What stories would you tell if you could? Where would your mind take you, if you let it? Five of the top voices in romance dare you to explore the most distant corners of their imaginations as they test the limits of storytelling and break the boundaries of what even they thought possible, teasing and tormenting you shamelessly as they go.
But there’s a twist—the author of each story is a secret at the time of release. They’re each plumbing the depths of the human heart and mind in ways they’ve never attempted before. Taking you high, bringing you low, until you will be hardpressed to guess who wrote what. Can you tell? Want us to?
Our lips are sealed…for now.
With this tease of a blurb, Emma Barry, Meredith Duran, J.A. Rock, Erin Satie, and Sherry Thomas gave us Sight Unseen, a collection of anonymously written novellas. They each crafted something they had been scared to write – a story that was unlike anything they’d written before, something bold, some novel, something that someone, somewhere told them was too out of character and probably wouldn’t sell. Freed from all expectations, they created new worlds full of magic, mystery, and romance, leaving readers guessing who wrote what.
Today, All About Romance is helping with the big reveal of Sight Unseen with a Q&A with the author of the third story, Free.
About Free, a story the author describes as: Biker princess learns the criminal truth and shags the accountant.
Brad White would be an ordinary accountant with an unrequited crush except for two things: he works for a criminal motorcycle club, and he’s in love with the club president’s daughter. When she discovers the truth about the family business, Brad has to move beyond ordinary and put his life on the line to keep her safe.
Wren Masters, unlike everyone else in her graduating class, chose to stay in Fallow, Montana because, also unlike everyone else, she loves it. But when she finds out her father’s club is running drugs, her family and world crumble. She and Brad risk everything to uncover the truth . . . and begin a scorching affair.
As the conspiracy—and their feelings—deepen, Brad and Wren must choose between family and justice. And neither seems to include a future for them.
Written by…Emma Barry!
Judith for All About Romance: Welcome to AAR, Emma! Contemporary motorcycle club role reversal romance? This is so different from the historicals we usually see from you and honestly, I think a lot of fans would never have guessed that this particular story was yours! Can you tell us what the impetus was behind Free?
Emma Barry: So I love motorcycle romance. It started with Sons of Anarchy (or maybe more specifically with Charlie Hunnam and Ryan Hurst) and blossomed with Kristen Ashley and Shari Slade’s MC books. I’ve never ridden a motorcycle in my life and honestly, I find them terrifying. (My parents both work in health care, and I grew up hearing many “donor-cycle” warning stories.) But just structurally, MC romance interests me. It combines high-heat contemporary romance with suspense and sometimes small town, found family, outlaw, and Americana motifs, and I burned through them like crazy.
I was at a low place two years ago, hating everything I was working on, so I decided to write something totally different, specifically to write something in first-person POV, which I’d never done. I wrote the opening bit in Brad’s POV and then I got into Wren’s head and her voice was immediately fully formed. I wrote the first seven chapters or so, but I wasn’t certain what I was going to do with it until you and I started talking on Twitter about this anthology, and it seemed to fit.
Judith: Beyond the fact that you’ve never even ridden a motorcycle, why did it scare you to write Free?
Emma: I usually write nerds. Like nerd nerds. Like nerds who argue for pages about the Twenty-fifth Amendment or who program space capsule rendezvouses. About a year before I accidentally started “Free,” I joked with an editor of mine that if I ever wrote an MC romance, my bikers would have Robert Herrick tattoos. It was like the genre I was least likely to write.
But man, that idea just festered. Why couldn’t I write bikers? Or maybe a biker princess and a nerdy accountant taking down the club in the north-central Montana landscape where I grew up? So the MC milieu scared me and trying to plot it in 30K scared me and writing in a different POV scared me, but the real fright was how big my voice was (or wasn’t).
Maybe I wimped out because I did write something that sounds like an Emma Barry book: a beta hero who’s loved the heroine for a long time; an ironic heroine with a lot of agency; a strong sense of place; etc. But I used unfamiliar muscles to write it.
Judith: Did writing in Sight Unseen help you to go on and write other stories that scared you?
Emma: It helped me see that I didn’t have to be the first flight of books that I’d published. That I wasn’t the brand that I’d built. I haven’t worked or anything quite as brand-busting since, but I hope to soon. I have some ideas.
Judith: Ooooh…in terms of those ideas, would you write in this particular subgenre again?
Emma: When I still didn’t know what “Free” was going to be, I considered writing a follow up for Wren’s ex-boyfriend. (And can I just say I’ve never described male…anatomy in detail in a book before and probably won’t again.) But the way I ended up plotting the last act made him do some profoundly bad things, and he’s not redeemable any longer. So I probably won’t write about Fallow, Montana, and the Lone Gun MC again, but there are lots of bikers, so never say never.
Judith: Could you tell us what was your favorite aspect of writing Free?
Emma: Wren’s voice. She’s an unapologetic badass, but she’s also interested in justice; she wants to do the right thing. I loved the contradictions of her and her dirty mouth and how she’s pining for Brad but can’t admit it until her world cracks.
Judith: Did you hide any easter eggs in your story?
Emma: I’ve written two scenes where characters ride motorcycles together: Wren and Brad in “Free” and Frances and Joe in A Midnight Clear (which I co-wrote with the amazing Genevieve Turner). The scenes are basically mirror images of each other and were drafted in the same month. So if you’ve read A Midnight Clear, I’d be shocked if you didn’t realize I wrote “Free.”
Judith: In addition to that, tell us a fun fact about Free.
Emma: Brad’s office used to house a toy store that’s based on a toy store that used to exist in my hometown, straight down to how it smelled like rosewater and cardboard.
Judith: Now that the cat is out of the bag, what’s up next for you?
Emma: In October, Genevieve and I will be releasing a Thanksgiving novella called A Midnight Feast. It’s set in 1965, and it’s about an astronaut and his long-suffering wife trying to fix their marriage; it’s twisty and sexy and so, so angsty. (A fifteen-pound turkey’s worth of angst.) Then in November, the second anthology in the Rogue Series, Rogue Affair, will release. My story, “The Fourth Estate,” is about rival reporters vying for a high-level source. It’s super nerdy and bantery.
Emma Barry is a novelist, full-time mama, and recovering academic. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves hugs from her twins, her husband’s cooking, her cat’s whiskers, her dog’s tail, and Earl Grey tea. You can find her on the web at www.authoremmabarry.com.