Tag Archives: breathe you in

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. http://www.lilyharlem.com/madam-president.htm

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 http://www.amazon.com/That-Filthy-Book-ebook/dp/B008G6RYF4/ref=pd_sim_kstore_25 . 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 http://www.ellorascave.com/shared.html  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 – http://www.lilyharlem.com/sexy-as-hell.html

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 http://www.lilyharlem.com/hot-ice.html   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?


Website http://www.lilyharlem.com/

Blog http://www.lilyharlem.blogspot.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/lily_harlem

Facebook http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/Lily-Harlem/100003519563064

Facebook author page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lily-Harlem-author-page/200182030094568

Pinterest http://pinterest.com/lilyharlem/

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4070110.Lily_Harlem

Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/106837751333678531161/posts

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.

breathe you in, by lily harlem


Thanks so much for having me on your lovely blog today, Alisa, it’s great to be here. Since it’s my first visit, a little about me. I’m a UK author of erotic romance and write for several publishing houses on both sides of the Atlantic including Mischief at HarperCollins and Ellora’s Cave.

Before I started writing, about five years ago, I worked as a nurse in a busy London hospital, but a move to the countryside meant a slow down in my previously frantic pace of life and now I love to rescue animals –dogs, cats, rabbits and the odd pony – and spend my days immersed in my imagination and writing sexy stories. I do have a wonderful, constant source of inspiration and that is Mr Harlem and he copes brilliantly with my frequent requests for research!

My latest novel Breathe You In is a sexy romance about love, loss and hope. It’s softer on kink and fantasy than some of my other novels but this is a book that just called to me. When I was working as a nurse I spent some time as a junior member of staff in an operating theatre. It was the cardiac suite and I was privileged enough to witness some very major, life saving and life changing surgeries. This gave rise, all these years later, to a story about a girl who falls in love with the man who has received her dead husband’s transplanted heart — a unique concept for sure, and one that allowed me, as an author, to play with a whole host of different scenarios and emotions. Feelings are tangled, memories twisted and lies are told in Breathe You In.

When it came to choosing a location I picked Northampton, England. A quiet market town in the center of the country that is home to Silverstone Race Circuit. There is something very sexy about racing drivers and their teams, they’re speed demons, adrenaline junkies, they defy death, and I wanted this high octane sport to be a foundation for my hero, Ruben’s, character. I’ve been to Silverstone a few times, the atmosphere is electric, the sound of the Formula One cars deafening and disorientating when they whizz past, so I really enjoyed adding this into the story.

Of course then there is the sex! In Breathe You In there is so much new intimacy to explore and for my characters to experience — sex after trauma, sex after loss, sex with someone new, sex when you want to take it slow and also when you just can’t wait another moment to get sweaty and naked. Both Ruben and Katie are incredibly sexy and keen to get down and dirty, but it takes a while, it’s a slow burn to satisfaction which means when it happens, it’s explosive, and then it explodes again and again!

I hope you’ll check out Breathe You In, it’s getting some 5* great reviews on Amazon…

“I will NEVER forget this story. It’s one of those that will haunt my mind for years to come.”

“The writing is wonderful, the setting so vivid, and the relationship between this couple as it grows is so very real, so…just so brilliant.”


Sometimes you don’t realize how special a moment is until it’s a memory.

When he held me in his arms I saw a handsome, vibrant man with desire in his eyes and love in his heart. But Ruben Strong was more than that; he was a way out of my darkness, a glimmer of light peeking through my shroud—he was a piece of what I no longer had.

What he didn’t know, but I did, was that he’d been waiting for me. It had taken me time and courage to go looking for him, but if I hadn’t done what I’d done on my bleakest day, he wouldn’t have been there for me to find.

My tumbling decisions led to a meeting that tipped everything I thought I knew about myself upside down. While we were lying warm and naked in his bed, my old memories became new ones and our souls talked to each other in a way only we could understand. And our bodies, once we were brave enough to hum a quiet tune, quickly produced a beautifully sexy song that threw open the doors to love and laughter in my life once more.


My new flat felt alive, as if it were a real home. The sweet, grassy breeze ambled from the living room to the kitchen. The pan on the stove was bubbling away, creating steam that clung to the window. The tangy smell of the onions I’d fried filled my nose, and I could hear the TV, only the news, someone talking, but knowing Ruben was in the living room, that it wouldn’t be empty and soulless when I moved from one room to the other, created a feeling of hope in me—one that made me warm and content for the first time in a long time.

I also felt I knew Ruben better for having seen a glimpse into his old life. Understood how much he’d had to change because of his illness. Maybe he was right. Perhaps he would go back to his old job one day. Return to a wild, hedonistic, fast life of racing and globe trotting and leggy women with perfect bodies. I couldn’t show him my old life, or ever go back to it, but it had been nice to see his.

I flicked the pasta off the boil and stood in the kitchen doorway, one hand on the frame, pushing my hair from my face with the other.

Ruben looked up. Stared at me. He pulled in a deep breath and frowned.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yes, I…”

I didn’t move. “What?”

“It’s just…”

“Tell me?”

He smiled. “You’ll think I’m being stupid.”

“No I won’t.”

“I had a dream last night, it just came back to me, really vivid.”

“What was it about?” I straightened.


“Me?” I couldn’t deny the little thrill that word gave me, to think I’d been in this handsome man’s dream.

“You were stood, just like that, in a doorway, holding the side, fiddling with your hair.”

“Whose doorway?”

He silenced the TV. Put the remote on the tall table by the sofa. “Mine. My bedroom.”

“I see.”

He trailed his gaze down my body. Licked his lips.

“And what was I wearing?” I asked. Part of me was desperate to know, the other part afraid to ask. This was a new way for me to be with anyone other than Matt.

“White,” he said. “You were in white.”

“A dress?”

He smiled, shook his head. “Oh, no, white stockings with lace around your thighs. White teeny, tiny knickers and a corset‐style top, you know that…” He put his cupped hands on his chest and smiled. “That made you look really pretty here.”

“Sounds like a very detailed dream.”

“It was. It was hot.” He nodded, bit on his bottom lip. “You were hot.”

A tremble started in my stomach and moved lower. Ruben thought I was hot. Hot enough to dream in detail about me. That in itself was like being kissed passionately. It turned my attraction for him to top level; it made me feel like the woman I had been once.

I even remembered a white outfit like that. It was something I’d taken on honeymoon to surprise Matt with one night. I could almost see his face again. His eyes instantly heavy with lust, his lips moist where he’d licked them the moment I’d appeared in the doorway.

Ruben was wearing the same look now, and he shifted on the sofa the same way Matt had shifted on the bed.

Taking a deep breath, I walked toward Ruben, wishing I had that outfit on, and straddled his lap. I dug my knees into the cushions and I rested my hands on his shoulders, let my bum settle on his thighs.

“Tell me more?” I said in what I hoped was a suitably sexy voice.

Ruben swallowed, frowned a little and looked into my eyes. “We were alone, there was only us there. It was warm, you smelled of fruit—papaya, melon, all things sweet.”

I smiled. “This is a very specific dream.”

He touched my cheek with the back of his index finger. “I know, and it’s all flooding back to me like it was a real memory.”

“Maybe we should make it real, one day.”

“I’d like that.” He leaned forward and touched his lips to mine. “You have no idea how gorgeous you are, do you?” he said with a smile.

“I’m not gorgeous, not really.”

He jerked his head. “Why would you say that?”

“Well, the women you must have had, you know, when you and Dean Cudditch were out together, swanning around glamorous places.”

“That was just fun. Messing about, there was never anyone serious. I was too busy traveling the world, being part of the winning team.”

“But weren’t they…?”

“They weren’t you. Katie. Matt must have told you all the time how beautiful you are. I get the impression from you that he was a great bloke, a wonderful husband who made you feel special and treasured.”

I nodded. “He was, he did, but…” I glanced downward, kept that delicate balance of mine on the straight and narrow. “But now, well, I’m a bit thinner than I was and smiles don’t come so easy.”

“I’ve seen you smile plenty since I met you, and each one has gone into my happy memory bank.”

His words made me smile again.

“See, beautiful,” he said.

“Thank you. It’s nice to hear someone say that.”

“It’s nice to have a sexy woman sitting on my lap.” He kissed me, softly, and stroked his fingers through my hair.

I broke the kiss and touched his hair too. I loved the longish strands and the way they flowed through my fingers like fluid silk.

He slid his hands down the column of my neck and reached for the first button on my work blouse. As he undid it, his smile slipped, and his eyebrows hung heavy in concentration.

My heart tripped. My nipples tightened. The dark look in his eyes was so sexy it went straight to my head, like a shot of alcohol.

He undid the next button, and the next, his jaw seeming to get tenser with each twist of his fingers.

I sat absolutely still, the tops of his thighs pressing into the backs of mine. Watching his face, each blink, each slight twitch of his cheek and the way he dampened his lower lip with the tip of his tongue. It was all making me want to grab him for a kiss but equally kept me frozen, fascinated.

When all the buttons were undone, he looked up at my face. It was a silent question.

I glanced out of the window—nothing but treetops.

I nodded.

Carefully, he slid the blouse off my shoulders, revealing my white lacy bra. It had a small daisy in the center of the cups and one at the base of each strap.

“That’s so much better than my dream,” he whispered, his breath like a caress on my chest. “And you are perfect.”

Words danced on my tongue. Words that wanted to explain that I used to be a cup size bigger and filled out my bra better. That maybe I would again one day. But I held them in, swallowed them down. They had no place in this moment with Ruben. Besides, he looked happy with what he saw.

I reached behind myself, unclipped the hook of my bra, let it fall open, but then held it in place with one arm across my chest.

“Katie, if you want to wait…?”

“No, this is fine. More than fine, I want this.” I let the straps slide off my arms and tossed the bra to the floor. “It feels right with you.”

And it did. I’d worried that I’d feel like an adulterous woman being with another man. But with Ruben, well, it was different. Matt was part of it. Part of Ruben. Part of us.

Ruben collected the slight weight of the undersides of my breasts in his hands. Watching his own movements, he parted his lips and his features softened.

His touch was electric and sent a plethora of forgotten sensations blasting through my chest, spiking my nipples and making my flesh feel heavy and engorged.

I pressed into him, just a little, needing more but not wanting to appear greedy. Fearing if I did that, I’d push myself into a wall and cause the bubble to shatter.

He rubbed his thumbs over my nipples. They were tiny stalks, erect and tight. I stuttered in a breath, the stimulation arousing and wonderful.

He glanced up at me. “Are you okay?”

I nodded. “Yes, I like you touching me.”

“I like touching you.” The left side of his mouth rose into a languid half grin.

He moved his right hand to the center of my back. Held me firm as he leaned forward and took my left nipple into his mouth.

I gasped and ran my hands into his hair, held him close and arched my spine. Damn, it had been so long since I’d enjoyed this feeling. It was heavenly. Releasing a breath, I watched as the huff of air from my lungs shifted the hair on the top of his head. He moved to the other breast, feeding my nipple into his mouth and tweaking it with his tongue. He massaged and gently squeezed the now damp breast he’d just given attention to.

A type of fever was growing in me. But it was fever of the good kind. Between my legs felt heavy, needy. I had the urge to move just a fraction farther forward in Ruben’s lap and see if the erection I suspected was there was as hard as it had been yesterday.

I stayed still.

Ruben kissed up my sternum, my neck, and found my mouth. He was still fondling my right breast as he kissed me, wetly, hungrily and with a little less control than yesterday.

Running my hand down his chest and over his belly, I found his groin. The folds of denim could do nothing to hide the swell of his hard cock. I itched to hold it, release it. Learn the shape and weight of him the way he’d just done to me. I popped the top button, but as I did so, he grabbed my wrist, pulled back from our kiss.

“Katie,” he said slightly breathlessly.

“What’s wrong?” I stilled.

He looked away.

“We can be ourselves together,” I said gently. “Tell me.”

“I like that.” He gently pinched my chin with his fingers and thumb.


“That there is a ‘we’. Us together.”

“Me too.” I grazed my lips over his. “So tell me.”

He nodded and released my wrist. “It’s just, well, I want you to do whatever it is you want to do, but…”
He shut his eyes, as though frustrated with himself.

“But what?”

“But, well, I won’t deny it, I’m a bit anxious, you know, about doing this, with this.” He placed his hand on his chest.

“With your new heart?”

He nodded.

I took hold of the bottom of his t-shirt and peeled it up and over his head, threw it down by my bra. “This heart,” I said, placing a kiss over his scar, “is a good, strong heart that can handle me just fine.”

“I’m sure it will be okay it’s just…”

“You want to take it slow?” I shrugged. “I want to take it slow too. We don’t have to go all the way, not if it’s too soon. We can have some other fun.”

“God, you must think I’m a wimp.” A flash of wounded pride crossed his face.

“There’s nothing wimpy about that package you’ve got in your pants, mister. It’s feeling like a whole lot of hot, hard man to me.”

He laughed. “You always say the right thing, you know that?”

I smiled and pressed my palm over his cock, squeezed through the denim.

His face fell serious. “That feels good. Your hand on me.”

“I can make it feel even better, if you want me to.”

He paused, then nodded. “Yes. That’s what I want.”

I wriggled and slipped between his legs, so mine were folded on the floor and my shoulders were between his thighs. I began to undo the buttons on his jeans.



Buy Links for Breathe You In

Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CEIXC2E

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Breathe-You-In-ebook/dp/B00CEIXC2E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366268167&sr=8-1&keywords=breathe+you+in+by+lily+harlem

Lily Harlem Links

Website http://www.lilyharlem.com/

Blog http://www.lilyharlem.blogspot.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/lily_harlem

Facebook http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/Lily-Harlem/100003519563064

Facebook author page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lily-Harlem-author-page/200182030094568

Pinterest http://pinterest.com/lilyharlem/

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4070110.Lily_Harlem

Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/106837751333678531161/posts