On the eve of the annual Romance Writers of America national conference, H&H is delighted to celebrate the genre with some exclusive news about three exciting upcoming releases.
On the eve of the annual Romance Writers of America national conference, H&H is delighted to celebrate the genre with some exclusive news about three exciting upcoming releases.
The French have a word, jolie laide, for “good-looking ugly women,” women such as Anjelica Huston, Bette Davis, and Tilda Swinton. There isn't such a term for good-lucking ugly men, but there should be, and one of the prime examples of that would be Girls (and future Star Wars) actor Adam Driver.
He's a really good actor—he has made his Girls character go from being a reprehensible, shirtless, sex-addicted slacker to being a caring, shirtless, sex-addicted slacker. In other words, the character has remained true to himself, even though our perceptions of him have changed dramatically through the seasons. That's due as much to Driver as it is to the show's writers.
Revenge is a dish best served cold.
In Ann Aguirre's Mortal Danger, Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget.
In one short summer, her entire life changes and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly . . . bad things are happening. It’s a head rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who—or what—she can trust. Not even her own mind.
Get a sneak peek of Ann Aguirre's Mortal Danger (available August 5, 2014) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.
I didn’t expect Kian to be waiting for me when I left school and he wasn’t. Russ offered me a ride home, but I shook my head. “I don’t mind the T. Thanks anyway.”
“Where’s your boyfriend today?” he asked.
“He has class. See you.”
Simon & Schuster (Gallery) / August 5, 2014 / $25.00 print, $12.99 digital
As a boy, Thronos, prince of Skye Hall, loved Lanthe, a mischievous Sorceri girl who made him question everything about his Vrekener clan. But when the two got caught in the middle of their families’ war, tragedy struck, leaving Thronos and Lanthe bitter enemies. Though centuries have passed, nothing can cool his seething need for the beautiful enchantress who scarred his body—and left an even deeper impression on his soul.
Lanthe, a once-formidable sorceress struggling to reclaim her gifts, searches for love and acceptance with all the wrong immortal suitors. But she’s never forgotten Thronos, the magnificent silver-eyed boy who protected her until she was ripped from the shelter of his arms. One harrowing night changed everything between them. Now he’s a notorious warlord with a blood vendetta against Lanthe, hunting her relentlessly.
With their families locked in conflict and battles raging all around them, will Thronos and Lanthe succumb to the brutal chaos that threatens everything they cherish? Or will the fragile bond they formed so long ago spark a passion strong enough to withstand even the darkest doubts?
Finally, finally….FINALLY Kresley Cole has given us the story of Melanthe of the Deie Sorceri, Queen of Persuasion and Thronos Talos, Knight of Reckoning, Heir of the Skye. Dark Skye has been five long years of waiting for Immortal After Dark fans. When Thronos looked at Lanthe in Demon from the Dark and declared they would be together “soon,” little did we know that was Demonish for “freakin’ forever,” but I guess when you are immortal a few years would be considered soon.
With romance novel sites (such as this one!), social media, conferences, book signings, and other opportunities for virality, it's now hard to find an author about whom you know nothing.
But there has to be something you picked up purely because of the blurb, the cover, or the price (no word of mouth allowed!).
What's the last thing you read that you knew nothing about before?
Image courtesy of YouKnowNothingJonSnowDaily.
What comes to mind at the phrase, “Black Forest?” A dessert rich with dark chocolate, cherries and cream? Old World forests where maidens and orphans might as easily find danger as well as an unlikely love? Ornate castles filled with antique treasures? If you’ve read the novels of German romance author Sandra Schwab, you’re not far off.
Schwab combines her love of romance with a scholar’s attention to historical detail, and with good reason. Besides writing unforgettable historical romance novels, she also teaches English literature at the college level and studies folk and popular literature, the Victorian novel and British society and culture in her academic life. If you’re looking for historical romance rich in heart and smarts, look no further. You’ve found it.
“Nobody ever counts the gargoyles” may not be what springs to mind when thinking of a perfect first (or last) line of a historical romance novel, but in Schwab’s classic Castle of the Wolf, this chilling phrase leads the reader deep into Germany’s Black Forest and a story as rich and delicious as the cake that shares its name.
St. Martin's Press / July 29, 2014 / $14.99 print / $3.99 digital
As the lead singer of Stage Dive, Jimmy is used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, whether it's booze, drugs, or women. However, when a PR disaster serves as a wake-up call about his life and lands him in rehab, he finds himself with Lena, a new assistant to keep him out of trouble.
Lena's not willing to take any crap from the sexy rocker and is determined to keep their relationship completely professional, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when Jimmy pushes her too far and Lena leaves, he realizes that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him.
Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series has taken the world by storm. While the first two books were a blend of humor, romance and angst, Scott’s Lead takes a more serious tone in this friends-to-lovers story. Focusing on Stage Dive's tortured lead singer, Jimmy, who is battling alcoholism and substance abuse, Scott presents a heroine in the form of the quirky and hilarious, Lena, Jimmy’s sobriety companion.
Believe it or not, the wait is finally over: True Blood's seventh and final (!!!) season is now under way. Tune in each week as we recap and discuss the last chapter in the story of our favorite Bon Temps residents.
This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of True Blood, including last night’s Season 7, Episode 5, “Lost Cause.” Enjoy!
Last week’s episode put this season of True Blood back on track. There was plenty of Pam and Eric, including insight into the origins of Fangtasia, Arlene was rescued, and the Hep-V vampires who were hiding out at the aforementioned Shreveport club were taken out.
Where does that leave us? Anything can happen in this latest episode. We still have open story lines for Sookie and Bill (are they heading to a happily ever after?), Eric/Pam and their quest to kill Sarah Newlin, and hopefully tons more of Lafayette.
It’s time to jump into the highlights and WTFery of season 7, episode 5 “Lost Cause.”
We pick up right where we left off: With a whole bunch of dead vampires at Fangtasia. While others are cleaning up outside, Willa vents her maker issues to Pam (with Eric in earshot, of course). She throws some pretty dead-on accusations, and while Eric admits his failure, he still has a request of Willa. He wants info on where Sarah Newlin might be. She barters the information for being released from him.
Turns out dear Sarah Newlin’s sister Amber is a vampire.
Cedar Cove, the Hallmark Channel television series based on Debbie Macomber's romance novel series of the same name and starring Andie MacDowell, is back for Season 2 and H&H is all over it! Stay tuned for weekly recaps of this year's small-town shenanigans, and if you're just catching up, be sure to go back and read Rachel Hyland's Season 1 posts.
This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Cedar Cove, including Saturday night’s 2x01, “Letting Go: Part 1.”
Welcome, friends, back to Cedar Cove, Washingon, where the living is easy and the focus is soft upon mature beauties Olivia (Andie MacDowell) and Grace (Teryl Rothery) being expertly wooed by their attractive, appropriately grizzled, beaus. Meanwhile, among the next generation one finds romantic entanglements aplenty, with Olivia’s feisty artist daughter Justine (Sarah Smyth), Grace’s feisty curator daughter Maryellen (Elyse Levesque) and Jack’s sulky son Eric (Tom Stevens) all the object of some oftentimes problematic affections.
This year, we’re going to do a little something different with these recaps; my thinking is, since this show is based entirely on Debbie Macomber’s million-selling sweet romance series of the same name, clearly we’re in it for the relationships. So instead of a play-by-play, let’s just take this one couple at a time, shall we?
Last week, Heather reported on news that Arrow's Olicity (Oliver and Felicity) might actually become a couple.
While 'shippers might be filled with glee at the prospect, there is also concern that the couple, once together, won't be as satisfying as anticipated (see Rachel Hyland's excellent post HEA = RIP for more on this).
So we're asking today, what 'shipped couples are as good as fans thought they would be? What couples have avoided the Moonlighting Effect?
Get a sneak peek of Daisy Goodwin’s The Fortune Hunter (available July 29, 2014), with an exclusive excerpt!
One grand-prize winner will receive a copy of the book, Fortune Hunter, notecards, and a puzzle depicting the Empress Elizabeth of Austria! Click here to enter for a chance to win the sweepstakes.*
Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as “Sisi,” is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse.
Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National—until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that threatens the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and all of their futures.
*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. You must be 18 or older and a legal resident of the 50 United States or D.C., or non-Quebec Terriroties of Canada to enter. Promotion begins March 5, 2014 at 12 pm ET, and ends March 19, 2014, 11:59 am ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. Click here for details and official rules.
Poison Promise (Elemental Assassin #11)
Pocket Books / July 29, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital
In book eleven of her New York Times bestselling Elemental Assassin series, author Jennifer Estep continues “one of the best urban fantasy series going on the market” (Fresh Fiction).
Gin Blanco is hard-nosed, sexy, and lethal. Nicknamed “The Spider,” she’s a stone elemental assassin who brings her unique mix of magic and tact to every assignment, no matter the target.
There’s a new drug on the streets of Ashland, and its name “Burn” sums up the potent effect it has on its users. When one of her restaurant employees is threatened by dealers of the drug, Gin steps in to set things straight…
Gin has defeated her greatest foe, Mab Monroe, but now someone is coming to take Mab’s place. Someone who is determined to gain access to Ashland’s underworld—and rule it.
Gin Blanco, aka The Spider, is back and sharpening her knives in Poison Promise, the eleventh installment of Jennifer Estep’s dark and action-packed Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. Set in a small town in North Carolina, this ever-evolving world mixes the mundane with the supernatural, as Gin struggles to keep her town and loved ones safe from the darker elements that circle the city like sharks out for blood.
How to Reprimand Your Rock Star
Pocket Star / July 21, 2014 / $4.99 digital
Thea is a star basketball player at UConn on track to be Rookie of the Year. That is, if she can stay focused on the game. Lately that hasn’t been going so well, as her knee has been bothering her. But that’s not the only thing on her mind…
Ever since rock star Keaton Lowe surprised her in the girl’s locker room, Thea can’t stop thinking about him. On top of his status and enticing ways, he seems to know everything about her. But some of his actions cross the line, and Keaton needs to be punished. Will Thea keep her head in the game, or get distracted by her other favorite pastime—reprimanding her rock star?
As the follow up to How to Discipline Your Vampire, Mina Vaughn takes a foray into the world of New Adult and adds a bit of female domination to the mix. Thea, short for Athena, is a star basketball player at the University of Connecticut; she’s also a freshman who comes across the sexy rock star, Keaton Lowe. After a sexy interlude in the locker room sparks fly.
Tim Howard made headlines for some of us here in America, not because of his outstanding performance in The World Cup, but because of his subsequent appearance on the July 14 issue of AdWeek where every woman perked up and took notice of what his mama (and career as an athlete) gave him!
After extensive research—our jobs are so hard—we discovered that Tim took a lot of opportunities to pose shirtless. Most particularly when he appeared as part of PETA's “Ink Not Mink” campaign.
If Howard is part of the next World Cup, do you think you'll be tuning in a bit more closely? What other sexy soccer players did you spot?
Today we're joined by author Kara Braden, whose The Longest Night is a contemporary romance with a military heroine suffering from PTSD and the brilliant criminal defense lawyer who is suffering from his own hurts. Together, they find a way to overcome their respective odds. Kara's brainy hero has his roots in two very smart iconic characters, Sherlock Holmes and Mr. Spock, and she is here to discuss just what makes them so, so appealing. Thanks, Kara!
In the BBC’s modern Sherlock remake, A Scandal in Belgravia, Irene Adler states, “Brainy is the new sexy.” For me, though, there’s nothing new about it. Brainy has always been sexy—because hiding under the coldly logical exterior is the potential for an incredible depth of love.
That’s why Ian Fairchild, the hero of my debut romance, The Longest Night, is a genius criminal attorney, rather than a buff, brawny type. While it’s fun to have the eye-candy that comes with a firefighter, special forces soldier, or MMA fighter, there’s something glorious about a brainy hero, especially for a heroine who knows all that brainpower is focused on her.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes was my close companion all through childhood. I read and re-read the original mysteries, always delighting in how Sherlock could piece together the most obscure clues to solve the mystery and catch the thief or murderer. It seemed extraordinary that someone valued logic so highly could have such deep insight into human emotion and motivation.
Three women, two weeks, one convertible: sometimes life doesn't take you in the direction you expect...
Colleen Bradley is married with a teenage son, a modest business repurposing and reselling antiques, and longtime fear that she was not her husband’s first choice. When she decides to take a road trip down the east coast to check out antique auctions for her business, she also has a secret ulterior motive. Her one-woman mission for peace of mind is thrown slightly off course when sixteen year old Tamara becomes her co-pilot. The daughter of Colleen’s brother-in-law, Tamara is aware that when people see her as a screw-up, but she knows in her heart that she’s so much more. She just wishes her father could see it, too.
The already bumpy trip takes another unexpected turn when they stop at the diner that served as Colleen’s college hangout and run into her old friend, Bitty Nolan Camalier. Clearly distressed, Bitty gives them a story full of holes: angry with her husband, she took off on her own, only to have her car stolen. Both Colleen and Tamara sense that there’s more that Bitty isn’t sharing, but Colleen offers to give Bitty a ride to Florida.
So one becomes two becomes three as Colleen, Tamara, and Bitty make their way together down the coast. It’s a road trip fraught with tension as Tamara’s poor choices come back to haunt her and Bitty’s secrets reach a boiling point. With no one to turn to but each other, these three women might just discover that you can get lost in life but somehow, true friends provide a roadmap to finding what you’re really looking for.
Get a sneak peek of Beth Harbison's Driving with the Top Down (available August 5, 2014) with an exclusive excerpt of Chapters 1 & 2.
Colleen Bradley hung up the phone—a tiny beep at the push of a fake on-screen button, as opposed to the satisfying slam of a good old plastic receiver—and rubbed her eyes in exasperation.
An hour and a half.
An hour and a half she had just spent on hold with that stupid hold music playing, and then the second she got a real person and not a robot, she was transferred, heard half a hopeful ring, and the call got dropped.
Between the Sheets (Boys of Bishop)
Bantam / July 29, 2014
$7.99 print / $4.99 digital
After years of running, Wyatt Svenson has now parked himself in Bishop, Arkansas, trying to do the right thing and parent a son he didn’t even know he had until recently. Over six feet tall and packed with muscles and power, Ty likes to get his hands dirty, fixing his motorcycle at night and keeping his mind away from the mistakes he’s made. Then his pretty neighbor shows up on his driveway, doesn’t bother to introduce herself, and complains about the noise. First impression? She should loosen up. Funny that she turns out to be his son’s elementary school art teacher—and the only one willing to help his troubled boy. Ty needs her. In more ways than one.
Though Shelby Monroe is safe in her structured life, she is drawn to Ty’s bad-boy edge and rugged sexuality. What if she just lets it all go: her worries about her mother, her fear of heartbreak, and her tight self control? What if she grabs Ty and takes a ride on the wild side? “What if” becomes reality—intense, exhilarating . . . and addictive. But Ty wants more than a secret affair. He wants it all with Shelby. But will she take a chance and open her heart? Ty is determined to convince Shelby to take the biggest risk of her life: on him.
Between the Sheets is the third in Molly O'Keefe's Boys of Bishop series. Before we look at this book, I encourage you to read the entire series, beginning with Wild Child.
I chose to write about Between the Sheets because of its fascinating heroine. Shelby Monroe appears in the first two books of this trilogy, but you never really understand her. It's obvious that she has some underlying problem that keeps her from establishing a lasting relationship, but all we see before this book is Shelby screwing up.
It's odd to see Keira Knightley a) not in period garb b) being purposeless and c) with an American accent, but here in Laggies, she does all three.
A woman stuck in permanent adolescence lies to her fiancé about going on a retreat and spends the time hanging out with friends instead.
Laggies also stars Sam Rockwell as the dad/love interest. It will be in theaters September 26.
“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
- Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”
Each month, I scrutinize the list of new releases, searching for something novel and innovative. We romance readers can be a difficult group to please—we want more of the same, but with variation. If you are fan of shape-shifters, then you want more shape-shifters books. If you love Regency historicals, then you are looking for more books in that time period. If you are a fan of erotica—ditto, you want more of the same. Of course each author has her own voice, so even if she was writing the same plot and characterization as another author there would be differences, but most of us don’t want to settle for just that.
So what is a poor author to do? One way to make a book distinctive is the setting—to leave behind the tried and true. Another is the ethnicity or culture of the hero and heroine.
I first started reading romance in my tweens and early teens. One author who quickly became a favorite was Mary Stewart. Each and every book had a new locale, such as the South of France, or Scottish Isle of Sky, or Greece, and even Lebanon and Vienna. Opening up a book by Mary Stewart was like traveling across the world. In her books, romance and exotic locales just seemed to go together like Godiva and chocolate.
The Fortune Hunter
St. Martin’s Press/ July 29, 2014 / $26.99 print / $12.99 digital
In 1875, Sisi, the Empress of Austria is the woman that every man desires and every woman envies.
Beautiful, athletic and intelligent, Sisi has everything - except happiness. Bored with the stultifying etiquette of the Hapsburg Court and her dutiful but unexciting husband, Franz Joseph, Sisi comes to England to hunt. She comes looking for excitement and she finds it in the dashing form of Captain Bay Middleton, the only man in Europe who can outride her. Ten years younger than her and engaged to the rich and devoted Charlotte, Bay has everything to lose by falling for a woman who can never be his. But Bay and the Empress are as reckless as each other, and their mutual attraction is a force that cannot be denied.
It's impossible to discuss The Fortune Hunter without addressing the big question: as follow up to the magnificent The American Heiress, does it deliver? The answer is yes. But in this novel, Daisy Goodwin gives us not one, but two heroines: Elizabeth, called Sisi, the glamorous but jaded and calculating Empress of Austria, and Charlotte Baird, a plain but idealistic British heiress. Both are based on true-life women.
Caught in between these two women is a dashing young cavalry officer named Bay Middleton—also based on a historically true person. (And yes, he is a distant relation to Kate Middleton.)