Texas Is Romance Land

The coming weeks will be busy for romance writers and readers here in the great state of Texas.

2017-10-12On Sunday, October 22, my friends and I will head over to Dallas for the 12th Annual Buns and Roses Romance Tea for Literacy which benefits the Richardson Adult Literacy Center. I will sit at the table of the RITA Award-winning author Cheryl Etchison. I’m so excited to meet some of my favorite authors like Lorraine Heath, Lenora Bell, Sabrina Jeffries, Ilona Andrews, and Mary Jo Putney.

Not even a week later, I will see Ch2017-10-15.pngeryl again, along with Kerrelyn Sparks and Sherry Thomas, on Friday, October 27 at the Heart of ATX, a Romance Reading Salon event in Buda. One of my good friends Cathy Maxwell is hosting this event.

 

Sunday, October 29 is the monthly meeting of the Old School Romance Book Club San Antonio Chapter. Our Book of the Month is Maya Banks’s The Darkest Hour, book 1 of her KGI series.

 

2017-10-15 (1)Another event I’m super pumped to attend is the Romance Panel Discussion at the Texas Book Festival on Sunday, November 5 in Austin. The topic is very dear to my heart – Diversity in Romance. Alisha Rai, Sherry Thomas, Cat Sebastian, and Mia Sosa are confirmed to attend.

 

Here’s to Texas, one of the most Romantic states in the US.

Cover Reveal – Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

I’m so excited about this book. I loved Rock Hard and I’m so looking forward to reading about Asa and Sailor. Thank you, Nalini, for allowing me to share this great news.

 

CHERISH HARD
A Hard Play Novel by Nalini Singh

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.

☆☆☆☆☆☆

EXCERPT

Fuming, Ísa made sure to set the alarm system and lock up. Everyone else was already well into their summer vacation—the sole reason Ísa was here was because she hadn’t been able to work on her lesson plans at home.

Her upstairs neighbor was having repairs done to her bathroom that required banging and hammering.

Not all of it involved nails and wood.

Hopefully the repairs would be finished by now. There was only so much ecstatic orgasmic screaming that a single woman in online-dating purgatory could stand without being driven to violence.

She spotted the tan-colored gardening truck the instant she came down the front steps of the school’s imposing redbrick main building and turned left to head toward her car. The hot gardener had parked it right next to her zippy blue compact. The front of the truck had four doors with tinted windows while the large bed was piled with shovels and other manly tools as well as a huge sack of clippings.

His light brown T-shirt was hanging over the top of the tailgate.

Which meant he was still walking around topless somewhere around here.

“Get in your car, Ísa,” she muttered to herself, well aware what would happen if she came face-to-face with that delicious hunk of manhood. Because while she might’ve conquered her shyness, she knew her limits.

Confronted by a bare-chested man who made her ovaries explode, she’d turn bright pink, lose her ability to form speech, and end of story. “Oh—”

She would’ve bounced off that sculpted chest if he hadn’t grabbed her by the hips.

“Hey, sorry,” he said with a startled smile that lit up the dazzling blue of his eyes. “I didn’t see you.”

“No, um, my fault.” It looked as if he’d crouched down to check one of his tires or something else but had risen to his feet right when she swung around to get into her car.

And God, his skin was so hot and smooth and he was so tall and his shoulders were so broad and her mouth was drying up. The stuttering would begin at any moment.

The same stuttering Suzanne had mocked relentlessly when they were fourteen. Until Ísa had gone silent around everyone except the few friends she trusted. And now that horrible, ugly-hearted girl was getting married, having a baby, getting a happily-ever-after. Added to which, Ísa’s mother was jerking her on a string like she was a marionette, and her last “date” had asked her to call him Woofy and reward him with doggy biscuits.

The blue of the gardener’s eyes flickered with a hot flame.

And she thought… I know him. But before she could follow that faint thread, all the fury and hurt and frustration and sheer aggravation in Ísa ignited into an incandescent inferno.

She went mad.

Grabbing the hot gardener’s beautiful face in her hands, she said, “I want to kiss you.”

A wicked grin. “Go on ahead.”

And Ísa pressed her lips to his.

Copyright © 2017 by Nalini Singh

 

☆☆☆☆☆☆

 

Meet Sailor & Isa on November 14th!
Pre-order your copy today!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2yaHnQG
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2i1LhHC
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2yXwnFB
iBooks: http://apple.co/2xw0U0O
Nook: http://bit.ly/2yf01bI
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2i2wvR1

☆☆☆☆☆☆

Meet the Author

nalini singhNalini Singh is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Psy-Changeling, Guild Hunter, and Rock Kiss series. She lives and works in beautiful New Zealand, and is passionate about writing.

If you’d like to explore her other books, you can find lots of excerpts and free short stories on her website. Slave to Sensation is the first book in the Psy-Changeling series, while Angels’ Blood is the first book in the Guild Hunter series. The Rock Kiss books are all stand alone and can be read in any order.

STALK HER: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

Diversity, Thy Name Is Not Romance Novel

As a writer-of-color, I do appreciate the study recently conducted by The Ripped Bodice. It puts a spotlight on the sad state of racial diversity in romance publishing. Whether it changes anything is the challenge moving forward.

Nielsen did a similar study in the past and presented the report at the Romance Writers of America’s Annual Conference in 2016. The statistics then, as shared by Publishing Perspectives, were even more dismal.

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I guess we can rejoice that the 2% non-white writers previously reported has ballooned to 7.8% in 2016. But, different research bodies, different samples, different methodologies make comparisons statistically invalid.

I am happy someone is pursuing the issue. I have long complained about the dearth of representation for Asians in the novels I read. That’s why I’m writing my own. But, I’m not going to sit around waiting for some publishing house to suddenly email after six months telling me that they’ve finally unearthed my manuscript from the depths of query hell and they now need me to increase their diversity numbers.

The truth is I want to control the setting of my novels, the design of my covers, the date of my publication, and the amount of my share of the sales, no matter how minuscule. As I can’t do those things with traditional publishing, I’m going indie. I’m sure many writers of color like me have the same mindset.

That doesn’t help improve future data for The Ripped Bodice’s study, but maybe they could expand it by investigating racial diversity in self-published romance in the future. It is almost a sure thing that it would yield more positive results. Perhaps instead of harping on traditional publishers to improve their inclusion, they should embrace independents more. Just my two cents.

 

Here’s the full report:

RippedBodiceReportFINAL

Happy Book Birthday! The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne

Kerrigan Byrne’s latest book, The Scot Beds His Wife, is out today and I’m so excited for y’all to read it.  The Scot reinforces my love of the Victorian Rebels series. It has all the elements that I adored in the four earlier books – loads of angst, electric chemistry between hero and heroine, sizzling lovemaking, heart-pounding action, and most especially, the far-from-perfect and diverse characters.

What Scot has more of that the others don’t is the lightness of humor balancing the heaviness caused by all the tragedies that are constantly befalling the Rebels and their loved ones. I specially liked the development of the romance between the foul-mouthed, gun-toting American heroine Sam and the Scottish rogue of an earl Gavin. Their exchanges, particularly in the beginning of the book, were laugh-out-loud funny. Lastly, I adore the secondary characters- from Callum, to Eleanor to Calybrid and Locryn, even The Rook. I can’t wait to read the next three (???) coming books in the series.

 

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The Scot Beds His Wife is the next lush, captivating Victorian romance in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne.

They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster.

Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, is a notorious Highlander and an unrelenting Lothario who uses his slightly menacing charm to get what he wants—including too many women married to other men. But now, Gavin wants to put his shady past behind him…more or less. When a fiery lass who is the heiress to the land he wishes to possess drops into his lap, he sees a perfectly delicious opportunity…

A marriage most convenient

Samantha Masters has come back to Scotland, in a pair of trousers, and with a whole world of dangerous secrets from her time spent in the Wild West trailing behind her. Her only hope of protection is to marry—and to do so quickly. Gavin is only too willing to provide that service for someone he finds so disturbingly irresistible. But even as danger approaches, what begins as a scandalous proposition slowly turns into an all-consuming passion. And Gavin discovers that he will do whatever is necessary to keep the woman he has claimed as his own…

The Scot Beds His Wife is available at:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2r4wmNm
B&N: http://bit.ly/2s3Dd8Y
iBooks: http://apple.co/2qWqfw
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2rXU25P
Google: http://bit.ly/2r42eS0

 

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. pro_reader_120

I Love My Book Club – OSRBC Rocks!

The first rule of Book Club: You do not talk about Book Club. The second rule of Book Club: You do not talk about Book Club.

“What happens in the book club, stays in the book club.”

 

Ha! I’m going to break these alleged rules and blab about the Old School Romance Book Club. So there!

OSRBC is a Facebook group created by Best-selling author Sarah MacLean in July 2014.

OSRBC

Description

We choose one romance novel (published pre-2000, the crazier the plot, the better!) at the beginning of every month to read and discuss, but we talk all kinds of romance all the time.

I joined in August 2014 while I was in Bangkok, one of the first 50 to do so. Three years later, the group has 5,300+ members from all over the world. In the club are some of my favorite romance writers: Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Kerrigan Byrne, Lorraine Heath, and Cathy Maxwell. Many of my co-members have become my personal friends, not just on Facebook, but in real life as well. Mostly women, we are military spouses, doctors, lawyers, teachers, librarians, nurses, full-time housewives and mothers, artists, students, writers. All of us are readers.

This group is my tribe. They speak my language, they understand me. There is no book-shaming, everyone’s opinions are respected. The group members are respectful, fun, and funny. They reinforced my love for my old school loves: Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Lisa Kleypas, Sandra Brown. They introduced new-to-me authors who have become instant favorites. Aside from the ones I already named as members of the club, I also discovered Tessa Dare, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, Courtney Milan, Kate Meader, Sherry Thomas, and Laura Florand.

More than enabling my book addiction and thereby causing my to-be-read pile to become a mountain, OSRBC is the reason I became a writer. This group put the idea in my head that I can turn one paragraph into a whole novel. This book club encouraged me and cheered me on as I pantsed my way around NaNoWriMo in November and Camp NaNo in July.  They believed I can do it. Because of their confidence, I too, believed and completed my first novel.

This week, I’ll be doing final self-editing before I send Boracay Vows to a professional editor (a co-member at OSRBC, naturally). After that will be securing an ISBN, engaging a cover artist, more revisions and proofreading. Then, my book baby will be born.

One thing I will always remember is that it was conceived with the help of the Old School Romance Book Club. And that is why I love my book club. OSRBC Rocks!

 

Photo credits: I Love My Book Club -cafepress.com, Rules of Book Club – Tumblr.com, What happens… – Zazzle.com, OSRBC logo – Facebook.com

 

ARC Book Review – East In Paradise

I’ve read and loved thousands of romance novels for over thirty years. My biggest complaint and the reason I’m writing my own series is that I haven’t read MY story yet. Right now, I can honestly say Tif Marcelo’s East in Paradise, Book 2 of her Journey to the Heart series, has come the closest.

A Filipino-American heroine. Check. Military Veteran hero. Also check. Heroine has a younger sister. That’s me as well. Our first date was at Napa Valley, quite similar to the setting of Paraiso Retreats.

I can say though that you don’t have to be a Filipino to relate to the characters and enjoy this book. East has a feisty, resolute heroine in Bryn, who has a goal and knows what she has to do in order to achieve it. It has an admirable hero in Mitchell, who served his country and has a great sense of responsibility towards his family’s legacy. This book is about dreams, family, and love.

The conflicts are very current, very real in the world we live in today. The secondary characters are well-rounded with both good and bad mixed in. The hero and heroine are characterized realistically with strengths and weaknesses.

Where it might have faltered for me a bit is when Bryn appeared to be too aggressive and Mitch didn’t assert himself fast enough. I knew they were going to get their happily-ever-after eventually, but it was an uncomfortable feeling reading it so close to the end without their final and most explosive conflict being resolved.

Overall, I enjoyed East in Paradise, especially the celebration of Filipino culture in the food and relationships. I give it four solid stars.

Note: I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

pro_reader_120

About The Book:

When an entrepreneur and an Army reservist end up in their own reality show fauxmance, they have to decide whether their love exists just for the cameras…or if it’s for real in this warmhearted romance, perfect for foodies and wine lovers!

Bryn Aquino, the former manager of a Filipino restaurant, knows the value of hard work. With a shiny new MBA in tow and an investor, she’s ready to start her own business: a culinary retreat where visitors can relax, cook, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Dubbed Paraiso Retreats, she leases the childhood home of army reservist Mitchell Dunford—who returned from Afghanistan to revive his family’s vineyard—but finds herself in a bind when her investor pulls out of the business.

When the retreat catches an internet live stream producer’s eye through social media channels, Bryn is offered the opportunity of a lifetime—to document her journey in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Excited, Bryn happily agrees to the arrangement…only to find out that she’s going to have to fake an onscreen romance with her indifferent landlord in order to keep her audience interested.

As Mitchell and Bryn put on a show for the cameras, they find their romance isn’t hard to fake. They’ve got more in common under their bluster, banter, and doubts. As their relationship heats up and the cameras keep rolling, the line between show and reality blurs. And when the pressures of family, business, and the audience stack against them, will their romance survive internet stardom? Or was it just for show?

East in Paradise is available today from the following retailers:

Amazon
B&N
Kobo
iBooks

 

WhereLoveAlwaysWins

 

 

One Liner Wednesday – What Happens Next

The Magician’s Curse kept me turning page after page – I wanted to see what happens next.

Fetus - Linda G. Hill

Book Cover for ‘The Magicians Curse’ by Author Linda G.Hill

I gave Linda Hill’s The Magician’s Curse four stars on Goodreads and Amazon. This was an entertaining read. Oftentimes, if you’ve read as many books as I have, you’d be able to predict what’s going to happen next. With The Magician’s Curse, I couldn’t. That’s what kept me turning page after page – to see what the characters will do next, what will happen to them. It’s certainly different from the typical books I read and a great palate cleanser. It’s not cookie-cutter or formulaic at all. I don’t normally read books with young characters (18/23) anymore, but I made an exception for this. I’m glad I did because the heroine and hero (Herman and Stephen) are mature for their age. I’d recommend this book for those who are looking for a fresh voice in New Adult Paranormal romance.

 

 

 

Note: Photo credits: What Happens Next – wloy.org; The Magician’s Curse – Linda G. Hill; One Liner Wednesday Badge – Dan Antion

 

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Happy Book Birthday: Gentlemen Prefer Heiresses by Lorraine Heath

Several of my favorite romance authors have book launches today, but I want to spotlight Lorraine Heath’s Gentlemen Prefer Heiresses. I’ve only discovered her in 2015, when Old School Romance Book Club chose Texas Destiny as our June Book of the Month. I loved it. It was incredibly well written and brought me to tears. Since then, I’ve collected as many of Ms. Heath’s books as possible. It helps that she’s from Texas and the Used Bookstore I go to, The Book Rack, has several of her collections on their shelves. I love the Leigh Brothers series and enjoyed London’s Greatest Lovers, but my favorite series of hers is what I call her St. James Universe. There are actually three series in it: Scoundrels of St. James, Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, and Hellions of Havisham.

Gentlemen Prefer Heiresses is the latest in the Scandalous series and it’s a novella. I requested the title from Edelweiss for early review and Avon gave it to me in exchange for an honest opinion.

I was pleasantly surprised by it. I have started pigeon-holing Lorraine Heath as a writer of super-angsty romances, but this book is funny and sexy, another quality that I hadn’t attached to her work before. This proves her versatility, something I always look for in my favorite authors. Although it is not a full novel, it felt complete. It’s full of substance. The character growth for both Andrew and Gina is there, so with the development of their love for one another. I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.

gentlemen_prefer_heiresses_d400Lord Andrew Mabry, the second son of the Duke of Greystone, has no desire to marry. As the spare, he has no obligation to provide an heir and he rather enjoys spending his days and nights in play with the demimonde. But more and more of late, he finds himself wanting to play naughty games with the American heiress, Gina Hammersley.

After her scandalous older sister marries a marquess, Gina Hammersley suddenly finds herself the darling of London with beaux a plenty calling on her, sending flowers, and filling her dance cards. Unfortunately, the one she desires most is the one who has no wish to be caught in the marriage trap: Lord Andrew Mabry.

But when they are discovered in a compromising situation, this unlikely pair must decide whether to face scandal or discover if the passion they’ve always felt is strong enough to lead them into love.

Gentlemen Prefer Heiresses is available from the following retailers:

AvonBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Google Play, Apple iBooks

 

Note: Featured Image photo credit – annadelmar.com.

 

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Sun And Moon

Today, August 21, 2017, there is a Total Solar Eclipse – the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, at one point totally covering the sun and turning day into night.

Today is also the 12th anniversary of our church wedding. For the special occasion, we put together a CD of our favorite love songs that we played during the ceremony and the reception afterwards. One of the songs is Sun and Moon from the musical Miss Saigon. American military husband, Asian wife – it fits. Of course, our story turned out better than that of Kim and Chris. For truly, we have been blessed, my husband and I.

 

KIM
you are sunlight and I moon
joined by the gods of fortune
midnight and high noon
sharing the sky
we have been blessed, you and I

CHRIS
you are here like a mystery
I’m from a world that’s so different
from all that you are
how in the light of one night
did we come so far?

KIM
outside day starts to dawn

CHRIS
your moon still floats on high

KIM
the birds awake

CHRIS
the stars shine too

KIM
my hands still shake

CHRIS
I reach for you

BOTH
and we meet in the sky!

KIM
you are sunlight and I moon
joined here
bright’ning the sky
with the flame
of love

BOTH
made of
sunlight
moonlight

 

 

Book Recommendation: Irresistible You by Kate Meader

My book recommendation of the week is Kate Meader’s Irresistible You. I love sports romances and this one is hot, hot, hot. I reviewed it for NetGalley and this is what I posted on Goodreads and Amazon.  pro_reader_120

“Five icy-hot stars. Kate did it again! She delivered another book with a delicious hero one can’t help but fall in love with, a strong heroine you can relate to, a fascinating story you enjoy following along, and fully fleshed-out secondary characters whose future books you’re looking forward to reading. Irresistible You is funny, but also addresses several heavy issues like sexism and violence against women. It’s super sexy and incredibly fun to read. I love both Remy (He cooks! He reads Pride and Prejudice!) and Harper and enjoyed their journey into love. I also love the team, the hockey, the sisters, and the DuPres. The pacing is just right and the situations were realistic. Although many characters were introduced, none of them detracted from the fact that this is Remy and Harper’s book. That’s very well done by Kate Meader. This is truly a wonderful first book in her new series. I can’t wait to read the rest.”

 

About the book:

IRRESISTIBLE YOU
Chicago Rebels series, Book 1
Kate Meader
Pocket Star EBooks
August 14, 2017
$1.99 (August 14th – August 27th, 2017)
$5.99 (After August 27th, 2017)
ISBN 9781501168550

“Meader’s strength is creating characters who live, breathe, and jump off the page; Remy and Harper shine, and the supporting cast of characters, including Harper’s half-sisters, is very strong. The mix of sexual tension and emotional decisions will lead Meader’s series launch to many a keeper shelf.”
—Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW

“Meader takes her readers on a breathtaking, non-stop, glorious ride. The sex scenes are lyrically written with fresh, descriptive prose. Enough is included about hockey to add its fast rhythm to the book. Remy’s family is multi-faceted and fills the pages with joy. Readers will love the relationship between Remy and Harper, and will be excited for the next story — Isobel’s.”
—RT Book Reviews Four and a Half Star TOP PICK

IRRESISTIBLE YOU kicks of the all new, scorching Chicago Rebels hockey series by Kate Meader, featuring her signature “steamy sex scenes, colorful characters, and riveting dialogue” (Romantic Times). Three estranged sisters inherit their late father’s failing hockey franchise and are forced to confront a man’s world, their family’s demons, and the battle-hardened ice warriors skating into their hearts.

Harper Chase has just become the most powerful woman in the NHL after the death of her father Clifford Chase, maverick owner of the Chicago Rebels. But the team is a hot mess—underfunded, overweight, and close to tapping out of the league. Hell-bent on turning the luckless franchise around, Harper won’t let anything stand in her way. Not her gender, not her sisters, and especially not a veteran player with an attitude problem and a smoldering gaze designed to melt her ice-compacted defenses.

Veteran center Remy “Jinx” DuPre is on the downside of a career that’s seen him win big sponsorships, fans’ hearts, and more than a few notches on his stick. Only one goal has eluded him: the Stanley Cup. Sure, he’s been labeled as the unluckiest guy in the league, but with his recent streak of good play, he knows this is his year. So why the hell is he being shunted off to a failing hockey franchise run by a ball-buster in heels? And is she seriously expecting him to lead her band of misfit losers to a coveted spot in the playoffs?

He’d have a better chance of leading Harper on a merry skate to his bed…

IRRESISTIBLE YOU is available at:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ktKuiM
Nook: http://bit.ly/2ktBFkU
iBooks: http://apple.co/2k4aYXk
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2jy3E2D
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2k0sZW5

About the author:

KateMeader.jpg
Kate Meader was raised on romance. An Irish girl, she started with Catherine Cookson and Jilly Cooper novels, and spiced it up with some Mills & Boon. Now based in Chicago, she writes romances of her own, where sexy contemporary alpha heroes and strong heroines match each other quip for quip. When not immersed in tales of brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron or a fire hose, Kate lives on the web at katemeader.com.