Monday, March 16, 2015

Elysium by Thea Landen

Two Introverts in a Bed – Thea Landen

Romance fans are familiar with the standard characters: the strong, suave, muscular hero and the devastatingly beautiful heroine who is often unaware of her own charms and allure. They always say all the right words, are dressed impeccably until it comes time to shed their clothing with choreographed grace, and they never, ever bonk their noses together during that first magical kiss.

Not only have I read those books, I’ve written those books. They’re fun, what can I say. Many turn to reading romance as a way to escape, and it’s entertaining to fantasize about those perfect worlds with attractive characters.

But Elysium doesn’t take place in a perfect world. In fact, it’s established pretty quickly that bad things can (and do) happen to good people. Neither April or Drew, the main characters of the book, radiates confidence when we first meet them. They’re both reserved, introspective people who usually keep to themselves. So what happens when they wind up in bed together?

It wouldn’t seem natural if all their anxiety disappeared and their first shared sexual experience was flawless. On the other hand, I didn’t want to rely on clichés and turn the scene into a comedy of errors (like with my terrible nose bonking joke). I needed to stay true to the characters, yet still write something hot and sensual.

I hope I struck the right balance when I aimed for realism. To cite a few examples, April cringes when she realizes she’s wearing the most boring underwear ever designed, and Drew tries not to appear like a desperate teenager when he practically rips his own pants off. Their communication is a little inconsistent at first, and I doubt either one would win an award for most creative dirty talk.

Despite all their shyness and fumbling, though, their emotional connection perseveres. Smooth moves and witty words are all well and good, but there’s something endearing about a couple who can laugh and cry together. (Especially when the end result is satisfying sex!) As I wrote, I found myself laughing and crying right along with them. Their insecurities and imperfections only make them more real to me, and I hope you fall in love with them just as much as I did.

Two years have passed since April Patterson’s husband was shot and killed in the line of duty, and she’s trapped in a haze of grief and uncertainty. Having grown frustrated by all other efforts to engage her in activities where she could meet new people, her cousin pays for a date via 1Night Stand. Not thrilled with the idea, April nevertheless contacts Madame Eve and requests the impossible: a date with her deceased husband.

Brilliant software engineer Drew Monroe created his company, Elysium, to help give closure to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, through the use of virtual reality. Though passionate about his work, being constantly surrounded by heartache and death has taken a toll on his mental health. When he accepts the case of a young widow referred to him by Madame Eve, her tragic tale depresses him further, but he commits himself to programming April the romantic date she desires.

April arrives at Elysium and prepares to enter Drew’s virtual realm. Will she find the solace she seeks within? Or will she discover she doesn’t need a fantasy world to discover happiness again?


We sat in silence. It was the first time a client had asked me so many personal questions. On one hand, I worried about coming across as unprofessional, but on the other, it felt good to verbalize those thoughts for a change. Putting that aside, April hadn’t come to play psychiatrist with me. I had a job to do.

“Anything else before we get started?” I pushed off the edge of the desk and straightened.

She didn’t get up. “Do you ever go into your own virtual realities?”

“Actually, I don’t.” I ran a finger along the top of one of the screens. “First of all, it needs to be monitored from the outside. I can’t do both at the same time.”

“Got it.” She nodded. “What else?”

A clammy feeling crawled over me. “Nothing.”

“You said ‘first of all.’ That means there must be a second.”

She’d paid attention, I’d give her that. I tried to backtrack. “Forget it.”

Sliding her arm off the chair, she leaned forward, ginger hair spilling over her shoulders. “I want to know what I’m getting into. Tell me.” Face upturned, she stared at me and I struggled to breathe in a normal rhythm. “Please?”

Don’t say it, don’t admit to it, she doesn’t need to know…. Talking to her eased a little of the tension that had been twisting tighter and tighter over time. I ignored the voices telling me not to make a confession, but the words spilled out faster than I’d intended.

“With all the misery and heartache I see in the world, the temptation exists to disappear into a painless fantasy.” The chill spreading through me intensified. “I’m afraid I’d lose myself and never want to come out.”

April blinked her long lashes and straightened in the chair. “That’s one of the reasons I’m anxious about going in there.”


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Genre(s): Erotic Romance, Sci-Fi, Contemporary

Heat Rating: 4 out of 5 Flames

Page Count: 67

Review Excerpts:
“Judging from the pile of tissues, this short book is at least a five tissue book if you're a crier; however, it's laughter, as well!” – review

Author Bio:
Thea Landen lives in New York with her husband and a variety of houseplants. A former educator, she strives to encourage creativity and passion in all those around her, and uses writing to help inspire. Though she reads and writes in nearly all genres, she has a special fondness for science fiction, fantasy, and adventure and anything that pushes the imagination beyond its usual limits. When she’s not writing, or thinking about writing, her hands and mind are occupied by either yarn crafts or role-playing games.

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