This week I have the honor and the privalege to introduce you to someone I’ve known for several years, Tori St.Claire. She’s a member of my local RWA chapter and I know her as Claire Ashgrove. Tori is her pen name for her hotter romances. (Now I want
an alias a pen name.) Tori has a hot new release that came out last week. For those of you who like a lot more spice in your romance, this will be right up your alley!
Here’s the blurb:
A man of action…
After helping to break up a Russian human trafficking ring as part of the CIA’s elite Black Opal team, Alexei Nikanova’s newest assignment is to rescue one of the stolen women and return her to her father. When he arrives in Dubai, he discovers his target is Sasha Zablosky—a woman he knows all too well, and who has haunted him ever since their unforgettable time together in Moscow, two and a half years earlier. But he finds Sasha reluctant to leave her sheikh, the only true friend she’s ever known. Only Alexei can’t give her a choice.
A woman of deception…
With their yearning roused by intrigue, Alexei and Sasha can no longer resist temptation, and spend night after night in forbidden pleasure. Soon Alexei finds himself falling for her, even as he battles a shadowy menace to protect her. But Sasha is no innocent. She has a past darker than she could ever admit, one that Alexei could never forgive. And it is about to explode into her life once more. As the lies they tell themselves—and each other—pull them deeper into a perilous desire, what began as simple passion becomes a love certain to destroy them and end the lives of countless innocents.
Intriguing, no? Tori was kind enough to let me ask her a few questions about her and her book.
Tori, Lie to Me is the second book in your smexy romantic suspense series with Berkley Heat came out last week. Tell us what your series is about.
The Black Opal series is about members within a covert group of elite CIA operatives. They do all the stuff that we, as normal Americans, don’t probably want to think about. They live on the edge, and love on the edge. The first two books kick off the series with the CIA’s involvement in human trafficking, and both are dark stories, with heroes and heroines who may, or may not, be heroic, depending on how you perceive them. There’s a lot of moral ambiguity in the series – after all, these folks live in a drastically different world. Here’s a brief quip from the intro of each book:
They exist only in shadow. An elite team of deadly operatives created to satisfy increasing international threats. Their world is the dark underground, where sin and pleasure dominate and
lies are second nature. To those who cross them, they are professional killers. Within the CIA, they are the rare Black Opals . . .
If you like dark and edgy, this fits the bill. If you’re more inclined for sweetness and light, the series probably wouldn’t appeal.
My readers who follow me on Facebook know that I’ve been taking an online writing erotica class to help me write smexier. Or at least to help me not to have to drink half a bottle of wine to write them. Do you have trouble writing hot sex scenes?
Laugh! Not anymore. I think you were present when Jackie Bannon and I did a presentation on the levels of heat in a novel for our RWA Chapter. In this I freely admitted that when I began writing I couldn’t type the word ‘nipple’ without turning beet red. Now, I find that when I’m not writing erotic romance, it’s harder to tame my scenes down. So take heart—once you break that ceiling, it gets easier and easier. But hey, far be it for me to invent reasons not to consume half a bottle of wine!
Another enabler! I love you! Do you ever get writer’s block and how do you combat it when you do?
I don’t get writer’s block. I get writer’s “crap I have too much to do to write” syndrome. Frankly, I suffer from idea overload and find myself wishing the muse would hush now and then. That said, when I am on a deadline, the enthusiasm for writing can suffer and I find myself dreading to go to the computer. But there’s not much to do but muddle through, spit out the words to move the story along, and then review when I’ve hit the edit stage and smooth out where I can tell it became rough.
What is the best compliment that you have received as an author?
“I loved your book” will often go far toward making me swoon. But recently, at a sci-fi convention locally, I was on a panel with a slew of non-romance writers, including one fantasy / sci-fi fan whose evidently known in the community for his die-hard knowledge of … I’m not going to name the series because I’ll absolutely get it wrong. Anywho, when we were finished with the panel, he made a remark along the lines of, “I’ve actually read your work so it’s rather an honor for me to be sitting on the panel.” I was so touched I squealed, “Really?!” It was just awesome to hear someone who isn’t a romance die-hard had read, and enjoyed my work.
What do you do when you aren’t writing?
Chase my demidemons (otherwise known as the two little boys who are intent on putting grey hairs in my head). I also own a farm and spend a whole lot of time looking after the critters. I’m hoping that this fall my schedule will free up enough that I can get some of my young stock, particularly two stallions, working under saddle and in the local show ring before winter hits.
What are you reading right now?
I am reading nothing. Presently, I’m embedded in deadlines and promoting three back-to-back releases in July, August and then late September. BUT! On the very top of my to be read pile is Delilah Marvelle’s Forever A Lady (Historical Romance) that comes out later this month, and Maya Banks’ Echoes and Dawn (Contemporary Romance) that came out the same day as Lie to Me.
What can we expect next from you?
Laugh – you know that’s a loaded question, right?
I write under two pennames: Tori St. Claire for erotic romantic suspense, and Claire Ashgrove for mainstream contemporary, historical and paranormal romance. So what’s coming down the pipe? It’s easier to list:
August – Bound by Decency (Historical) as Claire Ashgrove
September – Immortal Surrender, The Curse of the Templars, Book II, (Paranormal) as Claire Ashgrove
October – Doomed to Torment, Inherited Damnation, Book VI (Paranormal Novella) as Claire Ashgrove
November – The third Black Opal novel, still as yet untitled, as Tori St. Claire
November/December – Captured by Freedom (Historical) as Claire Ashgrove
Wow, you put my crazy schedule to shame. And now just for fun…choose one and feel free to explain why.
Early riser or Night owl?
Hah! Night owl by far. Mornings are the curse of existence.
I hear ya! Thanks for stopping by, Tori!
Thanks for having me here, Denise – it’s been great fun. I’m in such admiration of the things you’ve accomplished with your career. I’m so very happy for all your success!
~Tori St. Claire
*blushes* Thank you!
National Bestselling author Tori St. Claire grew up writing. Hobby quickly turned into passion, and when she discovered the world of romance as a teen, poems and short stories gave way to full length novels with sexy heroes and heroines waiting to be swept off their feet. She wrote her first romance novel at seventeen.
While that manuscript gathered dust-bunnies beneath the bed, she went on to establish herself as a contemporary, historical, and paranormal author under the pen name, Claire Ashgrove. Her writing, however, skirted a fine line between hot and steamy, and motivated by authors she admired, she pushed her boundaries and made the leap into erotica, using the darker side of human nature and on-the-edge suspense to drive grittier, sexier, stories.
Her erotic romantic suspense novels are searingly sensual experiences that unite passion with true emotion, and the all-consuming tie that binds — love.
Tori will be giving away a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card to one random commenter during the month of July. Two additional commenters will receive a basket of swag. Follow the tour – the more times you comment the better your chances of winning! Complete tour dates can be found here.