Friday Reads: Color of Grace by AM Arthur

Color of Grace (Cost of Repairs, #2)

If you want a nice, full-length m/m with angst heroes and emotional sexy times, this is the book for you:

Color of Grace by A.M. Arthur

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my new auto-buy author. I loved Cost of Repairs so much I pre-ordered this as soon as it came up. I really didn’t think she could top the angst-and-heat combo of Cost of Repairs, but she proved me beautifully wrong here. So. Much. Angst. And much of it is revealed slowly, and I don’t want to spoil that for you. I also appreciated how unique the heat was to these two heroes–so often love scenes fall into a certain pattern of acts that must be covered w/in a story and that’s not the case here at all–creative, inventive, and totally integral to the plot and character development. If you’re not reading AM Arthur, you need to. Fans of LA Witt, KA Mitchell, Marie Sexton, Ally Blue and others who deliver the angst-and-hot-smex combo will love her.

View all my reviews


AnnabethComingSoonI just finalized the contract details with Ellora’s Cave and I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve sold my second book to them. Like Return to Sender, Move Me is set in the suburban town of Ashbury. It features Jill and Mark Evans who showed up in Return to Sender. I wanted to write a marriage-at-a-crossroads story with a lot of heat and heart–and without any discussion of cheating. I can’t wait to share an official blurb and cover with you soon! We’re hoping for a release some time this Spring.

P.S. The sinful cream puffs–and their surly baker–show up again in this book!

Must-Read Holiday Recommendation: Breath on Embers

Breath on EmbersBreath on Embers by Anne Calhoun

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

True Confession: I have boxes of books in the attic that only come out at Christmas. I broke my foot one fall and my mother sent me a large box of nothing but holiday romances b/c she knew I’d happily gorge on them. I LOVE holiday novellas–they’re usually short, sweet, and perfect for reading during hectic days.

Breath on Embers is nothing like the typical holiday novella and that’s its breathtaking beauty. It’s short at 40k words, but it’s not the typical sweet, conflict-lite, sex-lite, supporting cast heavy holiday romp. It’s sexy, edgy, and has so much angst.

I love second-chance-at-love stories almost as much as I love holiday stories. Thea is a young widow who deeply and completely loved her late husband–and I love that Calhoun didn’t have her change that. I hate second-chance stories where the hero(ine) is forced to realize that their love for their late spouse wasn’t nearly as perfect as what they find with their new love. But Calhoun doesn’t go there–Thea and Jesse absolutely had an enviable marriage and would have been happy together. A true HEA.

But now Jesse’s not here and Ronan is. And Ronan loves Thea too. There’s a moment in the book where he says he’s doing battle with her grief. And he is. And it’s gorgeous. He’s pretty much the perfect hero. With a glorious, imperfect heroine who’s not always worthy of him. Until the moment when she is.

This is a gem of a story. If you buy one holiday book this year, make it this one. I know that I often review author friends’ books and books I beta read–I don’t know this author. She was a new find for me. I bought the book in the Red Hot Holiday anthology b/c KA Mitchell is autobuy for me and the last several Carina Press anthologies have been worth it in terms of a good mix of holiday stories. This book absolutely blew me away. It’s lingered in a way few books of 2012 did for me. This is everything about why I write romance and why I often feel unequal to the task.

View all my reviews

Friday Reads: My Fair Dork by Daisy Harris

It’s here! I stayed awake last night to be able to purchase Daisy Harris’s newest MY FAIR DORK:

Most of my twitter followers know that I love Daisy like sushi loves rice and that I beta read for her. I’ve been beta reading her since Holsum #1, College Boys. I got to watch the series wind its way through the lives of SIXTEEN of the hottest, sweetest college boys ever. And I got to watch as Daisy’s writing evolved.

I knew as soon as I read the opening paragraphs of My Fair Dork that she was onto something very special. The entire series is made of awesome, but this book–Owen and Harold and their journey is like the best gay college movie ever, made even better by an x-rating.

It’s a classic makeover theme–Harold is a giant nerd with bad haircut and worse clothes and painful secrets. Owen is Mr. Popularity and takes it upon himself to rescue Harold. Harold is all hung up on  . . . size issues. And this leads to pretty much the hottest scenes of the whole darn series. I kept forgetting I was supposed to be reading to leave some sort of feedback other than “God. Damn. My eyebrows burnt clean off. Good Lord.”  And it’s definitely the funniest book of the series as the size issue leads to some great one-liners.

I’m the sort of reader who HAS to read books in order. That’s the just how I roll. But Dork does stand pretty well on its own. The couple from Genius and Jock  do show up as do some other series’ regulars, but you could easily read this without reading the rest of the series, or just start with Jock. You won’t regret reading the whole series though! And if you do, Dork is pretty much the perfect capstone.

I realized last night that I was a bit weepy–kind of like a ridiculously proud parent on graduation day. Happy Release Day, my friend!

P.S. The book is out now on Siren. Want a reminder to buy it when it goes on sale at other vendors? Add it to your goodreads!

Help Me Think of a New Tagline! Prizes!

So, my current tagline “Sexy, funny, smart romance” is nice, but it’s a bit . . . boring. When I ordered some swag last week, I didn’t use a tagline at all, instead focusing on Return to Sender’s theme of receiving naughty mail with some great “Got Naughty Mail?” swag.

But I’d like something similarly catchy for my homepage. I’ve been kicking around a few ideas, but I’m not the best at little one liners. Here’s my brainstorming list, but feel free to chime in with others. I’ll select one commentor at random to get a swag pack with Got Naughty Mail? goodies. (Your “naughty” mail will arrive in a plain brown envelope and has nothing *too* scandalous in it.) And since it’s Halloween season, you can bet I’ll toss in a few other goodies to.

Here’s my current ideas:
1. Got Naughty Books?
2. Different pairings, same happy endings
3. Erotic Romance for Discerning Prudes
4. Smart readers, sexy books
5. The lighter side of erotic romance
6. ????????????

Thoughts? Votes? Like the current one best? Think taglines are silly?

#ROW80 check-in

So last week was a flurry of release-day stuff, but I did get some writing down. Here’s how I’m coming on my specific goals:

  1. Finish my WIP: Check! I got a little under 5k words last week. I’d like to double that this week since I should have less promo distracting me.
  2. Open my WIP everyday and spend at least 15 minutes with it. This is it. That’s the key for me: Check. There were a number of days of tiny word counts, but accomplished.
  3. Do at least one thing related to promo everyday: Check. Last week was promo heavy, but I arranged for guest blogs, bought ads, got swag, and sent out some review copies. I think the Vista Print groupon is still on if anyone else is looking for cheap swag! I’m also looking forward to my order.
  4. Aim for one round of #1k1hr OR 1k words a day,  4 days of the week.  I got a little under 5k last week, but I didn’t have enough 1k days. Back at it this week.
  5. Get something out on submission.  I haven’t heard back on the submission I do have out, but I’m considering whether or not to do the special Carina Press call.

How are you doing on your goals?

Return to Sender is out . . .

I didn’t pre-schedule a release day post because I’m a big dork and I didn’t want to jinx things. But it did indeed go live yesterday! I’m still giddy and excited and impossible to calm down . . .

Right now it’s only up at the EC site. I’ll update in the next few days as Ellora’s Cave adds the book to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. HUGE thanks to everyone who’s shared the link and given me good wishes!

Return to Sender

The Power of Goals! ROW80 and More!

Today I’m guest blogging over at the lovely Sidney Bristol’s place about setting goals that change over time–both our own and our characters.

Tomorrow, I have a real, live book coming out. *cartoon flail* Return to Sender is releasing almost 10 years after I first started writing a romance novel, 7 years after I joined RWA, and is the 6th book I completed.

In the last 18 months, I finished five books. FIVE. I am in a little bit of shock. I know there are plenty of writers out there who do 6+ stories in a year without cracking a sweat, but for me, where the previous six years had yielded three books, the transformation has been amazing.

And it’s all about the goal setting. I do #1k1hr . I do every challenged Shoshanna Evers dreams up. I do the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s Winter Writing Festival. I won’t do NaNoWriMo this year because if I’ve learned one thing in the last 10 years it’s that goals have to be realistic.

So I’m signing up to do the latest ROW80 challenge.

My goals for the next 80 days:

  1. Finish my WIP. Two cute guys. One reality singing show. Lots of heat. If you enjoyed my hot Olympic swimming story, I think this one will also appeal. I hope.
  2. Open my WIP everyday and spend at least 15 minutes with it. This is it. That’s the key for me. Not 50k in a month (I’ve done that now, even in non-November months, but it doesn’t happen when I do big resolutions like 2k a day every day. It happens when I endure the 400 word days to earn the 4k days.) This for me is the sort of measurable goal where real progress comes from.
  3. Do at least one thing related to promo everyday, even if it’s tiny.
  4. Aim for one round of #1k1hr OR 1k words a day,  4 days of the week. I know I’ll probably easily reach that one, but I need to be realistic and give myself an out for those smaller word count days where opening the file is my big victory.
  5. Get something out on submission.

What are your goals? If you’re reaching this through the ROW80 linky plug-in, be sure to drop a comment so I can come cheer you on too!


Book Review: Love Games by M. Jules Aedin

My CP Edie Danford and I were both in a mood for angst last week, and I told her about M. Jules Aedin’s Paper Planes. Which, of course, made me need to re-read it. I love how Aedin takes so many elements of angst in Paper planes–Amputee hero, grief-stricken heroes, dead boyfriends, 13 year age gap, and long-distance relationship and makes them all work together in concert where no one element overshadows the others–it’s not an amputee hero book any more than it’s a long-distance book or a second-chance-at-love book.

And of course, re-Reading Paper Planes made me need to go buy Love Games post haste as I loved the brief mention of threesome loving rocker Keith and his actor boyfriend Adam. If you want addictive, hot smexy scenes with deep angst and a little kink, this is the book for you. And if you read it, I desperately want to know as this is one of those books that begs for deep discussion on everything from Keith’s issues to the ending to Sebastian’s future.

And now, of course, I need more angst to feed my addiction. What have you read lately that took you on an emotional roller coaster?

LovegamesLovegames by M. Jules Aedin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars. This is an addictive book. It’s Aedin’s sexiest book yet, and it is HAWT. I’m not a big menage reader, but it truly works here. Adam, Keith, and Sebastian are deep, real characters and their dynamic absolutely works. Despite being a meaty length, the ending felt a tad rushed, with a more HFN ending. I’m hoping like crazy she has a sequel planned as I want more Seb, Keith, and Adam. NOTE: Listen to the Loose Id warning on dubious consent–there is a scene very late in the book that might raise your hackles if that’s a very sensitive area for you. It all works out in the end, but I could see some readers having issues with it. However, Aedin’s realistic treatment of Keith’s issues is amazingly well-done.

View all my reviews

Five years

Five years is both a tremendously long length of time–longer than a presidency or high school or most college degree programs–and the blink of an eye.

Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss

Five years ago, I became a mother. Today I watched my little girl pedal away from me for the first time on a real “big girl” bike for the first time and the soundtrack in my head was Dr. Seuss:


Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
That’s how my daughter is–full of confidence. She doesn’t look back when we drop her off at school or when she rides away. She’s a planner–she planned this birthday for months, right down to the color of the cupcakes and the contents of the goody bags.
She never had any doubts that it wouldn’t come true. I hope she never loses that certainty that dreams become reality if you plan long enough. The indomitable Cherry Adair says in one of her classes, “A Goal is a dream with a deadline.”
My five year old is full of dreams with deadlines–the bike she wanted to get for her birthday, the reading she wants to accomplish by the end of the year, the swimming she wants to learn by next summer.
As adults sometimes it’s all to easy to lose sight of both this certainty that dreams do come true and this innate ability to give our dreams deadlines. It’s way to easy to get caught up in the other part of the Seuss tale:
You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.
I know I’m not alone in experiencing a bit of a Fall Slump. I’ve got several projects out on submission but I’ve spent a week without a WIP. It makes me antsy and uncertain. And we  all get that way–when the doubts start to creep in and dreams feel silly. And we forget that we’re on a journey–one that’s uniquely our own.
If all goes well, I’ve got a book out next week and it’s not unlike the experience of letting my child out into the world–my stomach is all wobbly and I want to snatch it back. But books, like children, are meant to be shared. And dreams are meant to be realized.
Thank you to my little planner for reminding me of that. Time to set some more dreams-with-deadlines and trust the journey. Time to look ahead, instead of looking backwards at how much time has escaped our grasp.
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
Where do YOU want to go today?