Guest Author: Kris Kennedy & Giveaway!

Historical romance fans, don’t you just love a good, juicy medieval romance?  I do, which is why I’m particularly delighted to be featuring one of today’s best medieval romance authors on my blog.  She’s Kris Kennedy, and she writes sweeping, adventurous and very sexy historical romance.

Kris burst onto the romance writing scene when she won the prestigious Golden Heart Award from the Romance Writers of America.  Her first published book was The Conqueror, put out by Kensington Publishing, which received great reviews and was a Recommended  Read from the influential romance blogger, Dear Author.

Her second book, The Irish Warrior, which was her Golden Heart manuscript, came out in 2010 to a whole boatload of acclaim.

And I do mean boatload!  The Irish Warrior ended up on numerous top ten lists for the year – including The Romance Dish, Wendy the Super Librarian, and The Book Binge.  It was a Desert Island Keeper from All About Romance and a Fresh Pick from Fresh Fiction.  Whew!  I’ve read every one of Kris’ books and I can tell you that the accolades are well deserved.

Luckily for her readers, Kris has a brand new book out.  It’s called Deception, and it’s awesome (yep, I got to read this one early, too!).  As expected, the reviews are great and the book has already earned a coveted 4-1/2 stars from RT Book Reviews and a Top Pick from Night Owl Reviews.

Now, Deception is not just the same old thing, and that’s one of it’s many strengths.  Here’s how Kris explains her new book:

Deception isn’t your typical medieval romance.  It’s less about knights and chases across the countryside, and more about cons.  And dirty money.  And the powerful men who want it, and what they’ll do to get it. 

And of course, the person who will risk everything to stop them.

Oh, and Sexytimes.  Lots of that.

I can vouch for the sexy times, folks!  And I loved the fact that it was a medieval caper – one with a super cool and very hot hero.  Here’s the blurb for Deception:

A dashing con man

Breaking and entering to reclaim her corrupt late father’s ledger comes surprisingly easily to Sophia Darnly. But is it mere coincidence that her misdeed unexpectedly reunites her with Kier, the outlaw lover who abandoned her years ago?

A lady skilled in trickery

Time has not erased Sophia from Kier’s heart, nor tamed her fiery spirit. She boldly insinuates herself into his plans. But Kier is on a mission of revenge, and can’t allow even the woman he once loved to stop him.

A game that could get them both killed

The danger mounts as they lure the leader of a powerful consortium who needs the fabled Darnly ledger—and all its damning details about the wealthiest merchants of England— to execute his nefarious plan. Their rekindled passion burns hot, but when they discover they too are the targets of a deadly deception, the fate of their love, and of England itself, lies in the balance.

Seriously, folks.  If you love intrigue, adventure, and a smart heroine and a sexy hero, this is the book for you!  No one writes medieval romance quite like Kris Kennedy.

For my readers today, Kris is giving away copies of her previous books, Defiant and The Irish Warrior.  Let’s talk about thrillers and capers.  What’s your favorite thriller or caper TV show, movie or book?  Robin HoodMission Impossible?  Let us know for a chance to win one of Kris’ fabulous books!

And don’t forget to visit Kris’ website to read excerpts from all her books and for samples of her many reviews!


Guest Author: Carey Baldwin & Giveaway!

I love having debut authors on the blog, and I’m especially excited about today’s guest.  She’s Carey Baldwin, and she’s a practicing physician who also happens to write edgy romantic thrillers.  How cool is that?  Carey’s first book, First Do No Evil, was recently released by Samhain Publishing to great reviews, including this one from New York Times bestselling author, Cindy Gerard:

“Engaging, witty, intelligent and fresh. Add in hot romance and scintillating suspense, and Carey Baldwin has penned a winner!”

I’m turning the blog over to Carey, so she can tell us about her book.

Sex and the Single Dad

I love an alpha hero. There’s nothing hotter than an alpha…except maybe an alpha with a child. A friend of mine asked me if I modeled Danny, the hero in FIRST DO NO EVIL, after my new husband Bill. I didn’t! Danny was written just prior to the time I met Bill in a coffee shop. It’s a case of life imitating fiction.

I was immediately drawn to my own sexy alpha male from the very first date, but what really sealed the deal for me was watching him in action with his teenage daughter. There is nothing sexier (to me) than a hot, handsome, confident male who gets tears in his eyes when he sees his daughter in her prom dress.

That’s exactly the kind of man Detective Daniel Benson is, and it’s also the kind of man I married! Lucky me!

Danny Benson is as alpha as they come. He’ll charm your skirt…er…your socks off in a heartbeat and take down the bad guy with one hand tied behind his back. But when it comes to his daughter, Katie, well, that’s a whole different ball game.

Here’s a brief excerpt from FIRST DO NO EVIL that shows Danny’s vulnerability where Katie is concerned. The scene also features my heroine, Sky, and Danny’s brother, Christian:

Christian gave Sky a devilish wink that reminded her of how lighthearted Danny had been the morning she first met him. And she couldn’t help thinking that if Danny’s path had never crossed hers, he still would be. He looked so serious now, watching his daughter cross the room.

Gathering her silky auburn waves into a ponytail, Katie stepped in front of the entry-hall mirror, glanced defiantly in her father’s direction, and cranked up a tube of jet-black lipstick. A muscle vibrated in Danny’s jaw, and Christian shot him a stay-cool look.

A look that went unheeded.

“Don’t even think about it,” Danny barked.

 Katie brought the lipstick to her mouth and paused. A taunting move that shouted: I dare you to stop me. In her office, Sky had seen such battles between parent and child played out time and again, and they usually ended badly. Clearing her throat, she said, “Since your father seems to have forgotten his manners, I guess I’ll introduce myself. I’m Sky.”

“I’m Katie.”

“Nice meeting you, Katie. May I offer a word of advice?” Without giving her a chance to decline, Sky walked over and placed two fingers beneath the girl’s chin, lifting her face up. Katie’s green eyes—so fresh and dewy they called up an image of meadow grass on a spring morning—widened in surprise. “Nothing wrong with black lipstick. There’s such a thing as freedom of expression, you know.” This Sky directed at Danny, before turning Katie’s face to the mirror. “But your eyes are stunning. If I were you, I’d want to keep the focus here.” She touched Katie’s temple. “I wonder if that dramatic lipstick will draw attention away from your eyes. Don’t you have a color that would complement them without stealing the show?”

“She’s got a point. Your eyes are a knockout,” Christian put in.

“You have your mother’s eyes,” Danny said softly.

“I do?”

Danny nodded. “I’ve said so before, haven’t I?”

Single dad heroes aren’t common, and though a few notable exceptions spring to mind such as Sleepless in Seattle and To Kill a Mockingbird, they seem few and far between.

True Alpha Dad’s are even more rare. I’d love to see more sexy dads! How about you?  What turns you on in a hero?   I’ve got an e-copy of FIRST DO NO EVIL for one random commenter!

Vanessa, here. Carey, I totally agree that Alpha Dads make great heroes!  And here’s the blurb for First Do No Evil:

There’s a killer lurking in Dr. Skylar Novak’s family tree: the gene for breast cancer. That’s why her brilliant brother invented the Bella vaccine. But even if the miracle drug protects her from the cancer that took her mother’s life, it can’t save Sky from the flesh and bone evil stalking her in secret.

When the killer strikes, detective Daniel Benson finds himself in the wrong place at the right time. The bold detective manages to save Sky’s life…just in time for her to return the favor. Survival leads to seduction, and Danny risks everything—his career, even his life, to keep Sky safe. But will the buried sins they uncover cost him her heart?

Danny’s strong arms may hold her close, but only Sky can stop the terror that’s coming next…

Product Warnings

Contents include: One heart-melting hero—good luck getting this delicious detective out of your head. One reluctant heroine—wielding a Glock was never on her to-do list. One crazed villain—an entire flock of baa baa black sheep won’t be enough to put you to sleep. And a lifesaving vaccine with one deadly side effect—murder.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  I love romantic suspense, so I can tell you that Carey’s book is moving to the top of my TBR pile.  And after you’ve answered Carey’s question, be sure to visit her website for more info and to check out her blog and all her extras.

 


Love Between the Covers

Most romance readers are at least vaguely aware of how big the romance publishing industry is, and that romance writers produce an incredibly diverse range of books across the genre. But did you know that romance fiction comprised the largest share of the U.S. consumer market in 2010?  And that revenues from romance fiction far surpass other genres, like classic literary fiction and mysteries?

Despite that, it’s pretty much true that romance novels and their readers don’t get a whole lot of respect.  Laurie Kahn, a respected documentary filmmaker, wants to help change that.  She’s part of the Popular Romance Project, an exciting initiative set up to explore the origins and influence of popular romance.  The Project has a number of cool things on the go, but the one I want to tell you about today is a documentary that Laurie is filming.

The documentary is called Love Between the Covers, and it will be a feature-length film intended for  international television broadcast, focusing on the global community of romance readers, writers, and publishers.  Love Between the Covers will also be used at a symposium at the Library of Congress, in nationwide library programs about popular romance run by the American Library Association, and at a website dedicated to studying popular romance across time and cultures–the prototype of that website is currently at the existing Popular Romance Project website.

I’m thrilled to be part of this project in a small way as a participant in Laurie’s interviews with authors and readers of romance, which include New York Times bestselling writers like Eloisa James, Brenda Jackson and Jayne Ann Krentz.  I know that Laurie is looking at our community in a completely respectful and non-condescending way, and I’m happy to support the project.  I’m hoping you can support it too.

Laurie and her team have done an excellent job thus far of raising funds to film Love Between the Covers.  But she now needs our help to finish making this film. She recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to do just that.  If you go to her Kickstarter page (lovebetweenthecovers.com) you can see a fun and really enlightening video preview of Love Between the Covers.

And if you look real hard, you can see an interview clip with me near the beginning of the film!

Folks, I hope you can take a few minutes to check out the video preview of  Love Between the Covers.  As Laurie herself says in the trailer, it’s time to take a good look at the women who read and write these books, and who fuel this powerhouse of culture and commerce.  Laurie is doing just that in a respectful and supportive way, and that’s something I think we all can support.


Guest Author: Pamela Clare & Giveaway!

Today’s featured author is the fantastic Pamela Clare. Pamela, as most of you know, writes both romantic suspense and historical romance, and she’s adept at both.  Her I-Team series, about a group of crack investigative reporters, is enormously popular.  Breaking Point, the fifth book in the series, was named one of the Top 10 romance novels of 2011 by the editors of Amazon.com and readers voted it the Best Romantic Suspense book of 2011 in All About Romance’s annual reader poll, making this the second year in a row she’s won that category.

But today I want to highlight Pamela’s historical romances, which are every bit as exciting as her romantic suspense novels.  Her new release, Defiant, is book three in The MacKinnon Rangers Trilogy, and is set during the conflict known in the United States as the French and Indian War — the war made famous by the film Last of the Mohicans, which starred Daniel Day Lewis.

The trilogy tells the stories of three brothers — Iain, Morgan and Connor MacKinnon — transplanted Highlanders who came to North America as boys when their father was exiled from Scotland. Raised on the frontier, they know several Indian tongues and count themselves kin to the Mahican Indians of Stockbridge. Having learned how to track, fight, and hunt from their Mahican friends, they’re at home in the wilderness.


Defiant is already getting great reviews, including 4 stars from RT Book Reviews and a Blue Ribbon Review from Romance Junkies.  Here’s the blurb from Defiant:

Major Connor MacKinnon despises his commander, Lord William Wentworth, beyond all other men. Ordered to rescue Wentworth’s niece after the Shawnee take her captive, he expects Lady Sarah Woodville to be every bit as contemptible as her uncle. Instead, he finds a brave and beautiful lass in desperate peril. But the only way to free Sarah is for Connor to defeat the Shawnee warrior who kidnapped her—and claim her himself.

Torn by tragedy from her sheltered life in London, Lady Sarah is unprepared for the harshness of the frontier-or for the attraction she feels toward Connor. When they reach civilization, however, it is she who must protect him. For if her uncle knew all that Connor had done to save her, he would surely kill him.

But the flames of passion, once kindled, are difficult to deny. As desire transforms into love, Connor will have to defy an empire to keep Sarah at his side.

This is just the kind of meaty historical I love to read.  If you liked Last of the Mohicans, you will love this book!  As far as I’m concerned there aren’t enough historical romances set in this period of American history, and I’m really glad Pamela helps fill the gap with her wonderful books.

Speaking of movies, Pamela has made the most incredible book trailer for Defiant.  Trust me when I tell you that you’re going to want to watch it.  It’s live action, with the hunkiest guy I’ve seen in a LONG time playing Connor MacKinnon.  You can watch it here on YouTube

Be sure to visit Pamela’s website to learn about all her books, to read excerpts and to catch up on her latest news.  You’ll also want to pop by her blog, which has tons of smart, fun content.

For my readers today, I’m giving away a copy of Defiant and a copy of my first historical romance, Mastering The Marquess.  One person who leaves a comment will win both books.  Let’s talk about historical settings.  Some settings, such as Colonial America, are under-represented in historical romance.  What settings and periods do you wish got more coverage?  Tell us about it for a chance to win!

 


Guest Author: Elise Rome & Giveaway!

I’m always happy when historical romance authors are guests on my blog.  And I’ve got a really good one on today–she’s Elise Rome, and she writes lush and lovely Victorian romances.  Elise has written a very, very interesting blog about some of the things she’s learned since she starting writing romance novels, and how she creates her heroines.

Take it away, Elise!

Thanks so much to Vanessa for welcoming me back on the blog! As I count down to the release of my first book as Elise Rome (THE SINNING HOUR, due out late June), I realized that I wanted to share a self-discovery I’ve made since becoming a romance writer.

In the past I never thought of myself as being a feminist. Raised in East Texas, there was a definite bias against the word. In my mind, feminists were loud, brash, rude—and yes, even braless; the opposite of my mother, who was hard-working, quiet, respectful toward others (and always wore a bra). Women’s rights never concerned me much growing up, probably because the issue had a “been there, done that” feel to it. I was born after the suffrage movement, after women wearing pants in public became normal, and grew up during a time when it was status quo for women to work rather than stay at home raising children. I didn’t understand what else there was to fight for, and it often seemed that women who were termed “feminists” were people who just liked to stir up trouble by making a big deal out of nothing.

Ignorant, I know. I don’t think there’s any better word for it.

Two things happened when I began writing romance, though. One, I became part of an international community where women (for the most part) write love stories for women (again, for the most part). If any group of people could rightly be called feminists, it’s romance readers and writers… and yet, despite the stereotype I grew up believing, they’re some of the nicest, most generous, caring people I know. Through them, I’ve learned that being a feminist is something to be proud of. Modern romance espouses the idea that men and women should have equal footing in intimate relationships and, in turn, in every other arena where men and women interact. I’ve learned that being a feminist doesn’t mean that I want to beat down men or show myself to be superior to them; it means that I insist on being treated with the same respect and right of personhood that every human being should expect.

Part of my understanding of what feminism means and who I am as a feminist came from my participation in the romance community, and there are hundreds of fellow romance lovers to whom I am grateful as a result.

The second part, however, came from the actual writing of romance novels. As I hinted above, I think my entire (erroneous) perception of feminism can be attributed to social stereotyping. In truth, I think I’ve been a feminist all along. This truth continues to emerge in the heroines I write. Since I write historical romance novels—currently set in Victorian England, and soon also in the 1920s—my heroines have even less rights and privileges than we do today. Yet despite these boundaries, I’ve always been drawn to write heroines who refuse to settle for what’s expected of them; they know they are worth more, they know they deserve more. They want more, and they go after it, even if there are disastrous consequences to bear.

When I began toying with the idea of a new series, my first thought wasn’t how I could promote feminism by giving five heroines a chance at complete independence in a time when other women were constrained by the wills of their fathers, brothers, husbands, and other male relatives. No, I began with who the heroines were individually—both internally and externally—the type of respective heroes they each should have, and a general premise for their love stories. Then, at the end, I finally put together the idea of the women knowing one another because they’re all co-owners of a gaming hell.

To be honest, I don’t think I would have come up with that idea if I’d started by asking myself for a great hook for a new romance series. As a writer, to me every story begins with individual characterization. But once the idea evolved and the premise came of five women owning a gaming hell together, it resonated with me as a reader. And that’s when I realized how well the label “feminist” truly fits me; I want to read and write about strong women (this also helps me understand why Scarlett O’Hara has always been a particular favorite of mine).

Some may be beautiful, some may be plain; some may be rocket-scientist smart, some may be of average intelligence; all of them are vulnerable in one way or another, but that doesn’t mean they’re inferior because of their gender, just that they’re human. Most importantly, each heroine either knows who she is or discovers who she is through the course of the book, and while they may all long for an intimate, meaningful relationship with the hero of their dreams, they would never see themselves as unworthy or incomplete because they’re not attached to a man.

Yes, I’ve finally discovered what a feminist is, and what being a feminist means. It’s opened my eyes to see how much prejudice against women still exists, and it enrages me when I hear that a woman is raped every 26 seconds in South Africa, when I wonder why there is any rape at all.

Upon this realization, I’m more proud than ever to be a part of the romance community where we give hope to women who, possibly unlike our heroines, aren’t able to be strong at this very moment…but who grow more cognizant of their inner strength with each happily-ever-after ending.

The world that scoffs at the romance genre does so because they believe it’s all about sex and women who are dependent on men; they have no idea that while a committed relationship between two equal and loving partners is essential to our HEAs, a woman who will fight for herself with self-possession and intelligence is just as important.

Obviously, they’ve never met one of my heroines.

Elise Rome has never forgiven Margaret Mitchell for making her fall in love with Scarlett and Rhett in Gone with the Wind and then not giving them a happy ending. She likes to think that she makes up for this injustice with each romance novel she writes. When she isn’t telling stories about sexy, headstrong heroes and intelligent, independent heroines, Elise stays busy chasing after her two young daughters, semi-attempting to do housework, and hiking in the beautiful foothills of Colorado.

THE SINNING HOUR is Elise’s first book in her new Victorian Unmaskedseries, in which five masked women claim their independence by creating the most exclusive gaming hell in London. The book is scheduled to be published in late June 2012.

For more information about Elise, please visit her website at www.eliserome.com or connect with her through Facebook and Twitter.

What does the romance genre mean to you as a female reader or writer? One random commenter will win a digital copy of THE SINNING HOUR upon its release.

Vanessa, here.  Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Elise, and for writing such a thoughtful blog!  Now, readers, have at it.  What does the romance genre mean to you?  One person who comments will win a copy of Elise’s upcoming release.


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