May 6, 2011

Review: Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye

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?

Jeannie’s Review of Hearts in Darkness by Laura Kaye
What I really love about Hearts in Darkness is that it’s an unexpected fantasy. The fantasy is being trapped in an elevator with a sexy stranger for hours on end. The unexpected part is that it’s got so much heart. The basic premise is Caden and Makenna are two strangers rushing through their lives, she as a lonely accountant and he as a paramedic with a sad past, when suddenly fate delivers an unexpected twist. They find themselves trapped in a pitch dark elevator for hours having only caught barely a passing glance at each other before the elevator stopped working. So with Makenna’s glimpse of Caden’s tattoos and Caden’s peek at Makenna’s red hair they are plunged into complete and total darkness.

Over the course of several hours they get to know one another and a deep attraction slowly builds into a frenzied passion. So what happens when the lights come on? Is beauty really only skin deep? Is love truly blind?’ve read enough of my reviews to know that I don’t spoil ANYTHING so guess what? You will just have to read this fabulously written novella to find out for yourself!

Let me tell you one thing though, for a book that’s under 100 pages, the characters are really well developed. I give super kudos to Laura Kaye who so artfully creates her characters and put them in a setting where the story is told so fantastically that the characters reveal themselves to the reader in a slow build but with enough flow to keep us wanting more. You find yourself not only wanting to know what happens to them next but also wanting to know what happened to them before they met, essentially you invest yourself so fully into the characters you want to just know more. I was actually really sad when I finished the story even though it was obvious that there wasn’t really more for the story to tell. I just felt like I’d said goodbye to two people I had gotten to know over the last 100 pages and that even though I know they will be well, I will miss them.

I loved how the more they got to know one another they started actually seeing themselves in a different perspective. Like there was a whole new possibility just right in front of them and that made them feel different about themselves, that they were actually worthy of attraction from another person despite their perceived flaws in themselves. They grow in their own confidence and you, as the all-knowing reader, can clearly see that they are so much better together than on their own. This kind of subtle story-telling is hard to master and again, I have to applaud Laura Kaye for pulling it off so brilliantly.

Oh and just one more thing: This story is H.O.T. This isn’t just a cute fluffy story about two people having kismet in an elevator but it’s also a 3rd degree burn needing new dressings every other hour, because ::sizzle:: I’m really not sure what to say about it because even though I read a lot of hot stories, I don’t usually review them so without giving too much away, I’ll just say it’s smoldering. Sexy. The sexual energy in that elevator just oozes out. In fact, when those doors finally cracked open I fully expected it to expel a huge steam cloud from all the pent up hotness in there. So do yourself a favor, curl up with this book for a REALLY good time. *wink*

Laura Kaye is a full-time educator (applause) who has written stories since she was a teenager. She’s written several popular stories in an online community which has earned her many accolades from the online community and most importantly, gained her many friends. Hearts in Darkness is her first published work of fiction but certainly not her last! Her next book, Forever Freed is a full-length novel that will be out on May 20, 2011 available from The Wild Rose Press (link below). I, for one, am greatly looking forward to this book and many more from Laura.

Happy Reading,

After the book trailer we have an interview with Laura Kaye for you. So stay tuned and keep reading.

What was it that gave you the 'spark' for your story? Was it a picture? A moment or event? Can you remember the initial inspiration?
I find myself asking “what if” questions a lot, and they’re a great source of inspiration, especially when I’m driving and my brain is churning on story ideas!  One night the question, “What if two people got trapped in a pitch-black elevator together?  And what if they were complete opposites on the outside?  And what if they were remarkably well suited for one another on the inside?”  That was the spark for HEARTS IN DARKNESS.  Caden Grayson came together as a character first, after that, and I knew he was going to have this anti-social physical vibe from which the darkness would free him, if only for a few hours!  For my forthcoming book, a paranormal romance called FOREVER FREED, it was a similar process—What if a vampire became a caregiver for a small human child? And thus the relationship between vampire Lucien Demarco and five-year-old Olivia Sutton was born.

Do you have a particular process when it comes to your writing, perhaps a certain mood, environment or music? Do you have any 'triggers' to get you in the writing mood?
I don’t wait for the mood to strike me to write. With a full-time job, a husband, two kids, a dog, and a house that all demand my attention, I have to fit in writing any time I can!  That said, I don’t mind white noise surrounding me—I often write in a Panera with my best friend, who’s also an author.  But I don’t frequently listen to music while I write.  I do often create story playlists, though, that I listen to in the car while driving, and I find music is a huge source of inspiration for my stories while I’m writing them, just not while I’m writing them! *grins*

Give us an elevator pitch. Say you're in an elevator with a prospective reader for 2 minutes – what would you tell them about the story? (That's one of our usual question and it's pure coincidence that Hearts in Darkness is set in an elevator)
HEARTS IN DARKNESS is a steamy, heartfelt contemporary romance about two strangers who find acceptance and dare to find love while trapped for four hours in a pitch-black elevator.

Or:  Two Strangers. Four Hours. One pitch-black elevator.

Your story takes place mostly in a darkened elevator where your main characters get to know each other, was your story meant as a social euphemism for "love is blind?" Any thought to making either of the characters unattractive to the other once the lights came on just as a fun twist? 
The story certainly makes the “love is blind” statement.  And I found this great quote from William Shakespeare that I used in the book: Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.  But just as important was the idea that you could find so much in common with someone, develop such an incredible connection with that person, that despite not knowing their appearance, your heart and mind could fall in love with what your eyes had never seen.  Physically, Makenna and Caden always who were they were to me as characters, but the interesting thing about your question is, both of them think of themselves as unattractive. Makenna thinks she’s plain, “just one of the guys,” and Caden thinks his scars, piercings, and tattoos will turn her off.  And the darkness allowed me to play with those issues of perception.

Do you have someone in RL that you have based your character Caden on? And if you say "your husband" then we are officially jealous!
LOL Nope. While I do sometimes borrow people’s character traits for my stories, Caden was 100% pure imagination. [My brain is a very fun place to be!] 

Have you got any other projects going on? Any planned for the future?
Boy, do I!  My next release, a novel-length paranormal romance called FOREVER FREED, comes out on May 20 from The Wild Rose Press.  FOREVER FREED celebrates my love for all things vampire with my first ever original vampire story.  I’ve also just made two new sales.  I sold a four-book fantasy romance series to Entangled Publishing based on the Greek Anemoi—directional wind gods also associated with the seasons.  The first, NORTH OF NEED, will release in November 2011.  Writing the three other books in the series will be my first priority for the next number of months.  Just last week, I also sold my first erotic romance, a contemporary ménage a quatres (m/m/m/f) called JUST GOTTA SAY to Decadent Publishing.  Currently, I’m completing final revisions on a novel-length women’s fiction called THE FANTASY LIFE OF A MIDDLE-AGED WIFE.  Er, I’m a bit of a genre-hopper, as you can see.

Do you have a background in writing? 
I enjoyed writing fiction as a teenager, and won a few contests, but then my professional life went off in a different direction.  I’m a historian and college professor by training, so writing is a big part of what I do, but in non-fiction, where I’ve published two books. 

How about your creative self-confidence?  By nature writers tend to be a notoriously insecure lot so how are you finding the online writing experience?
This is a hard question to answer.  On the one hand, I’m pretty confident in my writing.  I’ve written a lot, studied the craft of fiction writing a good bit, taken lots of workshops, and gotten great feedback from people I respect and readers.  On the other, I’m also nervous once I put something out there into the world because your work is never going to appeal to everybody.  Inevitably, the bad reviews and “I don’t get it” comments will come, and they’re hard to hear even in a sea of great reviews.  But I love writing so much, putting myself out there through my work is more than worth the risk!

You really should be proud of your devoted following as a former online author with very popular stories! Now that you are delving into the world of "real" publishing, do you tend to keep your online authorship as your secret identity or do you let people know that you got your start there? 
I have no hesitation at all in claiming my identity as a writer of fan fiction! While I wrote my two multi-chapter stories, The List and While You Were Gone, after I’d already completed the draft of my first original novel, these fan fictions helped hone my craft and build my confidence as a writer.  Plus, writing fic was so much fun and, through it, I made so many great friends, I feel very fondly towards it and the Twilight fandom in general.  The List, in particular, is a story I greatly enjoyed writing and have a special affection for—plus all this time later since I finished it (in September 2009), and I’m still getting such great reviews and emailed compliments.  What’s not to love??? While I’m not likely to have a lot of time to dabble in fan fiction in the future, I still read some and keep in touch with folks I met through the fandom. See? I just outed myself!

Which RL author(s) inspires you?
I particularly like writing male point of view, and for that I turn especially to J.R. Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon for inspiration and instruction.  No one builds suspense better than Stephen King, who I’ve been reading since I was a teenager.  And Anne Rice contributed significantly to my love of vampires. 

What are the five books you rec to people time and again as "must reads?" regardless of genre?
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward is probably my all-time favorite series, and I’m single-handedly responsible for getting numerous people hooked on that and the Twilight series.  I have a certain fondness for Tuesdays with Morrie and Marley and Me, but don’t read them if you don’t want to get choked up by a book!  I’m also pretty wowed by the Hunger Games series.

What would surprise us to find out you have on your bookshelf?
Surprising? Hmm…I don’t know what would surprise you.  Maybe that it’s so diverse?  You’d find everything from romance (heavy on the paranormal, heavy on the vampires) to how-to writing books to hard-core erotica to What to Expect When You’re Expecting! (er, my youngest is four years old, so you can see how things get buried!)  I counted, just for you, and my bed-side table currently has 38 books of various sorts stacked on it!

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Butt in chair.  Fingers on keyboard. Write.  Every day.  Seriously, don’t aspire, do it.  And help yourself become the best writer you can be by: 1) surrounding yourself with other writers, people seriously pursuing writing as a profession, not a hobby. That means joining the professional writing organizations for your genre.  Since I write romance, that’s the Romance Writers of America, plus my state chapter, plus the special interest sub-genre chapters that exist (FF&P—Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal; ChickRWA—chickLit; RWA-WF—women’s fiction, etc.).  There are similar organizations for science fiction and mystery writers, too, etc.; 2) get as many eyes on your writing as you can, and realize that getting feedback from other writers is way more valuable than from friends, family, or readers; 3) work to improve your craft by taking writing workshops, reading craft books, and following agent and editor blogs.  If you want to become a published author, you have to pursue it as a profession, and these are all steps towards doing so.

Give us a Random Fact about yourself?
I have two tattoos!

If you could have 15 minutes with anyone alive or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and what would you say to them?
Hmm. This question is hard because, on the one hand, I want to pick some hugely famous person. But, on the other, both of my parents are dead and have been for years, and I never really stop missing them, especially my mom.  I’d really just like to tell her all about her granddaughters.

Anything else you would like to add?
Just, many, many thanks for having me here!  And I’d be happy to answer any questions readers might have!

Laura’s Bio:

A multi-published author of paranormal, contemporary, and erotic romance, Laura Kaye’s hot, heartfelt stories are all about the universal desire for a place to belong.  Laura grew up amidst family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses, cementing her life-long fascination with the supernatural.  Though an avid fiction writer as a teenager, a career as a historian took her in other directions until recently.  Now that Laura’s inner muse has awakened, she’s constantly creating new story ideas!  Laura lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.  

Find Laura on the interwebz:
Twitter: @laurakayeauthor


1 comment:

Laura Kaye said...

Thanks so much for the great review and for the interview! I'm happy to answer any questions... :)

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