Friday, May 16, 2014

Guardian Girl by NC Simmons


Amazon Book Description:
August 28, 1980. It's move-in day at Manhattan's elite, women-only, Paulson College. Nervous freshmen are settling in and meeting their new roommates for the first time. Will she be a bookworm or a party girl? A slob or a neat freak? Will I like her? Will she like me?

Tennis star Lena Sardi doesn't care what her roommate is like as long as she's normal. Lena's life has been practice, study, practice, play since she was a child. She just wants to go to college, meet a nice, no-drama roommate, and build a legal career to fall back on when her always-suspect forehand finally gives out.

Inside 1426 Stilson Hall, Spanish supermodel Lenore De La Fuente has moved in and rearranged the furniture. Her bed is made. Her desk is clutter-free. Her designer-made clothes are hung neatly in her closet. She awaits the arrival of her roommate, dreaming of having just one girlfriend she can finally confide in, a girl she can share her hopes and secrets with and maybe have a little fun with for a change.

The tantrum-throwing tennis pro and the OCD runway cat are about to become the oddest couple of all.

A few miles up the Hudson...

The Prince of Madison Avenue is accepting a burdensome bequest. He is the sole heir to his family's fortune and the secluded estate known as "Staffordshire." But deep within Staffordshire's underbelly a twisted legacy lurks in the shadows. The prince's hands are tied. For the man dreaming of escaping his family's predilection for kink, murky obligations will interfere. To secure his inheritance, The Prince must one day find and wed a woman with a healthy appreciation for the sublime joys of "discipline."

Love is optional.

Paulson's Princesses and Staffordshire's Prince are fated to collide.

Sorry, Lena. Your dreams of "normal" are about to take a very muddy detour...

Author Interview:
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Yes, I’ve wanted to be an author for years and I had always hoped to publish a novel.  I write as a profession, but it’s different than letting my imagination run free with fictional characters.  I’ve written dozens of short stories over the years but never did anything with them.  Then a few years ago I got up the nerve to actually write a novel and my dream finally came true.  Once I started it just flowed so quickly.  It’s so easy to be self-published now, even novices can get their chance.

Will you have a new book coming out soon? Can you tell us about it?
Yes.  I have two new books coming out this summer.

The first one, “The Civilian,” is the final installment of “The Chronicles of Staffordshire.”  It’s almost 40 years since the two roommates first met in “Guardian Girl,” and the daughter of the one roommate has finally become the Mistress of her family estate.  To the rest of the world she’s an internationally famous attorney, equestrian, and philanthropist.  Only her inner circle knows that she has a staff full of subs and slaves.  She has all the sex she could possibly want, and has a reputation for being a sex-crazed playgirl, but she still hasn’t found one man to love.  One day she meets and falls in love with a man from outside her usual circle of lovers.  When The Mistress and her girlfriends come up with a scheme to introduce “Mr. Normal” to her kinky side, things get a little crazy.

The other book is a psycho-sexual sci-fi drama set in the near future.  It should be out by July 2014.  It’s called ""The Meadow Maker” and It’s about a middle-aged wife and mother of three whose marriage is falling apart because she can no longer let her husband touch her or make love to her.  She heads to a ranch in the wilds of Colorado, to a psychiatrist and geneticist who guarantees to rekindle her libido.  She has a secret that comes out during therapy and it soon puts everyone at the ranch at risk.

Do you have a day job as well?
Why yes.  Yes I do. ;)

Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I start with an Epilogue, return to the Prologue, and then flesh out a loose outline.  It helps me weave twists and turns knowing where I ultimately want to wind up but without knowing exactly what will happen on the journey.  The other thing I like to do is create diary entries where my characters tell me how they are feeling before, during, and after a pivotal life event.  Then I can go back and craft the scenes around the emotions.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Definitely Arthur Hailey.  I read “Hotel” and “Airport” in my teens and I was hooked by the drama and the way he used words to paint these intricate portraits of these public spaces and all the tangled relationships that passed through their doors.  My father was also a huge fan of Robert Ludlum and I fell in love with his books instead of the Nancy Drew novels most of my friends were reading.  Ludlum’s women were strong and creative, able to stand on their own.  When I read “The Bourne Identity” I fell in love with Ludlum’s style, and pacing, and his way of giving each character verbal nuance. If I could sound like anyone I would want to sound like Ludlum.

Your thoughts on receiving book reviews - the good and the bad -
If a person takes the time to write a review that is thorough, and balanced, and helps me improve my craft, then I appreciate it whether it’s a one star or a five star.  If someone reads my books and loves the stories and they give me a five star review I want to reach out and hug them.  If I read a three star review that says they like they way I write but they can’t relate to my characters then that’s almost as important.  It says they respected my book enough to give my work a thumbs up but they were honest enough to admit that they weren’t really the audience I wanted to reach.  If a person gives me a 1 or 2 star review and says, “This author knows nothing about writing,” but doesn’t give me a general sense of why they said that, I ignore it.  They're just complaining to hear themselves complain.

What makes your book so different from all the books out there?
I wanted to tell a love story between two gifted, empowered women, but since I’m bi-sexual I didn’t want it to be a typical “lesbian love story.”  I also don't like to read about helpless women who need men to “save” them.   I love men who would give their lives for their girls but their girls are strong enough to stand on their own.  So my main characters come to their first meeting already at the top of their respective professions.

Of course I couldn't resist throwing a billionaire into the story, but I didn’t want him to be the typical kinky boy with cash.  I wanted him to be a reluctant part of his family’s BDSM legacy.  I wanted him to be a loving husband and father who tries to create a “normal” world for his family even though holding on to his fortune means he must hold on to his dungeon and all the kink.

What is the hardest and easiest part about being an erotica writer?
The easiest part is imagining new sex scenes.  In a book you can twist your characters into pretzels and they can’t complain.  The hardest part is actually writing a great sex scene.  Sex is such a multi-sensory experience, triggering physiological reactions all over a person’s body.  When you write a great sex scene and someone praises you for it, that’s almost like being told you’re the greatest lover on the planet.  When you write a lousy sex scene and someone says, “that was lame,” it’s almost like being told you're a lousy lover.  It’s also a thousand times harder to write a third-person sex scene than a first-person sex scene because you can’t get inside the character and describe “the heat in my cheeks” or the “gush in my vulva.”  If you're not careful when you write erotica in the third person, it can sound really clinical.  There’s nothing hot or sexy about a gynecological exam.

What was the best writing advice that someone has ever given to you?
Get a good editor!  My first editor was not very thorough and left me to do a lot of the cleanup work myself.  It wasn’t until I bumped into my guardian girl author that I realized just how much work I had left to do.  It’s worth it to spend a little money on a GREAT editor and your book will be far more enjoyable for the reader.

For those who might consider reading your book, what would you tell them to expect?
Be patient.  Expect the unexpected.  The book opens in the early 1980’s, when the characters are freshmen girls just starting college, when women were reluctant to “come out,” even in private.  There is lots of kissing and tease in the early chapters, but no sex at first.  The other thing is that although there is a BDSM undercurrent in “Staffrordshire,” it’s more a backdrop and not central to the plot.  I didn’t care whether I wrote a book that would satisfy BDSM or D/s purists.  I know that “real” BDSM lovers will probably want to paddle me for painting outside the lines.  That’s okay.  I wanted to write about what could happen when someone with a cracked brain played in the BDSM or D/s sandbox. so it’s more fantasy than primer.

My Review:
Guardian Girl gave me some food for thought; enough so that it has made appearances in my dreams. It is the first installment of a four full-length novel series, and so I think that Simmons spent a large portion of this book setting up her entire series. Guardian Girl is almost 400 pages, but by about half way through, we've only seen about two sex scenes. That does not mean there isn't a lot going on in those first 200ish pages: we are getting to know the characters, building intrigue, and setting the scene. What is scant for sex in the first 200 pages is more than compensated for in the latter 200 pages.

When we get to it, there is a whole lot more than just sex going on in Guardian Girl. This is an incredibly honest story with an interesting peek into human psychology. It will open your eyes to the conflicting sides of human sexuality. Where should the line be drawn between a free expression of sexuality and the perverse? Simmons not only explores this question with Lenore, but also with her readers by forcing us to see both sides of her sex-crazed world.

A pivotal theme explored in Guardian Girl is the relationship between Lena and Lenore. This is an intense couple, and almost every scene where the two are featured has a lot of drama. I would have liked to see a chapter that sold me on their romantic relationship as being strong and healthy: it would have been nice to feel like I was routing for them despite their tension. However, I suspect that Simmons intentionally does not give this scene to her readers because she has a plan for this series.

Guardian Girl concludes with a few unanswered questions which are begging for the sequel. This is a book that certainly gains momentum, and if you give it a fair chance to get rolling, it will take you on an interesting journey.

Guarding Girl was gifted to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for trusting me with your work NC Simmons!

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