Jill Sorenson's Badlands is our January Top Pick in Romance! Single mother Penny Sandoval is doing all she can to stay cool and collected during her father’s hectic presidential campaign, but things take a dark turn when Penny, her 5-year-old son, Cruz, and their bodyguard, Owen Jackson are abducted at a political event. After being taken to the middle of the California desert, Penny discovers that their ruthless captor is actually Owen's estranged older brother. Owen becomes determined to save Penny and Cruz, even if his family reputation has dashed his hopes for winning Penny's love.
We caught up with Jill Sorenson in a 7 questions interview and asked her what she loves most about Owen and Penny's relationship in Badlands:
One of my readers said this: “She was the ‘gentle’ he needed in his life; he was the strength she needed in hers.” That quote sums it up pretty well! Another reader called Badlands a feminist book because of “its depiction of vulnerability and kindness as positive—yet threatened—aspects of masculinity.” I love that Owen will kill for Penny and her son, but his physical strength doesn’t make him cold or infallible.
Pamela Clare's Striking Distance is our Top Pick in Romance for November! The story involves a broadcast journalist, Laura, recovering in Denver after enduring 18 months as a terrorist hostage while on assignment in the Middle East, and Javier, one of the Navy Seals from the very team that rescued her. Our Romance columnist calls it "a steamy story filled with action, intriguing twists and an unexpected emotional wallop."
We caught up with Pamela Clare in a 7 questions interview and asked her what she loves about writing romance:
I really love the happy endings I get to create for my characters—something I wasn’t able to do as an investigative journalist. I can start with problems that exist in the real world, truly terrible situations, and I can make them better by the end, ensuring that the hero and heroine get their reward and giving the villain what he or she deserves.
Beth Kendrick's new contemporary romance, The Week Before the Wedding, is our Top Pick in Romance for May. This charming, funny story will appeal to romance fans whether they're married, getting hitched this year or are making the singles' table look good.
The Week Before the Wedding finds bride-to-be Emily McKellips looking forward to seven days of pre-wedding festivities and marrying her surgeon fiancé at a lakeside resort. But who should appear at the wedding but her ex, no longer the wild boy she married on a whim 10 years ago. Emily is forced to choose between the two men in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy.
We chatted with author Beth Kendrick in a 7 questions interview about weddings and hot guys, and her answers are just as funny as The Week Before the Wedding promises to be. We asked her why she loves writing romance:
"Plot problems making you crazy? Deadlines getting you down? Need someone to join you on a 'fact-finding mission' to a male strip club? (Serious research!) Author buddies are there to help."
Robyn Carr has been sharing the stories of heartwarming romances in her wildly popular Virgin River series for 30 years. The 20th book in the series, My Kind of Christmas, is our December Top Pick in Romance. It's a tale of the fierce attraction between Navy pilot Patrick Riordan and Angie LeCroix (Jack Sheridan’s attractive niece, if you're familiar with the series), both of whom have survived serious trauma.
We chatted with Carr in a 7 questions interview about favorite characters, the Virgin River setting and much more.
My favorite question to ask romance authors is always, "What are the sexiest scenes to write?" And if you weren't reading Carr before now (first off, you're crazy), her answer will probably convince you to start:
"Not the sex scenes, actually, but the scenes that lead up to the sex scenes—the caress, the touch, the shiver of expectation, the kiss. The seductive words and the growing expectation that it's the right match, the perfect possession."
There was one thing Angie did remember—almost dying. Seeing her grandmother on the other side. Seeing herself lying in an emergency room covered with blood. The only person she told was her neurosurgeon, Dr. Temple, because she wanted to know if she was crazy. He had said, “I hear that sometimes, about deceased loved ones helping with the crossover.”
“Is it real?” she had asked him.
“I don’t know,” he had answered.
She hadn’t told anyone else in the family.
Angie had been the passenger in a car one of her classmates had been driving on a cold, drizzly, slick March evening. A car on the opposing interstate lane had lost control, crossed the median and hit two oncoming cars. It could’ve been a flat tire or avoiding another car, but there was no villain; no alcohol or drugs to blame; it was an accident. That driver had been killed, everyone else injured, Angie the worst. Her classmate, Shelly, had multiple broken bones but was fully recovered now except for an ankle she said got strangely cold—she blamed the plates, screws and pins.
Angie had a couple of serious fractures for which surgery had been required, she lost a spleen, there was a collapsed lung and she had a titanium rod in a femur, but the big issue was the head injury—there had been an impressive laceration on the back of her head and while there was no open fracture, her brain began to swell and the neurosurgeon implanted a shunt to drain the edema. She had some memory loss which had slowly come back, except, thankfully, not the details of the accident. She had been in a coma for three days and then had to fight her way back to the world through a post anesthetic and pain med haze. They had wondered for weeks if this bright, driven young medical student would have any mental handicaps.
She did not.
She was forever changed, however.
This was where she and her mother had their impasse. Her parents were educators, professors, and the parents of three very smart daughters. To say they monitored their education and pushed them along trajectories they thought were in line with their desires and skills would be an understatement. And Angie had been happy to meet their expectations—she was proud of her academic accomplishments. She often felt it was the singular thing she could be proud of—she wasn’t athletic, musical or pretty. The only place she had real confidence was in her intellectual achievement.
She was fully recovered from her accident and could have gone back to school in September, but she chose not to. Her father, sitting cautiously on the fence, thought a brief break was within reason but her mother disagreed and wanted her back on that horse.
Angie wasn’t sure any more. Of anything. For one thing, she was done having her parents, mostly her mother, decide things like this for her. Angie grew a backbone and said, “I might not want to continue medical school! I might want to make macramé flower pot holders for the rest of my life! Or grow herbs! Or hitchhike across Europe! But whatever it is, it’s going to be up to me!” Donna accused her of undergoing a personality change because of her head injury and Angie suggested she’d finally found her personality and it was remarkably like Donna’s.
No one else in the family thought she was different excepting the fact she had grown wonderfully stubborn. And having Jack, Mel and Brie on her side didn’t thrill Donna.
Angie didn’t go back to medical school, though the dean did tell her she would still have a place with them if she didn’t wait too long. She didn’t discuss it with her parents or her Virgin River cheering section. She’d had a close-up of how unpredictable and tenuous life could be. One minute you’re buzzing along the freeway, singing with the radio, the next you’re looking down on yourself, watching as medical staff frantically worked to save your life and you see your dead grandmother across a chasm of light.
Once she realized she had barely survived, every day dawned brighter, the air drawn into her lungs more precious, the beat of her heart weighing heavy in colossal importance. She was filled with a sense of gratitude and became contemplative, viewing the smallest detail of living with huge significance. Things she took for granted before had grown in magnitude. There was no detail she was willing to miss; she stopped to have long conversations with grocery store bag boys, corner flower peddlers, librarians, booksellers and school crossing guards.
Author Beth Kery says that in the romance genre, there is a trend for "more sexual content, more graphic sexual description and more honesty about what happens in the bedroom."
After the success of the Fifty Shades books and Bared to You, it does certainly seem as though readers want "more" of all of the above—and Kery plans to deliver with her new erotic e-serial, Because You Are Mine, about the relationship between a businessman and an artist who live in Chicago.
Starting tomorrow, July 31, Part I of the novel will be available to readers for $1.99. There will be eight parts in all. The installments will be released every Tuesday until September 18. Because You Are Mine will be available exclusively as an eBook published by InterMix, the e-initial imprint of Berkley and NAL (part of the Penguin Group).
BookPage interviewed Kery about her serialized novel, which she hopes will give readers an experience similar to "watching a television show and anticipating the next episode." She said, "I think the small wait—the parts come out weekly every Tuesday—will help to build excitement and deepen an awareness of Ian and Francesca’s love story."
Are you interested in reading an e-serial, or would you rather have the entire story at once? What do you think erotic romance fans should read after Fifty Shades of Grey?
Our Romance of the Month is the fourth installment in Elizabeth Hoyt's Maiden Lane series, Thief of Shadows. This historical romance is all double identities, forbidden romances and really hot love scenes.
Writes romance columnist Christie Ridgway, "A sophisticated widow and a younger man with a dangerous secret clash . . . Winter tries to distance himself from the sensual lady. Not only is he beneath her socially, he’s determined to remain celibate to devote his energies elsewhere. But Isabel proves impossible to resist, even as she discovers his secret—one that threatens their safety."
Read on for an excerpt from Thief of Shadows:
“Moo,” Isabel muttered to herself just as the carriage door opened to admit her lady’s maid, Pinkney.
“Ma’am?” Pinkney asked, her blue eyes wide and startled. Of course, Pinkney’s blue eyes were nearly always wide and startled. She was one of the most sought-after lady’s maids in London and a paragon of the latest fashion, despite being barely past one and twenty and somewhat naïve.
“Nothing,” Isabel said, waving aside her bovine utterance. “Did you find out why it’s taking so long to move the dead man?”
“Oh, yes, my lady,” Pinkney said. “It’s because he’s not dead.” Her pretty dark blond brows drew together. “Well, not yet anyway. Harold the footman is having a time pulling him aside, and you wouldn’t credit it, ma’am, but he’s a comic actor.”
It was Isabel’s turn to blink. “Harold?”
“Oh, no, my lady!” Pinkney giggled until she caught Isabel’s steady gaze. “Er”—the maid cleared her throat—“the not-yet-dead man is. A comic actor, that is. He’s dressed as a harlequin, mask and all…”
Isabel was no longer listening. She’d opened the door and climbed from the carriage. Outside, the gray day was growing grimmer with the advent of nightfall. Fires flared to the west, and she could hear the rumbling of rioters from that direction. They were very near. Isabel shivered and hurried to where Harold and the other footman were bent over a figure on the ground. Pinkney had probably mistaken the costume or the man or the mask or—
Isabel drew in a sharp breath. She’d never seen the notorious Ghost of St. Giles in person, but she had no doubt at all that this must be him. The prone man wore black and red motley. His floppy brimmed black hat had fallen from his head, and she could see that his brown hair was tied back simply. A short sword was sheathed at his side and a long sword lay by one broad hand. A black half-mask with a ridiculously long nose covered the upper half of his face, leaving his square chin and wide mouth revealed. His lips were parted over straight white teeth, the upper lip a little bigger than the bottom.
Isabel snapped her attention up to her footman. “Is he alive?”
“He’s still breathin’ at least, m’lady.” Harold shook his head. “Don’t know for how long, though.”
A shout came from nearby and the sound of smashing glass.
“Put him in the carriage,” Isabel said. She bent to pick up his hat.
Will, the second footman, frowned. “But, m’lady—”
“Now. And don’t forget his sword.”
Already she could see a mass of people rounding the corner down the street. The footmen glanced at each other then as one lifted the Ghost. Harold grunted under the weight, but he made no complaint.
A crowd gathered at the end of the street and someone gave a shout.
The rioters had spotted the carriage.
Is Thief of Shadows on your TBR list?
Elizabeth Lowell would spend it "with family and friends," but the characters in her new romantic thriller Beautiful Sacrifice spend it traveling deep into the Yucatán Peninsula to uncover a Mayan mystery. And naturally, the whole "end of the world" thing only makes the attraction between archaeologist Lina and former Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer Hunter even hotter.
Be sure to add this one to your list of sizzling summer reads!
January is all about resolutions and self-improvement, but let's be honest: Sometimes (especially when the temperatures drop), all we want to do is curl up with a good book in a comfy chair and forget about all those lofty goals, if only for a little while. Bonus points if the story has a rich setting far, far away from the cold.
The story is about a woman who moves to an island off the coast of South Carolina and opens a bookstore—then takes a second chance at romance after the death of her husband. This is a sweet love story with a slow burn. The hero and heroine don't move too fast in their relationship, but their chemistry feels true.
To learn more about this story, read a Q&A I did with Alers. She talks about celebrating her Gullah heritage; writing a true-to-life love story; and becoming Grand Central imprint Forever's first African-American romance author.
What book are you going to read this January to get away from it all? Are you going to check out Sanctuary Cove and the Cavanaugh Island series?
Snapped, the fourth novel in Laura Griffin's Tracers series, is our Top Romance Pick for September! Writes our reviewer, "Electric chemistry between two believable and interesting characters coupled with the investigative details make this page-turner especially compelling."
After narrowly avoiding harm in a university shooting, Sophie discovers the real reason behind the killer's actions--but revealing the truth puts her life on the line. With fascinating forensic detail and high-octane sexual tension between Sophie and a homicide detective, Snapped earns its place as Romance of the Month.
While Snapped is a great romantic suspense, its opening hook is a serious (and for many, emotional) topic -- a school shooting. The following is an excerpt from the first chapter, and you can read more here.
Sophie navigated the busy sidewalks, longing for a pair of Birkenstocks instead of heels. She glanced again at her watch and knew, without a doubt, she was going to be late.
She halted in her tracks.
People shrieked behind her, and she whirled around. Her gaze landed on someone sprawled across the sidewalk. A man. Sophie stared in shock at the jacket, the tie, and the bloody pulp that should have been his head.
Someone’s shooting! The words screamed through her brain as she scanned her surroundings. She was in an open field. She was a target.
More shrieks as she bolted for the trees. A staccato of bullets. Clumps of grass burst up at her and she fell back, landing hard on her butt. Before her eyes, a woman collapsed to the ground, clutching her throat. A child in pigtails howled. Crab-walking backward, Sophie glanced around frantically. What was happening? Where was it coming from? Screams echoed around her as people ducked and dove for cover.
I’m a target.
She rolled to her knees and lunged for the nearest solid object--a cement block at the base of a statue. She crouched behind it, gasping for breath, every nerve in her body zinging with terror.
Where is he?
More gunfire. More screaming. Sophie cupped her hands over her head and tried to make herself small.
It's intense, but we wouldn't expect anything less from the RITA winner and best-selling author. In a note on her website, Griffin addresses her personal connection to the UT Austin campus shooting.
Check out our 7 questions interview with Griffin, where we chatted about great books, sexy scenes and favorite characters.
Snapped is out now! Are you picking up a copy?
Rachel Gibson's hockey series began with her first novel in 1998, Simply Irresistible, and immediately put her on the map as a NYT and USA Today best-seller.
Any Man of Mine is the final installment in the hockey series, and it tells the story of a Vegas vacation gone awry. Autumn and Sam were just in for a night of fun, but their tryst leaves Autumn hurt, pregnant and alone. Years later, Sam means to pick up where they left off and reforge the bonds created on that fateful night.
Here's a quick excerpt (you can read more here):
"There you are Cinderella."
She slapped her Cosmo closed and raised the brim of her straw hat. She looked way up into a pair of black Oakley's covering eyes she knew were a beautiful blue. He was even bigger and better looking in the sunlight. Today he wore a pair of gray Quicksilver board shorts and a white tank with large armholes around his massive shoulders.
"What are you reading?"
"Make-up tips." She tried to act cool as she shoved her Cosmo into her bag. Like she wasn't reading about penises and like outrageously good-looking men talked to her every day. "Have you been following me?" she asked the man she'd danced with at Pure.
He chuckled and sat on the chaise next to her. "Keeping my eyes open for you."
He dug in his back pocket then handed her the pink bead bracelet she'd worn the night before. "You lost this."
This was Vegas. Nothing was real in Vegas. Certainly not good looking men tracking her down to return a cheap bracelet. She opened her palm and he dropped it in her hand, the beads still warm from his body. "Thank you."
Any Man of Mine is already on shelves! Are you going to read this character-driven romance?
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