Falling Down the Christmas Romance Rabbit Hole

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays and my favorite thing to do at Christmas, besides watch Christmas movies or bake cookies is read Christmas romances. There is nothing like a good Christmas romance anthology. Over the years I’ve read many, and each season a new one becomes available for the masses.

There’s the historicals, which are always marvelous because who doesn’t love seeing how in a time when couples had difficulty falling in love in the first place, let alone being alone together, a pair of romantically matched people find themselves declaring love for one another in less than forty thousand words.

Here’s a few of my favorites:

Christmas in the Duke’s Arms by Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, Miranda Neville, and Shana Galen ~ All the tales occur around an inn, in a small town. My favorite is a friends to lovers tale. twg-final-large

The Heart of Christmas by Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick, and Courtney Milan ~ Delicious romance with rakes, benefactors, and unlikely heroes

All I Want for Christmas Is a Duke by Valerie Bowman, Vivienne Lorret, Tiffany Clare, and Ashlyn Macnamara ~ Dukes. Need I say more?

I’m mighty proud of the fact I’ve offered you stories by 11 different Historical romance authors, and they are all fabulous. This is just the tip of the romance iceberg because several other historical authors offer up full-length Christmas tales, including an entire series from Theresa Romain, which right now they are all together as a Holiday Pleasures Bundle in an ebook steal deal.

Then I have that ‘but wait; there’s more’ moment. Because I haven’t discussed contemporary romance. There is plenty of holiday joy to be shared around there. The ones I fell in love were the typically full length and the run the gauntlet from sweet to steamy. Regardless, they are all romances and feature Christmas in some capacity.

A few more favs:

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis ~ first in the Lucky Harbor series.maybe-this-christmas

Last Chance Christmas by Hope Ramsey ~ part of the Last Chance series.

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan ~ a friends to lovers tale and part of her Snow Crystal series.

And, if you haven’t heard a fellow HSG blogger/author, Jennifer Shirk has her latest release in the Christmas contemporary romance category. Check out Wrong Brother, Right Match. A shameless plug, but I’ve already got it pre-order and on my list of holiday romances to indulge in.

Of course, as with all things, these are just a handful of Christmas romance books available. I’m leaving out Maisey Yates and her cowboys, and Jessica Lemmon with her Bad Boy for Christmas book. I could go on and on, but I do believe that will cut into my reading time.

Do you have a favorite Christmas romance book? If so, tell me, I’d love to add it to my list.

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

Sharing the Pain…

Marketing can be a painful process, but like many things, it’s easier if you share the pain. Cross promoting with other authors can be fun and is a great way of getting your books in front of new readers.

I love the idea of authors helping authors, and after all, there are enough readers for everyone. So here are a few ways authors can help promote each other…

  • Mention other authors in your newsletter, share their good reviews, release dates, add links to their websites and books. Tell your subscribers what books you’ve enjoyed reading or what books you’re looking forward to.
  • If you have a blog, invite other authors to participate.
  • Or set up a joint blog with a group of authors, like this one.
  • Do a Facebook party and invite your author friends to help you host. Same with Twitter and anywhere else you can party.
  • Tweet about what you’re reading.
  • Facebook about other authors you love.
  • Share their tweets and Facebook posts.
  • Produce a themed box set with other authors in the same genre.
  • Set up group sales or joint giveaways, and promote the other authors and hopefully they will promote you.

I recently released Flying Through Fire, book 6 in my dark Desires series. I shared my release day with fabulous author, Dawn Cartier, who writes wonderful paranormal books based in her home town of New Orleans. And I had the pleasure of meeting Dawn earlier this year in Las Vegas at the RT Booklovers convention.

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We tweeted and Facebooked about our releases and included links to each other’s books in our newsletters. Hopefully it introduced a few of Dawn’s readers to me, and vice versa. We also did a combined rafflecoptor giveaway which has a few days left. So please, go meet Dawn…

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About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

Feeding the Muse

As you read this, I am somewhere in England, traipsing over the countryside near Keswick–famous during the 19th century for poets and pencils, known then and now for its breathtaking beauty.

A panoramic view of Keswick, Derwentwater and the surrounding fells, as viewed from Latrigg north of the town. Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

A panoramic view of Keswick, Derwentwater and the surrounding fells. Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Illustrated Magazine of Art, Vol. 3, No. 16 (1854), pp. 252–254

Pencil-making at Keswick, 1854

October, sadly, is the wettest month of the year in northwest England–by several inches–but I am hoping my new hiking boots are up to the task.

My primary purpose for this trip, aside from the very real pleasure of seeing a few college friends, is for research. The book I am hoping to finish this week (oh please, dear Muse!) is set largely in southern Cumbria–which is also on the agenda.

William Westall, Greta Hall and Keswick Bridge, c. 1840

Greta Hall and Keswick Bridge. William Westall, c. 1840. (public domain)

My friend Helen and I will be visiting Blists Hill Victorian Town (a living history sort of museum, or so I understand), Mayfair (because nearly every English historical romance is set there at least part of the time), the Jack the Ripper museum (it promises to be stomach-churningly gruesome so I suppose we’ll have to eat afterwards…), a tour of Parliament with a friend who reportedly does lofty important things there, a few literary landmarks like Jane Austen’s house and Stratford-upon-Avon, and what I fully expect to be a record number of tea shops and pubs en route.

Jane Austen's House, Chawton, Hampshre. By Rudi Riet. CC BY-SA 2.0,via Wikimedia Commons

Jane Austen’s House, Chawton, Hampshire. By Rudi Riet.             CC BY-SA 2.0,via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve never truly taken a writing research trip before. I have found unexpected inspiration on trips to Italy, Paris, New York, Nebraska, Ohio, and other places, but this is the first time I’m setting out to go where I want to go solely for the purpose of gathering information for my writing (with the advice and consent of my traveling companion, of course, who is strangely willing to indulge me–thank you, Helen!).

I’ll be scribbling in notebooks and taking lots of pictures to share with you all, and I hope the Muses will help fill my head with wonderful stories to tell when I return in about a week–starting with a new book for NaNoWriMo.

Until then, may your Muse be with you, whatever your endeavor, wherever you are.

The Muses Garden, by Lionel Noel Royer (public domain)

The Muses Garden, by Lionel Noel Royer (public domain)

 

 

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

The Lure of the Mediterranean

My book, Blackmailed by the Italian Billionaire, is on sale this week at only 99 cents. Blackmailed is one of my earlier books and I wrote it as a sort of tribute to all the Mills and Boons romances I devoured as a teenager.

I’m English, and I grew up in a small town in the north of England, in an area known as the Lake District. It was a beautiful place, but the sun rarely shines and it rains there—a lot. I yearned for the sun, and when I started reading romances in my early teens, I was always drawn to the ones with hot, sultry settings and with tall, dark, handsome heroes; Greeks, Italians, Spaniard’s, all hot-blooded and spectacularly rich (owning their own island always helps). I dreamed of one day lying on a sun-kissed Mediterranean beach with a stunningly gorgeous, very-nearly-naked hero of my own. He’d be all golden skin and rippling muscles, and one look from his dark eyes would melt me into a puddle in the sand…

It never happened. I found a lovely English guy instead, but we did travel a lot when I was younger, and I spent a lot of time lying on sun-kissed beaches. And when it came to settling down, it was hardly surprising that I ended up not far from the Mediterranean. In fact, I now live on a farm in the mountains of Southern Spain, which looks down onto the Mediterranean Sea. I love the area, the people, the food, the fiestas… It’s a fabulously inspiring place and it’s not unexpected that I now find myself unable to resist the lure of writing about Mediterranean men.

Luc, the hero of Blackmailed by the Italian Billionaire, wasn’t inspired by any one man in particular, but by an amalgamation of all those Mediterranean heroes I dreamed about.

bbib-1600px-latestBlurb: Blackmailed by the Italian Billionaire

Olivia Brent is happy with her quiet and orderly life in the country, until the imminent loss of her home forces her to try and track down her estranged father. She’s immediately out of her depth and in danger from criminals she believes her father might be among. Luckily, a stunningly gorgeous and enigmatic billionaire sweeps in to rescue her.

Saving Olivia is not an altruistic act for Luc Severino. He’s been searching for her father for years and feels now he’s closer than ever to getting the revenge he desires. He’s willing to use any methods available to persuade Olivia to help him.

If blackmail doesn’t gain her total cooperation, a little seduction might. But losing his own heart could change Luc’s greatest desire forever.

How do you feel about Mediterranean heroes? Love them or hate them?

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

Inconceivable!

This morning a college friend posted on Facebook that he had never seen The Princess Bride. Inconceivable, yes? It’s the only movie I’ve ever seen in a movie theater more than once, and the second time I went by myself. So I started streaming it on Netflix as I stared at this blank blog page, trying to figure out what to write today. I got to this exchange between Vizzini and Inigo, as the Man in Black is climbing the Cliffs of Insanity:

V: “He didn’t fall? Inconceivable!”
I: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

You can see the whole clip here, just because it’s awesome.

Anyway, it got me thinking. As writers, words are everything to us. Large and small, we agonize over every one we write. As an author of historical fiction, I not only have to agonize over every word and what it means, I need to think about whether the word actually existed in the time period of the book.  I keep a bunch of reference books on my desk and on my Kindle which help me find just the right word, and I have the OED, available online through my public library, bookmarked.

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If there’s even the slightest question a word might not mean what I think it means, I look it up. If there’s the slightest question a word didn’t exist in the 19th century, I look it up. And if I have used ‘smile’ 100 times (yes, it’s possible), I look for other words to replace them. And my editor takes out 90% of my ‘thats.’

So, what about you? What are your go-to sources for finding just the right word? And how many times have you seen The Princess Bride? 🙂

 

About Marin McGinnis

About Marin McGinnis Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she’s not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in Victorian era romance. She lives in Northeast Ohio with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Lead Me On

We talk often about what makes a good romance hero. And honestly, who doesn’t love it? I could go on for hours about what makes the perfect book boyfriend.

SONY DSCFor the sake of this discussion, what about the female lead? What is that something special about her that makes you want to buy into the story and keep reading? Strong motivation is absolutely vital, but I’m thinking more about personality. How does this person approach a challenge? What does their self-talk sound like? How do they treat others and what tack do they take when they interact with people?

Should they be sweet, smart, or sexy? From the hero’s POV, there’s no doubt they are all that and a bag of chips. But like it or not, as readers (and yes authors, but that’s a whole other kettle…) we feed into that equation. What draws a reader to fall in love with a character? Who do we enjoy or identify with? This is such a subjective thing, let’s do this – I’ll tell you my favorites if you tell me yours…

For the most part, I prefer what I call kick-ass with a heart of gold. Yes, they are considered “Strong”, but they are so much more IMO. Occasionally I love a funny, sweet, kind of ditzy character, yet I find myself consistently drawn to these serious types with a hint of darkness more often than not.

  1. Eve Dallas from the In Death series.
  2. Anita Blake from the Vampire Hunter series (mostly the earlier ones).
  3. Claire Fraser from Outlander.
  4. Alexa (Lex) Parrino from the Beyond series.
  5. Beth from the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

At the moment I’m having fun with May Wexler from Wrong Number, Right Guy. She’s just funny, all the way around.

So now it’s your turn. Who are some of your favorite female lead characters, and why?

About Sutton Fox

Sutton Fox has been published by Lyrical Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing and wrote a bi-monthly column for an auto racing magazine for several years. She traded life in Bluegrass Country for life in the Windy City in a home she shares with The Man, a lonely cat, and her beloved dog, Lucy. When she’s not working the edj, you can find her writing or spending time with her extended family.

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