Interview & Giveaway: Gena Showalter

burning dawnGena Showalter’s third Angels of the Dark book is out tomorow. And I am so excited to share the deets:

A tormented past has left Thane with an insatiable need for violence, making him the most dangerous assassin in the skies. He lives by a single code: no mercy. And as he unleashes his fury on his most recent captor, he learns no battle could have prepared him for the slave he rescues from his enemy’s clutches—a beauty who stokes the fires of his darkest desires.

Elin Vale has her own deep-rooted scars, and her attraction to the exquisite warrior who freed her challenges her every boundary. But Thane’s unwavering determination to protect her means she must face her greatest fears—and enter a world in which passion is power, and victory means breathtaking surrender.

The fabulous Ms Showalter is here today to answer all of my burning questions about the new book and some of her other series.

Jen: Hi Gena! It’s so great of you to stop by the blog to chat today! I hear rumors that Burning Dawn is the last book in the Angels of the Dark series. Say it isn’t so! [Read more…]

Interview & Giveaway: Abigail Roux

Ball&Chain_TourBannerBy Abigail Roux

Welcome to the Ball & Chain virtual tour! If you’re following along, you’ll  be able to win yourself some goodies that might just save your life!  I’ve got five Survival Kits in a Sardine Can, perfect for traveling and hiking or taking with you to remote island weddings where people might be dying. And I’ve got five sets of trading cards with original artwork and character work-ups for the less adventurous readers!
 
Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing to win one of five Survival Kits in a Sardine Can or one of five sets of trading cards with original artwork. Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on April 1, and winners will be announced on April 3rd. Contest is valid worldwide.

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Jen’s Q&A with Abigail Roux

Jen: Hi Abi! Thanks so much for visiting the blog. I’m such a fan of the Cut and Run series, and I am often struck by how hard core the support is for these books. What is it about them, do you think, that has inspired such a devoted following?

Abigail: I wish I knew and I could repeat it over and over for the rest of my career. I know it’s about the characters, that people have latched onto them and love them.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image4206965Jen: The series is nearing its end.  Have you ever been tempted to extend it?

Abigail: Never. I had a specific plan for Ty and Zane’s story arc, and to extend the books would just draw out their torture. I suppose the Sidewinder Series is a sort of extension for the characters, but Ty and Zane will be more like supporting characters there.Readers seem to be excited for any stories from this world.

Jen: What can you tell us about Cross & Crown?

Abigail: Cross & Crown is book 2 in the Sidewinder Series. It will follow Nick and Kelly, but it’s a different formula from he Cut & Run books. Sidewinder will be less about the relationship arc and more of an episodic adventure series. They’re a lot of fun.

Jen: Do you plan on giving any other secondary characters their own stories? Any deets?

Abigail: Frankly, I never planned on giving Nick and Kelly their own stories! I’ve learned that plans never work anyway, so I stopped making them.

Jen: What else are you working on right now?

Abigail: Right now I’m working on the third book of the Sidewinder Series, Lost & Found. It’s sort of a Christmas Special for the universe, more of a feel good thing than any of the other books.

Jen: Do you have plans to attend any cons this year? Do you enjoy them?

Abigail: I have GRL on my calendar. I do enjoy them quite a bit, even if they can be exhausting. The Q&A sessions always end up being fun.

Jen: I love following you on Tumblr. Is that the best way for fans to keep up with you online?

Abigail: It depends on what aspect fans want to follow. My Tumblr is very unprofessional! I have a Facebook fan page that’s good for book updates. I sporadically mumble on Twitter. My personal Facebook is just that, it’s personal. People who want that are welcome to follow. I try to divide things up, because different readers want different things from authors. Some don’t want to hear me talk about my daughter, or see my burgeoning obsession with the new BBC Musketeers show.

A big thanks to Abigail Roux for visiting the blog today! Be sure to check out Ball & Chain… It’s out this week!

Interview with M.Q. Barber

playing the gameby Shelly

Hi Folks, I discovered MQ Barber’s work last year and since then I’m head over heads for her Neighborly Affection series. After a tad bit of stalking I got her to do an interview. Enjoy!

Shelly: Who’s your favorite author? What about your favorite menage story – that’s not your own of course?

M.Q.: The closest thing I have to a favorite author right now is probably fantasy writer Jim Butcher. He writes characters I get emotionally wrapped up in and stories with a lot of intrigue, action, and humor.

You’ll laugh, but I don’t have a favorite ménage story yet. I have a to-read list that gets longer every time I see a review or a recommendation for a book that sounds interesting. [Read more…]

Interview & Giveaway: Jill Shalvis

Rumor Has It Tour BannerWe’d like to give Jill Shalvis a warm welcome to our blog today! Jill is the bestselling author of over four dozen romance novels, including her upcoming sexy contemporary romance RUMOR HAS IT, book four in the Animal Magnetism series set in the small town of Sunshine, Idaho. Jill is known for stories that are sexy, fun and full of heart. The 4-time Rita nominee and 3-time National Readers Choice winner makes her home near Lake Tahoe. Visit her website at www.jillshalvis.com for a complete book list and daily blog.

Q: Can you tell our readers a little bit about the Animal Magnetism (Sunshine, Idaho) series, and where your inspiration came from?

Jill: I’ve always wanted to write a series where I could incorporate cute animals. Cute animals and sexy heroes together, who can resist that. So I came up with a series about a set of wildly alpha brothers running an animal center in Sunshine, Idaho at the base of the Bitteroot Mountains.

Q: What is your favorite thing about writing this series? The sexy men, the heroines, or the animals?

Jill: All of the above, but okay, let me admit the truth – the combination of hot guys and adorable animals is pretty much irresistible for me. [Read more…]

Interview: Maya Banks

The fantastic Maya Banks sat down for a video interview with Jaimie this week. Check it out what she has to say about the Breathless trilogy and how she feels when readers compare her books to 50 Shades:

Interview: Gena Showalter

darkest cravingBy Jen

PNR & YA author Gena Showalter is visiting the blog today, chatting with me about her books. Welcome Gena!  Is this the end for the Lords of the Underworld series?  Please tell me we’ll see an HEA for poor Torin.

Gena: Happy to say The Darkest Craving isn’t the end.  Torin’s book is next.  This is for sure!  I have a title and everything LOL  (though the title hasn’t gotten final approval so I can’t share it—but I bet you guys can guess what it is).  The book will be published at the end of 2104.  And even though the next books aren’t yet under contract, I do plan to write stories for Cameo and William. (And no, they aren’t a couple.  Although…no.  No, not gonna go there.)

Jen: Can you give us any hints about what’s ahead in the Angels of the Dark series?  How many books are contracted for that series? [Read more…]

Interview: Carly Phillips

carly phillipsBy Jaimie

I had the pleasure of interviewing best selling author Carly Phillips about her new book Perfect Fling, her Serendipity series and her writing.  Perfect Fling was my first experience with Carly’s books and I was very excited to talk to her.  Enjoy!

Jaimie:  Hi Carly, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to do this interview.  First I just want to say I really enjoyed Perfect Fling.   This is my first time reading one of your books and I’ve added the rest of the Serendipity books to my TBR pile!

Carly:  Thank you! I’m thrilled to be here and I’m so glad you enjoyed PERFECT FLING and are onto the others.

Jaimie:  Did the inspiration for the town of Serendipity come from a place you know or is it purely fictional? [Read more…]

Interview & Giveaway: Christine Wenrick

Shelly is a big fan of Christine Wenrick’s Charmed Trilogy.  Check out this Q&A they did together!

Shelly: Hello, Christine. Let me start out my saying that I’m a big fan of your work. When I got the chance to do this interview – I was thrilled. So that being said – will you tell us a little about yourself and what (or who) started you on the course of being a writer?

Christine: Thanks, Shelly! I wish I could say I knew I was destined to be a writer all my life, but that’s not the case. I dabbled with writing in college but have been working as a commercial interior designer until four years ago when I decided to write my first novel, The Charmed. I think, like any author, you have to have something that inspires you, and for me it was the ending to this first book. I had a crystal clear image of that ending . . . and nothing else. LOL. So I basically started writing towards that end. Probably not the easiest way to write a book, but it worked out OK.

Shelly: One thing I noticed when I read the first story, The Charmed, was that even though this is a vampire story, you’ve somehow brought a unique and uncommon perspective to the subject. How’d you do that?

Christine: That is certainly a compliment. An uncommon perspective to a vampire story is hard to do these days, but it may be the sense of isolation I put the characters and the reader in at the beginning of the series. I knew I wanted an adult story, a very intimate and personal story between Caleb and Olivia. To me that meant isolating them from the world we see every day, but in a way that makes sense or is familiar to present times. Then you can create those moments of tug and pull, the quiet ones where very little is being said but you can feel the force that is drawing them together. If you can feel passion between two characters in the things they don’t say—the moments outside of the love scenes—then you’ve done your job as a romance writer.

Shelly: Which character, in any of the books, was the hardest for you to write?

Christine: Great question!!! I would say Jax, the coven leader. He has lived for centuries and his character needed to reflect that kind of depth and breadth of life experience . . . and, of course, pain. For me, he represented the emotional soul of the trilogy and as such is one of my favorite characters.

I had several challenges, mostly because when I started I didn’t know much about the piano. But in writing Olivia’s character it was clear that music was at the center of who she was. It’s how she expresses herself best. The hardest part was making sure that held true throughout all three books and did not get too far sidelined by the other events happening to her.

Shelly: I thought Maya was a gem – she’s sometimes come off as meek but when the tire hits the road she’s something else. Which character would you say is most like you?

Christine: Maya is a fun character. One of my favorite things to do is bring a character along for several books so the reader can watch them grow and mature. You will see that with Maya as well.

As for me, I’m not sure I’m really like any of my characters, more like a mix of them. I might latch on to one thing that it similar to me and build a character from there. For example, Olivia will doggedly focus on something once she believes it’s the right decision or course of action. I can be like that.

Shelly: I enjoyed the flow of dialogue – was it a conscious process that the cursing/swearing would be at a minimum for this series?

Christine: Actually, yes it was. Although I myself can curse just as easily as the next person, I’m just not a huge fan of words that can jar a reader out of the story, especially when they’re repeated a lot. Of course, that’s a really difficult rule to follow when one of your characters is a curse-a-holic (Ahem, Lucas . . .)!

Nowadays people curse, men especially it seems, so it needs to be in there. I just try to pick and choose the right moments and infer the rest.

Shelly: What story are you working on now?

Christine: I am putting the finishing touches on book three in my Men of Brahm Hill series, which is a connected five-book series to The Charmed Trilogy. It has taken me longer to write than I hoped because of my obligations for The Charmed, but I am so excited where this series is going I spend just about every hour I can getting it out of my head and onto paper. The first book in the series, Someone Else’s Skye, will be available this fall, and to get the most out of all the little nuggets I have left for the reader I recommend starting from the beginning with The Charmed.

As part of her tour, Christine is is giving away a $50.00 Amazon Gift Card and a signed copy of The Charmed to one lucky winner that follows the tour. Enter to win.


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Interview & Giveaway: Jax Garren

You may have seen me moaning on Twitter about the wait between these Tales of the Underlight books. I really enjoyed How Beauty Met the Beast –and I can tell you that the second installment, How Beauty Saved the Beast, is mighty cool as well.  Please help me welcome author Jax Garren to the blog today!

Jen: First, I want to start off by saying how much I enjoyed How Beauty Met the Beast.

Jax: Thank you!

Jen: For those who haven’t read it, let’s talk a little about the premise of the series.

Jax: The Tales of the Underlight are fairy tale retellings set in the punk-alternative community of Austin, Texas in the very near future. They center around two warring secret societies. Our heroes are a part of the Underlight, a US-based network of anarchists who have an underground base in Austin. The antagonists are from the Order of Ananke, a cult dedicated to the Greek goddess of fate. Ananke pulls its membership from the world’s wealthy and powerful and focuses on controlling society from behind the scenes. The series has a little bit of magic, a little bit of weird science, action and romance. The first three books (a novella and two short novels) are based on Beauty and the Beast, with a burlesque dancer and a burn scarred soldier as the titular characters.

Jen: Wesley isn’t your typical “beast” hero. He doesn’t just have a rakish scar on his cheek or an unfortunate nose… he is terribly disfigured. Tell me about the decision to go “all in” with his appearance.

Jax: Part of the inspiration for this story was a rebellion against the handsome beast. Though there are some wonderfully done stories like that, I wanted a retelling where the appearance issue was undeniable. It may not be right, but looks alter how we’re treated and how we think about ourselves. I tried to create a character whose looks were damaged enough to give readers a visceral reaction, and that’s where the burning idea came from because burn scars can completely alter a person’s appearance in frightening ways. Research for these books was emotionally tough; I have so much respect for burn survivors! (I’d also wanted to create a modern phoenix character for awhile–someone who could rise from the ashes. Hence his tattoo.)

The transformation element is important to me, too. In the original fairy tale, the beast was once a handsome man who was turned into a beast, but we don’t see much about how he dealt with this bomb dropped on his life. I wanted to tell a story where we’re with our hero grappling with that shattered self-concept. When the story begins Hauk has physically recovered from the fire that disfigured him. He thinks he’s emotionally dealt with it because he has friends and a job he’s happy with. But he keeps his body covered up and doesn’t reach out others, both because he assumes nobody wants to touch his damaged skin and because burn scarring can change the way nerve endings experience things, so being touched feels strange to him.

At first his attraction to Jolie isn’t emotionally threatening because he doesn’t believe it’s possible for her to return his feelings. In book 2, though, her friendly affection for him starts to develop into something more. That’s when the real challenge begins for him as he must decide if he can accept his scars enough to let her love him—and not just in the emotional sense. (For a really early sneak peek, that “not just in the emotional sense” issue might, ahem, be a major component of book 3…)

Jen: What is it about Jolie that allows her to see him as so few others can?

Jax: Jolie was fun to write. She’s brash, beautiful, sexually assured, rich—and utterly confused by interpersonal relationships. She comes from 1%er money and power and grew up surrounded with all the glamour money could buy or surgically alter. Her social calendar was filled from her father’s Rolodex, and her path in life was paved by family expectations. When book 1 begins, she’s turned her back on that to find an existence that will hold more meaning for her, but she has yet to figure out what that will be. She knows how deceiving appearances often are, so it doesn’t take her long to get past Hauk’s looks—at least as a friend. It makes him different from what she knows and that’s exactly what she’s looking for. She’s also intrigued by his selflessness and authenticity, things that she longs for in her own life.

They have an opposite problem in this way. Jolie is a burlesque dancer. She’s fine being physically naked in front of anybody—she knows she’s beautiful and finds that aspect of herself boring. Growing up she was often told her beauty was her best trait, and her greatest fear is that’s true. So she doesn’t let people into her head or her heart. Sex is easy for her. A relationship with a good man is scary. Hauk terrifies her because she admires him so much, but fears that while he might lust after her (it’s been five years for the poor guy after all), she’s too pampered for a selfless man like him to love.

Jen: When I was creating my tags for the review, I realized I had a hard time categorizing the series. It’s not really paranormal, or steampunk, or sci fi, but not really contemporary… how would you characterize it?

Jax: Hahaha! Well…normally when I write I’m pretty firmly entrenched in a romance sub-genre, but of course the first thing I sold is the first thing I’ve written that’s all over the place. We had an internal debate about it at Carina [the publisher]. I recommended it be categorized as urban fantasy, but they thought of it as science fiction. Because of the magic, they did add “paranormal romance” to the official listing. The cover for How Beauty Met the Beast, while it’s pretty and I like it, has come across more steampunk than anyone intended. While there are steampunk elements to the Underlight, neither myself nor the folks at Carina think of the book that way. (I noticed that the cover they designed for book 2 is about as far from steampunk-looking as you can get, and I’m guessing that’s on purpose.) I do love magical realism, like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge

Luis Borges, because of how it adds touches of paranormal to an otherwise normal setting, and I know this had an influence on me. Of course, unlike these authors the Tales of the Underlight are uptempo, urban genre stories. Even if I can’t, er, figure out exactly which genre. Speculative (sci-fi/paranormal) elements in the Underlight stories are present but not heavy, and they’re almost all something that some people really do believe in—like Pagan gods, conspiracy theories, weird science, hypnotic magic, possession and ancestor intercession. But there aren’t aliens or vampires or people shooting lightning from their fingertips, none of the big fantastical elements present in most science fiction and fantasy. So I might call it an urban romance take on magical realism? Clearly I wasn’t thinking about genre as I wrote this. Whether they loved it or hated it, few reviewers haven’t mentioned the genre WTFery, and frankly I’m right there with them! 🙂

Jen: Can you give us a sneak peek at what we can expect from the second installment?

Jax: Sure! The second book starts around Mardi Gras, two months after the end of How Beauty Met the Beast. At Jolie’s request, Hauk has been teaching her self-defense—which he’s been more than happy to do as he wants her able to kick the ass of anyone who tries to hurt her. To keep her comfortable during the physical nature of combat training, he’s done his best to keep things amicable but professional, and they’ve developed a solid friendship. At the start of the story, Jolie has gone with Hauk on her first mission for the Underlight, supposedly an easy-peasy in-and-out affair. So, of course, it goes horribly wrong. In the emotional aftermath of a near death experience, Hauk loses his professionalism and they almost kiss. (You can read the first chapter here on my website if you’d like to see it.) Jolie is surprised by how much she likes the idea of kissing him, forcing her to reevaluate what she wants from their relationship. But before they can work anything out, an old sweetheart of Hauk’s from before the fire shows up, sending her into a jealous tailspin.

Meanwhile Ananke escalates their efforts to acquire Hauk for study. He’s the only person who’s ever been able to resist the magical mind control embedded in their tattoos of Atropos, and they want to know how. They’ve developed a new weapon that can cancel his rages, leaving him drained, barely mobile and easy pickings for their hit squad…unless Jolie can use what she’s learned to save him.

Jen: Maybe a little excerpt?

Jax: This is from the second chapter. It’s the end of their workout the day after the almost kiss. Hauk’s been making Jolie practice getting out of a tight corner. After repeated failures, she’s finally managed to get past him using a judo throw. Things start out friendly as usual between them. Then they take a turn…

Hauk laughed, still lying on the ground with his knees in the air. He had a nice laugh, light and easy, and she found herself smiling again. She strolled cautiously toward him. “You didn’t let me win, did you?”

“No. I wasn’t expecting that.” He grinned up at her from the ground.

She stepped over his torso and stared down at him. “You were kind of a dick.”

He curled up until he was leaning on his elbows, a move that tightened his abs. “Anger works better than fear to get you out of a bad situation.”

His T-shirt wasn’t quite tight enough to see the way his muscles pleasantly rippled up the front of him, but she’d seen him once with his shirt off, and she remembered. Tribal-stylized vines climbed asymmetrically up his torso, thicker on the left side, where the skin was the most damaged. His chest was a patchwork of different skin tones and landscaped with scars like shallow canyons. The texture would be interesting to touch.

She’d touched his face before while he was asleep. The rest of his body was odd, but at least the scars had faded to skin tones. His face, though, that was the really different part of him. She’d researched burning on the internet. Melted cartilage was irreparable. His nose was nearly gone. One ear was missing; the other was half gone. He’d pierced an industrial across the top where the shell should be and three spikes into the remaining edge. He had no hair at all and marked where his eyebrows should be with four curved barbells on each side. He had no tattoos on his face, but his skull had her favorite one, a phoenix rising from a fire at the top of his spine, her colorful wings encircling his head and her beak touching his forehead, right where a priest would place a blessing. It was an incredible piece of art, and must have hurt like a mother to have been done entirely on bone like that. Although, from what she’d read about burns and burn recovery, Hauk probably had a different definition of “pain” than most people.

His grin faded. He’d told her when they first met that she could ask whatever she wanted about his scars, that he preferred open discussion to people keeping their mouths politely shut. And here she was studying him, all closed-mouthed. The wariness that had slowly receded over their two months together came back, and his eyes darted for his hoodie. About a month ago, he’d taken it off for the first time, showing her his arms. It had been a big move.

She didn’t want the relationship to go backward, so she dropped down to sit on his stomach and asked the first question that came to mind. “How many tours did you do?”

That surprised the wariness from him. “Three.”

Her jaw dropped. “Three? Weren’t you only in the Army for six years?”

He shrugged. “You can volunteer to deploy.”

“Why would you do that? You didn’t like—I mean, war isn’t fun or—I mean…” And crap, her mouth was getting the better of her.

He sat up, dumping her ass on the ground between his legs. With one hand he steadied her, watching her movements, probably so he didn’t have to meet her eyes. “No, war is not fun. I wasn’t having a grand old time, so yay, send me back. But they’re going to send somebody. Who should it have been? Some guy with a wife and kids? Or me?”

“Nobody is disposable.”

He tried to smirk at her, as if he could argue with that.

“No, Hauk. I’m serious. You’re not disposable. You said something like that yesterday, and it’s bullshit.”

He still looked ready to argue.

She crossed her arms and scowled. “You’re not disposable to me. And I’m a rich brat who thinks the world is her oyster, so you need to give up this idea that you have to sacrifice yourself for everybody else, because if something happened to you I’d be…” She did her best impression of her mother, glaring down her nose with a voice full of contempt. “I’d be put out.”

His eyes softened even if his lips didn’t, and it suddenly dawned on her how close they were. Her legs bent over his thighs and bracketed his torso. His hands had inched forward until his back was straight. If she straightened her own back and tipped her head up, they’d be right where they were yesterday, an inch away from a kiss.

And had she just said something about putting out?

“Training over for the day?” he asked, his voice husky as his eyes darkened with that same lusty fervor they’d held yesterday.

Why would he ask that?

Wait a minute.

Was it possible he’d been behaving himself, not because he wasn’t interested in her but because he wouldn’t hit on her while they were training? He’d been in the Army. They probably had strict rules about that sort of thing, and he was exactly the kind of guy who would follow them to ensure the women he worked with felt safe.

So if he was making a distinction between training time and not training time, was he asking for permission to quit being so professional?

Jolie made a gargled noise in eloquent answer to his question. She usually wasn’t struck dumb by men hitting on her—between her bank account, her cup size and her dad’s Rolodex, she’d been fending off overly aggressive suitors since she was in her teens. But all the physical hustling and bad one-liners from social-climbing hopefuls were not the same thing as a nice guy asking for…whatever it was Hauk was asking for.

On the other hand, it was possible that, just like her, he had an emotional hangover from yesterday and this meant nothing. At which point she should back away before they did something they’d regret.

But she took too long making a decision. With conviction, Hauk stated, “Aw, hell. Training’s over.” His fingers slid beneath her chin and tipped her face up.

The heat from yesterday came back with unrequited vengeance, filling her insides and shoving out rational thought. Like yesterday, she found herself drawn to his need, found an answering, if inexplicable, need inside herself. She straightened her back, bringing her lips next to his. “Training’s over,” she repeated as her arms slid around his neck.

For just a moment his breath was warm on her lips as he hesitated above her. Her heart skipped a beat as she remembered their last kiss two months ago—not the one he didn’t know about, but the first one, when she was spent from his lovemaking. A kiss so full of heat and longing, despite the barrier between them, that she’d never felt anything like it before. She’d dreamed about that kiss with soft thoughts for all the possibilities it had promised. The dream was terrifying. And exhilarating. And about to come true.

Jen: You’re a debut author. What has the publishing experience been like for you?

Jax: I’ve loved it. I’m a procrastinator, which means I love deadlines. They’re fabulously motivating. J I have an amazing editor, Rhonda Helms, whom I get along with really well, and Carina has been great to write for. At first it was bizarre getting reviews on my work, regardless of what the review said. I’ve been writing stories my whole life for my own amusement; it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started trying to get published. Now people I’ve never met from all over the world are reading my work, and it’s a dream I’ve had since childhood come true. (You! Readers! You make peoples’ dreams come true. Seriously.)

Now I’m looking forward to moving from “published author” to “career author.” If I can do that, I am lucky indeed to get to live the life I’ve always wanted. And that’s what I work for and why I keep trying to improve as a writer, so that I can take this chance I’ve been given and make something lasting out of it. Getting published is the first enormous step on the way to where I want to be. I hope I’ve started on the career I’ll have for the rest of my life!

Jen: Anything else you would like to add?

Jax: Whatever you have on your shelves right now, happy reading to all of you! Thanks for being a reader!

Thank you, Jax for visiting today. Leave a comment below for a chance to win either How Beauty Met the Beast or How Beauty Saved the Beast! 

Naughty or Nice Blog Tour

Cara Elliott and Jennifer Delamere are here today, chatting as part of their Naughty or Nice tour. Help me welcome both ladies to the blog!

Jen: I really enjoyed both of your books. I’ll admit, I usually gravitate toward the naughtier end of the spectrum, but tell me about why you chose the heat level you did for your stories.

Jennifer: I love reading all sorts of romances, whether “sweet” or spicy. However, I never could picture myself writing the more graphic love scenes. One of my favorite authors, Mary Stewart, could get a lot of mileage just from the moment the hero and heroine kiss. My favorite classics, including books by Jane Austen, evoke lovely and sigh-inducing romances with even less. My goal was to write books that were rich with the sizzle and excitement of romance while leaving the more explicit details to the reader’s imagination.

Jen: Jennifer, I didn’t realize until after I finished with your book and visited your website that you are an inspirational author. Talk to me about the place spirituality has in your books and what made you choose to incorporate that into your writing.

I didn’t actually set out to write an inspirational romance. In truth, it was after my book was underway that I realized that’s what I was writing. I’ve been a Christian and avid student of the Bible for many years. It’s so intrinsic in my life that I see now it was bound to flow out in my writing.

I think An Heiress at Heart could be better described as a romance with inspirational elements, and it should easily appeal to everyone. Basically, I decided to write the kind of book that I personally would want to read. I took inspiration from all the things I loved–the rich vocabulary of the classics, the bubbly fun of romantic comedies and Hollywood musicals, and the heady emotions of romance. The inspirational elements stem from the characters’ own Christian world view, which was prevalent among the Victorians. I just allowed the story to follow its own path.

Jen: Do you think there’s a place for sex in inspirational romance?

Jennifer: I do, actually! Obviously, though, there are caveats. As a romance writer, I don’t want to shy away from exploring the very real emotions and physical reactions that are a natural part of falling in love. There’s plenty of room for what I call the “sizzle” without the characters actually making love. Readers of inspirational romance expect sex to take place in the context of a marriage, and I prefer to write that way too. As it happens, in my next book the hero and heroine are married, but it is a marriage of convenience. What that book will have in common with traditional romances is that when the hero and heroine finally make love, it won’t be gratuitous. It will be a significant moment when they realize their love and commitment to each other. It may not be described as graphically as in many traditional romances, but I believe the reader will not be disappointed.

Jen: Cara, Writing sex: fun or challenging? Or something else? How do you tackle writing a love scene?

Cara: Oh, that’s a very interesting question. Actually it’s a little of all three! Showing the growing physical attraction and “chemistry” between my hero and heroine as they fall in love is, for me, an integral part of their relationship, and how they are right for each other. The challenge is to make the scene resonate with their deepening emotional engagement, rather than sound like an instruction manual for, um, assembling a lawn mower—if you know what I mean! So it’s a delicate balance of describing the intimacy, yet keeping it very romantic.

Jen: Cara, A lot of authors tend to use euphemisms in those scenes. Are there any you hate? Make you laugh when you’re reading?

Cara: Well, “throbbing manhood” is one euphemism that always makes me roll my eyes. But you know, I feel that it’s a real art to write an explicit scene well. A great one creates a magic that has the reader thinking about the special moment, not the actual words used.

Jen: To both authors: Give everyone one reason to love your hero and your heroine. Why will we want them to find their HEA?

Jennifer: Lizzie comes from a poor but respectable family, but she has a “past.” She made the mistake of falling for a wealthy rogue, who in the end seduced and abandoned her. That was a lot to overcome in Victorian England, especially if later you find yourself in love with a clergyman…. Unlike Lizzie, who has known love (and heartbreak), Geoffrey has just fallen in love for the very first time. He’s dealing with a lot of emotions he’s never felt before. Unfortunately, Lizzie is (supposedly) the widow of his deceased brother. The laws in England at that time would not have allowed them to marry, and Geoffrey is amazed at himself for seriously contemplating going against the mores of the day because he cannot bear the thought of living without Lizzie. Those are some pretty serious roadblocks standing between two wonderful people and their happily ever after.

Cara: Both my hero and heroine made decisions in the past that drove them apart, but they have the courage to overcome their fears and try again for happiness. Life can be very daunting at times, so I think we all love the idea of second chances, and take heart in believing true love can triumph over past mistakes and misunderstandings.

Thanks to Jennifer & Cara for visiting the blog today! Be sure to check out Heiress at Heart & Too Dangerous to Desire this month!