Tuesday 16 November 2010

Lily Harlem: Locations and more

Good morning readers of British Romance.
Having read about love, romance and sex in a wide variety of settings around the world, I’ve been musing today about my own location choices when setting out on the journey of writing a story.
Of course they say write what you know and being British through and through and having lived and holidayed in numerous locations around the British Isles I know my homeland pretty well. So I guess the UK is the natural and predominant setting for my stories.
If I cast my mind back I can remember being enthralled by the wild rawness of the Yorkshire Moors when reading Wuthering Heights. And when I lost myself in Pride and Prejudice the calm gentry of Hertfordshire was like a gentle soundtrack to the story. I’m sure international readers will have pictured the setting perfectly even if they’d never travelled to England. Jane Austin just does it so well.
Because getting a setting down on paper is an essential element to writing, not just the bar or the bedroom the characters are in but the whole sense of where in the world they are.
One of the first erotic novels I read which really captured my attention was ‘Asking for Trouble’ by Kristina Lloyd set in Brighton. It’s an edgy, sexy tale that I will not give anything away about because I wouldn’t want to spoil it – but trust me – its steamy stuff. I adored the way Ms Lloyd described the setting, having been to Brighton several times she got it just right, but if I hadn’t ever visited I would still have felt the hip vibe and the café, beach culture, all mixed in with a seedy plot line that was un-put-downable.
I set my novel ‘Shared’ in another coastal city, Cardiff. I adore Cardiff, I don’t live there but I spend a lot of time wandering the shops, meandering around the beautiful bay and eating at the restaurants. When I needed a place for my threesome to live the majestic new apartment blocks with their sumptuous penthouses were the perfect location - money of course being no object in my imagination! I loved setting it somewhere I knew so well and as the characters moved about I sent them to real places, calling on my knowledge of smells and food and other people for them to interact with. I tried to add some colloquial language but most of that was taken out at editing. It was just plain confusing if you’re not familiar with the Welsh way of speaking.
Sometimes now it feels a little strange when I go to Cardiff Bay and I almost find myself looking for the gorgeous Liam and the broodingly sexy Quinn! I’ve had several reader comments about Torchwood, which is of course filmed there, had I known it was so popular in the US I maybe would have featured some of the architecture made famous by the show.
When I tackled ‘Mattress Music’, my latest Ellora’s Cave release, I headed to London. I have to admit I was inspired by ‘Kings of Leon’ who I am totally obsessed with, but I made up my own UK rock and roll fantasy for Nina and set it smack bang in the capital. There’s even a trip to London Zoo, one of my most favourite places in the city but not typically linked to erotica, though trust me, things get seriously hot in the bug house! I went on to write two more in the series, ‘Mirror Music’ and ‘Ménage à Music’, both due out next year. I’ve stuck to London for these too. You just can’t go wrong, there’s every type of location, atmosphere, iconic building you need there – except of course if you want your lovers to have a romantic walk on the beach – then you’ve had it!

We don’t read so much about less glamorous cities, I’ve never come across an erotic romance set in Reading, Hartlepool or Birmingham for example. Although I’m sure less well known towns and cities could lend themselves very well to the genre. The author could create the atmosphere suitable to her characters and their situation using the mood and streets of an unfamiliar setting.
Of course the season effects the location too. I’ve set my new Total-E-Bound novella ‘Escape to the Country’ in The Cotswolds smack bang in the middle of summer. The weather is blazing and the countryside lush. The characters cool off – and more! -in an outdoor pool something which would be unthinkable any other time of year because it gets pretty damn chilly. But I adore the Cotswolds, the rich rusty colour of the stonework and the picturesque villages with their old world pubs. It really worked well for the story about a city couple taking a weekend break with friends.
I’d love to hear reader’s comments and other author’s thoughts on British location’s for sexy books – any places you particularly love or hate, or perhaps locations you would like to see featured more.
Scroll down for hot excerpts taken from my two new releases set in the UK and if you have time check out my website http://www.lilyharlem.weebly.com/  and say hi – there’s links to my other reads including ‘Shared’, inspirational pictures and information on other great authors.
Lily Harlem x
Winner of the 2009 Love Honey Award for Erotic Fiction

Mattress Music by Lily Harlem
Here’s the blurb
Is it possible to lose one’s ability to orgasm? Nina has. Lately, her fun weekend hook-ups have been more “ho-hum” than “hot damn”! It doesn’t help that she has three flatmates and is forced to play loud music to mask the sounds of her lovemaking. Talk about distracting! Of course, there’s another reason Nina’s less than satisfied these days…she’s just having a hard time admitting it.
It’s a good thing she’s met Ian, then. Not content to be a weekend hook-up, Ian is set on giving Nina what she’s been missing while making her admit what she needs. His talented fingers—and other body parts—are up to the task. But Ian’s not admitting a few things himself. Turns out his fingers can do more than make Nina’s body sing.
When she discovers his secret, it’s time for both of them to face the music.

And here is an excerpt - adults only it’s hot!

“You’re fucking awesome,” he whispered into my ear on a hot, panting breath.
“You too,” I said, running my hand down his perfectly smooth back. Not a pimple anywhere, just acres of glorious hot, male flesh and a deeply guttered spine lined with solid muscle. “Really good.”
He lifted his head and looked into my eyes. “Liar.”
“Liar, you didn’t come.”
“I did, it was great…you were great.” Lying to a man who was buried inside me was not something I was good at.
“I’m not stupid, Nina, I can tell when a woman orgasms. I can’t always tell the difference between real and fake, but bloody hell, you didn’t even try to pretend, not even a little wriggle and a gasp at the right moment.”
Frowning and shifting my hips I muttered, “Sorry,” as I pushed out from under him.
“Don’t be sorry.” He rolled to his side, bent his arm and propped his head on his hand. The flat silver cross around his neck hung toward the mattress. “Just tell me what I did wrong so I can fix it for next time,” he said, still catching his breath.
Next time? Not likely. One-night stands were my game. “You didn’t do anything wrong.” I pulled the duvet to my chin and turned to the wall. “It was me.”
He caught my jaw. “Tell me,” he ordered, tipping me to face him. “I want to know.”
Through the dim light, blushed orange by a streetlamp, I could see his dark eyes staring straight into mine, unblinking. One of my flatmates banged crockery in the kitchen next to my room then a deep rumble of laughter from one of the guys, Jerry I think, filtered through the thin wall.
“Why do you care?” I asked, toes and fingers curling.
“I’m lying naked in bed with you, we’ve just shared as intimate an experience as two people can, and you wonder why I’m bothered that you didn’t have as good a time as me? Would I be human if I didn’t give a shit?”
I shrugged. Candle in the Wind had finished, and in its place Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me was swirling around us.
Too late to save myself from falling—
That was me, I thought, too far gone on this road of shagging any cock I could find to be saved. In my old flat, living with Dee and Fiona, life had been great and mattress music was never needed. We all just went for it, having as much sex and as many noisy orgasms as possible. We would giggle about it over breakfast and swap stories about what racy shenanigans we’d been up to.
But now they’d moved on. They were both head over heels in love and settled in their own homes, leaving me out on a limb and living here with strangers.
Of course I wasn’t technically alone, but if I was honest I’d never felt so lonely. I didn’t want to be, loneliness was like a dull, gray hole swelling inside me. Starting in my stomach and stretching outward. And in the center of this hole was a new bitter emotion―envy. I envied what Dee and Fi had found, lasting love with respect and commitment. But admitting what I wanted and changing the fact that there was no one special in my life were two separate issues.
More pressingly, at the moment anyway, nor could I change the fact that I hadn’t orgasmed since I’d moved. My one-night stands just weren’t doing it for me anymore. The intimacy of getting naked and sweaty with someone wasn’t satisfying the hunger, the need that was eating away at me like an itch I couldn’t quite reach.
I’d been here three weeks, three fucks. But each week there had been something sneaking into my brain that had distracted me from the delicious build-up to climax. Deadly quiet the first week when I was with a bodybuilding scaffolder from Durham, every mattress squeak and grunt sliding under the door and echoing through the walls. With Dave, an earnest accountant from Chelsea, a knock on my door midway through a blowjob put me off my stride. And now this morose mattress music was stopping me from having a great time with the truly gorgeous Ian.
“Nina?” Ian pressed, dragging me from my depressed musing.
“It was the damn music,” I said with a frown. He wasn’t going to let it drop so I might as well fess up. “I couldn’t concentrate. You were doing it right, great, but I just kept thinking of Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana and Elton singing at his piano with his big, wobbling white wig and that mole thing he used to paint on his cheek.”
Ian tipped his head back and laughed. A big guffaw that shook the bed.
“Shh!” I pressed my fingers to his lips.
“Thank God for that,” he said, grinning. “Thought I’d lost my touch.”
“It’s not funny,” I whispered.
“No, no.” He tried to straighten out his grin. “Of course it’s not. I’ve just never thought of it before, the words in a song competing for the attention of the woman I’m trying to please.” He dropped a kiss to my lips. “So why did you put it on if you don’t like it?”
“So no one will hear. The walls here are so thin, and I’ve got male flatmates who I don’t want perving with glasses pressed to the walls.”
“You think they would?”
I sighed. “Probably not, they seem nice enough, but just the same…”
“You want your privacy.”
“Exactly.” I paused then sighed. “We should have taken a cab and gone to yours.”
“Yeah, but this was closer, much closer, just a quick walk around the corner.” He smoothed the hair from my face. It always went wild after sex. The hundreds of tiny, copper corkscrews seemed to take on lives of their own. “Maybe we could leave the music off and do it really, really quietly,” he whispered, spreading springs of my hair over the pillowcase.
“No,” I said. “That won’t work, I’ll be too conscious of even our breathing, or if the mattress squeaks.”
His eyes narrowed and a muscle in his cheek flexed, then he got up, walked to the iPod and finally silenced Elton. “This isn’t over you know.”

To find out what Ian has in store for Nina follow this buy link -

Escape to the Country by Lily Harlem

Here’s the blurb
London life is hard going for Annie and Tim, and despite being in love, they’re just not hitting the spot in the bedroom. So, in an attempt to put the steam back into their relationship, Tim whisks Annie to the Cotswolds to visit Matt and Jane his uber-cool, sexually liberal friends from University.
As the temperature heats to melting point in the chocolate box cottage so does the sex, and Annie, with the help of her hosts, discovers a variety of hidden carnal desires, not just in herself but also Tim. Who would have thought he’d be into that? Who would have thought ‘that’ would have her buzzing from head to toe?

Escape to the Country excerpt – adults only its 18+

Quickly, I stepped away. After he’d finished coming down Carl’s throat, Matt would open his eyes and see me watching from the doorway. I didn’t know which one of us would be the most mortified—me probably.
I turned and came face to face with Jane.
“Hi, Annie,” she said quietly. “I came to see if you needed to borrow a top.”
“I…I… No, I’m fine, thanks.” I struggled to drag in a breath.
Her gaze slipped to my chest. My breasts were heaving like mounds of jelly and the wobbling flesh threatened to spill over its containment. “I like that top better than the other one,” she said, her eyes not moving from where they’d settled.
“I…just… Shall we go and sort out dessert?” I was keen to get her away from the image of her husband getting a blow job from another man.
“No, I think we’ll stay up here.” She lifted a stray curl from my breast and held it between her thumb and index finger. “I like it up here, just you and me.”
My skin ignited where her fingertip had brushed my flesh, and as she coiled the strand of hair around her finger with delicate, precise movements, I had to lean my back against the coolness of the wall for support. She placed the lock on my shoulder, and very gently, her finger traced over the strap of my vest top as if smoothing it neat.
“Don’t worry about them.” She nodded at the bedroom where Matt and Carl could be heard shuffling about. “They always do that between main and dessert.”
“They do?” My eyes saucered and my mind whirled. “And you don’t mind?”
“Hell, no.” She stepped closer and I was forced to tip my head up to look at her face. “It means I can do exactly what I want, with who I want, and Matt can’t say a thing. Not one little, teeny, tiny complaint.” The shiny pink tip of her tongue caressed the corner of her mouth.
“Oh.” I thought she was going to kiss me. She was so close I could see every tiny freckle on her face. Her grey eyes were studying my mouth and her toes were touching mine. I licked my lips and buckled my knees.
“Do you have that kind of relationship with Tim?” she asked. “He and Matt used to share everything, you know?”
“They did?”
“Yes, nothing was out of bounds.”
“It wasn’t?”
“They even shared me sometimes.”
“Oh.” How did I feel about knowing Tim had slept with Jane? I played the scene in my head, like a movie, and decided there was only one overwhelming feeling, jealousy. But I wasn’t jealous of Jane getting it off with my boyfriend. I was jealous that Tim had been inside Jane. He knew what she felt like, what noises she made when she came, where she liked to be touched. I was insanely jealous that he’d done what I wanted to do right this minute.

If you fancy joining Tim and Annie on their naughty trip to the beautiful Cotswolds here’s the buy link -


Lily Harlem said...

Thanks so much for having me on British Romance Fiction - it's always cool to be able to hang out and chat with readers and other authors. Please don't be shy about leaving a comment.

Renee Vincent said...

I really liked the Mattress Music excerpt! Ian was cute and I so know what the heroine went through. If the music is not perfect, it can be downright distracting. Although, I doubt I would ever choose Elton John as my "background" music. haha

Wishing you the best, Lily!

Margaret West said...

I suppose living in the uk I take it all for granted.I love reading historicals set in old england. Jane Austin sometimes based her characters on people she knew. Tom Lefroy being one who was thought she based Mr Darcy on. Cripes, he actually existed lol
Downton Abbey I am watching at the moment. Did you know vegetables were hardly ever used in those days!!! Their digestion must of been slightly buggered >G< Loved Emma. I could go on for ages, so I'll leave you with a thought. Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelt quite good by June. However, since they were starting to smell brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide their body odor.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married. True or false. I'll let you decide!!! loved the blurbs by the way. Great post.

Marianne Stephens said...

Since I've never been to Europe, it's interesting to read books set in other places. Having started reading regency/historical romance books, I've always had a "soft spot" for those set in England. And, I'm a Torchwood fan, too!

Anonymous said...

I set my gay contemporary, Walking Wounded, in Portsmouth, where I spent a couple of days in 2002. It was mostly intended as a research trip for my Age of Sail series, but I think there's still a lot of romance there. My friend Charlie Cochrane saved me a lot of embarassment when she 'brit-picked' the story... I hadn't been aware that my final action scene was set where a 'block of posh flats' had been constructed before the Trafalgar anniversary.