May 27 2013 1:30pm

Author Jill Sorenson on Getting Dirty in the Great Outdoors

Freefall by Jill SorensonToday we're pleased to welcome author Jill Sorenson here to talk about the Great Outdoors, especially great when you're out there getting dirty. Jill's upcoming release, Freefall, has a park ranger heroine who goes on a search and rescue mission with a man she's got a past with—so you know there's some outdoors action going on. Thanks for being here, Jill!

Get out!

Outdoors, that is! Summer is almost here. That means fresh air and sunshine, earthy gardening and sweaty exercise. Warm weather is a perfect excuse to take off some clothes. It’s time to swim in a lake and hike up a mountain. I’m ready for campfires, cookouts and hot men running shirtless! God bless America.

The only thing better than the great outdoors is sex in the great outdoors. Am I right or am I right? Throw me a romance novel to read while I lounge in the backyard, topless. I’m a sucker for skinny-dipping, swashbuckling and extreme sports. I’ll read any story about being stranded on an island or lost in the wilderness. Caves, waterfalls, remote getaways. Rock climbers, surfers, intrepid explorers. Forget the billionaires—give me a rugged outdoorsman.

I don’t think I need to explain the appeal of an athletic, adventurous hero. He has strong hands. He likes to get dirty. He’s a physical guy in his prime. He has stamina. In a man vs. wild situation, he will battle the elements and survive. He’ll tear into a live fish with his teeth, build a shelter out of a tree and rub sticks to make fire, Bear Grylls style. After the apocalypse, hooking up with him is a no-brainer.

I’m a fan of fit, capable heroines as well. Strong women have bodies that serve a purpose other than eye candy for the hero and soft places for him to grind on. They don’t have to be pumped up or kick ass, but I like to see heroines who are active participants in their own adventures, who treat their bodies well and enjoy being in them.

I also like to stay active in my own life. I love to hike and go to the beach and commune with nature. I started jogging a few years ago because it helps with my anxiety issues. It’s not usually a joyous, triumphant experience for me—kind of grueling most of the time, to be honest—but I feel pretty damned good when I’m done. Maybe someday I’ll be in marathon shape (probably not). Until then, I can read about someone strong and fierce and daring. I can escape into an exciting situation and spectacular setting, traveling the world from the comfort of my couch.

I’ve read some really fantastic romances with sporty couples and outdoor themes. The standout is Ruthie Knox’s debut, Ride With Me. I adored this story about a pair of cyclists falling in love on the Transamerica Trail. I actually read it while I was on a camping trip!

Years ago, when I was a baby romance reader, I glommed all of Sandra Brown’s Loveswept novels. Two Alone features a dewy ingénue heroine and a bearded jerkhole hero who must survive in the woods after a plane crash. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Whether you prefer an alpha-in-charge or a relationship between equals, there’s something for everyone in the great outdoors. It’s just like camping, only you don’t have to deal with bugs, dirt, driving, setting up the tent, or sleeping on the hard ground.

Here are a few more beach reads I have geared up on my kindle:

 For non-romance, I’m a fan of Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series, about a park ranger who travels from assignment to assignment, solving outdoorsy mysteries. I also loved Andrea Lankford’s Ranger Confidential: Living, Working and Dying in the National Parks.

What’s your favorite thing about summer? Do you like camping, hiking, or other outdoor activities? Can you recommend any romances with sporty couples, park settings or wilderness adventures?


Jill Sorenson writes sexy romantic suspense for Harlequin and Bantam Dell. Born in a small town in Kansas, she moved to California at age twelve and fell in love with the Pacific Coast. After graduating with honors from CA State University (English major/Spanish minor), she decided to follow her dream of becoming a published author. She now lives with her husband and two young daughters in beautiful San Diego.

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Megan Frampton
1. MFrampton
Jill, I really liked Ride with Me also--and I would much rather have a hero who knows what to do when lost in the woods than how to order the right kind of caviar. If he can make delicious hot chocolate on top of that, I'm a goner.
2. JenniferPorter
Vivian Arend's High Risk has a sporty couple. The two are part of a high risk rescue squad. They are highly active and I might've needed a nap after reading this one as there is lots of foreplay while exercising. However, I recommend highly!!
3. JillSorenson
I enjoyed High Risk also. Very hot stuff with the climbing ropes. Oh my.
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