Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Evolution of my Hot Ice Series

It's no secret that I love to write my Hot Ice series and with the 6th book, MICONDUCT, having its final polish before it hits the shelves I'm hoping that 2014 will be another exciting year for my fictional team the Orlando Vipers.
hot ice
When I wrote the first book HIRED I always had an idea it was going to grow into more than just one novel but I never could have predicted just how many stories would evolve.
hired_msr copy

I, however, unlike a lot of my fellow hockey romance authors, live in the UK. My local team is The Cardiff Devils, who are actually pretty damn good and based in the capital of Wales. I kind of manage to keep up with the NHL online, but I have never been to a match Stateside.
Getting into hockey has been a slow burn for me. Unlike in the US it's still a secondary sport for most UK people, and I would guess a lot of folk wouldn't know the name of their local hockey team. Football (soccer) is a different matter, it is the nation's obsession when it comes to team sport, certainly for the blokes anyway, and, to be honest, more and more women these days - me included! Hence my sexy novel, SCORED, about the English captain, Lewis Tate and a sassy female sports reporter.
SCORED small
So how did I get the hockey bug? Reading of course. I read a few hockey romances and loved them. The descriptions of the sport, the adrenaline, the speed, the smells and sounds completely gripped me. I also became immersed in the heroes and their rough and ready, go for it attitudes as well as their obvious hunkyness. The women who tamed them, snared them, tempted them into their beds were seriously lucky, or so I thought. So when it came for me to write a sporting romance for Ellora's Cave I couldn't help but let my mind wander down the hockey route. That's when Logan 'Phoenix' Taylor came into existence, the star of HIRED.

I'd had this idea brewing about a couple thrown together in a beautiful villa on a desert island. Her having been sent there to stop him from drinking and wallowing in misery, but, and of course there's always a but, he doesn't know that she's been hired for the job of babysitting him. Naturally things get complicated when they find they can't keep their hands off of each other...

It seemed natural to make Logan a hockey player, a sullen, sulky player who's on a week suspension for bad on-ice behaviour. Brooke is a sweet girl who desperately needs money to finance her dreams of being a nurse, she doesn't intend to even talk to the Neanderthal in the corner! Ahem... oh yeah, she does a lot more than talk!

Hired was a great success, winning Best Cover 2010 on D Renee Bagby's blog and Best First Chapter (you can read it here). This success got me thinking about one of the secondary characters in Hired, Brick. He'd been a bit of an ass in book #1 to tell the truth, and gets his butt kicked by Phoenix, but I still felt there was more to him. So I created a feisty, determined heroine for CROSS-CHECKED who literally wanted to hunt him down. You see, Carly is also a world class athlete and used to getting what she wants, however Brick, and the sport of love and lust, proves to be a whole different game for her and she soon finds herself tangled in her own rules! Cross-Checked went on to win Sizzling's Best Sporting Romance Award 2012 which was very exciting and I'll always have a soft spot for Brick.

By this point I was getting more into hockey and had befriended someone involved with Cardiff Devils (who drinks at our local pub).

I write anonymously so didn't tell him about my raunchy interest in the game but was more than happy to dig out details about my local team and chat about their recent wins and defeats and what was going on in the locker room and the players' lounge. All the time we chatted and drank wine I was plotting my next story, SLAP SHOT, which I wanted to make about the captain of my fictional team, The Orlando Vipers.

I quickly decided that I wanted Rick 'Ramrod' Lewis to have a bit of kink when it came to the bedroom, not that my other players didn't have, but this was a more, hence the title. The woman he persuades to join him, Dana, is not looking for romance or even a man in her life, so he has to pull out all the stops to get her but when he does... phew, I loved writing this book! I lost 5k of words at one point which was pretty frustrating, but I went back and re-wrote and in the end was particularly pleased with the intensity of the pole dancing scene.

When it came to book #4, TEAMWORK, I went into what I consider a real comfort zone of mine, menage a trois. My very first novel, SHARED, is a story about a threesome (set in Cardiff believe it or not) and I've always enjoyed going back to 'more in a bed'. Enter Raven Starr and Todd 'Pretty' Carty, they're as talented off the ice as on it when it comes to teamwork.

Although there are threesome scenes, hot, dirty, sweaty threesome scenes in Teamwork, I really liked the idea of using one of my male leads in the next book. M/M is fairly new to me and I will confess that I wasn't sure how I'd manage to portray the difficulties a gay hockey player would have in the US. The news is big about gay athletes coming out of the closet and I wanted to do my characters and plot line justice.

HIGH-STICKED therefore required some online research but I'm thrilled with the end result and judging by readers reviews so are they.

One of the things I've made sure of with my Hot Ice series is that the books can all be enjoyed as standalone reads. Each story focuses on a new player and his journey to happy ever after. But, if they are read in order the star of the next book will have had a cameo appearance in the last, plus the previous characters pop up at parties or games or other events so if you've read them all you'll be able to say hi.

In both Teamwork and High-Sticked the goaltender is briefly mentioned, Dustin 'Speed' Reed and he's the star of book #6 MISCONDUCT, the manuscript I am busy getting all ship, shape ready for launch.

I'm looking forward to this one hitting the shelves, the chemistry between Dustin and Gina, the daughter of The Vipers owner, is explosive, plus he too has his own kinks that he's only too happy to tell her about... oh yum!

So what's next for Hot Ice? Well, I intend to keep on writing as long as people keep on reading. The next book is started, RUSSIAN HEAT, and stars Vadim, featured in Misconduct, and I'm thoroughly looking forward to enjoying a trip to Moscow in my head. After that there will be another player who needs my attention, possibly young Jackson who's had a hard time in Misconduct. One thing is for sure I love my Viper boys through and through and I hope my readers do too!

If you would like to know more here are a bunch of links.

First Chapters Hired Cross-Checked Slap Shot Teamwork High-Sticked

Blurbs - Lily Harlem Website Hot Ice Page

Reviews - Lily Harlem's Rockin' Reviews

More Buy Links

Pinterest - The Real Deal, Hot Ice, High-Sticked

Newsletter sign up - so you know when new Hot Ice books are released!

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