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Oct 12 2016 4:44pm

Dirty Farmers, Please Apply: Romance News & Deals

Grab a mug of tea and a scone and let's gossip about what's hot in romance.

{Did you know you can sign up to receive Afternoon Tea as an e-mail? Sign up to have your daily cuppa delivered straight to your inbox.}

Top Off Your TBR Pile

Bittersweet by Sarina BowenSarina Bowen's Bittersweet proves that farmers know how to get dirty. If you think this grumpy farmer's tractor is just your speed, nab it for just $.99 at Amazon | Barnes & Noble | etc. Looking for more reasons to buy this book? Stacey Agdern says “Sarina Bowen has managed to demonstrate, once again, why she’s a master” at dual first person. 

—H&H blogger and author A.J. Pine brings the office rivalry in her romance Six-Month Rule, which is now $.99 at Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Amazon | etc. Get to know another side of A.J. with her (not-so) secret love of Once Upon a Time's Captain Swan.

Fresh Outta the Oven

—“Game of Thrones... if it were set in the Ottoman empire” made our ears perk up this past summer and pulled us into Kiersten White's And I Darken. Now Entertainment Weekly has the first look at the cover and an excerpt of the sequel, Now I Rise. Get reading!

[+Jason Momoa in Aquaman...]

Sep 27 2016 3:30pm

H&H Bloggers Recommend: Best Reads of September 2016

What are the best new romances in September 2016?

Each month, we ask our bloggers to share the best thing they’ve read (or things, plural, if our bloggers declare a tie ’cause they just can’t choose). It doesn’t have to be a new book, as evidenced below; just something that made the month sparkle a bit more.

The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne

Jessica Moro:

My favorite read this month has to be The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne. The element of a cold blooded assassin falling in love with a passionate actress was so well done. Byrne weaves intense, anti-heroes that you can't help but fall in love with. And the plot! It was twisty and so good! There were so many elements to this story that I loved and I couldn't put it down!

Amy Dittmeier:

Shadow Falling by Rebecca Zanetti

Before I was a romance reader, I was a dystopia reader. Give me a good story about people trying to make it in a post-apocalyptic city and I was there. Zanetti's Scorpius Syndrome series combines my love for ruined cities with well-rounded Alpha Males, and her second book is incredible! I love seeing her version of disease ravaged Los Angeles evolve throughout the books. And the heroes aren't too bad either.

[Read more...]

Jul 7 2016 4:30pm

Saga: An Otherworldly Romance and So Much More

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

Is Saga a Romance?

Saga features a mix of magic and technology, a space opera setting, and a diverse cast of characters and gender identities. It also includes action-adventure, graphic violence, gore, mature themes, sex scenes (some of it interspecies), and thought-provoking sexual imagery (some romantic, some raunchy).

Does Saga push some boundaries? Heck, yeah! Yet beneath the decidedly adult themes and dark humor is a universal story about the joys and struggles of love and parenthood.

Marko and Alana are fugitives fighting for their lives against a backdrop of interplanetary war. Marko is a soldier and has sworn off violence. Alana, however, won’t hesitate to use violence to protect her family. They share a goal of escaping the war and settling down in peace to raise their daughter, Hazel, but events are constantly conspiring against them.

Saga begins with the birth of the couple’s daughter rather than their meet-cute. And Vaughan has stated that the gist of the story is about parenthood. Therefore, all bets are off regarding romance genre conventions. To be sure, Saga isn’t advertised as a sci-fi romance and it hasn’t ended yet, so I’m managing my expectations accordingly. And yet, Alana and Marko’s romance is a key part of the story. Without their forbidden romance, the whole story falls apart.

[You had us at forbidden...]

Jul 7 2016 8:20am

Three Cheers for STEM Girls!

This week saw one small leap for readers, one giant leap for geek-girl kind as Iron Man was not only made a woman... but a woman of color. It was pretty fantastic news for women in science everywhere and women of color in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field. 

For the romance reader looking for such a heroine, they can look no further than Elia Winters' Even Odds, which came out on Monday and features a Cuban-American heroine working in gaming, and dealing with all the trials and tribulations that comes with being in a gender-biased industry such as tech. 

In the fictional world, these women are practically golden unicorns they're so rare, so it's great to see a juggernaut such as Marvel saying it's not only okay for women to be in STEM...it's heroic. 

May 16 2016 5:15pm

You Know Your Love Life is Complicated When...8 Signs You Might Be Dating a Paranormal Creature

All Fixed Up by Linda Grimes

You might be dating a supernatural natural creature if... Linda Grimes (author of All Fixed Up) is at H&H this week discussing paranormal creatures, love triangles, and superpowered love—our favorites! Thanks, Linda!

Devoted romance readers understand that complications in matters of l'amour are the pulsing heartbeat of a great story, as well as a normal part of the give and take between would-be lovers. What could be more satisfying than accompanying characters on their obstacle-filled journey to finding true love with their one and only? 

Of course, some journeys are bumpier than others. Which is okay, because as someone who's ridden down an unpaved road or two in a car with lousy suspension, I can tell you the occasional unexpected thrill makes up for a lot of discomfort. And nothing can add ruts to the road like a hefty dose of the paranormal, am I right? Or maybe some sci-fi or superheroes. They're like the cherries on top of a great big delicious complication sundae! Made with Rocky Road ice cream, naturally. Because the rockier the road, the happier you are when you finally reach the end of the journey. 

So, how do your love life complications compare to the following?

[A little simpler methinks...]

Apr 14 2016 8:45am

Harley Quinn/The Joker: OTP, or Get the Hell Away from Me?

Harley Quinn has long been one of my favorite characters in the DC comics universe. However, her sychophantic devotion to Batman's archnemesis The Joker has always made her simultaneously more interesting, and more sympathetic. 

Are you one of the people who likes seeing The Joker and Harley Quinn together, or do you yell “get away from me” at the mere thought? 

Let us know in the comments!

Mar 16 2016 4:30pm

The Flash’s Iris West Deserves Her Happily Ever After

Spoiler Alert: If you aren't familiar with the comic book world of The Flash, this post may contain spoilers for the adaptation of this world in CW's The Flash. 

Iris West, beloved of Barry “The Flash” Allen, now played by Candice Patton on The Flash, used to have a simple history. From her creation in 1958, two years after Barry debuted in his role as DC Comics’ new Flash, to her “death” in 1979, Iris was an investigative reporter and, more relevant to the romance community, one half of one of the best comic love stories of all time.

But since then, she’s been dead, a displaced time traveler, a man, alive, widowed, became a grandmother, spent time in limbo, and finally was alive again, back as an investigative reporter but now single. (Comics everyone!)  I can only hope, with Iris appearing as Barry’s true love on The Flash television show, that their love story will live again, to the joy of romantics everywhere.

Iris was a normal superhero love interest for the first part of her history. She had a long and happy marriage and that, for the time period, she was portrayed as unusually intelligent and capable. In the first Flash comic that I ever read, Flash #233, Iris figured out Barry had been replaced by his doppleganger from the future, the Reverse Flash. Iris had set Barry’s wristwatch ahead because he was notoriously late to events requiring his civilian alter ego. When he still showed up late, she knew something was up and confronted Zoom. Of course, she wasn’t capable of defeating Zoom by herself but Barry came back from limbo in time to save her life.

[The nine lives of Iris West ...]

Mar 14 2016 5:52pm

Romance News: RWA Awards + Bookmarks You Need

Welcome to H&H's daily news roundup! Grab a mug of tea and a scone and let's gossip about what's hot in the romance world right now.

{Did you know you can sign up to receive Afternoon Tea as an e-mail? Sign up have your daily cuppa delivered straight to your inbox.}

Deal Alerts

One Week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy

Monica Murphy's contemporary One Week Girlfriend, the first Drew + Fable installment, is discounted to $1.99 in e-book for the moment at iBookstoreBarnes & NobleAmazon, etc.* FYI: Even after you reach Fable and Drew's HEA, you can stay in their orbit with Three Broken Promisesfeaturing Fable's friend Jen.

Lisa Jackson's New Orleans-set Bentz/Montoya romantic suspense Hot Blooded is on sale for $1.99 in e-book at Barnes & NobleAmazoniBookstore, etc.* Do you crave the adrenaline rush that comes with a good romantic suspense? Dolly Sickles has more recommendations for books to get your heart racing.

Tasty Morsels

The Romance Writers of America (RWA) have announced the winners of the 2016 RWA Awards: Robyn Carr (Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award); Nikki Enlow (Emma Merritt Award); Silver James, Cindy Kirk, Mellanie Szereto, and Lori Wilde (Service Awards); Carrie Feron (Vivian Stephens Industry Award); Robin Bradford (Cathie Linz Librarian of the Year); Anna Brown (Steffie Walker Bookseller of the Year); and Kelly Faircloth (Veritas Award). Congratulations to all. Stay tuned for RITA nominees!

Best bookmarks ever or best bookmarks ever? How did I ever save my place without the Wicked Witch's legs? Or C-3PO's, or Alice in Wonderland's...

[+TV news roundup...]

Mar 10 2016 4:52pm

Romance News: Steve/Tony Tension Galore in New Captain America: Civil War Trailer!

Welcome to H&H's daily news roundup! Grab a mug of tea and a scone and let's gossip about what's hot in the romance world right now.

{Did you know you can sign up to receive Afternoon Tea as an e-mail? Sign up have your daily cuppa delivered straight to your inbox.}

Deal Alerts

Manda Collins' Lords of Anarchy novel A Good Rake Is Hard to Find is marked down to $2.99 in e-book right now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, etc.* In her 2015 First Look review, Jessica Moro calls A Good Rake Is Hard to Find a “fast-paced read with two sleuths who have magnetic personalities.”

Eva Leigh's historical Scandal Takes the Stage is currently on sale for $1.99 in e-book at Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Amazon, etc.* Leigh visited H&H last year to talk “Wickedly Witty Women Writers in Romance,” opening with: “Women who write are definitely bad girls.” You can't stop there!

Tasty Morsels

Captain America: Civil War's second trailer has dropped, and in it we're gifted a Spider-Man cameo and the Black Panther drop-kicking the Winter Soldier, among other snippets from the movie. What are you most looking forward to in Civil War? The new characters? Steve/Tony tension? The Bucky/Natasha reunion? Steve protecting Bucky? All of the above? (I'm still bummed about my Natasha/Clint 'ship, and this trailer just rubs it in, boo.)

[Watch the trailer...]

Feb 25 2016 5:45pm

Finding Your Place in the Panels: Gateway Comics for Romance Readers

Comic book culture is permeating everything from the big to the small screens, the toys your kids are playing with or maybe the toys you are buying yourself. Geek has never been more chic and while there are many options from the Avengers to Squirrel Girl (yeah she’s real) it might be a space romance readers will find themselves finding new fandoms in a fun space that embraces action, romance, and suspense.

I could fill this list with plenty of Eisner (think comics Oscar) award winning pieces such as Saga or The Wicked and the Divine or even the new Archie, but I want to focus on comics that should get a little more love for lack of a better term and are a little bit more heavy on the romance theme. Great places to check out comics news, find recommendations or just read articles for fun include: Women Write About Comics, The Mary-Sue, and Panels. Without further ado, I present my picks for gateway romance comics:

The Lords of the Underworld by Gena Showalter and Earthien: So Harlequin decided to adapt the popular Lords of the Underworld series by Gena Showalter in a manga-style format. The illustrations are gorgeous and somewhat true to how any fan art or Tumblr page might depict the popular tormented heroes who are each plagued with a demon. The story is on point as well and familiar to those who have read the books, the one caveat is that instead of paying for one book, you’ll pay for about two volumes or so because illustrating a 300-plus word romance novel can’t be easy.

[Romance comics in volumes please ...]

Feb 3 2016 6:30pm

Steve Trevor: The Many Lives of Wonder Woman’s First Love

Steve Trevor is the rarest superhero love interests. First, he’s a man. Second, he’s an ordinary man with no powers. Third, as the first man Diana ever meets, he’s integral to her origin.

But, last and most important, Steve sets the template for Wonder Woman’s view of the “man’s world” outside Paradise Island.

For those familiar with the story, young Princess Diana is raised by the Amazons of Paradise Island until the day when a World War II pilot crashlands during a secret mission. When Diana rescues him, he considers her his “angel” and thus a great romance is born. That was the basis of the Wonder Woman television show of the 1970s, though it’s Steve Trevor Jr. in the later episodes set in the present day.

[The ever changing Steve Trevor ...]

Nov 22 2015 6:35pm

Sweet Christmas: Recharge with Jessica Jones Power Couple Jessica/Luke

Jessica and Luke basking in afterglow
Via nickmarino.tumblr.com

Have 13 hours to spare? Take it from me: You're going to need 'em all when you queue up Jessica Jones Season 1 on Netflix for the first time. Consider it a chance to recharge your battery as you stare transfixed at the screen, because Krysten Ritter and Mike Colter are impossible to tear your eyes away from as reluctant superheroes and power couple Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.

Sure, to their minds, Jessica and Luke are merely a private investigator and bar owner, respectively, just trying to earn a living and stay under the radar, but from the beginning it's clear there's so much more to them than that. And though their relationship is insanely complicated due to some dark, bloody history that ties them together, the two are clearly a perfect match.

But why tell you when I can show you? (SPOILERS for Season 1's Jessica/Luke moments ahoy.)

Here are 5 reasons Jessica and Luke make a weekend spent on the couch binge-watching Jessica Jones not merely totally acceptable but—in case anyone's asking—possibly even your sworn duty as a romance evangelist tasked with sharing word of good romances with the world:

[Jessica Jones and Chill...]

Oct 27 2015 3:00pm

Supergirl 1x01 James/Kara Heart-to-Heart: Ka-Pow

Note: This post may contain spoilers of the Season 1, Episode 1 pilot episode of Supergirl

James and Kara Captain's Log

Show/Episode: Supergirl, Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”
Ship(s): James/Kara, Winn/Kara (who knows which way it'll go)

It’s no secret that I’m a hardcore Marvel Comics fangirl.  That said, I’ve been a fan of all superheroes for as long as I can remember.  I have much love for DC Comics, as well and generally watch all things DC.  I currently watch Gotham, The Flash and Arrow and I was ecstatic when I heard that Supergirl was heading to TV.  But then I heard it was coming to CBS and I was apprehensive. CBS does not come to mind, these days, as the place for comic book tv. I was only nervous until I saw the extended trailer a couple of months ago. The trailer looked great and I couldn’t wait for the premiere.  It was a long wait for the premiere but it was so worth it!  It. Was. Awesome!  It was fun, exciting, surprising, twisty, empowering and uplifting.  And, there was eye candy so, you know, WINNER.

[Winner winner, chicken dinner...]

Oct 23 2015 4:05pm

Romance News: Jessica/Luke Gets Steamy in Full Jessica Jones Trailer

Welcome to H&H's daily news roundup! Grab a mug of tea and a scone and let's gossip about what's hot in the romance world right now.

Jessica Jones and Luke Cage make out in Jessica Jones season 1
Gif via hawkguy.tk

Jessica Jones and Luke Cage hook up us in the first full-length trailer for Marvel's Jessica Jones, the whole first season of which will hit Netflix on November 20. Whereas sometimes it's weird the way I like to try to pick my 'ships as early as the show's description, here I feel justified in saying I'm eager to see what kind of romance could be in store for Jessica/Luke: After all, the two are married and in love in the comics universe. Thoughts on the trailer? Looking forward to David Tennant's villain Kilgrave? Were you one of the lucky few to see the first episode at New York Comic Con? TELL ME EVERYTHING.

H&H's own Jennifer Proffitt is warming up for a thrilling #XOXOConnects Q&A with Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter as I type this, so get your questions ready! Tell her I sent you when you tune into the Google hangout event tomorrow, Saturday, at 3 p.m. ET, as part of XOXO After Dark's “all-day online readerfest you can attend in your pajamas.”

[+Jill Sorenson deal & “Hello” new earworm...]

Oct 15 2015 3:07pm

Romance News Roundup: Magical Eve Langlais & Nora Roberts Deals

Welcome to H&H's daily news roundup! Grab a mug of tea and a scone and let's gossip about what's hot in the romance world right now.

Defying Pack Law by Eve LanglaisDeal Alert #1: Eve Langlais's paranormal romance Defying Pack Law (Pack Series #1) is currently only $.99 in e-book right now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and more (via ReadCheaply).* Before you dive in, here's Heather Massey's 10 Things You Should Know About Eve Langlais.

Deal Alert #2: Nora Roberts' supernatural Dance Upon the Air (Three Sisters #1) is just $1.99 in e-book right now at iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and other e-tailers (via BookBub).* If you're overwhelmed by the Roberts canon and don't know where to start, know that Robin Bradford's helpful Delving Into the Nora Roberts Canon includes the Three Sisters Trilogy as a good jumping in point.

“Ichabod Crane, American” DOES have a nice ring to it! A clip from tonight's episode of Sleepy Hollow treats us to a cute Ichabod/Abbie moment. Of course, we'll be analyzing all their moments in tomorrow's Sleepy Hollow Ichabbie heart-to-heart, so watch for that.

Deal Alert #3: Former H&H community manager Megan Frampton's historical The Duke's Guide to Correct Behavior is marked down to $.99 in e-book right now at e-tailers such as Barnes & NobleiBookstore, and Amazon (via BookBub).*

[+X-Men & My Best Friend's Wedding TV news...]

Aug 14 2015 1:30pm

Superhero Sweeties: Does the Translation from Page to Screen Change the Ship?

Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey from Spider Man 2

Superheroes and love stories go together like peanut butter and chocolate.  Virtually every superhero has a love interest (or two or three) in their comic book canon.  Peter Parker/Spider-man has Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacey. Clark Kent has Lois Lane and Lana Lang. Bruce Wayne/Batman has Selina Kyle and Vicki Vale.  Mr. Fantastic has the Invisible Woman. Everywhere you look, in comic books, in television shows and in films, a superhero has a love interest. 

Sometimes, there can be a touch of disparity between the mediums.  A couple might make it from comic book page to screen and be a success with audiences, as we’ve seen many times with Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane.  Other times, the hero is given a new love interest for the screen, such as with Tony Stark/Iron Man and Pepper Potts.

[Superheroes always need the perfect mate...]

Aug 5 2015 3:25pm

Romance News Roundup: Deadpool Trailer, #FreeTheBacon, Deals, and More!

Welcome to H&H's daily news roundup! Grab a mug of tea and a scone and let's gossip about what's hot in the romance world right now.

Wicked Ever After by Delilah S. Dawson

—Fans of Delilah S. Dawson's Blud series will be glad to see the return of Criminy and Tish from the first book in Dawson's October novella, Wicked Ever After. Isn't the cover gorgeous? Learn more about the book (available October 5, 2015) at Simon & Schuster. Not familiar with Tish and Criminy? Meet the power couple with our first look at Wicked as They Come.

The Deadpool trailer premiered (warning: it's the Red Band trailer, so NSF -work or -children) last night on Conan, and while Ryan Reynolds didn't get much face time (literally, his face was covered...or scarred), his voice was very evident behind the mask. The humor is dark, the action looks gritty...and we already appreciate the use of '90s hip-hop. What did you think of the darkly funny trailer? Have you added it to your to-be-watched list?

—Deal Alert: Are step-brothers your catnip? Alexis Abbott's Criminal: A Bad-Boy Stepbrother Romance is on sale for $0.99 on Amazon.* For more stepbrother romances, we have the evolution of the stepbrother romance (Clueless, anyone?) for you here.

—In a mock-PSA for Mashable, Kevin Bacon calls all Hollywood men to action: Free the Bacon. And by “bacon,” he means full-frontal nudity. It seems appropriate that this PSA should be issued on the day we're talking about euphemisms on the site. In all seriousness, let's have more male nudity—if Game of Thrones is allowed to have gratuitous boob shots, let's have some gratuitous male nudity. Just saying. Let's all #FreetheBacon.

—Do books get you in the mood to travel? These 7 books are sparking our wanderlust, do they sparks yours too? Scotland or Greece, anyone?

Aug 3 2015 4:30pm

Time-Stopping Orgasm: Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Comic Sex Criminals

Sex Criminals Vol 1 by Matt Fraction

Time Magazine awarded Sex Criminals (2013; Image Comics) by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky the number one spot in its list of Top Ten Comics and Graphic Novels of 2013, and there are plenty of good reasons why.

In 2014, Sex Criminals won an Eisner Award for Best New Series, and there are plenty of good reasons why.

In 2015, Universal TV announced it had optioned Sex Criminals for a series, and there are plenty of good reasons why.

I just finished glomming issues 1-10 of Sex Criminals and—wait for it!—there are plenty of good reasons why.

The number one reason is the premise: A couple gains the power to stop time when they orgasm.

When I first heard about this comic, I was a bit wary. Its high concept premise sounded pretty gimmicky. And it is gimmicky—there's no way around that fact. Sex sells, eh? Despite my misgivings, the gimmicky angle plus my interest in science fiction romance and superhuman stories made it a foregone conclusion that I'd read it. When I became the happy owner of a tablet, and thus able to order the series digitally from comiXology, I took the plunge.

Image Source: Thoughtballoons

[Hello, comic strip sex...]

May 26 2015 3:45pm

Romance News Roundup: Victoria Vane Deal, Sam Heughan Appreciation, and More!

Welcome to H&H's daily news roundup! Grab a mug of tea and a scone and let's gossip about what's hot in the romance world right now.

Slow Hand by Victoria Vane—Deal Alert #1: Victoria Vane's Slow Hand is currently $.99 in e-book at e-tailers such as Barnes & NobleiBookstore, and Amazon.* Want to try the book on for size? Read an excerpt from Slow Hand here.

—BuzzFeed Celeb says “We Need to Talk About Sam Heughan” and, I mean, we can't disagree. The man is a gift. Here's hoping Outlander lasts forever and a day while still giving him time to do a ton of other cool projects so that we can see him onscreen year-round! P.S. Don't forget that the Season 1 finale of Outlander (ahhhhh!) airs this Saturday and we'll be here for all your reactions the next day with the recap!

—Deal Alert #2: Gina Conkle's Meet the Earl at Midnight is currently $1.99 in e-book at Amazon.* Want to see if this romance is for you? Check out a preview of Meet the Earl at Midnight here.

—Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey) devotees can watch him answer questions about his television series The Fall (in which he plays serial killer Paul Spector opposite Gillian Anderson's Stella Gibson) via a Gold Derby Emmys Chat livestream on May 28 here. (Thanks to H&H blogger Janet Webb for the heads-up.)

—The first issue of romance comic Fresh Romance has arrived. We first wrote about the comic back in March, when its creators launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the anthology. Are you a comics fan? Will you be reading?

*We don't know how long deals will last, so get 'em while you can!

May 13 2015 8:12am

Lady Thor’s Identity is Revealed

Thor tries to pull out mjolnir in ThorYesterday, Thor writer Jason Aron revealed the identity of Lady Thor, which you can find out here. Last year when the news initially broke, it was met with mixed results. However, with this new information, it does raise an interesting point. Here's what we know without revealing the identity, for those not wishing to be spoiled:

At some point, Thor, through an unknown circumstance, has become unworthy of the mythical hammer, Mjolnir. 

Now we will unleash the spoiler bots upon the comments—so stay away if you don't wish to be spoiled! What event do you think caused Thor to be deemed unworthy of his hammer? We also know that the mortal version of Lady Thor is weakened every time she uses the hammer, what do you think of the idea of a superpower vanquishing the bad guys, but also harming its user? How do you think that changes the narrative and what examples can you think of in romance?

Let us know in the comments!