Booktopia Romance Buzz
Jan 2012 | Edition Thirty-Three
Gentle Readers,
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with lots of reading and relaxing time. And that Santa was especially good at leaving excellent reading material under the tree.

First, wonderful, important news especially for Sydney-based romance readers:
ARRA Awards banner 2012
Booktopia is the exclusive sponsor, and it's going to be a fantastic night. You can get tickets here: . Get in fast; they are only on sale until February 6th. If you want to know about the annual Bling-Off, just drop me an email!

Second: it was a hard slog, but I did it. Hundreds were contenders, but only ten books could make it in to my top 10 of 2011 list. They're here.

What I Just Finished: I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early copy of our Book of the Month: Anne Gracie's Bride by Mistake - Spanish countryside, war scars, spirited heroine, damaged hero. It's wonderful.

What I'm Reading Now: The National Year of Reading has started, and I'm taking part in the Australian Women Writers Challenge. First up: catching up on all the Riley Jenson series by Keri Arthur.

What I Can't Wait For: February is shaping up to be a great month for readers - including a brand new fantasy debut from an Australian author - Kylie Griffin's Vengeance Born.

Until next month, happy reading!

Kate Cuthbert
Booktopia Romance Buzz
Author: Anne GracieI am so pleased to welcome Anne Gracie to answer our Nine Naughty Questions this month. Anne is a fantastic author, a wonderful person, and a huge advocate for romance in Australia. So basically, your everyday romance goddess.

She has a new novel out this month - the final instalment in her Devil Riders Quartet. She'll tell you all about it below, but I've had a sneak peek and it's wonderful. Here she is!

1. I wonder, is a romance writer born or made? Please tell us little about your life before publication.

I think romantics are definitely born, or maybe it depends on the family you're born into. My parents fell in love pretty much at first sight and were very much lovers and friends for the rest of their lives. I was the last kid, and when I was a teenager, my friends could not believe how romantic Mum and Dad still were. With that as an example, you don't have to believe, you know.

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 think romance readers are devoted fans because they connect with the stories and the characters on an emotional level, and I think we always feel differently about people who touch us. Do that with every book and you're going to get devoted fans - and I say that as a reader, not a writer.

I don't feel exposed, because the stories aren't about me - or maybe I'm kidding myself and I reveal more than I think. I mine bits and pieces from life - childhood memories, sensations, etc. but it's rarely my life I'm using. Really, it's going deep with imagination added.

3. Please tell us about your latest novel...
Click here for more details or to buy... It's about Luke, a former soldier returned from the Napoleonic wars and now must face the consequences of an impulsive act of gallantry he committed eight years before. Finding a thirteen year old Spanish girl being attacked, he rescued her, then to save her from a forced marriage, he married her and left her in a convent school with her aunt. Now an annulment has been refused, and Luke must fetch her and make the marriage real. At least, he thinks, having been raised in a convent she will be demure and obedient bride.
Reader, she isn't.

4. Is the life of a published romance writer... well... romantic?

Not particularly. It's mostly about writing. I sometimes think I might as well live in a cave. ;) But some parts of the job are lovely. Dreaming up stories and heroes and heroines is a lovely way to pass the day, and when the story is flowing, it's like flying. But a lot of the time it's a grind, like most jobs.

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?

I like to keep my life pretty private, so I'm not going to share the really special moments. The really special ones are so personal, they shouldn't be shared. But when my boyfriend and I were dancing, he used to lift me right off my feet and spin me round and around. It doesn't sound all that romantic, but I'm no featherweight and he made me feel small and delicate and feminine and ... it took my breath away every single time.

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 I can see a thing' mild. How important do you think sex is in a romance novel?

It's all in the writing, I think. Sexual tension is hugely important,  blow by blow descriptions of what a friend of mine calls "the docking procedure" is less so, for me, anyway. And a lot of written sex is not always sexy. I think the market certainly demands a certain amount of sexual explicitness, but every writer and every reader has to find their own comfort level. For me, it's all about the emotion, and the sex scenes have to earn their place in a book just as any other scene does. If it doesn't move the story on, it's gone.

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?

I am certainly a big reader of romance, as well as other books and picking 5 is torture, Kate, torture! Georgette Heyer and Eva Ibbotson are big faves: the characterisation and humour in Heyer is probably why I write Regency era books. Linda Howard's Mackenzie's Mountain is a gem I often reread. Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz is certainly an influence, and some of Loretta Chase's books are absolute Keepers, too. And the minute I send this off I'll think of a dozen more who are absolutely essential to me.

8. Paranormal Romance writing is 'so hot right now', do you have any thoughts on why?

I think it's something fresh to a lot of readers - new, exciting worlds, bold over-the-top heroes who can go places and have attitudes/beliefs we wouldn't accept in contemporary heroes, and a certain permission to play in an extreme way without feeling uncomfortable.

I've always read a lot of science fiction and fantasy and the ones I always liked best were by women writers - they're usually more interested in character, whereas a lot of the male writers created brilliant intricate worlds that didn't interest me as much. Now, in paranormal romance we have the worlds, the adventure, the characters, and the emotion, so it's brilliant.

9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?
Read, read, read. And write, write, write.  Take every opportunity to learn that you can. And if you're writing romance, join Romance Writers of Australia.
Two big names and one of my very favourite up-and-comers feature in contemporary romance this month. 


Click here for more details or to buy... Janet Evanovich teams up with Dorien Kelly in a tale of small-town romantic suspense (guaranteed to be liberally spiced with humour).

She needs a job - any job - even the unsavoury one he's offering. For the chance to fulfil her dream, she will spy on his employees, and do her best not to fall for her boss.

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Love in a Nutshell

Click here for more details or to buy...I loved this book from Shannon Stacey about two people, a one-night stand, and the 2% failure rate of condoms.

Beth is tending bar at a wedding where she meets Kevin, and last call leads to a hotel room and an unforgettable night - not just for the passion, but the unexpected consequence. This is not your typical secret baby plot, readers, so give it a try.

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Undeniably Yours

Click here for more details or to buy... Lisa Kleypas continues her contemporary Friday Harbour series this month.

Lucy loves her life as an artist in Friday Harbour, until everything falls apart when her fiance leaves her - for her sister. Things look up when she meets Sam, but it turns out that even his actions aren't what they seem. New loves, old loves, mistakes - Lucy's about to discover them all.

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Rainshadow Road

Things get a bit spooky this month in our suspense titles - including the latest Cindy Gerard where action isn't just a double-entendre!


Click here for more details or to buy... Cindy Gerard's Black Ops, Inc series adds another happy ending notch to their belt.

He's gone rogue to avenge his brother's death, but he's not taking anyone with him. So when she comes to play hero to his damsel-in-distress, it's as unexpected as it is welcome.

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Last Man Standing

Click here for more details or to buy...Can't get enough of Maya Banks's KGI military series? You can catch an interview with her on the Booktopia website!

She saves him when all appears dark, but then she leaves. Now she needs him, but can he trust her not to skip out on him - on them - again?

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Whispers in the Dark

Click here for more details or to buy... Kat Martin takes a break from her historical romances to pen a steamy (set in the Mexican jungle!) suspense novel.

Investigating her best friend's death lands her in the exact wrong place at the exact wrong time and her only ally is not one who inspires a lot of trust.

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Hot Rain

Cowboys and lawyers feature in this month's erotic romance novels - not together as far as I know, but authors - take note!

Click image for more details or to buy...Featuring Lora Leigh, Cheyenne McCray, and Red Garnier.

It's all about white hats versus black hats in this anthology featuring more than a few good men - all legally minded in tales of sexy suspense.

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Click image for more details or to buy... Sarah McCarty continues her Hell's Eight series with book number five.

He's not really a damsel-in-distress kind of guy, especially when he's the damsel. But being saved by the savvy, fearless Fei adds a certain delicious friction to his life.

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A great way to celebrate Australia Day - with Australian authors.  Along with our Book of the Month, historical readers have two on offer this month!

Click image for more details or to buy... Stephanie Laurens returns to her Cynster family and lines up some matches for the girls!

Angelica (like all Cynsters) is headstrong and willful - and utterly convinced she will know her husband on first sight. What she doesn't expect, however, is that he will kidnap her and whisk her away to the wilds of Scotland to settle an ancient grudge!

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The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae

Click image for more details or to buy... Christina Brooke also writes as Christine Wells - and is a must-read for strong, fully developed, loveable heroines.

Rosamund is content to go ahead with her arranged marriage - until she meets the intended groom. Griffin is hardly the proper gentleman she anticipated, and his rough manners and gruff personality is hardly the sort to win over a beautiful, refined lady.

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Click image for more details or to buy... Sabrina Jeffries offers up the fifth instalment of her Hellions of Halstead Hall.

She has a solid plan to get out of her marriage ultimatum. He keeps getting in her way. Now if only she could figure out why...

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A Lady Never

Click image for more details or to buy...Up-and-comer Emma Wildes mixes sensuality and suspense in her historical romances.

She needs to be the very picture of propriety after a bad decision four years ago. Being found alone in a darkened library with him is unlikely to help.

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Twice Fallen

Click image for more details or to buy... Jennifer Haymore is a big risk-taker in her writing, so is a perfect choice for those seeking something unpredictable!

She may look the innocent beauty, but she's got a bold soul. He's about to take the ultimate dare, and risk more than the loss of fortune.

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Secrets of an
Accidental Duchess

Lots of diversity on offer in the paranormal section this month - with some favourite names and new instalments in ongoing series to keep paranormal lovers busy!

Click image for more details or to buy... Jayne Ann Krentz is back with a paranormal suspense story about a secretive family.

The Coppersmith family has lived with their hidden secret for centuries, but one intrepid rare books expert with an unusual psychic talent is about to change all of that - and the life of a Coppersmith son forever.

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Click image for more details or to buy... I know many of you (*cough*me*cough*) were devastated when Richelle Mead ended her Vampire Academy series. Be comforted - there's still her Dark Swan series in which to indulge!

She's got to save the world, the Otherworld, and the future for her unborn children. He? Well he's not necessarily to be trusted.

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Click image for more details or to buy... Lara Adrian takes her Midnight Breed series into the double digits, with book 10.

The vampire nation has existed in tenuous secret peace with humans for centuries. Now one power hungry vampire will challenge it all - and only one troubled warrior can stop him.

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Darker After Midnight

Click image for more details or to buy... Another long-running series reaches a milestone: Kresley Cole takes Immortals After Dark to 12.

His is a name synonymous with evil, and ultimate power is finally within his reach. All he has to do is destroy his Bride, the one woman meant for him and no other to gain it.

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Click image for more details or to buy... Angst is all well and good, but it's nice to have authors like Stephanie Rowe around to lighten things up.

Nigel has only just escaped imprisonment when an even greater threat emerges. Natalie is the only woman who can help - but she's also the key to his downfall.

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Hold Me If You Can

What to do with a top-notch author releasing two books in the same month under two different sub-genres? Give her her own space, of course!

Click image for more details or to buy...If You See Her, Walker's latest romantic suspense
She's a survivor, but her role in the attack that has left her emotionally bruised and physically battered is looked on with suspicion by those around her. She has no intention of hiding, but she also has no intention of making the same mistake again - like trusting those who were supposed to protect her, but who only let her down in the worst possible way. He's been cast in the role of her enemy, but he only wants to help - and to break down her barriers and keep her safe. Preferably in his arms.

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Click image for more details or to buy...The Departed, Walker's latest paranormal suspense
The pain of his past has led him to dedicate his life to saving others in harm's way, including using unconventional methods like her ability to speak to the dead. Circumstances lead to an unexpected connection, but together they risk too much - for themselves and for those who rely on them. But his past catches up with both of them when she unexpectedly stumbles on his secrets, and they are forced to reunite for the sake of a little girl.

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In This Issue

Kate's Month Ahead

Top 10 of 2011

Book of the Month



Erotic Romance


May I humbly suggest a New Year's Resolution? Pre-ordering - it's mature, it's practical, it's the perfect way to make sure that all the books you need right there on your doorstep.

Sarah Maclean
MaryJanice Davidson
MaryJanice Davidson
Kylie Griffin
Lynsay Sands
Deirdre Martin
Joey W Hill
Robyn Carr

February is for lovers...
of romance novels.

Nalini Singh
Kim Harrison
Shannon Stacey
Lora Leigh
Jillian Hunter
Jo Beverley
Opal Carew
Carolyn Jewel

Kate's Top 10 of 2011

It was hard work making my top ten list this year - and I admit to a few cheats! But I have managed to whittle the books I've read down to my top ten favourites. Here they are:

Number 10
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The Donovan Brothers' Brewery Trilogy
Victoria Dahl

This is one of my cheats - 1 spot, three books. But these books work so much better as a set, as readers get to experience the family dynamics in a deeper way. Strong, bold, real contemporary romance: the antidote to a bad day, a bad week, a bad month - heck, a bad year!

Number 9
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Exclusively Yours
Shannon Stacey

Originally a digital-first book, this paperback edition means it slips into a 2011 release. Sweet, smart, sexy contemporary romance - this is the novel to remind you why you fell in love with this genre in the first place.

Number 8
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Whistling in the Dark
Tamara Allen

My final cheat of the list - this book was released in 2009, but I only read it this year and it affected me so deeply that I had to break my rules and include it. Set in New York City, post WWI, this male/male romance is so tender, so strong, so sweet that it will stay with you long after you finish the last page.

Number 7
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Silk is for Seduction
Loretta Chase

For creating one of the best heroines I've ever read, and for the juxtaposition of strength and vulnerability in an unexpected way.

Number 6
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A Lady's Lesson in Scandal
Meredith Duran

For a real Cinderella story, wherein Cinderella doesn't need to be rescued, and real life isn't as easy as finding a slipper that fits.

Number 5
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Dangerous Books for Girls
Maya Rodale

For a thoughtful, informed investigation of romance's bad reputation - and for breaking even more rules by not resorting to blame, self-pity, or paranoia.

Number 4
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Dragon Bound
Thea Harrison

For the sheer fun of it all, and for the twists (especially the shifter and stolen property) that no one saw coming.

Number 3
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A Lady Awakened
Cecilia Grant

For blowing historical romance tropes out of the water. For character truisms, and for staying true to the character. For social justice aphrodisia.

Number 2
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How the Marquess was Won
Julie Anne Long

For writing so good it sparkled. For characters so solid, they existed. For the enchantment. For the laughter and the wit. For the bit with the cat.

Number 1
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Courtney Milan

For an impossible situation made possible. For true conflict and true resolution. For strength of character and depth of feeling. For growth and strength and hard decisions. For making me believe.

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