Psyched for Romance

Sports Romance & Romantic Suspense With a Psychological Twist

Monday, August 15, 2011

Author BJ Thornton: Review and Interview

Today it’s my pleasure to introduce author BJ Thornton to the blog. She is one of six authors contributing to the short story anthology Heat Wave, and the author of the novel The Way That You Play It. First will be my review of Heat Wave followed by an interview of BJ.

Heat Wave is one of two short story anthologies benefiting the breast cancer research organization Save the Ta-tas, and its sister anthology Summer Breeze doesn’t come close to its sizzling fire! Some readers prefer novels to short stories, but I find anthologies a wonderful way to discover authors. It was a distinct pleasure to read new-to-me authors BJ Thornton and Debra Anastasia, as well as enter different worlds created by more familiar authors Lisa Sanchez, Robin DeJarnett, Jessica McQuinn, and Kasi Alexander.
New Flame by BJ Thornton is perfect for this charity anthology because it features breast cancer survivor Shae. She’s been through a harrowing journey of treatment, and is determined to reclaim her body, wrestling it back from cancer’s death grip. What better way to do that than get a fabulous tattoo? Listen to the description of this amazing tattoo:
“The uppermost tip of a wing grazed her delicate collarbone, and the detail arched down over her mastectomy scar. He had inked another wing on the back of her shoulder. The two met under her right arm to make a female figure that stretched down her side. But from the front or the back, Shae would simply have wings hugging a hurt place.”
Wow. Lucky for Shae, her tattoo artist Harley is just what the doctor ordered. After sharing so much time creating the warrior masterpiece on her skin, he asks her out to dinner, and their romance takes flight. I really enjoyed their interesting banter—I never knew what to expect from either character. Like the butterfly tattoo Shae initially wanted, Harley is able to help her emerge from her hoodie cocoon, spreading her wings to fly. Truly a beautiful story.
Next is Starstruck by Lisa Sanchez. Amberly gets a flat tire and handsome boy “T” stops to help her out. She’s been unlucky in love but has a blind date that evening, and he’s so smoking gorgeous she wishes he could be her date. They’re changing the tire when a brilliant meteor crashes nearby. Deciding to check out the crash site, T encourages Amberly to make a wish on the “fallen star”. That’s when the meteor explodes, covering them in green goo and turning the story into an other-worldly romance.
I liked how we got both Amberly and T’s perspectives, and T’s mysterious identity makes for a great ending. Lisa’s writing is sexy and fun.
Next up is Shackled by Debra Anastasia. My friends know that I have a thing for men in shackles *blushes* so I was eager to read this story and it did not disappoint! I have Debra’s novel Crushed Seraphim waiting for me on my Nook and I can’t wait to get to it after sampling her awesome writing in this story. I loved it!
Aeliea is a bitchy real-life princess who gets whatever she wants and kills whoever she wants, especially when she’s PMSing (hee hee). She’s about to order the death of an innocent woman when the woman’s grown son steps forward, sacrificing himself to take her place. Markus definitely catches Aeliea’s eye:
“He locked his deep green eyes on Aelia. He was tall and well-muscled. His hair was too long and disheveled, but his jaw was strong and his confidence was huge. The hate in his eyes glowed.”
Aeliea orders Markus to be shackled and brought to the castle as her new boy toy. Her threats to kill him mean nothing to him, and she’s shocked he won’t bow down to her. The sexual tension is thick, though Aeliea won’t stoop to consider a commoner and Markus would rather die than touch her. My favorite stories involve characters growing and changing, and when Markus says “You know you don’t have to be like this. You could change. If you could find even one drop of sensitivity…” I got excited. Can Aeliea develop some empathy for those she rules? If anyone can teach her how to love, it’s Markus.
Concessions by Robin DeJarnett is next on tap. Her romantic suspense novel Whirlwind was fantastic and I couldn’t wait to read her foray into paranormal romance. The story features Lindsey, a bored young adult concessions worker at a movie theater in Las Vegas. The typical customers for matinees are local Goths who dress head-to-toe in black despite the intense heat of the city. One such Goth is Clyde, who takes Lindsey back to the control room and begins kissing her. His kisses make her remember that he’s really Devon, sexy vampire, gradually turning her into a vampire as well. His gentle bite mixes their blood and erases her memory until their next rendezvous.
I love the idea of Goths as hidden vampires, and once again Robin weaves an interesting tale around family relationships, creepy bad guys, and sweet romance.
Do you want some men in uniform? I know I do! Jessica McQuinn delivers them to you in her playful revenge story Big Guns. It’s the end of a long training day for a SWAT team and they head to a bar in Santa Monica to blow off some steam. Team leader Flynn orders cocky newbie AJ to buy a round of drinks for the group. AJ disrespectfully mouths off that he’ll be the leader soon and can get any woman he wants in the bar. To teach him a lesson, Flynn and Clark cook up a plan for Clark’s girlfriend Brea (also secretly SWAT) to seduce AJ then take him down a notch.
Big Guns was touching and sexy, with a steamy romance between Clark and Brea and some poignant moments thrown in as well. Who doesn’t want to see an arrogant maverick get what’s coming to him?
Finally Kasi Alexander explores some spicy kink in her story It’s Only Kinky the First Time. Rutger invites Jessie to a fetish event in Denver. Knowing close to nothing about the BDSM lifestyle, Jessie takes the plunge and flies there from Michigan. Luckily Rutger is sweet and charming, handsomely dominant but respectful. He gradually introduces her to the community, making sure she is okay to proceed with each step. He moves so slowly he practically has Jessie begging for his touch!
It struck me how clear and direct the communication can be in a fetish relationship. Rutger has Jessie read a book before she meets him, and actually has a list of potential BDSM activities he reviews with her at dinner, checking her consent to try each one. Some vanilla types might think asking “Is it okay if I kiss you now?” can pour cold water over a sizzling romantic moment, but I think it’s pretty cool to make sure each partner is consenting to physical touch. Lord knows miscommunication runs rampant in romantic relationships.
I highly recommend Heat Wave as an engrossing, fun summer read, and a wonderful way to meet new authors. Now onto my interview with BJ Thornton!
Jennifer Lane (JL): A warm welcome to the blog, BJ. I'm eager to get to know you better. Where are you from and what's going on in your life these days?
BJ Thornton (BJ): Thanks for having me, Jennifer. I was born a Southerner, and I live in Alabama now, but I was raised in Southern California. In a few months, I'll be moving to the Netherlands to live with my lover. I guess that makes me a rolling stone, unfortunately not in a rock band.
JL: I loved your short story "New Flame" in the Summer Lovin: Heat Wave Anthology, particularly how the main character's recovery from breast cancer echoes the charity organization this anthology benefits. What inspired this story for you?
BJ: I originally wrote New Flame for an erotica challenge. At that time, I'd already been acquainted with Harley for a year. I usually identify with my male characters, and he sprung from my own experiences with being misjudged because I'm a kinky dominant with a lot of tattoos.
For the challenge, I wrote a series of stories inspired by songs. I'd listened to "Meet Me On The Dark Side" by Melissa Auf der Maur, a banging redheaded guitarist who formerly played with Hole, and the lyrics conjured Shae. I wanted to write about a woman whose life had been split into a before and an after, through which she became acquainted with a shadow side of herself that she liked, even though her "normal" self insisted that she shouldn't. Combined with meeting Harley, who I knew was a tattoo artist, I came up with the idea of Shae having a mastectomy scar that she wanted to cover.
When Omnific asked for anthology submissions, I immediately thought of that piece, and pulled it from one of my short story collections to donate to the cause. I think it was meant to be.
JL: Tattoos figure prominently in the story. Do you have tattoos? What draws you to tattoos?
BJ: I have ten tattoos, five of which have joined forces in a half sleeve around my upper left arm. Though all of my pieces have personal significance, getting tattooed in the first place wasn't a deep thought or a big choice for me. I'm draw to it for the same reason that some women get waxed, or have their hair fried and dyed. I think ink is pretty.
I guess I don't see skin as something to preserve. I think skin is a living canvas, waiting for sensations and marks. My artist once told me that one's ink should be the story of one's life, and being a writer, that jibes with me.
JL: How did you enjoy writing a short story compared to a novel?
BJ: I love writing short stories. They allow me to be loose, and play with characters that I probably wouldn't take on if I had to write a whole novel about them. I also find that short stories are a great way to keep up my writing practice when I'm between novels.
JL: I haven't had the pleasure of reading your novel The Way That You Play It but I hope to get to it soon. Please tell us about the story.
BJ: Here's the blurb.
After her boyfriend dumps her for a teenage pop starlet, Caroline Curran moves to a rental house so far outside of downtown Atlanta that even her closest friends cannot reach her. Short, stacked, and soft-hearted to a fault, Caroline allows her failed relationship to drag down her songwriting career. An influential friend in the music business sends a gift to inspire her to write some new songs: a talented young singer named Trent Buckney whose beautiful voice is overshadowed by his stony demeanor and poor White trash accent.
Running from a violent past, feeling overworked and underpaid, and dealing with the overwhelming responsibility of his mother and sister, Trent is desperate to work with Caroline both for money and for a break from his dismal life. The songwriter and the singer form an uneasy relationship cemented by their mutual willingness not to ask questions that neither wants to answer.
However, just a few days together in Caroline’s house stir up artistic admiration and arousal while they collaborate on a song, “The Way That You Play It.” They try to sublimate their attraction into forming a band and recording a single, but late nights full of torrid blues music only feed their festering sexual tension. They engage a raw romance that is put to the test when Trent’s past catches up to them both. Facing the consequences of his actions leaves Trent with one chance, at one pivotal performance, to turn his feelings for Caroline into more than a one-hit wonder.
On opposite sides of the same guitar, they both learn that love isn’t limited to the hand that you’re dealt if you gamble on The Way That You Play It.

JL: On your Goodreads profile, it looks like you have a slew of novels slated to be published in 2011. Tell us more!
BJ: Most of my Goodreads works are erotic short story collections, like the one from which Harley and Shae were pulled. I have one more novel coming out this year, a romantic comedy called Hot Under The Halo. It's about a bad girl who flies by the seat of her pants, and right into the lap of a good boy who doesn't know how to relax. Hi-jinx ensue.
JL: What's been the most surprising thing about writing so far?
BJ: Before I was published, I didn't realize that being an author would be such a job. Writing novels is the easy part, as it turns out. Success requires some business savvy and marketing skills, which can be difficult to acquire while you're dealing with increased attention and criticism. Building a brand isn't the same thing as being yourself, which is difficult for people like me (and Harley) who aren't blessed with a lot of finesse and patience.
JL: Thank you for stopping by and giving an interview, BJ! Interested readers can check out BJ's blog HERE.
BJ: Thanks for having me, Jennifer.
Today’s Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop is hosted by Carol Oates. Go HERE for instructions.
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4 comments:

Nicki Elson said...

That is the cutest picture of BJ! Netherlands, wow, that's a big move, and an exciting one---and for love. :)

I had the pleasure of editing New Flame and got pulled into it from that beginning scene with the tattoo. Gorgeous is the only word for it. And I've been thinking about tattoos ever since...
I agree w/ BJ---they're pretty, especially when done by an artist with the skills of Harley.

Jennifer Lane said...

I love that photo, and it shows off one tat! I have to admit tattoos are not my thing but this story made me rethink that a bit. Great editing job, Nicki.

BJ Thornton said...

Thanks for the interview Jen.

Lol, I think the tattoo is the star of that story. Now we see the beauty of writing... one can taste the thrill of an experience, without having to endure that experience.

This anthology was such a great idea, so satisfying in every way, especially with the charitable angle. I hope Omnific does another one.

Jennifer Lane said...

The tattoo was quite a star, BJ. I'd much rather read about getting a tattoo than actually getting a tattoo, ha ha. I agree with you about the anthologies. So much fun!

 


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