sinful sunday book reviews & interview sessions: lily harlem, breathe you in


Pain…suffering…gaping, honest, emotional…raw. Just some of the feelings I came away with after reading Breathe You In, an erotic romance novel by Lily Harlem.

After a construction accident rips the life of her husband Matt away, Katie is forced to rebuild the pieces of her life, and isn’t doing the best job of succeeding. For years she pines away, mentally, physically and spiritually for the one man who claimed her heart and is convinced no one ever will again. Until Ruben.

 Ever since she donated her husband’s organs, Katie desired to find the person who received her husband’s heart. For closure, for a chance to see some part of her husband live on, to me, maybe a little of both.

 In some ways, this story reminded me of the movie, seven pounds, where will smith plays a character that loses his wife and the lives of several other people because of a careless text. Unable to really deal with his grief, he uses his brother’s IRS job to get contact information for people he interviews and eventually donates his own organs to, managing to fall in love with the person who ultimately receives his heart. Obviously not the exact same thing, but can you see some of the similarities?

 Ruben is a former Formula One mechanic, used to living the fast life; until he has to literally slow down to save his life. He had no idea Katie is the one responsible for doing just that.

 She connects with Ruben with a sexual intensity she hasn’t felt since her husband, and Harlem does an amazing job with Katie’s internal struggle over who she really loves, Ruben or the idea of Matt’s heart being in Ruben. Obviously the decision not to tell him who she was isn’t the best one, and at some point she has to face the music and answer for her choices.

 A terrific story of grief, love and loss, and the road to finding happiness…and redemption.

 **DISCLAIMER** Scha-mokin’ hot book provided by uber cool author for completely shameless plug…I mean…um, honest review. Additional snark provided freely, and at no extra charge. =0)

Lily also stopped by today for an absolutely informative, fun and completely awesome interview…take it away woman!

Describe your novel in seven words or less?

Finding love after loss, life after death.

Fictional crush?

Henry from the Time Traveller’s Wife. I fell for him hook, line and sinker when I read the book and then when I watched the film, that was it, smitten. There is something endearing and vulnerable, sexy and yet out of reach about him. Wonderful story, I’ve read it several times over, the uniqueness and the clever way his condition is portrayed as reality never fails to captivate me.

When did you start writing erotic fiction?

About five years ago. I was studying creative writing and entered a competition run by Love Honey, an online sex shop, with the first piece of erotica I ever tried my hand at. Much to my astonishment and delight I won first place with my steamy liaison in the Oval Office between the first female President of the United States and the British Prime Minister – you can read it for FREE on my website.

Erica Jong says she loves the word cunt and wishes she could “rehabilitate” the word and make it beautiful again. Do you feel the same way about some of the words you use in your stories?

I agree with Erica Jong, historically the word cunt has strong female connotations that are empowering and respectful, it’s not so much that way anymore, but I try and use ‘cunt’ carefully in my writing, so that it’s not shocking but part of the story/dialogue. I also love British words/expressions, for example in my WIP the English heroine walks into a hotel in Venice and is incredibly impressed and states that the lobby was  ‘the bees-bloody-knees’. It might sound odd to foreign ears but it makes so much sense and I love that it shows the kind of character she is.

“Desire lives longer inside of love.” Agree or disagree?

I completely agree, which is why I co-wrote That Filthy Book with Natalie Dae last year . Both of us have been with our partners for a long time and we felt very strongly that desire grew not just with time but also with commitment and honesty, and within that a safe space could be created where fantasies are explored, even edgy, taboo ones, without the fear of being laughed at or judged. It’s a steamy, raw book that has had some amazing 5* reviews, including one that said ‘Every woman should read this book”.

Is a polyamorous relationship just a fantasy or can it truly be successful?

I believe it can be successful, but the key word has to be honesty. My first published work with Ellora’s Cave was called Shared  and was about a threesome. I became fascinated once I’d finished it about the long term happy ever after and wrote the sequel, Shared Too. The sequel proved to be a bit like Marmite, people either loved it or hated it because one of the characters decided he wanted to be ‘shared too’. I used the honesty thread to link the plot and the characters together, and no matter what they did, or said, they were always honest with each other about their feelings. It proved to be strong glue and I adored Quinn, Liam and Ariane’s story and relationship.

What does indie publishing allow that traditional publishing does not, specifically with regards to erotic romance?

I publish through traditional publishers and self-publish. Breathe You In is a self-published erotic romance novel. The main difference between the two in the erotica genre is an author can write near the edge in terms of what is normally acceptable, not only that they can tip over it, more than flirt with the taboos without a publisher shaking their head at them. Of course this can go either way for the reader, it might shock their pants off, or it might be just the fiction they are looking for. Breathe You In isn’t edgy, or even very kinky (though it is explicit) but I enjoyed taking the story exactly where I wanted to, without any restrictions or character changes.

What is the most erotic sex scene you have ever written or read?

I’m writing it now in another co-authored novel with Natalie Dae. It’s the final book in a BDSM trilogy called Sexy as Hell and the whole series will be out next month. The heroine has lots of skeletons in her closet that are being dealt with by her Virgin, Victor. Want to know more? Here’s the link –

Advice for the newbies just entering the realm of erotic romance?

I have page on my website that might be of interest –

How do you describe sex scenes and keep them from becoming repetitive?

By keeping it about the characters, their history, how special that moment is to them as individuals and why. There are only so many ways you can describe the actual act, but the people doing it, there are a million reasons why they are there, together, enjoying what they’re doing – put down the details and above all use dialogue; talking while having sex is so sexy and a wonderful tool for authors.

Which of the characters in your erotic romance/erotica would you most want to run away with for a weekend?

Oh, such a hard question, but can I have two? Raven and Todd from Teamwork. Two hunky, brooding, sexy hockey players who work as well together off the ice as on it.  They are so hot together yet so different and Fiona is one hell of a lucky girl! Teamwork is the fourth book in my Hot Ice series   all about those bad boys of the ice, and to be honest, I wouldn’t say no to any one of them on the fictional Vipers team turning up on my doorstep!

Any additional info you would like to share with your readers about what’s next for you and your books? And, where can readers stalk…um…I mean, find you?






Facebook author page




About the Author


Lily Harlem is a multi-published, award-winning author of contemporary erotic romance. She lives in the UK and writes for several publishing houses, including Ellora’s Cave, Total-E-Bound, Mischief at HarperCollins, Sweetmeats Press and Xcite.

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