Prisoner Book Cover Prisoner
Annika Martin and Skye Warren
New Adult, Romance
October 23rd 2014
Xpresso Book Tours

He seethes with raw power the first time I see him—pure menace and rippling muscles in shackles. He’s dangerous. He’s wild. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

So I hide behind my prim glasses and my book like I always do, because I have secrets too. Then he shows up in the prison writing class I have to teach, and he blows me away with his honesty. He tells me secrets in his stories, and it’s getting harder to hide mine. I shiver when he gets too close, with only the cuffs and the bars and the guards holding him back. At night I can’t stop thinking about him in his cell.

But that’s the thing about an animal in a cage—you never know when he’ll bite. He might use you to escape. He might even pull you into a forest and hold a hand over your mouth so you can’t call for the cops. He might make you come so hard, you can’t think.

And you might crave him more than your next breath.

"Sexy, dark and thrilling. I loved every second of it!" – New York Times bestselling author Katie Reus




Heavy bars close behind me with a clang. I feel the sound in my bones. A series of mechanical clicks hint at an elaborate security mechanism beneath the black iron plating. I knew this would happen—had anticipated and dreaded it—but my breathing quickens with the knowledge that I am well and truly trapped.

“Can I help you?”

I whirl to face the administrative window where a heavyset woman in a security guard uniform stares at her screen. “Hi,” I say, pasting on a smile. “My name is Abigail Winslow, and I’m here to—”

“Two forms of identification.”

“Oh, well, I already filled out the paperwork at the front desk. And showed them my IDs.”

“This isn’t the front desk, Ms. Winslow. This is the east-wing desk, and I need to see two forms of identification.”

“Right.” I dig through my bag for my driver’s license and passport. She accepts them without looking up, then hands me a clipboard with a stack of papers just like the ones I’d already filled out. I’ve been dreading this day for weeks, wishing I’d been assigned any other project but this one. You’d think I was being sent here for a crime.

My professor—the one who’d forced me into this—warned me that prisoners were not always receptive to outsiders. Apparently nobody here is. I complete each form, arrange the pages neatly on the clipboard, and bring them back up to the window. The guard accepts them and gives back my IDs…still without looking at me. My hands clench and unclench, clench and unclench while the guard eyes my paperwork. Seconds pass. Or are they minutes? The damp chill of the place seeps in through my cardigan and leaves me shivering. Leaning forward, I read the name tag of the guard.

“Ms. Breck. Do you know what the next steps are?”

“You can have a seat. I have work to do now, and then I’ll escort you back.” “Oh, okay.” I glance at the bars I just came through, then the open hallway opposite. “Actually, if you just point me in the direction of the library, I’m sure I can—” Thunk. The woman’s hand hits the desk. I jump. Her dark eyes are faintly accusing, and I wish we could go back to no eye contact. How did I manage to make an enemy in two minutes?

“Ms. Winslow,” she says, her voice patronizing. “You can call me Abby,” I whisper. A slight smile. Not a nice one. “Ms. Winslow, what do you think we do here?” The question is clearly rhetorical. I press my lips together to keep from making things worse. “The Kingman Correctional Facility houses over five thousand convicted criminals. My job is to keep it that way. Do we understand each other?” Heat floods my cheeks. The last thing I want to do is make her job harder.

“Right. Of course.” I shamble back, landing hard on the metal folding chair. It wobbles a little before the rubber feet stop my slide. I understand the woman’s point. She has to keep the prisoners in and everyone else out, and keep people like me safe. I reach down and pull a book from my bag. I never leave home without one, even when I go to classes or run errands. Even when I was young and my mother used to take me on her rounds. Especially then. I would hide in the backseat with my nose in the book, pretending I didn’t see the shady people who came to her window when we stopped.

A little green light above the barred doors flashes on and there’s an ominous buzz. Somebody’s coming through, and I doubt it will be a library volunteer. I slide down. Pretend to be invisible. It’s no use. I peer over the top edge as a prisoner saunters through the door, and my pulse slams in my throat double time. He’s flanked by two guards—escorted by them, I guess you’d say. But they seem more like an entourage than anything. Power vibrates around him like a threat. Read, read, read. Don’t look. The prisoner is half a foot taller than the guards, but he seems to tower over them by more than that.

Maybe it’s his broad shoulders or just something about the way he stands, or his imperiously high cheekbones. The dark stubble across his cheeks looks so rough and unforgiving I can feel it against my palm; it contrasts wildly with the plushness of his lips. His short brown hair is mussed. There’s one scar through his eyebrow that somehow adds to his perfection. The little group approaches the window. I can barely breathe.

“ID number 85359,” one of the guards says, and I understand that he’s referring to the prisoner. That’s who he is. Not John Smith or William Brown or whatever his name is. He’s been reduced to a number. The woman at the desk runs through a series of questions. It’s a procedure for checking him out of solitary. The prisoner faces sideways, spine straight, the corner of his mouth tilted up as if he’s slightly amused.

Then it clicks, what else is so different about him: no visible tattoos. Tough guys like this, they’re always inked up—it’s a kind of armor, a kind of fuck you. This guy has none of it, though he’s far from pristine; white scars mar the rough skin of his hands and especially his forearms, a latticework of pain and violence, a flag proclaiming the kind of underworld he came from. The feel of brutality that hangs about him is compelling and…somehow beautiful.

I drink him in from behind my book—it’s my mask, my protective shield. But then the strangest thing happens: he cocks his head. It’s just a slight shift, but I feel his attention on me deep in my belly. I’ve been discovered. Caught by searchlights. Exposed. My heart beats frantically. I want him to look away.

He fills up too much space. It’s as if he breathes enough oxygen for twelve men, leaving no air for me at all. Maybe if we were in the library and he needed help finding a book or looking something up, then I wouldn’t mind the weight of his gaze. No. Not even there. He’s too much. Two sets of bars on the gate. Handcuffs. Two guards. What do they think he would do if there were only one set of bars, one guard?

My blood races as the guards draw him away from the window and toward the inner door, toward where I sit.His heat pierces the chill around me as he nears. His deep brown eyes never once meet mine, but I have the sense of him looming over me as he passes, like a tree with a massive canopy. He continues on, two hundred pounds of masculine danger wrapped in all that beauty. Even in chains, he seems vibrant, wild and free, a force of nature—it makes me feel like I’m the one in prison. Safe. Small. Carefully locked down. How would it feel to be that free?

“Ms. Winslow. Ms. Winslow.” I jump, surprised to hear that the woman has been calling my name. “I’m sorry,” I say as a strange sensation tickles the back of my neck. The woman stands and begins pulling on her jacket. “I’ll take you to the library now.”

“Oh, that’s great.” That shivery sensation gets stronger. Against my better judgment, I look down the hallway where the guards and the prisoner are walking off as one—a column of orange flanked by two thinner, shorter posts. The prisoner glances over his shoulder. His mocking brown gaze searches me out, pins me with a subtle threat. Though it isn’t his eyes that scare me. It’s his lips—those beautiful, generous lips forming words that make my blood race. Ms. Winslow. No sound comes out, but I feel as though he’s whispered my name right into my ear. Then he turns and strolls off.

I back up until the truck stops me. I’m sweating, but the hot metal is almost a relief. Warmer and more human than the flesh-and-blood beast that looms in front of me. But I have something to say too. Something true. And I want him to listen. “You might hurt me. You might touch me. But I will never, ever touch you. Not of my own free will.” I’m shaking by the time I’m finished talking. Tears are threatening again, but I don’t care about them. They don’t make me weak. I know what real weakness is. I saw it inject itself with drugs and hook up with abusive men just to get its fix. I watched it die. That will never be me. Never.

He reaches up to cup my cheek—the side without the scrape. On purpose? I don’t know. He trails his thumb over my eyebrow and down my temple. Places he couldn’t touch when I had my glasses. Like he’s learning me, mapping my face. The inside of my chest feels bright and quivery, but I keep my frown.

“So I can touch you?” he asks gently. “But you won’t touch me back.” My voice trembles.

“I didn’t say that.”

“Didn’t you?” His hand trails lower, down my neck. Goose bumps rise all across my chest and over my arms despite the heat. He caresses my skin right where my collarbone is, softly, with the back of his knuckles. I clench my fists at my sides, dreading what comes next. He’s going to keep moving lower, until he’s touching my breasts. And then what will I do? Cry? Scream? There’s no one to hear me. The guy from the truck has disappeared over the ridge. I let my eyes close. “Stop.”

“You don’t want this.” His tone is conversational.

“I hate you.”

“What do you want, then?”

“I want you to die. I want to hurt you. I want you to let me go.” He laughs softly, a puff of breath against my forehead.

“In that order?”

My teeth clench together.“Take your pick.”

“You know what I think, Abby? I can call you that, right? It’s cute. Like you.” His hand curves to the side, feathering light touches along the cashmere of my sweater. He grips my hip as if we’re dancing. And we are dancing. It’s a sick song he plays. “I think you want to fix me. That’s what you were doing at the prison. That’s what you’re doing now. But the thing is, Abby, it’s not going to work.” 

He forces me into the stream. Freezing-cold water swirls around my ankles and fills the insides of my boots, numbing my feet clear to the bone. I try to pull away, but he holds my wrist tight. I’m shivering. I can’t believe he’s not cold without a shirt on. Not that I should feel sorry for him considering he used his shirt to gag and blindfold a cop. “Where do you think you’re going?” he asks. “The other side.”

He shakes his head. “We’re walking the stream.” “I can’t,” I say. He pulls me closer; he still seems obsessed with the gash on my face, which maybe should be a good sign. I force my focus onto the trees in the distance, anything but the rise and fall of his hard, scarred, mud-streaked chest. It’s around dinnertime; I can tell by the slant of the sun. Up close he smells like sweat. Not pine, not cologne, not musk, just man sweat. “Bend over.”


I try to yank my wrist from his hand, but he fists my hair and pushes my face nearly into the water. He splashes water onto my cheek. I close my eyes against the cold spray of it, spitting it out of my nose and mouth, trying to twist from his grip. “God!” I say as he lets me up. I sniff and wipe my eyes. He inspects my cut and grunts his approval, as if infection is this huge threat right now. He pulls my hand. “Come on.”

“I can’t even feel my feet!” He frowns, furrowing his dark brows. “Fine.” He bends over and loops my arm around his neck and just hoists me up. I pull my arm back and struggle against his hold. “Put me down!”

“You want to walk? Or I still have that .357. I could put a few holes in you, and you could float. Is that what you want?” I loop my arm around his neck, feeling weird, like I’m participating in my own captivity. But it seems better than the alternatives. Don’t struggle. Wait for your chance. Excerpt 4: I’m coughing, wheezing. I had asthma as a kid, and that’s what it feels like now as the pepper spray stings me all the way down. “Get off!” I gasp. “You’re too heavy—I can’t—get air.”

“It’s the spray you hit me with,” he says. “Breathe normal.” I gasp for air, panicking. “I can’t!” Is this how I die? Suffocation? “Pretend,” he says, letting up his knee. He shifts so that he’s straddling my back. He grips my wrists now, pressing them above my head, and I feel his boots locked over my thighs. His weight is off my back. “It’s something every thug like me knows, how to not breathe in the fucking Mace.” I choke and cough. I still can’t breathe. He’s going to let me die. He’s going to sit on me and watch me die. “Relax,” he says softly. “You’re making it worse by panicking.” Hoarsely, I try to get air. The sounds scare me. I really can’t breathe. I suck faster as the panic rises. “Hey,” he whispers. “Shhh.” He brings his head near mine, breath tickling the back of my neck.

“Pepper spray is an inflammatory agent, okay? It swells your throat and sinuses, but it doesn’t shut them.” I gasp. He continues to speak in his calm, strangely soothing voice. Why is he soothing me? I can feel him rattling against my defenses with every word. “You’re still getting air, okay? Focus on that, Ms. Winslow. That little passage of air you can still breathe through. Slow it down now, got it?” I can’t slow it down. It’s like I don’t know how to breathe anymore, and I’m shaking. And suddenly he’s stretching his big body over me, on top of me. His weight isn’t entirely on me, or else I’d be squished; it’s more of a dull weight, as though he’s holding himself against me, warming me, pressing me to the forest floor. Into my ear he whispers,“Breathe with me.”

I suck in a faint breath. “Get off me, you caveman!” Why is he even trying to help me? “You’re okay, baby,” he says. “Match my breath.” I feel his chest expand against my shoulder blades. He’s like a big, warm animal on me. I twist, but there’s no moving. He presses down harder, and something about his weight soothes me. I hate that he’s actually calming me, helping me. I don’t want him to make me feel good—he’s my enemy. I wheeze lightly. He breathes on, hot and slow against me. A bird calls in the distance. I can hear the hum of the highway, the drone of a helicopter.

My eyes tear, and my limbs feel floppy and warm, and suddenly I’m doing it—I’m breathing. I take an almost regular breath. “There you go,” he whispers. “Fuck you. I don’t want your help.” I gasp in another breath. His whisper caresses my cheek. “Nice and slow, Ms. Winslow.” There’s something sensual in the way he says it. “Nice and slow.” He breathes again, as if to demonstrate. On the next breath I match him. Soon we’re breathing together. It’s strangely intimate, like we’re two wounded creatures under the forest canopy. It’s almost like dancing. Almost like having sex. I crane my head around just enough to see that he still has his eyes shut tight, dark eyelashes wet with tears from the irritation of the spray. Did I hurt him? Did I burn his eyes? “Stop moving around,” he growls. “Lie still.” Like I have any choice with him pinning me. My heart pounds under his weight. Breathe in, breathe out. It’s as if we’re in some kind of time-out, a no-man’s-land with the two of us fucked up and lying on the forest floor on a bed of pine needles that actually feels sort of soft and nice. The moments stretch on and on. I wonder how long it will take him to recover.

Maybe I really injured his eyes. Could I have hurt his eyes permanently? He shifts, and I think maybe he’s getting up. But he doesn’t. In a weird way I’m glad. If he got off me, that would end this strange, relaxing time out. It would bring back the harsh reality of who we are to each other. For now, there’s nothing I can do with him lying on my back, and I let my limbs go soft, let my breathing calm, giving myself permission to relax. I feel like jelly suddenly, spread underneath him, spine flattened out. Us breathing together. My eyes drift closed. The warm patch on my neck feels lit up every time he breathes out, and I imagine his lips hovering just over my skin. I imagine him kissing me there, and a wave of forbidden feeling swells through my core. My eyes fly open. There is no way I’m turned on. Except I am. My heart races. My breath gets fitful again. “Hey,” he says. And then more softly. “You’re okay.” I become aware of a hardness against my thigh. An erection. A melty sensation pulses through my pelvis. I’m trembling deep down, and it’s not just fear; it’s excitement. Horrified, I try to shake him off, and he tightens his legs and arms around me. I feel his weight and warmth keenly now. “You don’t want to give me any more trouble, do you?”

“No,” I whisper huskily. The energy of sex runs wild between us, and I don’t know how to stop it. Does he know? I flash back on him in the prison waiting room, the way he looked at me, and all that power and beauty barely contained in shackles. How stupid I was to think he was beautiful. “No, you don’t want to give me trouble,” he affirms. “So we’re going to stay just like this until my eyes can recover.” “So you can kill me?”

“If I was going to kill you,” he says, warm and tickly beneath my earlobe, “don’t you think you’d be dead?” There’s something about the way he says this that makes my belly quiver, and I can’t stop focusing on his erection. His big, strong heart beats against my back, beating my heart like we’re conjoined in some primitive way. His breath feels soft on the side of my neck, and heaven help me, I want to feel more of him. I imagine his skin on my skin. Dimly I’m aware that my breath is changing, speeding, shallowing. I stiffen as he presses his lips to the warm spot; it’s a kind of kiss. Or is it? And then he whispers, “Penny for your thoughts, Ms. Winslow.” Oh God, he knows. This man who’s going to kill me, this man I’ve been breathing with, he knows.

Four reasons why I will never stop sending my characters to hotels.

I just had this crazy realization today: almost all of my heroes and heroines in books by both my pen names have really intense scenes in hotels or motels. (Except my urban fantasy, but hey, the hero is trapped in a Mongolian Restaurant a lot of the time.) Sometimes when I realize I’m doing something a ton (like…er using the term “ragged breath”) I try to stop it. I don’t want to be a repetitive writer. But I don’t want to stop setting scenes in hotels and motels. I Love Them!!

Why are hotel/motel scenes awesome in books? Hotels and motels rooms are blank slates. Think about it—when you take a date to your home, all your stuff is there: books, chairs, pets. That picture of Aunt Mildred. The cookies you baked last week. A home is full of baggage, but a hotel is blank, and in a way, the whole world is shut out. The mood can be anything, and the focus is totally on the characters and how they are with each other. A hotel room: characters confined with each other and a bed. I love a hotel scene because it’s usually just the hero, heroine kind of trapped together with a bed. It creates instant tension and excitement. Even when one goes off to take a shower, the other hears it (and is usually thinking about them naked in there—did you ever notice that?) A hotel room bed is almost like another character that you can’t ignore.

In a car, there’s never the issue of sex in the air like there is in a hotel room. Because…hero, heroine, bed. (Unless you’re reading my kinky bank robbers books, then it’s three heroes and the heroine drinking champagne closed up in a luxury suite with a hot tub and a bed, but…same idea.) Hotels: a time out where the characters have to face each other.

My characters are usually in danger or up to something, but when they get to a hotel or motel, it’s downtime, and the attention goes off everything in the world but each other. I think PRISONER has the most intense motel scene; Skye and I really got into it—it’s where Grayson, our dark and troubled escaped convict, takes Abby, his college girl hostage, to this motel after a long, tense day of being on the run. It’s the first time they’ve been alone and not on the move. Grayson has these dark plans for Abby, but there is this powerful psychological back and forth between them, and they each give something up and get closer in a sort of twisted way.

Hotels and motels: the edge of the forbidden. Of course, hotels and especially motels have a kind of seedy, dirty edge. There’s the fact that people go to them to have sex a lot, but it’s not just about sex, but it is where people go to be anonymous or escape something. Also, the sort of everyday demands of life aren’t there—there are no dishes or bills or anything. Dirty no demands of usual life. Its where people go to not be known, or to be somebody else. How about you? Do you like seeing characters wind up in hotels? Or would you rather see them sent home?

Why I Write Dark Romance

Thanks so much for having me! I’m Skye Warren, New York Times bestselling author of dark romance. I’m excited to share my new release, Prisoner, which is a book I co-wrote with my friend and bestselling author Annika Martin. I think one of the joys of reading, thinking back even to childhood, was the sense that anything could happen. Wardrobes opened to new lands and golden tickets opened the gate to magical chocolate factories.

When I got a little older (but probably not old enough) I started reading Anne Rice. Ooo boy, let me tell you. The Witching Hour is as dark and as taboo as it gets. There’s ménage and incest and all kinds of wild times. And these were books sitting on a nice, bright shelf in the bookstore that my parents bought for me—totally not knowing what was inside! So I really didn’t have a sense that there were boundaries in books. That was something I learned later, as an adult. And it’s something I try to unlearn, in a way. I try to push my own boundaries with each new book. I try to stretch myself. Because that’s a huge part of the fun of writing. And even though this is my career, I want to have fun. Plus, it produces better books. The books I wrote with my hands flying over the keyboard, the ones I questioned before I published them if they were even acceptable for public viewing, are consistently my bestsellers. My readers want me to push the envelope.

When Annika and I first discussed co-writing we both knew it would be dark and sexy. Well, that’s what we both already wrote, but we came up with a new style working together. There’s something seriously sexy about prison… strong men, powerful men, cunning men contained by something as primitive as metal bars. Something sexy about defying the laws of society and getting caught, but maintaining an air of danger.

Some days, I don’t even see how this stuff is considered that dark—or dangerous. After all, there are demons and werewolves in books and no one bats an eye. Is it that strange to read about a person finding love? Even if that person does happen to be a prison inmate… Real criminals find love (and hot sex) every day. But then I remember that that’s what makes these stories scary. They hit close to home. They make us squirm. And that’s why I love them.


AUTHOR BIOS: AnnikaAnnika I’m a NYT bestselling author living a stone’s throw away from the Mississippi with my awesome husband and two cats in a home full of plants, sunshine and books. I’m heavy into writing love stories about criminals–some of them are dirty and fun (my Kinky bank robbers!) others are dark and intense (Prisoner!)

I also write gritty romantic suspense as the RITA-award winning author Carolyn Crane.

Author links:


How did you come up with the idea for this story?

In a lot of ways, this tale began with these two characters super-vivid that Skye and I created: this hot, dangerous felon with a dark past and this buttoned-up college girl who teaches a class at the prison. In a lot of ways, this story felt like it wrote itself from those characters as we breathlessly batted it back and forth, imagining this prison break and the way they’d get entangled.

Where do you find your inspiration?

You know those juicy, thrilling scenes in books or movies that you just love to pieces? And you think about them long after? Those sorts of scenes, and the huge emotions around them really inspire me. I love to feel that high-point thrill, and to create books around those moments. A lot of times I start with imagining an exciting scene I want to write and the book goes somewhere else completely, but the kernel, the inspiration still remains buried deep down.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

A lot of writers hate revising and love first drafts, but I’m the opposite – I am crazy about revising–I like to mold and change things in big ways once the words are there. But I write a sloooooow and grueling first draft, and I daydream a lot and change my mind a lot. It’s a total challenge! That was one really nice thing about writing in a team—knowing Skye was at the other end, expecting me to come up with something new and exciting every day was kind of nice. But getting those first words down is hard and slow for me.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on the next book by my other pen name, Carolyn Crane. Its one of my gritty, sexy romantic suspense books. This one is about Zelda, who helps run this shadowy organization. She has to go undercover as a prostitute, taking her twin sister’s place to infiltrate a drug cartel. The hero is a very dangerous assassin. I wanted to call him Sessimo, but everybody hates that name, so I’m thinking of a different one now. Tell us about your first book.

What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work?

Omg, my first Annika Martin book, THE HOSTAGE BARGAIN (free right now!) Is very different. You wouldn’t thinks so because it’s bank robbers taking a bank teller hostage, and Prisoner is an escaped convict taking a woman by carjacking her , but they are like night and day. For one thing, THE HOSTAGE BARGAIN is WAY dirtier (the series is called “Taken Hostage by Kinky Bank Robbers if that gives you an idea). Basically it’s the heroine and three heroes robbing banks and having ménage sex, and it’s all kind of light and humorous in a way. Also, my heroine is super into being a hostage from the start. In PRISONER, she definitely isn’t.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There are themes that writers return to over and over. One of my themes I return to, even when I’m not trying, is two super messed-up people finding love with each other, and being messed up together, and loving each other for their flaws (and not getting rid of them, because to me, flaws are what make people who they are!) So I guess my message is, even if you feel like you’re really screwed up, being really and truly yourself is beautiful and you deserve love.

Does music play any type of role in your writing?

Definitely. I write now and then at coffee shops and if there are people talking around me, I need to put in earbuds and crank the music. I have specific songs I just loop over and over, usually dark and melodic. Also, I love to run after a hard day at the writing desk, and I crank the tunes and just zone out to the music and that’s when I get my best ideas.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?

This book is not based on real life or people I know, but in other books, I have actually based characters on people I know in real life. Usually by the time the book is finished, they have grown into their own personality and are completely different. Nobody ever recognizes themselves in my books, but there have been family members who have thought they were in one of my books when they totally weren’t. lol.

What books have influenced your life most?

Early on, Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy were really important to me. These smart, curious female characters were hugely influential. They really made things happen, especially Nancy Drew. I love the girl power aspect there. Later, before I discovered romance, I loved Somerset Maugham. He is a writer who returns again and again to the theme of the ant and the cricket (the ant works all summer and the cricket sings away, and in the end, the cricket has no food to eat) but with Maugham, the cricket wins–a lot of his books have that deep inside and I love that. More recently, I would say the ICE books of Anne Stuart really influenced my life. I feel like she broke some real boundaries with darkness. I just love that. I love her bravery. How she rides the darkness.

Are there any new authors that have grasp your interest?

Rebecca Rogers Maher wrote this fabulous novella about two people who meet on a bridge they are going to kill themselves on. It’s just wonderful – she’s a very exciting author. I am also super loving the work of Serena Bell. She has such great characters.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

And even though he’s broad and heavy, especially because of that, it feels like a caress. His whole body embraces me, his mouth on mine, his hands on mine, his legs straddling my thighs. I’m wrapped in a cocoon made only of Grayson, where it smells like musk and tastes like man and wipes away every thought I should have. Like getting away. Like fighting him. Or longer pasted at end….

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Definitely my facebook ( and website ( are great places to start. I chat the most about books on my Carolyn Crane Goodreads account ( so that’s good, too. And my water cooler is twitter:

Do you have a special time to write? How is your day structured writing-wise?

The morning is always when I write. I get up and try to get in 90 minutes of writing before I even check my email just to set the tone. (And because it’s soooo easy to get sucked into email and twitter and stuff!) and then I go back and work for at least 3 more hours. At that point I either go for a run or switch over to the day job (marketing writing). Though, when I get into an editing phase, I’m working all day.

Why did you choose to write dark romance/dark NA romantic suspense stories?

An author friend of mine commented recently that she thinks the most interesting stuff happens in the gray areas, in the dark moments, and I agree. Dark subjects and especially issues of dubious consent and serious criminal behavior are things I would kind of run up to and run back from, or just avoid in previous books, but I have been loving just writing into them, like riding a ship into the storm and seeing what happens. It’s really exhilarating, and also, partnering with Skye on it has been great.

What is for you the perfect book hero?

I love a hero with a lot to overcome. Especially a lot of darkness. It’s so rewarding, as a reader, to see a hero go through a lot to get to a place where he is right with the heroine. I think my favorite and perfect kind of hero most of all is the hopeless and dark hero. Or the hopeless, dark and tortured hero. Yeah!!

When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?

I definitely find the story as I go along. I usually think I have the whole story in my head when I start, and it comforts me to think I know where I’m going, but the place I end up is often different. I just never know what I have until I get in there. I have had several novels where I write the first part four different ways and even with different scenes and characters until I finally have something I don’t hate.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was quite the poet in third grade. I treated risky subject matter bac, then, by writing a first poem about worms and the way they crawl out of the ground when it rains. Lol.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think I’ve always been into writing and considered myself a writer, but it wasn’t until I sold a book to a publisher that I thought of myself as an author.

List three books you have recently read and would recommend.

The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan, Viper by Kele Moon, Last Breath by Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick.

Tell us something that people would be surprised you know how to do?

Fix and run an ancient steam boiler! I even have a boiler engineer’s license. It’s actually expired now, but I carry it around anyway out of pride. My husband and I used to have a condo in this ancient building, and the city law said one resident had to have a license to operate this giant old steam boiler or the owners would have to pay all this money to a company. So my neighbor girl and I studied really hard and took the test – she was an oboist and I was a writer and neither of us were mechanically inclined, but we got an enormous amount of humor mileage out of terms like “draining the tri-cock.” And we both passed the test. And we could do minor maintenance things to the boiler.

Will you write more about these characters?

Definitely. Grayson and Abby will likely have cameos in future books, but Stone, Nate and the rest of the guys all have their own stories – it’s just hard to know which guy to start with.


Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of dark romantic fiction. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely tender. For those new to her work, consider the bestseller Wanderlust or Don’t Let Go.

Author links:


How did you come up with the idea for this story?

Prisoner was my first collaboration with author Annika Martin. She and I first met because I’d read her books (love them!) and she read mine. We were both in a boxed set together, MAKE ME. We were chatting over email and came up with the idea to write a book together. We knew it would be edgy, and dark, and also fun! And so, Prisoner was born.

Where do you find your inspiration?

In books! I actually don’t read as much dark romance as I’d like, because I don’t want to cross pollinate quite that closely. But I’m still a voracious reader. I love romantic suspense, historical romance, and more. I like finding a “what if” question in a book or movie, where I can flesh that into its own story. Or, well, sometimes there’ll be a side plot with a villain… and I wonder, how can that villain be a hero?

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Nothing and everything. I love the actual writing, coming up with a story and falling in love with them. But reader expectation is such a tough thing—it’s tough in any genre but has particular challenges for dark books. Even the word dark means different things to different readers. But ultimately I can only write the books I love and hope that my readers enjoy them.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on a boxed set with two of my books, Trust in Me and Don’t Let go, which will have some exclusive content—a new prologue and epilogue. That’s coming in November. And next I’ll have a dark mafia based on the Cinderella fairy tale.

Tell us about your first book. What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work?

My first dark book was Keep Me Safe… and god, I hope readers see that I’ve grown as a writer. But at the same time, I hope I’ve kept the core of what people liked about Keep Me Safe, the dark atmospheric setting and deep character exploration. Both of those are hopes—but I’d love to hear from the readers who have kept with me and hear what they think!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Message is too strong a word, but there are certain recurring themes in my books. Redemption is a big one, trying to atone for your past failings, believing you had overcome only to be sucked back into it, fighting to better this time, stronger this time. The other recurring theme in my books is that everyone deserves to find love. That means some very dark characters walk the pages of my books.

What books have influenced your life most?

The books that influence me the most have a super strong voice—and perspective. Broken by Megan Hart, Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas, and anything by my cowriter Annika Martin, who also writes as Carolyn Crane. Are there any new authors that have grasp your interest? Most recently I really loved Push by Claire Wallis. It’s dark and original. And these aren’t new but they’re new to me. I loved the Roxie Rivera Russian protector series, because it incorporates very serious issues while still being sweet and sexy. I’m currently reading Fallen by Leslie Tentler, it’s a gripping romantic suspense. After I read her first series, she’s an auto-buy author for me.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Here’s a bit from the new material that will be in the Trust in Me/Don’t Let Go book bundle:

My stomach was growling. It always did that, because my corner was one of the darkest and most dangerous in the city. The good corners were run by girls who didn’t want to share—or by their pimps. The kind of men who picked me up terrified me, but not as much as pimps did.

The sweet tang of pot filled the air from two streets down, where some homeless guys gathered around a barrel fire. A cat cried out, sending shivers up my spine—until the sound was suddenly cut off. It was an ordinary night.

A quiet night.

Moonlight flashed off chrome and glass as a car turned the corner. It got longer as it turned—a limo.

The limo looked out of place against the crumbling, graffiti-painted concrete. I wondered if they’re lost. I hoped they didn’t stop and ask me for directions. With my luck the neighborhood matones would take the opportunity to jack them and I’d get caught in the crossfire.

The limo slid to a stop right in front of me, its engine so quiet all I could hear was the crunch of gravel.

I took a step back until I was pressed against the brick wall. My stomach grumbled, reminding me I could use the money. But this was too strange, and in my world, strange was dangerous. I would run, but that would mean turning my back. I learned early not to do that.

The car window rolled down in a smooth glide, revealing a shadowy interior.

“How much?” said a low, masculine voice from inside.

“Depends what you want,” I said, but I’m stalling. Was I really going with him? It was always a risk, getting in some asshole’s car. But this felt more intense than a ride around the block and a blowjob in an alley.

Like I might never see this street corner again.

“Everything,” he said.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you!!!

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

The best place is my website: I have a ‘box’ for every book so you can pick what you’re most interested in, whether that’s my new release PRISONER, my bestselling dark romance Wanderlust, or my sweet and sexy serial which starts with Beauty Touched the Beast. And you can sign up for my newsletter to get notified of new releases:

Why did you choose to write dark romance?

It rather chose me… When I first began to publish I had to books written. One I had written just for myself. The other I had written with the intention to publish. I decided to self publish both of them and see what happened. The dark book outsold

What is for you the perfect book hero?

I like them intimidating. Competent. Vaguely sinister and smug. Possessive. Harsh. Cold. Hot. I like them everything that is mean and cruel, even with the heroine. And then… when he stops, when sex and intimacy and love force him to stop, the clouds part. The sun rises on grass still sticky with dew. It paints the world in orange light and long shadows, hinting at what is to come. And that’s the end of the book. Not a wedding. Not a happily ever after. The ending is hope.

When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?

I have most of it when I start. The characters always come first for me. They have to be “speaking” to me, not as voices per se, but where I feel their voice coming out in my writing. I usually also know the way they meet, the early plot points—and since I write romance, even if it’s dark, I know where they’re heading. However, something always surprises me in the later part of a book or during revisions, and that’s a great feeling.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

On some days, the first time I sat down to tell a story. On other days, I still don’t consider myself a writer. I’ve been an indie author since 2011, and I still have to take it a day at a time.

List three books you have recently read and would recommend.

I love to read anthologies, because no matter how much or how little time I have I can get a sexy love story. In fact, many sexy love stories. It’s also easier, I think, for authors to push the boundaries in short story format, and I love seeing what they come up with. My three recommendations are The Mammoth Book of Ghost Romance, Princess Bound, and an anthology I edited, Take the Heat: Hardened Criminals on their Hottest Behavior.

Tell us something that people would be surprised you know how to do.

Write sweet books 😉

Will you write more about these characters?

I hope so! Annika Martin and I conceptualized this as a series that we’re calling Criminals & Captives. It focuses on a group of men who share a dark past and work together on their criminal enterprises. There’s kind of a ‘lost boys’ feel to it. And each one will take his own captive.


(1) ebook copy of On the Way Home by Skye Warren AND one (1) ebook copy of The Kinky Bank Robbers boxed set by Annika Martin

a Rafflecopter giveaway //

*prize will be sent out via authors after November 18th*