<i>In Sickness and In Elf</i>: Exclusive Excerpt In Sickness and In Elf: Exclusive Excerpt AE Jones "Placing her down gently, he pushed a silky strand of hair..." <i>Tangled</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Tangled: Exclusive Excerpt Kate Douglas "The need was so primal, so visceral, it left her shaken..." <i>The Girl from Summer Hill</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Girl from Summer Hill: Exclusive Excerpt Jude Deveraux "He stood there staring at her, saying nothing..." <i>Wicked Heart</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Wicked Heart: Exclusive Excerpt Leisa Rayven "I think if I kissed you right now, we’d barely make it through..."
From The Blog
April 29, 2016
Captain America vs. Iron Man: Which Side Are You On?
Pen Singleton and Sahara Hoshi
April 28, 2016
At Home: Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia, Episode 4
Naz Keynejad
April 28, 2016
Why Prince Songs Make a Perfect Soundtrack for Romance Novels
Abigail Strom
April 28, 2016
Best Reads of April 2016
Team H & H
April 25, 2016
Love, Lies, and Spies: Teen Regency Done Right
Carol Malcolm
Showing posts by: Sahara Hoshi click to see Sahara Hoshi's profile
Apr 29 2016 3:00pm

Captain America vs. Iron Man: Which Side Are You On? Part 1 of 2

Captain American #Team Cap vs Iron Man #TeamIronMan in Civil War

Team H&H is having its own Civil War among our bloggers as two of our most die-hard superhero fans, Pen Singleton and Sahara Hoshi, take a side in Captain America: Civil War. Today they're offering up their opening arguments for each side, but come back on Sunday as they detail what their side winning or losing could mean for the ships we've come to love in the Marvel Universe. 

We are about a week away from Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War and I (Pen Singleton) could not be more ready!  In case you haven’t seen any of my other Marvel posts, here’s a quick rundown of my credentials.  I have a tendency to obsess and it comes into play very strongly with the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  I have seen most of the movies multiple times in the theater.  And, when I say multiple, I don’t mean two or three.  I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the theater ten times. And, thus far, I’ve seen The Avengers in the theater twenty times. And I say “thus far” because I already have my ticket for the Ultimate Captain America Marathon on May 5, the day before the release of Captain America: Civil War.  I will be in the movie theater at 8am to watch a 15 hour marathon consisting of both previous Captain American movies and both Avengers movies before the premiere of Captain America: Civil War. So, I know a bit about these movies and have extremely strong feelings about the battle at the heart of the new movie that will pit all of the Marvel heroes we’ve seen in movies since 2008’s Iron Man against one another: Team Iron Man vs Team Captain America.

[Pick your side ...]

Apr 8 2016 12:00pm

A Mobile Small Town: Romances Set in Trailer Parks Offer Community and Support

Burn Down the Night by M O’Keefe

It’s funny because when people think of trailer park they sometimes get negative connotations associated with this living situation. However, a number of romances are using the trailer park setting to their advantage by creating a close-knit community of characters who interact with and rely on each other especially due to their close proximity to one another. Take for example, M O’Keefe’s Everything I Left Unsaid and its sequel The Truth About Him. Annie’s whole journey starts and pretty much ends in the trailer park that is somehow connected to the hero, Dylan. In fact, a number of the neighbors including a sort of crusty old man and a seemingly pessimistic female neighbor also play pivotal roles in the story. Annie works at the trailer park as well and there is a sense of enclosure about the setting. The rising action, climax and conclusion of Dylan and Annie’s story don’t really leave the trailer park setting. Also, a certain resident is responsible for the trouble the hero and heroine get into in M O’Keefe’s upcoming Burn Down the Night. The examples in relation to these stories may be vague, but that’s because each and every resident Annie encounters at the trailer park affects her in some way.

[A new kind of small town romance for your enjoyment ...]

Mar 14 2016 12:30pm

More Than Three’s Not a Crowd: Looking at Reverse Harem in CL Stone’s The Academy Series

The Academy Introductions by  C.L. Stone

If you’re a fan of love triangles what if I told you there was a series that was more like a love octagon except there’s more than eight people? Still interested? Then you’ll want to pick up C.L. Stone’s The Academy.

If you like reverse harem stories, this is for you as Sang Sorensen enters her high school and becomes friends with a group of mysterious boys who work for an institution only known as The Academy. C.L. Stone also offers a New Adult version of The Academy featuring a young woman named Kayli who has made thieving skills. Both series are saort of like Ouran High School Host club in book format, Sang and Kayli have not one but more than four different types of guys (can’t remember the last count). I’m not going list them all but rather look at a couple of questions readers might have regarding the series:

1. What is reverse harem and how does it apply to The Academy?

Reverse harem is basically a story where a female character is given the option of multiple suitors as opposed to the harem trope where a man is given the option of multiple female suitors (think the Bachelorette versus the Bachelor).

[Are you ready for The Academy? ...]

Mar 7 2016 5:36pm

The Fae-tastic World of Amelia Hutchins

Fighting Destiny by Amelia Hutchins

It’s been a while since I’ve read an urban fantasy/paranormal romance and if I had to pick, Amelia Hutchins’ The Fae Chronicles falls into the paranormal romance category with some urban fantasy elements. The series that the Fae Chronicles most resembles is Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. Unlike Mac, however, the main protagonist of the Fae Chronicles, Synthia, is magically inclined from the get-go. She is a Witch, leader of a coven that has established itself to protect the human world from the residents of the Otherworld, most specifically the Fae. When the reader starts book one, Fighting Destiny, he or she will already see Synthia in action and how brutal the world that she’s involved in really is.

If I had to pinpoint an ambiance for the series, it’s both melancholic and sexy at the same time. There’s an understanding that no matter what Syn or the members of her coven do, there’s always a bigger, badder power waiting in the wings. In addition, Syn’s main lust interest (I don’t know if I’d start off with love) is Ryder, the Dark Heir to the Dark Fae kingdom. Ryder is not a gentle, touchy feely hero nor is he a rational alpha hero. He’s all alpha and very much inhuman. The fact that the Fae are not human is constantly stressed to Synthia, but she has to learn the hard way the realities of dealing with a creature that is literally not of this world. The series is erotic in that Synthia and Ryder share a sexual connection as well as the fact that the Fae are very sexual creatures. This is not too dissimilar from Faefever where readers saw Mac succumb to the emotional and mental manipulation of the Fae. The difference between Mac and Synthia in this situation is that Synthia’s narrative clashes between her rational mind and physical effects, she’s somewhat aware of what is happening to her versus that catatonic Mac who becomes subsumed in Fae magic. Both books could be triggering for those who find any hint of emotional manipulation or even the theme of non-consensual sex triggering, even though Ryder makes sure to get Synthia’s verbal agreement during their time in the bedroom.

[The Fae Chronicles series is Fae-tastic ...]

Mar 3 2016 6:00pm

Redeeming Aiden: Mariana Zapata’s The Wall of Winnipeg and Me

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

I love Mariana Zapata’s writing style. She knocked it out of the park with last year’s Kulti and that same prowess returns in The Wall of Winnipeg and Me. The story of Vanessa, an ex-personal assistant and Aiden, a defensive linemen for the National Football Organization is definitely a slow burn read. I’d argue that slow burn reads can be the best because the anticipation builds. Zapata gave herself a tough task of redeeming Aiden, who starts out as a total asshole and making the relationship between Vanessa and Aiden believable. It’s clear from the outset of the book that Aiden has little to no regard for Vanessa and unlike the titular hero in Kulti, Aiden doesn’t necessarily get too much better over time. Instead, the relationship between the hero and heroine is a natural progression of time and trust. For those who like tropes, this is a very troperific story with a marriage of convenience, Vanessa marries Aiden to get her student loans paid off and Aiden gets a green card, as well as not-even-friends to lovers.

What Zapata does well with her sports romances is take time to actually capture what the life of an athlete outside of the field, court, etc. is really like. For example, Vanessa is training for a marathon but Aiden and his roommate have a hard time keeping up with her because they aren’t trained for endurance running. This is a small fact that while it may seem insignificant, makes the story really believable from a sports perspective.

[This is how it goes down off the field ...]

Feb 25 2016 5:45pm

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

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

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

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

[Romance comics in volumes please ...]

Feb 13 2016 3:00pm

Happy Galentine’s Day: A Look at the Best Female Friendships in Romance

Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh

It’s pretty easy to take Valentine’s Day and make it a day about your significant other, but what about a Leslie Knope-Ann Perkins-type relationship? I’d argue that a true Galentine’s Day friendship is much harder to find, especially the older you get. No longer do you have the avenues of high school and college to solidify your relationships with peers who are going through the same things as you at the exact same time. Instead, you have to venture out and somehow find your own beautiful land mermaid. Below is a list of what I would argue are some of the top female friendships in romance:

1. Elena and Sara from Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter Series

Nothing says, I platonically love you quite like the gift of custom weapons as well as the promise to send an extraction team in after your best friend becomes involved with a seriously deadly Archangel. If anyone doubts the depth of Elena and Sara’s friendship (for those who don’t remember, Sara is the head of the United States Guild), go to the end of Angel’s Blood. Elena laments her change into *spoilers* an angel, but Sara points out at least there will be someone to watch over, Zoe, Sara’s daughter and Elena’s goddaughter. Being able to handle that your friend has been changed into a superhuman species? I’d say that is true friendship right there.

Friendship Rating: Sisters to the end – nothing says solidarity like looking out for the ones you love.

[Call it a Galentine's Day with the girls ...]

Feb 12 2016 10:30am

Fake It Til You Make It: Lucy Parker’s Act Like It

Act Like it by Lucy Parker

This little gem of a novel first came to my attention via Angela James, editor for Carina Press. Like many Carina Press titles, Act Like It by Lucy Parker is a solid love story filled with sass, snark and brooding all at a reasonable price. The story is a pretty simple take on the one-week fiancé/ one week significant other trope. Lainie and Richard are cast mates and Richard has a bit of a reputation as an arsehole. Lainie considered to be the “good girl” of West End theater in London, takes on the task of being Richard’s significant other in exchange for the proceeds of one of the plays going towards the charity of her heart. This may sound like a category romance you’ve read a million times, but what makes this book so special is how the antagonists to friends to lovers pattern progresses in the book.

Lainie may be a “good girl” but she doesn’t put up with Richard’s complaining and antics. In addition, Richard may be sort of a broody hero, but he snarks and gives as good as he gets from Lainie. What makes the pair really work is Lainie pushes back against Richard not in a “sassy female lashing out at an unreasonable hero” but instead, a equal addressing the ridiculous attitude of another equal partner. Because Lainie doesn’t put up with his guff, it’s pretty easy to see how Richard comes to respect Lainie and eventually that respect turns into a friendship that eventually blossoms into a romance.

[Two imperfects find something to love in one another ...]

Feb 10 2016 5:30pm

Body Diversity: Plus-Size Women in Romance

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Do curvier women make better romance heroines? Some people would say yes, some would say no, others, like myself, want to champion for body diversity in romance while at the same time taking a look at plus-size or definitely curvy leading ladies who help make the genre great. This isn’t a post about defining what a real woman is or isn’t, instead it’s taking a look of some of the busty, curvier heroines in romance.

Minvera Dobbs, Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

I’ve mentioned this book before in conversations and probably other posts, but I have to give credit where credit is due, Jennifer Cruise taught be what the word zaftig means because it’s used a couple of times in the text and I had to look it up. Minerva is a fun, Elvis-loving woman who’s looking for ways to eat delicious food and healthy as well. If anything the prevalence of chicken marsala in this book (a dish I happen to love) shows the joys of delicious food and the humor that permeates the book along with a keen sense of self makes Minerva a top contender not only for a favorite romance heroine, but a leading heroine in contemporary romance and romantic comedy books.

[Curvy women with more umph' to offer ...]

Jan 5 2016 12:00pm

Don’t Stop the Music: Romance DJs That Will Make You Want to Evacuate the Dance Floor (and Head for the Bedroom)

Spin My Love by Chantal Fernando

Rock star romances and romances with brooding musicians are definitely a thing, but what about a goold ole’ disc jockey who lays down some sweet beats. Below is a list of romances featuring djs and why you’ll want to check them out.

Spin My Love by Chantal Fernando

A novel from the author behind the popular Wind Dragons MC series, Spin My Love is the story of Tane and Giselle. Tane, the hero is a popular DJ who left his past behind and never looked back until his childhood friend, Giselle re-enters his life. It’s kind of hard to be a fan of Tane in the beginning especially since he literally leaves Giselle’s bed cold and empty. However, what’s great is that Fernando writes broody, sometimes remorseful heroes and heroines who have their guard up but leave just enough room for love to re-enter the equation. If you like the friends to lovers trope or are a fan of childhood affections blossoming into adult romance, this is for you.

The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen

Another romance featuring a male dj literally known as DJ, Daniel Trevi and Lianne Challice offer another great friends to lovers romance. Bowen writes the attraction as a very natural progression. DJ’s stage isn’t a club or bar but rather the arena where his brother plays hockey. Lianne, an actress known for her role in a popular series of movies based on a beloved children’s series is instantly smitten with DJ. The only thing standing in their way is trouble from DJ’s past which I won’t spoil but suffice to say it will hit home for many people who have gone through the “typical” American college experience. Readers who like a hero and heroine who hit it off immediately or appreciate a campus setting will want to pick up the romance between the somewhat brooding DJ and hilarious and witty Lianne.

[He's my favorite DJ? ...]

Dec 16 2015 5:30pm

H&H Bloggers Recommend: Best Reads of 2015, Part 1

The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan

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 1 (of four parts) of our bloggers best reads of 2015—and don't forget to stay tuned for Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4:

Sahara Hoshi:

The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan - Callihan takes one of my favorite tropes, a hero who is willing to court his heroine and go the distance with her in a realistic and very sweet relationship, plus they love trip-hop music which is always a plus.

Never Loved by Charlotte Stein - I love Never Loved, I think I love it because it's a novel that gets why I love New Adult so much, the heroine literally transforms herself into someone new which I think is the point of college.

Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh - There is something so powerful between Noah and Kit that goes beyond romance and into what makes a great relationship, a strong solid foundation. The lengths both characters go through to be with each other are astounding and worth your time as well as attention as a reader.

[The Best Reads of 2015 ...]

Dec 10 2015 10:30am

“Chic” Lit with a Twist: How Clodagh Murphy’s Fiction Subverts Popular Romance Tropes

Frisky Business by Clodagh Murphy

Fall is a great time for pumpkin spice lattes, chunky scarves and books. There’s nothing better than a sunshine-filled morning spent napping and then later devouring the latest read. That’s where I’ve found myself the past few weeks after going through the works of Clodagh Murphy. Recently, I’ve been on a fix of women’s fiction that has included authors like Lucy Sykes and Mhairi McFarlane. After looking for something similar, I came across Murphy’s Frisky Business. Set in Ireland, Frisky Business is the story of Romy Fitzgerald and the search for a one-night-stand who turned out to be the father of her baby, Luke. What’s great about Frisky Business is that it’s fun but it’s not all froth.

While Romy searches for the Darth Vader (seriously the guy was dressed like Darth Vader at a costume party) who spawned her aptly named progeny, she also has to deal with being a first-time mother as well as the landlady to some pretty eccentric tenants. Ranging from jokes about Star Wars to entry-level BDSM classes, there’s a lot to laugh about in this book, but there are other characters besides Romy who make things interesting. Kit, for example, Romy’s ex-boyfriend and high-school best friend sweeps back into town and must decide if the life he established away from his childhood home is the kind of life he wants to keep on leading. In addition, there are a number of great relationships between the women in the world Murphy’s built from Romy’s mom to Romy’s best friend and wannabe amateur detective, Leslie. Murphy has taken a trope often seen in many romances and pieces of fiction, “Who’s the father” and subverted it by placing it in an almost comedic light through Romy’s adventures in finding her Darth Vader.

[Don't wait pick up some Chic-lit ...]

Dec 8 2015 10:30am

First Look: Romina Russell’s Wandering Star (December 8, 2015)

Wandering Star by Romina Russell

Romina Russell
Wandering Star (Zodiac #2)
Razorbill / December 8, 2015 / $18.99 print, $10.99 digital

Orphaned, disgraced, and stripped of her title, Rho is ready to live life quietly, as an aid worker in the Cancrian refugee camp on House Capricorn. 

But news has spread that the Marad—an unbalanced terrorist group determined to overturn harmony in the Galaxy—could strike any House at any moment.

Then, unwelcome nightmare that he is, Ochus appears to Rho, bearing a cryptic message that leaves her with no choice but to fight.     

Now Rho must embark on a high-stakes journey through an all-new set of Houses, where she discovers that there's much more to her Galaxy—and to herself—than she could have ever imagined.

In her debut novel, Zodiac, Romina Russell established a world based around astrology where the 12 Greek astrology signs are actually planets where individuals live. After the events of Zodiac, Rho, the main heroine finds herself displaced as she lost both her position and power as the Holy Mother of the planet Cancer. The beginning of Wandering Star, finds Rho licking her wounds and trying to establish a Cancerian settlement on Capricorn. What’s fascinating about Russell’s world is that each sect or established astrological House has it’s own principal values and societal quirks, a set up that is familiar in a way to Veronica Roth’s Divergent world.

[Can you guess which Zodiac signs are making a comeback? ...]

Dec 7 2015 5:30pm

At a Crossroads: The Intersection of Faith and Romance

Craving Flight by Tamsen Parker

Religion and romance don’t often seem to go hand in hand unless the title is labeled as inspirational or marketed in such a way that either the romance or religion is emphasized more so the book fits into one of the two categories. Recently reading Tamsen Parker’s Craving Flight, I got to thinking about the disparity between romance and religion especially those romances not containing Christian religious element and wondered, is there room for religion in romance? The obvious answer, as evidenced by Parker’s novella, would be yes. Tzipporah is a member of the Orthodox Jewish community and has married Elan Klein. What is amazing about this novella is the religious and faith-based elements of the Orthodox Jewish community are there, while still presenting a novel that is equally strong in its erotic elements—namely the BDSM relationship between Tzipporah and her husband. Both elements, the faith community and the kink, stand on their own while working together to create a portrait of a husband and wife who are united in faith as well as in sexual preference.

Another series that directly intertwines religion and sexuality is Robin D. Owens’ Heartmate series, specifically the release, Heart Fire. In Owens’ Celta, the two religions represented are a major faction that worships a male Lord and female Lady, while there is a minor subset known as Cross Folk a.k.a. Intersection of Hope faith, who seem to present their faith as an embodiment of four different stages of life that intersect into one whole.

[Where faith and romance collide ...]

Dec 4 2015 3:30pm

Staying on Top: Preacher by Dahlia West

Preacher by Dahlia West

I was first introduced to Dahlia West’s writing in her Burnout series, specifically the highly-acclaimed title, Shooter. In Preacher, West returns to Rapid City after giving the reader time with her other series, Stark Ink. Jack “Preacher” Prior is a man who is not on a mission, but is happy to rule over his respective roost as the leader of a motorcycle club. The only problem is that the rest of Badlands Buzzards MC don’t want their current president around for long. It’s interesting to have an MC-based story where the character is literally kicked out and left for dead by the MC. What’s even more interesting is where Preacher ends up, at Thunder Ridge, a small ranch run by Erin, an equine rehabilitation specialist.

I liked that Preacher wasn’t a standard wounded man meets struggling woman and things fall into place nicely. In fact, Jack pretty much holds Erin at gunpoint the first time they meet so the way West turns things around is interesting to say the least. What the reader of Preacher has to have is some suspension of disbelief. There is a high body count in this book and it keeps getting higher as the pages go along. However, the suspense and the question of whether or not Jack will return to Rapid City to enact his revenge is compelling. In addition, Burnout fans will appreciate seeing Chris “Shooter” Sullivan and Sarah “Slick” Sullivan return to the spotlight for a little screen time. To be clear, this is a book that stems from the workings of an MC (motorcycle club) but in no way does it positively reflect the workings and dealings of a motorcycle club based on a sense of brotherhood and riding free, like you’d find in Kristen Ashley’s Chaos series. Instead, the Buzzards are very much a criminal organization trying to stay on top in Rapid City.

[It's gritty, sexy, and filled with suspense ...]

Dec 2 2015 5:30pm

Calling the Shots: Belle Aurora’s Lev

Lev by Belle Aurora

Editor's Note: Earlier this month, Sahara named Lev by Belle Aurora as one of the books in her Indie Spotlight. Today she takes a deeper dive into this intense read!

I am not going to lie, this is an over-the-top cracktackular novel in the best way possible. Fans of Kristen Ashley will enjoy the strong, silent and somewhat brooding hero in Belle Aurora’s Lev. Lev is told in the mostly first-person point-of-view by Mina, a young woman who is down on her luck and is literally dying of starvation at the beginning of the novel. As fate and her ill-timed pick-pocketing skills would have it, Mina gets caught red-handed by Lev, the novel’s titular hero, and instead of being sent to the cops, is given a place to stay and a job all under Lev’s supervision. Yeah, what we have here is a classic hero taking care of a down-on-her-luck heroine, which I am always a sucker for. Add in the fact that Mina is an extremely likeable heroine (at least to everyone else in the book) and you’ve got the makings of a fun, over-the-top romance novel.

Lev is an interesting hero. He is portrayed as being distant emotionally due to abuse in his past and it seems that when his trigger is flipped, he can’t control the rage inside him. Somehow, the same emotionally distant hero managed to have an adorable little girl with a woman who is portrayed as a vindictive bitch, something that was sort of off-putting as a reader. However, if the girl’s mother was pure evil, at least her aunt, Mina, Lev’s sister and the rest of the female cast make up for it in leaps and bounds. As a heroine, Mina definitely has some bizarre luck on her side. First, she winds up getting a job after stealing from someone, then that same family has a direct connection with Mina’s biological father and finally, Mina manages to bridge gaps as well as mend fences with everyone including Lev’s jerkface brother. The reader will have to suspend his or her disbelief an awful lot just because the coincidences are a little too perfect to be true. However between Mina’s bubbly personality and Lev’s awkward attempts at affection, it’s hard not to become engrossed in the book.

[Pick up some books from indie writers ...]

Nov 25 2015 5:30pm

Gifts for Book Lovers: Find the Perfect Gift Based on Favorite Reads

Hearts of Blue by L.H. Cosway

Unsure what to get your spouse or significant other? Do they read romance novels? If so, check the title and genre or use our handy gift guide to help us help you with your holiday shopping.

Name: Lock Me Up Bracelet

Inspired by: 50 Shades of Grey, Charlotte Stein’s Taken, and L.H. Cosway’s Hearts of Blue.

Why it’s a great gift: Perfect for the guy or gal who you want to make sure who’s love you have a lock on. This accessory is inspired from the covers of both the 50 Shades series as well as Cosway’s Hearts of Blue. The reference to Charlotte Stein’s Taken may be a little less obvious, but basically the hero locks up the Zooey Deschanel-like heroine who views the handcuffs as more of a connector and less of a restriction. The kink factor is pretty obvious for Shades of Grey fans, but for those who haven’t read Hearts of Blue, the heroine is a police constable and the hero is involved with things that are less than legal, also the cover literally shows the two clasping hands bound together by handcuffs so you can take it to be a literal or figurative symbol of their love.

[The perfect book gifts for loved-ones ...]

Nov 17 2015 5:30pm

Indie Spotlight: New-to-You Books from Belle Aurora, R. Lee Smith, and More!

Lev: A Shot-Callers Novel by Belle Aurora

We're celebrating independent women (and men..and publishers)! On a seasonal basis, our bloggers will be offering up a list of their favorite books coming from independent and self-publishers outlets. Tune in every three months for another look at the indie books that got our hearts racing.

Lev: A Shot-Callers Novel by Belle Aurora

Fans of Kristen Ashley will find a lot to love in Lev. The story of Mina, a 24-year-old woman who is literally taken of the streets by the novel’s hero, Lev, turns into a story about love and redemption. Lev is an interesting hero as he doesn’t appear to fall into the standard emotional spectrum, the way he processes things and his interactions with Mina are different from anything else in his life. In addition, he’s definitely a possessive, alpha care-taker type so there’s a definite fantasy fulfillment of hot alpha male taking good care of the female he will come to love. It’s a very cracktacular book, high on entertainment value but a little low on the believability scale, still a super fun read for readers looking for a great read with drama and big personalities.

Broken Heart Syndrome by Susie Tate

The first in a series of books following doctors in the United Kingdom, Susie Tate has crafted what I like to call Grey’s Anatomy meets the romance novel. There is a ton of medical knowledge in the book as Tate herself is a general practicioner, but there is also a fantastic love story surrounding major misunderstandings. The novel’s heroine, Frankie has had a crush on Thomas G. Longley since university. The only problem is Frankie is super shy and Tom takes that to mean Frankie’s an ice queen. Fast forward ten years later and Frankie’s stuck working in cardiology with Tom as her boss! Tom kind of comes off as a jerk and Frankie is a super likeable heroine who tries her hardest to make the best of what seems to be a bad situation. Broken Heart Syndrome is perfect for readers who like boss-employee or workplace romances or like romances set around a technical field. The medical knowledge shines through just as much as the main couple and expect all the swooning when the pair actually enter a relationship.

[Indie authors are one-of-a-kind ...]

Nov 13 2015 10:30am

First Look: T. Gephart’s Slide (November 16, 2015)

T. Gephart
Slide (Black Addiction #1)
T. Gephart / November 16, 2015 / $15.00 print, $3.99 digital

Touring as an opening act for a huge rock band and landing a record contract means you’ve hit the big time, right? 

Sadly, neither of those things gave Rusty Crawford, lead guitarist of the band Black Addiction, worldwide fame and fortune. Which was a shame because he had the lifestyle down to a fine art—without the clichéd stint in rehab. 

Even being back in the Bronx, paying his dues didn’t rattle the charismatic axe man, ladies loved him and men wanted to be him. Fate would just have to catch up. Seemed like fate had more than just a platinum album planned for his future. 

Alison Williams had the perfect life. Or at least she did until her world came crashing down around her, in the most epic way. 

With her future no longer a certainty she finds herself out of her comfort zone and into unchartered territory—a place where Rusty Crawford likes to spend most of his time. 

Will the charming and ridiculously hot rock god help her find her feet, or send her further down the rabbit hole? 

One thing was for sure; both of them were in for the ride of their lives. 

There are plenty of rock n’roll books out there but the ones that seem to be the strongest are coming from Australian and New Zealand authors in the vein of Kylie Scott, Nalini Singh, and T.  Gephart. Slide kicks off the beginning of a new series following, Black Addiction, the band that opened for the subjects of T. Gephart’s last series of books, the band Power Station. Readers familiar with Gephart will remember that the vocalist of Black Addiction, Angie, hooked up with Power Station’s keyboardist, Jason. Now it’s Angie’s best friend, Rusty’s turn at his happily ever after as the guitar god meets his match in the form of Alison, a girl who think she’s got things all figured out until life comes crashing down around her.

[Rock out with this book ...]

Nov 5 2015 5:30pm

Putting the Menage in Marriage from McKenna, Elgsborg, and More!

The Silk Tie by Lily Harlem

Love and marriage, go together like a male, male, female romance, ok so that’s not the lyrics to the song but it should be in the case of these books. After glomming Cara McKenna’s Crosstown Crush, I came away thinking about the dynamics that are needed to pull something like Mike and Sam’s fantasies off. First of all, Sam goes about arranging things pretty neatly and luckily finds a somewhat normal third partner in the form of Bern. I have to be completely honest, I am Team Bern all the way, but what I love about Crosstown Crush is that it addresses the logical conclusion that people can develop feelings for each other when they sleep together, something Bern, Sam and Mike all have to address. What was interesting about Crosstown Crush is that there was the need for Mike to be present in some form when Sam and Bern were having sex. This idea is echoed in Lily Harlem’s The Silk Tie.

In The Silk Tie, rather than dealing with a cuckolding fantasy, Hayley founds out her husband Gabe wants to experience male-male sex for the first time and finds out the her husband fantasizes about his new client, Brent. What’s interesting about The Silk Tie is that Brent, the third in the relationship, is the one to insist that Hayley be present during Gabe and Brent’s encounters. In addition, Gabe initially protests to Brent touching Hayley but changes his mind when he realizes it’s a bit hypocritical. Unlike Sam in Crosstown Crush, Hayley doesn’t know about her husband’s desire right away and has to discover it for herself. There seems to be less psychological turmoil in The Silk Tie as Hayley and Gabe have ten years of marriage between them as well as the fact that neither of their kinks ever pushed one towards possibly leaving the other like Mike hiding his kink did to Sam in Crosstown Crush. Instead, there’s more of a sense of, “Is this what you want? Ok, we’ll figure it out,” vibe from Hayley, Gabe and Brent.

[Every marriage can use a lil spice ...]