Day 4: Gena Showalter

A Thousand Reasons to Love Romance

“Why do you like romance novels?” is one of those questions I can answer with a thousand different replies. Here are just a few:

I can have as many book boyfriends as I want and it’s not cheating.   And the men can be anything!  From rich and powerful CEOs to carpenters.  From vampires to Vikings to computer hackers.  But at the end of the day, whatever the male happens to be, when he falls in love, he falls hard.  He protects his woman fiercely, sometimes madly, willing to die if necessary.  Shiver!

Relationships fascinate me.  There’s the initial draw.  The ups and downs.  The obsession.  The addiction.  The sizzling tension.  The uncertainty.  The hope.  The commitment.  The unwavering devotion.  The promises.  The passion.  The…forever.

Love is the heart and soul of the human condition.  Everyone wants it.  Craves it.  And romance, well, it is the act of wooing.  In the books, the heroes woo me just as powerfully as they woo the heroine.

No two people fall in love the same way because no two people have the same pasts, experiences, likes, dislikes, expectations, hope and dreams.  And yet, everyone can have the same happy ever after.  Yes, please!

The pretty girl doesn’t always get the guy.  Sometimes, the plain girl does.

In the confines of four hundred pages, I can laugh, cry, curse, sigh dreamily, cheer, boo, love, hate, and so many other things.  It’s like experiencing an entire lifetime of emotion in just a few hours.  Such a treat!

I can escape the real world, if only for a little while.

Sometimes the characters are so authentic, it’s like I’m spying on their thoughts and lives.  Good news is, no one thinks I’m a creeper!

I enjoy man-candy.  Like, a lot.

Anything is possible—even the rising of Romeo and Juliet…as zombies. (Wait.  Hold everything.  Has this been done?  If not…I call dibs!)

Seriously, I could go on and on about all the reasons I love romance novels.  But I won’t.  Because I’d rather be reading Barefoot in the Sun by the amazing and talented Roxanne St. Claire, pretending I’m at the beach.   This delicious romance celebrates family and forgiveness and the healing power of love (three of my favorite things!).  Pass the sunscreen!  And that sexy, sexy hero!  (Just don’t expect me to pass him back.  I’m keeping him.)

Authors I recommend — Roxanne St. Claire (*Roxanne is posting on Aug 29) and Lily Everett write gripping, heart-wrenching romances that will make you laugh, cry and sigh dreamily.


 

Questions for the Author:

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

Craziest: the portrait above our mantle.  Everyone in our family was told to dress however weirdly they wanted but to keep it a secret until photo day.  In it, we have a guy in a rabbit costume (my husband), a French maid, a guy in short-shorts holding a pipe, two girls dressed as Marilyn Monroe, a boy in a tux holding a fake cigar, and me with 80’s hair and bad makeup (lipstick on my teeth), wearing a horrible dress I bought at a thrift store. I’m holding a glass of whiskey.

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

Going All The Way.

I only have big blue eyes in my dreams, but I would pick Zooey Deschanel to play me.  She makes me smile.

What is the best non-monetary gift you’ve ever been given?

(Besides my family, which a gift from God) I’d say an honest compliment. So many times a kind word from someone has taken a crappy day and made it bright.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be?

I would say start with Kane and Josephina from The Darkest Craving.  He’s an alpha male with a dark past, and his obsession and addiction for her gives me shivers.

Gena is generously donating three copies of  The Darkest Craving to give away (U.S. only, apologies to international readers.) To enter, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by midnight EST Aug 5 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


 

Gena Showalter is the New York Times and USA Today best selling author of the White Rabbit Chronicles, Otherworld Assassins, Angels of the Dark, and Lords of the Underworld series.  She has written over forty novels and novellas.  Her books have appeared in Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazine, and have been translated in multiple languages.

 

 

Buy Gena’s books on Amazon.

Day 3 – Eloisa James

Romance Matters

Why does “romance” as a genre matter?  It’s a complicated question, that goes beyond the mere fact of entertainment.  Joy matters, and I feel joy after reading a good romance.  But a more complicated answer is that romance has a rhythm and a promise to it that appeals to me.  I know the world is a tough and cold place; I’ve lost my mother and I have a child with a chronic illness.  But—and this is a big but—I also know that love and joy make all the difference.  Romance reminds me that if there’s a pattern to the universe, it’s one shaped around and by love.  We can all use that reminder now and then.

If you love historical romance, I’d suggest that you give Juliana Gray a try. (*Juliana’s posting today, too! ~Bobbi)  She’s a brand new author, who just published her 4th historical.  I’ve found her romances to be super smart and yet—most importantly—she understands that a great romance doesn’t just craft beautiful sentences.  It has to go to the heart.  Hers do.  Also, I was recently introduced by a reader to a wonderfully ditzy, fun heroine in a book called SEA CHANGE, by Darlene Marshall, an e-published author worth exploring. Sea Change is original, fun, and a bit eccentric – I definitely recommend it! (*And Darlene provided R-A-R M content on her site, too – find it here.~ B)


 

Questions for the Author

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

Our rescue dog, Lucy, is not beautiful.  She’s a mini-dachshund, but with some other things somewhere in her ancestry, so her legs are a bit too long.  And during her former life on the streets, someone took off part of one eyelid, and nibbled on her tail.  We keep her because she is the happiest, most joyful, and most lovely object in our house.  Though she’s not really an object, but a gift.

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

Double Life.  Helen Mirren

What is the best non-monetary gift you’ve ever been given?

Leaving out Lucy (see above), my husband and children… I love a simple birthday card that my husband gave me, when we were first married and had no children and no money.  Now he comes home with presents – which are wonderful —back then, we really only had words.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

I’d say that When Beauty Tamed the Beast is a crowd-pleaser.  Many people love the fairy story, but others greatly enjoy the fact that the hero, Piers, was inspired by Dr. House.

Eloisa James is  generously donating five copies of The Ugly Duchess  to give away, and 20 copies of her fairy tale sampler.  U.S. only, apologies to international readers.  To enter, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by midnight EST Aug 3 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


  New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa’s very first book that she “found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar”; later People Magazine raved that “romance writing does not get much better than this.” Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers’ Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.

After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Currently she is an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Her “double life” is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she’s written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women’s magazines such as More to writers’ journals such as the Romance Writers’ Report.

Buy Eloisa James’ books on Amazon.

 

Day 3 – Juliana Gray

Romantic Encounters

I encountered my first romance novel when I was about thirteen years old, and it was a doozy. November had just settled in, and I was earning my pony’s board by bringing in all the other horses from the pasture each afternoon and doling out feed. While they ate, I was allowed to take shelter in the stable owner’s basement, where his college-age daughter stashed all her romances.

Well. I picked up Lady Vixen––”A golden heiress living a lie…in a stormtide of rapture and romance!”––by Shirlee Busbee, and each afternoon those forlorn horses were left to lick the bottoms of their feeding troughs while I followed my auburn-haired minx Nicole Ashford from her days as a stowaway cabin boy, to her passionate nights in the bed of notorious privateer Captain Saber, to her waltzes in London ballrooms, where Captain Saber had transformed into aristocrat Christopher Saxon, complete with golden eyes and sardonic smile.

Eh, hooked? You think?

As the raw Seattle winter dragged on, I lost myself in Civil War romance (blonde identical  twins, one good and one evil, sort of Sweet Valley High meets Gone With the Wind), Napoleonic war romance (something about spies), Gothic romance (Cornwall, dead first wife), and Louisiana plantation romance (more identical twins). It was my scandalous basement secret: me, the studious second child, the fuzzy-haired bespectacled bibliophile, who never met a rule she didn’t obediently follow and a human being she didn’t yearn to please. I received a thorough (if possibly flawed) sexual education at the hands of Busbee and the Avon ladies, while my unsuspecting classmates played Pac-Man and watched Growing Pains. Bulging manhoods––goodness me! Oral sex––who knew? If the boys passing me blankly in the hallways of junior high didn’t quite measure up to the superb masculine standards of Captain Saber, I didn’t care. I had a hero and a sparkly rainbow orgasm waiting for me, somewhere.

Then high school. Then college. Whenever the boys didn’t quite measure up, whenever the sparkles and rainbows didn’t materialize, whenever I was overlooked and turned down and passed over and dumped, I turned back to romance. Whenever I encountered a thorny term paper or a thorny professor, a parental divorce or a resume rejection, I sieved through the shelves of the local bookstores until I found solace, until I found that solid rectangular doorway into another body, another time, another world. And when I emerged again from that doorway, I was a little bit stronger, a little more heroic. A little more able to face down the slings and arrows of real-world fortune. (Which is, after all, the point of all human storytelling.)

And this story ends happily, never fear. I did find my hero, and plenty of sparkles and rainbows, and a baby epilogue too. For many years, I stopped reading romance entirely; I was occupied from dawn to dusk with the immensely satisfying epic of my own life. But when life’s little setbacks inevitably arrived, I knew where to turn. A whole new generation of romance authors, a whole new generation of Captain Sabers, lay waiting for me at the bookstore. Then and now, they turn me back into my heroic self.


Questions for the Author:

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

As I have four children, the list is endless! Leaving them out of it, for the longest time I kept this bizarre miniature plastic bathroom scene my mother inexplicably gave me one Christmas. You pushed various buttons on the diorama and it would emit the corresponding rude bathroom noises. My mother isn’t a vulgar person, so I have no idea why she sent it. A menopausal moment, maybe? Anyway, I hid it in a closet for years, because how can you throw away a present from your mother? I think we “accidentally” put it in the Goodwill box when we moved.

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

Fifty Shades of Coffee. Starring Rachel McAdam on a really bad hair day.

What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?

I’m a huge Patrick O’Brian fan, and my husband pulled some strings for our fifth anniversary and got tickets to the London premiere of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. (We were living in London at the time.) It was the official Royal premiere of the year, so Prince Charles was there, a few seats away. It was amazing. I wore the most fabulous dress I owned. When we left the after party, there was this crowd of paparazzi outside, waiting for someone famous to pop out, and an embarrassing silence settled around the doorway as they tried to figure out who we were. Then a single flashbulb went off. So that was my moment, LOL.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

Oh. Gosh. The problem is, I’m usually most in love with the couple I created last, so I’ll have to go with Princess Emilie and the Duke of Ashland in my latest book, HOW TO TAME YOUR DUKE. As for romance novels in general, I do so love Sarah Maclean’s A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME, which just won the RITA for Best Historical (hurrah!!). (*I haven’t read A ROGUE, but One Good Earl Deserves a Lover is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I do not envy the RITA historical prelim judges for 2014. Amazing titles this year! ~Bobbi)

As for recommending another romance author, it’s so hard to choose! I absolutely love Meredith Duran, though. The quality of her writing is just superb.

Juliana Gray is  generously donating three signed copies How To Tame Your Duke  to give away.  U.S. only, apologies to international readers.  To enter, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by midnight EST Aug 3 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


 

Juliana Gray began writing as a child to relieve the tedium of being sentenced to her room, and later turned to romance to relieve the tedium of unsatisfactory suitors. Sadly, despite five years’ residence in the most exclusive areas of London, she never met a single duke, though she once shared a taxi with a future baron.

Juliana’s debut romance trilogy, A Lady Never Lies, A Gentleman Never Tells, and A Duke Never Yields, won widespread acclaim, including the RT Book Review’s Seal of Excellence and Best First Historical award. Her latest novel, How to Tame Your Duke, earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and a Top Pick rating from RT Book Reviews. As Beatriz Williams, she is also the author of Overseas and A Hundred Summers from G.P. Putnam’s Sons. She enjoys dark chocolate, champagne, and dinner parties, and adores hearing from readers. Visit her website at www.julianagray.com.

Buy Juliana’s books and Beatriz Williams’ books on Amazon.

Day 3 – Nina Rowan

Romance – A Journey of Discovery

I like to eat. I like the juiciness of a well-seasoned steak and the sweetness of chocolate mousse. I like that the world has such an endless array of different foods. I like spices, flavors, aromas, textures. I like watching cooking shows and pretending that maybe one day I’ll be able to cook like that. And I especially like knowing that there will always be something new and interesting to discover about food, whether it’s the Chinese broccoli (kai-lan) that I found at the store, or the fact that there’s a dark chocolate version of a Reese’s peanut-butter cup.

And that, my friends, is why romance matters. Because romance is all about discovery. Romance speaks to the explorer, the adventurer, the daring heart in all of us who knows that love is complicated, beautiful, and a little scary, but ultimately well worth the risk of exploration.

Romance is about seeking out and finding all the nuances of another person, about looking beyond ourselves and taking chances. Romance is about hoping for your perfect happily-ever-after ending, while figuring out how to chart a course and being prepared to struggle. Romance is about having courage when faced with the unknown.

But back to the food. The connection between food and romance has been touted by writers and gourmands throughout history—both for the aphrodisiac qualities of certain foods as well as the fact that the exploration of both territories involves all five senses. The taste of a kiss, the scent of a man’s skin, the touch of his hand, the sight of his smile, the sound of his voice…all give us a sense of pleasure and anticipation that we also find in a much-loved meal.

Trying new foods and indulging in favorite dishes elicits the same kind of anticipation and enjoyment that we also discover on the path to romance. But there’s disappointment too, like when we try a new food we don’t like, or work hard on a recipe for a cheese-and-bacon soufflé that falls flat.

That may be a far less-intense disappointment than a romance gone wrong or an unrequited love, but the essence of the attempt is the same—we’ll try again (and again, and again) because we know in our hearts that the successful result will make us so happy. That’s the reason we love the exploration, the discovery, the challenge. We want that perfect dish. We want our own happily-ever-after.

*

What about after the happily-ever-after? Under the name Nina Lane (www.ninalane.com), I’ve self-published a romance series about a passionate couple who are already married! Liv and Dean are wildly in love, but when secrets and temptations rise to the surface, the fallout threatens to break them apart. They are a couple determined to fight for their love and marriage—and for their second happy ending.

I’m also in awe of Laura Navarre’s (www.lauranavarre.com) historical romances, a combination of lush, sensual prose, compelling characters, and fascinating settings of the Tudor court and Anglo-Saxon England. The Devil’s Mistress centers on the brilliant Allegra Grimaldi, an Italian apothecary forced to infiltrate the court of Henry VIII. In By Royal Command, a courageous woman must choose between a fierce, Viking warrior and a mysterious, passionate baron. Navarre’s deft interweaving of intrigue, romance, and suspense will captive you.


 

Questions for the Author:

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

A dirty, stained, torn, well-chewed, one-eyed, stuffed pig that was my son’s favorite toy as a newborn. I will never throw it away.

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

Title: Crazy Blessed
Actress: Rachel Weisz (ideally!)

What is the best non-monetary gift you’ve ever been given?

My family. Aside from my family, the best gift I’ve ever received are two Russian icons that my grandmother brought with her when she emigrated from Russia to the US. The icons were very much a part of our family life, and have since been passed on to me. I treasure them deeply.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

My Nina Lane books are all about the passionate, intense relationship between medieval history professor Dean West and his cherished wife Olivia. Their happily-ever-after doesn’t end with “I do.”

And I love the scene in my Nina Rowan book A Study in Seduction when Lydia marches into the crowded meeting hall with her troupe of genius mathematicians in order to save Alexander, the love of her life. She does it with both her brilliance and her determination, both awesome qualities in a heroine!

Nina Rowan and Grand Central  are generously donating two sets of Nina Rowan books (A Study in Seduction and A Passion for Pleasure) to give away, and Nina Lane will give away one set of her Spiral of Bliss novels (Arouse and Allure).  U.S. only, apologies to international readers.  To enter, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by midnight EST Aug 3 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.



Originally from California, Nina Rowan holds a PhD in Art History from McGill University, Montreal, with a specialization in 19th century French and Russian art. A PASSION FOR PLEASURE is the second book in her Daring Hearts series with Grand Central/Forever Romance. A librarian-at-heart, Nina loves both reading and organization, and she found a happy avenue for both by pursuing a degree in Library and Information Sciences at the University of Wisconsin. She lives in Wisconsin with her atmospheric scientist husband and two children.

Buy Nina Rowan books and Nina Lane books at Amazon.

Day 2 – Jayne Ann Krentz

Romance Unlimited

“Are you ever going to write anything besides romance?”

I get that question a lot – possibly because I’ve been writing romance for a while now – under three pen names, no less:  Jayne Ann Krentz for contemporaries, Amanda Quick for historicals and Jayne Castle for futuristics.   The short answer is, no.  I love writing in the romance genre and I’ve still got lots and lots of stories to tell that fit within it.

The longer answer, of course, is that I will move on if and when I discover that I cannot write what I want to write within the romance field.  But that day has not arrived and I honestly don’t think it ever will.   The reason?  Romance is the deepest, and most unlimited of all the fiction genres.  What’s more, unlike some genres, it is not static or hidebound.  It is always in the process of reinventing itself.  At the edges it is very fluid;  constantly changing; constantly engaged in experimentation. Successful experiments within romance frequently spill over into the other genres and exert a strong influence.

There is room in romance for many different kinds of stories and settings.  There is  space for everything from dark, edgy romantic thrillers to light, entertaining who-done-its.  From vampires and werewolves to novels of contemporary small town community relationships.  From sweeping historical sagas to Regency comedy-of-manners.  From stories that deal with post traumatic stress disorder to stories about long-kept family secrets. There is Young Adult romance. And New Adult romance.  There is gay romance. There is over-the-top erotica and there is sweet, wholesome, religion-infused romance.  There are stories set in the past.  Stories set in the present.  Stories set in the future.  Stories set in other dimensions.

Know what else I love about this genre?  The readers.  The audience for romance novels is very open-minded; always willing to try something new.  What is more, romance readers read widely outside the genre.  That is because they simply love to read.  They buy a LOT of books – all kinds of books. 

Start a conversation with a romance reader and you will soon find yourself discussing the latest thriller at the top of the bestseller lists or the newest literary book club selections.  You’ll talk about the blockbuster novel that everyone is reading and that little gem of a book that defies any label, the one almost no one else has heard about.  But you’ll always come back to the new books in the romance genre because the appeal is so enduring; so fundamental.

At its core, romance derives its power from the ancient heroic traditions, not modern angst.  In the romance novel values and virtues such as courage, honor, determination, optimism and a belief in the healing power of love truly matter.  They are crucial to the story – and important to the reader.

Really, when I think about it, I can’t imagine writing in any other genre.
If you are looking for another romance author to read, I’d like to recommend Cat Devon and her recent book  SLEEPING WITH THE ENTITY,  a wonderfully warm, humorous take on the paranormal romance story.  All I will say is that it involves vampires and red velvet cupcakes. (*Cat Devon provided a short R-A-R M note, too. You can find it here.)

Jayne is generously donating a signed copy of Mystery Woman by Amanda Quick as a giveaway (U.S. only, apologies to international readers.) To enter, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by midnight EST Aug 2 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


The author of over 50 New York Times bestsellers, JAYNE ANN KRENTZ writes romantic-suspense, often with a psychic and paranormal twist, in three different worlds: Contemporary (as Jayne Ann Krentz), historical (as Amanda Quick) and futuristic (as Jayne Castle). There are over 35 million copies of her books in print.

When she’s not writing, Jayne can be found on Facebook posting messages to her readers. Read more about Jayne and her books at jayneannkrentz.com

(Photo credit Marc Von Borstel)

Search for Jane’s books on Amazon
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