Archive for December, 2012

Books With Buzz: Sarah Mayberry Interview and Giveaway

Monday, December 31st, 2012

When readers list their favorite writers of category romance, Sarah Mayberry consistently makes the lists. Her characters feel very real, and her ear for dialogue makes their stories a delight to read. In addition, she tends to be a versatile author, writing stories with heat that fits in well with the Blaze line while also exploring family situations and deep emotion within the Superromance line.

In her latest release, The Other Side of Us(due out this Wednesday!), Mayberry takes readers to a beach community in Australia where the hero and heroine have retreated from their usual lives. For one, the discovery of an affair has led to the end of a marriage, while the other is still on the long road to recovery following a devastating car accident. The new neighbors are prickly with each other at first and there’s certainly a lot of believable baggage between them, but watching them create a relationship is a delight. Mackenzie and Oliver are both mature, intelligent characters and both the emotion and heat in this book made it good reading.

And we have three(3) copies to give away! If you’d like to win a copy of The Other Side of Us, just comment below by 11:59 p.m. on January 3, 2012. This contest is open to both US and international readers. (more…)

Separating the Narrator from a Series

Friday, December 28th, 2012

I became addicted to audiobooks about seven years ago and haven’t looked back. Before I had a membership at audible (thank you Lea, for the recommendation) I listened to audiobooks on CDs. Because CDs were quite costly, I primarily stuck with audiobooks by my favorite authors such as Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, and Linda Howard. I was unwilling to take a chance on newer authors. However, sometimes even with those favorites, the audio version was a risk in the hands of a less-than-desirable narrator.

Thanks to my audible membership I’m able to sample books before I download them, to make certain that I actually like the narrator. And thanks to Lea’s wonderful Speaking of Audiobooks columns, I’m now alerted to new-to-me narrators. As Lea wrote in her very first Speaking of Audiobooks column back in June of 2009, it’s all about the narrator. Over the last seven years I’ve discovered such wonderful narrators as Tanya Eby, Kate Reading, Xe Sands, Justine, Eyre, Susan Ericksen, and Anna Fields. (more…)

Cheating Hearts

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

There are few deal-breakers as universal as infidelity. Most readers avoid any mention of it like the plague, and very few authors can – or even try to– pull off a believable HEA when one of the protagonists cheats on the other. But what if the hero and heroine cheat together?

I recently read Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins, in which the hero and heroine sleep together despite the fact that they are both seeing other people. Obviously they both eventually break up with those other people and they end up together (it is a romance novel, after all) but not before they each return to their significant others and try to work things out. (more…)

Speaking of Audiobooks: Romance Audio Bests for 2012

Friday, December 21st, 2012

It’s once again time to take a look at the previous twelve months of listening and choose my Top Ten romance audios for the year. Over the past two weeks, I’ve relistened to portions of each of these choices, bringing vividly to life the reasons for their inclusion on this list. I recall my excitement and pleasure as I listened to each of these outstanding releases.

I find I’m no longer a purist when it comes to my romance listening. Oh, I still require a thread of romance or the potential (in a continuing series) for such but my favorites no longer have to feature the romance first and foremost. And this year’s Top Ten is evidence of such with books bordering on women’s fiction, paranormal with future romance potential, or fantasy with overtones of romance. (more…)

TBR Challenge 2012: Holiday Fun!

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Wow – we’ve reached the end of TBR Challenge 2012! This month’s theme was holiday romance, so I had no trouble finding a book in my TBR pile to fit it. In the end, I decided I was in the mood for something contemporary, so I went with Harlequin Superromance’s 2010 anthology, That Christmas Feeling. I read the whole book, but it was definitely a mixed bag. Overall, I’d put it in the B-/C+ range.

The first story, A Dundee Christmas by Brenda Novak, was the most unique but also the most problematic. As it opened, I could tell this wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill Christmas story and I found myself looking forward to what might unfold. The heroine, Cierra Romero, is a young woman who came to the States from Guatemala on a visa to marry a much older man. (more…)

Special Title Lists: Christmas Romances

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

We’ve just posted the revised versions of three special title lists, including the Christmas Romances list. This seemed to be the perfect time to open up the Christmas list, and we’re glad we did. The revised list includes four full anthologies in which all of the stories were submitted, 23 full-length romances, and another 23 short stories. The new entries are in a variety of genres, from historical, to contemporary, to paranormal. No matter what your reading preference, if you’re in the mood for some Christmas reading suggestions, we think the new additions to the list will give you something to read. (more…)

Pandora’s Box: Shadow Woman

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Imagine if you woke up one morning and the face in the mirror did not belong to you. How would you react to that? For Lizette Henry, the thought that all is not as it should be triggers violent headaches and bouts of vomiting. When she makes the obligatory call to tell her boss she’s ill, she gets another surprise. Her boss mentions that Lizette hasn’t been sick for the whole three years she has worked for her. Lizette thought she had worked there for five years. Slowly, she realizes that she is missing two years of memories.

Even as Lizzie becomes aware of her missing memories, she realizes she has instincts she has no business having. For example, she has the certain knowledge that her cell phone is being used to spy on her. Slowly she becomes aware of a whole host of things that seem out of place: her unnaturally quiet life style, the neighbor who pays too much attention to her, her growing sense that she is being watched wherever she goes. Small changes in her routine seem to be a trigger to have people start following her. Is she slowly going crazy? Or are people really out to get her?

For Xavier, it has been three long years of waiting to see if Lizzie ever woke up. Now she is doing so and some small part of him hopes the wake up will be complete, that she will remember him. And yet he realizes that her returning memory could actually cause a much darker outcome. For the return of her memory will mean the activation of their enemies. And that could mean the end of them both. Sound intriguing? Then follow Leigh and Maggie into Pandora’s Box to see what they thought of Shadow Woman, Linda Howard’s latest release. (more…)

Multicultural Challenge: Books With African-American Characters

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Prior to this challenge, I had read only a handful of romances starring African American characters. My favorite of those books wasn’t even technically a romance – What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage is actually a woman’s fiction book and an Oprah’s Book Club selection. So before sitting down to do this column I wanted to be sure and get some serious reading done. Here are the results.

My first read was Heart to Heart by Kayla Perrin. I absolutely loved it. Deana Hart was a singing sensation with a bestselling album to her name. Personal issues have caused a slide in her career and put a damper on her creativity. Hoping to find healing, Deana heads home to Cleveland. Circumstances lead her to Eric Bell, the brother of an old flame. Eric was always a friend, always there for Deana when she needed him and now she realizes that the sexy high school principal would be happy to be more. Given her history, she wonders if she can take a chance at love. And what about her future? Is she ready to give up her dreams of stardom and settle down in Cleveland?

(more…)

The Book Hangover

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

It is two o’clock in the morning. You have work the next morning, and maybe kids that will be up in a few hours and need to get dressed and fed and sent off to school. You should have been asleep hours ago, but the “one more chapter” bug has hit and you have a book you can’t put down. Finally, around 4 am, the book is finished, you have a wad of used Kleenex on the nightstand, your eyes feel like sandpaper, but you have a sense of euphoria at the wonderful book that you have just read. Sounds great right? Yeah – all except for the hangover that you are sure to get the next morning.

The Book Hangover. Have you ever had it? What is it? It is more than just the exhaustion that you have the next day when you stayed up too late reading a good book. That is a part of it. But just like a regular hangover, the headache isn’t the whole package. There is more to the situation. Even two days later, when you are all caught up with sleep, you just can’t wind down and read another book. That is the kicker. (more…)

Speaking of Audiobooks: Laura Kinsale is Coming to Audio!

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Romance audio enthusiasts have something splendid coming their way in 2013 – the ever so loved and admired Laura Kinsale. I’m not talking about our usual experience of seeing an audio release here and another there as we wonder about the timing of the next release and especially the chosen narrator. It’s much bigger than that.

How about seeing her entire backlist in 2013? That’s the plan – twelve extraordinary tales as only Laura Kinsale can deliver. And our wait won’t be all that long with five to six of those titles released around mid-year followed by the balance before year-end. As one of my favorite authors in print, I was thrilled with this news. After all, I’ve been wishing for Kinsale audios out loud for several years now.

We won’t need to wait anxiously for the choice of narrator either as Ms. Kinsale chose, with great care, one narrator for all of her titles – Nicholas Boulton. An accomplished British actor, you can explore his background over at IMBD as well as listen to sound bites at Audible. After listening to samples from A Battle Won and David Copperfield, I’m convinced his gorgeous sexy voice combined with obvious talent and excellent material will spell scrumptious listening!

You may recall that Laura Kinsale was chosen by our listeners as one of the Romance Author’s Backlist You Most Want to See in Audio in the 2012 Speaking of Audiobooks Favorite Romance Audiobooks Poll. How exciting to see another of our choices actually make the move to audio!

If Laura Kinsale is a new name to you, it’s a good time to check out her books in eBook format as Amazon currently has six of her titles priced at $2.99. If you are looking for a place to start, I recommend The Shadow and the Star, Flowers from the Storm or Uncertain Magic. Don’t expect anything ordinary – these are intricate stories packed with emotional depth and unusual characters.

Here’s a toast to all the Kinsale listening in our future!

– Lea Hensley