The Sweetest Taboo: An Unconventional Romance by Harper Miller
Source: Review by Request
Book Provided by the Author
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
New York City, Late Summer 2009
Like many single women who reside in the city that never sleeps, Micah Foster has had numerous encounters with undesirable men that make her want to renounce love. Just when she’s on the verge of calling it quits in her quest to find love and a sustainable relationship with a Dominant man, her friend Kisa requests her company for a girl’s night out at Spanxxx, a local fetish club. Both Kisa and Micah are seasoned submissive players in the BDSM lifestyle. Micah has been involved in the scene since her early twenties, but she has yet to meet a Dominant she meshes with and takes seriously. Now, at age thirty, she continues to search for a connection that repeatedly eludes her. Under duress, she crosses paths with Dominant Rick Thomas. Unusual and dire circumstances bring the pair together, and he’s exactly what Micah has been searching for.
The Sweetest Taboo is aptly titled. It’s an unconventional erotic love story that provides a different perspective of a relationship involving D/s and BDSM. The reader will follow Micah and Rick’s journey from beginning to end. You’ll laugh, you’ll be turned on, and most of all, you’ll find yourself cheering for their love.
A sweetly kinky romance for lovers of strong submissives…
A love story can begin anywhere, and ours began the night I saved her life.
Couple of things right of the bat – I love how this couple met, and the gradual build up of trust and respect throughout their relationship. They were freakin’ adorable and impossibly sexy in equal measure.
It was easy to feel the love grow between these characters.
In the Prologue we have the opportunity to see this couple’s HEA, and with the first chapter, we rewind three years to the night they met.
Micah Marie Foster
Assistant registrar at the Whitney Museum
Sure, my long-term goal was to find the right Dom, but i’d rather wait for something real. i’m no doormat and have few self-esteem issues; if you feel the need to try and belittle me to get your rocks off, i am not the one for you.
Micah was such a fun and approachable character – she was strong minded, quirky, and completely charming. She has an awesome sense of humor, a love of 80’s music, vintage video games, and art.
She’s not your average little sub – she is in her early 30s, experienced (in life, love, and kink), she’s driven, and she doesn’t take shit from anybody. She knows what she wants, and she’s not going to settle for anything less.
She is reluctantly dragged to a fetish club by her best friend, and winds up having a severe asthma attack in the middle of the club. Lucky for her, one of the Doms in attendance happens to be a gorgeous doctor.
He saves her life,
Sweeps her off her feet,
and changes her entire life in the process…
Dr. Richard Thomas, MD
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
“…If a man deems a woman worthy, He will make her His. He will fight for her. He will honor her. He will provide for her. He will protect her. I believe paths are meant to cross at certain points in time. People meet eachother when they’re supposed to. It’s what the universe wants.”
Rick breaks the mold of the unapproachable, cold as ice Dom which seems to be quite prevalent in contemporary erotic romance. He was warm and honest with a sense of humor and playfulness which complimented Micah perfectly. He wasn’t looking for anything serious on the night he met Micah – he didn’t want to settle for something short term.
He’s looking for the real deal, folks. The perfect woman who will bow to him at home, but take on the rest of the world with a fiery passion. He wants a sub, partner, best friend, and wife… He knows that he’s looking for a needle in a hay stack, so he’s been content to live his life and have the occasional kinky sexual encounter to sate his appetite while he waits for the perfect woman to present herself.
He’s clearly attracted to Micah, but once he discovers that she might be The One, he lays all his cards on the table. He’s looking for forever and if she can’t handle that, she should walk away.
These two begin a relationship which seamlessly blends sweet romance and hot kink. It was absolutely enjoyable and will leave a smile on your face!
I had a single problem with this book.
It resulted in my decision to give this a 4-Star rating rather than a 4.5…
The prose took some getting used to on my part.
my Master looked like a starving Man. i guess in theory that was true: i was His meal, and He was ready to devour me.
The D/s custom of using case-sensitivity to denote one’s role a D/s relationship (see quote) was used throughout the ENTIRE book. While I believe that the style of writing (generally seen in message boards rather than novels) could be appropriate when demonstrating the mindset of a character during a sexual scene, it seemed out of place and a bit distracting when used constantly.
See, Micah Foster is a sexual submissive, but she’s assertive in her business. She bends to the will of her Dominant, but she’s no slave… So the idea that she would think in such terms while at work just didn’t make sense to me.
This is one of those subjective things which stood out to me, but other readers might not take notice of. I just feel I should mention it.
“Afternoon.” I shoved My hands down into the pockets of My lab coat before I did something unprofessional. “Are you all ready to go?”
she nodded. “Yes, Dr. Thomas. The nurse brought my discharge papers a few hours ago. i was just packing my stuff before heading out, but i’m glad You stopped by. i wanted to thank You for Your help.
“i can’t tell You how humbled i am by Your act of kindness. You saved my life, and i will be forever grateful,” she said as her eyes darted around the room, looking everywhere but at Me. she shoved a sweater into her bag with less care than she took with her other clothing.
her words were sincere, but for whatever reason, I must have made her nervous, although I wasn’t sure why. she gathered the plastic bag and her purse before quickly brushing past Me and exiting the room.
This was not how I envisioned things going. I increased My pace and caught up with micah at the nurse’s station. It was all or nothing; I only had a few moments to make an impression.
“ms. foster? micah?” I called out. I composed Myself as I approached her.
she slowed her pace, bid farewell to the nurses, then turned in My direction. I jumped at the opportunity, unable to wait a moment longer. “ms. foster, I was hoping to speak with you before you left. Once you signed the discharge papers, the doctor-patient relationship ended. That means I’m no longer your treating physician and you’re no longer My patient. With that said, I have a question I’d like to ask. Please hear Me out. Don’t take this the wrong way . . .”
her facial expression was unreadable, so I continued.
“I’m not trying to be a creep, but I would regret letting you leave today without at least giving this a fair shot. I sincerely apologize if you feel this is inappropriate or too forward, but ms. foster, I’d love your company for a drink or dinner . . . whichever you’d prefer. Will you allow Me to take you out?”
Waiting for her answer seemed to take an eternity. she didn’t look at My face; instead her gaze landed somewhere around the name embroidered on the left breast pocket of My lab coat. her lower lip found its way between her teeth as she stared, apparently deep in thought. In what seemed to be a delayed reaction, she gawked up at My face, clearly surprised by My question.
Was she put off by the entire idea or just caught off guard by My request? Either way, her answer would let Me know which way she was leaning. I just hoped to God she wasn’t leaning toward no.
she finally provided Me a small reprieve. “You want to take me out?”
“Like on a date?”
“Yes,” I replied again.
“i’m sorry, Dr. Thomas, but i don’t date,” she said, dismissing Me as she continued toward the elevators.
Oh, she was going to make this interesting. her flippant attitude bothered the hell out of Me, but I was going to see this through. I quickly followed in an attempt to catch her before the elevator doors opened and she walked out of My life.
Interview with Harper Miller:
If you were to describe your book in only one word, what would it be?
Fiya (not fire but FI-YAHHHH) *insert blazing fire graphic here*
Smutsonian side note: Oh! We can totally do that! LOL
What would you say inspired you to write it?
Oh, a myriad of things. First, the suckage that is my dating life. I continue to wonder if mature men who aren’t commitment-phobes and have their crap together exist! I created Rick out of frustration. Book boyfriends are perfect—they leave the toilet seat down always—but honestly, I wrote The Sweetest Taboo from the standpoint of a voracious reader and someone who is active in the kink lifestyle. A great deal of BDSM-themed books I’ve read portrayed the hero as an aggressive douche. Lines between abusive and Dominant were blurred and I started to believe a lot of readers might actually think this is what Doms are like. Noooooo, ma’am! The concept for my story started off as a scene I wrote based on a photograph I viewed in a Facebook group. I created the prologue based on that photograph but afterward, the characters just wouldn’t shut the hell up, so I kept writing.
What was the source of inspiration for Micah Foster?
Me! LoL. I’m a firecracker who would probably turn into a pussycat for the right guy. Visually, my muse for Micah was NYC-based fashion blogger Paola Mathe. I find her stunning and she was who I envisioned as I wrote the character, until I met my cover model, Tayo Oredein. Now when I think of Micah, I see both Paola and Tayo. I think they both do the character justice.
What about Rick Thomas?
For Rick’s personality? I was my own inspiration. I have oodles of Domme tendencies. OODLES! I identified with Rick way more than Micah. Visually, I saw three different men in my head as I wrote Rick. Actor Eric Winter, model Steve Boyd, and actor Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent. They combined to form a Voltron of hunkage. *bow chica wow wow*
What is your all time favorite book?
Kindred by Octavia Butler.
What made you pick that one above all others?
Octavia Butler was a force to be reckoned with. She wrote phenomenal stories. It’s not every day that black women make a dent in the sci-fi genre, but she exposed me to a lot and I’ve been a fan of her work ever since. If you dig vampire stories, Fledgling might be up your alley. It was unfortunate that it was her last published piece of work because I believe she still had so many more great stories to tell.
What made you decide to become an author?
I still think I’m only an author in Facebook name title. LOL. I see stories as mini movies playing in my head. Writing was a hobby I picked up and completely went with. I write a lot for work. Academic writing I can do with no problem, but romance writing took getting used to. My initial sentences were stilted, but with some practice and an editor I lovingly refer to as “Thor,” I get better daily.
Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
Yes, I have to put on a filter. Harper out of author mode is completely inappropriate and unfiltered. LOL.
What would you say was the toughest part?
The toughest part of this author journey thus far had to be letting go. I’m a perfectionist and I didn’t exactly plan accordingly. I didn’t really intend to publish until late June. I set aside a month for editing. Silly me. Editing takes way more time than a month, so when it came time to upload my manuscript to Amazon, I did it at the last possible moment. I was on my laptop at 11:56 pm and the deadline was midnight. I’ve reread The Sweetest Taboo at least 10 times after that, and my eyes always zero in on the minute errors I missed. Most readers probably won’t notice, but I know they’re there. When it finally goes to print, I will definitely make sure they’re corrected. I just want to ensure that people get what they paid for. My editing team had to talk me down from the ledge and remind me that even with traditional publishers and tons of eyes on a manuscript, sometimes thing slip through the cracks.
Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
Yep, I had no intention of writing a second book but then my beta readers asked me, “But what about Kisa?” I was thinking, well, what about Kisa? LOL. I didn’t have time to think about her much while I was writing the story of Micah and Rick, but during the editing process, her story came to me. I outlined it, but we’ll see what happens when I sit down at my laptop and start writing.
Was there ever a time, during your work for this book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
Yes, when Thor was breathing down my neck to finish my edits and my copy editor told me I only had 2 days to get her my completed manuscript to her if I wanted it back in time to publish. I changed my mind when I thought about all the pissed-off people who would loathe me if I didn’t release this book on time as promised.
What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside from writing?
I drink a lot of wine and beer. Micah and I have a lot in common that way. I also spend a great deal of time enjoying fitness-related activities. I have a 9-5 gig that I thoroughly enjoy. I’m always finding new things to do in NYC and, of course, I read! I never leave home without my Kindle.
How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism?
It honestly doesn’t bother me. I treated my first two-star review the same way I treated my first five-star review. No two people read a book the same way. Some people will love The Sweetest Taboo, and some will hate it. That’s life. I put out the type of story I would want to read, and hoped that others would want something completely different from what they were used to. I did everything differently for my debut novel. I wrote it in first person, which most people loathe. It was about an interracial couple, which some people still aren’t into. I threw in the kink dynamic between this couple, which a lot of people misunderstand. I figured, hey, if I’m going to release a book, why not do it my way from the beginning? I value constructive criticism. Key word: constructive. If a reviewer takes the time to thoughtfully tell me what they loved and hated about my book, I’m listening. When a review quickly turns into an attack, that’s when I tune out. I have no place for negativity in my life.
What would you advise other authors to that effect?
I’d advise authors to do the same. Tune out the negative and focus on the positive. If readers want to help you as a writer, listen to their suggestions. If they want to slander you and your work, deflect deflect deflect! #aintnobodygottimeforthat
What do you have in store for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next?
I’m starting Kisa and Josh’s story during the Christmas holiday. I have two weeks to get in some uninterrupted writing while I spend time with my family. After that? I honestly have no idea. I will only write when inspiration strikes. I’m not one to force a story.
How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to when you hit “Publish”?
I wrote the prologue more than a year ago. Completely forgot about it. Then one day out of the blue, in December of last year, I started writing. It was like the characters had reappeared and wouldn’t hush up! I would write very sporadically. A weekend here, a weekend there. I wondered, “What the hell am I gonna do with this story?” An author friend of mine said that I could publish it on her blog. Then I thought, “Hmmm, let me continue to write and see where this goes.” By the time June rolled around, I said hmmm . . . I might actually publish this! I contacted my cover artist to discuss a custom shoot and the rest is history. So I would say from writing to publish, it took about eighteen months.
What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
I most certainly did. Although as I explained above, due to my poor planning there was a bit of a time crunch, so my team hustled to get things done quickly because of my faux pas.
How did you decide who to hire, if you worked with pros?
I solicited my editor. She’s a friend of a friend. I saw her posts on Twitter and I thought “Wow, she really knows her stuff.” I sent her a message and told her I was interested in hiring her. Thing is . . . she had no interest in BDSM at all! LOL. Wasn’t her thing. I sent her my prologue, riddled with errors, and asked her to read it and see if she was intrigued. She wrote me back and said it wasn’t a bad start and wanted to know more. I did my duty! *fist pump*
My copy editor is my sorority sister. She freelances for a traditional publisher.
My cover artist makes some of the best covers I’ve seen, and the fact that she was local helped. I wanted an in-person meeting. I also wanted people who understood my vision and were fully aware that I was demanding and could be a handful. Everyone I worked with understood all of my quirks and made it work. Not to mention, I went into the project with the idea that it wasn’t just about me. Their names would be on this book too, and I wanted them to be proud to be associated with it.
Where is your work being distributed (Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc)? How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
You can currently find The Sweetest Taboo: An Unconventional Romance on Amazon, AllRomance, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. Initially, it was available on Google Play, but I’ve since removed it. Their terms of service and pricing didn’t sit well with me. I spoke with a couple of author friends and asked them where they saw the most sales and decided to upload to those sites. I wanted places where there was a heavy volume of e-book buying.
If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change?
*Sings* If I could turn back time . . . if I could find a way . . .
I’d just give myself more time for editing, which I will absolutely do for book two. Other than that? No, I wouldn’t change a thing.
If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
A man. Well let me clarify: A good-looking man, who is fit, secure emotionally and financially, confident, funny, and has the sex drive of a bull. You have a genie on tap, Shurrn?
Smutsonian side note:
Um… If Santa is giving those out for Christmas this year, I want one too!
If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one item you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
Name your favorite fruit.
Bananas. Best fruit evarrrrr.
How about favorite time of the day?
Morning. I’m totally that obnoxious morning person.
Were you a Girl Scout?
Favorite food for breakfast?
What is the latest book you’ve bought and read?
As I type this, I’m reading JR Ward’s Dark Lover. I’m on the Black Dagger Brotherhood bandwagon (say that three times fast).
What was the last book you absolutely fell in love with?
Savannah Frierson’s Being Plumville.
Is there a book you keep meaning to read, but haven’t gotten around to it? Don’t worry, we all have ridiculously long TBRs!
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series! I’ve had the first six books on my Kindle for almost a year.
Do you recall the first piece of Erotica you ever read?
A. N. Roquelaure’s Sleeping Beauty Trilogy.
Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
LOL, no. I’m too much of a neat freak to be a hoarder, although I do have a growing collection of running sneakers.
Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
Pink and black. Can’t choose just one.
Coffee or tea?
Sweet or salty?
Drama or comedy?
Cats or dogs?
Do you have a favorite quote or personal motto?
Sure do, it’s at the end of my email signature: “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”―Maya Angelou.
Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
Dinner by candlelight. I’m such a sap!
Do you have a favorite Book Boyfriend/Girlfriend?
Yes! Scott Reed in the S&M series by Vera Roberts. He is the asshole-ish but oh-so-lovable Dom.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
’80s music. Best. Thing. Ever.
Favorite Swear Word?
Harper Miller has graciously offered to giveaway a $20 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky Smutsonian reader! Just in time for Christmas! Click here to enter:
About the Author:
Harper Miller is a thirty-something native New Yorker. She’s traveled the world and lived in a variety of places but always finds her way back to the Big Apple.
A lackluster love life leaves time to explore new interests, for Harper it is writing. The Sweetest Taboo is her debut novel. In her mind the perfect Alpha male possesses intellect, humor, and a kinky streak that rivals the size of California.
When she isn’t writing, Harper utilizes her graduate degree in the field of medical research. She enjoys fitness-related activities, drinking copious amounts of wine, and going on bad dates.