Thursday, September 11, 2014

Working Away

There is a book in the works, I swear. That's part of the reason for my intermittent radio silence. It's going a bit slower than I'd hoped, though, and the publication date will probably be in early December, though I'll confirm that closer to the date. Here is the ms as of today.

See, it's a real thing! I am at the stage in revisions where I'm going through it in hardcopy. The title is "Slow Burn" and I'm in love with the main character, Jesse. Then again, I'm in love with all my heroes, naturally. He's got more of the bad boy thing than my others do though, which is wickedly fun to write. He's got a Texas drawl and some very cool tattoos, also a first for my heroes. I'm a big fan of sexy arm tattoos (my husband has some good ones), so it was about time I had a hero who sported some ink.

Stay tuned! Soon I'll have a sexy cover to show you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Birth of a Romance Reader

We can set the blame for my romance addiction squarely on the head of my grandmother. (Though let's face it, I'm sure I would have gotten there on my own at some point.)

The summer I was thirteen, just about to turn fourteen, by grandmother came to visit us from where she lived in Florida (where all the Jewish grandparents went if they could). With her she brought a bag full to the brim of Harlequin romances. My mother, grandmother and I all read them, passing them along after we'd finished them.

I remember several of them fairly well, oddly enough. One was about an 18 year old girl whose father dies and leaves her under the guardianship of a smoldering thirty-something man with thick stubby lashes. It was pretty sexy, actually, but these days you'd never see that plot in a contemporary romance.

Then there was one by Violet Winspeare. Just to impress upon you how old-school these books were, the "heroine" was this beyond passive wimp of a woman who married a cold-hearted man for some reason of convenience I cannot now recall. She loved him even though there was no reason on earth she should, since he bullied her and slept with her in circumstances that are murky now but might reasonably have been called rape, though there was nothing graphic.

And yet I kept reading. Yes, I found some of it distasteful, and I knew that was not how men and women should be together, but my understanding of sex and romance was still vague enough that I ate up anything that had anything to do with them. I even went through all the (non-romance) books on the living room bookshelves looking for the sexy parts, and I found some good ones. It was quite an education.

But the weirdest romance I read was about a young woman, maybe mid or late 20's, whose older husband had just died when the book opened. The main thing was that in her marriage the man called the shots. She did what he wanted and he made the decisions. It was like this with the new, younger man who came into her life as well. That was just the way it was in this book's world. It wasn't an issue, just the belief system the main characters shared. Or the woman shared and the new guy had no interest in dismantling. All I can think is that the author felt the same way, so she wrote a book with characters that felt this way.

Nowadays that would be something two characters would role-play, something kinky to try in the bedroom. But that wasn't what this was. And I read it, bemused, confused, but still insatiably curious. The goofiest thing of all though was a scene in which the heroine takes a shower, then wraps the towel around her waist. She hears someone come in the house and walks into the hallway to see the hero standing there. They talk for a minute before she suddenly remembers that she's standing there bare-breasted.

It could happen to anyone, right? There you are, chatting with some guy, completely unaware that you're flashing your boobs.

God, those books. They were so wrong, and yet they were edited and published and sold to millions of women (and girls) around the world who gobbled them up.

Harlequins were my gateway drug.

Mind you, none of my grandmother's books were ever discussed between us that summer. What did my mother and grandmother, two of the strongest women I've ever known, think of them? I have no idea. We read them as if it were a secret, as if we weren't supposed to acknowledge we were doing it. Or maybe it was the fact that I was so young, and they had no idea how to talk about it. There were no graphic sex scenes, so it wasn't that, but ours was not a family that talked openly about those sorts of things. Of course, few are.

But then one day, when I was maybe seventeen, I walked into the kitchen with one of my romances and my mother, prompted by who knows what, said to me:

"You know it's not all stars and fireworks in real life."
"I know that," I said,  mortified.
I was a virgin, as she well knew, and I think she wanted to keep me from having unrealistic expectations. I felt foolish, like she'd seen into my secret yearning hopes, and so I acted like of course I knew that wasn't what sex was like.

Maybe I was impressionable and getting the wrong idea about simultaneous climaxes and whatnot, but what was that going to hurt? I'm all for setting a high bar.

In any case, it didn't slow me down. It was my escape from my nerdy, no dates ever high-school existence.

I soon discovered Annie's Book Swap, a used bookstore chain with an enormous romance section that I and many other women treated as a lending library. Buy five, read them, bring them back a week later and buy more. Of course, you never got as much in trade-in as you paid for them, but by the time I could drive, I was going there every week for my fix. Soon I was also reading historicals. These, too, were unlike the ones you'd find now. Historical romances of the 1980s and 90s were all over the place. The guys were usually serious dicks, stern and cold and alpha male to the hilt, and the women suffered rapes and abuse (sometimes by the heroes but not always) before falling into their arms.

I have occasionally since the old days come upon one of those historicals, and I can tell immediately I'm reading an oldie. Whereas now the stories are tighter and the arc clear, these were more about adventure, which is a fine ambition. But nowadays we want our heroines to be happy and find their power, no matter how out of place that might be in a nineteenth century story. We want the men to be gorgeous and built, alpha and sensitive as well as fabulous in bed. And why not? They're our fantasies, after all.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Write Less

This past few months several of my favorite romance authors published new books, and I snapped them up the second they were available. Oh, the joy when I saw that the books on my wish list had actually been released! I curled up on the couch to read them, more than happy to let everything else in my life - including my own writing - fall by the wayside. I couldn't wait to be sucked into their fun, sexy stories.

Except I wasn't.

So I'm going to say this here, even though it may sound crazy. To all those authors who release more than two books a year:  Please, please write fewer books.

I know this sounds crazy, and it's probably the exact opposite of what most of you feel. As fans, we're always thrilled when our favorite authors release a new book. But so many of the authors I once bought without hesitation are putting out work that's increasingly generic and lackluster. Not terrible, but far below what drew me to them. I haven't even been finishing their books, because why keep reading a boring romance? There's nothing more pointless.

I don't give up easily, mind you. One disappointing book won't keep me from buying an author I like, because everyone has a dud here and there. Nor will a second disappointing book, and maybe not even a third one. But there comes a point when I do give up on an author. I've been through this cycle many times, mind you. In fact, as soon as a writer I love hits big and starts churning them out, I wonder how long it'll be before I see a dip in quality. Oh, the humanity when I see it happen again!

It's difficult to make a story shine, to make romance tropes seem fresh. That's the challenge for all writers. So how can anyone expect to write more than two awesome novels a year for years on end? It's kind of ludicrous when you think about it. No way can anyone keep that up.

Of course, a writer has to earn a living, and the more you publish, the more you earn. But shouldn't you want to keep your biggest fans? Isn't it better to make sure you can have a long and lasting career?

So in my little blogger way, I'm asking all those fabulous ladies to slow down and say no to some of those offers. Save something for later. If you keep writing good books, your readers will be here waiting.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hottie Quiz and Giveaway

Today is going to be more pictures than writing. In fact, it'll be about me objectifying the hunky men of my fantasies.

Below are pics of men I think are smokin' hot. The first five people to make a guess at who they are will receive an ebook of my novel Stirred Up. Hint: I have mentioned every one of these men in my blog.







Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Keep Me is Released

If you've been waiting for Nina's and Ian's happily ever after, the wait is over. Keep Me is available everywhere! 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

But Enough About Me

Lately I've been doing some self-promotion on account of my forthcoming book, Keep Me, but today I'm focusing on books by other authors that I think you'll all like.

On more than one occasion I've blogged about how much I love Ruthie Knox, and I'm about to do it again. It's for your own good, though, because right now her awesome book About Last Night is only 99 cents. I cannot recommend this book enough. It's so hot and fun and well-written, and I suspect it will make you a fan of her for life. In any case, it's such a good deal that it can't hurt to check it out.

But I'm not done. I just finished the New Adult book Deeper, which Ruthie Knox wrote under the name Robin York, and the second I was done reading it I wanted to start it over again. It's got a great hero and heroine and a believable – albeit painful – storyline about Caroline, a sophomore in college whose ex-boyfriend posts pictures he took of her during sex. The book begins shortly after that happens and traces how Caroline deals with it and the relationship she forms with West, a guy she's been attracted to since he lived across the hall from her freshman year. Caroline is a great character, smart but vulnerable and very relatable, and West is a sexy, complicated hero with whom you will immediately fall in love. It's delicious and I love it so. The sequel will be out in July.

Now, to be perfectly frank (and to prove I'm not a paid spokeswoman for this author), there are a couple of Knox's romances that didn't blow me away, but most of them have been stellar, and I love her combination of depth, humor, and incredible sex scenes. Really, she has the whole package. The books that didn't blow me away were still better than the majority of romances out there.

For those fans of Pride and Prejudice,  I recommend the book Longbourn, by Jo Baker. It's a brilliant re-telling of the Jane Austen story from the point of view of the servants. Only to call it a re-telling does it a disservice, because the main characters are the servants and the main narrative is the romance involving Sarah, one of the Longbourn servants, and a mysterious man who joins the household. Sarah's romance unfolds at the same time as Elizabeth's and Jane's, which we see in a peripheral way. We see plenty of the Bennetts, though, and everything that happens aligns perfectly with Pride and Prejudice while also showing the Bennett family in another light. Nothing Baker does contradicts what Jane Austen created, but she widens the perspective. For instance, what she shows us of Mrs. Bennett makes her a more sympathetic character and her irritating ways understandable. Likewise with Mary, whereas Mr. Bennett gets a backstory that shows him to be just as weak as Jane Austen wrote him, though in ways other than we already know about.

What's interesting about this story is that although the period details feel right, the fact that it's written from a servant's perspective means that you get a rougher, earthier version of this Regency romance we all know and love. I have to admit, it probably did change the way I think about the Jane Austen characters, but I love the depth it gave to them, and the sort of behind the scenes version we get of their life.

Have recommendations for me? I'd love to hear them!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Keep Me...Available Everywhere March 30th

It took me two years to write the sequel to Tempt Me, but hey, at least I did it. As some of you know, I wasn't sure if I wanted to write a sequel. It was never in my plans, and I wasn't sure what I would write about. But the more people asked the more I thought about it, and then I started to work on it and think on it, and it became clear that there was more to say about them. Plenty more.

I'm so glad readers pushed me to finish their story, because it felt great and I got to take Nina and Ian to different places. Plus I think it'll be fun for everyone to see how they get their happily ever after. Also, it is seriously sexy.

I don't want to say any more and spoil the fun, but if you want a little peak into the book, here's a tease, I mean excerpt. Please note this is from the pre-copyedited version.


Ian laughed and sat down on his side of the bed, leaning over to kiss her again. “I can handle it.”

He fumbled with a cufflink before frowning at his wrist. “I think my mother got me some kind of trick cufflinks.”

The man was delicious. She really should give him a hand, but she was too caught up appreciating him with his tie undone and the first couple of buttons of his shirt released. The way the lamp cast shadows across his face, the line of his back, it was all so perfect. Too perfect not to capture it.

Dashing out of the room she grabbed her sketch pad and a stick of charcoal, then sat back down on the bed and began to draw him.

“What are you doing?”

“Immortalizing you. Go back to what you were doing,” she ordered, drawing furiously now.

“But I–”

“Trust me, you sexy beast,” she said, sparing him a quick, sidelong smile. “This is going to be good. It’s like, your essence, right here in this moment.”

“Honey, if you want my essence, there are much more exciting ways to get it.”

“There’ll be plenty of time for that,” she quipped, laughing even as her body responded to him. Partly it was what she was doing on the page, showing him in an intimate, undefended moment that was granted strictly to her. A boudoir scene, but with a man instead of the usual woman model.

“I don’t know why you want to draw me. No one’s going to want to see this.”

“You have no idea,” she murmured. “Turn your head back like it was, please. Yes, just like that. Perfect.”

She studied the lines of his beloved face, the furrow between his eyes, the signs of weariness after a long day. She drew his full but firm mouth, his broad shoulders, slightly hunched as he worked at his cuff. The line of his strong throat.

She was making visible what she saw, what she felt. Who he was. These days her paintings were mostly abstracts, or abstracted figures, but she’d always liked sketching people. And she loved sketching Ian.

In its own way it was as arousing as the few nudes she’d done of him, a visual encyclopedia of her desire. She was at once both a dispassionate observer and wholly immersed in him, as if it were her hands outlining him, committing him not just to paper but to memory, making him hers.

Her need to get it all down was warring with the need to touch him, to connect with his warm skin and hard muscle. Something about the way he held himself still for her, letting her command him to move or not move, lit her on fire. As if by drawing him she somehow had mastery of him as well.

She felt as if she knew every inch of him, knew him better than anyone, and yet drawing him left him seeming more mysterious than ever. She had no idea what he was thinking, though she sensed his coiling tension, his need to move. But she was the one in control, calling the shots. He wouldn’t move until she released him.

She was nearly done, but something made her draw it out. The broad outlines down, she sketched in details, shaded the hollow of his cheekbone, traced over the strong fingers.

Her breathing sped up along with her heart, and her hand faltered for an instant. The next time she looked him in the eye, he was watching her, his color high, his eyes fierce and knowing. The lines of his body had changed. A new tension had taken over, an alertness tightening his body as he strained to break the pose.

She set down her pencil and pad.He was all hers – to touch, kiss, make love to, to paint or draw. The thought of this gorgeous powerful man giving all that to her made her lightheaded with need and lust.

“Take off your shirt.”

The order was out of her mouth before she knew what she was going to say. She nearly took it back, but something was propelling her. She wanted this.

Ian blinked and for a second she thought he’d refuse, or make a demand of his own. Instead he stood up, his eyes never leaving hers as he pulled the tie over his head. She hardly breathed as he unbuttoned his shirt, slowly, taking his time. Following orders but making her sweat it. Finally, when the shirt hung loose and open, he let it fall from his shoulders.

She no longer drew him, and she already knew him by heart, but she took in every detail of his lean muscles. The shadows and ridges of his sculpted chest and the six-pack that hollowed out when she sucked him, the hip bones she held onto while she pleased him. And it was as glorious this time as it had been the first.

Amazing that she knew how to please him, knew what made him moan and lose control. Instead of days or weeks to enjoy him she had all the time in the world. The urgency still rose in her, but she wanted to savor it. He was hers like no other man had been, and confidence made her bolder, as if she’d won a battle and he was the spoils of war.

“Let me see the rest,” she said, her voice nearly a whisper. “But go slow.”

His breath hitched and his eyes burned. So slowly there was an air of insolence about it, he unbuckled his belt and tossed it on the bed. One eyebrow rose in silent challenge, but just when she thought he might rebel, his hands moved to the button of his pants.