Maria-Claire Payne

Ethan Gray, former sailor on a nuclear submarine with the Royal Navy, arrives in California to work on a technical paper with a military recruiter, an acquaintance who introduces him to the elusive Josh Bennett. Back in California a few weeks later to attend a five-day party, a commitment ceremony for two friends, one with whom he served in Iraq, Ethan again runs into one Joshua Bennett, an explosive ordnance expert in the United States Navy and veteran of two Iraq tours, just returned from a third year he volunteered to spend in Afghanistan: this, an unexpected decision he remains loath to discuss even with the few closest to him. While Ethan’s initial encounters with Josh leave the easy-going, confident British sailor in love for the first time, the tight control Josh maintains in his professional and personal lives leaves him reluctant to ever fall in love again. To win Josh, Ethan must help this man who captured Ethan’s heart heal his own and leave his dark past behind him. With some persistent interference from Josh’s feisty twin sister Lana -- and a specific gay-friendly phone app -- can Ethan convince Josh to drop his defenses and let love in? Or is this British sailor out of his depth?

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Read an excerpt from Sounding the Depths


About Maria-Claire Payne

Maria-Claire Payne is the alter-ego of another Claire who holds multiple professional credentials related to the field of radiation oncology and a graduate degree in psychology. Both personalities share a love of taking classes in English literature and reading in many genres as well as getting inked and admiring biker dudes from afar. When no new reading material is readily at hand for whatever reason, her children have caught her reading cereal box-tops to fill the void. Maria-Claire lives in Southern Florida with her two rather conservative (how did that happen?) teenagers, the ghost of her soul-mate (her muse), and a crew of Himalayan and Persian cats affectionately referred to as the “Pussy Posse.” She loves to hear from fellow romance readers!


Also by Maria-Claire Payne:


Bending Tyme

Coming In July From Total-E-Bound: Aflame In Camelot


An Interview with Maria-Claire Payne
By Holly Hewson for The Romance Studio

HH: Maria-Claire, thank you for talking with us at TRS. Your featured book is Sounding the Depths. Where did the idea for this timely and emotionally-charged story originate?

MCP: Hello, Holly, and thank you for having me!

The idea for this story was a happy random accident, as is the inspiration for most of my stories. A gay friend of mine looked up from his cell phone one day when we were talking about his boyfriend and said, "Look! Liam is at my apartment right now." I figured the dude had sent him a text, but they were both members of an online network where they can track the physical location of other members. I made some comment about his GPS for people being a whole new take on "gaydar" -- and by the end of the night Ethan and Josh were dancing in that one scene in Chapter One...!

The military slant is a nod to a few soldiers and sailors I know who are amazing men who happen to be gay.

HH: What can you tell us about Ethan and why will readers relate to him?

MCP: Ethan...ah, Ethan! Well, first, he's British. Who can resist a smart man with a British accent? More importantly, Ethan represents the best of what I believe most of us would like to think we can offer to the one we love: not just love and passion (and great sex), but acceptance and the ability to make that special someone feel better about himself than he did before we came around. Ethan is confident and happy in his own skin, characteristics essential in building a loving relationship with the troubled Josh. And yeah, I'll say it: Ethan is uplifting (this is an erotic romance involving two men, after all, so I do believe that word is apropos... ;)

HH: What can you tell us about Joshua and why will readers love him?

MCP: Josh is the military man everyone fantasizes about: fantastic at his job, great around kids, very easy on the eyes ;) It's almost too easy to become infatuated with Josh -- on the surface. He's quite dark and twisty on the inside, though, and these inner conflicts he experiences are the source for the title: it's a play on the nautical phrase for essentially feeling one's way through potentially dangerous waters. Josh is at his best -- and most desirable! -- when he takes responsibility for fixing himself.

HH: How did you bring their world so convincingly to life?

MCP: I would love to believe that my readers feel that they do stand out! With Sounding the Depths, I was happy that I could explore as much of Josh's psychological state and background as I did in less than 20,000 words. For me, the fact that Josh and Ethan are gay is not as intriguing as the fact that Ethan manages to help Josh redeem himself. The premise that the power of love can help heal old wounds is not a novel concept, certainly, but how a person like Josh (and we all are like Josh with our battle-scars, one way or another) rises above his own fear and guilt to even begin to let love in was the concept I wanted to explore with this couple.

HH: What was your favorite part of writing this emotionally-charged tale?

MCP: I had an interesting time with Josh's broken nose as a type of "body armour." Josh's entire personality and psychological make-up grew from this one flaw -- damage inflicted by someone else -- in his otherwise "perfect" face. I don't want to introduce a spoiler here, but readers will hopefully recognize the significance of Josh's broken nose to the development of a healthy relationship with Ethan -- and with himself!

HH: What else do you have in store for lucky readers?

MCP: I have a July release scheduled. I'm so excited to have a novella, Aflame In Camelot, included in Total-E-Bound's "Bodices & Boudoirs" Collection. I write shorter stories, so this is my first that will eventually go into print. I do love a good first time...

HH: Where can readers find all of your works?

MCP: My website is the best place to track down my titles: http://

HH: What would we find in your to-be-read pile?

MCP: I usually don't mention any contemporary stuff I'm working through (there are simply too many great authors with fantastic stories), but I am currently alternating between reading R.A. Padmos (both Ravages and Unspoken deserve more than one reading) and a book derived from on a series of lectures based in Jungian psychology, Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales by Dr. Marie-Louise von Franz.The latter may suggest I am currently working on something else that's dark and twisty ;)

HH: What in person or online appearances will you be making this year?

MCP: Besides here at TRS, I pop up at Coffee Times Romance and Night Owl Reviews pretty routinely!

HH: When you're not reading or promoting you like to __________?


Write! I also occasionally like to sleep and chase hot men in uniform. I need that phone app... my gay buddy tells me I gotta quit chasing the same men as him ;)

HH: Thank you!


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