Guest Author: Amy Atwell & Giveaway!

Every once in a while, you meet someone who just seems special.  Someone who has tons of positive energy and drive, and talent.  Well, that perfectly describes my guest blogger today – she’s Amy Atwell, and she writes romantic suspense and historical romance, both fabulously.    Readers agree since her latest book, Ambersley, has been on several digital bestseller lists.  I’m turning the blog over to Amy, for a very intriguing discussion…

Thank you so much to Vanessa for inviting me here today.

 The Truth About Lies (and why we love the people who tell them)

I’ve been reading novels for years and one of the common threads from story to story—especially in romances of all periods and types—is The Lie.  I know we’ve all been taught not to lie, that lying is bad, that it makes people not trust us (think about that boy who cried “Wolf!” eh?).  And yet, in a romance, I’ve rarely had a problem with learning to love a hero or a heroine despite any lies they’ve told.

Think about your favorite books, the ones that have grabbed you by the ear and whispered their demand that you add them to your keeper shelf.  Do you recognize any of these versions of The Lie?

1.  The Little White Lie:  often used at the beginning of a story as a catalyst. Sometimes it binds the hero and heroine together, sometimes it sets them at odds. Generally, whoever told this little lie wishes to take it back, but events unfold so rapidly, it’s impossible.

2.  The Identity Lie:  most common in stories involving suspense or comedy. Someone is pretending to be someone else, usually for noble reasons. This always creates complications because at what point will this lie be revealed?

3.  The Circumstances Lie:  I think of this one in historicals—the hero or heroine who lies about his/her financial or social circumstances.  Someone pretends to be wealthy and titled, or someone pretends to be a poor servant.

4.  The Cover Up Lie:  this may be used to keep a secret from other characters and sometimes from the reader. It’s often a spur of the moment lie and might be very small. But when used often, these lies add up to big trouble for a character.

5.  The Trust in Me Lie:  often goes hand-in-hand with the Identity Lie. This lie may be used by hero, heroine or villain. It’s the “trust me, I’ve got your best interests at heart” lie that we know will lead to complications and potentially endanger the (usually) heroine.

6.  The Emotional Lie:  oh yeah, the lie where someone says, “I don’t care.” We all know that’s a cover up, except maybe the character speaking the words.  This lie is used to hide emotions from others in the book, but as readers we recognize—and often feel—the pain of grief or jealousy or righteous anger.

7.  The False Promises Lie:  this could also be called the Sacrificial Lie. It’s most common near the end of the book when the hero or heroine makes some giant sacrifice.  A Titanic moment, when Jack would say to Rose, “Go ahead, get on that lifeboat. I’ll catch the next one.”

8.  The Lie to Oneself:  I love this lie best of all. Either the hero or heroine is misguided in what s/he believes s/he most wants.  These characters don’t recognize the lie within, so when the truth becomes clear (usually through love) the change is dramatic and often very uplifting. (aka, the reader is doing the fist-bump and cheering!)

As you can see, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about ways to lie! And while I try not to lie in my daily life, I love to spin lies within my stories. In fact, I’m celebrating the first anniversary of my debut romantic suspense release LYING EYES this month, so I’m happy to give away a digital copy to a lucky commenter.  As the title suggests, there are lies galore in this book, which combines humor, family drama and suspense all in a Las Vegas-set caper.

So, tell me true: do you have a beloved book where you forgave all the hero and/or heroine’s lies? 

Vanessa, here.  Amy, what a great post!  So how about it, folks?  Which hero or heroine do you forgive all?  One person who comments will win a digital copy of Amy’s book, Lying Eyes.

Amy Atwell worked in professional theater for 15 years before turning from the stage to the page to write fiction. She now gives her imagination free rein in both contemporary and historical stories that combine adventure and romance. Her romantic suspense Lying Eyes is available from Carina Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble  and her best selling historical romance Ambersley is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. An Ohio native, Amy has lived all across the country and now resides on a barrier island in Florida with her husband and two Russian Blues. Visit her online at her website,  Magical Musings or Facebook.

Guest Author: Marie Force & Giveaway!

This is a bit of a squee day for me on the blog, because I’m featuring my good friend, the very talented Marie Force.  Marie writes both contemporary romance and romantic suspense, and if you haven’t yet heard about her…well, you will!  In just a few short years her career has gone into orbit.

Like most authors, though, Marie started off on another career path.  She majored in journalism and political science in university, worked as a journalist for a community paper, and still works as a communications director for a non-profit agency in Virginia.  Marie also married a Navy guy, spending part of her married life in Spain and then in Jacksonville Florida, where her husband was stationed.  During those years, her hubby spent quite a lot of time at sea, so Marie raised two little kids and continued to work, all while her muse was kicking her in the butt and telling her to pay attention.

Finally, Marie got down to it and her first published book, Line of Scrimmage, was released by Sourcebooks  in 2008.

Line of Scrimmage, a contemporary romance, got great reviews, as did Marie’s subsequent books like Love at First Flight, which received a Reviewer Top Pick from Night Owl Reviews, and was nominated for the LASR Best Book of 2009.  Here’s what Book Binge had to say about Love at First Flight:

“Marie Force really has a knack for getting the reader emotionally involved with her characters. I felt the same way when I read Line of Scrimmage and Love at First Flight is no exception. I have to give kudos to her for writing such an unconventional romance so well. The fact that she could engage my emotions throughout the whole book really is a testament to her skillfulness of storytelling.”

Well, the accolades have kept on coming, both for Marie’s contemporary romances and for her romantic suspense novels put out by Carina Press, Harlequin Publishing’s digital imprint.  Her romantic suspense books are part of the Fatal Series, starring Nick and Sam, and set amongst the political intrigues of Washington D.C.  Here’s what New York Times bestselling author, Christy Reece, had to say about the first book in the series, Fatal Affair:

Sizzle, mystery and suspense…Fatal Affair has it all! Nick and Sam are a perfect pair and Marie Force is definitely an author to watch!

You can read all about this fantastic romantic suspense series on Marie’s website.

Not content with resting on her laurels (the scamp!), Marie decided to branch out into the world of indie publishing.  No surprise to anyone who knows her, she’s been phenomenally successful with these new books published in digital format.  In fact, Marie has a new one just out this week.  It’s another contemporary romance, and it’s called Georgia On My Mind.

Here’s the blurb for Georgia On My Mind:

Since Georgie Quinn’s mother died after a brief battle with breast cancer, the highlight of her life has become “jogger stalking” every morning with her roommates Tess and Cat. Stuck running the senior center her mother founded in Newport, RI, until a replacement director is found, Georgie dreams of returning to her glamorous life in Atlanta. As that life begins to unravel, she discovers a whole new one in Newport where the jogger turns out to be sexy detective and tree hugger Nathan Caldwell. Determined to get her mind off her many problems—including a possible threat to her own health—Georgie indulges in what she intends to be a no-holds-barred one-night stand with Nathan. Unfortunately, Nathan has other ideas and sets out to have a relationship with her. Tess, on the run from an abusive husband, and Cat, who raised her younger brother and sister, hook up with Nathan’s brothers, Ben, an injured Iraqi war veteran, and Ian, a single-father and talented musician. Add a zany cast of seniors who seem determined to drive Georgie slowly mad with their never-ending needs and comparisons to her sainted mother, and you’ve got the ingredients for a fast-paced, often comical, emotional journey that leads Georgie straight to the home of her heart.

Sounds great, doesn’t it!  You can get all the details about Georgia On My Mind on Marie’s website.  While you’re there, you can also have a look at her McCarthy’s of Gansett Island Series and find out more about her upcoming contemporary trilogy.  The first book in that series, Treading Water, will be out in October.

For my readers today, Marie is giving away a copy of her new book, Georgia On My Mind.  Let’s talk contemporary romance.  Who are some of your favorite contemporary romance authors and why?  Do you like warm, heartfelt contemporaries, or something a little zanier and fast-paced, like chick lit or the fabulously funny books of Jennifer Crusie?  One person who comments will win a copy of Marie’s fabulous book!


Guest Author: Mary Campisi & Giveaway!

Do you like emotional stories filled with love and laughter, compassion and hope, passion and warmth?  Then I think you’ll really enjoy my guest author today – Mary Campisi, who writes wonderful historical and contemporary romances.

Like many romance authors, Mary came to writing by a circuitous route.  She’s held a number of jobs, including registered nurse, manager for an ob/gyn, receptionist in a swanky hair salon, and she even worked as an accounts payable clerk (not her favorite job!).  But the lure of fiction always called to her and she finally gave in to her muse, eventually going on to be published with a number of publishers, including Kensington Zebra and Carina Press.  Her books have garnered loyal readers and critical acclaim, including a Romantic Times Top Pick for her contemporary romance, Paradise Found.

And here’s what The Season for Romance had to say about her recent Carina Press novella, The Sweetest Deal:

“Smart, sexy, and seductive; this novella is a great read for any contemporary romance fan.”

Mary also writes wonderful historical romances, which romance reviewers have called “absolutely delicious” and “not to be missed!”  Fortunately for her readers, Mary has a new book out, an ebook original called The Seduction of Sophie Seacrest.

Here’s the blurb:

Love and Betrayal . . . Regency Style

When Holt Langford, the new Earl of Westover, returns to England after twelve years at sea, he resembles more pirate than nobleman, a far cry from the scrawny youth shipped off by his father to become a man. No one recognizes him and he’ll use this anonymity to enter a game of subterfuge in order to expose the scoundrel who has vowed to destroy Holt’s family business.

Unfortunately, that scoundrel has a devoted daughter – Sophie Seacrest. Sophie can’t deny her attraction to the unorthodox stranger who stirs her blood and makes her think things no proper lady should. Holt and Sophie are drawn into a seductive tangle and just when he’s about to reveal his true identity and his honorable intentions, she discovers the truth and must choose between love and family duty.

I don’t know about you, but I love a nobleman who has a touch of the pirate in him!  I think Mary’s readers (and mine) are going to love this book.  Read all about The Seduction of Sophie Seacrest on Mary’s website, and don’t forget to check out the excerpt.

And while you’re there, check out Pieces of You, book one in Mary’s new contemporary romance trilogy,The Betrayed.

For my readers, Mary will be giving away a copy of The Seduction of Sophie SeacrestJust tell me what book you’re looking forward to reading this September.  One commenter will win a copy of Mary’s wonderful new release!

Another Damn “Best of” List

Yeah, I know.  Another damn list of favorite books from 2010.  But it is fun to look back at what I read this year, and think about what books really caught my attention and why.  So here’s my list of the books that knocked my socks.  One caveat – they weren’t all written in 2010, but that’s when I read them so they’re going on the list.  I still have a huge pile of books that were published this year teetering at the top of my TBR pile.  I have no doubt that some of them will make the list of my favorite books for 2011.

And since it’s still officially the holiday season and I’m still flush with the Christmas spirit, I’ll be giving away a copy of the e-book, Lying Eyes, by my good friend and fellow Carina Press author, Amy Atwell.

Drum roll please…

Love In The Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas.  A wonderful end to the Hathaway series, and one of LK’s best books, IMHO.  The story of an emotionally wounded soldier and the very unusual young woman who helps him to heal is sexy, heartfelt, and funny.  I adored this book.

The Mad Earl’s Bride by Loretta Chase.  An early novella rather than a novel, this story is a showcase for LC’s trademark wit, deep emotion, and stellar writing.  Worth the time and effort to track it down.

Last Night’s Scandal by Loretta Chase.  A sequel to the much-loved Lord Perfect, LNS finally gives us the story of those wayward children, Olivia and Peregrine, all grown up.  I laughed out loud several times reading this book, and it’s one of the most emotionally satisfying love stories I’ve read in a long time.

Rebels and Lovers By Linnea Sinclair.  I love Sci Fi Romance, and I’m glad to see it making a comeback, with some e-book publishers, at least.  Sinclair writes the best – strong, character-driven stories with believable worlds and sympathetic heroes and heroines with very big problems to solve.

Defiant by Kris Kennedy.  You won’t have seen a copy of Defiant on bookshelves, because it won’t be released until April 2011.  But I was lucky enough to read it in manuscript, and I’m here to tell you that it’s an awesome read.  Kennedy is a hugely talented author who writes very sexy, very adventurous Medieval romances.   I think everyone is going to love this book.

Scream For Me/Kill For Me by Karen Rose.  I was a little late coming to Karen Rose but, man!  The wait was worth it.  These two books from the Vartanian series are incredibly suspenseful, emotional, and downright scary.  Nobody writes villains like Karen Rose!

Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Lover by Jennifer Ashley.  I wondered how JA would top The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie, but she did it in spades with this book.  Very emotional and beautifully written.

And last but not least…

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook.  Probably my favorite book this year, TID is a masterpiece of world-building, story, and craft.  The writing is stellar, but it never overshadows an exciting and ultimately very thought-provoking story told in the world of Steampunk.  I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

So there they are.  A pretty impressive line-up, eh?  Tell me what were your favorite reads of the year.  One commenter will win a copy of Amy Atwell’s Lying Eyes.


My Mysterious Alter-ego Goes To A Party

Some of you might not know this, but I also write contemporary romance with my husband under the pen name of VK Sykes.  Our first book, CADDYGIRLS, is published by Carina Press. Carina Press is the new digital-only imprint of Harlequin, so we’re now part of a fabulous and very big community of readers and authors.  To celebrate the holidays, e-Harlequin is holding a digital Open House on Wed. Dec 15, with forums and chats with their authors and lots of great prizes to give away.  Please stop by to chat with your favorite authors (including yours truly) and to win some great prizes.

See you there!