Tag Archives: contemporary romance

Interview with Catherine Mann – and giveaway!

Catherine MannEarlier this month, I had the privilege of reading Hot Zone, a romantic suspense novel by Catherine Mann. It totally blew me away, from one of the most gripping opening scenes I’ve ever read all the way to its poignant ending.

I loved it so much, I seethed with jealousy that I didn’t write it myself.

I’m so happy to have Catherine here today, giving away a copy of Hot Zone and answering my nosy questions. Welcome, Catherine!

Thanks for inviting me to visit on your blog – and thank you very much for your cheers for HOT Zone!

1. You started off with a career in arts and teaching. You’ve got degrees in theater and fine arts, and you’ve taught at advanced levels. Can you tell us how you transitioned from that career into a writing career, especially one where you write gritty military suspense novels?

I’ve always been an avid romance reader, since my early teens, and even tried to write a novel in junior high school.  But I tabled the dream and tucked away that first attempt, because hey, what are the odds of selling a book, right?  My creative outlet then turned to the theater, which in hindsight I see now that somehow I seem drawn to careers that are difficult to break into.  But my mother always said in choosing your career, follow your dreams, your passion, and the rest will fall into place.  (Thanks, Mom!)

2. How has your theater background helped you as a writer? Do you find yourself incorporating theatrical skills (like storyboarding or having a keen eye for setting) when writing your novels?

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Review: Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr

Snappy dialogue and the threat of real danger sucked me in, but then the story fizzled out and left me wanting.

Hidden SummitLeslie Petruso moves to Virgin River after her husband left her for another woman and then insisted that he and Leslie can still be the best of friends. Sick of running into him and his pregnant wife everywhere, she moves south and gets a job in a construction company.

Conner Danson is the sole witness to a murder committed by a man with big-time connections. When his building supply store is burnt to the ground, the Sacramento DA’s office decides it’s time to send him off-grid until he testifies. What better place than Virgin River?

Neither Leslie nor Conner is eager to start a new relationship. But they can’t deny their attraction, and as they spend more time together they realize their relationship is worth making sacrifices for.

For most of the story, I enjoyed the characters’ snappy dialogue and grown-up attitude toward love and sex. They never take a melodramatic “I shall never love again!” approach to life, but they certainly are wary of getting involved.

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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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Winner of the Shannon Stacey giveaway!

Exclusively YoursThanks to Shannon for giving away a copy of Exclusively Yours, and to everyone who commented on my interview with Shannon Stacey.

The winner is…Shari!

Shari, I’ve emailed you asking for your address.

Everyone, I’ve got two other giveaways going on right now. If you tell me an author you “discovered” in 2011, you could win a book gift certificate, and if you comment on Roni Loren’s guest post about romance heroes with six-packs, you could win her debut contemporary romance Crash Into You.

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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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Filed under Contemporary romance spotlight, Thoughtfulness

Review: Wild Thing by Robin Kaye

Funny, sexy and emotionally gripping—Wild Thing will make you want to book flights to Idaho in search of Robin Kaye’s hot river guides!

Wild ThingWhen whitewater-rafting guide Hunter Kincaid gets a job guiding a bunch of models on a special shoot, he enlists the help of his two brothers to protect him from the modeling agency’s owner, who was all over him when she visited Idaho to scout for locations a few weeks ago.

Fortunately for Hunter, the agency’s owner has to take care of a last-minute deal that keeps her in New York. She sends her manager, Toni Russo, instead.

Toni is terrified of the great outdoors. A traumatic experience when she was a child left her petrified of the woods, so a week-long trip through the wilds of Idaho may as well be a week-long trip through hell. But Hunter’s immediately drawn to the sexy Goth, and he patiently woos her out of her cabin and into the safety of his arms.

Wild Thing held me captive through most of the story. I’m a sucker for a hero who falls fast and hard, and Hunter is the perfect alpha male for me—strong, capable and gentle. I’m also a sucker for a strong woman with a significant weakness—in Toni’s case, an irrational fear from her childhood—which she struggles to overcome.

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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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Interview with Shannon Stacey – and giveaway!

Shannon StaceyThis summer I got the chance to read and review a contemporary romance novel called Yours to Keep by a new-to-me author, Shannon Stacey. I couldn’t put the book down. It had everything I love in contemporary romance: characters I can relate to and a perfect mix of hot passion with tender emotion. And it’s funny as hell.

Shannon Stacey is now one of my auto-buy authors. I love her series featuring the quirky Kowalski family and their adventures of DOOM. And I’m so glad to have Shannon here today giving away a print copy of the book that got the Kowalskis started, Exclusively Yours.

Welcome, Shannon!

Thank you so much for inviting me! And for not only falling in love with the Kowalskis, but sharing the love with your readers!

1. My pleasure! What made you decide to start writing romance, and what were you doing before? How long were you writing before you got published?

Yours To Keep coverI knew from childhood I wanted to write books when I grew up and, once I discovered romances (in my early teens), I knew I wanted to be a romance author.

It’s harder to say how long I was writing before I got published because different phases of my life pushed writing into the background at times. I had a few stories rejected as a teen. A few rejections here and there. But it was in early 2002 that life had settled enough for me to really pursue publication and I was offered my first contract in January of 2005.

2. Your backlist is really eclectic. You’ve got an action/adventure romance series, some western historicals, erotic romances, light paranormal and a futuristic romance. Do you plan to mostly stick with contemporary romance from now on, or would you like to keep exploring different kinds of romance?

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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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Filed under Contemporary romance spotlight, Writer's toolbox