<i>Full Throttle</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Full Throttle: Exclusive Excerpt Julie Ann Walker "There was no use trying to hide the hunger in her expression..." <i>Mine to Take</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Mine to Take: Exclusive Excerpt Jackie Ashenden "A subtle heat that rested on his skin like a ray of sun. Dangerous." <i>The Highland Dragon's Lady</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Highland Dragon's Lady: Exclusive Excerpt Isabel Cooper "His lean body snapped to attention and his eyes blazed with silver fire." <i>Rocked by the Billionaire</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Rocked by the Billionaire: Exclusive Excerpt Mandy Baxter "He (looked) so self-possessed, so goddamned gorgeous after so many years..."
From The Blog
November 26, 2014
Families and Holidays
Lucy Dosch
November 26, 2014
5 Reasons You Need to See Beyond the Lights
Rebekah Weatherspoon
November 26, 2014
Dirty Talking in Romance
Laura Kaye
November 25, 2014
The Busybodies of Romance
Marina Adair
November 25, 2014
Gifts for Your Singular Reading Tastes
Team H & H
Showing posts by: Heather Massey click to see Heather Massey's profile
Thu
Jan 23 2014 4:30pm

Missing in Action: Alien Heroines

Enslave Me Sweetly by Gena ShowalterInterspecies science fiction romances aren't new, but those with an alien heroine and human male pairing seem to be fairly uncommon. Today's Big Question: Why is that?

By “alien heroine,” I mean an alien who is markedly distinct, biologically, from human women in some way (admittedly, the distinction isn't always a significant one, usually in the interest of making the character accessible).

Not every sci-fi romance has aliens, but of those that do, I go in expecting either the hero or the heroine to be one (or even both). I don't have an expectation for just one type of alien character. So if the heroine is an alien, cool.

Perhaps I'm an outlier, though. It's interesting to note that Goodreads has a list of “Outer Space Heroes Sci-Fi Romance” and “Best Alpha Male Alien Meets Human Heroine Romance,” but for the life of me I can't locate a similar list for alien heroines. Something's telling me that alien heroines aren't familiar enough to readers. I wonder why?

[Calling all alien heroines...]

Mon
Jan 6 2014 1:15pm

More Than Meets the Eye: Book Covers in Sci-Fi Romance

The Empire by Elizabeth LangIt's been said—a lot—that a book's cover is one of the most important marketing tools. A good quality cover will intrigue readers to pick up a book and read the blurb (or in the case of an ebook, click through to the blurb).

Despite this wisdom, many covers bend and even break the rule of strategic packaging. Over the years there have been some awful, jaw-dropping covers in all genres. Sometimes this means a sharp disconnect between a cover and the story. In other words, a cover isn't always the best indication of how entertaining a story actually is.

I was reminded of this phenomenon while reading BuzzFeed's 13 Fantasy Novels That Are Good Despite Their Covers. As a big fan of science fiction romance, I've seen my share of less-than-stellar covers for stories that are more entertaining than the packaging would suggest. I worry some readers might pass over a fun read because the cover isn't up to snuff.

Therefore, I thought I'd do a similar roundup of SFR books that, for me, are entertaining despite their covers. (Art, of course, is subjective, so your mileage may vary.)

The most technically flawed cover I've ever seen for a story mixing SF and romance was the original cover for Elizabeth Lang's The Empire (SF military space opera with a light romantic subplot). The cover design for that book made me question what I truly want in SFR covers. Is it better to accurately represent the story, even if the end result is of questionable quality? Or is a simple approach more effective when one doesn’t have the resources of a mainstream print publisher?

[Please DON'T judge these books by their covers...]

Sun
Dec 1 2013 3:30pm

Is Orange Is the New Black Paving The Way For Prison Romances?

Orange Is the New Black posterThe comedy-drama Orange Is the New Black was a surprise hit few saw coming. The 13-episode Netflix original series is based on a memoir of the same name by Piper Kerman. In Kerman's book, she chronicles her experience as an inmate at the minimum-security prison FCI Danbury. The show itself focuses on the prison “adventures” of protagonist Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) as she navigates the treacherous waters of a fictional federal prison in Litchfield, NY.

Orange Is the New Black (OITNB) features a multicultural, ensemble cast. In fact, the characters surrounding Piper represents the show's greatest strength. My personal favorite is Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox), a transgender woman who runs the hair salon. I about died of happiness when the camera invited me, the viewer, to take the first revelation of her transgender nature seriously (as opposed to it being played for laughs). OITNB is a very female-centric show, but one with immense cross-over appeal.

OITNB is superbly written and acted. It also delves into a subject that's traditionally been explored mainly in film. I use the term “explored” loosely since I'm referring to the history of “women in prison film.”
The show has its share of inmates duking it out before leering guards and T&A titillation, but it presents a far more nuanced—and at times gut-wrenching—portrayal of incarcerated women.

It also features a lesbian love story. Emphasis on story, not romance. The relationship between Piper and her old flame, Alex (Laura Prepon) is complicated, messy, hot, and angst-ridden. The show has elements of romance, but doesn't follow romance genre conventions.

[How has the romance genre tackled prison love?...]

Sun
Nov 17 2013 3:30pm

Romancing the Video Game

Ambrov XRomance in video games range from subtle, sometimes unrequited romantic relationships to a romance that's a prominent subplot. Games where a romance is an integral part of the plot, however, are few and far between.

I was reminded of that fact when I learned about Ambrov X, a role-playing video game based on author Jacqueline Lichtenberg’s Sime~Gen Universe. It's currently in development at Loreful.

According to the official site:

Set in the award winning Sime~Gen Universe by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, Ambrov X casts players in a far distant future as leaders of an unlikely but elite crew tasked with planting space beacons which allow for faster than light space travel. The Ambrov X saga unfolds into an action-packed story of first contact. Complete with epic battles and emotional decision making, Ambrov X brings to life the single-player, story-driven RPG through a thrilling space opera adventure. Ambrov X is scheduled for a 2015 release on Windows, OS X and Linux. With alternate releases for XBOX, PS4, iOS and Android to be released at a later date.

When Loreful announced that Bioware’s Jennifer Brandes Hepler had joined the team, a significant sci-fi romance related detail about the game emerged:

“Ambrov X” is a science fiction RPG focusing on a future humanity that has split into two separate and symbiotic races, forcing players’ characters to enter a tight, emotional, both predatory and romantic relationship with a single bonded companion character.

[You had us at “romantic relationship”...]

Wed
Nov 13 2013 3:45pm

Are We Ready for Tentacle Romance Yet?

Tentacles of Love by Margaret CarterThanks to the wonders of the Internet, we have access to things like dino erotica and lizard man heroes (e.g., R. Lee Smith's The Last Hour of Gann and Barbara Karmazin's The Huntress). In fact, there have been many such unique scifi and paranormal romance characters. I'm not sure if we'll be seeing dino-shifter heroes in romance anytime soon, but heroes with tentacles strike me as having superb potential.

More Than a Man by Emily Ryan-Davis and Elise Logan is a futuristic erotic romance with a wildly fantastical premise: the heroine mixes up her holiday gift shopping list with her list for the Manporium, a place where a woman can order the man of her dreams. The kicker? Noelle had ingredients for gingerbread men cookies on her shopping list.

After Noelle's new lover shows up, she discovers he has a few…unique qualities. Spoiler alert: one of them involves tentacles. The tentacle sex is simply one of many, many techniques the hero uses to pleasure Noelle during the course of the story (which makes sense given that it's heavy on the erotic elements). Yet upon reading how sensually his tentacles came across, I wondered why there weren't more romances featuring heroes with tentacles.

I embarked on various searches for more titles like More Than a Man, but came up woefully short. I did find Song from the Abyss by Margaret L. Carter. The hero, Dean, “…has spent years in another dimension. Sinuous tentacles are only the most visible mark of his alien transformation. Who is he now? What is he?” Dean sounds sinister, but also intriguing, yes? And the author also has a title with Ellora's Cave called Tentacles of Love.

[So basically what it says on the tin...]

Thu
Nov 7 2013 3:00pm

Can Sci-Fi Romance Give Readers a Fresh Twist on New Adult Stories?

Maven by S.A. HuchtonSome readers have been lamenting the sameness of New Adult titles, particularly the “bad boy hero meets innocent heroine,” dynamic. Therefore, I started wondering if the ones with a science fiction setting might offer a different twist. In my reading experience, that's certainly the case with S.A. Huchton's Maven, which launches her Endure series.

I first learned about Maven after blogging about my love of undersea adventure stories. I'd expressed a wish to read science fiction romances set beneath an ocean (on any planet). Subsequently, author S.A. Huchton gave me the heads-up about her book. Here's the blurb:

Since losing her parents at 14, young prodigy Dr. Lydia Ashley has focused on one thing: an appointment on the Deep Water Research Command Endure. Now 21, she’s about to realize that dream, but nothing is how she imagined it would be. Her transitional sponsor forgets her, her new lab is in complete chaos, and, as if that weren’t enough, she’s about to discover something so horrific it could potentially destroy all life on the planet.

Daniel Brewer, a noted playboy and genius in his own right, may be exactly what she needs… Or he may make everything worse.

Has she finally found a puzzle she can’t solve?

Maven is a strongly character-driven book. The story takes place aboard the Endure, but the characters don't deep sea dive for exploration purposes or embark on wild undersea submarine chases. Rather, it's a type of “lab lit” tale.

The heroine and hero are up against a corporate-style villain and there are mild suspense/mystery elements (including a scene of sexual jeopardy). The science in the story is extremely accessible but doesn't feel dumbed down.

[How about some SFR with your New Adult?...]

Tue
Jul 16 2013 8:30am

Close Encounters of the UFO Erotic Romance Kind

Lucy in the Sky by Barbara ElsborgUFO sightings and alien abductions are generally described as eerie, often terrifying encounters. There are countless reports about people being taken aboard alien spaceships and subjected to strange exams and experiments. In many of the scenarios, the aliens have complete control and seemingly god-like powers. It's the ultimate fear of the unknown at work.

Yet some UFO accounts are much milder in nature, and even seem to have erotic undertones. For example, in 1897, a St. Louis-Post Dispatch newspaper article relayed the report of one W.H. Hopkins, a man who claimed to have seen not only an unusual airship in Springfield, Missouri, but also its crew. Intriguingly, the woman and bearded man were nude. Both were gorgeous, according to Mr. Hopkins, and also possibly from Mars. During this alleged encounter, he reportedly kissed both of their hands in greeting.

Given such sensual details, was Mr. Hopkins’ account a thinly veiled erotic fantasy? If so, how wild that the newspaper printed it!

Most accounts describe UFO encounters that aren't so benign in nature. Yet through the power of erotic romance this abduction narrative has been transformed into steamy sexy times for modern readers. Science fiction has the “Mars Needs Women” trope, which is targeted at a heterosexual male audience. In erotic romance, it has taken on a new life to become “Women Need Hot Alien Lovin'.”

[They're not from around here...]

Tue
Jul 9 2013 8:30am

Royalty in Space: Science Fiction Princes and Princesses

Leia Organa, the Original Space PrincessSo y'all remember Science Fiction Saiyuki Starzinger, right? The anime show that aired in Japan from 1978-79? It featured a princess who joined forces with three cyborg warriors to restore balance to the universe. Ring a bell? Half a bell? No?

Well, Starzinger, which aired under the name Spacekeeters (ha ha, get it?) in the U.S., was my first introduction to a character of royalty in a space opera setting, namely, Princess Aurora. I'm a longtime fan of anime like Starzinger and Voltron, both of which feature princess characters. Decades later, I'm still very curious about the choice, and even more so the way similar characters make appearances in science fiction romance.

Space opera characters of royal descent are an interesting co-op of fantasy tropes. As a fan of both SF and fantasy, I sometimes experience doublethink regarding such characters. On the one hand, I totally understand the appeal, because I've been swept away by the characters myself (Starzinger seemed positively obsessed with Princess Aurora taming Jesse Dart, a wild warrior Alpha male. Highly entertaining!).

On the other hand, I feel ambivalent about sci-fi princes and princesses because their association with fantasy/fairy tale settings is super glue strong. Sometimes, when reading a book or watching a film/TV show, I get the feeling a sci-fi prince or princess has been displaced, or actually belongs in a fantasy romance. The occurrence isn't always easy to reconcile.

Why are princes and princesses so prevalent in sci-fi romance? Is it an attempt by authors to create stories with cross-over appeal, or are there other reasons?

[Once upon a time, in galaxy far, far away...]

Fri
Jun 7 2013 8:30am

Have Tech, Will Travel: Big List of Tech-Based Time Travel Romances

Love Story 2050 film posterThere are two general modes of travel in time travel romances: magic/paranormal (e.g., magic amulet; portal) and scientific devices (e.g., time machine). As a fan of science fiction romance, I gravitate toward the latter. The ability to manipulate the sands of time using mechanical devices is a fun concept. And placing that kind of technology in the context of a romance doubles the entertainment. Tech-based time traveling devices can provide a romance with all kinds of interesting challenges.

I'm always on the lookout for new (or new-to-me) titles in this category. While perusing the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror links at SF Signal recently, one post about Time Travel Romances by author C.E. Murphy caught my eye. I became excited and hoped I'd learn about some new titles.

Here are the titles she mentions:

  • The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Doctor Who (the show)
  • The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
  • The Walker Papers series by C.E. Murphy (begins with 2005's Urban Shaman)

Umm…wahh! I'd expected quite a few more books. Perhaps C.E. Murphy and I have different definitions of a post involving “time travel romances.”

[What would you choose?...]

Sun
Apr 14 2013 10:30am

Vampires...In Space! Why Such a Rare Breed?

Break Out by Nina CroftSeemingly ages ago, author and Star Trek guru Jacqueline Lichtenberg wrote about alien vampires in her books Those of My Blood (1988) and Dreamspy (1989). Given their mix of science fiction, fantasy, and romance, the stories are among the forerunners of paranormal romance.

Fast forward to 2012: Nina Croft’s Break Out (Entangled Publishing) hits the virtual shelves. Break Out features a supernatural-based vampire hero in a futuristic setting. It’s a lighthearted action-adventure space opera romp about a space pirate vampire who joins forces with the heroine to rescue her brother from the maximum security prison of a powerful corporation.

As a vampire living in the far future, Rico has emotional baggage, but he’s not highly angst-driven. Given his history, he’s a Friend of Old Earth, so there are quite a few Old Earth references. At one point he plays poker with actual cards—no holographic card deck for him!

In terms of mythology and the cultural mindset toward vampires, Rico is still a mythical being in that world. He’s a known space pirate, but people like Skylar, the heroine, have only heard whispers about his true nature. On the other hand, his crew knows exactly what he is. He bares his fangs a time or two and has glowing eyes. The fact that he seems only mildly concerned about hiding his true nature raises the question about how humans from a technologically advanced culture would react to an ancient vampire in their midst. Would they even fear him?

[That's a good question...]

Thu
Mar 28 2013 11:00am

Love and Death: Noir Sci-Fi Romance

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb“A woman doesn't care how a guy makes a living, just how he makes love.”

—Rita (Helen Stanton) in The Big Combo (1949)

Even if you’ve never heard of the term “film noir,” you’ve probably read a book or have seen a movie in that genre. Film noir refers to “…stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations.” With roots in 1930s crime fiction, film noir’s first major wave was during the 1940s and 1950s.

This genre encompasses a broad category of films. It’s strongly associated with a private eye or law enforcement officer as one of the main characters. Other well-known elements are the femme fatale leading lady and an urban setting. It’s also important to note that “Thematically, film noirs were most exceptional for the relative frequency with which they centered on women of questionable virtue.” Noir even extended to science fiction, with films like Blade Runner and Dark City being notable examples of “science fiction noir.”

Given the scope of film noir and crime fiction, it’s no wonder the genres made their way into science fiction romance. J.D. Robb’s In Death series is one prominent example. In a nutshell, it’s noir-flavored crime fiction in a near-future setting. Beginning with Naked in Death, the series follows heroine Lieutenant Eve Dallas as she solves various crimes and embarks on an intense, complex romance with wealthy businessman Roarke. Eve’s character refreshingly subverts the typically male lead in this genre.

[There's something about Eve...]

Sat
Feb 9 2013 10:00am

Can Heroes of One Size Fit All Readers?: How Heavyset Heroes Can Rock Your World

Seth RogenYou may recall a post here about the physical attributes of romance heroes: Authors Elle Kennedy and Vivian Arend on Hot Bods in Romance. Two passages in particular stood out to me:

The moment he’s back in action, he’s toned and muscly again—and let’s be honest, that’s the way we like it. Because, come on, we read to escape.  To fantasize. ...

When I’m reading a romance, I don’t want my hero being described as chubby or overweight. I don’t want to read about potbellies, love handles, back fat, or double chins.  I don’t want him getting out of breath after carrying the heroine five feet to the bed.

I read those parts with keen interest. Why? Because in all honesty, I'm a reader who enjoys reading about heroes with non-traditional bodies and in particular, heavyset/chunky heroes. While I understand the appeal of sculpted flesh, I feel strongly about challenging the broad assumption that “...and let’s be honest, that’s the way we like it.”

Can we really paint all romance readers with such a broad brush? Seems to me the definition of “hot” varies across readers. Some of us love heroes with beards or mustaches. Others don’t. Some like tall heroes while others prefer heroes of average height. Then there’s differences of opinion about hair color, skin color, facial features, etc. I find it difficult to believe one-size hero fits all.

In fact, some of us gravitate to the Seth Rogens and Jonah Hills of romance heroes. Heavyset heroes are perfectly valid characters, even though the publishing marketing machines would have us believe otherwise.

[Big guys need love too...]

Sat
Jan 5 2013 11:00am

Feels Like the First Time: Virgin Heroes in Sci-Fi Romance

Games of Command by Linnea SinclairSexually experienced heroes are a traditional aspect of romance stories. It’s a great fantasy because they’re masters of their lovemaking craft. Every touch of a skilled hero is guaranteed to set the heroine’s skin ablaze.

Sexually experienced heroes aren’t going to vanish anytime soon, but virgin heroes can certainly give them a run for their money—for one thing, they’re equally passionate about sex. They’re simply waiting for the right partner.

Whether heroes are virgins by choice or by destiny, they’re often mature and demonstrate a world of self-restraint despite strong cultural expectations that they engage in copious amounts of copulation. There’s also a unique intrigue associated with the raw, primal passion of a man who simultaneously claims his heroine and makes love for the first time.

We often discuss memorable heroine “deflowering” scenes, but what about those of virgin heroes? Which ones stand out the most against the romance landscape?

[You always remember your favorite first time...]

Mon
Dec 10 2012 4:30pm

Extraordinary Heroines—and the Heroes Who Love Them—in Sci-Fi Romance

Alpha by Catherine AsaroThere are many, many romance stories wherein the hero is a creature of the paranormal world and he’s paired with a human heroine. But what about the reverse scenario? That is our $64,000 question of the day!

Science fiction romance titles frequently feed my appetite for heroines with special abilities. Since sci-fi romance features more tech-based/non-human characters (as opposed to those with preternatural abilities), I like to call them “extraordinary heroines.”

Extraordinary heroines fascinate me not only because of their special qualities, but also because the characters tap into my own need for empowerment. I admire extraordinary heroines who push gender boundaries and challenge stereotypes. The cooler they are, the harder my crush.

[Warning: Dangerously high levels of awesome ahead...]

Wed
Nov 14 2012 3:00pm

Dark ’n’ Gritty Heroes Times Two: Putting the M/M in “Mmmm”

Bitter Harvest by Kim KnoxThe phrase “double feature” is usually applied to films. You know, like when drive-in theaters used to show two movies together like Them! and I Married a Monster from Outer Space (Well, um, I don’t actually know if those two movies were ever billed together, but I so would have been there!).

Ahem. Anyway, by coincidence I read two m/m science fiction romance novellas back to back. Upon finishing the second one I thought, “Hey, these two stories would make a great double feature!” By that I mean that they have characters, settings, and romances that pair nicely together for when you’re in the mood for edgy, intense stories.

More specifically, both stories feature heroes who are as grittylicious as they come.

Bitter Harvest by Kim Knox is a near future, post-apocalyptic tale in which a sexually transmitted nano-virus has nearly wiped out human civilization. Infected people form colonies that are hive-like in structure. The surviving humans of the year 2050 carve out a bleak existence in various compounds. Infected, rage-driven mutants continually stalk the compounds in search of more victims.

[Seems like a good environment for romance...]

Tue
Nov 13 2012 4:30pm

First Look: Jenna Bennett’s Fortune’s Hero (November 13, 2012)

Fortune’s Hero by Jenna BennettJenna Bennett
Fortune’s Hero (Soldiers of Fortune)
Entangled / November 13 (digital) & December 1, 2012 (print) / $14.99 print, TBA digital

Quinn Conlan had it all: a fast ship, a great crew, a gorgeous girlfriend, money, and adventure around every bend. That was before he agreed to ferry a shipload of weapons to the besieged planet Marica. Now he’s stuck in the prison colony on Marica-3, enduring weekly sessions with the camp’s “medical team,” and praying for a quick death before he breaks under the torture and spills everything he knows about the Marican resistance.

When opportunity strikes, Quinn takes Elsa, a Rhenian med tech, hostage and heads into the inhospitable interior of the small moon where he formulates a plan for getting his crew out of prison, his ship out of impound, and everyone out of orbit. But when Elsa professes her love, can Quinn take the beautiful doctor at her word, or will trusting her—and his heart—condemn him and his crew to an eternity on Marica-3?

Jenna Bennett has written a number of cozy mysteries under the name Jennie Bentley, but Fortune’s Hero is her first science fiction romance. I know I should probably start telling you about smuggler hero Quinn and doctor heroine Elsa, but I’ll get to them in a minute. Bear with me because I really gotta dish about the Marican night crawlers.

[The what???...]

Fri
Oct 19 2012 1:30pm

First Look: Sharon Lynn Fisher’s Ghost Planet (October 30, 2012)

Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn FisherSharon Lynn Fisher
Ghost Planet
Tor / October 30, 2012 / $7.99 print & digital

A world in peril. A bond deeper than love.

Psychologist Elizabeth Cole prepared for the worst when she accepted a job on a newly discovered world - a world where every colonist is tethered to an alien who manifests in the form of a dead loved one. But she never expected she'd struggle with the requirement to shun these “ghosts.” She never expected to be so attracted to the charming Irishman assigned as her supervisor. And she certainly never expected to discover she died in a transport crash en route to the planet.

As a ghost, Elizabeth is symbiotically linked to her supervisor, Murphy - creator of the Ghost Protocol, which forbids him to acknowledge or interact with her. Confused and alone - oppressed by her ghost status and tormented by forbidden love - Elizabeth works to unlock the secrets of her own existence.

But her quest for answers lands her in a tug-of-war between powerful interests, and she soon finds herself a pawn in the struggle for control of the planet…a struggle that could separate her forever from the man she loves.

Ghost Planet is a science fiction romance from debut author Sharon Lynn Fisher. (I know the spine says “science fiction” but bear with me.) This book is a big deal because mainstream science fiction romances are few and far between, and sometimes they’re released from SF publishers rather than romance ones. So I was eager to discover how Ms. Fisher tackled the blend of science fiction and romance in this story.

And whoa, she sure nailed it!

[Do tell!...]

Tue
Oct 16 2012 9:30am

Too Smart?: Intelligence in Romance Novels

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron ManMany romance authors pursue diversity in their stories. Usually they do so in regard to ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and/or sexual orientation. But there’s one area that I’ve been wondering about lately: Intelligence.

How much diversity is there in romance regarding intelligence? If marketing departments are to be believed, romance characters across the board are amazingly brilliant. But is that really the case? And of the heroes and heroines who are intellectually gifted—the scientists, the scholars, the inventors—do they inadvertently receive the lion’s share of the attention, both in terms of marketing and reader interest?

It's easy to understand the appeal of intelligent characters. Smart heroes and heroines are probably correlated with fantasies of high social status, money, and power. Genius characters would be unusual and therefore exotic. However, that fantasy may not be for everyone.

[And if it were, wouldn't THAT be boring...]

Tue
Oct 9 2012 12:30pm

Swimming Against the Stream: Why Aren’t There More Aquatic Heroes in Sci-Fi Romance?

Refugees on Urloon by Melissa AiresMy interest in undersea adventure tales dates back to cult children shows like Gerry Anderson’s Stingray. Mash that up with my decidedly adult tastes in science fiction romance and you get a reader who loves the idea of aquatic characters. And by that I mean the genetically engineered kind (non-paranormal/fantasy origin). Mermen are great and all, but I’m hankering for something a little different.

The ability to live and function underwater is quite a fantasy for us humans. If, for example, marine biologists could travel the ocean depths unencumbered by things like scuba gear then our scientific knowledge of ocean life would increase dramatically. We’d probably develop underwater habitats and new commercial ventures. The ability to live, work, and love underwater would have a huge impact on life as we know it. Since that fantasy is unlikely to come true at any point in the near future, it’d be cool to explore the idea in fiction.

But even if a story focused more specifically on a romance, why don’t we encounter genetically engineered aquatic heroes more? Or alien heroes with aquatic features? With their exotic nature and enhanced abilities, I would think they’re ripe for exploitation—or are they?

[What's the holdup?...]

Tue
May 22 2012 3:30pm

Missing in Action: Sexy Heroes Who Work with Their Hands

Homeward Hearts by Alexis HarringtonThere’s nothing sexier than a hero who can craft objects with his bare hands. In historical times, constructing even the most basic everyday item required skills of imagination, geometry, attention to detail, and strength, among others. Artisans who created shoes, vases, wagon wheels, and tools were both intrepid laborers and talented artists. Makes one wonder what kinds of feats they’re capable of performing in the bedroom!

Recently, I began to wonder why artisan heroes seem scarce in the romance genre. To me, their allure is clear, but am I in the minority? On the other hand, maybe they’re not scarce, but rather discussions about them are in short supply.

What led me on this path? First, some background information and a disclosure: I have an erotic steampunk romance novella coming out with Red Sage called The Blacksmith’s Lover (July 2012). The hero is a blacksmith in 1840, New England. Once I finished that project, I went Googling for other romance titles featuring a blacksmith hero so I could read them.

[What did you find?...]