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.
Our Top Pick in Romance for August is Jami Alden's scorching new romantic suspense, Guilty as Sin. Our Romance columnist calls it "a shivery, sensual and sensational read" that finds two former lovers reuniting to find a missing girl—and to heat up the pages.
Kate and Tommy's thrilling story had us begging for more, so we chatted with Alden in a 7 questions interview. Read more about Kate and Tommy, and which scenes Alden believes are the hottest to write:
"For me the hottest scenes are the ones leading up to the first sex scene, including the first kiss. I love when characters are becoming increasingly physically aware of and drawn to each other. It's a great challenge as a writer to find the unique things about each character that the other will be drawn to. Then there's the first contact—the excitement of a first touch, a first kiss. It's something that, once you're in a long-term relationship, you don't ever experience again. It's fun to relive that, even if it's just in my head."
Miss Daphne Dale responds to a newspaper advertisement looking for a “sensible lady of good breeding for correspondence, and in due consideration, matrimony." Writing as “Miss Spooner," she strikes up a practical correspondence with “Mr. Dishforth." However, when she meets charming bad boy Lord Henry Seldon, she finds herself torn between the two men.
Writes romance columnist Christie Ridgway, "What transpires is an engaging comedy in which words and deeds sometimes confuse minds and hearts, and the happily-ever-after seems just out of reach. A charmer."
In a 7 questions interview, we chatted with author Elizabeth Boyle about all the fun she has while writing historical romances:
"Truly, who wouldn’t want to spend their days wrangling dukes? But I love the writing process—the nuts and bolts of a discovering a story idea/characters, pondering the what-ifs and weighing the story potential, and then exploring those characters by telling their story. Adding the historical elements is like the frosting on cupcakes—so many choices and always the chance to toss in some sprinkles."
And tonight, Daphne carried high expectations she would be . . . would be . . . She glanced over at her dear friend, and whispered a secret prayer that when she found her true love, she might be as happy.
And how could she not with Mr. Dishforth somewhere in this room?
Yes, Mr. Dishforth. She, Daphne Dale, the most sensible of all the ladies of Kempton was engaged in torrid correspondence with a complete stranger.
And tonight she would come face to face with him.
Oh, she would have stared down an entire regiment of Seldons tonight if only to attend this ball. To find her dear Mr. Dishforth.
“Who looks a bit pink?” Miss Harriet Hathaway asked, having just arrived from the dance floor, looking altogether pink and flushed.
Meanwhile, Lady Essex was growing impatient. “Miss Manx, how many times do I have to remind you how imperative it is to keep one’s vinaigrette close at hand?”
Harriet cringed and asked in an aside, “Who is the intended victim?”
Tabitha pointed at Daphne, who in turn mouthed two simple words.
And being the dearest friend alive, Harriet did. “It is just Daphne’s gown, Lady Essex. The pink satin is giving her a definite glow. A becoming one, don’t you think?”
Bless Harriet right down to her slippers, she’d tried.
“She’s flushed, I say,” Lady Essex averred. Then again, Lady Essex also like any opportunity to bring out her vinaigrette, and had even now taken the reticule from Miss Manx and was searching its depths herself. “I won’t have you fainting, Daphne Dale. It is nigh on impossible to maintain a lady-like demeanor when one is passed out on the floor.”
Tabitha shrugged. It was hard to argue that fact.
Yet Harriet was ever the intrepid soul and refused to give up. “I’ve always found, Lady Essex, that a turn about the room is a much better means of restoring one’s vitality.” She paused and slanted a wink at Daphne and Tabitha while the lady was still engrossed in her search. “Besides, while I was dancing with Lord Fieldgate, I swore I saw Lady Jersey on the other side of the room.”
“Lady Jersey, you say?” Lady Essex perked up, immediately diverted. Better still, she failed to remember that she should probably be chastising Harriet for dancing with the roguish viscount in the first place.
“Yes, I am quite certain of it.” Then Harriet did one better and looped her arm into the spinster’s, handed the hated reticule back to Miss Manx and steered the old girl into the crowd. “Weren’t you saying earlier today that if you could but have a word with her, you’d have our vouchers for next Season?”
Just like that, the hated vinaigrette was utterly forgotten and so was Daphne’s flushed countenance.
A Lady Jersey sighting trumped all.
With Harriet and Lady Essex sailing ahead, Daphne and Tabitha followed, albeit at a safe distance so they could talk.
“You are taking a terrible risk,“ Tabitha whispered to Daphne. “If Lady Essex were to find out--“
“Sssh!“ Daphne tapped her finger to her lips. “Don't even utter it aloud. She can hear everything.“
It was a miracle as it was that the old girl hadn't discovered Daphne's deepest, darkest secret—that she’d answered an advertisement in the paper from a gentleman seeking a wife.
There it was. And the gentleman had answered her. And then she had replied in kind. And so the exchange had gone on for the last month, all anonymous and mysterious and most likely beyond the pale and ruinous if anyone discovered the truth.
Certainly, if Lady Essex found out that such a scandalous correspondence had been carried out right under her nose, then the only notes Daphne would be composing would answering the messages of condolences for Lady Essex’s fatal heart ailment.
“Do you think he’s here yet?” Tabitha asked, looking around the room.
Daphne shook her head, glancing as well at the crush of guests. “I have no idea. But he’s here, I just know it.”
Her own Mr. Dishforth. Daphne felt that telltale heat of a blush rising in her cheeks. At first their letters had been tentative and skeptical, but now their correspondence, which was carried out in a daily flurry of letters and notes, had suddenly taken a very intimate turn.
I would write more but I have obligations this evening at an engagement party. Dare I hope my plans might intersect with yours?
Daphne pressed her fingers to her lips. An engagement party. Which could only mean, he was here.
The January Top Pick in Romance is the newest in Jayne Ann Krentz's Dark Legacy series, the "imaginative and exciting" psychic romance Dream Eyes.
This sizzling paranormal adventure stars psychic counselor Gwen Frazier, who heads to a small town in Oregon when her slain mentor starts communicating. Psychic investigator Judson Coppersmith joins to help, and sparks fly.
We chatted with author Krentz in a 7 questions interview about favorite scenes, writing and psychic powers. We love her spunk, but maybe she could put her hypothetical psychic powers to better use. . . .
Are you a Krentz fan? She also writes under the names Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle. Do you have a favorite?
Eloisa James has put her Regency romance twist on a handful of fairy tales: Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, the Princess and the Pea. Her newest novel and our Romance of the Month, The Ugly Duchess, puts a sexy spin on that unattractive duckling (technically—spoilers!—a cygnet) with the story of childhood friends Theodora Saxby and James Ryburn.
Theo and James marry in their teens—Theo for love, but James to save his family's reputation. When Theo discovers the truth, she tosses James out. Years later, James has become a pirate, and Theo is a successful fashion leader. Describes romance columnist Christie Ridgway, "Time brings wisdom, and James returns to his wife, determined to heal the rifts of the past. Can Theo recognize the boy she loved in the commanding man who has returned? Dare she risk her heart once again?"
Author Eloisa James answered a 7 questions interview, where she shares her choice for Shakespeare's most romantic line and this explanation for her love of romances:
"The simple answer is that I love a happy ending. But a more complicated answer is that romance has a rhythm and a promise to it that appeals to me. I know the world is a tough and cold place; I’ve lost my mother and I have a child with a chronic illness. But—and this is a big but—I also know that love and joy make all the difference. Romance reminds me that if there’s a pattern to the universe, it’s one shaped around and by love. We can all use that reminder now and then."
"She loathed her profile almost as much as she loathed the dress. If she didn’t have to worry about people mistaking her for a boy—not that they really did, but they couldn’t stop remarking on the resemblance—at any rate, if she didn’t have to worry about that, she would never again wear pink. Or pearls. There was something dreadfully banal about the way pearls shimmered.
For a moment she distracted herself by mentally ripping her dress apart, stripping it of its ruffles and pearls and tiny sleeves. Given a choice, she would dress in plum-colored corded silk, and sleek her hair away from her face without a single flyaway curl. Her only hair adornment would be an enormous feather—a black one—arching backward so it brushed her shoulder. If her sleeves were elbow-length, she could trim them with a narrow edging of black fur. Or perhaps swansdown, with the same at the neck. Or she could put a feather trim at the neck; the white would look shocking against the plum velvet.
That led to the idea that she could put a ruff at the neck and trim that with a narrow strip of swansdown. It would be even better if the sleeves weren’t opaque fabric, but nearly transparent—like that new Indian silk her friend Lucinda had been wearing the previous night—she would have them quite wide, so they billowed and then gathered tight at the elbow. Or perhaps the wrist would be more dramatic …
She could see herself entering a ballroom in that costume. No one would titter about whether she looked like a girl or a boy. She would pause for a moment on the top of the steps, gathering everyone’s gaze, and then she would snap open her fan … No, fans were tiresomely overdone. She’d have to come up with something new.
The first man who asked her to dance, addressing her as Miss Saxby, would be treated to her slightly weary yet amused smile. “Call me Theo,” she would say, and all the matrons would be so scandalized they would squeak about nothing else the whole night long.
Theo was key: the name played to all those infatuations men formed on each other, the way their closest relationships were with their friends rather than with their wives. She’d seen it with James: when he was thirteen he had positively worshipped the captain of the cricket team at Eton. It stood to reason that if she wore her hair sleeked back, along with a gown that faintly resembled a cricket uniform, all those men who had once adored their captains would be at her feet.
She was so caught up in a vision of herself in a severely tailored jacket resembling the Etonian morning coat that at first she didn’t even hear the pounding on her door. But an insistent “Daisy!” finally broke through her trance, and she pushed herself up from the settee and opened the bedchamber door.
“Oh hello, James,” she said, unable to muster much enthusiasm at the sight of him. The last thing one wants to see when in a melancholic fit is a friend who refuses to attend balls even when he knows perfectly well that all three weeks of her first season had been horrific. He had no idea what it was like. How could he? He was devastatingly handsome, rather charming when he wasn’t being a beast, and a future duke, to boot. This embarrassment of riches really wasn’t fair. “I didn’t realize it was you.”
“How could you not realize it was me?” James demanded, pushing open the door and crowding her backward, now that he knew she was decent. “I’m the only person in the world who calls you Daisy. Let me in, will you?”
Theo sighed and moved back. “Do you suppose you could try harder to call me Theo? I must have asked you a hundred times already. I don’t want to be Theodora, or Dora, or Daisy either.”
James flung himself into a chair and ran a hand through his hair. From the look of it, he’d been in an ill humor all morning, because half his hair was standing straight up. It was lovely hair, heavy and thick. Sometimes it looked black, but when sunlight caught it there were deep mahogany strands too. More reasons to resent James. Her own hair had nothing subtle about it. It was thick, too, but an unfashionable yellowy-brown mixture.
“No,” he said flatly. “You’re Daisy to me, and Daisy suits you.”
“It doesn’t suit me,” she retorted. “Daisies are pretty and fresh, and I’m neither.”
“You are pretty,” he said mechanically, not even bothering to glance at her.
She rolled her eyes, but really, there was no reason to press the point. James never looked at her close enough to notice whether she’d turned out pretty … why should he? Being only two years apart, they’d shared the nursery practically from birth, which meant he had clear memories of her running about in a diaper, being smacked by Nurse Wiggan for being smart."
Romance fans: Why are romances your favorite books?
Anna Randol's debut romance novel, A Secret in Her Kiss, is our Romance of the Month!
Major Bennett Prestwood is ordered to Constantinople to act as protector and chaperone to beautiful British spy Mari Sinclair, who isn't interested in having a guardian. Romance columnist Christie Ridgway loved it for its exotic locale and the constant threat of danger.
Check out an excerpt from A Secret in Her Kiss, when Bennett is meeting who he believes to be Mari (read more here):
Bennett studied the woman before him--or at least what little he could see--a grand total of two brown eyes. Not even her eyebrows showed under the garish golden silk that swathed her entire form. Her native garb stood in awkward contrast to the traditional English decor of the ambassador's parlor, clashing horribly with the pink embroidered flowers on the chair beneath her. A dandelion in one of his mother's rose beds. "So you agree to the conditions?"
Miss Sinclair dipped her head, shrinking even further into the overstuffed chair. "Yes." Her words fluttered the fabric of her veil.
"I know it might be a bother to write out an hour-by-hour itinerary every morning, but it is for your safety."
"Yes, sir." She darted an anxious glance at the closed door.
Bennett paced in front of the large marble fireplace, then tapped his fingers on the mantel. Both of his sisters would've laughed in his face if he'd dared to make such a suggestion to one of them. He'd expected at least some protest. The sum the government was paying her must be substantial indeed.
Silence hung awkwardly in the stifling room. He eyed the shut windows. He still couldn't think of words to adequately describe the city of Constantinople spread out beneath them. The city resembled nothing so much as an aging courtesan's dressing room table overflowing with rouge pots and cream jars and a few candlesticks interspersed throughout.
He cleared his throat and forced his attention back to the woman in front of him. They could discuss the rest of his plans during the next few days. Now that they could claim an acquaintence, he could call on her without attracting undue attention. "That will be all for now, Miss Sinclair, it's been a pleasure meeting you."
She sprang to her feet in an eruption of silk and fled toward the door. Bennett scrambled to open it for her. The woman's work involved two of the most vindictive nations in Europe. He'd expected her to have more pluck.
Interested in even more romance? This month is full of great books to get excited about: romance trends, new series here and here, great romances for Valentine's Day and a guest post from Larissa Ione.
Our November Romance column features Jaci Burton's newest romantic suspense, The Heart of a Killer. It's a story of murder and gritty romance featuring Special Forces soldier Dante Renaldi and police detective Anna Pallino. Columnist Christie Ridgway loved it: "These are lovers to root for and worry over as violent death dogs their every step."
We chatted with Burton about hot guys and all the many reasons she loves to be a writer. I just love her description of the sexiest type of hero! Read our 7 Questions interview.
The following excerpt gives you just a taste of the tension in The Heart of a Killer (read more at Jaci Burton's website):
Anna Pallino's steps faltered when she entered the alley.
First, because she was in this godforsaken alley again, a place she hadn't set foot in since that night twelve years ago. Now she was back again, and someone was dead in the alley. Again.
Second, Dante Renaldi was back.
Those were enough to justify the stutter in her step.
Roman greeted her.
"What the hell is this?" she asked as she caught sight of Gabe standing next to Dante. "Old-home week? Dante comes back and you three decide to have a reunion here?"
"Then why am I here?" Something had obviously happened, but why would Roman call her to this crime scene? Because Dante was here?
And why the hell was Dante here?
She hated questions with no answers.
"Thought you'd want to know. That's George Clemons back there."
Third reason she almost tripped over her own feet. "George? Oh, my God, Roman. I'm so sorry. What happened?"
He laid his hand on her arm to halt her forward progress. "You need to know, Anna. He's been beaten to death."
She sucked in a breath and grabbed onto Roman, fighting to stay in the here and now. "And? There's more. Tell me."
She saw the reluctance in his eyes. "Tell me."
"Someone carved a heart in his chest. Right where..." He glanced down at her shirt, at her left breast.
Oh, God. No. The heart carving just like hers. Her scar throbbed and she resisted the urge to touch it, to rub the ache away.
George Clemons, beaten just like the guys had beaten Tony Maclin that night.
She took a slow long breath, then let it out. "I don't understand."
Dante appeared beside her, but she had no time for him. Not now, not when her vision was nothing more than a pinpoint of light.
Our Top Pick in Romance this month is The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley, which came out on Monday. With "understated sensuality" and enthralling emotional dilemmas, The Rose Garden transports its readers back in time for a complex, aching romance.
Here's what our reviewer had to say:
Recovering from a painful loss, Eva Ward travels to Cornwall and the centuries-old Trelowarth House where she once spent happy summers. One morning, she hears unfamiliar voices in the next room, and on a walk she encounters a mysterious man who seems to be from another time ... Eva concludes she has traveled back 300 years. Though she can’t control her comings and goings between the past and present, she begins to fall in love with Daniel Butler, a dashing man with a dangerous secret ... she’s unsure whether she can or should interfere in historical events—or if she can or should find a way to stay with him forever.
In a 7 Questions interview, we chatted briefly with Susanna Kearsley about The Rose Garden, great books and what it means to be a writer.
I especially love her answer to this question: If you could travel back in time to any decade in history, what would you choose and why?
What about you? What decade would you choose?
Our August 2011 Romance of the Month comes from Cindy Gerard's Black Ops series. With No Remorse stars supermodel Valentina and ex-SEAL Luke, and they find it difficult to resist each other while running for their lives.
Our columnist gives a little preview of the high-octane romance:
Val’s survival depends on trusting Luke, and trust is hard for her to give these days, even when she finds the man at her side so capable and so downright sexy. With the help of Luke’s team, they piece together the ugly truth. Righting old wrongs might mean losing her life . . . or Luke losing his.
With No Remorse came out in mid-July. Have you or will you pick up a copy?