Audio Review: To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone (Wicked Wagers, Book 2) by Bronwen Evans

wager the marquis of wolverstoneSummary: Marcus Danvers, the Marquis of Wolverstone, is a great big rake. He has been since the love of his life ran off to marry an older titled man. Marcus knows without a doubt that the Contessa Sabine Orsini is trouble, but he can’t resist her when she waltzes back into his life demanding his help. He gives it in exchange for her presence in his bed. It’s a deal Sabine is more than willing to make in order to get her revenge on the man who ruined her parents and her only chance of happiness.

Review: I found it difficult to like either the hero or heroine. He was an entitled prig. She was a cold fish. Then, just when they started to get enjoyable, Sabine runs off to the villain in a classic TSTL move, which was painful to listen to so I sped that part up.

Narrator: The trilogy is narrated as a whole by Marian Hussey. I found her to be a pleasant narrator with good pacing. She can do a nice husky male voice which made the heroes all the more convincing.

Warning/Spoiler: Sabine was raped by the villain, her son is the result of this sad event.

[Rating:1.5]

Buy: To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone (Wicked Wagers)

Awkward Moments in Writing

My name is Ember Leigh, and even though I write erotic romance and love it, I’ll be the first to admit it can be a little awkward sometimes.

Carlos and Casey 200x300My current release Carlos and Casey features two ex-lovers seeing each other for the first time after four years. The short story features a very uncomfortable, awkward start as neither of them knows if that spark is still there. Four years is both so long and no time at all, but it’s certainly enough time to need to get to know a person again.

As I wrote the story, I could feel the weight of this awkward scenario – it even made me cringe, sometimes. Haven’t we all been there, in some situation where you just don’t know what to say, and that silence is almost deafening?

I like awkward moments. Call me strange, but I find them fun. Not necessarily to live through all the time, but awkwardness is fun to recreate in stories, and fun to talk about after the fact. Once you can laugh about it, that is.

It got me thinking about other awkward situations in my writing career in general. And I thought I might shed some light on the actual awkwardness of being a romance author at times.

With so many throbbing things, pulsing fill-in-the-blanks, rock hard oh-yeahs and whispery whatnots bursting from our pages, how could it not be?

I’m referring to the behind-the-scenes aspect, of course. The hours whiled away in front of our respective computers, mulling over the benefit of jubilant sigh in this particular block of text, or if perhaps straining member can slide just this once.

The awkward part is a necessary predecessor to the steamy, take-me-baby-now, perfectly polished part. Because I’ll be honest: writing sex scenes is hard sometimes. Not for lack of experience, not for secret shame of content, not for unexpected stimulation requiring a time-out (though that does happen occasionally!).

Sex scenes are the hardest scenes to write for me, because I am a perfectionist by nature (god, what writer isn’t?) and my inclination is to make my first draft as sparkling as possible.

Which means I can get hung up for hours, or sometimes days, debating how I want to describe the arc of a pectoral, or what words to describe penetration that haven’t been used before.

The old writing adage goes something like this: “JUST WRITE, and then improve it later.” I’ve always struggled with this, but have been able to reach a healthy compromise with most of my writing. I can spew out the majority of a novel without looking back these days, restraining the critical eye until Revision #1.

But the sex scenes? They still get me hung up.

Sometimes, my first draft sex scenes are so unsexy that I feel like throwing in the towel. They can be downright boring, and awkward.

Plenty of these first draft horrors overuse basic words like “hard” and “moan.” The result can look something like this:

John moaned hard and deep into her shoulder. Katie arched her back against him, hard, and let out a gravelly moan as his fingers danced around the prize. She knew that the hard heat of his chest would be the thing to unravel her britches. She moaned again.

Let’s all chuckle quietly for moment. In three lines, we see both ‘moan’ and ‘hard’ three separate times each. Unacceptable, in Polished Final Draft Land.

Luckily, these things get revised out and improved and perfected. That’s the beauty of the editing process.

But for me, the mere experience of writing such lackluster, unsexy sex scenes is a wholly awkward experience. Just reading back over them after some time has passed, before the revision process, is, well, how can I say it?

Freaking awkward.

No matter, though. Plenty of opportunities for me to laugh at myself after the fact. And definitely good fodder for a book of hilariously awkward first draft sex scenes down the road.

Are there any awkward parts to reading or writing for you? Do awkward scenarios make you just want to shrivel up and disappear? Do you have any awesome awkward tales involving reading or writing romance novels?

SONY DSCBIO: Ember Leigh has been writing erotic romance novels since she was far too young.  A native of northern Ohio, she currently resides in South America with her Argentinean partner, a detail she uses to justify her Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Literature. In addition to romance novels, she also writes travel articles, maintains three blogs, and continually attempts to complete a mildly-gripping short story. In her free time, she practices Ashtanga yoga, travels the world, and eats lots of vegetables.

Website: http://www.emberleighromance.com

Find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EmberLeighAuthor

Twitter: @EmberLeighAuth

Blurb: Recently divorced, Casey has been longing for a man’s touch. So when business brings her back to Carlos, the one that got away, it has to be fate. The four years apart have only done him better, and all she can think about is having his arms, and body, wrapped around hers. But Carlos is not the same man he was four years ago, and Casey too is feeling the weight of too much time gone by. Can Casey help reignite his fire or has time left them behind?

EXCERPT:

Her breath caught as she followed him up the staircase, tucked to the far side of the house. Carlos had always been fit enough, but it looked like he’d taken up some new form of exercise in the past four years. He was beefier, yet still lean. His ass moved round and tight in front of her as they climbed the stairs. At the landing, he gestured in front of them.

“This is my studio, but it’s all yours for tonight.”

It was a rec room that took up the whole second floor, and far more standard male than the ground floor alluded to. Movie posters, gaming systems, books scattered on floors and coffee tables, and, off to one side, the trumpet, asleep in a bed of sheet music. In the corner there was an overstuffed couch just about as wide as she was long – it would be great to sleep on, even better if he could bend her over that armrest and fuck her until dinner was ready.

She cleared her throat, deciding adult friendships could be fun, even after four questionable years. “I thought I’d be sharing a bed with you?” She tried to keep her tone playful as she sauntered toward the couch. She tossed him a smile and she caught a glimpse of him looking very stricken. Shit. Too far. Things are too different now. Abort!

Maybe too much time had passed in general. Maybe he was courting a girl and wanted to take it slow with her. Maybe he no longer found her attractive, four years becoming the dagger in the heart. Maybe he’d become celibate, or found her life too normal and boring. There was a whole list of reasons why she shouldn’t make the first move.

“I was just joking,” she said after a moment, rolling her eyes. “Come on, lighten up.”

He exhaled slowly, looking down at the ground as his tongue found the corner of his mouth. “I know it was a joke, Case.”

“In case you forgot, we used to share a bed.” She looked at him pointedly, already horrified that the words were coming from her lips. What was the getting at? Who had authorized this dialogue?

He squeezed his eyes shut and laughed softly. “Oh, I remember.”

Find Ember Leigh on Amazon

The Search for Fresh and Original

proof of their sinGuest blog by Dani Collins, author of Proof of Their Sin

I’m still a relatively new author and this is my first organized blog tour. This post is my tenth on Proof Of Their Sin and I’ve written three books and two partials since it was accepted. I’ve been moving the writing of this blog down my To Do List for a few days, mind drooling as I attempted to find something fresh to say about this story.

It’s the same struggle we face when writing the book in the first place. To counter that old argument that all romances are the same, we writers struggle to make this story different and fresh and fun.

But how? Especially when writing for a well-loved line like a Harlequin Presents? At its heart, Proof of Their Sin is a secret baby with a reunion romance. The hero, Paolo, is Italian and rich. I know you’ve seen these elements before and when it comes to certain things—a tone of voice, a heated caress—it’s really easy to fall back on a nice bit of phrasing as common as tycoons and virgins. (She husked, while stroking light fingertips across her keyboard.)

Characters, however are unique products of their personal history and life experience, bringing that stab of freshness we’re looking for, so I thought I’d give you Proof of Their Sin’s backstory.

Before I sold in May of 2012, I was working with Suzy, one of the editors at Mills & Boon. She had recently rejected one of my manuscripts (ouch) and asked me to submit three fresh ideas for consideration. Proof of Their Sin was one of them, sent under the title Kidnapped For Keeps. She wound up suggesting I pair the heroine from one synopsis with the Russian hero from the other.

There’s a whole long epic Russian tragedy about how that story marched toward eventual cold and wintry death. (It may yet see resurrection.) After its demise, I wrote No Longer Forbidden? It was accepted in a two-book contract and I still had this lovely synopsis entitled Kidnapped For Keeps which hadn’t exactly been rejected so I sent it along as my second book.

I already had a jump start on the story with a stunning dress for Lauren and a white tie ball and a revelation of an unplanned pregnancy. Wait, have you seen that in a romance before? Yeah, me too. Fortunately, I had plenty of questions to answer: How does she get in? How did she get pregnant? How does she know Paolo?

Pretty soon I was getting to know Lauren and Paolo. He’s a banker who only succeeds in that field by tempering his natural, high-octane, surf-typhoon-waves-in-Indonesia nature. For all his projection of aloofness, he was incredibly devoted to his best friend, Lauren’s first husband. Lauren is an absolute mouse when the story opens, but she steps into her grandmother’s vintage designer gown and dares Paolo to judge her. In her quiet way, she keeps Paolo on his toes and offers him the excitement he craves.

Due to another epic saga, my first Mills & Boon will release with my third this December, making Proof of Their Sin my North American debut. It will hit shelves in my hometown, on July first. I’m ridiculously excited. (I actually went into a store today to check for it and they groaned in empathy when they saw me. “It’s not here yet.”)

I hope Proof of Their Sin strikes a chord with you. Here’s the blurb:

A beautiful mistake…

Pregnant. Lauren Bradley’s heart stops-there’s only one man who can be the father and it’s not her late husband, the man everyone thinks is a celebrated war hero….

Ravaged with guilt at sleeping with his best friend’s wife, Paolo Donatelli closes his heart to Lauren forever. But in nine months’ time, the proof of their incredible night together will be there for the world to see.

Marriage is Paolo’s answer to avoiding more scandal, but it’s Lauren’s worst fear-she still bears the scars from the first time she said I do. Can she trust Paolo enough to reveal the truth?

Buy: Proof of Their Sin (One Night With Consequences)

What makes a romance stand out from the pack for you? Do you have an example of something really different that worked really well for you—or didn’t at all?

GIVEAWAY: I have a copy of Proof Of Their Sin for one lucky commenter.

dani collinsBio: Dani Collins spent two decades submitting to every publisher with a transom while holding down a day job and raising a family with her high school sweet heart.

When The Call finally came, Dani ran with it, going to contract on eight books in that first year. Along with her Harlequin Mills & Boon titles, she has an epic fantasy romance, The Healer, with Champagne Books and an indie-published rom-com, Hustled To The Altar.

While her stories span very different genres, she always delivers alpha-male heroes squaring off with spirited heroines in a deeply emotional, unforgettable romance.

Buy: Proof of Their Sin (One Night With Consequences)

I’d love to hear from you. Find me at:

www.danicollins.com | FB:DaniCollinsAuthor | @DaniCollinsBook |Goodreads

Buy: Proof of Their Sin (One Night With Consequences)

Review: Barefoot in the Sun by Roxanne St. Claire

barefoot in the sunReviewed by Patsy F.

This book begins in an unusual way. The “life secret” of the main character is revealed in the prologue and you get a good sense of the history of the characters. Then Chapter 1 starts with 9 years later. So immediately I was intrigued and excited to be reading a romance mystery.

The story begins when Zoe Tamarin confesses to her true love (Oliver, a hot, strong, prestigious doctor) that she had a nightmare childhood. She tells him that the woman that she calls, Aunt Pasha, is really the woman that saved her from a tragic life and abducted her. They were always on the run because Pasha was afraid they would be caught and she would be sent to prison. Little did Zoe know Aunt Pasha had another secret.

As Zoe grew into a beautiful young woman, her love for Aunt Pasha grew too. Pasha had given Zoe a wonderful loving life but a life on the run nonetheless. Zoe had developed three strong sisterhoods during the years. These friends were just as much family to Zoe as aunt Pasha and although the friends had no idea that Pasha had changed Zoe’s real name and been on the lamb, they loved her as much as Zoe did.

Though they were only together for four months, Dr. Oliver Bradbury was the only true love Zoe ever knew (her soulmate). She had left Oliver nine years ago in the beginning of the story. Oliver was about to tell a secret of his own to Zoe that his ex was pregnant with his child. He had met Zoe months after he separated from his ex. But then when she left he knew Zoe would never return, so he married his ex and raised their son just to do the right thing.

Finally now that Zoe is grown and after years of running, Zoe and Pasha decide to go to meet Zoe’s friend on an island in Florida. The friend has opened a beautiful resort and is about to give birth to her second child. When she goes into labor, there is a handsome, respected, well qualified doctor at the resort with his son.

The real mystery of the book is Pasha’s secret. The end of the story is what you would expect after a story such as this, but leaves you with a feeling of…love conquers all…no matter what.

This is a very good read, the only negative would be some of the chapters were a little too wordy in the scene description.

I would like to read more of this author’s Barefoot Bay series. I rate this book at 4 stars!

[Rating:4]

Buy: Barefoot in the Sun (Barefoot Bay)

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Audio Review: The Edge of Desire (Bastion Club, Book 7) by Stephanie Laurens

edge of desireHeroine: Lady Letitia Randall was in love once, but then the left her high and dry when she needed him most. Now to save her brother, Letitia must ask for aid from the same crusty curmudgeon. She’ll seduce him if she must in order to find her brother before the authorities do and to clear his name of her husband’s murder. This gal is determined.

Hero: Christian Allardyce, sixth Marquess of Dearne, didn’t tell Letitia he joined the ranks of Britain’s secret agents to fight Napoleon. He thought she would wait for him, but it turns out she married somebody else and that it was apparently a love match. It’s a betrayal he’ll never forgive, but when she asks for help he can’t refuse.

Review: Do you like reunion romances? Second chance love stories? A little murder mystery? You’ll like this book then! Just avoid the repeated references to Vaux temperament. The mystery is complex (drags a little at times, but interesting as it progresses) and each layer reveals something else about Letitia’s dearly eagerly departed husband. There’s also a big misunderstanding for our hero and heroine to put a nice bow on it.

Narrator: Steven Crossley has a very deep voice and a wonderful British accent. His voice sounds similar on one level to Sean Connery. He says things very precisely.

[Rating:3.5]

Buy: The Edge of Desire (Bastion Club)

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