Laura Griffin | The Latest in the NYT Bestselling Tracers Series

Laura GriffinBEYOND LIMITSReaders always ask me where I get my story ideas. I got my start as a newspaper reporter, and often my inspiration comes from current events. I’m constantly skimming headlines and asking myself, “What if…?”

My new book BEYOND LIMITS was sparked after I read a news article about Navy SEALs and wondered what would happen if one of these highly trained warriors learned about an impending attack on American soil. Would he be able to leave it to someone else to handle, or would he feel compelled to intervene?

BEYOND LIMITS opens with Navy SEAL Derek Vaughn, who is on a harrowing rescue mission overseas when he finds evidence of an attack being planned in the city where he grew up. He returns home determined to help thwart disaster. Derek decides his best way in to the FBI’s investigation is to manipulate a woman he cares about—Special Agent Elizabeth LeBlanc—into giving him inside information. With the help of the forensic experts at the Delphi Center, Derek and Elizabeth embark on a race against time to stop a deadly plot.

BEYOND LIMITS is the eighth book in my Tracers series. Derek and Elizabeth first met in SCORCHED, which won the 2013 RITA Award for romantic suspense. Readers have been asking for Derek and Elizabeth’s story, and I’m thrilled to share it with you!

To celebrate the new book I’m giving away a Tracers tote bag and a signed BEYOND LIMITS bookmark. Leave a comment for a chance to win!

An excerpt from BEYOND LIMITS

She crossed the hotel room with a flutter in her stomach and peered through the peephole. For a moment, she just stared. Square jaw, erect posture, ridiculously muscled body. In her memories, she’d made him less impressive, more average-looking. But of course, that was wishful thinking. There was nothing average about this man, and he was standing outside her room, refusing to go away.

He looked directly at the peephole and her heart skittered. He knew she was gawking. She pulled open the door and her heart did another little dance. She’d forgotten his eyes, too–whiskey brown with gold flecks. The look in them now was pure determination.

God help her, he’d come here on a mission…


An FBI agent and a Navy SEAL race against time in New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin’s newest Tracers novel.

FBI agent Elizabeth LeBlanc is still caught in the aftermath of her last big case when she runs into the one man from her past who is sure to rock her equilibrium even more. Navy SEAL Derek Vaughn is back home from a harrowing rescue mission in which he found evidence of a secret terror cell on US soil. Elizabeth knows he’ll do anything to unravel the plot—including seducing her for information. And despite the risks involved, she’s tempted to let him. Together with the forensics experts at the Delphi Center, Derek and Elizabeth are closing in on the truth, but it may not be fast enough to avert a devastating attack…

About Laura Griffin

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Laura Griffin started her career in journalism before venturing into the world of romantic suspense. She is a two-time RITA Award winner (for the books SCORCHED and WHISPER OF A WARNING) as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award (for UNTRACEABLE). Laura currently lives in Austin, where she is working on her next book.

Tracers Series

The Tracers:

An elite group of forensic experts who help homicide cops and cold case detectives solve the most unsolvable crimes.

December 2009

July 2010

December 2010

September 2011

April 2012

November 2012

July 2013

Beyond Limits
February 2015

To comment on Laura Griffin’s guest post, please click here.

Ashlee Mallory | Feeding my Addiction to HGTV and Carter Oosterhouse


Who said addictions were unhealthy? I for one have to credit my own addiction for all things HGTV—or anything that had a good home renovation project on it—as the inspiration for my new book, HER BACKUP BOYFRIEND. Heck, well before HGTV and TLC were on the scene, I watched dozens of Bob Villa projects on good old PBS, even if the progress of those projects could be like watching glue dry. Literally.

But later, it was those delicious moments on shows like TLC’s Trading Spaces that really left an impact. You know, right around the time they cued the hot carpenter guy—remember a young Carter Oosterhouse?—to arrive on the scene in faded denim and an oh-so-tight t-shirt clinging to a taut upper torso that sent my mind running to less than wholesome images. It was those guys, with their quiet confidence and surprisingly sharp wit that always, at least for me, stole the show.

My new book, HER BACKUP BOYFRIEND, is about a strait-laced ambitious woman, Kate, who is trying to manage her own home renovation project while staying ahead of the game at work and not falling apart at the news of her ex-boyfriend’s engagement. Enter Dominic, the sexy carpenter with a teasing sense of humor who Kate hires to help with her renovation and, eventually, to play pretend boyfriend. It was tremendous fun to write this story and imagine Dominic playing havoc in Kate’s orderly life and making her question everything she thought was important to her. Tight torso hugging shirt sometimes optional.

Years later and with TLC’s Trading Spaces just a fond memory, I still have that addiction to a good home renovation project and seeing the untapped potential in what looks like to any sane person, a terrifying house of horrors. And I’m grateful to all the other home improvement nuts like me whose obsession had created a market for so many awesome shows like those on HGTV.  In fact, I’m currently obsessed with Fixer Upper right now, which if you haven’t watched, I definitely urge you to program it into your DVR stat. It’s so much fun.

And perhaps, if you’re looking for a new, hot sexy book boyfriend, then maybe pick up HER BACKUP BOYFRIEND and tell me you didn’t fall in love with Dominic. Just a little bit. I know I did.


One little white lie leads to more than she planned…

Straight-laced lawyer Kate Matthews always plays by the rules. But when her ex gets engaged and a big promotion is on the line at work, she blurts out that she has a new boyfriend. And now that she’s proved she “has a life” outside of work, everything is perfect. Except for one teeny little detail―there is no boyfriend. And now Kate’s liable for her little white lie…

Dominic Sorensen is hot, charming, and very definitely not Kate’s type. But not only does Dominic want to help Kate renovate her home, he’s also willing to play “boyfriend.” All he wants in return is a little pro bono work for his sister. Now instead of Mr. Right, Kate has a delectable Mr. Fix-It-Right―and some unbelievable sexual chemistry. And if falling for Dominic is a breach of contract, Kate is guilty as charged…’

About Ashlee Mallory

Ashlee was thirteen when she discovered her first Kathleen E. Woodiwiss book hidden away in her mom’s closet. After two days of staying home “sick” from school to finish it, she was hooked. Her rabid love for romance has continued ever since, and after a misadventure in the world of law, she finally settled into her dream job of writing about people finding their happily ever afters–the only stories worth reading, after all.

Chris Cannon | Why I Write Shape-Shifting Dragons

Chris CannonBRIDGES BURNEDWhy do I write about shape-shifting dragons? Because I’d really love to be able to blast annoying people with fireballs. No. Wait. I’m just joking. Mostly.

As a five foot two female, I don’t have a lot of physical power. But if I could shape-shift into a dragon, I’d have all the power I ever needed. Other shape-shifting creatures always seem to have weaknesses. Vampires fear the sun. Werewolves can’t handle silver. But dragons can pretty much kick anyone’s ass, and they don’t have to worry about the weather or what metal their dinner forks are made from.

What’s another perk that puts dragons at the top of the shape-shifting hierarchy? They can fly. In BRIDGES BURNED, Bryn says, “Flying is freedom.” I think that is exactly how it would feel.

Then there is my favorite dragon trait–they can eat whatever they want and not gain weight. Some people were annoyed by the amount of food mentioned in GOING DOWN IN FLAMES. I didn’t realize how obsessed I was with food until I started editing BRIDGES BURNED and had to cut ten food scenes. So maybe I should cut back on the hours I watch the Food Network when I’m writing book three.

Those are my reasons for writing about shape-shifting dragons. What’s your favorite shape-shifting creature? Leave a comment below, drop by my blog and leave me a message, or post on my Facebook wall.


Don’t just fight the system…burn it.

Since discovering she is a shape-shifting, fire-breathing dragon on her sixteenth birthday (surprise!), Bryn McKenna’s world has been thrown into chaos. Being a “crossbreed”—part Red dragon and part Blue—means Bryn will never fit in. Not with dragon society. Not with the archaic and controlling Directorate. And definitely not when she has striped hair and a not-so-popular affection for rule-breaking…

But sneaking around with her secret boyfriend, Zavien, gets a whole lot harder when he’s betrothed to someone else. Someone who isn’t a mixed breed and totally forbidden. And for an added complication, it turns out Bryn’s former archnemesis Jaxon Westgate isn’t quite the evil asshat she thought. Now she’s caught between her desire to fit in and a need to set things on fire. Literally.

Because if Bryn can’t adapt to the status quo…well, then maybe it’s time for her to change it.

About Chris Cannon

Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures. Going Down In Flames is the first book in Chris Cannon’s shape-shifting dragon series.

J.A. Kazimer | Get Away with Murder

J.A. KazimerTHE FAIRYLAND MURDERSAs a writer, I’m often asked, “How do I get away with the perfect murder?” Okay, maybe I’m not asked all that often. Fine, no one asks.
Apparently, I’m the one trying desperately to plot the perfect crime. But with good reason, other than my friends annoy me, you see all my best plotted crimes have been solved by a variety of both trained and untrained detectives. Therefore, I’m always on the quest to learn the best way to off someone and secondly, how to get rid of the body and/or the evidence.

Strictly for research.

I swear.

All these murderous musings have brought me to one conclusion — There is no perfect method of murder.

Each and every option, whether it’s a stake through a vampire’s heart or running a certain princess down with a pumpkin-like coach (trust me, Cinderella had it coming), has its pros and cons.

For example, throughout the ages poison has been the go to method of murder for both political assassins as well as vexed housewives. While it can be a valid choice for a particularly painful death it isn’t the best option for the perfect crime as many TV shows would have you believe. Any medical examiner worth his salt will run a variety of toxicology tests, especially when a ready cause isn’t obvious. Or when the dead person smells like fresh baked almond cookies.

My point is, don’t use Arsenic to murder people, it’s too easy to detect.

Better yet, don’t murder people at all!

But for the sake of my own murderous plots, it’s good to remember when using digitalis to poison a character make sure a) not to plant Foxglove all over the murderer’s yard and b) that the victim already has a heart condition, otherwise when the M.E. finds digitalis in the victim’s blood stream, I..I mean, his wife won’t be suspect number 1.

As I might’ve mention above, in my novel, CURSES!, I ran a certain princess over with a speeding pumpkin-coach. Now in a fairytale world this might work. But in this, ‘real’ world, running someone over is not the best idea, foremost because it leaves dent.

But let’s say you wanted to fictionally run someone over for the sake of a plot. It isn’t the best option either. For one thing, it doesn’t guarantee the victim will die, and secondly, the amount of physical evidence like paint chips and other trace left on the victim and at the scene makes it difficult to get away with it.

From all my murderous research, I’ve discovered two things. The NSA really does pay attention to people who google murder over and over again, and secondly, there is no perfect crime. Which is good, for me more so than the people who like to murder others.

After all, how lame would it be to read whodunits without the who?


Blue Reynolds knows the darker side of New Never City– the side that’s hopped-up on fairy dust and doesn’t care if your house gets blown down. Rent’s due and his PI business is all but make believe. But even Blue shudders at having to chase after Isabella Davis, a freckle-nosed redhead five feet tall on her tip-toes…if you don’t count the pretty pink wings.

Izzy is tough, and sneaky, and not too thrilled with the idea of being the new tooth fairy. The last six have been most gruesomely extracted. But Blue has a feeling that whoever is killing the tooth fairies is worse than your standard big bad psycho. The fairy council is hiding something. The Shadows are moving out into the light. And Blue is saddled with a shocking power that could take out half of New Never City…

Fresh Fiction reviewer Shellie Surles writes “You will laugh and shake your head with a smile on your face while reading THE FAIRYLAND MURDERS.” Read the full review here.

About J.A. Kazimer

J.A. Kazimer is a writer from Denver, CO. When Kazimer isn’t looking for the perfect place to hide the bodies, she spends her time surrounded by cats with attitude and a little puppy named Killer. Other hobbies include murdering houseplants, kayaking, snowboarding, reading and theater. After years of slacking, she received a master’s degree in forensic psychology, which she promptly ignored and started writing novels for little to no money.

In addition to studying the criminal mind, Kazimer spent a few years spilling drinks on people as a bartender and then wasted another few years stalking people while working as a private investigator in the Denver area. You can find her online at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Amanda Usen | Aries for the Win!

Amanda UsenIMPULSE CONTROLI have the pleasure of kicking off the Men of the Zodiac Series for Entangled Publishing’s Indulgence line with IMPULSE CONTROL. My hero is an Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, and he has all of the typical Aries traits. He’s adventurous, energetic, courageous, confident, enthusiastic, and quick-witted. Of course, he’s also selfish, impulsive, impatient, quick-tempered, and a foolhardy daredevil. It’s the curse of Aries, our greatest strengths can get us into terrible trouble.

I jumped at the chance to write an Aries hero because I’m a big fan of “write what you know.” I’ve been reading my Aries horoscope for what seems like forever. I vividly remember poring over The Cosmo Girl’s Bedside Astrologer during my formative years, and when I began brainstorming IMPULSE CONTROL, I knew exactly what kind of a guy Russ needed to be. A fiery lover, first and foremost, because Aries is a fire sign. A bold, pioneering adventurer, because an Aries is a leader, not a follower. He had to be loyal and protective because an Aries takes care of his own, and his job would involve constant challenges to keep him from getting bored.

In other words, I needed Bear Grylls. No, really! Well, I needed a guy like Bear. Enter Russ Donovan, former Green Beret and creator of Wild Man, an adventure-based reality TV show. He lives on the edge every day, pushing himself to the top of mountains, driven by the promise he made to his little brother before he died: Keep living for me, bro. Don’t ever stop. Every day brings new challenges for Russ, especially when an old friend talks him into a favor: filming a few collaborative shows with dainty homemaking expert Susannah Stone. Hello, opposites attract! Now what kind of heroine can keep up with an Aries man?

Somebody as tough as he is…although she doesn’t know it yet. Susannah Stone reminds Russ of a pink marshmallow, yet these two strike sparks from the minute they step into an elevator together at the beginning of the book. Their first collaborative show is a camping adventure hot enough to melt all the snow on the mountain, and when the footage from their tent hook-up is leaked online, things really catch fire. It was a ton of fun to write scene after scene of these two challenging each other. Here’s one of my favorites from the tent on their winter camping trip:


His smile was wicked. “Just a peek? My imagination was killing me all day yesterday.”

She blinked rapidly, trying to clear the haze from her mind. His hands felt like they belonged on her body. Had he somehow hypnotized her with his touch? There was no way she was taking off her clothes. The unfamiliar pulse of arousal through her body couldn’t make her completely forget reality. “Imagination is a beautiful thing.”

“Not as beautiful as you.”

A painful laugh shook her. “If tiger-striped fleece is your kink, buy some for one of your supermodel girlfriends, and have a good time. My body has a fourteen-month-old baby belly and a whopping big cesarean scar.” He didn’t look nearly as deterred as she had expected, so she added, “And stretch marks. Let’s not forget about them. Stick to your imagination. It’s way better.”

“I don’t believe you.” Laughter crinkled the corners of his eyes. “Prove it.”

She snorted. “I’m not falling for that one.”

“How about you show me yours, and I’ll show you mine? Scars, that is. If you’re worried about physical flaws, I’ve got you beat. I’m a mess—I’ve got scars all over. Show me your worst, and I’ll top it.”

His eyes dared her, and the smug grin on his face said he thought she wasn’t brave enough to do
it. Either that, or he thought she was playing coy and a little more encouragement on his part would turn her into a wild and willing stripper.

She arched one brow. “Did I mention I cook for a living, and I hate going to the gym? This body is soft in ways I doubt you’ve ever seen.”

His intent gaze sent a shimmer of heat through her belly. “I’ve got hard covered, sweetheart. I like soft.” His hand curled around her hip. “Show me.”


Oh, that Wild Man Russ Donovan is unstoppable! Actually, that’s the problem. How will he and Susannah ever get it together if he spends all his time climbing mountains and never plans on being home for dinner? Remember…all those splendid Aries traits have a nearly impossible negative flip side. But, as any Aries who has his or her mind set on a goal will tell you: where there’s a will, there’s a way—and Russ wants Susannah. Grab the fire extinguisher when an Aries sets his sights on love!

What’s your zodiac sign? Do you embody its traits?

To celebrate the release of IMPULSE CONTROL, I’d like to invite you to take part in my release blast. I’m giving away tons of books, including the entire Zodiac series, one book a month as each title is released! Post your Zodiac sign and best trait on Facebook and Twitter with the tag #ZodiacFTW. And enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here.


Survivalist Russ Donovan is the toughest man in America, with a reality TV show to prove it. Now he’s been strong-armed into filming a new show with dainty lifestyle expert Susannah Stone. But while “At Home in the Wild” could mean millions for his family’s charity, Russ plans to put Little Susie Homemaker to the test—in the Adirondack Mountains in the dead of winter. And there’s no way she’ll be able to hack it…

Susannah is tougher than she looks. She’s had to fight her way through life, and there’s no way she’ll let a bossy mountain man show her up. When she gets him on her turf, he’s in serious trouble. But now she’s run into a bit of problem. Because no one—least of all Russ and Susannah—expects sparks to fly both on camera and off. And now everyone will see their risqué rivalry break all of the rules…

About the Author

Amanda Usen knows two things for certain: chocolate cheesecake is good for breakfast and a hot chef can steal your heart. Her husband stole hers the first day of class at the Culinary Institute of America. They live in Western New York with their three children, one gerbil, four fish, a Russian tortoise, and a beagle. Amanda spends her days teaching pastry arts classes and her nights writing romance. If she isn’t baking or writing, she can usually be found reading a book and trying to get out of cooking dinner.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest


Stefanie London | No More Boring Dates

Stefanie LondonTHE RULES ACCORDING TO GRACIEWhile writing my latest release, THE RULES ACCORDING TO GRACIE, I was looking for a fun date idea that would help my characters get out of their comfort zones…well, get the heroine out of her comfort zone anyway.

Gracie Greene takes all her first dates to the same restaurant. While the dates don’t ever go well, her friendship with the owner of the restaurant (and her bad date saviour!) leads to something special.

It got me thinking about dating. Now, it’s been a long time since I dated as my husband and I met at the slightly crazy tender age of nineteen. Now, I enjoy a nice meal and a glass of wine as much as the next person, but restaurant dates are kind of boring in the beginning, are they not?

There are a few elements to a great date. You need an activity that will allow you to talk and connect, something that will help the conversation along if it slows down (first dates can be so awkward!) and you want something that will make a great memory if you move onto date number two and beyond.

If you’re looking for something to spice up date night then here are a few things you might want to consider:

1. Take your food outdoors – How about a Night Market for a fresh take on the dinner and drinks date? These markets usually have a great atmosphere and, while they can be crowded, there’s plenty to do so you won’t risk awkward silences if the conversation is a little slow. Plus there will be plenty of yummy food to try out together.

2. Get active – Try a sport, preferably something that doesn’t make you too sweaty! I played croquet for the first time at a Hen’s Day and it was so much fun! Mini-golf is an old favourite, so try something new. How about lawn bowls (it’s not just for the blue rinse set) or the Italian version, bocce.

3. Walk with the animals –Places like Zoos and Aquariums often have great events on that would be perfect for a date! There’s something magical about watching underwater life at an aquarium. Plus you might learn something new.

4. Be a tourist in your own town – Pick a tourist attraction in your local town that you both haven’t been to. It could be a museum, gallery, monument or something else! Exploring the place where you live together can make for a great memory.

5. Play a game – There are a ton of funky places that offer board games and drinks in the one venue. Have a wine over Snakes and Ladders or a coffee and quick round of Jenga. This gives you something to do while you talk, you could even make it even more fun by sharing something about yourself with each round of the game.

A few honourable mentions go to: taking a class together (try cooking, photography or coffee art), downloading a walking tour of your city and taking it together, or going to an old-school video game arcade.


Rule number one: don’t fall for the wrong guy.

Gracie Green has a shopping list for men. Career, financials, family…and a long list of rules to determine a guy’s suitability. She’s already disappointed her socialite mother once—now Gracie needs to find Mr. Perfect. Too bad she keeps getting distracted by her super-sexy, six-feet-of-tattooed-hotness friend, Des, who is so many shades of Mr. Wrong…

Bar owner Des Chapman has vowed never again to get involved with society girls. Yet he’s irresistibly drawn to Gracie—those lush curves, those lips, and her ridiculous ability to date the wrong guys. As Gracie’s discouragement grows, Des realizes it’s time to show her what she really needs in a man—and it has nothing to do with a briefcase and generous bank account. He’ll teach Gracie the Rules According To Des…even if it means breaking his rule in the process.

About Stefanie London

Growing up, Stefanie came from a family of women who loved to read. Her favourite activity was going shopping with her Nan during school holidays, where she would sit on the floor of the bookstore with her little sister and painstakingly select the books to spend her allowance on. Thankfully, Nan was a patient woman.

Thus, it was no surprise Stefanie was the sort of student who would read her English books before the semester started. After sneaking several literature subjects into her ‘very practical’ Business degree, she got a job in Communications. When writing emails and newsletters didn’t fulfill her creative urges, she turned to fiction and was finally able to write the stories that kept her mind busy at night.

Now she lives with her very own hero and dreams of travelling the world. She frequently indulges in her passions for good coffee, French perfume, high heels and zombie movies. Recently she gave up her day job to write sexy, contemporary romance stories and she couldn’t be happier.

Cate Masters | I Heart Antagonists

Cate MastersTWICE IN A BLUE MOONIn every story, writers hope readers will root for the hero and the heroine. They’re the main characters, the center of the story. But without other characters, readers can’t fully understand the motivations of the hero/heroine.

That’s one of the reasons I love antagonists. Not necessarily a villain, but someone who doesn’t blindly follow the others. Someone who questions why the h/h do what they do, or who may oppose them.

To me, the antagonist is every bit as important as the hero or heroine. Without antagonists and the conflicts they present, the main characters might not show readers what they’re really made of.

In TWICE IN A BLUE MOON, Hayden can be a real jerk. He’s sarcastic, snippy and downright rude sometimes. Just as I imagine a reality TV set to be like, with at the participants adding extra conflict by acting out personal drama. Audiences love the conflict they provide, and love to hate the jerks, which is one of the reasons viewers keep tuning in week after week. So I imagine producers would love Hayden too.

Let’s take a closer look at Hayden. He’s a video guy for the reality show No Boundaries, so it’s his job to see everything that goes on around him. His camera adds a bit of distance to what he sees, so it gives him a better perspective. He knows Melanie’s falling for Buck even before she does.

I threw in a few hints about another reason Hayden’s more attuned to Melanie than most. He’s got a crush on her. Not head-over-heels in love, but he’s definitely In Lust with her. His actions speak pretty loudly about this. It’s his one saving grace.

Readers aren’t supposed to necessarily like Hayden. But without him, Melanie might have avoided the truth even though it was right in front of her. Hayden helped force her to realize she had to make a decision, one that would impact her future.

Antagonists help reveal the real character of the hero/heroine by challenging them on a deep level. They hold up a mirror of the soul to the main character, and though the main character might deny what s/he actually sees in that mirror, eventually s/he has to deal with the truth.

Without the antagonist, the story lacks an added believability and depth. I believe in HEA, but without an antagonist, that ending would be far too easy to get to, and a less interesting read.

How do you feel about antagonists in stories? Do you have any favorites? Bad guys/girls you loved to hate?


Can true love strike twice?

After the death of her first love, Melanie Michaels buries her grief in the risky demands of a reality show, where her extreme stunts leave her teetering on the edge danger. That’s exactly where she wants to be—until she arranges for her crew to traverse the Swedish Lapland in the dead of winter. It’s the one place she shouldn’t go, on the one day she should avoid—her would-be wedding anniversary.

Instead of romantic nights spent in the Ice Hotel or under the Northern Lights, Melanie is stuck with Joe “Buck” Wright, a snarky loner tour guide who loves his sled dogs and nothing and no one else. But Buck is also trying to numb a painful past. Can two people skilled at pushing others away find warmth at the edge of the Arctic?

Fresh Fiction reviewer Christine Mize hails it as “a story that will warm your heart on a cold winter day.” Read the full review here.

About Cate Masters

Cate Masters is a hopeless romantic who loves a bit of adventure in her stories, whether contemporary, historical or paranormal/fantasy. Connect with her online at her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Rachel Brimble | Keeping My Writing Fresh

Rachel BrimbleWHAT A WOMAN DESIRESThe market is full of romance books – mainstream romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, medical romance, cowboy romance…the list goes on. So how does a romance writer attempt to stand out from the crowd? To keep her or his precious readers interested and anticipating their next release?

I am lucky enough to write three romance sub-genres for two different publishers – I write Victorian romance for eKensington/Lyrical press, mainstream romance and romantic suspense for Harlequin Superromance. The fact that I get to alternate between the three keeps me interested as a writer and, I hope, keeps my readers looking forward to seeing what type of romance releases next.

As I am currently writing my sixteenth novel, the issue of what keeps my writing fresh is a big one. I hope because I live so close to where my Victorian books are set and that Bath is a different city from London, I bring a different feel and atmosphere than many other historical romances.

For my contemporary work, I am the first author to have books in the Harlequin Superromance line with all British characters in a British setting. Again, I hope this makes my books different than others on offer.

As for the stories themselves? My Victorian romances tend to focus on the lower classes and their problems, rather than balls, dances and upper class propriety. I like to research how the ‘real people’ lived in the late 1800s. The problems they faced, the changing world around them, domestic changes, moral changes, the fact that more and more women wanted to stretch further than keeping a nice house and a happy husband. I like that I am building a reputation for writing darker Victorian romances and the feedback from readers and reviewers has given me the confidence that there is a space in the market for me and my work.

The Harlequin Superromance line runs to 85,000 words so are the biggest of Harlequin lines. There is room outside of the central romance to explore. I have touched on domestic abuse, money laundering and drug abuse––issues you wouldn’t normally expect between the pages of a romance novel!

I personally feel that romance writing has as much scope and freedom as any mainstream novel…as long as the relationship of the hero and heroine is always at the forefront. I hope your visitors agree and try one of my books!


From country girl to actress of the stage, one woman dares to live her dreams—but is she brave enough to open her heart…?

Monica Danes always wanted more than the village of Biddlestone had to offer. After a failed courtship to a man of her parents’ choosing, she fled for the city of Bath and never looked back. Today, Monica is the undisputed queen of the theater—a wealthy, independent woman. But when she is called home in the wake of tragedy, Monica returns— intending to leave again as soon as possible.

Thomas Ashby has been a groom at the Danes estate since he was a boy—and has been enamored with Monica for almost as long. He knows he isn’t a suitable match for his master’s daughter, despite the special bond he and Monica have always shared—and their undeniable attraction. But now that she’s returned, Thomas has one last chance to prove himself worthy—and to show Monica a life, and a love, she won’t want to give up…

Fresh Fiction reviewer Linda Green calls it “a wonderful tale of independence and love in the Victorian era”. Read the full review here.


Scott Walker doesn’t have time for a relationship. The sexy mechanic has career ambitions, not to mention a mother and three sisters to take care of. The last thing he needs is Carrie Jameson, the beauty he never forgot, arriving in Templeton Cove over the holidays with some unexpected news.

Scott still finds Carrie irresistible, and he’s not one to shirk responsibility. Scott’s issues with his own dad make the prospect of parenthood a minefield. But if he and Carrie can overcome their fears, this Christmas could bring them the best gift of all.

About Rachel Brimble

Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. She started writing short stories about eight years ago but once her children were at school, she embarked on her first novel. It was published in 2007. Since then, she’s had several books published with small presses and in 2012 signed two book contracts with both Harlequin Superromance and Kensington.

Represented by US agent Dawn Dowdle, Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton–on–the–Water in South West England. And in the evening? Well, a well–deserved glass of wine is never, ever refused…

Debby Grahl | Location, Location, Location


Location is an extremely important part of writing a successful story. For me, if a book takes place in a state, city, or part of the world I’m interested in, I’m more likely to buy the book.

New Orleans happens to be one of those cities I not only love to visit—I love to write about it, as well. It’s also one of those cities that, if you do decide to use it as the backdrop for your story, you’d better do your research and get it right. If you make a mistake and put a famous hotel or restaurant on the wrong street or a musician’s name wrong, or a historical event or figure in the wrong time, your readers will let you know about it.

In RUE TOULOUSE, I placed Ma Cherie on Royal because there are other similar establishments located on that street.

Remi and Caterine eat at The Chartres House, which is a favorite of my husband and me. In fact, I had my characters order what David and I usually have ourselves.  I knew they’d like it!

Caterine meets her grandmother at Brennan’s for brunch. Again, this is one of our favorite places to eat. Because, while I was writing the book, Brennan’s closed for a time, I thought about using a different restaurant, but it’s such a part of New Orleans, and it was expected to reopen, I took literary license and used it as it was.

Caterine and Elaine talk about getting pizza at the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. The pizza is wonderful, and there have been many times I wish they could deliver to me here at home – in South Carolina. Considering that’s about eight hundred miles away, I don’t think that will happen.

Remi, Caterine, Elaine, and Paul go to The Gumbo Shop for dinner, another New Orleans must, but I have to admit I had to maneuver things around a bit in order for the scene to play out the way I wanted.

Remi and Caterine have café au lait and beignets at The Café Du Monde. These puffy, sugary donuts are incredible, but extremely messy. Don’t wear dark clothes when you go like I did the first time. No matter how careful you are, the sugar sifts down onto your lap. Afterward, everyone knows where you’ve eaten.

To write about the actions in the story, it helps to know where the characters live. Remi’s apartment is on Rue Toulouse. David and I were staying at a hotel on Toulouse when I came up with the idea for the story. In fact, there’s a great house on Toulouse between Dauphine and Burgundy which I use as Remi’s digs.

Caterine lives in Audubon Place. This is an exclusive gated area adjacent to Audubon Park and near the colleges of Tulane and Loyola. I needed to have a few questions answered about living in Audubon Place, so we drove up to the gate and a very nice guard was very patient and helpful with me, but we couldn’t drive in and look around so most of Caterine’s house is totally my imagination. Google Earth is a big help with it’s aeraial and street views.

The picnic that takes place at Remi’s family home is totally made up, but Houma is a real place and we drove out along the bayou south of Houma. The store where they stop for beer and wine does exist.

Some of the secondary characters mentioned are real people. There are men who paint themselves silver and copper that do different poses. And a man who dresses like Uncle Sam walks the streets with his little dog. There are street musicians everywhere and carriage rides for the tourists. There are second line impromptu parades and beads, beads and more beads thrown from balconies and floats during carnival.

In RUE TOULOUSE, I tried to bring the sights, sounds and tastes of New Orleans to life. I hope I did, and I hope you get a chance to visit this incredible city.


It’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans. Attending a masquerade ball, wealthy fashion designer Caterine Doucette, dressed as a shimmering ice princess, has her cool façade shattered when she encounters Bayou-born ex-cop Remi Michaud, disguised as the darkly handsome pirate Jean Lafitte. Their true identities hidden, the princess and the pirate come together in an explosion of passion and desire. But when fantasy turns to cold reality, Caterine panics and disappears into the night, unaware this man will soon be sent to rescue her from a killer and will capture her heart.

About Debby Grahl

Debby Grahl lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her husband, David, and their cat, Tigger. Besides writing, she enjoys biking, walking on the beach and a glass of wine at sunset. Her favorite places to visit are New Orleans, Boston, Captiva Island in Florida, the Cotswolds of England and her home state of Michigan. She is a history buff who also enjoys reading murder mysteries, time travel, and, of course, romance. Visually impaired from childhood by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books. Debby belongs to RWA, Florida Romance Writers, Hearts Across History and Lowcountry Romance Writers.

Rebecca York | So Many Genres, So Little Time


I guess I am the classic example of the woman who couldn’t decide what she wanted to do when she grew up.  Well, I did settle on “writer.”  But I started off with newspaper articles, then slopped into novels with a kids’ science-fiction book for Scholastic.

Since I’d read mostly science fiction and mystery, I didn’t even know the romance genre existed.  But when a friend asked me if I wanted to try writing one, I found that these were novels all about the relationship thread that I’d loved in the books I had read, like The Puppet Masters, by Robert Heinlein, which is almost classic romantic suspense.

After writing straight romances, I found I wanted to do stories with more plot, which was why I gravitated toward romantic suspense, like the Rockfort Security books, which all feature a man and a woman falling in love while determined killers threaten their lives.  And I also love creating a community of people like the Rockfort agents who will go the extra mile for each other.

You see both these characteristics in PRIVATE AFFAIR, where Olivia Winters and Max Lyon have to pose as an engaged couple to investigate the murder of one of Olivia’s former classmates.  She was the class beauty. He was the bad boy a few classes ahead.  As they dig into the murder mystery, their fake engagement heats up.  But they need the other Rockfort agents to help save their lives.

Another good example is BAD NIGHTS.  In that book, the first in the Rockfort series, Jack Brandt volunteered to infiltrate a militia organization bent on wreaking havoc in the nation’s capital.  When his cover is blown, he’s beaten within an inch of his life but escapes and ends up naked and confused outside the vacation cabin of Morgan Rains.  Knowing he’s putting her in danger, he tries to leave as soon as he is able.  But it’s already too late, and he and Morgan must run for their lives.  Then all the other Rockfort men play a strategic role in rescuing Morgan when the militia leader captures her.

I love to spice up my romantic suspense with woo woo elements.  I’m doing that now with the Decorah Security series which involves a detective agency where all the agents have paranormal powers.

And I’ve also gone back to my first love, science fiction, with an Off-World series, set in the far future.  I’ve had the most fun with stories like NIGHTFALL and CHRISTMAS HOME, set on Palamar, which was settled by men and their sons, fleeing a plague that killed almost all the women on their home planets.  After fifteen years, bride ships are finally arriving.  So we’ve got macho virgin guys trying to cope with sexually experienced women, which makes for some very interesting situations.

But whatever subgenre I’m working in, I like writing stories with a happy ending. No matter what kind of dangers and traumas I put my h/h through, they’re going to have their HEA.  Just like all the guys in Rockfort Security, who are now happily married and looking toward the future.

Author Biography

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Rebecca York’s writing has been compared to that of Dick Francis, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Maggie Shayne. Her award-winning books have been translated into twenty-two languages and optioned for film. A recipient of the RWA Centennial Award, she lives in Maryland near Washington, DC, which is often the setting of her romantic suspense novels.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter