Friday Five: Viveka Portman

1607Author: Viveka Portman
First published with Escape: 2013
Favourite romance trope: Historical
Ideal hero (in three words): Strong, masculine, confident
Ideal heroine (in three words): Interesting, clever, thoughtful
Latest book: The Journal of a Vicar’s Wife
What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?

I always wrote stories from a young age, and I decided to get serious about it after my good friend and fellow author Shona Husk urged me send some of manuscripts off for publication. I chose the romance genre because I think there is far too much unhappiness in the world, and I have no intention of adding a miserable story to it. Romance by definition has a happy ending, and that’s what I love about it.

Viveka (1)What is your writing Kryptonite?

My small farm usurps most of my time these days, and though I love it, I am struggling to find time to write. Which I hate. My latest work has been ‘in progress’ for over two years: fingers crossed we’re nearly there!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to research for a book?

I spent a great deal of time researching testicular injuries for my book “The Private Affairs of Lady Jane Fielding.” I am now fully versed in the appearance, and symptoms of a testicular atrophy.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

When I’m writing, my face contorts with the emotions that my character is feeling. So I’m intermittently scowling, smiling, frowning, smirking at the computer screen. My children find this disturbing.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/familiar? Do you have one alViveka (2)ready?

I love my animals from my sheep to my steers, but my mascot would undoubtedly have to be my cat Al, he’s a naughty, funny, cuddly monster who will sit on my lap, computer, desk for however many hours I stay there. There’s not better writing companion.


24497The final instalment in Viveka Portman’s sexy, sinful Regency Diaries sees an unhappy wife desperately seeking love—and her taciturn husband who doesn’t know how to reach her.

My husband, though I do not doubt his goodness, does not love nor want me. He married me for pure convenience. He needed a bride and I was the one offered to him. Thus I find my pleasures where I may…

Mrs Maria Reeves has been married for six years. Six long, lonely years. She craves love and affection, but married to a handsome but pious vicar she receives little in the way of earthly pleasures. The Reverend Vicar Frederick Reeves is a man of principle and morals, and is more likely to provide his wife with suggested Bible readings than carnal knowledge.

If her husband will not please her, then she will find a man who will.

But infidelity doesn’t come naturally to the vicar’s wife. Though Maria finds herself getting the sexual pleasure she desires, she also finds herself emotionally frayed and unhappy. To make matters worse, in the small village of Stanton there are always people watching, and Maria discovers that some secrets are impossible to keep. What will her upright husband do when he discovers that Maria has broken not only one of the commandments, but her vows to him?

Hot Sales! (and we mean hot)

On top of our amazing Valentine’s Day promo (check them out here!) , we are so pleased to share that Google Play Books is also running a hot, hot, hot erotica sale…and do we have some hot titles at hot promotional prices for you!

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An erotic new adult romance about old insecurities, new beginnings, and the things you can get up to in a tent…

“the attraction … is palpable and the sexual tension sizzling” (Jeannie Zelos, Goodreads)

Hook me up!


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She’s a small town caterer, he’s a big city chef, but they don’t need a kitchen to make things sizzle…

“Grab it, gobble it up, and it will leave you feeling satisfied.” (Ms RomanticReads, Goodreads)

Yes, please!


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If there’s one thing Zoe Chandler, Historical Restorations expert, knows, it’s that naked bankers aren’t supposed to look like Greek gods.

“Humor, a hot hero, a feisty heroine, some super steamy love scenes (did I mention the love scenes were hot, like really hot, like melt the clothes off of you hot), and of course a happily ever after.” (Constance, Goodreads)

Take me there!


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Four stories of eroticism, strength, experimentation, and ultimate salvation.

“If you are looking for a fun, entertaining, and spicy read, Release should be in your to–be-read pile.” (Lori, Goodreads)

Get this on my e-reader!


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From Cathleen Ross comes a naughty-but-nice story about the fun one can have playing dress-up.

“The chemistry between Ruby and Jake is explosive and practically melted my kindle.” (Lea, Goodreads)

Gimme gimme gimme!


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Natasha Raven is unqualified for her job – but a sexy customer service staffer is about to offer her some professional development…

“If you’re in the mood for a quick sexy read, give Room Service a try!” (Tracy, Goodreads)

Make this mine!


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A dark, violent, and devastatingly sensual erotic fantasy about the binding force of love.

“The Sexy Time was SUPER hot!!” (Liz, Goodreads)

Yes please!


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An Australian-set paranormal drawing on the Aboriginal Dreamtime in a hot, suspenseful series debut.

“great for a beach or bath tub read” (Stefanie, Goodreads)

Hook me up!


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A guarded recluse, some dirty pictures and a spark of curiosity that leads to a dangerous attraction.

“This is one of the funniest, smartest and sexiest erotic romances I’ve read.” (Love Reading Romance, Goodreads)

Gimme gimme gimme!


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Traditionally, leather is an anniversary gift. One couple is about to take that in a very non-traditional way…

“an enjoyable, short erotic romance” (Erinne, Goodreads)

Make this mine!


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From Cate Ellink comes a sun-soaked erotic novel about a tropical paradise, two athletes used to getting physical, and a sex-filled, no-strings holiday fling. 

“Just make sure you grab yourself a fan, because things do get steamy!”(My Written Romance, Goodreads)

Get this on my e-reader!

Gateway to Romance: Rhyll Biest

by Rhyll Biest

My gateway books to romance reading were novels about animals and, in particular, horses (I was horse mad as a kid) or even just novels with horses on the cover. At around twelve years of age I read Mary Stewart’s Airs Above the Ground because of the white Lippizaner on the cover, loved the very prim and proper romantic suspense and went on to read Madame Will You Talk and then all of her books. Similarly, I was a huge fan of Anne McCaffrey and K.M. Peyton around the same age. (It’s pretty clear I spent most of my tweens reading. Time well spent!) K.M. Peyton is a prize-winning British young adult writer and since most of her novels involved horses I gobbled them up as a school brat. A number also included (very sweet) romantic elements, including her series The Flambards (now televised).

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It was the dragons on Anne McCaffrey’s books lured me in, and (as most romance and fantasy readers would know) most of McCaffrey’s books had romantic elements to them, whether it was between a spaceship and her brawn, between dragon riders, or (gasp!) aliens and humans.

So, there you have it, novels that feature animals lure innocent young minds into that literary den of iniquity (guaranteed to ruin a young lady’s future) that calls itself the romance genre.

Brain normal
 

Rhyll Biest writes romance hot enough to melt your e-reader. She’s also one of the tarts on the Bookish Tarts podcast where she and fellow author Georgina Penney discuss romance novels in a high-brow yet potty-mouthed way. Her next release with Escape, Hell on Wheels, will be published 5 October 2016.

An offer she can’t refuse…

Book 8 in Secret Confessions: Down & Dusty…

frankie

Frankie has lost a lot to her stepbrother, Mac: her father’s affection, the family cattle station, her teenage daydreams. But Mac has never shown any interest in taking what Frankie wants to give: her heart, her soul, and her body. So Frankie has no choice. She can’t continue to live with Mac, loving him as she does, knowing he doesn’t want her in return. She has finally saved enough money to buy Mac out of the station and out of her life for good. But Mac has an offer of his own: one night together, and he’ll walk away. One night for full ownership of the cattle station. For Frankie, it’s an offer too tantalising to resist, an offer too dangerous to consider— an offer she can’t refuse.

Frankie is available today!

Secret Confessions: Down & Dusty

 Casey – Rachael Johns
Lucky – Cate Ellink
Kelly – Fiona Lowe
Brooke – Eden Summers
Clarissa – Mel Teshco
Skye – Rhyll Biest
Maree – Elizabeth Dunk
Frankie – Jackie Ashenden

Reformed Hero: how much rake can you take?

This week’s romance trope is Reformed Hero (sigh), aka the Reformed Rake. First up is Viveka Portman, who got us thinking about how much rake is too much rake…


The reformed hero is commonly known in Historical Romance as the ‘rake’—and doesn’t he sound delectable? A little naughty, a tad forbidden, a wicked little fantasy in which to indulge.

We all a love a bad boy and I am no exception, especially when he’s dressed like Darcy in a daydream. That’s why chose to write The Wicked Confessions of Lady Cecelia Stanton using the ‘reformed hero’ trope.

Darcywetshirt

But what is a rake exactly? The consensus seems to be that ‘rake’ is a historical term for a man who is habituated in immoral conduct (particularly womanising). A rake’s habits also included wasting his inherited fortune on gambling, wine and music while incurring excessive debt in the process.

Oh dear.

He’s not looking quite so sexy now, not even if he is wearing Darcy’s dripping shirt.

My books, although romantic to bone, are realistic, and I’m not one to turn away from a challenge. Therefore, I made my hero Lord Stanton every inch the typical rake: womaniser, gambler, drunk.

He is so bad, one reviewer even went so far as to call him ‘venereal disease in a petri dish’.

Ouch. Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that.

It really goes without saying Stanton’s philandering really gets under some reader’s skin.

Not unlike herpes.

I’m kidding. I’m kidding.

Stanton is a rake in the truest sense of the word and the process of reforming him made me love this trope even more.

In all honesty I’ve never read a hero in a romance quite as rakish as Lord Stanton. I’m not going to lie—as he’s a married man, the gritty issue of infidelity raises its head and gives you a solid hairy eyeball thoughout the story. Yet, realistically, the issue of infidelity in marriage is a conflict many real-life women deal with and resolve as best they can.

The closest character I can think of would match Lord Stanton’s level of rakishness would probably be Killian Jones aka ‘Captain Hook’, in the TV series Once Upon a Time. He drinks, he gambles, he womanises and he’s unbearably gorgeous. The only difference is, he and his lover aren’t really an item (yet) and certainly aren’t married.

Captainhook

This was a very challenging trope to write, and it’s subverted because not only is Lord Stanton being unfaithful, his wife (the heroine of the story) is also in love with her maid.

I’ll let you process that for a minute.

Yes, Stanton’s wife is also unfaithful with her maid.

Truly, it’s a marriage made in hell, rather than heaven.

Still, married women didn’t get property rights until about 1889, and so there was no chance that Lady Cecelia Stanton could leave her husband, let alone live happily with her maid and retain a decent lifestyle for herself or her children.

Wait, children? They have children?

Yes, Lord and Lady Stanton are the parents of four children, with one on the way. I probably forgot to mention that Lady Cecelia is pregnant during the book too.

So, both parties have very little choice but to make the marriage work, and eventually they do, albeit in a highly unconventional way.

I do like keeping a trope fresh!

Of all the books I have written, The Wicked Confessions of Lady Cecelia Stanton remains the most controversial. Many readers have loved exploring the intricacies of a very complex historical marriage, while others found Lord Stanton’s rakishness too far from the safe familiarity of the usual reformed hero trope.

All I know is that I thoroughly enjoyed writing this book, and will leave you to make up your own mind about how much of a rake is rake enough.

 


cecilia

When faced with a rakish, lusty husband, what is a proper English wife to do but educate herself in the art of bedplay?

Throw your Hat into the Ring of Love

Book 7 in Secret Confessions: Down & Dusty…

 

maree

Maree Haraldson has done all the right things as Milpinyani Springs’ only teacher—she’s good at her job, the children and parents have accepted her, she’s even become a local at Lucky’s pub. Now it’s time for Maree to do something right for herself, and that means finally seducing the school groundsman Brad Williams into her bed. Maree has always been a woman who goes after what she wants, but a small community means there’s no place to hide if Brad turns her down, and Maree has been out of the seduction game for a long time. Her small schoolroom is safe and comfortable, but life isn’t meant to be lived on the sidelines. With the rodeo in town, Maree is ready to step up, take her risks, and throw her hat into the ring of love.

Maree is available today!

Secret Confessions: Down & Dusty

 Casey – Rachael Johns
Lucky – Cate Ellink
Kelly – Fiona Lowe
Brooke – Eden Summers
Clarissa – Mel Teshco
Skye – Rhyll Biest
Maree – Elizabeth Dunk
Frankie – Jackie Ashenden

A Dangerous Desire

Book 6 in Secret Confessions: Down & Dusty…

skye

After five years in the city earning her veterinary degree, Skye Malone is happy to be heading back to Milpinyani Springs, and her best friend Bret. Sure, her crush on him is still at epic proportions, but she managed to ignore it this long, and a good friend is a valuable commodity in a small community like theirs. But Bret spent the last five years growing up, and suddenly Skye’s girlhood infatuation evolves into something much stronger and much more dangerous—an adult woman’s desire.

Skye is available today!

Secret Confessions: Down & Dusty

 Casey – Rachael Johns
Lucky – Cate Ellink
Kelly – Fiona Lowe
Brooke – Eden Summers
Clarissa – Mel Teshco
Skye – Rhyll Biest
Maree – Elizabeth Dunk
Frankie – Jackie Ashenden

Forced Proximity (with a twist)

The romance-literature trope of Forced Proximity was such a popular one with Escape authors that we had to start ‘forced proximity week’ a bit early to fit in all their different takes on the topic! We hope you enjoy.


by Viveka Portman

Imagine being forced to marry a man twice your age, against your will, knowing you are destined for a life that in no way matches the one you’d envisioned or hoped for.

That’s forced proximity, and it sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it?

But does it have to be?

It’s that question that attracted me to the Forced Proximity trope.

I am an unashamedly curious person by nature, and I love a challenge, so creating a situation in which horrible forced proximity could be made pleasurable was a story I simply had to write.

One of my favourite examples of this trope is in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I read this series in my late teens and early twenties, and was entranced by the development of Jamie and Claire’s romance after they were forced to marry. Naturally the romance didn’t run smoothly, but I am sure anyone who has read the books or watched the series would agree it was an exciting and decidedly erotic adventure.

jamie and Claire wedding1

There are challenges in writing forced proximity though—like how to make it desirable and how to make it real.

When I wrote The Secret Diary of Lady Catherine Bexley, I spent a lot of time playing with the trope, and considering just how I would make the story attractive to the reader. After all, it’s about a young woman marrying an older man who, although handsome, is stuffy and a bore. How was I possibly going to make that romance work? In my opinion, it’s all to do with character development. I made my Lady Catherine a curious woman, who was learning about herself just as much as she was learning about sex at the beginning of her marriage. Her husband too was embarking on a learning journey of his own; he naturally desires his attractive young wife, but is mindful of her sensibilities—much to Catherine’s chagrin. I subverted the trope by making the naive wife the champion in the couple’s quest for happiness and sexual fulfilment. She doesn’t overly lament her situation, but proactively seeks a solution to her own sexual frustration and her husband’s repressed nature.

It was a fun twist on a well-worn trope.

There is something magic in the familiarity of reading romance. Discovering when a well-known trope has been written and twisted in a new way that thrills and titillates is one of the special things that the romance genre offers that others cannot.


diaryRegency England gets just a bit raunchy in this novella about a gently-raised lady who wants to feel like a woman…

Fight for a Prize

Book 5 in Secret Confessions: Down & Dusty…

clarissa

Clarissa may have been daydreaming about her head stockman, Brandon, every day and night of the long, hot drought, but Brandon has never been anything more than friendly and professional, and Clarissa has long accepted that life will never imitate fantasy. Until Brandon recommends an old friend—a renowned bull-rider and stockman—for a job, and suddenly Clarissa finds herself in the middle of a competition between two of the hottest men that she’s ever seen. But Clarissa doesn’t fancy herself a prize—and with two cowboys willing to do whatever it takes to make her happy, she might just decide that the winner takes all.

Clarissa is available today!

Secret Confessions: Down & Dusty

 Casey – Rachael Johns
Lucky – Cate Ellink
Kelly – Fiona Lowe
Brooke – Eden Summers
Clarissa – Mel Teshco
Skye – Rhyll Biest
Maree – Elizabeth Dunk
Frankie – Jackie Ashenden

Take me Away!

Book 4 in Secret Confessions: Down & Dusty

brooke

Brooke’s brothers practically define over-protective, and while Brooke appreciates their concern, their efforts have left her climbing the walls in sexual frustration. But no man in town is willing to risk their ire, and all Brooke wants is one guy who thinks she is worth the effort. One guy who will stand up for himself—and for her—against her overbearing, old-fashioned family, and whisk her away to sexual and emotional fulfilment. The only issue is that the one guy who looks like he might is the one guy who broke her heart—the one guy that she can’t risk falling for again.

Brooke is available today!

Secret Confessions: Down & Dusty

Casey – Rachael Johns
Lucky – Cate Ellink
Kelly – Fiona Lowe
Brooke – Eden Summers
Clarissa – Mel Teshco
Skye – Rhyll Biest
Maree – Elizabeth Dunk
Frankie – Jackie Ashenden