Tag Archives: reading

Winner of the Catherine Mann giveaway!

Hot ZoneThanks so much to everyone who commented on my interview with Catherine Mann, and to Cathy herself for giving away a copy of Hot Zone.

The lucky winner is…Kathryn Anne Merkel!

Kathryn, I’ve emailed asking you for your mailing address.

Everyone, this week you can win a $10 gift certificate to the book retailer of your choice AND win a gift certificate for a contemporary romance novelist who has a book coming out this month. Just leave a comment on my Contemporaries to Covet in January post telling me which contemporary romance you’re looking forward to this month, and I’ll choose a winner next week!

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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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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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Grandpa’s Christmas atlas: Why bookshops and print books still matter

Last night (December 23rd) around 8pm, my grandma called me with a special Christmas request.

“Will you do me a favor, sissy? Will you buy Grandpa a new atlas and wrap it up and put it under the tree, from Grandma?”

Grandpa

Grandpa, mid-story, on 4th of July (hence the beads)

It seemed like a pretty random request. She’s never asked me to buy anything on her behalf, but I know that this is the first year she’s struggled to get out of the house. Pain from a few injuries and arthritis has kept her home more and more. Grandpa, too, has had a tough year. When I flew home a week ago, he looked much more frail than he had in July, when we celebrated his 90th birthday. Like the indestructible man he’s always seemed to be, he hasn’t let that stop him from working construction with my dad.

Feeling honored to have such a task – especially one where I could spend time flipping through map books – I quickly agreed and asked what kind of atlas she wanted to give him.

“It don’t matter. I just want it to be a new one. Every time you kids travel somewhere, he looks it up in his old atlas that he inherited from Grandpa Latham in the 70s. Now you’ve moved to Holland, he can’t find the town where your livin’ or the one where you’re workin’, and he’s flustrated.”

She told me, “You’re the only one I know who goes to bookshops. I don’t know nothin’ about them, so I wanted to ask you to do this for me.”

So last night my husband and I drove to the nearest bookstore and spent time looking at their atlases until we found one that had our new hometown in it as well as large-enough print that Grandpa could read it.

I started writing this post this morning, and I was going to make it about why brick-and-mortar bookshops and print books still matter: because with only one day until Christmas, I would’ve struggled to get an atlas delivered in time. And the one I would’ve chosen from the brief browse I had online before going shopping ended up not having the town where I work in it.

But this morning, as I paused in my writing to wrap gifts, we got a message. Grandma left it on dad’s cell phone early this morning, but he only noticed he had a message four hours later. Grandpa is sick, and Grandma had to rush him to the doctor at 6.45am.

We can’t get hold of her. We don’t know what “sick” means, and we’re clinging to hope because she said “doctor”, not “hospital”. My cousin Will lives with them, and he said everyone was fine when he left for work at 6, so whatever it was must have come on suddenly.

When we got the message, I was in the middle of wrapping the gift I’d bought Grandpa: a tin train full of candies, since he has a sweet tooth. The last present I had to wrap was the atlas.

Wrapping it up, and writing “To Grandpa, With love from Grandma” on the tag made my eyes swell up and my throat scratchy. My grandpa is one of Earth’s finest men, and I don’t need an atlas to tell me that.

So we wait to hear. In the meantime, Grandpa’s atlas is wrapped, sitting under the tree, with love from Grandma.

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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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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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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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Interview with Tracy Sumner – and giveaway!

Tracy SumnerA couple of weeks ago, Tracy Sumner contacted me to ask if I’d like to read one of her historical romance novels, Tides of Passion. Whenever someone asks me this, I always feel honored, but that honor is tempered with a bit of trepidation. What if I don’t like their novel? Or, worse, what if it leaves me feeling ‘meh’? What do you say in that situation?

Thank God, that didn’t happen with Tracy’s novel, Tides of Passion. I hate to sound clichéd, but it swept me away. I loved the intensity of the conflict between the hero (a small-town constable charged with keeping the peace) and the heroine (a suffragist stirring up local women to fight for their rights). Even more, I loved how realistically and maturely the two confronted their issues with each other, instead of letting their differences define them. (You can read my review here.)

Tracy’s intelligence shines through the story, and I’m thrilled to have her here so we can all get to know her better—and you get the chance to win one of her novels!

1. One thing that kept my heart pounding as I read Tides of Passion was the interplay between Savannah’s fight for women’s rights and her growing feelings for Zach. Did you choose to write about the period because of its potential for conflict between suffragists and the men they loved, or did you have other reasons for setting this series in late 19th century North Carolina?

Tides of PassionGreat question! Okay, the series starts with the novel TIDES OF LOVE. I actually dated someone who was a marine biologist, and he had worked briefly in Beaufort, NC (which is what the fictional Pilot Isle is totally based on). Anyway, the setting was one I chose based on that.

Savannah’s career came about because I lived in Manhattan during the writing of TIDES OF PASSION. So, I knew the hero of the story was the luscious older brother, Zachariah, but the heroine…? She was a New Yorker, I just knew it. And digging into the history of turn-of-the-century NYC uncovered the women’s rights movement. Voila!

I also felt that the lifesaving programs around at that time on the Outer Banks (due to the dangerous shoals and subsequent shipwrecks) was part of Zach’s passion, responsibility and despair.

2. Kensington published several of your books about ten years ago, and you’re now re-releasing them yourself digitally. What have you been up to in the years between?

Moving! 🙂 Due to my husband’s career (finance, not the military!) we move often. Anyway, I also have a fairly active graphic design career. And a four-year old! Add to that travel (I’ve been to about 50 countries and counting) I stay busy. I am writing, though, and trying to get the books out there. All due to my lack of discipline. I apologize! Loving the indie/self-pub aspect, though.

3. I hear you have an anthology coming out soon and a contemporary novella in April. What can you tell us about them?

Well, I’m part of a joint anthology in April with a group of writers. Excited. More info here.

The holiday anthology from this group is a bestseller on Amazon!

It will be a contemporary with a spring-based theme. My other release is a Victorian “light” paranormal sometime in 2012. Not sure of the date yet. And still a working title. By “light” paranormal, I mean psychic characters. No shape-shifting, etc.

4. Which of your heroines is most like you? And which of your heroes would you most like to…spend quality time with? 🙂

To Seduce a RogueNoah is my favorite hero, hands down. The sexy nerd. A marine biologist. Intelligent and surprised by passion. I just LOVE him. Though his brother Zach comes in a close second.

Heroine? Maybe Charlie (To Seduce a Rogue – releasing Jan 2012). She’s rough around the edges, driven and a little uncaring about fitting into society. 🙂 She’s a creative type.

5. Like me, you’ve been bitten with the travel bug. What’s the most spellbinding place you’ve been to? Would you ever set a book there?

Nepal? I white-water rafted for two days down the Kali Gandaki river there. Amazing! I also have a big love affair with Vietnam. My son was adopted from there – and I spent four months in 2007/2008 going through paperwork!

Tell us about Tides of Love and Tides of Passion.
I’ll put the back cover copy here. 🙂

Tides of Passion
National Reader’s Choice: Best Long Historical
Beacon Award: Best Historical

She is his greatest temptation.
He is her forbidden desire.
A battle of wills leads to love.

AN UNCONVENTIONAL WOMAN
Tides of PassionSpirited Savannah Connor is passionately committed to stamping out social injustice. Yet when she arrives in Pilot Isle, North Carolina, ready to take up a new cause, she quickly finds herself on the outs with the town constable. Zachariah Garrett is the most arrogant, infuriating, maddeningly attractive man it’s ever been her misfortune to meet. And suddenly, Savannah is fighting a whole new battle—this one against her own yearning for a man who is impossible to resist.

AN UNCOMPROMISING MAN
Ever since his wife’s death two years ago, Zachariah Garrett has dedicated his life to Buy from Amazon.comkeeping the peace. And avoiding love. But Savannah Connor isn’t an ordinary woman—and she proves hard to ignore. She’s a beguiling beauty with the power to awaken emotions Zach thought he’d never feel again, and the tenderness to help him forget his fears. And risk his heart once more.

Tides of Love

He left all he loved behind…
Will he be able to return and win her heart?

A SPURNED WOMAN

Tides of LoveElle Beaumont has learned life’s lessons the hard way–by foolishly exposing her youthful heart to love, only to have it broken when her true love fled Pilot Island, North Carolina. Now Noah Garrett is back, rekindling dreams she’d given up for lost, and turning her world upside down. Elle’s girlish yearning for him has become something more powerful than she’d ever imagined.

AN HONORABLE MAN

A man dedicated to science and rational judgment, Noah rejects all notions of Buy from Amazon.comromance…until the girl who used to cling to him like a shadow begins haunting his every thought. But even as he struggles to resist Elle’s sensuous beauty and the wildfire attraction erupting between them, Noah cannot deny that their passion is as irresistible and endless as the tides of love.

***

There are lengthy excerpts on my website, too.
@SumnerTracy
Facebook.com/TracySumnerRomanceAuthor

Giveaway!

Tracy’s giving away a digital copy of Tides of Love and Tides of Passion, so we’ll have two winners! Comment below before the end of Monday, December 12 to enter!

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Discovering the book you wish you’d written

A few weeks ago, I sat down to read a book by a new-to-me author that’s coming out soon. The premise had sounded intriguing, but to be honest, I’d requested it along with about a dozen others so by the time I started reading it I couldn’t even remember what it was supposed to be about.

So I read. And I read. And soon I started thinking, “Holy crap, why didn’t I write this book!”

Just to be clear, I don’t think I could’ve actually written this book, for many reasons. It doesn’t have a similar plot to any of my stories. The characters are very different from mine. It’s not even the same subgenre I write.

But it’s set in the same sort of world I’ve worked in for years, a world I’ve researched backwards and forwards and spent countless hours writing about for my day job: the world of major disasters.

The book I wish I’d written is Hot Zone by Catherine Mann. And this is how I tried to console myself for not having written it.

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