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Leland Keller: Hero of Book VII of Knights of the Board Room

Summary: In 2015, AllRomance had a Hottest Hero Contest with Five Rounds, and they laid out what type of info was supposed to be submitted for each round. While the format of this isn’t exactly like a pure character interview, some of it is provided as a profile of Leland and from his perspective, so we’re including it in the character interview library.

Originally posted August 2015

Hottest Hero Contest / Leland Keller

© Copyright 2015 - All Rights Reserved



Hero's name:

Leland Keller

Hero's profession:

Baton Rouge Police Sergeant

Physical description of Hero:

(From Celeste’s own POV!) Whether or not he had meant it as a joke, this man was awfully pretty. But pretty wasn’t the right word. You couldn’t use the same word used to describe flowers and girls with pink ribbons to describe him. Instead, she thought of a sleek muscle sports car revving its engine, a summer lightning storm filling the air with electricity, or a single drop of water meandering down powerful biceps.


He had skin like butterscotch and golden-brown eyes, light enough to suggest mixed race somewhere in his ancestry, maybe a grandparent. He kept his hair in a close crop, but the black had tints of gold that reminded her of a grizzly bear’s coat. It made the most of his rock-strong facial features. His Baton Rouge PD placket shirt, embroidered on the left breast with the gold and blue shield, outlined formidable shoulders and strained over smooth pectorals and curved biceps. When her gaze swept down, she hitched there an extra moment, no apologies for it. The strong thighs and denim creases around the groin area drew a woman’s eyes like the dessert bar at a steak house buffet.


Special Skills:

Armed and dangerous, a steady-as-a-rock Dom with a penchant for smart women who are brats. Likes spanking, Ichinawa rope play and the intimate pleasures of aftercare.


“You like bratting, don’t you?” His voice was a quiet rumble. “If I had to make an educated guess, I’d say how much you like it scares you, because sometimes like is just a different word for need. You think you’ll get in over your head, so you deny yourself.”






Excerpt of the first kiss in the qualifying novel.

When Celeste eventually arrived back at the carousel, Leland was still there, though he’d finished his meal. She didn’t know whether to be insulted by his presumption or relieved. That was her problem, wasn’t it? When it came to approaching relationships, she was like Jekyll and Hyde. She wouldn’t want to date her, so she couldn’t blame anyone else for feeling the same.


That thought nearly made her turn around and leave for real. Except his arm was stretched out along the chair where she’d been, as if he was waiting for her. He took up a lot of space, so whoever sat down in that chair had to be someone okay being intimately close to him. Based on the second glances women passing by were giving him, she thought they’d be more than willing to give that a go, even if he was a total stranger.


But he wasn’t looking at them. He was looking at her. Her steps slowed but they still brought her to him. She sat down. All she had to do was lean back to have his arm against her shoulders. Instead she sat straight, her gaze on the carousel.


“The night that was too good to be true,” she said. “The Dom called me Celeste. The way he said it, I could tell he knew it was my real name. That the only fake part of the pen name was ‘De Mille.’ But it was more than that. It was the first time someone ever said my name and it felt real, like it meant a real person. Substantial, not a reflection of someone else, but who I was, soul deep. I wanted… When I introduced myself to you at Jai’s, I wanted to hear how you said it. And it felt the same. Maybe better.”


She took a breath. “So if you think I’m a pain in the ass, and I’m not worth any more of your time, well, fuck you. Give me my food and I’ll go do better things with my day.”


He lifted his arm from chair, cupped the back of her head with his big hand. As he cradled her skull, his fingers caressed the base of it, her tense neck. His thumb teased the hinge of her jaw. He used that hold to turn her toward him. She lifted her gaze, not sure what she’d see in his face, but she only had a glimpse of it before he put his mouth over hers.


The other night had been an overwhelmingly intimate evening, remarkable since they hadn’t kissed once during it. That deficit made this even more potent. She’d made the barbed comment about men’s inability to do more than one thing at a time, but if that was because they put all their energy and talent into that one thing, no distractions, it wasn’t a bad thing. At all.


His arm slid around her waist under the coat she’d donned, turning her toward him so her right breast was against his chest as he kept his other hand cradling her head. He held her still as he coaxed her lips apart and let his tongue slide in against hers, trace and tease. His lips were a sensual pressure that she couldn’t resist, so she tried to taste him as well, licking at his mouth, nipping at his tongue, her hands finding purchase on his chest, holding on to his shirt, kneading like a cat.


When he kissed her, his arms around her, holding her so securely, the world disappeared. The parts of herself that usually interfered with the feelings unfurling inside her now disappeared as well. Instead, a plea resonated through her chest and down to the very core of who she was. A core that had been asleep for so long it roused like Sleeping Beauty, with a groggy “Where the hell have you been?”


He eased back when her eyes were still closed and she was holding on to him like she wouldn’t ever be able to let go. Her lashes lifted, her hands clutched hard on the front of his shirt and the man beneath, so tight a tremor was running through her arms. He made a calming noise, stroking a hand up her forearm. He closed it around her biceps.


“So what else happened that night?” he asked.




Invitation: Celeste, since getting shot for you wasn’t sufficient to prove my commitment, I’m resorting to drastic measures. I’m cooking you a summer Southern dinner, darlin’.


Pintos: Slow-cooked with my special seasoning

Cornbread: Baked sweet as cake to balance my prickly submissive’s temperament

Coleslaw: Made crisp and fresh from the cabbage in Gilly’s garden. She still wants me to dump you for one of her awful granddaughters, by the way.

Collard greens: Though I’m sure you’re wrinkling your nose, I promise you will love them, as much as I know you already love me. It’s futile to deny it, you know. I’m a police officer. It’s against the law to lie to me.

Watermelon: From the local farmers’ market. We’ll have a seed spitting contest. Clothing optional.




Leland’s Answer: A man finds his strength through adversity and God’s blessings both. My father worked hard as a tobacco farmer to care for us, and my mother held us together after he died. My brothers, sisters and I knew her love was unconditional, but making her proud meant doing things that deserved her pride. She expected us to be strong, decent human beings, and we weren’t about to let her down. I took that lesson into the military and into the Baton Rouge PD after that.


I’ve made mistakes. Some pretty rough ones, in fact, but I picked myself up and challenged myself to do better, because my parents taught me by their example that it’s not about showing off and getting shiny medals. The only strength that matters is what’s needed to take care of those around me and those I’m charged to protect. If you know you’re the only thing protecting someone from harm, you find the strength in you to be that shield. Just as you have to find the strength in you to do it again and again—and better—no matter whether you succeed or fail each time. That’s how you get, grow and stay strong.




LELAND’S INTRODUCTION: Celeste isn’t your traditional bratting sub. My girl’s working her way through some hard trust issues, so I wanted to show her just how intimate a Dom/sub relationship can get when things get still, quiet and one-on-one. There’s nothing better for that than an Ichinawa session. Here’s how it went…




“So we’re on the same page. Good. I want you to be quiet and just listen. There’s a form of bondage called Ichinawa, which means one rope. I’m sure you’ve done your research and seen all that fancy suspension and intricate knot work. Right? Just nod or shake your head.”


Celeste nodded. It was a peculiar relief, being told not to talk. She could listen to his voice, focus on how he continued to touch her, knead her shoulders, caress her neck. Her whole body was purring under his touch.


“Ichinawa is about the connection between Dom and sub using that one length of rope.” Cradling her hand in his, Leland trailed the rope over her arm, across her breasts, over her shoulder, along her neck, down her spine. As he teased her with it, he kept talking in that murmuring tone. “I’ll tie only one end of it to one part of you. Your wrist, your ankle, your thigh…wherever I’d like, and then wrap you up in it. Then I’ll unwrap it and do it again. Different ways, the same way, over and over. Every time I wrap you in the rope and then unwrap you, it reinforces the choice. For me to take you, then let you go. For you to submit and then come back to me to submit again. It’s as organic as breathing.”


He went quiet then, making her aware of her breath as he stroked the rope up her thigh, back along her arm. He put his other arm around her waist, so she became aware of how he was breathing with her. When he put his lips against her throat, her breath stuttered, then caught the rhythm of his as well. There was no rush to this, no fight, no urgency. Her mind was whirling in a slow chaos, not sure what to make of it.


He shifted to kneel behind her again, his knees on either side of her hips. “Give me your hand, darlin’.”


She lifted it in the air, and the rope trailed through her fingers as he spread them with his own, stroking the sensitive digits before he looped the rope around her wrist, looped it again. She felt a tightening as he inserted a finger underneath the wrap, against her pulse, then he pulled the rope through, made a knot. But it wasn’t overly snug on her wrist. More like a bracelet’s hold, draped over the point of her wrist and thumb joint.


“You just relax and let me play with you. See where this takes you.”


He bent her elbow so her bound hand was clasping her shoulder, and then he’d pulled the rope over it so her arm was held there. He began to wrap her in the rope, under her breasts, back up over her shoulder, across her breastbone, around her rib cage. As he did that, he rocked her back against him, eased her forward, holding her with one arm so she was like a tree swayed by the wind. His breath touched her temple, but when she turned her head in that direction, seeking him, his hand cupped her forehead and she was held back against his chest, leaning against him fully as he stroked her body. He didn’t linger on her breasts or between her legs, but it didn’t matter. Her body became an erogenous zone in its entirety, aware of the hold of the rope in a dozen places, of the way he stroked the outside of her breasts, her hips, along her thighs, across her stomach, up her breastbone to her face and shoulders again.


He doubled her over his arm as he unwrapped her. Once he reached that tied wrist point he began wrapping her again. A different way this time, boxing her arms behind her back and wrapping the rope around her thigh so she was held folded forward over her knees. He lifted her shirt in back, laid his lips along the delicate arch of her spine. Then she was tumbled into his arms as he unwrapped her again and eased her to her side on the mat. This time he bound her thigh to her elbow, wrapped the rope over her shoulder, under her neck, out beneath her elbow so she was in a fetal position, and he was trailing the rope over the line of her side, her hip, her thigh, down to her ankle.


Just as he’d told her, he kept doing it. Wrap, unwrap. Untie, retie to a different anchor point. Never hurried, as gradual as the flow of water in the Mississippi. The other night, the darkness within her had surged up from her soul, compelling her to fight. This had the darkness confused. Like river water, Leland simply washed over her, around her, held her up, drew her under. She became ever more malleable under his strong hands.


She was intensely aroused in a dreamlike way, no urgency to it, though moans started to break from her lips as he integrated more forceful actions into what he was doing. He brought her up on her knees again, wrapped both her hands behind her neck, the rope crisscrossed over her breasts and around her thighs. He held the two ends in his hand, which he rested with firm pressure just above her pubic mound as he curled his hand around her throat and pushed his body firmly against hers from behind. The two of them rocked and swayed together, him letting her feel how securely he held her.


On his next unwrap, he unbuttoned the shirt she had over her tank, removed it. She welcomed the tension of the rope against her bare upper arms, the compression of it over her breasts, the hold as he wrapped it around her back. Then her head fell back against his shoulder as he wrapped the rope over her mouth, parting her lips so it fitted between her teeth. He kept wrapping the rope over the scarf, over her eyes, before he settled his hands on her face as he’d done before, over both rope and cloth.

So much was surging through her. She wanted to say his name. Not Leland, but the name in her heart, poised on the cusp of all the need he was building inside her. She wanted it to be her safe word, but the literal meaning of “safe word,” not the functional one. A safe word.



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