Character Interview, Series Spotlight & Giveaway : Curio Series by Cara McKenna

Series Blurbs and Links to Toot's Reviews

Curio - Caroly Evardt never expected to find herself patronizing a prostitute. Then again, she never expected to be weeks from her thirtieth birthday and still a virgin.

When a friend mentions that a gorgeous male model in Paris sells his body as well as his image, Caroly’s intrigued. Finally, a chance to sample the gifts of a beautiful man—no strings, no stakes, no fear of rejection.

But she soon discovers that Didier Pedra amounts to more than a striking face and a talented body. He’s a kind, charming, damaged man, and after a few evenings’ pleasurable education, Caroly’s interest blossoms into something far deeper than mere lust. Her simple arrangement is suddenly feeling downright dangerous…

Coercion - This is the first title in the Curio Vignettes series, followup stories to the novel Curio.

June has come to Paris. But while his neighbors are shedding layers and going out in search of spring sunshine, Didier Pedra prefers the quiet sanctuary of his garret, content to watch the city’s bustle from the safety of his windows. He’s shaped his life around venturing inside of things—inside clocks and other brass curiosities to pass a lonely afternoon, and, once the sun sinks, inside the bodies and minds of the women who pay for the privilege of sampling his other skills.

Craving - This is the second title in the Curio Vignettes series, followup stories to the novel Curio.

What a difference a season makes.

In the spring, Caroly arrived on Didier Pedra’s doorstep in Paris as so many women have—ready to buy an evening’s pleasure with a gorgeous man skilled in the craft of seduction. She was a trembling virgin then, but so much has changed. It’s summer now, and she no longer pays for his company…nor suffers from the delusion that he’s as perfect as he seems. He’s a shutin with a crippling fear of the outdoors, but he’s also the most kind and passionate man.

Click here for Toot's Review of this book

Reversal - This is the third title in the Curio Vignettes series, followup stories to the novel Curio.

Didier Pedra can read a woman’s body like a book, sense her deepest needs and satisfy her every craving. It’s his job, after all.

But drop him in the center of Paris, the only city he’s ever known, and he’s lost, reduced to a trembling wreck by agoraphobia. When the world feels too frightening, he eagerly escapes into sex, that realm he could navigate blindfolded. Except one of his lovers—Caroly, the only woman who doesn’t pay for the pleasure of his gifts—insists she prefers the real Didier to the capable, seductive fa├žade. She urges him to let her lead for a change, so he can confront the fears that haunt his mind through the familiar safety of his body.

A night’s cathartic reversal, when the masterful tutor submits to his student’s darkest curiosities.

Confession - This is the fourth title in the Curio Vignettes series, follow-up stories to the novel Curio. 

Caroly has waited forever to fall in love. An American now living in Paris, she’s finally found what she craved all those lonely years—a passionate, sensitive man, more gorgeous than she’d ever dreamed, and just as beautiful on the inside. 

The only issue? Well, that small matter of him being a prostitute. 

Didier’s job is more than a calling. It’s a beloved craft, a chance to soothe broken hearts. It’s also a crutch—the perfect vocation for an agoraphobe, never forcing Didier to leave the safety of his flat. Yet the role he used to cherish has soured since he met Caroly, his admirers now feeling more like enablers. It’ll take a leap of faith to cast his fear aside in favor of a future, but when the alternative is to risk losing the woman he loves, he might discover he’s braver than he ever knew.

Exposure - This is the fifth title in the Curio Vignettes series, follow-up stories to the novel Curio.

Love can drive a normal man to extraordinary feats—inspire him to scale a mountain, swim an ocean, brave a raging fire.

Didier Pedra wouldn’t consider himself a normal man, but an unexpected romance has changed him nonetheless. A severe agoraphobe, he left his flat for the first time in years to prove himself worthy of the woman he loves. A long-enabled prostitute, he’s now given up the clients who’ve warmed his bed, padded his bank account and coddled his disorder, ensuring he need never venture outside the safety of his home.

For Caroly, he’s taken the ultimate leap of faith—boarded a train to travel farther than he has in half a lifetime, so they can celebrate the start of their future together with a trip to Provence. There are no gains without struggle, and this love is a prize worth fighting for.

Character Interview with Didier (Main Hero of the Curio Series)

Didier Pedra wouldn’t consider himself a normal man, but an unexpected romance has changed him nonetheless. A severe agoraphobe, he left his flat for the first time in years to prove himself worthy of the woman he loves. A long-enabled prostitute, he’s now given up the clients who’ve warmed his bed, padded his bank account and coddled his disorder, ensuring he need never venture outside the safety of his home.

Hi Didier, Thank you so much for stopping by Toot's Book Reviews and taking the time to do an interview. I can't tell you how much I love your story and just wanted to thank you so much for sharing it with us. As you know, this blog hop is about Tortured Heroes and not to be impolite but I can't think of anyone better that fits that bill than you. One of major reasons I wanted to interview you as a featured Tortured Hero on my blog is that to me you are an unsung hero. My definition of a hero isn't always a gun toting, world saving person of action but sometimes, it's simply someone finding the inner strength to change what is so horribly wrong in one's life to make things better. You have overcome so much to be with your lovely Caroly and I wanted to ask you a few questions, so the readers can get to know you better and hopefully will fall in love with your story as much as I have. So if you're ready, here we go…

Firstly, the pleasantries…

How are you?

I’m well, thank you. Some days are easier than others, but you’ve caught me on one of my better ones. 

And Caroly?

Also well. She’s due back from work soon, so there is sure to be good company and expensive cheese in my near future. 

And the pigeons?

A glance out the kitchen window tells me the Sommelier has come home to his ledge for the evening, and I saw Gauguin earlier this afternoon. And the Perverts have expanded—we now have three voyeurs at the bedroom window, most nights. 

How's the new job?

The job itself is a joy, though I find the commute challenging…though less so than when I first began working at the jeweller’s. But it’s nice to meet so many people who share my peculiar interest in watches and clocks; I’m not alone in my fixation, I’ve discovered. As alienating as the journey to the shop can sometimes feel, there is a certain unexpected sense of comfort and community to the routines and the regulars. 

Life questions.... 

One thing both Caroly and you seem to enjoy is good food and good wine. Do you have any recommendations?

That woman is far more of a snob than I, when it comes to wine :-) I will drink nearly anything, though I do prefer a dry red. She won’t touch a bottle bearing a screw-cap or a sale sticker, but I’m not so discerning. 

I know you love complex puzzles, i.e. clock repair and now lock picking as well. Besides those and Caroly, what are some of your other pastimes? 

I listen to quite a lot of music—old vinyl albums I inherited from my mother and some I’ve scrounged more recently from a music shop near my new job. Most any type, from classical to jazz to American blues and old country, though nothing too…chaotic. I also cook quite often, of course, and read. Goodness, I sound dull. Though Caroly does manage to drag me out the door two or three evenings a week, to go to a gallery or museum or restaurant, so I’m dabbling in the Parisian nightlife once again, at least. 

Do you have any book or music recommendations?

For books, whatever lets you depart your own brain for a few hours. For music, whatever makes your body respond. 

Have you ever thought of writing a book?

Oh my, no. Who on earth would want to read about a shut-in who spends his days fixing clocks? Some of my former clients, however…now they could tell you some stories. 

If there were no limits, what would your perfect date be?

May I assume you mean no limits to my disorder, as well? If so, whatever Caroly wanted, I imagine. Every outing is an extraordinary one to me, after three years in self-imposed exile, but to be able to excite her would be a treat indeed. Somewhere out of the city, perhaps. Maybe involving a train ride and a night spent in Marseilles or Lyon. Whatever she wished. 

More difficult personal questions… 

One of my absolute favorite scenes and one I still hold in high regard is when you tell Caroly you love her on the roof. Being an expert in the love/romance area, do you have any advice or words of wisdom?

Words of wisdom for suitors, do you mean? I suppose I’d say, if you’re hoping to make a grand impression, aim for one that terrifies you :-) I’d like to think it meant something to Caroly that I waited to tell her how I felt until I was ready to humble myself, bear my soul with more than just pretty words and easy gestures. She seems to value me when I’m shaking and pale even more than she loves the calm seducer, so I wanted to make sure it was that man, who told her. The one with the most still to prove. 

You are also an expert in the bedroom. Caroly often comments on the variety you can provide in that arena. Any advice for our readers on pleasing their partner?

I’m a rather unique case, I fear, as the closest thing I have to a fetish is my desire to be whatever a woman wants, sexually. I might boil that down to, “Spoil your lover. Set aside your own preferences for a night and cater, cater, cater.” 

When we first meet you in Curio, you seem to be the epitome of maleness as well as Caroly's ideal man but as the story goes on, the mask of that fantasy man is peeled back and we are given a glimpse of some of the private demons that you battle. You chose to fight them to be with your lady love. The main one being Agoraphobia. It is a horribly debilitating and complex anxiety disorder but one you seem to be overcoming. Mind if I ask you some questions on this topic?

Ask away. 

In the first book, you decide to leave your house for the first time to meet Caroly at work. How difficult a decision was that first huge step knowing you'd be battling your Agoraphobia the whole time?

I have quite severe agoraphobia, and I could only attempt to explain it to a non-agoraphobic person through their own lens of anxiety. If a person were afraid of snakes or spiders, I’d liken it to how they might feel about leaving their room, if they knew the awaiting hallway was writhing with cobras or skittering with tarantulas. I fear open spaces and crowds with the intensity certain others fear drowning or suffocation. It’s a physical stress, as well as a mental and emotional one. It gives me panic attacks, on occasion. It took me multiple efforts on multiple days to succeed in making that first gesture, and even then I was wreck through the entire outing. 

It seems when your Agoraphobia is particularly difficult, you retreat into a cage of your own making by working on clocks but yet, you've chosen to pursue them as a new career. Have you encountered any challenges with this decision?

The commute, mainly, and the occasional difficult personality. I have issues with entitled, aggressive men, and sometimes a customer will fit that mold. Luckily I stay tucked away in the corner at my little work station for much of the day, and most people who bother to engage me are curious and friendly. They far outweight the less pleasant visitors. I also tend to grow quite absorbed—borderline hypnotized—by my work, and at first I thought the shop’s owner might worry I was missing a few cogs, myself. But I think he’s come to accept my eccentricities. 

Any advice for someone suffering from the same disorder who might want to get better as well?

I know too well how challenging this condition can be… I would never purport to dispense wisdom, as though my experience mirrors anyone else’s, or as if my recovery were in any way complete. I would also not suggest this disorder can be fixed, per se, merely managed. But if pushed for advice, I would say: find something you love more than your own sense of security, something or someone you want to be stronger for. A motivation. Then do your best, taking the smallest of baby steps, and forgive yourself when you fail. Treat yourself as you would a loved one—be patient, but don’t coddle or enable. And seek therapy, if you think that will help. That hasn’t been my path, but I wouldn’t discourage anyone from exploring all avenues. 

Caroly and yourself recently went on holiday, which was a huge step in the recovery process. Are you planning any new travel adventures?

We have vague plans, only. Day-to-day life is adventure enough for me, for the time being, and Caroly’s new position is keeping her quite occupied for the foreseeable future. There are so many parts of Paris that are still new and thrilling to me, so I think we’ll limit ourselves to the city, for the next six months or more. After that, perhaps some travel within France. I would quite like to go to Bretagne or Aquitaine, sometime—I haven’t been to the seaside for ages. 

Throughout the series, you were dreaming of a future with Caroly, possibly moving and starting a family. Has any progress been made in that department?

We are still enjoying the rewards and challenges of simply living together, for now—which are many, and fascinating. But I do believe I want a child one day, and I suspect she’s becoming intrigued by the idea, as well. We’ll be giving it a lot of measured thought, as neither of us is blessed with particularly sterling genetics—there’s considerable mental illness in both our families. But the more manageable my day-to-day challenges become, the more possible these things seem, and the more comfortable I feel with the idea of perhaps staying in Paris, or near to it. I’m slowly coming to remember that I once enjoyed this city, in my stronger, calmer periods, and I know Caroly loves it here. Few cities can offer her the professional opportunities she craves the way that Paris can. The possibilities and hope seem to expand, week by week. Plus I no longer wish to construct my world and my life around what feels safe, but rather what will force me to grow the most. 

Lastly, Can you tell us five things that fans of your story don't know about you?

Goodness, you really are making me strain to prove myself passably interesting, aren’t you? Well, I like the cinema—one of a very few public places I truly missed, those years I didn’t go out. We have excellent theaters in Paris, with different films—old and new—being played on every corner, it seems. What else…? I have ticklish feet. I become insufferably needy when I have a cold or flu. I can’t bake to save my life, not even bread. I picked the lock on Caroly’s fire-proof documents box and hid a love letter inside. She hasn’t found it yet. 

Didier, I can't tell you how thankful I am that you took time out to talk to me. Thank you so very much and I wish you all the best in your continued recovery on your way to your Happily Ever After!

It was a pleasure, Carey. You’re quite welcome.

Author Bio

Cara McKenna writes smart erotica—sexy stories with depth. A little dark, a little funny, always emotional. She also writes red-hot romance under the name Meg Maguire. Her wonderful publishers are Ellora's Cave, Harlequin® Blaze™, Penguin / Intermix, and Samhain. She loves writing sexy, character-driven stories about strong-willed men and women who keep each other on their toes, and bring one another to their knees.

Before becoming a purveyor of red-hot romance and smart erotica, Cara was a record store bitch, a lousy barista, a decent designer, and an over-enthusiastic penguin handler.

Cara now writes full-time and lives north of Boston with her bearded husband. When she's not trapped in her own head she can usually be found in the kitchen, the coffee shop, or jogging around the nearest duck-filled pond. She is a very proud member of the Romance Writers of America® and her local New England Chapter. She was a 2010 Golden Heart® finalist, a 2012 Golden Leaf finalist, and a 2012 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award nominee.

If for some misguided reason you'd like to meet Cara, in 2013 she'll be attending attending the RWA New England Chapter conference in April, the Romantic Times Booklovers' Convention in May, and RWA National in July.

Cara is represented by Laura Bradford, of the Bradford Literary Agency.

Cara posts frequently on the Super Lucky #1 Fun Blog, and monthly on the Blaze Authors Blog and the Wonkomance blog.

Have questions or comments? E-mail her.
You can also find her on Twitter and Goodreads.


Because Toot's is so thrilled to feature 
Curio by Cara McKenna

We're personally giving away a 
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  1. Having a great day, how about you?

  2. My day is going FABULOUSLY, babe. I am TRYING to write, but keep letting FB distract me! >.< BACK TO WORK I go! hehe XOXOXO