Category Archives: Contemporary romance spotlight

Feisty, fun and smart, contemporary romance reflects real women today

Contemporaries to covet in February – & giveaway!

Every month, I’m giving you the chance to win a $10 book gift certificate for yourself AND one of your favorite contemporary romance authors.

How? Easy. Just let me know which contemporary romance novel being published this month you’re looking forward to reading. You can even mention one of the ones I recommend below. I’ll choose one winner and send that person a gift certificate. I’ll also send a gift certificate to the author they mention in their comment, on their behalf.

Giveaway details are at the bottom of this post. But first, there are a couple of contemporary romance novels I’ve read advanced copies of and can totally recommend. They’re both really fun, funny and entertaining books, so I hope you get a chance to read them!

Time Out by Jill Shalvis

(Read an excerpt on Jill’s blog)

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Class: How to Drive Him Crazy

Instructional program for women unexpectedly facing the totally dishy guy from their past. Everyone Welcome!

Time OutNHL coach Mark Diego’s plan to spend his off-season volunteering in his hometown goes awry when he learns that not only is he coaching teenage girls, but that the program is coordinated by energetic (and five feet two inches of trouble) coordinator Rainey Saunders, his childhood friend–and the woman he could never stand to see dating any other guy…

When their tempers flare, Mark and Rainey discover their fireworks don’t just burn angry–they burn very, very, hot! But that’ll just sweeten the victory. Because Mark always plays to win. And with Rainey, he’s planning on playing very dirty too…

224 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Blaze
Publication date: 21 Feb 2012

My opinion:

4 out of 5 stars!

Not only is this novel super hot, but it has all of Jill Shalvis’s trademark snort-out-loud humor and gut-twisting emotion. I absolutely LOVE Jill Shalvis and am convinced she couldn’t write a bad book.

This is her first Blaze for a while, and it’s wonderful to see how much conflict and energy she can pack into even this shorter format.

Her Lucky Catch by Amie Denman

Her Lucky CatchRecently divorced kindergarten teacher Jazz Shepherd is starting a new life in the quaint lakeside town of Bluegill. After taking a summer job at the local marina to help make ends meet, she’s stunned when the chief of police enlists her help in solving a crime.

Money has been disappearing from the city coffers, and a trail leads from Bluegill’s mayor to Damien Cerberus, a rich boat owner—and possible killer. The police chief is short-staffed and in need of someone to keep tabs on the suspect. Jazz’s job at the marina puts her in the perfect position to help—and puts her in the path of Kurt Reynolds, the hottie who mans the fireboat.

When things with Kurt start heating up, how can Jazz keep her investigation undercover while enjoying time under the covers with her summer flame?

67,000 words
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication date: 27 Feb 2012

My opinion:

4 out of 5 stars!

Told in the first person by a heroine with a wonderfully quirky voice, this novel is a highly entertaining read. Amie Denman manages to keep it hot and exciting without being overly descriptive in sex scenes, making this a wonderful book for those of you who get uncomfortable reading about detailed sexual encounters.

Fans of Kristan Higgins will really enjoy Her Lucky Catch. I read it while traveling from Denmark to the Netherlands, and it had me laughing out loud instead of pissing myself with fear on the flight or throttling a conductor when my train home was delayed by an hour. Seriously, it takes a lot to keep me in a good mood through a journey like that, and Amie Denman accomplished it.

Giveaway!

Answer one of the questions in bold below. By “contemporary romance” I mean romance between human beings set in the present day. It can be romantic suspense, inspirational, erotic, category-length or whatever.

I’ll choose one winner on Tuesday February 7th. That person will get a $10 gift certificate to the online book retailer of their choice, AND I’ll send the same to the author they mention.

If the winner mentions more than one author, I’ll ask her to choose which one gets the gift certificate.

This is open internationally.

Questions:

What contemporary romance novel(s) are you looking forward to in February? Have you read anything by the authors I mentioned? Which of their books do you like best?

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Testing your boundaries through erotic romance

Crash Into YouI’ve never been an erotic romance reader, but lately I’ve been testing my reading boundaries and branching out.

My latest post at The Season for Romance has some recommendations – and Bev is giving away Crash Into You by Roni Loren and Seven Day Loan by Tiffany Reisz, so you can test your boundaries (and restraints), too!

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Winners of the Contemporaries to Covet giveaway!

A Promise of SafekeepingIt’s so good to see so many recommendations for new contemporary romance. Thanks to everyone who told me what they’re looking forward to reading this month!

The winner of a $10 gift certificate to the book retailer of their choice is…Tracy Simpson!

Tracy said she’s looking forward to reading A Promise of Safekeeping by Lisa Dale, so Lisa also wins a $10 gift certificate on Tracy’s behalf. Congrats, Lisa!

Everyone, I’ll be doing this again in February; make sure you subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out.

Also, this week you might win Kaki Warner’s latest historical Western romance, Colorado Dawn, by leaving a comment on her guest post, One woman’s tips for writing the male point of view.

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Contemporaries to covet in January – giveaway!

At the beginning of every month this year, I’m going to let you know about the contemporary romance novels coming out that month that I’m most looking forward to.

They might be books I’ve read advance copies of, or just books by authors I love. I hope you’ll share the love by letting us know what contemporary romance novels you’re looking forward to reading that month.

I’ll choose one person who leaves a comment to win a $10 gift certificate to the online book retailer of their choice AND I’ll send a $10 gift certificate to the contemporary romance author they mention in their comment, on their behalf.

Cool, huh? This way, authors get to win something too.

I haven’t read the books below, but I’ve read other things by the authors and I have high hopes for these.

Crash Into You by Roni Loren

Release date: January 3, 2012

Sometimes the past can bring you to your knees…

Crash Into YouBrynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get, or where it would take her. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat–a place where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one Master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn’s past.

Brynn knows what attorney Reid Jamison is like once stripped of his conservative suit and tie. Years ago she left herself vulnerable only to have him crush her heart. Now she needs him again. Back on top. And he’s all too willing to engage. But as their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate–and so does the danger.  Their hearts aren’t the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder.

My two cents

For an all-too-brief time, Roni and I were in a critique group together. I got to read the first few chapters of an early draft of Crash Into You, an erotic BDSM romance. I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally get to read the rest! I’ve pre-ordered this book, something I rarely do. Roni’s an incredible writer, and you can get a taste of her sense of humor in the guest post she wrote last month (Why do all the romance heroes have six-packs?).

This is Roni’s debut novel, and I think it’ll be a crackin’ start to a stellar career.

A Promise of Safekeeping by Lisa Dale

Release date: January 3, 2012

A Promise of SafekeepingNine years ago, Lauren Matthews prosecuted the case of a lifetime. But her error in judgment sent an innocent man to prison. Now Arlen Fieldstone’s finally been released, and Lauren has only one thing on her mind:  asking forgiveness. But how can she make up for nine years of his life?

To get to Arlen, Lauren must first get through Arlen’s best friend, Will Farris. Will hasn’t forgotten Lauren from those days, and hasn’t forgiven her for destroying his best friend’s life. He is Arlen’s keeper—protecting him from suspicious neighbors as well as from Lauren.

In the steaming summer streets of Richmond, Virginia, three people’s lives collide. Lauren needs forgiveness. Arlen needs hope. And Will? He needs something too, something that no one can know—especially not Lauren…

My two cents

I’ve only read one of Lisa Dale’s previous books, It Happened One Night, which is a beautifully written novel that straddles the line between contemporary romance and women’s fiction. A Promise of Safekeeping looks like it has the elements I loved about It Happened One Night: a realistically difficult romantic relationship and oodles of conflict among characters who feel very real.

Giveaway nitty-gritty

Answer one of the questions in bold below. By “contemporary romance” I mean romance between human beings set in the present day. It can be romantic suspense, inspirational, erotic, category-length or whatever.

I’ll draw a winner on Tuesday January 7 10th (sorry – I originally said the 7th, but I meant the 10th, since I always pick winners on Tuesdays. I misread my calendar!). If you mention more than one author in your comment, I’ll ask you which one you want me to send the gift certificate to (sorry, folks, I’m a charity worker).

This is open internationally.

Questions:

What contemporary romance novel(s) are you looking forward to in January? Have you read anything by the authors I mentioned? Which of their books do you like best?

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Spending Christmas away from home

Perfect ChristmasMy weekly post is up at The Season for Romance. Stop by and find out about my first Christmas away from home, when I was desperately trying to impress my future in-laws.

Bev’s giving away copies of THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS by Debbie Macomber and MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT, a collection of stories by Fern Michaels and a few other authors.

Also, don’t forget that on my blog this week you can win Roni Loren’s debut CRASH INTO YOU or a book gift certificate (and find details on how to win a Nook from the Mistletoe Madness blog hop).

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Why do all the romance heroes have six packs? – Guest post by Roni Loren

First, I’d like to thank Kat for inviting me over here to her blog. You gotta love someone who says–I’d like you to guest post and can you make it about sex? LOL

Why, yes, yes I can actually. : )

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across this article via Twitter (where all interesting things come from) on Slate called P0rn Women Want: Why Does it Make Men So Uncomfortable?  The post was basically about this guy:

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James Deen. (Pauses to snicker about the ridiculous stage names.) But anyway, apparently this guy is causing a stir because he is appealing to women-which is obviously not the market p0rn targets. Here’s what they say of Deen:

Deen has carved out a niche in the industry by looking like the one guy who doesn’t belong there. Scroll through L.A.’s top p0rn agency sites and you’ll find… just a few dozen men available…. These guys all have a familiar look—neck chains, frosted tips, unreasonable biceps, tribal tattoos. Deen looks like he was plucked from a particularly intellectual frat house.

Which of course made me think–yes, this is why most women roll their eyes at p0rn. Beyond the complete lack of story line and emotional connection, the dudes are ugly and the girls are fake-looking. If the male actors looked like Alexander Skarsgard or Bradley Cooper, I’m thinking we ladies might change our mind and take a peek.

Come on, you know you’d look.
But the reason, the article hypothesizes, that guys who are “prettier” don’t get hired in p0rn is because it makes the guys watching it uncomfortable. Because *gasp* they don’t want to have any sexytime feelings about the guys. The post says:

The straight male performer must be attractive enough to serve as a prop, but not so attractive that he becomes the object of desire.

Hmm. Okay, maybe I could see that if a guy is particularly homophobic or un-evolved. But it seemed a little far-fetched. So, of course, I asked my husband (who is mostly evolved and finds p0rn more comedic than sexy) his opinion. After a derisive snort, he said, “It’s not about guys worrying about gay feelings. The reason is the same reason your romance novels have Mr. Perfect as the hero and Ms. Average Every Day Girl as the heroine.”

And you know what? He had a good point.

In fantasy, whether it be via books or something visual, we naturally put ourselves in the heroine’s (or hero’s if you’re a guy) shoes. If the heroine is written as some gorgeous model type who never gains a pound, never has an insecurity, and who wakes up with perfect hair–none of us are going to be able to relate. So most often, romance writers create heroines we “get”. And though she may actually BE beautiful, she doesn’t know it. We only see her beauty through the hero’s eyes when we’re in his POV. (Because isn’t that really our fantasy? That the guy we love sees us as the most beautiful girl even if we aren’t to the rest of the world.)

But on the flipside, in our fantasy, in addition to having the guy be smart and kind-hearted and loving, we do want him to look like Bradley Cooper or Alexander Skarsgard. Men haven’t cornered the market on being visual, you know. It’s not to say we hold up our mates to those six-pack ab, slay the dragon, alpha standards, but everything is exaggerated in fantasy.

Which is the same reason why the guys look like they do in p0rn and the girls are the exaggerated female “ideal” (giant boobs, skinny, long hair, always ready and willing, etc.) The guys don’t want to think–damn, in order to land that kind of girl I’d have to look like Brad Pitt. They want to think, hey, I’m better looking than that frosted-tipped, tribal tattooed guy. I could totally bed this girl.

*snort*

So even though men and women are built very differently, it seems we have some things in common when it comes to this. We’re all a little insecure and we all can go a little overboard in fantasy land. It does kind of make me want to write a less than perfect-looking hero though, just to make a point.

But in the meantime, you can admire the perfect abs of my hero Reid on the cover of CRASH INTO YOU. 😉  *pets*

Any thoughts on all of this? Anyone think it really is guys being afraid the pretty boys will make them think impure thoughts? And how do you like your heroes in your books? Does your mate ever give you flack for reading romance novels with half-naked men on the front?


Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has.
Her debut romance CRASH INTO YOU releases January 3, 2012 from Berkley Heat/Penguin. If you want to read more posts like this one or follow her journey to debut authorhood, you can visit her writing blog FictionGroupie or her author blog. She also tweets way too much for her own good.

Giveaway!

One lucky commenter will win a copy of Roni’s debut, Crash Into You. I’ll randomly select the winner on Tuesday December 27th. Good luck!

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Filed under Author interviews, Contemporary romance spotlight

Eleven romance authors I “discovered” in 2011 – & giveaway!

Mistletoe Madness 2011This post is part of the Mistletoe Madness blog hop. If you’re here for the first time, welcome! I blog about contemporary and historical romance, and I have weekly giveaways. (This one is an added bonus.) I hope you’ll consider subscribing and visiting again sometime.

I’ve heard some lovely stories about parents who mark their children’s growth by writing them a letter every birthday and recounting all the things they’ve learned to do.

I’m a bit too old for my mom to do that, so I measure my own growth in my own ways. One of my favorites is by reflecting on much-loved authors whose books I hadn’t read a year ago. These are authors who gave me the thrill of discovery and inspiration – what more could you ask for?

Here are 11 romance authors I “discovered” this year. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some of them, and I’m making it my resolution to interview the others in 2012.

1. Shannon Stacey: Heartfelt, funny contemporary romance

2. Jane Graves: Contemporary romance that tugs the heartstrings

3. Catherine Mann: High-octane military romance (Catherine will be here the week of December 26 giving away Hot Zone!)

4. Brenda Novak: Romantic suspense that’ll keep you up all night!

5. Katie Lane: Quirky, hot small-town Texas romance

6. Laura Lee Guhrke: Stunningly beautiful historical romance

7. Shana Galen: Absolutely fantastic historical adventures

8. Suzanne Brockman: Her contemporary romance Infamous made me cry.

9. Vicky Dreiling: Wickedly witty historical romance

10. Sarah MacLean: Laugh-out-loud-funny Regency romance

11. Joanne Kennedy: Fun and poignant contemporary cowboy romance

Giveaway!

Since this is part of the Mistletoe Madness blog hop, there are a few ways you can win cool stuff.

1

Win a $10 book gift certificate and some chocolate on my blog. (Open internationally)

Chocolate stars ornamentLeave a comment below telling me an author you became a fan of this year. On December 23, I’ll randomly choose one commenter to win a $10 (or equivalent in your currency) gift certificate to an online book retailer. I’ll also send you this ornament filled with chocolate stars (fake tree not included), which will hopefully arrive in time for you to share them at a New Year’s party!

2

Enter to win a Nook! (U.S. only)

If you live in the U.S., you can also sign up for the Nook giveaway on PJ Schnyder’s blog, as part of the Mistletoe Madness blog hop. The Nook is loaded with books, so you can discover lots of new authors in 2012.

3

Visit other bloggers giving stuff away.

On PJ Schnyder’s blog, you can find links to all the other bloggers giving away cool stuff during the Mistletoe Madness blog hop. Go give ’em some love, and you could win cool stuff from them!

Who are your favorite new authors that you’ve discovered in 2011?

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Christmas romance novellas to warm your cockles

Stressed woman at Christmas

© Maridav

For me, December is a time where love mixes with stress in a uniquely potent way, leaving me sobbing “Everyone’s going to hate the gifts I got them—especially you!” on my husband’s shoulder on Christmas Eve.

Thank God he’s got broad shoulders. They’ve absorbed a lot of stress-induced tears over the last nine years.

The very last thing I feel I have time (or money) for during the holiday season is treating myself. That’s why one of my favorite things about the month before Christmas is the opportunity to find short stories and novellas from new-to-me authors. First, they’re reasonably priced. Second, when it comes to Christmas stories, I usually don’t want a full novel. A novel is too much commitment at a time when my to-do list is already laughable and could only realistically be tackled by five military strategists, not one scatterbrained woman.

Here are a couple of novellas I’ve read that are the perfect length for diverting your mind while you stand in an impossibly long line at the post office.

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How a small community can smother your characters

As a contemporary romance writer, I know that series set in small towns and tight-knit communities are insanely popular.

But there’s also a danger that, as a series grows, those communities can begin to smother the vibrancy of later novels and their characters.

This isn’t just a danger with small-town contemporary romance. It can happen in any series that focuses on a particular community, whether that’s the ton in Regency romance or a fantastical world completely of the author’s creation.

Here are the ways communities can alienate me, the reader, and my thoughts on how to avoid it.

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Winners of the December Contemporaries to Covet giveaway!

I’m so happy to see there are lots of fantastic contemporary romance novels coming out in December. I told you my favorites last week, and asked you what you’re looking forward to reading this month. I also said I’d send a gift certificate to one commenter AND to the contemporary romance author whose novel she’s looking forward to.

The winner is…Marijane Diodati!

Marijane said she’s excited to read Catherine Mann‘s December release Hot Zone, so I’m also sending Catherine a gift certificate on Marijane’s behalf to thank her for writing such awesome books.

Everyone, this week the lovely Tracy Sumner is giving away two digital copies of her historical romance novels, Tides of Love and Tides of Passion. I’ve read Tides of Passion and absolutely LOVED it. Leave a comment on my interview with Tracy Sumner to enter the giveaway!

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