Tag Archives: Harlequin model


Harlequin proofreader.

Harlequin author.

And now...Harlequin model...????

Yes, I've lucked into the trifecta of Harlequin dream jobs! Last month, a company-wide call for women to model for a national Harlequin advertising campaign went out and I decided, why not? I went to the call, not expecting to make the short list, and then I did. And then I had THE BEST. DAY. OF. WORK. EVER.

The 12 shortlisted models, all employees at Harlequin, arrived at the photo studio in the west end of Toronto at staggered times throughout the day. My scheduled time was about 10 in the morning. I was asked to wear a button-up shirt, blue jeans and flats. I brought an extra change of clothes in case they wanted something different.

First off, the most important thing: FOOD! A high-energy environment needs fuel to keep everyone in top form. Breakfast, snacks, catered lunch and a fully stocked fridge that even had beer and wine kept models, photographers, art directors, makeup and wardrobe all well fed and hydrated throughout the day.

Shoots were already underway when I arrived, with the first three models working with Tristan dressed as a firefighter, so I explored and goofed around with the props. Because of course I did.

The set was constantly busy with people adjusting lights, fans, clothing, props, and the art directors and photographer shouting suggestions for poses. You'd think this job was easy, but as I soon learned, it takes hundreds of photos to get the exact right one.

The setup

Each model spent about 20 to 30 minutes on set. From the sidelines, they looked like they were having so much fun--and who wouldn't in the arms of a hottie like Tristan?

Me and my cohorts had to get ready for the next set. Tristan would be dressed in naval dress uniform. THe makeup artist applied light makeup to keep me "natural looking," and the art director got me to change into my other shirt. Light colors can be easily Photoshopped and filtered so you can turn a piece of clothing any color.

Unfortunately, the shirt was a little too light and ended up washing out my face and, in my opinion, it looked a bit frumpy on me, so wardrobe pulled out a pink sweater. It was a wee bit too small, but all my luscious rolls were going to be hidden by Tristan's manly body, so no worries there.

Now came the hard part (hur hur hur...okay, I promise no more childish innuendos...).  The idea was for Tristan to look like he was carrying me off, sweeping me off my feet while I read a Harlequin book (Note: the cover of the book is blank so that any cover can be 'Shopped in later.) I had to perch on some slightly wobbly boxes while Tristan held me up. So he had to look like he was carrying me while not actually breaking his back.

Meanwhile, I had to hold my feet up, toes pointed in a "natural" way, while holding the book with three fingers outward, keeping the cover spread, one arm around Tristan, and then act with my face like I was really into the book I was reading (I have no memory of what title it was. I think it was a Presents.) "Play to the back of the room" was one of the directions given to me. And while I can usually pull a face in any situation, I had a really hard time smiling and half looking at the camera at the same time.

In fact, it was excruciating. My core strength just hasn't been what it was since the baby came, so holding a crunch pose for 20 minutes was really challenging. I tried to switch the position of my legs and did something to my hip that made it click. It was not comfortable. I should also note that I haven't been in close quarters with any man other than my husband since we started dating, so it was a little awkward for me to be held by a good-looking 20-year-old who looked into my eyes and said, "Fall in love with me."

FYI: Tristan is 6 foot 4 inches.

I think I laughed in his face, then immediately apologized. It wasn't personal--I was thinking about the diaper I'd changed earlier in the day. Gazing into his dark eyes, all I could think was, "poop, poop, poop..." It was hard not to laugh.

I asked Tristan what it was like being a model, how he prepped. He said he went to the gym, worked on his arms the day before. But otherwise, he just rolled out of bed and showered. I had to hate and love him just a little more for that.

Tristan had already been shooting since 8:00, and had held five models in his arms in this pose. I was trembling with the effort of staying aloft. He was trembling slightly, too--it was near lunchtime and we were both starving and boiling under the lights. Soft as they look, they're hot.

Finally, our shoot ended. We ate the catered lunch brought in by the studio and I mentioned that I was really disappointed that the cowboy shoot didn't feature a real horse. The creative director, Tony, looked at me oddly and said, "It's a real horse."

"Wait, what? Are you serious?"

"Yeah. We always use real horses."

I had the day off and was free to leave BUT I HAD TO STAY BECAUSE A HORSE WAS COMING.

FYI: Kyle is 6 feet 8 inches.

A huge winter storm had just blown in, and I was in no rush to leave. I stuck around and wrote while the other models shot with Kyle Andrew, a professional actor and model who measures 6' 8" and is the viking in the Make A Date With Harlequin commercial. Yes, you do have to watch that commercial. And no, that is not his real hair.

All the while, I thought maybe the art directors were kidding about the horse. The studio was on the second floor--how would they get a horse into the building and through the door?

"On the freight elevator, of course," was the answer.

I waited by the window.

No way. NO WAY...




I was joined by my colleague Dana Grimaldi, and we delighted in meeting the horse, Cisco. Dana got to sit in model David's lap atop the horse. Cisco was so calm and absolutely professional, even when he had relieve himself (the handlers caught everything quite neatly in a shovel before it hit the ground). Cisco got paid in carrots and yummy treats and cuddles.

My day ended with a huge smile on my face, feeling glamorous and so lucky to be part of this awesome, talented team. The Make A Date With Harlequin campaign is out now! I didn't make the top 4 ads, but just look at my colleagues! So fabulous! Make sure you visit tryharlequin.com today!


agent-paul-ballard_326x347May 20th is Canadian actor and super swell guy Tahmoh Penikett's birthday!

As you may know, I am still working tirelessly to get Tahmoh to pose as the model for my next book cover in the role of Olympic-medal-winning wrestler Kyle Peters.

Tahmoh's already said he'd like to do it, and Harlequin has contacted him...but we still need to show our love and make sure this happens!

So far, the petition has 139 signatures, which is great, but just a splash in the pool of 5000 I'd love to get.

So if you haven't already, visit my Tahmoh for Harlequin page, and help me get Tahmoh to Toronto for the photo shoot.



Check it out! I've started an online campaign to get actor Tahmoh Penikett onto my next book's cover...or any Harlequin book cover.

There's a banner and a petition and everything. Learn more by visiting the page, then sign the petition and spread the word! I'm aiming for 5,000 signatures!

Use the hashtag #TahmohforHarlequin where you can!


tahmoh for harlequin banner

It's no secret that I have a wee crush on Tahmoh Penikett. Okay, maybe it is, considering how much time I spend drooling over Jeremy Renner.

So this story is to make up for neglecting that other celeb crush of mine. <3 you, Tahmoh. See you on my book cover soon...?



That time Battlestar Galactica/Dollhouse hottie @TahmohPenikett agreed to be my cover model

If actor @TahmohPenikett is going to be on a @HarlequinBooks cover, he has one demand...

Storified by Vicki Essex· Mon, Apr 15 2013 19:16:18

The coolness factor of a celebrity is directly proportional to their tweets to fans. @JeriLRyan and @NathanFillion know this. @TahmohPenikett already won me over with his performances in Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse, but he had me at "Interesting."
GUYS. @TahmohPenikett is now verified and active on Twitter! Did I mention he's the inspiration for the hero in my next #MMA romance? <3Vicki Essex
@VickiEssex Interesting.Tahmoh Penikett
This was about where I lost my s#it and squeed. But it got better....
@VickiEssex @TahmohPenikett When will it come out? I'll definitely need to read it!Nichole Stark
@nichole5988 @TahmohPenikett Maybe sometime in 2014? I'll let y'all know when I have a release date!Vicki Essex
@VickiEssex @nichole5988 Want to hear more.Tahmoh Penikett
.@TahmohPenikett @nichole5988 Former Olympic gold wrestler trains female MMA fighter struggling against her family's disapproval. 1/2Vicki Essex
.@TahmohPenikett @nichole5988 2/2 Their chemistry on and off the mats sizzles, but he's holding back. Can she break down his defenses? #MMAVicki Essex
Hey, @TahmohPenikett ever wanted to model for Harlequin? I can hook you up... @nichole5988Vicki Essex
I tried this once with @GeorgesStPierre when I was working on Her Son's Hero. He doesn't handle his own twitter, though, so I didn't get a response.
Now I'm demanding @HarlequinBooks get @TahmohPenikett as the cover model for my next book. Whaddya think, Tahmoh? #MMA #romance #sosayweallVicki Essex
Tahmoh is just that much cooler.
@VickiEssex @HarlequinBooks Why not?! Can i have Fabio hair?!Tahmoh Penikett
Hear that? He'll do it! RT @TahmohPenikett @HarlequinBooks Why not?! Can i have Fabio hair?!Vicki Essex
@TahmohPenikett Tahmoh, you can be on one of my covers anytime. @vickiessex @harlequinbooksDonna Alward
If you score that I'll die of jealousy! RT @vickiessex: Tahmoh Penikett said yes! No take-backsies! @HarlequinBooks fb.me/1FitqSAGEDonna Alward
Back off, ladies. He's mine... Although I'd love to be there for the shoot if he were doing multiple covers. *hint hint @HarlequinBooks*
.@DonnaAlward @HarlequinBooks @TahmohPenikett I think he'd make a great cowboy. Or billionaire CEO. How would you feel about a kilt, Tahmoh?Vicki Essex
@VickiEssex @donnaalward @harlequinbooks @tahmohpenikett I second the kilt!Nichole Stark
@VickiEssex @DonnaAlward @HarlequinBooks Listen, i'm game for a lot of things, but i'm not budging on the Fabio hair.Tahmoh Penikett
@TahmohPenikett @vickiessex @harlequinbooks And he definitely needs to be holding a baby. Hey, just so happens I have a photogenic baby...Margot Mallinson

I hope so hard that @HarlequinBooks will respond. And that Tahmoh will do this. And meet me. And hug me... Did I mention I'm a fan? http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/beyondherbook/?p=1976

Your move, Harlequin.