Hi Katana and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Wicked Exposure!
HEY! Thank you for having me! I’m so excited to be here on HJ!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Jess Walters is a forensic photographer with NYPD. When her sister, Cass, is killed in a robbery gone bad, she comes home to Portland, ME for the funeral. She quickly discovers a closet of mysterious items–a fake passport with her sister’s photo, a stack of money, and an old skeleton key. As she looks more and more into her sister’s secret erotic life (and death), she finds that things aren’t adding up and the “robbery gone bad” pieces simply don’t fit. She jumps into action, joining the local police department as their new forensic photographer where she reconnects with her high school unrequited love and ex-best friend who abandoned her when her parents died at age fifteen. Together, they search for Cass’s killer all the while learning to trust one another again. But the closer Jess gets to the truth, the closer she also gets to suffering the same fate as her sister…
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Leaves crunched as Jess Walters dropped her bags to the ground before the bright pink door. Pink, her least favorite color ever. She groaned, looking up at the three-story home. What had Cass been thinking buying this atrocity of a house? Sure, it reminded Jess of the house they had grown up in together—in a cracked-out Barbie-meets-suburbia sort of way.
Please share a few Random facts about this book…
- I make the house that Cassandra/Jess own in Portland pink, but in reality, I have a (very bright) purple house in Portland. Everyone in the city knows it and is like: Oh, YOU own the purple house! (The layout inside is also exactly the same as what I describe in the book, three stories with a weird attic room and a creepy basement).
- When I write, I am rarely able to listen to anything. No TV, no movies, no music. I usually write to the white noise of conversations around me at the coffee shop and that’s it. But with this book (for whatever reason), I listened to a lot of music while writing it. I believe you can find the playlist in the back of WICKED SHOTS, the prequel to WICKED EXPOSURE. (I recommend reading Wicked Exposure first, then Wicked Shots while you wait for Wicked Release to come out!)
- During my adventures in writing this book, I did a lot of research, including historical tours of Portland where they explained that the city has tunnels built below a lot of the wealthy homes and hotels to the theaters. It gets so cold in Maine that the rich used these tunnels to get home warmly after expensive nights out. The Top of the East bar (which my characters have drinks in during WICKED RELEASE) is rumored to have these tunnels still below and accessible if you know the right people.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Jessica is a tough cookie… she had to be. She lost her parents as a teenager and her sister was thrust into the role of legal guardian. To add salt to the wound, her best friend abandoned her after her parent’s death, leaving her with no one but her sister to lean on. Unfortunately, like many sisters, these two were as different as night and day and butted heads constantly. When I first started writing Jess, I knew I wanted to thrust her into the BDSM lifestyle, but I thought I was writing a character who was a natural dominant personality being put into a submissive role. She surprised me though and as I became more well researched about the lifestyle, I realized that Jess was, in fact, a natural submissive in the bedroom (which completely caught me off guard!).
What, in your mind, distinguishes this book from other books out there in the same genre?
There are so many fantastic erotic suspense books out right now! I think that perhaps in many erotic romances, you see a lot of wealthy lifestyles for both the hero and heroine who are all billionaires or CEOs or financial moguls. In Wicked Exposure, have a super wealthy man who owns and runs a construction company. Others are wealthy doctors. Another character is rich off of his real estate investments. They may not be billionaires, but they are living lavish lifestyles with careers that (I find) are more relatable.
Do you think there’s a common trait or a je ne sais quoi that your heroes must have?
For me personally as a writer? I don’t think there’s a common trait that my heroes must have. I love to read and write ALL kinds of heroes. I love beta men and alpha men and billionaires and blue collar guys… I love them all. But I think that the commonality for me with what I love to read and write is that “je ne sais quoi.” Even if a hero is on the cover of People as “Hottest Man of the Year,” I think the heroine should be able to see something in him that no one else can. Something that she can’t quite put her finger on. Because it adds a little bit of mystery to the romance. Some of the fun is your characters figuring out their own feelings and you (the reader) discovering that je nesais quoi right along with them!
Did any scene have you crying or laughing (or blushing) while writing it?
I really love combining humor into my sex scenes and this moment (below) specifically made me chuckle. While not much makes me blush (while writing it), I definitely find myself with pink cheeks when I go back to read it. Or when someone I’m close to reads it.
“Maybe it’s just you I don’t like listening to. Ever thought of that, Sam? Or should I call you sir?” Jess mocked with a lifted brow.
Sam’s hand came down on Jess’s hip, squeezing with a force that made her whimper and she was suddenly drenched. He grabbed a fistful of her hair, tugging her head back. Nudging her panties to the side, he slid two fingers inside of her. They pumped in and out in surprisingly gentle motions and Jess’s legs wobbled beneath her. “Sir works. So does master,” he answered.
No fucking way. Not even if Sam was on his deathbed and that was his dying wish. “Would you settle for King of My Orgasmic Domain?”
“Absolutely,” he answered, nodding slowly. “Though, you might find it hard to say all that while you’re writhing in absolute bliss.”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
That’s a hard question. I think I’d choose the scene where Jess goes to the police precinct to get a job as the forensic photographer. Sam knew she would be coming by and he asked the officer at the front desk to let him know when she arrived. This is their interaction:
“Well, well, well. Here’s a surprise.”
Jess jumped at the sound of Sam right beside her. She rolled her eyes and crossed her legs. “Shouldn’t you be out solving some 7-Eleven robbery or something?”
Sam lowered into the seat next to hers, then sighed. “I knew you would come here first chance you got. It’s why I told Laura to call me when you arrived.”
Jess darted a glance to Rodriguez behind the glass. She was staring at Sam, hearts dripping out of her eyes. As soon as Jess caught her gaze, she dropped her head, suddenly engaged in whatever paperwork was on the desk. Air pushed through Jess’s pursed lips in an exasperated sigh. “Of course. I should have guessed you have every lady in here wrapped around your little finger.”
His eyes glittered with Jess’s observation and she swore she saw the corner of his mouth raise a fraction of an inch. He tilted his head with mock innocence. “Not every lady,” he said leaning in closer. “Only the pretty ones.”
“Lucky for me, Captain Straimer was good friends with my mom.” She leaned in to Sam’s ear, her lips dangerously close to his skin, and whispered. “And I’m pretty skilled with my little finger, too.”
“Don’t I remember,” Sam whispered back. Tension buzzed in the thick air between them as they locked eyes. Jess’s breath sputtered like a stalling engine, only she didn’t dare show her hand. She couldn’t reveal the damn affect he had on her. His shoulders locked visibly and Jess smiled at the sight. Apparently, her poker face was better than his.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
I think it’s human nature to get hung up on words and pre-conceived notions of what’s “normal” and “safe.” My advice to both Jess and Sam would be to throw those out the window and use your own inner barometer to determine what “normal” is for you.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2015?
I finished the sequel to Wicked Exposure (WICKED RELEASE) a couple of months ago (woot!) and that will be out later in 2015 (October I think!). I’m currently writing book 2 in my small town contemporary romance series, Healing You (A Maple Grove Romance, Book 2).
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
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Excerpt from Wicked Exposure:
Sam McCloskey gripped the steering wheel with such force, he swore his fingers would have blisters when he finally released his hold. He had caught glimpses of Jessie at Cass’s funeral, but he had barely noticed how much she’d matured in the last ten years. All he saw the day of the service were the silent tears streaming down her face. The way her long, black eyelashes spiked around her amber eyes. Eyes that now bore experience, passion, and seduction rather than immaturity and childlike rebellion. And those tears—the way her chest quivered with silent sobs—it splintered a crack right into his stone heart. There were only two other times in their lives he had seen those tears spill down her face. Once was the first time she fell off her bike when they were kids. The second was her parents’ funeral.
His stomach lurched at the memory of her parents and he quickly pushed them away. Back into the recesses of his mind. There was no time or place in his life right now for regrets. Could he have handled shit better back when they were fifteen and her parents died? Of course. But, come on, he was fifteen. And cutting her off as a friend was better than her finding out the truth.
Why, oh why he thought that chasing her down the sidewalk today was a good idea was beyond him. Maybe it was a flash of momentary insanity. Or maybe he was lulled in by the sight of her graceful body running down the docks. Her svelte, lean muscles clenched from under that tight, white T-shirt. A shirt that he suspected looked completely conservative on a hanger in her closet—but on Jessie? Christ, it was practically X-rated; sheer and barely reaching above her navel. The strip of skin revealed there was taut, leading his eyes down to long, muscled legs. Runner’s legs.
“Dude! What’s the big deal?” Matt’s voice spiraled him back into the present. “It’s her job back home—and we need a new photographer. At least until we find someone more permanent.” Matt reached into the Tim Hortons bag, pulling out a crème-filled something or other and biting in. His eyes rolled back, and he let his head fall onto the headrest. With a mouth full of half-chewed food, he smacked his lips and gave a contented sigh. “Besides—if she has a job, there’s the chance she might decide to stick around for a while. Maybe even stay for good. Ever think about that?”
Sam raked a hand down his face, the skin smooth from his morning shave. He had thought of that. And that was exactly why he couldn’t let her get settled here. Not with a job. Not with a home. Nothing. And he certainly couldn’t tell Matt his reasons for not wanting to work beside Jessica “Wild” Walters. It was the one and only request Cass had of him before she died. Get Jessie out of Portland as quickly as possible.
“Jessie doesn’t want this coastal life. She made that perfectly clear years ago. She’d be miserable. New York was always her goal.”
“Don’t be so sure,” Matt said, wiping powder from his goatee. “Women hit a certain age and BAM! The only booties they want are the kinds that go on a baby’s feet. Less bars, more children.”
Sam snorted. That might be true of most women—but Jess was anything but typical. “Somehow, I doubt that’s Jessie’s intentions. She just needs to keep her head down and stay out of trouble.” Yeah fucking right.
“Wild Walters staying out of trouble? We’re talking about the same girl here, right?” Matt chuckled.
“Yeah,” Sam groaned. He’d barely spent ten minutes with the woman and already he was so hard he was piercing the base of the steering wheel. What the fuck was he thinking, inviting her to dinner? He shook his head back into reality. It was a tactic— that was it. He needed to get into Cass’s house. And a dinner with Jessie and maybe an invitation for coffee at her place after was a surefire way to get in the door.
He gulped. She looked so lost. So hollow. Those brown eyes of hers were once filled with electricity. But today, she looked vacant. And maybe—just maybe, he truly wanted to catch up with her. Make sure she was okay. A long breath pushed past his lips as he remembered how she made her way toward him at the graduation party years ago. Her stride had been slow, confident. Hella sexy. She was wearing some little halter dress that barely covered anything and she paused before him, a nearly empty bottle of something sweet and alcoholic in hand. Despite the fact that he was nearly a whole head taller than her, she dropped a shoulder confidently, fisted his shirt, and pulled his face down to hers. Pausing just before their mouths touched, she whispered, “I don’t want to hear any objections. This is happening. Tonight.”
Why the hell she would come on to him after what he did to her was far beyond his understanding. And as he was about to stop her—push her to arm’s length—she kissed him. She kissed him in a way that he never knew a kiss could be. Firm, but soft. Wet, but not sloppy. Her tongue thrust into his mouth and he groaned, lifting her onto his hips.
“Jessie,” he said. “Maybe we shouldn’t—”
“Shut up,” she moaned into his mouth. “And take me upstairs.”
And despite the warning signals that fired off in his brain, he did just that. Their one and only time together.
“Whatchya smilin’ about over there?” Matt asked with his own knowing grin.
“Your mom,” Sam shot back.
“Hooohooo!” Matt clapped his hands, laughing. “You’ve still got it bad for Jessie, huh? I knew it. I told Kelly and she told me there was no way, but I knew—”
“I do not have it bad for Jess. Hell, I barely know her anymore!”
“Uh-huh. Look at yourself, man. You’re beet red. I’ve never seen you blush at anything! Whatever happened to you two, anyway? You were best friends for years. Every girl wanted to be Jessie and every guy would have killed to have been in your shoes. It always seemed logical that you woulda ended up together.”
Sam sighed, pulling into the gas station. What happened to them? It was far too fucking complicated. And if he couldn’t explain to Jessie why he walked away, he sure as hell couldn’t tell Matt. Sam had a dark side, that’s what happened. A side to him that he couldn’t fucking forgive himself for, let alone ask another woman to forgive as well. But that night, that one night after graduation, hope sparked inside of him like a piece of flint catching a flame. But before the fire could set, Jess had tamped it out, leaving him alone and never looking back. But now, here she was, back in Portland; in her hometown where everything probably reminded her of her parents’ deaths and all that she had lost. Now with Cass’s death? Sam knew when Jessie left this time—it was for good. Nothing tied her to this town anymore. Sam’s chest tightened at the thought and yet—maybe that was exactly how it should be.
Jess opened the door to her sister’s home, stripping her layers as she walked to the upstairs bathroom. Fucking Sam. Did he think she couldn’t handle the job? The job she’d been doing for six years now in New York. Or was he afraid what would happen if they worked with each other? As if she was some horny teen who couldn’t keep her wits about her with him at her side.
Jess grunted, stomping around the guest room. Sam McCloskey, you are hot, but not that hot.
She passed Cass’s bedroom, the door still open from that morning. Jess swallowed and ducked into the bathroom, shutting the door behind her. She turned the water on and stepped into the steaming hot shower.
Maybe she should tell Sam about her sister’s stash. As a detective, he might be able to help. Jess snorted, sudsing up her hair. Sam’s idea of helping was playing protector. No—not protector— controller. Besides, whatever was going on in Cass’s life before she died couldn’t have been good. If there was one thing Jess had learned at the NYPD, it was that no one has a fake passport and stacks of cash for any legit reason. Whatever Cass had been into was bad news. Jess swallowed the lump in her throat. She’d be damned if she was gonna let anyone tarnish her sister’s legacy. Nope. She couldn’t tell Sam a damn thing. Not yet, at least.
An image of all that money in stacks below the floor flashed in her mind and she shifted under the steady stream of water. That was a shitload of money. Simply having it under this same roof with her was enough to cause Jess sleepless nights. What the hell are you supposed to do when you find stacks of cash in a dead family member’s home? The sudden burn for answers flared within her and Jess scrubbed the bar of soap over her body. As though this action would wash clean all that had happened in the last two weeks.
The water pattered across her heated flesh and she closed her eyes as the rivers of water streamed down her breasts and stomach. She fell against the tiled wall, letting her head rest there.
The last night she ever saw Sam was their graduation party. They were eighteen years old and she was still a virgin. Begrudgingly so. And of all the people in the world, she didn’t want to lose it drunkenly to some douchebag in college. No, she wanted someone she cared about. And despite the crazy three years she and Sam had had, she knew he still cared about her.
She had worn a blue pleather miniskirt and a halter top—instead of the sweet summer dress Cass had bought for her. Her sister had been furious; embarrassed. All the other families had lovely photos of their kids posing demurely. Cass had a picture of Jessie giving the middle finger to everyone as she received her diploma. Cass screamed at her after the ceremony, telling her to get the hell out of the house that night and not come back until morning, something Jess had already planned on doing, regardless.
Jess closed her eyes, remembering the feel of his hands on her soft skin. The way he tugged her skirt down and untied her top. He had always been a guy who knew what he wanted; he was her first kiss where she felt as though it was actually a man kissing her and not some teenage boy fumbling up her shirt. He was direct, but not pushy. Confident, not arrogant. And Jess had wanted every bit of him. She’d wanted him for four years and every time he ignored her passing glances in the hallway— every time he left a party she had arrived to—it chipped away at her already broken heart. Until finally it was unfixable. But that night—it was his party. He couldn’t leave his own damn party. And Jess was determined to convince him. To look him in the eyes and do exactly what she had wanted to do for four years. And with a little bit of liquid courage, she was able to do just that graduation night. Jess kept her eyes closed, trailing her hand down her body as her mind wandered back to that night. . .
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Nothing left to hide. . .
A forensic photographer with the NYPD, Jessica is devastated to receive word of her sister’s death in a robbery gone awry. But when she arrives home in Portland and the local PD asks her to take pictures, she finds more than she bargained for. With each new photo she exposes more of her sister’s secret erotic life. And when she shares her discoveries with Sam, the super sexy local detective, she experiences passion she never knew possible. But Jessica soon learns she’s merely a pawn in a deadly game of betrayal and revenge and begins to wonder if her next picture could be her last. . .
Meet the Author:
Katana Collins is the author of the paranormal erotic Soul Stripper trilogy, the erotic suspense series, Wicked Exposure, and the small town contemporary romance Maple Grove Series. She and her husband commute back and forth between Brooklyn, New York and Portland, Maine, with their ever-growing family of rescue animals (two dogs, a cat, and counting!). She can usually be found hunched over her laptop in a cafe, guzzling gallons of coffee, and wearing fabulous (albeit sometimes impractical) shoes.