Thanks so much, Delilah, for the chance to meet your readers.
Until a few years ago, I was one of those readers—literary snobs who look down their noses at romance for the usual stupid reasons: too corny, too predictable, too fluffy. Then I read a few online articles about how fun and lucrative writing erotica can be. I thought, what the heck? Let’s try.
I have never had so much fun with a writing project! My first steamy romance, Through the Red Door, nearly wrote itself, though it damned sure didn’t edit itself. I’ve totally immersed myself in the world of romance, gobbling books like popcorn, filling my ears with romance podcasts, and joining the Romance Writers of America. From skeptic to romance mega-fan in two short years, I’m totally addicted to passionate, heartfelt stories with happy endings.
My Book Nirvana series offers steamy contemporary romance set in a bookshop in Eugene, Oregon. Why a bookshop? Ever since I was a wee lass, I dreamed of owning one. Add to that my fascination with historical erotic art and literature, and you’ve got the perfect setting for love to bloom: an indie bookshop with an extensive erotica collection behind a locked red door. Of course, there’s a cool, quirky coffee shop next door.
I love stories in which a couple’s powerful physical attraction leads them to consider a partner outside their usual M.O.—one who just might turn out to be their perfect match. That’s how it happened for my husband and me, as well as for Clara, the bookshop’s owner, and Laurel, her assistant. I’m currently writing Book 3 in the series, featuring Margot, Clara’s spiky-haired young assistant, a senior at the University of Oregon.
I sort of pulled the setting out of a hat. I wanted to set my series in a college town. I’d heard that Eugene has a lively arts scene and a rich counterculture legacy from the hippie era. After much online research, correspondence, and hours on Google Earth, I finally made the trip. Eugene is even lovelier than I’d imagined, and I look forward to many return trips to this sparkling jewel on the Willamette River.
Wherever I travel, I make a point of visiting the local indie bookshops. Here in Tacoma, Washington, we have a very special one. King’s Books welcomes readers, writers, and local artists with a huge, well-curated collection of new and used books, as well as thirteen book clubs, plus writers’ groups, author events, art fairs, and more. I had a blast at their Romance Bookstore Day event. King’s Books’ collection has “a little bit of everything,” with a special focus on social justice, female authors, and authors of color. The children’s collection is especially popular, offering young readers books with strong female protagonists as well as characters from a wide variety of backgrounds. Rather than having a “Diversity Section,” King’s Books strives to showcase diversity in every section of the bookshop.
Meet Herbert, shop cat since 2015.
He’s a sweetheart and will gladly share his book recommendations.
Through the Red Door, Book Nirvana #1
Clara Martelli clings to Book Nirvana, the Oregon bookshop she and her late husband Jared built together. When rising rents and corporate competition threaten its survival, her best hope is their extensive erotica collection, locked behind a red door. In dreams and signs, her dead husband tells her it’s time to open that door and move on. When a dark and handsome stranger’s powerful magnetism jolts her back to life and he wants a look at the treasures of that secret room, she can’t help but want to show him more.
Professor Nick Papadopoulos is looking for historical erotica. Book Nirvana’s collection surpasses his wildest dreams, and so does its lovely owner. A widower, he understands Clara’s battle with guilt, but their searing chemistry is too strong to resist. Besides, he will only be in town for two weeks, not long enough for her to see beyond the scandal that haunts his past.
Nick pressed his back against the red door and blew out a long, shaky breath. He’d heard about Book Nirvana for years, but nothing prepared him for what he found inside. The shop was aptly named, that was for damned sure.
From the first jingle of the brass bell over the doorway, he knew this place was something special. The sweet, almost edible scent of books, both new and used, wafted out to greet him. The early-summer sunlight bathed the shop in a welcoming glow and highlighted the colorful posters on the walls—Peter Max’s psychedelic sunset pointing toward the art books, the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine above the music section, and a lush still life of fruit, bread, and wine for the cooking section. Further down the long, narrow space, comic superheroes, a futuristic spacescape, an armored knight charging into battle, and, above a lacquered red door at the rear, Ingres’s La Grande Odalisque threw a languid glance over her bare shoulder—at once an invitation and a dare.
But the jewel of the collection was Clara herself. His friend at the University of Oregon told him about the pretty shop owner, but “pretty” hardly did her justice. Her unruly dark hair glimmered with just a hint of red fire. Those eyes—dark, like the Pacific on a stormy day, somewhere between green and gray—eyes a man could get lost in. Something about this woman set his pulse to revving like a race car at the starting line. Caught off guard by her startling beauty, he’d behaved like a horny teenager, ogling as her delicate fingers fiddled with the locket between her breasts. She noticed, too. Damn.
Runaway Love Story, Book Nirvana #2
Fierce passion or long-cherished dreams…she can’t hang onto both.
She hates average…he’s as average as they come.
High school history teacher Doug Garvey is trying to enjoy his last few weeks of summer vacation, but receiving his final divorce decree hits him harder than expected. After a brief fling fizzles, he fears love just isn’t in the cards for him. If only he could find someone who’s real, someone interested in something beyond herself…maybe a new running partner who can keep up with his more carnal appetite. When sexy, straight-talking Laurel runs across his path, he dares to hope again.
He’s done with social-climbing posers…she’s ambitious and has big dreams.
Fired from an art gallery, Laurel Jepsen shelves her pursuit of an art career in San Francisco to help her beloved great aunt Maxie move into assisted living. While out on a morning run, she’s harassed by a group of teens until a tall, broad-shouldered hottie steps in, pretending to be her boyfriend with a kiss that makes her wish it were true. But she’s only passing through, not looking for a relationship.
Their fierce chemistry burns up the sheets—and the couch, the shower, the forest—but falling in love would ruin everything. Laurel can’t stay in Eugene, and he can’t leave. Doug’s only hope is to convince her the glittery life she’s after could blind her to the opportunities already in her path.