Archive for January 4th, 2012

When Diego Escobar assists in what should be a simple task of arresting a trespasser, he comes face-to-face with his first Shifter–the beautiful Cassidy Warden, sister of the Shiftertown leader. Assigned to watch over her, Diego learns more about the lonely, wild Cassidy than it’s safe to know. Diego might be human, but he’s virile and darkly handsome, and stirs Cassidy’s mating desire, which she thought dead forever. Once the fires begin, nothing and no one can put them out.


My new release, WILD CAT (Jan 3, 2012), made me reminisce about the path I took to becoming a paranormal romance author.

I grew up reading fantasy. While my friends were reading poignant, meaningful YA, I was feasting on the magic and adventures of Terry Brooks, Tolkein, Barbara Hambly, and David Eddings.

I wouldn’t touch romance novels. No way, no how. I’d never read one, of course. I put some of the blame on the covers of the era, because I was a tomboy, and they were too “girly” for me.

Fantasy novels were giving me strong women who fought side by side with the men or who were kick-butt magic women in their own right. I wanted to write that—I did write that. I wrote a trilogy (longhand or on a manual typewriter), and several standalone fantasy novels throughout my teen and college years.

Then I started to realize I wanted romance in my fantasy. I wanted to write the very strong women and warrior men, but I wanted them to fall in love along the way and live happily ever. For real. No taking it back when the next book in the series starts.

Some authors did add romance: Barbara Hambly’s stories about Star Hawk and Sun Wolf have the lead characters falling in love, as do her books in the Dragonsbane series. (The characters take a while to figure out that they’re meant to be together, but they get there.)

However—at the time I was trying to break into the fantasy market (early 90s), romance in fantasy was mostly a no-no. (I have learned since then that this wasn’t strictly true, but I believed these “rules.”)

Some fantasy had romance, but as I wrote more of my own stories, I realized I wanted much more romance than the fantasy market was giving me.

So, I said, “Duh, Jennifer, why don’t you just write romance?”

I still had never read a romance novel. At the time, historical romance was in its heyday, and I figured that writing medieval romance would be the closest I could come to writing fantasy (paranormal romance really hadn’t gotten going at the time).

I finally crossed the aisles to the romance section of the library, picked out some books, took them home, and read them.

And hated them! The first books I read essentially had the hero physically and mentally torturing the heroine while she sat there sadly and took it without a peep. Hunh? People liked this? Barbara Hambly’s heroines would have had that hero for breakfast, or at least made sure he lived out his life as a strange, unidentifiable amphibian.

Happily, I then found some books by Julie Garwood, Mary Jo Putney, and Amanda Quick. The heroes were strong without being abusive, and the heroines were plenty able to stand up to them. The stories were well crafted, tightly plotted, and fun to read. I saw that humor could be highly effective in romance, which was great, because I like to write humor.

Now that I’d learned that romances could actually be good novels, I started writing them.

And writing, and writing. I got addicted! I am now a complete convert to romance novels. I still love fantasy, but I’ve added authors like Eloisa James, Christina Dodd, Emma Holly, and many others to my shelves.

And then, joy of joys, paranormal romance suddenly burst forth.

When I made my first forays into the romance market (mid to late 90s), the wisdom was “no paranormal.” Editors wouldn’t even speak to you (I was told), if you had a paranormal romance. Too bad, because I had a vampire historical I really wanted to write.

Happily authors like Christine Feehan and Sherrilyn Kenyon persisted, and publishers finally realized that yes, there was a huge market for paranormal romance.

At the time this all happened, I had finally sold my first historical romances and was locked into contracts to do more. Not a bad thing—I love writing historicals! (And still do).

But my fantasy side was itching to get out. I at last convinced my editors to let me try my hand at paranormals, and I came up with the Immortals series. Finally I got to write about magically strong women, sword-wielding warriors, vamps, shape-shifters, demons, battles, and sweeping adventure.

And I got to put romance in it!! Real, HEA romance. No take-backs!

Luckily for me, the series was successful, and let me start establishing a name as a paranormal romance author.

I’ve now been able to expand my love of paranormal and romance into a new series, Shifters Unbound.

Shifters Unbound is a bit different from Immortals, because I’ve concentrated on shapeshifters alone, with some interaction with the Fae and Fae magic (the Fae created Shifters to be their fighting animals many moons ago).

For this series, I wanted to focus on the couples rather than an overarching story of good vs. evil. I wanted to explore Shifters, and dig deep into their world, their history, their religion, and their way of life. In the Shifters series, I marry the magic of fantasy and the grittiness of paranormal, with deep emotional romance, but I also mix in plenty of humor.

I built a website for the Shifters series, listing the books, definitions of things in the Shifter world (A Humans Guide to Shifters), and some backstory told by Liam Morrissey, the hero of Pride Mates. You can access all that here:


The Shifters series now has three books and a couple of shorter works:

1. Pride Mates

2. Primal Bonds

2.5. Bodyguard

3. Wild Cat

and Shifter Made, a short story that explains the making of the Sword of the Guardian.

I focus on two Shiftertowns, one in Austin and one in Las Vegas, and there will be much going back and forth between the two. More shorter e-first works will be out as the year goes on (also available in print), as well as the paperback full-length novels from Berkley.

The Shifters are Felines, Lupines, and Bears (oh my!), plus they meet humans who fall in love with them. The stories are funny and emotional, with plenty of romance, and yes, plenty of action.

I hope everyone enjoys my take on fantasy plus romance!

I have a book to give away: A signed paperback copy of Bodyguard, the short novel featuring Ronan, the Bear Shifter, to one commenter today.

Let me know why you love paranormal romance, and be eligible to win!

Hope everyone had a Happy New Year!

Jennifer Ashley



*Giveaway sponsored by the author

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