I'd love to share with you my debut contemporary romance, Hearts in Darkness:
Hearts in Darkness is a contemporary romance about two strangers who find acceptance and dare to find love while trapped in a pitch-black elevator. Here’s the blurb:
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
Makenna James thinks her day can’t get any worse, until she finds herself stuck in a pitch-black elevator with a complete stranger. Distracted by a phone call and juggling too much stuff, the pin-striped accountant caught only a glimpse of a dragon tattoo on his hand before the lights went out.
Caden Grayson is amused when a redhead literally falls at his feet. His amusement turns to panic when the power fails. Despite his piercings, tats, and vicious scar, he’s terrified of the dark and confined spaces. Now, he’s trapped in his own worst nightmare.
To fight fear, they must both reach out and open up. With no preconceived notions based on looks to hold them back, they discover just how much they have in common. In the warming darkness, attraction grows and sparks fly, but will they feel the same when the lights come back on?
The Story's Inspiration:
Hearts in Darkness was an exercise in procrastination! I was in the middle of writing a women’s fiction novel that was not cooperating (now completed), and my brain’s most pronounced form of procrastination is generating new plot bunnies. This was when Hearts came to mind. I like to ask ‘what if’ questions to come up with new ideas, and this particular what if question was inspired by the fact the elevator in my building frequently breaks down. I work in a male-dominated environment, too, so… *grins*
About Heroine Makenna James, with her first impression of the hero:
Makenna James is a smart, compassionate woman with a big heart. She grew up in a household of men and works among mostly men, so she’s come to think of herself as ‘just one of the guys.’ Her very first impression of the stranger in the elevator was that he’s a Good Samaritan (her Good Sam) because he holds the elevator door for her as she’s running down the hall to catch it and fumbling her belongings. It’s been such a bad day for her that, when the power fails, all Makenna can do is laugh. So her initial feeling in the darkness is one of embarrassment, because she’s trying to pull herself out of her hysterics and wondering what the other person must be thinking of her:
Bracing herself as she tried to calm down, she used her free hand to wipe away tears and fan the heat crawling up her face as she remembered Good Sam was in there with her.
Oh God. He probably thinks I’m a complete lunatic.
“Sorry, sorry,” she finally choked out as the laughs turned into occasional chuckles. Now she was laughing at herself.
Good Sam didn’t reply.
“Um, hello? You still with me?”
“Yeah, I’m here. You okay?” His voice resonated in the confined space, surrounded her.
“Um, yeah. I have no idea.” She brushed her hair back off her face and shook her head.
The low sound of his chuckle made her feel a little less ridiculous. “That bad, huh?”
“The worst,” Makenna said and sighed.
The conversation puts her at ease, as does his awkward apology when he accidentally kicks her as he sits down, so she doesn’t feel she has anything to fear.
About hero Caden Grayson, with his first impression of Makenna and their situation:
Caden Grayson is a damaged soul, on the inside and out. His survival of a tragic childhood accident that killed people he cared about leads him to want to both help others in similar situations, thus his job as an EMT, and protect himself from the kinds of emotional connections that could cause that kind of pain again. So, his appearance is a bit rough and edgy, and his reclusive nature have left him a bit socially awkward.
His first impression of Makenna is amusement:
Caden Grayson tried not to chuckle at the frazzled redhead careening towards the elevator. Why did women carry so many bags anyway? If it didn’t fit in the pockets of his worn-soft jeans, he didn’t carry it.
As the woman reached down to scoop up her phone—another thing Caden refused to carry unless he was on call—he found himself mesmerized by the way her hair tumbled over her shoulder in a long waterfall of soft, wavy red.
His second impression is a bit more interesting:
Red reached in front of him to press a button. Caden almost laughed when she punched it at least five times. But the laughter died in his throat when he caught the scent of her shampoo. One of the things he loved about women: their hair always smelled like flowers. And that scent, combined with the redness and the softness and the waviness…Caden shoved his hands in his jeans pockets to keep from running his fingers through the thick mass of her hair. But, Christ, how he wanted to, just once.
When the lights go out, it trips the anxiety Caden has struggled with since the accident:
And then Red disappeared, along with everything else, as the elevator jerked to a stop and the lights went out.
Caden gasped and stumbled back into the corner of the elevator. Clenching his eyes, he lowered his head into his hands and counted backwards from ten, trying to remember his breathing techniques, trying to keep from flipping the fuck out.
The confined space of the elevator was one thing—years of therapy had gotten him past that. Mostly. But confined spaces with no lights? No way. The pounding of his heart and tightness in his chest told him that was a complete fucking deal breaker.
About the book cover:
I am in total love with my cover, too! It’s the work of the brilliant Tricia Schmitt, who is a freelance cover artist with a real up-and-coming career. It’s the feel I imagined, but I was totally confounded about what the cover should be since so much of the story takes place in total darkness (I won’t say how much!). I could not be happier with this cover. Of the three I’ve gotten so far, it’s bar far my favorite.
I hope you enjoyed this little introduction to Hearts in Darkness! Happy reading!
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Laura Kaye is a multi-published author of paranormal, contemporary and erotic romance with five books releasing in 2011.