Are you in the Mood?

I need to talk about my new favorite thing. Okay, well, it’s not really a new concept, but it is to me.

Anyway…I’ve started making mood boards for each of my books. It helps me get a better picture of the story, the characters, and the overall vibe of the story itself. I started making them in 2020 when I wrote A Lockdown Love Affair, and I never stopped. At some point, I’d like to go back and make some for my previous historical romances, but I just don’t have the time to do that at the moment. Put it on my never ending list of things to do.

Here are my mood boards so far. Let me know if one catches your eye…

What do you think? Do they catch your attention? I know they help me stay focused on the story I’m writing. Just a disclaimer, I’m currently working on Can’t Fight This Feeling. The rest of the books in my 1985 series, She Gives Love a Bad Name, Owner of a Lonely Heart, and Just What I Needed will be releasing next year. So I hope you’re ready for some retro romance. It’s not historical and it’s not contemporary…it’s the 80s baby!

I hope you enjoyed this little visual trip into my writer’s brain. Careful, it’s easy to get lost in there. xoxo

Which mood board is your favorite? Tell me in the comments.

All my love,

Kirsten

Teaser: His Wicked Whispers

Crispin has commanded your presence. Will you deny him?

Here is a sneak peek at the first book of the infamous Prince of Whispers. I’ve listed some content forewarnings at the bottom of the page. This prince isn’t for everyone. Please proceed with caution. No readers under 18 years old. (This excerpt contains explicit language, adult situations, and violence.) Releases on May 10th.

The dirt and stones scuffed his boots as he ambled down the moonlit road. Where are you when I need you, Henry? Crispin lost patience two villages ago. He had been denied a horse, so he walked from the castle he once claimed as his home. The villages near the castle knew his face, so he had wandered into the night in a dark state of mind knowing he must find shelter far from the familiar.

The glimmer of lantern light through the trees signaled a village. He sighed. Hopefully, this one had a whorehouse. He needed a warm body and a good fuck to ease his tension. He rolled his shoulders. A bath would not be remiss, either. Perhaps he could charm one from the wench he intended to persuade to share his bed. Crispin had not checked his coin, but he thought it would be wisest to save what he could.

Crispin grinned when he saw the telltale sign of a brothel. He slipped in the door and took an empty seat by the fire, waiting for service. One of the wenches approached him, sliding her hand up his arm and over his shoulder.

“What can I do for you, love?” she asked, her voice husky. She was plump and ripe, her reddened lips begging with a soft pout.

“I shall take an ale and whatever else you are offering.” He charmed her with a smile.

The wench slid into his lap and toyed with the hair curling at the nape of his neck. “With a smile like yours, ’tis a wonder you have to pay for women to grace your bed.”

“Perhaps I tire of the games that requires.” He slid his hand along her hip, under her skirt. “How about you retrieve my drink,” he whispered as she leaned against him. His fingertips glided over her cleft. “Then I can show you what other games I know.”

She moaned as he touched her. Wet and willing. He smiled. She would suit his purposes quite nicely. He removed his hand and helped her stand. She wobbled a moment before disappearing into the back to fetch his drink.

Crispin glanced around the room. Men and women mingled in various stages of undress. He chuckled. It was almost freeing for once in his life to be in a room and not be the center of attention. He noted the women’s sly looks in his direction. He grinned. Perhaps this would not be so bad after all.

The wench returned, handing him a goblet filled with amber liquid. He took the drink and downed it in one swallow. He reached up to pull the woman into his lap when she was suddenly snatched away.

“Oi, let me go,” she demanded, pulling against a tall, brawny man’s hold. He had a scar running along his right cheek and a dangerous gleam in his eyes.

“You are mine tonight.” He pulled her tight against him, his voice harsh and demanding.

“I am otherwise occupied.” She tried to jerk from his grip, but he brought her up short.

Before Crispin could interject, the back of the man’s hand connected with the woman’s face, knocking her to the floor. Eyes wide, she clutched at her cheek and scurried backward away from them both.

Crispin stood, infused with rage. Such an action was not to be tolerated. “Leave her!”

The whole room fell silent.

The man turned to Crispin, rage contorting his face. “What did you say?”

“I told you to leave her alone.” Crispin rested his hand on his dagger. “She is with me.”

“She is my whore.” The man spat on the floor. “Stay out of it.”

“Do you belong to him?” Crispin addressed the cowering woman on the floor. She shook her head vehemently. He glanced back at the man. “Seems like the lady disagrees with you.”

“Lady? She is a fucking whore.” His guffaw echoed through the room.

“That does not mean she deserves any less respect.” Crispin’s body pulled tight in response to the tension brewing in the room as it readied for a fight. He licked his lips. “Get out.”

“Who do you think you are barking orders and issuing commands? The king?”

Crispin thrust his jaw out. He grew tired of the man’s insolence. In one swift motion, he twisted the man’s arm behind him and threw his weight into his back, sending him crashing to the floor. When the man scrambled to get up, Crispin kicked his backside, knocking him over again. As the interloper attempted to stand, two men came up to them.

“Janos, go home. You have had enough to drink tonight,” one of them said. The other reached for the hulking brute’s arm, but he jerked it from his grasp.

“You and I have a debt to settle.” He pointed at Crispin then stumbled out of the building. The other two men followed him, making sure he had gone.

Crispin offered his hand to the wench, helping her to her feet. He gently moved her hand and saw the red welt below her eye where the brute had struck her. He clenched his teeth.

“Are you well?” His soft question made her relax beneath his touch.

“Aye,” she replied with a shaky smile. “You saved me. I thank you.”

“I can think of another way for you to show me your thanks.” Crispin slid his hand over the top of her breasts, cradling one in his palm. She moaned as she met his gaze.

“Of course, good sir.” She licked her lips. “It would be my pleasure.” She grabbed his wrist and pulled him toward the stairs.

A hand clamped down on Crispin’s shoulder. He turned, coming face to face with one of the men who had tossed out the rabble.

“We are going to need you to leave as well, sir.” His stern tone invited no argument.

“You cannot be serious.” Crispin shook his head in disbelief. “Can I not at least reap the reward for rescuing this fair wench?”

“Not unless you would have me summon the sheriff. We cannot allow such troublesome clients to remain in our establishment.”

Crispin bit his tongue before he betrayed his true identity. It would not do for him to be cast from his father’s house, a whorehouse, and his homeland in a single night. He swallowed his scathing retort and turned to the wench clinging to his arm.

“My regrets, darling. It seems I must take my leave.” He pulled her in for a kiss, tasting what might have been, and released her. She pouted, the disappointment evident in her expression.

“I believe I can find my way out.” Crispin glanced at the men moving to follow him. He walked out the door, drawing it closed behind him.

The night lay shrouded with a thick, misty fog, dimming the glow of the lanterns outside the brothel and encircling the rest of the small village. He ran his hand through his hair. So much for a willing woman and a warm bed. Agitated, he ruffled his hair again.

Crispin stepped down onto the street when four men stepped from the darkness, surrounding him. The two flanking him grabbed his arms, while the third wrapped his arm around Crispin’s throat from behind. He thrashed against their grasp, but they were huge, hulking beasts. He was outmanned and outmaneuvered. God’s blood, teeth, and bones.

“You and I have unfinished business,” the fourth man said, stepping into the light, allowing Crispin to see his face.

“You bloody bastard.” Crispin struggled against their hold. “I will have your head for this. Do you have any idea who I am?”

“The pompous arse who stole my whore.” Contempt dripped from the man’s words. “I do not give a cock’s crow who you are.” He threw a punch, and it landed in Crispin’s stomach, knocking the air from his chest. “But you are going to pay.”

Crispin jerked, trying to break free, wheezing. The man holding his head released him but stood like a solid stone wall against his back. He had to defend himself, but there were too many of them and they were far too strong for him to take them on alone. Three more blows landed in succession, two to his midsection and one cracking across his jaw. Pain shot through him as the warm, metallic tang of blood filled his mouth.

“That the best you got?” Crispin spat. He knew it would only enrage the beast more, but he never backed down, even in the most hopeless situations.

The man threw another punch, square in the chest over his heart. Crispin thought it ceased beating with the blow. The world spun as he gasped for breath, doubling over. The men held him steady. Crispin coughed, spewing blood onto the man’s shoes. The assailant grabbed a handful of his hair and jerked his head back. He winced before narrowing his gaze. Never show weakness.

 A yelp of pain from the man on his right was followed by Crispin’s sudden release. A moment later, the second man released him, clutching at his arm as he stumbled backward. The man behind them backed away as if sensing something was not right. Crispin stumbled forward, trying to catch his breath. His eyes watered from the pain throbbing in his head. He glanced up and saw the man who had been pummeling him standing as still as a marble statue. The shaft of an arrow glinted in the lamp light from where it protruded from the man’s chest. The beast pitched forward, and Crispin scrambled out of the way, slamming onto his back on the ground.

He lay there, staring up into the starlit night catching his breath. A figure stepped into his view wearing a dark cloak with the hood pulled up.

“Are you going to lay there and bleed?”

Crispin’s head pounded. Those blows must have affected him more than he had thought. Was it a woman’s voice? Surely not. He tried to sit up and wobbled at the motion.

“Help me up, damn you.” He held out his hand.

With a derisive snort, the cloaked savior helped him to his feet. Crispin draped his arm across the man’s shoulder, steadying himself.

“Come, we must away before the soldiers arrive.” The stranger’s voice was strong and steady, but it most definitely belonged to a woman.

“Wait.” Crispin protested, but the stranger pulled him deeper into the shadows.

“There is no time.” His savior helped him onto her horse then swung up into the saddle behind him. With a nudge, the beast was off, hurtling through the darkness. Crispin’s head ached. The jolting pace of the horse did nothing to ease his discomfort, but it could have been worse. The stranger’s arms around him made him acutely aware of the lithe body pressed against his back. It was a woman, he would stake his life on it. In silence, they rode into the night away from the village. He would demand answers once they reached wherever the hell they were headed if he survived the ride.

Content Forewarnings for His Wicked Whispers: Morally Gray Hero, Jealous/Manipulative Hero, Questionable Menage, Dubious Consent, Light Bondage, Explicit Sex Scenes, and Mature/Graphic Language.

Inspiration: A Tumblr Blog, The Trickster, and Wicked Whispers

Once upon a time, I had an unquenchable addiction to Tumblr and roleplaying fan fiction for multiple fandoms. Fortunately for my writing career, it was short-lived. But not before I stumbled across this gem of a blog.

Before you click that link, let me warn you. Some of those posts are highly NSFW and dark, which makes sense, considering they’re about our favorite trickster god, Loki. Proceed at your own risk. I’ve only included a tame one on my blog, but check them out later if you’re so inclined.

First, let me tell you how this blog inspired a trilogy.

There I was, minding my own business, when one of these whispers floated across my screen. I was already a fan of Tom Hiddleston and Loki, but this sparked something different in my mind.

I heard a voice speak to me. No, not speak, whisper. He convinced me to write a few of his whispers down, and from that evolved a full character: Prince Crispin Saville.

The more I explored his whispers and his character, the deeper it drew me into his world. I created Meradin, a small kingdom among the already established kingdoms of the era, placing it where Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland all converged. Crispin vowed to rule this land even though he was not the first born son of the king. He took on a life of his own complete with strong opinions and no moral compass to guide him.

I created Henry to provide him with an external conscience at the very least. But it was Ruby who gave him a reason to mature and grow.

Alas, he does neither of these things during the course of the first book. However, books two and three provide him with ample opportunity and motivation to examine the state of his soul and set his feet on the proper path. I shall give no spoilers, but I will provide a gentle reminder that while he may be brash, selfish, callous, and spoiled…he finds redemption for all his faults in the end. But they come at a cost.

Loki heavily influences Crispin’s character. If you’re a fan of Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of the Norse god, then Crispin will charm you. But I will reiterate my warning. He is not a good man, nor is he a moral one. There are some scenes that will leave you with conflicting emotions and a thousand questions. Fear not, there will be resolution by the end of Book Three.

This trilogy was difficult for me to write because it’s different from the other books I’ve written. The tone and theme are darker. In the beginning, the hero is unlikable. The conflict woven throughout is heartbreaking. So, after writing the first book, I chose to publish it under my pen name, Jen Bradlee, for fear it would alienate my readers.

Unfortunately, life got in the way, and I could not write the subsequent two books until last year. I never intended for it to take this long to finish.

Determined to give this series the best possible success, I revisited the first book with fresh edits, a new title, and a few adjustments. I also had pretty new covers made for all three books. Once called, The Prince of Whispers, Book One is now His Wicked Whispers, and I’m releasing it on May 10th.

Seduction Most Wicked, Book Two, releases on July 12th, and Reign of Wicked Temptation, Book Three, will release on August 9th.

I kept the pen name as an homage to the author I was then. But Jen and Kirsten’s styles have morphed into something similar, so I no longer felt the compulsion to keep them separated any longer. Although I may not publish as Jen Bradlee with nearly the frequency I do as Kirsten in the future, there will be a few stories that fit Jen’s personality much more than my own. So, I’ll keep the possibility of publishing more stories as Jen Bradlee open for the time being.

It amazes me how one simple meme can ignite a story idea that transforms into something like this: A trilogy with characters who take on a life of their own in a world of my imagination. Inspiration can be a fascinating thing.

Now, go check out that Tumblr blog if your curiosity is gnawing away at you.

If you’re looking for a wicked hero to take you on an epic adventure, join us. The Prince of Whispers awaits your presence, and when he whispers, you will come.

Thanks for stopping by.

With love,

Jen Bradlee/Kirsten S. Blacketer

Sneak Peek at His Wicked Whispers

I have far too many projects releasing this year, but I can’t help it. These stories demand to be told. So, I’m offering a little teaser of the first chapter of the first book in my medieval trilogy. His Wicked Whispers is Book One and releases on May 10th. It’s being published under my pen name/alter ego Jen Bradlee. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Crispin Saville, the Prince of Whispers.


A knock sounded through the chamber. Crispin fumed. How many times must he remind them to leave him alone after the evening meal?

“I will not be disturbed!”

“Your highness.” A strained voice echoed through the solid wooden door. “The king wishes to speak with you straight away.”

His cock wilted at the mention of his father. He glanced at the door, willing the man behind it to burst into flames.

“Your highness?”

“I am coming!” He tossed the whip down and glanced at the naked wench on his bed. “Cover yourself.” He strode to the door and opened it. “This had better be a matter of life and death. I gave clear instructions I was not to be disturbed.”

“I beg your pardon, your highness.” The servant bowed. “I explained your request to the king, but he insisted you be summoned immediately.”

Crispin inclined his head, agitation clawing at his spine. “Well, I would hate to keep him waiting.” His words dripped with sarcasm.

The king only demanded his presence when he wanted something. He frowned, feeling the crease deepen between his brows. The only time anyone had use for him was when they desired something of value.

The servant led him to the king’s presence chamber and opened the doors. Crispin sauntered into the room bearing an air of boredom and disinterest. The servant closed the doors behind him as he exited. The king sat behind his desk, reading a roll of parchment, oblivious to his presence. He cleared his throat when the king continued to ignore him.

“You required me to attend you, yet you do not speak.” Crispin bit back the other words threatening to spill from his lips. Over the past several weeks, his father had shown him nothing but contempt. He had returned victorious from a quest and was met with utter disregard. He straightened, watching his father take up a quill and write upon the parchment before him. His father’s fair hair bore no sign of his age.

Crispin ran his hand through his own auburn locks. He resembled his mother, while Francis—he let the thoughts of his brother drift away and focused instead on his growing irritation with his father.

“I did.” The king spoke slowly, not lifting his gaze from the parchment before him. “You have put me in an awkward position.” He finally met Crispin’s gaze. “I am forced to make a difficult decision.”

“I am unaware of what you refer, Father.” Crispin grit his teeth.

“You know damned well what you have done!” The king rose from his seat and slammed his fist down on the massive wooden desk. He stalked around it, approaching Crispin. His dark gray eyes shone with exasperation and conviction.

Crispin swallowed hard and straightened, keeping his attention fixed on the far wall. He refused to make eye contact with his father. Why should he care what the peasants thought of him? He was the rightful heir to the throne, chosen by God to lead them. He smirked, allowing his arrogance to bolster his courage.

“She informed me she was unattached. How was I to know she was the visiting duke’s wife dressed in peasant rags?” Crispin dropped carelessly in the chair beside him, swinging his legs over the arm.

“Do not pretend you had no inkling as to her identity. Why must you constantly behave like a self-indulgent child?” The king leaned against his desk, arms crossed, his gaze narrowed on Crispin.

“Because I am—at least according to you.” He had grown tired of the lectures and his father’s constant ridicule.

“Crispin.” The king rubbed his forehead. “This is precisely why I sent Henry away. If you do not learn to control your baser impulses, I will be forced to cut you from your inheritance and give the crown to the next in line, your cousin Fredrick.”

His head snapped up at the mention of Henry and the implication of the king’s words.“Father, you cannot be serious. You would deny me the throne? My cousin, the bumbling fool, has neither the presence of mind nor the fortitude to rule a nation.”

The old man shook his head. “I have done all I can to lead you, to show you how to rule as a true king should, but you simply refuse to acknowledge the basic tenets of leadership.”

“I have done all you have asked of me, Father.” Crispin ground his teeth and shot to his feet, pacing the worn rug. “Surely you must see this is ridiculous.” He ran his hand through his hair tempted to tear it out in frustration.

The king’s gaze followed him. His lips pulled in a thin line and his face remained stoic. “I have tried to be a good king and father, but as of late, all my attention has been dedicated to appeasing nations you have insulted with your careless and selfish behavior. The people have suffered because of this, and I must set things to right. Unfortunately, disinheriting you may be the only course of action to ensure the safety of my people and the realm.”

“You cannot take what is mine!” Crispin’s voice rattled the ceiling timbers. “It is my birthright! I will have what is owed me.” He jabbed his finger at the king, punctuating each word.

“It was not your birthright; it was your brother’s!” His father’s restraint finally snapped like a dead branch beneath a boot.

“He is dead!”

“Crispin!”

His mother’s voice boomed behind him making him turn. She stood inside the door, her hands clasped before her. The dark blue gown emphasized the color in her cheeks and the dark auburn braid wrapped intricately around her head. The stern set of her lips and the concern in her eyes enhanced her regal bearing. Crispin cursed himself for not realizing she had entered the room, but then she made it a point to tread lightly until the opportune moment. He dropped his hand and met her gaze.

“Mother.” He greeted her with a slight bow. Fury still raged inside of him, boiling and roiling in his mind full of dark thoughts. He would definitely need a good, mindless fuck to release all this repressed anger. Maybe he would start a fight; sometimes that worked just as well. He allowed himself a small, wicked, satisfied grin.

“I know the gleam in your eyes, my son. It betrays the mischief in your mind.” She cocked her head and stepped closer to him, cupping his face with her palms.

Crispin leaned into her warm touch. Her unwavering belief in him touched his calloused heart, but it never swayed him. He stiffened and reached up to slowly draw her hands from his face.

“I appreciate your concern, Mother.” He took a measured step out of her reach. “But I am a man grown, I believe I know my own mind.”

She nodded with tears glinting in the corners of her blue eyes. “’Tis what concerns me, darling.”

The king held his hand out to her, and she joined him, leaning into her husband’s warm embrace. They formed a united front. Crispin crossed his arms, irritation flooding him.

“We are sending you on one last mission to see if you truly are ready to take your responsibilities seriously.” The king spoke with confidence and conviction. “This is your last warning. Failure will result in your banishment.”

Crispin arched his brow, silently challenging his father. “Is this the worst you can do? Banish me from my home and abrogate my God-given rights.”

“I will strip you of your title, your station, and your wealth, and cast you out of my kingdom. Then you may live as you choose. As you are right now, you are unfit to wear a crown.”

His father’s words stuck like an arrow piercing his heart. How did they expect him to change overnight? Could he even change at all? Crispin refused to let emotion creep into his expression. He affected a cold mask of indifference.

“What is this mission?” His voice remained level and calm while the storm raged in his breast.

“A taste of what you can expect if you fail.”

“I beg your pardon?” Crispin glanced between his mother and father. “What will this accomplish?”

His mother spoke this time. “You will travel within our borders, unescorted and penniless, with only the clothes on your back and the people you meet for companionship.”

“And you expect me to survive when they discover who I am?”

“You are not permitted to reveal your true identity. You are to survive using only what you bring with you as a man alone against the world.” The king’s limiting instructions seemed ludicrous.

“Father, surely you jest?” Panic crept into his chest, constricting his heart with its iron grip.

“You know I am not one for games and tricks, Crispin.” He narrowed his gaze. “Those are traits you favor. I doubt they will serve you well on your mission.”

“When may I return?”

“When you have learned what it is to lead and serve in tandem. When you realize a king has duties which lie beyond these walls and his own selfish indulgences.” The king’s voice grew more passionate with each statement. “When you fulfill your destiny and become the man I know you can be.”

Crispin’s hands clenched into fists as he listened to his father’s words. He would do what he must. Deep in the corner of his mind, he realized the futility in arguing. He was not a good man at heart and refused to conform to the mold in which his father expected him to fit. He nodded even though he burned to argue the uselessness of such a challenge.

“Yes, Sire.” His jaw clenched. If he unleashed his anger now, his father would surely banish him without a second thought. It was for the best he follow their request. “Is there anything else you require of me before I take my leave?”

“Know that we do this out of love,” his mother said softly. “Be the leader we know you were born to be.”

 With a stiff nod, Crispin turned his back on his parents and strode from the room without a backward glance. If they were so eager to be rid of him, who was he to defy their orders? He swiftly returned to his chamber and found himself alone.

The wench had gone. He cursed. Part of him had hoped to find her still wet and willing in his bed. He ran a hand over his face. The night had quickly turned sour.

He changed into sturdy traveling clothes and packed a small satchel with some essentials. He hoarded some coin, so he tucked what he could into his pocket for safekeeping. Strapping the belt around his waist, he buckled it and slid his sword into the scabbard. He tucked the daggers away, one into the sheath at his hip and the other in his boot. One could never be too prepared. Crispin headed for the door, snatching his heavy woolen cloak from the hook and draping it across his shoulders. He took one last, long glance at his warm bed and his opulent room then disappeared into the night.

Why Contemporary Romance?

Even though my journey as a published author seems like it began with historical romance, it really didn’t. Around the same time I wrote An Irresistible Shadow, I wrote two other stories, both contemporary romance. They weren’t as complex as my medieval romance, and both had elements of romantic suspense. Yes, both were also published at the beginning of my career.

My first publication was a short story called “What The Darkness Proposes.” If this title looks familiar, it’s because I published it here on my website a week before I posted this. I originally wrote it for a short story competition hosted by Romantic Shorts, and it won second place. Unfortunately, Romantic Shorts will be closing their doors. So, I made a new home here on my website for the short stories they published.

Around the same time, I submitted a romantic suspense novelette to another small press. Full Throttle: Blood, Sweat, and Gears. It was very much inspired by Tara Janzen’s Crazy series featuring fast cars and a smoking hot hero. I absolutely loved writing it. But this story has also been taken down from the publisher and the rights returned. I am considering the idea of revising it as a fun treat for my subscribers.

I’ve learned a lot since these first publications. My writing has improved. My tastes have also become more specific. But the best lesson I learned was to follow my heart and write the stories I want to read. I’ll chase down whatever idea strikes me and pen a delightful romance with its inspiration.

But after six years of writing historical romance, why did I suddenly dive back into contemporary?

Well, as much as I love historical romance, there are limitations when I write it. Specifically the firm constraints of the time period which could be etiquette, technology, or other details that may inhibit the creative process. This isn’t a bad thing, but it can be exhausting trying to be true to the time period.

In Spring of 2020, I was enjoying my time living in Italy…when Covid struck. I had plans. To travel. To grasp every possible opportunity living in Europe had to offer. And then we got locked down. HARD. I mean, I didn’t leave our one-acre property for three months. My husband did all the shopping when he went to work. We weren’t allowed to go anywhere, and all of our plans were canceled, including my trip to visit Samantha Holt in England! I was enraged. Furious. Disappointed. Crushed. I had nowhere to vent my frustrations.

Only, I did. I poured my heart and soul into A Lockdown Love Affair that spring. Then it sparked an idea for A Holiday Love Affair and Mistletoe and Mistakes. All three books are interconnected and the characters were born from an idea sparked during my time in lockdown.

I set a writing schedule and stuck to it. By January of 2021, I decided to challenge myself and focus on writing a book every two months while publishing one every quarter. I met this goal with ease, even in the midst of an intercontinental move.

I pulled ideas for stories I had set aside years ago and focused on writing them. Confessions of a Fangirl had been an idea for a screenplay, but I morphed it into a romantic comedy that sparked two more books. Thus, the Her Confessions Series was born. The best part of that is these books interconnect with the universe I created for my Sunshine Meets Grump Series (A Lockdown Love Affair, A Holiday Love Affair, and Mistletoe and Mistakes.)

All of my contemporary romances so far weave together in the same universe. That’s the only tidbit I’m going to tell you because I don’t want to spoil the Easter eggs I’ve placed in the books. But even my 1985 time travel romance, When I Found You, spawned its own series of five books, and there are characters within those stories who tie into my contemporary universe. I love when a plan comes together, especially when I didn’t really plan it at all! My subconscious is a terrifying place sometimes.

Honestly, why do I like writing contemporary romance? Because I’m a contemporary woman. For me, it’s the easiest era in which to write. It feels natural because I’m living it on a daily basis. I can tie in modern technology and conventions while putting my own fun spin on it with pop culture.

It also brings a much-needed reprieve from writing a bygone era. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing historical romance, but it can be overwhelming at times. I love the freedom that contemporary romance gives me to explore topics and plots I couldn’t utilize in a historical romance.

Fortunately, I read a lot of both genres, so I’m able to bounce back and forth with ease. There are just some days when you’re in a very specific mood. I like to be flexible with my reading, but even more so with my writing.

I’ll keep going as I have been, writing both steamy historical and contemporary romance. But at least now you know the reason why I’m all over the place. Thanks for tagging along for the ride!

Are you camp Contemporary or camp Historical? Tell me in the comments.

Always,

Kirsten S. Blacketer

Why Historical Romance?

A lot of people ask me why I write historical romance? I never really thought about it before because my love of historical romance came naturally. My writer’s voice seemed suited to the task, and I was excited to dive into the story! It was destiny!

When I first began my publishing journey, I gravitated toward writing historical romance. Why? Well, I wish I had an easy explanation, but I don’t.

I could say I was heavily influenced by the romance novels I was reading. They had a profound impact on me. Authors like Teresa Medeiros, Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Holt, Jo Beverley, and Elizabeth Elliot. These are only a small sampling of the authors I read who influenced my writing and inspired me to pursue my own dream of becoming a published author. There are many other historical romance authors whom I adore and aspire to emulate through my own writing.

But here’s the truth. I write the stories that come to me demanding to be told. It’s as simple as that.

My first novel was a medieval adventure set on the English/Scottish border, as was the second book. Both of them were written during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). My subsequent novels followed the same historical pattern, but I couldn’t remain bound to only the medieval era. I dabbled in Prohibition-era, late-Victorian, and even Victorian steampunk.

I became a time traveler of sorts, going where the stories led me. The challenge of exploring a new era and embracing the possibilities of the time period envigorated my love of writing. Had I remained bound to one era, I would have grown stagnant and frustrated with my craft.

This inevitably led me to write contemporary romance, as well as time travel and fairy tale fantasy romance. The possibilities are endless!

While I vacillate between subgenres and different eras, there is one constant component on which you can always rely when it comes to my writing. I write romance. Period. There may be elements of other genres in my work, but it will always focus on the relationship and have an emotionally satisfying ending.

No matter the era or the subgenre, I stand by the KSB guarantee: A steamy getaway and always an HEA!

If you’re a writer, why do you write in the genre you do? If you write romance, what subgenre do you write in and why?

If you’re a reader, what makes you pick up a book? Will you follow the author no matter what they write or are you devoted to one genre/subgenre?

I have questions. Let’s chat about it! Leave your comments below.

With love,

Kirsten S. Blacketer

How Steamy Do You Like It?

With a new release coming on May 10th, I wanted to tackle a topic that often comes up between readers and authors. It is an article of debate for some, but for me, it comes down to preference. Heat Ratings.

For the record, I write steamy, sensual, smoldering historical romance. There, now you know my secret.

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As if you didn’t know already.

 

How hot do you like your romance?

If you’re an avid romance reader, like I am, then you have a preference when it comes to the heat rating and choosing a romance novel. We all do. Do you like sweet romance with no sex? Do you like a scene or two? Do you prefer closed door? Or are you an erotica fan?

I’m a middle of the road kind of girl, myself. I love sexual tension and slow burn romance, but I prefer to see the union come to fruition on the pages. Some would prefer to have these written as closed-door, where the union is implied, but not described. I am not one of those. As the reader, I am emotionally invested in the character’s relationship. I’ve put myself in the heroine’s shoes. So I personally find these scenes to be emotionally fulfilling as I experience the relationship developing between the hero and heroine.

Now, the scene doesn’t have to be graphic and take up ten pages of the book. I’ve read books where the love scene is a page long and it served its purpose.

Sex can be an important component of the story’s progression and the character’s development depending on the story. And yes, there are times when it is completely unnecessary. I dislike when authors try to force the scene or add a sex scene just for titillation. Yes, there is such thing as too much sex in a book. I get bored of it. There’s a balance, and I know from personal experience in my own writing that balance is hard to maintain. When it’s done right, the story should flow perfectly.

I have had readers tell me they would have liked my stories better without the sex. They told me that sex was not a spectator sport and that I should write something better with a closed door. Not going to lie, that stung.

I don’t put sex scenes into the story on a whim. I put them there because they progress the story and/or help the characters evolve. Sometimes it’s there to heighten the tension or punctuate something that comes after their consummation. There is a reason for it.

I dislike the terms “dirty” and “clean” romance. I abhor these terms. Sex is neither dirty nor shameful. Some topics may be distasteful for some readers. I understand. This is why I include a small author’s note at the end of each blurb on Amazon (and other retailers.)

I don’t write sweet romance. My books are steamy but not erotic. If you don’t care for the sex scenes, then feel free to skip over them. I won’t have hurt feelings if you skip that part. But I will be hurt if you blast my book for being “too hot” when I put the disclaimer right beneath the blurb that you read before purchasing the book. So, please take note, if sex makes you uncomfortable, then you shouldn’t read my books.

I wish retailers would have a heat rating scale similar to Audible’s amazing rating scale. I’m not a fan of audiobooks. I prefer to read the book and most of the narrators get on my nerves after a while. But I was searching through the collection and was pleasantly surprised by the rating system they have for the romance novels. It makes my life so much easier. I know exactly what heat level I’m getting.

Emma

The link explaining their rating system is https://www.audible.com/ep/Romance-Books-With-Steamy-Score. You should definitely check it out.

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I think they should use this system for the whole romance genre on all the other platforms. It’s a great visual for the reader to see what they’re purchasing and if it’s what they’re looking for in a book.

Until they do this, I’ll continue to put my little author’s note at the bottom of every blurb. No worries. 🙂

And remember, never feel like you have to justify your love of romance, be it sweet or steamy or erotic. Life’s too short not to read what you love and what brings you joy.

 

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Steamy or not. Just a friendly reminder. ❤

 

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

 

 

Confession of an Aspiring Romance Author

Time for a little confession. Okay, a big confession. I’m not always motivated to write. In fact, some days I’m downright discouraged. Being a self-published author is wonderful because I get complete creative control. The downside is…well, I feel like I’m standing in a crowd of thousands and my voice is being drowned out. I have a strong voice, solid stories, beautiful cover art, talented editors, and a supportive collection of family and friends. What more could a budding romance author want?

Readers. Faithful, engaging, loving, wonderful readers.

I have seen these types of readers. I’ve dined with them. I have laughed and conversed with them. They’re amazing people. I know, because I’m one of them.

The last two years I’ve had the fortune and opportunity to attend the Historical Romance Retreat. I attended strictly as a reader, but my little author heart couldn’t help but crave more. Seeing so many talented historical romance authors in one place. My poor fangirl self nearly imploded from the sheer pleasure of being in the presence of such talent.

Not only did I meet like-minded readers, I met authors I could have only DREAMED of meeting in person. Seriously, I could have died from pure bliss surrounded by people I admired and aspired to become. HRR has become the event of the season for me, and I will cherish every moment I spent traveling back in time and celebrating with my tribe of historical romance lovers.

Here are a few pictures from my adventure to HRR 2016:

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And HRR 2017:

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The costumes, the events, the interaction, the atmosphere. If you ever have the opportunity to attend, DO IT. It will be worth the expense and the time. (Here’s the link to the website: https://www.historicalromanceretreat.com ) The friends I made through this event have only fostered my desire to persist as a romance author.

Why do I bring up this conference? Because it energizes me. The thought of being at HRR gives me life. It gives my motivation life. I want to be these women. These passionate authors and voracious readers inspire me. They give me direction and purpose. I want to be them. I want to bottle their energy and drive and fuel my own goals. I came home feeling reinvigorated and ready to write my next book.

But coming back to reality is often jarring. And time away from such a positive and uplifting atmosphere seems to wear me down.

To be honest, I feel like I’m drowning right now. I’m drowning in hours of promotion and preparation. I feel like I’m sinking in the quicksand of social media trying to market myself and my brand. I can feel my motivation slipping farther away from my grasp.

My desire to write never dies, but it wavers, it falters. I find myself staring at the screen wondering if anyone can hear me. I wonder if anyone wants to read my work. The monsters of self-doubt and rejection and fear linger in the dark recesses of my mind waiting for the opportunity to prey on my insecurities.

I want to write. I want to publish my work. I want to bring joy to readers around the world who crave escape and romance and adventure if only for a few hours.

But how can I reach you, gentle readers? How can I prove myself to you?

Over the last five years, I have learned a great deal about writing and publishing. I’ve learned a lot about myself as well. I have grown, matured, and persevered. I’m damn proud of myself and my journey as an author. I will continue to grow and mature. I will continue to write. My passion for the written word and romance has never dimmed. I shall always be a reader first and an author second. Because that was where I began my journey.

My desire is to have a relationship with my readers. I love knowing that you enjoyed my work. I love hearing your feedback and constructive criticism. It helps me make my work better. I value your reviews and your recommendations. I absolutely adore hearing that you recommended one of my books to your friends. It makes my heart soar.

Your joy brings me joy.

I will soldier onward. My words will continue to flow. The stories will be told, come hell or high water. But I need you, darling readers, to do what you do best.

Read. Review. Recommend.

These three simple steps can mean the world to an author. Especially to this author.

My aspiration to join the ranks of Elizabeth Hoyt and Eloisa James and all the fabulous authors I’ve met at HRR has been my dream since I began this journey. And when I finally earn my place among them, I can truly say that it was you, my lovely readers, who helped me reach my goal. For that, I will be eternally in your debt.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNEAK PEEK at Deceiving the Earl

Hello, darlings. My latest novel, Deceiving the Earl, will be releasing in May! I’ve decided to share a little snippet from this Victorian romance. It has a dash of mystery and a hint of steampunk elements. If you’ve ever seen Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes film series with Robert Downey Junior, this book is similar in aesthetic.

Please keep in mind, this hasn’t been to my editor yet. So have patience with me. We’re still in the process of polishing the story. Thank you.

Allow me to introduce Adele and Christopher…

Spring 1895

Adele Prescott is the daughter of the Viscount of Longmont. After her family is killed in a house fire, Adele hides her identity and becomes a maid in the home of Lord Christopher Underwood, Earl of Dorrington. Why? Because she believes the fire was no accident and that the earl had some hand in her families deaths.

Lord Underwood is a man haunted by the past and laden with secrets. His reclusive nature leaves him to pursue his passion for science, but after the fire, he wishes for nothing but the blissful oblivion of opium and seclusion. Until he meets his new maid, and a plan forms in his mind. A plan that leads to an intimacy neither of them expected but brings them into the heart of danger.

Excerpt:

The sound of the door opening interrupted their solitary moment. A wave of fear forced Adele to spin around, turning her back to the door. She would not want to be caught idle while she was supposed to be working.

“My lord,” Elizabeth said behind her. “Pardon us.”

“Ah, yes, I had forgotten you would be here at this hour.” His voice tugged at her memories. While familiar, it echoed strangely in her mind, as though distant, foreboding, and strangely alluring.

Adele turned, keeping her head down. She bobbed a small curtsy and avoided meeting his gaze.

“Is this the new maid?” he asked.

“Aye, my lord, this is Anne.” Elizabeth stepped to the side as he approached them.

He paused before Adele. She studied his neatly pressed trousers and the tips of his polished shoes.

“If you will beg my pardon, my lord, I shall fetch some coal for the fire.” Elizabeth’s voice echoed from the doorway.

“Very well,” he said in dismissal.

Adele stood as still as her trembling body would allow. Her heart pounded. There would be no way to hide herself from him now. Most masters were satisfied when the work was completed and their servants remained silent. Adele closed her eyes and took a deep breath. What if he recognizes me?

“Anne.” Her alias on his lips sounded almost like a challenge.

“Aye, my lord,” she replied, her voice steady, unlike the emotions boiling beneath her calm exterior.

“Will you not meet my eyes?” he asked. When she hesitated, he tipped her chin up with his gloved fingertip.

With a deep breath, Adele met his gaze. She faltered only for half a second, not because of his familiar face, but because of the shock of his deep, soulful hazel eyes. Never in her father’s long acquaintance with him, had she taken the opportunity to converse with him, let alone share a lingering look.

Lord Underwood was even more handsome than she’d remembered. His dark hair lay in waves, longer than fashionable, but neatly kept. The strong lines of his jaw were shadowed by a days’ worth of stubble. It lent him a roguish air. Her breath caught. From his dark, penetrating gaze to the soft smile haunting his lips, Adele found herself mystified by the man before her.

He only ever visited her father to work in the laboratory. Everyone knew him to be a reserved sort, especially after he had returned from the war and inherited his brother’s estate. Adele wanted to despise him for the path he had led her father down. But finally seeing him, eye to eye, she saw the despair behind the gentleman’s façade.

His fingertips brushed along her scar. “An injury from the fire, I presume?”

“Aye, my lord.” Adele suppressed the sudden desire to run as he inspected her face.

“You were fortunate to escape with your life, my dear.” He nodded before dropping his hand. “How do you find your new post?”

“Very well, I thank you, my lord.” Adele tried to keep her answers direct and simple.

He tilted his head and regarded her closely. “Have we met before? Upon my visits to your former employer’s estate perhaps?”

“It is possible, my lord. However, I do not recall.” She bowed her head unable to bear the constant scrutiny, fearful he would remember her.

He exhaled sharply. “I shall leave you to your duties then, Anne.” He turned to leave before pausing in the doorway and gesturing to the cylinder in the corner of the room. “Oh, and careful as you dust the inverter. It is liable to produce an electric shock that may be uncomfortable.”

With those cryptic words, Lord Christopher left her.

Adele collapsed in a chair and pressed her hands to her cheeks. Relief flooded her as she realized he did not recognize her. The dye in her hair and the scarring from the fire must have altered her enough to allay any suspicions he might have. She allowed a smile to cross her lips. Surely she would be safe enough to discover what he had convinced her father to study in that laboratory.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at Deceiving the Earl. I wanted to share the moment they first meet in the novel. What did you think?

I’m excited to share this novel with you. Keep an eye here for more details about the release date and special events.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

Surprise!!! Jewel of Winter is HERE!

Hello my friends…

Today is a very special day. My first self published book releases!

I introduced you all to this story back in December. Well it’s available for purchase right now!

Amazon – JEWEL OF WINTER

Smashwords – JEWEL OF WINTER

Dive into this Victorian romance and discover the benefits to breaking the law.

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A simple country girl at the mercy of a cold-hearted thief with more secrets than scruples.

As a widow, Jessamine gained the freedom she’d always desired. Her late husband left her his sole possession, an inn on the north road to Scotland. When a trio of gentlemen appear at the doorstep of her isolated inn during a snowstorm, Jess can’t help the curiosity coursing through her veins. Eavesdropping on their conversation only entangles her in their web of deception.

To the petite innkeeper, Edmund is a wealthy thief. Allowing her to think what she will, he decides to use her to his advantage. That is until she hides the stolen jewels and refuses to reveal their location. Never cowed by a challenge, Edmund issues an ultimatum: return the jewels or repay the debt with her body.