<i>Eleventh Grave in Moonlight</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Eleventh Grave in Moonlight: Exclusive Excerpt Darynda Jones "I wanted to study her reaction since I couldn’t feel her emotions." <i>The Turn</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Turn: Exclusive Excerpt Kim Harrison "Love can hold the world together as a new balance is found." <i>The Room Mate</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Room Mate: Exclusive Excerpt Kendall Ryan "My fingertips tingled with the desire to reach out and touch him." <i>The List</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The List: Exclusive Excerpt Tawna Fenske "Will Simon’s big secret make that the one fantasy that can never come true?"
From The Blog
January 24, 2017
What to Pack for a Romantic Suspense Road Trip
Nico Rosso
January 23, 2017
Do You Love Scruffy Men?
Olivia Dade
January 20, 2017
Friday Beefcake: A Love Letter to Men with Dogs & Babies
Jen Wattley
January 19, 2017
Meet-Text? Romances That Began as Text Relationships
Jessica Moro
January 19, 2017
Karen Marie Moning’s Feversong SPOILER THREAD!! (MAJOR SPOILERS)
Jessica Avery
Showing posts by: Mala Bhattacharjee click to see Mala Bhattacharjee's profile
Sun
Jan 8 2017 11:00am

Why Good Behavior is Great Dark Romance

Good Behavior on TNT

Skye Warren, Annika Martin, Molly O’Keefe...TNT?! It sounds strange to put a cable network on a list of effective, engaging, go-to dark romance authors, but here you have it—because TNT’s Good Behavior, based on novellas by Blake Crouch, absolutely fits the bill! Letty Raines (Michelle Dockery) is a con artist, meth addict and alcoholic who lost custody of her son. Javier (Juan Diego Botto) is a controlling, meticulous hit man with a face like an angel. And they can’t live without each other. From the less-than-rosy protagonists to the shades of dominance and submission, Good Behavior is a good bet for anyone who likes hard-luck plots and hotter-than-hot pairings.    

In the first episode alone, it’s clear that wild-child Letty needs rules—that she is completely incapable of impulse control. She can’t hold down a steady job, she’s an expert at the five-finger discount...and she winds up hearing a contract killer, Javier, setting up a hit and can’t resist getting involved. Long story short, Letty’s good intentions don’t quite translate into sensible actions—and that’s something that carries through the series and cements why Javier becomes such an important figure in her life and her heart. Because he cannot, and will not, let her spiral out. There’s a gut-wrenching moment at the end of the pilot when Javier discovers Letty at rock bottom—stoned out of her mind and ready to die—and he basically takes ownership of her. As an angry hit man whose job got botched because of her, he could easily kill her and walk away. He can’t. Kudos to Juan Diego Botto, who imbues the scenes with equal parts disgust and admiration. “You do not get off that easy,” Javier says to Letty. “You work for me now.” He effectively tells her she’s his...and we know he’s just as much hers.

[Read more...]

Thu
Jan 5 2017 9:30am

Rogue One’s Chirrut and Baze: A Romantic Force to Be Reckoned With

Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus in Rogue One

This post contains spoilers for Rogue One. Proceed with caution!

Are they, or aren’t they? A lot has already been written about whether Rogue One’s Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus qualify as the Star Wars universe’s first official gay couple. Given that heterosexual romance didn’t get much traction in the film either, who’s to say, right? But what I know for damn sure is that Chirrut and Baze are love—a great, sweeping, epic love that is both the stuff of romance novels and that of your parents bickering at each other across the dinner table.

It’s a dynamic we’ve seen already in the Star Wars franchise—from Han Solo and Princess Leia to C-3PO and R2-D2 (that’s a shipper manifesto for another time). It’s a partnership that transcends everything else, the constant that gets you through in the trenches. And Donnie Yen’s Force-devout Chirrut and Jiang Wen’s gruff mercenary Baze are already a rock-solid team when viewers meet them on the desert planet of Jedha. They’re the last remnants of the Guardians of the Whills—followers of the Force but not actual Jedis. Chirrut is still a believer, and Baze has become a cynic, more trusting of his gun than what Han Solo would call “simple tricks and nonsense.” But our very first glimpse of him is as Chirrut’s backup, behind him, protective and suspicious when heroine Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) approaches them. Chirrut later notes that Baze used to be the most devoted Guardian of them all...and it’s clear that, now, he’s a devoted Guardian to just one person.   

[Read more...]

Mon
Dec 28 2015 10:00am

H&H Bloggers Recommend: Best Reads of 2015, Part 4

Playing By the Greek’s Rules by Sarah Morgan

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.

It's the end of the year now, and so we've asked them for their top three books that made the year in reading so memorable. Without further ado, here's Part 4 (of four parts) of our bloggers best reads of 2015—and don't forget to check out Part 1Part 2, and Part 3:

Miss Bates:

When H&H asked me to pick the best three romances I read in 2014, I agonized. I penned lists. I culled lists. I whittled lists. I wrote long- and short-lists. This year, my top three romances danced in my head like seasonal sugarplums! I knew exactly who they were and why I loved them. Here they are, in no particular order other than the mental sugarplum one.

Sarah Morgan’s Playing By the Greek’s Rules is a brilliant riff on the opposites-attract trope. Lily Rose, former-foster-child, waif-heroine is made of loving, empathetic steel. Her sunny ways and self-soothing personal philosophy break down the walls of Jericho around pragmatic, commitment-phobe hero Nik Zervakis’s heart.

[The final best reads of 2015 ...]

Mon
Nov 23 2015 4:30pm

First Look: Megan Hart’s Hold Me Close (November 24, 2015)

Hold Me Close by Megan Hart

Megan Hart
Hold Me Close
Harlequin Mira / November 24, 2015 / $15.99 print / $8.99 digital

Apart, they are broken, but together, they are whole 

Effie and Heath are famous. Not for anything they did, but for what happened to them as teenagers. Abducted and abused by the same man, they turned to each other for comfort until they were finally able to make their escape. 

Now adults, their relationship is fraught with guilt and despair. Whether fighting or making love, their passion is strong enough to destroy them both—and Effie's not about to let that happen. She knows it's time for her to have a “normal” relationship, and Heath is nothing but a constant reminder of the dark past they share. Heath, on the other hand, knows Effie is the only woman he can ever love. She may want to forget what happened, but he's convinced that they must face their past together in order to move forward. So while Effie continues to bring new men into her life, Heath becomes obsessed with proving he's the one she needs. 

Then a new crisis arises and Effie begins to lose every scrap of self-control she ever had. As she struggles against her desire to return to the one man who understands her, she discovers that sometimes the only safety you find is with the person who is the most dangerous for you.

Hold Me Close is in turns a romance and a tragedy, gut-wrenching and powerful—and one of Megan Hart’s strongest novels since 2013’s Tear You Apart. Through Effie and Heath’s past and present, Hart explores what it means to be “normal” and “healthy” and to truly move on from the devastating events we often think define us.

[Hart is going deep and it will blow your mind ...]

Fri
Sep 18 2015 8:30am

First Look: Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti (September 22, 2015)

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor
Binti

Tor / September 22, 2015 / $9.99 print, $2.99 digital

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself - but first she has to make it there, alive.

Nnedi Okorafor pens a gorgeous novella set in the outer reaches of space, starring a brave, brilliant girl named Binti. Part coming-of-age tale, part science fiction adventure, Binti is as a whole relatable, beautiful and hard to put down until you've reached the last page.

[Romance in space ...]

Mon
Aug 31 2015 8:30am

First Look: Cara McKenna’s Crosstown Crush (September 1, 2015)

Crosstown Crush by Cara McKenna

Cara McKenna
Crosstown Crush

Signet Eclipse / September 1, 2015 / $9.99 print & $7.99 digital

When he’s working, Mike Heyer is all business—every inch the alpha male, with the hard, capable body to back up his persona. But at home he can be a different man entirely, harboring appetites only his wife gets to glimpse…

When Samira first learned of her husband’s fantasies, she was reluctant, even alarmed. But after witnessing the way they set him on fire, she yielded, and happily indulged. As their games have intensified, so has the rush. And now so has the risk—they’re poised to take Mike’s indecent desires to the next level, by opening their bed to a sexy, brazen stranger. A man seeming custom-made to grant every last one of Mike and Samira’s sinful wishes.

Welcoming someone new into their lives was always a dangerous proposition, but the couple imagined if anything was at stake, it was their privacy…not their hearts.

A title like Crosstown Crush gives the impression of a light, cheerful romantic comedy, but what's on the page is the dark, twisty and emotional sexual exploration that readers have come to expect from author Cara McKenna. In fact, Mike and Sam's story hearkens back to several earlier McKenna works like Willing Victim and the Shivaree series, where identity and kink and commitment are as hard to untangle as knots and the reader's journey is as uncomfortable at times as the characters'. The reason for that is Mike's appetites, his particular kink. It's not one frequently found in erotic romance...and the term is one you're more likely to find in a historical. Cuckhold.

[I only want to watch...]

Fri
Aug 7 2015 1:00pm

Johnny on the Spot: Why Karen Robards Ruined Me For Life

Johnny Harris. Strawberry skirt. If you, like me, were there for Karen Robards' shift into hardcover contemporary romance in the 1990s, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Those four little words evoke a specific image...and a very specific man. These days, Tessa Bailey is known for filthy-talking heroes, Cara McKenna wrote Hard Time about a convict hero, and Victoria Dahl and Alisha Rai's heroes love going downtown (and I don't mean for shopping!). In 1993, Robards fit it all into One Summer—one very scandalous summer. Johnny had it all: a chip on his shoulder, tight blue jeans and t-shirts and a tortured history. Most importantly, he'd carried a torch for one woman for years—his former high school teacher, Rachel Grant. A really, really, hot torch.

Then there he was in the doorway. Johnny Harris. He wore scuffed brown cowboy boots and beat-up jeans and a white cotton T-shirt. His shoulders were wide enough to stretch the knit shirt taut across them. His biceps bulged with muscle, and his skin was surprisingly tan. He was thin. No, that wasn't the right word—lean was the one she wanted. Lean and hard and tough as leather. His hair was the same color, coal black, as it had always been, though it was longer than he used to wear it, almost touching his shoulders, and wavy. His face was the same—she would have recognized him anywhere once she looked into it, although several days' worth of stubble blurred the lines of his jaw and chin. The sullenly handsome boy she remembered was still sullen, still handsome, but no longer a boy. He had matured into a dangerous-looking man.

I was 15 when I met him; I still haven't recovered. I even told Karen Robards herself that at this year's Romance Writers of America conference in New York City. That's what a singular romance hero does: burn himself into your impressionable brain so that you find yourself raving about him 22 years later.

[And Johnny still sizzles...]

Thu
Jul 23 2015 8:30am

First Look: Rhonda Helms’s Break Your Heart (July 28, 2015)

Rhonda Helms
Break Your Heart
Kensington / July 28, 2015 / $9.95 print & $4.99 digital

Fearless and flirtatious, Megan Porter isn't your typical math major. On the fast track to graduating with honors, a spot in her school's masters program is nearly guaranteed. But her senior year is quickly turned upside-down by her new thesis advisor, cryptography professor Dr. Nick Muramoto. Young, effortlessly good-looking, and intellectual, he's far more intriguing than the immature jocks Megan usually goes for. And as she decodes the hidden messages he leaves in the margins of her assignments and in their emails, she realizes this might be more than a schoolgirl crush—especially after they share a passionate kiss...

Soon Nick and Megan grow closer, and their different worlds begin to merge. But if their relationship is discovered, Nick's career could be over. With Megan's parents close to campus on business, hiding their love becomes an even greater challenge. Yet keeping secrets will lead Megan to discover hers is just one piece in a much larger puzzle—next to her mother's stash of painkillers—that may put her carefully laid plans for the future in jeopardy.

Teacher-student, New Adult, interracial romance. With Break Your Heart, author Rhonda Helms deftly gift-wraps several trope-tastic elements and freshens up a subgenre that's been glutted by a lot of the same stories. In this follow-up to 2014's Scratch, math geek Megan Porter and cryptography professor Nick Muramoto are as far from the standard NA set-up as you can imagine, bonding over their love of puzzles and an instant attraction. Neither of them needs any kind of healing, just a safe place to share their dreams, and the threat of discovery and accusations of impropriety are a big enough conflict to keep things interesting.       

[We're interested...]

Wed
Jul 15 2015 1:00pm

Vetted and Bedded: The Rise of the Political Romance

Campaign for Seduction by Ann Christopher

The 2016 U.S. presidential election is nearly upon us, and candidates aren't the only ones throwing their hats in the ring. Political romance authors would like your vote as well. (Make your own caucus jokes. You know you want to.) 

In 2008, we saw the first young, picture-perfect family move into the White House since the Kennedys in 1961: a dashing president in Barack Obama, a gorgeous First Lady in Michelle, and two beautiful little girls. It was instant fodder for romance...you would think. But aside from Ann Christopher's 2009 Campaign for Seduction, which features journalist Liza covering sexy presidential candidate John, political romance as a genre didn't quite take off anywhere, but in the fan fiction realm. (You could go looking for Barack Obama/Rahm Emanuel smut. I'm not saying you should. I'm just saying that it's there.) Fast-forward nearly two terms, seven years, and four seasons of Shonda Rhimes' Scandal later and we're finally seeing an uptick in Capitol Hill hookups. Shows like The Good Wife, Madam Secretary, House of Cards and NBC's short-lived State of Affairs join Scandal in send-ups of politics and players while romance writers tackle senate races, lobbyists, unions, and ever-present historical renderings of the House of Lords.

[Sex in the oval office or city hall doesn't sound too scandalous...]

Fri
Jun 26 2015 1:00pm

Magic Mike XXL is Bigger, Better, Bawdier, and Bomerier

Magic Mike XXL

Note: This post is made up of SPOILERS for the movie Magic Mike XXL.

With 110 percent more self-awareness, silliness, and skin, Magic Mike XXL casts the spell that 2012's Magic Mike couldn't quite muster. It's going to be a common observation: This is exactly what people wanted from the moody, artsy, and oftentimes slow first film. There's a scene early on in which Channing Tatum's affable Mike shows up in a stiff suit and is immediately tossed into a pool by a naked Joe Manganiello. “Okay, we get it, this is a movie about a bunch of male exotic dancers,” the movie is saying to viewers. “We're diving right in!” Stripped of pretension and clothes, the cast gets to have a blast, and so does everyone watching. I don't think our screening audience at New York's Loews Village 7 theater stopped laughing and cheering once. The script is as hilarious as the actors are naked.   

***Again, this post contains spoilers.***

[Hotter abs, biceps, and more erotic dance moves for fans...]

Tue
May 19 2015 12:35pm

First Look: Jeffe Kennedy’s The Talon of the Hawk (May 26, 2015)

The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy
The Talon of the Hawk
Kensington / May 26, 2015 / $15.00 print, $13.50 digital

Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.

Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other―that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…

The third installment of Jeffe Kennedy's Twelve Kingdoms fantasy series tears sharply and deeply into the books' mythology as well as into the heart of its core family. The Talon of the Hawk, Ursula's story, doesn't hesitate to draw blood and, in the process, proves also to be incredibly healing.  

All three sisters' stories have dealt with unlocking the true potential of who you are, and Ursula's journey is perhaps the most heightened and the most emotionally intense, because so much of her identity is tied up in being the dutiful heir to a tyrant king. She doesn't take chances like Andi does and she's not beautiful like Amelia, so who is she? Just a cipher, an extension of Uorsin, or a fully realized woman and person with her own worth? Yes, it is a man―Dasnarian mercenary captain Harlan―who sees that woman and that person and makes her aware of herself as an individual, but it's not as simple as lust or love fixing her issues. Harlan may be the catalyst for her self-awareness, but it's Ursula who has to painstakingly evolve ― and Kennedy makes sure the reader feels every beat and step of that process. Even before Harlan starts to seep into Ursula's consciousness, she chooses to don the Heir's Circlet and her mother's jewels as a message to her father. The seeds of growth are there. It's just that they need to be tended and encouraged.

[Ursula will have to fight her issues to have a shot at happiness...]

Fri
May 8 2015 2:15pm

Move Over Hulk and Hawkeye: Why I’m Here for Avengers’ Black Widow and Winter Soldier

Black Widow in Avengers
Source: mtv.com

Hawkeye/Natasha. Bruce Banner/Natasha. And here I am about to sally forth with my own 'ship manifesto. I know what it looks like: We're gleefully, even shamelessly, pairing Black Widow up with everything in pants because she's the only female member of the movieverse Avengers. Let me get three things out of the way. 1.) Despite the off-color comments some castmembers have made, it's safe to say the Avenger most likely to bed-hop is international playboy Tony Stark. Remember the stripper-pole-sex-plane? Oh, the exploits JARVIS must have seen. 2.) My chosen partner isn't even an Avenger. So there. 3.) Natasha Romanoff is a total badass and a strong character in her own right and she doesn't need a love interest to be validated.

But when you're this amazing, why shouldn't you have someone to cuddle up with at night? Or at least someone to clean your guns with and reminisce with about the old days when you used to be an evil secret agent. Nat is awesome. She should get it.

[Get it, girl...]

Tue
May 5 2015 4:15pm

First Look: Shiloh Walker’s Busted (May 5, 2015)

Busted by Shiloh WalkerShiloh Walker

Busted (Barnes Brothers #3)
Berkley Sensation / May 5, 2015 / $7.99 print & $5.99 digital

Like his brothers Zach and Zane, Trey Barnes thought he had found the love of his life. But fate had other plans. A widower who’s had to raise his five-year-old son on his own, Trey has not allowed himself to be with another woman. Until he meets Ressa Bliss at―of all places―a children’s library program. The beautiful librarian is wonderful with his son, Clay, but every time Trey even considers asking her out, he is tortured by guilt.

Fate is indeed fickle. When the two meet again at a conference, this time the attraction is too powerful to resist. But is their connection and passion strong enough to survive Trey’s deep inner torment?

Shiloh Walker brings back the Barnes brothers for a third sexy contemporary, uniting single father and author Trey Barnes with librarian Ressa Bliss, who has her own backlist of secrets. Will they get Busted in the private stacks or learn to write their story together?   

Shiloh Walker is probably best known for writing romance with suspense themes. Here, the suspense comes from within―from whether Trey and Ressa's internal struggles will keep them apart. There are no bad guys, just self-created walls and questionable past decisions. But what stands out, for me, about Busted is how the author builds a sense of community and fills it with distinct voices. Not only are Trey and Ressa fully realized, fun characters you can actually hear in your head, but the people around them are equally authentic. Whether it's the dynamics between the Barnes brothers―Zane, Zach, Trey, Travis and Sebastian―or Ressa and her cousin Kiara and her aunt Mama Ang, or the bond between librarians and romance readers created at yearly conferences, Walker makes family the foundation of the book. Oh, and there are two absolutely adorable children, too: Clayton and Neeci, who aren't just there to be cute and precocious but, instead, provide very tangible reasons for why Trey and Ressa are so careful with their hearts.

[Don't go breakin' mine...]

Thu
Apr 16 2015 8:30am

First Look: Jeannie Lin’s A Dance with Danger (April 21, 2015)

A Dance with Danger by Jeannie LinJeannie Lin

A Dance With Danger (Rebels and Lovers #2)

Harlequin Historical / April 21, 2015 / $6.50 print & $5.99 digital

After a failed assassination attempt on a corrupt general, Bao Yang is a wanted man. Taking refuge with an ally, Yang accidentally compromises the man's daughter when they're discovered alone. To save her honor, he must marry the beautiful Jin-mei immediately!

In Yang's arms, Jin-mei feels alive for the first time. She's determined not to lose him, even if it means joining his perilous mission... But when she realizes just how destructive Yang's path could be, can she convince him that their life together could be so much sweeter than revenge?

Jeannie Lin returns to the world of her 2013 novel The Sword Dancer, as well as Tang Dynasty China, as a sheltered but bold magistrate's daughter and a rebel leader unite in marriage and go toe-to-toe in A Dance With Danger.    

Fans will remember outlaw Bao Yang, sword dancer Li Feng's mysterious and driven ex-lover. Here, he is on the run, seeking out allies wherever he can, and still gunning for revenge on General Wang. A chance encounter with Magistrate Tan's daughter, Jin-mei, kicks off a passionate tale of staying the course vs. letting love win—and Lin delivers romance, poetic language, and the feel of historical China at every turn.

[History...love...a rich setting? What more can we want!?]

Fri
Apr 10 2015 12:00pm

Haters Gonna Hate: Why Game of Thrones’ Sansa is a Total Boss

Sansa in Game of ThronesIn any given discussion of Game of Thrones and the badassery of its characters, you'll hear about Arya Stark, the mischievous daughter of Ned Stark of Winterfell, who must find her way alone after his execution. Charged with learning to “stick them with the pointy end” and hiding amongst her enemies, the wily and troubled Arya is a fan favorite and often lauded as the strongest and most feminist character in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. But, here's the thing, over the course of five books and four seasons, I think it's clear that her older sister Sansa Stark is a badass, too. She may not handle a sword, or seek out the Braavosi trick of shifting faces, but she handles equally sharp things and wears her own mask.

[Behind the mask of a spoiled child lurks a badass, you say?]

Mon
Mar 16 2015 12:00pm

You Can Call Me Queen B: Succession, Sex, and Excess in The Royals

Family Portrait of The Royals E! threw its hat into the scripted soap ring with last night's premiere of The Royals, with fair to middling (not to be confused with 'Middleton') results. The Royals centers on England's scandal-riddled sitting royal family, led by Elizabeth Hurley's Queen Helena and Vincent Regan's King Simon. William Moseley plays Prince Liam, a sweet young prince with a healthy ego and an equally healthy libido, while his twin, Alexandra Park's Eleanor, is a party girl princess. Of course bodyguards shadow every single one of their antics—which viewers are treated to right out of the gate. Eleanor in particular puts on quite a show. Booze! A little coke and dancing on the bar! Crotch shots! And Princess Eleanor's lack of panties hitting the tabloids is far from the family's biggest problem when eldest child and heir to the throne Robert dies under mysterious circumstances. “Hey. This sucks, huh?” Eleanor sighs to her surviving brother in a ginormous understatement.

[Perhaps she shouldn't be Princess Eleanor, but Captain Obvious...]