Monthly Archives: July 2015
Posted by Gwen Hernandez
Last week, eight of us—we missed you Manda!—attended the Romance Writers of America National Conference in New York City. Ostensibly, we went for the workshops on writing craft, business, personal development, and industry trends offered by some of the best in the genre. Not to mention the chance to network with authors, editors, and agents.
But mostly, I think we attended to be surrounded for just a few days by those rare people in this world who really get us: other romance writers (especially other romantic suspense writers).
There’s nothing as precious as the chance to reconnect with friends, and this year we managed to get nearly all of the Kiss and Thrill women together in one place at one time, some of whom have never met in person!
We even watched Lena win a coveted published Daphne award, and Diana take third place in the unpublished Daphne. Congrats ladies, we’re so proud!!
I hope we can get together again soon, next time with Manda. And better lighting. 😉
Posted by mandacollinsauthor
Good Earl Gone Bad is the second book in my Lords of Anarchy series, only this time around the Lord of Anarchy is actually…wait for it…a lady! Lady Hermione Upperton to be exact!
But things aren’t so easy for the first female member of The Lords of Anarchy, and soon she’s teaming up with the haughty gambler, Lord Mainwaring to clear her name when she’s accused of murder.
Coming October 6, 2015
Audacious, extravagant, indulgent-the Lords of Anarchy live at top speed, with nothing to chase but pleasure…at every imaginable cost.…
Marriage? To a gambler? You must be joking! Yet Lady Hermione Upperton has never backed down from a challenge. When her spendthrift father offers her at the gaming tables, she is given a difficult choice—wed the Earl of Mainwaring, an infamous gamester with no respect for her skills with the reins, or face charges for the murder of a member of the infamous Lords of Anarchy. Either way she’ll have to clear her name. Can she count on her husband’s help the way she has begun to count on his kisses?
All Jasper Fawley, the Earl of Mainwaring, wanted was a night of cards. But by the end of the evening he’s walked away with a fortune—and a bride who’s suspected of murder. Jasper knows Hermione is passionate about her unorthodox membership in the Lords of Anarchy, but he’s certain she would never kill to keep it. Can he protect his headstrong wife from prosecution and a ruthless killer without endangering both their hearts in the process?
“For a club called The Lords of Anarchy,” said Miss Ophelia Dauntry wryly as she scanned the crowded ballroom of Lord and Lady Payne, “they seem remarkably well behaved.”
As the current president of the once notorious driving club, Lord Payne had done much to repair the club’s image in the eyes of the haute ton. And part of that campaign had been the invitation they club had extended to Lady Hermione Upperton, whose membership was the reason for tonight’s celebration. They had even gone so far as to celebrate her induction with a rout instead of what they might otherwise have done—taken the excuse to drink to excess in their favorite tavern on the Brighton Road.
“I think we all know why they are behaving so prettily,” Lady Hermione said with a speaking look. She was under no illusions about the reasons for her warm welcome into the brotherhood. But as a driving enthusiast with a desire to take her place among the sporting elite, she was happy to take whatever chance she could get.
Especially since her father had done his level best to keep her from fulfilling her dream by threatening every other club with a lawsuit if they allowed his daughter to become a member. Only the Lords of Anarchy had ignored the Earl of Upperton’s threats and extended the invitation.
“I believe you should be chatting with your new compatriots,” said Mrs. Frederick Lisle—more commonly known as the celebrated poet Leonora Craven. “Especially since you are looking so lovely.”
Hermione smiled at her friend’s compliment. It was true that she felt far more fashionable than she was normally accustomed to in her deep blue silk gown. The color contrasted with her creamy complexion as well as bringing out the blue in her eyes. And she’d chosen to have her maid dress her dark hair in a newer, softer style which was more becoming than her usual utilitarian chignon. Though she was now a member of a club that was known for its masculine pursuits, she hadn’t wished them to forget that she was still a lady. And as such she would bring a new sensibility to the membership.
“Thank you, Leonora,” she said, suppressing the urge to twirl about. “I was sure Ophelia would faint dead away on seeing me rigged out in such finery.”
“I always knew you had it in you,” Ophelia said primly. Then in a lower voice said, “I’m just happy you chose to put away your dowdy gowns on an evening when there are so many handsome, eligible gentlemen around.”
“Are we interrupting?”
Ophelia’s consternation was almost comical as she realized that Leonora’s husband, Freddy, was behind her.
“Of course not darling,” said Leonora with a twinkle in her eye as she made room in their little circle for both Freddy and the two men flanking him: the Earl of Mainwaring and the Duke of Trent. Friends from school, the three had once been four—with Leonora’s brother Jonathan rounding out the group.
“I am surprised to see you here, Mainwaring,” Hermione said with a raised brow. “I thought you were firmly against the notion of ladies participating in such rough pursuits.”
As if he knew how much it would irritate her, Mainwaring raised his quizzing glass and surveyed her with it. When he lingered in his perusal, she found herself blushing.
Finally, dropping the eye-piece, he mimicked her quizzical expression. “I do not believe you are showing any signs of masculinity, Lady Hermione,” he drawled. “So I suppose I must withdraw my objections.”
His sigh, which was heartfelt, only served to further annoy her.
That he was as handsome as he was provoking vexed Hermione even further. With dark unruly curls that cried out to be tousled and the fine boned features of a Renaissance angel, he would have been called pretty if he were a woman. But he was most certainly not—as his wide shoulders and trim waist attested. Yet, Hermione could focus only on his maddening personality.
“You are the most infuriating man,” she said with a scowl. “Do you really have to enjoy setting my back up so much? It’s most unbecoming.”
Mainwaring gave a shrug. “Perhaps not, but it’s far too amusing for me to give up.”
She wondered idly if it would spoil the party in her honor if she were to start a brawl. Likely not, but knowing that the Lords of Anarchy wanted to rejuvenate their image, she could jeopardize her membership. And though it would feel wonderful to snatch away Mainwaring’s quizzing glass and smash it into tiny pieces, she would not risk her new place, even for him.
“There is more to life than amusement,” Hermione retorted. “In fact, I would find it most amusing to…”
“Children,” interrupted the Duke of Trent “I believe our host is approaching his guest of honor.”
Hermione, without the height of the duke to let her see above the crush, stared in the direction Trent had indicated, and soon saw that he was correct. Lord Payne, accompanied by his lady wife, was headed their way.
“My dear, Lady Hermione,” said the viscount, “I hope you are enjoying yourself. I see that you have found your friends.”
He smiled politely at the circle around her, but without warmth. He and Freddy had crossed paths during the tenure of the previous club President, who was also Freddy’s cousin. And it was obvious there was no love lost between the men.
“I am pleased to see so many of the membership came out to support you, Lady Hermione,” said Lady Payne, her hand lying possessively on her husband’s arm. Hermione wondered if that was for her benefit. It cannot have been easy for her to stand by his side through the wilder exploits of the club. “I do wish you will consider me a friend during your membership. As the only lady, I know it will be difficult for you to find your footing.”
Definitely for her benefit, then Hermione thought ruefully.
Aloud, she said, “Thank you, Lady Payne. That is most kind of you to think of me.”
“Nonsense,” her host contradicted his wife. “I foresee no issues for Lady Hermione with the other chaps. We are not the first driving club to admit ladies, after all. So long as she knows her way around a coaching pair, she’ll be fine.”
Lady Payne flushed in embarrassment. Hermione exchanged a speaking glance with Leonora—there was something very unhappy about that match.
Before Hermione could break the awkward silence, Payne gave a brisk nod. “We’ll leave you to it then. I shall see you later this week at the first club muster of the season in Hyde Park. We meet by the Queen’s Gate.”
And just as quickly as the couple had appeared, they disappeared back into the crush of guests.
“Well, that was awkward,” Mainwaring said once their hosts were out of earshot. “I wonder if he is that charming with all ladies or reserves such bombast for his wife.”
For once, Hermione couldn’t argue with him. But if she were going to succeed in the club, she’d need to accept the bad with the good. Even if it meant suppressing her dislike for the way the club’s President treated his wife.
“Once a bully, always a bully,” said Freddy grimly. “I had hoped he’d become a bit less difficult with my cousin Gerard gone, but it would seem that the leopard does not change his spots.”
“Don’t let’s spoil Hermione’s night with all this dark talk,” Leonora said, linking her arm through Hermione’s. “I see champagne over there. Why don’t you gentlemen go fetch some for us.”
“Ahh, I see how it is,” Freddy said with a much put-upon sigh. “Now that we’re wed, you think you can just order me about.”
“Trent and I aren’t wed to her, but she’s ordering us about as well,” Mainwaring pointed out with a shrug. “I think she just wants us gone so that they can talk about lady things.”
And since none of the three ladies denied the accusation, the three men soon took themselves off to find the champagne tray.
“Are you sure you wish to be part of this club, dearest?” Leonora asked Hermione once the men had gone. “I know you are desperate for some place to show your skill with the reins. And I do most certainly think that you are any of these men’s equal, if not superior. But I cannot like it that you will be associating with Lord Payne. He was not particularly blameless in all that went on with the club when Freddy and I were involved.”
But Hermione had already made up her mind about the group. And though she too found Lord Payne troublesome, she had decided that until she saw evidence that the club was sliding back into its former bad habits, she would give them the benefit of the doubt.
“I know it’s difficult for you to understand,” she said aloud. “But I am doing this wish my eyes open. At the first sign of trouble, I will sever my ties, I promise. But until then, I would like the chance to determine whether a club like the Lords of Anarchy can give me what it is I’m looking for.”
“But what is it that you’re looking for?” Ophelia, who had remained silent until now, asked. “What do you want from them?”
“What every woman wants.” Hermione smiled sweetly. “To win.”
Thanks for keeping me company while I’m holding down the fort! Just for fun, tell me about your favorite romantic suspense series. It can be contemporary or historical or paranormal. One commenter will win a digital ARC of Good Earl Gone Bad!
Posted by Sarah Andre
Many romance writers are busily packing bulging suitcases for next week’s Romance Writers of America national conference in New York City. So what better time to get you psyched for the RWA Awards Night, next Saturday, July 25th. WHY? Because this year RWA is streaming the event LIVE (click the word that night to be linked immediately, or go to http://www.RWA.org!) Now you too can be a part of that magical night of glitz, glam and stunning ball gowns! And one of these remarkable writers will walk up to the podium (in front of 2,500 fellow writers) and accept the coveted 2015 Golden Heart for Romantic Suspense! Let’s meet these lucky women:
DECEPTION ISLAND (to be published in mid-2016 by HQN Books!)
In DECEPTION ISLAND, a rogue French Foreign Legion officer and
a Californian conwoman become unlikely allies in a deadly battle
against 21st century pirates and slave traders, in the steamy jungles and azure waters of an Indian Ocean paradise.
As their lives are plunged into danger, their damaged hearts and minds reluctantly begin to open to the possibility of finding love in the most unexpected of places. When loyalties are tested and damning secrets revealed, will their fragile trust in each other be enough to pull them through?
FIRST LINE: Time to get this over with.
Extra detail: I didn’t realize the French Foreign Legion still existed
until a couple of years ago, when I came across a Vanity Fair article about modern-day Legionnaires. What a fascinating concept for a novel—what would prompt a man to walk away from his life, and even his identity and native language, to risk his neck for another country? Thus my hero in Deception Island, Capitaine Rafe Angelito, was born.
Renée Norton isn’t sure how she wound up here, in the empty attic of a Bloomsbury town home with a disassembled cell phone in one coat pocket, an SD card full of homemade porn in the other, and her dead best friend’s blood all over her hands, but she knows she has to act fast, before she winds up dead herself.
Cut off from the police and the American embassy by her suddenly violent diplomat ex-boyfriend’s quick maneuvering, she’s left with only one ally, an ex-MI6 agent who calls himself William Gillette. Clever, charming, and—Renée suspects—more than a bit off his rocker, Gillette was not only smart enough to track her down, he’s also discovered her most closely guarded secret: that “Renée Norton” is just another role she’s been playing. And though the last thing Renée wants is to place her trust in another man, she may not have a choice: If her enemies catch up with her, it’s not just her secrets on the line, but the lives of millions.
The mirror showed Renée everything: It covered half of Vilém’s bedroom wall and caught the whole rest of the room in its gaze, from the gaping maw of the walk-in closet to the drapes that shut out the wet, dark London morning and even—especially—Renée herself, sprawled naked and sated on the rumpled bed.
Extra Detail: Every writer should have a Jimbo—though at times, his intervention feels as much like a curse as a blessing. One day—May 2, 2010, to be precise—he simply asked me if anyone had ever written a story about the murder of Sherlock Holmes. I said I didn’t know.
A half hour later, I had a plot; a new setting and context; I had new identities and arcs for the characters representing Watson, Mycroft, Morstan, Lestrade, and Moriarity. I had a way to resurrect my Holmes from the dead—because Sherlock Holmes always comes back from the dead. Because I am, down to my core, a romance novelist, I knew this book would really be about Holmes and the woman. And it would be the most important story I know how to tell: How to go on loving each other when the whole world tries to stop us.
So this is not a book about the murder of Sherlock Holmes…but it almost was. And if those kinds of ideas excite you, I recommend talking to Jimbo.
MURDER, CURLERS AND CREAM
Valentine Beaumont is in for a hair-raising shock when her spoiled client, socialite Portia Reynolds, is strangled right under her nose. Unfortunately, a dead customer in the beauty industry is not exactly a drawing card, and Valentine feels obligated to find the killer. She learns Portia had more kinks than curls in her personal life and, as she untangles the mystery, she finds out just how nasty Portia was. With Guccis on her feet, a bag of tools-of-the-trade over her shoulder, a hard-nosed cop on her back, and a kooky cast of characters in her midst, will Valentine survive her own investigation?
FIRST LINE: “You wound a perm rod around a man’s what?” Detective Michael Romero stood in the middle of the Mediterranean-styled salon, hand on his gun hip, stunning blue eyes piercing me with a look that said now he’d heard everything.
Extra Detail: I combined my experience in the beauty industry with my love of rom/com mysteries, and the Murder, Curlers series was born.
A SHOT WORTH TAKING
After stopping terrorists from detonating a dirty bomb, Special Ops soldier Tony Vincenti and FBI linguist Angela Hoffman intend for their next joint mission to involve under-the-covers work, only someone wants to cash in on a contract on Angela’s life. With little evidence to support their suspicions of who is trying to kill her, Tony must convince Angela to violate her own ethics to expose the would-be assassin before they can get a shot at a future together.
FIRST LINE: The fun factor of camping out with eight of even his closest friends only lasted the first month or two, max, of a deployment.
Extra Detail: This is the second MS in my Bad Karma Spec Ops series. When I wrote the first book, I didn’t originally plan a series until a friend asked if I was going to do a series around the team like Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. At first I said no due to other book ideas brewing in my head, but I changed my mind and fell in love with the rest of the team. This story was adapted from a spec movie script I’d written previously. The (current) first line was actually inspired by an Army helicopter pilot I supported.
HOPE CRAVES AN EXECUTION
When Sarah Monroe, a strong-willed historian, travels to a rural Savannah sea island to solve the last unbreakable Revolutionary War cipher, she draws the attention of a ruthless arms dealer. Now her life, and the secret hidden within the cipher, is at the mercy of ex-Green Beret Major Nate Walker. Nate, a man who suffers from seizures, memory loss, and regret, will do anything to save his men and take down the arms dealer even if it means betraying the woman he loves.
FIRST LINE: Sara Munro adjusted the hood of her field jacket and frowned at the hand-written sign nailed to the ancient oak: Trespassers will be shot. Then prosecuted. No kidding.
Extra Detail: Once I was a Latin student studying ciphers used during the reign of Elizabeth I. (I’d been reading too many Jean Plaidy novels!) Years later, I found an assignment I’d done – a Latin-based substitution cipher based on a Puritan poem by Anne Bradstreet that had been popular during the 18th Century. And suddenly a tortured ex-Greeen Beret, Nate Walker, popped into my head and told me the woman he loved was a historian who studied General Washington’s ciphers and there was one she couldn’t solve. They needed to figure out what the cipher protected before an arms dealer unleashed a weapon last used during the Revolutionary War. Nate’s desperate appeal led me down a writing rabbit hole that ended with this story and led me to my series.
EVERY UNWORTHY THING
When Madeleine Ashton, a Charleston, SC couturier and socialite, is targeted by an arms dealer in search of a 17th Century secret hidden in tunnels under her city, her last hope to save her family is Alex Mitchell: ex-con, ex-Army Ranger, and the baddest boy she’s ever met. Alex, besides being forsaken by his family and damned by the price on his head, has a secret — he used to work for the arms dealer. And when he’s given the opportunity to do so again, he must choose between a life of unlimited money and power or the prim, proper woman who has stolen his heart.
FIRST LINE: Alex Mitchell hated waiting.
Extra Detail: When I was sixteen, my future mother-in-law took me on a tour of Charleston, SC. The tour guide told stories of the pirates who plagued Charleston during the 17th and 18th centuries. These ruthless men blackmailed the populace, used secret tunnels to hide their treasure, then ran underground smuggling operations during the Revolutionary War. Years later, I met Alex Mitchell, an ex-Army Ranger just released from prison, who told me the “pirates” were back in Charleston. The woman he loved needed my help to stop a weapons smuggling race between a brutal arms dealer and Alex’s own brother. Hence the next rabbit hole that led to the third book in my Black Ops Brotherhood series.
Posted by Lena Diaz
Think You Know Harlequin Intrigue Author, Angi Morgan? Think Again.
I met Angi Morgan in 2010. She and I were both Romance Writers of America Golden Heart© finalists in different categories–which is why we’re still friends–she won, I didn’t. Okay, I would have still been her friend even if we’d been competing against each other. Why? Because once you meet Angi Morgan, there’s no way to NOT like her. I’m pretty sure that she doesn’t know what the word stranger even means. And she is one of the most welcoming, genuinely caring people I have ever met. She’s also a devoted animal lover who is a foster mom for dog rescue.
As an author, Angi selflessly promotes her fellow authors, whether she gets any promotion benefit out of it or not. Why? Because she cares about people, cares about her friends, and wants them all to do well. As a person, she goes out of her way to ensure that everyone is doing okay. When I saw her in Texas at conference last year, she took one look at me and decided I was dehydrated and took me up to her room and made me drink a bottle of water. She was right. I felt much better after that bottle of water. Angi’s like that – always looking out for others. And perhaps her most admirable quality is that she can make anyone smile. The gift of laughter, of making others feel happier just by walking into the room, is Angi’s superpower.
But don’t just take my word for it. Take theirs…
Diana Belchase: Angi presented me with my Golden Heart. I think she was just as nervous as I was — and so sweet. She had been a prior winner and had a two book contract and I kept thinking and hoping that would be me, too. Sigh, alas and alack it isn’t, but I remember that night with Angi, as she fumbled for her glasses, posed with me for the official photo, and gave me a great big hug, vividly.
Lizbeth Selvig: I met Angi Morgan in 2010 when she and I both finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest and then we each won our respective categories. We didn’t become fast friends right away, but we sure bonded–we know how to make each other laugh! Two years later I joined the group blog Angi started with several of our other GH sisters (Get Lost in a Story) and she also invited me to join a private chat room she’d started for a handful of authors who wanted a place to get together online and write. Since then I can honestly say Angi has never stopped encouraging me to push forward through the times when writing seems like a slog or when I’m at that point in a book when I’m sure I’ve lost any talent I ever had. I hope I do the same for her–because otherwise I’m getting all the perks of our friendship! Over the past four years I’ve come to realize that Angi encourages everyone she knows–she’s a wonderful friend. She also cares passionately about promoting her friends’ books, her books, and all romance reads in general. She’s one author who’s also an amazingly cool person!
Robin Perini: You can’t choose your relatives, right? Many a family reunion makes that truth all too real. Angi and I, though, that’s another story.
How can you be cousins, but not cousins? Well, when my uncle married Angie’s aunt, we became sort of cousins…kind of. Cousin-by-marriage? I guess that’s a title. Angi and I didn’t know each other. Our families tried to connect us, and of course, me being shy (and there is that thing about oh my gosh, I have to meet a pseudo-relative who also writes…can this be any more lame?). I reluctantly agreed to look her up.
We ended up standing in line practically next to each other during registration for a writing conference. I won’t even mention what I was saying—it was probably something like, “I have to find this chick whose aunt married my uncle and I don’t even know who she is….and there Angi was! LOL
We became acquaintances first, like you do sometimes with people you see only at a conference every other year or so. it’s an obligation, in a way. Though I will admit, every time we were able to get together, we talked our heads off. Then over time we discovered the truth: our paths are eerily similar and we have an amazing connection. How else does it happen that:
1) We both write romantic suspense
2) We both have the same agent (purely by accident, by the way)
3) We both won Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award in the same category one year apart
4) We both sold our first Harlequin Intrigue to the same editor …
There’s even more, but the best part is, that initial meeting fell away into memories. I’m blessed that my pseudo-relative became so much more. Not to mention that Angi shared one of the best writing tools that I use. Sprints. That’s another story, of course. The truth is you may not be able to choose your relatives, but you can definitely choose your friends…and sometimes not-exactly-cousins are the best gifts ever!
And now, for a brief interview…
Lena: When did you start writing for publication?
Angi: Oooo…trick question. I thought everything I wrote would be published. LOL I began learning the business in 1999. Ten years later when all the kiddos graduated, I concentrated on getting my story in front of the right people. And sold. So I began writing for publishers in 2010.
Lena: Any info you want to share about your Intrigue call story?
Angi: Other than it was awesome? And I was by myself? When my husband got home from traveling he took me to THE MELTING POT. He didn’t tell me he’d made a reservation OR that he’d told the staff I’d just sold. Flowers were delivered to the table and with them…a charm that represented his favorite thing in the book. Yes, my husband reads my books and actually enjoys them. It was a magical evening.
Lena: People you’ve met along the way who have been an inspiration?
Angi: Sharon Mignery, Patricia Vermiere, Tara Waldie, Amy Atwell, Robin Perini, Jan Schliesman, my Golden Heart class of 2010, my Intrigue sisters. I gain inspiration from so many people, it’s hard to name them all. But the daily instant messages I receive from fans…keep me going with my writing.
Lastly, I just want to share an amazing PARTIAL list of awards and finals for Angi’s books…
- Twice ranked on the top 25 of Publisher’s Weekly Trade paperback list
- Romantic Times Magazine Top Pick
- Romantic Times First Series Book Final
- Booksellers’ Best First Book Final
- Booksellers’ Best Series Romantic Suspense Final
- Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Final
- Carolyn Readers Choice Award Final
- Daphne du Maurier award WINNER
- May 2011 Booksellers’ Best First Book Award Nominee
- May 2011 Booksellers’ Best Short Contemporary Award Nominee
- November 2010 Romantic Times Best Series First Book Nominee
- July 2010 RWA Golden Heart® WINNER
- Great Expectations romantic suspense WINNER
- Romancing the Tome series WINNER
- Barclay Sterling long contemporary WINNER
And did I mention dog rescue? Here’s some information about the work that Angi does.
Angi: People ask how I can foster pups and give them away. I won’t tell you it’s easy. But it is by far one of the best things I’ve done. Seeing a discarded dog find a home and become a part of a family brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. There just isn’t anything like the unconditional love of a pet. They’re there for you all the time…no matter what. I foster because there’s a family that needs the dog I’m training to love them.
What else does Angi do as a volunteer?
Angi: I served as a volunteer and on volunteer organization boards of numerous school organizations for 20 years (PTA, athletics, boosters, band, orchestra, choir, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts). Girls Fastpitch Softball for 22 years. Local writing organizations the past 14. We began volunteering as a foster family for Labrador retrievers in 2013.
What about volunteering for RWA?
Angi: National level: Regional Director, served on numerous committees. I was also the Literacy for Life book signing chair from 2004 through 2007. Local Level: President, President-Elect, Treasurer, Newsletter, Contest (just about every year) and lots and lots of other volunteer stuff
I’m extremely grateful that I met Angi all those years ago. And I’m honored and humbled to call her friend.
Here’s a Rafflecopter giveaway !
From last week’s blog post, the winner of an ebook copy of EASY TARGET by Kay Thomas is Kathleen Bylsma! And the winner of an ebook copy of EXIT STRATEGY by Lena Diaz is Cris! Congratulations! Please send your email address (and Nook or Kindle preference) via our Contact page.