I am so excited to have Anne Calhoun here today!! She is such a gifted writer and Breath On Embers was a Smokin' hot, heartwarming, emotional story!! I highly recommend!! Please help me show Anne some love by leaving her a comment. 1 lucky commentor will win a copy of Red Hot Holiday an anthology that includes Breath On Embers!! Good Luck!!
Q&A With Anne Calhoun about BREATH ON EMBERS
Q: This story’s included in the Carina Press erotic romance holiday anthology RED HOT HOLIDAY (also featuring K.A. Mitchell and Leah Braemel). Tell us a little bit about it.
A: The anthology features one m/m story from K.A. who is my favorite m/m erorom writer. My story is about a FDNY lieutenant whose relationship with a widow goes from hot to white-hot and intensely emotional over the holidays. Leah’s story is about a Mountie and an artist – and the heroine is the Mountie (love this!). The whole anthology promises to be really hot and very emotional…perfect winter reading.
A: I started with Thea, a grief-stricken widow, first, then wondered what was the worst possible hero I could give her (worst meaning “what guy will force her to confront what’s keeping her trapped in the past”) and came up with a firefighter who has lost family and friends to tragedy. Firefighters face down grief all day long. When they go on a call for the most part people have either lost a significant part of their lives – home, belongings, peace of mind – or worse, a loved one. Ronan knows Thea’s landscape of grief, and he’s not about to leave her there.
A: The very first scene to come to me is a scene set on Second Avenue in Manhattan on St Patrick’s Day. There are lots of bars on Second Ave in the Upper East Side, and on St. Patrick’s Day cops and firefighters occupy every single table and the ones who can’t fit inside hang out on the sidewalk, if the weather’s good. A fair number of them are drinking well before lunch. I used to live on the Upper East Side, and that scene, repeated yearly, is a romance writer’s dream. J Once I decided to use that, the rest of the story fell into place: it’s a holiday anthology, so Christmas in Manhattan, a widow who believes she will never love again, light in the darkness at the turn of the year.
Q: The story is fairly dark…
A: One of the details I used to flesh out Thea’s character came from a woman I met after 9/11. She was a professional classical musician, but she said for months after the terrorist attacks the only music she could tolerate on her iPod was head-banging, heavy metal music. That was the only thing that filled the pain inside her. Everything else simply shattered her, and she couldn’t afford to be shattered all the time. We all have coping mechanisms to deal with the brutal, banal reality of life, but as Thea learns, the only life-giving way to cope is to choose to live and love. We have to choose the light, not the darkness. I hope readers see the extraordinary hope in the story, not just the “bad stuff.”
A: This is true. Midtown Manhattan is filled with Christmas images almost anyone with a television set would recognize: the tree at Rockefeller Center, the ice rink, the Macy’s windows. I added a few of my personal favorites, the Great Lawn in Central Park, Christmas tree shopping in a city where you carry the tree home on the bus if the driver will let you on, white lights strung on the dormant trees in the medians on Park Avenue from Midtown to the Upper East Side. I try to weave the setting into the story in such a way that it couldn’t happen anywhere else and be the same.
Book blurb --
Christmas is the perfect time for Firefighter Ronan O’Rourke to take things to the next level with his sexually adventurous girlfriend. He knows she has feelings for him—and he’s sure of his feelings for her—but when Thea refuses his invitation to sample Christmas in New York City because what they share is nothing more than sheet-burning sex, Ronan sets out to change her mind.
Deep down Thea Moretti knows she cares for Ronan, but she can’t move past her grief over her late husband. Loud music and sex with Ronan are the only things she’s got that her feel alive, so she takes as much of both as she can get. She knows Ronan wants more, but during the darkest time of the year finding her way won’t be easy.
Ronan gambles everything and challenges Thea: one night of passion with him and another man. Can he prove to her that what they share isn’t just great sex but an emotional connection strong enough to last forever?
After doing time at Fortune 500 companies on both coasts, Anne landed in a flyover state, where she traded business casual for yoga pants and decided to write down all the lively story ideas that got her through years of monotonous corporate meetings. Her first book, LIBERATING LACEY won the EPIC Award for Best Contemporary Erotic Romance. Her story WHAT SHE NEEDS was chosen for Smart Bitch Sarah’s Sizzling Book Club. Anne holds a BA in History and English, and an MA in American Studies from Columbia University. When she’s not writing her hobbies include reading, knitting, and yoga. She lives in the Midwest with her family and singlehandedly supports her local Starbucks.