<i>At His Service</i>: Exclusive Excerpt At His Service: Exclusive Excerpt Suzanne Rock She undid the top few buttons of her blouse, revealing the upper curve of her breasts. <i>Jaguar Pride</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Jaguar Pride: Exclusive Excerpt Terry Spear Seeing her super-manly partner with cubs stirs up some unexpected desires... <i>Rough Justice</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Rough Justice: Exclusive Excerpt Sarah Castille "He pulled her into his body, imprisoning her in the warm circle of his arms..." <i>Playing with Fire</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Playing with Fire: Exclusive Excerpt Kat Black "He pushed her back up against the wall and kissed her hard..."
From The Blog
January 23, 2015
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Plans Go Awry in Vanessa Kelly’s How to Plan A Wedding for a Royal Spy
Jackie Lester
Showing posts by: John Jacobson click to see John Jacobson's profile
Tue
Jan 20 2015 5:15pm

First Look: Jeanette Grey’s Through the Static (January 20, 2015)

Through the Static by Jeanette GreyJeanette Grey
Through the Static
Samhain / January 20, 2015 / $14.00 print, $4.49 digital

The only way to save him is to let him into her mind…and her heart.

When cybernetics researcher Aurelia Locke is attacked, she instantly recognizes her assailants as a Three—a mercenary unit made up of a trio of soldiers whose minds have been cybernetically linked, their pasts erased, their wills subsumed.

By the skin of her wits, she escapes to an abandoned house, where she hacks its security system in her desperation to find refuge.

Jinx is already on high alert when his Three notices something isn’t right with their safe house. But he never expected to find a woman wounded and bleeding out in his own bed, or that his visceral reaction to her would begin to awaken his lost past from a years-long haze of violence.

In a mad gamble to escape, Aurelia frees Jinx from his Three by severing his neural connection to them and tying his mind to hers. The power of their link shocks them both, manifesting not only in shared thoughts, but in an intensely passionate physical connection.

But dangerous forces pursue them, intent on reclaiming Jinx and silencing Aurelia’s knowledge. Her only chance of saving him is to risk everything—her research, her heart, and her life.

Cyberpunk with mentally-linked sex scenes? Through the Static hit hot buttons I didn’t know I had, and there’s always a level of giddy excitement that comes with being introduced to tropes and world types that you never knew existed before. Jeanette Grey’s latest novella, a sexy exploration of cyberpunk romance that thrives on its accessibility for readers new to the subgenre, plays with a cybernetic future where the world is dangerous and the secrets cybernetic. 

[Static shock!]

Thu
Jan 15 2015 9:30am

First Look: Elley Arden’s Running Interference (January 19, 2015)

Elley Arden
Running Interference (Cleveland Clash)
Crimson / January 19, 2015 / $4.99, digital

As a wide receiver for the Cleveland Clash, Tanya Martin is tough inside and out. The 5’9” beauty can take a hit and keep on going. But when the man she was best friends with - and secretly in love with - in high school comes home the same day she learns her father’s gym is in financial trouble, she’s unexpectedly blindsided.

Super Bowl MVP Cam Simmons is only back in town to convince his mom to move out of her failing neighborhood and live in luxury with him in Boston. But running into Tanya stirs up plenty of old feelings he never resolved. He was happy to leave his old life behind him when he hit the NFL, but walking away from their friendship was a mistake he wants to rectify.

Tough women rock, especially when they’re romance novel heroines. Elley Arden’s Running Interference features a heroine who definitely qualifies as tough. She trains at her father’s gym, holds down a job as a physical education teacher, and plays on a women’s football team. Her love of sports is foiled by her determination to protect herself and her family at any cost.

Running Interference is the first book in a series featuring the players of the Cleveland Clash, the women’s football team that proves that women can tackle problems and find romance, too.

[They're multitaskers!]

Mon
Jan 5 2015 2:00pm

First Look: Erin Knightley’s The Earl I Adore (January 6, 2015)

The Earl I Adore by Erin KnightleyErin Knightley
The Earl I Adore (A Prelude to a Kiss)
Signet / January 6, 2015 / $5.99 digital

After receiving word that her sister has eloped, even ever-optimistic Sophie has trouble staying positive. She needs to secure her future before the scandal destroys her prospects, although she doesn’t relish the idea of a hasty marriage. But her longtime crush has just shown up for the summer festival in Bath. He may be the key to avoiding disgrace and getting a happily ever after…if she can bring herself to pursue him.

John “Evan” Fairfax, Earl of Evansleigh, is one of the most popular bachelors in the ton. However, his easygoing ways hide a dark past he’s determined to keep secret. Evan has always kept acquaintances at arm’s length for self-preservation, but there’s something irresistible about Sophie…and her seductive charms may well sway the confirmed bachelor to seize a chance at love.

What do you get when you combine an oboe-playing heroine with a talking problem and a titled hero with a love of Italian opera and a dark secret? You get Erin Knightley’s The Earl I Adore. The second book in her Prelude to a Kiss series, The Earl I Adore is equal parts sweet and dramatic as it follows two extremely kind characters with two extremely screwed-up families. The portrayal of music and its connection to the friends-to-lovers plotline makes the novel sing as beautifully as the Italian arias the hero and heroine fall in love to.

[Singing pretty little love songs!]

Sat
Dec 20 2014 1:15pm

May We Present to You: 3 Harlequin Presents Authors Who Get it Right

One Night... Nine Month Scandal by Sarah MorganIt has been no secret that I have a darling love for the Harlequin Presents line of category romances, which focus on privileged protagonists. One could take all of the wealthy businessman found within the category’s history and single-handedly take over every major cooperation on the planet ten times over. At its core, the Presents line has always been a glorious sense of escapism, and in the hands of a good author it can be social commentary and subversion of the privileged tropes it plays to. It doesn’t make the category perfect, but it does make the category line something beyond the fantastic tropes it presents.

Sarah Morgan

In my eyes, Sarah Morgan is the queen of the Harlequin Presents novel. Morgan's heroes play into the “alpha” tropes while checking themselves when it comes to the power of the heroine.

Morgan’s One Night…Nine-Month Scandal was my first encounter with her twisting of the trope. In order to make up for the hurting the heroine, the hero buys her a room full of teddy bears. A room full of teddy bears. There is no denying the cuteness of this gesture, and it’s a gesture that works because of its privacy and because of its clear acknowledgement that the hero is wrong. Not only all of that, but I read this book years ago and it still creates a pitter-pat of feeling in me because of how wonderful it came across at the time.

[A room full of teddy bears will do that!]

Thu
Nov 13 2014 2:30pm

Struck by Love in L.A. Witt’s Starstruck

Starstruck by L.A. WittSometimes the greatest romances arise from the greatest friendships. In the case of L.A. Witt's Starstruck, the opening novel in the shared universe of Bluewater Bay, romance derives from the friendship between veteran actor Levi Pritchard and young heartthrob Carter Samuels. Levi has been retired in Bluewater Bay since his action-star typecasting drove him out of the business. Carter Samuels is filming a new show called Wolf’s Landing in the tiny, well-to-do town of Bluewater Bay.

The show’s gaining popularity has led to an influx of attention on the small town—even its hideaway celebrity, Levi. One of his best friends in the industry ends up directing the show and offering Levi the part of a lifetime, a part that would allow him to get back into the job that he loves without being subjected to typecasting. Levi has gotten used to his life of solace in the woods of Washington, but one look around the set wouldn’t hurt. One look at Wolf’s Landing and Levi sets his sights on Carter.

In a perfect world, Levi would be able to talk to Carter without a problem. In the world of Hollywood, Levi has always been speculated as being potentially gay, and his conservative parents have never liked those speculations. Carter is a blatantly out and proud actor, so hanging out with him would give the press a little too much to work with. Levi is honest with himself about his sexuality, but telling the world as a former action star is something he’s never been able to do.

[But maybe by the end of the book?]

Mon
Nov 10 2014 4:30pm

First Look: L.B. Gregg’s There’s Something About Ari (November 10, 2014)

There's Something About Ari by L.B. GreggL.B. Gregg
There's Something About Ari
Riptide / November 10, 2014 / $9.99 print, $3.99 digital

Buck Ellis’s future seems pretty damn bright. With a full college scholarship in hand, he’s going to ditch Bluewater Bay and pave the way for his kid brother Charlie to do the same. The only fly in Buck’s ointment is his ten-year addiction to his best friend since second grade, his true love, and his Achilles’ heel: Ari Valentine, Mr. Least Likely to Succeed.

But then Buck’s mother dies, changing everything, and five years later, his future is still on hold. It’s a struggle to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads, and Charlie on the straight and narrow. Buck can’t afford any temptation, especially in the form of the newly returned, super hot, super confident, super successful television star Ari Valentine.

ADHD poster child Ari Valentine left for Hollywood and lost everything, including his bad reputation. Then the breakthrough role of his career lands him back in Bluewater Bay, to the stunned disbelief of, well, everyone. But there’s only one person Ari longs to impress—the only person who ever really mattered to him, the person he left behind: Buck Ellis.

There’s Something About Ari takes the friends-to-lovers trope and does it with lifetime friends as opposed to recent friends, as L.A. Witt did in the Bluewater Bay-set Starstruck. There’s something deeply satisfying about longtime friends twhoat come to love each other romantically and sexually, and L.B. Gregg’s first-person novella is an emotional exploration of that story with an intense look on how leaving can make you realize so much even as it removes you from those that you love most.

[There's something about friends-to-lovers]

Tue
Oct 21 2014 3:30pm

First Look: Eden Bradley’s Rogue (October 21, 2014)

Rogue by Eden BradleyEden Bradley
Rogue
Samhain / October 21, 2014 / $3.50, digital

Madrid, 2069

He is Rogue.

He has known no other life, no other name. Turned at the tender age of nineteen on the dark streets of London, he wanders Europe, angry and rebellious, haunted by the crime that has followed him for over a century. Always alone.

He is Ramsey.

Member of the Vampire Council, all he has are his memories of dazzling grief and unrelenting pain—his only respite is blood and sex. Until a young rogue vampire poaches in his territory…

Inexorably drawn to each other, the head of Madrid’s Midnight Playground and the rebel from nowhere will find passion in each other’s arms—and discover a dangerous secret that could irrevocably change both their worlds.

This book has been previously published and has been revised from its original release.

Warning: Savage m/m vampire sex. Fangs and viciousness. The infamous, alluring, and dangerous Capture Gardens. Did we mention hot, kinky vampire sex? Take a breath and enter if you dare!

 

The vampire craze may have waned, but there will always be a part of me that loves a sexy vampire. Eden Bradley’s Rogue is the fifth installment in a futuristic series that explores a world run by vampires. Rogue is a novella that packs a lot of sexiness into one space. Bradley is no stranger to writing erotic romance, and like all good erotic romance, the novella is set up so that the sex scenes give the readers a window into the romantic arc and the world presented in the story itself.

It all begins with a rogue. With no memories of his human past, he roams from country to country, blatantly ignoring the laws of vampire civilization in order to remain free, in order to remain angry. He has been sneaking into the luxury estates run for the play of those in vampiric society—estates designed for any and all to enter for indulgent games, blood, and sex. The only requirement is that those that use the estates are vampires.

[So no humans, allowed?]

Wed
Oct 15 2014 3:30pm

Poisonous Affairs in Aleksandr Voinov’s A Taste for Poison

A Taste for Poison by Aleksandr VoinovFantasy m/m romance has never experienced a writer quite like Aleksandr Voinov. A Taste for Poison, the third book in his gripping fantasy Memory of Scorpions series, is a perfect example of the rapier-sharp style for which Voinov has become known. The fantasy world and the romance within are sharp in more ways than one, their razor intelligence is only overpowered by their daggered intensity. A Taste for Poison is not an easy read; it’s a book to satisfy readers who want a politically charged fantasy with imminent danger and a simmering romance that tries to survive within the world’s harsh environment.

Kendras is the leader of the Scorpions, an elite group of mercenaries currently working under King Andrastes. Andrastes has barely survived an assassination attempt. Transformed, Andrastes is determined to go to war against the Elder of Vededrin. The Empire does not agree with this, especially with how ruthless Andrastes has become—even towards Kendras, his former lover.

[Tasty, tasty poison!]

Tue
Sep 30 2014 3:30pm

First Look: R.C. Ryan’s The Maverick of Copper Creek (September 30, 2014)

The Maverick of Copper Creek by R.C. Ryan

R.C. Ryan
The Maverick of Copper Creek
Forever / September 30, 2014 / $8.00 print / $7.99 digital

Ash MacKenzie broke his share of hearts when he left Copper Creek all those years ago and struck out on his own. Tall, tough, and proud. That's how Brenna always remembered him, and from the looks of things, he hasn't changed much. Once, she thought he could save her-whisk her away from her rough childhood home and start fresh together. Now she knows better . . .

Ash isn't planning to stick around town long. As soon as he uncovers the truth about his father's death and makes sure the family ranch is safe, he'll be back out on his own. And then he runs into Brenna Crane. It broke his heart to leave her once-a herd of stampeding horses couldn't make him do it again. But Brenna has made a new life for herself, one that doesn't include him. Now he just has to convince her to give their first love a second chance. 

If my history of reading romance proves anything, it’s that I have a weakness for cowboys with chest hair. I liked it in Diana Palmer, and I liked it in R.C. Ryan’s The Maverick of Copper Creek. But beyond the physical makeup of Ryan’s hero, I also found myself with a weakness for the setting and its inhabitants. 

[Chest hair + Setting + Inhabitants = A good read!]

Mon
Sep 15 2014 1:00pm

Beyond Darkness and Angst: The “New” New Adult

Make It Count by Megan EricksonNew Adult bestseller lists seem to be crowded with books that deal with everything angst.  There are the books about death, the books about assault, the books about broken pasts and broken presents.  There are books about looming, clouded secrets that prevent people from ever having good relationships until “that person” comes along.

But New Adult is so much more than the traumatic past and the dark alpha-male hero.  New Adult can be fun and comedic, too.

Fun New Adult exists, and it’s a story style that is growing in popularity as New Adult books are picked up by different publishers.  It’s also a story style that provides a relief for those that are tired of all of the emotion brought on by dark “realistic” stories that rely heavily on trauma to create character narratives.  These light New Adult books still tackle important character arcs, but they’ll leave you laughing instead of crying, which makes all the difference. 

Make it Count by Megan Erikson

I chose this book as my Best-Of for June here on Heroes and Heartbreakers.  Erikson’s debut New Adult novel is the first in a series about Bowler University.  It features a serious (and nerdy) hero and a determined (but playful) heroine.  The book deals with some heavier issues such as the struggle of living with a learning disability that goes unnoticed in the public school system, but it deals with them in an atmosphere that is humorous rather than sad. 

[Got to laugh to keep from crying!]

Tue
Sep 9 2014 3:30pm

First Look: Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon’s Mending Him (September 9, 2014)

Mending Him by Bonnie Dee and Summer DevonBonnie Dee and Summer Devon
Mending Him
Samhain / September 9, 2014 / $5.50 digital

As his world collapses, love opens his heart.

Robbie Grayson has always felt like a bit of an outsider in the Chester family, though he’s related by blood. An orphan taken in at a young age, he is further set apart by a limp inflicted by a childhood illness.

Nevertheless, he’s content enough with his quiet country life—until a mercurial wastrel named Charles Worthington explodes into it. And Robbie is assigned to play nursemaid to an invalid with an attitude.

Injured in a carriage accident, Charles arrives at the Chester estate drunk as a lord and with empty pockets. Despair consumes him as his broken body slowly heals, but the kindness of quiet, thoughtful Robbie saves him from drowning in self-pity.

Over chess matches and conversation, these polar opposites challenge each other to break out of old patterns, until desire burns through the thin veneer of pure friendship. Yet their passion could destroy the family bonds they value so highly. Especially when someone catches wind of their relationship—and threatens blackmail.

The immense angst of m/m historical romance is hard to beat.  Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon have co-written several of these m/m historical romances, the latest of which is Mending HimMending Him follows two characters, one who lives with disability and one who is recovering from an injury, and throws them together in a place where their attraction is far too electric to ignore.   

[Sparks fly!]

Wed
Aug 27 2014 9:45am

First Look: Lauren Jameson’s Linger (September 2, 2014)

Linger by Lauren JamesonLauren Jameson
Linger
Penguin / September 2, 2014 / $15.00, print / $5.99, digital

On her last night in Nevada before embarking on a yearlong veterinary internship, Scarlett Malone is celebrating—and looking for one night of incredible pleasure. But the man who draws her eye is not her usual type: He’s a cowboy whose alpha-male tendencies tempt her beyond belief. Scarlett can’t understand why she wants this man and no one else, but she’s determined to entice him to submit.…

Dr. Logan Brody lives an isolated life in rural Montana, running a ranch and suppressing his submissive tendencies. Only on his occasional trips does he give into his hidden urges. He can’t deny his scorching attraction to Scarlett or that she makes him want more, but he never lets anyone break him down fully. He’s hers for one night and one night only.

But when Scarlett shows up at Logan’s door as his intern for the year, he realizes that the walls around his heart are about to crumble—and that this sexy dominant woman has no intention of letting him keep control.…

Nothing causes pages to burn quite like a submissive alpha male cowboy and a Mistress determined to make him hers.  Lauren Jameson’s Linger is a stunningly sexy concoction that weaves together two souls with a taste for volcanic-hot sex.  Scarlett Malone is just about to leave her home for a veterinary internship.  City life doesn’t teach a veterinarian all of the in’s and out’s of large animal care, and the only way to get the needed hands-on experience is to work under someone who takes care of those big animals on a day-to-day basis.  This means going out into the quiet countryside of Montana and leaving the hustle and bustle of city life behind.

Before Scarlett leaves for a year, she takes one more night to fulfill her sexual desires.  A rich friend of hers owns one of the hottest BDSM clubs in the area; she has trained to be a Mistress and has more than her share of fans.  That final night, Scarlett enters the club to see a man that she has to have.  A tall cowboy with a beautiful body—a cowboy who may very well be a Master himself—immediately catches her attention.  Scarlett is in luck: her cowboy is a submissive, if an alpha one, and the challenge he will provide her is just what she needs. 

[Challenge accepted...]

Thu
Jul 31 2014 12:15pm

First Look: Catherine Mann’s Shelter Me (August 5, 2014)

Shelter Me by Catherine MannCatherine Mann
Shelter Me
Berkley / August 5, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

Nestled in the sunny fields of Tennessee lies the McDaniel family’s Second Chance Ranch Animal Rescue. Two new arrivals are on their way, but only one is the four-legged kind.

Staff Sergeant Mike Kowalski wants only one thing after he gets home from Iraq: to sleep in a king-sized bed with clean sheets. But first, he has to hand off his fallen commander’s dog, Trooper, to his family without handing off his heart to Sierra….

Sierra McDaniel needs a break. Her family life is crazy, and when she’s not mucking out kennels, she’s slogging through grad school. Sierra certainly doesn’t want another dog, especially one that reminds her of her father. And she definitely doesn’t want to see Mike with that charming smile of his….

But Trooper has a mission of his own. Before too long Mike is moving to the ranch to lend a hand—and hoping for his own second chance with Sierra.

Catherine Mann’s Shelter Me is the start of a new series featuring Second Chance Ranch, a local animal rescue run by Lacey McDaniel. Lacey is the ultimate military wife, now widow, and her family has been irrevocably shaped by the military, and the loss of her military husband. Her son Michael, a teenager, is going farther and farther into a dark place, while her daughter Sierra is a graduate student who finds herself more and more involved with her mother’s animal rescue. Lacey's father-in-law is a veteran with intensifying Alzheimer’s. Lacey takes in animal after animal after animal in an attempt to save something in her life, all the while fighting insomnia and a dangerous tendency to drink too much to numb the pain.

[Enter our hero...]

Tue
Jul 8 2014 3:30pm

Feels Like the First Time: My First Romance Novel—Diana Palmer’s Rogue Stallion

Rogue Stallion by Diana PalmerRomance has this thing about first times.

Everyone has their first time with a romance novel. Some of us remember them, and others don’t. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a plot trope or a particularly strange sex scene. Whenever people discuss romance together, particularly their first romance, I wonder how mine reflected the way that I read romance today—and how, invariably, reading romance ties me to those that read it before me in my life.

When I was thirteen, my mother still read a fair amount of Harlequin Intrigue novels (she’s since moved on to more suspense and single title romantic suspense), but Harlequin books were a big thing for her for years. I always got fascinated by the package that would come once a month with several books in the category line. Around this time, they also rereleased the Montana Mavericks collection, which my mother also ended up ordering on subscription. My mom would read some immediately and let others languish in her closet for weeks. This was before I realized that category authors wrote very different romances despite having a similar template, and that just reading one line could get very old, very fast.

I really wanted to read a romance. Something about the dude ranch yellows and the men in stetsons called to me. I loved the western setting, the dude ranches and flat grounds a far cry from the Pennsylvania dairy farms and forested mountains in which I grew up. So one day, I went down to the closet my mom stashed her books in and pulled out the book labeled number one in the line: Rogue Stallion by Diana Palmer.

[Let's start at the beginning, we hear it's a very good place to start...]

Wed
Jun 25 2014 1:00pm

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: A Guide to New Adult Male/Male Romance

Apple Polisher by Heidi BelleauAs a reader who loves the New Adult genre and also loves a good dosage of M/M romance within it, I often find myself seeking out New Adult novels that feature M/M romances, or M/M romances that could also be labeled as New Adult. Being LGBTQ in one’s college and post-college years is something that affects many people. It’s a time where many people decide to come out, and a time when many people who are already out discover the complexities of their identity. It’s often also a better environment for LGBTQ people afraid to come out at home, though that isn’t by any means a universal truth. I want to share some New Adult M/M romances and authors that, I think, hit the nail on the head when it comes to showcasing an M/M romance with characters in that age group.

The Rear Entrance Series and The Professor's Rule

Heidi Belleau continually challenges traditional expectations in M/M romance and presents characters from diverse backgrounds and personality types. She also does everything with a clear sense of research; I never read her books feeling like they revel in caricatures or stereotyped ideas, and that says a lot about her skill in writing. Heidi Belleau’s Rear Entrance Video series, which includes the books Apple Polisher, Wallflower, and Straight Shooter, feature college students who room together in a house.

[(Sexual) Tension runs high when you live together...]

Thu
Jun 12 2014 3:30pm

What Can Romance Learn from New Adult?

Love Show by Audrey BellNew Adult, as it matures, is finally being accepted as a genre/subgenre that affects the romance community. Its crossover appeal to romance readers has become plain, as evidenced by its presence on the ebook bestseller lists. With so many New Adult books getting published and pushed to romance readers, it begs the question: what is it about New Adult that makes it important for the romance genre?

New Adult books don’t read like the traditional genre romance novels we’ve come to know and love, but they don’t read like their other close cousins, young adult novels, either. New Adult as an appearing genre has a few things that romance could learn from. Not all of its differences are bad; some of them could very well be the answer to some of the staleness come romance readers have commented on over the past few years.

Live in the Present

The difference between present and past tense is one that gets noted between these two genres all of the time. When you read books like Audrey Bell’s Love Show, you immediately get pulled into the story because of the first-person present tense. New Adult books live heavily in the moment. While many readers find first-person present tense a difficult tense to do well, it’s a staple of the New Adult genre.

[And maybe should be in romance a little more often?]