Friday, July 21, 2017

Lara Temple: Why do I love Romance? The Women!

Why do I love romance? It’s simple – the women! Ever since I became a published Harlequin M&B historical romance author a little over a year ago I’ve been surrounded by women – my editors, my fellow authors, and almost all my readers (well, aside from my ever supportive husband). Just this weekend I was at the annual Romance Novelists Association’s annual conference. From the moment I arrived to the moment I left I was laughing, talking, listening, learning – totally engaged. Sounds like love to me. The women are amazing – intelligent, funny, deep, and endlessly fascinating. After a full day of lectures and workshops we gathered in the shared kitchens and descended from the sublime to the ridiculous over tea, wine, and chocolate. We talked about everything – family, work (many of us do have other jobs), writing, publishing, our past and our future. The kind of discussions you usually have with your best friends after a glass of wine (yes, wine is heavily featured at romance conferences).

5 of the 9 Unlaced Book Club ladies at the RNA 2017 conference last week
Wearing my author hat I spend most of my time alone, happily transferring tales from my head into my laptop, agonizing over my character’s conflicts and needs and delighting in their transition from pain to love (and sometimes back again a few times). My main points of interaction with the world in this new profession come from contact with readers and other authors on social media, my amazingly prescient editor, and perhaps twice a year at events like the RNA conference.
I’ve been to umpteen business conferences but this is different – this is pure, unadulterated fun. It feeds back in to my writing – I can feel it filling out, gaining color and warmth, thanks to the women who are constantly amazing me with their intelligence and generosity. This isn’t just theoretical – we are putting it into practice all the time – imagine the kind of collaboration required for nine women to write a short story together simply by passing it from one to the next, each on adding her twist – this is precisely what I have recently done with eight of my wonderful fellow Harlequin Historical authors (members of the Unlaced Book Club on Facebook – check out our ‘Captive at Cragdale Hall’ on the Blossom Twins blog at

The Unlaced Book Club ladies - my alternative family of mad, bad, glad and stunning gals
This sense of wellbeing at being surrounded by women isn’t just my gut feeling, apparently – it’s also science. A Stanford University professor was discussing longevity and he noted the usual point about married men statistically living longer than unmarried men. When a woman from the audience asked for the comparable statistics about women he said with perfect seriousness – women who spend time with other women tend to live longer. In other words – being around women, interacting with women, tends to release those feel-good and intimacy hormones serotonin and oxytocin. This is precisely what I feel after this marvelous weekend – even squashed on the train to London with not a spare seat in sight and finally tucking myself onto a corner of the corridor between trains, I was still full of the pleasure of having spent a weekend with that not just women but that most wonderful breed of women – lovers of Romance.
I hope my romance affair with romance never ends.

Check out the Unlaced Book Club on Facebook at:

Sneak peek at my Wild Lords book #1: Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Bride (November 2017)

‘I think I might actually enjoy this,’ Nell whispered, and Hunter was surprised to see her eyes brimming with laughter
‘Enjoy what?’ He asked, fascinated by the way her lips warmed to peach.
‘Flirting. I think I’m starting to understand how it works.’
A slap might have been more painful, but no more sobering. For a moment he had actually forgotten why he was doing this.
‘That is good. Feel free to experiment. Despite my name, I don’t mind being hunted.’
‘I’m not sure how. I don’t think I could ever do what Lady Melkinson does.’
He caught the hopelessness in her voice.
‘You won’t know until you try,’
Her silver irises glimmering through her lashes as they sank to half-mast.
‘Like this?’ Her voice husky, she leaned towards him, the tips of her fingers just brushing his sleeve. Then her lips parted and the tip of her tongue touched her lower lip, drawing it in gently and letting it go. As far as seductions went it was very mild, as hesitant as a girl dressing in her mother’s finery. There was no reason it should feel like the blood was reversing course in his veins.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summertime and the Reading is Easy by Jenny Gardiner

Hey all!

I'm just back from sitting in a dark hospital room for a couple of days with our son, who got a nasty infection in his elbow joint a week after cutting his arm. Thank goodness he's fine, but had to spend a couple of days on IV antibiotics to try to knock out the infection so it didn't go septic, which is why we dropped everything to go up to DC to be with our boy! Hospitals are not the place you want to be, that's for sure.

Happy my baby is on the mend and we're back home. I'm now quite behind prepping for the release of my upcoming novel, Blue-Blooded Romeo, the latest in the Royal Romeo contemporary rom-com series, and trying to write Big O Romeo, which is due with my editor in two weeks.

So since I'm in the weeds and it's summertime and everyone loves book suggestions for those lazy, hot summer days, I'm going to just list a bunch of books I've enjoyed in the past several months. I always love to get book recs from friends, so hope this helps if you're in the market for some new reads! (and while you're at it feel free to check out the 25+ books I've read here!)

I'm currently reading American Fire: Love, Arson and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse. I'd read a piece in the Washington Post about this crazy arsonist couple on the Eastern Shore of Virginia a few years back--one of those "you can't make it up" stories. The reporter has since written this book and it's a really compelling account of what happened, complete with all of the nutty local color you'll get with books like this. If you listened to the Serial podcast and liked it, you'll enjoy this.

My friend Karen Dionne has a fabulous suspense thriller out to rave reviews this summer: The Marsh King's Daughter. Highly recommend it. It'll keep you on the edge of your seat.

I LOVED Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny. I have such metaphor envy after reading this novel. The author is extraordinarily insightful into the tiny nuances of the mundanities of life, and conveys them so wonderfully.

The Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer was great fun. The authors are a husband/wife screenwriting team, and the book reads like a well-crafted TV show or movie. About a tomboy young woman who plays college soccer and her mother forces her and her twin sister to be girly-girl debutantes. Good beach read.

The Assistants by Camille Perri was a fun beach read.

I LOVED The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Great beach read.

Oh, The Nix is amazing. Fabulously talented writer, crazy ride of a novel--it goes down so many rabbit holes, you cannot imagine how they all connect, but they do!

A few books I've started but have to get back to (but was enjoying!): Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney. The Heirs by Susan Rieger. This is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison. The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder.

I just heard about Those Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero and can't wait to read it. It's a dark take on the Scooby Doo-type kid detectives who survive a harrowing episode that involves ghosts and dead bodies but when they grow up they're psychologically scarred from the experience. When one of them commits suicide, the rest team together to face the demons of their past. Brilliant premise for a novel, right?

I hope you'll have a chance to check out my Royal Romeos series, which is a spin-off of my wildly popular It's Reigning Men series--please do check them out!

Happy reading!



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Getting Those Juices Flowing...

No, not those juices! Geesh, where's your mind at?

I'm talking about those creative juices. You know, the inspiration, the ideas, the stuff needed to breathe life into stories.

Writing is a pretty solitary job. I mean, think about it—we sit in front of a computer all day, putting those snippets of scenes that flash through our minds onto our version of paper. We'll stare off into space, watching our own imaginary world unfold—while anyone who sees us doing that is thinking we're probably having some kind of break from reality. And okay, maybe we are. Not necessarily a bad thing, right?

We create characters, real live people (to us and—if done right—to the readers) with their own hopes and dreams and fears and interactions.

But when it comes to interacting in real life? Hmm…maybe not so much. When your job involves living in a make-believe world, shut away from the real one while you create your own, you don't always have time to "hang out". Then throw in the fact that quite a few writers also happen to be introverts and…well, you get the picture.

Creative juices are flowing in Nashville!

That's why writers love hanging around other writers. Have you ever been to a conference or booksigning, near the beginning during set-up? It's a huge hug-fest, with lots of smiles and laughter and talking. That's because writers get writers. It's normal to stare off into space (sometimes in the middle of a conversation). It's normal to talk about a character and her problems and issues and goals as if she was a real live person (because, you know, she is). Other writers get that, in a way nobody else can.

And that's why writers' retreats are the next best thing to falling into a vat of chocolate. You can sit down, discuss ideas, talk about those real characters. Plan and vent and rant and bounce ideas off each other. Get a group of writers together and that plot bump you've been struggling with suddenly disappears. Get a group of writers together and the inspiration and motivation takes off like that proverbial runaway train.

I just got back from a writers' retreat—this one in Nashville, with four fantastic ladies who kick some serious butt when it comes to inspiration and motivation. We're all at different stages in our careers but that doesn't matter—because we're writers.

Enjoying some downtime in Nashville--all in the name of research, of course!

And no, it wasn't all business. I mean, we were in Nashville—of course we're going to go out and play. And we did—from eating popcorn and watching Beauty and the Beast in our pj's, to hitting Opry Mills Mall and eating German food, to seeing the Grand Ole Opry and hitting up a honky tonk or three on lower Broadway (alcohol may or may not have been involved). It was a week of bonding, of writing, of bouncing around ideas and creating grand business plans. Of motivation. Of accountability.

Of friendship.

That's the other great thing about writers. Because of our jobs, we don't get a chance to see each other in person very often. But the distance—in both physical location and in time apart—doesn't matter. Months can go by until we see each other again and it doesn't matter. We'll hug and scream and laugh and carry on as if only a day has gone by. Then we'll get right down to business and talk about our characters and problems and inspire one another. Motivate one another.

Kicking it up at the Nashville Palace.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

But for now, I need to get back to my characters and their world. I have a schedule to keep to, and four wonderful ladies who will be kicking my butt if I don't stick to it!


Lisa B. Kamps is currently juggling three series about real characters with real lives and real problems living in her head: The Baltimore Banners, The York Bombers, and Firehouse Fourteen. Her latest title, Second Alarm, is scheduled for release July 26 and can be ordered by clicking here.

To learn more about Lisa, please visit her website or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Susan Stephens: July & the Yorkshire Moors

July, and we have blazing sunshine on the Yorkshire moors...

The UK generally gets a bad press for weather, and the Yorkshire moors are most commonly thought of as being bleak, but we are enjoying the most beautiful summer here on the backbone of England, as the Pennine hills are known. 

You can just catch a glimpse of my faithful friend Betty in the second picture. It’s almost too hot for dogs, and Betty prefers to shelter in my office underneath my desk. By coincidence, I’m sure, ho-hum, my office is also where I keep Betty’s treat tin!

It may not seem credible to set a sultry romance on the Yorkshire moors where Wuthering Heights was conceived, but my August 11th release, Seducing the Princess is set in a small city not too dissimilar to York.
I love a bodyguard romance, and hope you do too J

I’m thrilled to share the news that I am about to sign a new, multi-book contract with my publisher Harlequin Mills & Boon, and I can promise lots of high octane stories coming your way from SS, starting with a brand new series. Look out for more news coming soon. 

It does seem that things will be ROYAL all the way for me for the rest of the year. This exciting ebook collection is a September release. These are all re-issues of previous stories, but anthologies are the best way to catch up with those books you might have missed.

And how about this for a cover?? Do you think it’s the red dress that makes this cover so compelling? I’d love to know what you think. The heroine looks so wistful to me. My story, His Forbidden Diamond, is from my Ice and Fire Skavanga series. 

I’m aching to see the cover for my ‘Royal’ Christmas release, ‘A Night of Royal Consequences’.  The art department deserves huge thanks for creating such stunning images.

Here are another couple of stunning images of Yorkshire, just because...  
The weather has been so outstanding that we have even had rare Lapwings breeding close by our home, and I saw not one, but two breeding pairs, which is beyond thrilling!

I hope the month of July is full of joy and wonderful surprises for you.

And if you are feeling chilly in spite of the weather, I have the answer ;) 

Red-hot polo players just for you. Enjoy!

With my love to everyone,
Susan xx


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Salazar's One Night Heir by Jennifer Hayward

The Secret Billionaires - Book Three

On the 16th of May, June, and July, look for interviews with the authors of each book in this fun trilogy about tycoons who go undercover to win a bet and lose their hearts along the way...

How does your hero go under cover?

Alejandro Salazar poses as horse groom, Colt Banyon in the stables of his family's enemy.

What does he think when he finds out exactly what the bet entails? (Share a couple of lines if you like)

Alejandro’s thrilled when he discovers what his assignment is. He’s been searching for time in his insanely busy billionaire schedule to avenge a decade’s old feud between his family, the Salazars, and the legendary Hargrove dynasty of Kentucky. Here’s a few lines:  

      Alejandro’s mouth twisted as he switched to Bacchus’ other side, toweling the sweat from the gelding’s dark coat. No doubt the idea of him breaking his back shoveling horse manure for two weeks with a name torn from the pages of a Hollywood script had provided an endless source of amusement for his mentor. But if Sebastien had been here, he would have told him this chance to provide his grandmother with the justice she was seeking would indeed provide him with the closure he’d been looking for. He should be thanking his mentor for the opportunity.

      The feud between the Salazars and Hargroves had been going on for decades—ever since Quinton Hargrove had illegally bred his mare Demeter to his grandmother, Adriana Salazar’s, prize stallion Diablo while the horse had been on loan to an American breeder. The Hargroves had gone on to build an entire show jumping legacy around Diablo’s bloodline, one Adriana had never been able to match.

      Heartbroken, his grandmother had been unable to attain proof as to what the Hargroves had done, watching as her fortunes plummeted and the Hargroves star had risen

Who is your heroine? What does she think of Alejandro when she first meets him?

My heroine is the Hargrove’s beautiful heiress, Cecily. She’s a world cup calibre equestrian, scarred by a recent fall in competition on her favourite horse, Bacchus. Alejandro, undercover as a Hargrove groom, is a master with horses because he’s grown up working summers on the Salazar’s Belgian horse farm.

In the opening scene, Cecily, who’s trying to make it back to international competition after her and her horse’s injury, is frustrated and scared as she attempts a practice course. When gorgeous, sexy 'Colt' tries to tell her how to handle her horse, she’s incensed. And sparks fly!

What situations or challenges does Alejandro face that risk exposing him?

The spark between Cecily and Alejandro is undeniable. Cecily’s intent on exploring it, Alejandro’s determined to ignore it. But when Cecily draws Alejandro away from the Hargrove’s annual summer barn party and the man her father wants her to marry, they share an illicit dance and an even more illicit night together. 

Alejandro’s identity, however, is almost blown as Cecily’s suitor stumbles upon them during their dance and picks a jealous fight with Alejandro. Suddenly he’s in danger of blowing his cover with his unintended entanglement with Cecily.    

What does Cecily think when she realizes who he really is? (Share a few lines of her reaction.)

She’s just a bit furious. I’ll let the excerpt speak for itself!

            Clad in a cream dress made of some soft material that hugged every memorable curve, a sky high pair of stilettos, her honey blonde hair a smooth silk curtain that fell over her shoulders, Cecily looked every bit New York chic. Gorgeous. But it was the icy glitter in her beautiful blue eyes that commanded his attention.
            Ai por Deus. She knew. Dust in his throat, gravel in his mouth. What the hell was she doing here?
            Deseree stared at them both with unabashed fascination. He snapped his stunned brain back into working order. He needed to defuse this…fast.
            “Tell my father to start the meeting without me.”
            Deseree’s jaw dropped. Salazar board meetings were sacrilegious. His father, Estevao Salazar, the Chairman of the Board, was known for his legendary temper tantrums over the tardiness of its members to his strictly laid out quarterly meetings. A true professional, however, Deseree didn’t miss a beat, simply picked up the phone and started dialing.
            Alejandro gestured toward his office. “After you.”
            Cecily turned on her heel and stalked inside. Her back a band of pure iron, fire sparking from every inch of her tiny frame, her amazing backside set off to perfection in the form fitting dress, she sent a wave of lust coursing through him that defied rationality. Now was not the time.
            He closed the door with a soft click. Faced the firebrand in front of him. Hands clenched by her sides, a flush staining her cheeks, she was clearly furious. He thought he might start with an apology.
            Eu sinto muito, Cecily,” he murmured, holding her gaze. I’m sorry. “I never intended to hurt you. I tried to take a step back, you know I did.”
            Eyes darkening, she lifted her hand and slapped him across the face. Hard.
            “I deserved that,” he said evenly, jaw reverberating with the force of it. “I deserve your anger. Now let’s sit down and be rational about this. Let me explain.”
            “Rational?” She planted her hands on her hips. “You would like me to be rational? You came to work for my family under false pretenses. You lied to me and everyone else who trusted you, cared about you. You’re lucky I haven’t gone to the police.”

Salazar's One Night Heir is on shelves now or you can buy it at your favourite online retailer. 

AmazonUK | US | iBooks | Kobo | Nook 

JENNIFER HAYWARD has been a fan of romance since filching her sister’s novels to escape her teenaged angst.

Her career in journalism and PR, including years of working alongside powerful, charismatic CEOs and traveling the world, has provided perfect fodder for the fast-paced, sexy stories she likes to write, always with a touch of humour