rule) but I don’t write about people who are full time into BDSM.

Q: Why did you choose to set The Aerie Doms series in Denver? Is it a hotbed of BDSM activity?

I have to laugh, because I have no idea. Maybe it is, in which case, I do apologize to everyone in that life who can pick holes in the way I’ve described things. I live in Philadelphia, so I wanted a city somewhat like mine but not mine. That’s about as much thinking I gave the question. I do research the locales pretty carefully, so while The Aerie is clearly made up, I’ve picked actual houses and apartments to springboard ideas for where everyone lives. A lot of the action in all three of The Aerie Doms stories takes place outside the club, so it’s good to have a clear floor plan in my mind for those scenes.

Q: Will the Lawyer to the Doms series be based there too, or do you have somewhere else in mind?

Those stories will take place outside Washington, D.C. Again, I have NO IDEA if there’s BDSM going on in our nation’s capitol. (Hmm. Power-exchange sex and politics? No, I really have no idea…) But what I do know is that there’s a lot of businesses and lawyers in that area. As all three stories revolve around one specific lawyer who’s a go-to expert when you need someone to argue your case before the Supreme Court, I thought it would be good to keep him close to the Capitol.

Q: A little “tweety” bird tells us you’re also collaborating on an anthology of stories for another publisher (boo). Tell us about that please.

I’d feel guilty about this except that I’m too excited. Three other erotica authors—Ginny Glass, Maggie Wells, and Emily Cale—and I have collaborated on a six-volume anthology called Love Letters. It’s an adult way to learn your letters: “A is for Assignment,” “B is for Bondage,” “C is for Curious,” and “D is for Detained.” That’s the first volume; I wrote “B is for Bondage,” if you couldn’t figure that out.

We’re thrilled that Carina Press, the digital imprint for Harlequin, has agreed to publish Love Letters. Volume One is due out in April 2013. We’re in edits on Volume Two and working on the stories for Volume Three (I’m writing “I is for Indecent” right now, in fact.)

I love my co-authors, who are all talented, funny, irreverent, and charming. I love the Carina team assigned to us: Angela James, the executive editor, and Deb Nemeth, our copy editor. And I’m hoping this will bring lots more readers to my Harmony Road Press titles.

But, I want to be honest, not all of the Love Letters stories will have BDSM elements. Each volume has a theme, so while in Volume One all the stories have a BDSM theme, in later volumes the themes will be different. Some kinkiness and some vanilla sex. I’m just trying to uh, grow as a writer. LOL

Roman and Juliet is FREE at: Amazon | B & N | Apple | Kobo | Sony | Smashwords

The Aerie Doms Wrap-up Q and A

The Secret HeartChristina Thacher has just completed The Aerie Doms series with The Secret Heart. We wanted to hear her latest thoughts on the erotic romance genre and her plans for the future:

Q: What kind of feedback have you been getting from readers?

I’ve gotten some lovely emails from readers, which has been great. Personally I get shy about contacting my own favorite authors, but it’s absolutely true: one of the nicest things that can happen to an author is to hear from a satisfied reader.

I’ve also gotten some wonderful reviews by readers at the various places where you can say why you liked a book (e.g., Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.). The reservations expressed by readers are often quite insightful. I read them with a lot of interest; those comments do help me get better as a writer.

Q: The erotic romance sub-genre seems to be increasingly hot right now … why do think that is, and do you think the trend will continue?

“Increasingly hot”? Did you intend that pun, or are you just glad to see me? LOL

Well, 50 Shades of Grey has brought erotic romance to a lot of readers, some of whom perhaps didn’t know that such books existed. Of course, sexy romances have been around since the days of the so-called “bodice ripper,” but there are some key differences. The strength of E.L. James’s trilogy is that her characters are relatable while still being larger-than-life. Twenty-seven-year-old billionaires aren’t exactly run-of-the-mill guys, but that feeling of falling in love and being desperate to maintain the connection with another person: that’s something a lot of us have experienced or want to experience.

What the sex adds to such a story is a universal point of connection. I could write about Xavier and Angela (my hero and heroine in The Secret Heart) intensely playing backgammon, but a lot of people have no experience of that game. Sex, on the other hand, is frequently fun to do and fun to read about.

Finally, 50 Shades of Grey focused on the core of two people falling in love. There was a modest suspense subplot, but most of the three books was taken up with the relationship. I like stories like that: they look at the two people and what they’re dealing with in the course of falling in love.

Sex and intense emotions: my favorite sides to a main dish of romance!

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Sadly, I don’t have as much free time as I would like. My day job tends to keep me in the office a lot. I like to travel when I can, I read (of course!), and I’m passionate about the Philadelphia Eagles. I never miss a game.

Q: Without spoiling things too much, is The Secret Heart the last we will hear of The Aerie?

I may come back to visit from time to time—I do love these characters—but it’s tough to present them as viable characters after their HEAs (happy-ever-afters). Part of me would love to see Kai and Jenna’s wedding, or Darby and Damien’s domestic bliss after their baby is born. And Xavier owns a Queen Anne Victorian that I’m just itching to visit. But a little of that can go a long way, and as the characters themselves are stable, what would I write about them? Part of the HEA is the assurance the writer gives the reader: “They’re okay. You don’t have to worry about them anymore.”

That said, I’m currently working on a short story, Roman and Juliet, that pairs off a visiting Dom and one of the usual subs at The Aerie. So I’ve not locked the doors to The Aerie yet!

Q: What are your plans after that?

Oh, I’m so excited about this. Someone online asked if anyone knew of books with actual BDSM contracts in them. There’s 50 Shades of Grey, of course, and Annabel Joseph’s Comfort Object, but it got me thinking. (I’m a lawyer in “real life.”)

Contracts and other legal documents have limits, including a prohibition against any agreement that violates public policy. So a piece of paper signed by two adults that lays out the terms of a sexual power exchange is unlikely to be enforceable in a court of law. That doesn’t mean there aren’t situations where it’s still a good idea to draft that agreement.

And if you’re going to create a legal document, you may want a lawyer to help. Who’s that lawyer going to be? Someone intimately familiar with the BDSM community.

At the same time, I LOVED the recent BBC adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia,” the short story that introduces Sherlock Holmes to Irene Adler.  In the remake, “A Scandal in Belgravia,” Irene Adler is a professional dominatrix who’s clearly attracted to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Homes. She’s the one who got away, his “what if” woman. Of course, she never shows up again in Conan Doyle’s stories, but what if she had?

In other words, what if an all-powerful lawyer fell in love with a woman who has to disappear…and then, when he is used to life without her, she reappears? And that’s when I got the idea for Mackenzie Lyon, the super-hot “Lawyer to the Doms.”

I have in mind a trilogy (good things come in threes) that starts with Mac dealing with an unusual bequest from an uncle to his vanilla nephew. When the uncle dies, the nephew inherits his estate…and the young woman living in the uncles house as a 24-7 submissive. Of course you can’t “leave” a human being in your will…but as introductions go, that’s a doozy. What’s the nephew going to think when he meets this woman? And what’s she going to think of him? And was the uncle matchmaking the whole time?

In Mac’s second book, he’s the lawyer helping a young woman negotiate a contract with a Dom who’s hiding behind legalese. We all know the sub has a lot of power in these situations, so how can the “Lawyer to the Doms” help her get what love story she wants?

Finally, in the third story, Mac’s “Irene Adler” is going to return and we’ll find out what an all-powerful guy does when his heart starts up again! As we’ve seen in Xavier and Angela’s story, I enjoy watching very powerful men deal with the one situation they can’t control: love.

Q and A with author Christina Thacher

We asked author Christina Thacher to reveal all about her writing and plans for the future …

Q: How did you come to start writing BDSM romances?

I found Cherise Sinclair online and read the first of her Club Shadowlands books. I was blown away by how caring a romance hero could be. Dominating but caring at the same time. Hey, I want that! So I started reading all of Cherise’s backlist, then Annabel Joseph, Juniper Bell, and a host of others. I have my favorite authors, but much as I would like, they can’t write fast enough for me. Then a friend, Tara Buckley, told me she’d written one, and being basically competitive, I thought, “I can do that.”

Q: Which authors outside of the BDSM genre have influenced you most?

Great question. Lee Child, for sure, because Jack Reacher is such a hottie. Also Jodi Picoult writes beautifully about situations we mostly think about in the abstract. I love Stephen King; no one is better at grabbing readers and taking them along for a ride. And romance authors, of course, like Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Mary Balogh.

Q: When and how do you write?

Ah, the joys of a pseudonym! In my real life, I’m a bankruptcy lawyer. That means I frequently have to be in court, waiting for my case to be called. Let’s just say some naughty things have happened to my characters while I’m waiting. And all the other lawyers – and the judge! – think I’m making notes or something.

Q: What kind of research do you do…The Aerie seems like it might be a real place?

I had a chance to meet Juniper Bell. This was back when I was just a reader and a fan. I asked her a similar question, which is rather what a lot of readers want to know. She just laughed. And now I understand why. I’ve never been to Denver (although I’ve visited it a lot online, LOL) and I’ve never been to a club quite like The Aerie.

This might be a good place to admit that mine are works of imaginative fiction. So to the many courageous and honest people who are in the real BDSM world, I apologize for getting the details wrong. I’m well aware that my characters may be a little bit tame compared to what’s out there.

Q: Who’s in on the secret that you write BDSM erotica?

My publishers, and almost no one else. My best friend at work is married to a judge; I’m too terrified to tell her the truth in case she tells her husband. My family just assumes I work too much.

I’ve also not told my friends that I’d like to try BDSM in real life. Well, “BDSM-lite.” Basically, I want to meet a man like one of my heroes: firm and in control while all the time focused on my satisfaction. I haven’t met him…yet.

Q: What can your readers look forward to in the future?

I’m currently working on Xavier’s and Angela’s tale, The Secret Heart. They’re the ultimate “power couple,” and the story of their relationship is like opening one of those presents that’s intricately wrapped: untie the ribbon and rip away the paper and you find a box, inside that box is more paper and another box, inside which is even more paper wrapped around a velvet pouch. I’ll let my readers guess what’s inside the velvet!

Harmony Road Press have asked me to write a short story set in The Aerie that they can offer to readers as a “freebie.” I’m so happy to do this, and I’ve already got my hero in mind: the “gentleman rancher.” Let’s just say he’s good with rope and recalcitrant livestock!

After that, I’ll leave Denver for a little bit. I’ve been inspired by the new BBC production of Sherlock Holmes. I love that character: the man who knows everything and can handle any situation…except that one woman who turns him inside-out.  Basically, at the end of the “Scandal in Belgravia” episode, I had to wonder: What would happen if Irene Adler came back?

So I’ve imagined Gregory Dunstable, the “lawyer to the Doms.” He’s got a famous law practice that includes arguing cases before the Supreme Court. But he also helps out fellow Doms with legal issues.

In the first book, a client dies and leaves his estate to his nephew…including the client’s sub. Dane, the nephew, needs the money but worries that Piper, the sub, should have inherited instead. Having no experience of the BDSM scene, Dane imagines Piper to be downtrodden and helpless. Hah! She’s a successful businesswoman who doesn’t need the money. But it is her home, so when Dane moves in, they have to get to know each other before Dane can know what’s the right thing to do.

Book Two of “The Lawyer to the Doms” series will have a sub, Katrina, approach Gregory Dunstable for legal help. Okay—I’ll admit, I haven’t thought this book out yet.

But in Book Three, Gregory Dunstable’s own “Irene Adler” – the woman he fell for years earlier but could never have and never find again – resurfaces. And I’ll find out the answer to the question of what an all-knowing, successful Dom does when the woman of his dreams is there, in the flesh.