What inspired you to write "Blurred Lines"?
I believe that death is merely a door to another realm rather than an ending. When my husband died, I felt a strong connection to him that resulted in an energy or a feeling of being touched at times. Occassionally I would hear my name being called. None of this happened before his death, so I liked thinking it was him. Of course, I have no concrete proof of this being true, but the experience sparked an idea that led to the storyline of BLURRED LINES.
There is a love triangle in your novel. Why was that important to your storyline?
The love triangle is important for a myriad of reasons. The entire book is centered around the theme that it's necessary to let go of what no longer works in your life. Alex—the living man—is the catalyst for snapping Sierra out of the limbo she's been in since Shane's death. Shane-the ghost of her deceased fiance—hasn't accepted his death and can't let go of the love of his life. The love triangle is necessary as it presents Sierra with a choice to move forward with life (Alex) or cling to the past (Shane).
This is an erotic romance, which in my mind usually means a barely-there storyline in between sex scenes. However, this is a substantial story with a great deal of emotion and vivid characters. Why not tone it down and keep the sex steamy rather than erotic to appeal to a more mainstream audience?
I believe people need to keep an open mind because this is a story that crosses boundaries. These characters are intense so the sex needed to match that intensity. Alex pushes Sierra out of all of her comfort zones and appeals to her innate wild child. That is something she had denied herself for a long time. I write under another name where I walk up to the line of really steamy, heat level 5, sex scenes, so, yes, I could have kept it there. The story simply called for going that extra step. Reviews have mentioned that the emotional intensity of the story make the sex scenes that much more passionate, but also creates a believability about them. Sometimes as an author it's necessary to completely surrender to the story that 'must be told.' That's what I did with BLURRED LINES. I surrendered and let it go where it needed to go without limits.
This is your debut novel, but you've mentioned that you are an established author under another name. Do you see any more releases as Dakota Skye?
Yes, I have a second paranormal erotic romance, DEADLY DECADANCE, that will be out in the Fall via Siren-Bookstrand Publishing. It is about a psychic baker who helps a man in witness protection find his family that has been presumed dead. A psychic baker? Yes. It's funny yet suspenseful. I'm really excited about it. In addition, I'm working on a secret project with about ten other authors that I can't discuss yet...but it's going to be good.
Does having a pen name free you to write, as you say, without limits?
Yes, it does. Although I am established under another name, writing under a pen name is liberating because it frees me up to explore other facets of myself. Yes, it means starting over in a sense, but I have a 'been-there-done-that' attitude about it. I'm having a helluva good time as Dakota!
A bit more about Blurred Lines...
Letting go is like a death. Sierra never thought she would be caught in a love triangle between her writing partner, Alex, and the love of her life, Shane—especially because her ex-fiancé is now a ghost. Tormented with both guilt for moving on with someone else and a desire to be free of the past, she's pulled between both men. Shane struggles with accepting his death and seeing the woman he loves with someone else. Alex is determined to free Sierra from limbo and change their relationship from casual to serious, but the bond she has with Shane transcends death. One of the three needs to let go.
Only the good die young. When Shane Weston is murdered before prosecuting a key member of the Mexican drug cartel, he can't accept the idea that all of the plans he had had for his life will never come true. More than that, he can't let go of the love he has for his fiancée.
Love never dies. Sierra Daniels is crushed after Shane's death. Head writer on a successful television series, she can't get back into the groove of life. All enthusiasm for work is gone. Ready to quit everything, she travels to her cabin in Lake Tahoe in hopes of escaping everyone's expectations and disappearing for a while.
The lines between right and wrong often blur. Alexander Blaine has risked his future on a career change from DEA agent to lead consultant and writer on hit television series. Sierra's grief has shadowed everyone around her, including him, and jeopardizes both of their careers. Unwilling to accept defeat, he follows her to Lake Tahoe determined to break through the barrier enveloping her and make her see that life is still worth living.
An excerpt (non sexual)...
She walked into the bathroom to brush her teeth. When she looked into the mirror, she saw Shane's reflection standing behind her. When she turned, no one.
"Why are you doing this to me?" she asked the empty space.
"I love you so much, Sierra." A whisper. Faint. Barely noticeable.
Every inch of her pulsated with restrained emotion. She gripped the edge of the sink with both hands and cried because she felt torn between wanting the confusion to stop and needing it to be real to save her sanity. Some days it took all of her strength simply to fake normalcy.
She'd cheated with another man. Right or wrong, that's what it felt like. She had had sex with Alex and loved it, wanted to do it again. But if Shane still existed, wasn't it wrong? Confusion rocked her world.
She held onto the sink as if were the only thing keeping her upright. Sobs began deep in her gut before ripping through her body with deep convulsions. Silent screams caught in her throat. Tears she'd been battling to hold back for too long streamed from her eyes. Unchecked.
She'd come here wanting to quit her job and her life, to hide away, to give up. All of these months spent working and fighting and pretending to have it all together had taken a toll. She couldn't do it anymore. She had come here to break down.
A ghost? How many times in the last months had she prayed Shane would walk in the door and tell her it had all been a mistake? Why hadn't he come to her then? Why now?
Every inch of her vibrated with unrestrained agony. For an hour, she'd felt normal again, with Alex of all people, and it had felt damn good. But now guilt ate her up like an infection devouring her from the inside out. Each sob abused her body and twisted her gut into knots. She couldn't stop. She'd held the grief at bay for too long and now it had busted loose.
"It's okay." Alex wrapped his arms around her from behind and whispered against her hair, "I'm here. You need to trust someone, let it be me. It's going to be all right. I'm not leaving. I'm here."
She turned within the circle of his arms; eyes closed for fear of seeing Shane's face again, and gripped Alex's shoulders as if he were a lifeline.
She cried, unable to hide her pain any longer. Tears of both confusion and sorrow fell. She clung to the one man she'd never anticipated trusting or needing while he whispered against her hair, "I'm here, it's going to be okay."
"Sometimes I feel like I'll never be normal again," she confided against his shoulder once the sobs had subsided and her voice returned.
"It's all going to be exactly as it needs to be."
But that's what she worried about...that she'd go so far away from what she'd ever known herself to be that she'd be lost forever. She'd been fighting to hold on to who she'd been with Shane and who'd she'd been before him. The two images didn't mesh and the battle seemed pointless.
What if surrendering—accepting—meant that she'd be like this, an angry woman who couldn't break free of the sadness? Every fiber of her being begged her to stop fighting; she didn't know if she had the strength for surrender.
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