When journalist Iris Ellis visits a sleepy seaside town to interview recluse screenwriter Paul Archer, he offers her insights into never acted upon fantasies of dominance and submission. Too curious to deny herself a taste of them, Iris gives herself up to Paul’s gentle guidance, but when she realizes that a taste can never be enough, she must find the courage to ask for what she needs or risk losing it all.
Called a “gem for fans of BDSM romance and the perfect starting point for readers new to the genre” by RT Book Reviews, Driftwood Deeds is a novella of sexual awakening as well as consent and communication in bdsm.
After the dream-like quality of Iris’ visit at Paul’s sea-side home, she is back in the routine and drudgery of her city life. Struggling to put a label on what they have together, they phone and write letters, trying to sustain the flame, until they can make time to be in each other’s arms again. But once they are, how do you pull back into proportions a love so magnified it burns?
In this last installment in the Breaking in Waves series, Paul takes the helm and tells the story of how he and Iris move in together. Two decades of a bachelor’s lifestyle are not easy to merge into a life together, and Paul goes on a journey of embracing Iris in his seaside world. Without holding back and without fear.
Welcome Laila! Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.
Hello Harlie, thank you so much for having me!
I’m Laila, born and raised in Germany and I’m just a few months south of thirty. I studied to be a translator because I always wanted to be a writer and in my less courageous days, I thought there wasn’t much chance to make it, and this was the best compromise. I still love translating, but I’ve found ways to be a writer, too. I’ve been published with a few different houses, and have short stories in several anthologies, but it’s in self-publishing with my friend L.C. Spoering that I think I’ve found the best and most fulfilling way for me to reach my readers. So, when I’m not at the office and working on my day job, that’s pretty much how I spend most of my time.
Is Saltwater Skin a single title, or part of a series?
It’s the final part of a series – the Breaking in Waves Series, which started with Driftwood Deeds and Trading Tides. It’s the story of Iris – a young media journalist, and Paul – a hermit screenwriter, who find themselves attracted to each other and then try to figure out how to bridge an age gap, expectations and distance to be together and make each other happy.
What were your inspirations for the story?
Driftwood Deeds started very much as a concept piece. It’s a complete rewrite of a novella I wrote when I was nineteen and that meant a lot to me at the time. It was the first piece I ever finished an it was an examination of female sexuality for me that taught me a lot of things.
So this Driftwood Deeds was supposed to do the same, except I was older when I wrote it again and I did have publication in mind. It wasn’t about the characters or even the story – it was supposed to be a novella about one sexual experience that set something in motion within the protagonists. An exploration of consent, kindness in bdsm. I wanted to write about normal people, with normal incomes, normal looks, who enjoy their sexuality – just like everybody else can.
Please share your setting for Breaking in Waves. Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most?
Driftwood Deeds and Saltwater Skin are set on the English coast. I borrowed heavily from a place I visited with an ex-boyfriend many years ago – the desolate beaches, dying fishing villages in a society that’s moved on. I’ve always felt really inspired by the ocean, and the mood and the saltwater definitely colored the series.
When did the writing bug first bite?
When I was a young kid. I always wrote – I remember that everything accelerated when we first got a computer. I started writing fantasy stories and showed them to my parents. I also wrote a lot of sad poems about the boys I liked in school and then as a teenager, I discovered lord of the rings fan fiction and spent some time in that arena until I got bored and wanted to write my own stuff again.
Who are you favorite authors, book/series?
In my spare time I mostly read mainstream and literary fiction. I especially love authors who blur the line between genre and literature like Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, Philip K. Dick and so many others. And I have a very special place in my heart for transformative middle grade fiction like Michael Ende, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S Lewis, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – books for children and teens that are also magical and rewarding for adults to read.
If you could have an author roundtable discussion with any authors, who would you invite?
Michael Ende, Margaret Atwood, Nick Hornby, Isabel Allende and Kurt Vonnegut back from the dead.
Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?
The is so much, actually, but ever since I’ve taken writing to this level, I’ve had so little time. I like stone carving and I play the guitar. I also really like photography. But these days I tend to spend my free time reading or relaxing with a tv-show :).
What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen?
I like to go on youtube and watch talks or documentaries about strange things, novel ideas, fringe science and conspiracies. I find it really inspiriting to my writing and my imagination – among those are definitely the strangest things I’ve heard. Abductions, bigfoot, the Dyatlov pass incident, the Voynich manuscript… there are some wild ideas out there.
This was fun, thank you so much! 🙂
About the author:
Laila Blake (lailablake.com) is an author, linguist and translator. She writes character-driven love stories, co-hosts the podcast Lilt and blogs about writing, feminism and society.
Her work has been featured in numerous anthologies. Keeping a balance between her different interests, Laila Blake’s body of work encompasses literary erotica, romance, and various fields in speculative fiction (dystopian/post-apocalypse, fantasy, paranormal romance and urban fantasy) and she adores finding ways to mix and match.
A self-proclaimed nerd, she lives in Cologne/Germany with her cat Nookie, harbors a deep fondness for obscure folk singers and plays the guitar. She loves photography, science documentaries and classic literature, as well as Doctor Who, Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory.
You can find her across the web. To stay up to date with her most recent publications, please consider signing up for her spam-free newsletter.
If I was writing a film about us, my kitchen would be the central location. Good sex and good cooking are linked for me, inextricably together. They trigger the same areas of the brain– taste and smell and texture and pleasure. I think of sex when I eat good food, and I want good food when I lie there spent after an orgasm, something full of life and flavor and color to recuperate and start again.
We’ve always spent a lot of a time here. In varying states of undress.
She feels it too, I think. That’s why her breathing is a little shallow. That’s why she steals a slice of zucchini as I layer it piece by piece between the eggplant, the yellow squash and the bright tomatoes. She has that glint in her eyes, small and wicked, and even now, after all this time, she looks hesitant when she tries to push boundaries. She still stops short of actually pushing them.
Iris loves to be good, to be praised, to be my beautiful, precious girl. She hates displeasing me, even as a game. But neither can she come out and ask for it, tell me about the tingling between her legs, the longing, the ache that only the crack of my belt can mend. And so she steals bits of zucchini, or switches the radio away from my favorite station just as we drive into my street. She criticizes books she knows I love, or picks them up and leaves them on a different shelf– like I had any order in mind to begin with. They are little things, so minor I would miss them all the time, if it wasn’t for that look in her eyes.
It’s the look of guilt and desire, of fighting against her nature and fearing the consequences she’s trying to induce. It’s a look that makes my cock hard, that squeezes my chest almost painfully.
I listen to the zucchini crunch between her teeth. She eats it slowly, eyeing my profile as though wondering if I noticed anything at all. Sometimes I like to indulge her, I like to give her what she wants even though she can’t ask for it, even though she’s trying to manipulate the circumstances. It feels good sometimes, to let her out to play.
Today I don’t.
She picks the next slice out of the casserole, right out from between a slice of tomato and a slice of yellow squash, where they nestle in colorful stripes. She knows I can’t miss this one, and her hand hovers there a moment too long, just like she’s waiting for me to catch up and slap it away. But again, I don’t.
I watch her bring the slice to her mouth from the corner of my eyes. She places it on her tongue like a communion wafer, with intensity and slow purpose. She shudders; it’s a marvel to watch that change. A few seconds ago, she was my sweet girl, leaning next to me, relaxed and happy. Now, she’s strung tight, nervous and needy, like she exchanged her body for a different one.
“Are you bored?” I ask her. I look down at the pattern of vegetable slices, at the spot where she messed it up. When I drag my gaze up to her face, there are red spots on her neck, white teeth-marks on her lower lip.
So instead of reviewing the books separately, I’ll be doing an overall review of the series. So be patient with me.
First things first…this is Harlie from Harlie’s Books. Wondering why I’m not reviewing it for the review blog? Well, its complicated but I’ll make it brief. For some reason my followers have fallen out of favor with BDSM. I guess they got the FSOG hangover or the book ruined the genre for them. I will admit that I never read the series, nor will I ever. I don’t read bad books regardless of the genre and I was told by a fellow reviewer to save my Kindle and my sanity, don’t ever read them. Now that the movie has come out…nope, still not interested.
I love the genre when its written realistically and emotional. Plus, the plot has to make sense and the kink comes later. I need to feel the emotions from both the hero and heroine. Not just the “you’ll be screaming your orgasms” throughout the book. I’m not one for the dungeon scenes so that cuts out a lot of books for me, too. I think that sex is between the parties involved and should stay that way…no matter what you are doing and with whom.
What Ms. Blake has done with Paul and Iris’ story is breathtaking. It’s about two real people with real problems. It deals with an age difference, physical distance between them, their jobs, and Iris coming into her own as a sexual woman. I got into their heads when it came to it. I don’t live the lifestyle so when I read a book in the genre, I like to know how it felt. What it was like. Could I give up control like that? Ms. Blake does all that in the series and more.
Sure this is a series that features BDSM but its much more than that. It’s about two very different people who fall in love with each other, AS PEOPLE, and the sex part comes later. Again, real people with real problems. They have to work it out separately and then together. Which makes for a much richer and deeper story. The book is sexy and hot but it’s not sex scene after sex scene just for the sake of the scenes. Every word, scene and even the setting are woven together for the whole story.
Please read the books in order. It makes better sense and you will really understand the characters better. They are not long, drawn out books but once you get started it will be hard to put down. Also, the last book in the series, Saltwater Skin is told from Paul’s POV and its the perfect ending to the series. Don’t let the theme of the book put you off. I have a new author to read after reading this series.
I fell in love with Ms. Blake’s voice, writing and most of all her characters. There is so much to be said about a “character” book and getting to know Iris and Paul was a dream come true for me.