Christina McKnight on why Regency romance excites her

I get the sense I’m in an AA or NA meeting every time someone says: Oh, you’re a
writer! What do you write?

Hello, I’m USA Today Bestselling author, Christina McKnight, and I
write historical romance. Narrow that down a bit, I write Regency Romance. What follows is usually wide-eyed stares that evolve into scrunched brows as people ponder what in the heck I just said. I normally go on to explain my books are set in or around London, England in 1816.

Next question is always: Why don’t you write ___ ( fill in a genre here)?

I smile and laugh as if their question isn’t utterly perplexing to me. Why
Regency? Simply because I have not found a period in history (including modern
times) that fills me with such a sense of passion, a drive to explore, and a
need to envelop myself completely in the time period.

One glimpse of Regency era fashion, decorum, and daily activities had me hooked. There is something about the mannerisms, the speech patterns and the grandness of everyday in London, England during the 1810s that holds my attention. Think about it, in 1813 a woman of the ton would never leave her home in yoga pants and gym shoes. No, by noon a woman had spent hours preparing to be seen in polite society. Their gown is selected to fit the activities on their calendar; a ride in the park, a round of social calls, or an afternoon garden party. Their hair was exquisitely coiffured to meet the rigid standards of high society. Shoes, stockings, gloves, handbag, hat, jewelry, face powder, and parasol were selected to match each gown.

And do not get me started on gentlemen of the period. Swoon. They lived
and breathed manners, at least in front of a lady. They knew when to offer their
arm or collect a refreshment for a woman. But they were not opposed to a round
of boxing or a fencing match. They never turn down a card game, enjoyed the
occasional carriage race, and were certainly not above challenging another man
to a duel to avenge the honor of a woman they love.

At least these are the men and women I enjoy creating in my Regency romance novels.

Why Regency?

The true question is, why NOT Regency?

About Christina McKnight

Christina McKnight

Christina McKnight is a book lover turned writer. From a young age, her mother encouraged her to tell her own stories. She’s been writing ever since. Currently, she focuses on Historical Romance.

Christina enjoys a quiet life in Northern California with her family, her wine, and lots of coffee. Oh, and her books…don’t forget her books! Most days she can be found writing, reading, or traveling the great state of California.

Craven House | Lady Forsaken | Lady Archer’s Creed

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Lorraine Heath talks about WHEN THE MARQUESS FALLS

On the eve of her latest release, WHEN THE MARQUESS FALLS, Lorraine Heath chatted with reviewer Miranda Owen about writing historical romances, her favorite characters, and who she reads to escape.

Occasionally, in one of my online book groups, the question comes up
asking which books make you teary-eyed. My first instinct is to say that I
usually avoid reading romances that do just that – but then I remember that your books frequently tear me up and I adore them. Since so many of your books – THE VISCOUNT AND THE VIXEN included – have such a strong emotional pull, do you intend for readers to have a visceral reaction to them as they’re reading along? Do you enjoy reading books like that as well?

Lorraine Heath: I do hope that readers “feel” something when
they are reading my books. When I first started writing romance, I had a goal—I
wanted to make the reader smile at least once…and to tear up. So many of the
books I love to read always make me experience some sort of emotion—joy, sorrow, happiness—while I’m reading them. My very favorites make me smile, laugh, cry, sigh. When I read I want to totally immerse myself in the story…and I try to bring that same sort of immersion to my writing.

I love the chemistry between Killian and Portia. Is it sometimes
difficult finding that spark between two characters, or is that the first thing
that strikes you when you begin writing a story?

Lorraine Heath: I’ve written a couple of books where it seemed
more difficult to find that spark but for me, the seed for a story usually
begins with the characters so I see them and how they are going to react to each
other long before I know what is going to happen around them.

In any book in which secrets play a big part in the story like THE VISCOUNT AND THE VIXEN, I always feel a little anxiety waiting for the secrets to be revealed and the fallout that comes from having the secrecy discovered. What compels you to tell a story about characters with deep dark secrets?

Lorraine Heath: I have a degree in psychology so I’ve always
been interested in studying people’s motivations and secrets. Very often it’s
those secrets that motivate us the most. What we don’t easily share about
ourselves tells us more about ourselves than what we easily share. So I like to
dig around in my characters’ pasts, dreams, hearts and figure out what makes
them the way they are. And when I discover a little secret, so much the better.
To be honest, the secret doesn’t always come to me until I’m in the midst of
writing.

In so many of your books, I feel like the characters’ lives and the
situations they get themselves into – or are put into by circumstances beyond their control – are so tangled that, if the story wasn’t written by an author I know and trust, I would find it difficult to believe a happy ending was possible. Why do you seem to enjoy writing about characters in such moments of crisis? Has there been any of your stories that have proved the most challenging to get your characters out of trouble?

Lorraine Heath: I love the challenge of writing a story that
makes me push the edges of my creativity. And where I can, I try not to take the
easiest path. If I have a heroine who likes two men, it’s easier if one of them
is a jerk. But if they are both decent guys then the fun part is figuring out
what it is about one of them that makes him perfect for her. I find all stories
difficult to write, especially the ending, because I’ve brought the reader along
on the journey and I don’t want her—or him—to be disappointed.

I found WAKING UP WITH THE DUKE challenging because I knew the husband would have to die but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get my hero and heroine past that. Originally I envisioned them not getting together until after the baby was born…but it didn’t feel right as I got to know the characters better. A lot of times what I originally think is the way I’ll resolve the conflict or end the story changes once I get to know the characters better.

Since many of your books have such an intensity about them, is there any
topic that you’d deem too dark to write about, or some circumstance, or aspect of a hero or heroine that you’d say was off limits?

Lorraine Heath: I can’t think of anything offhand. I’d probably consider something really dark as an intriguing challenge to make the topic/subject palatable to a reader. I can have darkness in my characters’ backgrounds without making them or the story necessarily dark.

In THE VISCOUNT AND THE VIXEN, the hero’s father the Marquess of Marsden is a man haunted by his love for his first wife. I love the “Miss Havisham” touches like the stopped clocks and closed rooms. Such a character is fascinating to read about, but what makes such a character interesting to write about?

Lorraine Heath: It’s interesting to find ways to portray the character so he’s intriguing to readers. From the beginning with Marsden, I wanted to show him in a way that left some doubt as to whether he was truly insane. Or was his wife haunting the moors? Finding ways to depict him that might leave unanswered questions made it fun to write him.

In March, you’re releasing a prequel e-novella story starring
the Marquess of Marsden featuring his early years and romance with his now late wife. Had you always intended to tell his story in that way? As with any kind of prequel I am obsessed with timelines. Can you say approximately how long Marsden and his wife were together before she died giving birth?

Lorraine Heath: I had not originally planned to write his story
but as I was writing THE VISCOUNT AND THE VIXEN, and Marsden revealed little bits about his wife, I realized I wanted more than those tidbits. I tossed the
idea out to my editor and she was all for it—so I wrote the novella. They were
married for four years, which I realize isn’t very long but they loved a
lifetime during those years.

Since you’ll be coming out with another installment in your Scandalous
Gentlemen of St. James
series in May, what inspired you to take this detour and writes these Hellions of Havisham books?

Lorraine Heath: When I finished writing THE DUKE AND THE LADY IN
RED
, I didn’t really have an idea for any more scandalous gents but the
Hellions were knocking on my office door, letting me know they had stories. Then when I finished writing their stories, Rexton popped in to let me know he was willing to talk. All that is a little tongue-in-cheek, but not too much. As I
mentioned before, the characters usually come to me first and until I see the
hero and heroine, I find it difficult to sit down and start writing a story

A frequent topic of discussion in my online book groups is what we, as
readers, drives us crazy about the genre we love – whether it’s technical
inconsistencies, or issues with a specific type of character. What are some
things about historical romance, or other types of romances that bug you?

Lorraine Heath: I want to understand why the hero and heroine
fell in love. I want to see them falling in love, so I’ll be disappointed if the
author doesn’t show me that aspect of the story. I recently read a book where
the heroine was constantly rude to the hero—when he didn’t deserve the rudeness. So I didn’t understand why he expressed any interest in her, continued to help her when she ran into trouble, or why she went to bed with him. I want to see the characters fall in love; I want to experience it, to know they will have their happily ever after because I’ve “seen” what they mean to each other

I know it might be extremely difficult to choose, but which are your
favorite books that you’ve written? Favorite characters?

Lorraine Heath: Oh, oh, oh…very hard. I really like THE
VISCOUNT AND THE VIXEN, THE DUKE AND THE LADY IN RED, WAKING UP WITH THE DUKE. Some of my favorite characters are Jack Dodger and Olivia, Rafe Easton and Evelyn, Edward Alcott and Julia…I could go on and on. Whatever book I’m writing at the moment has to be my favorite, the characters my favorite—otherwise, why am I telling their story?

I was so happy when you finally wrote a story for William Graves in your
Scoundrels of St. James series. Are there any supporting characters that you wish you would’ve been able to devote a book of their own to, or to expand on that you haven’t yet for whatever reason?

Lorraine Heath: At the moment, I’ve written a story for every character that I have a story for—except for Rawley Cooper from my Leigh Brothers trilogy. I’d like to write his story and I hope to in the near future. It’s a matter of finding time and deciding if what I’d originally planned for his story is what his story should be. My main concern is that readers have waited 20 years for his story and after all that time, they’ve probably imagined their own stories for him. Is it possible to write a story that won’t disappoint?

It’s hard to pick a favorite story in your Scoundrels of St. James series, but I loved the mystery/romance balance in MIDNIGHT PLEASURES WITH A
SCOUNDREL
. Some of the imagery made me think of the classic Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo. Do you think in the future you might write a book or series with similar specifically Gothic and mystery elements, centered around one character or couple – like Stephanie Laurens’ Casebook of Barnaby Adair series? I enjoyed AN INVITATION TO SEDUCTION for similar reasons.

Lorraine Heath: Thank you. I was thinking of Alfred Hitchcock while writing that story. I knew who the hero would be. The first time I saw the heroine, she was sitting on the train, staring at her reflection in the window. Then her sister spoke, asked her question—and I was like, whoa! How did they get there and where do they go from there? That one had some elements of my not knowing exactly how I was going to get the couple together. But I don’t see myself writing multiple books with the same characters. That said, you will meet James Swindler’s son in the next Scandalous Gents book and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he’s following in his dad’s footsteps. His story is tweaking at the back of my mind, and it may have some mystery to it.

Do you currently have plans to, or think you ever might, write more
historical romances set in the US?

Lorraine Heath: I would like to, but I’m not currently contracted to and I’m still having a lot of fun with my British historicals.

I’ve heard that some authors don’t tend to read books in the same genre
or sub-genre they themselves write in. What are some of your favorite books and authors?

Lorraine Heath: Historicals are my first love when it comes to romance. I’ll read anything by Lisa Kleypas, Sarah MacLean, Loretta Chase, Valerie Bowman, Kelly Bowen. For contemporary I turn to Addison Fox, Julie Anne Long, Sophie Jordan, Linda Howard, and, of course, Nora Roberts.

What are you working on right now? Do you plan on writing a story in
the future about Portia’s friend Sophie?

Lorraine Heath: I’ve thought of writing a novella for Sophie. I don’t know if she has enough story for an entire book—but who knows? I’m currently working on a new series, that’s presently untitled, and will introduce a new set of characters to my readers. I’m not really far enough along yet to say more about it because I’m not really sure where the stories are going to take me. The first book will be out in 2018.

Lorraine Heath: Thank you so much for the intriguing questions and taking the time to ask me about my stories.

About Lorraine Heath

Lorraine Heath

Lorraine Heath always dreamed of being a writer. After graduating from the University of Texas, she wrote training manuals, press releases, articles, and computer code, but something was always missing. In 1990, she read a romance novel and became not only hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels and rogues. She’s been writing about them ever since, for both adult and young adult readers (as Rachel Hawthorne).

Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards including RWA’s
RITA®, a HOLT medallion, a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, and several Texas Gold Awards. Her novels have appeared on bestseller lists, including USA Today, Waldenbooks, and most recently, the New York Times.

London’s greatest lovers |
Scoundrels of St. James
| Lost Lords of Pembrook
| Rogues & Roses | Scandalous Gentlemen of St.
James
| Hellions of
Havisham

WEBSITE |

Kat Gamble | The Wonderful Chaos of Weddings

Marriage. Commitment. Forever. These words go hand in hand when you think about weddings and they conjure up images of white dresses, tuxedos, friends, family, beautiful locations, nit-picked details and, of course, heightened emotions.

And I’m not just talking about the wedding party.

Having been to my fair share of weddings as part of the party and as a guest I
can say that without a doubt that there is all kinds of crazy that happens at
these events. My own wasn’t without it’s hiccups. Our attempt at a low key, drama free celebration turned into anything but. Besides tripping as I walked (or should I say stumbled) down the aisle and bursting into nervous giggles as I tried to say my vows, my new brothers in law who don’t see eye to eye at the best of times couldn’t keep it together and got into an argument at the reception which then turned into a fight which of course ended up involving the food. If that wasn’t enough, our escape from the family drama turned into one of a different kind when we came home to find that our house had been covered with toilet paper and graffiti by an angry and vindictive ex. Not exactly the wedding of anyone’s dreams. So, yeah, when I talk about weddings that stray way off the plotted path, I have a little insight on the subject.

What I love to write about when it comes to nuptials is the complex mix of
emotions everyone has going into a wedding whether or not they are the ones
taking the plunge. There’s just so much of it, good or bad and even sometimes
mixed. How that not be worth some exploring?

To date, I’ve written about two destination weddings from the point of view of
the guests. In FUEL TO THE FIRE, the hero and heroine are exes brought together serendipitously, and quite contentiously, by a wedding. As things get physical and they begin to unravel their past, old emotions come into play. Secrets come out. The things they’ve believed for years change. They, and their relationship, change. The story is complicated and the characters go through so much to get their happy ending.

This time around I’ve written a story that’s much lighter, fun and contained in
one day. In PLAYING DIRTY, Olivia and Rafe are in Brazil on a picturesque beach at a luxurious, sun drenched resort as part of their respective best friends’ wedding party. Obligated to be there, they go along with their friends’ obvious and rather embarrassing attempts to bring the estranged couple back together. All the while, even with all the scheming, Olivia and Rafe enjoy themselves. All the time spent together flirting and the teasing is bound to bring up some old feelings, right? That’s what their friends are hoping!

It was so much fun (and maybe a little cathartic) to write a couple who are
having a good, if strange, time at such a beautiful wedding where everything
goes to plan!

PLAYING DIRTY by Kait Gamble

Playing Dirty

FROM POPULAR ROMANCE AUTHOR KAIT
GAMBLE

Sometimes the only way to get what you
want is to play a little dirty…

Olivia just wanted to give her best friend the best wedding experience and was fully prepared that her own devastatingly handsome polo-playing ex, Rafael, would be there too. What she didn’t expect was that all their friends would use the occasion to try to push her and Rafael back together.

Rafael just wanted to get through the event with a little dignity, but since his teammates got it into their heads that he and Olivia are meant to be, things have become a little complicated.

Their friends aren’t going to let anything get in the way of bringing Olivia and Rafe together—not even the couple in question.

Romance Contemporary
[Totally Bound Publishing, On Sale: March 21,
2017, e-Book,  ]

About Kait Gamble

Kait Gamble

Read. Escape. Fall in love.

Kait was born and raised in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest and started writing to entertain herself during the long winters as a child. Insatiably curious with a love of learning new things, she picked up many random
skills including three languages, and two martial arts. After travelling three continents (the other four are on her bucket list), she settled in England with her family where she spends most of her time cultivating her daughter’s love of reading and writing, scribbling ideas on every available scrap of paper and trying out dialogue on her cat.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK |
TWITTER | GOOGLEPLUS | PINTEREST

Shae Ross | Finding the inspiration for BOTTOM OF THE SKY

Here’s the quirky mix of inspiration behind my new release, BOTTOM OF THE SKY:

THE GOLD COAST, by Nelson DeMille

When I finished writing my last book, Rush, I took about a month off to binge
read. A friend of mine recommended this book. It tells the story of Long Island
attorney John Sutter, who lives a posh life with his beautiful and extremely
rich wife, Susan, until a mafia crime boss moves into the mansion next door.
Reading this book made me realize how much fun I could have writing about a
family engaged in organized crime and my brain started plotting.

The documentary COUNTERFEIT CULTURE

I wanted my crime family to be involved in something different. This documentary opened my eyes to the dangerous business of fake goods and I started to develop my plot around this theme. We’ve all seen the street vendors selling knock off sunglasses and designer purses, but the world of counterfeiting is much darker and deadlier than think the average person realizes.

The Port of Seattle

One of the many factors that add to the huge personality of Seattle is the
shipping docks at the Port of Seattle. I’ve always wondered “what’s in all those
stacked cargo containers and what happens at nighttime in those shipping yards?” What a perfect setting for intrigue and suspense!

The Skykomish River

The Skykomish River is about an hour North of Seattle. The river offers a
paradise of outdoor fun—fishing, kayaking, hiking, and biking. My alpha hero,
John Rossi, has the street smarts of a city boy who was raised in a rough
Seattle neighborhood, but the heart and physique of a mountain man. The bottom of the Sky River is at first a source of tragedy for John Rossi. But in the end it’s where he finds his salvation.

BOTTOM OF THE SKY by Shae Ross

Bottom of the Sky

Tragedy set his course for revenge. One woman stands
in his way.

John
The last thing I need is to be saddled with the on-the-run niece of the family I’m about to take down. Gianna Silva wants me to help her find her missing mother.But I’ve got bigger fish to fry–namely, her cousins Stefano and Santos Silva. I’m working on the inside,feeding information to the FBI, and
I’m about to drop the net on their ring of
counterfeiters. To keep Gianna out of my way, I’ve agreed to help her but under one condition: What I say goes. No questions. No push back. I make the rules.

The problem is Gianna Silva doesn’t know the meaning of the word
“rule” and she’s on to me. For two years, I’ve hidden my true identity behind a wall built from stone-cold revenge. I thought it was indestructible–especially against someone with the last name of Silva–the family I’ve vowed
to destroy…

Gianna
If I could find my missing mom by myself I would, but the only enemies she’s ever had are my dead father and his powerful family. Confronting the Silvas alone is too dangerous. I need an insider who knows how to play their game. John Rossi,with his cool, bad-boy confidence and access to the family is my best hope. I’ve bargained away the last dollar in my savings account in exchange for his help,but I’m beginning to think I made a deal with the devil.

I didn’t expect his rules to include sharing a cabin–and a bedroom with him–northwest of Nowheresville. I don’t trust him, or my attraction to him. But to find my mom, I’ll break everyone of his damn rules, regardless of the consequences…

Romance Contemporary [Author Self-Published, On Sale: March 19, 2017,
e-Book,  ]

About Shae Ross

Shae Ross

Shae Ross was born and raised in Ferndale, Michigan. After graduating high school, Ms. Ross attended Michigan State University and continued her education
at Detroit College of Law. Prior to 2014, she spent the majority of her career practicing corporate law, running a successful business and engaged in entrepreneurial ventures.

After having one too many stressful days at the office, Ms. Ross began to consider pursuing her lifelong dream of writing.

Armed with an English degree, an interest in historical settings and a huge collection of romance novels, Ms. Ross put pen to paper and began converting the characters in her head to ink. She soon found herself happily immersed in a new working world that included heroes and heroines, agents and editors, and a multitude of secondary characters.

Ms. Ross’ debut novel, PRETTY SMART GIRLS – LACE UP released in January of 2015. The second book in the series, PRETTY SMART GIRLS – FEARLESS is set to release in July of 2015. She currently writes in the new adult and contemporary romance genres and lives with her husband and three children in Holt, Michigan.

Pretty Smart Girls

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | BLOG | TWITTER

Cozy Corner | Spring is HERE!

It’s almost here! Can you feel it? Can you smell it in the air? Well, you can definitely see it in all the fresh new cozies popping up everywhere! Take a moment in your day to stop and savor the mysteries—they’re bright, they’re charming, and they’ll lead you on an exciting chase for a killer.

AND THEN THERE WERE NUNS by Kylie Logan

League of Literary Ladies #4

And Then There Were Nuns

The national bestselling author of The Legend of
Sleepy Harlow
returns to South Bass Island, where the
League of Literary Ladies has to find out who’s killing off
nuns.

B and B owner Bea Cartwright has taken on
the responsibility of taking meals to ten visiting nuns, who
are on retreat at the Water’s Edge Center for Spirit and
Renewal on picturesque South Bass Island on Lake Erie. But
the peace of the retreat is shattered when one of the nuns
is found at the water’s edge—murdered. And when a second nun
is killed, Bea and the other members of the League of
Literary Ladies—Chandra, Kate, and Luella—start to wonder
about eerie parallels with the Agatha Christie mystery
classic, And Then There Were None.
 
Since Bea has the trust of the sisters,
the local chief of police asks her and the other Literary
Ladies to interview each of them. Expecting a confession may
be asking for a miracle, but Bea hopes she can at least find
the killer before another nun gets crossed off the guest list…

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: March 1, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425282953 / eISBN: 9780698407282]

KERNEL OF TRUTH by Kristi Abbott

Popcorn Shop Mystery #1

Kernel of Truth

An all-new Popcorn Shop Mystery bursts on the scene,
featuring gourmet popcorn entrepreneur Rebecca Anderson and
her poodle Sprocket.

Opening a gourmet popcorn
shop was never on Rebecca Anderson’s bucket list. But after
a failed marriage to a celebrity chef, she’s ready for her
life to open up and expand. She has returned to her hometown
of Grand Lake, Ohio, with her popcorn-loving poodle Sprocket
to start a new business—naturally called POPS. As a
delicious bonus, Cordelia “Coco” Bittles, a close family
friend who has always been like a grandmother to Rebecca,
owns the chocolate shop next door, and the two are thinking
of combining their businesses.

But when
Coco’s niece, Alice, discovers her on the floor of her
chocolate shop, those dreams go up in smoke. The local
sheriff thinks Coco was the victim of a robbery gone wrong,
but Rebecca isn’t so sure. As suspects start popping up all
over, Rebecca is determined to turn up the heat and bring
the killer to justice in a jiffy!

Mystery Cozy | Mystery Culinary [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: March 1, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425280911 / eISBN: 9780698193857]

Read KERNEL OF TRUTH- you won’t regret it!

MRS. JEFFRIES WINS THE PRIZE by Emily Brightwell

Mrs. Jefferies #34

Mrs. Jeffries Wins the Prize

Mrs. Jeffries is back in the New York Times
bestselling Victorian series, perfect for fans of Downton
Abbey.

NIPPED IN THE
BUD

The ladies of the Mayfair
Orchid and Exotic Plant Society are known for a bit of
friendly rivalry, but the backstabbing has never been
literal—until now. When Hiram Filmore, an orchid hunter and
supplier, is found dead in Mrs. Helena Rayburn’s
conservatory, Inspector Witherspoon is called in to weed out
a murderer.

When it comes out that Mrs.
Rayburn and her flowery friends knew each other from long
ago, Mrs. Jeffries begins to suspect that there’s more to
unearth about this case than meets the eye. Now she, along
with the rest of Inspector Witherspoon’s household and
friends, will have to dig up the past to figure out which
gardening gentlewoman had a grudge worth killing for…

A Mrs. Jeffries Mystery

She
keeps house for Inspector Witherspoon . . . and keeps him on
his toes. Everyone’s awed by his Scotland Yard successes—but
they don’t know about his secret weapon. No matter how messy
the murder or how dirty the deed, Mrs. Jeffries’ polished
detection skills are up to the task . . . proving that
behind every great man there’s a woman—and that a
crimesolver’s work is never done.

NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED!

Mystery Historical | Mystery Cozy [Berkley, On Sale: March 1, 2016, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425268117 / eISBN: 9781101624357]

RIPE FOR MURDER by Carlene O’Neil

Cypress Cove #2

Ripe for Murder

From the author of One Foot in the Grape—a new
full-bodied Cypress Cove mystery that is certain to delight,
even if one wine lover is about to expire…

Penny Lively loves running her family’s winery, but to keep
business growing, she needs to find a way to attract more
guests. When she’s approached to invest in a new train line
through wine country, Penny and her intoxicating winery
manager, Connor, hightail it to a lavish resort to hear the
details. Unfortunately, her neighbor’s daughter, Chantal, is
also there, swirling up trouble by flirting with the married
investors—and with Connor too.

When one of the investors’ wives is murdered, Chantal, who
was seen fighting with the woman, is the prime suspect.
Chantal may be a sour grape, but she’s no killer. So Penny,
who’s become a sleuthing connoisseur, starts sniffing out
the real suspect—and discovers that her fellow potential
investors have been savoring more than their share of deadly
secrets…

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: March 1, 2016, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425274026 / eISBN: 9780698154346]

Until next time, get cozy and read on!

Kym Roberts is a retired detective sergeant who looks for passion, mystery and suspense in every book she reads and writes. She can be found on the web at kymroberts.com, on Facebook and on Twitter. Look for her newest release, FLIRTING WITH THE DEVIL, A Noble Pass Affaire Novella available now.

Kendra C. Highley | All’s Fair in Love and Baseball

There are three things I really love: baseball season, a good book, and a
swoon-worthy love story. So, writing the Suttonville Sentinels series has been a dream come true in a way. The second book SWINGING AT LOVE, features
a couple I fell in love with right away. Alyssa is practical, because she has to
be, but dreams of a little magic in her life. Tristan is driven, but gets lost
and needs an anchor to keep him from drifting. Putting a sassy ballerina
together with a “lost his swagger” ball player turned out to be its own kind of
magic. These two need each other, even though they don’t know it.

Anyone who participates in an activity that requires high skill—whether that’s
sports, or dance, music, or art—knows that losing your swing/step/sense of
rhythm is one of the most difficult things you’ll face. Finding a muse to bring
your skills back online? Priceless. When you think of some of the best sports
romances, the muse tends to be regular trope. Take one of my favorites: TIN
CUP
. If you haven’t seen it, it’s hilarious. Kevin Costner is a washed up golf pro with the skills to make the tour, but a temperament that won’t let him play it safe. Cue epic fall. Then he meets Rene Russo’s character, who happens to be a psychologist. Not only do they fall in love—she provides that anchor he needs to stay the course.

Then again, I find romance in baseball itself. There’s a grace to the game, a
nostalgia, a legacy. Seriously—have you noticed how many guys propose at
baseball games over other sports? You’re outside in gorgeous spring weather…that’s bound to make anyone think of love. And there’s the jumbotron,
ready to run a kisscam. Maybe that’s why I love writing about baseball players.

Or it could be their arms. Because, come on.

So here’s to training camp, the start of the 2017 baseball season, new love, and
ballpark nachos. See you at the game….

About Kendra C. Highley

Kendra C. Highley

Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to four self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most critical job. She believes in everyday magic, extraordinary love stories, and the restorative powers of dark chocolate.

Suttonville Sentinels

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Lindsey Frydman | Why We Need New Adult Books

When new adult books exploded a handful of years ago, writers jumped at the
chance to explore this new category. Most of these authors self-published and
became extremely well known. Then as other authors jumped on the bandwagon, many did so thinking it might be a “get rich quick” scheme. Because of this, the quality of new adult books went down. Readers became disappointed with the overused plot lines that exist in a lot of NA. Even I’ve reduced the amount of NA I read. It’s gotten a bad reputation, which is why almost no agents want these stories and most publishers don’t either. I’ve also heard readers say they don’t read NA because the stories are all the same: predictable contemporary romance with lots of sex.

I might agree with the predictability of many NA plots. But I disagree when it
comes to claiming the NA category was created simply as a way to add more sex
into young adult books and ‘get away with it’. First of all, there’s sex in YA,
too. And not all NA stories include sex. (Imagine that!)

I’ve read tons of new adult books. (Most of them straight romance.) And yes,
I’ve grown bored with the overused plots that frequently occur—even ones written by my favorite authors. But how is this any different than the similarities within YA books? Vampires had their run. So did apocalyptic/dystopian worlds. As did the “chosen one” stories. My question is this: why can’t everyone see the need for the NA category—and the need for other genres of NA.

We have books for young children, middle-grade kids, young adults, and adults.
But what about the things that happen to you when you’re between eighteen and twenty-five? A LOT. Do you remember that time in your life when you were first set free from your parents and thrown into a whole new world all by yourself? Or maybe you’re going through that stage right now. It seems unfair to say NA isn’t sellable anymore when there are still plenty of readers buying them. Readers need and want to experience all types of stories, with characters in every age category.

In my NA contemporary romance, THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS,
the main characters never have sex. Sure, they kiss and get pretty freaking
close to having sex, but don’t. Why? Because the plot didn’t require the
sex—there’s plenty of romance and other subplots going on. I’m not saying sex
shouldn’t occur as much as it does in NA books. I’m simply saying that to
believe NA is merely sexed-up YA is…well, not true. My story isn’t simply a
romance filled with sex scenes. I added in some plot twists and as much emotion
as I could pack in there because I wanted to write a story that explored more
than simply the romance angle. My book has romance as well as the characters
dealing with grief and loss, survivor’s guilt, and extremely unique circumstances.

On too many occasions to count, I considered aging THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS down to young adult. If I had, I probably would’ve found an agent with it. (One was even interested in representing me if I aged it down.) But aging it down meant taking my main character, Audra, out of college, putting her back home with her parents, and giving her “teenage issues”. And none of those things would’ve done her story any justice. And based on the early reviews I’ve received, I’m glad I kept it as a NA book.

One reviewer said:

“Reading THE HEARTBREAK HYPOTHESIS is like hearing a new
voice that speaks out for teenage angst that’s fully captured in its powerful, moody glory. But the subjects that Lindsey Frydman deals with here are difficult, heavy and weighed down with the solemnity of death, life and deception.”

NA stories are necessary—it’s an important time in your life, and there’s so
much more going on than just a ‘boy meets girl, then they have lots of sex’.
It’s about discovering who you are on your own, dealing with new responsibilities, and finding your place and purpose in life. Everyone
eventually goes through this stage, so why would we not want books that
represent this age category? I can only hope that readers and publishers take
another look at how important new adult stories can be.

About Lindsey Frydman

Lindsey Frydman

Lindsey has been writing since she was nine years old, when she discovered the awesomeness that is Harriet the Spy. Her books always include a romance, though sometimes there’s an added sci-fi or magical realism twist. She lives in Columbus, Ohio (where the weather is never quite right). Her BFA in Photography and Graphic Design has granted her a wide assortment of creative knowledge that serves as inspiration (and not much else).

When she’s not crafting YA and NA stories, you’ll likely find her spending waaay
too much time on Pinterest, playing a video game, singing show-tunes, or
performing in a burlesque show—because she enjoys giving her introversion a
worthy adversary. (Plus, it’s the closest to Broadway she’ll ever get.) Lindsey
was a proud 2016 Pitch Wars Mentee and thoroughly adores being a part of the
wonderful writing community. THE HEARTBEAT HYPOTHESIS is her debut novel.

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Casey Griffin | Six Reasons Why You Must be True to Yourself (And Your Date)

In SECRETS OF A RELUCTANT PRINCESS, Andy finds her escape from her embarrassing life through live action role-playing. Hidden from the cameras and away from the pressure at school, she feels like she can be herself and get closer to her crush, Kevin. Only she can’t totally be herself. She’s too afraid to take off
her mask in case he doesn’t like who he sees: the Porcelain Princess. But what
could possibly be wrong with that (famous last words—you’ll have to read it to find out…)?

What’s the trouble with pretending to be something you’re not in a
relationship? It’s exhausting.

It drains you, mentally and emotionally. It can be physically exhausting
too—Andy’s hidden secret comes with a lot of wardrobe changes. You could be
pretending that you’re more outgoing than you are, funnier, smarter, or maybe
you’re trying to hide a secret like Andy. But it’s not normal for you. It doesn’t come naturally, so you feel like you’re always “switched on” like an actor on the stage, constantly planning your next move, your next line. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

There’s a wall between you

I think people can tell when you’re not being real with them. You’re stiff, you’re unnatural, you won’t open up about things. As closely as you’re watching your every move, so is your date. If you’re not being yourself, then are they comfortable being themselves around you? They may not even be aware that anything is wrong, but they just know something isn’t clicking.

You can’t pretend forever

This person must be pretty special if you’re bending over backwards, putting on
a show for them. You really want them to like you, so you probably hope they stick around. Maybe they’re the one. If that’s the case, you can’t pretend
forever. And if they’re not the one, then why do you care so much?

It’s going to come out eventually

Once you start to introduce your significant other to friends and family,
they’ll get to know you through the eyes of others and hear their stories.
Chances are you haven’t been hiding yourself from everyone all the time. Maybe
the person you like thought they knew you, but now doubts will start to form and they’ll put the puzzle pieces together.

Do you really want someone who doesn’t want the real you?

You want to feel comfortable and confident in a relationship, not always
self-conscious and on edge. It would be awful to never feel good enough—whether they think that or it’s just in your head. You need to love yourself before anyone else can. Instead of focusing on the qualities you don’t have, take stock of what you do have, and feel proud of the person you are.

You can’t change for other people

Some people inspire us to be better people, to be kinder, friendlier, more
forgiving, or outgoing. I know my partner inspires me. Wanting to grow as a
person, to improve oneself is different than pretending to be that person. Just
make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Do it because you want it. Not
for someone else. Only if the desire for that change is in your heart will it
become part of the real you.

About Casey Griffin

Casey Griffin

Casey Griffin can often be found at comic conventions on her days off from her day job, driving 400 ton dump trucks in Northern Alberta, Canada. As a jack of all trades with a resume boasting registered nurse, English teacher, and photographer, books are her true passion. Casey is a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel finalist, and is currently busy writing every moment she can.

Rescue Dog Romance

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Jody Holford | My Favorite Bad Boys

Words are funny and powerful things. Put enough of them together and you have the ability to make some laugh, cry, or play them over in their head on repeat. When I think of the word ‘bad’, I don’t think of any of my characters really. So I started to question, what makes a bad boy, bad? As is true for many questions, there are a LOT of answers in this one little query.

To try and figure out how my BAD BOY NEXT DOOR fits in with those fictional men we love to hate and can’t help but like, I’ve made a list of some ‘bad boys’ I love to see where Wyatt Daniels fits in among them.

Raylan Givens from JUSTIFIED

United States Marshall Raylan Givens is one of the good guys, but he often makes
choices just on the boundary lines of good and bad. In essence, he does what
needs to be done to achieve his end goal. Though he makes the ladies swoon, he’s
not exactly long term commitment material. But there are times when it seems
like he wants to be.

Damon Salvatore from THE VAMPIRE DIARIES

The ultimate bad boy who falls for his brother’s girlfriend and, eventually,
gets her. He’s funny, snide, sexy as sin, and doesn’t think his non-existent
soul is worth saving.

Logan Echolls from VERONICA MARS

The broody stares and his love of renting out the penthouse suite at the hotel?
Definitely bad boy material. He’s rich and charming, but on the inside, he
thinks less of himself than anyone else could.

Jack Foley from OUT OF SIGHT

The bank robbing con who seduces the US Marshall as she shuttles him to jail. He is adorably and irresistibly charming, despite the whole thief thing.

I think Wyatt has elements of all of these men. He’s got those dark brooding
eyes that draw a woman in, though Shay’s the only one who makes him want to look back. Tall and powerful, he tries to make the right decisions, though he’s
capable of darkness if it’s for a worthy cause. He sees himself as tainted—touched by all of the bad things he’s seen and this gives him a ‘back-off’ vibe that very few people try to bust through. He believes Shay is better off with someone light and easy-going, but he can’t help wanting her and in the end, needing her.

It would appear the common theme is men who think they’re irredeemable, until they find the woman who sees through the façade—the woman who digs deeper and sees them for who they really are, or maybe once were. Whatever the case, even when they try to stop themselves, these men can fall hard. Often, like in Wyatt’s case, they end up wanting to be the man the heroine believes them to be. The reason they’re able to do that is because mixed in with the ‘bad’, is a whole lot of good.

Who are your favorite fictional bad boys? What makes you love them?

Find out more about BAD BOY NEXT DOOR

About Jody Holford

Jody Holford

Jody Holford lives in British Columbia with her family. She’s a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell, & Nora Roberts.She’s unintentionally funny and rarely on time for anything. She writes multiple genres but her favorite is romance.

Kendrick Place

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Gayla K. Hiss | First Meeting!

Enjoy an excerpt from AVALANCHE where the hero and heroine meet! First meetings are the best!

Excerpt

Fireworks exploded across the dark sky, but Jenny Snowfeather hardly noticed. The news about the cabin break-in had cast a shadow over her brother’s Fourth of July barbecue. She’d suspected a bear at first, until she learned two hunting rifles and ammo had been stolen, along with food and blankets.

A bright flash startled her.

“Watch out!” a man cried as the stray spark zoomed toward her like a small meteor.

She spun around to escape, slamming right into the man and his plate of barbecued chicken.

He grabbed her, stumbled, and pulled her with him to the ground.

A second later, the blazing miniature rocket whizzed over their heads and crashed into the lawn only a few feet away.

She squeezed her eyes shut at the near miss. When she opened them, Jenny found herself face-to-face with the handsome stranger.

His large, brown eyes stared back in surprise.

Her gaze traveled to his arm, sheltering her body.

Quickly, he withdrew it and rolled over, raising himself to his elbows. “That was a close one. Are you okay?”

She sat up and lightly brushed the grass from her blue sweater and faded jeans. “Other than a few grass stains, I’m fine.” Glancing back at him, she noticed the food plastered to his chest and smiled. “But you’re not.”

When she leaned over to flick the remnant of baked beans from his white cotton shirt, her eyes zeroed in on the holstered Glock beneath his jacket.

She drew back. “Look, I don’t know who you are or why you’re here, but nobody comes to my brother’s Fourth of July party packing a gun.”

He glanced at the exposed weapon on his belt and pulled his jacket over it. “I can explain.”

She scrambled to her feet. “Save it for Deputy Patterson. I’ll go get him.”

As she turned away, he jumped up. “Wait, Jenny, let me explain.” His voice was low and insistent.

How does he know my name?

“Are you okay, Jenny?” Billy Norton stood nearby with his grunge-style stringy hair, Nirvana T-Shirt and baggy jeans. Concern shrouded his freckled face.

The tall stranger wrapped his arm around her before she could respond. “She’s fine. Aren’t you, Jen?” He smiled at her as if they were sharing a private joke.

His bold move stunned her. And what was up with the familiar way he addressed her? No one called her Jen except her father and brother.

His disarming smile diffused her temper long enough to notice he was not much older than she, probably in his late twenties. Black, wavy hair framed his tanned, chiseled face. Like dark mirrors, his eyes flashed, pleading for her not to give him away.

She paused, then shifted her gaze to her old friend. “It’s okay, Billy.”

The crimson stain on the man’s shirt captured Billy’s attention. “What happened to you?”

The stranger glanced at his chest and returned a wry grin. “A head-on collision with a plate of barbecued chicken.”

Billy looked at Jenny. “Are you sure you’re okay with this guy?”

The man met her scrutinizing stare with an affectionate squeeze and a wink. She flinched, but the boyish gleam in his eye and his playful smile sparked her curiosity and overruled her better judgment. “Yes, I’m fine, Billy. Go on back to the party now. Don’t worry about me.”

As soon as Billy left, she turned and confronted the mystery man. “Okay. The show’s over. Now get your hands off me or you’ll wish you were packing more than that Glock.”

Like that? Then tell us your favorite first meeting in a novel and one reader will win a copy of AVALANCHE

AVALANCHE by Gayla K. Hiss

Peril in the Park

Avalanche

When Park Ranger Jenny Snowfeather runs into Deputy Marshal Chase Matthews at her brother’s Fourth of July barbecue, she suspects there is more going on in Eagle Valley, WA than fireworks. After Chase confides that he believes the fugitive who killed his partner may be hiding out in the area, Jenny is skeptical at first. But when her peaceful town is besieged with a sudden crime spree, she realizes Chase’s theory may be true.

As the manhunt advances to the rugged backcountry of North Cascades National Park, Jenny is confronted with her past mistakes. But she soon discovers the greatest threat of all is losing her heart to Chase, who is obsessed with capturing the fugitive at all costs.

Risking everything to help Chase find the man who could kill them both, Jenny’s faith is put to the test. Like an avalanche waiting to happen, their path is fraught with danger. Will the enemy get away with murder? Will Jenny and Chase reach freedom and safety, or be buried alive? They must tread carefully. One step in the wrong direction could mean the difference between life and death.

Inspirational Mystery | Romance Suspense [Mountain Brook Ink, On Sale: February 1, 2017, e-Book, / ]

About Gayla K. Hiss

Gayla K. Hiss

Gayla’s writing journey began with her hobby painting landscapes. In her imagination, characters and scenes came to life as she painted beautiful natural settings. Her inspiring novels combine her love for the great outdoors with romance, suspense and mystery. Gayla and her husband often tour the country in their RV, visiting many state and national parks. She enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling, and lives in the Pacific Northwest. She’s excited to announce the recent release of her debut novel, Avalanche, book 1 of her Peril in the Park series. Visit www.gaylakhiss.com to learn more, and connect with her on Facebook, Amazon and Goodreads.

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