My latest novel, “Hard Press,” is releasing Aug. 18. And I think there will probably be some readers who will be surprised the same author wrote both “Catching Jaime” and “Hard Press.”
Most of my earlier works, including “Catching Jaime,” tend to be sweet romances. There are varying levels of sex in them — ranging from no sex (Rewriting His Love Life) to your typical, vanilla sex (Source of Protection, Winter Blom) — but none of them would be described as racy or sizzling hot. The stories are more about the romance, and sex is a natural part of the evolution of a relationship.
“Hard Press” stands out from the other novels in that regard.
While there are elements of sweet romance in it, the characters aren’t all that sweet. Julian begins his journey as a “vain brat” (Elliott’s words, not … well, yes, they are mine, but you know what I mean). Elliott, who is stressed to the max due to his family situation, finds Julian’s submissive nature liberating — finally, he can take control of something — and comes off as pushy, and occasionally, like a bit of an asshole.
Somehow, it works for them both. So who was I to question it?
But of course I did.
Power play is not my favorite trope, and actually I debated quite a bit about whether to go that direction with the book, even with only mild themes of submission. It wouldn’t have been my first choice. Because, you see, it pushed me a bit out of my comfort zone.
But the characters were demanding it, from pretty much their first meeting. They weren’t cut out to be a sweet romance, and they weren’t going to let me dictate that.
When I started writing books, I thought it would be a good opportunity to create the stories I crave as a reader. That is maybe a little bit true. But the larger truth is that each book in Ashe Sentinel Connections is different, because the characters are different. And as it turns out, they’re the boss. Not me.
Each book takes on a life of its own, and it’s not entirely within my control.
And that’s how I happened to write a love story about a vain, rather unlikeable man and a stressed-out, aggressive man who both needed something the other had to offer.
In the end, I like to think they helped each other grow into better human beings, too. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.
About Hard Press
Julian has everything: good looks, flashy cars, a high-end condo. Until his girlfriend dumps him after a disastrous attempt to have a threesome. To top it off, he rear-ends a motorcycle and meets a pissed off biker who calls him on his shit. But there’s something about the man that hits his repressed buttons, and makes him want to finally pull his desires out into the light. But living up to the standards of an edgy but caring man proves a challenge.
Elliott feels like his world has spun off its axis, and if he can just get control of his life, he can breathe again. His parents’ deaths and his autistic brother’s need for a boarding school weigh heavily on him. When Julian hits his bike outside the news office where he works in the press room, he thinks the sultry man is a spoiled brat who knows nothing of real pain. But bringing him under control soothes something in Elliott’s soul — and Julian seems to need a steady hand, too.
Can these two very different men navigate the give-and-take of a relationship unlike any other they’ve experienced? For both of them, it will be a hard press.