What a month for romance! First, I have to offer my deepest congratulations to the best-of-the-best of Australian romance for 2011 - the winners of the Romance Writers of AustraliaRomantic Book of the Year awards! If you're interested in getting your hands on some of the best home-grown talent, check out these novels (you can get three of them in one omnibus!)!
Congratulations to all the nominees, and, of course, the winners! The Australian Romance Readers Association
also needs your help. They're conducting their annual romance reading survey, and it's open to all Australian romance readers. Here's a link, it won't take more than a few minutes, and it would be a great help! Here's the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CXFTT2M
Finally, I'm so thrilled to welcomeRachel Vincent
to the Buzz this month! Check out her answers to the Nine Questions below!
What I've Just Finished: I've had a bit of a Zoe Archer binge over the last week, reading all four of the Blade of the Rose books in a row. If you love historical romance in unusual settings, truly kick-ass heroines, and a little bit of magic, check them out. Warrior
is the first.
What I'm Reading Now: I'm catching up on my historical romances and reading Julie Ann Long's much-buzzed-about What I Did for a Duke
What I Can't Wait For: You can't see it, but I'm doing my '
New Meljean Brook' dance!
Readers, I have
raved and raved and raved and raved about Rachel Vincent for
years, so if you haven't yet taken my (highly valuable and always correct) advice, perhaps a little Q&A with the lady herself will sway you?
1. I wonder, is a romance writer born or made? Please tell us little about your life before publication.
I've been writing since I could hold a pencil. Literally. I wrote my first short story when I was five, and except for a hiatus after college, when I was told I'd need a "real job," I haven't stopped since. I didn't start out in romance, though. I was a big horror/fantasy fan growing up, and I think that's been very influential on what I write now, though I can't imagine writing a story without a romance thread in it somewhere.
2. For all the glitz and the glam associated with the idea of romance novels, writing about and from the heart is personal and very revealing. Do you think this is why romance readers are such devoted fans? And do you ever feel exposed?
I do think that's why romance readers are so devoted to the genre. I rarely feel personally exposed by what I write, though, because the romantic elements are just as made-up in my books as the fantasy elements are. Writing the emotional parts is an exercise in empathy for me. Putting myself in my characters' place and writing about how that feels. It's not about what I've been through as much as it's about what they're going through, even though I am (necessarily) drawing on my own experience.
3. Please tell us about your latest novel...
I actually have back-to-back releases in September and October. September 1 (US, Canada, UK) (ED: 23rd August for Australia) brings the first in my Unbound trilogy,
Blood Bound, which I describe as a grown-up Romeo and Juliet-meets-The Godfather. It's set in a new, complex world, and the characters have ties to one another that not even they fully understand.
If I Die
, the fifth in my young adult Soul Screamers series, comes out on October 1 in the US/Canada (ED: September 27 for Australia). This book's a game-changer in the series, and I'm proud of it.
4. Is the life of a published romance writer... well... romantic?
Um...no. Not the life of this romance writer, anyway. My life is full of jeans and tees, coffee, and deadlines. I work 12+ hour days, most days, lost in my own thoughts. Alone with only the characters I made up for company. And I rarely get a weekend off.
5. Of all of the romantic moments in your life is there one moment, more dear than all the rest, against which you judge all the romantic elements in your writing? If so can you tell us about that special moment?
No. In my opinion, romance isn't about a single grand gesture. It's about a series of moments strung together by the life you share with your significant other. It's remembering the little things. Spending time together, whether that time is spent over a nice dinner or fighting off the invading hordes of werecat invaders. Romance is seen a lot in fiction, but romance does not equal fiction. It's real. And it feels good. But it's a lot of work.
6. Sex in romance writing today ranges from 'I can't believe they're allowed to publish this stuff' explicit to 'turn the light back on I can't see a thing' mild. How important do you think sex is in a romance novel?
I think that's a matter of opinion. My own books are somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I only write one sex scene per (adult) book (usually), and even then, the sex needs to mean something. It needs to change something for the characters and/or the story. I think that the results of a sex scene (regret, characters becoming closer, or whatever) are more important than the act itself.
7. Romance writers are often romance readers - please tell us your five favourite (read and re-read) romance novels or five novels that influenced your work most?
Perfect Chemistry, by Simone Elkeles. Great gritty, realistic contemporary teen romance.
Bitten, by Kelley Armstrong
. I read it years ago, and it's stuck with me. (SPOILERS!) Clay biting Elena is one of the most perfect, heartbreaking romance moments ever. He loves her so much he'd do anything to be with her forever. Even though he's making a HUGE mistake, he's doing it for love.
Any of Jeaniene Frost's Nighthunter
books. I love the chemistry between Cat and Bones, and I love that a committed relationship retains such sizzle. And I love that they fight, but still love each other.
Holly Black's Curse Workers series. I ache to see Cassel and Lila together, and their near-misses kill me.
Lisey's Story, by Stephen King. I'm a huge King fan, and his non-traditional take on romance won my heart. Lisey's husband is already dead when the story starts, but her memories of their marriage broke my heart.
8. Paranormal romance is 'so hot right now.' Do you have any thoughts on why?
Not really, and I try not to question or anticipate trends. Madness lies down that path. I was writing fantasy/paranormal before I knew it was hot, and I suspect I'll be writing it even after the trend ebbs, if that ever happens. I write what I like to read. Period.
9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?
Other than the obvious necessities (talent and hard work), the key to surviving in publishing, in my opinion, is believing that you're good at what you do, but that you could always be better. You need confidence, but you also need the guidance of an editor and/or a trusted critique partner.
What a MONTH for paranormal readers! Big names, new names, vampires, witches, angels, werewolves, new series, continuing series - anything you could possibly want to read, it's available here!
Those of us mourning the end of Keri Arthur's awesome Riley Jenson series can rejoice: Riley plays a secondary character in Keri's new series which also features a dynamic, awesome new heroine, Risa.
Risa is half were-wolf, half Aedh, able to visit the shadowy twilight realms between life and death. Most of the time, the realms are peaceful as souls are escorted through to their afterlives. Most of the time. Risa soon notices a sinister evil, stealing souls and preventing them from their afterlives. Worse, it seems this evil is connected to her family. Now, with some help from Riley and a sexy Aedh Lucian, Risa has to chase down this evil and prevent all hell from breaking loose.
You know how I love a new Aussie author - and I know how you love a new Aussie author too. And I'm beyond thrilled to introduce you to MJ Scott, her new Half-Light City series, and her brutal, divided, addictive world.
Lily may inspire terror as an assassin, but she's nothing more than a slave to the Blood Lord who raised her, forced to kill at his whim. But everything changes when she's sent to assassinate Simon, who is just too intriguing to kill. But their city is divided, and peace too tenuous to withstand an insubordination of this magnitude. It's dark, it's fantasy, there are beasts and blood and fae and humans. Trust me. You'll love it.
LA Banks lost her battle with cancer in August of this year. Best-known for her Vampire Huntress series, she had recently started a new urban fantasy series about angels and demons. Conquer the Dark is the second novel in this series.
When claiming victory for the Light in the battle against the fallen, Celeste and her angel lover Azrael may have spoken too soon. Deep in the crypts of Egypt, the conquered members of the fallen found a dark magic that allows them to be reborn. Now they have legions of reborn armies against the 21 angels charged with protecting Celeste. In order to save the world, now Celeste has to step into the fray. As a half-human/half-angel hybrid, she is the Earth's last hope. If she cannot sway the balance, not only will countless lives be lost, but she will force Azrael to make a devastating force between falling to save her, or watching her die.
Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love team up to continue the story of the Beladors. Evalle figures saving the world should have cleared her name for good, but an ill-timed prison break puts her more than just her good name at risk.
The Seven Deadly Sins keep coming in JR Ward's new series about fallen angels. He walks a delicate line between duty and atonement. Her interest in him is more than professional. And the ultimate battle awaits.
It seems like it's all about angels in this month's paranormal selection, so why not pick up the latest in Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series? A unique take on angels, demons, humans, and vampires, the series is also written in Singh's indomitable style.
Dmitri wouldn't normally be assigned to identify the remains of a victim of a brutal attack, but there's something there that whispers to him, a call to the truth he can't ignore. Honor is assigned to help him, but she doesn't know how to control the feelings he's long inspired in her. The murderer isn't content with just one, however, and they will have to learn to work past the compulsion that drives them to each other to fight the blood-soaked nightmare that threatens them all.
Meljean Brook - how I love you! (even if I find your last name very confusing, and I always want to add an 's' at the end). If you're not familiar with Brook's Guardian series, sort yourself out. Here I'll help- the first book, Demon Angel, which is awesome is here, it's in stock, it's on sale, and it can be in your hands in 2 days.
Nicholas's mom was possessed by a demon who then raised him as her own, so he's got a few mom-dramas. And demon-dramas. So it's a very unwelcome surprise when the woman he loves turns out to be a half-demon. Also she has no memory. The course of true love never did run smooth.
Anthologies are a great way to try on new authors. You're going to have a ton of options, because - for romance publishers, at least - 'tis the season for anthologies. If you prefer yours a little less holiday-tinged, jump on this bandwagon now. Not only is it chock full of stories, (seriously, tons of authors - sixteen of them) it's chock full of variety too: vampires, faeries, angels, magical creatures of every variety, and suspense, humour, romance, fantasy, and more, all centred around the theme of journeys.
Plus, with Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong
, and Rachel Caine re-visiting their beloved worlds, you know you're in for a treat.
Two huge names, two new novels - things are going to get spooky!
Five authors come together to share spine-tingling tales that mix a soupcon of suspense with a pinch of paranormal. Featuring a new Eve and Roarke story from JD Robb, you'll also find Patricia Gaffney and Mary Blayney. Sleep with the lights on!
My mom lovesLinda Howard
. She scares the bejeezus out of me. So if you're more like my mom than me, here's a new novel for you with capitalistic competition, an inconvenient attraction, a bear(!) chase, a damsel in distress (kind of), a timely rescue, and a race for their lives. I'm shivering already.
It's a damned-if-she-does, damned-if-she-doesn't situation for the heroine in Megan Hart's latest erotic fantasy romance.
Notsah has loved Prince Jarron since his act of mercy changed her life, but there are those who remember her crimes. Now she's back in Jarron's court, facing an impossible choice: confess her past and risk his dismissal, or live an empty relationship.
Shannon McKenna mixes suspense, science, and sensuality in her newest erotic romantic suspense novel.
He's got a bad boy past, but he's worked hard to keep his nose clean and the family business alive. She's just lost her dad, and a barely escaped murder attempt suggests there's more to it than suicide. All directions point to him, so that's where she's going to go.
Texas, teenage crushes, and a complete transformation: check out this month's contemporary romances!
FITZWILLIAM DARCY, ROCK STAR
Are you a fan of the remakes/reimaginings/sequels of Jane Austen classics? I admit, I have a strong preference for leaving the originals stand alone, but there are plenty of people out there who disagree with me. If you do, then you might want to check this book out. Originally released as fan fiction, this story is now a publishing phenomenon.
Darcy is the enigmatic guitarist from rock band Slurry - a band with a wild reputation both on and off stage. Elizabeth Bennett is also a lead guitarist - for the band that's just been hired to open for Slurry. Two lead guitarists, two hot tempers - sparks galore.
Carly Phillips kicks off a new contemporary romance trilogy with this novel.
Faith lost everything when her father pleads guilty to financial fraud - her home, her money, her husband. Now she has to go back and face the music - and find someone who will hire her in her disgrace. The only person who will hire her is Ethan - and the house he wants her to redecorate? Her own...
Christie Craig was born in Alabama, so she knows country-fied romance. This is her latest novel.
Nikki is not having a good night. First her cheating ex ditches her at a fancy restaurant - sticking her with the bill. Then she finds a body in the boot of her car. Then she proceeds to lose her very expensive meal all over the body, making her a murder suspect. Only Dallas O'Connor, sexy PI, believes her innocence.
Two mainstays and two up-and-comers feature in this month's historical romances - with a brand new Cynster title from our beloved Stephanie Laurens!
IN PURSUIT OF ELIZA CYNSTER
Can't get enough of Stephanie Lauren's Cynsters? Well read on, gentle reader - the Cynster sisters have their own series!
Being kidnapped from one's beloved sister's engagement ball is a trying event for any gently-bred female, but Eliza is a Cynster, and therefore unlikely to faint or give in to circumstance. It's to be escape, any way she can manage, even if it's in the unlikely company of a gentleman scholar.
Nobody mixes historical and erotic romance better than Sylvia Day. If you love your historicals hot, this is the author to read.
She was witness to a very inappropriate scene on the eve of her very appropriate wedding, and visions of him fuelled her erotic dreams through her marriage and into her widowhood. Now he's back from his adventures in the West Indies, and they're about to meet again - with no barriers between them.
Tired of Regency England? Give Jo Goodman's American West novels a try. Not only do they have cowboys, they're also gritty, meaty, dig-your-teeth-in stories.
Bode knows his brother isn't in love with Comfort, so the reasons for his proposal are more than a little suspect. Comfort's reason for accepting? Well she's always carried a childhood fancy for Bram. But Bode knows which DeLong brother Comfort really belongs with. And it isn't his playboy brother.
Courtney Milan is the one of the most original voices in historical romance; you've all heard me rave about her - go read her!
He is one of the most sought-after men in London, not least because of his irreproachable character. But she has the keys to his downfall - they are also the keys to her freedom. One of them will have to suffer and she has to choose between herself and the man she loves.
A new author with some early buzz, Ashley March is earning a reputation as a risk-taker in historical romance. So take a risk on her!
He thought he'd married the perfect woman, but her untimely death reveals her betrayal - and that of his best friend. Trying to keep the scandal minimised for the sake of his son, he is thwarted by his best friend's widow who, freed from her painful marriage, is determined to enjoy her hard-earned independence.
Christmas anthologies are one of publishers' favourite ways of introducing readers to new authors, or bumping up awareness of existing authors. Here's the first of the lot, three contemporary stories set around the world.
Erin McCarthyshows just how intimate a Kentucky blizzard can be. Donna Kauffman revisits her Scottish setting and a very reluctant bachelor. Kate Angell explores a favourite fantasy - being trapped overnight in a department store. Also there's a hot hero for company.
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The Christmas stories. They're there on the left, just near the bottom. You know what that means - the stress, the presents, the planning. Let us take some of the worry away. Pre-order now, and forget all about it!