Thursday, 23 October 2014

Inspiration - It Comes From Many Places!


Post by Lily Harlem



Breathe You In, starring Ruben Strong and Katie Lansdale, was a wonderful book to write and played like a movie in my head for the few months it took to pour from my fingertips onto the screen. The inspiration for it came from many places and the seeds of this story were sewn years ago.

I'm absolutely thrilled that it's also a USA Today Reviewer's Recommended Read of 2013 Today  - this is what they say "Harlem never fails to heat things up quickly, which I love, but proves she can bank the fire with this sizzling mainstream romance. Breathe You In was an emotional, powerful read that left me wishing for more pages."

It's an unusual plot and I'm going to give a spoiler now - though if you read it, it's only a chapter before you find this out - in order to chat about why this book is so important to me. (Chapter One available here.)

Katie is having a rough time and struggling to move on from the death of her husband Matt. But one thing has captured her attention and she can't let it go. "Had I learned nothing about grief and its obsessive, dark, manipulative nature?".  She's become fixated on finding the recipient of her husband's donated heart. A difficult decision she made on the day of his death.

Perhaps this makes it sound like a really sad book, it isn't, it's fun and flirty, sexy and steamy. Breathe You In is about picking up the  pieces after tragedy, finding laughter and love again and moving into a bright future after being in a dark place.



Many of you know that I was a nurse before I took up writing erotic romance. I worked in London mainly but did spend some time in Oxford at the John Radcliffe Hospital. I was only just qualified and working towards a post grad in acute care. I spent some time in the operating theatre as part of a cardiac rotation. The John Radcliffe is a pioneering hospital, the work they do there is outstanding, life saving and life changing.



The heart has always fascinated me as a structure, the chemicals and electrical impulses, the constant contractions and the problems that can arise when things go wrong. I saw patients before, during and after major cardiac surgery. Got to know them, spent time with them, celebrated their recovery with them and their families. It truly was an amazing experience for me, as a nurse, but for the patients, it was something else.



Which is why I dreamed up Ruben Strong, a man who'd physically  and emotionally been to Hell and back when his health declined and he needed a new heart. But like Katie, his story picks up a couple of years down the line and he's well and strong and getting on with his life. He's a gorgeous, fun-loving, adrenaline-junkie who's had to make adjustments, of course, but is raring to go again.

The trouble is Katie seeks Ruben out, even though confidentiality laws in the UK require donor families and recipients to co-ordinate any communication through a transplant liaison officer. Actual meetings can be set up but usually years after the transplant and only if both parties agree. Katie can't wait, she wants, no needs, to see Ruben, the man who has the heart of the man she loved mind, body and soul. She hires a private detective to track him down with the intention of seeing Ruben from a distance, believing this will help her sleep at night, knowing where the heart that loved her for so many years actually is.

What Katie doesn't count on is that she literally bumps into Ruben, in of all places, a museum's World War 2 display that is having a malfunction with the audio - the sounds of bombs and explosions are rattling her nerves...

I moved through to the next room. It was dark, the walls painted black, and in the corner was what looked like a bunker and some kind of corrugated iron shelter. A sudden wail—an air-­raid siren—blasted out of a speaker above me. The lights flashed on and off, and a deafening boom rattled across the ceiling and pounded up through the soles of my feet.
I clutched my handbag. Stepped backwards. What the hell...?
A loud voice hollered out. “Northampton during the blitz. This is what it was like to live in the town in nineteen forty-­‐three.”
“Oh, shit, really.” My heart was galloping, and my bearings had slipped. I couldn’t see the way out, other than the archway I’d just come through. There was no obvious exit that would keep my journey progressive through the museum.
Another loud bang, followed by whizzing and an explosion that clanked several wall-­hanging gas masks and jerry cans against one another.
I had to get out of there. It smelled musty, and it was so dark and loud I could hardly think.
Spinning, I came face to chest with another person.
“Sorry,” I said, the need to flee now overwhelming. “I’m just...” I glanced left and right. Staggered slightly.
“Hey, are you okay?” He cupped my elbows, steadied me.
I looked up through the shadows into dark eyes. “Er, yes, I think so. It just made me jump, that’s all. It’s a bit loud.”
“I’m sorry. It’s supposed to be noisy but this is too much.”
“Yes, it’s ear-­‐splitting.”
Bomb sounds were raining down on us with gusto. Screams and shouts were mixed into the soundtrack now, adding to the chaos. “Which, er, way...?” I asked.
“Through the army camouflage curtain, just there.”
Shadows sliced across his face but were lost momentarily when the lights flared again, simulating explosions. I reckoned he was about my age, maybe a little older. He had a straight, long nose, wide mouth and a flat, brown mole on his right cheek.
“Okay.” I was about to step away but realized I’d placed my hand on his chest, right next to a small badge that had a picture of the museum in the left hand corner. Also on that badge, written in bold black letters, was the name Ruben.
I snapped my hand away. Had I felt the thud of a heart beating beneath my palm? Panic raced through my body, starting in my fingers and shooting up my arm. It went into my lungs and belly, weakening my knees and softening my spine.
It was him. I knew it was. How many Rubens could possibly work here? Not only that, I’d touched him. Hell, he was still touching me. This wasn’t my plan, not at all. No way.
Gasping, I moved back, still staring at his badge, at his chest. Beneath that neat white shirt, his skin and bones, was Matt—Matt’s heart and lungs. Beating. Inflating. The heart that had loved me so much.
Oh, God.
My plan had gone terribly wrong. I was only supposed to see Ruben from a distance, not speak to him, definitely not touch him.
“I have to...” I said, bumping into the plastic-­molded bunker and the side of the Anderson shelter. “Go.” I straightened, just; my body didn’t feel like mine. I was shaking, hot and cold, my brain infused with fear and fascination.
“Are you okay?”
“Fine.”
What the hell was the matter with my vision? I couldn’t peel my attention away from his chest, his name badge, the way his shirt hung down, flat against his long, lean body. It was buttoned at the top, the collar sitting neat against his neck. There was no scar that I could make out, but there would be one. I knew that much.
“Are you sure?” he asked over the din.
“Yes.” I managed to move toward the exit he’d indicated. “You really should get this volume turned down before you give someone a heart attack.”
He laughed as another flash filled the room. “The kids love it, but yes, you’re right. I was actually just fiddling with it.” He turned and disappeared into the room with the plow and the grinding wheels.

This is just the very start of Ruben and Katie's story and I adored all the twists and turns of Katie's thoughts especially as she realises that she's attracted to Ruben and their friendship turns to more.




The sexy scenes are high-level emotional. Katie because she hasn't been intimate with anyone since the death of her husband and Ruben, because, let's just say he was a bit of a Casanova before he became ill.




Working on a Formula One racing team and travelling the world meant he had his fair share of beauties in his bed, but now, well, his confidence has been knocked and he hasn't dated since his operation. It takes Katie's gentle support to turn him back into the vibrant, passionate man he once was, but when he finds himself, wow, there's no stopping him!

I used this serene expression as inspiration for the first sex scene.



But by the time Ruben has his mojo back this is definitely more his brand of action...



Here is a sexy snippet. Ruben and Katie have just made it home through a storm and are dripping wet...

“I’ll grab us some towels,” I said, dashing to the laundry pile. I retrieved a couple of freshly washed pink towels that smelled of fabric conditioner and passed one to Ruben.
He took it and dropped it over his head, rubbed vigorously. I did the same to mine and toed off my sandals at the same time. I dabbed my face, collected an oasis sitting in the groove of my throat and patted beneath my eyes, hoping I wasn’t displaying a panda look.
Ruben buried his face in the towel then dropped it to one side. “I don’t think I’ve ever got so wet so fast,” he said, trying and failing to flatten his now fluffed up hair.
“It was fun,” I said. “I’d forgotten how much I like to splash through puddles or how much I enjoy a good storm.”
As I’d said the last word a tremendous boom, accompanied by white light, filled my flat.
I jumped and let out a slightly hysterical squeak. “Well, that’s maybe a bit too close for comfort.”
Ruben smiled, but then the smile fell. His gaze dipped and he stepped up to me. “Did you know your blouse is see-­‐through?”
“Is it?” I glanced down, automatically pressing my arm over my breasts.
He caught my hand, tugged it to my side. “The best type of blouse as far as I’m concerned.”
My white blouse had indeed turned transparent, highlighting my white cotton bra and the small pebbles my nipples had become in the cool rain. I could just make them out, dark disks beneath white material.
“Ruben, I...”
Suddenly I was face-­‐to-­‐face with him. He’d picked me up, arms tight around my body and our chests pressing together. My bare feet were dangling.
I put my hands on his shoulders and stared at his face. His lashes were still heavy with water and had become tiny triangular points. A large drip was rolling from his right temple into the fuzz of hair by his ear.
“I think it’s time,” he said, his lips almost touching mine. “To pay my debt.”
Beneath his wet clothes, his body felt hot and hard. There was also a seriously sexy glint in his eye that held determination and lust—a delicious combination.
I pushed my hands through his damp hair and kissed him. Was vaguely aware of him walking, heading to my bedroom, as our tongues weaved together. I slanted my head, deepened the kiss, and he moaned gently, feeding me more of what I wanted.
Ruben Strong.
He set me on the edge of the bed, his mouth not leaving mine. I was wet, turned on, scared and excited. It was like living in a cloud, someone else’s life. But it was mine. My life. And I was here with Ruben, gorgeous Ruben who was acting like he was more than ready to give me what I was owed.
He kissed across my cheek, his hands busy roaming down my chest and my stomach, seeking out my fly button.
I tugged at his top, wanting the wet material out of our way.
He paused to fist it between his shoulder blades and drag it over his head. His chest was beautiful, the hair damp and flat with rain, his nipples, like mine, taut and hard. I looked at the scar, smooth and pink, and the neat trail of hair that feathered across his stomach and disappeared into his jeans.
“Say yes,” he said, kissing my right breast through my top and bra. “Katie, say yes.”
“Yes,” I murmured, laying fully back and trying to push at my trousers. “Yes, Ruben, yes.”
He kneeled between my legs, helped me drag my jeans past my hips and over my buttocks. Peeling away the tight material that was clinging to my skin. He worked fast, his hands gripping and tugging the denim downward.
Eventually they bunched at my ankles and with a final jerk were off.
He shoved them aside and kissed my knee then my thigh, his lips and hands warm on my cool, damp flesh.

I hope you enjoyed reading a little about Breathe You In. You can grab a copy from Amazon US or Amazon UK for just $0.99/77p! Read another excellent review here and if you want to chat to me about this sexy novel then just leave me a comment.

Have a wonderful day and thank you for stopping by The Brit Babes blog.

Lily x


3 comments:

  1. Great post as ever Lily!! Odd seeing the John Radcliffe hospital sign! That is where my youngest was born- at 3am- there was no heating, and I got hypothermia- happy days!! xxx

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    1. Oh dear!

      I seem to remember, Kay you were one of the first people I told about my plan to write Breathe You In (over a glass of wine in London if memory serves me right!) and your enthusiasm for this unusual story line spurred me on, so thank you :)

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  2. I just finished this book last night - I loved it! I was tense and excited all the way through - can't say any more - don't want to spoil anything x x x bravo Lilyloo

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