Friday, May 27, 2011

Give me Books! (unless they're paper)

Ciara again. I used to love the feel of a real book in my hand. I loved being able to share the good ones with my friends. I loved being able to throw the bad ones against the wall. I loved going to book signings and getting autographed copies and pictures with my favorite authors.

But I have a shameful confession to make: These days, if it ain't on kindle, I don't want it. I was an ebook reader hold out, but once I succumbed to the glorious addiction that is my kindle, I can never go back. The ease of midnight shopping. The impulse purchases. The space to own as many damn books as I want and not need a single (new) bookcase. Ah, freedom!

And now of course there is the EBOOK REVOLUTION, which is not only a triumph of self-publishing and small presses, but also a triumph of writers everywhere who type their blood, sweat and tears onto the page and beg for someone, somewhere to read their triumphant prose. Let us not forget, it is a triumph for us readers who get access to diverse and bountiful stories. No more will we be regulated to the same story lines that someone in New York has determined is the only type that will "sell". No more will we be told, "Rakes are out! Chupacabras are in!" Now we can have access to all sorts of wonderful, fanciful, gut-wrenching, heart-warming tales. I want to see post-apocalyptic alien cowboy romances. I want to see a new Almacks run by mermaids and claymore-wielding Scotsmen fall in love with purple-haired librarians. In the Paper Age, I couldn't. In the EBook Age, anything is possible. It's a brave new writing world out there, and I'm so excited to be part of it. Creativity breeds creativity. Viva la revolution!

What disparate romantic elements would you most like to see in a love story?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Post-Rapture Reading

Ciara here. So. The world was supposed to end at 6 pm PST on Saturday. Everyone still with me? You? How about you? Anyone get beamed up? See the vampires and demons trolling the streets? From the little I know of what post-Rapture life is supposed to be like, it sounds like a paranormal romance novel. Well, maybe not romance, but with vampires, demons, etc you get the same feeling. Civilization crumbles and the supernatural creatures come out to play. Does that jazz anyone else, or is it just me? ;)

As a writer of apocalyptic paranormal romance, I'm digging the current blitz of post-apocalyptic books. With the tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, and massive political unrest in the news these days, it's easy to imagine the ecological apocalypse premise put forth in some of these books. It's a bleak picture, but in romance we are given the hope that even if the worst happens, things will get better. Cities might crumble; a lawless wild west or repressive totalitarian government might replace collapsed governments; electricity, running water, and food might be rationed or unavailable; all hell might break loose; but we are shown the promise of the genre: Love will save us.

Nothing is too big for love to overcome. With love there is hope, and with hope anything is possible.

Want more? Here are two post-apocalyptic books I'm super excited about:

1. BLOOD OF THE WICKED by Karina Cooper (May 31). Set in a post-apocalyptic Seattle (be still my heart!), 50 years after a geologic apocalypse. The rebuilt government has pinned the blame for the disaster on witches. The new-age Salem witch trials are back on track. I read Ms. Cooper's short pre-release from Avon Impulse, BEFORE THE WITCHES, and loved it. I'm counting down the days until this one comes out!

2. NIGHTFALL by Ellen Connor (aka Carrie Lofty and Ann Aguire) (June 2011). Set in the Pacific Northwest (Do we sense a theme? I should probably start building my bunker). I'm not even sure what this is about other than paranormal post-apocalyptic and the cover is hawt. I'm sure some of you lucky book bloggers are reading the ARC as we speak. I'm green with envy.

3. MAGIC SLAYS by Ilona Andrews (May 31). The Kate Daniels series is Amazing, Awesome, and All-together brilliant. This is the fifth book. I think I need to clear my calendar May 31st, don't you?

What are you excited for? Are there awesome post-apocalyptic romance novels coming out that I've missed?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Brace Yourselves . . . A Personal Rant About Small Minded People!!!

In my professional life I work with the public -- all kinds of people, and for the most part it is an uplifting and positive experience. In a world that is expanding in one sense and getting smaller in another, it just seems that we do everyone a disservice if we can't think beyond our own little worlds and our own comfortable morality or both.

This is about a published author, Judy Mays, whose erotic romances have been published by Ellora's Cave and Changeling Press. Her books have been published since 2008-2009 and she has been writing all these on her own time. Judy Mays is not her legal name--she has been writing under a pseudonym in order to keep her private writing completely apart from her family and community life, and it also gives her a far greater assurance of privacy.

Guess what? She is a 10th grade English teacher and she has been teaching high school sophomores for 25 years. Her students have praised her for the linguistic horizons she has opened up for them . . . have even managed to get some of them to really like language. She has won teaching awards. Yet when one of her students accidentally spied a picture of her on the internet, identified by her pen name, he thought she looked like his English teacher and told his mom - - who promptly checked it out, had a fit, and began demanding that she lose her job because she was corrupting the morals of minors, one of whom was her son.

GIVE ME A BREAK!! Did Ms Mays ever use any of her books in her classes? NO! Did she advertise her books and give her students a discount? NO! Did her private writing activity ever even go near her everyday, make-up-the-lesson-plans profession? NO! Of course not, because what she does on her own time never even went near what she did professionally in that school system. And yet this mother and a number of others with the same narrow, judgmental, cockamamie attitude demanded her dismissal as a teacher.

As if that weren't enough, the local media picked it up -- and I understand it even went national--and they found their prurient story of the week, all the while involving Ms Mays in the vortex of criticism and the small-minded judgment of that Pennsylvania community. (I had to laugh when I found an interesting post on Shiloh Walker's blog wherein she gave that radio/TV station all her personal information.) It is mind-boggling that any thinking person would take this seriously. But perhaps that is the critical ingredient that is missing: thinking.

I know that the United States is a very large country. Traveling from one end to another and living in a number of different communities throughout my life have convinced me that some areas are very accepting and open-minded--the live-and-let-live kind of thinking. Others are truly provincial and very enclosed. My hubby was raised in Iowa, and I have often said that the reason he is bald is because that was the only way to get all the Iowa corn seed out of his hair. He comes from a long line of Iowa natives, and I can tell you that although they always knew intellectually that there were 49 other states, at least in hubby's family, there was no life outside Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, or Waterloo--the localities where most of them lived. I know of a very good friend who moved from California to upper Wisconsin--an area where he was born and raised. But he had been gone for 35 years, and when he and his wife moved back, it was as if he had never been there. He could live there and spend his money there, but hell would freeze over before he had any valid opinions to offer about anything in their town.

There is now a Facebook page where fans can show their support for Judy Mays, and I noticed that her blog and several other personal avenues of contact for her have been deleted. Don't blame her!! But I went on Facebook and was delighted to see so many authors, many of whom are now protecting their pseudonyms rigorously--taking pictures of themselves down off the internet--and who are well-aware that there are barracudas out there who have the capacity to make life impossible for them and their families, and who are offering support for her with a particular kind of understanding.

I have not heard the upshot of this for Judy Mays. I sincerely hope that the school board has some thinking persons who can effectively move past all this. But the truly sad part is that she is forever tainted with this, especially those who are really good pointing out the things in others they don't like, but are remarkably unaware of their own inconsistencies. The old truism states: "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." I also am a firm believer in karma and even as it is expressed in the Golden Rule: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." I fear for that mother and others who have delighted in this move to humiliate a very good teacher and a person who has worked for 25 years to insure that their children are well-educated. I sincerely hope there is no one living in that community who is even more small-minded and turns on them. Wouldn't that be justice?? The real justice would be if all this attention resulted in Judy Mays' book sales going through the roof. Hopefully some good comes out of all this and that through it all, the hurt doesn't do damage to a really talented lady and one who has obviously always had a heart for people.

Thanks for stopping by DIK. I have enjoyed the three days of sharing with you. As always, keep on reading and enjoying . . .

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Westerns and Cowboys . . . A Journey of Discovery

For most of my life I have shuddered when contemplating reading any kind of Western fiction. In my growing up days we were awash with Western movies, Zane Grey novels along with other Western action authors, the Lone Ranger, Paladin, Have Gun Will Travel, and other like shows that inundated TV programming. It was either a Western or I Love Lucy (which I refuse to watch anymore because that was all that was on when my kids were growing up.)

So now I am faced with an entirely new kind of romance fiction and one that has found a very comfortable niche as a contributor to erotic romance. So what's an old adversary to Westerns going to do with all this erotica set in the West, with Texas/Oklahoma cowboys that are reported to be gorgeous, tall, with their iron-set chins, their 5 o'clock shadow, a Stetson that casts a mysterious shadow over their solemn faces, and jeans that just keep on looking better and better the older they get? Why, give in, of course!!

Thanks to authors like Linda Lael Miller, Carolyn Brown, Sandra Hill, Lorelei James, Heather Rainier, Missy Martine, Jodi Thomas and others, this ole gal is having a blast with cowboys. Cowboy romance is IN and it is very revealing when surfing through the various ebook publishers at the really extensive line-up of publications available. Whatever your preference, there are cowboy stories to fit the bill. They come in singles, doubles, triples, and more. If menage is your bag, there are cowboys to fill your reading hours. If you like the old fashioned historical variety, authors like Beth Williamson can provide scads of wonderful cowboys who may be drifters, old soldiers from the Civil War days, ranchers, bounty hunters--you name it, you can find it.

My finest discovery, however, is the groups of books such as the Rough Riders from Lorelei James and the Creeds from Linda Lael Miller. Such good writing, such unique heroes and getting to know an entire family has an addictive effect when a reader begins to feel that they know these characters personally. Beth Williamson has written a seven-book series about a historical Malloy family that I found fascinating. And like all historical fiction, these romps through the Old West are educational as they are entertaining. (When I was teaching school I would often find a historical novel that highlighted the time period we were studying in history class. The students took to those books lots better than they did to the history textbook!) And who can forget those captivating heroes in Sarah McCarty's books--men who really don't figure on being steady and dependable husbands and family men, but discover that the love of a very good woman makes a world of difference. I have just finished a trilogy from Miller about the Creeds of Lonesome Bend, Colorado that I really enjoyed. In fact, they were so good that I was really upset when each book ended. That has to be the mark of some really good writing! Who would have thought only a handful of years ago that I would be eating up those cowboy novels.

What am I reading right now? Well, I just finished a review for The Book Binge

entitled Love Drunk Cowboy by Carolyn Brown. It was the first Brown novel I had ever read, and perhaps that made me more aware of her as an author. Lo and behold, All-Romance eBooks were offering two of her novels at a reduced price and even if I hadn't ever read some of Ms Brown's books previously, the reduced price really got my attention. (Those who know me really understand that statement.) Now I am enjoying Hell, Yeah, a part of her Honky Tonk series. Narly, prickly, I-don't-need-a-man-in-my-life heroine, a gorgeous, intrepid, and transcient cowboy who gives her a New Year's kiss and manages to sneak past her defenses-- it is such a fun story with rockem sockem characters, witty conversation, improbable action and surprises all along the way. Each book in the series is about a new owner of the Honky Tonk bar, each is a woman who has had her fill of irreverent men and impersonal affairs, and who have come to feel that the Honky Tonk is really a good place to focus her energies.

So needless to say, there are a variety of historical and contemporary cowboy-related books in my TBR pile--an entire series from some authors that I have picked up for myself at the second hand book store and some that are awaiting review and which will be released soon. Like other types of romance fiction, these stories embracing the ranching lifestyle or highlighting rodeo or just involving cowboys in a variety of settings, they are fun reading and most come with their own Happily Ever After. (Got to have that at least a good portion of the time.) I really can't believe how far I have come. After all, and I certainly know this better now than ever, a good romance is a good romance, no matter the setting. Finding love in a messy world is a great discovery, no matter where or with whom.

So let's get on our literary horse and ride that cowboy book . . . well, actually, if you can find a cowboy, that's even better!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Books I Almost Missed Reading . . . My Expanding Literary Consciousness

Hi, everyone . . . Dr. J. here.

Now don't get all worried . . . I'm not going all high-tech and big words on anyone. When thinking about what I would write for these three days I looked over some of the past posts on this blog and realized that it is quite a mixture of reviews and commentary, and I found that there were some books that I have to admit I would never have read two or three years ago. I know the old truism says that . . . "confession is good for the soul." So I am fessing up -- getting it all out there so that my own literary prejudices are laid bare for all and sundry to view.

I have always been a fan of romance, primarily historical romance set in the Regency Era as made popular by Georgette Heyer et al. Since I started reading romance fiction the boundaries of that genre have expanded so, and there are literally untold novels, short stories,

and novellas available for just about any taste and pocketbook. When I started my own blog -- Dr. J's Book Place --over a year ago, I suddenly was faced with the vast array of books available for review. As a guest at The Book Binge I received books unlike any I would have ever chosen. But the biggest gulp occurred when my daughter requested that I review an M/M book for her blog--Tracy's Place. O my!! I just hadn't ever read an M/M book before and wasn't sure how I felt about it. But thanks to her urging, I read a really good one, and it opened some doors in my thinking that I

realized had been closed. Josh Lanyon's Someone Killed His Editor was the first M/M book I encountered and it was a delight. I couldn't have started with a better one. From there I moved on to his Adrien English series and found myself delighted with the stories and the romance of the main characters. Just this week my review of Snowball in Hell appeared on The Book Binge--a novella that was first released in 2007 and has now been re-released as a stand alone novella. Such a good story!! Reminds me of those Erle Stanley Gardner PI novels as well as the Raymond Chandler detective stories from Dashiel Hammett. In the final analysis, love is love in all its myriad forms and expressions. Encountering true, authentic loving is one of life's most precious experiences and one we all seek--to love and be loved by a person whose caring is rooted in respect and a desire for the ultimate well-being of one's partner. There's lots of fake stuff out there and lots of emotional predators. But the characters in these stories havehad the privilege of finding the real deal. How can we ever close our hearts and minds to that?

I remember receiving a list of books for review from the ladies over at The Book Binge and stating that I just didn't think I could read and review any BDSM books--just not my "thing." Well, should've kept my yap shut!! In the course of reading some Desiree Holt, Katalina Leon, and friends, I encountered BDSM in some relatively mild forms. Not too bad. Then I came across The Doms of Dark Haven by Sierra Cartwright, Cherise Sinclair, and Belinda McBride, and I found stories that were much more intentionally rooted in BDSM but written by authors who were committed to protraying safe, sane, and consensual encounters. I also was challenged to think about individuals whose inner needs were, perhaps,

some I found hard to understand, but they were still needs that cried out to be met. In a world where abuse and misuse of human beings is rife and where the long-term effects of rape and incest and psychological oppression are often overlooked, this "lifestyle" can hold the key to moving past those wounding experiences and their old scars. It's still not for me, but I now have an entirely different "take" on what many find compelling about this world of fetishes and kink. I have just finished the newest anthology from these three writers: Doms of Dark Haven 2: Western Night. Characters from the first anthology as well as one or two from other books by these authors appear here and all are persons who have become locked in fear that is stifling and paralyzing. Loving dominance appears to be the key to their freedom emotionally. It continues to be a learning experience.

And then there is the world of shifters and vampires and creepy crawlies and such. Not for me! No way!! That

is, until I read some Vivian Arend, Crissy Smith, and Christine Warren and I was off and running. I couldn't believe how interesting and riveting these stories were--they really grabbed me. I wasn't quite ready to go whole hog over the vampire stuff. That is, until I was asked to review A Jeanine Frost book and Cat and Bones did their number on me. What fun stories and while they were the stuff of which romance and eroticism and relationship were made, the added dimension of shifter or vampire or both really ramped up the heat and got my interest. Wolf Signs began a love affair with those Alaskan wolves that is still alive and well and I while I have not read the latest adventure involving Cat and Bones, I still remember my shock at how much I liked that vampire culture when reading This Side of the Grave. Needless to say, it was quite a revelation, and perhaps the best part of it was that it opened up a whole new world of literary possibilities that I had previously been very willing to simply exclude--write off as being something that didn't interest me. I couldn't have been more wrong.

I guess the upshot of all this is that I have some people to thank for pushing my limits and getting me involved with some of these books that I said I didn't want to read. Those ladies over at The Book Binge have been shoving all kinds of books at me and it has been quite an education and simply lots of fun and satisfying hours with my nose in a book. And then my daughter never failed to talk with me about books--really drives her dad crazy--and without fail she would say: "Mother, you have to read this book. It is soooooo good! You will love it!" So I would read it and it was sooooo good, and yes, I really did love it. Just goes to show that the kids can educate the parents--well, maybe about some stuff, anyway.

Have a great day and keep those noses where they belong . . .in a book, where else????

Friday, May 20, 2011

Adventures in Bicycling

I was going to blog about the rapture, but that's just a damn drag, so I'm going to show you my Mother's Day present from G, which isn't a drag at all.

Super cute.

You'd think they'd put a kickstand on a bike, right?

Anyway the first time I rode--shiny new bike-shoes nailed to the shiny new pedals--I toppled over onto our neighbor's front lawn with the bike still attached to my feet. He was mowing the lawn, so I'm pretty sure he didn't see me.

The other day, as I zipped along, a freaking BEE flew into the front vent of my helmet. I nearly took out a mail box. I am totally not kidding. Imagine having your shoes nailed to your pedals, while a bee buzzes inside your helmet. The first thing I thought of, after I ripped my helmet off, was that passage in The Shining, or maybe it's in Christine (both by Steven King) where the narrator wonders how many people have died in car wrecks because the driver encountered an unexpected stinging insect. Do you remember that? Well, it's REAL, man. Real.

The last time we had a day without rain (Saturday) G took me on what he termed a 'mildly' challenging hill ride. If you discount the whiny moment when I called him a dick, and the fact that I had to dismount and push my bike (just once), it went pretty well! No spills. No bees. Just a lot of sweat, a little rain, and some foul language.

I'm making progress.

And I'm nearly fit enough to bike Tuscany with the family in June. G and I are down a combined 55 pounds, we're strong, we've got the ugly crotch-padded shorts and cute fingerless gloves, and as long as the damn rapture is postponed until July, we're ready for Italy.

Here's hoping you all have a happy, bee-free, Friday.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Driving In My Car

Hello DIK friends!

It's been a while. I'm writing like the wind right now and because it's May and I'm a parent, I'm also putting major mileage on my stumpy car. I have two kids about to graduate, one from High School, one from Junior High, and, because we spend a lot of time in the car listening to tunes (loudly), I thought I'd share a few LB Gregg's Mom-Mobile Favorites.

Setting: Imagine LB Gregg in her pjs, one hand on a cup of coffee, the other wrapped around the steering wheel. It's early. The sun is rising over the hills. Possibly she hasn't yet brushed her teeth. A mom ponytail sticks out from under a white Four Seasons ball cap, and, naturally, she's free of makeup (and a bra). Music plays and LB, like an American Idol, sings to the imaginary folks in the back row while beside and behind her, two teenagers die a little inside and pray their friends can't see through the privacy glass.

Here we go!

Vampire Weekend
They make me wanna dance in my seat. Probably not a wise move.

Fiona Apple
This song is not a reflection of how I drive. And what the hell ever happened to FA?

Cindy Lou Who The Pretty Reckless

A cautionary tale. And some damn fine hose.

The Script

Because a downer should be sung four times in a row with REAL emotion. Love cuts, kids.

Justin Timberlake

Have I mentioned my obsession with JT before? No?

So, what's on your playlist?


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Beth Kery Winner Announced

Sorry all, real life got in the way!
The winner of the Beth Kery drawing for a $15 Amazon gift card is:


Congrats, Izzy! Please contact Beth to collect your winnings at bethkery at aol dot com

Thanks for playing!

Your Help!

Okay, so this is a different cry for help. *sigh*

Since my major move, I've noticed a slow, steady decline in my reading. I've read some great ones (Victoria Dahl and Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison), but can't seem to really get my mojo back. I didn't even read the latest Angel's book by Nalini, if that tells you anything.

I'm usually the Reading Queen and hardly ever find myself in a slump. I think 90% of it is the new job. I'm working a very physical job and by the time I come home, I'm not thinking too clearly. The weekends are dedicated to looking at apartments and shopping. I'm getting kind of desperate.

Are there any suggestions out there for books? I'm big into historicals, paranormal romance & UF. I'm open to a lot. Please help me!!!! Thank you in advance! :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Well, for me anyway. :)

One of the best parts about moving to the Midwest is the fact that I'm closer to major cities. In my head, that automatically meant conferences! lol Of course, this shows how my brain works, but it was a positive thought, which is what matters most.

I was on Nalini Singh's site a week or so ago & saw that she's coming to the States. My first thought was YAY! My second was "Where at?" Turns out, she's going to the Lori Foster Get Together in West Chester, Ohio next month. I Googled it and found that West Chester is about a 4 1/2 hour drive. It's cheap and it's over a weekend. So...I was a bad girl and signed up to go. Whee!

Now, I'm a complete & total newbie when it comes to conventions and such. I've never been to anything like it, so I have absolutely no idea what to expect. I'm nervous and excited. There are a couple of authors that are going to be there that I cannot wait to meet. Nalini is #1, but Shiloh Walker and Dana Marie Bell are going to be there! Whee! I'm a huge fan of Dana's books and can't wait to tell her that face-to-face.

So, here's my question, conundrum, etc. How am I supposed to act at one of these things? Am I allowed to go up to an author and talk to her? Most people won't believe this, but I'm actually quite shy & sometimes have a hard time putting myself out there. I hope I don't do something stupid, like give Nalini a big bear hug and scare her half to death! Ha!

Are there any experienced conference goers who can give me any pointers? Your help would definitely be appreciated! :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

A New Life

If you had told me even six months ago that I would move 2400 miles away from the home I'd known my entire life, I would have told you you were crazy. And yet here I am. My entire immediate family (parents & my brother & his family) moved from Portland, Oregon to Livonia, Michigan.

In a lot of ways, I gave up everything: my friends, my home, even my favorite bookstores, to do this move. The hardest part...I gave up Powell's Books in Beaverton, Oregon. They had many, many book signings there & I got to meet some of my favorite authors.

I'm sure (crossing fingers & such) that there are awesome independent bookstores around here, but I have no idea where to go. The only bookstore I've found is B&N, which isn't a bad thing. I broke down and bought a NOOKColor a few weeks ago. It's the best purchase I think I've ever made. I still want the feel of a real book in my hands though and hope to have that opportunity soon. Any suggestions for a newbie Michigander? I'm in a suburb outside of Detroit. :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kate Noble Giveaway winner!

The winner of Follow My Lead by Kate Noble is:



Saturday, May 14, 2011

What Three Things Would You Bring to a Deserted Island?

Please welcome author KayAnna Kirby to the island!

There are very few deserted islands left in the world. What if, the unthinkable happens and you are stranded on one of them? This was the question that came up the other night at a dinner party. After much thought, we all went around and stated what we would bring if we were ever stranded on an uninhabited island. Almost everyone choose something different vital to their survival. Turns out, you can learn a lot about a person, based on the three things they would bring to a deserted island. Here are three people, their choices and what I think it says about them.

My Husband
A 47 foot Yacht.

When I first heard his choices, I wanted to scream foul. “You can't bring a boat,” I said.
“There were no rules other than it had to be three things,” he replied.

Everyone started laughing. No one thought to bring a boat. Then when everyone accepted the boat as a valid choice, they pictured a dingy. Not a 47 foot luxury yacht.

Its actually quite brilliant. He told everyone, after he eats his sausage with mustard, he would watch the sunset, before taking the boat home.

What this says about him

I think this says he is a very practical person who loves his luxuries. Even in the face of ultimatums he chooses luxury. Talk about someone who knows what he wants.

We asked him if he wanted a woman there with him. He said no. He wanted some peace and quiet and time to enjoy his sausages and the sunset.

My Best Friend
A Man. Big, strong, gorgeous and naked. Hence a Greek God like Man.
A Tent, fully loaded
A sleeping bag (for cold nights)

She also let everyone know, she would be clothed from head to toe in winter clothing. Boots, sweaters, coat, gloves, scarves, etc. She hates to be cold and needed to make sure her nights were comfortable. We asked her how she would eat, She replied, her Tarzan/Greek God, would provide. That is what he was there for.

What this says about her

I think this says she wants to be taken care of and wants it a little easy. She more wants the Man as a worker as much as a companion. It also tells me she values her warmth more than food. She said she would rather be hungry and warm vs. cold and full.

A Man.
A knife.
A lighter.

These are the items I would bring to a deserted Island. A Man, mainly for companionship and those tropical nights. (My friend said I needed him only because I didn't have a tent so I'd be cold.) A knife so we can cut stuff. Coconuts, branches, fish, leaves, pretty much anything that we may need to survive. Finally, a lighter. To start fires easily would make life so much easier. I thought with those three things, we could do almost anything. We could build things and cook food with somewhat ease.

What this says about me

My friend thinks this says I value people because I want A man for companionship. Plus I'm practical along with being a hunter, gatherer. I'm not afraid of work, and don't mind using tools to build whatever it is I want. A DIY kind of girl.

Sounds good to me. I still wished I would have thought to bring a boat.

What are three things you would bring if you were stranded on a deserted Island. Let me know below, and you could win a copy of Claimed By Desire. Contest to run until Saturday, May 21st.  Winner announced on 5/22/11.  

A Good girl Gone Bad…

Certified Public Accountant Allison Cain screwed up. Against her better judgement, she sleeps with a man she meets for the first time. The next morning he is no-where to be found. She is left alone and feels used. But that wasn’t the end of her torture, because Allison discovers her one night stand leaves her with more than hurt feelings.

A Billionaire with everything except…

Bryson Anderson Jr., multi billionaire real estate developer has it all; money, power, women, even his own island. A real estate acquisition brings him face to face with the alluring Allison once again on the tropical Cayman Islands. When he hears Allison is expecting his heir as a result of their explosive one night stand, a primal urge for a family is born. However, he has to convince an angry Allison to be a family even if it’s just for their child.

He didn’t realize he could lose his heart in the process.

When Bryson becomes the target of a rival out to destroy him, Allison and Bryson will have to fight for their lives and their hearts—before it’s too late.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What Is A "Beach Read"?

Tori and I were invited for a quick trip over to the island to relieve fellow DIK lady D.L. who is neck deep in exams and studying for said torture. Good Luck D.L.!

On the trip over in the uber cool DIK jet I got to musing about something that has been niggling me for a while, namely beach reads and what the reference means. With summer quickly approaching, I've noticed the prevalence of bloggers and reviewers talking about beach reads. i.e. "This would be a good beach read." or "I would recommend this as a beach read." I also noticed that discussing a book in this context doesn't necessarily mean that it is the most awesome story ever. I get the feeling the stories that fall under this connotation rate a "ho hum", an "it was alright", an "eh", or maybe a "quick and dirty-satisfactory" read. Am I right?

I don't think labeling a book as a beach read is something new, in fact, every summer as folks are looking forward to vacations avid readers start thinking about books they will take along to devour while enjoying that precious leisure time. In pondering this further I decided that a beach read doesn't necessarily mean you are packing your book bag or cramming your e-reader full of stories that will travel to the shore of a lake or sea. Personally, for me a beach means sand in my ass and the requirement for 90+ SPF sunblock which attracts and sticks to said sand, greases up book pages and causes streaks on the screen of my iPad. So I prefer holidays at a hotel with a pool, a handsome hero serving a fruity drink with lots of ice and a little umbrella poking out the top of a piece of pineapple, and plenty of shade to park the lounge chair under (I am so not a sun worshiper).

However, I digress. The thing is there are two types of books that I take along with me on vacation. The ones that have been touted as the best thing since, well the very best thing. The new books I'm looking forward too. And, the ones that are in my TBR and I've been salivating over for months but just haven't had time to get to for one reason or another. When I'm on holiday, I want to take the awesome reads to enjoy, not the mediocre. And, I've come to equate a beach read with so not awesome. However, there was the time that I read the same book that another reviewer termed a beach read. She thought it was an okay read and I thought it was excellent..which lends credence to the whole "what floats one person's boat, beaches another" analogy.

Anyway. What sort of book do you equate with a beach read? Awesome? Good? Bad? No thoughts on the matter whatsoever? LOL

Okay, so Tori and I are going to enjoy the rest of our day here on the island. I have the lounge chair parked on a grassy area under a very shady tree, and one of my guys has brought me that fancy drink as described above. And, I have my non-beach read - so far it's damn good too.. :)

Oh, and BTW - my guy is applying the 90+ SPF sunscreen to the exposed areas - no worries about sand and greasy fingers. ;) Have a great day everyone!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How to be a Historical Romance Hero

Please welcome Kate Noble to the Island once again!

Having spent the past few years spinning stories on my computer of the Historical Romantic persuasion, I find myself constantly challenged to define the Perfect Hero. We all have different requirements of our heroes. We all want them to be strong, smart, tall… or maybe short. Alpha – but we love our betas too! Dark and brooding – but occasionally mixing it up with a red or golden haired god with a sunnier disposition can make the heart sing (Hey, look at that – Jason from Follow My Lead has red hair. Whodathunk?)

So how what does make the Perfect Historical Romance Hero? After much consideration, I think I’ve narrowed it down.

Now, the Perfect Historical Romance Hero doesn’t have to have ALL of the following traits, but he has to have at least a majority of them. It’s like a Chinese food buffet. Pick and choose what you like.

1. Be good looking… or at least, distinctive looking.

On the most basic level, we want our heroes to be pretty. What’s the use of those hot guys on the covers if they don’t play into our fantasies? But more importantly, a hero has to look good to the heroine. She may not go for the Henry Cavill type (although if she doesn’t, she’s blind), but instead respond to a… Bradley Whitford (cute, sweet, but a romance hero?). That said there is a well-documented psychological phenomena that says that as one begins to fall in love, the object of their affection begins to look better to their eyes. So Bradley Whitford can turn into Henry Cavill to the heroine. It’s true… beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
Which one of these men is a romance hero?...Both!

2. Be unaccountably drawn to the heroine.

There has to be something about the heroine that drives the hero nutty. His eyes are drawn to her the moment she enters the room. She gets under his skin, without even trying. And in some cases, like Jason in Follow My Lead – he is so attuned to Winnifred Crane’s whereabouts, when he sees her boarding what he thinks is the wrong ship, he ends up following her all the way across Europe!

He may not like her initially, but there has to be something in him that ends up putting her front and center.

Also, the ability to spar verbally with said heroine is a bonus. Because that’s the fun part.

3. Wealthy and/or titled.

Who doesn’t want to hook up with an aristocrat? (Did I mention Jason from Follow My Lead is a duke, too?) Or a self-made millionaire? There is an aphrodisiac to power, and we readers certainly enjoy seeing it (note: this aphrodisiac is only potent if requirement #1 is also fulfilled.)

Also required: a certain amount of self awareness. Which is something the heroine can help give him, if he needs taking down off of a particular wealth and status related high-horse.

4. “Have you ever considered Piracy?”

My favorite quote from The Princess Bride best describes what is needed to be a historical Romance Hero. Not that they all become the Dread Pirate Roberts, of course, but they all have a twinkle in their eye, even if its under the coldest, iciest exterior, that could lead them into mischief. Never underestimate a willingness to cause trouble.

And if the hero is a pirate… well, that’s a bonus too.

5. The Indefinable. The X Factor.

Someone once said (and I’m afraid it might be Simon Cowell) that “either you’ve got it, or you don’t.” That extra something special. That undefinable, “it” factor – and to be a Historical Romance Hero, you definitely have to have it. Be it a dark and dirty secret, or a secret delight, or a way of dancing the waltz that makes the girls go all a flutter, a Perfect Hero has “it”. In spades.

So what do you think? What are some of the characteristics of your Perfect Hero? Let me know below, and you could win a copy of Follow My Lead!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Excerpt from Follow My Lead by Kate Noble

The taproom of the Stellzburg Inn was full of life. Life that had eluded Winn up until this time. The energy and excitement that was not found in a library. Travelers, mostly men, and mostly strangers to each other, were drinking, laughing. The innkeeper, his wife, and their servers threaded themselves through the crowd, delivering drinks and food with smiles, and sometimes a wry comment that made the customers laugh.

But it was all perfectly aboveboard. Respectable even.

Somewhat disappointing, that.

“For a minute there you looked blissfully happy, so how is it I rejoin you and you’re wearing a frown?” Jason asked as he returned to the table. “Er . . . you have foam on your nose.”

“Oh!” Winn said as she turned bright red. Jason reached in his pocket but came up empty.

“Damn,” he said, handing her a cloth napkin from their table. “I keep forgetting these are not my own clothes and my handkerchiefs are not where I expect them to be. No, you missed.” He indicated her face.

She wiped again but must have missed the offending foam again, because Jason took the napkin from her hand and, cupping her chin, wiped the end of her nose gently. “There, you’re perfect. Now, why were you scowling before?”

“I was?” she asked, her face remarkably hot. Must be the beer, she decided. “Oh, I was reflecting.”

“Reflecting?” he asked, bemused. “On what, pray tell?”

“That reality rarely lives up to expectations.” At his quizzical expression, she continued. “I thought the taproom of an inn would be . . . bawdier. More like a public house.”

Jason turned completely still. “You’ve been to a public house?”
“No, but I’ve seen illustrations,” she argued. “Someone playing a fast fiddle in the corner, barmaids with their breasts spilling out. Also, I would like to have some illusions preserved. But here we are in the German countryside, and I have not even seen one pair of lederhosen,” she finished mournfully.

Jason threw back his head in laughter, his deep- throated guffaws drawing the attention that Winn’s hesitant giggle had not.

“Expectations are a heavy lot. Perhaps we can find you some lederhosen in Nuremberg. But for now, just be happy that we are amongst actual Germans.”

“Why?” she asked, her eyebrow going up.

“Because they are logical enough to bring us— and charge us for— only one and a half plates of food.” He smiled.

“Thank you,” she replied with a nod of acknowledgement.

And it was not some few minutes later that the innkeeper himself brought over their food— smelling so good and buttery that Winn for a few seconds considered that maybe she could have made use of a full plate.

Danke,” she said to the innkeeper in anticipation of being served her eagerly awaited meal. Jason casually put his arm around her back, some proprietary instinct letting the innkeeper infer they were indeed coupled.

Bitte.” The innkeeper smiled back at them. Strange, for the first time since they had met, the innkeeper’s stern countenance had fled, lending him a sort of elfin charm. “I hope you are enjoying yourselves, yes?” he continued in English, still holding the food on his tray.

“Yes,” “Very much,” she and Jason replied in turn.

“Four days married.” The innkeeper shook his head with a smile.

“Five tomorrow,” Jason said, his voice straining on the lie. “That tray looks terribly heavy,” he continued, practically salivating— for which Winn could not blame him. “You should set it down . . .”

But the innkeeper was lost in his own line of thought to even consider placing the tray of food in front of two famished customers. “I remember when I was four days married! My wife— she was so young and lovely we did not emerge from our rooms for the whole week!”

“Er, right,” Winn piped up. “But we were a bit hungry, you see . . . from all the . . . staying in. So if you could— ”

Then the innkeeper turned and addressed the whole room in his booming voice in German. The room gave a solid cheer and then began clapping in time, chanting the same word. The last one the innkeeper had said to them: “Kuss.”

“What on earth?” Winn asked, utterly confused.

“He told the room we are newlyweds,” Jason whispered to her and then hesitated. “And then he said that . . . oh, just follow my lead.”

And he leaned down and kissed her.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Review: The Rifter Part 3: Black Blades by Ginn Hale

*Warning: It will be impossible for me to discuss this third part of The Rifter without giving away spoilers for parts 1 & 2!*

I've decided that it's quite an odd experience to review a serialised novel, especially this third part.  This is mainly because the book has reached a point where many of the major players have been introduced, the scene has been set and the pieces are slowly moving around the board.  In many ways this third part is very similar to part two in its structure.  The first half of the book follows directly on from part two and concerns Kyle/Kahlil and is set in the future Basawar after the Rifter has destroyed the North.  At the end of part two, Kahlil discovered an assassination plot against a warlord from the North, Jath’ibaye and this third part begins as Kahlil attempts to thwart this assassination. During this time Jath’ibaye and Kahlil meet, an event which has consequences for Kahlil. It was this part which was full of action and suspense as Kahlil travels the city looking for ways to help Jath’ibaye.

The second half of this serial moves twenty nine years into the past and deal with John as he describes the daily life of the monastery at Rathal’pesha where he's been living for about a year now. This section is used to feed the reader a set of information about the priests, the trainees and also some of the history of Basawar, including the religious figure of Parfir and the origins of the Rifter. As such, this meant that this part was slower moving and more focused on dialogue and character interaction that the section with Kahlil. It is heavy with information which will be useful to us as the book progresses, so whilst my attention drifted a little, I was aware of the importance of some of the facts given to us. That didn't mean that this section contains no action altogether, but just that the tension is provided by conflict amongst the priests and John's own worries over his future and that of his friends, rather than the more aggressive and nervous suspense in the section with Kahlil.

One thing I am enjoying with this book is seeing the links between the two separate times. One example of this is when Kahlil is thinking of one of the rumours that he hears about Jath’ibaye's eating habits and the fact that he likes strongly flavoured food usually eaten by peasants, rather than the more refined food of the Basawar nobility. Then in the next section we find out exactly why that is. Every time I come across these links it makes me smile, especially as they often seem to be just the odd whimsical fact, not important to the overall story but there as a flavour to the characterisation. It's little touches like these that remind me how good the writing is, and how complex the two worlds are.

Any niggles I have with the story stem from it being a month since I read the second part. The author has created an elaborate hierarchy of the both the nobility of Basawar and the priests at Rathal’pesha, and I found myself a little lost at times about who ranked higher than who and how people were related to each other. There is a glossary attached to the end of the part which explains it all, but it's difficult to swap back and forth like that with an ebook.

Overall, this third part continues to build and expand slowly on what has come before. Each strand of the story is slowly knitting together before moving off in another direction, only to form with another strand. I'm enjoying experiencing this masterful interweaving, and the monthly gaps between parts only highlights the efficiency of the world building in all its complexities. Bring on part four - I can't wait!

You can either buy this third part - and then any subsequent parts - separately for $3.99 each, or buy the whole book at $29.95 and each month the new part will be sent to you via email. More information about this and the buy now page can be found HERE.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beth Kery Serves up a Heaping Helping of Three to Tango!

Four of erotic fiction’s most talented authors carry readers away with all-new tales of ecstasy that prove that the most delectable things in life come in threes…

Sex is best when it’s one-on-one…plus one.
In Emma Holly’s FLIPPING FOR CHELSEA, Shay and Liam shared an unforgettable night with their lifelong friend, Chelsea, awakening a rush of forbidden feelings—feelings they have to reckon with when the three reunite, and the unrequited lust between them is too much to bear.

Though Ava left her hard-knock Georgia childhood behind, she never forgot Luca and Angelo. Together they were best friends with a bond that could never be broken. But when she returns, the three must decide whether to face the fires that burn between them, or forgo their desires forever in Lauren Dane’s DIRTY/BAD/WRONG.

In Megan Hart’s JUST ONE NIGHT, fun-loving couple Kerry and Jeremy find themselves in a triangle of trouble when Kerry’s old crush, Brian, returns for a school reunion, and Jeremy gives her his enthusiastic approval to seduce him. But while Jeremy has no trouble sharing Kerry, Brian isn’t sure he can handle what’s coming.

Years ago, Walker walked out on Madeline when she needed him most. Now, the ex-Secret Service agent is back—hired to protect both Madeline and their billionaire friend, Tony. Madeline is determined to make him pay for denying her desires—and she’s not above bringing Tony in to sweeten the deal in Bethany Kane’s ON THE JOB.

Read an Excerpt

(Adult Rated)

He was back there, watching her. He was on the job, and Madeline knew better than most how important his job was to him. He wouldn’t abandon it, even if he had abandoned her. She held him in a trap, and it was sweet . . . delicious to torment him for his sense of duty, to make him pay for his noble intentions.
She reminded him of what he’d sacrificed as she stroked her erect nipples beneath a hot Tahoe sun. So what if they’d just been kids at the time, fools suffering from the heatstroke of a wild infatuation? She’d needed him, and he’d failed her. First Madeline’s father had died unexpectedly, then Walker had left. Madeline’s hurt had changed to anger over the years. Eventually, the sting had faded.

It had, anyway, until she’d walked onto the terrace this morning and seen Walker Gray talking to Tony.
Her clit begged for attention, but Madeline refrained. With effort. She longed to punish him, not only for eleven years ago, but for having the temerity to suddenly appear again in her life. His brisk, professional manner made a mockery of the fact that she’d been floored by his unexpected presence. He’d barely said two dozen words to her since Tony had asked her if she recalled their old friend from their high school and college days, Walker Gray.

She recalled, all right.

She’d make sure the bastard remembered just as graphically.

She sat up and took a sip from her glass of iced hibiscus tea mixed with lemonade. Her fingers strayed to the tie at her back. She pulled slowly on the string. She tossed the flimsy top next to the sweating glass and stretched out again on the dock.

It wasn’t a big deal. She sunbathed topless once in a while on Tony’s boat. True, she’d never gotten the impression that her bare breasts had received any of the focused interest from Tony as they once had from the man who stood behind her in the yard. Sure, she’d never have done it if it were another one of Tony’s employees standing guard. The point was, Madeline was perfectly comfortable sunbathing topless in this situation.

Perfectly aroused.

She doubted very seriously she would have ever cupped her breasts in her slick hands from below, making the nipples point upward, like dark pink arrows, to the sky even in front of Tony, but the heretofore unprotected parts of her skin needed SPF, didn’t they?

It felt good, so warm, so arousing . . . so powerful.

She let one hand trail across the sensitive skin at the sides of her ribs and across her belly. Her clit beckoned. It burned in protest at being ignored. She slipped two fingers beneath the top of her bikini panties. Her labia were moist and swollen. She slid a finger into the juicy cleft and moaned in pleasure.
Was he suffering? God, she hoped so.

Her eyes popped open a few seconds later when she felt a hand wrap around her wrist. He’d moved so quietly, and she’d been so involved in her little game, she’d never heard his tread on the dock.

“Surely you’re not going to ask me what I’m doing, Madeline.” She saw his clamped jaw and her shocked reflection in the mirrored lenses of his sunglasses. “Because I would have thought that was obvious. I’m giving you what you’ve been asking for.”

She gasped in surprise when he slid his forearm beneath her thighs and lifted. The next thing she knew she was flying down the dock in Walker Gray’s arms.

Beth Kery/Bethany Kane

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Please Welcome Beth Kery to the Island!

I’m thrilled to be back here on the island and am looking forward to kicking back, soaking up some rays and sharing a margarita klatch with the ladies of DIK!

The topic: love triangles—talk amongst yourselves. :)

Now talk to me. What’s your honest opinion about love cubed? Do you have a favorite love triangle story? Leave me an answer, and you’ll qualify for a $15 Amazon gift card.

Originally, the theme of my upcoming anthology, Three to Tango, with Emma Holly, Lauren Dane and Megan Hart (I’m writing as Bethany Kane for this one) was ménage a trois, but I’m glad it became the more general love triangle theme. Why? Because while a ménage a trois can mean many different types of love affair, the love triangle theme has even more possible permutations. It gave a lot of room for the four writers to create their own unique stories and relationships.

My favorite love triangle comes from the classic movie, Casablanca. Yes, it would be nice to be Ingrid Bergman’s character, Elsa, and have two such amazing men want you. (Or it would be terrible, depending on how you look at it). She was lucky enough to experience a spiritual love and deep, abiding respect for her husband, and at the same time, the earthy, passionate kind of love for the warrior-hero archetype, Rick. In many ways, the Casablanca triangle can be likened to the even more famous and enduring King Arthur triangle between Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere.  The woman in both of these love triangles is the lynch pin. She’s the one who feels the friction because she desires and loves both men. With sexual liberation and the gay rights movement, we are opened up to a whole new realm of the love triangle.

The appeal of the love triangle doesn’t have to be sexual. Even teenagers are being exposed to a new world of romantic geometry, as in the wildly popular Twilight series. One could even make an argument that there’s a love triangle in the Harry Potter series.

In my contribution to the Three to Tango anthology, On the Job, I decided to have a little fun with the triangle concept. My heroine feels that the hero, Walker, abandoned her once, when she was young and most needed him, and as a result, she’s out to inflict of a little pain of her own now that’s he’s returned—pain of the sexual torture variety. Such games are tricky, however, and Madeline soon learns that sex as a means of revenge puts her heart at high risk. When she learns by accident that Tony, her and Walker’s long time friend, has made a huge mistake and is about to pay for it by his freedom, she ups the stakes. She brings Tony into her sexual power play, not only to prove her point to Walker, but to tell a good friend good-bye. In the end, I was happy with this blazing hot erotic romance with a touch of suspense that involves a passionate, fiery romance between two people and an enduring love and friendship between three.

The permutations in a love cubed are endless.

I hope you’ll check out Three to Tango, where four authors put their unique spin on the eternal theme of love times three.

Three to Tango, available now from Berkley Heat
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