<i>Some Like It Scot</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Some Like It Scot: Exclusive Excerpt Suzanne Enoch "If I want a wife, I’ll find one fer myself." Now Win <i>This!</i>: Jill Shalvis' <i>All I Want</i> Sweepstakes Now Win This!: Jill Shalvis' All I Want Sweepstakes Team H & H Enter for a chance to win Jill Shalvis' All I Want. <i>A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas</i>: Excerpt A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas: Excerpt Kim Redford "She leaned in close to him and quickly licked the corner of his mouth." <i>Burned Deep</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Burned Deep: Exclusive Excerpt Calista Fox "Ari is treacherously close to losing all control of her life...and her heart."
From The Blog
October 6, 2015
Noir Heroes: Dry, Shaken, Stirred
Suzanne Johnson, Jeffe Kennedy, Rachel Caine, Cynthia Eden, Megan Hart and Mina Khan
October 1, 2015
H&H Redesign Update #2
Team H & H
September 30, 2015
5 Romances to Break the Space-Time Continuum
Gwyn Cready
September 30, 2015
Spurts You’ll Never Forget in Spurtember, Part 3
September 29, 2015
Best Reads of September 2015
Team H & H
Showing posts by: Sahara Hoshi click to see Sahara Hoshi's profile
Sep 30 2015 11:00am

First Look: Nalini Singh’s Rock Redemption (October 6, 2015)

Nalini Singh
Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss #3)
Nalini Singh / October 6, 2015 / $15.29 print, $4.99 digital

From New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh comes the next contemporary romance in the Rock Kiss series…

Kit Devigny could have loved rock guitarist Noah St. John. Their friendship burned with the promise of intense passion and searing tenderness…until the night Noah deliberately shattered her heart. 

Noah knows he destroyed something precious the night he chose to betray Kit, but he’d rather she hate him than learn his darkest secret. All he has left is his music. It’s his saving grace, but it doesn’t silence the voices that keep him up at night. Chasing oblivion through endless one-night-stands, he earns a few hours’ sleep and his bad boy reputation. 

When a media error sees Noah and Kit dubbed the new “it” couple, Kit discovers her chance at the role of a lifetime hinges on riding the media wave. Wanting—needing—to give Kit this, even if he can’t give her everything, Noah agrees to play the adoring boyfriend. Only the illusion is suddenly too real, too painful, too beautiful…and it may be too late for the redemption of Noah St. John.

Be with me. These are the three words that define probably the strongest and most gut-wrenching installment in Nalini Singh’s Rock Kiss series yet. Noah St. John has some demons and Katherine “Kit” Devigny knows it. In fact, Noah does something pretty horrible to Kit that all but destroys the close intimacy as friends that could have become something more. To avoid spoilers, I am just going to say Noah is in a bad way at the beginning of the book and Kit is an amazing heroine. People will remember Kit as someone who put off Molly, Fox’s heroine, in the first Rock Kiss book. However, I’m happy to say Singh clarifies and clears up the tension between the two women to the point where Molly has become Kit’s confidant.

[Rock this tension ...]

Sep 11 2015 2:00pm

Every Woman Needs an Everywoman: In Defense of the Mary Sue

The Will by Kristen Ashley

What is a Mary Sue heroine? You know her; you actually like to read about her and pretty much know she walks on water. Mary Sue heroines tend to be the extremely likable, friendly and often having multiple heroes fall in love with her (or him) hero/heroine. As readers demand more relatable, flawed heroines, I argue that there is still a need for a Mary Sue heroine for the following reasons.

Basically, a Mary Sue heroine encompasses a fantasy that if promoted sociologically and embedded into the common culture, could be dangerous in the long-run for the portrayal of women. Much like the manic pixie dream girl could be said to be a culmination of a young adult male hero’s desires, the Mary Sue heroine is a woman that readers can project themselves onto. She does things well and she does them flawlessly or when she does have flaws, they are endearing to a point where conflict resolution is achieved pretty easily.

[Mary Sue is a reader's dream girl ...]

Sep 4 2015 2:00pm

It’s All in the Ink: Tattoos and Their Symbolism in Romance Novels

Beyond Jealousy by Kit Rocha

Not going to lie. This post was inspired by me watching Ink Master on TV. Especially this season, because there are so many badass female tattoo artists, but to the point, tattoos actually have a lot of symbolism in romance novels. For example, Kit Rocha’s Beyond series clearly uses tattoos to demarcate who belongs to the O’Kane clan. First there is the basic O’Kane mark that members get upon joining the rulers of District Four, but then you have the stylized name tattoos that come with making a permanent commitment. What I like about these tattoos is that they are equal opportunity so that the male and female characters both get them. My favorite description of a group of O’Kanes receiving their tattoos comes from book four in the series, Beyond Jealousy, especially the character, Rachel’s tattoo. She is in a relationship with badasses Cruz and Ace, as a result her tattoo includes both their names as well as some delicate flowers that have some crazy vicious forms, very nice stuff.

Some romance novels use tattoos for magic. For example, Melissa Marr’s Ink Exchange features the protagonist Leslie, getting a tattoo that binds her to Irial, fairy king of the Dark Court. Basically the tattoo then allows Irial to feel Leslie’s emotions and unexpectedly he finds himself in a bond with a teenage girl, who let’s face it, all teenage girls have a wide bevy of emotions.

[Show me your tattoos...]

Aug 31 2015 11:00am

She Blinded Me with Science: Girl Geeks and Science Nerds from Crane, Sheridan, and More!

Skin Game by Ava Gray

How many heroines are too smart for their own good? Not enough I say! Looking at heroines who really know what they’re doing and how to implement their smarts into different scenarios is a tricky thing. You don’t want the heroine to seem like a know-it-all, but you also want her to be able to stand her own ground. One of my favorite nerdy heroines in a profession I would never touch with a ten-foot-pole is Ava Gray’s (Ann Agurrie’s) Mia Sauter. Part of the Skin series, Mia is a forensic accountant (I’m allergic to math) and a damn good one at that. In fact, she’s so good that she goes unnoticed except for the hero, Addison Foster a.k.a. Thomas Strong a.k.a. it’s complicated. The man of many faces that Mia encountered not too long ago is the same man discouraging her from pursuing her contract for the sake of his revenge. Is Mia going to stand for that? Not likely! I loved that Mia was not only as sharp as her leading man, but also stood her ground in terms of her ability and capability of holding it together against the main baddie. I also loved that her ability with numbers and patterns was handy in more than one instance in the book, especially her epic chess battle with the antagonist.

A newer to me author, because I live under a rock, is Carolyn Crane and her suspense novel, Behind the Mask. The romance between legendary mercenary, Hugo Martinez and co-leader of the Associates as well as botanist, Zelda, tears apart what you think you know about romantic suspense and then puts it all back together. I loved Zelda as she is not only a field agent, but her scientific specialty botany, really comes into play especially when people accuse her of messing with the local crop of flowers vital to a small South American town. The flowers are made-up by the author, but the way Zelda holds her own and conducts scientific experiments using a control  and multiple samples hits the very heart of what scientists do on a day to day basis.

[Nerdy heroines rock...]

Aug 28 2015 1:00pm

Come to the Dark Side: Dark Romances for the Reluctant Reader

Beneath the Burn by Pam Godwin

When I first got into reading romance, my focus was on the happy, splashy covers of good looking couples who seemed to be having fun. Little did I know that years later—as in high school—I would be drawn to something darker and a little more bittersweet kind of a like a milk chocolate eater trying the bitter taste of dark chocolate for the first time. Even though I’m not a connoisseur of dark romance, I think I have a few titles if you want to dip your toes in to the reading deep end.

I love Pam Godwin’s Beneath the Burn, it has everything you could want including a sexy rocker, a fearless heroine and one hell of a suspenseful plot. Basically an escapee from a monster of a man, Charlee falls back into his hands but not after a fateful encounter with Jay, a source of light in the darkness surrounding Charlee’s life. What I like about Godwin’s writing in this book is that the abductor and his abduction aren’t romanticized. I have a hard time with darker romances that contain dubious consent. Charlee and Jay are a match made in a twisted heaven if only they can escape the ghosts of both their pasts.

[No HEA, but close enough...]

Aug 25 2015 9:30am

First Look: Emma Chase’s Sustained (August 25, 2015)

Sustained by Emma Chase

Emma Chase
Sustained (Legal Briefs #2)
Gallery / August 25, 2015 / $15.99 print, $7.99 digital

Emma Chase, New York Times bestselling author of the Tangled series, returns with a brand new funny, romantic, sexy story!

A knight in tarnished armor is still a knight.

When you’re a defense attorney in Washington, DC, you see firsthand how hard life can be, and that sometimes the only way to survive is to be harder. I, Jake Becker, have a reputation for being cold, callous, and intimidating—and that suits me just fine. In fact, it’s necessary when I’m breaking down a witness on the stand.

Complications don’t work for me—I’m a “need-to-know” type of man. If you’re my client, tell me the basic facts. If you’re my date, stick to what will turn you on. I’m not a therapist or Prince Charming—and I don’t pretend to be.

Then Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews came along and complicated the ever-loving hell out of my life. Now I’m going to Mommy and Me classes, One Direction concerts, the emergency room, and arguing cases in the principal’s office.

Chelsea’s too sweet, too innocent, and too gorgeous for her own good. She tries to be tough, but she’s not. She needs someone to help her, defend her…and the kids.

And that—that, I know how to do.

A lot of people fell in love with Emma Chase’s male point-of-view novel, Tangled. That success led to a number of sequel titles and now the spin-off series, The Legal Briefs. As much as I enjoyed Overruled, the first book in the series, I was really chomping at the bit for Sustained. Sustained brings back the all-male point-of-view that readers fell in love with in Tangled. Specifically, you have the great formula of an asshole hero, Jake Becker, defense attorney, pitted against loving aunt, Chelsea McQuaid, legal guardian to six children.

[It's Jake vs. The Family...]

Aug 20 2015 1:00pm

I Saw the Sign: Romances Based Around Astrology

Zodiac by Romina Russell

Who didn’t love to look up their Zodiac (Greek or Chinese) sign as a kid and some people still follow horoscopes today, that’s why it’s not surprising that astrology and romance seem to be a pair written in the stars.

For New Adult and Young Adult readers, Romina Russell’s aptly named Zodiac series is perfect for those who like a bit of science fiction and fantasy with their romance. Following the story of Rho, a young Cancerian, readers join her on a journey to rid the star system of the nefarious 13th sign while trying to discover what makes her and the other signs unique but similar. Readers will love the love triangle in this book and the fact that Rho has to make mature decisions from a young woman’s standpoint.

Pegged as Sailor Moon meets the popular Lumberjanes, the Zodiac Starforce series is a comic to watch. Written by Kevin Panetta and Paulina Ganucheau, Zodiac Starforce s a little bit magical girl genre meets real life high school angst. Following Emma Martin and her group of strange and a little bit estranged friends, the girls must band together to fight the forces of evil and balance school life. Not so much a romance as it is a female-centric comic about friendship, I’m including it because of the me in high school who very much wanted to transform into a killer costume to fight evil.

[It's all about the signs...]

Aug 11 2015 2:00pm

5 Quotes from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dragonbane to Make You Sigh, Gasp, and Laugh

Dragonbane by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Welcome to the Dark-Hunter series, Dragonbane! Last week, Dragonbane became the 19th book to join the Dark-Hunter family. Sherrilyn Kenyon always brings the laughs, the gasps, and “hell, yeahs,” and Dragonbane is no different. With that in mind, we asked H&H blogger Sahara Hoshi to share the quotes that made her gut flip and twist with their signature Kenyon flare...

The Dragonbane quotes that really stand out to me involve trademark Sherrilyn Kenyon features: a betrayed hero, a conflicted heroine, and some overall snark. The Dark-Hunter world expands with each new installment of the series, yet the tone that made the earliest books so popular remains consistent throughout, which is great to see.

*Note: This post contains SPOILERS for Dragonbane! Make sure you've finished the book before reading these quotes!

[And the 5 quotes are...]

Aug 6 2015 9:30am

First Look: Tessa Bailey’s Make Me (August 11, 2015)

Make Me by Tessa Bailey

Tessa Bailey
Make Me (Broke and Beautiful #3)
Avon Impulse / August 11, 2015 / $2.99 digital

Construction worker Russell Hart has been head-over-work boots for Abby Sullivan since the moment he laid eyes on her. But he knows a classy, uptown virgin like her could never be truly happy with a rough, blue-collar guy like him. If only she'd stop treating him like her personal hero—a role he craves more than oxygen—maybe he could accept it.

With the future of her family's hedge fund on her shoulders, Abby barely has time to sleep, let alone find love. And her best friend Russell acting like a sexy, overprotective hulk any time their Super Group goes out in public definitely isn't helping her single status. But after a near-tragedy lands Russell in her bed for the night, Abby's suddenly fantasizing about what he looks like shirtless. Chest hair and tattoos—who knew?

As Russell struggles to keep Abby at a safe distance, she begins to see through his tough-talking exterior—and acknowledge her own feelings. Now she's ready to turn the friend-zone into foreplay…and make him lose control.

Do you like friends to lovers romances? How about when the hero is super infatuated with the heroine? If you answered yes to either of those questions then you’ll love Abby and Russell’s story in Make Me, the third and final installment in Tessa Bailey’s New Adult, Broke and Beautiful series. Taking place in New York and featuring three friends, Make Me follows Abby, a hedge fund manager, and Russell, a construction worker. Readers following the series have been awaiting the Abby/Russell pairing since Russell was struck dumb upon first seeing Abby.

[The friend-zone is the worst...]

Jul 24 2015 9:30am

Earth, Wind, Fire, and Air...and More: Cassandra Gannon’s The Elemental Phases Series

Queen of the Magnetland by Cassandra Gannon

I took a look on my Amazon recommendations and saw a title called The Queen of Magnetland. Seeing as this was the first book in a series and I was jonesing for something X-Men/fantasy-like I decided to one-click the first book in Cassandra Gannon’s Elemental series, Warrior from the Shadowland. What I didn’t know at the time is that I would spend the next five days reading this cracktackular series.

The Elemental Phases is completely different from any other paranormal/fantasy world out there. The basic idea is that immortal beings called Phases that exist keep the world moving. Each Phase is born into an Elemental house. Where this idea gets really cool is that the Phases aren’t just earth, water, air, fire a la Captain Planet. Instead there are Cloud Phases, Color Phases, Magnet Phases, Electricity Phases, etc. each of which upholds that element on Earth. When the series starts, the Elemental Phase community has been decimated by a plague released by the Air House. Now, literal elements in the universe are falling apart because there are not enough of individual Phases left in some of the Houses to sustain a particular element. One example is Cloud House, the Cloud Phases are extinct so now clouds look flat and have no shape to them.

In addition to the cool array of elements included in the series, you also have a fated mate trope as Phases want to find their Phase-Match, basically their soul mate. At the beginning of the series, Cross, the last of the Shadow Phases finds his soulmate in Nia of the Water House. The two must work together to try and find a cure for the plague that is decimating their people while at the same time falling in love. The sex scenes, known as Phasing, aren’t particularly graphic but still romantic.

[Join the elements of ....]

Jul 17 2015 2:00pm

Be Wary of the Fairy: Why Fairies are a Bad Bet in Romance

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

Most romance readers are familiar with the twisted take on faeries within romance novels. But really, why do fairies, especially the male protagonist/antagonist ones have to be such big pains? There is something compelling about a twist on the fairy tale that lures in both the protagonist and the reader. For example, the handsome, yet later, menacing V’Lane tempts Karen Marie Moning’s Mac in the Fever series and who, as it turns out, can’t be trusted. In fact, if you are an urban fantasy heroine, trusting a fairy is never, ever a good idea—neither is falling in love with one. Here’s why:

1. They Come with WAY TOO MUCH Baggage (See Evil Fairy Queen)

Usually where there is a male fairy protagonist, there is an evil fairy queen wanting to possess his soul...or something. Such is the case with Tamlin in Sarah J. MaasA Court of Thorns and Roses. This was the book that lead to this post and the pondering, “Why are fairies such a bad bet?” Well, Tamlin’s case is a textbook example of male fairy with huge female baggage. Maas’ evil fairy queen, Amarantha is truly a baddie. She puts the poor heroine, Feyre through a bunch of ridiculous tasks and still manages to (spoiler alert) kill Feyre’s human body. The same trope is true of Pippa Da Acosta’s City of Fae comes complete with a bad boy fairy rocker and a giant evil spider queen. Did I mention spiders? Lots and lots of spiders, so many that if I was the protagonist Alina, I would have burnt down London.

[Mmmm, another fairies book?]

Jul 13 2015 2:00pm

Burn Baby Burn: The Hidden World of Demons in Suzanne Wright’s Burn

Burn by Suzanne Wright

Suzanne Wright was an author whose work jumped out at me quickly a couple years ago. She has released multiple paranormal books about wolf shifters and vampires as well as a successful contemporary, From Rags. Feeding the need for more paranormal romance, I recently picked up Burn, the first in Wright’s Dark in You series.

For readers familiar with Wright’s Deep in Your Veins, vampire series, Burn’s hero, Knox Thorne, demon extraordinaire should be familiar. If however, you skipped the vampires and went straight to demons, don’t worry, Wright has you covered. She introduces the world of the demons and their vicious Underground quite well. The heroine, Harper Wallis, is pretty amazing as well. A she-demon, tattoo artist and a sphinx (yes a sphinx demon! How cool is that), Harper can take care of herself. It’s shortly after the two meet that they discover they have a psychic connection. Wright plays around with the fated person trope a bit in establishing a demon’s anchor. An anchor is someone who psychically links with another demon and the pair support as well as stabilize the beast within.  We don’t immediately find out what Knox is (and I’m not going to tell you because spoilers) but let’s just say the reveal is worth the wait.

Both demons have their own personal problems to face. Knox is super powerful and not used to having someone care for him or not rely on him for some ulterior purpose like protection. Harper is the opposite, an extremely private person who does not rely on others and who, while being dependable for friends and family, tends to comport herself with the fear that if she gets too close to someone, that person will abandon her. Another interesting part of the anchor set up is that it does not have to be romantic or sexual in nature. In fact, several of the characters introduced within Burn have an anchor relationship but are not romantically involved with their anchor. In addition, anchors do not seem to be limited to male and female pairings, although the anchor pairings that do show up in the book are male and female.

[Welcome to the demon world where things are hot...]

Jul 12 2015 10:30am

First Look: Charlotte Stein’s Never Loved (July 21, 2015)

Charlotte Stein
Never Loved (Dark Obsession #1)
Loveswept / July 21, 2015 / $3.99 digital

Perfect for fans of Katy Evans, the first novel in the Dark Obsession series tells the story of a beautiful wallflower who falls for a chiseled street fighter—and learns just how dangerous love can be.

Beatrix Becker spent most of her life under the thumb of her controlling, abusive father. And now that she’s free and attending her dream college, she has no idea how to act like the normal crowd: partying, going on dates, even having a conversation. Then she meets Serge Sorensen. Big and surly with a whole host of riotous tattoos, Serge is supposed to scare the hell out of her. But beneath his harsh exterior, Beatrix discovers a kindred spirit who knows what it’s like to be a misfit. Most exhilarating—and terrifying—is what he does for a living: illegal street fighting.

There’s nothing like the rush Serge gets from the intense athleticism and brutal glory of combat—though his chemistry with Beatrix comes close. Slowly at first, he introduces her to his world, where he lives by instinct, passion, and desire. He even helps her out with her equally traumatized brother. But when Serge gets in too deep with the wrong people, he ends up paying in blood. And suddenly, just as Beatrix has been drawn into Serge’s perfectly sculpted arms, she’s thrown once and for all into the fight of his life.

Once again it’s time to break out the fangirl pom-poms as Charlotte Stein has a new release out that is more in line with her edgier New Adullt tone found in Sheltered. Never Loved begs the question, what if you could go for what you want despite how dangerous someone told you something was or what if you could be that edgier, cooler persona without facing any consequences? This is the feat, Beatrix, the heroine of Never Loved has to take on.

[Love is dangerous in this new series...]

Jun 24 2015 1:00pm

Up, Up, and Away: Superheroes in Love

Vigil by V.J. Chambers

Black Widow and the Avengers have given us multiple shipping options but here are some series that have the love story already laid out while the heroine and hero fight crime or sometimes, each other.

Vigil by V.J. Chambers is basically a New Adult Batman with a Lois Lane-like hero. Cecily Kane is looking for the scoop on Vigil, a masked crusader who apparently happens to be a billionaire. In this case, Cecily might be right to stay away and she’s a pretty naïve heroine, but if you got to hook up with the fictional equivalent of Batman wouldn’t you?

If you’re looking for something even more erotic and in the vein of a Batman-like hero, Hero by Leighton del Mia will definitely satisfy lovers of dark romance. Filled with tropes like the capture fantasy, dark erotica and just a heads-up, dubious consent, hero Calvin Parish literally whisks heroine Cataline Ford away for her own safety. Whether or not it’s for her own good is up to the reader to decide as the book presents dual points of view from both Calvin and Cataline.

[More superheroes trope novels we love...]

Jun 18 2015 9:30am

Turn the Trope Around: Heroines Take on Male-Dominated Tropes

To Professor With Love by Linda Kage

If I asked you to name common romance tropes most readers could give me a list: brother’s best friend, friends to lovers, alpha billionaire, etc. It’s time to turn these tropes on their heads and put some power in the hands of the female heroine.

A common and upcoming trope that has risen is the teacher-student trope. There have been a number of releases featuring a swoonworthy male teacher and his student—Tessa Bailey’s Need Me and Teresa Mummert’s Honor Student to name two. What I like seeing is the pairing of a female professor with a male student. Two works that feature this include: To Professor With Love by Linda Kage and “Miss Congeniality” by Shelly Laurenston, part of the When He Was Bad anthology.

To Professor With Love features the affair between Aspen, a young English professor and her student, Noel Gamble, the campus football superstar. There isn’t a huge age difference between the two as Aspen was a child prodigy and quickly accelerated to her position. However, the position of a female professor is unique as she has to navigate her passion for Noel Gamble as well as the social mores becoming a female faculty member. I know about this book because I beta read it and loved the idea of reversing the trope. Part of this interest had come from reading Shelly Laurenston’s “Miss Congeniality,” that features the ice-cold Irene Conridge. The ways she meets her future mate, Niles Van Holtz is hilarious, Van Holtz assumes Conridge is a student when she is in fact a professor. Once again, the female professor is a prodigy who rose to professor level status. The story itself is not about Van Holtz and Conridge as teacher and student but does take place in a university setting as well as having the hero lust over a female professor.

[More heroines who take on male dominated tropes...]

Jun 15 2015 9:30am

First Look: Chantal Fernando’s Arrow’s Hell (June 16, 2015)

Arrow's Hell by Chantal Fernando

Chantal Fernando
Arrow’s Hell (Wind Dragons MC #2)
Gallery / June 16, 2015 / $15.00 print, $3.99 digital

From bestselling author Chantal Fernando, the second book in a sexy romance series featuring the bad boys of the Wind Dragons Motorcycle Club and the women who fall in love with them. Being the younger sister of a Wind Dragons MC member isn’t as great as you’d think it would be. I can’t escape the details of my brother’s exploits. No one tells me anything. Men who know who I am tend to stay away from me. And worst of all: the members of the MC are off-limits. When Arrow catches my eye, I make it my mission to make him happy again. When I fall head over heels in love with him, I just hope he will be there to catch me. And that my brother doesn’t kill him…

In Chantal Fernando's Dragon’s Lair, the first book in the Wind Dragons MC series was in my favorites of 2014 so I jumped at the chance to review Arrow’s Hell. Taking place after a number of the events in Dragon’s Lair, Arrow’s Hell opens up with a small glimpse into what Arrow’s life is now, a life full of regrets and disappointment for not saying the things that were important at the right time. Enter Anna, the heroine and sister of one of the MC club members, Rake. If I had to categorize this installment of the Wind Dragons MC series, I’d put it as more intense than the Kristen Ashley Chaos series but on the lighter side of the kind of events we see in Joanna Wylde’s Reapers series. Arrow’s Hell does a great job of maintaining a fine balance between the interpersonal dynamics of Anna and Arrow while throwing in some MC club drama.

[It is all about the bad boys and the women they love...]

Jun 3 2015 2:30pm

Beyond Man’s Best Friend: Unusual Pets in Romance from Laurenston, Pierce, and More!

The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston

If you’re on Twitter, Facebook or any sort of social media, you’ve probably seen your friends’ pets or sometimes even your favorite authors’ pets. It’s not surprising when a hero or heroine has to take care of a fuzzy friend, but it is fun when they’re especially memorable.

The most recent read that had a memorable pet for me was Shelly Laurenston’s The Unleashing and the heroine’s pitbull, Brodie Hawaii. Not only does this pitbull get reincarnated into a Crow, a mythical warrior for the goddess Skuld, but also Brodie Hawaii is hilarious, basically living the life of luxury much to her mistress’ dismay. Add on the fact that the Crows’ leader is constantly bewailing their house’s lack of insurance and you’ve got comedic gold in the form of a pitbull with powers.

Sometimes a pet can make a hero look more badass or mysterious other times the pet makes the hero look a little…weird. I’d argue this is the case with the hero, Matt’s rabbit, Laurence, in the much beloved M. Pierce’s Night Owl, the first in the Night Owl trilogy. Not only does Matt own a rabbit which is a pretty normal pet, but the fact that he walks it at night makes it a bit quirky and readers who love the series say Laurence sometimes steals the show.

[More Unusual Pets in Romance]

Apr 28 2015 9:30am

First Look: Elle Kennedy The Mistake (April 28, 2015)

The Mistake by Elle Kennedy

Elle Kennedy
The Mistake (Off-Campus #2)
Elle Kennedy / April 28, 2015 / $4.99 digital

He’s a player in more ways than one…

College junior John Logan can get any girl he wants. For this hockey star, life is a parade of parties and hook-ups, but behind his killer grins and easygoing charm, he hides growing despair about the dead-end road he’ll be forced to walk after graduation. A sexy encounter with freshman Grace Ivers is just the distraction he needs, but when a thoughtless mistake pushes her away, Logan plans to spend his final year proving to her that he’s worth a second chance.

Now he’s going to need to up his game...

After a less than stellar freshman year, Grace is back at Briar University, older, wiser, and so over the arrogant hockey player she nearly handed her V-card to. She’s not a charity case, and she’s not the quiet butterfly she was when they first hooked up. If Logan expects her to roll over and beg like all his other puck bunnies, he can think again. He wants her back? He’ll have to work for it. This time around, she’ll be the one in the driver’s seat…and she plans on driving him wild.

Do you like a good grovel from a hero and a whipsmart heroine? Then you’ll love Elle Kennedy’s The Mistake. The follow-up to Kennedy’s New Adult hockey romance The Deal, The Mistake features Logan, who thinks he’s pining after The Deal’s heroine, Wellsey. Enter young freshman, Grace who proves to be more than distracting to Logan and suddenly his best friend’s girlfriend isn’t the only thing on Logan’s mind. The Mistake is aptly named as Logan does screw up in a big way (no spoilers here though) and when he wants to get Grace back, she’s determined to make him work for it. What differentiates book 2 from the first book in the series is that there is a natural rhythm to the relationship between Logan and Grace.

[Their attraction is too strong to stay away.]

Apr 16 2015 5:00pm

Got the Magic in Me: Magical Girls Have It Tough from Sailor Moon, Laurenston, and More!

Sailor Moon and Luna from Sailor Moon
Source: sailorscoutsforever.tumblr.com

Re-watching clips of Sailor Moon, I realized that being a magical girl/heroine is pretty difficult. For those not familiar with the Sailor Moon storyline, basically the heroine is a reincarnated princess from a kingdom destroyed by evil and in her second life she must battle those same evil forces while gaining a second chance at true love.

Looking at romance novels, it’s pretty clear that heroines with magic are normally destined for a rough time. Paralleling the Sailor Moon case, Romina Russell’s young adult romantic adventure Zodiac places the fate of an entire planet on the shoulders of young Cancerian, Rho. After a tragedy strikes her home world, Rho is literally the chosen one to lead her planet. Not only does she have to convince people of the big bad threat that could destroy the Zodiac Houses, but she also has to make people trust her despite her age. As the first part of a trilogy, readers see how Rho struggles not only with her leadership role but also with a not-so-classic love triangle, add in the fact that this features astrology and you get a fun, but perilous journey of a young girl coming into her own.

[Learning lady stuff and magic stuff...]

Apr 14 2015 9:30am

First Look: Charlotte Stein’s Taken (April 14, 2015)

Taken by Charlotte SteinCharlotte Stein
Taken (Under the Skin #3
Avon Impulse / April 14, 2015 (digital); May 12, 2015 (print) / $3.99 print, $2.99 digital

It was just a prank I didn't want to be a part of. I never meant to hurt anyone, least of all Johann Weir. You wouldn't know that he sells literature for a living. He has these wild eyes—eyes that light something up in me—and he must be twice as big as I am, with strong, warm hands. Hands I try not to imagine everywhere.

He scares me. And thrills me.

But now the deed is done, and I have to face the consequences. He says he just wants to hold me here until the police come, but it's been hours and I'm still here.

Chained to a pipe in his back room like a prisoner.

The only person I have to talk to is Johann, and I tell him dark, shameful secrets—secrets that involve the metal around my wrist and him standing over me. But I can't stop. I need him to know everything. I need him.

Johann has his own secrets—ones he wants to tell me too. And more than anything, I want to listen. And maybe, before he sends me away, he'll punish me.

Just a little.

Just enough.

Charlotte Stein is an author with a certain set of skills (Liam Nesson joke made!) in terms of writing what I call the most awkward meet-cutes in the genre. Taken is no exception, as it begins with a lovely bit of larceny that Rosie, the main character, kind of stupidly agrees to. After getting caught because that’s probably what would happen to most of us, she ends up handcuffed in the basement/pseudo-bedroom of one possibly werewolf/crazy Johann, the hero and a quirky bookseller.

[He could be a killer...or a romance hero!...]