Throughout the month of April, I’m featuring fellow eXtasy Books/Devine Destinies authors. In the interview chair for today is author Kim Allred who writes for the imprint eXtasy Books. She’s here to talk about her latest release The Lion and the Gazelle, book one of the Masquerade Club series, an erotic romance.
Kim Allred on Writing:
1. First, what’s your favourite scene in the book? Not in regards to writing, but reading, and why?
Kim: There’s a section in the book where Thornton calls Emmie to give her advice on how to handle the marketing campaign for his company. He ends up telling her a fairy tale about a queen and an ancient knight. The story is meant to have a hidden meaning for her but what I enjoy is the interplay between these two characters as the fairy tale unfolds and they begin to warm to each other.
2. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Kim: I don’t think so. I really loved the way the story unfolded but I guess there can always be more point of view. I could spend more time digging into the characters inner feelings. There’s a lot there already but I love slowing down the pace sometimes and just have a deeper conversation with the characters.
3. Share a “side story” about the characters.
Kim: This answer may relate a little to the last question about making any changes. Emmie’s best friend is Josie Collins. Josie is a free spirit who never apologizes for who she is. The story is set in Portland, Oregon and Josie and Emmie enjoy driving over to the coast on weekends. They splurge on mojitos in the evenings and then walk the beach in the foggy mornings, nursing partial hangovers until the stores open. Then they window shop until they drop before buying tourist hoodies and saltwater taffy. And all the while they dish on their man troubles. What a perfect weekend!
4. If you could spend time with one character from your book, who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Kim: I would love to spend a day with Dai Hashimoto. He’s Thornton’s best friend who owns his own dojo. I’ve always wanted to learn a martial art but never found the courage to try. Dai has fascinated me from the start, and besides his sensuality and good humor, he tends to use those traits to hide behind a more vulnerable persona. One that I hope to explore in Book 3 of the series. And who could resist spending a day getting sweaty with a gorgeous man?
5. Did the characters hijack the story or did you feel like you had control of your book?
Kim: I had more control in this book but there were a couple areas where the characters surprised me. Emmie was the most surprising but I wanted her to be a strong character who knows her own mind, isn’t afraid of her sexuality or what she wants. She didn’t disappoint.
6. How did you come up with the title for your book?
Kim: With the theme being masks, I wanted to select a title that not only spoke to how the character portrayed themselves at the club but for it to also speak to the inner spirit of the character. I hope I achieved that.
7. If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the leads?
Kim: Wow. This is always a tough question for me. I typically never think about a real person with my characters. I always feel like it takes something away from them and overrides what people know of the actors rather than the character. But now that the book is complete, I’m going to say Henry Cavill and Amber Heard. I think they’d make the perfect Emmie and Thornton match up.
8. If your book was a candle, what scent would it be and why?
Kim: Scotch with a touch of cigar. To be honest, I’ve never been partial to scotch but there’s still something eerily erotic about a man who drinks scotch. That touch of cigar is a scent that would linger long after the lovemaking has turned the participants into entwined sleepy bodies, awash in the glow of the hearth.
9. If your book had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Kim: This is a toss up between Tina’s “What’s Love Got to do With It” and Sade’s “Your Love is King”. These songs just bring out the romantic in me and helped me through a few scenes.
10. If your book was a colour, what would it be and why?
Kim: Based on the book cover, one would assume I’d say red. But I actually think tawny gold–the color of the lion and the gazelle. The color is warm, earthy, and comforting. But it also speaks to the golden flame of a fire that speaks to the inner intensity of the characters.
11. What did you edit out of the book?
Kim: I had a backstory scene of Thornton, Dai, and Isabel when they were in college together. They were a trio to be reckoned with back then and their sexual escapades knew no bounds.
12. What can we expect from you in the future?
Kim: The second book in the series, The Wolf and The Butterfly released in January of this year and is Josie Collins’s story. As I mentioned earlier, I can’t wait to delve deeper into Dai Hashimoto’s story and we’ll get that chance in book 3. I’m still working through the details and backstory of the plot and hope to have it written this fall. And I’m working on a Sci-Fi time travel book with a druid as my hero and a kick-ass heroine who works on a task force to capture time jumpers. This is a mix of old world with future world and this love story will be a slow burn. Gotta love the verbal foreplay!
All About Kim Allred:
1. What is something unique/quirky about you?
Kim: I raise alpacas and llamas. I suppose that’s somewhat unique if not quite quirky. I don’t breed them anymore and I miss the babies, but I get more than enough fiber from the ones I do have to keep a little fiber business going. And they are a great way to reduce stress. A few minutes with them and all the bad things just float away.
2. What are some of your pet peeves?
Kim: Put your shopping carts where they belong, not in the middle of the parking lot! Don’t litter! And please keep the toilet lid up so the cats and dogs have clean water! LOL That last one might earn me a “ewww”.
3. Where were you born/grew up at?
Kim: was born in Van Nuys, California which is in the valley (outside of LA). I grew up in Tujunga which is a tiny town in the hills just south/southeast of the valley.
4. Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Kim: A nature and animal lover.
5. Who is your hero and why?
Kim: Hillary Clinton. I don’t want to get political and I know people tend to either love her or hate her. But her ability to reinvent herself when the media pounds on her and her amazing ability to get back up, dust herself off, and still hold her head up high is an inspiration. But I have many others – Greta Thunberg, Megan Rapinoe, Michelle Obama, Emma Gonzalez to name just a few.
Kim Allred on Reading:
1. What book do you think everyone should read?
Kim: Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen. A tragic love story but at the heart of it is the story of a strong woman who battled many hardships yet was respected for her courage to fight for those who couldn’t fight for themselves.
2. What do you think about the current publishing market?
Kim: Being a new author, I certainly entered it at an interesting time. But I think I’m fortunate. There are so many avenues for an author these days and self-publishing, small presses, and e-book publishers open the playing field to a wider audience. I think we have fantastic stories being told that would otherwise be unattainable if we only had the traditional big publishing houses deciding what we should read.
3. If you could have been the author of any of your fave books that you’ve read, which book would you choose and why?
Kim: Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost. I have been enraptured by the love story between Cat and Bones from the beginning and I’ve read the entire Night Huntress series more than a few times. Cat is a kick-ass heroine and the instant attraction between Cat and her vampire lover Bones resonated with me from the beginning. I’m fascinated with the development of the characters and their relationship – through the happy times and the gut-wrenching sad times. The characters go through so much which I suppose is why the passion is so high. There’s something in the way Miss Frost brings her character to the pages that makes it difficult to see the story end. And the characters live on long after the series is done. If I can bring characters like that to my stories, I’ll know I’ve made it and that I’ve left something behind that can stir the passion in other readers.
4. Share your favourite character from a book that you’ve read, and why they are your fave.
Kim: Since I’ve already used Cat in my earlier answer I’m going to go for the one that may be a bit cliche. I love Hermione Granger. She’s smart, loyal, courageous, and fierce. And well, who wouldn’t like to have just a little bit of magic when you need it?
5. On average, how much do you read every week?
Kim: I actually listen to audio books rather than read. It’s difficult to find time to read with a full-time job plus the writing. I always have time to listen to books while driving, gardening and doing chores. So, I’m reading every day. Typically two books at a time – one for driving and one for doing chores. But it’s important to read books and not just listen, so I try to read an ebook or paperback at least one a month.
Title: The Lion & the Gazelle
Series: Masquerade Club, book #1
Author(s): Kim Allred
Genre(s): Erotic Romance
Heat Rating: 3 Flames
Publication Date: January 11, 2019
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Book Length: 176 Pages
Masquerade Club. Where no one knows your name. Almost no one.
Blurb: Emmie Savoy’s realization of her career goal—landing a partnership at a prestigious Portland marketing firm— drops on her desk hours before her first meeting with the high-profile client Thornton Longbridge.
But her rocketing career napalms her personal life. Her take no shit attitude intimidates most men, and casual affairs fall well short of satisfying her. If she didn’t have her best friend Josie, she’d be the loneliest person in the world.
Soon Longbridge’s unrealistic demands test her celebrated marketing skills, and their explosive disagreements threaten to burn her career aspirations to ashes.
Josie soars in for the rescue, dragging Emmie to an exclusive club where no one knows your name—or your face. The Masquerade Club not only brings the most exotic dreams to fruition but ignites desires Emma feared to explore.
When Andreas stalks her at the club, tempting pleasures she desperately craves, Emmie doesn’t resist. She succumbs to sensations she never thought possible, becoming prey to her darkest emotions.
Andreas draws out her deepest passions, but it’s the eyes of Thornton Longbridge that haunt her dreams.
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I turned my attention to the dance floor and to those who huddled on sofas around me, comparing the colorful and exotic masks. I ignored the blond at the bar. It wasn’t difficult. I couldn’t seem to stop staring at the door beyond the dance floor where people entered into bright lights before the door closed behind them. For some reason, I needed to know what was behind it. Would anyone notice if I went in? There didn’t seem to be a door monitor, but there could be someone on the other side. The worse they could do was tell me it was off limits.
I contemplated walking over to check it out. The best option would be a quick stop at the bathroom and a stroll by the mystery door on the way back. I stood, but something caught my attention at the bar, though I didn’t want to make eye contact with the blond again.
A man in a dark, tailored suit watched me. It was more than a passing glance. He stood with his back to the bar, an elbow leaning against it. Fawn-colored feathers framed his mask, reminding me of a mane. The bold markings added to the illusion of a large cat—a lion. I couldn’t see any whiskers from this distance, but I pictured fine white lines painted to blend into the fawn. He turned and spoke with the bartender who nodded my way as he answered the man.
I froze under his stare, feeling naked. I threw a hand to my eyes, but the mask sat firmly in place, and my shoulders dropped. I relaxed into the soft folds of the sofa and let my legs part an inch or so. The man straightened, like an electric shock jolted through him. I smiled. This was fun.
I tapped my fingers on the sofa to the beat of the music and glanced toward the mystery door.
When my gaze returned to the bar, the man was gone. My stomach dropped in disappointment.
“May I join you? I believe you’re drinking a lemon drop martini.” He stood next to the table, two drinks in his hands. One a martini—the other glass held an amber liquid.
His voice was deep and melodic. The color of his eyes appeared black behind the mask, and I realized it was the dark paint around the edges mixing in with the tawny colors of a lion. The deep darkness drew me in. He waited, not sitting like other men might have, assuming permission without gaining it.
I liked that. I wasn’t sure if it was the etiquette of the club or just his way. A sliver of power surged through me.
“I would hate to see a good drink go to waste. They seem to know what they’re doing here.” I gestured to the seat next to me.
I reached for the new drink, trying to reposition my hemline as I twisted to face him.
His tall frame eased next to me, so close we almost touched. His smile inched the mask up, and I followed it to his eyes. He stared at me as if trying to see what lay beyond my mask as I had been doing.
“This is your first time here.”
It wasn’t a question.
“How can you tell?”
He shrugged. “The way you’re taking it all in. And you’re alone.”
“No. I noticed your friend depart with someone a few moments ago.”
“And then you were here. People don’t seem to stay alone for long.”
“Not in this place. This isn’t a place to drown your sorrows. There are plenty of places for that.”
“And what is this place for?” The question seemed innocent enough.
His eyes darkened, and he leaned in, a conspiratorial tone marking his words. “It’s for pleasure beyond your wildest dreams.”
Whether it was the words, the way he said them, or the silkiness of his voice, a slight dampness penetrated my panties. It was all I could do to stop from gasping. I fought the urge to cross my legs, not wanting to signal the physical response I had to him. My inner voice balked at my line of thought. This man didn’t know me. He wouldn’t know that with his simple statement and bold look, I could possibly be leaving a wet spot on this lovely couch.
I sipped my drink, having no witty comeback.
He laughed, deep and rich, and a tingle lit up my nether regions. “I don’t want to scare you off on your first visit.”
Kim Allred grew up in Southern California but now enjoys the quiet life in an old timber town in the Pacific Northwest where she raises alpacas, llamas, and an undetermined number of free-range chickens. Just like her characters, Kim loves sharing stories while sipping a glass of wine or slurping a strong cup of brew.
Her spirit of adventure has taken her on many journeys including a ten-day dogsledding trip in northern Alaska and sleeping under the stars on the savannas of eastern Africa.
Kim is currently working on her next books in the Mórdha Stone Chronicles series and her sizzling romance series—Masquerade Club.
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