The Marriage Contract

The Marriage Contract (O’Malley Series, Book #1) by Katee Robert

the marriage contract

Overview by Amazon:

Teague O’Malley hates pretty much everything associated with his family’s name. And when his father orders him to marry Callista Sheridan to create a “business” alliance, Teague’s ready to tell his dad exactly where he can stuff his millions. But then Teague actually meets his new fiancée, sees the bruises on her neck and the fight still left in her big blue eyes, and vows he will do everything in his power to protect her.

Everyone knows the O’Malleys have a dangerous reputation. But Callie wasn’t aware just what that meant until she saw Teague, the embodiment of lethal grace and coiled power. His slightest touch sizzles through her. But the closer they get, the more trouble they’re in. Because Callie’s keeping a dark secret-and what Teague doesn’t know could get him killed.

I LOVED this book!  After reading a couple of books that were not so great, it was fantastic to get pulled into a story that has all the elements that you really want.  Family vendettas, violence, loyalty, and really sexy moments make this book work well.  The plot is well conceived and executed by the author.  The characters bring the seedy underworld of Boston to life and the battles they wage are realistic and relatable.

The story opens with Callista (or Callie as she is known) murdering her despicable fiancé.  This sets off a chain of events that unfold throughout the novel.  This may be the year 2015, but arranged marriages for alliances are still very much a part of the mafia in Boston.  Callie was to marry the Halloran heir.  Brutal doesn’t even begin to describe Brendan and when Callie shoots him, as the reader I was relieved that she wouldn’t have to face life with such a terrible person.

But Callie can’t remain free.  She is too valuable to her family and they need alliances.  There are three main mafia families in the story.  The Hallorans, the O’Malley’s and the Sheridans who all want a piece of the action in the underworld.  Each family has experienced loss due to the turf wars and marriage between the heirs will make them stronger.  What I found so fascinating in this book was the dynamics of the dynasties and how organized crime works.

Callie is almost immediately engaged to Teague O’Malley.  She will do her duty, but she doesn’t expect to like Teague.  He is remarkably different than Brendan and like her, he longs for a different life.  Callie has been working hard to make the legitimate businesses of the Sheridan family work so they can get away from illegitimate business.  Teague resents the brutal life that he has been born into and is consumed with protecting his family at any cost – including a deal with the devil.

There are no pretenses between Callie and Teague about what is expected of them, but the fact that they like each other and are definitely in lust makes this relationship easier.  Callie is weighted down by her actions against Brendan and Teague is there for her every step of the way, although he doesn’t know the truth.  They call each other their ‘reprieve’ from the realities of their lives.  The time they spend alone was so hot, but also very intimate.  That is where Katee Robert really shines as an author.  She can spin a burning hot sexual encounter into one that moves the plot forward by changing and evolving the characters and the emotions they feel.  Teague is definitely an alpha male, but when he takes charge in the bedroom, it works so well.  Callie is a very strong woman, but her ease with letting Teague take care of her created that intimacy that many stories lack.

They felt like partners in a terrible Shakespeare play.  They are pawns and at the mercy of retribution and revenge.  They only have each other to get through the war that is upon them and threatens to devastate their families and each other.

I really enjoyed this book.  I liked the characters, including the family members and the bad guys.  Teague and Callie’s families are central to the story and the evolution of their relationship.  Teague’s sister Carrigan will be the next one to have her story told and to be honest, I would do ANYTHING to get to read that book asap!  The depths of depravity that are revealed in this story are not pleasant, but it’s effective because it allows certain characters to show their true nature and motivations.  This is a well balanced book with excellent character development, an intriguing plot and very hot passion between two likeable characters.  I highly recommend reading this story!

Top Ten Tuesday – Perfect Beach Reads

So this week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by the Broke and the Bookish is great books for the beach. It has been so long since I have been able to read on a beach, this is going to require some imagination. Last time I was on a beach holiday, my little monkey was two years old and relaxing in a chair with a alcoholic drink and a book was a pretty far fetched idea. However, there are plenty of books I would have liked to have read or re-read. Here is my list!

1. Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
fifty shades of grey poster

2. The Crossfire Series by Sylvia Day
captivated by you

3. The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall by Lauren Smith
stormcliffe

4. Mermen by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
mermen

5. Hero by Samantha Young
hero

6. Duke by Day, Rogue by Night by Katherine Bone
duke by day, rogue by night

7. Covert Danger by Jo Ann Carson
covert danger

8. Heartless Design by Elizabeth Cole
a heartless design

9. Sam Jellicoe Series by Suzanne Enoch
flirting with danger

10. Rock Hard by Nalini Singh
rock hard

Mirage

Mirage by Monica Burns

mirage
Overview by Amazon:
A sheikh without a country. A woman without fear. A love hotter than the Sahara.
In his heart, Viscount Blakeney will always be Sheikh Altair Mazir, but a deathbed oath to his English grandfather forces him to divide his time between Britain and his beautiful Sahara. A victim of prejudice from both cultures, he has learned a bitter lesson. Trust no one.
Yet when he witnesses firsthand the British Museum’s rejection of Alexandra Talbot’s request for assistance in finding the lost city of Ramesses II, he finds himself not only compelled to help, but donning his desert robes to hide his identity.
Alexandra is all too familiar with men who equate her sex with a lack of intelligence. But the mysterious Altair isn’t like other men. He never questions her ability to find the lost city, only her resistance to the sinful pleasure of his touch.
Bound by a Pharaoh’s prophecy, desire flares between them under the desert stars. But murder and betrayal turn their quest into a deadly game, pushing their fragile trust to the breaking point. A trust that must be reforged if they are to survive.

Recently I have seen a lot of discussion on twitter about diversity in romance novels. This was in the back of my mind while I was reading this book. The main character is of mixed race and his experiences are a large part of the story. The author delves into the racism and difficulties the character has experienced and how they have shaped him as a person. I think I really connected to this book because I am also half Arabic and I understand what it is like to be treated poorly because of ignorance and discrimination. His defensiveness and fear is so well explored in the book and was completely relatable.

When I first started reading historical romance I often picked up Johanna Lindsey books – mostly because they were what was on the shelves of my mother and grandmother. I remember one book she wrote called Captive Desire. It was about an English woman kidnapped by a half Arabic/Englishman and basically held as sex slave in the desert. As a young teenager, I didn’t really understand what was so wrong about the context. I just liked that it took place in the desert and featured a portrayal of the Arabic culture. Now as an adult, I look back and realize that there are serious issues with the sexual relationship between the two characters.

Mirage by Monica Burns is the version of Captive Desire I SHOULD have read as a teen. The female lead is strong, smart and determined. Alex doesn’t let her gender control her. She demands equality and I adored this character. Not only does she own her intellect and her abilities, but she is in control of her sexuality. Honestly, this character was better than most female leads in contemporary novels.

Alex is an Egyptian scholar who has travelled from America to dig for Per-Ramses in the Sahara. She must rely on the Bedouin to help her find her way and to excavate. There is a lot of mysticism with ancient prophecies, but it feeds so well into the plot. Alex’s adventure is like a blend of Indiana Jones, Cleopatra and the Mummy.

From the descriptions of the desert and the dusty streets of Cairo, the imagery that Monica Burns creates take you as the reader to a foreign world and time. The story is so well told that you completely feel like you are bouncing around on a camel or wiping the soft sand off your face. It is these intricate details that make a story so believable. When you feel that you are there, you believe in the story.

The archeology is fascinating and a huge part of the story. Another element is the Bedouin politics that abound with the Mazir tribe that is helping Alex. Her guide Altair, also known as Lord Blakeney, is part of the tribe that is escorting Alex. Altair is amazing! Sexy as hell, suave as an Englishman and deadly as a Bedouin. I loved the character and the internal battles he struggles – between his nationalities, between his attraction to Alex and his loyalty to Mazir and the discrimination he has faced and his future. Altair is so entranced by Alex and wants her unlike any other. The description of Altair when he dons his Arabic robes and henna tattoos literally blew me away. The cover of this book actually matches my internal image and it’s pretty hot!

The attraction between the two is off the charts hot. From the start, they can barely be in each other’s company without getting physical. It was like they were magnets – attracted to each other no matter what. There is no mention of Alex’s virginity, which didn’t really matter, as it allowed her to explore her sexuality as she chose. The love scenes between the two were exactly what you would hope for if you were in a beautiful tent with thick carpets, satiny pillows and the cool desert nights blowing. Really, really well done!

This is a great story! Full of excellent research, interesting history, politics and love. I really recommend checking out this book as it’s a unique and fascinating story!

The Name Game

Banana-rama-bo-bam-a-banana-fama-fo-fam-a…the name game!

Remember that little ditty? I used to sing it all the time when I taught young children. I started thinking about it the other day because I read a good historical romance novel, but the female character had a really bad name. It got me thinking about the names of characters in romance novels.

Typically in historical romance novels there are traditional names. Mary, Elizabeth, Jane and so on. I looked up the top names for females in Regency England and not surprisingly the top names were:

1. Mary
2. Elizabeth
3. Anne
4. Sarah
5. Jane
6. Hannah
7. Susan
8. Martha
9. Margaret
10. Charlotte

I can confidently say that I have read multiple books with these names present. Occasionally there will be a Letitia, Cordelia, Sophia, Lydia, Grace, and Isabel used. What is interesting is that these names are still so popular (Princess Charlotte for example). The use of classical names in stories featuring English misses helps to create the setting. These names make me think of porcelain skin and rosy cheeks with flowing white gowns.

Men in the Regency era had traditional names as well. And just like the female list, the male names are classics. The top ten list of male names are:

1. William
2. John
3. Thomas
4. James
5. George
6. Joseph
7. Richard
8. Henry
9. Robert
10. Charles

For some reason, I think the name of the male character is extremely important. It’s just hard to feel romantic about a Ralph. I’ve read books with Sylvester, Valentine and Hugh as the lead characters, but they usually have nicknames that are used. While most male leads have the characteristics of being tall, handsome and autocratic, they also have strong names to go along with their attributes.

Things get interesting when reading contemporary romance novels. There tends to be characters with names that reflect current naming trends. While many 25-35 year olds are named Jennifer, Stephanie, Justin, Matthew and Steven, the names of characters often reflect current trends. The surging popularity of names for babies makes it into stories that we read. Think about these male names: Ethan, Jax, Edward, Jack and Finn. For the ladies, we have Bella, Elsa, Elle, Shiloh and Eden. These are very popular baby names right now, yet they are heavily used today. My supposition is that since the demographic that reads contemporary novels are having children or grandchildren and the use of current names makes the stories and characters more relevant.

The use of female androgynous names is prevalent in Hollywood. Blair, Blake, Sam, and Alex are all female stars in current celebrity stratosphere. There are a lot of unisex names featured in contemporary novels and more recently, in historical romance as well. The book Mirage by Monica Burns features a female lead by the name Alex and she uses the gender confusion to her benefit. Smart girl!

Scottish names are different whether historical or contemporary. While there is some overlap with English names, there are some distinctly Scottish names that always make me think of misty moors and a plaid wrap. Here are some of the pretty female names that are featured in some of the stories I love: Ainsley, Caitriona, Elspeth, Fiona, Greer, Isobel, Lindsay (had to throw that in since it`s my name), and Mhairi. Such pretty names to read! Sometimes I have a challenge knowing the correct pronunciation though. I just say it how I want in my head, but thanks to Outlander, I now know how to say Laoghaire. Although that name is tainted thanks to the show.

Male Scottish names are just so awesome. Many of them are quite common now in North America thanks to those of Scottish heritage bringing them back into style. Ewan, Callum, Owan, Rory and Niall are pretty common now. I love the names of male characters I read about it Scottish stories. Some of my favourite names are: Alasdair, Arran, Domnhall, Eoin, Fraser, Jock, Keir, Ranulf, Ruairi and Torquil. These names just scream Scottish Laird and Warrior to me! Probably because I have read them in some of my very favourite stories.

I think that names matter in romance novels. When a character has a beautiful, soft name like Anna it creates an aura around the character. A name like Miranda or Savannah makes me think of strong woman with the potential for a spicy romance. Male names set the stage for the character. I really don`t want to read about a Larry or Edgar. It`s hard to find a name like that sexy when you only have the words on the page and your imagination.

Baby names inspired by romance novels

Scottish name list

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Books So Far in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Each week features a different meme about reading. It’s so much fun because it breaks up the majority of my posts which are reviews.

This week is SUPER fun as it’s my choice! I decided to review the top books I have read in 2015 so far. Hopefully this will add more books to your to be read pile. Like always, I want to hear what you think. Are any of these books on your list? Did I miss something? Fill me in!

So far this year I have read 52 books! I have probably read more, but that is how many I have read and reviewed for this blog. So there is A LOT of choice! Here we go…

Hero by Samantha Young

hero

Earl’s Just Want to Have Fun by Shana Galen
earls just want to have fun

A Highlander’s Passion by Vonnie Davis
a highlanders passion

The Gilded Cuff by Lauren Smith
2acfd-the-gilded-cuff-by-lauren-smith-300x456

Manwhore by Katy Evans
manwhore

Taming the Rake by Monica McCarty
taming the rake

Remind Me by Ann Marie Walker and Amy K Rogers
remind me

The Scoundrels Lover by Jess Michaels
the scoundrels lover

A Stolen Season by Tamara Gill
a stolen season

Mad, Bad and Dangerous in Plaid by Suzanne Enoch
mad, bad and dangerous in plaid

Deception of a Highlander by Madeline Martin
deception of a highlander

Defiant Surrender

Defiant Surrender (A Medieval Time Travel Romance) by Tamara Gill

defiant surrender

Overview by Amazon:

Unlucky in love, Maddie St. Clair hides behind an antique store and her mudlarking hobby. That is until she finds a medieval ring that throws her back to 1102 Cumberland and into the life of Lady Madeline Vincent, heiress to Norman lands and about to be married to an autocratic Baron, William Dowell, nine hundred years her senior.
Lord William Dowell protects his own. Usually, from his closest neighbor and long standing foe the Baron of Aimecourt. Forced to marry his dead enemy’s daughter, Lady Madeline, by King’s decree, he hides his growing respect for his wife behind a wanton mistress. Yet when Madeline’s life is threatened, William’s loyalty to his kin is tested by the astonishing desire that flares between them. Not to mention the love that Madeline ignites that would last an eternity. If fate will allow . . .
I adored the book A Stolen Season by Tamara Gill and when I saw this book, I was really excited to read it. It takes place in medieval England which is a time period that is not often covered in historical romance novels. I found it fascinating to read about the time of Henry I and the customs of the people. Maddie has travelled back in time and inhabited the body of Lady Madeline who is on her way to be married. This starts a very interesting story.

Maddie’s life in modern times is interesting, if not lonely. She has no family and has lost her cheating fiancé. While she has her dream antique store and has strong friendships, life is missing something for her. I found it fascinating that she was part of the Thames Mudlarking group. Mudlarking is when a group scour the shores and banks of the Thames for foreign objects and historical treasures. When she finds a beautiful pewter ring, it is the gateway to the past.

She finds herself in a carriage on her way to be married. She smacks her head, which is convenient so that she can claim amnesia as she has no idea where she is and what is happening around her. She meets the groom and finds him to be an attractive man, but the fact that he despises her is shocking.

The relationship between Maddie and William is challenging. Maddie is at a distinct disadvantage since she knows nothing about the time she has landed and the woman’s body she inhabits. While she looks like herself, nothing else is the same. The woman she has replaced was basically a terror. Maddie has to be careful not to reveal too much change in personality lest she be challenged and accused of something – which would display weakness. Maddie is responsible for Amiecourt, a large castle with a strong economy. She has enemies and has to maintain her grip on command as Amiecourt is hers and not Williams.

William may be handsome; he is a grade A asshole for at least half of the book. He despises Lady Madeline and makes no bones about it. In fact, he keeps his mistress in open sight. She is a huge source of conflict between Maddie and William. Unlike many other stories, there is no consummation of the marriage and it hangs over the story. While they are both attracted to each other, family history, the mistress and personality get in the way.

William and Maddie remind me of porcupines. Prickly and hard to get close to. They constantly spar and fight which makes establishing a relationship really challenging. The back and forth didn’t get old, rather it seemed natural considering the situation they were in. I really loved the character of Maddie. She challenges William and is no meek and mild miss. She brings her twenty-first century ideals with her and demands the respect she deserves. Some of her one liners were hilarious!

Maddie comes to love living in 1103. She doesn’t want to return home, but she eventually finds the key to getting back to the future. Her love for William has consumed her and she would never willingly leave him. Of course there is danger to both of them since they are some of the strongest Baron’s in the land. They must face impossible choices. I literally held my breath and thought, ‘this can’t be it?!’ But since this is a romance novel, you can always count on the happily ever after. I thought the ending was so ingenious. That is what is great about time travel books; there is so much latitude for an author. Tamara Gill shows her creativity as an author with the way she crafts a satisfying ending.

A great time travel book to a period that was fascinating to explore. While some things could have been explored more to my liking (like Sir Alex’s motivations), I still felt very satisfied after reading this book. I really enjoy Tamara Gill’s writing and will continue to look for more of her time travel adventures as I think she does them exceptionally well.

Shadow of a Doubt

Shadow of a Doubt by Tiffany Snow

shadow of  a doubt
Overview by Amazon:

Ivy Mason has it all: beauty, a plush apartment, a fancy car, and a debonair British spy boyfriend who pays all her bills. If only her boyfriend was in her life—and her bed—more than just sporadically.
Part of an underground British agency called the Shadow, Devon Clay knows that secrecy is what has kept him alive. Anyone he loves is a liability, and being involved with him puts the other person in grave danger.

Yet Ivy is someone his heart can’t resist.

When an enemy from Devon’s past returns, the spy and his girlfriend are thrown headlong into an international conspiracy that puts everyone Ivy loves at risk. From the Missouri River bottoms to the brothels of Amsterdam, Ivy and Devon must outrun and outmaneuver the forces allied against them, and no one can be trusted.

It’s challenging to start a series mid-way through. This book is the second in the Tangled Ivy series and I haven’t read the first book. While I definitely enjoyed this book, I wish I had read the first book for a couple of reasons. First, I would have more understanding of the relationship between Devon and Ivy. Second, the events of the first book are a big part of the plot in the second book. And finally, the love story between Ivy and Devon is awesome and I want to know how they met and connected.

So this story picks up where Ivy is like a lady-in-waiting. She lives in Devon’s apartment, wears clothes he buys for her and waits for him to slip into the bed for a night of passion. The hope Ivy feels for a real relationship with Devon is palpable. Ivy has had a rough life and while I don’t know all the details, she is a survivor. Her ability to let Devon into her life and bed makes him so special because it’s something that has never happened before.

Devon is a spy for a British agency called the Shadow. All I could imagine is David Gandy as I read the descriptions of him. Tailored suit, sexy as hell and beautiful blue eyes. He is probably one of the sexiest characters I have read in a long time. Confident, capable and supremely efficient, he exudes that masculine appeal that zings ladies in the head, heart and between the legs. Whether the author is describing him saving Ivy from danger or sexing her up, this man is so well written and conceived. That is not to say that he doesn’t have faults. He is completely devoted to his job. He won’t give a relationship with Ivy a real chance because his job comes first – although there are doubts about that being true. While the reader learns that he is much more observant and involved in Ivy’s life than she thinks, his distance is a major stumbling block for them.

This story is packed with action. In fact, it’s like non-stop! However that doesn’t mean that it’s all guns and car chases with sex scenes in between. There is a ton of character development and the plot makes sense. The only thing that seemed rush was when Devon spirits Ivy away from a catastrophic scene at her Grandparents farm. How did it all get cleaned up and explained? I mean, Devon is a super spy, but I wonder about these things!

The villains in the story are numerous and deadly. While Ivy is a target because of her relationship with Devon, she keeps up with the nasty shit thrown her way. I never felt that Ivy was a victim in the story – a pawn, yes, but not victimized. She is strong enough to be a good match for Devon and she desperately wants him to see that.

The final chapters of this book were just amazing. I watched the percentage get higher on my kindle as I frantically read to find out what was happening. I knew it was going to end on a cliffhanger, but the author gives so much information to the reader that provides the emotional connection needed to get through the wait for the third book to come out. When my to-be-read pile gets a little lower, I will be reading the first book in this series and I can’t wait for the next one to come out!

Outlander Review – Wentworth Prison

outlander wentworth3

I’m somewhat at a loss for what to say about this episode.  It was hard.  Excruciatingly hard to watch.  Even though I knew what was coming, I still had a very difficult time watching Jamie’s return to the screen.

I think of the really great television shows out there that make you think, wonder and feel emotions.  When you feel uncomfortable it pushes you as a viewer.  You are no longer a mere participant, passively engaged with what is happening on screen.  A typical sitcom has a rhythm to it that is predictable – a challenge, a laugh track and a satisfying ending.  We come to expect sitcom style resolution in the books and shows we consume because it’s easy and comfortable.  That is where I think shows like Outlander succeed.  It creates dialogue and discussion.  The internet has been blowing up since the airing of these challenging episodes.  The spanking, the torture, the sadistic undertones cause friction as we view them from our modern sensibilities.  It’s tough to watch this and relate to it at times.

Outlander 2014

The episode starts with executions.  Jamie is in line to have his neck stretched.  It just seems so barbaric and it leaves little to the imagination why British and Scots didn’t get along.  The amount of men who were sent to their deaths for no reason or slight offenses must have been outrageously difficult for Scots to stomach.

When Black Jack Randall shows up and pulls Jamie out of line, my heart just sank.  While it may have been a reprieve, we know how dangerous Black Jack is and now Jamie’s fate is sealed.  Waiting is so challenging to find out what will happen to Jamie and yet dread because of what is to come.

Claire’s attempt to reason with the prison warden just felt so horrible.  It reeked of doom.  We know that Claire is desperate to save Jamie and must try every avenue at her disposal, but it’s for naught.  When she vomits when leaving the prison with Jamie’s affects, the emotion just leached off the screen.  There really is nothing worse than that horrible sinking feeling that nothing will be okay.

She did learn about the warden’s absence from his office when she can steal his keys.  Foreshadowing of what to come…

Duh, duh, duh…the worst begins.  Randall visits Jamie in his cell.  It’s about as bad as I imagined.  His hope for a pardon is literally up in smoke as Randall burns his petition.  This is a reprieve for Jamie, his time in the dungeon.  He will die, but Jack wants to play with him first.  Surrender is such a loaded word.  To me it means not just submitting, but letting go of everything that you believe and hope for.  Surrender is just so final.  Nothing is controllable by the person who gives surrender.

outlander wentworth4

Claire gets the keys and searches the prison for Jamie.  The cinematography is just so outstanding on this show.  The dark shadows accentuate the pale, deathly glow of Claire’s face as she creeps around the prison.

Jamie and Randall are hashing out who is stronger through metaphors.  Jack shows his burning need for Jamie’s acquiesce.  He wants to know if he haunts Jamie’s dreams.  When Jamie throws it back in Jack’s face that he recognizes that Jack needs him.  A fight breaks out as Jamie won’t go down without a fight.  When Jack hammers Jamie’s hand, it was sickening.  What was worse was how Jack held Jamie and forced his hand to pleasure him.  It was truly, truly disturbing.  Like I think I will be haunted by it for a long time.  People have twisted desires.  Black Jack ranks up there for me with the sickest perverts.

Let’s take a break to discuss the acting so far.  When Jamie cries at the end of the episode, it was just so heartbreaking.  His portrayal of Jamie’s incarceration and torture was just too believable.  But what really stood out was Black Jack.  I may despise the character and the plot, it was superbly acted.  Tobias Menzies was beyond exceptional in his presentation of the material.  I don’t think what I read on the pages was anything as terrifying as what I saw tonight.  I know there are online calls for Emmy nominations for both actors, but I have not seen such outstanding acting since Breaking Bad.

Outlander 2014
Outlander 2014

Claire finds Jamie and tries to free him.  Bad move.  Black Jack shows up and now he has the ammunition he needs to get Jamie to give into him.  I couldn’t even pay attention to Claire in this scene.  The fire in Jack’s eyes was scene stealing as he is maniacal in his excitement.  When he kisses Jamie, I had to choke back my vehement distaste for the humiliation Jamie was enduring.  The worst is yet to come and that terrifies me.

Outlander 2014
Outlander 2014

Claire’s parting words to Jack were meant to menace him.  She tells him when he will die.  That sort of prophecy would cause most to reflect, but Jack drops Claire into the pit with the hanged men.

The rescue party regroups and with Murtagh’s suggestion, they come up with a plan to save Jamie.

One last episode to go and I’m going to be honest, I am not looking forward to it.

Interview with Lisa Kleypas

lisa interview
I just saw this amazing post by La Deetda Reads all about Lisa Kleypas and her new book! YAY! It’s a historical romance novel! I have HUGE love for Lisa Kleypas – you can read all my gushing here.

She links to an interview with Jezebel that has Lisa exploring her thirty years (!!) in the romance industry. It’s an excellent read and it’s posted below!

Interview with Kelly Faircloth

Greetings from Dallas and the RT Booklovers Convention, where I am currently wandering dazed through a thicket of bare male abs. Expect interviews and other dispatches. And, to kick off our coverage, the folks at Avon sent us the never-before-seen cover of historical romance star Lisa Kleypas’s (much anticipated) return to historical romance, Cold-Hearted Rake—plus a chance to chat.

More than any other writer, it was Lisa Kleypas that hooked me on romance for life, way back in high school. And I can tell you which book, too: it was Suddenly You, about a plump Victorian writer who hits her thirtieth birthday and decides, well, why not hire a man to divest her of her virginity? (It doesn’t quite work out that way, but what an opening.) That was pretty daring, especially back in 2001, but the book is a great example of Kleypas’s ability to juggle the sexy and the sweet.

For those of you hungry for details on the upcoming book, which is due out in October, with the full cover at the bottom of the post: “The in-a-nutshell version is, this man who is from a blue-blooded family but a distant branch of the family inherits this estate that’s in horrendous financial condition,” Kleypas told me. “You’ve got this absolute playboy who wants no responsibility, loves to chase women, has never taken care of anything or anyone in his life. He is faced with this estate in ruins and all these tenant families who need him.” Naturally, he and the late earl’s beautiful young widow (who wants him to face up to his obligations) strike sparks.

Kleypas and I also talked about how she got into writing romance, how the genre has evolved over the course of her nigh-on thirty-year (!) career, and how to craft a sex scene that’s actually good and doesn’t veer into Franzenian territory.

How did you get into writing romance? You got into it really young and you were pretty sure this was what you wanted to do, right?

I was really lucky. I know most people have to really search and try out different kinds of jobs, but the first minute that I decided I wanted to write a novel and started that first page, I really felt a click—that sense of everything falling into place. I knew it was what I was meant to do and what I wanted to do forever.

I had always been a huge reader, and then when I was 16, I went to a summer camp, held at Wellesley College, a month-long program where you took classes and got to live on campus. I bought a pound of stationery so I could write all my friends and family, which they would really think was funny because I’ve written maybe five letters in my life. (I do email!) I actually started writing a novel on that stationery, because it was either that or do something athletic, which is not my deal. As soon as I started writing a historical romance, it was just incredible. It just was what I wanted to do.

And of course, it did not get published. It was terrible. I put everything in the world that I had ever loved in a historical romance into this book, so there must have been a hundred characters, all these subplots, the hero’s horse had his own subplot and personality.

But I just loved it so much that whether or not I started out with any talent, I was willing to really work at it. So over the next five years, I just wrote a book every summer, basically, and then about three months before I was going to graduate—I ended up going to Wellesley—I sent off a manuscript and got it accepted. So I sold my first manuscript when I was 20.

What drew you to the romance genre? Because of course there are plenty of genres out there.

Well, I love to read so many genres and I enjoy all of them, but romance has always been the only genre that I’ve really been interested in writing. It’s definitely the fact that it ends happily, with the heroine winning and succeeding and achieving the happy ending. But what drew me was the fact that the journey is so different in each story. You can take a hundred romance novels and they can be so radically different. You can have one with a werewolf and an alien and then you can have Regency England.

So the fact that it’s a guaranteed happy ending, but that the journey can be so different, is a good fit for my personalty.

Who are your influences? I’ve read you talk a lot about Judith McNaught and Kathleen Woodiwiss, for instance. Who really shaped you in the beginning?

I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious, but I read Wuthering Heights and it was a bolt of lightning. It was back in high school and it was compulsory reading—because who would read that when you’re that age if someone didn’t make you?—and the driven, tormented, powerful character of Heathcliff was just mesmerizing. That book was hugely influential to me, even though it didn’t have a happy ending and he’s really a pretty terrible character. The notion of this man who needed to be tamed and understood and all of that, that was powerfully attractive.

Also, E.M. Forster. I read that voluntarily, much later. Whenever A Room With a View and all the Merchant Ivory versions of E.M. Forester came out, I started to read the books. And there is something about his voice that is so quirky and British, and the characters are so complex and the way they interact is just mesmerizing to me. They’re shaded interactions. A man can love a woman and vice versa, but they can have a lot of problems with each other and it’s just very sophisticated.

And then I could give you dozen of names of contemporary writers. I read everyone I can in the romance genre and I just love seeing what they do. Laura Kinsale, I’ve always been a huge fan of her. Have you ever read any of her things?

Yeah, her stuff is really good.

Isn’t she amazing? The way she uses words is so sensitive and so exacting, it’s just remarkable. I wish that I were friends with her and I could call her and make her write more books. And I love Loretta Chase and Tom and Sharon Curtis—oh my gosh, The Windflower was just so lavishly written, with ten adjectives in every sentence. I loved it. They convinced me that if I wanted to be really ultra descriptive then I’m going to throw out the whole Ernest Hemingway idea of being simple and sparse and just go for it. And it’s really fun to be able to do that.

It’s always interesting to me which subgenre people land on, because as you point out, you can write about aliens loving werewolves or you could write about Regency rogues or anything, really. There’s so much variety. How did you land in historicals?

Well, I love history and when I was a junior in college there was a particular professor—actually, it was at Boston College, because I decided to go to a coed college my junior year instead of going abroad, because I’d been with women for two years, and t’s very hard to get a date and you go off campus and it’s like, “Okay, you’ve got the weekend, go find a guy.” Not very easy.

So I decided to go for a year to Boston College. And there was this amazing Georgian history class taught by this professor who was almost completely deaf, and he was one of those teachers where he would tell you about Napoleon, the campaigns and the battles, but then he’d also tell you details like, “and then he went back to his tent and Josephine had arranged to surprise him.” He would tell you all these stories. And there was something about that particular class, it gave me such a good basis for that time period, Georgian leading into Regency, that it made me feel pretty confident I could try a book in that genre.

And then of course, I just love to read the historical books. Kathleen Woodiwiss was really a big influence.

I feel like the genre has changed so much but I’ll still go back and read the old-school quote-unquote “bodice rippers.” And of course they were such a big boom at the time. What about those books captured your attention that it set you on this lifelong career path?

You know, I love the history and the time period because it’s just different enough form our own that I can learn a lot by doing research. But the personalities of the characters, you can get away with so much more, especially where the heroes are concerned. In real life, I think most women want a modern man—really reasonable and kind and evolved. So thank God for those! But in the context of fantasy, and fiction, and romance, it’s really a turn-on to read about a man who is a lot more alpha, a lot more commanding. And I know that a lot of people have problems distinguishing between fantasy and reality thinking, oh, if you have a particular fantasy, then that must be what you want in real life. I don’t think most women have that problem, but there are some people that are irritatingly unable to distinguish between the two.

So this is my long-winded way of saying that you can get away with a historical hero being really alpha and really sexy and demanding. Really, you can do this in other romance genres too: like say if someone is a vampire or a werewolf, then he can be demanding and aggressive and alpha and everyone knows, well, he can’t help it because he’s a werewolf. In a historical romance, there’s something similar going on. Men had different standards back then, so you can get away with him being a lot more alpha.

That makes sense. I think people get confused about whether romance readers can sort fiction from reality and it’s really obnoxious, but I think it’s partly that when you move the action to the Georgian era or a world where vampires are real, the subgenre’s setting is clearly saying, “This is a fantasy, we all know it’s a fantasy, if this guy was doing this in real life you might hit him in the head.”

Exactly!

But all this being said, I do have personal rules when I’m writing these books. For example, no hitting ever. No physical abuse ever between the hero and heroine. To me, that’s a rule breaker and I can’t believe in a relationship that is going to be a happy relationship. Even in terms of verbal abuse, I have pretty strict boundaries with that, because once you feel like that respect is no longer there, if someone’s willing to hurt someone to that extent, to me you can’t recover from that. So even when I have characters in really intense situations, again—no hitting, no verbal abuse.

Sometimes when people ask me how you create chemistry between a couple, it sounds like an odd answer, but there has to be an underlying basis of respect. Because when you respect each other, then that means the other person really is a challenge. The hero is not going to be turned on by a doormat heroine. He’s got to respect her as an equal. And then when they argue or disagree about something, then the potential for sexiness really is there.

That makes a lot of sense. All that having been said, I think of your novels as being a touch more modern. When you were starting out, you would still stumble upon the occasional “forced seduction.” But your books really never trafficked in that. Or, for example, your heroine Lily Lawson, from 1993’s Then Came You, has an illegitimate child and she’s a professional gambler. That felt daring when I first read it. How did you develop your particular approach to what you were going to write and the stories you were going to tell?

If you read my books starting from early on all the way to now—which I would not recommend to anyone—you can see the slow maturation process that I’ve gone through. Painfully slow! Because I’ve learned, I got married, I had children—every stage of my life that I went through, some of it went into the kind of stories that I was writing. I’ll give you an example. When I wrote the Wallflower series [about a quartet of female friends], it was at a time when I had really been about all about my husband and two very young children, and I had really lost touch with a lot of friends. I wasn’t even that active in the romance community. So I was kind of lonely. And then, I met this little group of writers who became just incredibly close friends. My very best writer friend is Eloisa James, and she was one of that group. (And also, Linda Francis Lee was not part of that group but she’s another great writer friend.)

So when I struck up this friendship with these women, this basis of female relationships was so powerful in my life. You know, your female friends are just this incredible power source. Great advice, great support. So when I was thinking up an idea for a series, I thought, you know, in all the thousands of historical romances I’ve read, I haven’t really seen a lot about female friendships. And yet, back then in history, women had to depend on each other and help each other a lot. So that was when I came up with the idea of these four young women meeting each other, deciding that they were going to help each other and be friends and support each other in finding husbands and finding their place in the world.

So when something like that would happen to me it would affect my books and my plots.

There’s so much pressure to replicate success in the book industry but I feel like each one of your books is very individual and all the personalities are different.

I appreciate that! Thank you. You know, you want to set challenges for yourself. I had this editor, Ellen Edwards, a long time ago when I first started writing for Avon. And she told me, writers like Laura Kinsale or Johanna Lindsey (she was their editor too), they always tried to set up some sort of challenge for themselves that they had not attempted before, in terms of a plot or a character. I’ve never forgotten that. So when I sit down to plot a book, I’m trying to think—what have I not done before, what did I try before that I really didn’t well, let me come back again and try to get it right this time.

So there were things like with Suddenly You, it was this character who had just turned 30. And I’m sure I had just turned 30 not long before and was thinking about back in the 1800s, 30 for a woman was almost over the hill. And so when you’re looking around thinking, Oh my gosh, I’m 30, am I doing everything that I need to in my life? Am I fulfilled? What have I missed out on? So I was thinking about this 30-year-old virgin who’s successful and happy with her life in so many ways but thinking “I have missed out—I’ve missed out on romance and men and sex.” That’s the book where she decides for her birthday present she’s going to hire a male prostitute for herself. And that was just such a fun way to begin. And then of course when she finally orders one and it turns out to be the wrong guy and that just made it so much fun.

When you write something like that, do you ask yourself, “Am I going to be able to get away with this?”

Well, you know that eventually, if you go way too far, you’ve got an editor who’ll reign you in.

There were a couple of points in my career that I did try something that I didn’t end up doing very well. I actually in real life went to Russia on a trip to visit a friend—this was before I was married. And I stayed over there for three weeks and just fell in love with the culture and the history and I went to visit al these old Russian palaces and it was just gorgeous. And I came back and I wrote a couple of romance novels where I had Russian characters and they were partially set in Russia, and it just didn’t work out well. The books didn’t do well and I didn’t execute it well.

After that, coincidentally, I switched editors. So to the new editor, I said, if I go too far out on the limb you need to pull me back, but I need to keep trying to go out on that limb because if I hold myself back and I start self-policing, then everything I write’s going to be bland and safe. So you know, a partnership with an editor is crucial for that reason.

I was talking to my sister and asked if there was anything she wanted to know, and she asked: How did the books set in Russia happen?

You know what, sometimes when you’re doing something, whether it’s writing or baking, you can see that it’s going a little wrong, and so you try to fix it, and you put more in and you do more and rather than just leave it alone and set it aside and try something else you just keep working at it. Now I’ve learned to stop doing that.

I do think of your books as a break with old historical romance. They’re much more modern in the gender dynamics. And I think it’s interesting that people have responded very much to that—but then, if you change the setting to Russia instead of England…

When you’ve had a career as long as I have—because it’s been since I was 20 and now I’m 50—the only way to keep it fresh is to try new things. And it’s just not going to make all of my readers happy and the results sometimes don’t even make me happy. But if you don’t try these new things and keep challenging yourself, you get bored and you get burnout. I could sit down and theoretically write you a perfectly publishable romance and it wouldn’t have any magic or fun or spark in it at all. But obviously I don’t want to do that—I want to keep pushing and try to have fun with it.

And I should say—I actually enjoyed Prince of Dreams and my dream is for somebody to write a book about English diplomats at the Hapsburg court or something. I love romances set places besides England.

I do too! It’s funny, sometimes you just come up against your own limitations. You give it your best shot and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t but you do always learn and that’s the important thing—keep learning, keep progressing.

And of course you tried contemporaries, and first-person contemporaries at that, and people loved them. How was it different writing Sugar Daddy and its sequels?

I love writing the contemporaries. It is so fulfilling. When I left Avon to write contemporaries with St. Martins, in 2007 or something like that, I wrote a good hundred pages or so for Jen Enderlin, who is the editor there. And she’s just an unbelievable editor. Fabulous. And she was like, “You know, it’s great and it’s fine but it’s still not there.”

It was hard for her to put into words and hard for me too, but we could both see that even though the story had potential, I hadn’t hit on what made it really gripping or exciting. so then I started to rewrite it in first person. And as soon as I did that, it was like magic. Stuff was just pouring out of my fingertips and for me, when you write in first person, it becomes so much easier to inhabit the character and there’s an immediacy about it that is so absorbing. And believe it or not, it’s actually quite a bit more intimate and even embarrassing to be writing the love scenes, because it’s like these things are happening to you. And that’s rare for me, because I’ve written so many of them, it’s hard to make me blush at all. But writing in first person, I kind of felt like I was exposing myself a little bit. So it was just fun. It was really exciting and great. I have Brown-Eyed Girl coming out in August and I hadn’t written anything on the Texas books or in first person for a while and as soon as I did, bingo, it just happened again.

Since you brought up the love scenes—is it difficult to keep them interesting? I can’t even fathom having to write five different love scenes and keeping them distinct and part of the plot. How do you approach that?

You know, there’s a certain amount of verbal sensitivity that you have to have when you’re writing these, because we’ve all read enough love scenes to where we’re kind of immune to the shock value. After the age of 12—or, you know, a little older than that, I guess, 15 or 16—you’re not going to be too shocked by somebody writing a scene about sex. To make it intimate and arousing and exciting, you have to find the details and you have to find the word combinations that really zing into someone’s brain and make them think Yep, that’s the smell, that’s the feel, that’s the taste. It’s the small graphic details that really make a sex scene come alive. It’s just so boring to read the same old graphic description of “put A into B.”

And not to—I don’t want to criticize Fifty Shades of Grey, because I’m glad she wrote it, I’m glad that so many women enjoyed it—but for me because there was no shock value in what she was writing and I didn’t read a lot of those zingy details, it wasn’t arousing to me that way that I would have hoped or the way that it would have been to someone who wasn’t a jaded old soul like I am, I guess! I was glad that so many other people enjoyed it.

People who haven’t read a lot of romance seem to either assume they’re super sweet and there’s no details, or they think, “Oh yeah, pornography for women” and act kinda gross about it. What do you think is the purpose of sex scenes in romance novels?

At the end of every single sex scene in a romance novel, something has to be different in the relationship than it was in the relationship before the sex scene happened. So there has to be an emotional change or an emotional difference. There has to be some sort of discovery or resolution or confirmation. Something has to happen in their relationship. I think for the most part, you can show me any book that I’ve written and point to the love scene and I can pretty much tell you what the purpose of it was, beyond arousal or whatever. I can tell you what the emotional purpose was. And that to me is really crucial and that’s really the difference between romance and porn.

To get philosophical—what do you think is the appeal of romance? Obviously it’s a huge business with a hugely loyal fan base, and I’m sitting here looking at my bookcases full of them. What do you think it is that draws such an enthusiastic readership?

Well, to me, the purpose of a romance novel is to give the reader an emotional experience. To make her feel something. I don’t know if you do this, but when I reread some of my old favorites, a lot of times I’ll just go to the good parts. And I don’t necessarily mean the sex scenes—I mean the sweet scenes that really make you sigh or the scene when they first meet, because you want that feeling that you got when you read it. Those wonderful smiles or sighs or wistful feelings or whatever.

I think that in our everyday lives, most of us have to work really hard. Most of us have to be really professional. Most of us have to be strong through really tough experiences. So you need just a little emotional break, or a little mental break. And when you sit down and read a romance novel, if it’s well done, you’re going to have a really wonderful emotional escape where you’re going to feel something really positive and really good. The only thing else I know that would do this is a really good glass of wine.

What do you think? Is that what it is as far as why you love it so much?

Yeah, I think so. I kind of love romances just because they’re entertaining, and they have female protagonists. So little of TV, for instance, has female main characters. But also I love the emotions and I really do enjoy that. That’s part of why I like them so much.

I do too. As well as that emotion that you get from them, I love when a romance novel has really great humor. Just all the positive feelings you get from it, and the laughs that you get. It’s just such a good, positive experience and you know, I’m fine with ambiguity. I’ll read books where you’re not really sure what happened at the end, whether someone’s going to be OK or not. But sometimes I just want a guarantee.

One thing that’s interesting about your background is you were Miss Massachusetts. Did that shape your writing in any way? That experience?

Not so much my writing. It was way back in the ‘80s, when we were proud of our big hair. But for me personally, it was a big thing, because I’d always been a bookworm. I’d always been relatively shy. With the Wallflower series, I felt like the one sitting at the side of the room, sometimes, waiting for someone to ask me to dance.

And so finally when I was 20, I’d lost the baby fat and I’d gotten in good shape and I felt like I wanted to try to do this. Because I thought if I was in this pageant and I got a crown or I won anything, that if someone told me that i was pretty, then I would feel that way. I would feel like I was pretty, and I would feel like I was a beauty pageant contestant. I’d never felt that way before.

But the revelation is that even when someone gives you a crown and tells you you’re pretty, it still has to come from inside, you still have to get it yourself. so after the beauty pageant it took several years for me to finally get the confidence and the self-approval to look in the mirror one day and say, “You know? I’m pretty great! I look great, I like who I am.” And gosh, I know that’s awfully philosophical. but it was good to learn someone can’t give you an award—it’s like The Wizard of Oz. They can give you the diploma but you were already smart. You have to figure out what you have inside.

And I feel like that’s a very romance novel idea, in a way. Because they’re are so much about internal experiences.

Absolutely. Part of how the romance genre has evolved in an incredibly positive way is that a lot of it is emphasizing the internal changes of the heroine, for her to discover her own power. That was not true of the old bodice rippers, for the most part. I’m sure you could find some that were better, but I think the whole genre has evolved to the point where now everyone expects a certain amount of internal development and recognition of your own power and worth.

One of the things that always strikes me when talking to people who don’t know as much about the genre is they assume it’s very static, and I’ve never found that to be the case. Even in the 15 years I’ve been reading them, a lot has changed. You’ve been writing them for thirty years at this point. How as the genre (and historical romance, too) changed over the course of your career?

Well, it’s exploded in terms of variety. It used to be chocolate, vanilla and strawberry and now there’s a thousand flavors. That’s been a really positive development because it allows for so many different things to happen. And then, really in terms of its emotional depth, I think that it’s really become—this is arguable, I guess—but it’s really become more about the heroine than it used to be. I think it used to be much more about the action and the faraway places and the sex and all of that. And now there’s still, obviously, tons of sex and great stuff, I think the main emphasis really is on the experience of the heroine. But that’s just my feeling. I don’t know what other people would say about it.

And I think the development of humor in historicals has been fantastic. It’s really added a lot to it. I think sometimes there’s a danger in going too far with that, because we’ve got to remember the emotional intensity can’t be diminished just because there’s humor in the book, that’s got to be there too or it’s not satisfying.

Do you ever see yourself writing a hero who’s, like, lovable but kinda hapless?

So hapless meaning not competent, or accident-prone?

Your characters, they’re all flawed in different ways and good at things in different ways. But could you build a romance around a guy who was kind of—I don’t want to say dopey, but less alpha I guess?

I guess I could write a hero who had weaknesses in areas that I haven’t explored yet. There has to be some level of competency or something in there to make you like him or identify with him. There’s this screenwriting teacher, Michael Hague, and he says at the very beginning of any story that you’re telling, the protagonist, you have to immediately identify with them.

So they have to be really competent or really likable, or else you put them in immediate jeopardy because those three things make us immediately root for a character or like a character. So for me a hero, you do have to have something that makes you admire or like him or be concerned for him.

And I also feel like women do enough caring and laboring in the real world. Sometimes you want somebody you’re not going to have to babysit, ever.

Yeah, exactly. We don’t want one more thing to have to take care of. It reminds, I was talking to another friend, Sarah from Smart Bitches. We were talking about this thing you used to read in women’s magazines a lot—you’re responsible for your own orgasm. And was telling her—you know, I have to be responsible for so many things. Do I have to do that, too?

Mermen and Mermadmen

Mermen by Mimi Jean Pampfiloff

mermen
Overview:

They’ve got something he wants.

INFAMOUS BACHELOR and SELF-MADE BILLIONAIRE ROEN DORAN IS A BASTARD. Yes, he knows it. And no, he doesn’t care. He’s got money and power, and he depends on no one. But when his estranged father dies, willing him a secret island, Roen will come face to face with an even bigger secret: its occupants. And these savage, sea-obsessed warriors are quick to make their position clear: Leave now or die.

There’s only one problem. Nobody tells Roen what to do. Ever. Oh, and one other thing. He’s just met the island’s other new “guest” and something about her brings out his possessive side.

SOLE SHIPWRECK SURVIVOR LIV STRATTON had been adrift at sea for ten grueling days when salvation miraculously appeared: an uncharted island. Only, the deceivingly beautiful men who live there aren’t interested in saving her. No, not at all. Because they somehow believe she is their property, a gift from the ocean to do with as they please. This is not good.
Her only hope? Billionaire Roen Doran, of all people. A man who’s said to care for nothing and no one. But if he’s so heartless, then why is he about to risk everything to help her?

WOW! I was hesitant about this book because I don’t read a ton of paranormal romance novels, but this book blew me away! Not only did I enjoy Mermen, but the second I finished, I immediately bought the next book in the series, Mermadmen.

This book features insanely hot, alpha men who are supremely sexy. These books work in a way that just made me love fantasy fiction. I loved the plot and the magical island that Roen and Liv are drawn to. There was constant evolution of understanding the magical elements and the story never lacks for action. Mermen are not easy. Not only are they strong and tough, they can be very bad. Not just in a ‘bad boy’ kind of way, but some are evil. This just adds another layer of complexity to the story.

Roen is a billionaire businessman who has had a tragic past. Now while this sounds like the hundreds of billionaire trope books out there, this one is different. Roen’s background is explored as it is a critical part of the plot. His business abilities are part of what makes him such a great leader. He is destined to be a leader of more than a shipping business – he is meant to lead men and be the connection to the world. Not only is he smart and a leader, he is one of the sexiest men I have read about lately. Like super duper sexy. He radiates raw, magnetic chemistry with Liv. It’s so intoxicating to read about Roen and his evolution.

Liv was such a great character. I adored how she never gave up. After being shipwrecked at sea for twelve days, she manages to stand her ground with the enormous mermen who look to ravish her. What surprised me in a great way was how well developed Liv’s character was. Her distaste for the objectification of women and the abuse they are dealt by men was a part of her psyche. Liv was a realistic character – she was petrified at times, indignant with the way she was treated, totally in lust with Roen and willing to fight for the man she loved. It would be easy to say that Liv was just a pawn in the game the island dreamed up, but she was so much more than that. She didn’t blindly accept what was thrown at her, she worked hard to fight the good fight.

The sexual chemistry between Roen and Liv singes the pages. It’s like pulsing energy the two create. Not all of it is the magic from the island. These two have a crazy attraction to each other. I can’t believe I am down with a book that has not had the characters do it for TWO books, but honestly, I can say that the delayed gratification is worth it. When these two finally do the deed, it will likely blow my mind.

I loved these two books! I can’t wait for the third. Be forewarned that the author likes cliffhangers and teases you with them. The final book won’t be out until late November, which is a bummer. This series has me completely hooked. The humour, the violence, the plot and the sexual chemistry is just awesome!

Mimi shares some info about the books!

Who was the inspiration for ROEN?
My inspiration for ROEN was more of a what rather than a who. Everything I’ve learned over 15 years in the corporate world, where leadership skills are shoved down your throat, has taught me that certain leadership traits can be learned.
However, a true leader has charisma and a certain selflessness that doesn’t make them look weak, but gracious and strong. Even when admitting their own shortcomings.
That’s really what the book is about. True leadership versus the fakes. The island is the boss we all hate who takes advantage and uses fear and threats to get what he/she wants.
ROEN is a true leader. He knows he can only succeed if his people do.

If “Mermen” were made into a movie, who do you see portraying Roen and Liv?
Roen…OH, sigh. I would have to choose Stephen Amell from the show, ARROW. For the Liv, I’d have to say Gemma Arterton.

How did you come up with the idea of Mermen?
I love stories where the unlovable or revolting are turned into something we all can’t help but fall in love with. Example: Who didn’t love Warm Bodies? The dude is a zombie and eats brains, but most of us were probably loving him from the first moment.
And when I wrote the ACCIDENTAL SERIES, I was kind of going after the same thing. Mayan gods are NOT sexy. They just aren’t. But creating a world where that just wasn’t true was so much fun. And my gods aren’t just sexy, they make you laugh.
Anyway, when I decided to tackle another similar “taboo,” I wanted something that would really, really push me. So I chose a species I find hard to get turned on by.
With everyone wanting to love mermen why did you decide to make them the villain?
They’ll just have to read and find out! But everyone should keep in mind who I am and what I always write. I never really leave readers hanging, though they may suffer a bit to get to that pot of gold.

What was the hardest part of writing Mermen?
First I had to figure out what turns most Paranormal fans off about the mermen species. “I think they smell like fish.” “Where are their penises?” “How do they have sex?” “Living in the ocean sucks. Who wants a fantasy about that?” “They seem kind of wimpy compared to a vampire.”
Then I had to build a new species around that, while figuring out how to make them mermen, but…NOT mermen. See? Not easy! LOL.

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24958079-mermen

Buy links:

Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1dtTlcl
B&N Nook: http://bit.ly/1HRVREy
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1DKWXgC
iTunes/iBooks: http://apple.co/1GwWK19

Giveaway:

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Before taking up a permanent residence in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mimi spent time living near NYC (became a shopaholic), in Mexico City (developed a taste for very spicy food), and Arizona (now hates jumping chollas, but pines for sherbet sunsets). Her love of pre-Hispanic culture, big cities, and romance inspires her to write when she’s not busy with kids, hubby, work, and life…or getting sucked into a juicy novel.

She hopes that someday, leather pants for men will make a big comeback and that her writing might make you laugh when you need it most.
Website: http://www.mimijean.net/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MimiJeanRomance
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MimiJeanPamfiloff
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5618190.Mimi_Jean_Pamfiloff