Guest Author: Katherine Garbera & Giveaway!

Katherine Garbera

I’m so pleased to welcome my fellow Jaunty Quills sister Katherine Garbera to the blog.  Katherine is a USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author of contemporary romance.  She’s written for Kensington and numerous Harlequin imprints, and her books have been featured in magazines like Redbook and excerpted in Cosmo.  Wow!

And did I mention that she’s written more than 50 books?  Pretty accomplished, I’d say!

Katherine has a new book out called His Instant Heir.  It’s a secret baby story, which is one of my FAVORITE romance tropes.  Plus, the hero is a billionaire, and who doesn’t love that?

His Instant Heir

There is nothing sexier than a good looking guy with a baby, I always say!  Here’s the blurb:

It was only one night…

Cari Chandler can’t forget Declan Montrose. Their baby is a living reminder. The baby she hasn’t told him about. The no-commitment billionaire—and her family’s sworn enemy—walked out of her life the morning after. But now he’s back…with a vengeance!

Taking over her company is the last step to victory in their families’ long feud. But Cari’s more than collateral damage to Dec. He wants—needs—to seduce her again and again. Until he finds out she’s hidden something more precious than her company. His son. And Dec intends to claim him…no matter the cost.

And it’s a revenge story, too – I’m in book heaven!  Be sure to stop by Katherine’s website to read an excerpt.

For my readers today, Katherine is giving away three copies of her book.  Just tell us what some of your favorite romance themes are:  marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, or lovers on the run?  Three people who comment will win a copy of An Instant Heir.


Guest Author: Karen Whiddon & Giveaway!

For those of us who like romantic suspense – and there are a lot of us – the publishing world can be a frustrating place.  Many of the bigger traditional publishers have decided that romantic suspense is not the seller it once was, and have drastically cut back on the number of suspense books they publish.  A self-fulfilling prophecy if there ever was one, since making it harder for readers to find these books means they’ll eventually give up on romantic suspense and move on to other genres.

Fortunately, Harlequin is one publisher that still reliably produces romantic suspense, both through their category lines and their single title imprints.  My guest author today is one of the many talented authors in Harlequin’s stable of suspense writers.  She’s Karen Whiddon and she writes for Harlequin’s Silhouette Romantic Suspense line, and also for Nocturne, Harlequin’s paranormal line.

Luckily for us romantic suspense readers, Karen has a new book coming out in September.  I really love these category novels.  They have tight, suspenseful story lines and solidly satisfying romances that are great to gobble up in one go.  I also like the fact that the heroines in a lot of these books are ordinary women in danger, rather than secret agents or FBI profilers.  Not that I don’t like those types of heroines as well, but sometimes it’s fun to read about a character a little more like the rest of us!

Here’s the blurb for Karen’s new book, The Cop’s Missing Child:

Small-town cop Mac Riordan lost his wife in a car crash, but his infant son survived, only to later be kidnapped. Now, five years later, Mac locates him living in Anniversary, Texas, with beautiful Emily Gilley. The more he gets to know this mysterious mother of his son, the less he’s convinced she’s a coldhearted kidnapper. She might be a victim just as much as he is. So when Emily’s under-the-radar lifestyle is suddenly discovered, Mac comes clean. The threats against her—against their child—escalate and Mac must risk it all to protect his son…and the woman who’s brought him back to life.

Sounds like a great, classic romantic suspense story, doesn’t it?  I’ll certainly be looking for Karen’s book when it hits the shelves in September.

And for my readers today, Karen is giving away a copy of one of her previous books, The CEO’s Secret Baby.

To win a copy of Karen’s book, just let me know what you think about the current state of the romantic suspense market.  Do you wish there were more suspense books available, and where do you tend to find the ones you do read?  One person who comments will win a copy of The CEO’s Secret Baby.

And be sure to stop by Karen’s website for a listing of all her books, including her backlist, now available in digital.

Guest Author: Terri Brisbin & Giveaway!

I always love hosting historical romance writers and today’s guest is a real treat for my readers.  She’s Terri Brisbin, a very talented author who’s sold more than 1.7 million copies of her historical and paranormal romance novels, novellas and short stories in more than 20 languages in 25 countries around the world since 1998. Wow! That is some impressive pedigree!  I’m going to turn the blog over to Terri, so she can tell us about her latest book.

Kids? Why Are There Kids?!

First – thanks to Vanessa for having me as a guest today!

I have to confess and apologize at the same time. I discovered long ago that I absolutely DETEST reading about kids in romance novels. It might be because of my background having had three children and understanding that children and romance don’t always work well together….that they interfere and get in the way sometimes. So, when it comes to reading romances, I look for an escape, a story unlike my real life, so I can believe it could be me in that story. And when I see romances with children on the covers, I avoid them.

That’s why I have to apologize – to my romance writing colleagues who write marvelous stories that do involve children. And there are tons of them out there if you look at covers on the shelves in bookstores and online! Children are front-and-center on many Harlequin lines and the covers. Um. . . yuck.

So, that’s why it shouldn’t be a surprise when Fate and my Muse decided to double-team against me and feed me a story idea that involved a 6 year old little girl! Darn it! Why me? Why a child? Well, I gave up fighting it and wrote the story that became POSSESSED BY THE HIGHLANDER about a man who is forced into marrying a woman who has an illegitimate daughter. Worse? The hero falls in love with the little girl – Ciara – before he does her mother!! Is that insult to injury?

I was contenting myself with the knowledge that I’d write it, her, and be done with it, but in the middle of the story, Ciara did the unthinkable! You see, the youngest man in the hero’s ‘men’, a teenager he’s mentoring, has befriended Ciara because he has many brothers and sisters and she reminds him of one of them. Tavis, the young man, begins to entertain her through their journey home, even carving wooden animals for her to play with along the way.  When he presents her with the latest one, a pig, she grabs her mother’s hand, tugs her down close and whispers: ““I am going to marry Tavis, Mama.”

More than just a childish oath, Ciara’s words caused a flash of story before my eyes and I saw her and Tavis as adults together. In just a few seconds, the whole story flew by and I knew I would have to write that story!

Well, now, almost six years later, I’ve finally written that story! THE HIGHLANDER’S STOLEN TOUCH is the story of a young woman unrelenting love for a man who sees her as a younger sister until the day when she suddenly becomes much more. Ciara never loses faith that Tavis will be his, but sometimes Fate (and muses, apparently) have other ideas.

I guess I’m glad that I was forced to have a child in that book since it lead to a completely new series for me to write, but I’m not happy about it! LOL!

How about you? Do you like children in romance novels? Dislike? Not care? Let me know and we’ll pick someone to receive a copy of that first book – POSSESSED BY THE HIGHLANDER – and a copy of one of my digital short stories, too!

Terri is frantically writing in one of her infamous deadline-mania-o’-writing-binges even while celebrating her newest release, THE HIGHLANDER’S STOLEN TOUCH! Visit her website ( ) for more info about everything!

Vanessa, here.  Terri, that’s a very interesting question and a great post – and your new book sounds wonderful.  I definitely fall into your camp on the children, and tend to avoid romances with them as main characters.  Of course, in the hands of a talented author (like you!) I’ll read and enjoy just about anything.  So, what about you, readers?  Answer Terri’s question for a chance to win Possessed By The Highlander and one of her short stories.

Guest Author: Janis Susan May & Giveaway!

I’m truly honored to have a very special person on the blog today – romantic suspense author, Janis Susan May.  Janis is such an interesting person and has so many accomplishments to her name, that I barely know where to begin.  She’s been writing romance novels for years, and in 1980 she was one of the founding members of the Romance Writers of America, now one of the biggest and most prestigious writing organizations in the world.  Whew!

In the intervening years, Janis has lead a fascinating life.  She’s traveled all over the globe, spending much of that time in the Middle East, where she indulged in her “deep and abiding love of Egyptology.”  Her Naval officer husband even proposed to her on a moonlit night near the pyramids of Giza–sounds like Janis’ life belongs in a romance novel!

Janis now writes for Harlequin’s digital first imprint, Carina Press, and she has a new romantic suspense novel coming out in less than two weeks.  She’s here today to tell us all about it.  Take it away, Janis!

A Single Candle in an Upper Window

I confess.

I love the old-style Gothic romances. You know the kind I mean – mostly published in the late 60s and 70s, the cover was almost universally dark, with a great brooding castle or manor house set out in the middle of a foreboding landscape. In the foreground there was a pretty young thing, usually in something voluminous and ruffly, running for her life and sending a terror-stricken glance back over her shoulder. The big castle/manor house is totally dark, save for one brilliantly lit window high up under the eaves.

Even at the time I could appreciate that the covers were more than slightly ludicrous – I mean, the ruffly voluminous thing was obviously supposed to be nightwear, but who could get to sleep inside all that pouffy yardage? Not only that, if she wanted to get away, isn’t it silly to run like mad while you’re looking over your shoulder? That’s more likely to send you sprawling down on your face than help you escape.

There’s no accounting for true love, though. Some of the stories were wonderful, more were monuments to words-by-the-foot predictability, some were unabashed dreck, and I read them all. Some of them I still do. Through several moves and cleaning out my late mother’s home, I got rid of thousands of books, but my beloved Gothics stayed around.

Good or bad, the stories were basically simple – a young woman pretty much alone in the world takes a position – governess or companion were the most popular – in a big, creepy house. There is a varied cast of characters, usually including the brooding, misunderstood master of the house and a nice young handsome man. Sometimes the nice young handsome man was the villain, but most of the time no matter how badly he was misunderstood the dark master was the hero – almost an archetype of the tortured hero. The heroine is invariably plunged into the mysteries of the past and nearly suffers death before the villainy is uncovered, the truth revealed and sunshine and light reign thereafter.

While drenched in heart-palpitating romance, the stories – at least the ones I loved – were always squeaky clean, with nothing more than clasped hands, touching sighs or the occasional chaste kiss.

At the time of first reading, during those long-ago days, I supposed I liked them because they represented a promise. I was young and reasonably pretty. I wanted adventure and true romance. If it happened to that (generally) air-headed fruitcake of a heroine who followed an anonymous note into the dark cellars at midnight after three people had been mysteriously killed, what could I – smarter and blessed with a caring family – expect?

Yes, I have always been among the reality challenged. Don’t ask me about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

However… now I am no longer young and hope I am a great deal wiser than the innocent young woman I used to be, and I still love these old Gothic stories of love and danger.

Perhaps it is because they represent a time in my life that was incredibly happy, or perhaps it is because the good ones, the ones that I have kept and continue to reread, the ones with plausible stories and good characterization, are simply the best of what is admittedly a wildly uneven genre. Or perhaps it is that they, in the main, are more human in scale and pacing than most anything you can find today. While they are exciting and have a deep mystery, there is no gratuitous gore or horror or sex. Everything is kept to a sedate, mannerly pace one can enjoy reading instead of the exhausting (and more often than not boring) bang-bang-bang unending chase/machine gun tempo of more recent romantic suspenses where one can hardly draw breath between one crisis and another.

I have said for years what a pity it is no one writes that kind of story any more. Fortunately, I can’t say that any more, because I have just published a modern Gothic called INHERITANCE OF SHADOWS.

True, there is no pretty young thing tearing madly across a darkened lawn on the cover, but there is a wondrous creepy old house. I guess Carina Press metaphorically paid the electric bill, because in my cover house every window is blazing with light – and it’s still creepy.

It’s funny – I never cared much for high fantasy and certainly never intended to write any, but… In INHERITANCE OF SHADOWS the heroine Aurora has come to Merrywood, the estate of her late father’s friend, to attend a convention honoring her late father’s books. She never knew her father and was raised with little or no knowledge of him. He wrote a series of high fantasy novels that have spawned a rabid fandom, intellectual debate and a series of conventions. He also committed suicide in front of her when she was barely three years old.

Things at the convention go wildly awry; first of all, Aurora’s former love shows up, intending to write a book about her father – the very thing that broke them up in the first place. Aurora begins having strange dreams where she is taking part in ceremonies her father wrote about. His friend, her host, and his colleagues are annoyingly possessive of her. The conventioneers regard her as a-not-quite-human icon, the essence of the books come to life. And she is not the only being from the books come to life; creatures from the books begin to appear, creatures that appear to be real and not just costumed conventioneers. Aurora realizes that not only her sanity, but her very life may be in danger… but by then it is too late to leave.

During editorial conferences (some call them editorial combat) with my wonderful editor Mallory Braus, we both found that the idea of a snippet of one of Aurora’s father’s books at the beginning of each chapter would set the mood of that chapter wonderfully. I had wanted to do this from the beginning, but had not mentioned it because (1) I didn’t think it would sell and (2) I had no idea of or inclination towards writing high fantasy. However, with Mallory’s enthusiastic urging I tried, and was astonished when the varied stories of the non-human creatures of my imaginary world flowed easily from my fingertips. So easily, in fact, that some of these chapter head ‘snippets’ were two and three pages long!

After a lot of internal debate – and urging from both Mallory and my trusted beta readers to go ahead and write the seven book series – I agreed to rein in the snippets to a reasonable length instead of eliminating them. However, the idea of taking on the series – seven books!!! – is a bit daunting. I am much more comfortable with my good old-fashioned Gothics. As I should be. After all, one most intelligent and perspicacious reviewer said I was the obvious successor to Phyllis A. Whitney and Victoria Holt!

I’d like to know your opinion. INHERITANCE OF SHADOWS is being released by Carina Press on March 12, so let me hear what you think. (And keep an eye out for my new Gothic, THE CURSE OF THE EXILE, which is very nearly complete – Scotland, an ancient family curse, two handsome brothers, a ghost who isn’t one, revenge, greed and a female librarian in a crumbling castle during the mid-19th century…What’s not to like? Hopefully some nice publisher will buy it!)

Vanessa, here.  Janis, I can’t wait to read this book, because I also loved those old Gothic romances–Victoria Holt was one of my favorite authors, as was Mary Stewart.  I’m so glad you’re revitalizing this wonderful genre!

Well, readers, you heard the lady.  What do you think?  Do you like Gothic romances as much as we do?  What are some of your favorites?  One of mine was Mistress of Mellyn, which is pictured above–which ones do you remember?

And don’t forget to stop by Janis’ website for details on all her books, and to read an excerpt.

Guest Author: Dana Marton & Giveaway!

I’m pleased as punch to have romantic suspense author Dana Marton back on the blog.  She’s here to tell us about her latest release, which is another sexy, suspenseful romance from Harlequin Intrigue.  Take it away, Dana!

Christmas is almost here! That I like. But other than Christmas, my favorite part of winter is winter vacation. Not the skiing kind. Scratch snow and cold. When the cold wind whistles outside, I dream about someplace tropical. And if I can’t go there, at least I can read about it. Three hurrays for books! Best invention ever.

Last year, I actually had a Christmas release, THE SPY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS.

This year, my Christmas release is more of a winter break, set in the tropical jungle. Love the publisher’s tag line for the book: “In the wet, hot jungle, it’s every spy for himself.” Pretty much describes LAST SPY STANDING. Love my editor who comes up with great stuff like that! I hope it’ll intrigue readers enough to check out the book. And, hey, having a cover hot enough to melt snow doesn’t hurt either.

The book is getting the most amazing reviews I’ve ever gotten, so that’s a lovely Christmas present. It’s nice when a plan comes together. Which is not something Mitch Mendoza gets when he goes off to the jungle for a rescue mission. His plans get all messed up by a long-legged CIA agent who has an agenda of her own, one that interferes with Mitch’s plans in a big way. These two were fun to write. I wasn’t sure at times if they were going to make it out of the jungle alive or strangle each other first. Definitely enough sparks to cause a forest fire.

Here is a quick snippet:

“Who are you?” Megan turned the question on him. “Definitely not a hiker from Panama.” She shoved one weapon into the back of her waistband, pulled a plastic cuff from her back pocket, then gestured toward the water pipes in the bathroom behind him.

Mitch stepped back, knowing no help would be coming. In a place like this, people knew enough to walk away from gunfire, not toward it.

She tossed him the plastic tie. “The pipe.”

He swore under his breath, not taking his eyes off her for a second. He’d been had. He couldn’t remember the last time that had happened.

“The money I have on me ain’t worth it, honey. I’m going to track you down. That’s a promise.”

She gave him a cocky smile, keeping her gaze above his shoulders, then turned away, leaving him handcuffed. And naked.

See? Lots of heat. You can practically turn down the thermostat while reading LAST SPY STANDING.

I hope everyone gets to read all sorts of fun books over the holidays. I always put books on my Christmas list. What’s on your list? I wish you great reads and the time to read them, love, romance, health and the kind of happiness that exists in romance novels.

Do you read Christmas topic books around Christmas? Or do you read to escape from the cold? Post a comment for a chance to win a free book with some chocolate. (Second best invention ever.) And if you’re in the mood for more prizes, stop by my FB page. I’m raffling off two Christmas gift packs.  Happy Holidays!

Thanks so much, Dana!  And now, readers, let’s hear from you.  What kind of books do you like to read over the holidays?  One person who comments will win a copy of one of Dana’s fabulous suspense novels.