Author Secrets: What Makes Us Want to Read a Romance?

AwakewnedByTheMinotaur_ByErinMoore-800x1200 Guest blog by Erin Moore, author of Awakened by the Minotaur

Marketing people speak a lot about “conversion” – the point when a shopper turns from a browser into a buyer. For novels in general, and romance particularly, a lot of that conversion happens when we see the cover of a book.

But what, specifically, are we (as readers) looking for in that cover?

A book should fulfill a need or solve a problem for us. Perhaps it is a need for stimulation, or fantasy, or even just an exciting diversion from the hum-drum of our normal lives. If an author can tap into those needs in a story – and better yet, in that story’s cover – then our readers will be drawn in and want to come back to us again and again.

Our covers tap into biological needs, too. Psychologists have discovered that many of the words used to describe men in romance novels are also the most (rightly or wrongly) biologically desirable traits of men. Most often used: wealthy, fit, fertile, and committed.

So when we look at the cover, we are looking for a man who is all of those things. He’s got to look fit, and he’s got to look as if he knows what he’s doing beneath the sheets. Of course, he’ll be changed by his interaction with us (because the reader is always the ultimate heroine, not the girl that is in the story), and turn into that amazing, wonderful husband and dad that we always knew he could be.

Because we all know – love does conquer all.

About the Book:

When man becomes minotaur, dark passion takes hold…

Lara Castille always plays it safe in both love and life. But when she arrives on vacation in Crete, she is determined to enjoy herself. Old habits die hard, though. Drawn to her tour guide, the enigmatic and sexy Teo Lambros, she cannot let down her guard—until she takes part in the ancient and sensual rites at the ruins of Knossos. She dreams of the minotaur who takes her upon the altar, and wonders if it could be Teo who brought her to ecstasy.

A gray haze clouds Teo’s memory of the rites; he knows only that the bull has chosen him for his own. He fears that the land will once again need a sacrifice, as it did when it claimed his fiancée the year before. Though he cannot deny his need for Lara, he knows that protecting her from his desire is the only way to keep her safe.

As the island’s magic demands everything they have, Lara and Teo must discover what’s real and what’s imagined if they’re to survive the passionate sexuality that draws them together…

Buy: Awakened by the Minotaur

Excerpt:

She imagined that the stones beneath her feet hummed with intensity, preparing her for something. The nearness of Teo, the scent of him filling her nose, reminded her of the taste of his kiss, and she felt more alive than she had in months.

“Do you feel it?” His breath was warm and minty on her face and she realized he was standing directly before her,

She nodded and then opened her eyes to put her palm to the side of his face. “I feel it,” she whispered. His green eyes stared into hers.

“Lara,” he said simply and brushed the back of his hand against her mouth. It sent tremors through her body, evoking warmth between her legs. She reached out and twined her fingers in his silky hair and pulled him toward her. Enough. The night with the bull had changed her.

With an intensity that she matched, his mouth found hers and took her measure with his tongue, his lips, finding her again and again ready, open. Exploring, teasing, he tasted her, taking her bottom lip between his own. He suckled, making her lips throb and a small mew escape her throat. The skin at the nape of his neck was covered in soft, silky hair, and she tugged at it, wanting more of him, finding the tendons there tensed and throbbing beneath her fingers.

She shifted her body, pressing against him. As if in understanding, he pulled her roughly to him with one hand, cupping her bottom. He pried apart her legs with his own so she could feel the hard evidence of his arousal against her. He lifted her before sitting with her astride him on the bench behind them.

Atop him, his erection pressed against the fabric of her panties, and the heat between them matched the summer’s warmth. This was what she wanted. Fevered, hot, she explored his mouth with hers, delighting in the intensity and urgency of his kiss. Trailing kisses over his neck, his collarbone, the deep brown of his skin hot beneath her tongue. His skin tasted like his scent—cloves and dark earth. She bit his neck as if she could devour him.

Her skin tingled and her body and mind were open. Primal, hot, sexy, her body was enflamed, like the night of the rites. The rites. Her eyes flew open, and she knew. Oh, God, how had she not known, not recognized it immediately? As understanding flooded her she knew now that she would recognize his body anywhere, even if her eyes were closed and they were in a dark room. Because she had seen him, had tasted him, had taken him into her mouth. He may have been the bull that night, but she still knew him.

Buy: Awakened by the Minotaur

DSC_0306colorAbout the Author:

Erin’s writes sensual paranormal romances that challenge the conventional “shifter” tropes.  She lives in Atlanta with her two little paranormal beings and one unruly husband. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Her free novella, To Love a Shaman, is available on her website. She’s also giving away a critique of a first chapter with a subscription to her newsletter!

Paranormal Romance: Because Some of Us Can’t Live in the Real World 24/7

MercuryRising_200x300Guest blog by Rebekah Lewis, author of Mercury Rising

Hi everyone! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Rebekah Lewis, and (as you probably guessed from the title of my post) I write paranormal romance. (and if you want to know more about my books, please visit my website at www.rebekah-lewis.com) The series I am working on now is called The Cursed Satyroi, which is about satyrs. But, for the record, they aren’t “half goat” despite the fact that when not glamoured they sport some cloven hooves. What? Everyone has their issues.

I figured out at a young age that paranormal and horror were going to be my book genres of choice. In elementary school I devoured Scary Stories to Read in the Dark and R.L Stine’s Goosebumps. By Middle School, I had graduated to Fear Street and Christopher Pike. Sure I tried to read other popular books at the time, but I think the only Babysitter’s Club book I owned was Dawn’s Ghost. What can I say, I had a fondness for the creepy. (Suddenly hoofed heroes are starting to make sense to you all now and you think I am a weirdo. That’s fair.)

I wrote my first short story in seventh grade about a ghost named Samantha that murdered fictionalized versions of my classmates. It was a Halloween themed story for my English Class. Despite the content, I got an A and my teacher encouraged me to keep writing. So I did, and I would write short stories for my close friends to be amused by. In college, I took two Creative Writing classes, but was disappointed that we weren’t allowed to use supernatural themes in our stories. I reluctantly wrote a historical piece about a Viking, which went on to be featured in the campus’ literary publication. My second piece I cheated a bit and used elements found in scary stories for a non-paranormal. My class mates loved it. It was a contemporary piece, but I couldn’t bring myself to write it without horror elements, even if it wasn’t a scary story. Why? Because I just love the drama, I am comfortable there, and it is natural for me to write that way.

I have nothing against contemporary stories, or historical, or sci-fi, etc. In fact, I may write those genres in the future for all I know, but paranormal is what I enjoy. While I am a horror fan, it doesn’t need to be scary. It’s the element of wonder to something that is not average. Something that can’t be found in real life. It’s an added layer of escapism. Not only that, but it can become a metaphor or analogy for other issues in the story, and by giving them a physicality or a presence, they then can bring the issue to the surface in a way that sometimes gets lost or is too emphasized without it.

For example, my satyrs have a physical deformity from their curse. They didn’t always have hooves or horns, but they had to learn to live with these things. They don’t like them. They want to be human again, and have to use magic to hide their true appearance to be among regular people. Everyone has something they don’t like about themselves: weight, height, eye color, their nose, their boobs, their thighs. There is something. In the end, the satyr appearance is like that, just more extreme. The difference is they can change it if they break the curse, but not all of them will and they have to learn to live with it. They have to find a lover that can handle their imperfections and not judge them by it. Paranormal isn’t all about the strange and unusual, but about finding ways to bring about the human condition in a different way.

In my current release, the god Hermes runs into an old flame, a goddess ruled by hubris who cannot admit to her own mistakes out loud and therefore cannot apologize outright. His issues is can he forgive and forget or will it bring too much pain to be with someone with her condition?

Do you have a preferred genre of reading or writing? Why does it call to you more than the others?
SONY DSCBio: Rebekah Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She is an award-winning cover artist for digital publishers, and enjoys every minute of it when not immersed into a world of satyrs and Greek gods. Always feeling the need to be productive, she can be found creating something whether with words or images, or with arts and crafts. She resides in Savannah, GA with her cat, Bagheera.

If you would like to follow Rebekah on social media or contact via email, use the following information:

Website: www.rebekah-lewis.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RebekahLewisAuthor

Twitter: @RebekahLLewis

Book Blurb:

Nymphs in peril, obsessive gods, females who literally cannot admit when they’re wrong, and unruly satyrs. Just another typical day for Hermes.

When Zeus refuses to demand Apollo release Daphne from captivity in Olympus, the only option left is for Hermes to free the nymph himself. A simple task for a god with his skillset, but risking the wrath of Apollo never went well for anyone.

However, imprisoned nymphs aren’t distraction enough when a former flame crashes back into Hermes’ life. It’s been a long time since he laid eyes on Hybris, and the timing couldn’t be worse. As the goddess of hubris, she has many quirks—such as being incapable of apologizing. And no matter how much she tries to assure him she can be trusted, the memory of her betrayal remains.

As they formulate a plan to rescue Daphne, Hermes soon suspects no threat is greater than the tribulations of the heart.

Don’t miss the first part of The Adventures of Hermes, a companion series to The Cursed Satyroi.

Buy: Mercury Rising (The Adventures of Hermes Book 1)

Excerpt:

“I don’t have time for this, Hy. I have things to do. Important things.” A promise made to a satyr, one Hermes intended to keep. A damsel in distress. Heroics and all.

Hybris yawned. “Yeah. I see. Meandering around California and swimming at the beach is a matter of life or death.”

Shaking his head, he opened the glass door into the house. He attempted to shut it behind him, but she shoved past. Hermes made an extensive effort not to notice she still smelled like pomegranates.

He failed.

“Well, I was waiting for Zeus to summon me before you showed up with your judgy…judginess.” He closed the door and turned back to find her relaxing on his couch, despite her soaking wet clothing. Rude.

She studied her nails. “And did he?”

“Not yet.”

“Then you aren’t doing anything important.” Her gaze flicked down to his groin. “Yet.” Standing, Hybris advanced toward him.

“No. Oh, no, no, no. No.” Hermes rocketed away and hovered out of her immediate reach. “We are so not going there again. Not this time. Not this day. Not happening.” Was she for real? After all she’d done, she wanted sex from him?

Unsure if his ego or her influence on his personal hubris affected him, a warm smugness took hold. He’d always been cocky, but she could bring it out to the maximum.

“And why not? I’m a beautiful woman, you desire me, and you have an open schedule. Take off your pants and pleasure me.”

Buy: Mercury Rising (The Adventures of Hermes Book 1)

Review: Twisted (Eternal Guardians, Book 7) by Elisabeth Naughton

Tempted.inddReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Cynna is a spectator of an interesting fight.  Nick is fighting for his survival without losing who he is.  Almost right away this author shows how ugly the beast of sexual and mental abuse is.  I found that even though this is part of a series, you could read this book by itself.  But if you want to know more about the Guardians, you’ll want to stay true to the series.

If you’re someone that likes Mythology (one of my favorites in English class) you’ll see that it’s combined with a group trying to protect us humans and half-breeds.  You might even recognize some of your favorite gods and those you loved to hate.  If you like some action in your read then this book will be perfect for you.  On top of that, Elisabeth adds a mystery into the mix that will heighten your reading experience – who doesn’t love a good mystery.

An interesting character to watch out for is Ari – you’ll understand when you meet him.  But he also makes me curious – what’s his story.  Nick gives the readers hints but I still found myself wanting to know more.  Both of the main characters are strong willed but for different reasons but that doesn’t stop them from realizing how much they need each other.  Once you get involved in the story, you will find it hard to put down – there’s just no good stopping point because something else will come up that will grab your attention.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: TWISTED (Eternal Guardians Book 7)

Get into Bed with Elisabeth Naughton (Author Interview 2)

Elisabeth NaughtonKeira: The Eternal Guardians are seven warriors descended from the seven greatest heroes in all of Ancient Greece who protect the mortal realm from threats of the Underworld. Which one does Nick descend from?

Elisabeth Naughton: Nick is a special case. Technically, he’s not a guardian. Though he has the marking of the guardians and he’s Demetrius’s half brother, he isn’t one of them. He’s the leader of the half-breeds, the exiled half-Argolean, half-human population that resides in the human world. From book one, MARKED, Nick has been a mystery. Though he and Demetrius are brother’s, they don’t hail from the same hero. In fact, he doesn’t hail from any hero. Nick and Demetrius share the same mother mother—the once mortal-turned goddess-now dead Atalanta. However, Nick’s true father was revealed in BOUND, book six. He is the son of Krónos, the most malicious of all the gods. And in an attempt to free himself of his prison in Tartarus, Krónos has hidden special powers inside Nick which are now coming to the forefront.

Keira: How does he end up in the son of Hades’ clutches? Why must his will be broken?

Elisabeth: Nick and Demetrius share the same soul mate – Isadora, the queen of Argolea – and Isadora chose Demetrius. In the end of Bound, Hades arrived to claim Isadora’s soul because of a deal she made with him earlier in the series. In an attempt to save her, Nick made a deal with Hades…his life for Isadora’s. But Hades took one look at him and realized he was Krónos’s bastard son and could sense the powers hidden inside him. Hades wants those powers for himself, so he’s handed Nick off to his son Zagreus—the Prince of Darkness—to break him and unleash those powers. And when that happens, Hades will swoop in and claim them and become the strongest of all the gods.

Keira: Cynna is not a typical heroine. She’s had to do some pretty bad things (especially to our hero). Does this make her a damaged heroine?

Elisabeth: Yes, definitely. Very damaged. She comes from a very dark place, made some bad choices, made a deal she can’t change, and she’s had to live with that ever since. In Nick she sees a glimmer of the person she could be. The question is whether or not she’s willing to stand against the god she’s indebted to and take the chance to become something more.

Keira: We know the appeal of damaged heroes – was there any differences (pitfalls/pluses) to writing about a damaged heroine?

Elisabeth: Emotionally closed off heroines are very hard to write because authors have to walk a fine line between being true to the character and making her likeable. In romance, it’s a lot easier to get away with a jerk hero than it is with a jerky heroine. Tough females—especially ones like Cynna who are so very damaged—often come across bitchy. The struggle with Cynna was making her tough, but allowing readers a glimpse inside her head so they could see why she was doing the things she was doing and how she felt about them.

Keira: How does Nick reconcile the differences between her outward actions and inner beliefs?

Elisabeth: At the beginning of TWISTED, Nick has been imprisoned for six months. Six months of torture, all at the hands of the heroine. He’s had plenty of time to watch her. And watching her has given him something to think about other than his pain. And in watching her, he’s observed several interesting things. The most important of which is that he’s not so sure she’s the captor like she wants him to believe. He’s starting to wonder if she’s just as much a captive as him.

Keira: How do you define love? What makes it last for the long haul? And will Nick and Cynna have what it takes?

Elisabeth: True love, to me, is sacrifice. When you’re willing to give up everything you love and the one thing you want most in the world for someone else, that’s love. Do Nick and Cynna have what it takes? I guess readers will have to decide for themselves when they read TWISTED.

Buy: TWISTED (Eternal Guardians Book 7)

About Elisabeth:

Before topping multiple bestseller lists—including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal—Elisabeth Naughton taught middle school science. A rabid reader, she soon discovered she had a knack for creating stories with a chemistry of their own. The spark turned into a flame, and Naughton now writes full-time. Besides topping bestseller lists, her books have been nominated for some of the industry’s most prestigious awards, such as the RITA® and Golden Heart Awards from Romance Writers of America, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, and the Golden Leaf Award. When not dreaming up new stories, Naughton can be found spending time with her husband and three children in their western Oregon home. Visit her website atwww.ElisabethNaughton.com to learn more about her books.

Connect with Elisabeth:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elisabeth.naughton1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElisNaughton
Newsletter: http://www.elisabethnaughton.com/lists/?p=subscribe&id=1

Tempted.inddAbout TWISTED:

Series: Eternal Guardians, Book #7
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Release Date: September 29, 2014
Publisher: Elisabeth Naughton Publishing, LLC

NICK – Leader of the half-breeds and the last true hero. He’s spent his life fighting a dark pull toward the gods. A pull he now knows is linked to his father Krónos and the Titan’s plan to escape from the Underworld.

But Nick’s hidden powers are coveted by more than just his father. Imprisoned by Hades, Nick battles every form of torture imaginable as the sadistic god schemes to break him. Only one thing is keeping him sane. One woman who gives him the strength to fight the relentless darkness. She has a dangerous plan of her own, though, and as Nick’s powers grow stronger, even she might not be enough to alter his destiny.

As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, Nick’s allegiances are tested. And no one knows whether he will choose to fight for good or succumb to the sinister lure of evil. Not even him.

Buy: TWISTED (Eternal Guardians Book 7)

Other Books in Series:
Marked (Eternal Guardians Book 1)
Entwined (Eternal Guardians Book 2)
Tempted (Eternal Guardians Book 3)
Enraptured (Eternal Guardians Book 4)
Enslaved (Eternal Guardians Book 5)
Bound (Eternal Guardians Book 6)

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Giveaway Details:
Elisabeth is giving away a bag of goodies – books, lotions, chocolates, jewelry, etc.

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Review: The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus, Book 3) by Kaitlin Bevis

iron queenSummary: Kidnapped by her father, Persephone is not looking forward to be reunited with dear old daddy. The guy has several screws loose and wants one thing – to live forever in the peak of his power. And if not his, then to steal another’s powers and realms. Persephone is the key to do this as she’s a link between the mortal realm and the Underworld. If he can get her to swear loyalty to him, Zeus will get everything he wants by consuming her powers.

Hades and Demeter can’t let this happen. The remaining gods and goddesses must choose sides. Stick with Zeus or rebel? Hades strongly suggests they choose his side because with or without them he will tear the world apart to bring Persephone back home to him… the one place she truly belongs.

Review: The tension in this book is high right from the beginning. Persephone is captured by her evil father Zeus and held in his sky castle. She is completely isolated from the others. The angst (always one of my favorite parts of any romance) was strongly present. Be prepared for your heartstrings to be tugged. You will swoon over Hades. I did.

My least favorite part of this story was the jump into Aphrodite’s head (cue a clear setup for future books). It wasn’t needed in a story that previously focused only on Hades and Persephone. I would have preferred more from Hades and Persephone and if another character was needed then, Zeus, as he’s the bad guy.

I love the fact that Zeus is not the traditional good guy. It’s a great twist which I have appreciated throughout the whole series. Overall great story. Great series. Great romance. Who doesn’t love Persephone and Hades? I would totally read more about these two in a heartbeat.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus)

Review: Daughter of the Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus, Book 2) by Kaitlin Bevis

daughter of earth and skySummary: You have to be careful as a goddess. You are held by your word – quite literally. So promises are made sparingly and avoided at all opportunities. Persephone was tricked by someone she thought a friend and now she can’t tell anyone about the betrayal.

Hades places Persephone in the care of the betrayer not knowing what was going on and thinking all the stress his dear wife shows has to do with her father, Zeus, and her new sister Aphrodite… and perhaps this human boy, Persephone is drawn too.

If Persephone can’t tell soon or beat the betrayer at his own game, there might not be anything left fighting for… surely, she’s not in an insurmountable situation? Think! There’s got to be a way before the silence wedges itself permanently between her and Hades.

Review: This novel got dark and quick. Persephone is tortured by Thanatos and his reapers by night, by day she escapes to school – but is escape or torture of another kind? This was definitely a novel that if the hero and heroine would communicate, things could be fixed and quickly. However, Persephone is bound by the rules of being a goddess and she promised not to tell Thanatos secret – too late realizing that he’d trapped her.

Zeus is a horribly creepy father figure and there are overtones of incest because of him at a part in the novel. Yuck. Luckily, Persephone is a lot stronger than anyone gives her credit, including herself. When Hades finally sees what is happening he is as fierce and as dark and as wonderful as you can imagine. His retribution is swift and merciless. Nobody messes with his wife. Nobody. Oh and there’s another epic cliffhanger. Ahh!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Daughter of the Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus)

Review: Persephone (Daughters of Zeus, Book 1) by Kaitlin Bevis

persephoneSummary: Persephone lives a normal life with the exception of a few abnormal things here and there. She can always explain it away – even the creepy feeling of being watched. But she can’t ignore the weirdness when a winter storm springs out of nowhere on a trip to see a rock concert with her best friend.

She tells her mom (smart!) who reveals to Persephone that she’s a goddess and says the winter storm is not a good sign. Because the storm is Boreas (the winter god) and he wants to kidnap her. Boreas almost succeeds too until Hades steps in and rescues her… oh and makes her his bride. Persephone just wants things to go back to normal… but is normal possible anymore? Was it ever? Perhaps this is all a strange dream!

Review: While there were some shaky areas of the novel, my take away from it was a world I wanted to continue reading and a couple for whom I would be rooting. The strong points include the romantic leads, the underworld and its rules, the evil villain, and the plot twists. Yikes! I didn’t see that ending coming at all. Hades is a good ruler trying to do his best to understand the souls in his care and provide a good afterlife for most of them. He’s not a particularly dark underworld king (which I would have liked – he’s the Beast in a Beauty and the Beast fairytale… he’s got to be beastly, right?)

I didn’t particularly like Persephone’s friend, Melissa, and I felt most of the side characters in the Underworld were a little shapeless (Cassandra, Helen, and Charon). Cassandra slightly less so, but she’s so bubbly and exuberant it felt like it wasn’t her true nature (forced, if you catch my drift). Thanatos was a great minor character for reasons I won’t go into, you’ll have to trust me.. Solid start to a new series and I look forward to the sequel.

Also, look at this cover! Yum! Love!

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Persephone (Daughters of Zeus)

Review: South of Surrender (Hearts of the Anemoi, Book 3) by Laura Kaye

South of Surrender Reviewed by Adria

This a first for me. A Pegasus shifter? Okay so maybe not exactly a shifter but one of his forms is a winged horse.

South of Surrender mixes Greek mythology with romance and weaves an engaging story that will leave readers wanting more. The Greek wind gods, otherwise known as the Anemoi (in case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced ANny-moi), must corral one of their own before the Olympic gods interfere.

Eurus is out of control and must be destroyed, but his younger brother Chrysander still thinks Eurus can be redeemed. After a battle with Eurus, Chrys finds himself injured, drained and in the mortal world. There he meets Laney Summerlyn, a mortal woman with problems of her own. Thrown together by circumstance beyond their control, Chrys and Laney start to fall for each other but just as things are looking up, Eurus threatens their lives and happiness.

Romance novels that stem from Greek mythology are either a hit or a miss for me, due in part to their being so many gods and goddesses. If an author puts too much complex mythology into a book it can weigh down the story and stall the pace. However if an author puts too little into a book then it becomes an afterthought and that same story may not have a strong back story. South of Surrender manages to merge Greek mythology and the romance genre into an interesting and effortless story of loss, betrayal and love.

As book 3 in a series, South of Surrender can be read as a stand-alone book but why deny yourself the pleasure of getting to know Chrysander’s brothers?

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: South of Surrender (Hearts of the Anemoi)