5/2/2023 0 Comments
Review of Broken Open by Laura Dane (previously published on Heroes & Heartbreakers)
I have two words for you, readers: Beard action!
What I liked best about Broken Open is that it’s actually a love story with three main characters: Tuesday, Ezra and Ezra’s beard. (If beard ménage is not a trope, it should be.) Hipsterish bearded men with tatts are, in the immortal words of Paris Hilton, so hot right now, and whole Pintrest boards dedicated to sexy bearded dudes have sprouted like daisies of late. Laura Dane cleverly capitalizes on this growing beard-fetish movement by paying homage to the beard throughout Broken Open.
“His mouth did a thing and it was impossible to look away.
Mainly because it was perfection. Fringed by a minky pelt of a beard she wanted to get all up in. It was messing with her thinking. Like a magical item. Beard of confusion, ha!
Hear that? She doesn’t just want to get it on with Ezra, she also wants his beard—his minky man pelt—and she wants it bad.
Which brings me to the second thing I liked about this book—the author’s quirkiness and humor, which is mostly delivered through dialogue.
"Holy crap, that's Ezra? He's like a nuclear Testosterone bomb wrapped in velvety smooth hot man skin."
The fact that Ezra has pet pigs is further proof of the author’s quirkiness, and I have to admit that I cannot resist the idea of a hero with pet pigs.
The hero is romance catnip in so many ways, a lover of pet pigs and a rock star turned rancher (if he’d also been a billionaire he’d have won the trifecta). Yes, that’s hot rock star and cowboy action all wrapped up in one hero, leather chaps plus tattoos and piercings. And beard. A heroic beard. Plus he’s dynamite in the sack, rocking the ‘domineering’ thing like nobody’s business (though maybe the beard is the domineering one, who knows?)
As a fan of broken/damaged heroes and heroines, I also enjoyed this one because both hero and heroine get to wear the ‘pants of angst’ a fair bit, with several memorable wedgies of angst delivered. Ezra tortures himself over what he did to his family while a heroin addict and Tuesday, unable to move past her husband’s death, refuses to engage in anything but purely physical relationships.
Another plus for this book is that Ezra and Tuesday are an interracial couple, and while that’s not central to the story, it’s handled well by the author. As a reader, I’d like to see more interracial couples on mainstream covers and stories with interracial couples where their racial difference is not the main conflict. Given that one in ten marriages in the United States in 2010 were interracial, I think readers can readily deal with the concept.
Since Broken Open is book two in Laura Dane’s Hurley Boys series, readers may want to start with book one, The Best Kind of Trouble, in which Tuesday's best friend (Natalie) tangles with one of Ezra's younger brothers, Paddy. Ezra and Tuesday are introduced in the first book of the series because the tie between the three books is the three Hurley siblings (Paddy, Ezra and Kelly) of Sweet Hollow Ranch.
Rhyll Biest is an Australian author writing erotic romance hot enough to melt your e-reader. Living in Prague, Shanghai and Germany has given her a taste for the exotic and her books resemble the United Nations of Hotness, filled as they are with racy Russians, Teutonic hotties and alluring Aussies. She's also one of the tarts on the Bookish Tarts podcast where she and fellow author Georgina Penney discuss romance novels in a high-brow yet potty-mouthed way.
1/12/2023 0 Comments
Grumpy heroes in romance
Step right up, step right up, get your grumpy male heroes here! We’ve got your circus grumps, your broody gay grumps, your shifter grumps, and your hermit grumps. Each and every one of your favorite antisocial grumps is here!
Charlotte Stein has a whole harem of grump-humps to select from, ranging from the cold, sharp Halstrom in The Professor to the disapproving Artie in Restraint. However, my preferred Stein grump is Cyrian in Sweet Agony. Sweet Agony is the most unusual of courtships because the hero is so messed up (and grumpy) he can’t bear to be looked at, let alone touched. This sees the hero and heroine initially progress their relationship through correspondence (despite the fact they share a house where she’s the live-in housekeeper) which progresses from the hero’s criticism of her sweeping technique to playful letters about hair thievery. And, in a reverse of the usual order of intimacy, the first encounter between hero and heroine is a rather kinky (yet at the same time distant) encounter, and from there they gradually work up to more ‘normal’ but risky (for the hero) things like kissing.
Call it ‘wool porn’, call it what you like, all I know is that the second I read the blurbs for Amy Lane’s knitting series, I was hooked. Ms Lane cleverly marries the worlds of yarn and M/M romance in a series which includes: A Knitter in his Natural Habitat, How to Raise an Honest Rabbit, Super Sock Man and The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters. There was no way I could resist the allure of manly man-on-man action combined with knitting, and imagine my delight when I discovered the grump-o-sexual allure of alpha grump Rance in The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters. Because who doesn’t love a broody, gay grump-hump who knits like a demon?
Rance Crawford is an alpaca rancher, fiber mill owner, and self-proclaimed grumpy bastard. When sweet tenderfoot Ben McCutcheon moves onto Crawford’s rural road, Rance is very aware that Ben makes it a grand total of two gay men in their tiny town, and even though he is instantly, painfully smitten, believes any move he makes could be simply chalked up to being hard up. Using his best weapon and favourite skill, Crawford launches an awkward, wordless effort to make sure Ben is kept warm during the cold Colorado winter—especially his heart.
There’s no ‘wham-bam-thank you-man’ sex between these men, instead Rance woos his object of desire by knitting woollen gifts made from yarn spun from his own alpacas. This book delivers a roundhouse punch right in the feels with its taciturn hero whose knitting action speaks louder than words.
Possibly my all-time favourite paranormal grump is the mighty bear-cat shifter and hockey player Bo Novikov from Beast Behaving Badly (book 5 in the pride series) by Shelly Laurenston. Adored and loathed by fans in equal amounts, Novikov is equally detested by both his opponents and his own teammates.
Bo Novikov had made a name for himself by being what Blayne could only describe as pure asshole on skates…From what Blayne had heard, he never had a friendly word for anyone, even the cubs and pups who worshipped at his feet.
Note that ‘asshole’ here is code for ‘a grumpiliciously alpha grump’. In one of the more memorable twists on the love-at-first-sight experience, the heroine describes the hero to her friend thus:
Gwen held out a bag of popcorn. “I don’t know why you find him so scary.”
Now Blayne gawked at her best friend. “Gee, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because it looks like he wants to cut my throat and watch the life slowly drain from my body so he can fuck my corpse without all that screaming-and-putting-up-a-fight distraction!”
Blayne puts her finger right on the number one hazard of dating an alpha grump—how does one differentiate them from a serial killer?
Another beloved romance grump of mine is the hero in Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s Kiss an Angel. When we meet Alexander Markov, it’s as the intimidating husband thrust upon heiress and socialite Daisy Devreaux by her scheming dad. Daisy’s first impression of Alexander is that he’s a ‘very scary studmuffin’ and she soon decides that his scowl matches his stunning lack of humour.
She dug her nails into her palms and told herself she had no choice. “I, Theodosia…” She gulped for air. “…take thee Alexander…” She gulped again. “…to be my awful wedded husband…”
It wasn’t until she heard her stepmother, Amelia, gasp that she realized what she’d said.
The studmuffin turned his head and looked down at her. He cocked one dark brow in a vaguely inquisitive fashion, as if he wasn’t certain he’d heard her correctly. My awful wedded husband. Her sense of humor kicked in, and she felt the corners of her mouth quiver.
His brows slammed together and those deep-set eyes regarded her without a speck of amusement. Obviously the studmuffin didn’t share her problem with inappropriate levity.
Alexander’s initial grumpitude only makes it all the more delicious when Daisy finally coaxes him out of his hard shell of grump—though I like to think his inner grump always remained intact.
Who are your favorite grumps in romance? Are they women or men? And does love make them get their grump on less often or are they loved for (rather than despite) their grump?
(Rhyll Biest is completely in touch with her own inner grump and lets it all hang out whenever she can.)
6/27/2019 1 Comment
I am a slack, slack tart
Yes, I've been a very slack tart when it comes to this blog. That's because I've been busy with penguins...fairy penguins!
I've been doing some volunteer work with a local organisation called Penguin Rehab and Release, which prepares injured penguins for release to the wild (they need to be able to swim for up to eight hours at a time before they can be released).
If you're interested, you can view their website and newsletter (full of cute fairy penguin pictures) at www.penguinrehab.org
Each year Booktopia gets readers to vote for their favourite Australian author and this year I'm thrilled to have made it all the way to heat 4. If you'd like to vote (and go in the draw to win a $1000 book pack), visit their site here and make sure you enter your name and contact details in the form at the bottom. A big thank you to Booktopia for supporting Australian writers!
3/18/2017 0 Comments
Deleted scene from Shelter
So, as you all probably know, a book can change quite a bit between revisions. In an earlier version of Shelter I gave Kat a gay fiancé and the first scene in the book was their break up, where Kat loses her treasured beard status and is challenged to stop playing it safe and take a risk.
We also see Kat at work in the airport with her quarantine beagle, Bill.
Some of my beta readers said they loved that scene and were sad to see it gone, so for those of you who are curious, here's the six-page deleted scene.
What do you think? Should I have left it in?
2/16/2017 0 Comments
Blog tour for Shelter
The wonderful Love Reading Romance has organised a book tour for Shelter, check it out here.
A few weeks ago it was my birthday and one of my friends thought it would be hilarious to gift me with the unicorn shower cap pictured to the left. It's brilliant and I love it to bits, but it also prompted me to think about gifts for authors and I'd argue that the most valuable thing a reader can give an author (besides a unicorn shower cap) is a review.
Now, I know reading is not all about the author, and some folk just want to buy a book, read it, and move on with their lives. However, reviews are the only thing that keep some authors writing. Now, some might think I'm being a drama llama (there's a real four-legged theme to this post) but reviews do multiple things for authors: they can translate into income (when your book gets noticed by and purchased by more people), they can make the difference between a publishing contract being renewed (or not), and they can give authors enough warm fuzzies to keep writing books despite also working a full-time or part-time job (because most authors earn a lot less than people think they do).
So, think of it as feeding the author fairies whenever you write a review.
That's right, reviews are author fairy food.
And a review doesn’t need to be an epic, thousand-word essay, it can be as simple as two sentences. Or even one long sentence: I enjoyed this book and I hope that the author writes many more like it. Or, I detested this book and hope the author is humped to death by horny dolphins on their next beach trip.
So what should you do with your review once you've written it? The place that will make the most difference is Amazon (in fact, those crazy Amazon algorithms go beserk when an author receives several new reviews, and is the sort of thing that can catapult mid-level and emerging authors into stardom). If you have an Amazon account, it’s easy to leave a review (in fact, Amazon will often email you asking for one).
But if you don’t have an Amazon account, there's still Goodreads, or even just tweeting your review on Twitter, or posting it on Facebook.
After they’ve finished squealing, the author will usually re-tweet or post—as will their friends (if they still have any by the time they've finished writing their last book).
Your review doesn’t even need to be 100% positive. Most authors won’t shoot you down in flamey-pants rage if you say something like ‘I didn’t like this character but the pacing was good and I loved the unicorn with five nipples’.
In fact, if you’re absolutely stuck, here’s a list of phrases you can use to construct a review:
Apologies for the unicorn theme, I think the shower cap has done something to my brain. I have no idea how the nipples got in there. Now get out there and feed the author fairies.
1/15/2017 0 Comments
Animal Protection Story #2
So, as I established in Animal Protection Story #1, the sexiest people on earth are not celebrities or models but people who rescue animals. Here's a couple of hot rescuers right here. What a couple of saucy teases, because who can resist men rescuing a dog from a frozen pond?
Even hotter than these guys, however, are the people in this YouTube video rescuing assorted animals--it made me so happy to see the animals saved, and that people cared enough to do something, that I almost blubbed. But I settled for a big soppy smile instead.
My latest novel Shelter (out 15 February) has an animal rescue scene in it which I hope readers enjoy. I'd love to hear what you think!
11/25/2016 0 Comments
Animal Protection Story #1
Let's face it, there's a lot of really craptastic news out there. You know what I mean so I'm not even going to try to summarise it. But the one thing that always reaffirms my faith in people is when they do the right thing to protect animals. So whenever I come across a story like that, I'm going to share it here, and then I'll have a curated collection of stories on hand to combat the forces of darkness, whatever they may be on a particular day. This story is about two dogs (one of them injured) abandoned near a busy road and the deputy who waited with them until animal services arrived. The picture says everything about the smoking hot decency of that dude with the dog. See more at the site here.
9/8/2016 0 Comments
Booty & the Beast
It's coming! A Facebook party to celebrate the release of Hell on Wheels, and the glory of roller derby in general. The whole Naughty Ninja team will be there with their skates on, along with Elsa Holland and with all the questions and give-aways it'll be more fun than a cooter stomp or a titty take-out (and we promise to heal your rink rash afterwards).
Get along to the event page on Sunday, 2nd October at the link here.
The event will run from 4pm to 7pm Canberra time, and ninja and guest authors will be dropping in to give away books as prizes. You'll catch romance authors Elsa Holland, Lily Malone, Sandra Antonelli, Georgina Penney, Cate Ellink, Andra Ashe, Nicolette Hugo and Sarah Belle.
There'll be several copies of Hell on Wheels (ebook only) to be won.
So, brush up on your roller derby knowledge, bring your game, and we'll see you there, fresh meat!
9/8/2016 0 Comments
My ABC glory!
That's right, I've proved all my school teachers wrong by achieving fame and glory. Surely being interviewed by ABC radio counts as fame and glory, right? Oh, well, stuff it, all I know is that the lovely Alex Sloan asked me all the hard (tee-hee) romance writing questions on ABC Radio and that I loved it, media whore that I am. You can listen to the podcast here, as I bang on about various things, including romance writing, and my forthcoming release, Hell on Wheels.
7/31/2016 0 Comments
Hell on Wheels, it's coming!
2/17/2016 0 Comments
Love Between the Covers Screening
The Canberra screening of the documentary Love Between the Covers (a feature-length documentary film about the little-known, surprisingly powerful community of women who read and write romance novels) was a big success, perhaps partly due to a mention in the Canberra City News magazine, a mention during the interview with Elyse Huntington and Elizabeth Squire I did on 2xxfm 98.3, and the interview with Alex Sloan on ABC Canberra radio. To listen, hop on over to my media page.
Around 50 people turned up at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre for the screening and Q&A session with myself, Bec Fleming, Stella Frances, Elyse Huntington and Justine Lewis, and there were some very interesting (!) questions posed to us.
A big thank you to everyone who came along.
To find out more about Laurie Kahn's acclaimed documentary visit the website here.
You can read about the intricacies of organising the event in the February RWA Heart's Talk newsletter (below).
2/10/2016 0 Comments
Where my bloggin' be at?
A little secret: I don't spend a lot of time on my own blog because I'm too busy writing shizz for other folks. So, lest I appear lazy, here's a bunch of my recent posts, on everything from cancer in romance to elf sex:
I had hella fun writing one of the eight continuity stories for Escape Publishing's Down & Dusty Secret Confessions series, and that feisty little puppy will hit the streets on 7 February 2016. You can pre-order it here, if you so desire:
By the way, my veterinary work colleagues will know exactly where I got the hero and heroine's names from, bwa-ha-ha-ha.
Without further ado, here are the series details, and the blurb for Skye.
They say that no one has secrets in a small town – these women prove them wrong.
Eight brand-new stories from some of Australia's hottest writers in Australia's hottest genre. From the bar stools of the local pub to the wide open plains of the biggest stations in the world, these tales travel the dusty roads to the heart of Australia and the women who understand how to work hard – and play even harder. In the latest in the wildly successful Secret Confessions series from Escape Publishing, the women of Down & Dusty invite you into their lives – and their bedrooms.
After five years in the city earning her veterinary degree, Skye Malone is happy to be heading back to Milpinyani Springs, and her best friend Bret. Sure, her crush on him is still at epic proportions, but she managed to ignore it this long, and a good friend is a valuable commodity in a small community like theirs. But Bret spent the last five years growing up, and suddenly Skye’s girlhood infatuation evolves into something much stronger and much more dangerous – an adult woman’s desire.
It's true, Elyse does not fuck around when it comes to hot dukes. She has a shed out the back of her house where she uses nanotechnology and in-vitro something-or-other to spawn and clone them. Why, her back yard is just one giant puppy farm for dukes, take my word for it. So you better believe her two books about dukes with enormous...estates...are completely anatomically accurate as well as well-written. Yup, and you can get a sneak peak of The Duke's Gamble here.
8/1/2015 0 Comments
Stein's chesticles will be hitting the road in August as I carry them to the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Melbourne. I'll be signing copies of Unrestrained and there will be give-aways to be had. That's right, a free nipple if you come and chat to me :)
Tickets for the book signing will only be available online until 18 August, after that it's full price at the door. Hope to see you there and here's a link to find out more: https://australianromancereaders.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/book-signing-event-tickets-on-sale/
6/15/2015 0 Comments
DIARY OF A BOOK SIGNING
11.45: I've laid out minties on the table but the shoppers are wary. I can see them looking at me thinking ‘Who is that woman surrounded by chesticles?’