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This week JJ and Kelly conclude their series on genres in publishing with ROMANCES. Also, we reveal the depth of our Harry Potter nerdery and our deep fandom past. TRIGGER WARNING: We discuss rape and consent in Old School romances.
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Romance is the largest market of publishing in terms of sheer number of books being published, units being sold, as well as cash flow.
We discussed the hallmarks of other genres, but romance really only has the one: your main couple must end up in a relationship by the end of the book (the so-called HEA, or Happily Ever After, or the HFN, or Happily For Now).
Romance is a staple of publishing, and is a large part of what we now consider the literary “canon” but the modern romance novel as we knew it first came into existence in the 1970s. According to the Smart Bitches, the “first” modern romance novel is The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.
Romance novels are divided into Old School and New School romance: Old School are the books published pre-1990s.
Old School romances may be partially responsible for the “trashy” reputation around romance novels because there were forceful, rapist male romantic leads, but for other reasons, not the least because the stories were centered around female leads and female pleasure.
Old School romances were also about awakening the female lead, sexually, emotionally, etc. so some hangups about “virginity” (actual or metaphorical) linger.
Romance publishing is divided into two segments: category and single-title.
Category romances are specific lines from a publisher focusing on specific tropes and storylines. As a romance writer, it may be easier to break into publishing by starting to write for categories.
Single-title romances are focused more on the author’s name than the tropes, e.g. Nora Roberts. The stories and tropes are created wholesale by the author and is more similar to other trade publishing genres.
In terms of content, romances can literally contain anything. Anything! That’s the greatest thing about romance; it’s like Mad Libs: put in what you want and you’ll pretty much guaranteed to find a romance novel that fits that criteria. Romances span every genre: mystery, thriller, science-fiction, fantasy, contemporary, et al. What constitutes a ROMANCE as opposed to another genre is the centrality of the love story.
Romances can have series, either where friends or different family members get their own romances in separate books, or else it’s one central couple throughout multiple books.
That’s all for this week! We will be on hiatus for the next two weeks as both JJ and Kelly will be on vacation (not together, alas!). When we return, we will be starting a new series, wherein we break down stories to see what makes them successful or not. As always, sound off in the comments if you have any questions and we’ll see you in two weeks!
In my Monday Mishmash and all over social media last week, I announced that I'm merging Ashelyn Drake and Kelly Hashway. Why you ask?
When I initially launched the pen name, Ashelyn Drake, I wanted to make sure I could stand on my own two feet as a romance author, separate from Kelly Hashway. Once I did that, I revealed Ashelyn Drake and Kelly Hashway are the same person. And since then, I've been using this banner to show that I'm still one person even though I write under two names: The problem is, I wasn't acting like one person. I have separate Facebook pages, Twitter handles, and blogs for Kelly and Ashelyn. Why? My website, newsletter, and Instagram are for both names, so why aren't my other social media accounts? From now on, they will be. I'm moving Ashelyn over to Kelly. You'll notice my Facebook page now has both names listed. As does my blog. Twitter won't allow enough characters to display both names, but you'll see this banner and Ashelyn's name appear in my bio. Very soon, Ashelyn's accounts will disappear, so make sure you're following the new links below to stay up to date on my Ashelyn Drake romance books as well as my Kelly paranormal and upcoming mystery/suspense/thrillers (Yes, I'm branching out!): Facebook Twitter Blog Google+
Look at that. Kelly and Ashelyn are truly merging into one author with two names, just like the slogan says. :)
*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.
Welcome to another session of Turning Pages!It's National Mental Health month, and I've been looking for books which fit the theme. While this book has a great many negatives for me, not the least because there is an unethical relationship with an... Read the rest of this post
Synopsis: Much as the cover of this one might suggest a romance novel or something particularly girly, don't be fooled. The Winner's Kiss is the conclusion to the trilogy that started with The Winner's Curse and The Winner's Crime, both of which I... Read the rest of this post
Other info: Keren David has also written the When I Was Joe series (When I Was Joe, Almost True, and Another Life), Salvage, Lisa's Guide to Winning the Lottery, and Cuckoo.
Summary : Kitty dreams of a beautiful life, but that's impossible in suburban London where her family is haunted by her father's unexpected death. So when her mum suggests moving to Amsterdam to try a new life, Kitty doesn't take much persuading. Will this be her opportunity to make her life picture perfect?
In Amsterdam she meets moody, unpredictable Ethan, and clever, troubled Theo. Two enigmatic boys, who each harbour their own secrets. In a beautiful city and far from home, Kitty finds herself falling in love for the first time. But will love be everything she expected? And will anyone's heart survive?
Review: Kitty and Theo have recently moved to Amsterdam. Kitty's mother's boyfriend's son is Ethan. The three of them must deal with falling in love, keeping secrets from each other, and getting through life.
I wanted to read this because it kept getting flagged up in chats for featuring bisecusl boys, and I'd been meaning to read things by Keren for a long time. Keren reading short story from Ethan's viewpoint made me want to know more about him and therefore I started on this. It did seem a bit wandering regarding Kitty and Ethan's story, to start with (probably because I'm generally less interested in people working out who they like until there's bigger conflicts involved). I did like seeing the development of Theo's relationship with Sophie, which is told partially by flashback partially in the present too. I also liked seeing all the relationship strands between Kitty, Theo and Ethan converge and how that all panned out. The building and breakdown of relationships in this book are tumultuous, but good to read about. I really enjoyed reading about different cultures - Jewish and Dutch. I especially liked that Keren provided characters with different attitudes to aspects of their culture, offering a range of characters within such an under-represented group. The side characters made a good group. My favourite was Rachel, Kitty's sister, who was funny, and a good support for Kitty. There's a lot of things our main trio have to deal with. Family relationships, working out friendships, health issues, fitting in when moving abroad... A lot is happening here, and I quite liked seeing how Theo and Kitty fit in after the move. Part one is the climatic event, part two is before, part three is after. I liked this structure, as it catches your attention immediately, and establishes characters. I loved the ending. Kitty's discussion with her friends is good for reminding all of us of some lessons in life. Characters' justifications for the way they wanted things were realistic, especially Ethan's (last paragraphs of chapter 44) and while the strands unpacked within the novel are tied up, there's still an openendedness for the future.
Strength 4 tea to a story that is not about love, but is about relationships, romantic, familial, and friendshippy, and overall about life.
By the Stars by Lindsay B. Ferguson Over the years, I have been asked to review many, many, many books. Because I haven't blogged often in the last couple years, I have mostly ignored email requests for reviews. When Lindsay B. Ferguson emailed me, I had to chuckle. She is my neighbor, and I was aware of her upcoming debut novel, but she didn't realize who I was. :) I told her that I'm a blogging slacker, and we decided not to have my blog be part of her big blog tour. You see...It gets sticky reviewing books for people you know. What if you hate it? But...I bought the book on my Kindle the day it was released, and I wasn't just pleasantly surprised, I LOVED IT. I love that it is based on a true story, and I can't wait to talk to Lindsay about what exactly is history and what she created. I love the characters. I love the romance. I love it all. And you know what it really made me want to do? Like big time? Go dancing! Can we resurrect dance halls, please? I know that among my friends, Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson, was extremely well-liked. Edenbrooke was the first in a collection of "Proper Romances". For friends who love Edenbrooke and other clean romance novels, By the Stars should be your next read! From Amazon: "When Cal finally gets a chance with Kate, the girl he's loved since grade school, their easy friendship quickly blossoms into a meaningful romance. Spirited and independent, Kate keeps a guarded heart due to a painful past, and Cal wants nothing more than to gain her trust. But World War II soon cuts their time far too short, and Cal prepares to part from her - possibly for good. After he's gone, what Kate does next changes everything.
In the suffocating jungles of the Philippines Cal encounters the chilling life of a soldier and deadly battles of war. With Kate's memory willing him on, Cal must put his trust in God to survive if he hopes to ever return to her. Inspired by a true story, By the Stars is a love story that stands the test of time and the most intense obstacles."
WHEN WE COLLIDED
By Emery Lord
Hardcover: 352 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury (April 5, 2016)
Age Range: 14 and Up
Goodreads | Amazon
Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility
Blog Tour: Becca
TELL ME THREE THINGS
By Julie Buxbaum
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Delcorte Press (April 5, 2016)
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Goodreads | Amazon
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about
Review by Sara..
THE GLITTERING COURT
By Richelle Mead
Series: Glittering Court #1
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Razorbill (April 5th, 2016)
Goodreads | Amazon
The Selection meets Reign in this dazzling trilogy of interwoven novels about three girls on a quest for freedom and true love from #1 internationally bestselling author Richelle Mead.For a select group
Review by Sara...
THE MIRROR KING
The Orphan Queen #2
By Jodi Meadows
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (April 5, 2016)
Goodreads | Amazon
Wilhelmina has a hundred enemies.HER FRIENDS HAVE TURNED. After her identity is revealed during the Inundation, Princess Wilhelmina is kept prisoner by the Indigo Kingdom, with the Ospreys lost somewhere in
Welcome to another session of Turning Pages! Synopsis: Long ago, Fei's community of hearing impaired people was cut off from others by a huge rockslide. Their mining community continued to mine, and to send down their wealth of metals via zipline... Read the rest of this post
Have you found your Thor? Kai Strand wants to help with that. Be sure to check out the giveaway below.
International intrigue hits small-town America.
Tragedy has left Cara Cassidy broken and the only thing keeping her from giving in completely is her guilt. Until Nik Rock.
Nik stirs up feelings in degrees she has never experienced, and causes her to do things that most assuredly give him the wrong impression – like kiss him before their first date. Somehow, he breaks down the walls around her emotions until she has no choice but to forgive herself and feel again.
But a mysterious, troubled past follows Nik, and Cara may prove to be his weakest link.
When a royal princess shows up looking for Nik, and an international gang arrives looking for missing jewels, Cara lands in mortal danger. Will she be able to save herself? What will happen to her newly repaired psyche if she loses Nik?
Romance, mystery, and high stakes – just another day in high school.
He nodded a polite, though cautious, greeting before walking toward the second break in the shrubs overlooking the beginning of the rapids.
Her heart pounding as fast as the sparrows flitting though the leafless shrubs, Cara faced the river again, not completely comfortable turning her back to him. She was pretty sure he was close to her age, so why did she feel so threatened?
Power. Strength. Assurance.
Even as enthralled with superheroes as she and Arac had always been, she’d never realized those words could be felt. Yet they poured off of him in waves. She glanced over her shoulder. He’d been shrouded by the hood, and she’d barely seen anything beyond his blazing gaze. He stood with his back to her, so she studied him.
His posture was impeccable, with his back straight, feet shoulder-width apart, hands still buried in his jacket pockets. He looked entirely alert and ready. Even though it seemed he watched the water tumble and trip down the rapids, she felt his fierce gaze was directed inward. Focused on memories or thoughts she would never see, though suddenly she wanted to. Mystery teased her curiosity. She sensed this stranger had a compelling story to tell. Or maybe she just hoped for a distraction from her own horror story.
As if he’d heard her reflection, and wanted to hear more, his head shifted slightly, angling toward her. Another shiver shuddered through her body. She had to remind herself that superpowers weren’t real, and still she wondered—hero or villain?
When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.
Swag alert! Looking for your Thor? Look no further, Kai’s got you covered. Enter to win a custom tote bag for all of those books you like to carry with you, and a Thor baseball cap. Easy entry for those in a hurry, or many other ways to earn more entries for contest junkies. The Finding Thor swag pack can only be shipped in the United States. If winner is International, an Amazon gift card will be substituted and another winner will be chosen.
Author: Michael Buckley
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
ARC provided by publisher
Undertow by Michael Buckley is a Romeo/Juliet story about a human girl named Lyric and a sea prince named Fathom set in modern day New York.
It's not subtle in its parallels to current immigration fears as the sea folk known
Welcome to another session of Turning Pages! Synopsis: Ludmila Novakova is a girl of wealth and privilege. The daughter of the Chancellor, she has lived her seventeen years as the pampered denizen of Prague Castle, a good Catholic girl who accepts... Read the rest of this post
Review by Sara...
WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED
By Kristin Rae
Series: If Only #8
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury (March 29, 2016)
Goodreads | Amazon
If Only . . . he was the boy she's been dreaming of. The If Only line continues in this fun high school theater-themed romance!Drama girl Maddie Brooks has always had high standards for guys. But she has
Welcome to another session of Turning Pages! Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity - whose last name does indeed mean "truth" can't stop herself from blurting the truth. All of it. All the time. The weird thing is, though, that she can't exactly... Read the rest of this post
Welcome to another session of Turning Pages!Synopsis: It was pretty well going to be the most depressing visit to Blackheath 17-year-old Rosie Clayton had ever taken. Though she visited her grandparents in the London neighborhood from Nashville... Read the rest of this post
Please give a warm welcome to Susanna Carr! She’s here to discuss a forbidden romance – the stepbrother hero!
When my readers hear that the hero in Illicit Night with the Greek is the heroine’s stepbrother, the response is mixed. Some adore the story set-up while others avoiding books featuring the stepbrother hero.
Although I have read the occasional stepbrother hero over the years, it’s not a romance story I actively seek out. However, I’ve read more than a few in the past year just by chance because the stepbrother hero is becoming more popular these days in romance fiction. Some think it’s because the stepbrother is one of the last taboos. I’m not so sure. I think many writers prefer telling a story about a couple who already have an established relationship. Why not write about a hero who is part of the family? The conflict, risk factor and emotional angst are already built in!
It’s not unlike the brother’s best friend, another type of hero that has enjoyed a surge of popularity in romances for the past few years. The hero and heroine know each other for years. The brother’s best friend may have stood in as a big brother or saw the heroine as a little sister. And suddenly the relationship changes.
But there is one big difference between the two types of heroes. There’s no “like family” in this equation. They are family. The stepbrother is familiar and yet forbidden. This relationship changes everything and can rock the foundation of the family structure. There is also a risk of censure. It doesn’t matter if the couple is comprised of consenting adults and not related by blood—society still expects that their relationship remains platonic.
What do you think about the stepbrother hero? Do you seek out the stories or do you avoid them?
Readers throughout the world find Susanna Carr’s award-winning contemporary romances a delightful escape that has often helped them through difficult times. Reviewers describe her award-winning stories as “fun”, “sexy” and “a must read”. When she isn’t writing or spending time with her family in the Pacific Northwest, Susanna enjoys reading romance and connecting with readers online.
Releasing on February 1st, 2016 (Digital) and February 9th, 2016 (Print)
A princess and a Southern billionaire are expecting twins! Only from USA TODAY bestselling author Catherine Mann!
His focus is on his family’s football dynasty. Louisiana billionaire Gervais Reynaud has no time for romance. But he can’t say no to a tryst with Erika Mitras. True, she’s a princess, but in no way prim…or proper. Their time together is unbelievable…and all too short.
When Erika said goodbye, she meant it. But now she must tell Gervais the truth. He’s about to be a father…to royal twins. After leaving her overbearing family, Erika wants nothing from Gervais. But the tempting tycoon just may charm her into a future she desires all too much.
His dark eyes heated her with memories as he strode toward her. His long legs ate the ground in giant slices, his khakis and sports jacket declaring him in the middle of a work day. He stopped in front of her, his broad shoulders blocking the sun and casting his handsome face in shadows. But she didn’t have to see to know his jaw would be peppered with the stubble that seemed to grow in seconds after he shaved. Her fingers – her body – remembered the texture of that rasp well.
Her breath caught somewhere in her chest.
He folded his arms over his chest, just under the Hurricanes logo stitched on the front of his jacket. “Welcome to the States, Erika. No one mentioned your intention to visit. I thought you don’t like sports.”
“And yet, here I am.” And in need of privacy out of the bright Louisiana sun and the even brighter curious eyes of his team and staff. She needed space and courage to tell him why she’d made this unexpected journey across the Atlantic to this muggy bayou state. “This is not an official royal visit.”
“And you’re not in uniform.” His eyes glided over her wrap around dress.
“I’m out of the service now.” About to return to school to be a nurse, the career field she’d hoped to pursue in the military but they would not allow her such an in-the-field position, instead preferring to dress her up and trot her around as a figure-head translator. “I am here for a conference on homeopathic herbs and scents.” A part of her passion in the nursing field, and a totally made up excuse for being here today.
“Are you here to share specially scented deodorant to my players? Because they could certainly use it.” His mouth tipped with a smile.
“Are you interested in such a line?” Still jet-lagged from the transatlantic flight, she was ill-prepared to exchange pleasantries.
“Is that why you are here? For business?”
She could not just banter with him. She simply could not. “Please, can we go somewhere private to talk?”
He searched her eyes with for a long moment before gesturing over his shoulder. “I’m in the middle of a meeting with sponsors. How about supper?”
“I am not here for seduction,” she stated bluntly.
“Okay.” His eye brows shot upward. “I thought I asked you to join me for gumbo, not sex. But now that we’re talking about sex–”
“We are not.” She cut him short. “Finish your meeting if you must, but I need to speak with you as soon as possible. Privately. Unless you want your personal business and mine overheard by all of your team straining to listen.”
She definitely was not ready for them to hear she was pregnant with the heir to the Reynaud family dynasty.
USA Today bestseller and RITA Award winning author Catherine Mann writes contemporary romance for Berkley, Harlequin, Sourcebooks and Tule. With over sixty books released in more than twenty countries, she has also celebrated six RITA finals, an RT Reviewer’s Award finalist, three Maggie Award of Excellence finals and a Bookseller’s Best win. Catherine and her flyboy husband live on the Florida coast where they brought up their 4 children – and still have 5 four-legged, furry “children” (aka pets). Catherine is an active volunteer with an animal rescue, serving on their Board of Directors and fostering over 200 puppies, ill dogs, and dogs with service/working potential.
Razer’s Ride, Viper’s Run, Knox’s Stand & Shade’s Fall
Released Feb 1st, 2016
Young Ink Press
The Last Riders are a Motorcycle Club created by eight ex Navy SEALS, that make no excuses for the life they have chosen to lead. These men fight hard and f**k harder. Get your first four votes from Razer, Viper, Knox and Shade.
Razer’s Ride: Book One
Beth Cornett is the town good girl, so staying out of the way of the motorcycle club’s dangerous members was a no brainer. Unfortunately, she manages to catch the eye of Razer, who has every intention of tempting her to take him on despite her misgivings. When her worst fears are realized, she is left heartbroken, determined to forget her walk on the wild side.
Razer was not going to change for any woman, not even Beth. Their lifestyles were too different; betrayed she ran. Realizing his mistake too late; she was not about to forgive and forget. It takes a killer intent on targeting Beth to bring her back to him and The Last Riders for protection. Razer may have learned his lesson, but this time, as long as she is at the club, she has to play by their rules.
Viper’s Run: Book Two
Winter Simmons received the surprise of her life when she discovered the man she had been dating for the last two years was actually Viper, president of the Last Riders. A high school principal, Winter has no intention of ruining her reputation in the community to be with a man who betrayed her trust. Unforgiving, she turns her back on him, only to find that Viper is not the gentleman he portrayed.
Determined to find his brother’s killer, Loker James kept his identity as President of The Last Riders a secret from Winter. When the truth comes out, he is determined to make her see the real man who can control not only a group of dangerous bikers, but a woman whose life is a rulebook. Unable to prevent herself from being drawn into the very club she despises, Winter is about to lose everything important to her, unless Viper can prove she’s more than a moonlight run.
Knox’s Stand: Book Three
Knox, a former Navy Seal, has been in several dangerous situations, but nothing compares to dealing with Diamond Richards. Framed for murder, he needs the passionless lawyer to prove his innocence. But when he no longer needs her help, he’s going to show her the passion she’s capable of and walk away a free man.
Diamond plans on earning her huge fee to prove Knox is innocent, but she had no idea the muscled biker could bring out the passion she kept hidden behind her designer clothes. Trying to find a murderer is easier than dealing with The Last Riders and Knox’s sexcapades. He’s going to find out there is one woman worth standing and fighting for, despite his desire for freedom.
Shade’s Fall: Book Four
Shade is everything Lily doesn’t want in a man. He’s rude, obnoxious and he’s definitely not a cowboy. The tattooed enforcer for The Last Riders is a mystery Lily doesn’t want to solve. He’s too much for her to handle, especially with the nightmares from her past constantly threatening her sanity.
Lily is everything Shade wants in a woman. She’s sweet, kind and submissive. When she discovers the truth about The Last Riders, it threatens to tear apart every relationship within the club. Her rebellion causes the predatory instincts to rise in the ex Navy SEAL sniper.
When The Last Riders are threatened by another motorcycle club just as determined to claim Lily, Shade is her only hope of surviving the approaching confrontation. Could their passion be Shade’s downfall?
“I was born in a small town in Kentucky. My family began poor, but worked their way to owning a restaurant. My mother was one of the best cooks I have ever known, and she instilled in all her children the value of hard work, and education.
Taking after my mother, I’ve always love to cook, and became pretty good if I do say so myself. I love to experiment and my unfortunate family has suffered through many. They now have learned to steer clear of those dishes. I absolutely love the holidays and my family puts up with my zany decorations.
For now, my days are spent writing, writing, and writing. I have two children who both graduated this year from college. My daughter does my book covers, and my son just tries not to blush when someone asks him about my books.
Currently I am writing five series of books- The Last Riders, The VIP Room, Predators MC, Biker Bitches, and The Dark Souls.
All my books are written for one purpose- the enjoyment others find in them, and the expectations of my fans that inspire me to give it my best.”
This is going to be a rambling review. The taboo aspects of this story didn’t bother me. How everybody treated Jodie did. Her parents ignored her and shuttled her from one distant boarding school to the next, eager to rid themselves of her presence so they could selfishly pursue their lives without having a kid around. Stergios and his family treated her horribly, when all she wanted was some place to call home and someone to care for her. She was 15 years old when she first met them, and they couldn’t get rid of her fast enough, either! I’m just thinking what a crappy childhood that would have been, and what a strong person she must be to not be even more messed up than she was. Jodie had zero positive role models while growing up. ZERO. The only reason her dad showed any interest in her at all was to ensure he received his massive child support checks from her mother. How sad is that?
Jodie’s father is an admitted gold digger. He married into the Antoniou family for their wealth. Nobody seemed to have a problem with that. Jodie, however, was a lonely, emotionally battered girl who acted out for attention. Everybody had a problem with that. Stergios’ mother treated her with contempt and distain, never welcoming the teenager into her home. After an incident with her cousin, Jodie’s father banishes her from the family. I would have considered that a stoke of good luck, but not Jodie. She falls in and out of unwise relationships for the next few years, and then, after the sudden death of her mother, decides that she needs to make amends with her father.
Jodie’s determination to make her father love her drove me nuts and it really marred my enjoyment of the story. Stergios wasn’t a teddy bear by any stretch of the imagination, but at least he came to realize that he was judging Jodie unfairly. I found it kind of ironic that after taking advantage of her when she was 18, he continued to hurl insults and judgment about her morality at her. He also said some pretty hateful things to her during a huge argument at the midway point. I really questioned what she saw in him, because whenever they were together, they brought out the worst in each other. That did change later in the story, but Jodie was a lot more forgiving than I would have been. And the kidnapping? Just, no. After what Stergios went through as a child, to even entertain this idea is inconceivable. While Stergios’ behavior was driven by emotions, Jodie’s father never seemed to show any. He was a spineless boy toy to the very end, and that infuriated me.
To say that Illicit Night with the Greek brought out lots of mixed emotions in me isn’t an exaggeration. The supporting characters were vile and unlikable. The hero was just barely tolerable for most of the story. The step-sibling angle was kind of a moot point for me because Jodie was never a part of the Antoniou family, and Stergios treated her with contempt and distrust from the very first page. This was mixed bag for me, one that did trigger several strong emotional responses, though the main response was rage at how everyone treated the heroine. Because of how angry the Antoniou family made me, I found the backstory more compelling than the romance. Do I believe in their HEA? I think that Jodie and Stergios will remain blissfully happy – as long as they stay away from his unwelcoming, judgmental family.
Grade: C / C- because the supporting characters infuriated me so much!
Review copy provided by Author
The Greek’s unexpected parting gift…
Stergios Antoniou hasn’t seen his exiled, troublemaking stepsister, Jodie Little, since the night they finally gave in to their forbidden attraction. Learning she’s returned to Athens during a business deal too crucial to jeopardize, he holds her prisoner on his private island until it’s over.
Jodie wants to rectify the past, but being so close to Stergios’s potent sensuality, she’s once again a slave to their destructive desire. One last illicit night should have put their affair behind them, but Jodie leaves the island with more than scorching-hot memories…
Fans of Katie McGarry, Simone Elkeles, and Tammara Webber will love Against the Wall! As teenagers, they fell for each other despite the odds. But now that Eric and Meghan are all grown up, they’re reunited by fierce passion and dangerous secrets.
Eric Hernandez is the bad boy of every schoolgirl’s fantasies—and every mother’s nightmares. But after serving time for manslaughter, he’s ready to turn his life around. He just needs a chance to prove himself as a professional tattoo artist. The one thing that keeps him going is the memory of the innocent beauty he loved and left behind.
Meghan Young’s world isn’t as perfect as it looks. The preacher’s daughter is living a lie, especially now that Eric is back. Tougher, harder, and sexier than ever, he might be the only person she can trust. But there’s no telling what he’ll do to protect her if he learns the truth, and that’s a risk Meghan won’t let him take. And yet, back in the arms of the troubled boy with the artist’s soul, Meghan can’t help surrendering to the man he’s become.
Noah exchanges a glance with April and takes Jenny into the kitchen. It’s awkward, being on his turf. I don’t belong here. I belong in Castle Park, the down-and-out neighborhood where I used to live with my grandma. Now she’s in Mexico with the rest of my family, and I have nowhere else to go. Nowhere safe, that is. I’m supposed to stay in a stable environment, and I can’t leave San Diego. It’s one of the conditions of my parole.
“Let’s get you settled,” April says brightly.
I grab my backpack and follow her. On the phone she told me I could sleep in the den. It looks sort of like an office with a small bed in the corner. I spot a vintage desk and an old-school record player I recognize as Meghan’s.
I’m struck by memories of the last day I spent with her. She had a room upstairs back then. When we first met, it was just Meghan and Noah living here. She put on some music and I laid her down on her bed. I took everything she had to offer and then some. I can’t even bring myself to regret it. That memory, more than any other, has sustained me on lonely nights in my cell. I’ve jerked off to a thousand variations of it.
I know that Meghan moved out a few months ago, but I imagine her lingering presence. The smell of her hair on the pillows.
“This was Meghan’s room?” I say, my voice hoarse.
April opens the closet, which is half-full of girl clothes. “I can ask her to move her stuff.”
“No,” I say. I don’t need the space; everything I own fits inside a backpack.
“Are you sure?”
I sit on the bed, nodding. This arrangement is temporary, anyway. “Which room are you going to use for the nursery?”
April waves her hand in the air. “I want the crib in my room. You can stay here as long as you like.”
I wonder if Noah is on board with this. He can’t be thrilled about having an ex-con under the same roof with his pregnant wife and stepdaughter. He got promoted to the homicide division, but money might be tight. I should cut out as soon as possible. I’m not a charity case, and even though Meghan’s not here, it doesn’t feel right to inhabit her space.
It feels . . . dangerous. Tempting.
I’ll never forget the look on her face when I told her I didn’t want her. She stared at me with soft blue eyes and trembling lips, pale from shock. Hardest fucking lie I ever told—and I’m an accomplished liar. But I couldn’t let her waste three years on me. I couldn’t let myself wish for something that far beyond my reach. I had to be cruel to be kind.
At least, that was how I justified my actions three years ago. Looking back, maybe I just wanted to be a dick. Getting locked up has that effect. It touches every raw nerve and stirs every violent tendency. It stokes prejudices and festers resentments. The only acceptable outlet for male prisoners is rage.
“When you’re ready, come out to the backyard. Noah’s grilling some carne asada.”
My stomach rumbles loud enough for her to hear. Smiling, she slips out the door and down the hall. She looks happy. That’s the difference in her, along with her rounded belly and fuller curves. She’s not exhausted anymore. Noah takes care of her. Or she takes care of him.
They take care of each other.
April hooked up with Noah around the same time I started seeing Meghan. He interviewed her about the murder of one of her coworkers, a waitress at Club Suave. Cops aren’t supposed to date anyone involved in their investigations, but apparently he couldn’t resist. They fell in love before I went to prison and got married shortly after.
Noah has been good to April and Jenny. Much better than Raul was. Even so, my urge to leave grows stronger. I don’t want to cause problems or be a burden to anyone. I’ve never been part of a nice family. I don’t know how to act civilized anymore.
This isn’t my scene.
I glance around, wiping my sweaty palms on my jeans. There’s a nightstand by the bed. I open the first drawer and peer inside. Unlike the closet, it’s empty. I close it in mild disappointment. I’m not sure what I expected to find in there. Some random girl stuff, like makeup and perfume.
I remove the clothes from my backpack and toss them into the empty drawer. I have three shirts, an extra pair of pants, and some basketball shorts. Then I bring out my prized possession: my portfolio.
I like art. I can draw almost anything from memory. My favorite medium is spray paint on a fresh concrete wall, but in prison the materials are limited. Most of my drawings are ink on lined paper.
I also do ink on skin. It’s how I survived in the joint.
I was only twenty when I went in. I’m about five foot ten, not the biggest guy on the block. I’ve got muscles and I’m strong, but I’ll never be huge. I have a lean build and features they call handsome. To say that I needed protection is an understatement. Despite my unlucky size and face, I had three things going for me when I went in. First, I was down for CVL, my local clique. The Chula Vista Locos pay dues to the Mexican Mafia, also known as La Eme. So I was already connected to a powerful prison gang.
The second advantage I had was my best friend, Junior. We both got locked up at the same time and sent to the same prison. It’s not unusual for San Diego criminals to do sentences in Chino or San Quentin—they’re the two largest correctional facilities in the state. Junior wasn’t in my cellblock, but we saw each other in the yard. He became a captain for La Eme. If anyone fucked with me, Junior made them pay.
The third advantage was my talent for art. I can hold my own in a fight, but I didn’t want to earn my keep that way. I didn’t want to be anyone’s bitch, either. Instead of offering those services, I sold drawings and tattoos. I was the best in my block.
Tattooing has been the only bright spot in my life. Without my art, and my best friend, I’d probably be dead.
Jill Sorenson is the RITA-nominated author of more than a dozen romantic-suspense novels. She has a degree in literature and writing from California State University. Her books have been selected as Red-Hot Reads by Cosmopolitan magazine, and have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. Sorenson currently lives in the San Diego area with her family. She’s a soccer mom who loves nature, coffee, reading, Twitter, and reality TV.
By Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (January 5, 2016)
Goodreads | Amazon
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over
Entangled Publishing is turning 5 and we are so excited that we are offering all the books on our latest bestselling imprint, Lovestruck, at a celebratory price of just $.99 each! At prices like these be sure to fill up your reader.
AND that’s not all. From 2/1 to 2/21 we are giving away 5 Lovestruck prize packs including 5 different Sephora Minimergency kits, an Amazon gift card and other surprise gift cards. So be sure to stop by each of our amazing blogger hosts below and visit the Lovestruck Facebook page to find out about the fun events and giveaways we will be having in the coming weeks. You will also get sneak peeks inside our different releases so you can pick out your must reads.
We will also be having a Facebook party on Thursday, February 11th from 810pm ET where several of our Lovestruck authors will be chatting with readers and offering prizes as well. So join us on the Entangled Publishing Facebook page.
Haven’t read a Lovestruck yet? Take a peek inside…
Pretend It’s Love by Stefanie London Excerpt
“Let’s go,” he said, holding out his arm to Libby. “It’s showtime.”
She stood taller against him, having changed into a pair of her signature crazyhigh heels. As
much as he knew his relationship with Libby was fake, he couldn’t help imagining what she’d
look like in only those heels. Like dessert and heaven and sex rolled into one, he’d bet.
Her hand rested lightly on his arm, her body pushed against him. She teetered on the unsteady
paving of his parents’ front steps. Each bump of her hip sent a shot of heat through him.
He’d spent the afternoon trying not to think about how attractive she was with that mane of red
hair and that perky butt encased in faded denim. In all likelihood he’d failed but, judging by
some of the looks she’d thrown him, the feeling was mutual.
“You’re asking for trouble in those shoes,” he said, forcing his attention to something safer than
Libby’s distracting curves.
“I’m asking for trouble anyway.” She offered him a sly smile as he rang the doorbell. “The shoes
are just the cherry on top.”
Paul was about to ask her what kind of trouble she preferred when a thumping noise came from
the house followed by footsteps. “You’re not scared of dogs, are you?”
Libby’s eyes widened as she stepped toward the door. “Not really…I don’t think.”
At that moment the front door burst open and the Chapmans’ very large, very excited Great
Dane burst forth. He immediately locked onto Libby and jumped up, throwing his paws over her
“Oh my God!” She wobbled on her heels, but Paul grabbed her around the waist from behind,
preventing her from toppling over and taking the dog with her.
She stumbled back against him, her ass pushing squarely against his groin as she tried to
wriggle free from the dog’s grip. If she hadn’t known about his attraction to her before, she
Trust his libido to come back in full force with the one girl who had a “no sex” policy.
“Down, Cavallo!” His mother’s voice rang out over the commotion. “Siediti!”
The dog relinquished, its large tail thumping against the doorframe. Even seated, the top of his
head came up to the bottom of Libby’s ribcage. Cavallo sniffed her and then proceeded to wipe
a long strip of doggy drool across her jeans.
“I am so sorry,” his mother said, shooing the dog inside. “He gets very excited when we have
“It’s okay.” Libby blinked, looking down at her jeans and then back up to Paul, stifling a smile.
“Excitement is a natural thing.”
Paul tried to subtly adjust the front of his jeans so his hardon wouldn’t be noticeable, but the
quick flick of Libby’s eyes told him he’d been well and truly sprung.
About the book:
Bar manager Paul Chapman is sick of his family’s traditional ideals. Marriage, babies, and a
white picket fence? Not his gig. But now that his ‘golden child’ big brother is tying the knot,
Paul’s screwed. His ex will be there…and she’s having his cousin’s baby. Unless he wants to
show up to the wedding alone and face his family’s scrutiny, he needs a girl on his arm. Now.
Cocktail specialist Libby Harris has spent her life earning the nickname Little Miss Perfect, all to
win the love of her wealthy, controlling father. But she deviated from his plan, and now her
business is on shaky ground. If it fails, she might as well kiss his respect—and her
dream—goodbye. Her only hope? Convince the hottest bar in town to take on her product.
Luckily for her, the owner’s brother is sexy as sin and in need of a perfect girlfriend…