by Madeline Iva Men who drive tractors kinda get me hot. I like their competence combined with patience and persistence. I’ve worked on a farm. I’ve shoveled shit, stacked hay bales, emptied ice out of water buckets with a hammer. Hard muscles come from daily physical labor, and a soul-aching beauty from the quiet surroundings. […]
If you haven’t read Amanda Bouchet’s first book PROMISE OF FIRE you’re in luck! To celebrate the release of her second book BREATH OF FIRE this week, I’m offering a giveaway of her first book (in print) along with a copy of my first book, WICKED APPRENTICE (also in print.)
All you have to do to enter is to like my fb author page at this link. Good luck!
At Lady Smut today we had a guest post by Jill Sorenson which focused on sex workers as heroines in romance fiction. My mind is exploding with responses to this fascinating topic.
First of all, someone in the comments sections said: don’t sex workers deserve an HEA too?
*Of course* they do! Yet as Clint Eastwood said in UNFORGIVEN: “It ain’t about deserving.”
A great romance is about more than just a happy ending. THEORY: a great romance is about the specialness that a couple (or threesome) finds in each other, and the intimate connections they discover and build upon, until their love is strong and enduring.
Years ago, I got a final ‘no’ from a big publisher after getting close to a ‘yes’ with the editor. Those crushing moments are always really motivating for me. I realized I didn’t know what the f*** I was doing when it came to writing erom. My husband suggested get my heiny down to a bookstore and start doing research. I ended up getting an armful of erotic romances and THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO WRITING EROTIC ROMANCE. Here was the first thing I learned:
A) Reader’s don’t like promiscuous heroines.
B) It’s okay if a heroine has been sleeping around BEFORE she meets the hero, as long as she’s miserable. But AFTER she meets him no more nookie with other men.
And–the same rules apply with the hero (or heroes as the case may be).
At first I was huffing with disapproval. It seemed an un-feminist attitude at the least. And they didn’t discuss WHY — they just said, ‘hey readers don’t like it, so boom!’
Not everybody read this book, of course. You can find TONS of erotic romances out there that breaks these rules. Yet I soon learned that when a book breaks this rule and has a promiscuous heroine I don’t like her.
I’m not talking erotica, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. I’m talking romance.
On the other hand, I don’t like promiscuous heroes either. If anything, I’ve been jonesing lately on Charlotte Stein’s sexually repressed heroes. She paints a portrait of the nice guy who needs the dirty talking girl to strip the nice off of him, and let his inner, filthy, lustful desires come whiffling out. A virgin guy, a near virgin guy, a nice guy–I like ’em all!
The man-whore who sleeps all around and up and down? Him? Not so much.
Yet in the end I think it has little to do with a lack of feminism, little to do with ‘well, that’s just people’s preference, what can you do?’ and much more to do with the building blocks of romance.
It goes back to that special and intimate ideal.
A woman happily sleeping with a lot of guys and then after she’s met the hero sleeping with a lot more? Where’s the special in that?
There’s a word scientists use — fungible. That means exchangeable. Replaceable. When the heroine is sleeping around–it doesn’t mean she’s a slut. Maybe she’s a free spirit, ya? But it probably means the hero is fungible to her.
But we don’t like being considered fungible as humans. We want to believe we’re unique and irreplaceable.
On the other hand, if a hero or a heroine has slept around trying to scratch that itch, whether physically or mentally –but no one does it for them? Then suddenly THE ONE comes along–THAT’S special. THAT works. That person is giving them what no one else could, and it makes that person unique.
Same goes with intimacy. When I read a book where the hero and heroine have boinked, you know, the whole world, or had five spouses between them, etc, it’s hard for the author to establish intimacy through sex. Why? Well, they’ve been there, done that. What are they saying that they haven’t said before?
Okay, so what’s an author to do about this? I say what if the hero or heroine was still sleeping around, but there was some OTHER way in which H/h were special to each other? Some other form of intimacy that they bonded over?
You could show it in other ways. Soldiering together could do it. Hurting/caring for each other is a stable trope in fan fic, and it’s divine. I think that would work. Whatever — just as long as the erotic romance authors who violate the promiscuity ‘rule’ makes sure to nail down that special and intimate thing between the two of them in some other way.
These ‘friends’ are learning to view each other as unique. They are having special intimate moments no one else can share. They are building a powerful bond–even without sex.
THAT’s what romance is all about, in my book.
There was this great moment in the movie HER where the main character is in love with an A.I. (an artificial intelligence operating system) named Samantha. They can’t have sex, they can’t physically be together, but it’s okay ’cause they’re in love, and they’re emotionally intimate with each other. Until…
*SPOILER ALERT* Samantha reveals that she’s in love with, oh, 641 other people as well as him. Ptank goes his heart. Not so special or unique is he? They’re intimate–but she’s intimate with many, many, many others as well. He’s not so special after all.
SO. Bring on your sex worker heroines. If she’s forced to do it (like in some Skye Warren books) then it de-facto makes all the men she’s sleeping with un-special and all the sex not intimate. So that’s not really promiscuity, is it? It satisfies the miserable with others rule.
If she is gonna boink others cause that’s how she makes bank — then sex isn’t special to her and they’ll have something else they do with just the two of them together, in private. Something that matters to them both. Something that makes them very close to each other – so close that they’ll never be able go back to just being lovers or just friends.
Then you’ve got a romance cooking, mah friends, and I’d read that puppy, no problem.
I wince a little, because you may not have an erotic romance at this point — unless the sex they have together is radically different and special (or so satisfyingly kinky) compared to the sex she has with other people.
But I mean, it’d have to be different to the point where the sex she’s having with others doesn’t even seem like sex by comparison, like it might as well be fly fishing or something.
Yet I think it can work. In the same way we like the repressed male stripped of his repressive covering, we like the shut-down-miserable-worm heroine who has numbed herself out and removed her mind elsewhere to feel herself suddenly respond, suddenly come alive. We want to see her helplessly reveal herself–her passions, her intimate desires to someone. You CAN do it, I believe, but you just have to do it the right way.
Our LadySmut Paranormal Tea Party on FB last Sunday was fuuuuuuuuuuun!
Joey W. Hill and Kate Douglas were our special guests. It was a part of #Romance15, the online romance festival put out by our publisher, Harper Collins UK. I know what you’re thinking — yes, we enjoyed our frivolous little online gathering, but what exactly did we learn from the experience?
Welp. Joey Hill is awesomely nice – and I learned that she has a LOT of other paranormal out there that’s not just vampires. (Witches and mermaids—oh my!) I am going to read up and report back to you on that.
I learned that there is no fan like fans of werewolves/shifters. In honor of Kate Douglas I asked fans to post their fav wolf references and kicked things off with Duran, Duran’s HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF.
If that doesn’t bring back the mid-80’s to you, nothing will!
Fan responded back with Florence and the Machine’s HOWL:
Love that wolf thang!
The Paranormal tea party was also a opportunity to post photos of bloody tea cups and women wearing adorable little tea cup hats. (Thank you Liz Everly!)
Speaking of Joey Hill – if you don’t know about her (and how could you not? But maybe you’ve been living on mars–I dunno) We got to chat with her about her dominant vampire queen who gets together with a submissive hero. How did she get away with it? I mean, let’s face it, most authors couldn’t, because most romance readers like their men very dominant. But this is a no less intense romance series. Joey indicated that what does it for readers is the point where her human servants are bound to their vampire mistresses/masters for good. And they want that. They’re ‘all in’. It’s a kind of “I promise to live for nothing and no one but you” perverse romantic ideal. A romance hero who’s ‘all in’ definitely sends out alpha vibes.
Kate Douglas, meanwhile, is kicking off a whole new series for St. Martin’s Press. This time her series is with werewolves as opposed to her wolf shifter romances. So in her posts she was asking us how we like our werewolves. Bitten, cursed, or born that way?
We were all over the map. One thing we agreed upon is that we love broody heroes – but don’t like them too angsty. Tread carefully with that cursed thing, Kate. One reader said “bitten – I love biting.” Yes, dear reader! Yes to biting. (Unless you’re in first grade and some horrid little boy is biting you.)
Of course, our tea party wouldn’t be complete without weighing in on the big question of the universe. Why do some women like vampires while others only like werewolves?
The difference seems about controlled power vs. primal release. Joey W. Hill is into the controlled power. Although her vampire queen may be fragile and like a twisted china doll in some respects, she is still definitely in control. Joey also goes to the BDSM side of life–this too is all about having control. Kate Douglas on the other hand likes the primal thing – a different kind of “all in”. Uninhibited, in the moment, raw.
Let me pause a moment to say that when you describe it that way, I clack my teeth with happy desire. I admit I lean more to the vampire side in general. But I don’t know, I also like my people au natural and the wolfie side of romance seems to uphold a no fuss, no muss approach to life.
I hope the next time we party you join with us. Meanwhile, I’m giving out a copy of our anthology to anyone who answers the eternal question in the comment section below: vampires or wolves?
Ladies, these days staying sane means daydreaming about Dyson and the TV show LOST GIRL. I mean, what are you going to do during that long span of time when there’s only football on TV and re-runs? Lost Girl is a great TV show to watch around the fall holidays. Those fae folk are just naturally festive and there’s a ye olde harvest-solstice-spirit-y vibe that just emanates from the show.
I first saw a glimpse of LOST GIRL on Hulu.com–but they only had clips, not a full episode. Then I was on holiday batting around the remote control and came across a scene where Dyson was “healing” Bo the succubus by having sex with her. Yes, yes, and more yes! Yet it seemed that was just a kind of one time-y thing. I frowned and moved on to other channels. Until Kiersten Hallie Krum joined Lady Smut, and she had this post about wolves.
So I just had to take another look. I started watching the show and I was bitten–bitten hard. Yes, there’s a lot about Lost Girl that people love in terms of world building. And yes, Kenzie, the side kick is so fascinating and fun to watch with her eyes that look like green beach glass. But really, the alpha and omega of that show for me is Dyson.
There is Bo’s character arc, (yawn) and the arc of what’s going on in Fae land (meh), and then there is Dyson’s feelings for/being there for Bo (!).
He’s got a voice that’s like a black bear licking honey. He’s got a body that does not stop, despite being forced to wear dorky fae vests. He’s a long cool glass of water, and he makes me thirsty. His character and how the actor embodies the character is like the relaxing sensations of a vibrating…foot massager.
However, if you haven’t watched the show yet, you should brace yourself. At one point they pull the rug out from under you. I’m squinting with one hand in front of me while looking ahead for Season Two. Part of Lost Girl’s unique niche is that Bo is bi. I’m thinking season number two is all about giving her a lot more girl time…which is okay…I guess…It’s just that for me the only reason I’m watching the show is Dyson, so I’m hoping that whatever he’s doing while kicking his heels as Bo gets it on in Lady Land is as good as the stuff in Season One.
Meanwhile, here’s something for your Xmas wish list. I’ve been reading HARD AS IT GETS a romantic suspense book that’s coming out by Lauren Kaye. Sounds like an erotic romance with that title–but it’s a little more trad romance. Loving it — even if you’re not so into tattoos (and I’m not), Kaye will keep you zooming through the pages with her taut hero and his gritty world. It’s available for pre-order here.
I’m also squealing over the fact that I just got ONYX by Jennifer Armentrout in the mail — this is the follow up to OBSIDIAN — the first book in her Lux series. While the books are ostensibly Y.A.-ish, they are hawt.
They really sit on that line between Y.A. and New Adult. I whiffled through Obsidian. Now I am drooling over the amethyst cover and can’t wait until I can start reading it later tonight. In the meanwhile, back to some new chapters for me!
So go over-indulge with a big glop of romance on top of your pecan pie next week. I’ll see ya around the time we start to deck the halls.
Just say no to Xmas creep! — and follow my blog, plz.
I was tapped by Rebecca Lamb to do a Next Big Thing Post. What is that, you ask? Well, I answer several questions below about my novel manuscript that she sent me. Then I pick some other authors to link to, and you my dear reader can skip merrily along the links discovering, hopefully, a whole slew of exciting new authors. By the way, you can learn more about Rebecca Lamb’s work on her website here. (Her manuscript, LADY VICE, is glorious!)
Here are the questions:
What is your working title of your book? I have two erotic romances that I’ve written: WICKED APPRENTICE–which is a fantasy erotic romance & BE MY BRIDEZILLA which is contemporary. I’m going to talk about BE MY BRIDEZILLA today, since I’m sending that out to Loose Id this week. They’re having an I Do, Unless I Don’t call for submissions call for wedding-gone-wrong erotic romances, and BE MY BRIDEZILLA is perfect for them!
Where did the idea come from for the book? Basically, I thought about all the elements I was looking for in a romance: Sex, Fun, & Luxuriousness–With a little crazy thrown into the mix. For instance, there is a hot wedding cake battle at one point that was soooo much fun to write.
What genre does your book fall under? Erotic romance, but with a lot of witty dialogue and a robust plot–a la Victoria Dahl.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? This is a GREAT question because I almost always base my heroes on an actor.
As for the heroine, this may reveal how out of it I am, but I was looking at People Magazine one day in the doctor’s office and I saw this photo and said: “That’s her! That’s Becky.” It was Kim Kardashian pre Kris Humphries and the wedding-with-a-budget-bigger-than-Mexico’s-GNP. As a result of this, I now feel a little sympathetic towards her marital breakup woes. I mean, I feel that in picking her for my heroine I sent a lot of kharmic wedding break-up vibes her way.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A naughty bridezilla gets dumped on her wedding day, then runs off to Paris with her hottie wedding guest after discovering his penchant for taming bad brides.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Come on you agents out there, represent me. I dare ya!
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Two years, but that includes a lot of non-essential TV watching. It took me six weeks to reduce the manuscript by half.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? While the sex is more explicit than Victoria Dahl’s contemporary erotic romances, it has that same light comedic tone that her books have.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? I was watching an ad for Bridezillas one day where this actress dressed up as a sexy bride in long satin gloves was screaming at a chef and throwing spaghetti right into his face. I was riveted–I just couldn’t look away. It was so out of control, and almost sexy in a way. I thought to myself: Taming of the Shrew meets Bridezillas. And voila!
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? The ‘villian’ in the book is the hapless groom who turns out to be a sweetheart named Spencer. About three-fourths of the way through the book, I found myself in one of those Casablanca situations wondering who Becky would end up with–Spencer or Braden? I didn’t quite know myself, and it made writing the ending very interesting because I found both men very sympathetic and really hot.
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
I was tagged by Rebecca Lamb.
I’m also tagging Leah St. James here cause the tag line on her book SURRENDER TO SANCTUARY just kills me. “Love and Danger collide when FBI Agents David Owens and Anna Parker go undercover in a BDSM ring.” Doncha wanna read it? I do!
I’m interviewing Charlotte Stein over on Lady Smut on Thursday.
Buy it, readers. Buy it. You won’t be sorry.
On one end of the spectrum of what I love, love, love in paranormal romance (as you must know by now if you’ve followed my blog,) is J.R. Ward.
On the other end is Mary Janice Davidson.
Strangely enough, both are not only considered paranormal romance, but also erotic romance. One is kick-ass intense, the other kick-ass funny. One makes your insides squeeze up together, the other is so light that the books float a little bit above my reading shelf.
I like them both, and now, I can add another author to my paranormal favorites list. She happens to fall right in the middle: Darynda Jones. She has a debut book called First Grave on the Right. It comes with a kick-ass heroine, and ass-kicking action. Some ‘tude and one liner funny biz follows, along with a dark smokey cloud that occasionally reveals the heroine’s scorching hot lover, who is btw, the baddest bad boy in town.
Meanwhile, I’m obsessing about the goth cover. [I’m convinced that white is the new, black in the Goth world, and this cover revels in that stylistic shift.]
This book is the first in a series, and follows the trend we’ve been seeing (thank you, Deanna Raybourn) of having the romance not at all resolved at the end of the first book.
When even Library Journal–Library Journal, people–says “And let’s be honest–the sex is pretty hot too.” the sisters of paranormal romance have a contender on their hands. Anyone know when her next book is out?
Squee! So I got this book in the mail:
Because the good people of Virginia love Kim Harrison. And the good people at the VA Festival of the Book (see my Love Fest page) know this–they were drooling to have Kim Harrison come to the Festival again. So she will be making an appearance in March. On an Avon paranormal romance panel. A panel that I’m (ahem) moderating. That’s right folks, I’ll be hangin’ with Kim Harrison — look for more updates, especially in February. (Hey–as a moderator the big perk is come up with questions to ask panelists. Are there any questions you’re burning to ask Kim? Maybe if you share them with me, and I end up asking, I’ll share her answer on this blog.)
For now though, I get to read her lovely collection. I just really like her writing, you know? Of course, I have a huge soft spot in my heart for heroines who kick major ass. Also, I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book before that had such an interesting torque to the girl-girl friendship of Rachel and Ivy. (Let me take a moment here to savor and shiver. Mmmmmm)
If you haven’t read the books, I don’t want to give too much away. It’s just that Ivy is a vampire, and she has desires, yearnings, and issues. She tries to stuff them down and march away from her instincts. Yet living with Rachel, who’s a witch, provides some complications. Possessiveness, boundaries, intimacy, and yes,—clothes-sharing—all these girl topics that we don’t reallllllllly discuss are not talked about openly between the two characters, but Harrison lets them simmer right under the surface. She makes us aware of these tensions to a subtext as the heroines form a working relationship and eventually live together.
I mean, we’ve had so much bro-mance spoonfed to us for the last half decade or so. Time for someone to march off into that weird-boundaries territory that happens with women too. Right? — Right! I find myself always wanting more of the Rachel/Ivy mix. A heroine-who-doesn’t-care-she’s-a-heroine and a heroine-who-worries-she’s-a-villainess make a GREAT mix. If you haven’t read Harrison’s series, give yourself a treat and grab a copy of DEAD WITCH WALKING. (Copies are dead cheap on amazon, btw).
Madeline here! Cathy Maxwell spoke yesterday at the Washington Romance Writers chapter of RWA in Washington D.C.
She was brilliant, of course. She’s an amazing speaker–sharp and funny. I got such useful tips out of her talk, I ended up having a major breakthrough this morning on a story that I’m revising.
So here’s to Cathy! Meanwhile, this is a cover of one of her books — The Scottish Witch. LOVE IT!
I also wanted to give a shout out to the smart, warm, and engaging women of the WRW chapter. I felt very welcome at their meeting. I had a wonderful time hanging out with them, and left the meeting oh-so-inspired.
As you may know, I plan the Virginia Festival of the Book romance panels. This day of panels–called LOVE FEST–is a great opportunity for writers to meet readers, to hear some rich discussion of romance, and for everyone to hang out with some big names in the romance world. Based on the conversations that I had yesterday with the WRW women, I think I’m going to start a VA LOVE FEST page on this website–so that people can have instant access to the panels we’re planning as well as information about how to get involved.
Meanwhile, I’m off to clean up my writing desk–it’s frosted with pages and pages of my draft revisions. Going to roll up my sleeves and git to work! ;>