Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review, giveaway and special insights from KD Grace on her newest erotic contemporary romance. THE TUTOR is a different kind of story, and weaves a bit of sensual magic for the reader, as well as the characters.
About the book:
Struggling writer, Kelly Blake, has a secret life as a sex tutor. Celebrated sculptor and recluse, Alexander ‘Lex’ Valentine, can’t stand to be touched. When he seeks out Kelly’s advice incognito, the results are too hot to handle. When Kelly terminates their sessions due to what she considers her unprofessional behavior, Lex takes a huge risk, revealing his identity to her at a gala exhibition, his first ever public appearance. When Kelly helps the severely haphephobic Lex escape the grope of reporters and paparazzi, rumors fly that the two are engaged, rumors encouraged by well-meaning friends and colleagues.
The press feeding frenzy forces Kelly into hiding at Lex’s mansion where he convinces her to be his private tutor just until the press loses interest, and she can go back home. They discover quickly that touch is not essential for sizzling, pulse-pounding intimacy. But intimacy must survive the secrets uncovered as their sessions become more and more personal.
Some fab thoughts from Author K D Grace…
Thanks so much for hosting me on The Tutor blog tour and giveaway, V! It’s a pleasure to be back at your lovely blog again and celebrate the release of The Tutor with your fabulous readers!
In so many ways The Tutor is all about making substitutions. We all know what it feels like when we can’t get exactly what we want, so we make do with something less than. We know it’s only a stop-gap but we do what we have to. Still, let’s face it, celery and carrot sticks will never satisfy the longing for chocolate, and an hour sweating it out in the gym, or a cold shower will never scratch the itch for good raunchy and rowdy sex.
In Alexander ‘Lex’ Valentine’s situation, though, a substitute will just have to do. Lex is a renowned sculptor, who leads a reclusive life. His work is praised for its sensuality, for his ability to breathe life into marble. What the world doesn’t know about Lex Valentine is that the man is severely haphephobic – has been ever since the car crash that killed his mother and nearly took his life as a young boy. The truth is, no one even knows who Alexander Valentine really is. They know him only from his exquisite work. Lex remembers little of the accident other than the snippets from the nightmares that visit him regularly, but since the crash, Lex has been unable to touch another human being and unable to tolerate being touched. Both cause severe physical reactions. This means he’s lived the better part of his life without human touch. Thus the substitution. Lex infuses the power of touch, the touch he cannot experience himself, into his sculptures. His work is his vicarious life, sensual and expressive in ways his real life can’t be.
Writing The Tutor made me think a lot about the substitutions all writers make when we write a story. The tale we tell is always a life lived vicariously. Though it’s not an effort to experience human touch which, fortunately, we don’t lack, it’s very much an effort to feel, to experience, to involve ourselves in what we’ve not experienced – what we may not even want to experience in real life. Still, to write about it, to bring it close enough to us that if fills our imagination and makes our heart race and our palms sweat, is to experience vicariously something we would never otherwise know.
Lex has come to view his art this way. He has no reason to think he’ll ever have a normal life and, at least, he has something. But like many creative people, Lex has a powerful sex drive – one he can do nothing about. When his best friend, and PA, Dillon, suggests he talk to a sex tutor, Kelly Blake enters his life. The spark between them is immediate, but so is the obstacle course of his haphephobia. For Lex and Kelly the attraction between them and the journey to intimacy is a dance of substitution – very creative substitution, substitution that just might lead to the real thing. Here’s a little excerpt.
When physical touch is impossible, intimacy may become a powerful work of art or a devastating nightmare—but, above all, it’s an act of trust.
And how about a taste of this intriguing story?
Art and Sex:
She nabbed a cookie and came to stand behind him while he drew, but when his efforts on the curve of her cheek slowed and then stopped, she stepped back. “I’m sorry, am I making you uncomfortable?” she managed around a mouthful of cookie.
He shook his head. “It’s not that. It’s just that, well as lovely as you looked, in that dress tonight, stunning actually, it wasn’t the real you. It was all show for the event and for this nebulous Alexander Valentine you were expecting to meet.” He waved the piece of charcoal in the air dismissively. “Black tie affairs are no less masked ball just because you can see peoples’ faces.”
“True,” she said, plopping down in the chair. “My feet may never forgive me for those damn shoes.”
“You’re real now.” He chuckled softly and looked down at the charcoal gripped delicately in his fingers. “Everyone’s a bit more real in the darkest hours of the night. And a lot more vulnerable.” He shuddered.
“Nightmares, you mean?”
He nodded, but then made a dismissive grunt. “I don’t sleep much.”
“Dreams about what happened at the gallery?” She asked, slumping in the chair so that her feet hung over one arm and her shoulder rested low on the other.
“Oh no,” He offered a flirty smile that surprised her. “If I’d been dreaming about that, the dreams would have been far from nightmares.”
She felt his words like a caress, and a tingle ran down her body as though her skin were bathed in the expensive Champagne from the gallery’s party. “Then I’m sorry that you weren’t dreaming about the gallery.”
“Me too,” he said, and then he flipped the sketchpad to a blank page. “Is it all right if I sketch you? Like you are now, I mean.”
She nodded to the collection of female nudes tacked to a corkboard along one wall. “As long as I don’t have to take my clothes off.”
This time his smile was positively wicked. “If you take off your clothes, woman, I won’t be able to concentrate on sketching at all, and I’m not really in the mood to discuss my self abuse problems right at the moment.”
She laughed and shook her hair back over her shoulders. “Self abuse, oh pa-lease.” She shifted again to get more comfortable and the hoodie slipped down off her shoulder leaving her neck and clavicle exposed along with the swell of one braless breast.
“Leave it,” he said, when she started to zip the offending garment a little higher. “I want to sketch your erogenous zones.” And fuck if it didn’t feel like he had just touched her there along the nape of her neck and traced a calloused finger over the her collar bone and down onto the top of her breast.” He chuckled knowingly at the trail of raising goose flesh along the path she had just imagined his hand following. “Did you feel that? My sketching you there?”
“You have eyes,” came her breathless reply. Then she caught a little breath and shivered. “Jesus, how do you do that?”
“There’s a connection between what I see and what I sketch. It’s a brain thing. That’s why people who are paralyzed from the neck down can still draw even without the use of their hands. But I think there’s a much bigger connection than simply exceptional hand-eye coordination. I think it’s the ability to translate into physical form what we perceive and how it affects us. I’ve read your books, Kelly. You do the same thing, only your vision is all internal, but it’s no less magic when you elicit the feeling you want in your reader.”
She shivered again and her nipples hardened. “I’ve never made a reader feel this.”
“Oh, I imagine you have,” he said. The look on his face was something beyond concentration, something very much like Kelly had seen in the eyes of lovers in good romantic films when they made love.
“It’s a substitute for touch,” she managed in a breathless gasp.
“Of course it’s a substitute for touch,” he said. “It’s the connection to the flesh that I’m no longer capable of having in the real world. It’s tactile voyeurism. It’s everything I can’t experience, but dream about.” He huffed out a little breath. “When I’m not having nightmares, that is.”
“Jesus, That’s … that’s uncanny.” She was suddenly struggling not to squirm in the chair. “Do you do this with all your models?”
“God no! Of course not. I don’t know them. They don’t know me. I … ” He stopped sketching for a second and looked around the room as though searching for the right words, and Kelly felt the disconnect as surely as if he’d been caressing her breast and then stopped. “I have no intimacy with them. When I sketch models for a given commission for which I have a deadline, I sketch them … I don’t know … once removed. It’s not personal. It’s a job. They do theirs, and I do mine, and it’s as if we’re all working with a barrier between us. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t feel that with you?” He began to sketch again and she leaned back and closed her eyes as the Champagne bubble feeling returned in force. She might have moaned. Just a little. And he might have done the same in return.
“You know what you said about self-abuse,” she finally managed, struggling to breathe.
He only grunted in reply, his hand moving at speed over the sketchpad, which he didn’t look at. His eyes remained locked on her.
“Well, what happened at the apartment when we were together …”
“There’s a connection, Kelly. That’s all I know. I know you aren’t the kind to take advantage. I knew that from what Dillon’s nephew said. You gave me the first true intimacy I’ve had since the accident. Does that sound like taking advantage to you?” He laid the charcoal down on the easel and began to stroke the sketch with his ring finger, blending and shading and she practically came out of the chair, the response of his touch was so strong. Her nearness to orgasm was startling and a little bit frightening.
“Are you fucking feeling this?” she gasped. “How can this be? How can I feel what you’re doing on that sketchpad?”
“Of course I’m feeling it. How could I look at you, at your response and not?”
“Jesus, Lex. Jesus!” His eyes were on her but his finger still stroked the paper on the easel. “If you don’t stop.”
“Do you want me to stop?” His voice cracked with the last word. From where she sat, she couldn’t tell if he had a hard-on, and though his voice was as tight and breathless as her own, he clearly wasn’t touching himself. One hand gripped the edge of the sketch pad and the other made strokes and circles on the paper, blending, shading, evening out the tone. She knew that, of course she knew that, so why the hell did it feel like what he was doing to a simple charcoal drawing, he was doing to her body?
“Of course I don’t want you to stop,” she hissed, shifting against the phantom sensation of what she imagined his fingers were doing to the sketch of her. “Oh … Oh God! I definitely don’t want you to stop!”
The room dissolved in the sound of heavy breathing and moans and grunts –some hers, some his, all blended together. In the beginning, she might have been posing on the chair, but the situation had devolved to the point that she could not have held still if her life depended on it, and there was no other word for what she was now doing in the chair but writhing.
From behind the easel, Lex stood and gave the stool a hard shove, knocking it over with loud kathunk on the floor that resulted in a hissed curse. He mantled the sketch of her like a hawk over its prey. When she could focus through the growing fog of arousal, she saw that he once again sketched with the charcoal, his hand moving with a motion not unlike how she would want him to stroke her right now, with her so close. How she had fantasized about him stroking her since that night in the apartment, even though she tried not to. And she couldn’t keep from wondering if he were stroking the drawing there, right where she needed it. His other hand still rendered and smoothed and shaded and moved across her body, until the only thought she could hold in her head was the thought of his hands drawing her, drawing her, drawing her ever closer until she could stand it no longer, and then she arched her back. With a startled cry, she dragged a breath into her lungs as though it were her last. She tumbled out of the chair hitting the floor hard with her ass, bruising an elbow and thumping her head on the stone tiles as she convulsed and shivered, and the world dissolved into pinpoints of light behind her tightly clenched eyes.
She heard the deep-chested groan followed by a hard thump from behind the easel and, when she opened her eyes again, he was on his knees beneath it, one hand cupped to the front of his shorts, the other braced against the floor as though he feared gravity would disappear and it would toss him into the void. His eyes were wide, darkened with lust and with, quite likely, the same look of shock mirrored in her own. His bare chest heaved and shuddered over and over again. Kelly couldn’t stop watching him, couldn’t take her eyes of the quiver of muscle, the sheen of perspiration, the clench of charcoal dusted fists, and for an instant, she wished like hell that she could draw him.
Lex Valentine is a reclusive sculptor, renown for his beautiful marble renderings, even if no one has seen him. Romance author and personal sex tutor, Kelly Blake, is a big fan of Mr. Valentine, but had no idea that she’s tutoring him directly–because he uses a pseudonym. See, Lex is haphephobic, a person who cannot bear to be touched, or touch others. This is the result of a horrific car wreck which killed his mother and left him scarred physically as well as emotionally as a young child.
Lex is referred to Kelly by a mutual friend. She’s a sweet lady, who only wants to help her clients find their way to better sex, but she’s a “hands off” instructor, and is blindsided by her attraction to Lex, even before she learns his true identity. She breaks off their lessons, and Lex can’t abide. He hasn’t had any intimacy with anyone, and their two sessions were breakthroughs, in his mind. He concocts a scheme to meet Kelly in person–at one of his gallery events. It means going public, and possibly being accosted by his fans–something akin to volunteering to be boiled in oil for a haphephobic. Kelly recognizes his distress and rescues him, making a powerful enemy in the process.
It’s fun and sweet that Kelly’s bestie and Lex’s bestie con everyone into believing Lex and Kelly are engaged to be married. While the hubbub dies down, Kelly hides out at Lex’s secluded mountain estate. There she learns all about his tragic history, and builds a secure rapport with Lex. It’s so sweet, and with a few kinky turns. He still can’t touch her, at first, but the connection they develop certainly fosters an intimacy that’s new for both Kelly and Lex. The more time they spend together, the more they are able to connect, until Lex has his first voluntary physical contact with another person in twenty-five years.
I really felt in tune with Lex’s POV, and his serious problems with intimacy. The excitement he feels with Kelly–as if he’s experiencing a whole new life–is so poignant and tender. They take the tiniest steps, and still move forward. The book has a lot of viewpoints, mostly Kelly and Lex, but also their friends and a big nemesis. There is a catty reporter who’s bent on ruining the fledgling couple, if she can. I liked how this got resolved, and how Lex really grew into his own skin, and moved past such trying emotional scars.
Its a bit of a slow burn, and there’s a lot of “alternate” type sexytimes. They do get it on, in the end, and talk about sweet. It’s a whole different type of erotic romance, and I really dug the flipped script. I’ve not read a book with a character that’s has such a severe phobia to physical contact before, so getting inside this person’s brain was really interesting. And, his joy at having even somewhat normal contact is really a rush. Kelly is a great gal–always conscientious of Lex’s needs, and considerately managing his fears. Plus, she’s totally falling for this sweet, damaged man. I really liked the story, and definitely recommend it for readers who are willing to experience and “out there” type of romance.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About Author KD Grace/Grace Marshall:
Voted ETO Best Erotic Author of 2014, and a proud member of The Brit Babes, K D Grace believes Freud was right. In the end, it really IS all about sex, well sex and love. And nobody’s happier about that than she is, otherwise, what would she write about?
When she’s not writing, K D is veg gardening. When she’s not gardening, she’s walking. She walks her stories, and she’s serious about it. She and her husband have walked Coast to Coast across England, along with several other long-distance routes. For her, inspiration is directly proportionate to how quickly she wears out a pair of walking boots. She also enjoys martial arts, reading, watching the birds and anything that gets her outdoors.
KD has erotica published with Totally Bound, SourceBooks, Xcite Books, Harper Collins Mischief Books, Mammoth, Cleis Press, Black Lace, Sweetmeats Press and others.
K D’s critically acclaimed erotic romance novels include, The Initiation of Ms Holly, Fulfilling the Contract, To Rome with Lust, and The Pet Shop. Her paranormal erotic novel, Body Temperature and Rising, the first book of her Lakeland Witches trilogy, was listed as honorable mention on Violet Blue’s Top 12 Sex Books for 2011. Books two and three, Riding the Ether, and Elemental Fire, are now also available.