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  • Lynne Shelby

A Sense of Place #5 Alaina Drake - Colorado

Today, Alaina Drake is joining me from America to chat about her new novel Forbidden Touch.

Me: Welcome, Alaina, and congratulations on the publication of Forbidden Touch. What inspired you to write your novel?

Alaina: The idea for this book was born when I was frustrated by what I was reading every night. I was exasperated that some the heroines were lead around by their lust. Most heroes were alpha jerks, and I couldn’t understand their appeal. I set out to write an erotic romance that bridged the gap between literary fiction and erotica (I’m a former English professor, so that was not hard). I wanted it to be smart yet engaging. I wanted thoughtful themes and snappy dialogue with a strong heroine and a confident man able to truly challenge her. That is what I hope is achieved in Forbidden Touch.

Me: My debut novel French Kissing is set in London and Paris, and I often find that I’m inspired to write when I visit a new city or country. Can you tell us a little about the setting of Forbidden Touch?

Alaina: Forbidden Touch is set in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in the university town of Boulder. It is an edgy, new age city with tons of youth who love the outdoors. Rock climbing, hiking, biking, and skiing are popular there. What I find most appealing about Coloradoans is their connection to nature. Many eating spaces and recreational facilities have outdoor spaces that are braved even when there are feet of snow on the ground. The indoor spaces often use natural woods and exposed beams. Large windows frame the mountains next to crackling fires. The line we often draw in our culture between indoors and outdoors is often blurred in Colorado, a theme I enjoyed playing with often.

Me: You obviously know the area very well – do you spend a lot of time there?

Alaina: My family and I try to visit Colorado twice a year, and each time, we find a new state park or trail we never knew existed. I love the freedom of this place, the opportunity it offers to explore nature and reflect on myself. I can’t think of Colorado without remembering the scent of the evergreen forests, the crunch of rocks under my feet on narrow pathways, or the burn of hot apple cider down my throat after a long day’s hike. It is a retreat, a place of peace for me.

Me: Colorado sounds wonderful, Alaina. I shall definitely add it to my list of places I’d like to visit! How important is this beautiful location to your story?

Alaina: Setting is crucial in Forbidden Touch because the couple bonds over their mutual love of hiking and other outdoor activities.

Moreover, I love to play with the theme of climbing a mountain in the novel. I think that engaging in a new romantic relationship is akin to climbing a mountain. My characters, Hannah and Beckett, take that journey together, even though at many times they wish they weren’t. There are happy days full of green grass and trees. There are days full of rocky crags. And, there are the days of peaks and summits. In this way, the setting informs the themes and lessons the characters learn.

The setting is also intimately connected to the time frame of the book, which is early fall through early winter. The deciduous trees’ leaves are all changing and falling, and the air has a cool nip to it, the kind that makes you pull out your favourite sweater and wrap up by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate. Fall is usually seen as a time for ending, but for Hannah and Beckett, their journey starts in the fall, my favourite part of the year.

Me: Are you working on your next book? And can you tell us anything about it?

Alaina: Forbidden Touch is the first book in the four-book Claimed Series, all with Accent Press. The second book is currently with my editor, and I just finished the first draft of the third book. This series follows four women who are roommates in Boulder. Three of them are graduate students, so they are in their late 20’s. Each book is written from one of the women’s perspectives. Each woman approaches romance in a different way, yet their friendship remains steadfast, unchanging. I was adamant as I wrote these books that each woman needed to be whole person, a woman with a career, a woman who had a hobby and interests outside of men, and I remained committed to this goal for each book.

Book Two, Forbidden Temptation, follows roommate Jenn who is attracted to one of her students. The opportunity for conflict is, obviously, enormous, and what I loved about this book was the opportunity to explore the topic of rock climbing. As I am an avid rock climber myself, I was able to add details that feel authentic without feeling like I’m inserting sentences from a non-fiction book. The couple’s rock climbing experiences offer rich opportunities for them to develop trust and communication, and…ahem…chemistry.

Me: I look forward to reading the series, Alaina. Thank you so much for chatting to me, today.

Alaina: Thank you, Lynne, for inviting me to your blog.

Alaina Drake discovered her love of writing in the fourth grade when she won her first young author writing contest. After attaining a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English Literature, she set out to write novels that combine her two loves: erotic romance and classical literature. She has taught literature and writing at both the high school and college levels, and when she’s not writing, you’ll find her watching sports, baking cookies, and, of course, reading way past midnight. She is an avid rock climber and former ballerina, and she finds a lot of connection between the two activities despite their obvious differences. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and daughter. She loves to interact with her fans on Twitter, Facebook, and on her website where she blogs about writing, reading, and the everyday joys of motherhood.

Here is a link to Amazon where Alaina's book can be purchased:

In the US:

In the UK:

Twitter: @alaina_drake


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