Reading, Romance, Small Town Perfection, Tule Publishing

Small Town Perfection: Jumbuck Springs

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Amy Andrews‘ Outback Heat series follows four siblings as they grow up and start developing more relationships; as well as running sidelong with a narrative about forest fires and the impact that it can have on small rural communities.

In Some Girls Do, Lacey is fed up of being stuck out in the city.  Her mother has recently died and she wants to go home – even if her brothers are insistent that she finish design school!  So when she gets Cooper to bring her home, she finds herself pretending that she’s pregnant, in order to stay.  The only thing she didn’t expect, was for Cooper to stand up as her fake baby daddy!

Jarrod hasn’t really had a proper relationship since Selena left, all fifteen years ago.  In fact, when she comes home in Some Girls Don’t, he doesn’t want anything to do with her; so when they finally meet, that spark of chemistry is a shock to both of them.

Some Guys Need A Lot of Lovin’ sees Marcus batting PTSD after one of the young boys he coached dies in the forest fire that decimates their local community.  The last thing he wants, is to have to see a psychologist – even one as sexy as Juanita…

JJ grew up with Ethan, and she’s been in love with him for just as long!  But when they end up sleeping together in Some Girls Lie, after his ex-wife gets remarried, she’s terrified that they’ll have ruined their friendship.  But with her abusive ex back in town, and his ex wanting custody of his daughter, a fake engagement may be the best way to resolve all of their issues!

I think one of the real strengths of this series – aside from the writing and its deliciously sexy scenes – is its ability to engage with risks that real Australian rural communities face.  Outstanding.

Mills & Boon, Romance, Whatever Happened to Modern Tempted?

Whatever Happened to Modern Tempted? A Spotlight on…Amy Andrews

In 2013 Mills & Boon relaunched their RIVA line with Modern Tempted (called Harlequin KISS in the States), an imprint that held echoes of the Temptation novels of the 80s and 90s, and the sexiness of the Modern Heat series from the 00s. 

Whether as RIVA or as Modern Tempted, I adored the books and was incredibly upset when the line stopped publishing two years ago.

So this month I’m taking a look back at the authors of Modern Tempted, at the books they wrote then, and what they’re up to now…

Amy Andrews

At least three of Amy Andrews’ Modern Tempted books routinely make it into my if-you’ve-never-tried-category-romance-before-try-this list!  But I’ve a particularly special soft spot for Innocent ‘Til Proven Otherwise.

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Rules are made to be broken…aren’t they?

Ali doesn’t do reckless, and she certainly doesn’t do one-night stands – until one intoxicating night with the most lethally attractive man she’s ever laid eyes on… More shocking still, when Ali meets the lawyer holding her career in his hands a few days later – it’s the same hot guy!

The legendary Max Sherrington knows even his vivid memories of Ali could be defined as inappropriate conduct! Protocol may forbid him from touching her – but just because they can’t break the rules it surely doesn’t mean they can’t bend them a little…

Andrews is particularly good at mixing steamy sex scenes (and boy are they steamy!) with really good character-driven conflict.  There’s depth to her characters – particularly her heroines – that really moves me.  Ali has had an awful year before she meets Max in a bar and decides to let her hair down for one night.

And then she discovers that he’s the lawyer who’s representing her whilst she’s being taken to court by the parents of a dead patient.  There are some really tough emotional scenes between the two of them which are only heightened by the fact that they can’t sleep together again whilst he’s representing her.

There’s also the best phone sex scene that I’ve ever read!

Andrews’ other Modern Tempted books include:

  • The Devil and the Deep  (Author Stella has writer’s block – and mainly because her first hero in her first novel was based on her childhood friend.  So spending a week on a yacht with Rick could be just what she needs to inspire the sequel…)
  • Driving Her Crazy  (One of the best category romances that I’ve ever read.  Sadie struggles with an old eating disorder as she travels with photographer Kent to interview an abusive ex.)
  • Girl Least Likely to Marry  (Nerdy scientist Cassie struggles between logic and love when she has a fling with sporty Tuck!)
  • The Most Expensive Night of Her Life  (Supermodel Ava and injured ex-soldier Blake couldn’t be more different, so hiding from the paparazzi on his boat is going to prove a challenge indeed…)
  • The Heat of the Night  (Claudia and Luke may own an Australian beach hotel in the middle of paradise, but that doesn’t mean that they have to spend any time together.  So when a cyclone means that they have to spend time with each other, not just the resort will undergo change!)

So what’s Amy been up to since the end of Modern Tempted?

She’s still being published by Mills & Boon, predominantly by the Medical line:

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  • It Happened One Night Shift  (Ex-military medic Gareth’s kept his distance since his wife’s death five years ago, so the last thing he expected was for ER doctor, Billie, to waltz in and turn his life upside down!)
  • Swept Away by the Seductive Stranger  (One steamy night on a train journey of a lifetime with Callum, and nurse Flick is feeling ready to get back to her normal life…until she discovers that Callum is Doctor Callum Hollingsworth, and her new boss!)

There’s also her three Australian mini-series: Naughty or Nice;  Outback Heat; and Sydney Smoke Rugby:

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Naughty or Nice

  • No More Mr Nice Guy  (When Mack finds his sister’s best friend’s sex to-do list, he laughs…but he’s not laughing when Josie goes out in search of some hot fun.  all of a sudden he’s determined to help her tick off each and every sexy item…)
  • Ask Me Nicely  (On the anniversary of the tragedy that marred her life, Sal can’t help but get drunk and make a pass at her colleague Doyle.  But Doyle wants more than just sex, and he’s prepared to fight as dirty as he has to!)

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Outback Heat

  • Some Girls Do  (Lacey is desperate to go home after her mother’s death, but her brothers won’t hear of it – she’s to finish design school!  She’s determined to get her own way, even if it means faking a pregnancy and roping in her brother’s best friend, Cooper, to stand in as her fake baby daddy…)
  • Some Girls Don’t  (It’s been years since Jarrod has seen the woman who ran out on him fifteen years ago, but neither he nor Selena were expecting there to be so much unfinished business between them!)
  • Some Guys Need a Lot of Lovin’  (When psychologist Juanita decided to indulge in a sexy distraction, she didn’t expect to see Marcus on the other side of her desk, battling PTSD.  The professional thing to do would be to keep her distance, but their attraction keeps on drawing them together…)
  • Some Girls Lie  (JJ’s been in love with Ethan for as long as she can remember, and when he hits her pub after his ex-wife remarries, they end up in bed together.  Ethan’s mortified about crossing the line of friendship, but when JJ’s abusive ex reappears they realise that a fake engagement could be the one thing to sort all of their problems!)

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Sydney Smoke Rugby

  • Playing By Her Rules  (Matilda can’t believe that she’s having to do a six-part feature on the one man who broke her heart.  Little does she know that Tanner’s never quite got over his high school sweetheart…)
  • Playing It Cool  (Dexter has one rule; he won’t risk his rugby career by getting distracted by women.  But when he sees Harper belittled by some cocky journalist, he asks her out to help her save face.  Only she’s the one woman who might distract him for real!)

Of course there are the books she writes as part of bigger series:

  • Seduced by the Baron  (Faith is stuck running her family’s Irish pub, instead of being a painter like she dreamed, when beer baron Rafael appears, determined to launch his new lager on the American market.  But when he meets Faith, soon she realises that there’s more to life than just work…)
  • The Colonel’s Daughter  (Seth’s keeping an eye on Ivy for her father, but he mustn’t let on that her big summer of freedom is being curtailed.  And he really mustn’t give in to the hunger that’s burning away at his control.)
  • The Hero  (One celebrity car rally, two ex co-stars, and a whole load of chemistry fills Edwina and Justin’s road trip with a wholly load of sexy!)

And, finally, Andrews’ single titles:

  • Limbo  (When Joy gets visited by the ghost of a murder victim, she turns to the only person she knows won’t think she’s crazy:  private investigator Dash! Sexy, funny and wacky, it’s an urban family noir with a supporting cast that’ll capture your heart.)
  • Numbered  (Written with her sister, Ros Baxter.  When Poppy discovers she has breast cancer, she dusts off the carefully numbered bucket list she drew up with her best friend Julia, all those years ago…)
  • Hanky Spanky Christmas  (Novella.  When Darcy decides that she wants to be spanked for Christmas, she also decides that Mitch is the man for the job!)

bio

Amy is an award-winning, USA Today best-selling Aussie author who has written over fifty contemporary romances in both the traditional and digital markets. She has written for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Entangled, Harper Collins, Momentum, Tule and Escape. She’s sold over a million books and been translated into thirteen different languages including manga.

Amy spent six years on the national executive of Romance Writers of Australia including a two year term as president and after many years of unofficial mentoring of emerging writers, Amy and her fellow Harlequin author Anna Cleary have started their own manuscript assessment business, Word Witchery, which specialises in romantic fiction. With unique insight into what makes a story that sells, Amy and Anna aim to help every manuscript shine.

Amy loves good books, fab food, great wine and frequent travel – preferably all four together. She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane with a gorgeous mountain view but secretly wishes it was the hillsides of Tuscany.

Find out more about her and her writing on Facebook, Twitter and on her website.

#StrongRomanceHeroines, Erotica, Reading, Respond to Reading, Responding to Reading, Uncategorized

Respond to Reading: Seven Sins

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For some reason, I don’t often read novella anthologies – I wouldn’t be able to tell you why- but when I saw the concept for Seven Sins, where each novella was based on a different sin, I was sold.

And when I read them, I fell in love.

It should, however, be pointed out that these novellas are incredibly sexy.  I read them on my work commute and might have had a couple of moments where I prayed that no-one noticed how flushed I was.

Envy

Blaze for Me – Natalie Anderson

When Austin Tate busts Nicoletta Valeri in a blistering moment of voyeuristic orgasm-envy, it’s the perfect chance for some payback, but instead she’s lit a fire than can be extinguished by only one thing…

There’s something quite delicious about a narrative that opens with a sex scene that isn’t between the hero and the heroine.  Anderson sets up Nicoletta as a sweet but frustrated sportswoman with plenty of talent and more than a little bit of a thing for Austin Tate.  Incredibly hot, but with a realistic conflict that made me fall a little in love with the characters.

Gluttony

Glutton For Punishment – Amy Andrews

With a sudden hankering to be spanked, Darcy Henderson figures Mitch Callaghan is the man for the job. But is she woman enough to take it?

Rarely is a sexy novella set against the backdrop of a senior citizens’ apartment complex, but it works.  This reminded me a little of Andrews’ Holding Out for a Hero, in that the secondary characters stood out as three-dimensional and developed as the main two, much to my delight.  This is Andrews’ first foray into BDSM, and it works beautifully, with a clear understanding of the different levels of kink.  Plus it’s laugh out loud funny at times and I fell pretty hard for both Darcy and Mitch.

Lust

Burned by Lust – Michele de Winton

Biker, Hade Corban is set to take over the Raising Hellfire Gang and love isn’t on his agenda, but lusty goodtime girl Lee Delevinge is hell bent on burning up his heart.

De Winton’s heroine, Lee, is anything but ashamed of her love for sex – especially when that sex involves none other than gorgeous bike Hade Corban.  I love the way that de Winton presents Lee as she is, without any judgement or criticism; it’s a refreshing attitude towards women’s appetite of sex.  And Hade’s internal conflict makes him realistic and well-balanced between biker and hero.

Wrath

Sleeping with the Enemy – Robin Covington

All’s fair in love and baseball…but when Kat Carter, the newly-minted GM for the Virginia Venom, is determined to recruit rival superstar shortstop (and former lover) Derek Foxx the last thing she expects is a sexy ultimatum…

I’m a massive fan of #StrongRomanceHeroines, and Covington’s Kat Carter is definitely one of those.  She’s worked hard to earn her place as a general manager in a world dominated by men, and her fear that a romance with a player could ruin her reputation, is one that I can understand.  Luckily, Covington works out a way of giving Kat both her career and her lover.

Sloth

Princess Sin – Avery Flynn

There’s trouble on the horizon when Cynthia Aston, who the tabloids have nicknamed Princess Cyn for her slacker party girl ways, stows away on a yacht that belongs to workaholic billionaire Hunter McKenney, her older brother’s sexy best friend.

Out of all of these novellas, the one that dealt with sloth seemed to me the hardest one to marry with a love narrative, however, Flynn’s story of entitled Cynthia Aston, more than happy to laze away and not bother working and her passion for Hunter McKenney – her opposite in every way – met the brief perfectly.  Cue a sizzling sex scene on a yacht and my heart melting.

Pride

Accidentally Sinful – Carmen Falcone

Stranded due to a snowstorm, Santiago Cruz must let go of his pride and acknowledge forbidden feelings for the woman he loves but can’t forgive—his stepsister.

I love a good snowstorm – especially when it forces two characters to reexamine their feelings for each other.  Tiffany Burrows and Santiago Cruz are both hiding secrets from each other, and Falcone’s skillfulness in unwrapping each piece of the puzzle slowly and carefully is what makes this a delightful read.

Greed

How to Seduce A CEO – Talia Hunter

Hot shot CEO Marcus Bolton’s decided who to hire for the top job, and it’s not Angel Moore, no matter how temping she might be. But Angel will do whatever it takes to land the job of her dreams—even seduce the boss.

Angel’s a strong business woman, who’s been backed into a corner by a boss who’s incompetent and misogynistic, so she’s determined to get this promotion by any means necessary.  But little does she expect Marcus Bolton to get under her skin the way he does.  Hunter’s story of two people, determined to keep their careers going, whilst heading for a collision is charming and sizzling.

#StrongRomanceHeroines, Q&A, Reading, Tule Publishing, Writing

Q&A with Amy Andrews

One of the very first authors I blogged about, way back when, was Amy Andrews, and I’ve followed her career and novels ever since!

Her latest novels are the quartet Outback Heat, and I caught up with her to find out all about them!

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Some Girls Do is the first a quartet of books set in the outback, and starring Lacey Weston and her three older brothers. How did you make sure that each of the siblings explored a different experience of love?

You know, I didn’t deliberately set out with that in mind, it was more of an organic thing but it certainly worked out that way! Lacey and Coop’s story is an older brother’s BFF thing, Jarrod and Selena have a reunion romance fifteen years in the making, Marcus and Juanita’s relationship explores themes of mental health and PTSD and Ethan and JJ’s story is that of friends to lovers.

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The series is called Outback Heat, and you’re pretty well known for your intense sex scenes… Where d’you write them?  In your office plied with wine, or on a sunny beach in glorious weather?

Lol – I wish! Neither unfortunately. Well, in my office, yes but stone cold sober. Mostly. If I’m writing into the night then there may be some wine involved! What’s that thing they say – write drunk, edit sober?

I think that has a lot of merit particularly where sex scenes are involved for those writers who feel inhibited when writing them. I don’t. For the record.

Are there any dos and don’ts that you follow for writing sex scenes?

Hmm. Good question.

Nothing hard or fast (pun not intended :D) Don’t force them – it took me 7 chapters to get a couple into bed once but they just wouldn’t go!

Don’t have sex scenes there just for the sake of it (although I’ve probably been guilty of that….) Do remember that sex scenes are about the emotions not the mechanics (something I forget occasionally when swept away in it all).

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Do avoid flowery euphemisms for genitals. Sex is fairly base and I think base language and descriptors appropriate to the genre work best.

Do forget about your mother/grandmother/your high school English teacher/priest. Do be mindful of the particular demographic/readership of the particular book.

And don’t, under any circumstances use the term moist or cleft in relation to the vagina….

Lacey’s fiercely stubborn and independent, but more than that, she’s incredibly strong. What do you think makes a #StrongRomanceHeroine?

Thanks for that, Ali. Lacey was tough to write, to strike a balance between her being young/grieving/acting out and irresponsible/reckless. She is stubborn and trying to be independent but lacks the maturity and skill to pull it off. She wants to be but her social conditioning with her three older brothers often wins out so she’s a strange mix of I’m all grown up I can do this, damn it and please come and bail me out.

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Some reviewers have said that Lacey is bratty and irritating so clearly, a strong heroine is in the eye of the beholder and something readers obviously differ on. As such, these contrasting views makes it kind of hard for an author to write a strong romance heroine who is universally loved. One reader might call your heroine tough and assertive and love her and another might call her emasculating and a ball breaker and despise her.

Personally, I think what makes a strong romance heroine is in what she does, not what she says. It’s her actions or rather, what she learns from those actions that will define her.

Now, that doesn’t mean she won’t screw up. A strong romance heroine isn’t some perfect, flawless goddess – she’s as fallible as the rest of us. But I think she has a strong sense of self. Or finds one throughout the book and has the gumption to stand up and say I know what I want and I’m going to go out and get it.

Whether that’s kicking ass Lara Croft style,  or taking on a school board or renovating a house with a baby of a hip and no man with a tool belt in sight. Strength comes from inner belief.

What’s your current project, and what will we see released by you next?

I’m involved in my first indie project which I’m really excited about! A boxed set of novellas with six other authors that comes out on October 19th (it’s a crazy month!) Natalie Anderson, Avery Flynn, Michele De Winton, Robin Covington, Carmen Falcone, Talia Hunter and myself have teamed up to give the seven mortal sins our own special twist.

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It’s called Seven Sins (funnily enough) and there’s something for everyone for only 99c! I’m doing gluttony and it’s my first foray into BDSM J You can pre-order here!

The first two Outback Heat books are available now:  Some Girls Do and Some Girls Don’t.

Amy Andrews loves good books, fab food, great wine and frequent travel – preferably all four together. She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane with a gorgeous mountain view but secretly wishes it was the hillsides of Tuscany.

To find out more about Amy , check out her website, subscribe to her newsletter and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
#StrongRomanceHeroines, Reading

Introducing #StrongRomanceHeroines

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Nothing frustrates me more than the pigeonholing of romance novels:

“They’re all the same.”

“They’re badly written.”

“The female characters are weak.”

It drives me more than a little mad and so I’m starting a new weekly column:  #StrongRomanceHeroines

This is where, week after week, I’ll pick a strong romance heroine to talk about.  As a genre, romance is delightfully diverse with all ethnicities, sexualities and outlooks falling within its scope.  And I want to celebrate this.

Sal – Amy AndrewsAsk Me Nicely

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“Sally Kennedy needed more tequila. And an orgasm. Not necessarily in that order, of course.”

Firstly, Sal is sassy.  She was the catalyst for her best friend writing a “to-do” sex list in No More Mr Nice Guy and at the opening of this book, she’s frustrated by her lack of orgasms in recent months and so sets out to get drunk and “find a solution” to the problem.

So far, so entertaining.

But here’s the thing.  Sal is tough.  She’s had to be since the accident that ruined her life and took away what she most prized.  And she’s hard, or at least she seems that way.  She’s had a stream of one night stands because – rightly or wrongly – that’s how she’s coping with her grief, and I love the fact that the novel doesn’t shy away from this.

In fact, in some ways the novel can be seen as a lesson in how grief can manifest itself; it’s dark and gritty and heartbreaking.

And there’s the fact that Sal’s an alpha woman.  We talk so much in the romance community about alpha heroes v beta heroes, but there’s been limited discussion on that distinction in female characters.  Andrews herself has discussed it, arguing that:

I’m nervous because Sal’s an alpha woman.

She’s hard. She’s unapologetic. She wears the pants.

And I’m not sure how that’s going to go over with readers.

She’s ruthless in her private life, and damn good at her job (she’s runs a veterinary practice) and she deserves the happy ever after that she everntually gets.

Is she always likeable?  Well, she certainly frustrates us and our expectations, and that can only be a good thing.

 

Startup Stock PhotosWork In Progress Word Count:  2577 words