Thank you! I think there's a few influences on how the idea came to be. First, I'm a product of early James Bond. My father and I would watch his movies over and over, so that's stayed with me. Second, I have always had an infatuation with the names "Natalya" and "Alexei". To use them I had to come up with something Russian. It kind of fit. And I knew that I wanted to work with human trafficking because it was (and is) an issue in today's world, but I don't like to "preach" as an author. So I chose a different aspect and dug through the various Moscovian mafias / brotherhoods to discover which one actually has ties to trafficking and arms. My first spy (Natalya from Stripped) needed to work for someone, and in a way that would allow her to walk the line she does, which led to the covert group, the Black Opals. Developing the rest of the Opals has been amazingly fun!
The base research was pretty simplistic: What groups in Russia have these ties, where are those ties, and a basic understanding of how trafficking works, with what a source country is and what a destination country is, plus which countries are categorized as what. Russia is, traditionally, a source country. The USA is, traditionally, a destination country. But to make it more workable with the USA being a source country, I had to take a little creative liberty and look at what other countries might want American women. Generally, the countries that are destination countries don't subscribe to finding American women ... appealing. We're too... liberated. Often too Christian. So that led me to Dubai, where weath dominates, and Western Culture is more embraced. Then, the majority of my research related to specifics for each story. For instance, in Lie To Me getting Alexei and Sasha out of Dubai and where I needed them, within the time frame, required research with folks that knew planes and knew the terrain, and knew where jets/birds/planes could, or could not land without immediately causing issues. Initially I had a helicopter, until I realized a helicopter can't carry the gas required to get them out of the Arabic countries. Laugh! Then I called in the big guns -- pilots, and former service men who would likely be flying out "on a dime".
So far, my very favorite scene is the arguement between Sasha and Alexei, in Lie to Me, that leads to a very emotional bonding. His worry for her, his anger at himself, and the gentle way she accepts him, just really warms my heart.
Um... I'd say that's my publicist's job. LOL!
Let's see... Warning, this book contains explicit sex, graphic language, a heroine with a deadly past and a damaged hero with a tender side to die for.
That's as good as a it gets -- sorry gals :)
Well, I will take that as a compliment! Thank you again. No, I don't find myself looking over my shoulder. Probably because I write when the house is totally asleep, and my ghosts don't mind. In fact, they get a kick out of it, or so I've been told. I've never cut anything out of a sex scene. With this series, pretty much anything goes. With my other books (Non-erotic), they naturally tame themselves.
Steve Berry, Meredith Duran, Karin Harlow, Shayla Black and Jaci Burton to name a few. Johanna Lindsey got me started on this writing thing when I was 13. Blame her.
I'm usually always in the mood, but waiting on my environment to cooperate. When the demidemons go to bed, I grab a fresh cup of warmed-over coffee, let the dogs out for the last time, piddle myself, and then sit down and let whatever has built in my head throughout the day reign.
My favorite drink... Godiva white chocolate liquor in Folger's Creme Brulee coffee. My second favorite drink is a spicy bloody mary. If I knew how to make one, I'd drink more and that would be my first favorite! So if you have any good recipes, do share!
Thank you very much for having me! It's always so fun over here!
Sasha rolled over, propped her head up on one elbow. “Who do you work for, Alexei?”
That was certainly the last question he’d ever prepared for. Chancing a glance at her upturned face, he debated how to answer. She’d told him she worked for FSB; she undoubtedly knew he was an American agent—virtually all of Dubai knew. But tell her about the Opals? Let her in?
What the hell. They’d already named themselves in front of her. She knew their director’s name. He stared at the television as he answered, “A special division within the CIA known as the Black Opals. We’re the ones they send when it’s real dicey and they need to delete someone with the press of a button.”
More quietly he added, “We don’t exist.”
He crossed opposite ankles and folded his hands behind his head, leaning back against the headboard. Waiting for her to make the association between his vague explanation and the truth of his work. When she did, shock would stop her questions.
Instead, Sasha’s palm fitted over his belly, gentle sweeping motions that rumpled the fabric of his shirt and offered more comfort than Alexei had known could exist. “Isn’t that . . . difficult?” she asked softly.
“Difficult? The missions are never ea—”
“No. Not existing.” That delightful little palm slid higher, caressing the lower part of his chest. “I mean, don’t you ever crave life? The simple things like owning a house and paying someone to rake your leaves.” The heel of her palm worked into his tense muscles. “Like sleeping in on a Saturday and having breakfast in bed.”
More than she could understand. He tensed. She was getting too close, treading too far into murky waters he didn’t want to disturb.
Dropping to an almost inaudible whisper, her voice washed over his body. “Have you ever been in love, Alexei?”
Danger. Combustion imminent. Alexei covered the sudden trip of his heart with a harsh chuckle. “Love’s not an option in my line of work, princess.”
She was silent for a blissful moment, leaving him with the conclusion he’d scared her off. As luck would have things, however, when she did speak, she didn’t traipse around uncomfortable, she plunged in headfirst. “You only call me princess when I’ve hit a nerve. So tell me, Agent Nikanova, are you afraid of the fall, or afraid of the loss?”
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.
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The Jeep Diva
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.