Sarah Hawthorne | Which Alpha-Hero are you spending your Valentine’s Day with?

Is he shirtless? A manipulative jerk? Or even an alpha-hole? Alphas come in all shapes and sizes and I enjoy pretty much all of them. For me, a successful alpha needs to have two qualities: direction in life, and confidence.

I don’t find someone sexy if they’re sleeping on Mom’s couch with no plans to move out. Now, if he’s sleeping on Mom’s couch because he has no money because he’s starting his own business…that is definitely more interesting and could be sexy for sure. His direction could change (hopefully based on the heroine’s influence *wink*) but he needs to have an idea of where he is going in life.

In my debut novel, ENFORCER’S PRICE, Colt knows exactly what he wants in life – redemption. He’s screwed up, been to jail, and is trying to make everything right for his motorcycle club. What he doesn’t count on, is falling in love. Krista makes him redefine his life and his goals – just like love should, am I right?

Confidence is the other quality on my very short list of requirements for an alpha hero. Maybe it’s the confidence to step out of his comfort zone in order to connect with the heroine, or talk dirty during sexy times (yum!). Whatever the alpha-hero is doing, he does it with confidence. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when he confidence is waning and we all see it – those can be the best times. Those moments when the hero loses his confidence and shows his vulnerability makes him the most endearing, but he’s got to have that confidence to start out.

My favorite moment in ENFORCER’S PRICE when Colt loses his confidence is when he is asked, publicly, to declare his feelings for Krista and he just can’t do it. You want to smack him and love him all at the same time. When he uses that confidence for some serious sexy talk, all is forgiven. True confidence paired with some down and dirty words are my favorite combination.

The trick to writing a great alpha character is to give him a heroine who is strong enough to stand up to him and be an equal partner. If the heroine isn’t equal to her alpha, then he just becomes a jerk. To make a good story with an alpha-hero, your heroine is just as important.

When I started writing a novel about a hooker, I realized that she needs to be her own hero first, and then he can help her accomplish her dreams. The most important thing for a heroine who is in love with an alpha hero is that she needs to solve her own problems in life. She might need some rescuing from time to time, but she has her own confidence and dreams and needs to accomplish them with or without her hero.

I hope you spend your Valentine’s Day with an alpha-hero on a page or in real life. If you need a suggestion, I recommend Colt from ENFORCER’S PRICE. He’s deliciously flawed with the best sexy talk around. But no matter who you choose, remember that every alpha hero needs an alpha heroine to make those sparks happen!

If you want to read more about Colt, my alpha-biker-hero who falls in love with a hooker (and he doesn’t know she’s a hooker!) take a look at ENFORCER’S PRICE.

Also, I have a contest on Fresh Fiction for a Kindle Fire HD 8 – with no ads. Enter to win and I’ll send it to you at the end of the month! (or tell me below about your favorite alpha hero and we’ll throw an extra entry into the pot!

About Sarah Hawthorne

Sarah Hawthorne

Sarah Hawthorne lives in the Pacific Northwest where she drinks too much coffee, plans a lot of vacations and writes romance novels. Her native habitats include her garden and writing at the local library.

You can find me on my blog at: www.sarahhawthorne.com
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ENFORCER’S PRICE by Sarah Hawthorne

Enforcer's Price

A man looking for redemption

Colt spent eight months in prison for trusting the wrong woman, nearly bringing down his entire motorcycle club in the process. Now he needs to fix the MC’s cash flow problems or watch the only family he’s ever known fall apart.

Meeting Krista wasn’t part of his mission.

Falling for her could mean his destruction.

A single mom trying to get by

Krista was ready to leave hooking behind when her ex cleaned out her bank account. Stuck working to provide for her daughter, she protects herself with one rule: never get involved with someone at the club.

Not that she wants to. Sex has become a job, a means to an end.

One night together as an escape

Krista’s body wakes at Colt’s touch, allowing her to imagine a life after the MC. A future. A happily-ever-after, if only briefly. Krista brings out feelings in Colt he forgot could exist. But just as he begins to trust again, Krista’s truth is revealed—testing the very boundaries of Colt’s jealousy and faith.

Romance Suspense [Carina Press, On Sale: February 6, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9781488024412 / eISBN: 9781488024412]

Liz Crowe | Time to get TAPPED

You can craft a novel about a second chance at love, a young/first love, a May-December love, an older man meets young virgin love, surprise/chance meeting love, and set that anywhere.

Outer space…a Texas ranch…the fire or police department… a movie set…a giant corporation…backstage at a rock concert…in the thick of a motorcycle gang…in the future…or well back in the past…as long as the love story is front and center, most readers are not that particular about where it’s happening.

However, as authors, we are always encouraged to make our worlds believable. And when we say “world” we mean that “setting,” be it a humble small Southern town, or in the emergency room of a bustling metropolitan hospital. I’m sure you’ve read a book or three where the setting seemed off somehow, as if the author really didn’t know enough about that world to set the story there but hopes that no one will notice. I’m one of those who notices, and tries to turn those mistakes into learning opportunities for my own books.

TAPPED (book one of the Brewing Passion Series from Totally Bound Publishing) is set in a world that I am intimately familiar with—but one that some readers go “uh, no thanks. I could care less about beer, sheesh, Liz give me a faceless, nameless New York corporation instead!”

If you would allow me a few moments worth of words to convince you otherwise, I’d say that the craft beer business—by all measures both booming and incredibly hip right now—is one of the coolest, most interesting, dare I say, sexy places around. It’s made up of many layers—starting with the actual beer brewing which can be on a small, 100-gallon or so scale, all the way up to 50,000 “barrels” which translates roughly to 1.2 million gallons of the precious liquid or in the case of a brewery like Sam Adams, more like six million barrels (multiply that times 31 to get the number of gallons. It’s a big number!) Some breweries even have bars attached, which as we all know are some of the best places to both people-watch and character-formulate.

In TAPPED, a young man born into wealth and a generations-deep food supply business in Grand Rapids, Michigan has a love for craft beer that won’t be denied. Against his domineering parents’ wishes, he enrolls in one of the few certified brewing institutes in Munich, Germany. While in this three-year program (fun fact: one of the only places where your degree earns you the right to be called a “brew master”) he meets a man who becomes his partner in female seduction for a while and who evolves into his life-long friend. He returns home to start his own brewery and his German friend (a better “artist” style of brewer) decides between multiple job offers from already successful, U.S. based craft breweries.

Thanks to his trust fund, and the fact that he has jumped into the business in its nascent days and not today when the market is grossly overcrowded, his brewery (Fitzgerald Brewing) becomes a huge success.

The other aspect of this business is the sale of beer to the consumer. There is a somewhat silly and entirely boring rule which states that all beer (and wine and liquor) sold in the United States has to flow from the source (the brewery/winery/distillery) to the final end user (you, the drinker) via a middle man, or wholesale distributor. There were a lot of at-the-time good reasons for this post-prohibition, but they’ve fallen by the wayside, even as distribution companies get bigger, richer, and more entrenched in the craft beer world.

Our brewery-owner hero finds the love of his life in the form of a sassy, successful, trying-hard-to-prove-something saleswomen at one of his distributors. Once they hit it off, then hit a snag thanks to my plot, our intrepid brewery owner introduces his oldest friend from Germany into the relationship and VIOLA! A super-sexy, craft-beer based ménage novel is born!

I’ve set a lot of my past books in this world and have always been told that the balance between the background and the story is near perfect. I worked hard with my editor to ensure that holds true for TAPPED, this first of at least three novels in this series.

For TAPPED (which is, by the way, of the “enemies to lovers” trope) I took my own experience as the founder/owner and sales and marketing director of a successful craft brewery and teased out the parts that make the story more compelling, and a little different from the usual. But I promise to bring a legit veracity to all aspects of this world so it should never feel “off” to you—if it does, be sure and let me know because I like to learn!

So, my challenge to you, future reader and Liz fan—let go of your preconceived notions about where romance “usually” occurs and dive headlong into this world with me. Meet Austin Fitzgerald (brewery owner hero), Evelyn Benedict (sassy saleswoman heroine), and Ross Hoffman (German brewer and secondary hero)—whether you love a great double IPA or a chocolate, oatmeal stout for your poison or are more of the herbal tea and lemon water type, you will not be able to stop reading this compelling, sexy story of love, love lost, and love regained.

About Liz Crowe

Liz Crowe

Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.

Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction hybrid, “Romance. Worth the Risk,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”).

With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.

Stewart Realty | Love Brothers | Brewing Passion

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TAPPED by Liz Crowe

Brewing Passion #1

Tapped

One hot entrepreneur plus a driven saleswoman and sultry brewer: simmered in the craft beer world for a unique, sexy reading experience!

When wealthy brewery owner Austin Fitzgerald meets sexy saleswoman Evelyn Benedict, angry sparks fly. They seem destined to clash, until a hot hookup in a cold beer cooler changes everything.

For Austin, it’s a life-altering moment that sets him on a path away from his birthright, while Evelyn must face her fears about committing to a man considered the playboy of the micro-brewing world.

The power of their preconceived notions nearly tears them apart—until they meet up with brewmaster Ross, who opens their eyes to a deeper, more erotic connection.

But three strong personalities don’t always make for the best emotional mix and when a simple misunderstanding causes chaos, it’s up to Ross to somehow repair the tattered shreds of their relationship.

Romance Contemporary | Romance Erotica Sensual [Totally Bound Publishing, On Sale: February 14, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9781786511324 / eISBN: 9781786511324]

Character Perspective: Meet Sandra Owen’s Newest Hero

The Gentry brothers, Alex, Court, and Nate, are undercover FBI agents. They own a biker bar, Aces & Eights, as a cover for covert operations. The first book in the Aces & Eights series, Jack of Hearts, is Alex and Madison’s story. Unfortunately for Alex, Madison is the cousin of the man he’s investigating, making her strictly off-limits. That’s easier said than done, though.

Hello, Alex. Thanks for joining us today.

Alex, looking wary: You’re not going to ask me a bunch of personal questions, are you? I’m an undercover FBI agent, and there’s stuff I can’t talk about.

I think we’re more interested in your love life than any investigations you have going on.

Alex: Figures.

First Question. How would you describe yourself?

Alex, shooting the interviewer an eye roll: You’re looking at me. You describe me.

If I give a physical description, will you add to it, you know, tell us what makes you who you are? (Alex nods.) Okay, you’re tall, have black eyes that seem fathomless, black hair that I’d kind of like to touch just to see if it’s as soft as it looks, and I’m guessing you have some American Indian blood in you. How’d I do?

Alex grins: Pretty good. One-fourth Seminole Indian to be exact. So, I guess I have to tell you what makes me me? It would take hours, days maybe, to tell you how I grew up in an abusive home, yet pretty much have my act together. I owe Nate, he’s my oldest brother, for that. For raising Court and me to be the men we are today, in spite of our father doing his best to beat us into the ground. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.

Okay, we’ll go to the next question. How would you describe Madison?

Alex, his black eyes turning soft: How do you describe the moon and stars? The ocean or mountains? They’re awesome, beautiful, breathtaking, magical. Yet, those words don’t do them justice. I don’t think I have the ability to adequately describe Madison.

Okay, I get that. Just try for a physical description.

Alex: I guess I’d start with her hair. It’s red, like the flames of a fire. That was one of the first things I thought about her hair. It’s long and curls around her face in the sexiest way. Her eyes? Cat eyes. Green like moss on a rainy day. (He laughs.) I’m a man. We’re not good at this description stuff. We just know what we like, okay? And I definitely like her.

Do you consider yourself heroic?

Alex: No. I’m just a man doing his job the best he can. Because I carry a gun and a badge doesn’t make me a hero.

You don’t think cops are heroes?

Alex: Of course they are. They face danger every day, never knowing if they’ll make it home to their families. (He narrows his eyes.) Is this a trick question?

Well, it does seem like that could apply to you.

Alex: Are we done here?

Not yet. If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Alex: I like this question. I’d spend the day on my Harley with Madison riding behind me, her thighs pressing against mine and her arms wrapped tightly around my waist. We’d ride up the beach road, stopping at a secluded spot where we’d wade along the surf while I stole kisses.

I bet you’re very good at stealing kisses.

Alex (snorts): Truth!

What was Madison’s first impression of you?

Alex: I don’t think there’s a woman in the world as confused as Madison was about a man she was attracted to. She thought I was one of her drug dealing cousin’s friends, yet she couldn’t deny the instant chemistry between us.

So you lied to her?

Alex, dipping his chin to his chest: That was my biggest regret, but I couldn’t tell her I was an undercover FBI agent. If she slipped, letting that cat out of the bag, we both would have been in danger. I wasn’t so worried about myself, but if anything happened to her… Well, that was something I couldn’t live with. Yeah, I lied to her. It was the only way I knew to keep her safe.

What’s your idea of a good marriage?

Alex: I have no idea what constitutes a good marriage. I sure as hell didn’t have good role models in my parents. In my mind, though, I can visualize waking up to Madison’s beautiful smile every morning for the rest of my life. I can see us old and wrinkled, holding hands, her laughing at my stupid jokes. (He wickedly grins.) And she’ll still like kissing me and other stuff.

Do you think that will happen in your lifetime, you and Madison getting married?

Alex: If it does, I’ll be the luckiest son of a dog in the world.

What are you most afraid of?

Alex: Losing Madison.

That’s it?

Alex, scowling: That’s not enough?

Last question—

Alex: Bless you.

How do you know you’re in love with Madison?

Alex: That’s easy. Because I’d die for her.

I guess that says it all.

Alex: Damn straight.

JACK OF HEARTS by Sandra Owens

Jack of Hearts

Alex Gentry doesn’t scare easily. Working as an undercover FBI agent in the biker bar he and his brothers co-own, he hangs with deadly criminals in order to gather information. Danger is just part of the family business. But one thing has him terrified: his attraction to Madison Parker.

Madison is the cousin of Ramon Alonzo, son and second in command to a notorious drug lord Alex is trying to bust. Alex has befriended Ramon as part of his cover, and Madison has unknowingly become his informant. Falling for her could risk this case—and both their lives.

All Madison wants is to get her new bookstore business off the ground, and for her creepy cousin Ramon—to whom she’s unfortunately indebted—to leave her alone. If she could only stop fantasizing about his mysterious new friend, Alex…

As the Alonzo cartel investigation heats up, so does their relationship. But will the secrets they’re keeping tear them apart—or get them both killed?

Romance Suspense [Montlake Romance, On Sale: February 14, 2017, Paperback / Kindle, ISBN: 9781503941380 / ]

About Sandra Owens

Sandra Owens

A native of Florida, Sandra Owens managed a Harley-Davidson dealership before switching from a bike to an RV and roaming the open road (though she’s also chased thrills from sky-diving to upside-down stunt-plane flying). In addition to Crazy for Her—a 2013 Golden Heart Finalist for Romantic Suspense—her works include the Regency romance novels The Letter, winner of the Golden Quill for published authors award, and The Training of a Marquess, winner of the Golden Claddagh Award. A member of the Romance Writers of America and a potential cat owner, she lives with her husband in Asheville, North Carolina.

K2 Team

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Miranda James | Writing the Series Sleuth

All my mystery novels have featured amateur detectives. The main reason for this is that I have always enjoyed mysteries with amateur sleuths, ever since I discovered Nancy Drew at the age of ten. I like the idea of an ordinary person stumbling into mysteries and then solving them. Critics often denigrate these books because they are deemed unrealistic. After all, how many ordinary people regularly encounter dead bodies?

The answer is, ordinary people don’t, unless they are spectacularly unlucky or they are undertakers. They would soon come under suspicion from the police. Thus I will quickly confess that, in this regard, my amateur detective novels aren’t realistic. They aren’t meant to be, in that regard. They’re meant to entertain, and I hope that’s what they do.

Readers have enjoyed books with amateur gumshoes for over a century now. Ever heard of Miss Jane Marple, for example? I happen to think that readers enjoy amateur sleuths because they are reading about people like themselves who don’t walk the mean streets of the city every day. I always enjoyed Nancy Drew and the other teen detectives because I could safely go adventuring in their shoes – though I certainly wouldn’t relish being hit on the head as many times as Nancy was.

The issue of a constant supply of corpses aside, I do try to ground my characters in their own reality. They have jobs, responsibilities, families – and I aim to capture this as I chronicle the lives of my characters as the series progresses. Most readers want to care about the series heroes and heroines, and I have to care as well, otherwise I wouldn’t want to spend the time necessary to write a 72,000 or more word book. Thus when readers tell me they love Charlie and Diesel, I am thrilled. Making – and sustaining — that connection between readers and characters is the key to keeping a series going.

TWELVE ANGRY LIBRARIANS by Miranda James

Cat in the Stacks

Twelve Angry Librarians

The New York Times bestselling author of No Cats Allowed and Arsenic and Old Books is back with more Southern charm and beguiling mystery as Charlie and Diesel must find a killer in a room full of librarians…

Light-hearted librarian Charlie Harris is known around his hometown of Athena, Mississippi, for walking his cat, a rescued Maine Coon named Diesel. But he may soon be taken for a walk himself—in handcuffs…

Charlie is stressed out. The Southern Academic Libraries Association is holding this year’s annual meeting at Athena College. Since Charlie is the interim library director, he must deliver the welcome speech to all the visiting librarians. And as if that weren’t bad enough, the keynote address will be delivered by Charlie’s old nemesis from library school.

It’s been thirty years since Charlie has seen Gavin Fong, and he’s still an insufferable know-it-all capable of getting under everyone’s skin. In his keynote, Gavin puts forth a most unpopular opinion: that degreed librarians will be obsolete in the academic libraries of the future. So when Gavin drops dead, no one seems too upset…

But Charlie, who was seen having a heated argument with Gavin the day before, has jumped to the top of the suspect list. Now Charlie and Diesel must check out every clue to refine their search for the real killer among them before the next book Charlie reads comes from a prison library…

Mystery Pet Lovers | Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: February 21, 2017, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425277768 / eISBN: 9780698181991]

About Miranda James

Miranda James

Miranda James is the pseudonym of Dean James, a seventh-generation Mississippian recently returned home after over thirty years in Texas. A mystery fan since the age of ten, he wrote his first novel at the ripe old age of twelve. The only copy of The Mystery of the Willow Key vanished years ago, but since it was highly derivative of the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery series, that’s probably a good thing.

Currently a librarian in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Dean has published articles on topics in library science, the history of science/medicine, and mystery fiction.

Dean lives with two young cats, thousands of books, and thinks frequently about killing people – but only in the pages of fiction.

Cat In the Stacks | Southern Ladies

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Krista Davis | Can Your Dog Get You a Date?

A friend of mine once had a date show up with a pillowcase. It contained his snake. No kidding. If that had been me, the relationship would have ended on the spot. Now, if he had shown up with his dog, that would have been a different matter entirely.

There’s a matchmaking event going on in my new book, MISSION IMPAWSIBLE. The town of Wagtail caters to people and their fur friends, so they are encouraged to bring their pets with them. The cats and dogs will help break the ice and might even make some matches.

Animals remove the pressure of coming up with something clever to say to a stranger. Even the shyest person is usually happy to talk about Fido, especially if Fido is present and wagging that tail. Think this is silly? Kloof, an app that connects people through their dogs, did a survey. Now before you peek at their survey results, guess which breeds are most likely to attract women to the guy holding the leash.

  1. German Shepherds or Poodles?
  2. Chihuahuas or French Bulldogs?
  3. Bernese Mountain Dogs or Labrador Retrievers?
  4. Shih Tzus or Golden Retrievers?
  5. Siberian Huskies or Pomeranians?

Ready for the answers?

In order of preference, women like men with:

  1. German Shepherds
  2. Golden Retrievers
  3. Labrador Retrievers
  4. Siberian Huskies
  5. French Bulldogs

ANSWERS

And, by the way, if you’re a woman looking for a relationship with a man, take your Golden Retriever for a walk. They scored number one with men.

MISSION IMPAWSIBLE was in bookstores on February 7th. With a professional matchmaker and meddling mothers, you know there’s bound to be trouble!

About Krista Davis

Krista_Buttercup3Krista Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of the Domestic Diva Mysteries and the Paws and Claws Mysteries set on fictional Wagtail Mountain, a resort where people vacation with their pets. . Like her characters, Krista has a soft spot for cats, dogs, and sweets. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with three dogs and two cats.

Domestic Diva | Paws and Claws

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MISSION IMPAWSIBLE by Krista Davis

Paws and Claws #4

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Murder Most Howl comes the fourth Paws & Claws mystery…

In the pet-friendly town of Wagtail, Virginia, there’s no love lost when Holly Miller meets her match in a murderer…

Holly and her grandmother, Oma, are working their tails off to prepare the Sugar Maple Inn for an upcoming matchmaking event for pet owners. While Holly has no interest in pairing up, Oma plans on playing Cupid and finding someone to warm her reluctant granddaughter’s heart.

Unfortunately, one man Holly does meet is cold—dead cold—and he has a personal letter from Oma in his pocket. As suspicion is cast over the inn’s guests, Holly—with the help of her furry friends, Trixie the Jack Russell and Twinkletoes the cat—must fetch the real killer, or she may soon have a date in court.

Delicious recipes for owners and pets included!

Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: February 7, 2017, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781101988565 / eISBN: 9781101988572]

Erica Cameron | Romance, Sexuality, and Fantasy

There are endless choices to make when building a fantasy world. Landscape. Plants. Animals. Weather patterns. Clothes. Government. Religion. Sexuality. The shape of all these things are in the hands of the author, for the author is the god of the world they build.

When I built Shiara and the city of Sagen sy Itagami, I wanted a world that would be extremely harsh in many ways—you do not want to be stuck on Shiara in the middle of the summer, for example. In a lot of ways, though, Shiara and Itagami are safer and more equal than the culture we’re used to. There are three sexes here—men, women, and ebets—and the only gender role that exists in the clan is procreation. From leadership to service, all roles are equally split between the sexes because I built a society where only magical power and skill with a weapon determine your rank. Writing this book allowed me to erase both the gender binary and the unequal distribution of between the sexes. It allowed me to change or erase a lot of other things, too.

In Itagami, “normal” has an entirely different set of definitions and expectations than what we’re used to. Marriage—called a sumai bond in the book—is rare, but when that vow is made it’s soul-deep and unbreakable. Those who don’t have a sumai bond often move between romantic and/or sexual relationships as their needs change, and the how and why of what happens between two or more people isn’t something anyone else has a right to comment on. Not to say gossip doesn’t happen—it absolutely does—but the judgment and the interference I’ve seen happen in life doesn’t. Mostly.

Khya, ISLAND OF EXILES’s narrator, is happily and proudly bisexual. Bisexuality is the norm, but all the other orientations are fully accepted. There are those who prefer one sex over the two others, and there are those who prefer no one. While there are still rules and expectations concerning relationships, none of those rules impinge on anyone’s sexuality. The restriction is on social caste, not gender.

Just like with orientation, Itagami is very open about the “how” of sex. In Itagami, monogamy isn’t societally expected. Polyamory is perfectly acceptable. Exhibitionism, voyeurism, kink, and fetishes—none of it is shamed. Khya and Tessen, for example, are not quite vanilla, a decision I made in part because of my editor. She mentioned once how important it is to portray YA relationships as diversely as we do adult. Not all teens are entirely vanilla, she said, but we give them no mirror.

Once I knew my editor wouldn’t give me an “are we sure this is appropriate for teens” talk, I could explore the characters and what sexuality meant in Itagami at a deeper level. This matter because desire (or a lack thereof) and the specific form that feeling takes is a very fraught topic in contemporary society. Dangerously so. The Shiara and Itagami gave me a chance to erase a lot of expectations and “rules” we’re used to. For Khya and Tessen, control, power, trust, and surrender are all key. Each needs something from the other, and a lot of the buildup between them is admitting those needs and trusting the other to meet them. I wanted to show it’s not only okay to want things outside of the normal, it’s okay to talk about them. It’s important to recognize your own needs and desires, accept them, and ask for them from someone you trust.

Like all other levels of diversity and representation, relationships are so important to represent positively and respectfully. Alternative orientations, dynamics, preferences, kinks, and fetishes are ESPECIALLY important for YA authors to consider and include. For most people, their teen years is when they begin to discover arousal and desire. Or their lack thereof. If anything, portraying relationships outside the center of the bell curve is MORE important in YA than in adult. Puberty and adolescence and young adulthood are confusing enough. Why make it harder for anyone when we can provide a map? What I hope is that Khya and Tessen—and the other pairings in the series—introduce teens to concepts about relationships they don’t often see. Hopefully, all of this will be commonplace one day, but it’s not there yet. Especially in young adult fiction. When broader representation becomes standard, I think that’s when we’ll begin to see some true changes in social and cultural perceptions. After all, nothing creates empathy like seeing inside someone else’s head, and there’s no easier way to do that than books.

About Erica Cameron

Erica Cameron

After a lifelong obsession with books, Erica Cameron spent her college years studying psychology and creative writing, basically getting credit for reading and learning how to make stories of her own. Now, she’s the author of several series for young adults. She’s also a reader, asexuality advocate, dance fan, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, Florida resident, and quasi-recluse who loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon décor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works.

The Ryogan Chronicles | Assassins

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ISLAND OF EXILES by Erica Cameron

The Ryogan Chronicles, #1

Island of Exiles

Every breath is a battle.

In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.

On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.

But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.

To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run-a betrayal and a death sentence.

Thriller | Fantasy | Young Adult [Entangled Teen, On Sale: February 14, 2017, Trade Size / e-Book, ISBN: 9781633755925 / ]

My Boyfriend is a Demigod—An exclusive interview with Belinda Loring

Interviewer: We here at True World Teen are delighted to welcome Belinda Loring. She’s here to fill us in on behind-the-scene gossip to recent shocking events and dish about her boyfriend the demigod. Welcome, Belinda! (polite applause. Belinda shifts in her chair as if uncomfortable)

Interviewer: How did you find out that your boyfriend was a demigod? Or did you always know?

Belinda: I’m embarrassed to say that although Demian and I have been friends for years, I only recently found out he is a demi-god. I knew he had the long-winded talent because we exchanged messages on the breeze, but I didn’t know about his other powers until a forest fire threatened us. Demian used his powers to reroute a stream and allowed us to hide safely in the water until the flames were past.

Interviewer: Wow! How did you feel about this revelation?

Belinda: I was absolutely stunned. I mean, my boyfriend is a demi-god. How cool is that?

Interviewer: There’s a rumour that you and Demian have Bonded. Is this true? And is this bond why your recent Bonding ceremony with Warren, the House Scott heir, failed so spectacularly?

Belinda: I’m glad you asked, because I’d like to set the record straight. Demian and I were Bonded together, illegally, as children by my grandmother’s enemy, Malachi. We were so young we didn’t know what it was about or remember the ceremony. When the Bonding ceremony to Warren failed, I was more surprised than anyone. I would never, never have embarrassed our Houses like that, if I’d known about the previous ceremony.

Interviewer: And how does your grandmother, former First Councillor Ellona Loring, feel about the match?

Belinda: At first, of course, she was very angry at Malachi for the illegal Bonding and afraid that Demian would be an inappropriate match for me. But now that’s she’s met Demian and knows that he doesn’t share Malachi’s radical views, she’s much more reconciled.

Interviewer: Very quickly, could you give us five cool things about having a demi-god for a boyfriend?

Belinda: Uh, well, we can send each other messages on the breeze, because being a demigod means that he has all four elemental talents. He`s an awesome sculptor—he can shape stone with his bare hands. (pause)

Interviewer, laughing: That`s only two things.

Belinda: When we had to jump in the stream to escape the forest fire, he heated up the water so that it wasn`t icy cold. Uh, he can bring statues to life.

Interviewer, leaning forward: To life? What do you mean?

Belinda: Not permanently. I mean, that would be kind of creepy. More like golems. When I was kidnapped, he sent golems to find me. He saved me.

Interviewer: Well, that is hard to beat! One last cool thing about having a demigod for a boyfriend?

Belinda, ducking head shyly: He created a new flower, just for me.

Audience: Oooooh!

Interviewer: Swoon! Okay that’s all we have time for tonight. Tune in next week when prominent scientist Edgar Killjoy explains how the tethers between the True World and the Mirror Worlds function and why we should care.

IN TRUTH AND ASHES by Nicole Luiken

Otherselves #3

In Truth and Ashes

What she can’t remember could ruin her life.

The Mirror Worlds are but dull reflections of the True World, where magic and technology blend together…

On the True World, Belinda Loring has known from childhood that she must Bond with the son of another noble First Family. Uniting the families ensures hers will hold onto its powerful position, and so she’s always pushed down the tender feelings she has for her best friend–gorgeous, steadfast Demian, who isn’t noble.

But when the ceremonial magic goes disastrously wrong, Belinda becomes a national disgrace. Scorned as Broken, she turns to Demian for help getting revenge on the man who ruined her: the radical Malachi.

But the seeds of Malachi’s murderous plans lie buried in Belinda’s past, in the dark days of her kidnapping–a period of which she has no memory. And Demian may hold the key to recovering all that she’s lost–and saving the worlds.

Young Adult Fantasy [Entangled Teen, On Sale: January 1, 2017, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781682813881 / eISBN: 9781633755451]

About Nicole Luiken

Nicole Luiken

Nicole Luiken wrote her first book at age 13 and never stopped.

She is the author of twelve published books for young adults, including Violet Eyes and its sequels Silver Eyes, Angel Eyes and Golden Eyes. Her latest release is Amid Wind & Stone, book two of Otherselves. She also has writes for adults and has a fantasy romance series, Gate to Kandrith and Soul of Kandrith.

Nicole lives with her family in Edmonton, AB. It is physically impossible for her to go more than three days in a row without writing.

Otherselves

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Author/Reader Match with Noelle Adams

Writes:

I write sexy, trope-driven contemporary romance with realistic character development, humor, and emotion. My current release, A PRINCESS FOR A BRIDE, is out on February 8 and is a fun princess/arranged-marriage story.

About:

Noelle handwrote her first romance novel in a spiral-bound notebook when she was twelve, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She has lived in eight different states and currently resides in Virginia, where she reads any book she can get her hands on and offers tribute to a very spoiled cocker spaniel.

She loves travel, art, history, and ice cream. After spending far too many years of her life in graduate school, she has decided to reorient her priorities and focus on writing contemporary romances.

What I’m looking for in my ideal reader match:

  • Loves contemporary romances with favorite tropes like arranged marriages, best friends falling in love, and fake relationships.
  • Wants characters that think and act like real human beings.
  • Loves a lot of short, fun reads with the occasional longer, deeper story.
  • Wants heartwarming stories that can make you laugh, cry, and swoon while still including a number of steamy scenes.

What to expect if we’re compatible:

  • A huge backlist of more than 40 books, suitable for weeks of binge-reading.
  • A new book released every month or two.
  • Stories released this year about friends-to-lovers, falling for brother’s best friend, boss-employee romance, accidental pregnancy, and a prince in disguise.

About Noelle Adams

Noelle Adams

Noelle handwrote her first romance novel in a spiral-bound notebook when she was twelve, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She has lived in eight different states and currently resides in Virginia, where she reads any book she can get her hands on and offers tribute to a very spoiled cocker spaniel.

She loves travel, art, history, and ice cream. After spending far too many years of her life in graduate school, she has decided to reorient her priorities and focus on writing contemporary romances.

The Protectors | Eden Manor | Heirs of Damon | Beaufort Brides | Rothman Royals

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A PRINCESS FOR A BRIDE by Noelle Adams

Rothman Royals #2

A Princess for a Bride

I was born the middle princess of a tiny country in the Alps, which means my primary duty in life has always been to make a good marriage for my family and country. That’s why I’m marrying Edward Channing. He’s rich, handsome, arrogant, and silent.

Seriously, he almost never talks to me at all.

He might be marrying a princess, but he obviously doesn’t want to spend any more time with me than he has to. I have no problem with that. We can live entirely different lives and pursue our own interests. I’m sure we can make this arranged marriage work.

Of course, we do need to produce an heir, but I’m trying not to think about that.

Romance Contemporary [Author Self-Published, On Sale: February 8, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 2940153358734 / eISBN: 9781536553581]

Julie Hammerle, Enemies to Lovers – My Favorite Trope

The main characters in my new young adult romance, ANY BOY BUT YOU, hate each other in real life, but fall in love accidentally and anonymously while playing an augmented reality game on their phones.

Some of my favorite scenes to work on in ABbY were the ones were either Elena or Oliver was being a brat to the other one. There is a thin line between love and hate, and the two of them skate it for much of the book.

I tend to gravitate toward enemies to lovers stories all the time, especially on TV. Insta-love doesn’t do it for me. I want insta-hate, followed by insta-attraction, which then might grow into something real.

Some of my favorite enemies to lovers pairings on TV:

  • Natalie and Trevor Dillon on All My Children: This was where my obsession with this trope began. My mom and aunt were big ABC soap fans when I was growing up, and therefore so was I. Natalie and Dillon, who hated each other so, so much, ended up (at least this is how I remember it from a million years ago) stranded on an island, where they realized they were in love. AS FOLKS DO.
  • Veronica and Logan on Veronica Mars: I think the show wanted us to buy into Duncan being the one for V from the start, but it became obvious pretty early on that Logan was a much better match for her. And their first kiss, which comes out of nowhere? Hot. Scorching.
  • Brienne and Jaime on Game of Thrones: This is one pairing that hasn’t yet panned out, but I have hope! (Assuming George R.R. Martin ever gives us The Winds of Winter.) Jaime and Brienne end up traveling together from Riverrun to King’s Landing. He’s her prisoner, and his lack of loyalty to his king disgusts her to no end. She’s a tall, homely, sometimes humorless girl who wants to be a knight. They develop a begrudging respect for each other, which I’m banking on turning into love one day. Jaime’s current squeeze (uh, his sister) isn’t good enough for him, and Brienne, who’d previously been in love with her king, Renly, who was NEVER going to be interested in her, deserves nice things for once.

ANY BOY BUT YOU by Julie Hammerle

North Pole, Minnesota

Any Boy But You

Elena Chestnut has been chatting with an anonymous boy late into the night. It’s a very You’ve Got Mail situation, and she has no idea who he is. Hecan’t be Oliver Prince, hot-and-bashful son of the family running the rival sporting goods store. Their fancy sales strategies are driving Elena’s family out of business. Elena’s mystery boy has teamed up with her in their latest sales strategy, an augmented reality game, to help her win the grand-prize plane tickets. Money’s so tight Elena’s going to miss senior year spring break with her friends if she can’t win this game.

The girl Oliver’s fallen head-over-heels for online had better not be Elena Chestnut. She’s his angry, vindictive Latin tutor, the daughter of his dad’s business rival, and the one girl he’d never even think of kissing. She’s definitely not his online crush, because that girl is funny, sweet, and perfect.

When Oliver asks to reveal their names at the Valentine’s Day dance, their IRL relationship will either ruin what they have online, or they’ll discover just how thin the line between love and hate really is.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains swearing, snowball fights, and sexual tension that could melt the North Pole. Read at your own risk.

Young Adult [Entangled Crush, On Sale: February 13, 2017, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781682814246 / eISBN: 9781633758728]

About Julie Hammerle

Julie Hammerle

Julie Hammerle is the author of THE SOUND OF US (Entangled TEEN, 2016). Before settling down to write “for real,” she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her music playlist reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.

North Pole, Minnesota

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Linda Broday | Excerpt – TEXAS REDEMPTION

“Sit with me, Lil.” Brodie Yates’ order didn’t come with an alternative.

Bittersweet memories rose from the ashes. She’d wished to hear those words about a thousand times. Deep in her heart, an ache throbbed.

“You paid for the steak, not idle conversation.” Her statement came hard and brittle as she faced him, trying to forget the man in front of her and that he’d known her as Lavender Lil.

Brodie reached into his pocket and flipped a silver dollar onto the table. The heavy coin spun for a second before clinking to rest with the woman’s profile staring up.

“I’m paying for the company.”

Laurel’s lips tightened along with fingernails digging into the soft flesh of her palms. “Who do you think you are to barge into my life this way?”

“A man no one wants to know. The devil with a six shooter.” His tone held quiet torture. “Someone who’s been to heaven and hell and half the stops in between.”

Doubting the wisdom, she dropped stiffly into the spot Ollie, the café owner, had vacated, hating the swish of her skirts that floated lazily against his boots. “What does such a man talk about?”

Damn her voice for going soft on her. She blamed the glimmer in his eyes…and the smile that promised sin.

“Pain and regret. Happy times. Four days in St. Louis. Pecan praline pie that I have on good authority is the way to your heart. Should I continue?” He asked.

Foreboding swept her down a winding road. To follow would be inviting back the dark, unwelcome nightmares she strove daily to forget. The past lay buried beneath more grief and turmoil than any person should ever have to live with.

Brodie swallowed and laid down his fork when she didn’t reply. He leaned forward, his intent clear. Laurel jerked her head aside and drew back. However, such tactics didn’t deter a man like him.

With a firm grip of her chin, he forced her to meet the hunger in his smoky gaze. “I recall a hot-blooded woman on a sultry summer night. The wet eagerness between—”

“Please….”

“That’s what you said then, too. Begged for more. Pleaded with me to take you with me.”

“Lil died. She doesn’t exist anymore.” A razor sharp edge flavored harsh reality. He’d left her in that godforsaken place with never a backward glance.

“You’re mistaken. Lil is very much alive.” He tapped his leather-vested chest. “She’s in here for safekeeping.”

With the barest of fingertips he traced the line of her parted mouth, leaving a scorched path. A fine sheen of perspiration pooled in the valley between her breasts.

“Kisses sweet as sun-ripened strawberries. Wonder if you taste the same as I remember.”

“Stop.” Laurel twisted away and stood. “We can’t.”

He touched her again, his caress gentler than dewdrops on an early spring day. She shivered against the contact of his thumb smoothing away perspiration pooling in the hollow of her throat then across her wildly beating pulse.

“What’s a woman like you doing in Redemption? Surely not trying to find salvation.”

“Is that so ridiculous?”

Brodie’s clear gaze simmered. “Think a leopard can change his spots?”

“I’m not the person you thought. Despite choosing to believe me unworthy, I had no control over my situation back then. I do have that luxury now, however.”

“So you say, Lil.” Brodie’s lazy drawl scraped across raw nerves, silk over sandpaper. “Time does tell all.”

Memories tumbled end over end, colliding with temptation she wasn’t positive she had strength to resist.

Her head whirled in tune with a thundering heartbeat as she flew from the dining room of the cafe into the kitchen. Splashing water from the porcelain bowl beneath the pump, she cooled her heated cheeks.

Please let me come. I promise I won’t be any trouble.

Not now, darlin’. Can’t, but I’ll be back.

He’d heard nothing over the roar of his lust. He closed his eyes to her shame. In all fairness, he never knew they kept her prisoner. By the time she decided to trust him, he’d waltzed out the door. And left her behind.

The roughness of her tooth scraped her tongue with the memory of what happened afterward.

Easy footsteps aroused alarm. A quick pivot found her staring at the man whom she wanted more than anything on earth.

He approached with slow, deliberate steps.

“Didn’t get my dollar’s worth of conversation.”

“I didn’t ask for or take your money. I owe you nothing.” Laurel backed up until her shoulder blades flattened against the wall.

“You saying I can’t pay for favors?” He took a step.

“Yes. I told you I’m not the same….” A roar began inside her head. She eyed the approaching storm knowing it was too late for help.

“You saying you won’t give that little moan like you used to if I touch you?” He progressed two steps this time.

She licked her parched lips. Didn’t the man understand? Persisting in this would only awaken sleeping dogs that had no reason to stir from their slumber.

“Do I dare find out if will your lips will remain cold and lifeless?” He inched closer, narrowing the space between them more.

So close. A trickle of sweat slid down her back soaking the tight waistband. The fragrance of leather and fresh cut hay meandered up her nose. God help her. His mouth pressed to hers would rekindle the love she still felt for him. She wasn’t made of stone…just flesh and blood and more regrets than she could count.

The lazy half-smile indicated enjoyment. He knew his nearness suffocated her thoughts.

He meant to strip every shred of her newfound dignity.

He intended to kiss her.

And perhaps more? She gasped for air but found little.

“Convince me. For old time’s sake.” He reached for a dark curl. “Show me I’m no longer in your blood and I’ll leave you alone. I dare you.”

A rabbit in a snare had a more reasonable chance. His hand slipped behind her head. Laurel sagged weakly against his chest, tired of fighting forbidden attraction. Beneath her ear, his heart raced, perhaps chased by memories on a fast horse.

“I’ve dreamed of this for so long.” His breath stirred the hair against her throbbing temple. “I’ve relived every detail of those nights in my mind. The faint scent of rose water behind your ears, the tiny pulse in the hollow of your throat. I remember every whispered endearment.”

“Please…stop. I don’t—”

His mouth smothered the plea. Her body betrayed her, responding to desire born from hopeless fear long ago.

Laurel welcomed the thrusting tongue and when her breasts ached for his caress, he covered them with his palms, rolling the nipples to hard peaks. Delicious, shameful thrills played tag up her spine.

Soft mewling escaped from somewhere deep inside, a place where lies could not hide. A place she never thought to revisit in this century.

The arousal bulging beneath his supple trousers into her soft belly spoke of equal need. Passion became a raging inferno that threatened to scorch everything in its path…including her lofty goals of good intentions.

Low moans rumbled in his throat when she wound her fingers in the thickness of his hair.

What she wouldn’t give to pretend he meant nothing. Simply a man she used to know. Or maybe just some nameless wanderer who’d ridden into town looking to put food in his belly.

Truth and lies, pleasure and pain. Seemed she couldn’t have one without plenty of the opposite. She’d pay any price if he’d up and disappear from life one more time.

But wasn’t the greater sin in denying he made her feel alive again?

Abruptly, he pushed away. “Got my answer. You still care for me. Admit it. The fire burns hotter than ever. Cloak yourself in self-righteous claims that mean nothing but I have my proof.”

Laurel recoiled, wishing him into the nearest grave.

“You low-down double-crosser. I didn’t throw myself into your arms. You came to me. You took what belongs to your brother.”

The imprint of his touch lingered on her skin like a hot brand.

He barked a laugh. “I didn’t notice any resistance. Your body remembers a lover’s touch. The supposed fresh start and tender feelings you claim for my brother? Fact remains, they’re nothing but smoke and mirrors, darlin’.”

TEXAS REDEMPTION by Linda Broday

Texas Redemption

Two brothers
One woman
A final chance to find…
REDEMPTION

Desperate to escape her dark past, Laurel James agrees to wed the mayor of a small east Texas town. With him, life will be quiet. Respectable. Safe. It should be everything she ever wanted.

And it is. Until Shenandoah rides back into town.

Shenandoah never thought he would find the woman he’s loved and lost…and he certainly never dreamed she’d be pledged to his brother. He knows he should step aside-he has nothing to offer a woman like Laurel James-but the moment their eyes meet, Shenandoah is lost. He can only find peace in her arms…but can redemption be more than a dream for a man who has known nothing but war?

Romance Western | Romance Historical [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: February 7, 2017, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492646440 / ]

About Linda Broday

Linda Broday

Romancing the West One Story at a Time

Linda Broday is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and makes her home in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed. She is a multi-published western historical romance author who lives and breathes cowboys and the American West way of life. Here in the panhandle it’s very common to see cowboys, they’ve provided lots of inspiration. There’s just something about a man in tight jeans, a Stetson and boots that gets her hot and bothered!

Linda grew up watching TV westerns back in their heyday and fell in love with the desperados, lawmen and strong men and women who portrayed the people who settled this wild land that offered so much opportunity for those who wanted to seek it. They taught her the values, the strength it took to survive and the tremendous will to keep going when things got tough. She loves writing stories about similar people who could’ve lived back then.

When Linda is not writing, She’s scouring the internet looking for little tidbits to add depth to my stories. She has also been accused, quite unfairly she might add, of haunting museums and libraries. Linda’s desire to keep history alive is what drives her and she can’t imagine writing anything else.

Bachelors of Battle Creek | Men of Legend

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