Friday, October 30, 2009

Fool Of The Nile

Cats most likely don't have unfulfilled fantasies to work out when choosing masquerade costumes. So if there were a feline Halloween party, you probably wouldn't see a lot of kitties dressed in tiny parochial school-girl kilts or itty-bitty cheerleader unis.

Still, this year -- after viewing two seasons of HBO's (It's not TV, it's a reason to watch rangy, gorgeous British actors wearing next to nothing) "Rome"on dvd with Male Persepective Guy, aka, my husband, Dave -- our cat, Sophia, decided she, too, would like to be swept off her paws by Marc Antony.

That may look like humiliation glowing from Sophia's penetrating gaze, but I prefer to think of it as a look as mysterious and knowing as any Cleopatra would have given her famous Roman-general luvah -- or, apparently, any of her hottie guards, if the rumors are true. You have heard those rumors, haven't you?

What are you "going as" this Hallowe'en? What's the best costume you've worn or seen?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lunkheads in Love

It's the promise of a stand-up guy's being capable of jumping lunkhead when his heart, hormones and honor are at cross purposes that allows the nice-guy hero a chance in Hell at competing with the classic Bad Boy we seem to adore... READ MORE, BELLAS!
Tomorrow: You know you're all atremble with anticipation, but tomorrow your wait is over. Tune in to RBTB to find out what my cat Sophia's chosen as her Hallowe'en headgear for the year! OOoooo, scaaaaarrrreeeee...
Next week: Wed/Meet the newest RBTB team member, and read her first Feature Review Thrs! Friday: Caridad Pineiro.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Feature Review: "Beyond the Rain," By Jess Granger

By Amy Kennedy, RBTB Contributing Editor

I was a “Star Trek” kid. Loved it with a capital “L,” and was happy to boldly go where no man (girl) has gone before. But I hated it when one of the characters fell in love: Now someone nice is gonna die! Usually it was some earnest new guy on the show. But still, I learned the lesson: All romances in space were doomed.

Thank goodness Jess Granger’s debut(iful) futuristic romance, “Beyond the Rain” didn’t use the love formula from “Star Trek.” Her story’s full of the possibility of a doomed romance, with a side of imminent death thrown in.

But that’s just what keeps us turning the pages, for romance is alive and well in Granger’s space as Captain Cyani, an Azralen, is on her last Union mission before she must return home to join the Elite, celibate female warriors who rule her planet.

Soren is a Byralen. His people are known for their bonding hormones, and he’s been enslaved so his unique hormones can be extracted and sold to shadow traders as powerful aphrodisiacs. Freed by fiercely beautiful Cyani, both become stranded and must find a way off an enemy outpost.

But Soren’s system’s been manipulated for years and his hormones are whacked; he’ll die unless he bonds with a woman soon, and Cyani’s lookin’ pretty good.

Cyani’s not immune to Soren’s sensuality or his mood-ring eyes that change colors with his feelings. But she must get home untouched to be part of the Elite; it’s the fate she’s bargained for her brother Cyn’s safety. Cyani believes that if she can get Soren to his planet, he’ll bond with someone there.

Soren gets the importance of keeping family safe, so he won’t tell Cyani he’s dying just so she'll bond with him. Still, if they can escape, he may be able to at least die on his own planet.

Getting home isn’t easy, and the attraction intensifies to the hands-on variety until their goals are almost forgotten. When they’re separated after rescue by one of Cyani’s Union ships, each wonders: Should they do what seems right, or fight to be together.

Jess Granger’s created a feminine, warrior heroine and a masculine, nurturer hero -- and it works as the warrior and the nurturer collide and the masculine and the feminine heat up the pages. But her storytelling ability goes beyond making us care deeply about Cyani and Soren; she’s created fantastic planetary worlds peopled with fully imagined characters. Here’s hoping you go boldly where many people should go and –

Buy the book.
Jess Granger’s book is not based on “Star Trek,” but it reminded me of my love for the show. Which favorite childhood or grown-up show would you change to a romance, and how?

Monday, October 26, 2009

VampChix GuestBlog: Re-Vamped

From VampChix founder, Michele Hauf: Hey, everyone! Thanks to Michelle for inviting us to chat with the Bellas today. Most of you know I write vampire romances. And if it doesn’t have a vamp hero or heroine in lead roles, there’s a vampire lurking in there somewhere. I love the bitey guys. But it gives me a giggle to think how the vampires of today have been sanitized over the decades.

Remember when vampires used to scare the crap out of us? Okay, some still do. Go, horror movies! "Let The Right One In," anyone? But romance has pushed aside the ugly, fanged smirks, the long clawed fingers, the stench of the grave, and the utter, rip-out-their-throats blood-thirstiness of vampires and replaced it with mannered bloodsuckers who prefer to drink from plastic bags filled with donor blood.

Dracula would have never dreamed of such a thing! But maybe he did. Do you think he ever tired of pulling the sneery monster face and scaring his victims to shrieking fits? Gotta be a lot easier to suck on the neck of a willing female than one who is struggling and screaming.

It’s something to think about. The range of vampires in fiction and movies nowadays is awesome. We’ve got horror, mystery, fantasy, romance, erotic, young adult, and manga, just to name a few. Something for everyone.

And that leads me to tell you about a new blog I started a few months ago. At VampChix, we
love vampires, and we aim to attract fans of all sorts of the bloodsuckers. We feature author interviews, guest bloggers, movie and book reviews, mythology and all the vamp news we can find.

And if that’s not enough, we formed Bite Club. I’m going to turn over this cyber-space to Anna Dougherty, who is head mistress of Bite Club, to explain further…

Who needs Oprah when we have Bite Club! We at VampChix love our vampires, and we also
love to read, so we decided to start a monthly book club. First rule of Bite Club: Tell everyone about Bite Club. Second rule of Bite Club: Don't bleed on the freakin’ carpet!

Here's how the club works: Each month we will feature a new vampire romance title and an
author spotlight. Everyone gets a few weeks to read the book and then we meet to discuss our favorite characters, plot lines, settings, hot scenes, world building,etc. The blog will be open all month long for those who want to chat books, but spoilers will not be permitted until discussion day unless clearly marked. If you have a scene that jumps out and really grabs you by the throat, let's talk about it, but for those who choose to remain in the dark, spoilers can be skipped. Who knows, maybe the author will drop in to talk too!

Our first featured selection for Bite Club is the "Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2," and our first chat begins Oct 30th and runs through Nov 1st. Our next book club choice is "Dark Stranger," by Susan Sizemore. Stop by Bite Club at and let's talk vampire books!!

Hey! All week VampChix is holding a VampBash and we’re giving away tons of prizes, holding a scavenger hunt, and have guest bloggers every day. Need some Vampire wine? We’ve got an exclusive coupon code to save at

What are some of your fave dark n' deadly vamps from days gone by? What vamp reads would you love to dig into with Bite Club?

Hot Topic

While we're waiting for the VampChix and Bite Club to arrive from their lairs -- their Vamp Bash 09 is already under way and you know how unruly a site full of vampires can get -- come play in a bite-free zone with me for awhile!

Today class is in session at Romance, where we're digging into a little back/forth about Staying Out of Hot Water: Developing an Appropriate Online Presence. It's a super way for pubbed and yet-to-be-pubbed authors and bloggers/site operators to share info and insight about building brand and planning online strategy -- while still managing to have fun.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday Morning Tribute

Like lots of kids his age, our 12-year old son has had a little trouble navigating the ins/outs of tween society. Frankly, he's met some children who've clearly learned some pretty crappy ways of interacting; somebody's given them the message that it's OK to say ugly things to others, to make personal attacks on them, and to gather other kids to do the same.

Yet our kid has gone off to school every day with a smile on his face, courageous, getting good grades and moving forward -- living his life by his rules. We're teaching him that middle school probably isn't going to be the last place he'll to meet folks who do others this way; unfortunately, lots of adults drag that same behavior from childhood into their social and business interactions most of their lives. So we have to learn skills to accept them, and work with them when necessary.

Last week, our son won first place in his chamber in debate club, and it was cool to see how excited so many of his peers were to share in his success. Sometimes a kid just needs folks who believe in him to remind him of his strengths, and point out to him the flaws in what others would have him accept as reality.

So today's video tribute's for him and anyone who's dealt with -- or still is dealing with -- people who strike at others to gain balance in their own lives.

Oh, and, yes. Crank it.
Monday: Talk online promotion with Michelle at!
Hang here at RBTB with VampChix and Bite Club to get your
Hallowe'en week off to a bloody-good start!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Feature Review: "Navajo Courage," By Aimee Thurlo

By Tracy Montoya, RBTB Contributing Editor

While romantic suspense books featuring serial killers probably aren’t going to go away any time soon, I do get the feeling that some readers have grown jaded when it comes to these books. In fact, a friend of mine recently referred to a serial killer plot as a “romantic suspense cliché.”

Given my undying love for romantic suspense, I still enjoy a good serial killer book. But it’s true that for me to luuurrrvve it, the author needs to do something to make this tried-and-true device new again. Which is what makes the husband-and-wife writing team of Aimée Thurlo such a joy to read.

Every book I’ve read by Thurlo puts a unique twist on the romantic suspense sub-genre. "Navajo Courage" is no exception, delivering edge-of-your-seat suspense deeply rooted in the American Southwest and steeped in the Navajo culture.

Someone is killing women in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the county sheriff’s department quickly realizes that the murders have ritualistic elements to them. So they call in Navajo Tribal Officer Luca Nakai, the son of a medicine man and, unbeknownst to them, also a member of the secret Brotherhood of Warriors, an elite force of Navajos which exists to protect “the People” from harm.

Detective Valerie Jonas is assigned to work with Luca, and it doesn’t take him long to confirm her suspicions that the killer is likely Navajo. In fact, all signs—coyote hair on the body, wounds from a blade made of bone, a special poison scattered around the scene—point to the killer's being a skinwalker, or someone who practices Navajo witchcraft.

As Luca and Valeria trail the killer -- who prowls Albuquerque’s shadowy corners wearing a coyote skin -- they find that they’re always two steps behind him.

They also find that the attraction between them is becoming hard to ignore. But they couldn’t be more different; Valerie is Scully to Luca’s Mulder, and she doesn’t know what to make of Luca’s talk of magic and mysticism. And it’s not just their spiritual beliefs that diverge. Luca’s the strong, silent type, prone to moments of such quiet calm that she often rebels by turning into a motormouth around him.

As things get physical, Valerie knows that Luca will go back to the Reservation when the case is over, and there’s no place for her there. She belongs in the city, doing what she does best and what she loves—solving crimes. But the more time passes, the more she knows that Luca will leave a large, blank space in her life when he leaves her. Can she get him to open up to her enough to admit his feelings? And even if he does, can there possibly be a future for them, when they’re from such different worlds?

"Navajo Courage" is the perfect Halloween read, delivering genuine chills wrapped up in a heartwarming romance between two characters who practically jump off the page. If the sigh-worthy guy on the cover grabs your attention, you won’t be disappointed by what’s on the pages when you …

Buy the book.

If you read romantic suspense, do you think the serial killer plot is over? And what favorite scary books or movies are you going to be revisiting this Halloween—if you even like to scare yourself at all?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Feature Review: "Next Comes Love," By Helen Brenna

By Becke Davis, RBTB Contributing Editor

Read an exclusive excerpt from "Next Comes Love" here!

“Trouble Comes to Town”

What is it about the mythology of small towns that calls to us? I grew up in a decent-sized suburb, but I have fond memories of vacations in a small town on Lake Michigan. With its arty shops and wild dunes, it was pretty near perfect. From an adult perspective, I know it’s far from paradise. If I was looking for a safe haven, though, that town would definitely come to mind.

In Helen Brenna’s heart-pounding romance, “Next Comes Love,” Erica Corelli is counting on Mirabelle Island living up to her fairytale memories. It’s not nostalgia – lives may depend on it. She remembers the island as the kind of place where “happily-ever-afters hung on trees like bright red apples waiting to be picked. The kind of place where, any minute, a knight might ride out of the forest, scoop up a princess and carry her off to her castle.” Too bad she’s no princess.

Desperate, Erica has to grab her nephew, Jason, and run – with barely time to pack, much less think or plan. Covering only ten square miles, Wisconsin’s Mirabelle Island is as different from Chicago’s mean streets as heaven is from hell. The small town will be their salvation, as long as no one sees through her disguise. Especially not Garrett Taylor, the hotshot cop who thinks he owns the place.

Mirabelle Island’s new chief of police is hot, all right, but he’s the last man Erica would ever put her trust in. Well, not dead last – that spot is reserved for Billy Samson, her brother-in-law, the abusive creep who claims Erica kidnapped his son. The cop who has half the Chicago police force after her. The monster who may have murdered Erica’s half-sister.

Garrett Taylor has had enough of brutality after years as a Chicago homicide cop. Quaint and quiet is what he wants, and it’s what he has until the woman calling herself Erica Jackson gets off the ferry with a bruised kid in tow. With her skinny jeans, cleavage and spike heeled boots, she’s revved up and ready to turn tigress at the least threat to her cub. As the chief of police, everyone on Mirabelle is Garrett’s business, and this one has trouble written all over her. She’s a walking mystery – and Garrett is determined to be the man who solves the puzzle.

“Next Comes Love” has plenty of heat, but the focus is on family, in all its permutations. Rich in sensual details – food is almost a character in the book – Brenna draws each inhabitant with such a deft, loving touch, you’ll wish Mirabelle Island was really on the map. The second in Brenna’s lush An Island to Remember series, “Next Comes Love” was preceded by “First Come Twins.” Book 3, “Then Comes Baby” will be out December 8. Hop on the ferry to this magical place and --

Buy the Book!

In Helen Brenna’s story, “good cop, bad cop” takes on a whole new meaning. Garrett Taylor is sworn to uphold the law, but he’s seen the evidence of abuse with his own eyes. Most of us are law-abiding citizens, staying out of trouble unless it steps right in our path. If you were in Garrett’s shoes, would you bend the law where abuse might be at issue? When a child’s welfare is at stake, where do you draw the line?
Friday: Tracy Montoya introduces the brothers Hightower and the latest in their series, "Sizzling Seduction," by the delightful Gwyneth Bolton.
Monday: Please join Michelle at to discuss online promotion while the VampChix alight upon RBTB to talk Bite Club and kick off their own week of bloody-good Fun with Vamps.
Nov 3/4: Meet a new member of the RBTB team, and Nov. 12 welcome a new RBTB dynamic duo!

Exclusive Excerpt: "Next Comes Love," By Helen Brenna

Read the scene that inspired the super-sexy cover of the newest suspenseful love story in RITA Award-winner Helen Brenna's Island to Remember series! Catch Becke Davis' Feature Review of "Next Comes Love" here, and chime in on the chat.

When the silhouette of a woman—a very curvy woman—took shape, head down and leaning against the outside brick wall of Duffy’s Pub, Garrett stopped. “What are you doing out here?” the cop in him asked.

Erica started as if she hadn’t heard him approach, then gathered herself. “Why do you care?”

Two feet away and he could still smell her. “I think it’s time we settle a few things between us.”

“There’s nothing between us to settle.” She pushed away from the wall and walked toward the door to Duffy’s.

Against his better judgment, he followed. “What do you got against cops, anyway?”



“What about you?” she said, turning on him. “You’ve had it in for me from the moment we first met on the sidewalk outside the Bayside Café.”

“It was the badge. And you know it.”

“Maybe there’s just something about you that rubs me the wrong way.”

At the moment, all that seemed to matter was that he got to rub her at all, and that was the problem. She made him lose control, messed with his... READ MORE, BELLAS!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Feature Review: "Queene of Light," By Jennifer Armintrout

By Amy Kennedy, RBTB Contributing Editor

I took a facebook quiz recently called, “What paranormal creature are you?” Oh, you take those quizzes too, admit it. My paranormal creature? I was a faery. Anyway, it made my crazy day brighter because someone granted my wish and, poof!, I really was a faery. Even as I vacuumed and dusted, I was a faery, dammit!

Probably a princess too, maybe even a queen.

Ayla, the heroine in Jennifer Armintrout’s moody and improbably romantic “Queene of Lightworld,” is a faery. Unfortunately she’s also half human, and nowhere near a princess. In her world all non-humans live below ground and have formed a new hierarchies: the Lightworld, where faeries, dragons and dwarves live and the Darkworld, where vampires, demons, angels, and werewolves cause trouble.

Ayla, an assassin for the Lightworld, and Malachi, a Death Angel from the Darkworld, meet under bad circumstances, to say the least. As they clash in the sewers of the Darkworld their energies fuse, Malachi’s immortality vanishes, and Ayla, instead of killing him, leaves Malachi to die.

Not exactly love at first sight.

Each wishes they’d killed the other, we’re glad they didn’t, and a bond forms that torments them: Ayla wonders, if she really wants to kill him, why does she also want to run her hands over him? And as Malachi risks his life to find her in Lightworld, he tells her his feelings – all raw wonders to him.

Every meeting between them raises the stakes, and when the Queene’s ruthless brother, Garret, makes Ayla his mate, Ayla’s caught in a web of fae political machinations – and conflicted by her love for Malachi, and for her people.

Armintrout’s prose is a rich music for the eyes. She invites us into her fantastic world, teasing us mercilessly with its mythology – and we’re happy for it. What makes us even happier, is that the second and third in this series, “Child of Darkness” and “Veil of Shadows,” come out in November and December respectively.

You don’t have to be a faery like Ayla –
and me – to make your own wish come true. Just –

Buy the Book.

Is your favorite kind of “Fairytale” light or dark? And if you could be queene of the fairies, who would rule at your side? And it can’t be your husband/boyfriend – this is a fantasy, after all.
TODAY: RBTB Con. Ed. Tracy Montoya lectures on Plot Mapping
Wed @RBTB: Becke Martin w/another fab Feature Review
Tracy Montoya offers up a new read and Feature Review.
Mon 26:
Meet the VampChix/Bite Club team while Michelle lectures at
3 new readers 'n writers join the RBTB team to hang out and entertain you!

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Little Bite Goes a Long Way

Just in time for Hallowe'en, the creators of VampChix and its sister book-club site, Bite Club, head to RBTB October 26 to kick off their week of Vamp Bash 2009 with dish about the late, great dark boys of blood. Bite Club's reading "The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance 2" this month and they dig into it October 30.

I wasn't always a fan of vamp romance. But I remember the with fondness the scene from Emma Holly’s “Courting Midnight,” in which her Upyr vamp’s elongating fangs, radiating thrall and provision of ultra- orgasm for his partner during dental penetration made me a zealot for all things leech. READ MORE, BELLAS!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tingle All the Way

You don't live to be almost 30 and not build up a little resentment.

OK, so 30 waved adieu a while ago, but I can remember being put out even then by the smug, sanctimonious folks whom most everyone agrees are some of the most annoying specimens of humanity in existence: people who have their holiday shopping done before Halloween.

Perhaps I overstate things, but you know who you are, and those of us who barely can get Christmas together by New Year's have just one question: Can... READ MORE, BELLAS!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ho, Ho, Ho(wdy)!

Nothing says romance quite like the Wrath of God.

OK, that's got almost nothing to do with today's featured anthology, "Cowboy Christmas." But it's a catchy little opener, and writing and bookhawking's a whole lot about getting somebody's eyeballs wanting to read more of what you're figuratively and literally selling. So when Christian fiction author Mary Connealy submitted her romantic-comedy manuscript to a publisher under the snappy title, "Room for God's Wrath," she...READ MORE, BELLAS!

Monday, October 12, 2009

HEA Replay

You may want to file this under TMI, but I'll share that there's a point in a romance when I know it's going to become a re-read, and it's comparable to a line in that Pink Floyd classic, "Comfortably Numb": "Just a little pinprick; there'll be no more - ahhhh."

At that moment, a certain letting go occurs, even of suspension of disbelief. The mind relaxes and accepts premise, setting, motivation and plot - and the storytelling becomes the agent that delivers the anesthetic-like rush to... READ MORE, BELLAS!

This morning, we'll say 'ciao,' but not necessarily goodbye forever, to friends at RomanceNovel.TV, who're closing down shop at their site, but not disappearing from cyberspace. We at RBTB are looking forward to more of the creative, positive and fun ways they bring romance to fans in whatever forms they cook up in the future.
This just in: Take a gander at the hot cover of Bella Vanessa Kelly's May release, "Sex and the Single Earl!" Click here to catch an excerpt from the book, the follow-up to Nessa's "Mastering the Marquess."

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Feature Review: "Make Her Pay," by Roxanne St. Claire

By Becke Davis, RBTB Contributing Editor

“To Catch a Thief . . . For Keeps!”

It takes honey to catch a thief – or is that bees? All I know is, if I were Grace Kelly in that famous movie, I would have left a trail of diamonds for Cary Grant to follow back to my hotel room. So, okay, he was a thief, but what a thief!

Reformed thief Constantine Xenakis could teach Cary Grant a thing or two, but he’s trying to do the right thing for once. It takes a thief to catch a thief, and Con has no doubt Lizzie Dare is the culprit he’s after. Roxanne St. Claire takes us on a rip-roaring ride to romance in “Make Her Pay,” dazzling us with a shipwrecked galleon, legendary Bombay Blue diamonds and treasure seekers with hidden agendas. The only thing missing is a swashbuckling pirate – but St. Claire’s handsome-to-the-max hero will shiver your timbers as well as any lusty buccaneer.

Lizzie may have heard “When a thief kisses you, count your teeth,” but when Con’s around, it’s not her teeth she needs to worry about, it’s her clothes – and her heart. She’s burning, wobbly and naked within seconds of their first meeting. Is it any wonder she’s at a loss for words when confronted with a huge, dark, naked and (minor detail) extremely furious stranger? It wasn’t her fault she thought he was a pirate or a rapist when he caught her stealing treasures that were hers by right – she’d never have thrown acid at Con if she’d realized he was the new diver on the team!

Teaming up with Lizzie after she damn near scarred him for life is just common sense, but now Con can’t get the image of her naked body out of his head. He has to bring in the booty Lizzie and everyone else is after, even if it does belong to her family – completing the mission is his only chance to succeed as a Bullet Catcher. As long as Con can convince the sexy thief he’s on her side, he can save his career and her oh-so-tempting ass.

Fans of the sensational Bullet Catchers series already know that Roxanne St. Claire delivers unforgettable heat along with non-stop action. In “Make Her Pay,” she keeps us guessing “whodunnit,” yet there’s never any doubt that Con and Lizzie will end up, well, as thick as thieves. Take a deep breath before you dive in, because once you start reading, you won’t want to come up for air until you reach the end. Fasten your life jacket and --

Buy the Book!

Roxanne St. Claire shakes up our expectations for a romance in "Make Her Pay" -- instead of a slow seduction, Con and Lizzie are buck naked (or is it butt naked?) before they've exchanged names. It's not mad, passionate sex, though -- it's our hero's protective instincts coming to the fore. Why is it that acts of strength and caveman-like "Don't worry, Jane -- Tarzan take care of you" behavior can be so romantic in a book, whereas in real life a guy who pulled a stunt like that would likely get kneed in the nuts? What does that say about us? (Not that I would claim to speak for all women -- I'm just sayin'.)

Click here to check out a sexy excerpt from "Make Her Pay!"

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Oh, Holy Knight

Growing up Catholic, crushing on the man at the pulpit offered its own heady form of temptation. Feel free to talk about eroticizing equality all you want, my sisters, but when a priest is good looking - and adolescence has wrapped its silky tendrils around one's good-girl libido - that man's being the ultimate forbidden fruit is hell-in-a-handbasket hot.

Robin Carr explores the fascinating and, for some, titillating, subject of preachers in love in her magnificent upcoming release, "Forbidden Falls,"...READ MORE, BELLAS!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

High-Seas Tease

Don't spread it around, but I rather don't hate the prospect of having my bodice rent asunder by a lusty, yet remarkably cleanly privateer. For those of you who've never stopped digging the same -- or at least would love to add to your keeper shelf of shipboard love stories from days gone by --I'm happy to report the horizon looks fine for a new, sorry, wave of high-seas romance. READ MORE, BELLAS!

Congrats, Jessa Slade, on the release of your debut, "Seduced by Shadows!" And congratulazione to your GuestBlog winners: Ali/Grand Prize winner; Stacy/'graphed SBS; Maggie J/'graphed SBS.
Thursday: Becke Davis goes beyond The Shed Scene with her take on Roxanne St Claire's "Make Her Pay," and the scoop on Bouchercon mystery lovers' conference. And COMING SOON...Meet a new addition to the RBTB Team!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Jessa Slade GuestBlog: A Darker Shade Of Wicked*

CONTEST!!! 1 randomly chosen commenter scores Grand Prize: Hand-made earrings, funky note cards and 'graphed copy of "Seduced by Shadows" out Oct 6; 2 others win 'graphed copies of SBS, all courtesy of Jessa! Pls have email avail to enter.

From Michelle: You're going to remember the day you first learned about Jessa Slade's "Seduced by Shadows," if for nothing more than to be able to brag that you "read Jessa when." Her writing style is marvelously fresh and bright, yet so accessible you'll be hard pressed to decide which you're more enamored of: her storytelling or her captivating heroes and heroines. Her debut, "Seduced by Shadows," drops tomorrow. Please offer Jessa your warmest "It's so good when they're bad" Bella buongiorno...
From Jessa: Hello, Bellas! I’m so excited to be here with you – you who have suggested quite a few of the yummy heroes on my bookshelves – and share one of my favorite topics: The dark hero.

Do you ever find yourself more drawn to a story’s villain than its hero?

Er, maybe I’m revealing more about myself than is socially appropriate, but the dark side intrigues me. Not evil, mind you, although darkness is sometimes misinterpreted as evil, but the shadow side and all its constituent parts: The unconscious, the anima, the id, the reptilian brain, instinct and impulse, raw emotion. I think my interest started when I learned back in my school days that the feminine half of human duality – from mythology to psychology – is usually relegated to the shadow side.

How unfair, I fumed at the time. Why is the feminine assigned such backhanded virtues as dark, cold, hidden, void? The word choices often drift toward the words we’ve always used to describe evil. I won’t delve into an academic rehashing of the patriarchal fear of the female. I’m more interested in how the dark side plays out in romance novels.

A few shadows give a character depth and three dimensions, which is, I think, one reason why villains with their lush shadows are sometimes more memorable – Norman Bates, Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter. But how to give shadows to a hero... That’s where the quest for redemption comes in. A character unrepentant in his evil doings is a villain, but if he strives to rise above his darkness and find at least a smidgen of light, ah, now we have the makings of a hero. In a black & white photography class I took, the instructor explained how we needed a point of true white and a point of pure black to fully explore the range of gray.

And there’s so much range in a dark hero. The bad boy, the arrogant alpha, the defective detective, the rebel without a cause – all alluring archetypes of the dark hero who rules the shadow side. I suspect my endless fascination with the dark hero stems in part from the way many of the words used for him – dark, cold, animalistic, raw – echo the words used for the feminine mystique.

Maybe the dark hero is really the minimized feminine amped to the nth degree and flexing its muscles. What would those bad boys think about that?

So who is your best beloved dark hero? What was it about his shadows that made you love him more?

P.S. I found the gift cards at a local art show and they spoke to me. The earrings are freshwater pearls with a wonderfully eerie, sinuous texture to them. Demonically possessed pearls! Who wouldn’t want a pair?

Click on the collage, above left, to tour Jessa's "Seduced by Shadows" Visual Inspiration interactive collage.

*Tagline to Jessa's Marked Souls series: "In a world where evil has broken free from the shadows, only a hero cut from a darker shade of wicked stands a chance"
Thursday: RBTB contributing editor Becke Davis brings you a
pre-Bouchercon World Mystery Conference feature review!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Jessa Li'l Ol' Round-Up

Jessa Slade GuestBlogs Tomorrow... she kicks off the debut of her exceptionally fine Marked Souls urb-fant/rom series with "Seduced by Shadows." Do grab this read, please. You're going to love what she's got to say -- and her fabulous contest: A grand prize that includes gorgeous earrings (I want) that she hand made, wicked note cards, plus 'graphed copies of "Seduced by Shadows" up for grabs.
So, here's a Winner's Round-Up from weeks gone by. If you're on there, congrats!

Tessa Dare "Lady of Persuasion"/Jill Kemerer; Roxanne St Clare/Emmanuelle J; Tawny Webber/Erin D; Romance U 6-Pack/Mitzy H; Michelle Hauf /elaing8; Christmas Ball (2nd Call)/Tamsyn/DHaupt/Virginia; UYS choice: PJ Puppymom; Blythe Gifford/throughthehaze; Tessa Dare "Siren"/Pam P; JennyGardiner/ev; Susan Holloway Scott:Tess; Secrets Authors/Lisa K; Amanda Grange (2nd Call): Lois/Shauna/Susan

Send me an email w/your snail mail addy to Si, I'm always a little sluggish when it comes to wrapping up contests, to put it mildly, so I appreciate the slack you often cut.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Tessa Dare Regency Dating Game III: Toby, Toby, Toby!

CONTEST TODAY!!! One RCC wins a copy of "A Lady of Persuasion"courtesy of Tessa! Have email addy avlbl in comment or blggr profile to enter, pls.

From Tessa: If you’ve read either of my first two books, you know a little something about Sir Toby Aldridge. In “Goddess of the Hunt,“ he was the object of Lucy’s eight-year crush—but she forgot him quickly enough once Jeremy came on the scene. In “Surrender of a Siren,” he was the guy Sophia left at the altar before she went adventuring with Gray.

So obviously, I had quite the challenge with Toby. How to take a man who’s been passed over by two heroines and make him a completely delicious hero in his own right? It wasn’t easy, let me tell you. I had to create the right heroine to push him to his fullest potential. But in the end, he turned out to be my favorite hero of all.

Here are his deets:
Name: Sir Toby Aldridge
Age: 30ish
Appearance: Very tall, lean and athletic, golden brown hair and warm brown eyes, dashingly handsome with a charming, boyish grin.
Occupation: Gentleman of leisure (a baronet); owns an estate.
Special talents: Very good with horses, expert at riding and driving both. A born politician, though little he knows it.
Personality: Hopeless flirt. A consummate charmer and ladies’ man with lots of devilish charm.

Much of Toby’s charm comes from his upbringing. His father died when he was quite young, and he was raised by a mother and three older sisters—strong women, all. He not only understands women, he has a deep respect for them hidden beneath all that flirtation. But Isabel, his heroine, is unlike any woman he’s met before. And he finds himself wanting more from her than he’s wanted from any other girl. It’s not enough for him to dazzle her with a wink and a smile—he’s determined to win her heart and earn her love.

Exclusive excerpt, just after their first kiss:

He slid his hand down the slope of her shoulder for one last caress, and her eyes fluttered open.

Blast. Now he’d done it.

Toby recognized the dazzled look in those eyes. He knew it all too well. Charming young ladies was his singular talent, and he’d developed it through years of practice. He knew the precise instant he had them. When they took all their youthful hopes and romantic dreams and shaped them into a tight little ball and tossed it into his hands. Here, they said. Take my heart and break it.

Normally, Toby was happy to oblige. What was that line in the novel his sister Augusta loved so well? “A girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then.” Truer words were never penned. He took that ball of hopes and dreams, made a little show of juggling it, and handed it back—a bit dented, perhaps, but largely intact. Occasionally, he misjudged and the ball slipped from his grasp to shatter on the floor. But even then, the young ladies recovered quickly enough.

Because they always held something back. This little plaything they tossed him—it held the affections of a girl. Their true womanly hearts, their deepest passion and love, this they guarded, saved for another man. Anyone who labeled Toby a heartbreaker underestimated the shrewdness of feminine intellect. He knew, from years of experience, that young women were a great deal wiser than general opinion would allow.

There was something different about this woman, however—aside from her enchanting accent and strident politics. When he’d kissed her, she’d offered him nothing—but neither had she held anything in reserve. She didn’t know how to flirt. None of his compliments or teasing had warmed her a single degree, but in that moment when their lips met…she’d simply been his. With her, there could be no half-measures.

That kiss had rocked him to his boots.

So Toby could be called my beta hero of the three. At least, in public. When it comes to lovemaking, however…let’s just say, he knows how to take charge. Beta at the dinner party, alpha in the bedroom…I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s a winning combination! I was talking about this just last night with blogger Katiebabs, and she likened Toby’s alpha/beta mix to the traditional paradox that’s cited as a male’s ideal fantasy: lady in the ballroom, vixen in bed. Why shouldn’t we get the same in a hero?

What do you think, bellas?

MONDAY: Debut author and long-time Bella Jessa Slade GuestBlogs to celebrate the drop of "Seduced by Shadows," first in her Marked Souls series. Plus, Jessa's got an awesome contest with a wicked-cool grand prize.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Opposites Attract

Tomorrow! DARE to play the final installment of Regency Dating Game, and meet Regency Bachelor #3 as we celebrate the release of Tessa Dare's "A Lady of Persuasion" with an Exclusive Hot Excerpt from Tessa -- and a contest -- just for you!!!
Monday: Bella Jessa Slade steps into the RBTB GuestBlog spotlight as she kicks off the debut of her exceptionally fine Marked Souls urb-fant/rom series with "Seduced by Shadows." You're going to love what she's got to say -- and her fabulous contest: A grand prize that includes gorgeous earrings (I want) that she hand made, wicked note cards, plus 'graphed copies of "Seduced by Shadows" up for grabs.

Marked Souls? Three points to sell you: 1. Big, conflicted mens; Names of said mens in no particular order, Niall, Archer, Liam and Zane; 3.Out-of-the-gate marvelous writing and storytelling. Really, Jessa should make me a pair of earrings for that. In fact, I think everyone I say something nice about should give me jewelry. I don't think it's payola if you can wear it...

What makes you want to try a debut author?