Booktopia Romance Buzz
October 2013 | Edition Eight
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Welcome to the October Romance Buzz!
Hello, my inexhaustible readers of rrromance!

First, congratulations to Stephanie Laurens, Nicola Marsh, Emily Forbes and Tricia Stringer - winners of this year's Romance Book of the Year awards!

This year's list of Top 50 Books You Can't Put Down has been announced, and I'm so proud to say that Man Drought by Rachael Johns and the Queen of the Road by Tricia Stringer, winner of the 2013 RUBY award for Romantic Elements, both made the list. Also included is The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion - a romcom from the hero's perspective. Grab a copy of these books in September, and Booktopia will throw in a free book!

This month, I'm absolutely chuffed to introduce you to Ainslie Paton , an author that, well, I have an embarassing fan crush on. (Don't tell her I told you!) If you like longer contemporary romances, you need to try Ainslie's books -- I think she's one of the genre's rising stars! Scroll down to read all about her special relationship with her ... keyboard.

What I just finished:
The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn and a bunch of Mills & Boon Sexy titles - scroll down for my thoughts on these stories!

What I'm reading now: Guardian Demon by Meljean Brook - I've put off reading this book because I don't want the series to end! For Your Eyes Only by Sandra Antonelli - and it's so much fun!

What I can't wait for: What The Bride Didn't Know by Kelly Hunter and Kinked by Thea Harrison

Also, we have a free shipping offer on right now, scroll to the bottom of this newsletter to find out more.

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

Kat Mayo

Addicted to lurve
Booktopia

Follow me on Twitter: @BookThingo 

For exclusive offers, news on upcoming romance titles and general romance goss, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at
@LoveAtBooktopia.

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COMPELLING CRIME THRILLER WITH A TOUCH OF ROMANCE
Click here for more details or to orderDARKENING SKIES
(Dungirri, Book 3)
by Bronwyn Parry


Wrapping up her series of books set in Dungirri, Bronwyn Parry blends murder, rural life and romance in a gripping story that kept me guessing to the very end. Okay, I'll say it now: I think this is her strongest book.

Local Dungirri politician Mark Strelitz was involved in a fatal car crash when he was 18 years old. He can't remember what happened, but the wrong man was sent to prison, and now Mark is forcing the case to be re-examined. His childhood sweetheart Jenn, now a successful journalist, returns home to find out what really happened the night her cousin Paula died. But it's clear someone is determined to bury the secrets of Dungirri - sordid secrets involving prominent members of the community and a bigger cover up than Mark and Jenn could ever have imagined.

Darkening Skies is a compelling crime thriller and a sweet romance. If you love rural fiction but need a strong external plot to keep up the pace, this is the perfect read for October!

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The story stands alone, but if you're a reader who must read books in order, make sure you also pick up a copy of As Darkness Falls and Dark Country.

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GET READING
It's not often that romance fiction gets mentioned in a big way in mainstream media, so to have two titles in this year's Get Reading! list of books you can't put down is just fabulous. Make sure you grab your copies of these rural fiction standouts!
MAN DROUGHT
by Rachel Johns

THE QUEEN OF THE ROADS
by Tricia Stringer

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Rachael Johns
wrote the first single-length Australian rural romance that I felt fit squarely in the romance genre. Since then, she's only gone from strength to strength!

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This book won Australia's Romantic Book of the Year Award in the Romantic Elements category.

It features a truckie heroine!

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Queen of the Road

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THE MOST TALKED ABOUT ROMANCE THIS YEAR
Click here for more details or to orderTHE ROSIE PROJECT
by Graeme Simsion


Hold on to your bodices, because this year's runaway success in romance fiction is arguably The Rosie Project - hero-centric and written by a man! This isn't your typical genre romance, but it's close enough. Every romance reader I know who has read this book has loved it. It's also in the Get Reading! list of books you can't put down.

Genetics professor Don Tillman is on a quest to find the perfect partner. Unfortunately, he's socially inept, and his screening questionnaire doesn't exactly endear him to women!

When Rosie turns up at his office, all the rules and routines that Don has taken comfort in suddenly go out the window, and he has to figure out if - and how - she can fit into his perfectly ordered life.

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SUSPENSE: SEXY TIMES IN THE MOST UNLIKELY PLACES
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(eBook edition)
by Ainslie Paton


There are three things you need to know about this book:
1. It's a fabulous read.
2. It's set in Australia and China.
3. The chemistry between the hero and heroine is intense. Prepare your spine for tingling!

Newspaper reporter Darcy Campbell has landed an interview with reclusive steel tycoon, Will Parker, that could finally make her career-until she realises that the man with whom she's just had an intense fling is none other than Will himself. Humiliated and with her career on the line, Darcy obtains damning footage of Will, but when he is kidnapped, imprisoned and severely beaten, she knows she'd do anything to be back with the man she fell for.

You know when you read a book and you think, How can someone make me love made up characters so much? That's pretty much how I felt about Darcy and Will. I loved Darcy's normalcy-she's someone I can imagine knowing, with flaws and insecurities and worries, but also a very strong sense of who she is. And she needs this to be the perfect partner for Will, a control freak, whose anger simmers perilously close to the surface. Their bedroom scenes are hot-sexy, dangerous and desperate all at the same time.

Yes, they have sex in a prison clinic, but hey, if you think you might not survive an inmate revolt, you have to consider your priorities, right?

Australian author Ainslie Paton is definitely an author to watch out for. Her debut for Escape Publishing, Grease Monkey Jive, set a high standard, and I wondered if Detained would live up to my expectations. It did that and more. The scene in which Will declares his love for Darcy is absolutely delicious. If you like your contemporary romances fast-paced, angsty and unpredictable, Detained is for you.


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THE WAY HOME
by Cindy Gerard

FATAL STRIKE
by Shannon McKenna

EXPOSED
by Laura Griffin
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EVE AND ROARKE: 37 BOOKS AND COUNTING!
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(In Death, Book 37)
by J. D. Robb


This series is up to its 37th book, and if you're a fan, this is a no-brainer - buy it now! If you've never tried the series, don't be daunted by the long backlist. There's a reason why readers love this series!

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If you've never heard of this series before, the best place to start is from the beginning! Find out why Eve and Roarke are two of romance readers' favourite characters!
 
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(In Death Series: Book 1)

ANTHOLOGIES: TWO TITLES ARE BETTER THAN ONE
If you're looking for new authors to try, anthologies are a great way to sample new work without committing to just one story! These have a bit of a suspense theme...
DANGEROUS GAMES
by Linda Howard

WICKED AND DANGEROUS
by Shayla Black, Rhyannon Byrd
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If you've never tried either of these authors before, this anthology features titles from their backlists.

Find out why they're fan favourites!
 

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Dangerous Games

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If you're after something a little sexier, Wicked and Dangerous features a teacher hooking up with a bodyguard, and woman on the run who seeks help from the one man she can trust - with her body and her life!

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Wicked and Dangerous Games

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CATEGORY: TROPES WE LOVE TO READ OVER AND OVER AGAIN
Click here for more details or to order LOST TO THE DESERT WARRIOR
by Sarah Morgan


When her father dies, Layla, Princess of Tazkhan, knows that the only way to escape an arranged marriage with a cruel tyrant is to take her chances with her fiance's nemesis - Raz Al Zahki, the exiled prince and beloved by the people - and convince him to marry her!

Sarah Morgan throws everything at us in this story - exotic locale, sheikh hero, virgin herione, arranged marriage, thwarted love rivals, hero pining for a lost love - but she does it so expertly that none of these tropes get in the way of the story's emotional impact.

Layla takes risks, but she's not stupid. Raz is emotionally unavailable, but he's not without compassion. The result is a lovely, exciting and fulfilling story that's a great example of why category romance is so addictive!

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HIS RING IS NOT ENOUGH
by Maisey Yates

NEVER SAY NO TO A CAFFARELLI
by Melanie Milburne
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From arranged marriages, to spur of the moment proposals... When Ajax Kouros is left at the altar, his ex-fiancee's sister offers to marry him instead! Ajax needs Leah to take control of her family's business, and Leah needs Alex for her own interests - both business and personal. Alex has a dark secret - one that won't allow him to surrender completely to his emotions - and Leah, who has always had to live in the shadow of her family, won't settle for anything less than his total surrender.

For me, this story is all about the heroine's journey. I loved watching Leah go from the insecure younger sister to a more confident person who stands her ground.
 

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His Ring Is Not Enough

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Rafe Caffarelli, 'mouth-watering specimen of Mediterranean manhood' wants tearoom proprietor Poppy Silverton's house. But she refuses to part with her only link to her happiest childhood memories.

She's a bit of a disaster in business - not a characteristic I love in a heroine - but I was charmed by her crankiness at the fact that Rafe keeps visiting her tearoom, insists on ordering coffee and turns down offers of cake: 'There is something defective about that man's tastebuds.' Later, she tells Rafe that he could do with lifting his standards a bit when it comes to women. I love it when the virgin puts the playboy in his place! And a bonus for dog lovers: Poppy's cavoodles Pickles, Relish and Chutney are totally adorable!


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Never Say No To A Caffarelli

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PARANORMAL: AUTOBUY AUTHORS ALERT!
Click here for more details or to order ARCHANGEL'S LEGION
(Guild-Hunter, Book 6)
by Nalini Singh


I mean, I don't even know if I have any words left to describe how much I love New Zealand author Nalini Singh's books. The next instalment of the Guild-Hunter series comes back to Elena and Raphael, around whom this series revolves. Angels are falling from the sky and vampire are dying ... and once you start reading this book, you won't be able to stop!

It's risky for an author to return to a couple who have already had their happy ending (mostly), but Nalini Singh has crafted such an intricate world with so many interesting characters that keep readers wanting more. Check out an excerpt of the book at Nalini's website, and make sure you order your copy!


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US edition
POSSESSION
by J.R. Ward

DARK WITCH
by Nora Roberts

BLACK AND BLUE
by Gena Showalter
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HISTORICAL: HEROES WHO BROOD & HEROINES WHO LOVE THEM
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(Smythe-Smith Quartet, Book 3)
by Julia Quinn


The third Smythe-Smith book features Sarah, whom you might remember as the cousin who faked illness to get out of playing at the annual (and infamous) musicale. She holds a grudge against Hugh, whose disastrous duel with Daniel Smythe-Smith caused much grief among in Sarah's extended family.

Hugh doesn't understand Sarah, and they can barely be civil, so when they're forced to spend time together it's...awkward. Still, this is romance, and that sizzle of tension eventually turns into something else. But Hugh made a promise to keep Daniel safe - one that jeopardises any future he might have with Sarah.

A Julia Quinn book is like a comfortable blanket. It's impossible not to be charmed by her characters, and no matter how over-the-top the plot gets, I always close her books with a happy sigh. This book was no exception.

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If you've missed the first two books in this series, make sure you grab a copy of Just Like Heaven and A Night Like This!

A WOMAN ENTANGLED
by Cecilia Grant

DUKE OF MIDNIGHT by Elizabeth Hoyt
THE WICKED WALLFLOWER
by Maya Rodale
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IN LOVE WITH A WICKED MAN
by Liz Carlyle

WHEN THE MARQUESS MET HIS MATCH
by Laura Lee Guhrke

THE WICKED DEEDS OF DANIEL MACKENZIE
by Jennifer Ashley
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EROTIC: FOR THOSE WHO WANT SOMETHING A LITTLE DIRRRTY
The erotic romance list has exploded this year - there's something for everyone this month!
NAKED
by Megan Hart

WALLFLOWER
by Heidi Belleau
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Harlequin is re-releasing Megan Hart's backlist, and I'm happy to report that Naked is definitely a romance!

A steamy, sexy, smutty romance...

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This m/m romance has been popping up on my Twitter feed as reviewers received their advance copies. It features a gamer hero, more comfortable with his online persona than real life, and a comic book artist who isn't afraid to speak his mind. And anyway, how can you resist an m/m series called Rear Entrance Video!

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COMING UNDONE
by Lauren Dane

DRAWN TOGETHER
by Lauren Dane

CAKE
(eBook edition)
by Lauren Dane
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ROCKY MOUNTAIN ANGEL
by Vivian Arend

BEAUTIFUL BITCH
by Christina Lauren

BEAUTIFUL BOMBSHELL
by Christina Lauren
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CONTEMPORARY: A MIXED BAG OF MODERN MAYHEM (eBook edition)
Click here for more details or to order FOR YOUR EYES ONLY
by Sandra Antonelli


I'm still reading this book, so I can't give you hints on what happens, but I'll tell you this: I love Sandra Antonelli's style.

The story features a mystery that needs solving, but there's also physics (really nerdy science stuff) and older protagonists (the heroine has crow's feet, omg!), and witty, sarcastic and oh, so funny banter. Because solving mysteries can be fun!

My favourite thing about Sandra's books? She's never afraid to drop the F-bomb!

Yes, I'm shallow like that.
 

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RUN TO YOU
by Rachel Gibson

THE PERFECT MATCH
by Kristan Higgins

PLAYING DIRTY
by Jennifer Echols
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BRIDGET JONES: MAD ABOUT THE BOY
by Helen Fielding

WILD CHILD
by Molly O'Keefe

UNFORGETTABLE
by Alison Kent
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CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY IN ROMANCE!
 Is it that time of year already? When you see Christmas-themed titles in your to-buy list, you know we're getting to the festive end of the year!
HOLIDAY KISSES

THE CHRISTMAS HE LOVED HER
by Juliana Stone

CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS
by Susan Wiggs
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SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW
by Sarah Morgan

TAKE ME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
by Brenda Novak

A VIRGIN RIVER CHRISTMAS
by Robyn Carr
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Nine naughty questions with AINSLIE PATON
AINSLIE PATON One of Escape Publishing's launch authors, Ainslie Paton made her way to my autobuy list with Grease Monkey Jive, a romance between a surfer and a ballroom dancer. Her latest release, Detained, is one of our featured titles this month - scroll up to see what I loved about this book! Ainslie is currently traipsing through the land of croissants, but she was able to spare some time to share some of her thoughts on writing, reading and her latest book, Detained . You can find out more about Ainslie by visiting her website or following her on Twitter at @AinsliePaton.
1. Headless washboard abs, a torrid embrace, the sprawling homestead, an elegantly dressed décolletage, or the vaguely kinky object against a dark background - what's your favourite type of romance cover and why?

I'll take F, none of the above. And I speak with some authority having met Fabio. The covers that speak most to me offer something a little different, because how many headless torsos, no matter how attractively headless they are, can you take before it's - yawn - just another headless torso?

Same goes for a rakishly angled Akubra hat, or a strand of pearls wound around a wine glass in the manner of seduction or possibly careless disregard.

But here's the rest of the alphabet on covers, and I speak as someone who has done her own - not involving Fabio - they are flipping difficult to do well.

The kind of covers I love best don't tend to chase trend, and bring a style of their own. The Kit Rocha Beyond series comes to mind.

2. What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?

Oh such mindlessly boring things: sweat, toil, dandruff, typos. Look, the thing about the secret life of a writer is that's it's like Fight Club. It's er, secret, or in my case, so mind-numbingly boring you'd beg me to keep it locked up, buried, and burn the treasure map.

I do, however, have a special relationship with my keyboard. I call him Spencer and I caress his shiny black alphabet lavishly, ceaselessly, with exquisite attention to the letters he most likes touched. The A, that sexy little x. When I give him an em dash he positively... But, seriously, it's a closed door kind of thing. I don't type and tell.

3. At the heart of a romantic story is the way in which the main characters reveal their true natures to each other. How much of yourself do you put into your characters, and have their stories been affected by your personal experiences?
   
There's not a whole lot of me in my stories. Mostly because I'd like them to be unputdownable and my own real life is more wallflower than wow. But like a good wallflower I like to watch. I'm also a scavenger, a memory hoarder and a make-stuff-up junkie. But experiences, places, impressions leak through. Some consciously, like Shanghai, the setting for Detained, some without permission, like the issue of equal opportunity in the workplace in Desk Jockey Jam. What gets a free pass, however, is the idea that I can be a little superhero-like on the page. I get to right wrongs, punish egregious harm and give the underdog their day.

All the really good stuff I've never been quick enough to say in the heat of the moment under threat gets to be said with as much eloquence as limitless drafts can muster.

4. I'm interested in how you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?

Romance readers have always been slightly naughty. They've read books that have been banned and burned, and passed hand to hand in secret. Naughty has a definition tempered by time and while Fifty Shades made more erotic writing more widely consumed, it didn't invent a genre. Heroines have been tied up and dominated and mastered in all the various forms of escapist literature over the ages. Naughty has a fashion too, and right now that fashion is to be more explicit, but not all explicit writing is erotic and not all erotic writing is romantic.

As a reader I want a story. If the story is enhanced by erotic writing, I'm happy. If it's not, then I'm way less engaged with tab C slots into tab D while tabs E and H watch and tab G is next.

Porn exists in a different realm, one where story is deliberately superficial and largely inconsequential. It doesn't stand a chance against romance, erotic or otherwise.

5. Please tell us about your latest novel! Did you have a secret alternative title while you were writing it?

Click here for details or to order Detained was always going to be called Detained - even though that's not a title that signals romance, it was a core theme of the story. Two people who are brought together consistently in uncomfortable situations but despite their surroundings pull towards each other, with some disastrous consequences.

I've always been fascinated by the way you can tell a stranger the most intimate things about yourself. Things you wouldn't admit to a friend That was the initial proposition for the story. Strangers who confide, but then find their anonymity compromised and their secrets turned back on each other. The story is about avoidance and lies, manipulation and compromise and ultimately how love can deliver the greatest truths.

Yeah, it's a little twisty, but that was the plan.

It's also suspenseful and that was a surprise to me. I didn't sit down to write a romantic suspense, but that's what happened.

6. What's the most memorable reaction you've received after a friend or family member read one of your books?

A four letter word. It rhymes with truck. It was said with great affection to describe the heart stopping nature of the ride.

7. Romance writers are sometimes denigrated and asked when they'll write 'real' books - what do you tell the haters?

Since I write commercially as well, it's a losing argument to start with me. I write real stuff for money every day. The doubters fall apart pretty quickly when you explain the sheer size of the industry.

8. Romance readers love discovering new authors. Please tell us about five books you recently read and loved to bits.

Mary Ann Rivers, The Story Guy: Hand over heart gorgeously written novella about a librarian and a wanted ad. It's all about the kissing.

Hugh Howey, Wool: Not a romance, but a cleverly envisaged alternative world.

Veronica Roth, Divergent and Insurgent: New Adult with a real difference. The next Hunger Games. Strong romantic elements.

Laini Taylor, Days of Blood and Starlight and Daughter of Bone and Smoke: Fantastical flight of imagination, a new vision of angels and demons and impossible love.

Gillian Flynn
, Gone Girl : Whoa, talk about unreliable narrators. Spin out.

Amor Towles, Rules of Civility: Beautifully mannered story about a woman making her way through life and love in New York in the 30s.

Charlotte Stein, Run to You: Part erotic escape, part fairy tale. Deeply engaging first person point of view.

More than five, not even scratching the surface of the great stuff from talented writers that's out there.

9. Please tell us your favourite scene from your latest book, and why it's particularly delicious!


There is a coming home scene, where my hero, Will, utterly unravels. He's been through hell, suffered horribly, and then screwed up badly. He's wrecked. All he wants to do is hide from the world and try to come to terms with what he's lost and how different his life is going to be.

Then she arrives. He's distrustful and reticent and so filled with longing for Darcy he comes undone a little more. And then she pulls all his fears apart and challenges him to face them.

There's a creek, some demands, some skinny dipping and Will's worst, most deeply held secret is exposed.

I love this scene because there is no compromise for these two, no stepping back from the hard stuff. Will thinks he is as low as it's possible to be. Darcy takes him lower still. And then she helps him build himself up again. And in that moment he knows he has to sacrifice himself for her.

PLEASE NOTE
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