#Author Spotlight Mandy Lee & #BookReview of her Novel ‘You Don’t Know Me’
Posted by LucciaGray
You all know why I love Romantic novels and Byronic heroes. If you don’t remember, check this post!
To sum up, they simply are tantalising, because the reader knows that this disgusting frog will become an irresistible prince, with the heroine’s invaluable help, by the time the novel / trilogy is concluded. To quote myself:
‘Byronic heroes are brooding, darkly handsome, and they have a secret, hidden past, which makes them behave antisocially. They are usually worldly, rich, cynical, destructive, and resentful. They have difficulties identifying and even expressing their emotions, and women find them extremely alluring. They are idealized yet flawed characters, who need to be recovered and repaired by the perfect heroine.’
But what are the heroines like? What kind of a woman can fall in love and transform this semi-monster into a cuddly teddy bear?
Answer: A feisty, intelligent, strong-willed, generous and loving spirit, who also has issues of her own to deal with, just like Maya.
I loved ‘You Don’t Know Me’ right from page one. It is a well-written, well-plotted, fun and enjoyable, romantic and erotic read. When I started reading I thought, ‘This is the novel I’ve been waiting to read for months.’ I love romance, and I also enjoy an erotic twist, if the characters and plot are enticing enough, and Maya and Dan are an enthralling couple to follow.
Our heroine, Maya Scotton, is an artist with a severe case of painter’s block, who takes on an office job at a construction company in order to pay the bills. She meets the seemingly heartless and mysterious owner of the company, and they both embark on a steamy and complex relationship, which will keep you turning pages impatiently.
Maya is a friendly, funny and loveable young woman, who is denying her artistic talent, by running away from herself. She desperately needs the love, reassurance and security that Dan offers.
Yet Dan has dark demands and a shocking secret. Dan is not who he seems. You don’t know me ends with a revealing cliffhanger, and I’m impatiently waiting for book two.
There is suspense as well as romance, building up to a final shocking secret, which both links them painfully yet threatens to keeps them apart forever.
I love character driven novels, and all the characters in You Don’t Know Me are so well-crafted that I felt as if I could see and hear every one of them. Everyone who appears is valuable to the reader, because they have a specific role in the plot, which moves on with every page.
The big plus, at least for me, is that it takes place in London, mainly around the South Bank, which happens to be one of my favourite places! I’ve walked near and around GabrieI’s Wharf many times, but now I can’t wait to go back and have a coffee there, Dan’s favourite place! There are many more places to look out for. Mandy Lee has drawn me into the characters’ fictional world, and I loved it!
One of the great things about being a writer, being a reader and reviewer, and having a blog in the 21st century is that you can meet and speak to other writers on Social Media. I ‘met’ Mandy on Twitter, by chance. I’m always interested in debut authors and romance, so I decided to give her book a go a few weeks ago. I was so impressed that as soon I finished reading it, I contacted her for an author interview and spotlight on my blog. I’m also telling everyone I know to give it a try. For less than the price of a coffee you get to meet a lovely young painter, fall in love, and visit London!
Here’s the interview:
Your author profile on Amazon says you work in the field of education. This means you have a full time, demanding job. I know first-hand because I’m a teacher! How did you manage to find time to write at the same time and what’s your writing routine?
Teaching is a demanding job and it’s been tough trying to fit it all in. When I get home from work, I generally take an hour or so to wind down, walk the dog, and get the dinner ready. Then I switch on the laptop and write for as long as I can. At the weekends, I do about six hours a day. In the holidays, it’s the same. I’m looking forward to giving up the full time job at Christmas, after which I’ll be taking five months off to finish the trilogy. After that, I’ll do a little supply to help pay the bills, but I’ll be able to focus a lot more on writing. I’m lucky. My family are very supportive.
What would you say to a reader to convince them to read your novel?
If you love a good story, then you won’t be disappointed! I’ve been told more than once that it’s a real page turner. Readers also tell me that they love the steamy sex scenes, and that they get thoroughly involved with the characters. It’s also pretty funny in places!
You don’t know me has romance and suspense, right to the end. You could have written a more traditional type of romance with a similar storyline, why did you decide to write an erotic instead of a more traditional type of romance?
I’m a big fan of erotic romance. I started off by reading the 50 Shades trilogy because all of my friends were reading it. I really didn’t think I’d enjoy it but I was hooked! I then went on to read other erotic romances. In particular, I loved Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series and I also lapped up the This Man trilogy by Jodi Ellen Malpas. I guess I just enjoy a good sex scene. On that level, it’s pure escapism. But the additional challenge with erotic romance is to weave the sex into the storyline so that it’s absolutely essential. I started You Don’t Know Me as an experiment to see if I could do it. Along the way, I think I finally found my genre!
Your novel has been compared to 50 Shades of Grey, I know you don’t mind this comparison, but in what ways would you say it’s similar and/or different to 50 Shades?
I’ve read quite a few erotic romances and there are similarities between all of them, the most obvious being the idea of the rich but damaged alpha male who’s unexpectedly brought to his knees by a woman. There’s nothing new in this. I think Charlotte Bronte might have got in there first with Jane Eyre, only without the sex! Having said that, I consciously worked to make my book different to 50 Shades. For example, my heroine isn’t an innocent ingénue. Maya’s a little older, definitely sexually experienced and she’s got demons of her own to deal with. She’s more than capable of giving Dan a run for his money, and while she’s willing to give him control in everything sexual, she won’t let him walk all over her outside of the bedroom. I wanted my male lead to be different too. Yes, he’s an alpha male with a shady past and kinky sexual preferences, but he wants to leave behind the hard core BDSM. Although it’s partly about the need for control, his interest in BDSM is more about escaping from who he really is. He doesn’t want that escape any more. As you get to know him, you also discover that he’s not a power-hungry control freak at all: there’s a much softer side trying to get out. And as I was creating my ideal man, he also needed a damn good sense of humour!
You say in your biography that you are in the shadows and prefer not to share an author picture due to your job. I presume that if your wrote a more mainstream type of fiction, you wouldn’t be in the shadows. Why do you think there’s a stigma in being an author of erotica?
If I weren’t a teacher, I’d be more than willing to share a picture! In fact, I’d love nothing more. Generally speaking, I don’t think that there is a stigma attached to writing erotica, not any more. In my case, it’s just that some parents might have an issue with their children being taught by someone who writes explicit sex scenes. And more than that, I’m pretty sure that if the students found out, some of them would end up reading it, and that could cause all sorts of difficult situations!
What are you writing at the moment and what are your plans for the future?
At the minute, I’m working on True Colours, the sequel to You Don’t Know Me. The second draft is done and I’m now editing and revising. It should be ready for publication just after Christmas. Then I’ll be finishing the trilogy. Before I wrote You Don’t Know Me, I wrote a comedy trilogy set in the world of education. An agent showed interest in it at one point, but couldn’t offer representation. I’m having that edited at the minute and I’ll be self-publishing it under another pen name in the New Year. But the plan is to continue with erotic romance. I have notebooks full of ideas for future stories!
How can readers find out more or contact you?
Twitter – @mandylee2015
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Mandy-Lee-424286884398779/?ref=hl
Website (including blog) – http://www.mandy-lee.com/
Where can readers buy your book?