Sierra Cartwright, USA Today Bestselling Author of Erotic Romance Novels, Confesses Seven Secrets to Female First Readers…You Heard It Here First



I adore alpha males, and I cast them in the lead role of all of my books. Yes, they are annoying. Irritating. Always right. Confident, even to the point of arrogance. And they have very high moral values. They live by a rigid code of conduct. What's even more maddening is that they expect others to, as well. You'll never find my heroes mistreating a woman. Flogging her to the point she is overcome by an exquisite orgasm is something else entirely. Early on in my career, before I was writing erotic romances, a reviewer said she loved that my heroes always had integrity. I'd never thought of it that way, but I think she was correct. They will go to extreme measures to protect the people they love. They're loyal, and so terribly demanding.

I am always on the quest for the perfect cocktail. After spending two years on a magnificent mojito that had me growing my own mint, I've moved onto margaritas. And if the recipe isn't perfect, it's really, really close. It goes down easy and smooth. It delicious and dangerous, all in one perfect sip. We buy organic sugar for the simple syrup, mix it with filtered water, then squeeze in limes fresh from the neighbor's tree. Stolen limes always taste better than purchased ones. We use world-class tequila. Some people consider it alcohol abuse that we take a fine, sipping liquor and pour it into a fruity-tasting drink. The final ingredient is Patron Citronage. When we're are going all-out, we will do a Grand Marnier pour over. Every step is well-though out, including the ice that is also made from filtered water. Oh, and to go with it, I have the perfect glasses, as well.

Yes, I am out of the closet about what I write. I'm essentially an honest person, and I can't really hide who I am. (Especially after one alcoholic beverage. It's like truth serum.) My Dad knows, though he wishes he didn't. My honey's mum would "like" all my Facebook posts, but type in "okay" when I said, "Don't read this post!" My minister knows. My CPA's wife reads my work. And my daughter works as my assistant, though she says she has to skip the sex parts in my books because she doesn't ever want to picture me doing that stuff. She may eventually need therapy. I should probably pay for it.

Team Iron Man, all the way. Forget Captain America, Thor, the Hulk. I have fantasies about Iron Man sweeping me from my feet and taking me to his lab. And it's not just Robert Downey, Jr. who does it for me, it's the entire storyline. Tony Stark is complex and flawed. I'll never forget the moment in the first movie where he realizes that the missile that has almost taken him out was made by his own company. Talk about internal conflict. Stark can be a bit of a…challenge for people, but he's my kind of alpha male. He will always do the right thing in the end. And he'll probably make me laugh along the way. Even deeper secret? I'll admit that Julien Bonds, a character who makes cameo appearances in the Donovans is inspired, at least a little bit, by Iron Man. I want a Jarvis.

My favorite impact toy is a gorgeous, gold-colored leather flogger. It's handmade, and the falls are relatively short. Since the strands are wide, it provides a hypnotic, thuddy pressure that relaxes me as much as a soak in a hot tub or a massage. My second favorite is something I call the Devil's Tail. It has a lone leather strand, and it reminds me of a crop.

My heroines and their friends are modeled after people I know, or, on rare occasions, people I wish I knew. My latest book in mass market is Bind, and the inspiration for Lara Bertrand is the gorgeous Amal Clooney. From the get-go, Amal has fascinated me. She's not only gorgeous, but she is highly accomplished. If I could grab a glass of wine with her, I'd keep her gabbing all night. Though Lara is smart and had a wealthy upbringing, her family business is failing, and it's up to her to save it, even if her father will see her actions as a betrayal.

The relationship Lara has with her friend Erin reminds me of one of my girlfriends, Kimberly. Kimberly and I have brunch about once a month. We'll have a glass of wine, a laugh, talk about our relationships, but we also spend time brainstorming business ideas and making five-year plans. One of our brunches lasted through happy hour, through the dinner rush, then onto closing time. Three bottles of Prosecco met their match that day. And I had a business plan when I left the restaurant. But the best part of the dinner? The waiter knew what kind of books I wrote. And when he brought me a cappuccino at the end of the night, there was an interesting design in the foam. Some people get leaves or smiley faces. I got something rather risqué and we called it an even more naughty name. Drop me an email if you want to know what it is. And yes, I do have a picture.

Writing is damn hard work. And at times I will avoid it until a deadline has me in the corner and it's like a snarling wolf snapping at me. Wolf? More like a pack of them. When I've been away from the computer for too long, I start to have vivid dreams, terrifying ones. One night, I woke up screaming. I'd dreamed I was in a boat that capsized, and I somehow managed to get it turned over, but there was a person who came up behind me and tried to suffocate me. And two nights ago, I dreamed that Tony Robbins was at my house. I'm not sure which was more terrifying, but I do know I'm already behind on the next deadline.