<i>Infamous</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Infamous: Exclusive Excerpt Jenny Holiday "Hunter is all Jesse can think about..." <i>Courtly Pleasures</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Courtly Pleasures: Exclusive Excerpt Erin Kane Spock "Can they create a second chance at love before it’s too late?" <i>Roomies</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Roomies: Exclusive Excerpt Christina Lauren "Will Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?" <i>A Duke in Shining Armor</i>: Exclusive Excerpt A Duke in Shining Armor: Exclusive Excerpt Loretta Chase "So why does Olympia have to make it so deliciously difficult for him...?"
From The Blog
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Tara Leigh
Showing posts by: AubreyGross click to see AubreyGross's profile
Tue
Jan 24 2017 2:00pm

First Look: Jill Shalvis’s Accidentally on Purpose (January 24, 2017)

Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis

Jill Shalvis
Accidentally on Purpose (Heartbreaker Bay #3)
Avon / January 24, 2017 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital 

After reading the first two books and novella in the Heartbreaker Bay Series and getting a glimpse of the sparks that were flying between Elle and Archer, I just knew their story was going to be a good one.

And it was.

On the surface, Accidentally on Purpose is an enemies to lovers romance (which always seems to up the ante on hotness), but as you start to get to know Elle and Archer, you realize that “enemies” is not only too simple of a word, but also a little off-base. There’s history between these two, and it’s really, really interesting.

Since I don’t want to give away any spoilers, though, I’ll talk about the other thing I absolutely loved about this book: the fact that Elle and Archer are both incredibly strong, independent characters.

Their friends see both of them as badasses. Elle’s always impeccably dressed (and usually wearing a killer pair of heels while at it) and is one of those people who just gets shit done. Archer’s all hot and muscular and alpha and owns a security company that occasionally has dangerous assignments. He, too, just gets shit done.

[Read more...]

Wed
Jul 13 2016 8:30am

BBW vs. Plus-Sized: What Does BBW Mean, and Is It Changing the Genre?

Is Plus-Sized No Longer the Preferred Term?

Many moons ago when I was finishing grad school, I wrote a research paper on plus size characters in romance. Well, to be fair, the paper was more about the lack of plus size characters in romance, since at that point the only authors really venturing into that territory were Jennifer Weiner and Jennifer Crusie, with a handful of YA authors thrown into the mix.

Today, if you search for “plus sized romance” on Amazon you get 6,461 results, which seems pretty good considering just ten years ago it was only a fraction of that amount.

That number doesn’t tell the entire story, though. In fact, in order to see the entire story, you need to perform an Amazon search for “bbw romance.”

47,819 results.

That’s more than you get for “interracial romance,” “stepbrother romance,” and “clean romance,” among other up-and-coming romance subgenres/keywords that have been getting a lot of attention here lately.

[All shapes and sizes...]

Tue
Mar 29 2016 8:30am

First Look: Julia Quinn’s Because of Miss Bridgerton (March 29, 2016)

Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Julia Quinn 
Because of Miss Bridgerton (Bridgertons Prequel #1)
Avon / March 29, 2016 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital

Sometimes you find love in the most unexpected of places...

This is not one of those times.

Everyone expects Billie Bridgerton to marry one of the Rokesby brothers. The two families have been neighbors for centuries, and as a child the tomboyish Billie ran wild with Edward and Andrew. Either one would make a perfect husband... someday.

Sometimes you fall in love with exactly the person you think you should...

Or not.

There is only one Rokesby Billie absolutely cannot tolerate, and that is George. He may be the eldest and heir to the earldom, but he's arrogant, annoying, and she's absolutely certain he detests her. Which is perfectly convenient, as she can't stand the sight of him, either.

But sometimes fate has a wicked sense of humor...

Because when Billie and George are quite literally thrown together, a whole new sort of sparks begins to fly. And when these lifelong adversaries finally kiss, they just might discover that the one person they can't abide is the one person they can't live without...

One thing that’s always a given with a Julia Quinn novel is humor; I have yet to read one of her novels that hasn’t made me laugh out loud at least once or twice.

[Laught with Miss Bridgerton ...]

Tue
Jan 5 2016 9:30am

First Look: Jay Crownover’s Built (January 5, 2016)

Built by Jay Crownover

Jay Crownover
Built (Saints of Denver # 1)
William Morrow / January 5, 2016 / $14.99 print, $4.99 digital

Sometimes a real hero lets you save yourself . . .

Sayer Cole and Zeb Fuller couldn’t be more different. She’s country club and fine-dining, he’s cell-block and sawdust. Sayer spends her days in litigation while Zeb spends his working with his hands. But none of that has stopped Zeb from wanting the stunning blonde since the moment he laid eyes on her—even if the reserved lawyer seems determinedly oblivious to his interest.

Sayer is certain the rough, hard, hot-as-hell Zeb could never want someone as closed off and restrained as she is, which is a shame because something tells her he might be the guy to finally melt her icy exterior. When he shows up at Sayer’s door needing her professional help, she’s both disappointed and relieved that she won’t get the chance to find out just how good he could be.

But as they team up to right a wrong and save a family, the steam created when fire and ice collide cannot be ignored.

Considering I enjoy a good opposites attract story, I’d been looking forward to Zeb and Sayer’s book ever since the two characters were introduced in Rowdy. Something about the idea of an ex-con and a lawyer falling for each other definitely piqued my interest, and I have to say that Jay Crownover did a good job with this opposites attract/redemption story.

[We've been waiting on Zeb and Sayer ...]

Thu
Dec 3 2015 9:45am

Friends to Lovers: Top 5 “Light Bulb” Moments from Yates, Probst, and More!

According to a recent RWA/Nielsen report, Friends to Lovers is romance readers’ favorite trope. To most people who read and write romance, that was not shocking news.

What makes it such a beloved trope, though? As a reader, I’ve always been drawn to best friends stories. As a writer, they provide such a fantastic way to build that will they/won’t they tension, not to mention the fact that I’ve always felt like the stakes are higher in friends to lovers romances (because there’s always the possibility of things going south and losing a close friend). Friends to lovers romances are nuanced and layered, and for me tend to be incredibly emotionally satisfying. Plus, you already have the groundwork laid in the fact that they already share a closeness with one another–it’s watching them stumble and bumble towards one another and having that “aha!” moment that makes these so much fun.

That “aha!” moment can come in so many different forms—from the drunken confession to sudden jealousy to seeing someone in a new light—and all of them are amazing.

In honor of the friends to lovers romance, these are my top five favorite light bulb moments—in other words, that moment when everything changes.

[Turn your light bulb on ...]

Tue
Sep 29 2015 3:30pm

First Look: Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Forever With You (September 29, 2015)

Jennifer L. Armentrout
Forever With You (Wait for You #5)
Avon / September 29, 2015 / $7.99 print, $4.99 digital

In the irresistibly sexy series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout, two free spirits find their lives changed by a one-night stand…

Some things you just believe in, even if you've never experienced them. For Stephanie, that list includes love. It's out there. Somewhere. Eventually. Meanwhile she's got her job at the mixed martial arts training center and hot flings with gorgeous, temporary guys like Nick. Then a secret brings them closer, opening Steph's eyes to a future she never knew she wanted—until tragedy rips it away.

Nick's self-assured surface shields a past no one needs to know about. His mind-blowing connection with Steph changes all that. As fast as he's knocking down the walls that have kept him commitment-free, she's building them up again, determined to keep the hurt—and Nick—out. But he can't walk away. Not when she's the only one who's ever made him wish for forever . . .

I’ve enjoyed the entire Wait for You series, and was so incredibly happy to find that Stephanie was getting her own book. There was something about her character from the first time she was introduced in Trust in Me (Cam and Avery’s story) that piqued my curiosity. I wanted to know even more about her after the role she played in Be with Me (Teresa and Jace’s story). And Nick? After meeting him in Stay with Me (Calla and Jax’s story) and then getting to know him better in Fall with Me (Roxy and Reece’s story), I really wanted this player to meet his match.

Boy, did he ever.

[Another Wait for You book ...]

Thu
Sep 17 2015 10:00am

Fantastic Heroes and Where To Find Them: Sweet on Candis Terry’s Sweet, Texas

Anything But Sweet by Candis Terry

As a born and bred Texas girl, I can be a bit skeptical about romances set in this great state of mine; authors either nail it or get it all horribly wrong (pro tip: most of Texas isn’t actually flat). I adored Terry’s Sugar Shack series, so I decided to give Anything But Sweet (Sweet Texas #1) a try not long after it was released, even though it was set in my beloved Texas Hill Country.

I’m incredibly glad I did.

Not only did Terry get a lot of the Texas stuff right, but she also wrote some incredibly emotional and yet humorous contemporary romances that have forever put her on my auto-buy list (besides, her next series is apparently set in a vineyard and I love wine, so that’s an automatic win in my book).

The Sweet, Texas series is set in the fictional town of, well, Sweet, which is loosely based upon Boerne, a small town just outside of San Antonio. She thoroughly brought to life some of the things I love most about Texas: the landscape, ranches, cowboys, friendly people, independent women, and our wine.

The series is mostly tied together by the Wilder brothers: four former Marines who are back home in Sweet and helping their mom take care of the family ranch. All of them are wrestling with the demons of their oldest brother’s death while over in the sandbox, followed by their dad’s death shortly thereafter. In Anything But Sweet, Reno’s also grappling with the tragic death of his fiancée who was killed in a car accident while coming home after a wedding dress fitting.

[The Sweet, Texas series couldn't get any sweeter ...]

Fri
Jun 26 2015 3:30pm

Friday Beefcake: The Boys of Summer with Baseball Hotties from Rios, Kemp, and More!

Today we're thrilled to welcome Aubrey Gross to Heroes and Heartbreakers. Aubrey usually blogs for us, but today she's here with our writer hat on! Aubrey loves baseball, and writes about it in her books, like her latest release in the Devils Ranch series, Baseball and Other Lessons. Today, Aubrey is here with a very special beefcake this week, highlighting the boys of summer we'd love to run the bases with! Thanks, Aubrey!

Full Disclosure: AubreyGross is also one of our amazing bloggers. Check out her posts here!

Ah. Summertime. Pool parties. Trips to the lake. Gathering around the grill. And baseball.

Nothing says “summer” to me like baseball (and, well, maybe ice cream, but that’s a different subject all together). So in honor of the boys of summer, here are some guys bringing heat on and off the field.

[Let's check out the roster...]

Wed
Jun 24 2015 4:15pm

First Look: Jennifer Probst’s Searching for Always (June 30, 2015)

Searching for Always by Jennifer Probst

Jennifer Probst
Searching for Always (Searching For #4)
Gallery Books / June 30, 2015 / $16.00 print, $7.99 digital

She’s an expert in helping others de-stress, but Arilyn Meadows is running on fumes. Along with her job counseling singles seeking soul mates at the Kinnections agency in Verily, New York, she’s a yoga teacher, animal shelter volunteer, anger management therapist, and helping hand to her beloved grandfather. No time to find Mr. Right—but after discovering her yogi boyfriend in a compromising asana, Arilyn would rather dog-sit for her honeymooning friend Kate than risk her heart on another downward dog. And when police officer Stone Petty—radiating masculinity and bad-boy attitude—is sent to her for mandatory lessons in cooling off when the job gets too hot, Arilyn vows to ignore his seductive glances and sexy grin. But there’s no halting their sizzling flirtation—a red-hot, high-speed chase that’s breaking all the limits.

If you’ve read Searching for Beautiful (and if you haven’t—why not?), odds are you could see this one coming from a mile away. The chemistry between Arilyn and Stone was impossible to miss.

That chemistry most definitely continued in Jennifer Probst's Searching for Always, with Stone and Arilyn drawn to each other in ways neither of them could understand considering, they...well...kind of hated each other.

[The hatred didn't last long before turning into love...]

Thu
Jun 4 2015 1:30pm

All the Feels: Jennifer Probst’s Searching for Beautiful

Every now and then we get lucky enough to read one of those books that just sticks with us, one that makes the reader feel all the feels.

And by all the feels, I mean ALL the freaking feels.

This is too much gif
Via Jezebel

I admittedly felt just like that for most of this book; it just packed that much of an emotional wallop.

I briefly touched upon that emotional wallop in my First Look, but wanted to avoid spoilers. This post does not avoid spoilers, so you’ve been forewarned.

Check out this spoiler-free First Look of Searching for Beautiful by Jennifer Probst if you're not ready to go to the dark side...

—Continue reading at your own risk—

[For real, there will be spoilers ahead...]

Wed
May 20 2015 3:30pm

First Look: Jennifer Probst’s Searching for Beautiful (May 26, 2015)

Jennifer Probst
Searching for Beautiful (Searching for... #3)
Gallery / May 26, 2015 / $16.00 print, $7.99 digital

Genevieve MacKenzie has her life completely under control. About to wed the charming Chief doctor at the local hospital, she’s an up-and-coming surgeon with everything she could ever want. Until an escape through the church window on the day of her wedding sends her life into a tailspin…and flings her right into her best friend’s arms.

When Wolfe catches his best friend falling out a window on her wedding day, he doesn’t ask questions. He whisks her away, determined to watch over her and discover the truth behind her desperate escape. But when his feelings turn more than platonic, he realizes he may risk his most important relationship in order to protect his damaged heart, and the woman he loves.

Can Genevieve and Wolfe’s friendship turn into something deeper—or is it already too late for true love?

I have a confession to make: I jumped on the Jennifer Probst train a bit late; it was well after Searching for Someday had been released, and just a couple of weeks before the release of Searching for Perfect. It kept popping up in my recommendations, and I kept debating whether or not to download it. One weekend I was looking for a new book to read since I’d blown through my virtual TBR pile and downloaded Searching for Someday on a whim.

I couldn’t put it down, and it killed me to have to wait a few weeks for Searching for Perfect to come out. Once it was released, I plowed through it. Then, needing a fix, I totally binged on Probst’s Marriage to a Billionaire series.

[Bestfriends turned lovers has a nice ring...]

Sat
Apr 4 2015 9:30am

First Look: Jill Shalvis’s Still the One (April 7, 2015)

Still the One by Jill ShalvisJill Shalvis
Still the One (Animal Magnetism #6)
Penguin / April 7, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

Love is a dare in the sexy new romance by the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of the Animal Magnetism novels and the Lucky Harbor series...

Darcy Stone is game for anything—except sexy Navy vet and physical therapist AJ Colten, the guy who’d rejected her when she’d needed him most. Now the shoe is on the other foot and he needs her to play nice and help him secure grants for his patients. Unfortunately Darcy can’t refuse. She needs the money to fund her passion project: rescuing S&R dogs and placing them with emotionally wounded soldiers.

AJ admits it—Darcy is irresistible. But he’s already been battle-scarred by a strong-willed, vivacious, adventurous woman like Darcy, and he’s not making the same mistake twice—until he and Darcy are forced to fake a relationship. Growing closer than they’d ever imagined possible, Darcy and AJ have to ask themselves: how much between them is pretend? What’s the real thing? And where does it go from here?

I love damaged characters. There’s just something about seeing resilient people with tough pasts find happiness that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And Jill Shalvis’s Still the One, book 6 in her Animal Magnetism series, features a physically (and emotionally) wounded heroine and a slightly emotionally damaged hero.

[Can they heal together?...]

Mon
Mar 30 2015 12:00pm

Puppy Love and Military Men: Reasons to Love Jill Shalvis’s Animal Magnetism Series

Animal Magnetism by Jill ShalvisThe first—and most obvious—reason to love Jill Shalvis's Animal Magnetism series is simple: puppies! As a dog lover, and a Doggy Mom to two Great Pyrenees, I loved Gertie, the big, lovable St. Bernard that appears throughout the series (not to mention all the other dogs, too).

That being said, “puppies” was the very obvious answer, and honestly not the thread woven throughout the entire series that stood out to me. Instead, it was a thread of service.

Now, I realize that might sound odd. I mean, Shalvis writes fun contemporary romance, right? Right. But there is a definite thread of service throughout every single one of the “Animal Magnetism” books, and it manifests itself in different ways, from the obvious to the not-so-obvious.

In Animal Magnetism (Book 1) Shalvis gives us Lilah and Brady, who in so many ways epitomize “service:” Lilah runs a kennel and animal rescue and Brady’s a former soldier who’s seen tours of duty in the Middle East and Afghanistan. While one could certainly argue that serving one’s country and facing bullet fire is more important than rescuing dogs and cats, both forms of service are important in their own right and I loved that Shalvis gave each of them equal weight and importance.

[Equality is sexy...]

Mon
Dec 1 2014 4:30pm

First Look: Jennifer Bernard’s It’s a Wonderful Fireman (December 2, 2014)

It's a Wonderful Fireman by Jennifer BernardJennifer Bernard
It’s a Wonderful Fireman (Bachelor Firemen)
Avon Impulse / December 2, 2014 / $4.99 print, $.99 digital

Hard-edged fireman Dean Mulligan has never been a big fan of Christmas. Twinkly lights and sparkly tinsel can’t brighten the memories of too many years spent in ramshackle foster homes. Although he’s established himself as one of the top firefighters at San Gabriel Station 1, he doesn’t think he’s good enough for someone like gorgeous Lizzie.

Lizzie Breen is used to fighting—from her alpha male brothers, who try to smother her in the name of safety, to the life-threatening childhood illness she overcame. She knows what she and Mulligan feel for each other is a lot more than a fling, but she can’t get him to see that. The only gift Lizzie wants to give him this season is her love, but he’s not willing to accept it.

When Mulligan is trapped in the burning wreckage of a holiday store, a Christmas angel arrives to open his eyes. But is it too late? This Christmas, it’ll take an angel, a determined woman in love, and the entire Bachelor Firemen crew to make him believe … it is indeed a wonderful life.

I’ve always been a sucker for a good Christmas romance. I’ve also always been a sucker for an alpha hero with issues. Lucky me, because the final installment in Jennifer Bernard’s The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel series, It’s a Wonderful Fireman, offers both of those things.

Dean Mulligan had it pretty rough growing up, what with a druggie mom, an abusive stepfather, and less-than-stellar foster homes. To say that Christmas is not his favorite holiday would be an understatement.

[Bah Humbug...]