Hi Tara Leigh and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Cruel Sanctuary!
Thank you so much for having me!!
To start off, can you please tell us a little bit about this book?:
A scorching-hot, enemies-to-lovers romance between a high-tech Manhattan crime boss and the daughter of the District Attorney.
Please share your favorite lines or quote(s) from this book:
Damon King has made me a promise. A promise that feels a whole lot like a threat.
I don’t like it, and I definitely don’t like him. But what I truly hate is the scrape of interest dragging over my skin like the sharp end of a needle. No painful pricks, no spilled blood. Just an uncomfortable awareness—a sensitivity, really. And a thrumming beneath, like my blood is being drawn to the surface, its slow boil a silent message meant for King.
Come get me.
What inspired this book?
It’s kind of an odd list!
A movie about Edward Snowden.
The underground tunnels beneath Manhattan.
Cyrus Vance (current Manhattan DA) who introduced “intelligence-driven prosecution” to NYC—and led me to wonder: what would happen if that system could be hacked?
An episode of SVU where Olivia Benson (luv her!) took issue with a former ADA who worked outside the law to rescue domestic violence victims from their abusers.
How did you ‘get to know’ your main characters? Did they ever surprise you?
I get to know them by walking around my house and talking to myself, basically. They become people that play in a movie inside my head and I just mumble to myself until I hear them clearly enough to start typing. And yes! There’s a scene at the 20% mark where Aislinn completely took the reins and did something that had me completely taken aback. In that one scene she went from my heroine to #girlcrush.
What was your favorite scene to write?
The scene I just mentioned, and the one that immediately follows. I loved discovering the spitfire that exists just beneath Aislinn’s cool, aloof attitude. And Damon just doesn’t know what to do with her. The two of them aren’t fire and ice—they are gasoline and a lit match.
What was the most difficult scene to write?
It’s not necessarily one scene, I find the hardest part of writing novels to be how many breadcrumbs to leave for the reader along the way. For example:
There is so much Aislinn doesn’t know. About the father that raised her. About the father she’s never met. About me.
But now is not the time to expose all of those secrets.
There may never be a time.
“As I said, this is not a discussion.” I bite back an aggravated sigh. “I can’t give you proof because I don’t leave loose ends hanging around—for obvious reasons.”
“What you’re saying is, I have no choice but to take your word.”
Her pert little nose wrinkles. “It seems a bit too convenient if you ask me.”
“I’m not asking,” I snap.
Would you say this book showcases your writing style or is it a departure for you?
I think Cruel Sanctuary definitely shows who I am as a writer. With each book, I’ve focused more on the actual wordsmithing aspect to it, rather than just storytelling. My favorite part of writing happens at the sentence level—playing with each word and finding the rhythm of each scene. Cruel Sanctuary is a bit of a departure from my previous books in that Damon is my first anti-hero. Although I’ve written plenty of alphas, Cruel Sanctuary is more of a dark romance. Or, at least, dark-ish for me.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
Mostly, I want readers to be taken away from real life for a bit. I hope that Cruel Sanctuary grabs their attention & doesn’t let go until the final page—and even then, has you wanting more! (Corrupt Savior, the second book of the duet releases on May 13th)
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
Corrupt Savior, May 13th.
After that, I’m kind of feeling an emotional, angsty, ugly-cry kind of book—but I won’t know until I start!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: I’m giving away two signed paperbacks & jewelry!(open internationally)
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Excerpt from Cruel Sanctuary:
Rather than waiting for the water to drain away, leaving me a wet, sudsy mess trapped in a tub, I use the surge of adrenaline to clasp the porcelain edge with both hands and rise to my feet, bubbles clinging to my breasts. The bubbles covering my belly slide downward, some finding purchase at the apex of my thighs. A bubble bikini. “Would you mind handing me a towel?”
He backs up a few steps, his smug expression now punctuated by an equally smug grin. “Actually, I would.”
Irritation stiffens the muscles connecting my shoulders to my neck. “Fine,” I say, stepping out of the tub myself and walking to the etagere in the corner that is filled with plush rolled towels and various toiletries. The towels are on the bottom shelf and as I bend down, I hear a guttural groan that sends a shiver up my spine, goose bumps prickling my naked flesh.
Biting down on the urge to shroud myself in terrycloth, I take my time, leisurely unrolling it as the suds give in to gravity and slide down my skin. “I hope you’ve enjoyed the view,” I say, glancing back at him over my shoulder. “Because that’s all you’re ever going to get from me.”
The flare of hostility overtaking the desire in King’s gaze is immensely gratifying. I lift the towel over my shoulders and pivot to face him, intending to get back into my clothes and leave his apartment, never to return.
Except that things don’t go exactly as I plan. Because, while there is a nice fluffy rug right outside the tub, I am now standing on marble tile that is slick with the soapy water I’ve dripped while attempting to prove a point.
A point that is completely lost when I lose my balance and fall on my ass.
Had this been a normal New York City bathroom, King would have been able to reach out and steady me without any effort. But this is not a normal New York City bathroom. This is the Queen Mary of bathrooms and I am at least ten deck chairs away.
My ass makes a slapping sound on the marble, and the only good thing about the painful, mortifying moment is that the harsh reality makes me forget about Damon King entirely. I am aware only of a bone-jarring ache that reverberates through my limbs, loosening the marrow within. Holy hell does that hurt.
My yelp is still ringing in the air when I am pulled into a pair of strong arms, one beneath my knees and one at my back. Instinctively, I lock my wrists around King’s thickly muscled neck, tucking my head into the crook between his chin and collarbone, the solid beat of his heart a drumbeat beneath my cheek.
And until I remember that this sinfully sexy man is my captor … it is nice. Really nice.
The kind of nice that has the power to smooth the sharp edges of physical pain.
The kind of nice I definitely shouldn’t feel toward Damon King.
The kind of nice he hasn’t earned and definitely doesn’t deserve.
I jerk away, tilting my head up to stare directly into his face. “Put me down.” I keep my cool, making the demand as stiffly as if I’m asking him to pass the salt.
But my show of composure crumbles as he angles his head to look at me. Barely an inch separates the tips of our noses. I stare, entranced by the fine scar that marks his left eyebrow. I want to kiss it.
One corner of his mouth tics up, his eyes flicking away from mine. “You look damn good in my arms.”
I follow his stare and am met by our reflection in the bathroom mirror. I blink, taking in the sight of my naked body held against King’s broad chest, the tanned, inked forearms I’d practically drooled over earlier now wrapped around my back and behind my knees.
I am naked. King is dressed.
There is something indecently erotic about our image. I look like the heroine of an old Harlequin novel—a down on her luck maid or secretary about to be ravished by her big, bad boss. A powerless woman soon to be stripped of her virtue.
I know what it’s like when a man overpowers a woman. When he uses force to take what’s not his. To hurt and abuse and terrorize.
And I know that this isn’t that.
It may not look like it, but I have the power in this situation. Damon King came to me. First at my apartment and now in his. He broke down two doors tonight.
I may be naked, but the only reason he’s touching me is because he knows I want him to.
Emboldened, I look away from our reflection and directly into King’s eyes again. Leaning in, I brush the tip of my nose against his. “Kiss me.”
I’ve barely pushed the words out when his lips are on mine. The taste of him is an explosion inside my mouth. Smooth and potent, but with a hint of mint. As if he swilled some of that Balvenie from his bar and then sucked on a peppermint candy.
He kisses like a conqueror. Stealing my breath along with the last of my reservations.
He kisses like a king. Staking his claim, demanding his due.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
They say New York City is the Devil’s Playground.
This city belongs to me.
And so does Aislinn Granville.
She is a pampered politician’s daughter.
A decorative ornament, raised to smile and nod and do what she’s told.
Except… she doesn’t. Not with me. Ever.
In this city full of thugs and thieves, I’ve kept Aislinn safe.
From my enemies.
Meet the Author:
Tara Leigh is a multi-published author of steamy contemporary romance. A former banker on Wall Street, she graduated from Washington University and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School, but she much prefers spending her days with fictional boyfriends than analyzing financial spreadsheets. Tara currently lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut with her husband, children, and fur-baby, Pixie.
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