Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Release Day

This is the step-back part of the cover.  Wish my back looked that good. He looks pretty spiffy, too, but being a married lady(and considering the possibility that my DH might some day see this blog) I won't express any wishes concerning him.  I'll leave those to your imagination.  Looks a bit like I thought Simon Innes would too.                                                                                                   Sir Simon Innes, the hero, showed up in 2 other Murray tales, Highland Wolf & Highland Sinner, and so I knew he needed his own story.  I always consider it a hint when that certain secondary character keeps popping up in other people's stories.  It's as if he's jumping up and down crying me, me, me.  He, or she, has obviously rooted in my mind so I begin the process of trying to come up with a tale that'll suit them.  It isn't always easy.  Sometimes I've made the character so nice and sympathetic, so good and happy, that nothing comes to mind and I am forced to ruin their lives just to get a good story out of them(cue evil laughter here).  Simon wasn't all that good.(Lucky for him)  It was clear from the start that he had 'issues'.  Good juicy ones, too.  So, as I worked on the Wherlocke trilogy, he stayed in the back of my mind, poking at me, until I began to see what I could do with him when it came time to return to the Murrays.

The heroine that would be perfect for him was a little harder.  First I had to do research into all the other Murray tales to find who could be the right age.(am working on a spreadsheet so that might be a little easier next time)  Then a name and then a problem for her that only Sir Simon could solve.  And I did rather pile it on her slim shoulders.  Treason.  Betrayal.  Murder.  Fun times.  Ilsabeth Murray Armstrong arrives at Simon's door with a really big puzzle for him to solve.

Now, naturally, they are attracted to each other.  This is a romance after all.  So throw in a few more complications - so many to choose from.  Sigh.  Anyhoo, you get the picture.  Oh, and add a couple orphans, cranky, nosy servants, interfering Murrays, and Simon's dark past and off we go. 

It was fun to revisit the Murrays.  Had to fully shake the Wherlockes and eighteenth century England from my mind first.  Took a while.  I don't know how some of these writers are able to so quickly leap from one time to another and even one genre to another.  Makes my brain hurt just to think of it.  But, the Murrays and Scotland soon began to feel like home again.  I hope any of you who read the book will feel the same.  I'm finishing up another Wherlocke tale now but have already come up with a new scenario for some Murrays for the book after that.   With a quick break to do another novella concerning those dark, dangerous MacNachtons, of course.  Have a busy year ahead of me.  Just thinking of it makes me feel like I need a nap.

Back to HIGHLAND PROTECTOR.  Simon and Ilsabeth enter the world today so give them a peek if you're so inclined.  I think you'll love them as I did.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Virgin Heroes and Experienced Heroines by Monica Burns

Before I get into my post, I’d like to thank Hannah for hosting me on her blog. It’s always a pleasure to be here. Speaking of pleasure, I’d like to invite everyone to a huge blog event starting January 17th through the 1st of March. More than 35 historical romance authors will be blogging at my blog during the Pleasure Me With Romance event. Hannah will be one of my guests, along with Sabrina Jeffries, an interview with Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick), Sarah MacLean, Jennifer Haymore, Julieanne MacLean, Lisa Valdez and many more of your favorite authors. There will be book giveaways, as well as a grand prize and other goodies up for grabs. You can visit http://monicaburns.blogspot.com/p/pleasure-me-with-romance-blog-event_28.html for more details.

Now on with the post! When it comes to romance heroes, many of us love an alpha male. We love how the heroine is strong enough to push back and eventually tame her man. Well, tame is a little bit of an overstatement. What alpha hero is ever really tame? That’s what we love about alpha heroes. It’s that raw, masculine predator wrapped up in tall, dark, and handsome that we love. A hero who’s willing to go to hell and back for his woman.

A little more than a year ago, I was getting ready to write my March 2011 release Pleasure Me. My editor and I had talked at a conference, and she’d asked me to make the hero a virgin. My initial on the outside was, umm…sure, I suppose I could. Inside I was thinking WTF? I write alpha heroes. How in the hell am I going to write an alpha male who’s never been with a woman. Who wasn’t to read a wimpy-butt hero who’s inexperienced? So I mulled it over for a few weeks. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I had to at least try and please my editor. After all, the editor is who will decide if I get another contract or not.

My initial thoughts about the hero were pretty cut and dried. I had only one requirement for a virginal hero. The reason for the hero’s virginal status had to be a logical one. I also had to have a reason that enabled me to make the hero an alpha while still keeping him untouched. So I did some research and came up with a medical reason that made my task a little easier. In the late Victorian era (just like now) it was important to the male ego that a man appeared strong, virile, manly, and above all sexual prowess in the bedroom. Any man who wasn’t these things was viewed as a possible homosexual or a weakling.

So, you can imagine what it must have been like for a man who is minus some of his private equipment. The idea of his manhood being questioned would be devastating to any man’s sense of self-worth. Baron Garrick Stratfield, my hero, is no exception to the need to appear strong and virile. But thanks to a vicious uncle Garrick is convinced that not even a whore will touch him, because he has only one testicle.

For the second piece of the puzzle, I needed an experienced woman who could teach the hero how to become a wonderful lover. My immediate choice was an older courtesan. Actually, I’d decided on an older courtesan BEFORE my editor “suggested” the virgin hero. I know there are some readers who might well balk at the idea of an older woman, younger male virgin hero. I totally understand that position. But the relationship between Ruth and Garrick might just surprise you. I know it did me.

What I loved so much about Ruth was her vulnerability and strength. Let’s face it, we all know that our looks and figures aren’t going to last forever (unless of course you’re a movie/TV star who can afford the pricey diets, plastic surgery, botox, personal trainers and exercise time). It’s tough enough being you and me, but for a woman whose livelihood is based on her looks, it’s even tougher. For me, Ruth epitomizes a woman who’s facing middle age knowing her days as a widely sought after courtesan are numbered. Suddenly, she’s forced to deal with impending retirement, and she has to do it alone.

Like most of us, Ruth doesn’t understand how time could pass so quickly. And when Garrick enters her life, things spin out of control. But spinning out of control can be a good thing if it involves a HEA. Pleasure Me is a story about two people who are convinced they’re one thing, but falling in love gives them new insight into the people they really are.

I’ve always enjoyed the dynamics of an older woman, younger man scenario, but adding in the virgin hero piece of the story made it a challenge to write. I’m really proud of the book. In fact, I just reread it for the second time in less than a month (edits), and I still love the story. Ruth and Garrick hold a special place in my heart.

So tell me, do you like older women, younger men story lines? What sort of age difference can you handle between the hero and the heroine? Do you like virgin heroes? What age do you think constitutes being over the hill?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Heating Up the Holiday Season

Hi. My name is Opal Carew and I write erotic romance. I’d like to thank Hannah for inviting me here today.

In October, Hannah, Terri Brisbin and I were up for the Golden Leaf award in the novella category, which was awarded at the New Jersey Put Your Heart in a Book conference. Hannah won and she’s now in the hall of fame, which is so cool. I wound up winning in the single title category (thank heavens Hannah wasn’t entered in that category, too ;-P ) for FORBIDDEN HEAT. Now I have a lovely trophy sitting in my living room. Two would have been garish, right?

Other than bragging, which LeeAnn (a mutual friend) insisted I do because… well, she’s a sweetheart and likes everyone to know the good things that happen to people… anyway, other than bragging, I wondered what I should talk about today. I’m an author, so talking about my newest book makes sense. I thought I’d talk about two of my stories: PLEASURE BOUND , which comes out on December 7th, and, since it’s so near the holiday season, CHRISTMAS ANGEL, which came out on Christmas Eve last year.

PLEASURE BOUND is a story about Ty, a bad-boy turned Mr.-Nice-Guy who falls for Marie, the girl next door. Unfortunately, she falls for an ex-friend from Ty’s past. It’s a story about lasting friendship and being true to who you really are.

Here’s the blurb:

When Marie meets Zeke—a tattooed, motorcycle-riding bad boy with a body built for sin—she’s swept up in a torrid affair that rocks her world. He’s so different from the dependable Mr.-Nice-guy-types she’s always dated in the past—and after a few nights in his arms, she vows never to go back.

Little does she know that her best friend Ty, the quintessential Mr. Nice guy, is gearing up to make his move and finally admit his true feelings for her. When Ty learns that Marie thinks he’s “too nice” for her, he sets out to prove that he can be the overpowering Dominant she wants and overwhelm her senses in ways Zeke never could.

What Marie never expected to discover is that Zeke and Ty share a secret history together—one that changes everything she thought she knew about both men. A past that went far beyond the bounds of friendship…and now they’re about to take Marie beyond the bounds of pleasure…and into a world of soul-shattering ecstasy.

Sexy, eh? (Yeah, I’m Canadian.) So while PLEASURE BOUND will heat you up on a cold night (and since it hits -35 here in Ottawa, I know about cold nights), maybe you’re in the mood for a Christmas story. If so, CHRISTMAS ANGEL is short and sweet, in a hot, erotic kind of way, so it will also help keep you and your sweetie warm.

I thought I’d tell you how I came up with the idea for CHRISTMAS ANGEL. I love to collect Christmas angels which I set around the house during the holiday season. (I included some pictures in a blog last Christmas. Click here to check them out. )

A few years ago, when I was packing away my angels after the holidays, I thought about how sad it was that they are packed up in a dark box all year long, then just come out for a few precious weeks over the holidays. (Yes, I tend to anthropomorphize a little too much. I even have trouble gift wrapping a stuffed animal!) This triggered the idea for CHRISTMAS ANGEL. What if a woman had been cursed to be a Christmas treetop angel… only to see the light of day for a week or so each year. To feel emotions, but not to feel the touch of another human. To never be touched by love. The story opens when that sad, lonely woman is given a chance to recover her life, but at a terrible price.

Now, just in case you’re not convinced to run right out and read it, here’s what the reviewers had to say:

"The Christmas Angel is an enchanting story that springs with incredible emotions. [Opal Carew] weaves a delicious tale with believability, tender love and affection that laces with electric sparks. She pens a most remarkable read that will make you cry, laugh and applaud with elation while making your heart leap. I love every story that she fashions."

The Romance Studio

"This book is full of emotions… it enthralled me with the passion. All in all, THE CHRISTMAS ANGEL was a most wonderful story. It makes you believe in miracles, laugh, cry and then shout for joy. Since this is the first book I have read from [Opal Carew], I look forward to reading more of her books."

Romance Junkies

"…interesting plot twist on a Christmas story… heart wrenching… a powerful addition to the romance holiday genre and one sure to please the most avid of readers and romance enthusiasts."

Fallen Angel Reviews

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, please visit me at http://www.opalcarew.com/, or read an excerpt of PLEASURE BOUND or CHRISTMAS ANGEL.

Thanks again to Hannah for allowing me to share with you, and I hope you have a great holiday season.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Introducing Vanessa deHart author of NO MORE LIES

What can I say about myself that’s not been said before?

Let’s see… I was born a little girl (inside I’m still a little girl), I daydreamed my way through my teen years (and I still daydream), and I’m pretty well passionate about everything I do (I haven’t heard my husband complain too much about that!).

Enough said on that subject. Life is to be embraced, along with kids, puppies and grandparents.

On writing:

I write because I have to. Characters invade my daydreams and refuse to leave until I’ve told their story. End of story.

I invite you now to come along and share with me one of my many daydreams. I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.


If I were to share one little nugget of wisdom that I picked up during the writing process of this particular story, it would be this – never give up. NO MORE LIES is the first novel I ever wrote, and yet it is the fourth book of mine to get published. In its original incarnation, it was poorly written and full of ‘purple prose’, but all that aside, I believed in the story and the characters who were telling it. I just had to return to it again and again, putting it through a major rewrite every time I learned something new. And learn I did. Not just about the writing process, but about life and the human condition. The people I met while researching Elora’s tragedies and triumphs taught me so much about perseverance, about never giving up. Elora is alive because of them.

NO MORE LIES is a heart-warming romance set in the small town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. It’s about a recently handicapped woman who must learn that her self worth doesn’t exist in her looks or in her performance, but rather, in the strength of her character, and that no amount of lying can hide that ultimate truth.

Elora St. James, a professional figure skater, was the world’s darling until disaster struck. Now she’s hiding from the world in a small fishing village in Nova Scotia, pretending to be someone she’s not. Maybe, if she hid behind enough lies…

Dan Barrington-Smith, the youngest son of a wealthy family, no longer wants to be associated with his influential family. He wants to be accepted for himself. Dan decides to break away and go incognito on a golfing spree. Maybe, if he hid behind enough lies…

And so the lies begin.

Elora and Dan meet in Lunenburg. She manages the hotel his family owns while he’s in town to golf. Their first two encounters seem small and inconsequential, but both times there is an instant awareness between them. Something out of the ordinary begins to happen. In every encounter the passion escalates even as the lies expand, until they’ve run out of lies to tell.

And once the lies run out, all that remains is the truth.

NO MORE LIES by Vanessa deHart

From his comment, Elora deduced that Danny was a guest at the hotel. That rendered him safe; he wouldn’t be staying for long. Just long enough for a bit of flirting, long enough to soothe her bruised spirit.

“Shall I bring a menu?” Perry asked.

Elora looked at Danny. “Have you eaten yet?” she asked.



“Ravenous.” His wolfish grin made her stomach do a flip. Maybe dining with him wasn’t quite as safe as she’d supposed.

“Have Boris prepare two complete specials,” Elora instructed Perry. She hoped her long-time friend couldn’t see how Danny’s seemingly innocuous comment affected her. “And bring us whatever wines are recommended to accompany the various courses.” Perry gave a curt nod with his head and withdrew.

Danny asked, “Are you trying to impress me?”

Elora arched an eyebrow. “Is it working?”

“What if I said yes?”

Elora felt the warmth stain her cheeks. “Good.” She saluted him with her drink. “I’d hoped we could put that first meeting behind us and start over again in a more civilized fashion.” She intentionally omitted any mention of their second meeting.

“Oh, but I liked our first meeting.” A devilish light glinted in Danny’s eyes. “I got to hold you in my arms right away.”

Elora felt a slow burn heat up her insides, and she doubted that the sip of alcohol had anything to do with it. She knew she was playing a dangerous game tonight, and she loved every minute of it. It had been so long since she’d felt desirable.

“Work all done for the day?” Danny asked.

“Yes,” she replied without offering any further explanation. “How was your game?” she asked in a blatant attempt to change the subject.

Danny laughed and took a swallow from his own drink. Playing with the glass on the table he answered, “Invigorating. It was a much more challenging course than I’d expected. Though it would have been a lot more fun with company.” The soft glow of candlelight highlighted his chiselled features and turned his eyes to molten silver.

“You’d want to share your frustration with an audience?” Elora toyed with the skewered lime in her drink.

“What frustration?”

“Are you going to tell me that the Lady of the Lake didn’t lure away any of your golf balls?”

“How did you know?” Danny leaned back looking somewhat discomfited by her comment.

Elora laughed. “That hole is infamous for stealing favourite balls. Hundreds get dredged up from there every season. Never mind the bent clubs Jackie has to try and straighten out.”

“Tell you what,” Danny said. “I’ll practice. And once I’ve perfected that hole, I’ll invite you out.”

Elora doubted very much that that would ever happen, but she raised her glass in acceptance of his chivalric invitation anyway. It wouldn’t hurt to pretend, would it?

To Purchase a copy of NO MORE LIES