Monday, January 2, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: Tori St.Claire - STRIPPED

Hi Everyone. Please help me welcome Tori St.Claire to the blog today! She is here to promote her wonderful new erotic suspense romance, Stripped which releases tomorrow. Today Tori is going to talk about the Black Opals from the novel.

“They exist only in shadow. An elite team of deadly operatives
created to satisfy increasing international threats. Their world
is the dark underground, where sin and pleasure dominate and
lies are second nature. To those who cross them, they are professional
killers. Within the CIA, they are the rare Black Opals. . . .”

The Black Opals…

When I wrote Stripped initially (back when it was Romantic Suspense titled Lead Me to Innocence), the Black Opals weren’t part of the story concept.  It was a hot romantic suspense that hit me rather suddenly, and in all honesty, there wasn’t a series truly envisioned.  Not by my definition of “envisioned” which involves spreadsheets, intricate outlines, and pages of scribbles. Ahem!

Then Berkley offered on it as an erotic romantic suspense, and suddenly I realized I had to take this somewhere specific.  Sure, I already thought out that I wanted to do a follow up with some of the characters in this book.  But beyond the base, “So and so has book 2, So and so has book 3,” thought… nada.

It wasn’t until revisions that the Black Opals came to true life.  I needed an organization that was authorized to do whatever it took to get a job done.  A group of people who were James Bondy enough to seduce the pants off the necessary, but as deadly (and as effective) as the Israeli Moussad.  Add into that, they needed to be respected, which meant they couldn’t just be guns for hire, they needed to be backed by the United States… even if unofficially.

The result was nearly a week long of agonizing over what to call them and hours on the phone with critique partners.

In the end, Black Opal became Natalya’s title.  Inconspicuous enough that if it’s mentioned in official US documentation, not even those in power would make the connection.  Elegant enough to imply style… and like the gem itself, rare enough to signify extreme expertise.

As the series has developed, I’ve had an amazing time creating the intrigue, the layers of deception, the villains and the heroes/heroines.  A gun is a natural extension of their body.  Fear isn’t part of their world.  Failure isn’t part of their vocabulary.

Nothing would make them spill secrets… except perhaps love.  Meanwhile, they know the meaning of pleasure, and they won’t hesitate to embrace it.  After all, life is short.  Even more so when at any moment you might find yourself staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, sayonara, may the best shot win.  

Strictly speculating, do you believe we have groups like the Black Opals in real life? Or do you believe we've fictionalized the concept to the point of unrealistic fantasy?

by Tori St. Claire
Release date: January 3, 2012

Body of secrets…

As a member of the CIA’s elite, Black Opals, Natalya Trubachev must live a lie, working undercover as the lover of Dmitri, a Russian mob boss. His business is trafficking vulnerable Las Vegas strippers overseas for twisted sex games. Natalya’s business is to blow the ring wide open and bring down Dmitri and his American contacts. But the stakes are raised when she learns that the next target is her own sister Kate, a dancer in the famed club Fantasia. Only now does Natalya realize how personal her mission has become, and how far she’s willing to go to complete it.

Body of lies…

The manager of Fantasia is Brandon Moretti, an undercover detective who keeps a close eye on his girls, and an even closer one on his sinfully sensual hire. For Natalya, working the club could be the break she’s been waiting for. But for Moretti, Natalya is a possible link to a killer. Only he never counted on her being so lethally seductive or so dangerous to get close to.  As every forbidden pleasure between them is stripped away, his own secrets threaten their security, but it’s Natalya’s that could destroy them both.

Excerpt -

“Tell me what you want, beautiful.” His breath rasped over her cheek. Featherlight kisses accompanied the whisper, trailing across her skin in a taunting path toward her mouth.

Kiss me. She turned her head in search of lips she instinctively knew would be warm, the words on the tip of her tongue. Kiss me until I don’t care whether I live or die.

Honesty. Just once.

He caught her lower lip with his teeth, the nip nowhere near gentle. But the lazy stroke of his tongue soothed the stinging bite. She parted her lips, dipped her tongue out to touch his.

Brandon’s body tightened like a whip. The pressure in her lower back increased as his fingers curled into her skin. Their breaths mingled. The tips of their tongues met in a slow, sensual dance. As another spasm of ecstasy threatened to send her tumbling into his solid chest, she braced her hands on his shoulders.

And then Brandon was gone, the magic of his fingers disappearing as he stepped back and set both hands on her waist. His gaze scorched in to flood her body with tingles. He waited, his question unspoken, but hanging between them.

Tell me what you want.

Clearly he intended to make her admit she wanted to feel him deep inside her. Wanted to experience the slide of his bare skin against hers. And God, how she wanted to kiss him. To taste the desire that burned in his gaze and the indescribable flavor of hot, aroused man.

Confessing might lead her to an early grave, but for once, her conscious would be clear. She swallowed hard and dug deep for the courage that had kept her alive these last three years. His gaze followed the sweep of her tongue as she moistened her lips.

“Kiss me.” Her senses honed in on her whisper, amplifying it and the ragged fall of their mutual breathing. She became aware of every minuscule sound as she waited for Brandon to either dip his head and honor her request, or shove her aside with a wicked sneer.

He took a step closer, bringing their bodies in contact from chest to toes. One arm wrapped around her waist, then slid up her back to offer support between her shoulder blades. The other tangled in her hair, tipping her head back. Putting her where he wanted her—subtle dominance that thrilled her in places she hadn’t known existed. Her womb clamped hard, sending another rush of moisture through her pussy.

His mouth descended. Warm lips played against hers, drawing her into the spell his body wove. Pulling her in so deep she struggled for air.

The sudden, brassy ring of her cell phone jolted her out of hazy desire. She froze. With Kate and Sergei due to arrive at Fantasia any minute, there could only be one other person calling at this time of day—Dmitri. It would be almost one in the morning in Moscow. The time Dmitri put aside his work and crawled into bed. He’d want to talk before he slept.

“Don’t answer that,” Brandon whispered against her mouth.

Damn if those lips weren’t compelling. She’d had his mouth on her breast, knew the incredible magic his tongue could create there, but had yet to experience the tantalizing slide of his tongue against hers. The need to feel his mouth on hers, to get lost in his potent masculinity pressed her to ignore the ringing tones.

Duty, however, rose up screaming. If she didn’t answer, Dmitri would get suspicious.

“I have to.”

Author Bio -

Tori St. Claire grew up writing. Hobby quickly turned into passion, and when she discovered the world of romance as a teen, poems and short stories gave way to full length novels with sexy heroes and heroines waiting to be swept off their feet. She wrote her first romance novel at seventeen.

While that manuscript gathered dust-bunnies beneath the bed, she went on to establish herself as a contemporary, historical, and paranormal author under the pen name, Claire Ashgrove. Her writing, however, skirted a fine line between hot and steamy, and motivated by authors she admired, she pushed her boundaries and made the leap into erotica, using the darker side of human nature and on-the-edge suspense to drive grittier, sexier, stories.

Her erotic romantic suspense novels are searingly sensual experiences that unite passion with true emotion, and the all-consuming tie that binds -- love.

Tori can be found at:


Tori will be giving away a $25 Gift card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. The more comments you leave the better your chances of winning.
To Enter:
Answer Tori's questions from the post or leave a comment or question for her and include your email address.
Be sure to visit the other blogs on this wonderful tour. Click on the tour button below for a list of participating blogs.


  1. I've read a review on this book a week or so ago and straight away added it to my wishlist :) So I'm looking forward to Stripped :)
    impy80 at hotmail dot com

  2. The excerpt is very tantalizing! Sounds tasty.


  3. I enjoyed both the post and the excerpt. I'm adding Stripped to my wish list.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  4. Good morning, everyone! Thanks for joining in on the tour. I failed to pose a question in the post so I'll pose it here to give something to respond to: Strictly speculating, do you believe we have groups like the Black Opals in real life? Or do you believe we've fictionalized the concept to the point of unrealistic fantasy?

  5. Hi Tori,

    Congratulations on the release of 'Stripped'. You are a new-to-me author and I love the sounds of this new series. I take it this is a debut book under this pen name, is that right? I haven't read your other works either, so I will really enjoy following your book tour around this month.

    So, does the writer pick the genre or does the genre pick the writer? What do you think?

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

  6. Oh, Goodness, Karen -- I think a little of both, actually.

    Although, I have to wonder if that's a chicken or the egg discussion the longer I ponder a response.

    I knew I wanted to write paranormal when I started. I had to work at it. At the same time I was dared to write contemporary and it came rather easily, and the results have been satisfactory for me.

    Stripped was another where I said, "I want to write something edgy and suspenseful." The desire to create the end result came before the storyline hit.

    Hard to say, honestly. If I had to pick a genre that chose the writer, in my case, I'd honestly have to go with fantasy. I'm drawn to it time and again, resisting because I have other, more demanding commitments, which I truly love.

  7. Hello Tori,

    Fantastic blog post and very interesting question. I believe we DO have organizations like the Black Opals. But then, I want to believe we do. :-) Actually, it makes sense to me. There should be factions of law enforcement and/or government that are so vital to our security, so top secret, that the average citizen has no idea they exist. Of course, I have a hard time believing they have as much hot sex as your characters do, but then, what do I know? LOL.

    Stripped is a fantastic read...I highly recommend that everyone pick up a copy.

  8. Alice! Thanks for stopping in! And thank you for the compliment.

    I'm like you. I so want to believe this. It just seems... illogical on some level... to think we wouldn't have something of that nature.

    As for the sex? Well, if all the members were as devastatingly attractive, that might be a different story. Hah!

  9. I honestly believe there are people like the ones in your story. They just don't talk about it.

  10. I believe there are black opals. It makes perfect sense. I think our government keeps alot of secrets from us to protect national security and to protect us. I would love to read this series. It sounds very awesome. Please enter me in contest.

  11. Thanks for visiting the blog today, Tori. I believe there are top secret groups like the Black Opals & Stripped was a great read. Looking forward to reading Lie to Me.
    ~ Monique

  12. MomJan -- thanks for stopping in. I hope you'll stay with the tour!

    Victoria -- I absolutely agree. It wouldn't surprise me at all if there was a woman like Natalya on unofficial file somewhere. You're entered by commenting. Follow the tour, be sure and leave an email address at least once, so you can have more chances!

  13. Bah -- that's me, all. :points up: This log in to one account, comment on that tour, log out and log in for the other tour is killing my sanity. LOL!

    Monique -- thanks so much for having me here today! And I'm so very glad you enjoyed the read. Lie to Me has me excited personally... I really love Alexei. :happy sigh:

  14. Hi Tori St.Claire! *waves*
    Sounds like a pretty erotic and suspenseful story! It sounds like my type of book!
    What helps your writing process take flight? Like do you listen to music (like me)? Or do need a cup of coffee by your side?

  15. Oh! I forgot to answer your, I believe there is something similar to that. I mean it would shock me if there WASN'T.


  16. I do believe there are organizations like the Black Opals. People doing the dirty deeds. If not, it still makes for great reading.


  17. I believe we have government agents that do just about anything. It would defnitely not be a job for me.

  18. I would like to think that a group like the Black Opals would really exist to battle some of the real evil in the world.

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

  19. This sounds like a great story. I would love to read it and have added it to my wishlist. Thank you so much for the guest post about the book.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  20. Have added this to my tbr pile ;) loved the excerpt !!! Makes me want to run out now !! Needing something to tanatlize my taste buds atm lol..


  21. Congrats on the release of Stripped.I believe we have groups like the Black Opals working within our government. Someone has to do all the dirty work and the stuff no one else wants to do. Can't wait to read this book. Thanks for the blog tour.


  22. I wish we had groups like Black Opals! I wouldn't put ANYTHING past them, but I also think it's probably glamorized greatly...actually sometimes the truth is waaaay crazier than fiction. I keep going back and forth lol

    sophiathewriter at gmail


Thank you for stopping by my blog! I appreciate all of your comments.

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