Archive for August, 2009

*cackling like mad*

Do I have a contest for you! I’ve been given ARCs of SWEET SEDUCTION by Maya Banks to use in a contest. Book three of her Sweet series. I was going to be evil and make you all work at winning a copy but then decided I’d make it easy-peasy. *G* Labor Day is right around the corner, my girls are back in school and I’ve been enjoying my “me time” while the house has been quiet. So all you have to do to be in the running to win one of the three ARCs I have is leave a comment on this post. That’s it! No, really, that’s all you have to do for the chance to get your hands on Nathan. Honest! 😉 *And you do want to get your hands on Nathan, trust me!*

*****Contest will run from tonight, August 31st, until Friday, September 4th. Winners will be announced Saturday, September 5th. Winners will have until Monday, September 7th to email me their addresses or new name will be pulled in their place.


He was the stuff erotic dreams are made of

Salon owner Julie Stanford wanted Nathan Tucker ever since she gave him his first massage. Getting paid to feel every inch of his body, stripped, oiled, and spread out in front of her? Stuff dreams are made of. But the sexy guy was oblivious to the signals she was sending – until she finished off his final rub-down with something extra. In fact, the best extra he ever had. Unfortunately, he came around too late. Now Julie’s moving on…

She was everything he’d dreamed of

The woman was driving him crazy.  She lit fire to his insides then ran like a scalded cat.  And now she’s going to someone else to have all her fantasies fulfilled? Over his dead body…He’s more than willing to give her what she wants, and as soon as he pins the little minx down, he’d show her his own brand of sweet seduction.

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Millie's Fling

He’s the best thing that ever happened to her. He’s also the worst. He’s Millie’s Fling.Bestselling novelist Orla Hart owes her life to her friend Millie Brady, whose rotten boyfriend has just left her. So Orla invites Millie to Cornwall, where Millie looks forward to a summer without any dating whatsoever. But Orla envisions Millie as the heroine of her next novel and decides to find Millie the man of her dreams. Except the two women have drastically different ideas about what kind of guy that should be.

With Orla and Millie working at cross-purposes, and a dashing but bewildered hero stuck in the middle, the summer will turn out to be unforgettable for all concerned…


Hi Mad, and many thanks for asking me to guest-blog about my favourite subject – books! I’ve been reading all about you and I see you have the same dilemma as me – we don’t like to throw books away, because we love them. But in the absence of a handy barn, where on earth are we meant to keep them?

And I have an extra problem, because I’ve written twenty books. I’m also translated into roughly twenty different languages. Foreign publishers are contractually obliged to send you six copies of each book. Some (ie Sourcebooks, my fabulous US publishers) send twenty copies. There, did you know you were going to be doing maths today? OK, I won’t try to add up that little lot, but trust me, it’s a big number.

So what do I do with them all? When you’re a book-lover, binning a book is on a par with murdering a small animal. It can’t be done. I take my English language books to charity shops, or sell them myself and give the money to charity. But the foreign language editions aren’t so easy to dispose of. Our local library won’t even take any more. Sometimes I don’t even know which books they are, the language is so impenetrable. Korean, anyone? Russian? Maybe I’ll meet an unsuspecting Russian one day and be able to offload a box of books on them.

Meanwhile, our loft is full of books. Our spare room is bursting at the seams with them. It seems that every time I manage to force myself to throw a few into the paper recycling collections, the postman will knock at the door within twenty four hours with a box containing a new batch.

So, there you go; it’s like a never-ending nightmare. I worry that I’ll turn into one of those little old ladies found dead at the age of 90, buried beneath a mountain of books in a house that has no more room left for furniture because she was never able to throw her foreign editions away.

Looks like I’m going to have to build that barn in the garden after all. Happy reading!


Thank you for visiting, Ms Mansell!

To learn more about Ms Mansell’s books you can visit her personal website or her author page at Sourcebooks.

Which reminds me… 😀 Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter a drawing (open only to US and Canada residents, more’s the pity) for two copies of Millie’s Fling, sponsored by the aforementioned Sourcebooks.

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Once again random.org comes through for us here at Novel Thoughts.

We have a winner for a download of a book from Shannon Stacey’s backlist:


Congratulations, lovely woman you! Check out all the delicious choices over at Ms Stacey’s website and email her with your chosen prize.

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Someone who agreed with me on the loveliness of the cover! 😀

(do you think random.org is omniscient? … … nah, probably coincidence 😉 )

Natasha A

You, my discerning friend, will soon have the chance to pet erm… read a signed copy of this wonderful book. Email me at azteclady1 at yahoo dot com within 48hrs with your physical address.

Please post a comment here if I don’t acknowledge receiving your email; otherwise the prize is forfeit and another winner drawn.

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Through the magic that is random.org we have drawn a winner for Ms Bantwal’s book:


Congratulations, lady! Please email me your physical address at azteclady1 at yahoo dot com within 48hrs so we can get the book out to you as soon as possible.

Remember to post a comment here if you don’t receive confirmation from me; otherwise, you forfeit your prize.

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Incontheivable! you say… but it’s nonetheless true–etirv didn’t claim her prize, so I fired random.org again. Cheer loud and long, for we have a new winner for Scandal:

Little Lamb Lost

Come forth and receive your prize, sweet lady!

(You have 48hrs to email me at azteclady1 at yahoo dot com with your physical address–please post to this thread if I don’t confirm receipt of your email)

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No Surrender

Don’t hold back. Never give up. If only it was that easy…

When sabotage downs their helicopter in the mountains, Gallagher finally gets the up-close and personal time he’s been craving with fellow agent Carmen Olivera. After their rescue, the saboteur’s trail sends the Devlin Group to Africa, where Carmen tries to revert back to her cold, professional self. Except Gallagher isn’t ready to let her go. Not by a long shot.

As the Group gears up to rescue a young woman held hostage in the well-guarded compound of a guerilla warlord, Carmen tries to shove her long-time attraction for Gallagher—now jacked up by one mind-blowing night—back into its mental corner. No matter what her heart says, there’s no future with him. They’re from different worlds. Not to mention the effect a failed relationship could have on the job.

But as the mission gets blown all to hell, they find the African jungle has its own, brutal way of deciding who has future at all…


After two light-hearted historical westerns, my new release, No Surrender, marks the return to my action-adventure romance series, the Devlin Group, from Samhain.

So why don’t I call it romantic suspense? After all, my publisher does. As does most of the romance industry, including booksellers, reviewers, librarians and contests such as RWA’s RITA awards.

But I think there’s a difference between romantic suspense and action-adventure romance, and the Devlin Group books are definitely the latter. Why?  (These are my own personal musings, so your mileage may vary).

Action-adventure romances are less concerned about the why and the who than with the kicking of ass. Even though the hero or heroine of a romantic suspense is often in law enforcement—the “hunter”—the overall theme is one of being hunted, and usually the identity and the motive are hidden. In action-adventure, the main characters may also be hunted, but they quickly go on the offensive, kicking ass and taking names—names the reader often gets right up front. In No Surrender, the identity and motivation of the villain is never a secret. The suspense lies in how the agents are going to take him down.

Romantic suspense often involves taking puzzle pieces and trying to make them fit together while somewhere out there, somebody’s waiting to hurt you. In action-adventure, the gun’s already to your head so you blow up the puzzle box and sift through the scorched pieces after, hoping the bad guy’s in there.

In romantic suspense, the reader is trying to solve the puzzle alongside the characters. In action-adventure, she’s just along for the wild ride, hoping the hero and heroine live to fight another day.

The most well-known example of an author I personally believe is an action-adventure romance author being classified as romantic suspense is Suzanne Brockmann. Allison Brennan—romantic suspense. Roxanne St. Claire—action-adventure romance.

What do you think? Do you think there’s a difference between romantic suspense and action-adventure romance?


Thank you, Ms Stacey!

Ms Stacey is generously giving away a download of one of her backlist titles to a lucky commenter here. To learn more about the Devlin Group and all her other titles, visit her website. Then come back and tell us what you think!

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I’m so thrilled Azteclady invited me over to talk about my new release, Beyond the Rain. Here’s the quick blurb to go with that lovely (and I mean lovely) cover.

Beyond the Rain

In a universe torn apart by civil war, a warrior and a slave must fight for their freedom, for their lives, and for a love that may destroy them both…

After five years behind enemy lines, Captain Cyani is ready to retire to her homeworld of Azra as one of the Elite — the celibate warrior sisterhood that rules the planet. But first she must complete one final mission to rescue her fellow Union soldiers. The last thing she expects to find is a prisoner, chained and beaten — but radiating feral power and an unbroken spirit…

Soren is a Byralen, an enigmatic people who possess a unique hormone that they use to bond with their mates — and that is sold as a sexual narcotic in the shadow trade. For years, he has endured torture at the hands of his captors as they leeched his very essence. The last thing he expects is to be freed from slavery by a beautiful warrior woman with radiant blue eyes.

Driven by her rigid sense of honor, Cyani frees Soren even though her life hinges upon the success of her mission. But after so many years in bondage, his hormones are so unbalanced that he will die if he does not bond with a woman. Can the lovely but distant warrior be the woman he needs to survive, or will the forbidden bond destroy them?

It was a lot of fun to write a high flying Space Opera.  Space Opera has always been my favorite form of Science Fiction.  High adventure, interesting concepts, but still character driven stories, Space Opera seems like the perfect fit for Romance.  But my favorite part of writing the books was the world building.

World building is tricky.  You need enough to make your settings feel real and plausible, but too much, and the book will no longer be a character driven story.  Since Beyond the Rain is all about the love story, I thought I’d share some of the elements of my worlds that never made it into the book.  These things might turn up later, they might not, but they exist.  World building is like an iceberg.  You only see the tip.

So here they are, 5 little known facts about my worlds.

  1. The Azralen people introduced in Beyond the Rain are not the only human species on the planet.  The Azralen live on small rain forest islands.  Islands aren’t good at providing mass resources, so I had to think of how Azra fit into the intergalactic economy.  As it turns out, the Nudari Azralen live in colonies beneath the vast seas.  They mine for ore, farm algae, harvest some of Azra’s more unique sea-bound resources, and live peacefully beneath the waves giving a cut of their profits to the Azralen for facilitating trade.  They don’t interfere in the world above, at least not yet.
  2. The Garulen are not human.  Okay, so they’re pretty nasty, and it is easy to think of them as not human, but they really aren’t human.  They’re evolved Neanderthals.  The Gatherers captured some Neanderthals in ancient times and put them on their own planet where they evolved separate from us.  They are like us, but humans and Garulen can’t breed together.
  3. Vicca the Stell fox is not native to Azra.  People assume she’s a native Azralen creature, but the predatory niche Vicca’s species would hold on Azra is filled by the native Korcas cats.  The Azralen warriors import Stell foxes as scouts because they are smart and agile in the trees.
  4. The Union has tried to sustain four different colonies on Makko.  Each one has failed, with the colonists systematically going insane.  Now the closest they’ll get to the planet is the military base on Makko’s moon.
  5. Traditional Azralen weapons are made out of hardened bone, not metal.  The curved blades were developed from the ribs of slain felam beasts.  Being a forested island nation, Azra in ancient times didn’t have metal works.  Now Elite warriors will carry metal blades, but their traditional blades are still made of bone.

Each of these is a good example of how to construct world building.  Where do resources come from?  How are various species in the universe different?  How has the movement of species affected different worlds?  Why would a technologically superior culture ignore the resources of a planet of people who cannot oppose them militarily?  What resources are available to people and how do resources affect their clothing, education, interaction with the galactic community, traditions, and yes, weapons?

Rich and intricate world building has its foundation in a lot of questions–a million questions.  Part of the fun of writing, is figuring out the answers to all those questions.  It becomes like an intricate puzzle, and the more you know, the more there is to know.  That’s my favorite thing about world building.


Thank you so much for visiting, Ms Granger! (I agree completely, that cover is just… :sigh: lovely)

Erm… *cough* Sorry ’bout that…

Remember to leave a comment to enter the drawing for a signed copy of Ms Granger’s Beyond the Rain–one lucky reader will get to pet erm… see it up close and personal.

Through Ms Granger’s generosity, this one is open to readers all around the planet! *happy dancing*

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Available tomorrow from Kensington at a Bookstore near you:
The Sari Shop WidowPungent curry… sweet fried onions… incense… colorful beads… lush fabrics. Shobhan Bantwal’s compelling new novel is set on the streets of Edison, New Jersey’s Little India, where a young businesswoman rediscovers the magic of love and family…

Since becoming a widow at age twenty-seven, Anjali Kapadia has devoted herself to transforming her parents’ sari shop into a chic boutique, brimming with exquisite jewelry and clothing. Now, ten years later, it stands out like a proud maharani amid Edison’s bustling Little India. But when Anjali learns the shop is on the brink of bankruptcy, she feels her world unraveling…

To the rescue comes Anjali’s wealthy, dictatorial Uncle Jeevan and his business partner, Rishi Shah—a mysterious Londoner, complete with British accent, cool gray eyes, and skin so fair it makes it hard to believe he’s Indian. Rishi’s cool, foreign demeanor triggers distrust in Anjali and her mother. But for Anjali, he also stirs something else, a powerful attraction she hasn’t felt in a decade. And the feeling is mutual…

Love disappointed Anjali once before and she’s vowed to live without it—though Rishi is slowly melting her resolve and, as the shop regains its footing, gaining her trust. But when a secret from Rishi’s past is revealed, Anjali must turn to her family and her strong cultural upbringing to guide her in finding the truth…


The Sari Shop Widow is my third novel. Set on the streets of Edison, New Jersey’s Little India, it is the story of a young businesswoman who rediscovers love, family, and her roots as she fights to save her failing sari boutique.

Little India is a quaint neighborhood of Indian sari and clothing boutiques, jewelry stores, restaurants, music and video galleries, and grocery shops. It is a slice of India transplanted into suburban America. From a beaded necklace to a cup of spiced tea, from a plate of sizzling tandoori chicken to a gold-embroidered sari, one can buy most anything Indian in Little India.

Since the tastes, scents, textures, and colors of India are available right here in the U.S., I decided to set my latest book against this somewhat exotic backdrop. Every time I visited Little India, I felt it would make a great place for a story. The Sari Shop Widow is a product of that urge to spin a story and plant it right in the heart of my home state of New Jersey, and offer a rare glimpse into the Indian-American immigrant experience to my American and Canadian readers.

Why do I call my writing “Bollywood in a Book?” Bollywood is the term for Bombay Hollywood. My books are mainstream women’s fiction with strong romantic elements, high emotion, drama, and lots of interesting cultural detail – all the elements of Bollywood movies. I also introduce social issues like dowry, arranged marriage, female feticide, joint family living, and a host of other tidbits that set my fiction apart from the other writers’, even my fellow South Asian authors, who primarily write literary fiction.

My first two books, The Dowry Bride and The Forbidden Daughter, were set in India and dealt with hot-button social issues that plague women in contemporary India – the practices of dowry and aborting female fetuses in a male-oriented society.

The theme of women’s issues still resonates in The Sari Shop Widow. It offers a comparison between the lives of Indian widows living in a free and open society like the U.S. and widows in India, where they often live under restricted and bleak conditions. This book has more romance than my first two, so my romance-loving readers are eagerly looking forward to this book. I sincerely hope I live up to their expectations.

For a chance to win a costume jewelry set or one of five copies of The Sari Shop Widow, please go to my website at www.shobhanbantwal.com and enter the contest through the “Contests” page. View my book trailer at www.YouTube.com and my pages on Facebook and Myspace.


Thank you for visiting with us, Ms Bantwal!

Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing to win a signed copy of The Sari Shop Widow here at Novel Thoughts

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