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

I'll start with my most exciting news, because it can't wait: our featured author this month is none other than historical romance author Julia Quinn, who wrote one of my favourite romance series of all time, The Bridgertons. Check out her answers to our Nine Naughty Questions below!

November brings us new books from some of my favourite romance authors, including Kelly Hunter, Thea Harrison, Suzanne Enoch, Sarah Maclean and Shannon Stacey. Friends to lovers (one of my favourite romance plots) is also very popular this month. I honestly don't know how you'll find enough time to read such fab books. My advice? Buy all the books and block off a weekend for a reading marathon!

Last month, I mentioned The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion , which isn't technically a romance book, but which every romance reader I've recommended it to has loved. It's now out in the US and, sure enough, it's being recommended by the biggest names in the romance community. If you haven't already read this book, you definitely need to get your hands on it!

What I just finished: Hard As It Gets by Laura Kaye - scroll down to see what it's about.

What I'm reading now: Believe it or not, my very first Connie Brockway!

What I can't wait for : It's still a few months away, but the next Black Dagger Brotherhood book, The King, will be out in 2014 and spoilers are being released in dribs and drabs by J. R. Ward on her Facebook page. There's a new character called s'Ex! (You read that right. Do not question the crack!)

Until next month - happy reading, and may your next book be spectacular!

Kat Mayo
 
Purveyor of Book Crack (It's not illegal!)
Booktopia

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WHO CAN RESIST A FRIENDS TO LOVERS ROMANCE?
Click here for more details or to orderWHAT THE BRIDE DIDN'T KNOW
(West Family, Book 3)
by Kelly Hunter


If you haven't picked up a Kelly Hunter book, I ask you: Why not? She can turn a category trope on its head faster than you can say 'happy ending'...and make it totally work. What The Bride Didn't Know uses one of my favourites - friends to lovers - and mixes it up with a bit of amnesia and a fake marriage. Good times!

What The Bride Didn't Know has everything I love about category romance without taking anything away from the strength, integrity and vulnerability of the main characters. Trig's attempts to forestall Lena's attempts at seduction are sexy and hilarious - 'I've been revirginised,' she tells him; he tells her he's experiencing 'performance pressure'! Lena is no TSTL (too stupid to live) heroine, and I promise you that Trig will just melt your heart!

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NEVER GAMBLE WITH A CAFFARELLI
by Melanie Milburne

MISTLETOE NOT REQUIRED/HIS UNTIL MIDNIGHT
by Anne Oliver, Nikki Logan

BUNDLE OF TROUBLE/ HOW TO RESIST TEMPTATION
by Fiona Lowe, Amy Andrews
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MILLION DOLLAR CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL
by Lucy Monroe

NO DESIRE DENIED/ DRIVING HER WILD
by Cara Summers, Meg Maguire

BRINGING MADDIE HOME/THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
by Janice Kay Johnson, Tara Taylor Quinn
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CONTEMPORARY: A BROODING HERO & THE HEROINE WHO TAMES HIM
Last month I picked up Real by Katy Evans after hearing so much buzz about it. If you love the younger heroines - Brooke Dumas has just finished uni - and extremely alpha heroes - Remy Tate broods, stares hotly a lot and is an underground fighter, check out this series. Written in first person, the series begins with Brooke, who attends one of Remy's games as a spectator and eventually finds herself hired as his physiotherapist.

Evans doesn't always go deep enough for first person, but there's no denying that I found the chemistry between Remy and Brooke utterly delicious. I particularly love the way they swap music, choosing titles that mean something to them or that convey what one is feeling about the other. The story also deals with mental disorder and domestic abuse, but it's first and foremost about the sizzling connection between Brooke and Remy.

This month, the next two books in the series come out - check them out below!
MINE
by Katy Evans

REMY
by Katy Evans
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Brooke never imagined she would end up with the man who is every woman's dream, but not all dreams end happily ever after, and just when Remington needs her the most, Brooke makes a discovery that forces her away from the ringside. Now with distance and darkness between them, the only thing left is to fight for the love of the man she calls Mine.

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Switching points of view, the third book in the series is seen from Remy's eyes and expands upon the intense love story begun in Real and Mine.
 
This is his story; from the first moment he laid eyes on her and knew, without a doubt, she would be the realest thing he's ever had to fight for.

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KOWALSKI FAMILY: SECRET FLINGS & CAMPING TRIPS OF DOOM
 Click here for more details or to orderLOVE A LITTLE SIDEWAYS
(Kowalski Family, Book 7)
by Shannon Stacey


If you follow this series, you'll probably be excited to know that the next Kowalski book features the infamous annual family camping trip. That's where Liz Kowalski finds herself with Drew Miller, local police chief and her brother's best friend. Drew is looking for a relationship, not a casual fling, but life doesn't always go to plan, and willpower is no match for the attraction between him and Liz.

I'll probably talk more about this book next month, but for now, all you need to know is that this really needs to go on your auto-buy list!

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RUMOR HAS IT
by Jill Shalvis

ONCE A SEAL
by Anne Elizabeth

SUDDENLY ROYAL
by Nichole Chase
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I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
by Bella Andre

DREAM WEDDING
by Susan Mallery

LAST CHANCE KNIT & STITCH
by Hope Ramsay
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NEW ADULT: A VIRGIN AND A BARTENDER WALK INTO A BEDROOM...
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(The Ivy Chronicles, Book 1)
by Sophie Jordan


Despite the suggestive title and the sexy cover, Foreplay is more of a sexy new adult romance than erotica. But don't be fooled - it's super hot, and that's in no small way due to the hero.

Pepper's childhood crush - her best friend's brother - is finally single, and all she wants is a chance to show him they're perfect for each other. But how to get Hunter to see her as more than friends? Pepper is reluctant to follow her girlfriends' advice to practise her feminine wiles on sexy bartender Reece, but the chemistry between them is undeniable, and suddenly, Pepper has to make a choice between the man she's always dreamed of and the man who seems to have taken a piece of her heart.

The sexual tension between Pepper and Reece is fabulous ! Reece refuses to let her fall into a sexual relationship by default, insisting on her consent and participation at every point. I've read so many sex scenes by now, that I tend to get weary of them, but I didn't skip a single scene in this book.

If you love new adult romance, Foreplay hits all the sweet spots - Pepper is a virgin ('I don't do virgins,' Reece declares) and a bit of an introvert, but she happily hangs out with her friends and isn't afraid to swear when the situation calls for expletives. The conflicts between her and Reece may not always be convincing, but it was lovely to watch them gradually drop their guard, moving from pure sexual attraction to falling in love.

Oh, and did I mention that the bedroom scenes are hot???

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RUNNING BACK
(eBook edition)
by Allison Parr

JUST ONE YEAR
by Gayle Forman
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Allison Parr got a lot of buzz for her debut release, Rush Me, and now we have book 2 in the New York Leopards series.

Archaeology student Natalie Sullivan butts heads with NFL running back Michael O'Connor, who refuses to let her pursue what could be the breakthrough of her career.

Can Natalie follow her heart when it might mean losing her dream?

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This is the hotly anticipated companion novel to Just One Day, which ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. The duology is billed as 'a romantic coming-of-age', which I love, and I vote we replace the term 'new adult' immediately. There's something swoony and poignant and exciting about coming of age, and I think Gayle Forman captures that feeling so well. But be warned: this book is a genre bender - a beautiful love story, but ultimately, it's about each individual character, and there's no guarantee that they'll end up together. You'll have to read it - or sneak a peek at the ending - to find out!

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SEXY: THE HEAT IS ON - AND WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT THE WEATHER!
Click here for more details or to order THE FIFTH FAVOR
by Shelby Reed


This book is a reissue of Shelby Reed's 2004 book, originally published through Ellora's Cave, but I'm spotlighting it in this month's Buzz because I suspect that readers who discovered erotic romance in later years have missed this classic (yes, I'm calling it) of the subgenre.

Reporter Billie Cort visits Avalon, a club that caters to female pleasures, to meet Adrian, the club's most notorious escort. (How often do we see an escort hero in romance?!) Suddenly, it's not just her career on the line, but her heart. And for Adrian, whose life is marked by debauchery and emotional baggage, putting his heart on the line may just be the one thing he can't - or won't - do.

I had an original print edition of this book, and I'm kicking myself for giving it away! Despite its flaws, The Fifth Favor has a place in my heart for being a pioneer in erotic romance - it's a story that tries to find balance the explicit physical encounters required by erotica with an honest emotional connection between the characters.

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SPELLBOUND
by Sylvia Day

AFTERBURN & AFTERSHOCK
by Sylvia Day
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Die-hard Sylvia Day fans might recognise two of the stories in this anthology, which binds up A Familiar Kind of Magic and That Old Black Magic in one volume, with a bonus new novella, Black Magic Woman. And why not? Featuring dominant, growly, men and the heroines who are more than a match for them inside and outside the bedroom, this should tide you over until the next Crossfire book!

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If your Sylvia Day glom is complete and you're hankering for new stories, check out her latest novellas for the Harlequin Cosmo Red Hot Reads imprint. People say you should never mix business with pleasure ... but sometimes rules are made to be broken!

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BEAUTIFUL BEGINNING
by Christina Lauren

COLTER'S GIFT
by Maya Banks

STRIP SEARCH
by Shelley Bradley
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PARANORMAL: HARPY EVER AFTER
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(Elder Races, Book 6)
by Thea Harrison


A confession: I'm not reading as many paranormal romance books as I used to. But Thea Harrison's Elder Race series is on my auto-buy list. If you like deliciously alpha shapeshifters and heroines who give them a run for their money, these books are crack.

Sentinels Aryal and Quentin share a mutual dislike for each other, so when they're forced to work together in an important mission, it's not exactly a peaceful undertaking. But danger is afoot, and they'll have to find a way to work together to fight what threatens the Wyr. As promised by the title, Harrison turns up the heat in this book, so brace yourself - although, let's face it: no one picks up a paranormal romance expecting long walks at the beach, right?

If you've read the previous book and was put off by harpy Aryal's, well, harpiness, I guarantee that Thea Harrison will have you in her corner by the time you turn the last page.


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DARKNESS SPLINTERED
by Keri Arthur

WILD DARKNESS
by Lauren Dane

TASTE OF PASSION
(eBook edition)
by Renae Jones
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SUSPENSE: NOTHING GETS THE HEARTRATE GOING FASTER THAN A TEAM OF EX-SPECIAL FORCES HEROES
 Click here for more details or to order HARD AS IT GETS
(Hard Ink, Book 1)
by Laura Kaye


This book has: tattoos, big, tough men (in more ways than one), drug smuggling, kidnapping, and a three-legged dog named (spoiler alert!) Eileen. Becca Merritt's brother is missing and her only clue is a cryptic note to seek help from Nick Rixey, who used to serve in the Special Forces under her father. When she's almost abducted at knifepoint, Rixey offers his help - after all, finding Becca's brother might help him discover who betrayed his team and led them into a fatal ambush.

But as they dig deeper, Nick and Becca realise that they're up against a well-connected, heavily armed and deeply crooked gang of criminals. Nick will have to enlist the help of his broken team, and Becca will need to face the truth about their father in order to stay alive.

The combination of peril and inappropriate sexy times in romantic suspense usually throws me out of the story. I'm happy to say that Becca and Nick manage to find intimacy during downtimes in their investigation - and yes, they're hot together! Nick is a part-time tattoo artist, and the scene where he draws on Becca made me swoon.

This is book 1 of a series, so this book ends with some loose ends that, I assume, won't come together until the last book. But if you love tough heroes who know how to protect their heroines without being domineering, you should give this series a try!

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PASSION AND PERIL
by Suzanne Brockmann and Jill Sorenson

STRIKING DISTANCE
by Pamela Clare
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If you have yet to try Suzanne Brockmann and Jill Sorenson, this is the perfect anthology for you - 'two tales of sizzling attraction where danger is never far behind'!

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When bad things happen to Pamela Clare's characters, they get really bad. As in scary, heartbreakingly bad. Striking Distance features a reporter recovering from her experience as a terrorist hostage, the Navy SEAL who rescued her, and the danger they face in trying to uncover the truth behind her abduction. 

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WAKE TO DARKNESS
by Maggie Shayne

TAKEDOWN TWENTY by Janet Evanovich
CATCH, RELEASE/ SPY IN THE SADDLE
by Carol Ericson, Dana Marton
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HISTORICAL: NEVER ENOUGH DUKES, PIRATES OR CROSS-DRESSERS!
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by Lynsay Sands

 
Many paranormal romance readers will know Lynsay Sands through her Argeneau series, but my favourite Sands book of all time is The Switch, originally published in 1999, which I'm excited to tell you is being reissued by Avon.
   
Charlie and twin sister Elizabeth are running away from an uncle determined to marry Elizabeth off to a dodgy widower. They're discovered by the Earl of Radcliffe, who offers assistance. The plan is for Beth to have a Season and marry well before their uncle finds them.

Except Charlie is actually Charlotte, and she's the one earmarked for the nasty widower. Poor Radcliffe is discomposed to find himself with inappropriate feelings towards Charlie. And that's before Charlie and Elizabeth swap roles, Charlie gains a lady admirer, Radcliffe kisses the wrong twin, and Charlie kisses quite a few men amid all the confusion!

This is a fantastically funny book - the kind that will get you strange looks from fellow commuters for laughing out loud on a quiet bus. It's rare to find slapstick humour done well in fiction, but Sands gets it just about perfect in The Switch. This one is definitely for the keeper shelf.

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Note: Original Published 1991
THE DEVIL WEARS KILTS
by Suzanne Enoch

THE ROGUE'S PROPOSAL
by Jennifer Haymore

DANGEROUS SEDUCTION
by Zoe Archer
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THE LUCKIEST LADY IN LONDON
by Sherry Thomas

NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED
by Sarah MacLean

THE TROUBLE WITH PRINCESSES
by Tracey Anne Warren
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THE TROUBLE WITH VIRTUE
by Stephanie Laurens, Alison Delaine

LORD RAKEHELL
by Virginia Henley

THE PIRATE BRIDE
by Sandra Hill
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Nine naughty questions with JULIA QUINN
JULIA QUINN This month's feature author is one of my favourite historical romance authors, Julia Quinn. Her latest book, The Sum of All Kisses, was featured in the October Romance Buzz. If you haven't tried her books, I suggest you grab a copy of The Duke and I, the first book in the Bridgerton series. I have yet to find a single romance reader who could resist these books!

J Click here for more details or to orderulia was in Australia a couple of months ago, and I had the privilege of being able to chat with her on a couple of occasions. But I know a lot of Julia Quinn fans weren't able to make it to her signings, so it's wonderful that she has agreed to answer our Nine Naughty Questions.

And yes, she's as charming and funny in person as you'd imagine the creator of Lady Whistledown would be!

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?

Click here for more details or to orderNone of the above! I like lots of different types of covers, actually, but if forced to hoose, I'll always go for a gorgeous shoe. (Just Like Heaven is my absolute favorite of all my covers.)

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

It's all about the coffee. Seriously. Nothing gets done without coffee.

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?

I definitely put a little of myself into my characters, or at least, all my heroines.  Like Eloise, I talk too much. Like Francesca, I adore my family but sometimes need a bit of space. Lucy has my habit of counting as she walks up stairs, and all of my heroines (except Hyacinth, who had to be contrary) take their tea the same way I do-milk, no sugar. I've also been told by people who know me well that my books 'sound like me', and I think that's true. My writing voice is very similar to my personality, which isn't always the case for writers.
 
Click here for more details or to orderSome of my stories have been affected by my personal experience, but not always in the way you'd think. For example, I wrote Brighter than the Sun during a very difficult period in my life. It ended up being more laugh-out-loud funny than anything I'd done before, probably because I needed a laugh myself. I also noticed after I was done that I'd injured my characters a lot. We had burns, gunshots, sprained ankles, you name it. I think I was taking my aggression out on them.

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

In romance fiction, the most important aspect of the book is the evolving love story between the two main characters. This love story may contain fairly spicy love scenes or it may have nothing more than a kiss. Most have a sensuality level somewhere in between. Erotica differs in that the sexual relationships between the characters are more important to the story than the emotional connections. As for porn, I see that as a more visual medium.

 Click here for more details or to order5. Please tell us about your latest novel! Did you have a secret alternative title while you were writing it?

The Sum of All Kisses is the third novel in the Smythe-Smith Quartet, named for the musically-challenged quartet that has appeared in so many of my books. Years ago I wrote a scene with my characters at a musicale, and since bad music is funnier than good music, I decided to name the hapless players the Smythe-Smith Quartet and make them the worst set of amateur musicians ever. Their infamous annual musicale appeared in so many of my books (it was always such a good backdrop for conversation) that my readers began to ask for stories about the Smythe-Smith cousins.
 
The Sum of All Kisses features Lady Sarah Pleinsworth, who is a bit of a drama queen, and Lord Hugh Prentice, who is anything but. They absolutely hate each other at the outset of the book, and it was great fun to watch them first learn to like each other, and then fall in love.

6. What's the most memorable reaction you've received after a friend or Click here for more details or to orderfamily member read one of your books?

When I gave my first manuscript to my mother to read, she said, 'This is wonderful! I had no idea you were such a good writer. But it's not, you know, Judith McNaught.' To this day, my mother denies ever saying this, but come on, could I make that up?

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

I just shrug and say they feel pretty real to me. If they are that closed-minded, I donClick here for more details or to order't need their approval.

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

Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James: It's no secret I love Eloisa's books, and this one is especially fun because we did some cross-pollination of characters.
 
When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke : I was lucky to read an early copy of this one. Laura's books are always well-written and full of the most delicious sexual tension-she can steam up the pages with nothing but a kiss on the hand!Click here for details or to order
 
A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean: I bought this when it came out Cinder but didn't get around to reading it until it won Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award. Shame on me! It was wonderful.
 
Cinder by Marissa Meyer : I love dystopian fiction (even though I don't write it) and this one is especially appealing as it's got some romance and humor in it.
 
 Click here for more details or to orderCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein : Not a romance, but one of the best written and emotionally wrenching books I've ever read.

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

The secret waltzing scene. I don't know how to set it up without recounting the entire plot, but you've got a man with a permanent leg injury and a woman with a sprained ankle. It's the most awkward, wonderful, romantic dance ever.

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Mills & Boon

Brooding hero

Contemporary

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Sexy
 
Paranormal

Suspense

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