If you like your holidays a little…steamier, Unleashed Under the Mistletoe might be the book for you! Author Isabel Winsor joins us today for a fabulous interview. Read all about her new book, and enter to win your very own copy!
Unleashed Under the Mistletoe
by: Isabel Winsor
The pretty girls never say yes to a guy like him.
But when Leo overhears the ladies in the office laughing at him behind his back, he does the unthinkable: he accepts a mysterious invitation to a secret group known as The Grove.
Thinking he’s at an exclusive holiday business party, Leo is shocked when leather clad beauties order the guests to strip!
The moment Evie lays eyes on Leo, she’s drawn by his dark, exotic good looks. Once she gets his clothes off and sees him for the shy but sexy guy he is, she’s tempted to shed her Domina persona.
Can an office geek wake up and see that this free-spirited woman might want more than to tie him up and make him beg?
Savor your first taste of the Pleasure Grove.
Buy Links: (Available exclusively as a Kindle Select)
Welcome to Becky on Books! Tell us more about your book—take us beyond the official “book blurb”.
Unleashed Under The Mistletoe is an erotic romance about two people who feel they are unworthy of love. I think we’ve all been in that mind set at one time or another in our lives, and to face the holidays with that type of feeling is especially difficult!
Evie and Leo are two unlikely lovers – an adventurous, sexually experienced dominatrix meets a repressed, far less experienced executive. But the intense desire between these two pull them together just like a magnet. Oh my gosh, I had so much fun with these two!
Unleashed Under the Mistletoe also has touches of an immigrant story. When I was in college, many of my friends were first-generation Americans with very traditional parents. They grew up in modern American culture and yet, were tied to the strict moral beliefs of their parents. I didn’t set out to make Leo a certain type of character other then he being a beta hero who evolves into a strong, decisive man. But as I wrote him and spent more time with him, I realized that much of his conflict is based on the traditional cultural values he grew up with, versus his own natural inclination to, shall we say, explore a more adventurous sexual life. Evie is the spark that ignites the flame!
It sounds like fun! Quite a twist on your traditional holiday story 😉
Give us more info about your main characters—who are they? What one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle?
Leo is a guy in his mid-thirties who throughout his adult life has been very unsuccessful with women! Before the story begins, about two years ago, his father died and it profoundly impacted his life. Leo realized how short life can be, and began taking steps to be the man he felt had been waiting to break free. So when we meet him in the first scene, Leo has undergone a major physical, emotional, and mental transformation. By the time he meets Evie, he’s balancing on the tipping point and throughout the story the last vestiges of his old hang-ups fall away.
If he were stranded on a desert isle, all Leo would need is Evie at his side.
That is so sweet!
What scene in your book was the most fun to write, and why?
The scene most fun to write was Evie and Leo’s second encounter at The Grove. By the way, The Pleasure Grove is based on the secret bohemian societies created by artists, writers and intellectuals during the late 19th and early 20th century. Carmel was the center of a wild, artistic and sexually-free culture in the early 1900’s and so I created this elegant place for people to safely explore their most forbidden desires!
Evie is my alter ego; she is who I wish I could be in the bedroom! For example, in this scene all Evie walks in wearing a topless black corset and patent leather, Victorian-style lace up-boots. I was blown away by her bravery (and wondered how I came up with such a badass woman!) Evie is not the kind of woman who worries about her size, her cellulite, or her belly. Even though she is very comfortable with her body and respects and appreciates her power as a sexual woman, there is some emotional vulnerability that only the reader and I am aware of!
So when Leo turns around and sees her standing in the doorway with – I won’t give away the surprise! – Evie appears to be in her full power. But underneath that no-nonsense corset, Evie is emotionally vulnerable. I love letting the reader in on the inner conflicts brewing inside the characters. And believe you me, there were moments when I wondered if I could pull it off! But as I worked on that scene through nine revisions, I came to love and appreciate Evie and Leo even more.
Evie sounds fantastic! Not that Leo doesn’t have his charms as well…
How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?
I have been writing since 1994. Initially I was published during the chick lit phenomena in 2005. My books were a bit different in that they were very sexy, but boy, I had to fight to keep those scenes. Even though chick lit was supposed to be a modern woman’s fiction, I felt it was also rather prissy when it came to sex. At the time, I thought about branching out into erotica but I couldn’t get a firm grip on characters and that is always where I start with any story. Fast forward to January of 2013 when, during a family trip to Carmel (where Unleashed Under The Mistletoe takes place), we were walking along Scenic Drive and I saw this beautiful river rock mansion. I immediately pictured Leo in the library of that house and the story took off from there. Since writing this novella, a monster has been born! You can count on more erotic adventures from me.
Excellent! I’m so glad you persisted.
What do you like best about being a writer?
I love everything about being a writer. Or else, I never would have stuck with it all these years! You won’t hear me complain about writer’s block, deadlines, or characters that refuse to cooperate. Having worked enough “real jobs,” writing fiction for me is truly the most enjoyable endeavor I can undertake. But if I had to choose the one thing that I love the most about writing, it would be connecting with other readers of romance and erotica. In my opinion, there is no greater reader then a romance reader.
I have to say I agree with you there 🙂
What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
The most challenging part of being a writer was learning to trust my instinct. I’ve been writing for nearly 20 years, but I first had to get this need to emulate my favorite writers out of my system. After seven frustrating years, I finally said, “Screw this! I’m going to write exactly what I feel like writing!” I finally broke through that first wall and began embracing my own voice. Once a writer communicates in his or her own voice, they learn to listen and trust that tingle in the stomach that says go left instead of right; or that knot in the throat that means you hit a wall.
I knew many, many years ago that I had the voice to write erotic romance. But instead of listening to my gut, I listened to my own fears and to my literary agent at the time! Fortunately I found the right character, the right story and the right time to start this new phase in my writing life.
Very inspirational! I agree, it’s very hard to trust yourself, especially when the “experts” are saying something else.
What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?
I am outlining the next book in The Pleasure Grove series. My characters are very shadowy at the moment, which is actually very exciting because experience has taught me that have many surprises and challenges in store for me! Readers can expect he knew book in late spring or early summer 2014.
What authors and/or books have inspired you?
In erotic romance, Sylvia Day and Anne Rice who wrote erotica under the name of Anne Rampling, have inspired me the most. Sylvia Day is utterly fearless in her stories and I love her heroines. Unleashed Under The Mistletoe is an homage to Anne Rice’s novel, Exit To Eden.
What are you currently reading? What are your thoughts about it so far?
Right now I am in between books! When I’m outlining, or really deep into writing a story, I can’t enjoy books. It’s a bummer because I’m a voracious reader and yet, I love it when my own story has taken over my imagination. So when I get the point when the story calms down, I’ll be reading Bella Andre’s new Sullivan book and Courtney Milan’s, The Countess Conspiracy. They are authors who are insta-buys on my ebook reader!
Please share a favorite scene from your books with our readers.
Oh how do I choose?!? Here, let’s share the opening scene.
They were talking about him. Intrigued, Leo leaned ever so slightly towards the door to the supply room. Regina, the pretty executive assistant he’d been hoping to ask out, just told Diana that she saw him park his bike in the structure this morning.
“He now rides a motorcycle? Like what, a Harley?” Diana asked over the sound of the copier. They were creating binders for tomorrow’s presentation.
“I don’t know. It’s black and red,” Regina answered. Paper crinkled.
“So what was he wearing?”
“Black leather pants, jacket and a helmet to match the bike,” she said emphasizing each word. “He’s been working out. You can tell.”
“So are you going to make your move?”
Leo didn’t dare breathe. Hope swelled in his chest.
Regina snorted. “I don’t know who he’s trying to fool. Leo is a natural born nerd. No wardrobe overhaul, long hair and a motorcycle is ever going to change that.”
He dropped the tea bag in the cup. The scalding water splashed and bit into his hand. He sucked in a curse, waving his hand to cool it. They hadn’t realized that his two o-clock meeting cancelled and he was just outside the room where they were laughing at him.
“So he’s more Cheesey Rider than Easy Rider, huh?” Diana asked.
Leo skulked off to his office with what was left of his male pride. For the past year, he’d been on an upswing since that retreat at Esalen. Much to his mother’s shock, he grew out his hair and realized he liked it. Thanks to God and P90X, he dropped 20 pounds and now had the muscles to fill out leather pants and fitted Henley shirts without looking like the Michelin Tire Man.
Just when his conservative, type-A family thought he’d gone far enough, he appeared at his 35th birthday dinner on the Ducati Diavel. His older sister hadn’t spoken to him for a week after claiming he’d nearly killed their mother with shock.
Emboldened by his newfound freedom, Leo had been biding his time to approach Regina after her boyfriend broke up with her on New Year’s Eve.
Another burst of cackling squashed that idea. Even though he was a partner in the property development firm, he was still just the nice guy with the self deprecating humor that no woman wanted to date.
A yawning pit stretched in the center of his chest. He’d had such hope for him and Regina. The sound of her laughing at him sent him straight back to seventh grade when Paula Cross told her ape-like boyfriend that Leo had bought her a candy gram on Valentine’s Day. All these years later, Leo’s wrist still ached when the weather got cold from the beating he took in the hallway during lunch.
Seething at his desk, Leo yanked out the tea bag and tossed it into the basket under his desk. He missed and the bag broke apart on the saddlebag in which he kept his gloves and leather pants.
“Ladies, are the proposals ready to be bound?” asked Mavis Anderson, the owner of the firm.
Diana assured her that yes they were almost done. Mavis dispatched Regina to her desk to confirm the caterer and meeting attendees.
A few moments later, Mavis swept into his office and slammed the door.
“They should not be talking to you like that, Leo,” Mavis said, her bangle bracelets colliding as she wagged her finger at him. “I could hear them all the way in my office.”
His mouth opened and shut, humiliation darkening his cheeks.
“This bullying has gone on long enough,” she continued.
Leo cleared his throat. “Well technically they weren’t speaking to me.”
Rolling her eyes, she sat on the corner of his desk next to his Walking Dead bobblehead collection. She was one of those women who seemed to grow more beautiful with age. He’d seen photos of her twenty years ago, when she’d been an earth mother, hippie artist. Now she was regal in her bohemian chic coral tunic and headed Jimmy Cho pumps.
If she wasn’t married to one of the wealthiest men on the Monterey Peninsula, he would’ve fancied a Mrs. Robinson fantasy with her.
“I don’t like where this is going,” she said firmly. “I’d hate to lose you.”
When he sputtered out a protest, she held up her hand for him to let her finish. “This sort of thing will shake your focus and when you’re here in my office, I need 100 percent of you.” She let that sink in. “Draw the line with them and stick to it. I’ll back you up but this needs to come from you.”
“Why? I don’t give a shit what they think.”
Her eyebrows lifted ever so slightly and then her face softened into a pleased smile. “If you only spoke like that a little more often, Leo. You’re not a man to be trifled with. You just haven’t realized that yet and when you do, God help all of us.”
He scratched the bridge of his nose, cleared his throat, incapable of laughing or taking her seriously.
Nodding his head, Leo told her he would speak to them. But privately, as she left his office, he was sticking to his plan that when bullies didn’t get a reaction, they’d move on. Besides, his mother taught him that boys didn’t hit girls, or make them cry.
Leo swung his seat around to his computer screen. He should’ve opened the plans for the collection of 19th century homes they were going to renovate and use to create a repurposed arts, shopping and education “village” in the town of Seaside, just north of Monterey. Instead, he slid out his tablet and scanned the blogs he followed by independent graphic novel writers and artists.
Something flew across his desk. “For you,” Regina said, smirking at him from the door way where she’d tossed his mail like they were Frisbees.
He opened his mouth to say something. Instead he waved her out of his office. Her smug expression fell with surprise at his silently abrupt dismissal.
“You need more?” he asked, arching his eyebrows.
Her round face blushed. Behind his back she spoke with a forked tongue, but face-to-face she had nothing better to say than, “Um no.”
He glanced down at the mess she’d flung across his notes and research. A black envelope caught his eye. His name was hand written in silver ink. No address; just his name with a little squiggly flourish underneath.
Inside a heavy invitation card read:
The Grove welcomes you to an evening at the mansion
Drinks at 6:00 p.m.
The pleasure of your response is requested.
There was a phone number. He flipped the card around, admiring the Art Nouveau style cypress tree etched in silver ink. No address for The Grove or the mansion.
His suspicions sharpened. Two months ago, Diana had invited him to a surprise birthday party for Regina only to “accidently” send him to the wrong restaurant.
Leo ripped the invitation in half and tossed it back into the wastebasket.
Excellent choice, Isabel! Thanks so much for being here today!
Blog Tour Giveaway:
- I will give away five copies of Unleashed Under the Mistletoe
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