Essential Beginnings Kennedy Layne
Exclusive Excerpt

Exclusive Excerpt: BLOOD, SMOKE, AND MIRRORS by Robyn Bachar

Blood Smoke and Mirrors

Next week the Five Past Midnight anthology releases from Samahin Publishing with novels by Anne Hope, Corrina Lawson, Robyn Bachar, Cassi Carver, and Robin Bielman included! Today we’re happy to share an excerpt from Robyn Bachar’s Blood, Smoke, and Mirrors! We hope you enjoy and pre-order your copy of Five Past Midnight!


The café had a decent amount of customers when we arrived, despite the fact that it was the lull between breakfast and lunch. I set Tybalt up in a booth with a plate full of pancakes and a Chicago Tribune, and then hoped for the best. Squaring my shoulders, I pasted my friendly customer-service smile on my face and began my shift. My section kept me too busy to worry about silly details like the fate of magician/faerie relations throughout the Midwest. As closing approached, we had only three customers left in the café: a young newlywed couple who were regulars seated in my section, and Lex, who’d snuck in at some point and was sitting drinking a cup of coffee over in Maria’s section. She’d left early, of course, and I’d been ignoring him in the hope he’d leave, but he seemed determined to stay. Annoyed, I stopped at his table, coffee carafe in hand.

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Portland ME Freya Barker sale July
Sisters in Love Melissa Foster
Morning Bites

Memorable First Lines of Romance Novels

Dark-and-Stormy-NightStephen King says, “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.”

An opening line can and should define the rest of the book, provide an expectation for the reader that is then fulfilled through the rest of the book (best example? The snark of “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”)

Collected here are some memorable first lines in romance novels, ones that capture the readers’ interest and is a strong indicator of what the rest of the book will be like.

Mr-Impossible

Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible:

Outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, 2 April 1821

Thanks to his mother, Rupert Carsington had hair and eyes as dark as any Egyptian. This did not mean he blended in with the crowd on the bridge. In the first place, he was easily the tallest man there. In the second, both his manner and attire marked him as an Englishman.

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Autumn Thorns Yasmine Galenorn
Reviews, Reviews, TV

The Last Kingdom and Viking Romances!

The Last Kingdom, based on Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories series, debuts on BBC America this week. It is set in the 9th century, and uses the backdrop of real characters from history to people the fictional leads’ stories. Like Vikings, it’s got King Alfred, Ragnar, and mixed loyalties.

Viking romances have been an underrepresented genre in historical romance, but there is plenty there for romance fans to find appealing:

  • Fierce warriors with interesting facial hair.
  • Viking women had more rights than other women during that time period. They could ask for divorce and inherit property.
  • Vikings were very concerned with hygiene.
  • They had kickass gods (Thor, anyone?)
  • They’re not afraid to go the distance — literally! They traveled huge distances to accomplish their goals.

If you haven’t read any Viking romance, there are some available for free from the EverAfter app:

  • Chelsea Chaynes’s Dominated by Vikings: Act 1
  • Lexy Timms’s Celtic Viking (Heart of the Battle Series #1)
  • Lacey Edward’s Bearly a Viking (with bonus paranormal shifter goodness).

Are you planning to watch The Last Kingdom? Do you like Viking romance? Any recommendations?

Steals & Deals

Deal Alert: Amara Royce’s NEVER TOO LATE

Never Too Late Amara Royce

Amara Royce’s older woman/younger man historical romance (set in a bookshop, no less!) is on sale for $.99 for a limited time. Amara’s books are smart and sexy, and well worth your time. Here’s the blurb:

Expect the unexpected, especially in a room filled with books. . .

Honoria Duchamp is well aware that men often consider widows easy prey for the role of mistress. What else could explain the attentions of handsome Lord Devin, and his visits to her bookshop? The much younger Viscount has even shown interest in the printing press with which she creates pamphlets on London’s basest injustices. Yet his chief interest appears to be in her. . .

Coerced to investigate Nora’s controversial pamphlets, Devin expected to find a bookish matron. Instead, he is taken with Nora’s womanly beauty, sharp intellect, and quick wit. Soon, what begins as an unwelcome task becomes a pleasure, and Devin’s job becomes more dangerous—for them both. For Nora has no idea of the vicious element she’s crossed. Now Devin will risk his reputation to protect her—and much more to win her love. . .

Best of...

Aliens to Special Forces Soldiers: Science Fiction Romance Heroes

EverAfter Romance

If you like science fiction romance (SFR), there’s a galaxy full of adventure to be had, featuring heroes for all tastes. I thought I’d give a few examples of the novels in some major subgenres today. Definitely not an all-inclusive list because there are so many SFRs being published every month, which is a terrific thing for us voracious readers!

Aliens: If we’re going to talk science fiction romance, we might as well start off with residents from Out There, right? New York Times Best Seller S. E. Smith Merrick’s Maiden (Cosmos Gateway Book 5) is a good example, with a feisty human heroine who helps the alien hero escape imprisonment. Torkel’s Chosen by Michele Howard tells the story of an Earth woman who chooses to become sort of a mail order bride of the future, going offworld to wed an alien warrior. Catherine Spangler’s Shadow Fires (Shielder Series Book 5) features both a hero and a heroine from alien races and tackles some tough cultural issues along with the romance. Pauline Baird Jones’s The Key is another exciting series with nonstop adventure, featuring a woman top gun pilot from Earth and an alien fighter pilot, stranded together in space.

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Guest Post

Four Reasons to Give Historical Romance a Try

EverAfter Romance

Historical Romance is one the most well known sub-genres of romance. Take any article you’ve ever read or show you’ve ever watched that deals with the topic and inevitably someone will mention or allude to historical romance. Although they make up only 20% of traditionally published Romance novels they have, for whatever reason, become the face of romance since their rise to popularity in the early 1970s.

Personally, I love historical romance. I love the history, the different customs, and the stories of romance that are both the same and different from what is experienced today in North American culture. So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that many of the ladies in my book club, as a rule, avoid Historical Romance.

Here are 4 reasons you should give historical romance a try.

  1. You Can Choose Your Own Adventure

When I started reading Historical Romance I started with Petals on The River by Kathleen Woodwiess. This was not a good way for me to start.

I hated Petals in the River. It was super long, it took place in Colonial America, which doesn’t turn my crank, and there was a lot of dubiously incomplete or simply nonexistent consent when it came to the heroine and her sexual encounters.

Lucky for me, historical romance isn’t a one trick pony. There are over thirteen subcategories, ranging from Viking romance, specific periods in England’s history, Pirates, Native American Romance and Civil War Romance. This meant I was able to easily find other historical romance novels that I could enjoy (and had less rape!). From Kathleen Woodiwiss I moved on to Lorraine Heath’s Texas Trilogy, Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster Series and the historical romance of Lynsay Sands and now I read all sorts of authors.

I found the romances I preferred were set in England or Scotland, usually during the Stuart era (1603 to 1714) or the Regency period (1811-1820) and preferably featuring a kilted Scotsman or a dark brooding peer of the realm.

Historical romance is so broad a category that it’s easy for anyone to find something they like.

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Exclusive Excerpt

Exclusive Excerpt: AGAINST THE ROPES by Jeanette Murray

Against The Ropes Jeanette Murray

This week the second book in Jeanette Murray’s First to Fight series, Against the Ropes, hit the shelves. We’re happy to share with you an exclusive excerpt from the book. We hope you enjoy and pick up a copy today!


In this excerpt, the gym the Marines use for boxing practice has been paint-bombed. The floors, the walls, and anyone standing nearby were all covered. Reagan’s got a mess on her hands, both literally and figuratively. First step: time to get those Marines clean!


Reagan hustled toward the back, wincing as each step squished a bit. Ew.

And opened her door to what might be considered the single girl’s paradise.

Marines, stripped down to their skivvies, were hosing each other down in the employee parking lot. The few who hadn’t gotten paint-bombed were manning hoses while wearing their gym shorts, barefoot. Those they water blasted stood on towels as the strength of the garden hose power washed the paint away, or toweled down from a recent spritzing. Their clothes lay in heaps of color.

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