Archive for March, 2011

Hey everyone! Please welcome the wonderful Jill Sorenson who is guesting today – she’s got a new book coming out next Tuesday, so she’s here to tell us a bit about it. And it’s really a perfect tie in – you’ll see!


No, not that kind of gang-banging! I’m talking about gangs on the streets, and gang member characters in romance novels.

A few weeks ago Brandy W. wrote a guest post here about Gangland, a documentary-style show on the History Channel. She asked “Why aren’t there any gang member heroes in romance?” and I answered with a couple of recs.

The first was Simone Elkeles’ YA romance Perfect Chemistry. This book has a dreamy bad boy hero who runs with a tough Chicago gang. The heroine is a cheerleader princess whose life isn’t as perfect as you might think. I’m a sucker for characters from different worlds and cultural backgrounds. I love the cover and the story.

I picked up Perfect Chemistry after writing an outline for The Edge of Night. I’d never read a gang member hero before, and I wanted to make sure my idea wasn’t too similar to hers. Thankfully I had nothing to worry about. Perfect Chemistry is YA, and high school dynamics play a big role. Although my characters are fairly young, my book is romantic suspense and the plot is very different.

The Edge of Night is about a gang unit police officer on the trail of a killer. Office Noah Young discovers the body of a cocktail waitress in a gang hangout. He interviews the victim’s coworkers and feels an instant connection to April Ortiz, a struggling single mom.

Eric Hernandez, my gang member hero, is the uncle of April’s daughter. He gives April money to help his niece and makes ends meet any way he can. Having been raised by the gang, and grown up on the streets, he’s involved in a lot of criminal activities. But underneath his hard exterior, he’s a good person. When he meets Meghan Young, Noah’s little sister, he realizes that he wants to change his life.

I decided to write about gangs for a couple of reasons. My family moved from a quiet neighborhood in Kansas to a rough, urban area in Oceanside, California when I was twelve. That experience made a huge impression on me. As an adult, I went back to that neighborhood to work with at-risk kids at a community resource center. I learned more Spanish there than I did in college, and I minored in the subject.

When I watch shows like Gangland, or read books with gang member villains, I don’t see the kids I knew reflected in the pages or on the screen. What I notice more often is a caricature, or a picture taken from the outside, looking in. I think Simone Elkeles did a really nice job of getting inside the hero’s head and portraying him (if not all of his choices) in a positive light. I hope I’ve done the same with Eric Hernandez.

I’d love to answer any questions in the comments! Please let me know if you’d like to win a copy of The Edge of Night.

You hear that? A giveaway! Also PW said this book is hot hot hot (actually, they said something else hilarious that might’ve referenced Penthouse? Jill – help me out here?) I’ve already got this book pre-ordered in kindle form, and can’t wait to read it! 😀

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Real Life Intrudes

So… you’ll notice my posts haven’t been going up at the “normal” time. This plague/infection thing is still kicking my butt. And now I’m pup sitting, which is a lot of fun, but time consuming. Plus you know, the boring real life stuff. I did just think of it though – what time do you prefer posts go up? When do you check and what would be best for you? Do you care? Originally I’d scheduled all my posts to go live at 12:03 AM EST or EDT. I asked twitter, then realized many most of them don’t read my posts 😛 Which is why I love all of you best 😀

One thing many people know about already but is worth highlighting again, is Operation Auction, and here’s a direct link to the ebay store – many things are closing tonight, I believe, so grab what you want quick! It’s an awesome cause, and the support for Fatin and her girls has been amazing.

Next… has the internet become “nicer”? Many people know about the complete author meltdown of one Jacqueline Howett, and it was nice to see Al closed his comments. Of course there was a… just outpouring of attention to it yesterday – as the internet is all about hype, yes? We all can’t help ourselves and look… but I noticed early on there were calls for Al to close the comments, and commenters berating other commentors for their “meanness” – it could have devolved into much worse name calling, etc. I was almost surprised by how relatively civil it all was. Well, aside from JH’s last few messages…

Has the internet gotten nicer? Is it the reading/writing community? Or… have I just become too cynical?

And… to the meat of my post.

I saw the story on my [local] news last week, and wondered if anyone else had heard about it. I asked a general “anyone know who the oldest person alive is?” And… I mean it’s not something we all think about. I wasn’t really paying attention to the newscast/story either, until I heard why she’s not going in the record books.

On the one hand, I get that a birth certificate, or some sort of proof is needed. I get that. I’m sure there are a lot of hoaxes and attempts to break world records just for the attention and fame. But… if there is proof, you know? There’s some question- there’s a Social Security Administration letter that proves her age, but the organization doesn’t itself verify age. So… the hoop jumping, to my mind, can’t be met. I get the requirements. I really do.

I’m just… disappointed it seems nothing else can be done in this case. No exceptions – I mean really. How many more people do you expect to turn one hundred and nineteen? I… that’s incredible. And… so sad. By rights, Rebecca Lanier should be recognized as the oldest person alive. (Possibly ever?) But… she can’t, because she has the misfortune of being black, and being born to slave parents. Yes, slavery had ended in 1892, but I think we can all agree small town Mississippi didn’t so much care for the births of black children at the time.

It just.. it makes me sad, and really made me think. This sort of stuff matters you know? It’s why social justice should be a concern. Yes, Civil Rights, and all that. The movement was in the 50s+. Slavery ended with the Civil War. But… repercussions do still exist and happen. I had a roommate in law school tell me that dog fighting was “just as bad, if not worse than slavery.” I… I really still have no response to that. She was an upper middle class white girl who grew up in a relatively small town in the Midwest. I just…

This matters. This sort of stuff matters to me a lot. We’re doing The Boy in the Striped Pajamas in Street Law Junior now, and it’s been fascinating watching my kids’ reaction to the film and the times. Their outrage encourages me, and gives me hope. Some things, they’re totally clueless about. And some things they can’t understand or comprehend because thankfully, things are different today.

But obviously, that doesn’t mean we can just forget about it. Am I going too far? To my mind, it really does tie together, and such an example shows the impact of how history isn’t a one time deal, or one off. Am I thinking too much?

Thoughts? Examples? Have you heard of any of that?

*ETA: Oops – in my “!!!” I forgot to include links to the article for Rebecca Lanier. What also made me kinda sad was how difficult it was to find them. I mean, I’m even going to accept she might not be 119. The point of my personal “outrage” is… I guess not viewing it on a case by case basis, you know? It’s not as if she’s refusing to produce a birth certificate… she can’t.

Articles I found: here, here, and here.

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These aren’t exactly reviews because they’re not that in depth – I’m still recovering, okay? Anyway, I’ve been on this huge historical romance kick since the year began and I slightly broke my reading slump. I realized the majority of what I’ve read have been historical romances, and in March, I’ve just been re-reading Lord Ruin by Carolyn Jewel and Pride and Pleasure by Sylvia Day over and over and over again. Until two days ago, I re-read Love at First Flight by Marie Force.

So anyway… I’ve read the first three Lords of Vice books and enjoyed them all –All Night with a Rogue, Till Dawn with the Devil, and After Dark with a Scoundrel, all by Alexandra Hawkins, of course. Gradewise… oh gosh. They’d all be in the B+ range I think? Maybe ADwaS would be an A-. Of course I’d have to re-read it to be really sure ;). But here are a few comments.

Alexandra Hawkins is positively gifted at writing bitchy secondary characters. And normally this would annoy me, but hers make so much sense. That’s another part of her writing that really gets me. It’s incredibly realistic and believable. Yes, her stories skate the edge and push boundaries – it is fiction after all, so excitement is not only expected, I would venture it’s called for. In many other stories I’d say it’s just too much, but Ms. Hawkins makes it work. I’m a believer. Not only could such an event happen, the way she writes it is practically logical. She’s convinced this skeptic.

Then there’s the lush romance, wonderful stories, and lovable characters. They’re by no means perfect, but perfect for the book, if not each other. I also love that the characters Ms. Hawkins writes has friends. There’s something so nice in reading about well adjusted characters that aren’t social outcasts. The hero and heroine fall in love because that’s what happens, not necessarily circumstance.

Oh, and the covers? Perfect. Absolutely perfect. Kudos to the art department on After Dark with a Scoundrel, especially. Not only does it look fantastic, but it ties into the story as well! As soon as I read about Regan’s amber dress, it made me think of the cover.

As I can’t stop reading Lord Ruin and Pride and Pleasure, you can tell they’re both good. I’d say the former is a B+ and the latter an A-. I love the characterizations and settings of both – also what’s lovely about both stories is essentially the hero falls in love first. The heroine obviously has feelings, but she’s more cautious. It’s always nice to see a hero who “has it all” wonder what on earth he’s doing “wrong” and why the woman he finally loves might not love him. That angst and woe you find in a tortured hero is just delicious. Carolyn Jewel and Sylvia Day do a wonderful job with their stories. And I have to say I’m thrilled both are writing more historicals. Yay!

Last, but not least, is The Seduction of His Wife by Tiffany Clare. This was also a B+ read for me. There are some things I take issue with – a throwaway word here or there, and then how quickly Emma gives into Richard. They haven’t seen each other for something like twelve years, and Emma is justifiably mad. She enforces rules, but only for about a week. Then yes, Richard has to “earn” his way into her good graces, but there was a here or there that… I’m just not sure. The writing, however, is wonderful. I also liked that the hero isn’t a golden boy. He’s realistic. In fact, some might even say he’s not a hero. He’s just the main male character. Richard has a sordid past – and this is real – and he knows a lot of what he did was wrong. His redeeming qualities are that he left the life behind, and knows it wasn’t sustainable and he would have become worthless. Also, he’s trying to change.

Anyway, the way Tiffany Clare writes Richard “growing up” is excellent, and Richard and Emma do have an excellent relationship by the end. Also, she starts each chapter with bits of letters Emma has written to Richard through the years of his absence- letters she wrote but never sent, and they positively kill me. It’s like opening my teenage self’s journal. It’s so perfect.

So, if you enjoy historicals, or have been wanting to try one, I definitely recommend any of the ones mentioned here. Go forth and read. And then re-read. I have.

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I’m not doing this in order. Because I don’t have to. A number of you have heard of Dorchestor hijinks and insolvency issues. Well… it gets worse. I’ve been a bit leery for a while now… and/so keep an eye out/be reminded – there’s a lot going on. Authors aren’t being paid, books Dorchestor doesn’t have the rights to are still being sold under their name… you can read about it here. There are numerous other links and places detailing it, but – you know. Be aware of the boycott, and think about how you’re going to continue on, etc, if you’ve developed a relationship with Dorchestor – authors, readers, and bloggers.

Next, I think everyone knows who Sue Grimshaw is… well she’s moved on from being one of the buyers for Borders to … an editor-at-large with a pub. It sounds very exciting, though nobody’s quite detailed what it means. Any takers?

For this blog… Jill Sorenson will be guesting next week, and Jackie Barbosa two days after. (Saturday.) The following Tuesday, you lucky duckies get Susan Lyons! All three will be generously hosting giveaways. You’ll notice that Teaser Tuesday has started, with Lisa Hendrix being my first guest… more to come – with Maisey Yates and Roxanne St. Claire as my “April Authors.” There may or may not be giveaways – you’ll have to stop by and see 😉

I’m also still super sick – have decided I’ve got a form of the plague. Anyone know where I can go and purchase a new set of lungs? Nothing fancy, just you know, ones that work. Which is also why I’m too lazy to try to hunt down pictures, stock photos, etc.

And… finally the reason you’re all here… 😛 Cuz these days I’m not that interesting… randomizer.org says that Kimberley is our winner! If you’d email me [there’s the handy contact form] – by Tuesday 3/29, please – I’ll get Love at First Flight right out to you 😀

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And the honor of the very first Teaser Tuesday excerpt ever goes to Lisa Hendrix with a blip from Immortal Champion. Enjoy!

The solar of Raby Castle was larger than the hall of most manors and far more pleasant, what with ell upon ell of heavy tapestries lining the walls and what looked to be acres of thick rugs upon the floor. Enough candles lit the chamber to make it glow like a clear dawn, but as they entered, a servant, apparently stationed there for no other purpose, hurried to light more. As he worked, they stood silently, Eleanor rocking up and down on her toes in a way that belied the bland look on her face, until at last the man finished and vanished with his lighting rush, leaving them suddenly and unexpectedly alone.


“Your woman is not here yet,” said Gunnar.

“No.” She lifted her chin to look directly into his eyes, challenging him with the slightest curve of a smile. “My lord father will not be pleased.”

His pulse pounded in his skull, silencing everything but the voice that urged him toward her.

“Then we will not tell him,” he murmured, and then somehow she was in his arms, her lips sweet and hot on his. With a groan, he lifted her against him, and her body melded perfectly to his, as he’d known it would.

“I dreamed of you,” she whispered against his mouth. “So many nights, I wished you would come. Wished you would take me—” Muffled voices in the passageway made her stop short. “Ah, curse it. She is too quick.”

She pushed out of his arms, whirling to face the hearth just as Lucy came in, followed by two maids whose arms were laden with clothes.

Gunnar stood there half stupefied, Eleanor’s taste lingering on his lips, her words ringing in his skull. Wished you would take me. Oh, yes, he would happily do that. But the sane part of him, the part not in rut, said she hadn’t finished the thought. Surely she hadn’t been so boldly asking him to take her. Trying to regain control, he stalked over to the table and poured himself a cup of wine.

Eleanor turned to Lucy with an easy smile, the roses in her cheeks looking like they might well come from the heat of the fire. “You were quick.”

“I knew you were anxious, my lady.”

“Aye, I am. And so, Sir Gunnar, I may at last give you your gifts.” Eleanor motioned one of the maids forward, her cool manner giving no sign of the heat they’d shared, a fair measure of which still clung to Gunnar like cobwebs. “First these. I began them when I heard that you had left without waiting for new clothes from the duchess. I knew yours were burned and that you would need something warm for your travels. However, I did not know it would take so long to give them to you.”

Garment by garment, she showed him a heavy winter traveling cloak and a full set of clothes to go with it, draping each piece in turn over the high-backed chair that Lucy pulled near. Then the other maid stepped forward, and Eleanor showed a second set of clothing, finer this time, cut from velvet and figured silk rich enough for a great lord. Together, they made up more clothing than Gunnar had owned at one time since he’d left home. They must represent months of work. Perhaps years. His lust faded away as he absorbed it all.

“You sewed all this?” he asked, stunned, when she had finished. “For me?”

“For no one else.”

“Every stitch by her own hand, monsire,” added Lucy. “She would not accept even my help, beyond the measuring and cutting.”

“My lady,” said Gunnar, and then could say no more. She’d sewn for him. No one had sewn for him except for pay since before he’d sailed. He swallowed hard, trying to clear the lump that clogged his throat, but it only thickened.

She rescued him by taking the wine cup from his hand. “Come. I had to guess at the size from what I remembered and what Lucy could add. Let us see if I came close, or if I must make changes.”

“But I—”

“Try them, monsire,” urged Lucy, and Gunnar found himself shedding his worn gown. Lady Eleanor stepped forward holding his new chemise. Ever aware of his scars, he kept his back to the wall while he stripped off his old one and pulled on the new in a single motion.

He smoothed and tested it and nodded in approval. “If you guessed as well with the other things, they will fit very well.”

“I used ties rather than hooks or buttons, as they are more forgiving if I guessed poorly,” explained Eleanor as he reached for the long-sleeved doublet that Lucy held out. “And everything fastens in front, to make it easier for you in your travels.”

“It will be that,” he assured her. With each tie he tied, the doublet formed itself to his body, until it fitted more closely than any garment he’d ever worn. It was time, he supposed. He’d been avoiding the new style of clothes in the fear they would bind, but the old, loose gowns were more and more the mark of cottars and not knights. When he flexed his arms and shoulders, testing, he found more than enough ease. “It is comfortable.”

“You sound surprised. Have you no faith in my skills? Let me see.” She stepped around behind him and ran her hands over his shoulders to check the fit of what she’d made, a common gesture made uncommon by the way her hands lingered. Gunnar closed his eyes and let his imagination play for a moment.

“It will do, I think. Lucy, the cote-hardie, if you please. I tried to leave enough room for a second doublet beneath for winter, but it was difficult to be sure without having you there. I had to mark your height and the width of your shoulders against the frame of the door where you stood beside the duchess. I had Lucy do the same, and we had nearly the same marks, so I chose the larger of each.” As she chattered, she helped him into the cote-hardie, then came around to tie the ties, deftly working her way down his chest. “Do I hear my father coming?”

Lucy went to peer through the grillwork that overlooked the hall. “Not yet, my lady. He has called for the chessboard.”

“Keep watch and tell me when he starts up. You two fold everything.” Eleanor smiled up at Gunnar. “See if the cote pulls across the shoulders, monsire.”

Ah. Grinning, he obliged, thrusting his arms forward. “An excellent fit, my lady. You guessed very well.”

“Test it fully, sir.” She glanced to his arms on either side of her and stepped closer to take hold of the hem of the cote-hardie and tug it down.

The gesture put her hands parlous close to his crotch, and a fresh wave of desire washed over Gunnar. Wishing you would take me, she’d said. Perhaps the thought had been complete after all. A glance over his shoulder told him that the maids were busy and that Lucy was still at the grill, watching. None of the three paid them any heed.

A slight shift put his back fully to Lucy, blocking her view of her mistress. Thus shielded, he crossed his arms midair behind Eleanor, enfolding her, embracing her without actually touching her. She tilted her head back to meet his eyes, and a slow smile curved her lips. She laid one hand on his chest, exactly over his heart. Her lips parted, ready for another kiss. Take me . . .

“Aye,” he murmured. “A very comfortable fit indeed.”

And Lisa has been kind enough to agree to stop by and answer any question, etc you might have – so please, let us know what you think! Also – what do you think of Teaser Tuesday in general? Good plan? Bad? Any changes I should make?

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While I’m out of town attending what I’m fondly referring to as the “Wedding of DOOM!” I leave my blog in the incredibly capable hands of Megan. She’s super smart and needs no introduction, really, since tons more people know who she is than they know who I am. Am I making sense? It’s the wee AM hours again and I’m still sick. Also – one of my favorite cousins is getting married, so the wedding isn’t so much doom-like other than I’ll be stuck with relatives. Like, a lot of relatives.

Of course, I’ll introduce her anyway 😉 Or at least, lead you to places where you can find more information about her, which would be her website, twitter profile, and Heroes and Heartbreakers (you know, that site I mentioned previously?)

**So anyway, you guys should pull up a chair, because this is going to be the best, most thoughtful post you see here in a while. At least, you know, until the next guest post. 😉

Thanks to Lime (I hope she doesn’t mind I call her ‘Lime’) for inviting me to come over for a visit today. [*Of course I don’t mind – everyone calls me Lime. In fact I jokingly said to a friend a few days ago, “If you wanna play in romance-land, you have to call me Lime. Cuz I noticed someone basically refused to in all emails.]

Like all of you, I’m presuming, I am a voracious reader. My husband calls me the Woodchipper because of the way I go through books. I lived in a remote town in New Hampshire for many of my formative years without a TV, and then when we did have a TV, it only got one station: CBS. So I spent a lot of time reading my parents’ books in the library.

I’m lucky that my parents did have a library; both were also big readers, my dad majored in English, actually (mom in archaeology; WTH, Mom?), and they spent the little money they had on pop culture: Books and music.

So at some point, I wandered into the room euphemistically called The Library, which was another way of saying a spare room where books were scattered across the floor as well as on bookshelves (cleaning not my parents’ forte), and found Agatha Christie. And the Bronte sisters. And Jane Austen. And John D. MacDonald. Not to mention Georgette Heyer. And I read them all, numerous times.

But what really shaped me, what defined who I am now is the series of Andrew Lang’s Coloured Fairy Books. The first one, given to me by a friend of my mom’s, was The Green Fairy Book. Not only did it include fairy tales collected by Andrew Lang, it had the most incredible illustrations done by H.J. Ford.

The way Ford drew women—slender, elegant, with incredibly long hair and delicate features—has remained with me to this day, and I picture heroines often carrying this kind of elegance even if they’re not described precisely that way. But they are heroines, and all heroines are elegant, to my way of thinking.

And the way the tales depict right and wrong, honorable and despicable, has likewise remained with me. I know, intellectually, that my view of the world is far too literal, but I wasn’t given very much moral guidance growing up (my parents were equally adept at raising a child as they were at cleaning), so I gathered my own morality. Eventually, when I came to study Freud, I discovered that my superego had basically been allowed to run untrammeled. Not always a good thing. Causes some heartache.

Anyway. Back to the Fairy Books. These books introduced me to foreign lands, ideas, people, culture, and language. They were what helped me through grades 2-6, and those were tough years. At any time, I could grab one of the twelve books and fall into the pages, certain to discover a delightful, delicious but also substantive tale.

I think the Fairy Books is how I came to treasure romance, also—not too hard to figure out, after all, since the whole concept of Happy Ever After originated from here. I still need a Happy Ever After, or at least a Happy Ever Pending, and I can recall almost every single one of the stories in those books to this day, even though I haven’t read them in likely 30 years.

Thanks for letting me share, Lime.

I’m pretty much still processing, and stunned at the gorgeous picture. Thank you for guesting, Megan! I absolutely love Fairy Tales – and let me just drag down the level of this post – after all, I grew up on Disney! The actual Grimm tales are a bit much, but Hans Christian Anderson is grouped all in that for me too in childhood happiness and love. Hey – I warned you! Vacuous! Anyway, I’ll stop now, and let you talk with Megan 😀

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Everyone’s Irish today! 😉 I’ve done Chinese/the Lunar New Year, Arbor Day, and this year, I’m going with St. Patty’s Day! Really it’s perfect because I’m green. Limes generally are, you know 😉 Then there’s the fact that people often ask me if I’m Irish. It’s… funny. (I’m not, by the way.) I do, however, love a good Irish Pub – even the American versions of them. The best part is I don’t even drink beer. Somehow, it all works out.

I tried to think of books with green covers, or ones with Irish themes and all… but while browsing amazon, I came across Love at First Flight by Marie Force.

I re-read it on a whim a few days ago, and was up until 4 AM, because I couldn’t stop. I had to finish the whole thing. It just killed me. In fact, here’s an amazing quote.

“I’m only asking you for one thing, Juliana. Come find me. I’ll either be here or in Newport – you know where – and I’ll be waiting for you. I don’t care if it’s a week, a year, five years, twenty years. Find me.”
“But surely you’ll be married with a family -”
He shook his head. “Never. It’s you or no one. So don’t think for a minute I won’t still want you or that my pride is too wounded to forgive you. I’ve already forgiven you. That’s how much I love you.”

See? You want this book. Now, I know it’s St. Patrick’s Day and everything is supposed to be all green… and I tried to think of books with green covers, or ones with Irish themes… but – see this one is purple, and it’s complimentary color is green! So it’s perfect, right? And Michael? His family is Irish! A large Irish family that’s absolutely wonderful. It words for St. Patrick’s. (And it’s a free book so you’ll take it and you’ll like it.) 😛

You want proof? It’s very green. Totally Irish and St. Patrick’s-ey.

I hope all of you have a wonderful and lucky very green day. Go get yourself a Shamrock Shake from Mickey D’s. Eat some delicious corned beef with green beer, and all that good stuff.

So my questions are – how do you feel about St. Patrick’s Day? Have any special celebrations or customs?  Lastly, what random holiday should I celebrate with a giveaway next year? Answer these and you’re entered to win a lovely kindle copy of Love at First Flight. (It just makes sense, yes? St. Patty’s being the whole green holiday, and green living…)

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