Legend of the Fae

Legend of the Fae: A Highland Fantasy by April Holthaus

legend of the fae

Overview by Amazon:

The Legend begins…

After returning home from battle against a neighboring clan, Laird Galen Graham stumbles upon an injured woman in desperate need of care and protection. Wanting to return her to her family becomes a difficult task when he discovers the lass cannot speak. While trying to solve the mystery behind who she is, Galen finds himself falling in love with a lass he knows nothing about.

Ella of Andor, knows nothing but wickedness and blood thirst for power as she follows in the footsteps of her predecessor, Alaris; a dark Fae queen. But while heading on a quest to ensure her people’s victory against their enemy, she is led to the heart of the Highlands where she soon discovers the truth about her past that would change her life forever.

For centuries, stories of the Fae have been passed down from generation to generation throughout the Scottish Highlands. Over time, the truth of their existence was reduced to nothing more than childhood fairytales. Until now!

Follow Ella and Galen’s fantastic journey filled with magic, danger, love, and mystery.

A good story filled with fantasy and Highlanders – a great start to a series. This book is the first that I have read by April Holthaus so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was the perfect blend of the Scottish mortal world and the realm beyond.

The Scottish people have had many mystical elements in their history. Loch Ness, changelings and fairies. It is the fae element is the focus of this story. It opens with the teenage love between Ella and Galen. What they feel for each other is just about to blossom into love when Ella is taken by a beautiful woman, who also takes twelve other children. Galen had a pretty crappy life and it just got worse once his best friend disappeared.

The story picks up ten years later. We meet Galen and Ella in their respective lives. Galen is now the Laird of the Graham clan. He has been dealing with battles with neighbouring clans and is hopeful for peace. He puts the needs of his clan above his own and while he is close to all, none hold his heart. He seems lonely even though he is surrounded by people. There was a vulnerability to him that made him an honest and likeable character.

Ella is nothing like what I expected. We are re-introduced to her while she is interrogating someone and ordering their death. I was a little nervous about where things were going. How was I supposed to like her if she was so evil? But it appears that Ella was brainwashed ten years ago when she was taken. Except she doesn’t know who she really is, she believes that she is a fae. Of course, we know different and I was really intrigued to find out how they would reunite.

There is a complex, political battle between good and evil fairies which continues throughout the story. However, it was when Ella returned to the mortal world that I enjoyed the story the most. Her time with Galen in the castle was a special part of the story. They developed a great intimacy and while there was only one kiss, it was the kind of intimacy that comes from getting to know a person. The heat level of this book was mild, but there is so much plot it would have been odd to have love scenes without the characters in that point of their relationship.

If you like Scottish heros and paranormal plot points than this is the book for you!

Wolf Bride

Wolf Bride (Lust in the Tudor Court) by Elizabeth Moss

wolf bride

Overview by Amazon:

Bound to him against her will…

Lord Wolf, hardened soldier and expert lover, has come to King Henry VIII’s court to claim his new bride: a girl who has intrigued him since he first saw her riding across the Yorkshire moors.

Eloise Tyrell, now lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn, has other ideas. She has no desire to submit to a man she barely knows and who-though she is loath to admit it-frightens her more than a little.

Their first kiss awakens in both a fierce desire that bares them to the soul. But as the court erupts into scandal around the ill-fated Queen, Eloise sees firsthand what happens when powerful men tire of their wives…

One of the great things about video on demand is that you can blow through season after season and not have to wait between episodes.  I think that is what is so hard about Outlander – having to wait!  My husband and I discovered the Tudors on demand and spent the past week watching all about King Henry’s court.  I’m so glad that I didn’t pick up this book (which was a fluke) until I had finished watching the series.  I would have enjoyed this book regardless, but since I had just been immersed in the world of Henry and Anne Boleyn, the book really came to life for me.

The elaborate costumes, the halls of palaces and the courtly manners of the time are all well described in the book.  Maybe it’s because I had just finished watching countless hours of this time in period, but I had no trouble imagining the beautiful dresses Eloise wore or the lush rooms of Whitehall Palace.  The author seems to understand that this may not be a time period that readers are familiar with and does a great job describing and explaining the customs of the time without it feeling like a history lesson.

Eloise is a lady in waiting to Anne Boleyn.  She seems comfortable with her life at court, although the danger and intrigue does not appear to have corrupted her.  While she has the hots for this courtier Simon, she is to be wed to her neighbour in the North and the King’s favourite soldier, Lord Wolf.  The author really explores her fears, passions, thoughts and emotions.  While it is well written, it was important to know her thoughts otherwise you wanted to shake her at times for her worries.  Wolf is a man through and through.  He doesn’t want to play the games that courtiers engage in.  He lusts after Eloise and she is scared at times by his manner.

Wolf is described as tall, dark haired and walks with a limp due to his military campaigns.  He has had his heart broken as a young man when his fiancé ran away.  He vows to never love again and has not developed his wooing skills.  To say they are rusty is an understatement.  Instead of allying Eloise’s fears, he seems to say the wrong thing and enflame her fears, anger and pride.

When the crisis at court over the Queen’s behaviour threatens their new marriage, it is crunch time.  Will they survive the deadly games afoot or lose more than each other?  This plot point brings a lot of tense and nervous moments for the reader.  It was fascinating to see the trial of Queen Anne from their perspective, even though we all know how things play out.

This book is wickedly hot.  Like scorching off the pages.  One thing I really liked was that Eloise had an interest in sex even though she was a virgin.  She experienced desire and wants.  She certainly was exposed to a lot at court, but was still very innocent and didn’t quite know how to deal with the feelings she had for her new husband.  They definitely do not have the typical marriage where the husband visits for ‘conjugal visits’.  Wolf wants to possess Eloise and he is driven mad by her passionate responses.

This book has it all for those who like historical romances.  Great historical plot points and well developed.  Hot and very steamy love scenes featuring two characters who are interesting.  I really liked the secondary characters, especially Hugh and Eloise’s sister Suzanna.  They are the subjects of the next book so it will be fascinating to see how the story continues along the time line of King Henry.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books that feature characters who were…

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a tricky one!  It’s pretty open ended and I had to really think hard about what I wanted to explore.

This week the theme is Top Ten Books Which Features Characters Who Are Widowers.  I finally settled on this theme because I fear that I am becoming too repetitive in my posts.  While writing about time travellers or virgins or Scottish hunks is SO much fun, I wanted to branch out a bit.  So here is my attempt!

1.  The Edge of Desire by Stephanie Laurens

the edge of desire

Great characters and reunited lovers!  One of Stephanie Laurens best books in the Bastion Club!  Spirited Letitia leads Christian on a merry chase!

2.  A Gentleman’s Honour by Stephanie Laurens

a gentlemans honour

Another Bastion Club novel with a ‘widow’ as the lead, but with a twist.  Alicia is pretending to be a widow to satisfy society expectations.  Tony is in for the surprise of his life!

3.  The Widow Wager by Jess Michaels

the widow wager

I just read this book and it was pretty steamy!  One great thing about widows is that they don’t have the same challenges that debutantes do!  Crispin and Gemma are great characters and the book is realistic and addresses some deep issues.

4.  Beauty Like the Night by Liz Carlyle

beauty like the night

I really like Liz Carlyle’s books!  This one was full of angst and issues.  The characters are great and like all of her books, very steamy!

5.  A Highlander’s Passion by Vonnie Davis

a highlanders passion

I LOVED this book!  I’m not huge on the whole shapeshifter thing, but this series is just amazing!  Kenzie is a widow who lost her child and Bryce wants to be there to comfort her.  Steamy and smoking hot, this book explores loss and reunited lovers.  Awesome book!

6.  Reckless Wager by Christy Carlyle

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Murder, mystery and a widow of ten years…awesome story!  Great characters and a mystery along with it!

7.  Highland Guard by Hannah Howell

highland guard hannah howell

A sinful deception…two people who remember a passion that would ignite them!  Another great book by Hannah Howell!  If you like Scots, then this is a book for you!

8.  Once and Always by Judith McNaught

once and always

A twist – the male is the widow and marriage was so brutal, he has an iron heart.  Proud Victoria tempts him like no other and makes Jason want things he shouldn’t.  A great book by the amazing Judith McNaught.

9.  Captured by the Laird by Margaret Mallory

captured by a laird

Alison was looking forward to widowhood until David spies her.  He is known as the Beast, but this beauty captures his attention just like he captures her.  Steamy and smart!

10.  The Secrets of a Scoundrel by Gaelen Foley

secrets of a scoundrel

A strong willed woman and a disgraced spy.  Travel over England and France with lots of lust and mystery – a fantastic combination!

What are your favourite books with widows?  Let me know!

Outlander Review – Lallybroch

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So this episode is titled ‘Lallybroch’ and it really is Jamie’s story.  This episode was a little slower compared to the last few.  No one died and after Claire’s witch trial and big reveal, they could use a little time to catch their breaths.

The look of pride on Jamie’s face when he first sees Lallybroch was beautiful.  Sam Heughan managed to really capture the longing and hope that Jamie must have felt after four years away.  Things are not perfect when the Laird returns.  His sister Jennie is a real firecracker.  Part of me found it justifiable that she was so angry and yet she was so prickly that it was hard to like her at first.

The intimacy between Claire and Jamie is pretty solid at this point.  She was given the choice and she chose to be with him.  When she tells him about airplanes it must have been so nice for Claire to share her world and experiences with Jamie.  I found it funny in some ways that he didn’t know how old she was.  I like that Claire is the older woman!

Outlander 2014

Lallybroch is Jamie’s home, full of wonderful memories, but also some torturous ones.  He can’t help but remember the visit that Randall made to his home.  He acts like an ass when he accuses Jennie of naming her son after Randall.  He was a clod and very insensitive, and I heartily cheered when Ian calmly put him into his place.

I have read most of the books, but I still wondered how Claire would fair at Lallybroch.  She was raised by her nomadic uncle and life with Frank was intermittent.  Claire has lived a life like Jamie for most of her life – wandering.  I wondered if she would be comfortable being lady of Lallybroch.  As always, Caitriona Balfe portrays Claire with wondrous emotions and depth.

The scene at the mill was more nerve wracking in the book than it was in the show.  I guess I was likely distracted by the sight of Jamie cupping his manhood in the freezing cold water!

lallybroch4

Let’s see it again…

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Jamie makes a lot of mistakes this episode.  When Claire yanks the sheet out from him while he is sleeping and gives him a stern talking, it once again showed that their relationship was on equal footing.  Jamie really doesn’t know much about being a Laird.  When he argues with Jennie about the rents and disregarding her input, I cringed because you just knew that he was blundering his way through it.  When Jamie speaks to Claire about her interfering between Jennie and him, it’s great when he acknowledges that she is not the meek type.  Jamie asks Claire not to shame him in front of the servants as he is Laird – a new situation for all.  When Jamie last lived at Lallybroch, his father was still alive.  Typical Claire fashion, she acquiesces to his request, but lets him know that she has great aim!

Black Jack Randall makes a lot of appearances in this episode.  It’s like he haunts the property.  One thing about this show and Starz is that they strive to be realistic.  Full frontal goes both ways on this show.  When Frank whips it out and Jennie mocks him, I was surprised that it was that graphic.  He’s such an evil and sadistic man and Tobias Menzies plays him so well.  When Jamie shares with Claire the reason that Randall is so interested in him and that he wanted to ‘bugger’ him, it’s foreshadowing for the dark, dark times ahead.  (by the way, if you are really interested, there are a lot of close up images of Randall’s uncooperative member floating around the internet)

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I think the loveliest scene this episode was when Jamie and Claire were cuddling in the window.  It was so intimate and honest.  Their kisses were better than a full on sex scene.  Finally Jamie tells Claire that he has wanted her since he met her.  He tells her that riding with her on his horse was so tempting.   Somehow it was really rewarding to hear Jamie say that he wanted Claire long before their marriage was proposed.  Ultimately he married her because he wanted to.  When he says he loves her in between soft kisses, I literally melted off the couch.  I actually held my breath worried that Claire wouldn’t say it back.  But I was worried for nothing – I mean she chose Jamie!  When she says it back, it made things perfect.

This was a relatively quiet episode which set up the plot for the coming tempest.  Next week’s promo shows some challenging times at Lallybroch with the Watch.  We witnessed them burning Scottish homes and taking livestock.  They seem like a Scottish mafia – Jamie has better watch his back!

Here is the preview for The Watch

Love Between the Covers Film Review

One of the things I love about living in Toronto is the film festivals we have here.  Although TIFF gets the most international exposure, the Hot Docs film festival is so accessible and interesting.  Hot Docs is a documentary festival with world premieres for many films from well-known directors to first timers.  I saw a post on Twitter about an article on the Huffington Post about a film that would have its world premiere here in Toronto at the festival.  Since a trip to RWA is not in the cards for me, it was exciting to have this opportunity to see a very special film, Love Between the Covers.

The film maker, Laurie Kahn has a great website that delves deep into the romance industry.  Here is the blurb on the movie:

INTRODUCTION

Love stories are universal. Love stories are powerful. And so are the women who

write them. While romance novels and their signature covers are ubiquitous around the

world, the global community of millions of women who read, write, and love them

remains oddly invisible. Love Between the Covers is the fascinating story of five very

different authors who invite us into a vast female community, running a powerhouse

industry that’s on the cusp of an irreversible power shift.

SYNOPSIS

For three years, we follow the lives of five published romance authors and one

unpublished newbie as they build their businesses, find and lose loved ones, cope with a

tsunami of change in publishing, and earn a living doing what they love—while

empowering others to do the same.

We watch romance authors and readers building communities and friendships that don’t

just exist on social media sites, blogs, and message boards, but also transition into the

real world. We accompany authors on trips with their readers, at conferences and

special romance events — and we see them encouraging their readers to become writers

themselves.

During the three years we’ve been shooting Love Between the Covers, we have

witnessed the biggest power shift that has taken place in the publishing industry over the

last 200 years. And it’s the romance authors who are on the front lines, pioneering new

ways to survive in this rapidly changing environment.

http://www.lovebetweenthecovers.com/trailer/

I watched the trailer before I purchased my ticket and was so excited to be going!  When I got to the University of Toronto campus to enter the theatre, I was shocked at how many people were there.  The last Hot Doc I saw was not well attended (but that’s likely because it was about New York City’s sewers).  The audience was not predominantly female, but had quite a few men there.  I chatted with the gentleman behind me and found out that he was a distributor.  He told me he knew very little about the romance book industry but was aware how popular it is.

According to the statistics on Laurie Kahn’s film webpage, it isn’t just popular – it’s explosive!  Here are some statistics mentioned in the film:

Total Romance Novel Sales in 2013

$1.1 billion

That’s roughly one-fifth of all adult-fiction sales.

Voracious Readers

46 percent of romance consumers read at least one book per week. In comparison, the typical

American reads five books a year.

Romance Readers At A Glance

Age 30-54

Education College-educated

Average Income $55K

Relationship Status 59 percent are coupled, 84 percent are women, 16 percent are men

So what did I think of the film?  Well, I laughed a lot!  Who knew romance writers had such great humour!  I learned a few new things, but I felt like it was a love letter to the industry.  It explored the disdain that many hold towards romance novels and society’s views of those who write romance novels.

Clearly it is incredibly bad form to turn on your cell phone during a movie, but I was kicking myself for not bringing a note pad as there was so many amazing comments and thoughts shared, but the website is a wealth of information.  While the Q and A was happening with Laurie, I did get a chance to jot down a few notes.  Here is what I took away from the movie:

Nora Roberts is a queen.  Literally.  She was one of the only authors who did not do a team interview.  She was hilarious and truthful.  Her fans are rabid and so appreciative of her work.  When Nora critiques Romeo and Juliet, the whole theatre broke out in laughter.  She said that Master Shakespeare’s play is not a romance, its two stupid teenagers who commit suicide.  She talks about her foray into writing as a way not to lose her mind with parenting young children.  She displayed a disdain for being on social media as it takes away from writing.

I found that interesting, as the documentary highlights how social media has changed the industry.  Laurie comments that romance authors are highly skilled at social media and were some of the first authors to do so.  She also comments that the connections authors and readers make over social media leads to friendships and openness.  I wholeheartedly agreed with this as I know from experience that it is true.  While I’m not besties with any authors, I do engage in email conversations, twitter exchanges and social media groups with them.

The social media savviness of authors has led to the explosion of the electronic market.  Romance readers were the first to readily accept e-readers.  Romance readers don’t want to wait to go the bookstore to try to find the next book in the series, they want it NOW.  I could totally relate to this.  I would finish a book and be desperate to read the next one in the series.  I would drive to the bookstore and frantically search the shelves.  Sometimes it was there and more than likely it wasn’t.  Amazon changed a lot, but I still had to wait a couple of days to get my fix.  Laurie Kahn said her film took about three years to make.  During that time she said that there has been a huge shift towards self-publication.  The authors interviewed comment on the change.  One editor said that if you want your book out there for consumption, the self-publication is great.  But if you want a career, you need an editor.  Watching Joanne Lockyer open her proof of her self-published novel (her first one) was so moving.  The overwhelming emotion on her face was ridiculously touching.

What I really appreciated about this film was how the author didn’t just stick with contemporary romance or historical.  She highlighted all the genres that are out there.  She provides ample screen time to Radclyffe and Beverly Jenkins.  I have to admit, I was not aware of both authors, but LOVED their perspectives.  Radclyffe is a former surgeon who writes novels with two women (as she put it!).  Like many others, she has taken other authors under her wing who want to write LGBQT books.  When she talks about exploring gay romance novels, it showed us how far we have come as a society.  It was wonderful to see the many authors at her farm learning about the trade and hearing how writing romance novels has given them a freedom they haven’t experienced before. Beverly Jenkins is an African American author who stole the show!  She was fabulous!  I loved her viewpoints and how important it was that she represents romance and history.  Beverly was aware that there was nothing on the market ‘for someone who looked like me’ and set out to correct that.  She has certainly succeeded.  She spends time with her loyal fans who take road trips with her to visit sites that speak to the history of black culture.

Radclyffe has a publishing house and does writing workshops for authors.  She is one of many authors who ‘pay it forward’.  What struck me about this film was the sisterhood that shone through.  Most authors were filmed in pairs.  It was exceedingly clear that they know each other and are friends.  It doesn’t seem to be a cutthroat industry, but rather a sewing circle of support.  There were interviews with authors who write together, are critique buddies and party like teenagers.  The film highlighted the networking done at industry events and how established authors support and help those new to writing.  I think this made me fall in love with romance authors even more.  Eloisa James was so charming.  Every time she came on the screen she just brightened it up.  She shares her journey and allows us a glimpse into her job as a professor and her writing at home.  She has cultivated great relationships with other authors and readers and I liked her SO much.  While I have read her books before, I will certainly be on the look for her new stuff!

Nora Roberts stated that if she read a thriller and they didn’t reveal who did it, she’d be pissed.  So then why shouldn’t romance novels have the happily ever after?  Beverly Jenkins commented that it’s a romance novel, it’s a fantasy and it can have that special ending.  All the authors talked about why the HEA is not farfetched.  It’s something to hope for and standards that one should set.  Kim Castillo, who runs Authors’ Best Friend, said that reading romance books made her feel that she should hold out for the man who treated her like a princess and her hopes and expectations were not foolish.

The industry is largely female.  Women readers, women authors.  Roughly 95% of the authors out there are women.  The film posits that this industry is so successful because it is by women, for women and supported by women.  The 5% of male authors are pretty low key.  Laurie Kahn did a Q and A at the end of the film and when asked about the role of men in the industry, she said that up to 15% of readers are men.  Surprisingly the men who read romance novels come from retirement homes (they like the history) and prisons.  It seems that the hope and love is attractive to those who need it the most.

The film asks authors when they became aware of romance books.  They commented that they found them on the shelves of their mothers and grandmothers.  It was comforting to know that my influence was a common one.  Romance books are the bastion of women, a sisterhood and friendship built around the hopes and dreams of ink and paper.  Susan Donovan and Celeste Bradley share that writing has seen them through bad marriages, divorce, financial ruin, stress and more.  Romance novels have been the same for me over the past twenty-five years.  I couldn’t imagine my life without a new story to read or a new author to discover.

I hope this movie gets picked up for wide distribution as it was fantastic.  You can view a lot of the interviews on the website and its well worth taking a look!

10 Surprising Facts About Romance Novels

Madeline Martin tweeted this great post on The Huffington Post’s blog.  It was from film maker Laurie Kahn who has a new movie coming out called Love Between the Covers.  I really enjoyed the post and then I realized that the world premiere is happening this weekend in Toronto as part of the Hot Docs festival.  So I booked a babysitter and bought myself a ticket!

I am so excited to see this documentary and I will be sure to post a full review when I get back on Saturday night!

Here is the link to the article, but you can read it here:

10 Surprising Facts About Romance Novels

by Laurie Kahn

Four years ago, when I began making my documentary film Love Between the Covers, I stepped into a community I knew nothing about: the global network of women who write, read, and love romance novels. What I found surprised me. Here are ten things I learned:

1. Romance fiction is a billion-dollar industry

Romance novel sales total more than a billion dollars a year. They sell as much as sci-fi, mystery, and fantasy combined.

2. The romance readership is HUGE and global

More than 70 million people in the USA alone read at least one romance novel per year, and most of them read many more. The work of popular American romance writer Nora Roberts is translated into 33 languages and distributed on 6 continents.

3. There is a surprisingly wide range of romance novels

Like romance blogger Sarah Wendell says, “Whatever your cup of tea is, someone’s pouring it.”

Romance novels are often equated with “bodice-rippers,” but the steamy historicals with Fabio on the cover were published back in the 1970s and 1980s. Since that time, the spectrum of romance novels has exploded. On one end of that spectrum, there are chaste evangelical romances. On the other end, there are BDSM romances (yes, likethat one).

In between, you’ll find paranormal romance with vampires and shapeshifters, time-travel romance, historical romance, contemporary romance, and romantic suspense. There are growing romance subgenres for LGBT love stories, a large community of writers who specialize in African-American romance, and there’s even a popular Amish romance subgenre.

4. Everybody’s writing romance

Women of every description (and a small number of men) are the engine of this industry.

Contrary to expectations, romance authors come from every economic class, every racial group, every sexual preference, and every level of education.

When I asked the pioneering African-American romance author Beverly Jenkinsabout her peers, she told me, “Women from all walks of life do this. We’re not sitting in the proverbial trailer park in ratty nightgowns, eating jelly beans and watching soap operas. There are some pretty powerful women doing this! Geneticists, astrophysicists, lawyers, doctors…” The list goes on.

Len Barot (pen name Radclyffe), one of the main characters in Love Between the Covers, began writing lesbian romances during her surgical residency. Mary Bly (pen name Eloisa James), another main character in the film, is a Shakespeare scholar by day and an author of historical romances by night.

I interviewed PhDs, lawyers, and insurance executives. I also interviewed romance authors who worked in factories. There’s an open door for anyone who wants to give it a try. Nora Roberts, the rock star of the romance industry, never went to college.

5. Women in the romance community are more likely than the general population to be currently married or living with a partner

We’ve all seen depictions of the lonely, lovesick romance writer, who pens titillating novels while eating bonbons and sobbing over her keyboard.

Don’t believe the stereotype. While romance does offer women a place to escape daily life and live out their fantasies, this community of readers and writers are statistically more likely than most to be in happy relationships.

6. Romance authors become personal friends with their readers, and readers find one another

In the romance community friendships that begin online – based on a shared love of books– often become real and enduring friendships.

Beverly Jenkins and her readers are in constant contact at Beverly’s Facebook page, talking about books, football, music, and the ups and downs of their everyday lives. Every other year, Beverly takes a trip with her readers to places where her novels are set.

Radclyffe invites beginning authors to her farm in upstate New York, where she leads workshops on romance writing, and several of Eloisa James’s loyal readers told us they found their closest friends, with whom they communicate every day, through Eloisa’s blog.

7. Romance writers get tremendous support from one another

Why are these women so happy to pull a less experienced writer up the ranks? I asked many authors this question, and almost all of them told me stories of their early romance mentors–and their desire to pay it forward.

At a Romance Writers of America (RWA) national conference, unpublished writers are always welcome (something that does not happen at other writer conferences), and there are dozens of workshops taught by established writers about everything from plot structure and writing knife-fights, to social networking and negotiating contracts. You will see bestselling novelists sitting down for coffee with unpublished newbies, critiquing their work and giving them business advice.

8. Romance authors are on the cutting edge, pioneering new technologies

Romance writers and readers were the first to enthusiastically adopt e-books, a service which works well for anyone who buys hundreds of books, and romance writers have always been mavericks of social media, using it effectively to build fan communities.

Romance has been at the forefront of the biggest change to take place in publishing in the last 200 years: self publishing. Together, romance authors have figured out how to succeed in self-publishing. Instead of being secretive, these one-person indie publishing houses share their knowhow and numbers (not a common practice in publishing).

9. You can take courses about romance fiction at Princeton, Harvard, DePaul and dozens of other universities

Literature scholars, cultural historians, and popular culture studies professors founded the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance five years ago. They hold annual conferences, and they’ve also started the peer-reviewed onlineJournal for Popular Culture Studies. It’s a growing interdisciplinary field.

10. Romance writing isn’t an easy gig

You might think writing romance novels is more of a breezy pastime than a professional venture, but the deadlines that romance novelists face are incredibly rigorous. Susan Donovan described the feeling of being on-deadline saying, “There’s always a flame behind your ass.” Some women publish three or four books a year. On top of this, most novelists handle their own promotion, and self-published authors also handle their novels’ distribution. When you’re a romance novelist, you are a one-woman business.

I had a blast exploring the romance community over the last four years. In creatingLove Between the Covers, I discovered one of the few places where women are always center stage, where female characters always win, where justice prevails in every book, and where the broad spectrum of desires of women from all backgrounds are not feared, but explored unapologetically.

Catch the world premiere of Love Between the Covers at Hot Docs 2015:
April 25 – 9:00 p.m. – Isabel Bader Theatre
April 26 – 4:15 p.m. – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
May 1 – 9:30 p.m. – Fox Theatre

Manwhore

Manwhore by Katy Evans

manwhore

Overview by Amazon:
This is the story I’ve been waiting for all my life, and its name is Malcolm Kyle Preston Logan Saint. Don’t be fooled by that last name though. There’s nothing holy about the man except the hell his parties raise. The hottest entrepreneur Chicago has ever known, he’s a man’s man with too much money to spend and too many women vying for his attention.

Mysterious. Privileged. Legendary. His entire life he’s been surrounded by the press as they dig for tidbits to see if his fairytale life is for real or all mirrors and social media lies. Since he hit the scene, his secrets have been his and his alone to keep. And that’s where I come in.

Assigned to investigate Saint and reveal his elusive personality, I’m determined to make him the story that will change my career.

But I never imagined he would change my life. Bit by bit, I start to wonder if I’m the one discovering him…or if he’s uncovering me.

Late last night I saw this book being promoted on Twitter.  I went to Amazon and downloaded it knowing that it was a mistake to do so at 11:30 at night.  I stayed up until almost 2 reading until I absolutely had to get some rest.  I finished the book tonight (don’t judge – I’m a speed reader) and needed an hour or so to process what I read.

There has been a huge amount of books in the ‘billionaire – young woman’ trope since the release of Fifty Shades of Grey.  Personally I have never met a billionaire, let alone a hot, young one, but this is a fantasy.  I can get down with that.  The Crossfire Series and Hero have captivated my attention and I really expected this book to do the same.

While the story was interesting and definitely had my interest, it was different than the other books in this genre I have read.  Rachel is a writer and HE is her topic.  She needs to expose his life and secrets in order to save her job and the publication she works for.  This deceit is extremely well explored in the book, as I feel that I know Rachel’s conscience as much as she does.

This genre predictably has hot and detailed love scenes, emotional gymnastics and pursuit.  I have come to expect those things in the billionaire books I read.  All of those things are present in this book and well developed.  What is different is the abovementioned.  Usually the female lead is sweet, biddable, a survivor of some sort and not sexually experienced.  Rachel was a very interesting character.  She has abandonment issues due to her father’s death when she was a baby.  She longs for the positive father/brother/daughter relationships she witnessed growing up.  She has never had a real relationship where she put her heart on the line.  Her writing and friends have been her life for years.  She is involved in community action against violence (which works its way into the plot ingeniously).

I liked Rachel very much.  She was in an impossible situation, which she agonized over.  Her relationship with Malcolm Saint was the stuff of dreams.  She seemed to be playing hard to get, but we know that it is professionalism and fear.  She is naturally skittish around men, but watching her blossom due to Saint’s attentions was rewarding.

Malcolm Saint was pretty much born a celebrity.  Coming from a socialite mother and rich father, he has lived with the press intruding on his life.  He has been called flattering and not so flattering adjectives to describe his behaviour.  With his best buddies he frequents night clubs, yachts and the hottest restaurants.  He has had multiple, and I really should say hundreds of lovers.  The women fall all over him, sycophants who want the publicity, the prestige and his attention.  He is stunningly handsome with a physique that would rival David Gandy.  The author is very descriptive when it comes to his eyes and they are almost like another character, they are so expressive.  He lives a playboy lifestyle and has never dated or done ‘serious’.  This changes when Rachel dances in and out of his life.  It was thrilling to read the pursuit.  He chases Rachel with witty words, sexy zingers and smouldering glances.

I liked that Saint was not one dimensional.  His relationship with his parents is explored.  He is not the ruthless business man everyone thought, but rather an astute and intelligent player.  He was not malicious, but determined and charitable.  I liked that there was positive things about him and that he was not a jackass that I had to fight to find redeemable.

The title of this book is in reference to how Saint has lived his life.  It’s a strong title and one that is meant to elicit a response from the audience.  However, this title didn’t work for me.  I didn’t see Saint as a ‘manwhore’ and if the series progresses where I think it will go, than this moniker will be very outdated.  But it’s eye catching and provocative.

The first kiss the two share was so hot and electrifying I honestly felt like I was the one being kissed.  They don’t fall into bed immediately but when they do, it is outstanding.  I like that there was no kink in this story.  It didn’t need it and it would have been overkill to have added another element to the story.

This book was well written.  Descriptive prose and great dialogue make the characters come to life.  I have to say that I liked the characters (although his best friends had better shape up) and felt an emotional connection to the plot.  When the ‘crisis’ occurs, I truly understood the heartbreak and panic seeping off the pages.  I’m really glad that I found this author and this story.  The next book in the series is coming out in July and I have already added it to my list!

Tucked Away

Tucked Away (Hearts of Montana) by Jennie Marts

tucked away

Overview by Amazon:

Sometimes you find what you need in the most unlikely places…

Charlie Ryan’s cheating fiancé left her with a broken heart and even broker bank account. She’s hit rock bottom, but everything is about to change. Suddenly, she’s inherited a Montana farm named Tucked Away from a grandmother she never knew existed. A fresh start is just what she needs – and no men in her future this time, even if the local vet is as hot as a Montana summer.

Zack Cooper is content with his simple life. Running his veterinary practice and raising his daughter are enough to keep him busy, and he doesn’t need a high-maintenance city girl like his ex who plans to sell her grandma’s ranch and split faster than a setting sun. So why can’t he stop thinking about Charlie and her hot-pink cowboy boots…and the way her eyes say she wants to stay while her lips tease him with plans of leaving?

Just when both start to believe love might be worth the risk…one night will change everything.

I was invited to read this book by the publisher.  I have a lot of books that I need to read right now, but I couldn’t say no and I’m SO glad I didn’t!

This was a great story!  The author really develops the characters.  Her writing style is familiar, yet descriptive.  She has created wonderful characters that seem to leap off the page with their actions and thoughts.  While I don’t normally go for cowboy books, this one was perfect.

I think what made this so easy to enjoy was that Charlie is a city dweller who is experiencing cowboys for the first time.  Her reflections and exclamations were ones that I had as well.  Charlie has had a hard time when she arrives in Montana.  Her perfect New York life has blown up in her face and she seizes the excuse to run away to her Grandmother’s farm.

Charlie never met her Grandmother (aka GiGi) and has never met her father.  Her Grandmother spent years tracking her down but died right before they made contact.  For someone who has abandonment issues, the beautiful farm is a connection that Charlie can’t give up.

Two relationships make this book stand out.  Charlie meets young Sophie when she arrives.  Sophie is an irrepressible teenager who is like Martha Stewart, Lizzie McGuire and a kitten all rolled into one.  She seems so lonely and desperately wants to be friends with Charlie.  I couldn’t help but laugh when she kept calling Charlie her ‘sister’.  Without Sophie, Charlie would have been lost and lonely, but this incredibly competent teenager teaches Charlie a lot about life and Montana.  The author used Sophie as a way to humanize Charlie and show the depth of her evolution.

The other relationship is with Zack, the town veterinary.  When Charlie makes the comparisons in her head between her cheating fiancé in New York and the hunky cowboy who wants her, it seems like a no brainer!  The author has created amazing sparks between these two.  You feel their longing for each other, you can almost smell the soap in the bath and the unleashed passion between them.  Both of them have scars from previous relationships and while they are hot for each other, their pasts need to be exorcised.  Zack is like an amazing, sexy offering and yet the author makes you understand why Charlie has some doubts and worries without it seeming ridiculous.  Their love story was so believable and very exciting.

There are a slew of secondary characters that add the twang and swagger of Montana.  They all bring the story to life and add some great elements to the plot.  I truly felt like I was living there with Charlie and interacting with these people.  The animals in the story are wonderful and I wish I could have the experiences that Charlie was lucky enough to be part of.

It’s funny how expectations are meant to be broken.  I had an expectation that this book would be the typical cowboy story, but it was anything but that!  The transplant from the city who meets the family she never knew she had or needed was such an emotional story and well written too!  Charlie’s story is more than just a love story. It is about finding a place where you belong and the courage to see things through.  I can’t say enough positive things about how well written and developed this story is and I am so glad that I said yes to this book!

Romancing the Earl

Romancing the Earl (Regency Treasure Hunters, Book #2) by Darcy Burke

romancing the earl

Overview by Amazon:

She’ll stop at nothing to find her heart’s desire…

Major Elijah Hollister never wanted to be an earl, particularly not when it meant losing his brother. When a bold adventuress shows up at his door seeking a treasure map, Elijah suspects his brother’s death may not have been accidental and that the lady knows more than she’s willing to share. Whether she’s a friend or foe, Elijah plans to keep her close—and hope the temptation of her kisses doesn’t ruin them both.

Miss Catriona Bowen can almost taste the fruits of her years-long quest to find one of Britain’s greatest treasures. The discovery will deliver the recognition and respect she deserves as an antiquary, despite the fact that she’s a woman. However, to find the map that will lead her to success, she must ally herself with a stoic, yet provocative gentleman with a different goal. And when a villain threatens their lives, she realizes too late that love is the greatest treasure of all.

Regency Treasure Hunters

Book One: The de Valery Code – available now!

Book Two: Romancing the Earl – available now!

Book Three: Raiders of the Lost Heart – late 2015/early 2016

Book Four: The Legacy of an Extraordinary Gentleman – late 2016

 

I have read the first book in this series which features Cate’s parents, Rhys and Margery.  The de Valery Code was a great start to this series and this book keeps the excitement going.   As a kid I really loved the Indiana Jones movies.  Dashing from one dangerous situation to another in search of priceless artifacts is what this book and the movies have in common.  The exception being that in a book you get to know the characters better as their thoughts are examined and explored.

Cate and Elijah meet when she approaches him to find and purchase a tapestry in the late Lord’s collection.  While Elijah is intrigued by Cate and her proposal, he is still reeling from his brother’s death, his return from military duty in Australia and the duties of the Earlship.  Cate and Elijah dance around each other and one of their ‘things’ is to create a list of personality attributes.  Sometimes the adjectives are mocking and at times they are flattering.  In honour of this witty collection of personality traits, I will create my own list of all the things I liked about this book!

  1. I liked Cate SO much!  She has such fire and spirit.  For living in the Regency era, she is so independent.  Elijah pays her the highest compliment by telling her she is the smartest woman he has ever met.  She is bold as brass and wily as a fox.
  2. Cate is determined to remain single as no man would allow her the freedoms her parents have given her. She wants to keep control over her future.  Yet, she longs to experience everything that life has to offer.  This includes the experience between a man and a woman in the bedchamber.  She literally hounded Elijah to sleep with her.  It was so amusing to read the pithy lines that Elijah would spew at her to keep her at arm’s length.  His indignant responses to her attempts at seduction were so hilarious.  He was the prude to her vixen.
  3. When they finally get it on, it was awesome! Darcy Burke knows how to write great love scenes.  Elijah is an experienced man and he makes their first time together one for the memory books.
  4. The mystery of the sword of Dyrnwyn was exciting. It was a well thought out and conceived mystery.  They race across England and Wales searching for clues that would lead them closer to finding the sword of one of King Arthur’s knights.
  5. My favourite quote was, “You spend days campaigning for me to take you to bed, and you want to question why? He arched a brow at her.  “I’m a man.  You came into my room in the middle of the night.”

This was a fast paced story that was exciting and interesting.  I loved learning more about Wales and the Welsh people.  Cate was an irrepressible woman with passion and zest for life.  She made Elijah more fun and he came to life because of her love.  This is a definite must add to your book lists!

A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Top Ten Tuesdays – All Time Favourite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.  The idea is to link whatever genre you read and give it the top ten treatment.

This week the list is all about my very, very favourite authors.  This is a really hard one!  I give a lot of love to authors new and loved on this blog.  To have to narrow it down to 10 is really hard.  But I think I am up for the challenge!

So, here we go and in no particular order:

1.  Judith McNaught

almost heaven

If you have never read a book by Judith you need to rectify that now.  She is like the grand dame of historical romance fiction.  Her book, Almost Heaven was the first one I ever read and it hooked me for life.

2.  Shana Galen

earls just want to have fun

I have been reading Shana since she came on the scene.  I adore her writing and I know when I purchase one of her books that I will not be disappointed.  It’s actually quite rare that you can say that about an author that you have been following for years.  A great bonus of this blog is that I communicate with authors over social media and email.  I felt like a fan girl when Shana responded to my email to do a Q and A for her latest book.  It totally blew me away and I actually felt a little giddy!

3.  Monica McCarty

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I have to make it clear on twitter that I am not a crazy person because I send so much love her way.  Monica is the master at writing historical Scottish romance novels.  The MASTER.  Her books are historically accurate, well developed and steamy.  Her story is really interesting.  Monica went to law school, but chose to be a writer instead so that she could be with her family on the West Coast.

4.  Suzanne Enoch

mad bad and dangerous in plaid

Suzanne created the Sam Jellicoe series and I am eternally grateful.  I love all her books, but this series is by far and away one of my very favourites.  She writes sassy and sexy characters that leap off the page.  It’s easy to love her writing and the characters she creates.  I am not done lobbying for another book in the Sam and Rick series.  We NEED another Suzanne!

5.  Lauren Smith

stormcliffe

Since I have started this blog I have discovered so many amazing authors that I may have never found.  Lauren is one of those amazing authors.  I have read four of her books now and each one was outstanding.  Not only is she an amazing author, she works full time as a lawyer.  Everytime I see that she has a new book out, I am excited, but then feel like I should be accomplishing more like her!  From her gothic novel to erotic and historical romance, I have loved them all!  Plus, Lauren is really nice.

6.  Kathleen Woodiwiss

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I was so sad when Kathleen passed away.  She was a giant among her peers.  She created sweeping, fantastic tales that left me breathless with excitement and interest.  Her books definitely fall into the bodice ripper category, but they don’t lack realism or emotion.  Shanna was one of those epic stories that stands out as a masterpiece (at least to me!)

7.  Samantha Young

hero

I mostly read historical romance, but when I read contemporary, I want to know that it will be excellent.  I can count on Samantha Young delivering.  Her book Hero has topped my all time top ten favourite books.  When I read the book this winter, I actually had to re-read it about five more times before I was willing to put it down.  I really like On Dublin Street and others, but Hero to me is five star gold.

8.  Gaelen Foley

gaelen foley

She isn’t active on twitter or Facebook compared to other authors, but I always watch out for her new releases.  She is a fantastic historical romance author.  I always know that I will enjoy her books and characters.  Plus, she writes some very hot scenes!

9.  Lisa Kleypas

lady sophias lover

While I haven’t loved the latest contemporary series by Lisa, her huge catalogue of historical novels has been amazing to read.  It Happened One Autumn might be one of my very favourite books.  I love Marcus and Lillian and something about that book just went straight to my heart.  I can’t wait to read her next book about the Travis family.

10.  Stephanie Laurens

devil's bride

Like Lisa Kleypas, Stephanie is a fixture on the shelves of historical romance lovers.  She has created some amazing and timeless novels that have stayed with me over the years.  She writes strong characters, wonderful mysteries and passionate love scenes.  Her book with Royce and Minerva may just be my favourite, although all the Cynster’s are pretty great too!

Of course it is SO hard to only list 10!  I adore Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, Nicole Jordan, Christi Caldwell, Connie Mason, Virginia Henley, Marsha Canham, Julie Ann Long and Sophie Jordan.  I could write a whole top ten list with just these wonderful authors!

Who is your all time favourite author?