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This is Not Why We Need Diverse Romance–but it Sure Helps

24 Apr

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

There are a lot of reasons why #WeNeedDiverseRomance. We here at Lady Smut have discussed aspects of diverse romance regularly, whether it’s Alexa Day discussing the racial- and feminist-line blurring TV show Pitch or her examination of interracial romance through history or Thien-Kim Lam’s talking about #OwnVoices during #ReadHotter month, or my own look at the women who make America great, including the former first lady and the first Latina senator elected to office. Then there was Elizabeth Shore’s interview with Vikkas Bhardwaj who’s burning up romance covers and not only those covers with Indian or dark-skinned heroes. He’s challenging the need for white-washed heroes on romance covers regardless of the hero’s description on the pages inside. And we thank him for that. Oh do we ever.

We work to be a fuller, more rounded representative community here and not only when it comes to sexuality. I thought of that earlier today while trolling through Facebook (as one does on a Sunday afternoon) when I caught romance writer Zoe York’s post of a link to this delicious feature:

Gorgeous Asian Hunks Wearing Only Iconic Costumes Will Make You Thirsty AF

Well now, thought I, here’s my Lady Smut post for tomorrow.

Why yes, please do tell me more.

Whether they’re shirtless food vendors from Malaysia or smoking hot firefighters in Taiwan hosing themselves down with water, we here at NextShark can appreciate a hunky Asian man.

Thai portfolio service SKiiNMODE takes sexy snapshots that combine Asian culture with some of the continent’s most attractive guys, RocketNews24 noted.

Um, gulp.

Now, I myself, personally, am not a huge fangrrl of Asian cultural. I don’t like Asian food, or more accurately, my body doesn’t like it, and I seriously dislike anime. My cultural jones is firmly Celt and  British situated, for the most part. Thankfully, food and anime are only two minor aspects of Asian culture. There’s a ton of things to explore as with any culture, and I readily admit that samuri and geisha history fascinate me. I’m also fond of a great deal of Asian artwork and architecture.

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My romantic suspense addiction is likewise intrigued by the whole mafia/Yakuza genre. Criminal clubs/gangs/societies trip my trigger, I won’t lie, which helps explain my MC romance addiction. One of the things I loved about Anne Stuart’s fantastic dark romance, ICE series (which, if you haven’t yet, you must read–in fact, I just interrupted writing this post to one-click the hell outta the series and I already have every single book on my bookshelf in paperback) is her Asian bad ass heroes. Fire and Ice, book five of the series, has a defrocked Yakuza hero and takes place entirely in Japan, a culture of which the author is an admitted devotee. Stuart doesn’t take the tourist angle here either. Pursued by the bad guys, the hero and heroine go outside Tokoyo into the nitty-gritty aspects of Japanese society you can’t find on the NatGeo channel or with hours of devotion to Mortal Combat or Bruce Lee movies. I was just as intrigued by the Japanese culture Stuart utilized as I was by the story.

But holy hotness, SKiiNMODE. I think you just broke me.

Any of these chiseled examples of male perfection could easily storm the heart and attitude of the sassiest romance heroine regardless of cultural association on either person’s part. SKiNMODE also features gender-bending ideas for Ghost in the Shell geisha assassins and a male Elektra that would revive that sad franchise with one steely look. And who knew Power Rangers could exude so much sizzling sexuality. Morph me.

You can follow SKiNMODE on Instagram and Facebook and, bless them, there’s even a Tumblr page that gives a whole new meaning to NSFW.

You can thank me later.

Don’t forget that we’re going to be at RT this year.

Follow Lady Smut. We’ll happily morph all your cultural jones.

It’s coming fast. No, not the virgin heroine’s first orgasm. Rather, the Lady Smut big RT event is less than two weeks away! Join LadySmut bloggers at the RT Booklovers Convention May 3-7, especially at our super special reader event – Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever. Win crowns, fetish toys, books and more! Goodybags to first 100 people in line! Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, WILD ON THE ROCKS, is now available. Visit her website at and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum

Exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

He’s Hot, He’s Indian, and He’s Setting Romance Covers On Fire

12 Oct
Vikkas Bhardwaj

Well, hello there, Mr. Bollywood.

By Elizabeth Shore

Today I’m over-the-top excited to have the first Bollywood film actor and now *scorching* hot romance cover model Vikkas Bhardwaj join me for a virtual tête-à-tête. Vikkas was incredibly generous with his time as we hashed over everything from diet and exercise that keep him drool worthy to causes he believes in to karma. Oh, and Vikkas also tells us why we don’t have to be jealous of his girlfriend. Whew! 

Elizabeth Shore: Hi Vikkas! Thanks for joining me on Lady Smut. As you know, our audience is primarily readers and writers of romance with particular focus on the sensual side. I know everyone’s going to be excited to learn more about you, so let’s start with the basics. Where were you born, when did you come to the U.S., and how long have you been a model and actor?

Vikkas Bhardwaj: Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for having me. Well, to begin, I was born in Delhi. I came to the U.S. at age 10 and grew up in New York City. I’ve been modeling and acting for 11 years. I went to Bombay in 2001 and became an international model immediately. I’ve modeled in Africa, Sri Lanka, London, all over India, and Dubai doing runways, billboards, music videos, ads, TV, and print. I was also the main lead in two films as a Bollywood actor.

ES: The competition in the Bollywood scene is fierce. Can you talk about how you became part of it? How did you get your first break?

VB: Competition is fierce everywhere. My first break was a Bollywood film called Classic Dance of Love. It came about because I was introduced to director Babbar Subhash through a friend. I read some lines for him and got signed the next day. My second film was an action/thriller, shot in London. I thought it was interesting to do.

ES: You’ve said you’re the first Bollywood actor to be on a romance novel cover. How did we get so lucky? What made you decide to model for book covers?

VB: I’m a little bit on the artistic side and I want to do anything where pictures are concerned. The romance novel cover thing just kind of fell into my lap. I’ve done it for about a year now, so far about 140 covers. I have my own stock site where there are all  kinds of book cover images to choose from. (Head on over to to check it out). I do all genres of romance novels, all ethnicities, with all different types of women. That website is my baby, and I’ll promote any of my book covers for my authors. The first cover I ever did was for Grace Burrows. She was so kind and gentle.

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I promote my authors’ books wherever I go. I give readers a special offer to buy two pictures and get one free. That’s very important for me because I like to help my authors in any way I possibly can, and I’ll promote their books wherever I can. I’ll wear authors’ t-shirts, tank tops, I go to conventions, pass out authors’ cards. I promote the heck out of everyone I possibly can, and I think that’s why I’m liked so much, because I’m so friendly and easy to talk to.

ES: Do you see yourself continuing to model for romance covers? What do you like about it? Anything you dislike about it?

VB: I think it’s fantastic to do romance novels to be honest with you. I completely love it. I see myself doing romance covers for a very long time. I’m all about my authors. The only thing I don’t like is that I’ve heard authors cutting down new authors, talking ill about them. I confront them and I say, this is not the right way to do this. If somebody’s up there trying to do their best we should promote them, we should help them.

ES: When you think about your career, is your focus more on modeling versus acting? And since you’re now living in L.A., are you getting involved in the Hollywood acting scene as well?

VB: My main goal is to get into Hollywood. I’ve been doing acting for a very long time. I’ve done soap operas in India and Bollywood. I’m looking for an agent, doing my best to get some films out here (in Hollywood).

ES: You have different interests outside of acting and modeling, and some causes that are important to you. Could you share that part of yourself with our readers and talk about it?

VB: Yes, sure. Well, for one thing, I like to send money to my dad whenever he goes to India to help out a school for boys and girls who are blind. Another thing I do is feed pregnant ladies who live on the streets in Bombay. I also like helping boys and girls who don’t have enough to eat. I always preach about this. In America we waste food, and I don’t agree with that. I get very furious when I see people wasting food. There are people out there who would die to get a loaf of bread. People take things for granted in this country and that’s not cool. For a guy like me, I consider a drop of water a blessing. We must consider everything a blessing. Because we have an abundance of everything, we think other countries have the same but they don’t. Look at Africa, India, China.

We must understand and not take everything for granted. Everything is easily accessible and available in America. So we must use as we need and not waste. You must appreciate food, it keeps you going. it. That’s very important for me, being religious, being a strong Hindu as I am. My father is very spiritual and very religious, and he taught those same values to us. Karma does not leave you. We believe in Karma very highly. You give good, you get good, you do bad, you get bad 10,000-fold right back at you. Karma is live, active, right in your face.

ES: I also want to hear about your life as a spiritual yogi. Sounds fascinating!

VB: I have met some of the most beautiful yogis in the world, basically from Himalaya and India. Everything is energy. I believe in the law of attraction, law of the universe, law of karma. What you give up to others, what you think about, you bring about. The law of attraction is active, alive, it’s everywhere, it’s in your face. I definitely believe in that.

ES: OK, let’s talk about that amazing body of yours! How do you keep in shape? What’s your gym routine like?

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VB: I keep in shape by having a good diet. I have a high protein diet, I stay away from carbs. When I have a shoot I stay away from carbs for a month. No sugar no bread no nothing. I just stick to my vegetables and soups. A smoothie I love to make consists of spinach, kale, carrots, apple, apple cider vinegar, protein shake, a few egg whites and there you have it. Super food. I call it Vik’s super food. I totally love it. It keeps me energized, keeps me going the whole day, it keeps me strong.

ES: You’ve stated that “my gym is my girlfriend.” Tell me that’s not true! What do you mean by that?

VB: My gym is my girlfriend, basically. What I mean is, it takes care of me. My gym takes care of me, I take care of my gym. No matter how much I go, and how much I work out it still takes care of me. It’s selfless; a very giving girlfriend. I can do whatever I want, I can lift weights, do my pushs up bicep curls, my back work, and the gym keeps me going, you know? You spend so much time in the gym it kind of becomes like my girlfriend. You respect the weights, pick them up and put them down in a certain place. That’s what I mean. The gym really really takes care of me. Keeps me fit, mentally stable, my heart’s in good shape, body’s in good shape, and it’s because of my gym. So I give a lot of credit to my gym.

ES: Can you tell us about some upcoming projects you’re doing? Where can we see more of you!

VB: At the moment I’m just working on getting some Hollywood films as well as looking for some of the books I’ve modeled on to be made ito films. Basically I’m all about my authors. I say it to everybody and I’ll say it to you. I love my authors. I always mention it on my page. I exist and I’m here because of you. I do my shoots and other things, but you put me here. Why wouldn’t I be kind enough and nice enough to talk to you, explain things to you. I’m here because of you!

ES: And we’re super duper happy that you are! Thanks so much for your time, Vikkas. It’s been a pleasure having you with us today.




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