Harlequin KISS imprint launch – Interview and Giveaway!

kisslaunch Just this month, Harlequin officially launched their new KISS line of books promising readers modern stories that are fresh and fun. Sometimes when I read contemporary romance, the characters seem very old-fashioned so I was curious to see what I would find in the new line. I ended up having The One That Got Away as a review book and I picked up the other three to read on my own. While the tone and stories varied, they did all feel believably modern. I was able to interview two of the launch authors, Kelly Hunter and Kimberly Lang, and this is what they had to say about the new line:

Well, the obvious question for any new line is this – what drew you to KISS, out of all of the Harlequin lines? What do you think makes it different from others?

Kelly Hunter: There’s so much to love about this line – superb individual author voices (so many KISS authors are category romance royalty, how cool is that?), amazing global settings, and there’s a special mix of lightness and depth that that all our authors bring to the stories. Humour and drama. Light and Dark. Fun and flirty, yet serious about finding and keeping love…
kimberly Lang: There’s a fresh feeling to KISS that really attracts me. I love that we can (and are encouraged) to stretch expectations and try new story ideas that don’t quite fit in other lines. It’s exciting.

In reading over the launch titles, one thing I’ve noticed is how varied they seem to be in plots and tones. For instance, Hitched! by Jessica Hart has a light, flirty tone, but Kelly Hunter’s The One That Got Away definitely goes to some darker places. Do you think this is part of what makes the KISS line different?

Kimberly Lang: Definitely. And I think that’s part of the attraction to KISS for both the authors and the readers – there’s something for everyone, and the variety of tone, story and voice means you won’t get that feeling of “haven’t I read this before?”
And Kelly Hunter added, “Absolutely.”

I know that the guidelines for KISS mention the need for 21st century alpha heroes. What would you consider a 21st century alpha to be?

Kelly Hunter: Whenever I hear the phrase 21st century hero I always picture a spaceman in a tinfoil hat (possibly something to do with all those sci-fi stories of my youth, but I digress). The heroes I write about are hot, smart, confident, loyal, protective and sometimes tortured. They have more than a passing acquaintance with the word equality.

Kimberly Lang: To me, that means he’s more approachable. He’s flirtier. He also expects (and respects) strong women who know their own minds and have their own goals and wants and he’s not going to be surprised or horrified that he can’t walk all over the heroine.

And what about the heroines?

Kimberly Lang: See above. J They’re strong women – regardless of the circumstances they find themselves in in the book. They’re the kind of women you’d want to be friends with – and sometimes the kind of women you’d want to be!

Kelly Hunter: I love a heroine who knows what she wants and goes after it. Smart, self-aware, generous, beautiful, fun… the full fantasy of all those things I want to be…

With a book like How to Get Over Your Ex, particularly, where the heroine has to move past a huge and public rejection, there is certainly a need for growth and healing.What kind of character development do you like to see in your stories?

Kelly Hunter: I love opening up restrained or reclusive characters to the possibilities of love. Especially if they feel they don’t deserve it.

Kimberly Lang:I like to see characters find the inner solution to whatever the external situation has unearthed. Whether the present is making them come to terms with the past or forcing them to draw on a strength they didn’t know they had, I want to see them become happy with themselves and their lives. Not all problems can be solved and not all baggage can be unpacked, and sometimes the solution is just what that Serenity Prayer advocates: the wisdom to accept the things they can’t change, the courage to change the things they can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Life is messy and complicated and I want to see characters learn to accept and thrive within those sometimes messy and complicated situations.

So, what do you all have coming up next? And what KISS titles are you all particularly excited about in coming months?

Kelly Hunter: I have a friends-to-lovers story on the go at the moment. It’s set in Turkey, and there’s apple tea and silk carpets, brotherhood, a pretend marriage and amnesia. Party in my head.

Kimberly Lang: I’m very excited to be a part of a continuity with Aimee Carson, Amy Andrews, and Heidi Rice coming in late summer/early fall. It focuses on four former college roommates whose lives get re-tangled when one brings them all together for her wedding. For me, it was amazing and inspiring (and not a little intimidating!) to work with such wonderfully talented authors. And it was so much fun!

Thank you both for taking the time to visit!
And here’s the giveaway part – Harlequin has generously donated sets of the 4 launch titles from the KISS line (The One That Got Away, The Downfall of a Good Girl, How to Get Over Your Ex, and Hitched! for three (3) lucky readers. To enter, just comment with one thing you would like to see in a contemporary romance. Contest is open to readers in North America from now until 11:59 pm on Monday, February 18, 2013. Good luck!

– Lynn Spencer

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43 Responses to Harlequin KISS imprint launch – Interview and Giveaway!

  1. Kayne says:

    I would love to win the giveaway. I like to see office humor in a contemporary romance.

  2. Christy says:

    I would love to win these books! I’m a sucker for the friends-to-lovers theme and will pick up any book that even hints at it.

  3. farmwifetwo says:

    A lot less “I’m so horny I can’t function” inner dialogue.

    Makes me wonder if I’m reading a YA instead of a book written by adults for adults.

  4. Gail says:

    I’m a sucker for contemporary twists on fairy tales.

  5. Pamela says:

    I would love to win. I like to see a heroine who knows who she is and makes no apologies for her identity.

  6. Kim T. says:

    I agree with farmwifetwo. Less mental lusting, more believable sexual tension. Witty dialogue. Real conflicts.

  7. Rebe says:

    I like twists on fairy tales as well, but I also love friends-to-lovers stories.

  8. Lori says:

    Sounds very promising–I’m in for a set! (Crosses fingers)

  9. Carrie says:

    I’d like to see more “beta” men. Men who don’t have to be the most successful (career-wise) part of a couple. Men who respect women as intellectual equals.

    I’m an extrovert married to an introvert. We got great pre-marital counseling years ago that helped us focus on how our different personalities could work together in a marriage. That has meant I do the haggling when we buy cars and my husband keeps track of the details in our life! I’d like to see more of this kind of splitting of “duties” instead of the more common ones.

  10. Sofia says:

    I would love to see more multicultural characters in the stories to more truly represent society.

  11. Maryann says:

    What a great giveaway! I love lots of sarcasm and humor in my contemporary novels.

  12. Samantha says:

    Feminism. It doesn’t have to be the forefront, but I like characters who challenge the norm.

  13. Heather Cathrall says:

    I love funny family members in contemporary romances – like an outspoken grandmother, or an inquisitive child. I also love romantic gestures by the hero and a strong spirited heroine!

  14. Tina M says:

    I want to see more of a friend than lover in one..Great giveaway.Thanks

  15. mari says:

    A romance where the charaters had a faith life, and not in a preachy, inspirational way with God acting as a deus ex machina, as He does in so many inspirationals. For example Barbara Samuel’s The Sleeping Night. Characters believed in G od and the Bible, yet the book was a warm romance with gasp! sex!

  16. Veronica says:

    I love contemporary romances because in theory they could happen to anyone these days. My favourites are when the woman is sassy, independent and can defend herself. I enjoy those stories!

  17. Kim says:

    I would like to see more stories with witty dialogue like that found in SEP’s, Julie James’ and Rachel Gibson’s books.

  18. Wendy says:

    I’d like to see more beta heroes too. I also love the friends to lovers plot line.

  19. Liene says:

    I would love to see more contemporary romances written from the male perspective… Thanks for the chance!

  20. Peggy P says:

    I would like to see more office romance stories – not the boss & the secretary … but more equal co-workers that work together in a realistic way – like most of us do!

  21. LuchaLori says:

    Long-time singles falling in love would be a great theme.

  22. sarac says:

    I love to see smart, strong heroines.

  23. Renee says:

    Please include me in the give away :)

  24. erika says:

    Wow. Just did a survey on this Imprint for Harlequin.
    Since I won’t be reading this line I gave my opinion why.

    Glad they seperated these writers from Harlequin Presents which I prefer. I knew instantly the “Kiss” Presents extras were in no way Presents. Too chicklit, beta heroes.

  25. Lily says:

    I’d like to see heros and heroines who are in their 30s and 40s. Fingers crossed for a win!

  26. Manjari says:

    I like great dialogue. Thanks for the contest!

  27. amers says:

    In contemporaries, I would expect more travel. I also expect more mention of and interaction with friends than I do in other styles of books. Thanks for the great feature/interview!

  28. LeeF says:

    I do like snappy dialogue and non-romantic banter with secondary characters.

  29. I am excited about KISS–fresh and fabulous! What would I like to see in contemporary romance? Story lines that reflect the changing times–blended families–multi-generations and “”Mr. Moms”, global warming and the need to reuse, recycle and reinvent the way we interact with the planet, role reversals–women who rule and the men who love to be ruled, and the knowledge that it is truly okay to march to the beat of your own inner drum. Of course, strong, romantic heroes and smart, sassy heroines never go out of style!

  30. Tina S says:

    I want more heroines who are members of the military or veterans-I feel they are very underrepresented in proportion to the military heroes.

  31. Carol says:

    I would love to see more diversity as well, more heroes and heroines from different cultural backgrounds. Thank you for another great contest! Look forward to reading the new line.

  32. Dagmar says:

    Great real dialog with humor is what I’d like to see. I love friends to lovers themes too.

  33. anon1001 says:

    I like the hero pines for heroine theme

  34. Manda says:

    “Normal women and men”, which I mean is they both aren’t in the best shape, and don’t having amazing careers. Also more women who are the “althete” of the family. Work romance as well.

  35. erika says:

    I read some of these Kiss Imprints when they were Presents extras. They failed to impress. Obviously chicklit has its fans. Hopefully the Presents line can go back to being memorable now.

  36. gingko-girl says:

    I love talented heroines who need to learn to trust. Oh, exotic locales are a plus.

  37. Barbara Elness says:

    My favorite premise is the second chance at love, and if there is a big conflict that they have to work through, so much the better. I like the small town with nosy relatives or neighbors butting in too, that’s always fun.

  38. Beth Sipos says:

    I like contemporary and really want to see more stories of personal growth. Hero/Heroine dealing with their own stuff not finding healing only through others. Also, love when strong friend relationships add to the plot. secondary characters make the plot realistic. No one really is an island. Also, like characters who aren’t swimsuit models!

    mostly, I like spunky heroines, and heroes with a sense of humor. If they can’t laugh at themselves, then I find them too one dimensional!

    Also, hate! when the couple are completely horny all the time! I mean geez! He barely kisses her and she can’t function or remember her name! :::rolls eyes::: Also, Hero is erect and completely overcome just by her walking into the room! :::raises eyebrows::: I don’t think so! ugh. That gets old!

  39. Kimh says:

    Love hot sexy scences and great chensitry
    great prize thanks have a great week

  40. Kristin says:

    I would like to see more of them take place in big cities. Also I am a big fan of the enemies to lovers theme in contemporary romances.

  41. Elizabeth says:

    I’d love to win these. I love contemporaries which are well-routed in a specific place – particularly if it’s somewhere unusual, like rural British Columbia or Singapore.

  42. Ducky says:

    Sounds promising and the covers are pretty too.

  43. Jane Cavanaugh says:

    I would love to see more love stories with lots of humor and characters over 50 years of age. Thanks for this opportunity.

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