What Inspired A RISKY PROSPECT and the River Reapers MC Series

TW: This post discusses my recovery from sexual assault.

I’ve been asked a few times about what inspired A Risky Prospect; mainly, whether Olivia’s PTSD and recovery from sexual assault is based on my own experience.

I am a sexual assault survivor.

It still feels weird to say that. It’s only been four years since I started facing my traumas and recognizing what happened to me. Two different “boyfriends” hurt me—one over a period of years, the other over a few months. Both assaults happened in different ways—not the textbook “attacked in an alley” way. I’m still working through what that means. Our society has a huge denial issue when it comes to rape. We don’t discuss it. We don’t believe survivors. We don’t punish rapists.

Once I started unpacking what happened to me and how, I started feeling less ashamed and more angry. I didn’t know what to do with that anger, though. Both of the people who hurt me are long out of my life.

I knew before I even sat down to write this series that eventually I wanted the River Reapers to be vigilantes, to be the ones that people in their town turned to when no one else would help. I also knew I didn’t want to just jump into their adventures as vigilantes; I wanted to build up to it, lay down a foundation of some history, and then let ’em at it.

“One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives,” reports the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. In the face of these astounding statistics and the rape culture the U.S. is stewing in, I needed to do something. I also needed to tell my story for my own healing. So I took those two “men” who hurt me, rolled them into one character, and let Olivia’s story unfold. It was cathartic for me but also served as a driving force for the River Reapers to take things into their own hands.

My own traumas weren’t the only things that inspired this book, though.

In 2006, not too long after the second event, I met a man who restored my faith in men. Mike showed me what it’s like to have a healthy relationship. He also supported me relentlessly while I unpacked all of my shit and dealt with it. He might not fully understand PTSD, but he tries. From the very beginning, we just fit. In a way, he’s the reason I started writing romance; through him, I started believing in love again. Pieces of him found their way into every hero I’ve ever written, but I put a whole lot of him in Cliff.

I’d need more than a few sentences to capture what he means to me. Cliff is sort of an ode to Mike.

Especially the crusty man socks in Book 1. 😉

My love for vigilantes and Sons of Anarchy sparked this series, but I also wanted to do things a little differently. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know I write “badass belles who chose the other path.” I often flip gender roles and stomp on assumptions about women. I write “unlikable” heroines: women who are strong, foulmouthed, and sex positive. I hate how much our society shames women for loving sex. I hate that both men and other women do this. Women who love sex are called all sorts of awful things, and it makes my eye twitch. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your body and having sex. Nothing! Sex is one of my favorite things, so I passed that on to Olivia. I wanted to show other women that it’s perfectly okay to be sex positive.

This book also has several healthy female friendships. I’m lucky to be surrounded by many strong, supportive, loving women in my life. Some of them I got by birth, others by chance and choice, but I’m grateful for all of them. A Risky Prospect dives deeper into Olivia and her roommate Esther’s friendship, and strengthens Olivia and Lucy’s relationship.

It’s not all about Olivia, though.

While doing research before and while writing this series, I learned a lot about the prison system and the hardships that people like Cliff face when they’re released. Cliff lost 20 years of his life and is going through a sort of identity crisis. He isn’t sure whether he loves Olivia or just the idea of her, and he has no idea what to do with himself outside of their relationship. While Olivia is unpacking her PTSD, Cliff has to figure out who he is and what he wants in life. He also has to reconcile his dreams with the reality in front of him.

A Risky Prospect is the hardest and darkest book I’ve ever written, but it’s also the book I’m most proud of. It’s got many bright spots and swoony moments. I can’t wait for the world to experience the next installment of Olivia and Cliff’s story. I hope you’ll all be as obsessed with these two as I am.

A Risky Prospect
River Reapers MC, Book 2
Now Available

Brash social worker Olivia has been through her own personal hell and come out the other side, tattered but determined to make things better in her corrupt town—no matter the cost. Her roommate’s current situation is the perfect place to start.

When ex-con Cliff’s wild ol’ lady Olivia comes to him and the River Reapers for help, he’s on board. His vigilante motorcycle club can get the job done, and it’ll help convince Olivia to take the next step in their relationship.

But when Olivia’s traumatic past walks through the club’s doors, there’s no stopping her from doing whatever it takes to settle her own score. Even if it means crossing a line that Cliff might not be able to pull her back from.

Read Chapter 1 | Read with Kindle Unlimited | Order a Signed Paperback

Get River Reapers MC Notifications

Receive a FREE standalone novella, plus get series updates and sneak peeks behind the scenes!

Click here to sign up!

Author: Elizabeth Barone

Elizabeth Barone is an American novelist who writes contemporary romance and suspense starring strong belles who chose a different path in life. Her debut novel Sade on the Wall was a quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. She is the author of the South of Forever series and several other books. When not writing, Elizabeth is very busy getting her latest fix of Yankee Candle, spicy Doritos chips, or whatever TV show she’s currently binging. Elizabeth lives in northwestern Connecticut with her husband, a feisty little cat, and too many books.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: