Ann Bruce talks about finding the purrfect inspiration for the heroine of her new erotic romance Dark Side of Dreaming. Cleo Moran is a former cat burglar who is channelling one of the sexiest villains of all time — but will this be enough to help her steal back a missing family heirloom from the man who has both the priceless artifact as well as her heart?
It started with a scene so vivid I could’ve stepped into the room and touched the furnishings, felt the warmth of the air, talked to the characters. Kind of like the Netflix commercials currently bombarding unsuspecting television viewers everywhere.
The mood of the scene was nearly overwhelming, dark and heavy and tense. How else to describe waking up bound to a bed and finding a stranger watching you? (Well, creepy would work, but I write romance and not horror.) Once that scene was fixed in my head, I had to put fingers to keyboard and find words to translate it. When I reached the why moment, there was no hesitation. I didn’t want to explain away my female protagonist’s breaking-and-entering with a misunderstanding because, well, that’s just not fun. I find moral ambiguity fascinating, as evidenced by the movies in my personal collection: The Italian Job; George Clooney and co.’s Ocean’s trilogy, even Ocean’s Twelve because Vincent Cassel makes up for the film’s many flaws…and the scenery made me miss Amsterdam more than I thought possible; Gone in 60 Seconds; The Bank Job; Inside Man; Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; Snatch; RocknRolla, and a slew of other heist movies. (I swear I’m not a thirteen-year-old boy.) And, as I’m sure it’s evident, I have a couple of shelves dedicated to Batman graphic novels, most of which feature Selina Kyle because Catwoman—smart, resourceful, capable, and sexy—is one hell of an anti-hero and more memorable than all of Batman’s other love interests combined, excluding Talia al Ghul. (Really, I'm not a thirteen-year-old boy.)
Although Cleo Moran doesn’t dress in skin-tight leather (the acrobatics required would result in inopportune costume malfunctions) or high heels, carry a bullwhip, or have Selina Kyle’s more extraordinary abilities, a combination of genetics and stubbornness long practice has given her an uncanny knack for stealth and getting past locks and a unhealthy level of paranoia…until retirement made her complacent and rusty. Unlike Selina, however, Cleo didn’t steal for kicks. That way lies a very lonely funeral or, worse, six-by-eight living quarters for five- to ten-year intervals. Cleo’s burglary skills were available for a price because she is more practical than Selina…and to say anymore would venture into spoiler territory.
While favoritism feels wrong, I admit that of all the characters I created thus far, Cleo is my favorite. I enjoy her complexity, her mystery, her past, and even her tentativeness when life throws her a curveball. Before I finished the final edits on Dark Side of Dreaming, new scenes were already forming in my head and my fingertips itched. I’m not big on sequels, but I might make an exception for Cleo. And this time maybe I’ll work in skin-tight leather, high heels, and a bullwhip because my hero needs to be compensated for being put through the wringer once more.
- Ann Bruce
You can check out Bruce's sexy new heroine in Dark Side of Dreaming which is available now!