STEPHANIE DRAVEN is a bestselling, award-winning and RITA-nominated author of historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance. Her newest project, IT STINGS SO SWEET is a collection of 1920s historical erotic romances that celebrate sex, women, and the Jazz Age. Her most recent novel with Entangled Publishing, IN BED WITH THE OPPOSITION, is a mix of humor and sex-appeal set against the backdrop of a zany political campaign inspired by the career of Baltimore legend William Donald Schaefer. Both novels are fun departures from her more serious Greek mythology-inspired series for Harlequin's Nocturne line, the debut novel of which was nominated by Romantic Times for Best First Series. The series has earned critical praise for its originality and awareness of social issues and garnered the 2012 SWIRL award for excellence in multi-cultural romance literature as well as the CataRomance's Reviewers Choice Award. Writing historical fiction about Cleopatra’s daughter as Stephanie Dray, she won the Golden Leaf Award for SONG OF THE NILE. Stephanie is currently a denizen of Baltimore, that city of ravens and purple night skies. She lives there with her favorite nocturnal creatures–three scheming cats and a deliciously wicked husband. And when she is not busy with dark domestic rituals, she writes her books.
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What Is Marriage?
The Roaring Twenties were a notoriously naughty decade known for short dresses, seductive silent films, and liquor-soaked excesses. Having finally won the right to vote, newly emancipated women felt free to push the boundaries in society and in their bedrooms. Young women attended college, flocked to major cities to find work and lived on their own in numbers never before seen in the history of the nation. Rules for dating changed. Non-marital sex became common. And so-called New Women began to demand and use birth control.
The definition of marriage itself began to change. Exactly what is marriage? That’s the central question at the heart of my new erotic romance novel, IT STINGS SO SWEET. I wasn’t interested in the biblical definition of marriage--and frankly, neither were the flappers of the 1920s. I was interested in the institution of marriage up until that point and how it evolved into a partnership of love and companionship, but also one of sexual fulfillment and exploration.
These days you can’t swing a cat-o-nine-tails without hitting somebody who has read Fifty Shades of Grey and wants to experiment. Kink has gone mainstream. But in the Jazz Age, there wasn’t a vocabulary or a community for women with these urges. That’s what made me want to write about sexploration in the era when, nighttime or daytime, it was always play time...
What is marriage to my first heroine, Nora Richardson? Born into obscene wealth, she was all set to marry the man her father had chosen for her--an heir to a vast fortune that would have united their families and made that fortune grow. But when Nora met her father’s driver and ended up pregnant after a dalliance in the backseat of the new Bentley, the possible scandal affords her an opportunity to marry for love, for lust, and far beneath her social station. It’s her husband who has the greatest difficulty accepting that their love for each other and their uniquely compatible desires make them a law unto themselves within the confines of their bedroom.
What is marriage to my second heroine, Clara Cartwright? This sultry siren of the silent screen never intends to marry. She’s got a reputation as a bad girl, a vamp, and she’s not the marrying kind. She prefers her relationships to be financially rewarding and emotionally uncomplicated. That is, until she meets Leo Vanderberg, a WWI Fighter pilot who has her in his sights. Leo doesn’t care about the scandal sheets or about traditional marriage or even the children that Clara can’t give him. He wants her. He wants them to belong to each other. He wants marriage to be an expression of love and he’s having a devil of a time convincing Clara to see it the same way.
Finally, what is marriage to my third heroine, Sophie O’Brien? This working class shop girl and early feminist sees marriage as a tool of oppression where all the terms favor the man. She has no interest at all in giving up all the causes she believes in to settle down--not even when her billionaire boss seduces her and pops the question. But what Sophie comes to learn is that marriage doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with contracts and rights--it’s not a balancing of accounts or even a piece of paper. And nobody gets a say in her relationship but the man she’s in love with.
They vibrated with incendiary Jazz. They teemed with sexual abandon. The Twenties were roaring and the women–young, open, rebellious, and willing–set the pace and pushed the limits with every man they met…
In the aftermath of a wild, liquor-soaked party, three women from very different social classes are about to live out their forbidden desires.
Society girl, Nora Richardson’s passionate nature has always been a challenge to her ever-patient husband. Now he wants out of the marriage and she has just this one night to win him back. The catch? He wants to punish her for her bad behavior. Nora is offended by her husband’s increasingly depraved demands, but as the night unfolds, she discovers her own true nature and that the line between pain and pleasure is very thin indeed.
Meanwhile, Clara Cartwright, sultry siren of the silent screen, is introduced to a mysterious WWI Flying Ace. If Clara, darling of the scandal sheets, knows anything, it’s men. And she’s known plenty. But none of them push her boundaries like the aviator, who lures her into a ménage with a stranger in a darkened cinema then steals her jaded heart.
Working class girl Sophie O’Brien has more important things on her mind than pleasures of the flesh. But when her playboy boss, the wealthy heir to the Aster family fortune, confronts her with her diary of secret sex fantasies, she could die of shame. To her surprise, he doesn’t fire her; instead, he dares her to re-enact her boldest fantasies and Sophie is utterly seduced.
One party serves as a catalyst of sexual awakening. And in an age when anything goes, three women discover that anything is possible…
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