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

April is Aussie Author Month, so it's the perfect time to browse through Booktopia's catalogue and pick up books by local authors on your must-try-one-day list.

If you're not sure where to start, let's talk about some authors receiving international recognition. The finalists for romance fiction's most prestigious prize, the RITA awards, have been announced, and I'm delighted to tell you that four Australian authors are in the running.

Congratulations to RITA finalists Anne Gracie, Barbara Hannay, Bronwyn Parry, and Lilian Darcy. Two of the nominated books are locally published: Dead Heat (Hachette Australia) and Zoe's Muster (Penguin Australia). This is a fabulous result, and I'm sure you'll join me in crossing your fingers and toes for them when the winners are announced in July. You can find the full list of RITA finalists below.

This month's featured author is our very own Kylie Griffin. If you were at the Australian Romance Convention last month, you might know that Kylie won the Australian Romance Readers Award for Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance. Check out how Kylie answers our Nine Naughty Questions at the end of this newsletter. (Teaser: She talks about her first kiss!)

What I just finished: Lover At Last by J. R. Ward . Yes, it was hot! As the first mainstream published m/m romance (at least, that I can recall), this book was always going to be our Book of the Month. A tip for fans of this series: Details of the next book have been posted on the author's Facebook page.

What I'm reading now: The Other Side Of Us by Sarah Mayberry and Along Came Trouble by Ruthie Knox . I don't usually read two books at the same time, but I couldn't decide which one to read first!

What I can't wait for: Once Upon A Tower by Eloisa James (May) and Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh (June).

One last thing. If you're a Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood fan, make sure you pre-order your copy of the final book in the series, Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris. The book blurb is just pure torture. Will there be a happy ever after for Sookie and Eric? We're dying (heh) to find out!

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

Kat Mayo

Queen of Romance (tiara still pending)
Booktopia

Follow me on Twitter: @BookThingo 

BOOK OF THE MONTH
Click here for details or to orderLover At Last
(Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 11)
by J. R. Ward


The book we've all been waiting for is finally here! After years of pining and angst, some hurtful words and a super hot kiss, Qhuinn and Blay finally get their book, and it's a scorcher. There are a lot of, shall we say, mood upswings in this one.

This is the first mainstream novel in the romance genre that I know of which features a male couple, and I can't believe it's taken this long. If you're wondering whether author J. R. Ward gets pen-shy with the more explicit scenes, let me assure you that she does not.

Qhuinn and Blay aside, we see more of the Band of Bastards, with a big focus on Xcor. I wasn't sold on him in the previous books, but he's grown on me, and I'm looking forward to his redemption with the help of his true love. Layla takes some big steps towards being more independent-about time, right?

Also in Lover At Last , we meet some new characters, including one very independent woman who looks destined for her own happy ever after. We revisit some familiar characters, with Trez and iAm looking set to take a bigger role in coming books. But if your heart lies with the Brothers, you'll be glad to know that they all get a mention, too.

There are so many plot threads to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series that it's impossible for me to cover them all without spoiling you. All I can say is that you need to grab your copy asap because everyone is talking about this book!

Oh, and don't forget that the US edition of this book is in hardcover. The Australian edition is in paperback-not only is it lighter to carry around, it's also cheaper!

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HEART-WARMING HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Sometimes it feels like every historical is set in a ballroom or a country village. Not this month! In April, you can lose yourself in the Scottish wilderness, explore the artistic side of Venice, or brave the bedroom of a brooding hero. The choice is yours...

Click here for details or to orderThe Devil's Heart
(The Chattan Curse, Book 3)
by Cathy Maxwell


When I heard Cathy Maxwell speak at the Australian Romance Readers Convention, I knew I had to try her work. The Chattan Curse series revolves around a family cursed by a Scottish witch. The Chattans are doomed to die when they find true love, and the final book in this trilogy focuses on Lady Margaret as she goes to Scotland to confront the descendants of the witch, hoping to save her brothers from the curse.

The hero, Heath Macnachtan, is the reluctant leader of his clan. I'm not a big fan of Scottish romances, but Heath displays that perfect combination of honour, humour and gallantry that I find irresistible.

If you don't mind mixing your historicals with paranormal elements, The Devil's Heart has a delicious gothic feel to it. Freak accidents, betrayal, a mysterious cat, and a vengeful spirit-this isn't your everyday Regency, that's for sure.


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LET IT BE
by Kate Noble

LORD OF WICKED INTENTIONS
Lorraine Heath
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If you haven't heard of Kate Noble through her historical romances, you might know her work as a writer for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice played out over social media.

Let It Be Me is a sweet romance with a very slow build-up between the painfully shy but musically inclined Bridget Forrester and theatre owner Oliver Merrick. If you love music, you'll love the critical role it plays in this story.

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Let It Be Me

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Evelyn has led a sheltered life, but when her father dies, she has no choice but to accept a different life than she had envisaged for herself.

Rafe has learned never to rely on anyone, but when he saves Evelyn-by purchasing her as his mistress-she might just be the one to finally thaw his heart.

This final book in the Lost Lords of Pembrook trilogy is for readers who love tortured heroes!

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Lord of Wicked Intentions

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PULSE-POUNDING PARANORMAL, SCI-FI & FANTASY ROMANCE
This subgenre has something for everyone. For fantasy readers, we have demons, angels, mages and beasts. And humans-we mustn't forget the humans! For historical readers, we have time travel and a mystery with paranormal elements. For contemporary readers, we have, well, time travel and reincarnated lovers. We're totally spoiled for choice.

Click here for details or to order Allegiance Sworn
(Light Blade, Book 3)
by Kylie Griffin


The third book in the Light Blade series starts right in the thick of the action. Arek Barrial is destined for the slave market when he's picked up by a Na'Reish clan whose leader has him questioning everything he believes-and hates-about demons.

Imhara is playing a dangerous political game. Unbeknownst to other Na'Riesh, Imhara follows the Old Ways, without any of the prejudice expected of her kind. But she's under pressure to marry, and doing so would mean losing control of her clan. She has no choice but to risk everything to preserve her people's way of life. 

As a Light Blade warrior, Arek would be Imhara's best weapon, but he's deeply suspicious of the Na'Reish. (If you've read the previous books, you'll know why!) It's up to her to convince Arek that she is worthy of his trust. For Arek, helping Imhara could provide him the best chance of killing Savyr, leader of all the demon clans.

We don't get nearly enough romances where the heroine is in a much more powerful position than the hero, and this book shows that it can definitely work. It's also really hot! Arek has to defer to Imhara-he's in her world now, and he quickly realises that his actions affect not just himself but others under Imhara's protection-but he is never subservient. There's something oh, so delicious about a hero forced to show restraint.

If you're new to the Light Blade series, there's enough backstory in Allegiance Sworn to get the gist of the series arc, but you'll have a better appreciation for the external plot if you've read the previous books.
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IRON KIN
by M.J. Scott

RISING DARKNESS
by Thea Harrison

THE MYSTERY WOMAN
by Amanda Quick
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ONE FOR THE WICKED
by Karina Cooper

ROSES IN MIDNIGHT
by Lynn Kurland

SINNER'S HEART
by Zoe Archer
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CAPTIVATING CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
There's something irresistible about romance stories that feature ordinary people, who do ordinary things, finding extraordinary love.
ANYTHING BUT VANILLA/ IT WAS ONLY A KISS
by Liz Fielding/Joss Wood

LOVE IRRESISTIBLY
by Julie James

WRECKED
by Shiloh Walker
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HER DEAL WITH THE DEVIL/ONE MORE SLEEPLESS NIGHT
by Nicola Marsh/Lucy King

ALL HE EVER DREAMED
by Ruthie Knox

SILVER CLOUDS
by Fleur McDonald
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SPINE-TINGLING SUSPENSE
Hold on to your bookshelves, because two of my favourite romantic suspense authors have books out this month!
HEADED FOR TROUBLE
by Suzanne Brockmann

DANGEROUS REFUGE
by Elizabeth Lowell
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This book is a collection of previously published novellas and short stories set in Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooters world. Included is a chronological list of books, and who featured in them, which is fantastic if you need a quick refresher.

There are two brand-new stories in the anthology. The first is an extension of the short story 'Home Is Where The Heart Is', featuring reservist Arlene Schroeder and reporter Jack Lloyd. The end of this story brought me to tears! (On the bus. Very awkward.) The other new story, 'A SEAL and Three Babies' sees Sam Starrett stranded in a hostile country with three young kids and a tummy bug. Messy but hilarious, and the pace doesn't miss a beat.

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Headed for Trouble

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I discovered Elizabeth Lowell through her American Western romances, and she's one of those rare authors who have dabbled across romance subgenre, and have done pretty well doing so.

Homicide detective Tanner Davis comes home to take care of his late uncle's ranch. There are suspicious circumstances, however, and to uncover the truth, he has to work with Shaye, a local conservationist who is interested in preserving his uncle's ranch.

If you like your romantic suspense heavy on the suspense, or if you have a predilection for jaded city cops, this one is for you!

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ELECTRIFYING EROTIC ROMANCE
These titles are scorching hot and guaranteed to spice up your day. So what if they make you blush while on public transport? You can blame it on the autumn chill!


Click here for details or to order Dark Embrace
(Principatus, Book 2)
by Lexxie Couper


Inari Chayse is an ex-succubus who was granted a soul and is now tasked with killing demons. You know you're headed for sexy times when a succubus is involved! Sure enough, her first encounter with master vampire Ezryn Navarr-in a dark corner at a strip club-is super hot!

The rightful king of his people, Ezryn peacefully gave up his birth right to his power-hungry brother in order to spare innocent lives. Now, his brother has tasked him with killing Inari. If Ezryn refuses, those who support him will be killed.

I love dark erotic fantasy, and Aussie author Lexxie Couper doesn't skimp on the violence, the intrigue or the lust! Inari and Ezryn are explosive together, even as Inari battles her inner demons (ha!)-she's afraid that giving in to her lust will doom her back into being a soulless succubus-and Ezryn has to find a way to kill Inari...or settle the score with his brother, once and for all.


If you haven't read the previous books of the series, you can pick them up here:

OFFICE AFFAIR
by Jess Dee

BAD ATTITUDE
(eBook edition)
by K.A. Mitchell
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Available for the first time in print, this book was a finalist for the 2012 Australian Romance Readers Award for Favourite Erotic Romance.

Ben and Melissa, work colleagues, embark on a no-strings-attached affair. But what happens when they realise that their affair is turning into a full-blown office romance?  

Note: This title has previously been published as an ebook.

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When police rescue diver Jamie Donnigan saves Gavin Montgomery from drowning, sparks fly-and not always the good kind. The two men are poles apart (heh)-will they risk it all to grab their chance at a happy ever after?

K. A. Mitchell writes smoking hot m/m romance and this third book in her Bad in Baltimore series is definitely no exception.

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LUSH
by Lauren Dane

BIG BOY
(eBook edition)
by Ruthie Knox

FEVER
by Maya Banks
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RITA FINALISTS
If you haven't heard of the RITA, it's the equivalent of the Oscars for romance authors. The winners will be awarded by the Romance Writers of America at their conference later this year. In the meantime, these titles are the best of the best in romance fiction, so if you're looking to try something new, you can't go wrong with this selection.
HISTORICAL ROMANCE
PARANORMAL ROMANCE



CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

NOVEL WITH STRONG ROMANTIC ELEMENTS


SHORT CONTEMPORARY SERIES ROMANCE

LONG CONTEMPORARY SERIES ROMANCE



ROMANTIC SUSPENSE

ROMANCE NOVELLA


  • Breathless by Sophie Jordan
     
  • The Duchess of Love by Sally MacKenzie
  • "Room at the Inn" by Ruthie Knox in Naughty & Nice
     
  • Seduced by a Pirate by Eloisa James
     
  • "Sleeping with a Beauty" by Leslie Kelly in Once Upon a Valentine
  • "The Valentine's Curse" by Jodi Thomas in Be My Texas Valentine
INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE

BEST FIRST BOOK


KYLIE GRIFFIN Answers Nine Naughty Questions
I'm so excited to introduce this month's feature author, Kylie Griffin, winner of the Australian Romance Readers Award for Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance for the second book of her Light Blade series, Alliance Forged.

Click here to view Kylie Griffin's latest book

Kylie is a primary school teacher by day and a paranormal romance author by night. Her love for fantasy worlds started when she was a child imagining that a jacaranda tree was really a spaceship defending the world from invaders.

The next book in the Light Blade series, Alliance Sworn, is out this month and is our featured paranormal & sff romance book (scroll up the newsletter for more details!). You can find out more about Kylie and her books on her website at www.kyliegriffin.com.

Kylie 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.

BP - before publication - I was a mild-mannered writer living life disguised as a primary school teacher, but thanks to certain writer-ly influences (significant glance levelled at RWAustralia and a handful of corrupt ... umm, I mean, encouraging writing buddies) I'm now a somewhat extroverted advocate and passionate paranormal romance author!

Outside writing, I live in a small village in outback NSW, Australia and am heavily involved in three volunteer emergency service organisations - SES, RFS & Community First Responder. And yes, I'm one of those crazy cat ladies. I share my life with three fur-kids when I'm not tripping overseas to places like the UK, New Zealand, USA and Canada and learning more about other cultures and the fascinating world we live in.

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?

You're spot on, writing romance cuts to the heart of human nature - literally. For readers and writers.

I know as a reader of romance I love to feel that tangible connection with the hero and heroine, we want to identify with them and what they're going through and what person doesn't want to feel loved - the platonic sort or the more intimate moments involved in a romance? Everything we do in life revolves around our experiences and the emotions that go with living out those events.

There have been times I've wanted to delete entire scenes because the emotional content has made me squirm or uncomfortable (in good & bad ways). So it's a given that writing about romance leaves you exposed.

Granted authors have vivid imaginations and can manipulate words to evoke emotions, but what we write has to be real and believable. How can you expect to connect with readers, through our characters, if you don't draw on or share a piece of yourself and your experiences in them?

3. Please tell us about your latest novel...

Allegiance Sworn is the third book in the series and one I was very excited to write as it features Arek, a rather tormented, secondary character, and one of my Light Blade warriors, who appeared in both Vengeance Born (#1) and Alliance Forged (#2).

At the end of Alliance Forced Arek was wounded and captured by demon-slavers. In Alliance Sworn he's claimed by Imhara, a demon Clan leader.

He's sworn to die fighting before allowing her to enslave him but then discovers she's been living a double life - that her Clan don't enslave humans and accept half-bloods. And more significantly, they have one goal in common - to kill Na'Reish leader Savyr, the demon who murdered their families and destroyed their lives.

I had a LOT of fun making Arek face his greatest fears in this book but what surprised me the most was the way a couple of plot threads within the story ended - I intended the story to finish with the characters achieving certain goals but they refused to take that path and led me down another!

Live being threatened, fighting, the death of a major character - all of this was supposed to occur, and it did, but not in the manner I expected and it brought about an entirely different conclusion to the story.

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

Considering most writers spend the majority of their waking hours (and probably quite a few subconscious hours) imagining wonderful characters, exotic settings and romantic scenes, the answer would have to be a resounding 'YES!'

In real life though, we're chained to our desks, in our comfy casual clothes - maybe even wearing ugg-boots or fluffy slippers - with a cup of stimulant by our side as we plug away at the keyboard absorbed in producing our latest story.

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?

Ohh, that's a great question. I guess you could say the single event that springs to mind would be my first kiss. It's was a moment filled with excitement, tension, longing, fear and amazing joy. There was that ah-ha feeling of finally knowing what it was like to connect with someone on a deeper level.

And that's emotional impact is something I try to make sure is reflected in what I write.

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?

Sex shouldn't be included just because 'it's expected in a romance'. It definitely has to be an integral part of the character's emotional journey.

Think about one of your favourite romances and what made it so good? Was it build up between the characters - the conversations, the small touches, the looks, the intimate or tender moments, the conflicts that had you laughing, crying, worried, exclaiming out loud, squirming in your seat?

The tension created in the build up to the sex scenes (whatever intensity or heat level they may be) is what gives readers the greatest satisfaction.

Sure, sex is important but emotional impact is the key to a good romance.

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 have to choose only 5? Noooooooo!!! It's so hard to choose!

OK, in no particular order, they are:

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey - this was the first adult fantasy book I have vivid memories of reading. Her world-building and her characters just blew me away (and I so wanted to Impress a dragon of my own!).

Clan Of The Cave Bear series by Jean M.Auel - Again world building but I loved the romance between Jondalar and Ayla.

Morgan's Mercenaries series by Lindsay McKenna - she was the first romance author I discovered who combined romance and the paranormal. I realised then that I could write paranormal romances (aka combine the genres I loved to read - fantasy with romance, science fiction with romance, post-apocalyptic with romance and so on).

Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan - I absolutely love this fantasy romance series and have re-read this book, and series, countless times.

The Lone Warrior by Denise Rossetti - the complexity of her characters just fascinated me and made me explore what I could do to make mine as interesting and intriguing.

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

I don't really have an answer to this question. All I can say is that if it's brought the romance genre to the attention of more readers then fantastic!

What reader doesn't like discovering another source of good books and authors to feed their addiction? It's a win-win situation for readers and authors!

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

Read, read, read. Write, write, write.
Read to feed your creative side. Write what you love. Research, join a writing organisation (like Romance Writers of Australia) and persevere.

Thanks so much for having me visit - it's been a hoot being here!

PLEASE NOTE
Prices displayed in Booktopia Romance Buzz are correct at time of publication. Website prices are subject to change at short notice. In these circumstances, the price listed in the newsletter may not be correct. In the event that a price conflict between the newsletter and website does occur, website prices will override prices listed in the newsletter.
   
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DON'T MISS

Missed the March Romance Buzz? Don't forget to pick up these titles!
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