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Beth Kery is talking about Sweet Restraint & Chicago

Sweet Restraint

Publisher: Berkley Heat
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: July 7, 2009
Format: Trade Paperback

This time, he’ll never let her go…

Chicago Special Agent Shane Dominic was in love with Laura Vasquez until the day she left him and married another man. Thirteen years may have passed, but Laura’s never disappeared from his fantasies, or destroyed his desire to learn the truth about why she left him. When her husband, the criminal mastermind behind an international ring of thieves, is murdered, Shane knows this is his one last, desperate chance to learn Laura’s secrets. And he’s not above using their scorching hot passion for one another and a little domination to do it.

One look at Shane, and Laura’s own memories come back to haunt her. Her feelings run deep, but she’d never divulge her secrets—a desperate vow that’s compromised when Shane stuns her by taking her as his captive to a secluded cabin. Here, she will finally belong to him, be subjected to his every torturously erotic whim, and be forced to trust him with a shocking truth she’s hidden for so long—one that will expose them to a danger closing in on the both of them.

The setting of a book is important, and depending on the story, might even be crucial, becoming almost like another character. I like to write settings that I don’t just sort of know, but ones that I know very well. When I go to a new city, for instance, I like to dive in. I want to go to tourist spots, but I also want to walk the neighborhoods, drop in at random restaurants or pubs and browse local shops.

I want to capture the flavor of a neighborhood.

My books are often set in my hometown of Chicago. Since I’ve lived downtown now for nearly 20 years I consider myself to be a bit of an expert. Even so, every new neighborhood or district that I set a book in has a new flavor and history. For Daring Time, I walked the Prairie Avenue District repeatedly in addition to doing research in books and museums. After enough exposure, the neighborhood—both in the past and the present—came to life for me, evoking a sense of elegance and nostalgia that only grows the more times I tour the neighborhood.

For my upcoming Berkley Heat contemporary, Paradise Rules, my heroine is a native Hawaiian who wants nothing to do with her past and hasn’t returned to the islands since she was 11. She considers herself an outsider. I thought this was appropriate for my level of expertise, since I’ve been to the islands many times, but of course, am also an ‘outsider.’ Bringing the island to life, therefore, was a bit more of a challenge, but one I enjoyed accepting.

Chicago has long been known for having a dark, gothic quality—one of the reasons it was ideally suited for movies like The Dark Knight and dozens of film noir classics. For my upcoming Berkley Heat release, Sweet Restraint, Chicago is the perfect backdrop for the taut emotions and dark conflict that exist between the hero and heroine. I’ll offer this short excerpt from Sweet Restraint as an example.


For almost a minute neither of them spoke as he merged onto Lake Shore Drive south. It struck him as surreal to be driving a car with Laura Vasquez in the passenger seat. He’d never have guessed in a million years this morning that this was how his day would end.

“You shouldn’t have done that, Shane. One of them might have seen your license plates and figure out that I was just picked up by the Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Chicago offices—the same man who was responsible for Huey’s arrest.”

“Huey was responsible for his arrest, Laura.”

His stern tone might have been an attempt to neutralize the effect her low, husky voice had on his body. She was one of three people on the face of the earth who actually called him by his given name—his mother and father being the other two. He hadn’t heard it coming off her tongue for over a dozen years now.

He glanced at her, taking in the clean, harmonious curves and angles of her profile against the lights of the city, a flawless diamond set amongst glittering rhinestones.


Is setting important to you in a story? Do any particular books stand out for you in regard to setting—any book that made you say, “I’ve got to visit that place?” or “Oh, it makes me want to go back there?”

For more on Beth Kery and her books please visit her website at http://www.bethkery.com/

Answer Beth’s question and one lucky commenter could win a copy of either Wicked Burn or Daring Time – winners choice. Good Luck! 🙂


42 Responses

  1. Good Morning Beth and Greta!

    Great post! I think setting is important in a story but only if the author’s descriptive prose gives it authenticity which I think enhances the story.

    There are many books I’ve read that have made me want to visit the local or have brought back memories when I’ve read them. Your stories set in Chicago certainly have piqued my curiosity. I lived in California for a time and stories set there certainly evoke memories.

    Have a great day!

    Please don’t enter me in the draw because I have both your wonderful books.


  2. First of all, I have been reading great reviews of this book!!

    I have been wanting to visit Ireland after reading Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. Of course in those books, evil Fae are wandering around which adds a bit of fun to the setting;)

  3. Well any time I read about the Scottish highlands it makes me ache to go there. The same with Ireland. Perhaps that is why i like historicals and fantasy cos they make me wanna go places more than city books.

    Congrats on release day 😀

  4. I would love to go to St. Louis. I love how LKH describes it in her Anita Blake books. Hubby got to go 2 years ago for work, and he brought me back a penguin (those of you who read the books know where that is from!).
    AND if my bookstore had this book in stock, I would be there tonight picking it up, but sadly it doesn’t…so I will have to keep checking! 😀 Or well order it lol

  5. I’ve been hearing alot about this one, good luck on the release! I enjoy reading about different settings in books as it takes me to places that I wouldn’t be able to go to myself.

  6. Settings in a story are like important secondary characters to me. A good backdrop can set the scene and add a certain ‘feeling’ in the read, it has the power to make a story seem more real – whether it is a city teeming with people or the open ranges of the mountains.

    I do enjoy reads set in the mountains or big, open wide spaces like Nora Roberts Montana Sky or her Irish books – having said that I love Larissa Ione’s Demon books set in the claustraphobic world of the Underground Hospital beneath the teeming streets of New York. I guess it comes down to the authors talent at painting worlds and pictures in your mind that sucks you in.

  7. Hi Beth. Congratulations on the release of Sweet Restraint. I love the way authors describe the setting. It allows me to ‘journey” to places I would never be able to afford to visit.

  8. Hi!

    Sometimes the setting is more important than others. It depends on the book. Sometimes the setting is almost a character in the book, and other times I just want to skip over it and get on with the story.

  9. I love English books just because of the history. My family is from there and I enjoy reading about the small towns or time period. Otherwise, I’m super open to settings. I think as long as the author does it right, I’d like to travel anywhere. 🙂

    It totally depends on the book…such a generic answer but oh so true!

  10. Reading about the highlands of Scotland is what started my obsession with planning my dream vacation to there.

    Sweet Restraint sounds so great! I need to call BAM to see if they have it in.

  11. I think the setting can be over looked sometimes, but your so right in that it’s so important. I am currently reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels and I love that I can picture every thing around Bon Temps. It makes me feel that I am right next to Sookie in all her adventures. A good setting pulls you in without you knowing it. I would love to vist the south, I just picture the bugs are really really big there.
    I haven’t read any of your books yet Beth, but I will check them out now. They sound like they will be page turners.

  12. YES, the settings in a book are very important. With a clear visual of the characters and scenery it gives me a true feeling of being right there with the characters. Here are just a few of the authors books that I have read that I really feel give me a good visual settings and description of characters…Christine Feehan, JR Ward, Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter…there are more of course but these came to mind first. Oh how could I forget Stephanie Myers!

  13. I think setting is important in that it let’s me use all of my senses to physically and emotionally experience the world in relation to the characters. Setting is part of the story world and one poorly defined affects the other aspects of the story. Sometimes imagination is just not enough.

    I would love to visit Greece someday. I’ve always had a thing about ancient mythology and everything I’ve read about Greece whether from history to art to agriculture is exciting.

  14. Setting is important to me as it helps me visualize the story. It’s like a movie in my head.

    I love reading books set in Scotland like a few of the other commenters. I have always wanted to go there so each time I read about it, it’s almost like a virtual vacation. It’s my dream vacation.

    Please don’t enter me in the drawing. I am already the lucky owner of both of these books by Beth (and they were fabulous!)

  15. Hi, Beth! I think that it can depend–in some stories, the setting is really well developed, and it’s almost like another character–it has personality and life to add to the story. In other stories, the setting is really irrelevant–the story could take place almost anywhere, and the focus is really on the characters and plot. I do enjoy stories that make use of the setting and that give me a chance to “visit” a place I’ve never seen before. I also enjoy those that I’ve been before because it’s a chance to “be” there with the characters in a deeper way.

    Happy release day!

  16. I don’t care about setting at all! As long as the characters are good and I enjoy the story…I could care less about the setting. 🙂

  17. Hi Beth and Greta!

    I liked reading about the setting because then I could imagine what it’s like but not being able too go myself.

  18. I like reading the setting as it adds to richness of the reading experience. I don’t like when an author sets a book in a location, but the location is never actually part of the book. I like the setting to be at least a background character. I’ve been to Paris a few times and I am a sucker for books located in France, especially Paris.

  19. Happy Release Day, Beth.
    The setting is an important part of the story and sometimes I do get an itch to visit the place being described on the pages.

  20. Hello Beth — yes, sometimes when I read books it makes me want to visit the places they are set in. Anne Rice’s books always made me want to visit Louisiana.
    Also, all of the regency books I enjoyed prompted me to visit the UK.

  21. Hi Beth and Greta,

    Setting is very important. For me, the story is much more enriching, and sometimes I can visualize these places and fantasize. And learn a little about history.

  22. Greta, thanks for the gracious invitation to post on your blog!

    Interesting comments. There is a lot of truth to what Lyoness says. I don’t want a book to be overburdened with setting…long diatribes of description, etc.

    A well written book can really evoke a flavor, though, of a spot. Marial–perfect example, Anne Rice in New Orleans. Oh man, that setting was so rich you could ladle it up.

    Willa, right about Larissa I. You know setting is important when you ‘just can’t picture the story anywhere else.


  23. Settings in the books take me to places I could never afford to goto.

  24. Yes, the setting is important. I have read many books set in New Orleans and I’ve been dying to go there ever since!

  25. The setting is important, but I don’t like it when it is overly descriptive. I like to let my imagination take me there, with the author’s help. I like to get an idea of the setting, but then I kind of turn into something more on my own. One story that sticks out in my mind is Coulters Woman by Maya Banks. I love the snow and the setting really was great for me. I am almost positive it was in Colorado, which is now a place that I would love to visit. Thanks for the contest!

    amy m

  26. Settings are important. Everytime I read about a book set in Ireland it makes me want to go.

  27. I find the setting helps make the story more real to me. I thought Gena Showalter did a good job in her Lords of the Underworld series and Kresley Cole in her Immortals After Dark series.

    BTW, your books sound awesome! I can’t wait to pick them up!

  28. I like the setting..both if I have been to the same place and can recognize it through the author’s words and also to new places that draw me in and want to go there (real or imagined!).

  29. Happy release day. Count me in please.

  30. Setting description is almost as important as character description. If I can visualize the characters and then visualize their world, it makes for a really fun read.

  31. I think setting is important to the story. It helps one get into the story more. You can either visit a familiar place or get to know a new place to you.

    congrats on the book release.

  32. Hey Beth and Greta~

    I do think that setting is important to give you a feel for the story and sets the vibe for the story. Although, I really focus more on the characters than the setting.

    I am really looking forward to reading this.

  33. Happy Release Day, Beth!!
    And I don’t think setting are important to the story, but I do think they can add TO the story, if that makes sense. I’ve read books that the settings have stayed in my mind for years. Like JAK’s Eclipse Bay series. I so want to live there!! Many of Nora’s settings make me sigh and want to go at least visit……………and lots of authors have that effect on me. But not really sure that they add or take away from the story line itself.
    Hmm….you’ve given me something to think on.

  34. congrats on the books
    such hot covers

    i like the differnt setting cause a hot romance can be anywhere, depends on the story and the chemsitry

  35. Sweet Restraint sounds great! I have read alot of books set in New Orleans and would love to visit there one day and Texas too. Congrats on the new release!

  36. Anne Rices books make me want to visit new orleans. Also I’ve read a lot of books set in Texas that stayed in my mind.

  37. I like books that will give acurate details of the setting and surrounding area but only if it is necessary to the basic story. James A Michner was famous for starting his books with a chapter giving a history as well as a geology lesson of the setting, sometimes even including pre-historic times, physical creation & development. I liked that in his books, but sometimes he went a little overboard and gave so much information he was in danger of losing the reader before the story even got started.

    On the other hand, I have been known to get out my US road map atlas or world atlas to find places on the maps that are talked about in the stories.

  38. The setting seems to become me important to me if it is a place I have actually been. THEN, I can see myself there and add my sensory memories to the world the author is creating. Nightwalker by Jocelynn Drake really clicked with me because of the descriptions of Savannah – I had just returned from a vacation there and it made me want to return again.

    I would love to win one of your books, please enter me in this contest. Thank you, Miranda

  39. Congrats on the release!
    I think settings are important, every time I read books set in Scotland, Spain or Greece I’d love to visit the countries. But I care more for the characters.

  40. I love historical romances and I think that the setting has a lot to do with that…usually Scottish highlands or somewhere is England. Setting is definitely important because it is a way to really enhance the story

  41. “I’ve got to visit that place?”
    My place is Venice, Italy. I’ve never been there but from what I’ve read and pictures I’ve seen, it’s a place that’s steaming with romantcism and senuality.

  42. I would love to visit italy & Greece. I love the ruins & old buildings etc. I am of Italian descent & I’ve never been. I have both books. Just visiting to say I like your site.

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