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Archive for February, 2012

Hey y’all! (Guess who just caught an episode of Justified? ;)) Today we have the super sweet and generous and Joely Sue Burkhart sharing a very special excerpt with us. Did I also mention the nice part? Well Ms. Burkhart has also decided to offer a giveaway! She’s sharing a bit of The Rose of Shanhasson with us! So read on.

As Our Blessed Lady’s last daughter, Shannari must rule as High Queen or the Green Lands will fall into eternal darkness. Her destiny is to shine against the Shadow, protect the land and people with her magic, and keep the Blackest Heart of Darkness imprisoned. Her blood is the key, powered by the love in her heart. However, Shannari’s heart is broken, her magic is crippled, and the nobles must have forgotten the dire prophesies, because everyone wants her dead.
Only love can restore her magic, but her scars testify how love can be corrupted. So when a barbarian warlord conquers her army and professes a love like no other, Shannari’s first instinct is to kill the mighty Khul. Even worse, one of the Khul’s guards used to be an assassin–a very skilled assassin, if the darkness in the Blood’s eyes is any indication. The same darkness festers deep in her heart and draws her to the wickedly dangerous man as inexorably as his Khul’s unshakable honor. Her weakening heart is not only torn between love and duty, but also between two magnificent warriors.
Yet neither warrior will be able to help her when Shadow calls her name.

Warnings: Explicit sex, BDSM, violence, a barbarian warlord, an assassin, and a woman who not only wields a sword but might also kill both warriors.

JERKING AWAKE, SHANNARI AUTOMATICALLY REACHED for the sword beside her on the bed. The familiar leather sheath calmed her enough to allow her to recall her surroundings.

After the battle, surrender, and subsequent challenge, the barbarian had dragged her away only to pause in the middle of the street, confused by the sights and sounds of the village. Not willing to sleep on the ground when a bed was available, she’d brought him to The Slumbering Lion and ordered a bath and food. As soon as the hot water arrived, he’d left her to her privacy. Clean and relaxed from the bath, she’d lain down on the bed, intending to rest just a moment, but the previous night’s long vigil had taken its toll after so much fighting.

The darkened room indicated she must have slept for hours. A low fire and candles on the table gave a soft, comforting glow to the simple room.

Water sloshed. Naked, the barbarian stood washing himself beside the copper tub. Thick slabs of muscle banded his back and waist. Damp hair slicked midway down his back. His buttocks were firm and round, his thighs columned granite. He raised an arm to wash beneath, drawing her gaze up broad shoulder, bulging biceps, corded forearm to his large warrior hand, fingers curled against his palm.

For such a massive, powerful man, he moved with a predatory grace that stole her breath. Heat flared between her legs, every muscle tightening. Her hands itched to explore that muscular body to see if his skin was as soft as it looked.

Averting her gaze from temptation, she noted the two other barbarians always close to Rhaekhar. Silent and unobtrusive, they sat on the floor against the wall near the door. The darker-headed barbarian flashed a smile at her but said nothing.

“There’s food on the table.”

Startled, she glanced back at Rhaekhar. He continued his bath, his back to her. Her stomach growled loudly, gnawing with hunger. When was the last time she’d eaten?

The covered platters on the table beckoned. Steam rose invitingly from the mugs. She edged toward the side of the bed, the sword still in her hand. Would he let her remain armed in his presence? She certainly wouldn’t if she were the victor.

Hesitating, she wished she were dressed more satisfactorily. A clean linen shirt and pantalettes were as far as she’d dressed before weariness had swept her away. He likely wouldn’t let her keep her clothing for long anyway. The heat in his gaze was as unmistakable as the bulge when he’d kissed her earlier.

Her heart pounded heavily. Trembling, she squeezed her thighs together, trying to still the growing fire. She couldn’t pretend disinterest in him, not when everything about him attracted her. Perhaps a quick, hard session with him would ease this insane attraction.

He picked up a towel, its size thoroughly inadequate for his large body. Still with his back to her, he bent at the waist and dried his legs. “Did you sleep well?”

Awed, she stared at his ass, her mouth falling open. Dear sweet Lady above, why did she keep looking at him? She wasn’t made of iron. In fact, she felt like a puddle of melted butter.

The smart-mouthed guard snickered under his breath. Embarrassed, she jerked her gaze away from the tantalizing view. Determined to continue her charade of indifference, she slipped out of bed and walked to the table with as much grace and arrogance as she could muster. Not another peep came from the shadows.

The steaming cup’s aroma confirmed her hopes. She sat down and drew the mug to her, cuddling the warm stoneware in her hands. Thank the Lady, somebody in the kitchens remembered her love for caffe. She would reward them with a queen’s ransom if she ever returned here alive and free.

Rhaekhar padded about the room, she supposed still nude, so she concentrated intently on the lovely hot brew in her cup and a thick slice of nutty brown bread she ate so quickly she hardly tasted it. Lady, she was hungry. Cheese and meat on another slice barely made a dent in her appetite.

Considering the small amount of food left, she hesitated. The barbarian might not have eaten yet.

He came up behind her and touched her shoulder. “Go ahead, Shannari. I ate while you slept.”

Panic closed her throat. She stiffened, half drawing the sword free. Why must he continue threatening her from her blind spot?

The barbarian did nothing further to alarm her. His touch was casual, not intimate. “I can feel your hunger, na’lanna. Eat your fill.”

Re-sheathing the sword, she left it in her lap and helped herself to another slice of bread. “How is that possible?”

He didn’t answer her question as he touched her braid. “Your hair is still damp.”

She shrugged, making her way through another stack of meat and cheese. Her hair was long, and thick enough that it took forever to dry.

He untied the end of the braid and began unraveling it. She froze, her mouth full.

“Come sit before the fire to dry your hair.”

She swallowed the food in a gulp and reached for her drink to wash it down. “It’s much too long to leave loose. It will tangle into an utter mess.”

Picking up her mug, he walked over to the glowing coals in the fireplace. “I shall brush it for you. Come.”She followed, watching him warily. At least he was dressed, if the cloth about his hips could be called clothing. It was entirely too small in her opinion, especially now that she’d had a glimpse of what hid beneath.

He sat on the thick woolen rug before the fire. When she hesitated, he reached up and took her hand, drawing her down in front of him. She couldn’t bear sitting there with her back to him, a possible threat no matter how carefully he pretended otherwise, so she turned sideways as she sat.

“You don’t need a sword to protect yourself from me.”

She hadn’t even realized she’d brought it with her. “My mother was killed by an assassin when I was only three. I’ve carried some kind of weapon ever since.”

“Even to sleep?”

“Most especially to sleep.” Rage and hurt made her voice shrill. She lightened her tone. “Assassins prefer to strike when you’re least prepared and the most vulnerable.”

He returned to his work, gently unraveling her hair from the braid. It took him a while. Never cut her entire life, her hair reached the back of her thighs when loose. He worked silently, his fingers firm, his manner unthreatening. She relaxed enough to sip from her mug.

Spreading her hair out like a cloak about her shoulders, he picked up the brush. He started at the ends with small strokes, moving to longer, more sure strokes when her hair was free of tangles. Smoothing his free hand through her hair with each stroke, not once did he jerk her head. She should pray her maid learned the same technique.

“I suppose you don’t have Blood here to guard you.”

What an interesting name for guards. “Oh, I’ve grown up with guards all around me. But none ever come into my room where I sleep. They certainly can’t keep someone from poisoning my drink.”

She didn’t turn her head, but she sensed his sudden intensity. His fingers closed about hers on the cup and he lifted the drink to his mouth. He sniffed it suspiciously. “It certainly smells vile.”

She drew her mug free and held it closer to her chest protectively. “Caffe is my favorite drink.”

“If you say so.” He continued brushing her hair. “The Blood are more than my guards. They swore their lives to me. If you were to unsheathe your sword in a threatening manner, one of them would reach you and prevent you from harming me. If he couldn’t disarm you, he would put his body in the way of your sword. He would die if need be to keep me safe.”

Scoffing, she shook her head and set the mug aside to lay her hand on the sword hilt. The two Blood still sat on the opposite side of the room. She could plunge the sword into his stomach before they—

A hand closed about hers on the sword. “Do you think so?”

She flinched back from the formidable Blood. Silent as a ghost, he’d come to protect his Khul impossibly fast.

“This is Varne, my nearest Blood.”

A cold heavy weight pressed against her shoulders, sucking the warmth out of her until she shivered. “Nearest?”

“He’s the last line of defense, the nearest to me at all times. This is Gregar, my shadowed Blood who used to be a Death Rider.”

So cold. She opened her mouth to ask where he was, her teeth chattering harder. A blade touched her neck and she froze. Blessed Lady, the Blood was close enough to hold a knife to her throat while she sat here, oblivious until he touched her with steel. As always when threatened from her blind spot, terror screamed through her body. Muscles bunched, her fingers locking on the hilt, her heart thundering in her ribcage. Her fear only intensified the sense of bone-chilling cold rolling off the Blood.

Varne removed his hand from hers and stood at Rhaekhar’s side protectively. Automatically, she started to draw the sword. Helpless with a knife at her throat, she couldn’t just sit here and—

The wickedly sharp blade lifted her chin higher and the sudden press of bare flesh against her back scalded her. The Blood whispered against her ear. “Shall I draw a bit more of your sweet blood for Khul?”

So? Thoughts? Ever read anything by Joely Sue Burkhart before? What’s your favorite genre? And how do you feel about trying other ones? Tell us! You might just win. ;D

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So this isn’t a very detailed “Feeding Shannon Stacey” post, but you know. Can’t win ’em all. There are also no pictures because well, it’s pretty self explanatory, and not that pretty. Tastes great though!

You know how sometimes you just need something sweet? It’s beyond want. I imagine most people have the ingredients too – and if not, they’re easy enough to get.

Take chocolate chips – dark, milk, semi-sweet, whatever you like. And if you want it a tad sweeter (and like a hint of vanilla), add white chocolate chips too. Just measure out 1.5 tablespoons, and put them in a microwave safe bowl. Nuke it for 12 seconds, then mix. (This is key, you don’t want to scorch the chocolate.) If it’s not melted, nuke it again for another 12 seconds. At this point, with this amount of chocolate, it should be done. (If it’s really still solid, nuke it for 9 seconds.) The power on our microwaves varies, of course, but it’s easier to add heat than take it away.

Anyway, you now have a lovely bowl of melted chocolate. To make it more decadent – add in 1 T of peanut butter. Whatever type you like most. Mix well. (Conveniently, you can use the same tablespoon measure, because solid chocolate wouldn’t have left any residue.) If you want to be really fancy I think a pinch of cinnamon would be really good too.

Now? Well I ate my mix with a banana. But I suppose apples, strawberries (though that might be weird what with the peanut butter), or whatever fruit you like.

If you’re on weight watchers or anything the points should be easy enough to figure out. It’s filling, delicious, fulfills whatever sweet tooth cravings you might have, and is better than eating a candy bar, or other junk food.

Incidentally – the method can be used to melt chocolate for so many other things. Mousse, for making candy, coating cake balls, and so on.

Now the winners.

Smartmouthtexan gets a lovely copy of How to Dance with a Duke  from when Manda Collins came and discussed book covers with us. (Please email me your address via the contact form.) And as for. B.A. Totuga’s giveaway of a $25 GC, and Carolyn Jewel’s offering of Not Wicked Enough? I’ll leave those open until next week. 🙂

Cheers!

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The last few weeks it’s been totally cool to be me.  I don’t necessarily always feel that way, but lately it’s been pretty awesome!

Last weekend I got to meet Meg Cabot.  Yes, that Meg Cabot who wrote the Princess Diaries.  What a sweetheart she is!  She had some really entertaining stories, and everyone who attended got a copy of her book Overbite as part of the admission price.

This is where I have to admit I won’t read Overbite, so I offered it up to a friend who is really excited to get a signed copy.  I instead bought a book recommended by the lovely Barnes and Noble Associate who was selling books that day.  It’s still in the bag, so I don’t recall the title.   After having listened to Ms. Cabot speak and having her sign my books I had to go back to the lovely bookseller and buy some more books for myself and for a friend!  Those wonderful signed books are also still languishing in the bags!

This weekend I’m going to another event where I will have the chance to meet Catherine Ashe, Caroline Linden, and Maya Rodale.  I am basically a contemporary reader, but I have been known to pick up a historical now and again.  I wonder if after having met these ladies I will end up bringing home more print books to add to my collection that I’m really trying to dejunk, but will never be 100% successful at doing as I know print books will always hold a place in my heart!

How will you be spending the weekend?  If you could meet any current author who would it be?  Would you be calm cool and collected when you met the author, or would you have to be all agog and tongue tied?  Should you ever have the chance to meet me I will tell you about the time I finally got to meet Robyn Carr.

In the meantime enjoy what you’re reading, and don’t forget to spread the word about the great book you read!

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In case you didn’t know, the lovely and talented Carolyn Jewel recently had a new release. Just look at that stunning cover!

I did a “Fresh Meat” post for this at H&H so you can read my thoughts on it there. Anyway, I always like knowing more about a book I enjoyed, so I came up with a bunch of potential topics for Ms. Jewel… and she decided to do mini answers on each! 

~*~

When Lily Wellston heads to the Bitterward Estate to comfort her widowed friend Caroline, she certainly does not have romance in mind. In fact the playful but level-headed Lily is amused to no end when, en route, a gypsy gifts her with a beautiful medallion, claiming it will ensnare the romantic desires of a stranger.

But Fate has other plans in the form of Caroline’s ruggedly handsome brother, the Duke of Mountjoy. One day at Bitterward and Lily can’t deny the sizzling attraction between her and the roguish duke. Nothing can come of it, of course. She’s not looking for entanglements and he’s practically engaged. But whether it’s her outgoing nature and the duke’s outlandish ways sparking off one another; or the mysterious gypsy medallion working “magic”—hearts are stirring in the most unexpected and wicked ways…

How did you come up with with Not Wicked Enough/the series? (I know it’s at least two connected books… I’m good with it being two.)

My two previous historicals, Scandal and Indiscreet, were both on the angsty side of the scale. Despite Scandal being a RITA finalist and appearing on a list of the 100 Best Romances, and despite Indiscreet winning a Booksellers Best Award, sales were, well, dismal. In 2009 and 2010, with the economy in such terrible shape, the feeling was that, no matter how good the books, readers preferred a lighter story. That being the case, my publisher was not wild about the thought of more angsty historical romances from me. It was only after I proposed writing something lighter in tone that we could move forward with a contract.

My proposal was a series of books loosely linked by a “magical” amulet, with no real magic (or is there?). As my agent will attest, I cannot write a detailed synopsis unless the book is already written. I never know exactly what the story will be until I start writing it.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned while doing research for Not Wicked Enough?

I’m afraid this won’t be very exciting to people who aren’t history nerds, but I learned a lot about Regency era door hardware. I needed to know how a doorknob might fail so as to trap my hero and heroine in a room. I was having the absolute worst time getting specific information that would answer my question, and I was beginning to think I’d have to do something completely different to achieve the outcome I intended with the scene. But then I got in contact with the president of a group of antique doorknob collectors, and he was kind enough to point me in the direction of two newsletter articles that contained everything I needed to know, with pictures and dates.

Although doorknobs existed in the Regency era (1811 to 1820) they were not the turning doorknobs we know today. Door hardware in this period had a metal plate with a knob affixed to it. The knobs, which can be quite beautifully worked, were essentially there for leverage. You grabbed the doorknob to move the door.

What made you choose Lily (the heroine) to be such a person for clothes and how much research did you have to do to come up with her outfits?

Remember when I said, I can’t write a synopsis until after the book is done? Well, this sort of thing is why. I didn’t make a conscious choice that Lily was a Regency Fashionista and Mountjoy (the hero) was not. I had no idea until I started writing.

It went kind of like this, and although I am condensing several days work, this is how it happened:

Lily has arrived at her destination late at night. It’s raining and she’s concerned that her pretty slippers might be ruined and that her gown might now have water spots. Well. Isn’t that interesting? (It was to me at the time, OK?) She sees a very tall man in the foyer with her. Very handsome. Also quiet. He has a tremendous presence, but, gee, the servant is dressed better than he his.

From that scene, it can’t be much of a surprise that a writer would really work the fact that Lily and Mountjoy are opposites in their feelings about clothes. For me, it was a key to Lily’s personality. She wanted beauty in her life. Why? Because as a child, she was not permitted to indulge her tastes. Her family didn’t have money, but now she has it. Her money permits her, in a small but not insignificant way, to prove that her controlling father no longer controls her.

As to research for the clothing, over the years, I’ve collected a really wonderful set of books, website links and images of Regency era clothing, so I had a great deal of visual information and inspiration readily at hand.

What was your favorite part of writing Not Wicked Enough? Your most hated?

For me, the worst part is the beginning, when I don’t know the characters well enough to know what situations will most challenge them and drive the story forward. The best part is when I know exactly what sets off sparks between my hero and heroine, usually at the 50-60% done mark. Then it’s mostly a matter of rewriting and rearranging the parts.

Isn’t Ms. Jewel sneaky? She basically got an interview out of me! Not the usual type we see here though. 😉 Have you read this book yet? Have you read anything by Carolyn Jewel? Do you read historical romances? Got any questions for Ms. Jewel on the nitty gritty of Not Wicked Enough

Ask away! One lucky commenter will win a gorgeous copy of Not Wicked Enough.

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Changes! And Swagstuff!

And I totally lost my train of thought. I meant to do this on Saturday. Then Tuesday. And both days time got away from me and now I cannot for the life of me remember what the third thing was.

So, first of all, changes are reviews! They’re going to be happening! I haven’t quite set a schedule yet. (As the “team” hasn’t been finalized. Nor requests. A work in progress, here!)

Secondly… more posts. Different posts! I know some [all] of you were like “more giveaways!” and I agree. Who doesn’t like a good giveaway? Nobody. That’s who. But – this blog was getting a little… :X author heavy, don’t you think? As I’ve said my intention was never to make this a promo blog. So, more reader contributions are in the works. (Which is also why I decided to pursue reviewing more seriously.)

I’m thinking Monday for reviews. I like it. I also plan on [pre?] dating one for February, once I re-read the book so it’s fresher in my memory. We’ll see about frequency.

But! You have a choice for the rest! As you know I’m working on starting a feature on male romance readers. And I’m also going to have a friend do random posts on… make up! [Cuz she refuses to talk about books because she’s a hater like that.] Anyway, said person is Jen B., otherwise known as Jen the Ginger Kid, and we can come up with a different name for her because I know there’s another equally awesome Jen B. who is a frequent visitor here. I like JTGK, personally.

My point is – what day would you like to see additional posts? Any preference at all, say it now or forever hold your peace!

Now! On to Swagbucks! I talk about them every so often. WTF is Swagbucks you ask? It’s a virtual dollar on the web. WordPress also always strips my links and yet I try. I try. The thing is, I’ve made quite a bit of spending money from them. At no cost to myself. You can earn rewards for doing things you normally would online. I’ve written a post about it even, trying to explain the basic ins and outs.

So it’s Swagbucks’s birthday come Monday. They’re doing this whole extravaganza and 130 in SB codes will be up for grabs, which kills me because I won’t be at my computer for prime SB winning time. You can “join the party” by copying and pasting the link I will put in the comments. (Sorry, unhosted wordpress sites don’t allow for affiliate links.) Up for grabs is $1,000! And you might say “but Lime – nobody ever wins those things!” I have. I’ve been really lucky. It definitely wasn’t 1K, but it was enough to make me happy. (A grand would make me really happy.)

If you haven’t signed up – you totally should do so. AND if you do want to sign up – before you complete the process, there’s a “enter swag code” line – contact me. I have a code you can enter to start you off with 140 additional swagbucks. Quick note, 450 SBs gets you a $5 Amazon GC. 625 SB’s gets you a $5 B&N GC. (Yeah I dunno why the disparity, but whatever. If you sign up with the code, you’re 1/3 of the way to a $5 Amazon giftcard!) What’s also cool is… if you want your ‘net usage to be altruistic? You can donate your swagbucks to charity as well! The code is good through February 27th, and worth 110 SB’s. (You normally start out with 30, which is how I got to 140.)

To all of you who have already signed up… I’m sorry. I keep asking the guy to give us codes. So, maybe some day. Or he’ll cut me off. One of the two. Let’s hope for the former.

And that’s all!

Recap:

A. Reviews to be regularly posted!

B. Girly stuff coming! Let me know what days you’d like to see additional posts!

C. Swagbucks Birthday Bash!

p.s. Thea Harrison had the whim idea yesterday (or the day before?) on twitter to do a feature on men who read romance – you can see it here – so you know – if there are any reading unicorns here lurking about, join her badass bunch!

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Yes, another spotlight! [I know, it’s agony for those of us who won’t be there, isn’t it? At least it’s something to aspire to in the future? Who’s to say? Maybe AAD will be in one of your backyards one year!] Today we have BA Tortuga visiting with us! A very nice post – and I hope a new author to many of you. Because who doesn’t like discovering a new author, I ask you?

Traveling, Mountains, Yoga and Inspiration

It’s been a crazy winter here at the house. Julia and I are saying goodbye to our redhead, sending him off to China to live his dreams. We’re planning on downsizing from the big house into a little condo, so we can save some money to buy our dream house in the Rockies. We’re also participating in a huge yoga challenge, which has been tough, doing yoga 6 days a week, but also incredibly satisfying.

In the middle of all of it, we went to Colorado for a week – mainly to house hunt, but also to see what I thought of the cold, the snow.

I also got to snowmobile, get into a hot springs pool while it was snowing, and take my daddy to Vail. I had an amazing cup of coffee in Aspen, flirted with a hot little waitress in Carbondale, and ate a lot of oatmeal. 😀

It was amazing, and while I was there Julia and I spent a long time talking about inspiration.

You see, right before we left, we were chatting after yoga class with our fellow yogis (and let me tell you, there’s something a little hysterical about this inked, pink-haired Texas girl calling herself a yogi O.o) and someone asked me where I got my inspiration.

My answer was *very* The Thirteenth Warrior. “I listen.”

In Colorado, though, I realized that was the very simple answer.

I listen.

I travel.

I go to rodeos and goddess workshops and yoga classes. I take weird clay classes and snowmobiling trips and white water rafting trips. I make friends online and at cafes. I visit yarn shops and coffee shops and weird little antique stores. I spend time riding horses down at Daddy’s ranch, play with any one of the 33 nieces and nephews (and one grandnephew, OMG) I have. I drive to Galveston. I drive to East Texas and look at the trees.

How can I not write with so much amazing life out there to explore?

I think, if someone asks me again, I’d have to tell them, instead of “I listen.”

I live.

😀

BA Tortuga
Because Sometimes Fistfights Are Foreplay

Bio: I enjoy indulging in the shallow side of life, with hobbies that include collecting margarita recipes, hot tub dips, and ogling hot guys at the beach. A connoisseur of the perverse and esoteric, my days are spent among dusty tomes of ancient knowledge, or, conversely, surfing porn sites in the name of research. Mixing the natural born southern propensity for sarcasm and the environmental western straight-shooting sensibility, I do my damnedest to produce mainstream fiction, literary erotica, and fine works of pure, unadulterated smut.

With characters ranging from supernatural demons to modern-day cowboys, alternative illustrated men to Victorian dandies, the addiction to history and atmosphere is everpresent, and laced through with sensual pleasure. my latest projects include werewolves, rodeo cowboys, and fistfighting rednecks. Please sign up for my newsletter for monthly goodies at www.batortuga.com

Ms. Tortuga is also very generously offering a giveaway. What’s this prize, you ask? A $25 Torquere Press Gift Certificate. That’s right. Twenty-five smackeroos! That’s enough for books! So I’m curious. If you’re a writer, where do you get your inspiration? If you’re not a writer [like me!] – do you have any sort of life mantra?

Or – less “zen” – do you like to travel? Where was your most recent destination? Alternatively, do you have any travel stories to share with us?

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Hi friends! We’ve got Manda Collins visiting with us today, as you can see! She was supposed to be here last Thursday too, but got a bit overwhelmed with her blog tour(s)? so she decided to condense. Which worked out for us, right? Because Myke Cole was here! We’ve got a totally different perspective about romance from Manda, which is also fun. So without further ado… Manda’s post as an AAD author!

Cover Me!

One of the first aphorisms one learns as a child (and I’m not sure why) is that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. And as a grown up romance reader, I long ago realized that sometimes the books with the most deplorable or boring covers are the ones I most enjoy reading. Look at the original Fabio cover of Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm, for instance. There’s no way I could have known from looking at that prime bit of cheese that the tale inside would be one of my all time favorite romances.

When the time came to see my own cover for the first time, I have little shame in admitting that I teared up. In part because of the excitement of seeing my first book brought so starkly to life with real people in the key roles, but also with gratitude that it was so beautiful. And secure in the knowledge that I’d have no qualms about showing it to my romance-skeptic family and friends. What can I say? I blush easily. And I’m darn tired of defending the genre from the Fabio stigma. It’s been twenty years since he was on a cover, people! Move on!

One of the things I adore about my cover is that the hero’s face, Lucas I suppose I should call him, isn’t visible on the cover. I know that some people deplore the headless romance cover, but I have a huge affection for them. Mostly because I prefer not to have my own imagining of the hero and heroine interrupted with the faces of the cover models. And as I get older the cover models seem to get younger and younger.

So, with those thoughts in mind, here are a few of my favorite cover trends of the past few years, in no particular order:

1) Gowns! – Largely due to the advent of digital publishing, which requires there to be texture to set one cover apart from another, it is difficult to browse a row of historical romances without there being at least one cover showing the heroine in a billowing gown. I particularly love the richness of the colors in gown covers. Like this one of Cecilia Grant’s A Lady Awakened. The tone on tone, coupled with the nuances of the velvet gown make this one pop for me. Especially with the contrast of the heroine’s red hair against the backdrop.

2) Breaking the Fourth Wall – This is a term from theatre, that describes what happens when an actor speaks and looks directly at the audience. The first cover I can remember noticing that did this was Julia Quinn’s The Lost Duke of Wyndham which shows the heroine looking out at the reader. And lots of covers since, including my own, have followed the trend.

3) In the Middle of Things – These covers are those, like Eloisa James’ fairy tale novel covers, that seem to capture the heroine in the middle of things. The first fairy tale story, A Kiss at Midnight is an especially good example of this, as it shows the heroine  running down the stairs, her glass slipper left behind. Another author whose covers follow this pattern are Kate Noble’s which often show the heroine racing off somewhere.

So, now I’ve told you what some of my favorite cover trends are, tell me some of yours! Do you prefer your hero and heroine with heads or without? Or perhaps you have some ideas about contemporary romance covers! Do tell! Inquiring minds want to know! One commenter will win a copy of How to Dance with a Duke.

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