Archive for the ‘January 2014’ Category

It’s finally release day for When Day Breaks by Maya Banks! And in celebration of all things Swanny, we’re having a giveaway 😀


Eden is said to be one of the most beautiful women in the world. Her face has graced countless magazines and her body has sold millions of dollars of clothing. But her fame and beauty has earned her more than she ever imagined. Evil is stalking her, determined to extinguish the ethereal beauty forever.

Swanson or “Swanny” as his teammates call him is always up for the next mission. He came back from Afghanistan wounded and scarred. Hardly the kind of man who even belongs in the same room with Eden. And yet there’s something about the quiet beauty that stirs his blood and makes him dream of the impossible. Because Beauty loving the beast only happens in fairy tales and KGI doesn’t deal in fairy tales. Ever.




We’ll be gifting five winners a kindle copy of When Day Breaks from Amazon. Winners will be announced on Sunday so please remember to check back!

* Amazon’s geo restrictions do apply
* Giveaway is sponsored by Novel Thoughts

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Postcard winners!

Winners of Melting the Ice postcards signed by Jason are:

Janice McCarthy

Lisa Williams

elena k

Natasha Haman


Wanda Miller


Maria Rincon



Robyn B


Meagan Wells

Ashley Lake

Chels Newall


Congrats! To claim your prize, please email mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces) with your mailing address. You have 48 hours to email before a new name is chosen.

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Sonja Rouillard

wins Personal Assets by Kelsey Browning


Congrats! To claim your prize, please email mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces). You have 48 hours to email before a new name is chosen.

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Lori T

wins digital copies of both Dimple books by Lucy Woodhull


Congrats! To claim your prize, please email mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces). You have 48 hours to email before a new name is chosen.

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First I must say thank you to Bree and TV tropes. Without Bree this post would have been titled The Kinda Sorta Bad Guy With The Soft Underbelly. The current title is so much better 😀

Many of my favorite books have fantastic ensemble casts and not just throw-away secondary characters that are only there to prop up the protagonist. And my favorite type of character in that ensemble is the Even Evil Has Loved Ones. These are not good guys. Not even close. Some of their actions are nothing short of evil. But they have a soft spot, a vulnerability. And we as readers only get to see that vulnerability when it comes to that one special person.

My favorite non-protagonist character right now is Theo from Lauren Dane’s Rowan Summerwaite series. He is The First, a centuries-old vampire, the leader of the Vampire Nation, and is, at times, bat-shit crazy. Even at his most sane, the choices he goddesswithablademakes are cold, violent, and what many would consider horrible. And he is Rowan’s foster father. He has raised her since she was an infant and she is the daughter of his heart. Yet some of his treatment toward her during childhood is beyond a doubt horrendous. But as this series progresses we see the love he has for Rowan. He is softer with her, more human, though she still has to be careful when dealing with this ancient being.

Without giving spoilers, I can only say we see why Rowan had the childhood she did with Theo. It wasn’t evilness or madness. It was done with Rowan’s best interests at heart. It was still horrible, it doesn’t change Rowan’s nightmares, but that glimpse into this complex character is wonderful. Regardless of his past actions, and current actions with others, Theo’s love for Rowan is true. And it leaves her with a very real terror of what will happen to the world should something happen to her. Her love is the only leash for a being that could drown the world in blood.

Another author who excels at writing the Even Evil Has Loved Ones characters is Nalini Singh. SlavetoSensationWhen we first met Nikita Duncan in Slave to Sensation, she was a stone-cold killer with no conscience. Whatever kept Nikita at the top was all that mattered and anything or anyone that got in her way was disposable. Or so it seemed. The more we see of Nikita, the more we realize she has layers and somewhere in that icy heart is a soft spot for her only child. She’s still a bitch. She may still do horrible things but she will defend that soft spot with a viciousness that is frightening.

Singh’s The Ghost (trying to avoid spoilers!) is a character that kisses the line between Even Evil Has Loved Ones and the Anti-Hero. Like the previously mentioned characters, he’s done some bad, bad things. And he did them without remorse. Unlike the previous characters, he has found his HEA and that heroine, and only that heroine, pushed him out of the “evil” category into the anti-hero one. His actions are no longer dictated by what’s best for him but what’s best for his lady.

These are the characters I love. Their complexity draws me in and keeps me fully engaged. I want to hate them, I should hate them and fear what they will do to the fictional world I’m visiting, but they add so much to that world. And I want to read more of them.

What about you? Do you enjoy these type of characters? And can you recommend any books with them? I can’t recall finding any outside of paranormal romance or urban fantasy but I would love to read them


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Winners of After the Storm by Maya Banks!

Stephanie Fredrick

Mandy Saial


Jessi Fay

Claire Brianna MacKanzie


Cindy Mucha Barton

Ruth S


yohanna baez


gigi staub

Marina Marinova


Melanie J

Janet K




Alison Bliss

Congratulations! All winners have been emailed and have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is selected.

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Over the years, Donovan Kelly has fought relentlessly for justice, women and children always holding a special place in his heart. Working side by side with his brothers, Donovan has witnessed firsthand the toll it’s taken—physically, mentally, and emotionally—on his loved ones, and the innocent lives caught in the crossfire. What he never expects is for his next mission to happen right on his home turf—or for it to take a very personal turn.

Picturesque Kentucky Lake is the perfect place for a soul in search of safe harbor. A beautiful stranger has arrived—desperate, breathless, and on the run from a dark past closing in on her and the younger siblings she has vowed to protect. Donovan must now draw on every resource at his disposal—if he wants to save a woman and the children who may prove to be his destiny.

UPDATE: This giveaway has ended and all winners have been notified.


We’ll be giving away print copies of After the Storm by Maya Banks. For a chance to win, just leave a comment below. These will be gifted from Amazon so any of their restrictions do apply. Please make sure the email address you use to comment is correct or you have the email address in the body of the comment. This is how we will contact you. This is a quickie giveaway. We will notify winners on Friday. We will also post a list of the winners here. The winners have until Saturday morning to reply.

Good luck! 😀

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Happy new year!  I’m romantic comedy author Lucy Woodhull, and I’m here to promo my latest book, THE DIMPLE STRIKES BACK (sequel to THE DIMPLE OF DOOM).  This series is about an art thief with a seriously dangerous dimple, and the secretary-turned-actress who falls for him.  And when I say “falls,” I mean that, bruises and all.

Dimple 1 and 2 covers

Here’s a blurb for the series:

The Samantha Lytton series by Lucy Woodhull

Obviously, the solution to a failed acting career and depressing dating desert is to take up with a dimpled art thief, get chased by thugs, lie to the police and almost die.

That’s not what Samantha Lytton thought would happen when she kissed the guy who said he was an accountant at the office Christmas party.  But in her defense — it was an amazing freaking kiss.  The kind of lip-lock that frustrates you in the wee hours.

Turns out, thinking with your nether regions can lead to poor decisions.  Or perhaps…fantastic ones.  Samantha and her burglar travel from Los Angeles to Vegas to Paris to London on adventures that bring Samantha’s wildest dreams of stardom to fruition.  After spending years falling on her face, she learns to fight for herself and her heart’s desire.  You can’t choose who to love, but you can try to keep his cute butt out of jail and in your bed.

No matter where in the world you go, or how many hot movie stars you kiss (um, professionally), you never forget your first criminal.  Hopefully, only criminal.  Although bad boys with dangerous dimples are nothing but trouble, a relationship can still work as long as the goons don’t get you.  And if they do, well, at least an actress is good at improvisation.

* * *

When January rolls around, we all consider what we want to accomplish in the fresh and sparkly new year.  Most of the time, these to-do lists are very, super serious, and filled with deep thoughts about being a better person, or getting a promotion at work.  But I think that more mundane goals are also good to have, just in case that vice president title doesn’t come to pass.  Hey, at least you can say that you accomplished something.

If the heroine of my Dimple book series, Samantha Lytton, were to make a resolution, it might be to never hump an art thief.  Or, you know, to hump an art thief, because even if he’s ruining your life, at least there’s humping!  She would also resolve to eat more Pizza Rolls, which is something that everyone should do.

Here are mine…

Lucy’s Less-Than-Lofty Life Goals for 2014:

1. Do the dishes less frequently.

1A.  Teach the cat to do dishes.  Or convince husband that scrubbing pots is way more fun than it is.

2. Try one of those fancy nail polish jobbies that look like Degas painted your fingers.  Figure out a way to not have it chip in 5.6 seconds.

2A.  Do not drip nail polish on the floor.

2B.  If nail polish ends up on floor, buy attractive rug.

3. Cuss in traffic less, unless the piece of $#!+ really deserves it.
4. Get a mammogram (important for everyone!)
5. Do not apologize for eating any food ever.  It’s a waste of time, breath, and you deserve some cake, dammit, especially if you’ve stopped yelling at idiot drivers.  Basically, you’re Mother Theresa now, and deserve a milkshake.
6. Read more smut.
7. Stop and dance to Beyoncé no matter when/where you are.
8. Stop wearing bras that itch and pinch.  Boobs deserve better.
9. Invest in more caftans, as befitting a fancy author of smut.

9A.  Caftans should be bejeweled, duh.

9B.  Or at least gold lamé.

10  Say hello to every kitty and puppy you pass.  Naming them is optional, but recommended.
11. Have more patience, because you never know what someone else is going through or dealing with in their own life.

Okay, I snuck a serious one in there at the end, but number ten is something I try to remind myself of a lot.  The person frowning at you in the CVS could be having the worst day of their lives, so taking a deep breath and being nice can sometimes make a huge difference to someone.

I wish you and yours a wondrous year in 2014!  To hopefully start that off, leave a comment below with one of your non-groundbreaking new year’s resolutions, and you’ll be entered to win digital copies of both of my Dimple books!  Woot!


Lucy — Website Goodreads Twitter Blog Facebook


Book One:  THE DIMPLE OF DOOM — Available in print and digital from:  Totally Bound, Amazon, AllRomance.com, B&N, Sony / Excerpt here.

Book Two: THE DIMPLE STRIKES BACK — Available in digital (print coming March, 2014) from: Totally Bound, Amazon, AllRomance.com / Excerpt here.



Chapter One
You Can’t Spell “Happiness” Without “Pain”

No one would suppose, looking at me, little Samantha Lytton, that I am a sophisticated movie maven with an illicit thief for a lover. But that hypothetical lookie-loo would be wrong, and not just because I’m shorter than the average actress and/or gangster’s moll.

Outside the oval window beside me, clouds floated by on the vicious air currently bouncing my airplane to and fro. And taking my cocktail with it. “Shit!” I hissed. I swiped at my lap and accidentally splashed the puddle of vodka I’d dribbled there onto my seatmate’s sleeve. The businessey dude frowned at me and patted the offending liquid with a napkin.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I hate flying. But I love vodka! And talking when I’m nervous!” A too-long peal of laughter floated out of me from parts unknown. I took a deep breath and fought for calm. “Okay, I’m done now.” I beamed him the smile that Entertainment Weekly called ‘charming and dorky’.

I’d like it noted that they totally put ‘charming’ first.

My fellow first-classer didn’t seem impressed by me. No matter-I was suspended over the ocean, high on Xanax and whatever booze I’d managed to get into my mouth, on the way to London to shoot my very first starring role in a film. A bona-fide film-film-not one of those budget shoots where the catering is a Happy Meal thrown at you after filming illegally in an alley while you wear Goodwill clothing all night.

In the last year, People magazine had called me ‘Clara Bow 2.0′, and declared me the only entertaining part of my first movie I Cried Lavender Tears in Paris. Well, except for the bit when Justin Bieber exploded.

After that, I’d won a small but memorable scene in a Judd Apatow flick, a sidekick part in a Tina Fey movie and a recurring arc on a TV show soon cancelled for being too clever for anyone to watch. I was an underground darling in that I was a funny actress who looked like an average woman-with better-than-average teeth. I’d accepted any project offered to me, and as they began coming out, I got noticed by the Powers That Be.

The Powers That Be are a group of male studio executives who base an actress’ worth on a calculation that goes something like…


fuckability + sexiness * (hilarity + popularity on Twitter2) + (blonde * 10)


I score highly enough in the tits and hilarity departments-even though I am no longer blonde, but redheaded-that they have taken a massive risk on me with this new movie. Not for the first time, I clutched my stomach, terrified that I’d outpaced my abilities. In a few days, I’d begin shooting What Could Go Wrong?, a heist spoof about a down-on-their-luck couple who rob the British Museum with a group of misfits.

Now, Sam would tell you that he was instrumental in getting me this movie. He’s my illicit thief lover and yes, I had indeed learned about skulking and running and lying and truly superior oral sex from him. And about how you can drown in hazel eyes whether they’re mossiest green or deepest brown.

He also taught me that the dimple is the most savage of facial features, causing everyday ladies ‘brain paralysis’ so they throw off the shackles of their boring, secretarial lives and embrace an existence on the lam from cops and robbers alike. He’d used me to steal a Picasso. I’d turned the ensuing notoriety into the acting career I’d always dreamed of.

“Yup.” I slashed the air with my vodka cup. The dude beside me ducked and cowered. “Life is good,” I told him with a pat on the arm. “Sometimes storm clouds assemble and piss rain all over your head, but other times-ouch!”

My other seatmate had woken up. Captain Taco’s claw still clutched my ankle, his mournful feline cry echoing throughout the elite cabin. I tapped at his paw until he released me, then I pulled his carrier out from below the seat. My human friend muttered, threw down his Wall Street Journal-a paper one! Perhaps he was from the past-and stalked to another part of the airplane.

I stuck my head above the seat, periscope-style, to search for flight attendants. The coast was clear. I released Taco from his prison and took his bundle of feline black fluff into my arms. He actually did comfort me, the little bastard. He was an ex-pet of Sam’s, and it had taken some time for us to form a solid relationship, but we had finally meshed. I loved Taco to bits and cuddled him at every turn. He agreed not to murder me in my sleep as long as I fed him. I cradled him, belly up, while he gave me a glare of wild condescension.

The last year had been surreal, going from depressed secretary comforting herself with roller skating and Pizza Rolls-often together-to respected working actress. I considered pinching myself to make sure life was real, but Taco took care of that with a bite to my hand. I hissed and sucked on the already flaming pink wound.

“Ma’am, I’m afraid you cannot have an unrestrained animal out during flight.”

I smiled at the polite, frowning flight attendant whose pasty skin reminded me I’d soon be on an island where clouds battled the sun and often won. She offered to help me put Taco away, but I did it myself. No reason for the innocent to be mauled by eleven pounds of adorable rage. I’d given him kitty sedatives, but he didn’t seem to enjoy them the way I did.

The lady hung around, a smile creeping into the corner of her mouth. She leaned forward. “I’m a big fan, Ms Williams. Love your new hair color.”

Le sigh. “I’m not Michelle Williams. I get that a lot, though.”

“Wait-are you the lady from the Tina Fey movie? What was it… The World’s Worst Wedding? You are! You’re so funny!”

She got me on the second try-I couldn’t have stopped the grin that split my face if I’d tried. “Hi. Thanks. Hi.”

“Meeeewwwwrrrrr,” said Taco. My resume left him unimpressed thus far.

She put one knee on the empty seat beside me. “I’m sorry, it’s just in case the cat gets free, you know? I don’t want her to get hurt.”

Taco hissed and swiped. I jerked my leg to safety. “Captain Taco is a he. He’s sexist, that’s why he thinks being called a girl is demeaning.”

The flight attendant laughed. “Can I get you some champagne? Perhaps a magazine?”

I held up the now-slightly-soggy-from-vodka script in my lap. Very professional. “I should probably keep studying this. Although champagne would definitely help.”

She sucked in a breath and gawked to read the title page. “Is that the Daniel Zhang movie? Oh, my goodness, he is so unbelievably hot.”

“I know! They’re gonna pay me to kiss him!”

“Jammy devil!” She giggled more and whipped off to get me bubbly I didn’t really need.

I didn’t know what a jammy devil was, but I generally approved of both jam and devils. “Am I bovvered?” I asked no one.

“Hhhhhhhssssssss,” replied Taco.

“Oh, you’re always taking the piss.” I settled back, my glittering bubbly in hand. You’re going to be brilliant, I told myself. And you’ll have a killer British accent any minute now.

* * *




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Pamela Fryer

wins her choice of a Hollywood Rocks ebook by Mel Curtis


Congrats! To claim your prize, please email mad @ romancereaderatheart.com (without the spaces). You have 48 hours to email before a new name is chosen.

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Valentine Rules copy (414x640)What started out as an innocent assignment for work –accompanying a popular actress fresh out of rehab on shopping trips – has gained Gemma Kent regular makeovers by said actress and a sidebar photo on People magazine’s cover!  All the attention would be flattering, except she’s become famous as a mystery woman with the Twitter handle: GlitterfrostGem.  Everyone, even the local gossip column, is speculating about her identity.  In real life, Gemma wears combat boots, poindexter glasses, and a prickly attitude.  Now Randy Farrell, the man she can’t get out of her head, wants a date with Glitterfrost Gem!  Which would be great if he realized that invisible Gemma Kent and Glitterfrost Gem were one and the same.

Valentine Rules can be found in the Love, Valentine Style collection or be purchased independently.


Every writer is asked where they get their ideas.  I hate that question, because the answer is wishy-washy: It depends.

I usually start with an idea that interests me – like someone who never expected to be a life coach or a man trying to make positive changes in a small town filled with determined-never-to-change retirees.  Then I add a romantic element (usually the worst person they could fall in love with).  Then there is character construction – goals, motivations, conflict.  And then my sense of humor…such as it is.

Another thing I consider when constructing my stories is the audience or publishing house.  My sexier stories target readers who love alpha males.  These guys aren’t always politically correct and might even be competitive with the heroine.  My sweet romances for Harlequin Heartwarming feature heroes who are less alpha, per their request.

LVSnr300I take all my ideas, my must-haves, my intuitive feelings about characters and start writing.  Story construction for me is very much a Mr. Potato Head process.  There are multiple combinations – some that I think may work in the beginning and don’t mesh well by one-third of the way through the book.  I move story elements around and revise until I’m happy, my critique group is happy, and my editor is happy.  Sometimes we aren’t all happy until the last revision.  I once told my husband that I’d revised a chapter at least 20 times.  During those revisions, stories evolve in ways I can’t predict or plan.

I got the idea for my latest release – Valentine Rules, a mini-novella for my Hollywood Rules series – because of a news story about a very public romance between Andre Drummand (NBA star) and Jennette McCurdy (Nickelodeon star). What started as an innocent Twitter crush on #WCW (Women Crush Wednesday) turned into a sweet romance.  And I used that as a story thread in both Cora Rules and Valentine Rules.


Melinda Curtis writes the Harmony Valley series of sweet romances for the Harlequin Heartwarming line. Brenda Novak says: “Season of Change has found a place on my keeper shelf”.  Melinda also writes independently published, hotter romances as Mel Curtis. Jayne Ann Krentz says of Blue Rules: “Sharp, sassy, modern version of a screwball comedy from Hollywood’s Golden Age except a lot hotter.”  Melinda is married to her college sweetheart, and has three kids in college.  She follows the NFL because one young quarterback is from her hometown, and follows Duke basketball because Mr. Curtis has a man crush on Coach K.  Her latest release, Valentine Rules, can be found in the Love, Valentine Style collection or be purchased independently.

Buy Links (Amazon only)



For more information visit www.melindacurtis.net. And for a chance to win a digital copy of one Hollywood Rules book (winner’s choice) just leave a comment below. Good luck!

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