For St. Patrick's Day we gave you some green-eyed beefcake to feast your eyes on, so this week we'd thought we'd shift the theme back to the eyes—after all, they're the window to the soul!
Share your favorite blue-eyed beaus in the comments!
For St. Patrick's Day we gave you some green-eyed beefcake to feast your eyes on, so this week we'd thought we'd shift the theme back to the eyes—after all, they're the window to the soul!
Share your favorite blue-eyed beaus in the comments!
Today is Lucrezia Borgia's birthday, born in Italy way back in 1480. Happy Birthday, Lucrezia!
Lucrezia has become notorious in history as a woman who will do anything for her family, including poisoning, sexual favors, and incest. The men of her family were worse in their actions, but it's Lucrezia who is the most notorious.*
Perhaps, if she were a man, Lucrezia would have been modestly infamous for being so ruthless and Machiavellian, but it seems to be even more outrageous that she did those things and was a female. Of course, if she were male, she wouldn't have had to resort to sneakier methods of getting her way such as using sex or a poison ring to guarantee the outcome she wanted; she would just have straight-out murdered the person in question, or perhaps gone ahead and led an army against them. But being a woman, she didn't have those methods at her disposal, so she used what she did have—her femininity and the misguided thought that women were the weaker sex, and wouldn't dare to act as she did.
We're so excited to reveal the cover for Caris Roane's Unchained on Heroes and Heartbreakers. Unchained is the third book in the Men in Chains series, and with men like these, we wouldn't mind being bound to them either.
Here's the official description:
Stalked by a vampire. Stolen in the night. Seduced by a lover. Anthropology student Shayna Prentiss wakes up to find herself trapped in a world she never knew existed—with a man she cannot escape…nor resist.
Drawn to her beauty. Driven by lust. Doomed by his destiny. The vampire Marius knows he must bond with this captivating mortal with hidden powers…or both their races will be destroyed forever.
Bound by a blood chain that seals their fates together, Marius and Shayna must stand and fight the ultimate enemy—a madman hell-bent on destruction who will test every ounce of their strength, their power, and their passion. When the final weapon is unleashed, will their love remain unbroken? Or will darkness shatter their chains…for eternity?
Unchained will be available on November 25, 2014, pre-order your copy now:
Jackie Ashenden, author of the just-released Billionaire's Club story The Billionaire Biker, is our latest guest on the blog. If you couldn't tell from her wickedly sexy books, she's a big fan of Alpha males, and especially loves that there are, in fact, such a wide variety of types. Today she's here to share her findings on the 6 flavors of Alpha. Thanks for joining us, Jackie!
Okay, so I have a confession to make: I love an alpha hero. Yeah, I know, loving an alpha isn't so fashionable these days. We want a guy who's more sensitive, who's not so in your face or controlling, who's laid back, who's a bit more true-to-life even.
But me, I'm an alpha girl all the way. He's a very misunderstood beast in my opinion. Like the best kind of bad boy, he has a checkered past and a rap sheet a mile long. He's got a few skeletons in his closet (not looking at anyone in particular old skool romance!). But the true heart of an alpha hero is golden and the journey of him finding that heart is its own very special form of crack.
One of my personal peeves about alpha heroes though, is the accusation that they're all the same. They are not. They come in many different flavors and if you're not an alpha fan, you may be surprised at what kind of man you might uncover.
Check out these guys here. Six of my favorite alpha hero types and why they're different.
Can't get enough Scandal? Join the club—really. Tune into H&H for weekly recaps from Kwana Minatee-Jackson and Nicole Leapheart. Need to catch up? Don't miss any of our Season 3 recaps, including 3x10, 3x11, 3x12, 3x13, 3x14, 3x15, 3x16, and 3x17. And now, let's dive into H&H's recap of Season 3, episode 18, “The Price of Fair and Free Elections.”
NOTE: This post may contain spoilers for all aired episodes of Scandal. Enjoy!
Put on your gym shoes and track shorts because this episode felt like an epic workout and it had the blood, sweat, and tears to prove it!
When the episode opens, the bomb is ticking and Fitz is still practicing his speech in his office. Papa Pope is being wheeled into the emergency room with multiple stab wounds, and Adnan is getting nervous that things aren’t going to plan to which Mama Pope tells her to chill and be patient. Jake is trying to call everyone to get them to clear the church, and this is all in the first 45 seconds of the show! (Warmed up yet? Let’s start power walking.)
Just when Cy is having an attack of conscience and is about to fill Fitz in on the fact that there is a bomb at the funeral he is supposed to be attending, Jake bursts into the Oval Office and announces that they have a “situation”.
While Liv is in the hospital waiting room, footage of funeral goers being quickly evacuated from the church is being reported live on television. Fitz is in the Situation Room with plenty of advisors—including Jake giving a guilty looking Cyrus the side eye—when boom goes the dynamite and the front of the church explodes. (And now we have the beginning credits, so let’s start jogging.)
Today Heroes and Heartbreakers is thrilled to reveal the cover for Ashlyn Macnamara's What a Lady Craves (click the cover to see the full-size verion). First comes love, then comes marriage—but what if the groom picks someone else! It's not going to be an easy road for this couple to find a happily ever after, but when fate throws them together again, it's meant to be! Here's the official description for more on Henrietta and Alexander's story:
Ashlyn Macnamara weaves a delicious tale of two souls torn apart by circumstance and reunited by fate—perfect for fans of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries.
Henrietta Upperton is about to marry Alexander Sanford when he rushes off to India to salvage his family’s fortune. Then comes the devastating news that he has wed another. Eight agonizing years later, a storm washes Alexander ashore—injured, widowed, and hunted—and one glimpse of his ruggedly handsome face reawakens the desire Henrietta thought she had buried deep inside. Her body still yearns for his touch, but she’s determined not let him wound her again . . . not this time.
For Alexander, honor always comes first. But only now does he realize that when given the choice between two virtuous deeds, he picked the wrong one. On the run with his life in tatters and a pair of daughters in tow, Alexander burns for Henrietta. He knows he does not deserve forgiveness. And yet he longs to wrap his arms around her warm body once again. What’s more, he is sure the lady craves the same.
What a Lady Craves will be available August 12, 2014, pre-order your copy today:
J.R. Ward, Meljean Brook, Larissa Ione, Kresley Cole—all of these writers have long-running series with increasingly complex storylines. There are, of course, many other authors who have also created magnificent backdrops against which their romances unfold.
So which author has the most complex worldbuilding?
Once Bitten, Twice Burned
Brava / April 29, 2014 / $14 print, $11.99 digital
Ryder Duncan keeps his secrets. With a twisted scientist starving him in a 10 X 12 cell, it's not easy to conceal the abilities that set him apart from other vampires, or his plans for escape. But survival - and revenge - are worth waiting for. Until the so-called doctor tempts his appetites with something special: a woman, with a soft Southern accent and a scent like flowers. Sabine. Sabine Acadia didn't volunteer to be dinner. She was kidnapped and tossed into the cage of a monster. A monster with fierce green eyes, a body that speaks of ruthless power—but a touch gentle as a caress. Ryder knows things about her, secrets Sabine needs to learn fast. Because while they might soon escape this prison, she's fighting an urge to set all her desires free...
To say I love Cynthia Eden’s new Phoenix Fire series would be a massive understatement, and Once Bitten, Twice Burned does a great job of expanding the universe. For those experiencing VFS, otherwise known as Vampire Fatigue Syndrome, this series will be a breath of fresh air. Obviously, based on the title, the series revolves around Phoenix, beings even the paranormal creatures of this world think are a myth. While the most recent installment of the series does in fact feature a vampire, he is different. We met Ryder in the first book as he desperately searched for the phoenix he had met in the lab; one taste of her blood gave him unthinkable powers and ignited scorching passion and an insatiable hunger.
When I first started reading J.D. Robb's In Death series, there were maybe just six books written in the series, and I had happened to pick up the second book. I loved it and went back the following week and bought all of the books available at that time. And have bought every one in the series since then. I love the world Robb has created, but what keeps me coming back is the characters. I adore the main and recurring characters in that series. I think of them as old friends. I actually miss them between books! The series does more than entertain; it can teach you, if you let it. Below are the top ten life lessons I’ve gleaned from the In Death series.
*Note: Beware of mild SPOILERS if you have not read the majority of the series*
1. Compromise really is the key to a successful relationship
At the beginning of the series, Eve is a no-nonsense cop with no tolerance for criminals. Roarke is a wealthy businessman with a dubious past and a healthy disdain for rules and authority, including the police. Over the series, Eve has strayed slightly from the straight and narrow and Roarke has become less shady. The compromise from them both has helped to strengthen their bond.
Bad-boy bikers by day & special ops team by night—these New York Times bestselling Black Knights keep you on the edge of your seat!
Only a crisis could persuade Delilah Fairchild to abandon her beloved biker bar, let alone ask Black Knights Inc. operator Bryan “Mac” McMillan for help. But her uncle has vanished into thin air, and sexy, surly Mac has the connections to help her find him. What the big, blue-eyed Texan has against her is a mystery… but when the bullets start to fly, Mac becomes her only hope of survival, and her only chance of finding her uncle alive.
Mac knows a thing or two about beautiful women— mainly that they can’t be trusted. Throw in a ticking clock, a deadly homegrown terrorist, and some missing nuclear weapons, and a man just might find himself on the wrong end of the gun. But facing down danger with Delilah is one passion-filled thrill ride…
Get a sneak peek of Julie Ann Walker's Hell for Leather (available May 5, 2014) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.
Damned if Mac wasn’t kissing Delilah right back…
He couldn’t believe it. And there was a large part of his brain that was screaming, what the hell, dude? It was supposed to be one kiss! Just one kiss!
Yessir, a large part of his brain was screaming exactly that. Over and over. But the rest of him? Well the rest of him was yelling something else entirely. Something that started with “oh” and ended with “yeah” and had a “hell” thrown in somewhere in the middle.
Today we welcome Cara McKenna to Heroes and Heartbreakers. Cara’s Hard Time came out earlier this week, and it features a convicted felon hero who courts the librarian heroine via clandestine love letters. An ex-con falling for a librarian is not the easiest tale to tell, and comes with some pretty intense moments. Cara is here to share some of the reasons (and recommendations) that gritty is oh-so great. Thanks, Cara!
Editor's note: Please be aware that his post contains discussion of rape and dubious consent.
Darren, Michigan, is a struggling former factory town, home to my most recent book, Hard Time, and the fictional Cousins Correctional Facility. Darren’s a pretty bleak little working-class city, short on both industry and hope. Recently, I asked friends and readers on Twitter what their favorite gritty romances from the past year were, and got loads of excellent recommendations. I picked four that I intended to read and reference in this post, but then something messed that plan all up.
A something called Wanderlust, by Skye Warren.
I’d not read Warren before, but a friend came over for pizza and gossip and told me about it. I caught key words—dubious consent, trucker, kidnapping—and promptly one-clicked.
The trouble with my original plan is that since I started Wanderlust I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. I don’t want it out of my head yet, like a flavor I’m a little worried I won’t ever taste again, so I’m hesitant to wash it away with some other meal, no matter how lovely the new tastes might be. It’s beautiful, and it’s so, so, fucked. And wonderful. And fucked. And so not for everyone. Let me explain some of the ways in which it’s fucked.
She Writes Press / April 22, 2014 (U.S.) / $18.95 print, $4.95 digital
Between a hostile work environment and an impossible romantic situation with her longtime friend and first love, Dr. Kai Solomon, anxiety-ridden New York investment banker Cara Collins has little to smile about on her 27th birthday. But before the day ends, she learns she has inherited $50 million—a windfall that she must keep secret if she wishes to keep the lives of those close to her safe.
As Cara unravels the truth surrounding her inheritance, she makes a startling discovery: angels walk among the living, and they're getting ready to engage in a battle that will determine the future of the human race. In the midst of these revelations, she meets mysterious and sophisticated Simon Young, who offers her the promise of romance for the first time since Kai.
When Kai and his daughter are kidnapped by dark forces, Cara must choose: accept her place in a 2,000-year-old prophecy foretold in the Trinity Stones as the First of the Twelve who will lead the final battle between good and evil . . . or risk losing everything she holds dear. In doing so, she realizes that not only her heart but also her destiny is entwined with the two men in her life.
Angels! Vampires, succubi, demon kings, and other bad boys of the supernatural realm get a lot of press, but where’s the love for our winged protectors from on high? Oh, we have J.R. Ward’s irreverent Fallen Angels, who somehow manage to find themselves in a lot of decidedly wicked situations, as well as Sharon Shinn’s more PG-rated Angels of Samaria. I’m sure there are others I have missed. But for whatever reason – I suspect that many authors prefer to steer clear of the explicit religiosity implied in the term – angels have tended to get somewhat short shrift in romantic fiction.
Now, however, fans of things angelic will sing a hearty “Gloria!” to learn that Trinity Stones, the first installment in L.G. O’Connor’s Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, has arrived. O’Connor has created a complex and fascinating world full of passion, intrigue, and bravery in the eternal battle between good and evil. Fans of the “angel” subgenre will want to check it out.
Paranormal romance and urban fantasy have long had characters who have gotten tattooed, not just for cosmetic purposes, but because their tattoos hold power. More recently, many New Adult and erotic romance characters have sported ink, in line with how many people in real life seem to be getting skin art.
If you were to get a book-related tattoo, what would it be? If you already have one, let us know in comments!
Photo by Word Made Flesh
Small-town contemporaries have been a niche subgenre going on for decades now, but I have never been gladder that they turned up the heat than when I picked up my first Victoria Dahl. Talk Me Down was a reading revelation. Here was a sexually confident, erotic author, who had set her cap at the small-town chief of police of Tumble Creek, Colorado. The book was full of kisses behind closed doors (and in the cab of the cruiser), a little bit of suspense, and a sense of illicitness that only an affair in a small town could create. It’s a book that I have passed down from friend to friend when I want to get them hooked on romance—and it works without fail.
But it wasn’t until recently I realized that while I may have moved to the big city, my heart (or at least my reading preferences) stayed in a small town. I would gladly stay in Tumble Creek for all of my days, but of course all good things come to an end, and eventually I had to move on to another small town, so to Ruthie Knox’s Camelot I went.
You saw pieces at Aesta's Book Blog, Totally Booked Blog, and Shh Moms Reading. Now, Heroes and Heartbreakers is pleased to reveal the fourth and final piece of the puzzle, and to present to you the full cover for Kylie Scott's Deep in all its sexy rock-god glory! What do you think?
And here's the official description for bassist Ben's long-awaited tumble into love in the conclusion of the Stage Dive series:
Don't miss a beat with the fourth and final novel in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Stage Dive series from Kylie Scott.
One by one, the members of Stage Dive are falling in love. David, Mal, and Jimmy have all taken the plunge, and now it’s Ben’s turn—only he refuses to fall into that trap. The sexy bassist enjoys his no-strings-attached lifestyle. But when Ben is forced to keep the one girl he's always had a weakness for out of trouble in Sin City, he quickly learns that what happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay there.
Deep will be available in e-book just in time for Christmas on December 23, 2014, while the paperback will be released on March 10, 2015.
Learn more about Deep by Kylie Scott:
Today, we're excited to bring back our H&H Reads program, with the book that introduced us to the Jellicoe clan—A Breath of Scandal!
Every Wednesday and Sunday from now until April 20, we'll be posting A Breath of Scandal in six easy-to-read (if not so easy to wait for!) parts. Right before each new part goes up, we'll be taking down the previous one, so make sure you don't miss a single piece of the book. Whether you're a long-time fan of Elizabeth Essex, or brand-new to the world where dead men don't talk, we hope you'll read along and then discuss each section of the book with us!
Want to be alerted when future parts of the book are live on the site? Log in or register here to be added to the H&H Reads Alert List! Want more Elizabeth Essex? Log in or reigster here to stay up to date on all the news!
Don't think you can wait? Catch up on the whole story now. (See the links at the bottom of this post for more info on where you can get your copy of A Breath of Scandal.) Then, come back to share your thoughts!
A BREATH OF SCANDAL BY ELIZABETH ESSEX
Forced by her family into an engagement with a man she can never abide, Antigone Preston knows only a scandal will save her from a loveless marriage. But knocking a man down to the ballroom floor with her fists brings dangerous consequences. She may have ruined her reputation, but now she’s endangered her heart…
The son of an earl and a career navy man, Captain William Jellicoe has no interest in the frivolities of London—and even less in the institution of marriage. But there’s something steering him toward Antigone. He has never met anyone as brazen and unconventional as…himself. But will he risk it all for a woman who still has the breath of scandal hot on her lips?
Well, damn him for an arrogant fool.
Lord Aldridge. All this time—all this time that Will had been with her, holding her and kissing her and thinking about a hundred and twenty-four ways of having her—she had been engaged, or about to be engaged to Aldridge. And there Will had been, dashing about the countryside thinking he was saving her. Clearly, she had no desire to be saved.
And yet, she had said, “He is nothing to me,” with such feeling, with such desperate determination, he could not reconcile the words with the inconvenient fact.
H&H is pleased to welcome A.C. Arthur, whose paranormal New Adult e-book trilogy Shadow Shifters: Damaged Hearts kicked off with Mine to Claim last week. A.C. writes sexy shapeshifter romances because she's a fan of them herself, and today she joins us to talk the irresistible pull of alpha shifters as well as to share some of her favorite series. Thanks, A.C.!
From the moment a romance novel is opened, a reader is searching for one thing: that belly-dropping, spine-tingling, whirlwind thrill of falling in love. Oftentimes that thrill is found in a contemporary setting with a very sexy alpha male and a feisty, independent female. On other occasions, the fall into love will take a scandalous duke by storm, or entice the proper lady to let go of her inbred reservations and give in to passion. And then there are the times when a reader simply wants to shift the scene entirely.
Hot, sexy, alpha males combined with the DNA of deadly animals. It’s not a new combination of hero, and yet the depths of the current shapeshifters are pushing the envelope of desire and passion and oh-my-I-need-a-fan-while-I-read elements in paranormal romance.
When a young woman inherits a rundown mansion, the last thing she expects to find is the key to her heart…
Abby Foster is a fish out of water in the Maine coastal town of Jewell Cove. The crumbling Foster estate, left to her by a relative she never even knew, has everyone’s eyes on her—an eerie reminder of the long-buried family secrets that have haunted her…forever. Single, stunning, and sometimes too strong-willed for her own good, Abby’s plan is to sell the house and hightail it back to Nova Scotia. But another part of her is intrigued by the idea of starting over somewhere new—and finally learning the truth about her heritage.
THE HOUSE ON BLACKBERRY HILL
Enter Tom Arseneault. The best contractor in Jewell Cove, Tom is determined to restore the beauty and prestige of the Foster mansion—and maybe even work his charms on its beautiful new heir. The attraction between him and Abby is undeniable, and the more time Tom spends on the house the more he wants to be in it with her. But Abby’s not sure she can trust him—or anyone in Jewell Cove who seems to know more about her family history than she does. Home: Is it really where the heart is after all?
Get a sneak peek of Donna Alward's The House on Blackberry Hill (available April 29, 2014) with an exclusive excerpt of Chapters 1 & 2.
Abby Foster didn’t want to like the town of Jewell Cove. It was just her bad luck, then, that the place appeared annoyingly cheerful and quaint; a postcard-perfect sea town on the Maine coast dotted with colorful buildings nestled above the pristine inlet of Penobscot Bay. In response to her irritation, she cranked up the radio and rolled down the window. The breeze blew her hair back from her face, and she gave her head a toss as she continued into the town, tapping her fingers on the steering wheel along with the music. She had to be here. She didn’t have to like it.
But she couldn’t put the trip off any longer. Something had to be done with the house. The estate was paying the taxes on the damned place but her aunt Marian’s lawyer kept pestering her about the condition of the property and what she was going to do about it. The constant correspondence made it impossible to pretend the house didn’t exist. So she finally put in for a deferred leave from her job as an elementary school teacher and decided to deal with the family mess once and for all.
Maybe you've followed a favorite author into a genre you don't normally read. Perhaps you were intrigued by a book blurb. Or like the cover. Or there was a sale.
You probably had expectations about the genre, which is why you don't normally pick it up. But whatever the reason for breaking out of your usual reading, we want to know: what genre was the biggest surprise? Do you continue to read in that genre?
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Her Best Laid Plans
Harlequin's Cosmo Red Hot Reads / April 15, 2014 / $3.99 digital
Experience Ireland—the dramatic beauty, the warm hospitality…and the smoking hot local guys!
Imagine nursing a pint in a cozy, authentic country pub, far from Cork's busy city pulse. Getting here took you a plane, bus, taxi and…um, bicycle. But just as you're resigning yourself to drinking beside grey-haired farmers, you see him—a man with the looks and charm to soothe any heartbroken girl.
He's your bartender. Your really, really gorgeous bartender.
For American Jamie Webb—recently dumped and housesitting for two weeks—Connor Kelleher is like a six-course feast after a 23-year starvation diet. But it's gotta be casual. She's just begun rerouting her life after a three-year man-related detour. Still, a sexy romp (or twenty!) with Sexy McBartender?
But what happens when Jamie's best-laid plans for no future plans with any man begin to change?
I've enjoyed the Cosmo Red Hot Reads that I've gotten my hands on, and Cara McKenna's Her Best Laid Plans was no exception. I really liked how the focus was on our heroine, and how there was just a bit of a twist near the end.