Guest Author: Katharine Ashe & Giveaway!

One of my favorite historical authors is returning to the blog today.  She’s Katharine Ashe, and she writes passionate, exciting, character-driven romances.  Here’s what Katharine’s official bio says:

The American Library Association’s Booklist named Katharine Ashe among its “New Stars of Historical Romance.” She is a two-time nominee in the Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Awards, and her novella, A Lady’s Wish, launched Harper Collins Publishers’ e-book imprint, Avon Impulse, to rave reviews.

All this is very true, but I’ll tell you something else about Katharine–she’s smart and funny, and a lovely person to boot.  Can’t you just tell that from her picture?  I think she’s the bee’s knees, and if you’re not following her on Twitter or Facebook, you really should.

Katharine’s first book was Swept Away by a Kiss, which got rave reviews, including this one from RT Book Reviews:

“An incredible romance with enough sexual chemistry to singe your fingers. The characters are complex and highly sensual, the plot riveting and the backdrop vividly detailed. This is both a page-turner and a keeper.”

I bet you won’t be surprised to hear that Katharine’s subsequent books also received stellar reviews, right?  You can pop on over to her website to read some of those reviews, and to get the deets on each book, including excerpts.

Katharine’s readers (including me) are thrilled that she’s got a new series coming out, with the first book releasing this week. It’s called When A Scot Loves A Lady, and it kicks off her Falcon Club Series. Not surprisingly, it’s already getting great reviews:

“A staggeringly intense love story… gripping, engaging, sublime… Ashe is a virtuoso… Her books are filled with an undeniable love, with arresting characters, and with plots that twist and turn, keeping a reader bound to the pages from beginning to end.”
— Romantic Crush Junkies

Isn’t that a beautiful cover?  Here’s the blurb for When A Scot Loves A Lady:

London gossips are asking: What use has society of an exclusive gentleman’s club if no gentlemen are ever seen to pass through its door?

After years as an agent of the secret Falcon Club, Lord Leam Blackwood knows it’s time to return home to Scotland. One temptation threatens his plans—Kitty Savege. The scandal-plagued lady warms his blood like a dram of fine whiskey. But a dangerous enemy stands in the way of desire, and to beat this foe Leam needs Kitty’s help…

Kitty never wanted to spend her holidays in a wretched country village! With snow up to the windows, escape is nowhere in sight. A roguish Scottish lord, however, is. His rough brogue sends tingles of heat from Kitty’s frigid toes to her chilled nose, but she’s confident she can withstand that. What she cannot control is the reaction of her carefully guarded heart when she discovers this beast is, in fact, no beast at all…

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?  There’s an excerpt of When A Scot Loves A Lady on Katharine’s website, along with lots of interesting extras.  And be sure to stop by Katharine’s wonderful group blog, The Ballroom Blog, which she hosts with other fabulous authors like Miranda Neville and Gaelen Foley.

For my readers today, Katharine is giving away a copy of When A Scot Loves A Lady.  Just tell me the title of one of your favorite historical romances, and why you love it.  One person who comments will win a copy of Katharine’s fabulous book!


Guest Author: Lisa Marie Rice & Giveaway!

I don’t know about you folks, but sometimes I like to walk on the wild side with my reading – alpha male heroes, erotic story lines, and some danger and suspense thrown in to up the ante.  Sometimes life can be a little tame, so why not mix it up a bit?  So, if you’re looking for that kind of sexy-off-the charts writing with strong heroes, then look no further than Lisa Marie Rice.

Lisa writes erotic romantic suspense, and her reputation as a rising star in the genre is definitely growing.  Here’s what New York Times bestselling author Shannon McKenna had to say about Lisa’s current series, the Protectors Trilogy:

“Edgy, sexy, endlessly exciting, Lisa Marie Rice never disappoints! I can’t get enough of Lisa Marie Rice’s sensual, hard hitting stories!”

And here’s the blurb for this exciting series:

The Protectorsthree men, closer than brothers, who looked after each other growing up in a brutal foster home and have had each other’s back ever since. Sam Reston, Harry Bolt, Mike Keillor. Hard men, tough men, who grew up rough and who saw brutality and cruelty close up—particularly to women and children. The instant they were legally able, they took off. Sam to be a SEAL, Harry a Delta Operator and Mike a Marine. Now they run a highly successful security company with a secret side to it—an underground railroad they run to help abused women and children disappear.

They’re making money hand over fist with their new company because they are very good at what they do. But make no mistake—it’s their ability to take women and children away from the heart of darkness and set them up in a new life that makes it all worthwhile.

When each man meets his mate, that protective instinct goes into overdrive.

Doesn’t that sound awesome?  The first book in the series is Into The Crossfire, which introduces the first of three super-hot, alpha males protectors willing to walk through fire for the women they love.

The second book in the series is Hotter Than Wildfire, which was released by Avon Publishing in April.  It got great reviews, including this one from Joyfully Reviewed, who labelled the book as one of their Recommended Reads:

HOTTER THAN WILDFIRE is Lisa Marie Rice at her best. Everything I’ve come to expect and love about her writing, HOTTER THAN WILDFIRE delivers. An exciting storyline with a ruthless villain whose pursuit takes him to the edge of sanity, the man capable of stopping him, and a woman strong enough to face the obstacles in her way keep you on the edge of you seat, while Harry and Ellen’s intense romance will sweep you off your feet.

Lisa would be the first to tell you that she loves to create heroes modelled on the brave, amazing men in the Special Forces units of the military.  In fact, she has a really cool post on her website about Navy SEALS, and why she admires them so much.  So you won’t be surprised to read that she has a new release out this month which features a Navy SEAL as the hero.  It’s a digital novella called Fatal Heat, and it went on sale Oct. 4 from Avon Impulse.

Here’s the blurb for Fatal Heat:

Former Navy SEAL Max Wright is out of the SEAL Teams forever after being almost killed by an Afghani RPG. He retreats to his former XO’s beach house to lick his wounds. He wants to snarl at the world but finds it hard to snarl at his new neighbor, his XO’s beautiful goddaughter, Paige Waring, who also comes with a ridiculously likable, totally undisciplined dog.

As a plant geneticist, Paige has always been focused on her work, but when she and her dog run into Max, she recognizes the lonely, shattered man behind the rugged exterior. To her mind, sexiness always comes with a white lab coat, not with acres of tanned muscle and a tough mind-set.

When Paige’s work becomes the target of criminals and she’s abducted, Max springs into action. Though still terribly wounded, this tough as nails SEAL goes on his last mission—stopping at nothing to save the woman he loves.

I am SO there!  This novella has everything I love in a contemporary romance—a strong but wounded hero, a smart heroine, danger, and lots of steam.  The fact that there’s also a loveable, nutty dog is definitely a bonus!

If you like your romantic suspense with a lot of heat, then I strongly suggest you hop right on over to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and check out Fatal Heat.  And while you’re browsing the internet, be sure to stop by Lisa’s website.  Aside from being a wonderful writer, she’s a fascinating person.  Make sure to read her FAQs, which are both fun and informative.  And don’t forget to check out her Books page for the list of all her fabulous, sexy books!

To celebrate her new release, Lisa will give away one copy of Fatal Heat to one of my readers.  Just tell me what’s your favorite type of hero for contemporary romance—do you love those strong alpha males like Navy Seals (I sure do!), the ordinary good guy, the bad boy in need of reform, or the brainy professor type?  One person who comments will win a copy of Lisa’s novella.

Guest Author: Lena Diaz & Giveaway!

I’m so pleased to have a good friend of mine on the blog today – debut author Lena Diaz.  Lena’s romantic suspense novel, He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, is one of the launch books for Avon Impulse, the new Harper Collins digital-first imprint.  Exciting stuff!

Lena is a truly talented writer, whose manuscripts were winning accolades even before publication.  She’s won the Tara, the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence in Romantic Suspense, and finaled in the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious contest for unpublished authors, The Golden Heart.   I’m going to turn the blog over to Lena now – she has some thoughts about heroes she’d like to share with us!

What Makes A Romance Hero Romantic?

Vanessa, thank you so much for hosting me on your blog! I’ll jump right into my topic, which is — What makes a romance novel hero romantic?

Recently, two of my friends critiqued a scene I’d just written. Without seeing each other’s comments, they both highlighted the same line of dialogue, and they both said it was so romantic. I was surprised, because that line seemed ordinary, nothing special. What was it about that one line that sounded romantic? Neither of my friends could explain why it felt romantic. They just knew that it did.

I looked back through the scene, which was the first meet between the hero and heroine. I tried to figure out why that line seemed so special. All through the scene the hero was cold, almost to the point of being mean, because he despised the choices the heroine had made in her life. But at the very end of the scene, he couldn’t walk away without offering the heroine some kind of consolation. He had to say that one little line, trying to make her feel better.

That one line of dialogue showed the hero’s true character, his compassion. It gave the reader a glimpse into the hero’s true self. In that one line, we saw that the hero cared for the weak and downtrodden, even if he didn’t want to. The line itself wasn’t romantic. The reasons behind the hero’s words were romantic.

Let’s look at a scene where the hero and heroine dance together. By itself, the scene is nothing special. But let’s change it up a bit. Let’s say the heroine just got dumped by her boyfriend, very publicly, and he walks across the dance floor with another woman. Our heroine is sitting alone, humiliated. Other women she knows are giggling and making fun of her at the next table. They’re also flirting outrageously with our gorgeous hero.

Disgusted at how the women, and the boyfriend, treated the heroine, the hero asks the heroine to dance. He treats her like a princess, lavishing her with attention. By dancing with her, he gives her revenge against everyone who treated her so badly, and he helps her self-esteem.

Suddenly that scene is far more romantic. Or, at least, it is to me! The hero is no longer just a cute guy. He’s sexy, hot, appealing, romantic–not because of his looks–but because of the person he is inside.

So tell me, what do you think makes a romance novel hero romantic? Is it all looks? His voice? The way he gazes into a woman’s eyes, as if she’s the only person in the room? Or is it his character, his moral convictions, his compassion for others? Or something else entirely? I’d love to hear your opinions!

He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not

Four years ago, Amanda Stockton was forced to play a serial killer’s twisted game of chance. Since then, she has retreated from the world, bearing the scar from her ordeal and the burden of a terrible secret. But when another woman is found dead, clutching a long-stemmed red rose, Amanda knows she can hide no longer.

If there were any other way, Chief Logan Richards would never ask the only surviving victim for help. But it’s clear this killer will not be stopped and Amanda is the only link. Torn between catching a madman and winning the trust of the woman he’s come to love, Logan is caught in a dangerous game with Amanda. And there’s no guarantee they’ll come out on top.

Vanessa, here.  Lena will be giving away one copy of He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not, to one of my readers today.  Just answer her question to win!  But that’s not all.  Five readers who comment today will also win a set of Lena’s romance trading cards.  There are four cards to a set, including this dreamy one of her romantic hero, Logan Richards.  Yum!

Never heard about romance trading cards, the latest thing sweeping through romancelandia?  You can check them out on the romance trading card website.