Inspiration: Shemar Moore, the Duke of Hastings, and Video Games

This book was never supposed to exist, but this is true for most of my stories, so bear with me as I explain how Confessions of a Gamer Girl came into existence.

When I set out to write Confessions of a Fangirl, it was supposed to be a one and done kinda book. I had an idea for a story, and I wrote it. The end.

But when I wrote Maggie’s character in Fangirl, I knew she deserved to have her own story. The moment Lily’s roommate, Gavin, waltzed onto the page during game night, I knew I would write Maggie’s book next. Both Maggie and Gavin had strong personalities that lit up the scenes they were in. I couldn’t ignore the tension simmering between them.

Fortunately, when I plotted their book, their story flowed naturally. With both of them being avid gamers, their competitive natures brought a great source of contention between them. They were both successful and independent, but they grew to love and crave the benefits a partnership could bring.

Petite Maggie packs a punch. When I saw her in my mind while writing Fangirl, I had a clear vision of her style and personality even though I didn’t have a specific person I modeled her after. Gavin was a completely different creative process.

When Lily introduces her roommate during game night, the first person who came to mind was Shemar Moore. The handsome charmer became the inspiration for not only Gavin’s looks but his personality as well. I loved his portrayal of Derek Morgan in Criminal Minds, so I allowed it to inspire me. I mean, who wouldn’t want him to whisper baby girl in their ear? But he wasn’t the only one who inspired Gavin.

The Duke of Hastings certainly made an impression on me when I watched Bridgerton Season One. Rege Jean Page’s swoonworthy performance in season one held me captive. How could I not be inspired by such a dapper duke? I mean…look at him. *swoon* The combination of these two men served as the perfect amalgamation for Gavin in Confessions of a Gamer Girl.

Now, I’m not going to lie. I was insanely intimidated writing a POC hero. I’ve never written any characters who weren’t white, not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Fortunately, my best friend and biggest supporter is also a person of color with a rich, vibrant cultural background. She helped me through the process and encouraged me every step of the way. For that, I am eternally grateful. Thanks, Niki.

Since I was a kid, video games have always fascinated me. Because I’m an 80s baby, I feel like video games and I share a lifetime. They evolved as I grew up. Even now, seeing how far we’ve come in gaming is amazing. Now, I’m not a gamer, but I have many friends who are avid gamers and I love watching others play. While Maggie’s obsession with gaming isn’t something I can relate to, I know many people who can.

I watched my brother take on the neighbor kids in Super Mario and battle on our first computer in Duke Nukem and Doom. My roommate in college spent many nights playing Counterstrike, where I’d fall asleep to the sound of gunfire and smack talk. Even my best friend in college was an avid gamer who had an obsession with Legend of Zelda and a tattoo of Link to prove it. And today, I love taking my kids to the local arcade for pinball and watching them play Battlefront and Assassin’s Creed on the PlayStation.

Video games have become an integrated part of our popular culture, and it felt natural to write a story centered on two peoples’ love of gaming. Especially after writing a book heavily focused on the struggles of being a fangirl. But in the same vein of Fangirl, I wanted Gamer Girl to showcase the struggle with finding balance and discovering what’s truly important in life.

Writing this book taught me to reach beyond my own comfortable bubble. I’m proud of Maggie and Gavin’s story. Their characters are dear to my heart. I’m excited to see if they pop up again in future books. One of my favorite things to do is tie in the characters from other book series I’ve written, like I did with Ben, Evan, and Andrew in Gamer Girl. (If you’d like to read their stories, you’ll find Ben’s in A Lockdown Love Affair, Evan’s in A Holiday Love Affair, and Andrew’s in Mistletoe and Mistakes.) You’ll definitely see Gavin, Maggie, Jen, and Shaun again in Lily’s story, Confessions of a Glamour Girl coming in September.

Thanks for all the support and love. Happy reading, my friends.

All my love,

Kirsten

Sneak Peek: Confessions of a Gamer Girl

I’m so excited to share Maggie and Gavin’s story with you! With release day just around the corner, I wanted to give you a sneak peek. Let me know what you think in the comments. Enjoy! xoxo

Releases on June 28th!

CHAPTER ONE

One year ago…

“You’re gonna die! Don’t do it!” The shout echoes through the immaculate brownstone, followed by a chorus of disgruntled groans and several colorful metaphors my mother would disapprove of. Those words, those groans of agony, are etched upon my soul, and they lure me down the hallway.

They’re coming from a dark room where an eighty-inch television sits against the far wall, its glorious glow casting three men in flickering shadows. The two with controllers sit bickering like five-year-olds over the game flashing on the screen. The third lounges off to the side, his face hidden. Looks like the most recent Space Vendetta game. The one I haven’t had a chance to play yet but have been dying to buy because it allows both in-person and online player-versus-player battles.

“You found it! I didn’t hear you knock.” Lily appears at the end of the hall wearing her signature pinup-red lipstick and a vintage cream blouse paired with a black and white houndstooth print skirt. The Betty Boop apron tied around her waist makes me grin. This girl was born in the wrong decade.

“Hey, Lily. Sorry, I just let myself in.” My gaze drifts to the room where her three roommates sit in the semi-darkness glued to their video game. “No one answered when I knocked.”

“I told them to listen for the door.” Lily glares at the room before turning back to me. “I’m sorry. Jen and I had music playing in the kitchen. Come on. We’ll leave the boys to their game.”

“Aren’t we watching a movie tonight?” I follow her down the hall, though there’s part of me that wants to run back to the living room and watch them play. No. Fuck that. I want to take them on. I rarely get to challenge anyone in person. No one wants to play against me. Not face to face at least. Guys don’t like when girls kick their asses in a video game.

“Yeah, but I told them I was commandeering the living room at seven. They’ve had time to play their silly games.” She tosses her head back and her set curls bounce against her shoulder. I flinch at the way she says it. Her huge blue eyes fix on me and she bites her lip. “Sorry, I forgot.”

“It’s okay, Lily. I didn’t take it personally,” I lie. It stings to hear the condescending tone. Not that she meant to imply gaming was silly or a waste of time, but that’s typically the response I get when people uncover my secret passion. It shouldn’t have to be a secret, and I shouldn’t have to apologize for liking video games. I grit my teeth and force a smile.

Jen pops in from the other side of the kitchen. “Hey, I’m glad you came.” She smiles and hugs me. Her dark hair lays in a braid over her shoulder. The oversized sweater she’s wearing looks warm and comfortable. Paired with jeans, she resembles one of those cute heroines from a Hallmark movie right before she meets the town hunk. I shake my head. We are such a trio of oddballs.

“Yeah, well. I have to admit, these girls’ nights are becoming the highlight of my week.” I take a seat beside Jen at the island in the center of the kitchen.

“Mine too.” Lily pulls something steaming and delicious out of the oven. The scent makes my stomach growl like a rabid dog. I shouldn’t have skipped lunch. She sets the casserole on the stovetop to cool and bustles to the fridge. “Want a beer?”

“Got anything stronger?” I joke, but I’m half-serious.

“Of course.” She grins and pulls a bottle of vodka from the freezer. “Don’t tell Gavin.” She winks conspiratorially and pours me a double in a whiskey glass. “Want some, Jen?”

“I’ll stick with the beer, thanks.” Jen watches with wide eyes as I lift the glass to my lips and down it in one swallow.

The ice-cold vodka burns straight to my gut, ripping away the thoughts of the past week and my asinine bosses. I set the glass on the table and Lily gapes at me.

“Rough week?” Jen asks with a smile as she pops the top off her Yuengling.

“If your boss was anything like mine, you’d be drinking straight from the bottle as soon as you got home.” A stifled laugh breaks from my throat. “Those two think I’m a fucking miracle worker.”

“Mr. Roberts can be like that, right Jen?” Lily takes a sip of her beer. Her pale face pinkens at the mention of their boss, but before I can say anything, Jen cuts in.

“Yeah, though he’s reasonable most of the time, from what I’ve noticed. But I don’t know him all that well. He keeps to himself.” Jen takes a drink.

“Well, Mr. Sunshine and Major Grump think I have nothing better to do with my personal time than chase their fucking mistakes.” Lily and Jen chuckle at the nicknames I’ve bestowed upon my ungrateful bosses. “They’re lucky I know my way around that office blindfolded.”

“It has nothing to do with the fact you need that job and can’t afford to get a poor character reference because you cursed out your employer and burned down the building, right?” Lily smirks behind her frosted mug.

I shove away from the counter, rip open the freezer, and pour another double. She’s right. One hundred and fifty percent. I do need the job, and I can’t afford to have my reputation ruined for all eternity because I couldn’t hold my tongue.

“This is why I have friends.” I toast them, raising my glass high. “You catch the brunt of my rage so I can keep my pristine reputation and my job. Thank you for your sacrifice.” I pour the liquor down my throat and shiver at the intensity of it.

“Hear, hear.” Lily and Jen both drink to my pathetic admission.

“Is it movie time? I need to eat something and vegetate for a while.” I hedge around their concerned looks. They want to ask me what happened, I can tell, but I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to escape for a while. Normally I’d lose myself in a game from Friday night to Sunday afternoon, but since girls’ night became a weekly thing, it’s thrown off my me time. My fingers itch for the plastic comfort of the PlayStation controller.

“Yeah.” Lily sets her glass aside and prepares plates heaping with the gooey delicious casserole cooling on the stovetop. “Here.” She hands one to both Jen and me before taking up her own and retrieving her beer. “Let’s go kick the boys out. They can go find something else to do.”

“How the hell do you put up with having three guys for roommates, Lily?” Jen asks.

“I don’t know. They kinda grew on me I guess.” Lily beams as though it explains everything.

“Don’t they drive you crazy though?” I’m curious because I hate people and the thought of sharing my living space with another person, let alone three men, makes me want to rip the fabric of space and time apart with my bare hands. Although living in a vintage old brownstone like this might be worth the frustration.

“Sometimes. But they always help out when I ask and pay rent on time. Even though they can act like children, they’re really sweet.” Lily smirks. “Plus, they’re a great deterrent if there’s a guy who’s interested in me, but I’m not into him.”

“How do they feel about the ones you do like?” Jen’s question mirrors my thoughts exactly.

“I haven’t found one worth bringing home that I wanted to keep.” Lily half-heartedly defends herself.

“You have a kinky side, woman, I can see it.” I snatch a fork from the pile on the counter. “One of these days, you’ll share your dark secrets.”

Lily flounces from the room without a word, leading the way down the hall. She sets her glass down on the table beside the couch and flips on the light switch, flooding the living room with a brilliance that blinds her roommates.

Their loud groans melt into complaints as they shield their eyes behind their hands.

“Come on, Lils, ten more minutes.” The one winning complains with a pout, shoving aside the blond hair hanging in his eyes.

My gaze shifts between her roommates. The two engaged in the battle when I first arrived were still at it. They look similar, in a distant cousin kind of way. Both have lanky builds with sharply defined jaws and handsome features, but one sports slick, jet-black hair while the other rocks shaggy dirty blond hair.

“Please, Lily. I’ve nearly got him. One more, please?” The black-haired roommate inclines his head and pouts, batting impossibly long lashes in Lily’s direction.

“Tough. I said seven, and it’s five after. Get out.” No nonsense Lily shelves her hand on her hip. Pride wells up in my chest. She doesn’t bend easily to their demands. Good for her.

“But Gavin hasn’t had a chance to play yet.” The blond pleads. “Can’t you guys watch a movie upstairs?”

My attention shifts to the third roommate, the one who seems to favor the shadows, and my lady bits decide to take notice of absolutely everything and approve wholeheartedly. His soulful brown eyes, the scruff along his jaw, and the short, dark curls crowning his head. His gaze rests on Lily, and with his chiseled good looks, I can’t help but catch the passing resemblance to a young Shemar Moore from Criminal Minds. Hot damn. I resist the urge to fan myself because I do not fan myself in the presence of delicious men. No, I do not. When he meets my gaze, I stiffen as a slow smile curves his sinful lips. Bastard knows exactly what he does to women.

“Tell you what, Lily.” Gavin leans forward. “Let me play a round against your friend here, and we’ll leave you alone for the rest of the night.”

I swear he’s Shemar’s twin. That silken voice could seduce a whole convent of nuns into sinful abandon. I can almost hear him whisper the words baby girl, and I shiver. Then the implication of his words registers. Was he challenging me? I click my tongue about to form a response, but Lily interjects.

“One game?” Lily taps her chin, skepticism written all over her face. “With Maggie?” A satisfied smile curves her lips. “It’s a deal.”

“Wait, what?” I’ve never even played the game! I tend to stick with military-style first-person shooter games. This one looks similar to that, but I know nothing about it aside from the characters. I’m relatively confident the same tactics apply, but still—

“You got this.” Lily pats my shoulder. “I have faith in you.”

“Thanks.” I turn to Gavin, who seems amused by this whole exchange. Confidence oozes off him in waves. He underestimates me. They all do. I grin and all my uncertainty scatters. He’s going down. This cocky shit has no idea what he’s in for.

Surfer boy hands his controller to Gavin while Maybelline gives me his. I don’t actually know their names as they forgot all their manners and never introduced themselves. So nicknames it is. I scoff. Men. They both move from their seats, allowing Gavin and me to have the center stage. Our audience flanks us, Lily and Jen to the right, and the two guys on our left where Gavin had been sitting. I flex my hands as my challenger chooses the settings and battle mode.

We’re not touching, but his heat surrounds me. God, he smells good. Like Gucci and wintergreen gum. There’s something else lingering beneath it, a haunting scent I just can’t place. I lick my lips and focus on the screen. I won’t let him distract me. Damn him.

“Don’t worry, baby girl. I’ll take it easy on you.” He mutters under his breath.

Lord, he really is channeling Shemar. It takes the restraint of a nun not to react to that tempting purr and the deluge it releases inside me. I bite my tongue instead of unleashing my uncensored thoughts. “Thanks.”

The game starts. Immediately I jump into the zone. Everyone around us disappears into the background. I’m in the world on the screen. The controls are exactly like my favorite game, so I adapt quickly. Stumbling a few times, I miss a few obvious things, which makes my opponent chuckle. I curse under my breath and redouble my efforts.

Beside me, I feel Gavin’s presence, his focus. But he’s too relaxed. Too confident. Once I see my opening, I shift into action and steal into the position I need to ensure my victory. The moment I do, I feel the transition. He leans forward, his elbows resting on his knees. I hear him swear when I steal the health pack and weapons cache from under his nose.

A smirk plays on my lips as I sneak up behind him on the screen and put a bullet in his skull before he even realizes I’ve made it past his defenses. Game Over flashes on the screen in bright green lettering.

His jaw hangs open while the controller dangles between his hands. “What the actual fuck?”

I stand up and do a little victory dance. Drinking up the look of pure disbelief and rage on his face, I add a little more sizzle to my dance and drop it to the floor, ensuring he sees every twitch of my ass when I bring it back up.

“Thanks for taking it easy on me, sweet cheeks,” I murmur in his ear before handing my controller to Lily. “To the victor go the spoils.”

Surfer boy and Maybelline grumble as they gather their drinks and leave the room. Gavin slowly rises from his spot on the couch. He towers over me. The top of my head doesn’t even reach his shoulders. It hurts my neck to look up at him, and I take a step back.

“Good game.” I offer my hand in a truce.

With a dirty look, he pushes past me and leaves the room. I stand there with my hand hanging in midair. Disappointment crowds me. I shove it aside, rubbing my palms on my jeans.

“I knew you could do it, Mags.” Lily hugs me before sitting on the couch.

“You were amazing!” Jen settles down beside Lily.

I sit in the spot Gavin just vacated. His scent lingers and I close my eyes. The image of his handsome face skewed in shock and disgust fills my mind. Damn it. This is why I don’t challenge people in person. Losing is bad enough, but it’s almost like losing to a girl brands you with shame. Losing to me is a surefire way to end any possibility of a friendship or more. I curse my competitive nature and my love of gaming. Not that it matters. I don’t need a man. I’ve got a good thing going without one.

As for Gavin, he’ll get over it. They always do.

Romantic Short: The Blindfold Agreement

First Place winner of the Summer 2021 Writers’ Competition at RomanticShorts.com. This steamy romp excites the imagination and gets the blood boiling. Warning: This story contains explicit sexual content and coarse language. If you are under 18 or prefer content with closed-door romantic encounters, I suggest you leave now. This is highly NSFW. Read at your own discretion.

Oh, and by all means, enjoy!

The Blindfold Agreement

by Kirsten S. Blacketer

The instructions are simple. Do not remove the blindfold.

I stare at the card in my hand and swallow the rising uncertainty. My friends think I’m crazy indulging in something so reckless, but you only live once, right?

My hand skims over the silk embroidered duvet covering the king-size bed. The four mahogany posts rise up like sentinels at the corners of the mattress. I admire the plush carpet beneath my feet, but it makes walking in heels a challenge. So, I slip off the monstrous three-inch Louboutins I borrowed from my best friend in an attempt to look sexy for my special night and set them by the door.

The suite hosts a bedroom, a full bathroom complete with jetted tub and dual shower heads, a fully stocked kitchen, and a living room with a flat-screen built into the wall. In the space between the bed and the couch, there’s a single chair facing the floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the city. A small sign is taped to it. Sit here and wait.

When I received the email with the details, I nearly fell off my chair. This hotel is nicer than any place I’ve ever lived, and one night costs more than my monthly rent. But I’m not paying for the hotel.

He is.

I glance at the clock on my phone ignoring the dark alluring gaze of the handsome actor on my wallpaper background. Two minutes to seven.

“Shit.” I quickly pull the black silk scarf from my purse and set the bag on the nightstand.

Inside, my phone is safely tucked out of sight with my location settings on. I’m not completely reckless. The girls know exactly where I am.

Once I settle into the chair overlooking the vibrant city, I place the smooth fabric across my eyes and secure it firmly careful not to get my hair tangled in the process. The room plunges into darkness. I tug the edges into place ensuring I’m in full compliance with his instructions.

It may be my evening, but he makes the rules. I am at his mercy. 

God, I must be fucking crazy. Letting a stranger lure me into such a vulnerable situation.

My skin prickles with awareness as the cool air brushes across my bare shoulders. I should have worn something with layers. But Jen convinced me to wear the halter wiggle dress I had tucked in the back of my closet. I bought it for a vintage ball but never had a chance to wear it. The fabric hugs every curve I’ve tried to hide beneath layers of baggy sweaters and yoga pants.

I won’t lie. My confidence bolstered the moment I saw my reflection in the mirror. I missed my calling as a pin-up girl. The looks I got crossing the lobby downstairs definitely made my ego purr with delight. The poor maintenance man will have to use a mop to clean the drool off the floor.

My hands rest in my lap. I fidget with the edge of the press-on nails. The silence is unnerving. I swear I can hear the air circulating through the room. My mind teases me with horrible possibilities. What if he’s going to kidnap me? Harvest my organs? Kill me?

Damn. This was a bad idea. My mother warned me about this. Stranger danger. 

Especially when you meet them in an online forum. My heart pounds in my chest. I swear it’s echoing in the room growing louder with every passing moment. I take a deep breath to calm down, but the anticipation has me on edge.

I feel everything. The slide of the leather beneath me. The warm air filling the room through the vents. The thundering of my heart. The plush carpet between my toes. The pulse of the city beyond the glass.

How long has it been? Probably only a few minutes, but it drags like hours. I shift in my seat considering my alternatives.

I should rip off the blindfold and haul ass out of here. That would be the wisest course of action. But I’m rooted to my seat. My curiosity is stronger than my self-preservation.

Regret and uncertainty fill me. I should never have joined that site. I silently curse my ex for bringing it up. I hate that my friends encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone. It’s not too late. I can rip off the blindfold and walk out the door.

The click of the electronic lock and subsequent beep tells me the opposite. He’s here.

Oh god, what the hell am I doing? I focus on keeping my breaths steady, but my heart rate slowly increases when he enters the room. The air changes shifting from neutral to pure static. Goosebumps cover my arms. I resist the urge to rub them.

Instead, I remain perfectly still. Eyes closed even though the blindfold is securely in place.

The carpet muffles his footsteps, but I feel him behind me. His heat surrounds me just before his scent. I moan when I recognize the faint aroma. Gucci Guilty. Mixed with the undercurrent of his chemistry, it’s damn near intoxicating. I lick my lips fighting off the urge to remove the blindfold and see if he looks as good as he smells.

His deep chuckle sets off a chain reaction of butterflies in my stomach. “I haven’t even started.”

Oh, sweet mother of all that’s holy. His deep voice catches me unprepared. I bite my tongue, pressing my lips together to keep another moan from slipping free. There’s a hint of an accent behind his words, but I can’t place it.

“You’re such an obedient girl. Eager to please.” The soft words are like a caress against my throat. His breath warm against the skin below my ear.

My heart skips a beat. I feel the heat blossom across my chest and up into my cheeks at his observation.

“This dress.” He purrs with appreciation making me shiver. “I want to see what it’s hiding.”

I gasp when his fingertips brush against my collar bone.

“Do you want me to stop?” He whispers the question, but its intent is clear. “Say the word, kitten, and it stops.”

My mind drifts back to our chat conversations. He’s asking for my safe word. Did we ever discuss one? I mean we joked about it, but there was never a conversation outlining details in any sort of agreement. I shake my head unable to remember.

“Tonight is yours. I want you to feel safe.” He presses his warm lips to my shoulder. “Treasured.” Another kiss, this time against my throat. “Worshiped.”

I whimper and catch my lower lip between my teeth. It takes every ounce of restraint to keep from reaching for him. I clench my hands into tight fists.

His hand covers mine. Holy shit. Long fingers intertwine with mine and his palm dwarfs mine.

“Nothing goes beyond what we agreed.” He gives my hand a gentle squeeze. “Promise.”

I open my mouth to tell him I’m not scared of him, of this. I’m so turned on right now I can’t think clearly. If he keeps going, I’ll be a pile of goo on the floor. My panties are ruined. I’m ruined. No other man will be able to top this. Ever. It’s the single most erotic moment of my life, and he hasn’t done anything yet.

When he releases my hand, his heat disappears. For a moment I think he may have reconsidered until his hand encircles my throat. Fingertips graze the sensitive spot beneath my ear.

“You lied to me, kitten.” His gruff accusation stings, making me bristle. “I…” He places his fingers over my lips silencing me. I want to lick him.

“The description you gave me was incomplete.” His fingertip rubs across my lower lip teasing me.

“That’s not lying.” I gasp when his other hand finds the clasp holding the halter portion of the dress together.

“Lies through omission.” He unfastens the button and the fabric loosens.

I grasp the top of my dress as the straps slide down out of habit. He tuts at my reaction. “I thought we had an understanding.” He grasps my wrists and peels them away from where they cover my chest.

My breasts aren’t exposed, but one shimmy and they’ll slip free with little effort. My nipples tighten at the thought. I relent, if only because he’s right. Tonight was not a drunken invitation, it was carefully calculated and discussed. We both consented to this. And even though my insecurities won’t allow me to relax into the moment, I crave what he offers. My hands fall to my sides.

“Stand up.” His order cracks like a whip.

I suppress a shudder of need and rise to my feet, thankful I removed the heels before he arrived. My knees are weak. I sway at the disoriented rush. His strong grip catches my shoulders holding me steady. Once I find my balance, he releases me.

He locates the zipper on my dress, and I stiffen at the touch. “Kitten, trust me.” His heat warms me.

“I don’t know you.” My insecurities rise like bubbles to the surface. He exhales, almost a sigh, and drops his hand.

“But you do.”

I shake my head, need twisting with uncertainty in my gut.

“From conversations online. Did you lie to me during those conversations?” he asks softly.

“No.” I shake my head again more fervently and the blindfold slips. I reach to catch it but he grasps my wrist and moves it away before securing the scarf over my eyes. “Did you?”

He hesitates for the briefest moment. “No.”

“Omissions are lies,” I repeat his words back to him.

“Damn it.”

My heart sinks. Is it over? A deep regret settles in the pit of my stomach. I reach up to pull off the blindfold when he catches me around the waist pinning me against his body. Oh, shit. He’s tall and broad. His chin brushes the top of my head, which means he’s at least six feet. I try to pull away, but he holds me tight. Damn, he’s strong. I want to melt into him absorbing the strength and the heat.

“If you keep squirming, I may forget I’m supposed to be a gentleman.” His growl reverberates through me. I go completely still. His hands rest on my ribs beneath my breasts, and I’m hyper-aware of the pressure of his fingertips.

I want him. More than I did before. More than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life. My breath quickens and his heartbeat pulses against my spine. It’s racing. Like mine.

“Why were you in that forum?” His tone is deceptively calm, but tension radiates off him in waves.

“It’s a fan fiction site.” I snap as though the reason is obvious.

“Yes, but that forum is reserved for role play only.” His grip tightens, pulling me flush against his torso. The evidence of this exchange presses against the small of my back. I groan.

“Curiosity?” I arch my hips back, smiling when he curses.

“Bullshit. If it were idle curiosity, you wouldn’t have posted that first message.”

“I posted that a year ago.” My amusement evaporates at the implication. “We’ve only been chatting six months.”

“Oh yes, kitten.” He sways his hips almost like a dance, grinding against me. “I’ve been a fan of your work for quite a while.” My lips part when his breath caresses my ear. “Imagine my delight when you joined the same group. It gave me the perfect opportunity.”

“To do what? Stalk me?” I tease him. How does he manage to distract me so perfectly with his hands, his hips, his heat? It’s getting difficult to focus on anything but the tension building between us.

“Stalk is a strong word.” His hands drift to my hips. He’s effectively pinned my arms down and the only thing I can grab for stability are his thighs. “Do you stalk those actors you write about in your fanfiction?”

“No, of course not.” I snap. I shouldn’t be defensive. We met as mutual fans in the same fandom. Even though he’s never written anything, he’s a voracious reader, devouring as much as any dedicated fan would. He’s drawing me out, making a point with the comparison.

“You admire them. Study them. Appreciate them.” His voice deepens. “They inspire you, and your creativity is an homage to theirs.”

I nod and my soul takes flight. He understands without judgment. It’s one of the things I enjoyed about our conversations. One of the things that drew me to him. Made me open up to him. We were kindred spirits bonding over art that inspired us to create something that would inspire others.

“Your words inspired me.” His hands wander over my hips.

I dig my nails into his thighs. They’re powerful and lean, the way I imagine the rest of him is. A panther poised to strike the moment his prey is in sight. I want him to ravage me. He’s already seduced my mind and my imagination, and yet the hesitation remains.

“Why me?” I ask, seeking reassurance, a sign, something to tear down this last remaining wall between us.

He gently turns me in his embrace until my hands are pressed against his broad chest. I want to rip the blindfold off and see the sincerity in his gaze when he responds. I want to drown in whatever color his eyes are. But I promised. The only rule I would not break. Do not remove the blindfold.

“Because I’m a fan.” He’s close. So close. His breath ghosts over my lips.

He smells of mint and desperation. I want to close the gap and steal his words with my kiss. But I refrain, hanging on every syllable of his confession.

“Your first post. Your fantasy.” He grips me tight. I fist my hands in his shirt when his pecs flex beneath my palms. “I have the same one.”

My breath catches. My fantasy. What fantasy? I have so many. My mind reels as I try to remember what I posted. It could have been anything. I’ve posted so many times in the group trying to find a connection. Someone who understands me within the fandom.

He must sense my confusion and chuckles. The sound shoots a bolt of lust straight to my already aching clit. I want to bury my face against his chest even though half of it is already hidden by the blindfold. He tips my chin up with his finger. I wish I could see him, but I can only feel him surrounded by the darkness hindering my vision.

“Don’t you remember?” His accent shifts, making me pause. He sounds so familiar.

There’s a lilt to his words now. Sexy and soothing.

I freeze. He’s someone I know. I’ve made a fool of myself exposing my innermost desires to someone who could reveal them to the world. Oh god, what if it’s someone I work with? One of my family friends? Horror floods me, and I push away from him.

“Ah-ah, no, kitten.” He shackles my wrists in his massive hands. “Remind me. What was that fantasy you posted?”

“I don’t remember.” I take a breath to calm my racing heart wishing I could rip off the blindfold and see him. I need to know who’s tormenting me with my own desires. “Please. Daddy.”

I murmur the final word in shame. It’s my safe word. We joked about the DaddyDom trope and its prevalence in fan fiction. I swore I would never use it. It sounded too childish, too ridiculous. He teased it would be my safe word since it was the last word I would ever use in bed. I hang my head and whimper when he releases me.

Part of me wants to take it back the moment his heat vanishes. But instead, I tug at the top of my dress and clear my throat. My hand pauses halfway to the blindfold when I drop it to my side. I promised not to remove it. At least I could avoid meeting the gaze of the man who brought me to this humiliating moment.

In the distance, I hear the sound of running water. A few moments of stillness pass and his hand takes mine.

“Drink this.” He places a cool glass against my palm.

“Thanks.” I raise it to my lips and drink, swallowing every drop. I hadn’t realized how thirsty I was. He takes the empty glass, and I wipe my lips with the back of my hand.

He chuckles. “You smeared red lipstick all over your mouth.”

Shit. I forgot about my lipstick. He takes my elbow and leads me across the room until my bare feet hit the tile. With the flick of a light switch and the click of the door, I know I’m alone. I pull the blindfold off and stare at my reflection.

Sure enough, my cherry red lipstick is smeared across my mouth. I look like a clown. Oh, God. Embarrassment floods me. I take some tissues and clean my mouth. A little pink lingers where it smeared, but it’s nothing more than the shade of kiss bruised skin.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” I murmur beneath my breath. I toss the tissues in the bin and stare at myself. At least my mascara didn’t smear from the blindfold.

My gaze drifts to the door separating us. Who is he? Why would he bring up one specific fantasy? I rack my brain trying to remember. After so many years of writing fan fiction and one-shots, it’s a wonder I can keep anything organized in my mind. I struggle for a few moments until it hits me.

Hard. Like a plane falling out of the sky, plummeting toward an unsuspecting pedestrian walking across a football field. I cover my mouth with my hand and watch the blush creep over my skin turning my face six shades of red.

My fantasy. The one where I run into my favorite actor, Ben Harris, at a hotel bar during comic con. We hit it off, and there’s a spark between us. He invites me to his room where we have wild, crazy passionate sex. No. It wasn’t that one. Was it?

I gasp against my hand. No, wait. What did he say about my fantasy?

I have the same one. His voice. That accent. HOLY SHIT.

“Oh, god. No. It can’t be.” I hyperventilate at the possibility. It takes a few moments before I’m able to calm myself down. I grip the blindfold tight in my fist.

The blindfold. I stare at it. Son of a bitch. His only rule. Do not remove the blindfold. Mustering whatever courage I possess, I rip open the door and storm into the living room.

I come up short at the sight of him standing in the window with his back to me. The tall, broad stature I joked about wanting to climb like a tree. His dark hair in waves down to his collar I’ve imagined running my fingers through on sleepless nights. Bastard.

I stop an arm’s length from his back. “Did you really think the blindfold would work?”

Ben turns, his dark eyes are fathomless in the shadows. A charming smile curves his sinful lying lips. “No. Not really. I figured it would give me an advantage.” He cocked his head. “What gave it away?”

“Your accent slipped.” I almost smirk. “Don’t worry, even the most talented actors break character once in a while.”

I want to be angry but seeing Ben Harris in the flesh has me disoriented. Then I remember his body pressed against mine only minutes before. The feel of his lips on my skin. His hands caressing me. I grip the blindfold so tight my hand hurts.

“I wasn’t trying to trick you.” He ran his hand through his hair in a careless gesture. “I needed to be sure.”

“Of what?” I snap, hating myself for still wanting him after he made a fool of me. “That we had that spark.” He steps closer.

“What spark?” I inhale sharply when he approaches me and tugs the blindfold from my grip.

“You know what I mean.” He drags the silk across his lips. “That connection. I felt it every time we spoke online.”

I scoff. “I won’t deny it. But you can’t play fast and loose with your fans like that.”

“I don’t.” He regards me pensively. “Do you think I seduce every fangirl who posts erotic fan fiction about me?”

“Don’t you?” I stumble back when he shifts his weight toward me.

“No, kitten. I’ve never even been tempted until you.” His hooded gaze searches mine, and I’d give anything for that barrier between us again. Anything to save me from losing myself in the intensity of his dark eyes and bring back the uninhibited sizzle cracking like electricity between us.

“Why me?” It’s the second time I’ve asked him this question, but now I know who’s seducing me and I want full disclosure before I allow this fire to consume us.

“I’m a fan.” He grins and my heart flips. “I stumbled on your fan fiction a few years ago.

Your retelling of the cursed knight from one of my earliest projects. It was before I hit the mainstream with the bigger studios.”

“I remember that one.” My face warms. One of my first attempts. I lost myself in the comfort of films and stumbled onto Ben Harris before he became a heartthrob and the coveted darling of one of the largest fandoms in the industry. It was poorly written and ridiculous, but it was the first story I wrote featuring one of Ben’s characters.

“I loved it.” He confesses, searching my face in earnest. “I followed your page. Read every story you posted.”

My jaw drops. “No, you didn’t.”

“I did.” His signature smirk returns. “I’ve spent many nights in my bed with only your stories for companionship. Not because they feature me. But because of the way you write it. The emotion. The intensity.”

“The sex?” I tease him.

“Of course.” He chuckles. “I debated messaging you privately, but it never felt right.

When you joined the group, I couldn’t believe my luck. The fantasy post though—that was the sign I needed.” He runs his hand over his jaw. “I can’t tell you how many times I imagined that exact scenario, and I don’t even do comic con appearances. Although I considered it briefly in passing a few times, I knew if it wasn’t you, it wouldn’t be enough.”

“It wouldn’t?” I ask unable to believe his sweet words. “But you can have anyone you want.”

He shrugs. “They’re not you.”

“You don’t even know my name.” I snort.

“Teresa DeLuca.”

“How—?” I snap my mouth shut. Disbelief replaces my skepticism. “Never mind. I don’t want to know.”

“Oh but you do, Teresa.” He closes the gap between us and runs his thumb along my jaw. “That curiosity of yours is what got you into this situation in the first place.” Ben winks. “And aren’t you so very glad it did?”

Lord, I want his hands all over me. When he touches me, I lose all sense of reason. This is madness, insanity. I try to convince myself what a horrible idea this is, but I can’t seem to pull myself out of his reach.

“If you want me to stop, all you have to do is say the word.” This time I see the wicked glint in his eyes. He loves to toy with me, and I admit, I’m enjoying the attention. It’s been so long since anyone’s shown genuine interest in me.

But I’m not going to say the word again. Not even if he tosses me over his shoulder and has his wicked way with me. I shift my weight from one foot to the other. That’s what I want, and the look in his eyes tells me I have a terrible poker face. He can read me like a goddamn book.

“What are we doing?” I ask when he fills the space before me, and all I can smell is him. His lips twitch when he thinks. It’s endearing and so arousing. I want to rise up on my tiptoes and taste him.

Those impossibly long fingers wrap around the back of my head, threading through my hair. I lick my lips and let him take control. My pleasure. His rules. That was the agreement.

“Whatever you want, kitten. You want it sweet? Rough?” He smiles when my breath hitches. “Ahhh, you want me to bring out the villain, is that it?”

The thought alone has my body weeping. If he touches me, I may implode, I’m spun that tight with his words alone. I always enjoyed dirty talk, but this far exceeds anything I could have ever imagined.

“All those fics you wrote with my villains featured as the hero.” He clicks his tongue in amusement. “Gets you off, doesn’t it? The play of power. Him taking what he wants without regret or remorse.”

I whimper when he leans down pressing his cheek to mine, his lips beside my ear. He whispers, “But deep down, he’s not a monster and knows exactly what she needs.” He draws back until our gazes lock and his mouth hovers over mine. “Tell me I’m wrong.”

“I can’t.” I moan when his free hand comes to rest on my hip, his fist gathering handfuls of fabric drawing my skirt up until my soaked panties are exposed. “Play the villain. Make me beg.”

The heat of his fingers against my clit makes me groan. He nudges my thighs apart and slides beneath the fabric. “Oh kitten, you’re full of surprises.” He slides his long fingers into me, and I grip his shirt with both fists gasping at the delicious pressure.

“Ben.” His name slips free like a whispered plea.

“I’ll give you exactly what you need, kitten.” He kisses me, and the moment our lips meet, I’m drowning in a sea of sensation. I cling tighter to him wanting to feel his whole body pressed to mine. Friction, heat, skin to skin. I want it all. I want it now.

Ben’s tongue steals across mine. It’s an explosion of need. He takes me by the waist and steers me toward the bed never breaking contact. The kiss is a battle of desperation. His breath mixes with mine, and I can’t seem to get enough.

He pushes me back onto the king-size bed and climbs over me. What little reprieve this gave me from his kiss disappears in a flurry of teeth and fabric. He unzips my gown and pulls it off with little effort.

I fumble with the buttons on his black shirt. When the fabric parts, I rake my fingernails over his chest making him hiss before pushing the fabric off his shoulders. He tosses it aside with my dress.

He tugs my strapless bra down until it’s pooled around my waist and takes my nipple in his mouth. I arch off the bed and bury my fingers in his hair pulling when he bites gently on the nub. Somehow I manage to unfasten the bra and shimmy out of my panties amidst his ardent attention on my bare torso.

Ben settles between my thighs, his wicked grin flashes before he laves his tongue across my clit and sucks it into his sinful mouth. I have one hand fisted in his thick hair and the other twisted in the comforter.

“Shit!” I gasp when he repeats the action and tug on his hair. “Ben, please. Please.”

“What’s wrong, kitten? Too much for you?” He kneels and unfastens his belt with both hands. Still recovering from his tongue, my mouth waters when he slides his pants down over his hips and kicks them aside.

Big hands and an even more impressive cock. He’s grinning. I shake my head and try to bury my face in the pillows. Turning my back on a predator might be the most unwise thing I’ve done all night.

Ben snatches me by the waist and pulls me back until his cock nestles against my ass. His hand wraps around my throat, his chest slick against my back. His hand slides over my stomach and down until he’s circling my clit.

I writhe against him. He knows exactly what I want. What I need. It’s like he can read my mind, but deep down I know it’s because he’s read all my stories. He found the pieces of me in those scenes and now he’s playing out every fantasy in vivid detail. I’m helpless against him.

He’s my weakness and my salvation, and right now, all I can focus on is his wicked torment and the orgasm building in my core.

“That’s it, kitten. Tell me how good it feels.” I buck against his hand and bite back a loud moan. He guides his cock into me from behind and this time I cry out. He fills me, hitting every sensitive spot I never realized I had.

As he toys with my clit, he moves inside me. I meet his thrusts, bending at the waist enough to take him deeper. He groans and buries his face in my shoulder. His teeth graze my skin, and my orgasm rushes up in a tsunami washing over me, pulling me under.

My moans echo off the walls of the suite. I’m too far gone to care if anyone hears me.

Ben’s name flies from my lips amid a flurry of curses as he quickens his pace and takes his pleasure. He pulls out and the warmth of his come marks my skin.

The well-intentioned discussion about contraception and testing within the emailed instructions flitted across my mind for a moment, but it didn’t matter at this point. When Ben nuzzles his cheek against my shoulder, I dismiss it completely. He makes me reckless.

He slides away, cleans us both, and pulls me against him when he rejoins me on the oversized monstrosity of a bed. We lay face to face in silence, and I’m struck at how surreal this whole evening has been. I chuckle.

He smirks. “What?”

“This. No one will believe it.”

He tucks a stray curl behind my ear. “Do we have to tell them?”

“No. But my friends will ask, and I don’t want to lie.” I rest my hand on his heart.

Ben shrugs and covers my hand with his. It engulfs mine. “Tell them the truth then.”

“They’ll laugh me out of the house.” I memorize the angles of his face and the sweet imperfections. He’s so much different in person than on the screen. More real. More human. My heart aches. I can’t fall for him. I shouldn’t even want something from him, but I can’t help it. He sees the part of me no one else does.

“Then I’ll come home with you. If you want me to, that is.” He’s being sincere, and it leaves me stunned. “Problem solved.”

“You’d do that?” I prop myself on my elbow. “Why?”

He grins and the lines around his eyes soften. I see the hero beneath the dark, brooding villain he often plays. “Because I like you, and I want to see where this leads.”

I snort-laugh. “Your fans will tear you apart for dating someone like me.”

“Who I choose to date is none of their business.” Ben gathers me against him and kisses my lips. “I’m yours, kitten if you’ll have me.”

“This could end badly,” I warn him.

“True, but it could be a happy ending too.” He squeezes me. “What do you think? Shall we give it a shot?”

I make a show of thinking long and hard about his question knowing full well I’m not going to turn him down after only one night together. “Are you going to blindfold me again?”

“Absolutely.” He winks and reveals that snarky grin I fell in love with on-screen so long ago. “Then I’m going to reenact every single one of your fanfics with you as my leading lady.”

“You’re not going to let me live this down, are you?” I bury my face against his chest.

“Never.” He forces me to meet his gaze, his fingertips gentle beneath my chin. “I plan on making you live out every fantasy you’ve ever had about me.”

“Oh, god.” I pinch my eyes closed and heat fills my cheeks. “Why?”

“Because I’m your biggest fan.” He kisses me and makes love to me the way a hero should with all the passion of a villain succeeding in his plot.

Inspiration: Fangirls and The Hiddleston Obsession

Confessions of a Fangirl holds a very special place in my heart. Well, all of my books do, but this one especially. Ten years ago, I was a little obsessed with an actor who played a villainous role in a very prominent film franchise in 2012. Yup, you know who I’m talking about. Tom Hiddleston, life ruiner extraordinaire.

Now, allow me to clarify. I’ve been a fangirl for a lot longer than that term even existed. Granted, I never wrote fan fiction for Fifth Element, Willow, or Saved by the Bell. Hell, I didn’t even know that was a thing. But I had my celebrity crushes going back into the early 90s. Yes, the world before everyone had cell phones and internet access.

My celebrity crushing reached an all-time peak with Loki. Don’t ask me why? I wish I knew. Blame it on Tumblr, I guess. Having instant access to fan fiction, movie stills, interviews, etc. made fangirling so easy.

This is where the first idea for this book came into existence. Someone posted on Tumblr about the Stages of Fangirling, and my mind started spinning with ideas. What if there was a story that followed the evolution of a fangirl through the fangirling stages?

I made up my own stages reflecting my personal experience.

At first, this idea took on shape as a stage play. I thought the visuals would be more powerful in this format, but here’s the thing: I’m a novelist, not a playwright. So I ended up setting the project aside for a few years.

During that time, my fangirl obsession for Hiddles slowly waned. This is the natural progression for me. Find an actor, obsess, lose myself, find balance, and then have the cycle start all over again with a new actor. It did not surprise me when I picked up the project again to find I fit the profile of the main character perfectly. Jen bore a strong resemblance to me.

Knowing my strengths as an author, I morphed the project into a contemporary romance novel with rom com vibes. But I gave Jen her own life. Her own dreams and desires. Her own personality. The more I worked on outlining this story, the more I realized the depth of her character. Even though I used some of my personal experiences and emotions in this book, Jen dealt with them in her own unique way.

Now, I couldn’t very well use a real person in my book. So I made up an actor and a fandom. Nicholas Hughes became a conglomeration of several actors I’ve admired over the years, as well as his famous role as the villain, Captain Korbin Ransom, in the Space Vendetta Series. Here’s a little sneak peek at the document I used to create the actor of my dreams:

In the end, Hughes and Ransom became amalgamations of Tom Hiddleston and Adam Driver, both in their personal details and their famous roles. Choosing to create an actor and a fandom made the creative process so much more fun.

Jen’s journey doesn’t just follow her obsession with a famous actor. It showcases her relationships and reveals the toll her obsession takes on them, especially with her new boyfriend, Shaun. So while the story is a true blue contemporary rom com, it has deeper roots, revealing the importance of finding balance in our lives.

While you may not be a fangirl, there’s still meaning to be taken away from Confessions of a Fangirl and laughs galore. I’m just thankful I could make sense of my own obsessions and turn them into something positive, humorous, and entertaining. Fangirling can be stressful, but I choose to harness the emotions it creates and channel them into my stories. Thanks to all the actors who inspire us with their roles, you’ll keep me writing for years to come!

And the best part of Fangirl…it sparked a whole series. I couldn’t leave Lily and Maggie just hanging there. *wink* Their stories are coming soon. Maggie’s story, Confessions of a Gamer Girl, releases on June 28th, and Lily’s story, Confessions of a Glamour Girl, releases on September 27th. (New cover coming soon.)

Hope you enjoyed this adventure behind the scenes. Thanks for the support and the love.

xoxo,

Kirsten

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

Some Writing Meme Levity

I’m a meme/gif kind of girl. It’s the most effective way for me to communicate on social media. There’s a meme or a gif for every occasion. This week’s been a rough one for me, so I’m going to embrace the opportunity to post some funny writing memes I’ve created. Enjoy!

It’s the HEA/HFN life for me. ❤ I hope you have a great week.

Be kind to yourself and others.

xoxo, 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

Inspiration: Secondary Characters, Muppets, and My Husband

People often ask me where I find the inspiration for my stories. It doesn’t take much to spark a story idea in my brain. Most of the time, it’ll be a quote, or a scene from a movie/show. But there are those strange instances where it’s inspired by the secondary characters from a prior book. This is the case for A Holiday Love Affair.

When I started writing A Lockdown Love Affair, I had zero intention of writing a second book. In fact, I had hoped there wouldn’t be any pesky secondary characters to annoy me in Ben and Penelope’s book. But I was wrong. So wrong. As I wrote Lockdown, it became abundantly clear Evan and Lucy would gravitate toward each other if I put them in the same room together. Which is how they ended up getting their own book.

Ben Statler and Evan Waldorf are best friends and business partners. They’re also distinct opposites. Where Ben is dark and brooding, Evan is pure sunshine and positivity. At first, Evan’s presence was merely as fodder to elevate Ben’s irritation with the state of their business affairs during the pandemic lockdown. But as the story progressed, Evan took on a life of his own.

Lucy Mackewitz and Penelope Weiss are besties by accident. Literally. Lucy was the nurse on duty when Penelope’s grandparents admitted to the hospital after a car accident. Their bond formed quickly. Lucy’s presence in Penelope’s book solidified her support network in the city during the chaos and uncertainty of lockdown.

But Lucy and Evan don’t actually meet until Ben and Penelope’s wedding six months later. This is where their romance begins.

What inspired their story? The characters begged me to write it, but more than that, I liked the idea of Evan being the ray of sunshine and Lucy being the perpetual grump. Who said the grump always has to be the hero? Heroines can be just as miserable.

Before I started writing Holiday, I imagined Evan as a Steve Rogers kind of guy. I often post my daily word count on social media as I write the first draft and add a gif of the actor I cast as the hero to the post. For this book, it was Chris Evans. Yes, even Evan’s name is an homage to the actor. I even wrote a log splitting scene. But that’s where the similarities ended.

The more I wrote, the more Evan’s mannerisms mirrored my husband’s. Of all the characters I’ve ever written, Evan is the only one I’ve ever modeled after my husband. They’re both effervescent rays of positivity and charm while simultaneously being classic button pushing antagonists.

While Ben and Penelope’s book takes place in Brooklyn, most of Evan and Lucy’s story takes place in upstate Indiana. I seized the opportunity to use some of my personal adventures with my husband as inspiration for their journey. It was also fun to write Lucy’s POV in the book because she’s a city girl, born and raised. Country life gives her quite a culture shock, and Evan takes full advantage of it. But I won’t give you any spoilers if you haven’t read the book. *wink*

If you recognize the names Statler and Waldorf, you get bonus points. I was stuck, unable to figure out surnames for these two men when an image of the comedy muppet duo popped into my mind. That’s exactly how I imagine Ben and Evan banter back and forth.

Waldorf and Statler

I would say the resemblance is uncanny, if they were thirty years older. In my head, Evan Waldorf is Chris Evans and Ben Statler is Adam Driver. Now that’s in your head too. Another terrifying glimpse into the muddled mind of a romance author.

My creative process is anything but typical, but it works for me. I hope this brief peek into the inspiration for A Holiday Love Affair makes you smile. Most of the time, I have no idea where the next story will come from. It could come from a random tweet or a video posted to Facebook. But most of the time it’s born from the nagging secondary characters demanding I give them their moment in the spotlight. C’est la vie.

Oh, and a side note, if you enjoyed Ben and Evan, then you won’t want to miss Confessions of a Gamer Girl coming in June. The heroine, Maggie, works for Ben and Evan at Solus Inc. And the events take place before Ben and Evan meet their matches.

Authors: Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

Readers: Do you like getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creation of the stories you enjoy?

Which book should I tell you about next? Or should I have an interview with the main character? Tell me in the comments.

Until next week!

All my love,

Kirsten S. Blacketer