Tag Archives: Random House

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, News, and Deals You Might Have Missed This Week

7 Jul

I just came back from the ALA (American Library Association) Conference in Chicago were I attended a lot of informative sessions. While most of them where geared toward my work in education, there were more than a few things that I think will help me be a better blogger for my readers. A great suggestion was having the occasional “round up” post to inform people about great links, upcoming books, and excellent blog posts you might have missed, so here are a few recent items I’ve been enjoying.

Upcoming Books

The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures #6) by Jennifer Ashley (Berkley, October 1, 2013)

Jennifer Ashley mentioned on her blog that the ARCs will be out very soon for The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie, the next book in the Highland Pleasures series (which I think is the best Victorian romance series on the market). It’s due out on October 1st, so hopefully NetGalley might have an ARC available soon! If you’ve enjoyed this series, you might also need a reminder that the next interim novella, The Untamed Mackenzie, will be out even sooner, and will finally give Inspector Lloyd Fellows, the illegitimate Mackenzie who is a reluctant member of the family at best, a happily ever after. That one is e-book only, so sorry print lovers!

On Ashley’s paranormal romance front, note that Amazon has made available Wild Wolf for preorder (even though it’s not coming out until January 2014), the next full novel in the fabulous Shifters Unbound series. Yes, I’ve preordered it and will be waiting up at midnight for it to land in my Kindle! Coming out even sooner is the next novella for that series, Feral Heat, which will be Eric’s son, Jace’s story (thank goodness!) out in November of this year.

Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) by Ilona Andrews (Ace, July 30, 2013)

In anticipation (and God knows I’m anticipating it!) of Ilona Andrews’ next book in the Kate Daniels series, Magic Rises, due out on July 30th, Bookpushers is sponsoring a Readalong for the series. The husband and wife team of Ilona Andrews have already vetted much criticism for the cover, since the model depicting the twenty-something Kate looks waaaayyyy too young and not nearly enough of a hard ass for this alpha female. I realize I still need to do a review of this series which is tops in the urban fantasy genre for me.

In exciting news, Nalini Singh had two great announcements. The first is that she just agreed to do a Psy-Changeling series novella in 2014 which will be part of an anthology and that the hero of her next full-length novel (the 13th in the series) will be …. VASIC! This cold Arrow won my heart with his questioning of silence long ago, so I’m elated to see that he’ll be partnered with a heroine we’ve never met before. This book will be closely tied to her latest book, Heart of Obsidian which won all five stars from me, making it the fourth book (out of over the 200 books I’ve read so far this year) to be declared totally perfect.

If you’re an urban fantasy fan chances are you’ve been devouring the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones as much as I have (Reyes *fans face* is one of the hottest heroes in a loooooonnnnggg time). Keep in mind that the hardcover and Kindle editions of the next book, Fifth Grave Past the Light, will be released on July 9th (two days from today!!!) so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a copy of this book hot off the presses.

Media News

Outlander (Outlander series #1) by Diana Gabaldon (Dell, 1992)

Any fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series? If so, you’ll be either pleased or dismayed to read that the book series has been made into a TV series which will debut on the Starz network come this October. According to the excellent blog, The Good, The Bad and The Unread, Scottish actor Sam Heughan has been cast to play Jamie Fraser. Worried? Don’t be. “Sam is 33, stands 6’3″ tall, and his Scottish brogue portraying one of the most-loved characters in literature will definitely make the ladies swoon. More importantly, of course, is that he’s perfect for this part and will make Jamie come to life on the screen.”

Reader Fun

In case you were wondering, this is what a RITA award looks like. Pretty cool, yes?

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (an AMAZING blog) is still doing their RITA Reader Challenge. If you love romance (any subgenre), I’d encourage you to take a look at this challenge, which lists all the winners in various categories from the Romance Writers Association. This a great way of making sure you get a taste of all the great books published in the last year. What if you missed one? You may not agree that they deserved an award, but it’s fascinating to note what the judges (published authors as well as agents and publishers) think constitute the best of the best.

Entranced Publishing, a wonderful new ebook press, is having a Christmas in July giveaway where they are giving away one copy of every book they’ve ever published. For a new publishing house, there has been a ton of great buzz about their editing and their payment model, with the result being some stand out books in a short period of time. Fill out their entry form before July 31st for your chance to win!

Australian romance readers! You lucky down-under dogs, the Australian Romance Readers Association is having a book signing event in Freemantle on August 17th that has over 56 authors attending, including powerhouses like Julia Quinn, Nina Bruhns, and Carole Mortimer. Wow! And the signings will be held at three public libraries (further proving the connection between public librarians and supporting romance). Have I mentioned how much I’d like to visit Australia one day?

Authors After Dark are having a giveaway for tickets to their conference (in Savannah this year!) August 14th to the 18th. Anyone who enjoys paranormal romance or urban fantasy should consider following this blog and learning more about the organization. The annual conference is quite small and you get tons of author time, which would be amazing for any fan! Enter by July 11th for your chance to win.

The Romance Publishing Industry

Is historical romance on the decline? Jeez, I hope not! But with the numbers dipping slightly, The Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills discuss if the glut of Regencies on the market are stifling the genre. I agree with them that this is probably just the usual ebb and flow experienced by so many categories of romance, but it’s worth pondering.

In an unbelievable merger, Penguin and Random House have now joined forces, making them a force to be reckoned with. In romance terms, Random House publishes authors like Danielle Steel, Sophie Kinsella, and E. L. James (yes, that E. L. James!) under their imprints of Delacorte, Dial and Vintage, and Penguin controls the romance powerhouse Berkley (Jennifer Ashley, Jaci Burton, Nalini Singh) and Jove (Nora Roberts), so I feel that Random House really boosted their piece of the romance pie with this merger. For your consideration, does anyone besides me think the company’s new name should be Random Penguin? Imagine the logo!

Great Deals

It Had to Be You (Lucky Harbor #7) by Jill Shalvis (Grand Central, May 28, 2013)

If you didn’t have a chance to enjoy the most recent Jill Shalvis Lucky Harbor novel, It Had to Be You, fear not. Ebook readers can take advantage of the $2.99 deal going on right now on Amazon (and I think other retailers).

Julie Garwood’s classic, Rebellious Desire, is on sale in Kindle format for only $.99 for those of us wanting a walk down memory lane. Not to make you feel old, but this puppy was originally published in 1991 – 23 years ago! I’m not sure how long it will be at this price, so if you’re looking to bolster your classic romance backlist, this is a nice addition.

One Perfect Night by Bella Andre is a stand alone short story/novella originally published in 2011 and just reissued with a new cover. Right now, it’s available for free. I haven’t read it but, hey, it’s Bella Andre, so it’s bound to be great! For those of you who haven’t read her Sullivan series, get the lead out. This great family is available in ebook form and now in print via Harlequin and is tops in the contemporary romance category.

Forgotten Sins (Sins Brothers #1) by Rebecca Zanetti (Forever, July 2, 2013)

Looking pretty intriguing on the paranormal romance front is Forgotten Sins, the first book in the Sins Brothers series by Rebecca Zazetti which just came out on July 2nd. A husband returns to his wife after turning up in the hospital with amnesia, yet he abandoned the love of his life two years ago. Does his amped hearing and powerful strength have something to do with his missing years? This new series is billed on Goodreads as “Romantic Suspense with a slight paranormal twist about a band of brothers who carry unnatural powers genetically engineered into them by a black ops military unit.” At only $2.99 for 384 pages, I’m excited to try it!

Bayou Heat Lives Up to Its Name in This Reissue from Donna Kauffman

19 Nov

Bayou Heat by Donna Kauffman (Loveswept, November 12, 2012) – originally issued in 1996

Louisiana is a popular place to set sensual romance novels. I think it’s a combination of the heat and the Cajun culture, which gives a taste of the exotic right in the United States. Add in the voodoo religion, a smattering of Cajun French, and the sweltering heat and you have a recipe for a sexy romance.

Which is what Donna Kauffman thought back in the 1996 when this book originally came out. Loveswept, the publisher, at that time was a division of Random House and responsible for some very popular romance novels in the 1980s and 1990s. While this imprint disappeared for a while, I gather the publishing house decided to resurrect Loveswept as an ebook-only line, launching a new website dedicated to e-romances. In addition to new romance novels, (like the long anticipated Iced by Karen Marie Moning, the spin-off series from her Fever novels) Loveswept has cleverly mined its backlist to discover any titles that would benefit from a cover makeover and hold up to today’s market.

What they found was several of Donna Kauffman’s novels, and I, in turn, found them on NetGalley. The new covers are FABULOUS (and believe me, these books needed them) but with any reissue you need to worry about whether the content holds up after 15 or so years, right?

The original cover of Bayou Heat from 1996. I’m not sure this would have worked for me even in the 20th century!

No danger here. Bayou Heat did not feel like a recycled romance in the slightest despite it’s lack of technology and only a couple of sex scenes (which is not what you expect looking at that cover). Instead I was sucked into this tale of Dr. Erin McClure, an ethnobotanist who discovers her sexy Cajun guide bloody and almost unconscious in her rented bathtub – oh, did I mention she was naked and ready for her shower? Teague Comeaux enjoys the view, thinking that this mental image does not match what he thought he’d be guiding through the bayou. From the first moments between them, Kauffman does a skillful job showing the web of sexual attraction while also highlighting how these two characters have trouble communicating with one another.

Teague has baggage – of the Samsonite 6-piece collection variety. He, like his half-brother, was born on the wrong side of the blankets to the wealthiest man in the parish. Although his father married his mother, it was a tumultuous relationship at best, one that led this unstable woman to commit suicide. Teague was taken in as a mourning teen by his grandmother, the local voodoo priestess who lived out in the bayou. While he loves her for raising him, one family member after another has rejected him for who he is, so much so that he left Louisiana as soon as he could and has only recently returned. What no one but the local sheriff knows is that Teague spent his time away from the bayou working undercover for U.S. Customs. Once he caught wind of an operation centered in his former backyard he got himself reassigned and purchased a local pool hall as his front. Now he has a feisty scientist stirring up emotions he never wanted to feel and shattering every image he possessed of how scientists are supposed to behave, an unexpected twist which could endanger his current job.

A vision of the Louisiana bayou.

Erin McClure was raised untraditionally, to put it mildly. The daughter of a scientist herself (whether he was an anthropologist or another ethnobotanist, I couldn’t quite put my finger on) she grew up among a variety of cultures and highly self-reliant, camping in the Amazon by herself at the age of thirteen. As frustrating as her sexy new Cajun guide is, she needs his connections to the local voodoo priestess in order to her work, work she began with her father and now continues after his death. That he sees her as a desirable woman – something none of the academics she’s worked with before have done – is secondary to her mission.

There were a few pieces of this book that I found disconcerting. There wasn’t a ton of physical description, so it was hard to get a handle on how the two main characters looked. Call it a pet peeve, but I like a regular reminder or a reference to something other than the expression in their eyes, to keep me grounded. My vision of Teague and Erin was pretty blurry and I found it annoying in parts. Also, while I’m sure it mimics real life to perfection, I felt that a good part of the dialogue between Erin and Teague or Teague and his half-brother, Marshall, to suffer from lack of clarity. How exactly did Marshall have a hand in the smuggling venture? And what precisely were they smuggling from Haiti?

Kauffman’s writing strengths have me willing to read the other books I’ve pulled from NetGalley. The sensuality rampant between the characters was excellent and she has serious chops when it comes to writing body language and letting the reader literally see the attraction between characters. She also manages a nice balance between having enough authentic cultural details thrown in her books but doesn’t go the route of info dumping explanations of the culture. With her writing, I don’t think I would have minded more explanation, but I also admire a writer who gives me enough of a head start and then trusts me to look things up on my own.

This foray into Kauffman and the Loveswept line has me intrigued and wanting to try more. Thanks to Donna Kauffman for writing a book which holds up over time and thanks to Random House for reviving it. 🙂

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