After a nearly 20-year career and millions of books in print, best-selling romance author Brenda Jackson has reached an impressive milestone with the publication of her latest novel, A Madaris Bride for Christmas—her 100th book!
Back in 1994, Jackson's first novel, Tonight and Forever, introduced the Madaris family. Matchmaking matriarch Mama Laverne has helped the Madaris men and women find everlasting love over the years, delighting and entertaining countless readers along the way. In A Madaris Bride for Christmas, Lee Madaris, one of Mama's grandsons and owner of one of the hottest hotels in Vegas, is determined to find a woman on his own, and has his sights set on pastry chef Carly Briggs.
With memorable characters, lots of sizzle and a few twists and turns, A Madaris Bride for Christmas is sure to satisfy fans of the series, hook some news ones and leave all readers looking forward to Jackson's 101st novel.
Lori Foster is one of the most prolific romance writers out there. Her first book, Impetuous, was published in 1996, and since then, she's released between six and 10 new books each year, landing on multiple bestseller lists along the way.
The main (and titular) character of her latest, Getting Rowdy, will be familiar to devoted readers of her Love Undercover series. Rowdy Yates is a bona fide hunk, a charismatic woman magnet—who'll have readers under his spell despite (or because of!) his bad-boy behavior.
In this guest blog post, Foster writes about how she created this delectable hero who is the perfect balance of bad boy/good guy:
Rowdy Yates, the lead male protagonist in Getting Rowdy, is a street rat. He comes from a background of neglect, and then abuse. When his parents died in a car wreck, his biggest concern was losing his little sister to the system. He was free of one worry, but faced with an even bigger concern.
When I started the first book in the Love Undercover series, I knew Pepper Yates would have a brother, and I knew he’d have a secret and be street-smart and tough as nails. But I didn’t know him until I started to write the book and Rowdy began telling me his story. He became a much more complex character than I had expected.
That’s the way it is for me. The characters reveal themselves to me almost in the same way they get revealed to the reader. Little by little. Secret by secret. I knew, no matter his harsh background and subsequent life on the edge, Rowdy would have an innate sort of honor, because I couldn’t write a non-villain character who didn’t possess positive qualities. But wow, Rowdy surprised even me.
He is a sexual animal, but that makes sense because, given the harshness of his life, he takes pleasure in carnal activity. Sex, he finds, can blunt the demons of his memories. When the ugliness of his life starts to crawl in and steal his breath, losing himself in a woman’s soft touch could give him relief. I don’t fault him for that, but you can imagine how the “right woman” might see it.
I’m a big believer that love influences us in amazing ways. For Rowdy, despite the awfulness of his life, he had his little sister, and it was his love for her (and hers for him) that kept him from total darkness. He put all his focus on keeping her safe, helping her to feel secure, making a transient lifestyle an adventure instead of a hardship. He suffered—but he ensured that she did not.
Eventually, of course, Pepper found love—but where did that leave Rowdy? At the end of the first book, his sister had a big, badass cop as her husband, which left Rowdy without the purpose of his life, the center he’d always used to stay grounded. With Pepper rooted to one spot, Rowdy found he needed to set down roots as well.
And that’s how Getting Rowdy gets started. Rowdy is faced with a whole new life, and maybe, just maybe, it won’t be as trying as he figured.
In fact, with the “right woman” around, settling down turns out to be easier than he’d ever imagined. Rowdy finds—moment by moment—that he has friends he deserves. And he has those who consider him family—like Pepper’s husband who is, of course, grateful for the way Rowdy had kept her safe. Good people, I believe, recognize other good people, regardless of their background.
Rowdy, despite his faults hewn from a harsh life, is definitely “Good people.” Happy reading!
Last month, BookPage Managing Editor Trisha and I ventured down to nearby Atlanta to stop by the annual Romance Writers of America conference. It was my first RWA conference, and boy was it fun. Everyone was so warm, welcoming, positive and supportive.
But it wasn't just all fun and games. Before the glitzy glam of the parties, there was work to be done—though that "work" consisted of getting to chat with some of the hottest romance writers around, including Mary Jo Putney, Robyn Carr, Sarah MacLean, Elizabeth Hoyt and our very own romance columnist, Christie Ridgway. When they weren't giving or attending seminars or autographing books or catching up with each other, these gracious authors spent a few minutes chatting with us. We asked them all the same questions and then edited their responses into these five super snappy, entertaining videos. Enjoy!
What was the first romance you ever read?
What's special about romance readers?
What advice would you give an aspiring romance writer?
What is your favorite romance of all time?
And, finally, the most important, juiciest question of all:
Duke, vampire, Navy SEAL or cowboy?
We'd love to hear what your favorite romance novel is—and, of course, what type of romantic hero you fancy. Chime in below!
Is there a topic as universal and timeless as the relationship between men and women? It seems that dating "rules" are constantly changing—it can be hard to keep up! Luckily, these three guides offer advice (and one a lot of amusement) for today's single folks looking to couple up.
Modern Dating: A Field Guide
By Chiara Atik
From the knowledgeable experts at HowAboutWe.com and Harlequin, this frank, funny, super-comprehensive guide offers advice in small, easily digestible chunks, and is chock-full of informative charts, graphs and illustrations. Topics include how to wing for other women; the art of playing it cool; a dating profile decoder; 75 out-of-the-box date ideas; and a worst-case scenario sex-survival guide. Seriously, this book covers just about everything a modern gal needs to know about navigating today's dating world. Refreshingly, it also encourages women to embrace being single while they're dating and not just lament their solo status.
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Mr. Darcy's Guide to Courtship
By Fitzwilliam Darcy
The actual author of this guide is Emily Brand, but her pitch-perfect ability to capture the stodgy—and, of course, prideful and prejudiced—voice of one Mr. Darcy c. 1812 makes this tongue-in-cheek dating guide so utterly and delightfully amusing. Sections include advice concerning "The Lamentable Preponderance of Plain Women"; "The Language of Hair"; "If Your Charms Are Limited"; "Hints Towards Recognizing a Harlot"; and "On Roguish Behavior." Other 18th-century notables—including Caroline Bingley, Emma Woodhouse, Mr. Collins and Miss Maria Bertram—contribute brief essays relaying wisdom gained from their own courtship foibles. This book is sure to have Austen/P&P/Darcy fans swooning—though they should take note that "immoderate laughter . . . may be taken as a token of a disturbed mind."
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Smitten: The Way of the Brilliant Flirt
By Ariel Kiley and Simone Kornfeld
Smitten asks that you toss aside your preconceived notions of flirting as merely tawdry trickery. Acknowledging that dating can be so fraught with anxiety and uncertainty that it can reduce many women (and men!) to nervous ninnies, this revelatory guide is divided into two sections. The first (and longer) section is all about "unveiling your luminescence," which is fancy talk for believing that you're a pretty cool chick—curious, open-minded and authentic. Self-confidence is the foundation of becoming a brilliant flirt. The second part of the book lays out eight flirtation techniques—including "the quirky question," revealing intelligence" and "decisive decisions"—that will "tap into your authenticity" and turn you into a veritable man-magnet. The book's focus on authenticity brings a refreshing dynamic to the genre.
From Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus to The Rules to He's Just Not That Into You—do you have a favorite dating/relationship guide?
Have you heard? Harlequin is currently accepting nominations for its 2014 More Than Words awards, given each year to three women who've made extraordinary contributions to their communities, proving that heroines exist in real life, not just on the pages of books.
Each winner will be awarded a $15,000 donation to a charity of her choice and will be paired up with a best-selling Harlequin author, who will write a free, downloadable ebook inspired by the winner's story.
In this guest blog post, previous More Than Words winner Mindy Atwood shares the effects of her win on her charity, Patches of Light, and the experience of working with Harlequin author Cindy Dees:
Loneliness, despair, fear and uncertainty. These words are not typically used to describe a romance novel. However, they could describe the emotions playing through the lives of families with critically and terminally ill children. Hope, love, faith and devotion, on the other hand, are words that might apply to a romance novel; then again, they might also apply to any given moment in the life of a family dealing with a sick child.
When Harlequin Romance created their More Than Words contest—a fund that awards a $15,000 donation to women working to make a difference—they created a perfect combination of love, compassion and support. Cindy Dees, who wrote Light This Candle in honor of my charity, Patches of Light, described it so well when she said, “joining a women’s fiction publisher like Harlequin and a program like Patches of Light makes for a perfect marriage. Both are ultimately in the business of sending the message that love conquers all.”
When Cindy sent me the copy of Light This Candle, I was blown away. The emotions were real, and raw. When you are in a situation where the people you love the most are either sick or unable to be there for support, you need a patch of light to help guide you. That "patch" may be a card, a hug or a smile. It may be that someone steps forward to buy you groceries or pay your rent. It may be someone new in your life who truly wants to be there and support you during your journey. Each person is in a different place of hardship, so when someone donates to Patches of Light, we cover their specific need. Harlequin stepped forward and helped us cover a multitude of needs with their $15,000 donation. Also, as a result of the publicity from the contest, a very generous foundation donated another $15,000. They saw a need and planted a seed!
One of my favorite quotes is, “Dare to reach your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.” Harlequin, Cindy Dees and the people who support the More Than Words program have definitely reached their hand into the darkness and pulled so many hands into the light!
• Four YA authors are hitting the road this summer on the Young Authors Give Back Tour, holding signings, panel discussions, and even offering workshops to aspiring writers between the ages of 13 and 22.
• Open Culture has posted a recording of Flannery O'Connor reading her essay, "Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction." I grew up in the South, so Southern accents are certainly not a novelty to me—but O'Connor's is simply delightful!
• Are you one of the throngs of readers eagerly anticipating the September 17 release of Thomas Pynchon's new novel, Bleeding Edge? If so, get a sneak peek at the first page of the book.
• The folks at Kirkus have put together a thought-provoking list of 10 books that they feel represent the best works of their respective authors.
• A copy of the Bay Psalm Book—the first book ever published in what is now the United States, back in 1640—is going up for auction in November and is expected to fetch between $15 million and $30 million. Wow!
• Brain Pickings posted about a fascinating find: The Artists' and Writers' Cookbook, featuring recipes from the likes of Harper Lee, George Sand, John Keats and William Styron.
• Harlequin is accepting nominations for their More Than Words Awards, which honor women making a difference in their communities. Three women will be chosen from thousands of nominations. Each winner will choose a charity to receive a $15,000 donation and will be paired with a best-selling Harlequin writer to write a novella that will be released as a free e-book to the public.
• We will never tire of looking at book sculptures. Especially charming are these by artist Emma Taylor, found on Book Patrol.
• And, finally, here's a fabulous interview with two book designers for those of you who like to ogle (and fondle) actual books—not of the e-variety.
Attention romance lovers! Harlequin announced this morning that they've signed #1 New York Times best-selling author Sylvia Day to a whopping seven-figure, two-book deal.
Afterburn (August 15, 2013) will be the first book in Harlequin's new ebook series published in conjunction with Cosmopolitan magazine. Cosmo Red Hot Reads will feature strong, contemporary female characters representative of the magazine's readership. Day's second ebook in the series, Aftershock, will follow on November 15, 2013, along with a two-in-one paperback edition of the duo.
Of the collaboration, Day says, "My stories are known for featuring fun, fearless Cosmopolitan-type heroines as well as delicious, dangerous heroes synonymous with Harlequin. Afterburn and Aftershock will be no exception."
According to the announcement, two Cosmo Red Hot Reads ebooks ($3.99 each) will be released to eager readers every month.
What do you think, romance readers? Could there be a more perfect match than Harlequin and Cosmo? While you're impatiently waiting for August to roll around, check out our interview with Day about last year's bestseller Bared to You.