Tag Archives: The Mane Event

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, January 19th, 2014

19 Jan

Upcoming Books and New Releases

It’s getting to be that time of year, when publishers tantalize us with novels that will be released in the late spring and summer. This always seems cruel, making me think of “beach reads” and hammocks and fruity drinks while in reality I need to put on seventeen layers before shoveling out my car. Yet, it                                                                                                                                                                                                              doesn’t stop my pre-ordering, which is I’m sure the desired result.

One book I’m looking forward to reading is Tawna Fenske‘s upcoming novel, Frisky Business, (publication date May 6th) starring a t-shirt wearing, wealthy chairman of the board and the development consultant who has sworn off wealthy men after a lifetime of pushy fiancees and fathers who do nothing but disappoint her. While working together to acquire funding for a wildlife sanctuary, our hero has to wonder what the gorgeous woman with whom he regularly butts head is hiding under her chic suit while our heroine keeps remembering her mantra that it’s working class guys only from now on. With what seems like more than a few colorful animal sidekicks, I think this is going to be a heart-warming, lusty novel. Haven’t sampled Fenske’s writing? Do yourself a favor and pick up her wonderful novella Eat, Play, Lust to get convinced she needs to be on your to-read pile!

Speaking of favorite author discoveries in 2013, Kat Latham, author of the wonderful Knowing the Score, has the next book up in her London Legends series starring uber-hot rugby players, Playing It Close, already available for pre-ordering. Coming out on April 14th, this book promises to focus on the sexy captain of the team, Liam Callaghan, who was an awesome secondary character in the first book, so I’m dying to know more about him ASAP. No cover art as of yet, but I couldn’t resist plugging this one since her first book knocked my socks off!

We all know that Jaci Burton has the oiled six-pack book cover market completely cornered, so it’s nice to see that her eighth Play-by-Play novel, Straddling the Line, which has a hero so awesome he’s both a baseball and a football star with enough heart to try and help his mentor’s daughter when her sportscasting career hits the skids after the death of her father. Naturally our hero has a few secrets he wants to keep to himself to supply the conflict, but I’m sure it will have the usually Burton brand of steamy hot love to keep us turning the pages for that bonus as well. With a July 1st publication date, this book is bound to be as hot as the temperature that time of year.

Maya Banks announced that her next KGI novel, When Day Breaks, the ninth in this incredibly successful suspense series about an independent group of former military personnel who take on the impossible jobs and bring people home safely, will be out on June 24th. This particular novel stars Swanson, who has come back from his last mission in Afghanistan wounded and scarred and the overwhelming attraction he has for a supermodel client desperately running from the evil stalking her.

UnexpectedLori Foster has a new book on the horizon with a May 6th publication date, Unexpected, which turns the typical bodyguard story around. With a hero who hires a deadly female bodyguard and gets a sexy woman when he expected a hulking guy with tattoos. She’s more confident handling a gun than handling the scorching feelings being around her client inspires, but when they give into their urges and finally connect, some startling repercussions result. But the danger hasn’t gone away…A reissue of her 2004 novel of the same name, reviewers rave about the characterization, so Foster fans who haven’t read it should definitely check out this re-release (kudos on the cover, Zebra publishing!).

Contests and Giveaways

RT Book Reviews is sponsoring several giveaways right now, including Candi Wall‘s Primitive Nightsa modern-day Tarzan story featuring a young activist whose helicopter crashes in the South American jungle while she is wearing the jumpsuit of the oil company she planned to infiltrate, only to be dragged in front of the light-eyed, lighter skinned tribal leader who speaks perfect English. Naturally, he doesn’t necessarily believe her innocence but he can’t bring himself to kill her even though he knows the safety of his people depends on eradicating the oil company’s influence on their land. The magazine is giving away five e-copies of the book to lucky winners who use the Rafflecopter interface and enter prior to January 25th.

The wonderful people over at the Vampire Book Club blog are sponsoring a lovely giveaway of When Blood Calls by J. K. Beck, Wicked As She Wants by Delilah S. Dawson, and Hearts of Darkness by Kira Brady, for people who enter their Rafflecopter interface prior to January 25th.

In honor of the Katee Robert‘s latest book, In Bed with Mr. Wrong, the first book in her new Out of Uniform series, Fiction Vixen is sponsoring a giveaway of a $50 e-bookstore card for people who enter their Rafflecopter giveaway by the end of January. Featuring a sexy Air Force Pararescuer who gets sets up on a blind date with a demure librarian who fascinates him with her buttoned up looks and sassy mouth, this couple feels they have nothing in common except their off-the-charts chemistry until they get trapped in a cabin together and are forced to decide if this can work or not. Based on the numerous terrific reviews (and this book isn’t even a week old yet), it sounds like this series is going to be as successful as her Come Undone books!

The wonderful Australian Give Me Books blog is hosting a massive giveaway in conjunction with publisher Samhain books, which they are calling the Samhain Publishing International Paperback Giveaway. Including a $50 gift card to the Samhain store, a bag of swag, and over 32 of their paperbacks, this is quite the haul, so enter the Rafflecopter giveaway by January 28th to earn chances to win. With authors like N. J. Walters, Jayne Rylon, and Mari Carr in the mix, this is a quality giveaway bound to make someone very, very happy.

There is no one who writes SEALs the way Tawny Weber does, and her latest book, A SEAL’s Salvation (due out on February 1st), is currently part of a Goodread’s giveaway which is gifting 50 paper copies of the book to random lucky winners who enter the contest by February 15th. Please note that an earlier book, A SEAL’s Seduction, is currently free in ebook form on Amazon, so you can get a taste for these hard-bodied, determined heroes right now.

Fun Stuff

Are you grumpy before that first cup of coffee in the morning? If your neurons aren’t firing on all cylinders at the people busy interrupting you at the crack of dawn, consider investing in The Library Shop’s the Shakespeare insult mug, so you have some ready made (and highly colorful) epithets to throw the way of anyone coming between a coffee drinker and their morning caffeine hit.

I’m a real sucker for a funny t-shirt and Human’s latest take on reading and exercise is definitely chortle-worthy in my opinion. In addition to my claim to cardio, they have other geek-worthy lines for romance readers, like “I Don’t Want a Relationship, I Want a Starship” (complete with Enterprise) and a buff Belle powerlifting while stating, “I Only Date Beasts“.

Okay. Woman to woman, let’s talk honestly here. There is a LOT of super hot shower sex going on in romance novels today and it’s awesome, right? To read, that is. The reality is something different. If you’re not being slowly waterboarded while maintaining a certain position, you’re in danger of a date with a traction apparatus (and not the sexy BDSM kind) because you’ve lost your footing. Never fear! Sex in the Shower is an actual catalog with various implements which will make your shower sex hot and safe. While some of the items look like they could be used for handholds for granny while she bathes (and let’s not go there), other accessories are extremely racy, so please make sure you are not at work while you take a look! 🙂

Great Deals

Much of the time, the books in this section are meant to give us a sampling of the author’s writing so we’ll go back and buy more of their work, so what’s better for paranormal romance readers than a collection from Entangled’s Covet line featuring excerpts from every single one of their books since they started this imprint? Covet: Sampler 2013 is 232 pages offered at no cost, so if you do like things a little spookey-poo or with the occasional shifter or vampire, take two seconds and get this one on your ereader before the moon is full.

Many paranormal readers (not just me) have devoured Terry Spear‘s wolf shifter series, but did you know she has a young adult romance series based on the intrigue surrounding the Fae and the human world? I’m a sucker for sexy fairies (Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series is my favorite) so I’m tempted to try this one. Luckily for me, Spear owns the rights to the World of Fae, and has just released them as a The World of Fae Bundle for only $6.99, not bad price for almost 800 pages. This is probably in honor of the sixth book of the series, The Hawk Fae, which just came out this past week.

I know on my blog, any of the posts related to Bella Andre‘s The Sullivans series is an automatic hit, so please note that her book, The Way You Look Tonight, is currently free in ebook form, so this is a good time to snap it up. Starring Rafe Sullivan, one of the Northwest cousins to the California Sullivans, this private investigator doesn’t believe in true love, having caught one too many cheating spouses. He decides to take some much-needed time off by heading to the lake house that gave him many a great summer memory, only to encounter a sexy local truffle maker who decides to walk on the wild side with her favorite Sullivan. What seems like the best temporary fling becomes much more quickly, but the question remains if someone who doesn’t believe in love can recognize something worth fighting for when he sees it.

Shelly Laurenston’s Pride series is one of my absolute favorite shifter series (if you love to laugh, this is your series!), and if you haven’t had a chance to sample her sexy beasts and gritty humor, you now have a chance with the first book in the series, The Mane Event, being on sale for only $1.99 right now. A wealthy lion fresh out of the military returns to Manhattan to find the one woman who has fascinated him since he was a freshmen in high school. The half-Irish, half-Puerto Rican, double D-cup smartmouth human is all grown up with a voice that makes him instantly think of sex, and there is no way he’s letting her out of his bed or his life. But first there is the pesky detail of explaining that there is a whole world right under her nose of which she has no clue…

Acclaimed contemporary romance writer Kristen Proby is debuting a new series, Love Under the Big Sky, on January 21st and right now you can pre-order the first book, Loving Cara, for a mere $1.99 for the ebook version. When a sexy rancher and a troubled nephew who needs a tutor meets the shy girl from his past who is all grown up and sassy-mouthed, these two men discover exactly what they both need to seize their future. With two other books in the series scheduled for release this year, fans won’t have to wait very long to enjoy the setting and characters again!

Lora Leigh is best known for her Breeds series, but her Wild Ops line of books has got more than its fair share of fans. If you’d like to sample this series, start with the first book, Wild Card, featuring a Navy SEAL who was declared dead by the government three long years ago when an operation went very, very wrong, and who desperately wants his beautiful wife back. But he can’t give away who he is (or was) but can he manage to win her heart while keeping secrets? Currently on deep discount at only $2.99, this novel is rated an emotional page-turner by fans, so take a look.

Well, I’m going to go don my Cumberbitch t-shirt in honor of the American debut of Sherlock, Season 3 (thank GOD), but I hope everyone has a super week of reading!

Writing Good Sex: Thinking About Steamy Sex Scenes from the Standpoint of a Reader and a Writer

1 Jun

Be a Sex-Writing Strumpet by Stacia Kane (CreateSpace, January 13, 2011)

A writer who can pen hot, steamy, and emotional sex scenes – interactions that are a lot more than tab A going into slot B – always win my loyalty.

I know there are people who love sweet romance and don’t need to to see what happens in the bedroom, but for me, those bedroom scenes often say more about a relationship than the dialogue or character descriptions. Sex also strips people down (no pun intended) to their essential self with the result being that it’s often obvious that a couple is in love with one another before they get around to actually revealing that fact in words. As Stacia Kane puts it “… the fact is, the deepest truths of our characters can be found when they are naked, when they are at their most vulnerable both physically and emotionally, when they let their guards down and just interact.” (Kane, p. 125)

A sex scene – a good one – is the epitome of showing and not telling. “I’m so hot for you” is not as strong as “His hand trembled as he touched his thumb to the thudding pulse in her neck, a beat he had to taste under his tongue while he reminded himself, go slow, don’t rush this…” Just like any other writing skill, some writers are better at this than others and no matter how much of a natural you are, understanding the elements of a good sex scene that take it from “okay, they are having sex” to “my book just burst into flames and not from an ereader malfunction” is vital to success.

Why We Need Great Sex Scenes

Stacia Kane’s fantastic primer for writers is infinitely valuable to readers as well. We know that we love a certain author or a certain scene but can’t always put our finger on why. In her book, Be a Sex Writing Strumpet, Kane took a series of blog posts and organized them into densely packed book focused on understanding why sex scenes can be so vital to plot and character development, how to write them well, and exercises to help each writer understand his or her sex writing voice and comfort level. It’s pure gold for $2.99.

But your crotchety uncle and that nun who taught you in the second grade definitely don’t feel sex should be in books, which begs the question, do we really need sex scenes? Hell, yes! I think I’m going to let Stacia Kane answer:

If you can find another way to illuminate the most private acts of your characters, to demonstrate their connection, their trust, the depth of their feelings…, their desire for each other, the moment their relationship deepens and changes beyond anything they’ve been through before, while also strengthening the story, increasing tension, and adding complications, and also—let’s be honest here—giving the reader what they’ve been waiting for, and you can do all of that in one scene, then no, you don’t need the sex scene. (Kane, p. 6)

firework-79374_640That’s a lot of points in favor of the sex scene. Note she didn’t say titillation? One of the major criticisms of romance novels (and clearly plenty of books outside the genre have sex scenes but they are expected in romance) has always been the “pornographic” nature of the sex. This criticism has always seemed like total bull to me; I’ve never seen a crime or horror writer criticized for too gory a murder. Instead the critic just grimly mentions the level of violence to the reader, as if it’s a point in their favor about their writing style and that they don’t shy away from reality. But romance writers – and let’s face it, it’s because they are usually women writing for mainly other women – get the “mommy porn” thing because god forbid we should show anyone what two people engaged in a mutually satisfying, sexually healthy relationship looks like. Those soccer moms might get ideas or *gasp* expectations.

Some key points Kane touches upon for writers (and which are visible to readers) are vital for emotionally tying us to the characters. Her warning to make everyone wait (for example, the suggestion to write an amazing kissing scene that’s clearly headed you-know-where and interrupt it) builds anticipation. For writers blocked about writing sex scenes, she has the brilliant idea of writing a dialogue between your characters where they talk about their feelings – and then you turn it into a sex scene where they are showing all those emotions through their actions.

Because that’s the point, isn’t it? That our characters show their true selves via their actions (and okay, sometimes their words, when they are actually coherent having sex) and that everything – from first glance to foreplay to actual sex to the aftermath – is built around revealing their soul and their emotion for one another. Let’s take a look at my top love scenes that fit this bill.

Memorable Sex Scenes: The Mrrrrooowwww Worth Reading and Re-reading

If you’re a romance reader, there are memorable sex scenes that are so hot you can’t help but think of them as I’m writing about this topic. Naturally, the writers showcased are women who also happen to be incredibly talented at strong characterization and airtight plotting, but since I’ve seen those qualities in other writers who are terrible at writing sex scenes, I consider these ladies to be the total package. Here are my favorites and why, in no particular order.

Author: Jeaniene Frost
Book: This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress series #5)
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Couple: Cat & Bones
Why: I adore this series (Jeaniene Frost seems incapable of writing anything that’s not absolutely stellar) and I’m sure people familiar with it are surprised that I didn’t list the famous/infamous chapter from the second book in the series, One Foot in the Grave. I absolutely agree that half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her vampire lover/husband/former professional whore Bones is an unbearably hot combination, but that truly astonishing sex scene is brought about the presence of Bones’ former lover Annette and his need to prove to her that she’s truly the love of his heart after she lays down a challenge to him to make her blush the next morning (and she does).

But the sex scene in This Side of the Grave is one between two people who have weathered ups and downs in their relationship and are secure as a result, and it gets listed here because of one very specific reason. It’s not just the unbelieveably inventive combination of candle wax and fangs, but the fact that Cat consciously lets down her final barrier in her relationship with Bones – the fear of how devastated he would be if she lost him. That realization makes this sex scene one in which she demonstrates how she’s decided to hold nothing back by consciously constructing a night of total pleasure for him. It’s so hot and moving that I find myself alternately fanning my face and choking up whenever I reread it.

Author: Stephanie Laurens
Book: A Rogue’s Proposal (Cynster series #4)
Genre: Historical Romance
Couple: Demon & Flick
Why: I am the first to admit that Stephanie Laurens drives me insane with her tendency for purple prose. But the earlier Cynster books, while peppered with the occasional “flotsam” reference (ocean debris = not sexy, Stephanie!), possess fewer of these references with the sex scenes  stronger as a result, none more so than Flick’s deflowering scene. It happens on a dresser in an inn. Harry, aka Demon, is the most sensual beast of all the Cynsters and – as frustrating as his inability to express his love for her is – the one place he can show her how he feels is when they are intimate with each other. It’s not surprising she feels smug looking at his ass in the mirror as he makes love to her. Who wouldn’t?

Author: Lisa Kleypas
Book: Devil in Winter (Wallflowers series #3)
Genre: Historical Romance
Couple: Sebastian & Evie
Why: Another deflowering scene that’s a favorite and honestly one that probably didn’t stop the clock in terms of how long it took. Sexy Viscount Sebastian needs a fortune and heiress Evie is happy to give him hers in trade for letting her escape her abusive relatives but they both agree the marriage has to be legal. Not a problem for Sebastian who’s seemingly bedded all of London’s females over age 17. Exhausted from their trek to Gretna Green and quickie marriage, Evie awakes from a very sexy dream to Sebastian kissing his way all over her naked body. What makes this so unbelievably sexy? The fact that he talks to her – playful, sexy, Sebastian talk that is the essence of his charming, roguish self – until you’re a puddle listening to him bring her to ecstasy  That he has an orgasm so mind-blowing and long that he feels that he might have been the virgin? Icing on the cake.

Author: Jennifer Ashley
Book: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures #1)
Genre: Historical Romance
Couple: Ian & Beth
Why: If you have to ask, you haven’t read this book yet! Lord Ian Mackenzie is one of the more memorable and unique heroes I’ve ever read. Landing on the autism spectrum in the 19th century meant you were thought mad no matter how brilliant you are, and it’s not like the era was renowned for the tender care of people with psychological differences. When Lord Ian meets the young and beautiful widow Beth, brought up in poverty and the recent heir to a fortune, he immediately wants her while his honest candor and devastating sexuality proves more than she can resist. While I like all their sex scenes, the one that stands out is the one where Beth visits him at his brother’s art studio in Paris to apologize for being nosy (she really didn’t need to). Ian worried he would never see her again and talks her into baring herself to him. Feeling her freedom, she takes off her clothes and dances a little around the studio in happiness with a sheer scarf, which Ian uses to reel her in and proceeds to bring her to orgasm, while never removing a stitch of his clothing. That in itself is damn erotic, but it’s his utter focus on her pleasure, the sensual enjoyment he takes of every little detail of helping her reach ecstasy, that makes this scene one of my favorites.

Author: Laura Kaye
Book: Hearts in Darkness
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Couple: Makenna & Caden
Why: Laura Kaye can throw down the hot emotional sex scenes with veterans in the business and always land at the top of the pack. In this book, our two protagonists are trapped in an elevator together, in the dark, and they didn’t get a good look at each other when they got in. Getting to know one another when it’s hot and stuffy in an enclosed space doesn’t sound awesome, but it is when the two people in question have a lot to reveal and the dark makes for perfect cover. That they get hot and heavy in the elevator (and then take it to her apartment) has been done before, but not like this. The unbridled sensuality and emotion inherent in Makenna, in the pitch black, feeling the piercings and scars on Caden face and connecting them with what he’s revealed to her makes your heart beat faster.

Author: Shelly Laurenston
Book: The Mane Event (Pride #1)
Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Couple: Dez & Mace
Why: I adore Laurenston’s ability to bring her brand of earthy humor to this incredibly sexy paranormal series. Mace Llewellyn has left his elite military unit (one made up of shifters like himself) and has gone into the security business with his best friend. They’ve based themselves in New York, not just because Mace’s pride is located there, but because this lion has been head over heels in love with the husky-voiced, half-Irish, half-Puerto Rican (extremely busty) Desiree MacDermott since they began high school. He knows that she’s the one for him, and class issues and the pesky fact that he’s a shifter (and she has no idea about their existence) isn’t going to get in the way. This book makes the short list based on one particularly AMAZING scene – and let me tell you, there are plenty of sexy love scenes in this series! – where Dez handcuffs Mace to her bed and has her wicked way with him. The neighbors calling the police is a given since lions are extremely noisy while being tortured with sexual ecstasy. It’s off the hotness meter not just because of what Dez feels comfortable doing with herself in front of Mace but because he wants to prove himself to her so much that he lets her take control.

Author: Kele Moon
Book: Defying the Odds (Battered Hearts #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Couple: Melody & Clay
Why: If you haven’t jumped on the Kele Moon bandwagon, I honestly don’t know what you are waiting for. This astonishingly good writer won my heart with her unlikely tale of a working class victim of domestic abuse slaving long hours as a diner waitress who finds love with a UFC fighter. I knew absolutely nothing about this kind of fighting but Kele Moon’s plotting and characterization moved her into my “must-buy the pre-order” category and she’s never let me down. Clay Powers is a disciplined athlete with a tough beginning but good friends and the way he sees through Melody Dylan’s stress and exhaustion to the beautiful woman underneath will have you sniffling. That Melody discovers she is a highly sensual being at Clay’s hands is wonderful, and the make-up sex which occurs when she travels to Las Vegas to cheer on Clay in his big bout will have you never looking at a picture window over Sin City the same way again. Yowza.

The Future of Sex Scenes in Romance

While many people are crediting the Fifty Shades phenomena or the decline of civilization, the fact remains that romance novels, unless of a specific genre (like inspirational or Amish) are becoming more explicit in their sensuality levels. What RT Book Reviews lists as a “Scorcher” now would very likely have been erotica over a decade ago and there are classic romances that were considered hair curling in their time that I flip the page back with a “that’s it?” comment, thinking I’ve missed something.

My hope is twofold. One, that the trend toward explicit sex between characters means that readers and writers are more comfortable with sex as a natural expression between people. Clearly we see more sex on television and in movies, but a lot of it is objectification, not a loving expression between individuals, so romance fits a vital need to remind us of what sex can be. Second, I believe that there are a lot of truly great authors (see my shortlist above) and publishers who want women to demand their due both as consumers of the romance genre (hell, we deserve hot sex scenes between those fictional people we’ve fallen for!) and as healthy sexual beings in the bedroom. In the end, writers who write hot, emotional sex scenes have not only demonstrated their facility as people who have mastered a craft, but as pioneers showing us all what really love can look like in its most elemental form. And I would like to say to all of them – Thank You.

What favorite sex scenes of yours fits the criteria here? I’d love to hear about them. Happy Reading! 🙂

References

Kane, Stacia (2010-07-19). Be A Sex-Writing Strumpet. Kindle Edition.

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