Booktopia Romance Buzz
March 2013 | Edition Two
Welcome to the March Romance Buzz!
Hello, my fellow lovers of lurve!

As you read this, I'm still recovering from the Australian Romance Readers Convention (ARRC), held last week in not-so-sunny Brisbane. (Great weather for reading in bed, though!) I discovered Booktopia at the first ever ARRC in 2009, so it was a buzz (ha!) to attend the conference in 2013 as part of the Booktopia team.

Congratulations to Anna Campbell, who has been voted once again as Australian readers' Favourite Romance Author, with Booktopia's very own John Purcell presenting the award. Anna's Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed also won the Favourite Historical Romance Award and swept up all the minor awards. It's not often we see Anna speechless!

Congratulations to all the other award winners: Nalini Singh (continuing romance series), Kylie Griffin (sff or futuristic romance), Kaz Delaney (paranormal romance), Sylvia Day (erotic romance), Kelly Hunter (category romance), Rachael Johns (contemporary romance), and Bronwyn Parry (romantic suspense). Check out their award-winning titles in the sidebar.

I'm doubly excited this month because I have the privilege of featuring one of my favourite urban fantasy romance authors, Patricia Briggs , creator of the New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson series. The latest - and very much anticipated - Mercy Thompson title, Frost Burned, is our book of the month. Scroll down the newsletter to see how Patricia answers our Nine Naughty Questions!

There's really only one cure for romance convention withdrawal and that's ... books, of course! Fortunately, March brings some of my most-awaited titles for 2013. If you love paranormal romance, you'll want to throw out your book budget when you see what's coming out this month. (Canned tuna for a month is a very small price to pay!) If you love category romance, check out Booktopia's dedicated list of Mills & Boon titles.  And if you're a convert to ebooks, fill up your ereader with titles from Booktopia's romance ebook catalogue , which continues to grow.

What I just finished: Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs - it was so, so good. I grabbed Why Resist A Rebel? by Leah Ashton as I ran out the door this morning, and it was perfect for my daily commute.

What I'm reading now: With All My Soul by Rachel Vincent ... and yes, I peeked at the ending first! I also have a pile of Mills & Boon books from the ARRC signing, which I'm about to get stuck into.

What I can't wait for: Like almost everyone else in the entire universe, I'm anxiously awaiting my copy of Lover At Last by J. R. Ward. If you haven't pre-ordered your copy already ... well, I'm just speechless. I also can't wait to read the blurb for Nalini Singh's next Psy-Changeling book, Heart of Obsidian, which it should be out by the time you read this. The Australian paperback edition comes out within days of the US hardback (June), which is great news for us.

Until next month - happy reading, and may your endings always been happy!

Kat Mayo

Queen of Romance
(tiara pending)

Follow me on Twitter: @BookThingo 

P.S. If you were at ARRC 2013, make sure you check your conference satchel for the Booktopia flyer - there's a special discount code for romance readers!
Book of the Month
Click here for details or to orderFrost Burned
(Mercy Thompson, Book 7)
by Patricia Briggs

If you haven't heard of the Mercy Thompson series, I urge you to buy the first book ... and then buy the other six, because it's that addictive. I'm not usually an urban fantasy reader, but in this series, Patricia Briggs finds the perfect balance between fantasy and romance.

If, like me, you were thrilled when Mercy and her omg-can-there-be-a-better-alpha mate, Adam, finally got together, Frost Burned will have you at the edge of your seat. When Mercy discovers that Adam and the pack have disappeared, it's up to her to figure out where they are and how to rescue them. In a first for the series - and a bonus for lovers of romance - we get to see some scenes from Adam's point of view.

This book has everything I love about Briggs's writing. The plot is thick, the pace is fast, and Mercy just can't help banging up a few cars, one of which belongs to ... well, maybe that would be a spoiler! Mercy's awareness of her special gifts as a Walker continues to develop, and we get more insight into how her mating bond with Adam works. I was absolutely thrilled to bits, and I can't wait to see what Briggs will come up with next!

Retail price: $53.95
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This month, our contemporary romance selection features two of what seems to be the hottest trends in romance at the moment - anthologies and cute animals who play a big part in getting our heroes and heroines to their happy ever after!

Click here for details or to order The Best Man
by Kristan Higgins

Hearing Kristan Higgins speak was one of the highlights of ARRC 2013 for me. Her latest book, The Best Man, centres on a heroine who hasn't quite recovered from being jilted at the altar (her would-be groom came out of the closet before the vows could be said). When Faith returns to her hometown, she can't help but bump into Levi, her former fiancÚ's best friend and the guy who, at the ceremony, did not hold his peace.

The romance between Faith and Levi develops slowly, with flashbacks to their teen years, when they had been sort-of-but-not-quite friends. I love the way Higgins explores Faith's relationship with her family, with Levi and with other people from her past. Faith has a lot of unresolved issues, and it's not until the end of the story - when we get the full picture of the major events in Faith's life - that we understand why Levi is so perfect for her.

The Best Man also features Blue, Faith's loveable dog, who is enamoured with Levi's leg!

Click here to order The Best Man
Retail price: $15.99
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by Lori Foster, Brenda Jackson, Virna DePaul, Catherine Mann & Jules Bennett

by Jennifer Crusie, Victoria Dahl & Shannon Stacey

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What did I say about cute animals?

This anthology, from some of our favourite authors, features stories in which the hero and heroine's path to true love is given a little bit of a nudge by their non-human helpers (and I don't mean shapeshifters!).

Click here to order Love bites
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This collection of novellas features Jennifer Crusie's Sizzle. Yes, this is the story that she asked fans not to request from her publisher. So of course, we all want our own copy. Grab it now while you can! (And seriously, can there ever be a bad Crusie book?)

The other titles are new novellas by two of my favourite contemporary romance authors, Shannon Stacey and Victoria Dahl.

Click here to order Be Mine
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by Victoria Dahl

by Leah Ashton & Fiona Harper

by Lauren Dane

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I was thrilled to meet Rachel Vincent at ARRC. If you read former Romance Buzz editor Kate's newsletters, you'll know that she's a major fan of the Soul Screamers series - which just proves her impeccable taste in books, because I love it, too! Check out the final book in the series, as well as some fabulous titles out this month.

Click here for details or to order Wild Invitation
(Psy-Changeling, Anthology)
by Nalini Singh

New Zealand paranormal author Nalini Singh is torturing us, I just know it. Wild Invitation is a collection of four short stories set in the Psy-Changeling world, which was voted by Australian romance readers as their favourite continuing romance series. These stories are just enough to whet our appetites for the next full-length book!

Series fans should know that two of the stories in this collection have been published previously: Beat of Temptation (Tamsyn and Nate's story) and Stroke of Enticement (Annie and Zach's story).

The other two stories are new: Declaration of Courtship, featuring a submissive wolf and a SnowDancer lieutenant, and Texture of Intimacy (I love that title!), featuring Lara and Walker.

While you're here, make sure you pre-order your copy of Heart of Obsidian, the next full-length Psy-Changeling title, which comes out in June. There's so much secrecy surrounding this book, and we're all just dying to read it.

Click here to order Wild Invitation
Retail price: $15.99
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Click here for details or to orderWith All My Soul
(Soul Screamers, Book 7)
by Rachel Vincent

This book concludes Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series, a young adult urban fantasy romance. I know, I know, there are so many YA-uf-romance crossovers out there, but this series? It's awesome.

Kaylee and her friends have been through a lot, and even though some of the plot twists have broken my heart, I've loved watching the characters grow and learn from their adventures (some more harrowing than others!).

I wish I could tell you how the ending made me feel, but I know many of you would never forgive me for giving away spoilers. So I'm keeping mum, but guys, it's costing me to do it!

Click here to order With All My Soul
Retail price: $19.99
Booktopia price: $10.50 SAVE 47%

by J. R. Ward

by Erica Hayes
If you haven't already done so, you need to pre-order your copy of the next Black Dagger Brotherhood book.

No, I haven't read it yet (she says, sobbing). All I know is that this should be Qhuinn and Blay's story and that the blurb has every fan on tenterhooks, because how much can two men take?

If you're up to date with the BDB, you'll know that the previous book introduced some pretty huge obstacles in the path to happy ever after. How will J. R. Ward handle it?

Can I make a confession? I'll be reading the back of the book as soon as I get my hands on this one. I just can't stand this much suspense! Pre-order your copy now, and we can talk about this book some more next month...

Click here to order Lover at Last
Retail price: $55.95
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Erica Hayes is one of my auto-buy authors and, in my opinion, brings a fresh voice to urban fantasy/paranormal romance. I was a huge fan of her Shadowfae books, and it's exciting to read her take on fallen angels in the Seven Signs series.

Redemption is the second book of the series and features Japheth the Tainted, who is determined to win back a place in heaven by being pure and righteous. Oh, a chaste hero - who doesn't like the thought of getting him a little hot and bothered!

When he meets Rose, dubbed the Angel Slayer, it's definitely game on. That chastity thing? I'm thinking it's gonna be hard. (Heh.)

Click here to order Redemption
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by Jeanine Frost

by Shelly Laurenston

by Lynsay Sands

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For something a little hotter, don't miss these great titles. This month, we have a rock star in Melbourne, a little light bondage, and a heroine who hires a male escort for a little bit of relaxation...
by Lexxie Couper

by Maya Banks

by Sami Lee

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Note: This is the first print edition of a previously published ebook.

Romance Readers Award finalist for Favourite Erotic Romance

Lexxie Couper is not known for holding back on the hot stuff, and this book is no exception. Rockstar Nick returns home to win back the childhood love he had left behind, but she might take a little convincing to trust him again.

Couper is one of a growing number of Aussie authors thriving in the ebook market, and if you haven't tried her work because you prefer your books in print - or if you love her books so much that you want a copy you can lend to all your friends - this is the perfect opportunity.

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So, this book? It's like Fifty Shades of Grey for grown-ups.

Rush is the first book of the Breathless trilogy by erotic romance favourite Maya Banks. The trilogy features uber-rich and powerful men ... and the heroines who will bring them to their knees (heh).

In Rush, Gabe finally makes a move on his best friend's sister, Mia, who it turns out has always had a crush on him. (This has always been one of my favourite tropes!)

Gabe is very alpha and very dominant (yes, in that way), so bringing him to his knees? Totally hot!

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Retail price: $30.00
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How often do you find an erotic romance set in Australia? If you answered 'never', then try this title by Australian author Sami Lee.

Sarah's career leaves her with very little time to play, but a woman has needs, people, so she hires an escort to satisfy them. As you do.

But David isn't quite what she expected. Probably because he's not an escort at all, but a vineyard owner with a proposition - a business proposition.

Oh, mistaken identity - how we love you the morning after! If you want a quick, hot read, give this one a try.

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Click here for details or to order As You Wish
(Fairy Tales, anthology)
by Eloisa James

This is a two-story collection that will see two novellas in Eloisa James's Fairy Tales series published in print for the first time: Seduced By A Pirate and With This Kiss.

If you've read the fourth book in the series, The Ugly Duchess, you'll have met Sir Griffin Barry, the womanising pirate with a tattoo of a poppy on his cheek. Griffin gets his own story in Seduced By A Pirate, when he returns home to his wife. He's in for a shock, though, because his wife hasn't exactly been living alone!

The second novella, With This Kiss, is being serialised and digitally published in three parts this month, starting March 12. If you just can't wait to read the romance between Griffin's son and the daughter of the couple from The Ugly Duchess, you can order the ebooks (listed below). This print collection comes out the same day as part 3 of the serial at the end of the month.

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Click here for details or to order The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After
(Bridgertons, epilogues)
by Julia Quinn

It must be the month for ebook-to-print books, because Julia Quinn is also releasing a print edition of the Bridgerton epilogues. This book is a collection of short stories, previously only available digitally, that follow the Bridgerton siblings beyond their original happy endings.

If you've never heard of the epilogues, or if the ebook price was too steep for you, this print collection is great value. And if you needed any more incentive, it includes a new novella, in which we meet Edmund Bridgerton.

I love the Bridgertons series, and I love epilogues in romance - yes, I know how uncool that is, but I'm totally owning it - so this is a must-have for me!

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to pre-order the Australian edition - available 1st June

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Click here to order the U.S edition - available 2nd April
$15.95 SAVE 34%

by Suzanne Enoch

by Elizabeth Boyle

by Stephanie Laurens
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Falling in love may be thrilling, but imagine falling in love when your life is on the line! These books will have you at the edge of your seats as our heroes and heroines try to remain one step ahead of the bad guys.
by J. D. Robb

by Kaylea Cross

by Catherine Mann
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Nine naughty questions with PATRICIA BRIGGS
This month's feature author is one of my bestselling urban fantasy author Patricia Briggs. I discovered her books late last year and loved them so much that I read both her Mercy Thompson books and the spin-off series, Alpha and Omega, in seven days straight.

Even if you don't usually read urban fantasy, I urge you to consider the Mercy Thompson series and the spin-off, Alpha and Omega. The latter starts off with a more traditional paranormal romance story, which then develops into an ongoing series. These books have strong romantic arcs that make me weak at the knees! I loved the characters so much that I read both series straight through in seven days.

So I'm very excited to introduce you to one of my favouritest of favourite authors, Patricia Briggs, who has kindly agreed to answer our Nine Naughty Questions.

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

I'm the youngest of four and raised in a bookish family. My mother was a children's librarian, but we all read. My next-older sister read a lot of SF and fantasy and she turned me on to reading it, too. The second biggest influence in my childhood had to be horses. I was and am what my husband fondly (usually) calls a 'pod person' for horses. I have found that horses, like music and art, are something many fantasy/romance writers enjoy. I met my (now) husband when I was a senior in high school and he a freshman in college. At our first meeting I convinced him that I was a serial killer. We've been married for nearly thirty years, have three children, and I am eternally grateful that I was smart enough to grab him when I had the chance.

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?

Very definitely yes to both questions. I am not, strictly speaking, a romance writer - though I have only written one book without a romance in it. A good book demands a writer expose rather more than we are comfortable with, I think. It is that exposure that makes a book something more than fluff. I have, in my career, left myself raw and bleeding on the keyboard in an attempt to be true to the story I was telling.

Click here for details or to order3. Please tell us about your latest novel...

Encapsulating novels in five sentences or less is not my strong point, but I'll do my best. The end of Fair Game (Alpha and Omega #3) was a game changer and the seismic waves are rocking Mercy's world in more ways than one in Frost Burned.

This book has the scariest beginning of any of my books - shopping on Black Friday (the biggest shopping day of the year in the US) - and things just keep getting worse from there. Coyote, vampires, and government agencies all conspire to make life hard for one shapeshifting coyote mechanic.

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

Click here for details or to order Life's what you make of it. Don't get me wrong, I have a ball hanging out with my imaginary friends. But I'm happy and living the life of Riley because I decided a long time ago that what I wanted out of life was to be happy. I could, and have, been happy bagging bagels or working as a bookkeeper for a stop and rob while we struggled to keep our ancient cars (VW's for the most part) running and the rent paid.

I won't deny that the success of the books has allowed us to travel to exotic locations and meet cool people. But the real romance of my life has a lot more to do my husband and nothing at all to do with my vocation or the success of the books.

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?

Dozens - maybe even hundreds because Mike is like that. I'll give you two.

Click here for details or to order We had been dating for a couple of weeks and I'd had to go on a trip to play in the pep band for a football game. I ate something that didn't sit well and was sick, sick, sick. We got back from the trip about midnight and Mike had walked about four miles to be waiting for me when the buses pulled into the school. I dodged past him, absolutely humiliated - and also in desperate need of someplace to throw up again. I made it to the girls bathroom and was being horribly sick. Mike'd talked to someone and found out what was going on. He came into the girls' restroom after making sure no one but me was in there and held my hair back and helped me clean up. That's when I knew he was a keeper - and not someone who ran when the chips were down.

The second was just a snapshot - literally. Our first baby horse foaled last year. The colt was only a couple of days old and we were catching him to move he and his mother to a better pen. Mike caught him while I held the mare. The baby was scared at first, but settled down. As soon as he did, Mike tipped up his nose and kissed him on it.

Mike's mom and dad were visiting and she snapped the photo. I love that woman.

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 is a matter of the story you are telling.

As a reader and a writer I want every scene to be important to the story. A sex scene should never just be a sex scene: it should say something about the characters or the story - or it shouldn't be there at all. If that means the scene needs to be OMG explicit - I'm okay with that. If that means the lights go out - that's okay, too.

Click here for details or to order7. 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?
Of course I read a great deal of romance (as well as SF/Fantasy and anything else that is well written and character driven). Five romances I've read more than ten times are: Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale, The Windflower by Laura London (Tom and Sharon Curtis), These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer, Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase, Curse of the Concullens by Florence Stevenson.

8. Erotic romance writing is 'so hot right now'. Do you have any thoughts on why?

I think it is something that started with the rise of the ebook. The first successful ebook publishing house, Ellora's Cave, sold explicit romances, erotica for women omplete with happy-ever-after endings. Click here for details or to orderMost of the early titles written by Jaid Black, who also owned and ran the company. Women, uncomfortable with buying such books in a bookstore, were more than happy to buy them online. Some of those authors were so successful that the big New York houses snagged them - and their spicier romances. Readers followed.

9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read. Read a lot. Write. Then read some more. Read good books. Read bad books and figure out why they didn't work for you.
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ARRA awards

Favourite romance titles voted by Australian romance readers. Have you read them all?

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