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Everyone please welcome Harlequin author Amy Knupp who is the “October Author” at ALBTALBS! :D This sounds dorky, but I first “met” her on twitter, and then at a few conferences. She’s totally fabulous, and I think she’s the best.

1. Do you collect anything?  Good intentions and calories.

2. What would your ultimate meal consist of? Describe each course and beverage.  I don’t know exactly, but it would definitely include bacon.  And cheese…lots of cheese.

3. What was your first job? Your most interesting one?  I worked at Dairy Queen for a total of about 6 years in high school and college.  I still have dreams about making that perfect curl on the top of the cone (and I’m pretty sure I still could, even though it’s been a LOT of years.)  Most interesting job?  Easily the current one I have as a freelance copyeditor (www.blueotterediting.com).  Not only do I get paid to read, but I get to indulge my punctuation OCD-ness. :)

4. What are five of your biggest pet peeves? What do you think would be fitting punishments for each?  1. Drivers who swing their car out to the right to take a left turn.  2.  People who use the word “irregardless.”  3.  Insurance companies that think they can prescribe what’s best for my health.  4.  Radio stations that ruin really good songs by playing them every twenty minutes.  5.  Wizard of Oz comments when I tell people I used to live in Kansas.  (I hate Wizard of Oz.  Don’t judge me.) [I'm a little surprised Amy doesn't have punishments for them... she seems like she'd be the type. ;X]

5. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?  I’m not very adventurous with food, so it’d probably be some kind of Blizzard combo from back in my Dairy Queen days.  The most disgusting one I remember was Nerds candy and Whoppers…together in vanilla ice cream.

6. If you have to listen to a song 24/7 for four days, which one would you choose?  I would throw the iPod in the lake after about an hour, no matter what song it was.  I love music but need to have a variety.

7. Cowboy boots, Stilettos, or Go Go boots?  The only one I own is stilettos, so if I have to choose one, I’d go with that.  My shoe of choice would be my fur-lined Sketchers.  They’re ugly, comfy and warm, and during the Wisconsin winter, comfy and warm win out.

8. How’d you come up with your author name? Have you ever forgotten your author name/accidentally ignored someone when they called out to you?  My parents gave me the Amy part and my husband gave me the Knupp part, so no, I’ve never forgotten or ignored. :)

9. Who would win in an ultimate death match? A Ninja or a Viking? A ninja.  Vikings are all big and bad-ass, but I’m thinking they’d lack the finesse of a ninja.

10. What was your favorite book as a child?  There was a book in my grade school library called A Letter to Amy.  I checked it out EVERY week just because my name was in the title.  No memory of what it was about, but it just shows how important a title is, right? ;)

11. What did you do with your first royalty check?  What I do with all my royalty checks…pay bills.  Glamorous, yes?

12. What’s your writing process?  Plot and plot and figure and plot and start writing and then figure out my plot sucks and won’t work for my characters.  From there, I pretty much have to wing it.  You’d think skipping the plotting stage would be a good idea for me, but that causes me more anxiety than it’s worth.  That original plotting craziness seems to be a necessary step in order for me to get to the eventual story.

13. What’s the most unique/strange silly skill your possess?  I’m pretty sure I could win a belching contest but I’ve never had the nerve to try one in public.  (I do rule the Knupp house, even though I’m the only female, though.  My mom is so proud.)

14. Which is worst? Hang nail, splinter, or paper cut?  Paper cut!

15. What’s the first type of alcohol you ever tried to drink? What do you prefer to drink now?  Kahlua and cream is the worst because I detest coffee.  I prefer gluten-free beer…or vodka.  I try to avoid having them together because that never ends well.

16. Is there a genre you’d like to write but haven’t? What genre would you personally never try to write?  I plan to try young adult, but probably most of what I write will always have some kind of romance in it.  I would never ever try to write historical because I am a history idiot for the most part.

She’s giving away copies of her upcoming November book After the Storm. Have you ever read a book by Ms. Knupp before? What questions do you have for her? Remember, the more off the wall the better! :D

Hi friends! So I’ve been talking about this for a while. (Or, thinking about it. I think I first mentioned it in May?) I want to finally bite the bullet and make this a hosted site. Hopefully it’s not something I’ll come to regret.

Here are ones I’m thinking: (And yes I realize they’re totally different.)

So I could do http://www.Limecello.me

Or http://www.ALBTALBS.com

Or http://www.LimecelloReads.com

Or http://www.LittleTartSweet.com

Or http://www.TartSweet.com

I really like ALBTABLS and TartSweet, personally.

What do you think? Obviously I’ll remember my own site’s URL. (Or I should. If I don’t I’m SOL and that’s my own fault.) But what about you?! (Other than you know, you could subscribe, or bookmark, etc – but still.) I like the idea of making this more collaborative and getting input.

Thanks everyone! <3

Also – just thought of this – some bitch is going to go grab those domains and then I’m going to just stab myself in the eye. Ugh.

I want to get this all done before my SMSG 12 drive too – so really soon. (Might as well just rush it to get it done, right?)

Point is: which one do you like best? (Or do you have a great/fitting suggestion that isn’t yet taken? Obviously TartandSweet and Limecello are both already taken. Grrr.)

October Ads!

A huge thank you to the following authors:

And did you know it’s Ms. Monajem’s release day? That’s right! A Lady’s Lesson in Seduction is out today!

Did any of these titles catch your eye? :D

Condoms Don’t Like Teeth
By Katie Porter

It really seems like this should be a fairly straight forward concept. Condoms are thin. Super, duper thin, and we all know why—to increase the sexy times fun feelings, of course. Hell, Trojan condoms were sold by the tag line “Feels like nothing is there!” Of course that calls to mind plenty of other…shortcomings? Shall we say?

But we get the point. (Omg. Unintentional pun, I swear.)

Now. What do we need to keep away from condoms? Sharp things. Just like a balloon, condoms are poppable. And what’s at the front of our mouths? Sharp implements designed for cutting bites of meat off your food. Your teeth.

So why in the name of god would you rip open a condom wrapper with your teeth? Do you really want to put a microscopic hole in something that’s protecting your sexual health?

Which brings me to my point: I am SO VERY sick of reading this action in contemporary romance novels. In my head, they get five points for mentioning condoms—and then fifty bajillion points taken away for “ripping the condom open with his teeth.” I would personally rather have no mention of condoms. In that case, I can fill in the blanks just like I fill in heroines stopping to pee and brush their teeth in the morning. Maybe that level doesn’t need to be on the page, that’s fine.

But please God, don’t show me the characters being stupid about it! I get it’s supposed to indicate eagerness. The hero’s really into her, I understand that. I probably also understood it when he was walking about the pages with permanent priapism and when h thinks of naughty things whenever he looks at the heroine, but I liked that part. It’s lusty, not stupid. (Well, maybe a wee bit stupid too. But not all.) I mean, didn’t these characters have ninth grade sex ed? Maybe they were too busy gathering up a tragic back-story to go to boring ole’ sex education.

Now, in closing, I’m going to leave you with a spectacularly cringe inducing example. It’s not from a romance novel (thank the sweet baby jebus) but I’m hoping it’ll…stick around in your head a little while. A what-not-to-do, shall we say?

When he ripped the condom packet open with his slightly snaggled teeth and rolled the latex onto his birthmarked penis.

Leah from Hold ’Em never chews on her condom packets. Nor does she truck with snaggled teeth or imperfect penises.  Of course she whacks Captain Michael Templeton, her hero, with a flogger, a cane and a paddle, but that’s an entirely different blog post. Neither do Ryan nor Jon, the heroes from the first two Vegas Top Guns ever rip a condom open with their teeth, either. (See what I did there? So pluggy. It’s a failing of mine.) No condoms will ever be hurt in the writing of Katie Porter books, this I swear!

***

Up next for Katie Porter, the co-writing team of Carrie Lofty and Lorelie Brown:

Now that the first three of the RT BookReviews 4½ Star Top Pick “Vegas Top Guns” series have been released, readers can anticipate the final two installments, Hard Way and Bare Knuckle, in 2013.

November brings the m/m Christmas-themed Came Upon a Midnight Clear, described as “masterful” by Publishers Weekly. In January, Lead and Follow  will launch the five-part “Club Devant” series of erotic multi-partner romances set in a hot New York City burlesque club.

Where to find us: website, Twitter: @MsKatiePorter, or individually: @carrielofty and @LorelieBrown

We’d like to give away a copy of Double Down, Inside Bet or Hold ‘Em (winner’s choice) in any format. Just answer the question: Did you know it’s a bad thing to nibble on condoms?

Thanks again to Limecello for letting me vent!

Hi friends! We’ve got author Isobel Carr sharing with us today. I kinda had a lot for her to address (too much), so then told her to ignore me and write what she wanted to. :D (I’m kinda stuck on the “marriageable age” for heroines in historicals. Everyone ” ” says they have to be so young and once they’re 21 they’re “so far on the shelf” but apparently that’s not true – and it’s what spawned this post, one of those conversations with Isobel.

Paranormal authors have to create their worlds from whole cloth. This can be incredibly challenging, but not, in my opinion, as challenging as creating a believable historical world. No one (sane) can come back at you with “facts” countering the supernatural rules of lycanthropy as imagined by you, but if you screw up a title, primogeniture, or some other factual aspect of history, you’re going to get crucified. Harder than solid facts, is getting the “feel” of the period right, especially as each author has an individual vision of that period, created by everything from their favorite novels, mini-series, and the research books they’ve chosen.

I’m an avowed research wonk. This means I have a lot of rather dry non-fiction on my shelves, and that I read—and re-read—a lot of my books. I want to absorb the nuances and ideas they contain so I can synthesize them into my understanding of the period in which I set my books.

I’m drawn to the naughtier, raunchier, wilder people I stumble across in my re-search (as anyone who’s read my books knows, LOL!). So my favorite biographies are books like The Lady in Red (about a great heiress who became an infamous divorcee), Courtesans (featuring the likes of Sophia Baddeley and Elizabeth Armistead), My Lady Scandalous (about a socialite turned royal mistress and eventually spy). But what this means is that *my* vision of late 18th century England might not conform with that of someone who’s main influences are Austen and Heyer and Our Tempestuous Day.

My shelves are also filled with texts like The Family, Sex, and Marriage (fabulous information about everything from the age of marriage among the upper class to general attitudes of sex and behavior),  Alienated Affections (divorce and separation in Scotland), and The Rise of the Egalitarian Family (which contains a study of the development of marrying for love as an ideal).

I know that many of us *believe* that during the late Georgian period women married when the word “girls” still applied and that by twenty-two said woman was “on the shelf”. But the data outlined by Stone in The Family, Sex, and Marriage doesn’t support that. Stone says this: “Daughters married on average at about twenty in the late sixteenth century, rising to about twenty-two to twenty-three in the seventieth and eighteenth.” So if they were making their debuts somewhere between seventeen and nineteen, they weren’t expected to marry in their first (or even their second) season. Stone further states that the date shows that close to twenty-five percent of daughters of the upper class never married (compared to about fifteen percent of sons).

Given these numbers, especially coupled with the high mortality rate of pregnancy, women must have been remarrying in fairly high numbers as around 15% of men were married more than once [thus making up for their bachelor brothers]). I find this especially interesting given the social pressures on both sexes not to remarry (as detailed in The Rise of the Egalitarian Family). Trumbach gives several reasons for this pressure, chief among them concerns about preserving the inheritance rights of the children of the first marriage. But even in cases where the marriage had produced no children, widows were often discouraged from remarrying due to families (both hers and her deceased husband’s) feeling that by doing so she was alienating her natural heirs (who they generally believed to be either her or his immediate relations).

How does this all play into my world building? Well, it helps me come up with plots that I hope are original and surprising, but still historically plausible (even if reviewers don’t always agree!). My upcoming book, Ripe for Seduction, was sparked by the story of Lady Mary Coke and Lord March. March as a young man couldn’t seem to stop himself from making indecent proposals to every pretty girl who crossed his path. When Lady Mary returned to town as a widow, he made one to her. Furious, she determined to teach him a lesson. She promptly presented herself to his parents as his betrothed, knowing full well the only people whose good opinion March cared about were his parents. March did eventually manage to secure his freedom … my hero of course will figure out that freedom is the last thing he wants.

I went by title and linked what I thought they were, so my apologies to Isobel if they’re wrong! I’m curious as to what you thought though. I find this fascinating, and accuracy/realism does affect my reading enjoyment!

Hi friends! We’ve got author Christine Bell today sharing an exclusive excerpt of her book Wife for Hire, which is her newest release. (It came out in the middle of August.) Yay for Teaser Tuesday!

He needs a wife for three weeks…

Owen Phipps is out for revenge. His mission? To expose the man who stole his sister’s money and dignity. All he needs is a “wife” who can play along. Too bad his last best hope is an actress who tries to mace him with perfume when he offers her the role of a lifetime.

Lindy Knight is a real sap. She loves too hard, feels too deep, and often finds herself saying yes when she should be saying “Let me think about it.” She can’t believe her good fortune when Owen offers her more than enough money to hold off foreclosure until she can find a job. Three weeks at a resort, money she desperately needs, and she gets to help bring a criminal to justice? Score.

It seems easy enough until a couples bonding game turns intimate, and they realize how dangerous their mutual attraction could be. Can they keep their hands to themselves long enough to find the evidence Owen needs? Or are the close quarters more temptation than they can handle?

The blood buzzed in Lindy’s ears, and she stared at him, aghast. What did he think, people just went around buying up three-week sex buddies à la Richard Gere in Pretty Woman? She held his gaze and slowly slid her hand to her purse, mentally crossing her fingers that she came up with something more threatening than gum this time.

“Listen, Mr. Phipps. I’m not sure exactly what that’s supposed to mean, but I know one thing. I’m definitely not the girl for that kind of job. I want you to leave right now, please.”

His brow wrinkled and he reached into his briefcase. “No, no.  That’s not what I—”

“Don’t take anything else out of your briefcase!” she shouted, her heart thumping wildly in her chest. Now that she’d refused his salacious request, he was going to chloroform her or something. She was sure of it.

He ignored her and continued rifling through his case. She reached blindly into her bag and yanked out the first thing she could get her hands on. A bottle of body spray. Not ideal, but it would have to do.

“I’m warning you. Get your stuff and go, right now!” The puppies had risen and were barking like mad, adding to the chaos.

Owen looked up and frowned. “What are you—”

He didn’t get to finish his sentence because she sprayed him right in the mouth. She’d aimed for his eyes, but at least it was something. Sputtering, he bolted to the sink. As he turned on the faucet, she rushed at him from behind, pummeling his muscular back with her fists. She couldn’t run away and leave the puppies behind to face his impending psychotic rage, but it seemed like he didn’t even feel her blows.

“What the hell?” he growled, turning to capture her hands in his, hauling her into his chest. He scowled down at her, dark brows collapsing into an even darker frown and she stared at him in abject terror. Water sluiced down his chin, icy droplets landing on her neck. “Have you lost your fucking mind?”

His cucumber-melon scented breath washed over her face, and her fear melted under the heat of her fury. “N-no. Have you?” she said, raising her chin defiantly. Might as well brazen it out now. She wasn’t getting away. His body was like a wall of granite, the hold on her wrists like two iron manacles. Not too tight, but entirely unyielding.

“I’m not the one spraying people in the face with perfume.”

“Yeah, well I’m not the one coming into a woman’s house, tossing around lewd propositions, and not leaving when asked.”

His frown deepened for a moment, then faded. “If you’d let me finish, you would have known my proposition was anything but lewd. The contract specifically states that, if you did get the job, we would definitely not be having sex. Now, can I let you go or are you going to keep trying to hit me?” His gaze was wary, but his grip was already loosening. “I only want to talk to you.”

She hesitated.

“Lindy, if I wanted to hurt you, I could have done it any time. Even now.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” she asked. But for some reason, it did. She drew her hands away from his and stepped back, suddenly aware of their proximity in a whole other way.

“I don’t know what will make you feel better, but I can promise you this. I’m not going to hurt you.”

His stormy gray eyes were sincere, his expression earnest, and she blew out a sigh. “Okay, okay. Sorry for the whole spraying your mouth thing. I’ve been a little on edge since you got here, and I think my imagination got the best of me.”

“It’s fine. I should’ve gone about explaining it differently. Can we start again?”

“Sure,” she said with a nod. He still put her on edge, but it was different now. Not fear, but an awareness that was almost as terrifying.

Owen rinsed his mouth out a few more times and they settled back into their seats.

“All right, now for some background information. About six months ago my sister was conned out of her life’s savings by a man named Nico Stephanopoulos. Since she basically handed over the money, no charges were ever filed.” His jaw clenched and he continued. “But her money wasn’t enough. He’s now doing business in Colorado running a married couple’s retreat. I believe it’s a scam, but I need to get proof so he can pay for what he’s done to people.”

She nodded, the puzzle pieces falling into place. “So you need someone to go there with you and pretend to be your wife.”

“That’s the plan. As I said, I don’t expect…anything from you in the way of wifely duties. We would, however, need to keep up appearances in public and participate in various retreat activities that require a level of intimacy.” He held up a hand at her suspicious glare. “We don’t have to fawn all over each other, and I promise to be as respectful as possible, but there are sure to be embarrassing moments for both of us. I like to think an all-expense paid trip to Telluride and the twenty grand would take the sting away for you. Needless to say, getting justice for my sister is worth any amount of embarrassment for me.”

His gray eyes grew steely and she realized that, although he’d seemed unflappable in the face of the world’s strangest interview, he was not a man you wanted to cross. In spite of her distaste for charlatans, she felt a twinge of pity for Nico Stephanopoulos. Then another thought occurred to her. “What does your sister think of this idea?”

“She doesn’t know. No one knows. That’s why I had to resort to all this cloak and dagger nonsense. Normally, I wouldn’t be interviewing candidates for a job myself, nor would I place an ad in Craigslist. This has to be kept as far away from my usual circles as possible.”

She thought of her own brothers and how she might react in the same circumstance. “Do you think it’s a good idea to hide this from her, though? She might not appreciate you interfering. Maybe she needs to lick her wounds and put it in the past. Forget it ever happened.”

“Frankly, I don’t give a rip whether she appreciates it or not. She’s family, and I won’t allow his misdeeds to go unpunished. It’s more than that, though. He started off as a petty card shark, and his crimes have only escalated. If three quarters of a million was his last scheme, what’s next? Now that he’s had a taste of the good life, I’m guessing he’ll go to any lengths to keep it. If I let him walk away scot free, what’s to say the next victim won’t end up with something far worse than a broken heart and a crippled bank account? He needs to be stopped. Tell me you agree with that much, at least?”

The man was a criminal, and it really would be a shame to see more people hurt by him. Especially if Owen was right, and his behavior was escalating. Still…

“You could get a really nice couch with twenty grand,” he said.

Her head was reeling. Between the rush of adrenaline and the subsequent overwhelming relief at not having been serial murdered, she felt shaky and out of sorts. Not a recipe for good decision-making.

“What’s your time frame?” she asked.

“We’d need to leave ten days from today. The sessions are three weeks long, but if I get what I need sooner, then we would naturally cut the trip short. Should that happen, you’d still be paid the full, agreed upon amount.”

“Boy, you’re cutting it kind of close, no?”

“I began the interview process a couple weeks ago. If I don’t find someone this week, I’ll have to cancel and find some other way. You’re my best shot.” His expression was unreadable, but there was a hint of desperation in his voice that seemed out of character for such a confident, aloof man. Like he really needed her. Her heart squeezed.

Crud.

When was the last time she’d walked away from someone in need? Here was a man willing to put his life on hold in order to try and make this right for his sister, spend tens of thousands of dollars and saddle himself with a stranger for three weeks. She knew about that kind of love. That’s how she felt about Mal and Nate. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for her brothers.

“It’s not about the money he took,” Owen said. “I’m fortunate enough to have been able to assist her in that respect. He stole something far more precious. She was a sweet and rare soul. Believed in true love, silly as that notion is, and thought she had it. Always saw the best in people. That’s gone now, and he’s going to pay for taking it from her.”

The last was spoken with a grim determination. Not a statement, but a vow.

The words were out before she could stop them.

“I’m in.”

So what’d you think? Do you like the premise? (And you know, what you read?) As incentive – and just because Christine is totally awesome, she’s offering one lucky commenter a $10 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

I can’t believe it’s been four months. And yet is has been. Aish. You guys, welcome Julia Broadbooks! :D

I’ve always thought I wasn’t much of an erotic romance reader. I mean, I downloaded the sample of The Book That Shall Not Be Named, and didn’t even make it to the end. I wasn’t offended; I was bored. Which is how many of my erotic purchases end up: unfinished because I never really connected with the characters. But in the last couple of months I’ve been trying to push myself out of my comfort zone, reading-wise and otherwise. I guess I’m a victim of all the hype too since in the past few months I’ve tried a few much talked about erotic romance/erotica books. Boy, am I glad that I did!

After reading so many glowing comments (in particular from Jane at Dear Author) about Liberating Lacey by Ann Calhoun , I bought it, kind of thinking I wouldn’t finish it. I could not have been more wrong. I loved this book. I finished it a couple of days, and immediately started reading it again. The sex in Calhoun’s book is singe your fingertips hot and plentiful, but she never skimps on the emotion. To me, this read like a category novel – the conflict was all internal as the hero and heroine face their flaws and their fears and fight through them for their HEA. Watching two characters who I love figure out how much they love each other makes for a really satisfying read.

In a totally different vein, I downloaded a free ebook by Cara McKenna (the alter ego of Blaze author Meg Maguire) who I follow on twitter. She’s so fun to chat with that I wanted to give her books a try. Backwoods is a short, erotic, m/m book. It’s also a crazy dirty book. These characters have the high octane angst going on. These aren’t things I gravitate toward in my reading, but this title really worked for me. I was so invested in these characters that I couldn’t put the book down. I was in awe that McKenna could draw me in and make me care so damn much about Shane and Gabriel. I’m not sure this type of book is going to become a huge part of my reading diet, but I’m really glad I read this one and I have another short (Curio) by McKenna waiting for me.

The other books I been reading are mostly series romance. I’ve been pretty fascinated watching Entangled Publishing develop their different lines. I’ve read a couple of handfuls already and I’m curious to see how each line is going to develop its own style. I’d considered them similar enough to Harlequin’s lines, but while reading Wife for Hire by Christine Bell, it occurred to me that the differences between the two publishing houses go deeper than just the covers. Bell’s novel hits all the series requirements: fake marriage, shorter length leading to a more concentrated story, a strong internal conflict the hero and heroine have to work past to have their happy ending. But there were enough differences that it really stood out to me. There’s a bit of a light suspense subplot which was a fun change, but the big thing was the tone and the author’s voice. All through the book, even to resolution at the end, there is a certain playfulness to the book, that was really different and worked well for me here. Perhaps, stuck in my rut, I’m not reading enough new authors at Harlequin?

In my quest to broaden my horizons, I picked up new author Kathy Altman’s July SuperRomance title The Other Soldier. I don’t usually read military themed books, but I’d read a very early first chapter of her book and wanted to see where she was going to go with her story. On leave for a month Reid finds struggling Parker, whom he widowed. How do you work through that? Altman never cuts Reid any slack. Parker isn’t feeling forgiving. In fact she is everything but. She is angry and bitter but desperate to stand on her own. Ever so slowly over the course of the month, the pair has to work through their anger and guilt in order to find happiness together. I especially appreciated the portrayal of Parker’s daughter who feels so real, right down to her inability to catch a ball. There is even a sweet secondary romance that runs parallel. In the coming months SuperRomance will be adding to the word count of the line. With a nearly novel length and such complex story lines, these books really blur the boundary between single title and series.

Freshly purchased on my Kindle app I have The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis (yes, I am that far behind), Shannon Stacey’s latest All He Ever Needed. I have a couple of historicals from Carolyn Jewel’s backlist, Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville and Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean because even though I’m not reading much historical romance at the moment, I can’t quit buying them. I blame the covers.

The other upcoming book I am super excited about is Megan Mulry’s November 1st release A Royal Pain. Because I’m absurdly fortunate, I got my hands on an ARC and I can tell you it is one of my favorite books of the year. Witty and smart with a hero to die for and a heroine I want as a best friend. It will be well worth the wait.

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