Las Vegas may be sin city, but here in Ottawa we normally don’t see ourselves as an erotic haven. If local writer Ingrid McCarthy has anything to do about it, however, we may soon start seeing the nation’s capital as a hotbed of sultry love.
In her series Sex and the Seasons, McCarthy — who writes adult fiction under the pen name Rose D. Franklyn — offers a portrait of Ottawa that is filled with romantic adventures and seductive characters.
Spring Fever and Black Chocolate, the first book in the series, tells the story of Elise Hamilton, the director of the fictional York Street Playhouse in the Byward Market. When an actor in one of Elise’s plays suddenly drops out, she is shocked when old flame Jeremy Brooks reappears as a possible replacement.
Sixteen years ago Elise was involved with Jeremy, a handsome former TV star who is now a successful businessman. Now he wants his love to come back, which starts a chain reaction that puts both the play and theatre in danger.
With its sexual fantasies and erotic touches, the book offers a picture of Canada’s capital that is rarely discussed in public.
“Indeed, ‘sexy’ is the last thing that comes to mind when talking or thinking about Ottawa,” says McCarthy in an email interview. “But then, what city is truly sexy? Romance happens everywhere, no matter the surroundings. And, when people fall in love, sex happens. The characters in my series love and live in Ottawa, a city I adore. Contrary to what many believe, Ottawa is a vibrant city, rich in culture and entertainment. To me, that’s ‘sexy’ enough to serve as a backdrop for my stories.”
For readers who are pressed for time, the 70-page novella The Heart Asks No Questions – Sylvia’s Story is a companion story to book 1 in the series.
If you want to follow the adventures in full-length form, meanwhile, then you can turn to book two of the series, Summer Passion and Forbidden Fruit, where Carmela Lopez — the assistant director at the theatre — must decide what to do after her husband suffers a stroke and undergoes a dramatic change. Should she get a divorce, stay in her unhappy life, or take a lover?
Interestingly, McCarthy’s stories are based on real experiences.
“Writing for adults came about more by accident than by design,” says McCarthy, who has also written children’s books and graphic novels. “Three years ago, when I retired from managing the New Edinburgh Players, a fundraising community theatre here in Ottawa, which I had founded in 1980, it was suggested to me to write my memoirs.
“After running the theatre for 33 seasons and with 51 productions under my direction, I had plenty of material to write titillating stories that occurred onstage and backstage. However, I felt uncomfortable writing my memoirs. I knew too much. I needed a disguise. Enter the romance genre. So, with a pinch of truth and a kilo of imagination — I’ve plenty of the latter — I embarked on the Sex and the Seasons series under the pseudonym Rose D. Franklyn.”
The “seasons” in the series names refers to the play seasons at the York Street Playhouse, while the “sex” part . . . well, you can see that for yourself in the books!
But McCarthy, who was born in Germany but has lived in Ottawa since 1979, is quick to point out that her primary goal is to tell a good story.
“Erotica can get a bad rap. I believe not because it’s cheesy but because it can be raw and violent, where bondage and sadomasochism and situations that degrade men and women reign between the sheets (pun intended), also an excessive use of foul language, all of which is offensive to many readers,” McCarthy tells Apartment613.
The purpose of her books, in contrast, are more than just material to titillate.
“My novels are not erotica,” she says. “They are erotic novels with a purpose set in solid, contemporary romantic plots. Into these plots, I inject drama and suspense, a touch of humour and a lot of steam and sizzle — all in good taste and without violence. The storyline is more important to me than the sexually explicit scenes.”
Looking ahead, McCarthy plans to finish her series, which will comprise four novels. Book three, Autumn Desire and Rough Diamonds, is expected to be released in 2016.