Can a Porcupine Learn to be a Crocodile

Peer reviews are like tornados

Growing up in the Midwest, I was afraid of tornados. They came out of nowhere without the warnings we sometimes get today, and they laid waste to all in their path. I was fascinated with them by the time I attended college, watching them move across Illinois farmland as my friends hollered at me to move away from the windows.

Tornado season is almost over, generally running from March to June, and yet this week I feel as if I am caught in the vortex of one. Actually, I am enmeshed in an escalating controversy swirling around a group to which I belong. People are rushing to take sides, there is name calling and finger pointing with tempers escalating, some already out of control.

Amazingly, the topic is not politics, sex or money. No, is it none of the topics where I am so willing and able to jump into the fray. It’s book reviews. Who knew that emotions could run so hot when a group of authors gets together to review and critique the work of their peers? We agreed when we joined the group to shut up and listen, to take the bad with the good and to learn from all feedback, but even writers are only human. Because of that, a misspoken word, it would seem, can start a conflagration.

Learning to Love my Inner Porcupine

peer reviews for authors

photo from Boundbytheword blog

I know I am defensive. I have tried my entire career to get it in check, but the truth is that for me, blunt honesty can hurt. Hours later I might see that the advice was spot on, but in the moment, I get defensive. At least I know this about myself, so now I warn people. “Tell me anyway,” I say to them, “It will sink in later and be useful.”

We want to believe we are professional about these things, capable of accepting feedback, learning and growing. We all can do things better after all, and we know people who are smarter about something – or everything – relative to us. For example, I have finally thrown my hands in the air and surrendered to technology. The current score is Tech 3, Maddy 0. I am struggling with my website, with apps, and even with an electronic signature. I must simply cry “Uncle” and pay for help.

But writing. Ah, that is a different situation entirely. I spend hours in front of my computer, day after day, week after week, writing from my imagination. Creating my original work, my baby. I read it, polish it, reread it, polish it some more and then send it into the world with expectations of readers loving it, of receiving praise.

Alternatively, I can send it to a critique and review group and let them tear it to shreds. What idiot would agree to do that? After all, the review might be wonderful, but it might stink, and whatever it is, the rules say I must agree to live with it.

Or must I?

Softening the Blow

That is the controversy swirling around me today like a tornado and leaving wreckage in its wake. The situation is this: an author in our group is demanding that someone change a review. The author doesn’t like the feedback, although it is positive – four out of five stars. However, it slams the quality of the editing. The reader found too many typos and said so.

OMG – you would think the world was ending. The author is quitting the group over this review, unable to stay involved with people who would print something so defamatory in an Amazon review. The rest of the group is debating what went wrong. I am wondering the same thing. Was this situation avoidable, or was it inevitable?

Personal coaches, personal trainers, dieticians, therapists, mentors, teachers, tutors: we hire people to help us all the time. From complex problems – anxiety and depression, career management and weight management – to more manageable ones – dog training perhaps – we seek out guidance from experts to help us do better, be smarter, resolve issues.

The Flaw in Peer Reviews

But peer review and advice – that is a very different animal. From the friend you know who always has some cutting remark on the tip of her tongue “just being honest,” they might say or “I knew you would want to know.” Some friend.

Or, the person who has to have the last word at your expense or always has to be right or “just wants to help” by telling you they hate your shoes, your hairdo or your fiancé. Unwanted advice and counsel from these people bombards us and lets face it, it’s much harder to hear.

Authors need to grow the thick skin of a crocodile to survive peer reviews… Click To TweetChoosing an expert and paying them creates a relationship and an expectation. They are there to teach, you to learn. They will make you better, thinner, smarter and you will pay them for it. When you ace your exam or improve your swing, the relationship will end. You give them permission to tell you what you do wrong and how to do better.

In peer reviews groups, even in teams where you give each other permission to give feedback, it is harder to maintain your thick skin, to accept the feedback from someone else. Why? I believe it is because you are secretly saying to yourself, “what do they know? what makes them so smart?”

By definition, we are dealing with our peers – our equals. When we acknowledge them as peers we acknowledge that they are not better or smarter than we are, so why should we let them tell us how we can improve?

That is how the tornado forms, moving across the plains of the first and second meetings, until it gains steam in meeting three and explodes in meeting four. It takes down everything in its path, a writer’s confidence, imagination, and ability to go back to work the next day. This is not unique to authors. I have seen peer reviews tear through teams in corporate environments, destroy friendships and create rifts in families.

Can we learn to be Crocodiles?

peer reviewsIs there a way to avoid it? We can say we will grow a thicker skin but is that possible when our emotions engage, when the subject is important or the work is very personal, like a novel? Can we be the crocodile we need to be without becoming a porcupine?

Can you? I believe in peer reviews and in asking my friends for advice. Beta readers, and tough editors improve my work. I have to swallow my pride if I want my books (and my blogs) to reach you in their best possible form.

I spend huge amounts of time listening to the podcasts and reading the blogs of my peers, learning from their mistakes. Sometimes it’s easy to take their advice, to buck up and do better when they point out that I went completely wrong. Other times, I crawl under the covers and stop writing for a few days. Just think about this, I am not sitting face to face with them and it is still hard to hear. How sad is that?

I would like to do better at receiving input. Perhaps you can help me practice – read my Beguiling Bachelor novels and give me feedback or write a review. Whatever your opinion might be, I can practice acting like a crocodile, and give my spines a rest.

How are you at taking peer input? What about giving it? Can you accept criticism and advice that comes with a “I meant well” excuse? What’s your secret? Won’t you share it with us in the comments below?

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Inspiration versus The Rules ( #pnr #bdsm #MFRWAuthor)

By Lisabet Sarai

Damned If You Do by Lisabet SaraiI didn’t start out as a romance author. My debut novel Raw Silk (first edition 1999) had romantic elements and an unequivocal HEA ending, but the book was marketed by its publisher Black Lace as “erotica for women, by women”, not as romance. In fact, I wasn’t particularly familiar with the genre. I’d heard of Harlequin, Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele, but that was about it. My notion of “romantic” tended to be emotionally intense but tragic stories like Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet.

It was not until 2006 when I began working with Totally Bound Publishing that I encountered Romance with a capital R, with all its conventions and constraints. I tried to satisfy my editors at TB, to follow their rules. To be completely honest, I sometimes found it hard.

Portraying love in a developing or committed relationship was never a problem, but I struggled with sexual fidelity. My characters, both male and female, tended to be erotically adventurous. I quickly learned, however, that many romance readers won’t tolerate a hero or heroine who gets involved, or is even attracted, to anyone but the main love interest. They view this sort of activity as “cheating”, hence unacceptable.

Meanwhile, I’ve written several books where the heroine really doesn’t know which of her lovers is her soul mate until quite late in the story. Kate, the heroine of Raw Silk (now in its fourth edition and solidly branded as romance!) has three men competing for her affections. In my BDSM ménage The Ingredients of Bliss, master chef Emily finds herself in the middle of a complex, confusing, but thrilling relationship in which she is submissive to one man while dominating the other. Strongly drawn to both her lovers, she doesn’t make a clear choice until at least three quarters of the way through the novel.

Almost every time I sit down to write a new book, I find myself torn between inspiration and the “rules” of romance. My latest release, Damned If You Do, was no exception. My heroine Wendy falls under the spell of a charismatic stranger who promises her both financial success and the surrender she deeply craves. Only later does she realize that Mister B is not the true master of her heart.

Needless to say, inspiration almost always wins out. For me, that’s what it means to be an author. I have to be true to my vision, even at the expense of popularity. I might never have a huge following. Meanwhile, my dedicated fans know that when they pick up one of my books, they might be surprised, even a bit shocked—but they’ll find plenty of love and erotic heat.

Lisabet Sarai author of "Damned if You Do"What about you? Are you willing to read a romance that breaks the rules? Leave me a comment on this post (don’t forget to include your email address!), telling me your opinion, and I’ll enter you into a drawing for a print copy of my best-selling BDSM erotic romance The Gazillionaire and the Virgin (which breaks some rules, or at least overthrows some tropes, but does feature an exclusive relationship).

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this sample from Damned If You Do.

Leave your comment and #win BDSM erotic romance The Gazillionaire and the Virgin by @lisabetsarai Click To Tweet


Sometimes romance can be hell

Wendy Dennison is tired of being a starving author. The royalties from her critically acclaimed romance novels barely pay her bills. Her devoted agent Daniel Rochester may be smart and sexy, but he can’t get her the sales she needs. Then a charismatic stranger appears at her coffee shop table, promising her fame and commercial success, as well as the chance to live out her dreams of erotic submission. But at what cost?

Nothing you can’t afford to lose, my dear.

Seduced by the enigmatic Mister B, she signs his infernal contract. He becomes both her Master and her coach, managing her suddenly flourishing career as well as encouraging her lusts. Under her mentor’s nefarious influence, she surrenders to temptation and has sex with Daniel. The casual encounter turns serious when she discovers her mild mannered agent has a dominant side. As the clock ticks down to her blockbuster release and Mister B prepares to claim her soul, Wendy must choose either celebrity and wealth, or obscurity and true love.


Noticing her attention, Daniel reached across the table to capture her hand.

“I’m so very proud of you, Wendy. I always knew you’d be a best seller.”

She gave a self-deprecating laugh, but she didn’t pull away. Pleasant warmth flowed from his skin, along her limbs and down to her center. “Let’s not count our chickens. We haven’t even signed the contract yet. And when we do, there’s no guarantee the new series will be a hit.”

“It will. I know it will. Radical Restraint’s the best thing you’ve ever written, and I have the feeling that your next book will be even better.”

“It is going well,” she admitted. Fuelled by plenty of kinky sex with a master who’s part tyrant, part coach, and part personal assistant. “I shouldn’t have any trouble finishing it by August.”

“I can’t wait to read it,” he said. “I’m excited just thinking about it.”

“Doesn’t it—um—embarrass you to read my stuff?” She tried to extricate herself from his grip but he just held her more tightly. “Given how explicit it is? I mean, I know most of your other clients write mysteries or suspense…”

“Your books turn me on, Gwen.” He trailed his thumb along her wrist while staring into her eyes. “That’s how I know they’re good.”

Electric pleasure shivered through her. Her breasts felt suddenly heavy. Her pussy“Dan…”

“I read your luscious, filthy prose, and imagine myself in the scenes you create. I picture myself as your hero, dominant, in charge, taking what I want from the heroine—what she wants so badly to give me.” He raked his gaze over her. Her cheeks burned as a flush of heat swept over her. “And in every book, in every scene, it’s you I see kneeling before me.”

Wendy gave a strangled cry, half lust and half despair, as she finally managed to break free of his clasping hands. “You’re drunk, Dan,” she said, trying to keep her voice even and rational. “You don’t know what you’re saying.”

“You’re right. I am drunk. You are, too. If I weren’t I wouldn’t dare tell you all this. And you wouldn’t stay to listen. But I mean every word, I swear I do.”

Buy Links for Damned if You Do



Lisabet SaraiI’ve been addicted to words almost since I was born. I began reading when I was four. I wrote my first story at five years old and my first poem at seven. Since then, I’ve written plays, tutorials, scholarly articles, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and lots of erotica and erotic romance – more than fifty single author titles including nine full length novels – in almost every sub-genre including BDSM, gay, lesbian, paranormal and scifi. I’ve also edited a number of acclaimed erotica anthologies, including volumes for the charity erotica imprint Coming Together which support causes such as Amnesty International, Planned Parenthood, and Doctors Without Borders.

I have more degrees than anyone would ever need, from prestigious educational institutions who would no doubt be deeply embarrassed by my chosen genre. Aside from writing, travel is one of my most fervent passions. I’ve visited every continent except Australia, though I still have a long bucket list of places I haven’t been. Currently I live in Southeast Asia with my indulgent husband and two exceptional felines, where I pursue an alternative career that is completely unrelated to my creative writing.

For more information about me and my writing, visit my website ( or my blog Beyond Romance ( Join my VIP mailing list here: Follow me on Twitter as @LisabetSarai. I also hang out at Goodreads, ( because I adore the idea of a social network focusing on the love of reading. I’m not on Facebook, because I don’t trust it.


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Strong, Sweet and Sexy: 5 TV Actors that Make Me Drool

Sexy Hunk Nico Tortorella

Sexy hunk Nico Tortorella Photo by Ashton Do

Everyone has their own opinions, sure, but isn’t it fun to compare notes? You love the Fast and Furious series, your best friend hates it. She can’t get enough of “Friends” you prefer reruns of “Lost.” It doesn’t matter. You are still best friends and you enjoy a healthy debate.


I have heated debates – often. I can pretty much argue about anything from politics to food, and of course romance. I love to discuss romance – favorite movies, favorite date spots, favorite romantic books and favorite lines within them. I even (in the right crowd) will discuss favorite sexual positions. How else will I learn?

Today I offer for debate and discussion five of my favorite men who have appeared in a television series. Perhaps you have seen them and can join the discussion Otherwise, you need to put down that book and sit in front of the TV while you find out for yourself why these men make me salivate.

I even debated with myself on this list – I won a few, lost a few.

1/ Josh – Younger (TVLAND)

If you have not yet discovered this TVLand show, you have three seasons to catch up on. This series stars Sutton Foster as a 40 year old passing herself off as a 26-year-old hipster in Brooklyn. She gets the idea when sexy hunk Nico Tortorella meets her in a local bar and assumes they are about the same age. The story, and the romance, are off and running. Nico is a true hotty, and his character balances sweet and sexy perfectly. As Josh, he demonstrates the patience, forgiveness, humor and sexy we all crave in our partners. He supports her career and is good with her daughter and friends. Too good to be true? We’ll have to wait for season four to find out.

Droolable moments: the scene where they first meet (Pilot) and the heartstopping scene in season 2 after they work their way through the fallout of her confession that she is 40. Lisa says to him “thank you for keeping my secret” and Josh, taking her in his arms responds, “Yeah, well, some secrets are worth keeping.” Yum!

2/ Jon Snow – Game of Thrones (HBO)

drool over Kit Harrington

Kit Harrington in HBO’s Game of Thronesthat kind, get your heads out of the gutter). Okay, he does have better hair than most of us, but the British accent masking his natural Irish brogue helps you get over it. Jon Snow, as portrayed by Kit Harrington, doesn’t know who is mother is and was abused by his father’s family. Does this childhood leave him desperate for therapy? Hell no. He finds the best in people, befriends and protects the small and weak and never promotes himself above others. Never fear, his fine qualities are recognized by others, leaving him destined for greatness at the end of season 6.

How can we not respond to this devastatingly handsome man who can wield a sword (notthat kind, get your heads out of the gutter). Okay, he does have better hair than most of us, but the British accent masking his natural Irish brogue helps you get over it. Jon Snow, as portrayed by Kit Harrington, doesn’t know who is mother is and was abused by his father’s family. Does this childhood leave him desperate for therapy? Hell no. He finds the best in people, befriends and protects the small and weak and never promotes himself above others. Never fear, his fine qualities are recognized by others, leaving him destined for greatness at the end of season 6.

Droolable moments: his naked body being washed by the Red Queen at the beginning of season 6, losing his virginity to Ygrette, and any time he goes into battle. Jon Snow makes waging war pretty sexy.

3/ Denny Duquette – Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

Drool over Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Jeffrey Dean Morgan, man has he aged well!
copyright GettyImages

After fourteen seasons packed with patients and doctors coming and going at Seattle Grace Hospital, you may not remember Izzie and Denny, but I do. A transplant patient with a lot of charm, Jeffrey Dean Morgan stole Izzie’s heart back in 2009. While waiting and hoping for a new heart, he managed to be devastatingly handsome, funny and sweet through all the pain, needles and tubes. His confidence is compelling and unstoppable. He would haunt Izzie after death, as their love reached beyond the grave. Morgan is both a rogue and a delight, his dimples deep and covered by a sexy scruff, his voice gravely. Even in a hospital gown, he is hot as hell. The writers gave him some fabulous lines to deliver to win over Izzie and the viewer.

By the way, he almost made this list twice, but more about that later.

Droolable moments: “Hello. You are in love with me,” he teases Izzie when they first meet. “It’s not your fault. I am well off but not into money. I’m smart but not a know-it-all. I’m funny, really nice, love animals and I’m hot.” And don’t miss a truly droolable kiss in season five (during his haunting days). This man knows how to cup a woman’s face and make everyone watching lean in and purse their lips.

4/ Will Gardner – The Good Wife (CBS)

Photo by HEATHER WINES – © 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The title of the series may be a little deceptive, while Alicia Florek is standing by her man publicly, she is pining for her college flame, Will Gardner, played by Josh Charles. Their sexual tension is palpable building to the fabulous scene when they finally succumb. Totally droolable. It is Will who gives Alicia a job when her career has been on hold, helping her build a successful practice. He is friendly, supportive and patient. It takes her a while to take the leap. It’s worth the wait. The chemistry between these two is fiery and you will need air conditioning for their first kiss.

Droolable moments: That first kiss I just mentioned and the scene where they finally decide to have sex – in a $7800 presidential suite. The interminable elevator ride is fantastic.

Honorable mention for this show has to be Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the secretive Jason Crouse, Alicia’s love interest in the final season. Man, he ages well!

5/ Mr. Big – Sex and the City (HBO)

Droolable Chris Noth

Chris Noth with Sarah Jessica Parker in S&TC2
Photo by Craig Blankenhorn – © MMIX New Line Productions, Inc.

I tried to resist adding Chris Noth’s sometimes great, often flawed character from this HBO series. His good looks and self-deprecating charm won me over in the end as did the droolable moments I found irresistibly romantic. Noth’s completely convincing as an arrogant multi-millionaire, moving easily in and out of society, his Lincoln town car and narrator Carrie’s life.

Runner up here is Jason Lewis’s Jerrod Smith who won my heart when he shaved his head in solidarity with cancer-fighting Samantha. What a man. Besides, who am I kidding, Lewis is a total hunk. But, back to Mr. Big, who was often in the back of my mind as I created my Beguiling Bachelors.

Drooable moments: Dancing to “Moon River” when Mr. Big is leaving NY City and those early scenes when he flashes that little boy smile and delivers lines like “At the risk of sounding trite, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you.”

Your Turn to Enter the Fray

So, who are your favorites and what are their droolable moments? Do you pine for the bastard with the smooth come-on, the supportive male, the bad boy? And why isn’t Bradley Whitford on this list? After all, I spent seven years drooling over him on “West Wing” and my crush hasn’t subsided yet. And where is Matt Bomer, who charmed me week after week on “White Collar” or  hotty, Mike Colter who made me drool as Lemond Bishop on “The Good Wife?”

I guess I need a longer list.



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Meet Vicki Batman and her novel “Just You & Me”

It is my real pleasure to introduce you to Amazon bestselling author Vicki Batman. Vicki has given us a view into her life, her work and a wonderfully tantalizing excerpt from her new novel, Just You & Me. I look forward to reading this when it comes out and sharing a movie and some decadent chocolate together one day soon.

Just You and Me by Vicki Batman1. Where is your favorite place to write? Monday through Friday I set at my desk in my office and work. That has changed a bit since I bought a laptop instead of a desk top and I often find myself working in front of the TV (I love M*A*S*H). Adjacent to my desk is a big window which overlooks the front yard flower bed. Squirrels race by and have on occasion pressed their front feet against the glass and looked in. Birds fly in and out of the flowering quince. I can also see accidents happen and the mailman come.

2. What inspires you as an author? As in what prompts me to write—usually something someone says. Just an offhanded remark. Once, my #2 came in my office, and said, “I have a theory about love.” I was shocked, but asked for a second so I could write down what he said. Afterwards, I turned on mom-mode and listened. Yes, I did write the story.

3. Why do you write romance and why your genre of romance? I think I write romantic comedy short stories and mysteries because that is a natural extension of me and my voice.

4. What are you working on next and when can we expect to see it? I’ve always got my third romantic comedy mystery, Temporarily Out of Luck, working and I’ve been scribbling stuff for Christmas Romeo, a holiday short story. “Raving Beauty” from the Just You and Me boxed set.

Just You & Me 


What if the love of your life was in front of you all along?

It began innocently with a few margaritas… Kelly Stinson is persuaded to represent Yahoo! Ranch Steakhouse in the Chamber of Commerce’s beauty contest. After an unexpected swan dive off stage, her heart goes pitter patter over the orthopedic surgeon who repaired her ripped up ankle.

Daniel Ackerman has always had the hots for his twin sister’s best friend. Much to his dismay, her doctor has taken notice of the dark-haired beauty and invaded his territory. That’s about to change when he moves in to help Kelly recover physically and open her eyes to what’s been in front of her all along.


An excerpt from Just You & Me

“I can’t believe I let your loony brother, who’s tormented me all my life, talk me into this.” With my eye on the teenage competition, I tugged the leg opening of my swimsuit into place to better cover my hip.

“Just because I did some modeling in college doesn’t make me a pageant diva. Back then, I was incredibly skinny, and clothes fit easily.”

“Daniel’s a rat. He took advantage of your third or was it your fourth margarita, Kelly?” Maggie Ackerman, my best friend and roommate, adjusted the scarlet satin sash draped across my body. Glittery stick-on letters spelled out Miss Yahoo! Ranch Steakhouse.

“Hold still.” With an old-fashioned teasing comb, she picked my brown hair into place at the crown of my head. The eerie suspicion I resembled a scary dame with Big Texas hair from the television show, Dallas, caused me to avoid looking in the mirror.

“Close your eyes.” She hit me with super freeze-it hairspray. “Now, that ain’t goin’ nowhere.” My personal stylist needed to work on her aim, preferably with both of her eyes open. I spit-wiped the sticky spot on my right cheek. I hope nobody I know sees me like this.

“There.” The scrunch of her nose reflected how pleased she was with herself. “Feeling better?”

Like a slab of beef.


Meet Vicki Batman

Vicki BatmanAward-winning and Amazon best-selling author, Vicki Batman, has sold many romantic comedy works to the True magazines, several publishers, and most recently, two romantic comedy mysteries to The Wild Rose Press. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and several writing groups. An avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Chocoholic. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome Hubby. Most days begin with her hands set to the keyboard and thinking “What if??” Find Vicki Batman at:



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Think you Know Romance? Think Again!

Spill It! Read Romance RWAThe nicest thing happened to me this week – and I needed it for so many reasons, but more on that later. My phone rang late one afternoon and it was my cousin and oldest friend. We have been friends since she was born. MJ was the only attendant at my wedding and I was her maid-of-honor. It was a long time ago, long enough that now she has two gorgeous and very grown up children. Anyway, we go way back.

MJ is a very busy woman. She is executive director of a busy non-profit, takes care of aging parents, spends time with her fabulous family and has more friends than anyone I know. She is engaged in her community, speaks at conferences and travels to fabulous places. Seriously, I have no idea where she finds the time. But she does.

She also finds time to read, and is often a source of future reads that I share with my book club and others. What she doesn’t do is read romance novels.

OK, back to the nice thing that happened. MJ, being the wonderful and supportive friend that she is, bought a copy of my latest novel, “Bedeviled”, and took it with her on vacation to Mexico. Upon her return from days of sunshine and margaritas, she called me just to say she loved the book. She said she couldn’t put it down. She loved the added suspense and needed to keep reading to find out what happened to the characters.

Can you imagine how great that made me feel? A non-romance reader called to say she loved my romance. How much more can an author want in life? Sure she had to explain why she was reading a romance to her friends, but she bucked their skepticism, read it, loved it and told me so. What a great friend.

Take a Test Drive

Her call got me thinking about all the people who might like a romance if they read one. If you define yourself as a non-romance reader, you don’t get a chance to learn how they have changed. Romance is a little like Buick, you know, the car with a reputation for being stodgy while it was busy reinventing itself as something more contemporary and hip. Today’s romance novels aren’t your parent’s romances,

Romances may be inhabited by vampires, shifters, Dukes or Navy SEALs. In other words, there is something for everyone. While some of these might seem like your predictable ‘Buick’, you need to take a new look, a new test drive. Don’t let that bodice-ripper cover fool you, these stories are compelling, the characters are three dimensional and yeah, the love stories are hot!

So I would guess there is a romance novel that would capture your imagination – if you give it a chance. Perhaps my books are your thing– sexy. contemporary stories set against the backdrop of Chicago’s elite society.. Or maybe you have a taste for a sweet Regency romance, a gothic page-turner, or a paranormal series.

You will relate to these strong female characters, juggling careers and children, divorce and ex-husbands, and of course vampires, murder and mayhem. Like I said – something for everyone.

Are you a fan of the Sookie Stackhouse “True Blood“ series? They are stories full of romance in a Louisiana dripping with bayous and creole influence. How about “Outlander”? Wow, I am loving the romance as I work through that series. But talk about mayhem? They contain time-travel, savage Scottish wars, medical challenges, political intrigues, and of course, really good romance.

You Really Can Please all the People All the Time

Take a journey with a romance author. One in three books sold today is a romance, maybe because in addition to great characters, compelling stories and imagination they are guaranteed to offer a happy ending. Romance novels all end happily.

Who doesn’t like the satisfaction of a happy ending, that good feeling when things turn out the way we want them to? In a world where lots of people are struggling with financial woes, depression, a flu-infected family, or if you are me, the death of a very beloved cat that must be euthanized, a happy ending might be exactly what you need.

Trust me. Dive in. Take that test read. Start with any of the romances I have introduced on my Romance Madness blog, or start with my Beguiling Bachelor Series. No time for a series? There are novellas for readers with less time. Give romance a try. Try a few, perhaps something contemporary, then something paranormal or suspenseful. I promise, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. You’ll discover authors you love, you will devour everything they write. You will make friends with novels, be sad when they end. You’ll thank me.

Time to Share

Want to share your favorite romance novel? Suggest it in the comments below. Help a friend, or a friend to be, take the plunge. Let them thank you too.



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Meet Kate Hill

Meet Kate Hill, erotic paranormal romance author. Here is a bit about Kate and an introduction the first in her  “Fangs and Fist  series, “Bolt”. Its not often you meet a woman with a love of romance and blood and guts. Enjoy!

  1. Where is your favorite place to write? My favorite place to write is at the desk in my bedroom. It’s the most private place in my house.

2. What inspires you as an author? I can’t narrow that down because so many different things inspire me. It could be a person, place, or situation. Just about anything.
3. Why do you write romance and why your genre of romance? I’ve always enjoyed reading romance and erotica. I also love horror and the paranormal, so that’s why so many of my stories are erotic paranormal romance. I like some blood and guts tossed in with romance.

4. What are you working on next and when can we expect to see it?Right now I’m working on the third story in my Fangs and Fists series. Fangs and Fists is set in an alternate reality in which demons have taken over the world. They abduct werewolves and use them for entertainment in gladiatorial matches. Several humans as well as magical creatures have formed a rebellion in an attempt to overthrow the demons.

The first story in the series, Bolt, was released in February. The second story, Grit, is scheduled for release in May. I don’t have a set release date for Victor, but it should be within the next few months

Fangs and Fists: Bolt

Fangs and Fists: Boltby Kate Hill

An erotic paranormal romance from Changeling Press.


Kiara remembers what life was like living free–before she was taken by demons and bred to gladiators so that the new generations of wolves would retain their ferocity but forget their freedom. Mated to top gladiator Grit, she has a son with this surprisingly gentle lover who is also planning their escape. When Grit is killed in the arena, his close friend Bolt upholds his promise to protect Kiara and the cub.

Bolt and Kiara have loved each other from the moment they met, but they buried their feelings because she was mated to his best friend. When Grit dies, despite their guilt, Bolt and Kiara surrender to their desire for each other. Will their love be strong enough to help them win freedom from their evil masters?


Bolt came to her again that night.

As before, the guards opened the door abruptly.

Kiara had been pacing the cell while Jett slept soundly in the adjoining room. She turned toward the door, her heart pounding with anticipation.

Wearing only his loincloth, Bolt entered behind the first guard. His blue gaze flew to Kiara. The guards said nothing, but left them alone, closing the door behind them.

“Bolt,” Kiara said, meeting him halfway across the room.

They embraced tightly and he covered her face with gentle kisses.

“I had a strange conversation today,” she whispered in his ear, hoping that if the masters were listening, they wouldn’t be able to hear her. “A huntress said we should be ready tonight.”

“Yes. Her name is Zari. She’s been planning this escape with us for months. Me, Grit and a couple of others. Victor is fighting again tonight. His opponent is one of ours, a wolf named Glacier. Since killing Grit, Victor’s next fight has been greatly anticipated. From what I’ve heard, most of the demons in the tower will be watching.”

“You really trust her? This Zari woman?”

About Kate

Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years agoFangs and Fists: Bolt for pleasure. Her first story, a short erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas and novels.

When she’s not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out, spending time with her family and pets and running the Compelling Beasts Blog, dedicated to antagonists, antiheroes and paranormal creatures. She also writes under the name Saloni Quinby.

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Logan’s Time by Dayna Leigh Cheser #eggcerptexchange

Dayna Cheser "Logan's Time"Logan’s Time by Dayna Leigh Cheser

Book Blurb

Set in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands, this 19th century historical romance looks at the life and loves of Logan, the Duke of Muileach, beginning when he’s seven years old. Grandson of the old Duke, Logan hides in his mother’s room to witness his brother’s birth. Confused, he watches as his mother, Annella, abandons the newborn, flees to the South Tower, locking herself and her entourage inside.

After eight self-sequestered years in the South Tower, Annella disappears, leaving a family with too many questions. Later, Logan and Daniel lose their beloved grandfather, followed too soon by their grandmother.

Logan travels to England to attend school, where he meets Richard Grayson—the youngest son of an English duke. After graduation, a celebratory trip to Paris results in tragedy. Minuet, the love of Logan’s life, may be dead, while Richard, his best friend, leaves Paris without notice.

Peadair, Logan’s father, then the duke, renounces his title and leaves Muileach, to face an uncertain future in southern France with his long-missing wife who despises him. Logan, at age twenty-five, becomes the Duke of Muileach.

Believing Richard had betrayed him with Minuet, Logan needs to square things with his former friend. Learning Richard now lives in America, he sets sail to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He arrives just in time to crash Richard and Janelle’s wedding. That same day, he meets, and takes a wife.

Too long absent from Muileach, Logan returns to Muileach with his family to discover Seanna, a childhood friend, and sometimes lover, has birthed his first-born son. Later, Seanna reveals her plans to make sure her son is the next duke.

Come live in Victorian Scotland while you read the
fourth book of Dayna Leigh Cheser’s TIME Series.


“While Peadair searched for Annella, Logan took long walks alone, usually in the evening. Sometimes Daniel or a friend walked with him at least part of the way, but often, he was alone.

One of the friends was Seanna. She understood he needed peace and quiet, with time to think, so she walked with him, silently. She’d appear out of nowhere, as she often did, take his hand, and match his stride. Then, without having said a word, she’d squeeze his hand and vanish into the gathering dusk. Sometimes, he wondered if she’d really been there. He found himself thinking about her. The distraction seemed to help.

It was on one of his lonely walks that he happened across a stone circle in a field. Because it wasn’t far from the castle, he couldn’t imagine how he’d missed seeing it in his wanderings over the years. Walking around the outside of the circle, studying it from every angle, he wondered its purpose.

When he stepped inside the circle, he became aware of a low-pitched sound. It puzzled him as he felt it more than heard it. When he approached the largest of the stones, the sound’s intensity increased in volume and pitch. Now, it was loud. The closer he moved to the stone, the stronger the sound vibrations.

‘Do I dare touch the stone?’ Reaching out with his fingers stretched, the stone seemed to draw him closer. Almost trancelike, he moved forward, until just before making contact, he found himself flying through the air, landing hard on his back. ‘What was that?’ The wind knocked out of him, he shook his head and sat up. After a moment, he scrambled to his feet, and ran, not stopping until he was inside the castle walls. Stopping, he leaned over, hands on his knees, panting hard.”

Other books in the Time Series

Janelle’s Time (2nd Edition) – Available soon
Moria’s Time — Adelle’s Time — Logan’s Time
Clarissa’s Time (for release in 2018)

Free Chapter

Sales Links for “Logan’s Time”

Amazon US: — Amazon UK:
Barnes & Noble: — Books-A-Million:


Meet Dayna L Cheser 

Dayna Cheser, author of Logan's TimeCurrently residing in Central Florida with my husband, Pete, I’m a lifelong reader. Starting before kindergarten, I devoured anything with words. In grade school, I was a regular at the local library.

Then, I discovered her mother’s ‘naughty’ books – and was hooked on romance. Soon after, I started writing short stories to entertain my peers.

‘Logan’s Time’, is book 4 of the TIME Series, precluded by ‘Moria’s Time’, and ‘Adelle’s Time’. Janelle’s Time, 2nd Edition available soon. Coming in 2018, ‘Clarissa’s Time’.

Please visit my website:, or email me: Also, (Twitter) @Writers_Cafe, and (Facebook) Author Dayna Leigh Cheser.

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5 Things to Know (and Embrace) about Book Review

5 Things you should know (and Embrace) about book reviewsI don’t know about you, but I get most of my book recommendations from two sources – Amazon recommendations and my friends. Amazon has that powerful algorithm, studying all my buying behaviors and spitting out a long list of books it predicts I will like. And, it is remarkably accurate.

Who do you trust for reviews?

My family and friends are almost as reliable. When I was younger, my mother was the best source. A librarian by training and an avid reader herself, I could always count on her to recommend something I would love. She would give me a pithy review like “You’ll love the story” or “It reads like poetry,” and I would rush out to buy the book. She was always right. I still remember “Snow Falling on Cedars” for its language, or “The World According to Garp” being exactly the gripping story she promised.

My friends are my friends because we see life in a similar way, and we enjoy the same interests, including books. We begin talking about something – anything – and a discussion of books follows. We might be discussing the agenda for the weekend and a book gets mentioned. “I am trying to read ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ but I fell asleep,” Nancy might tell me. “I should have turned out the light, but I stayed up reading “Only Time Will Tell,” Linda will say. “My book club just finished ‘Invisible Bridge’,” Margie will share.

“Oh, is it any good?” I ask and the conversation and informal review ensues. “I can’t put it down,” Margie might say, or “it’s well written but hard to read.” You get a one-line overview, positive or negative, based on which you pursue the conversation.

What is a good review?

book reviews

This is my kitty Buster who went to Kitty heaven this week. He was a great editorial assistant.

Some among us love to read reviews, brilliantly written in and of themselves, reviews that lead us to want to read more by the critic as well as the book they critique. The New York Times Book Review section on Sunday has that effect

on me. There is so much more than a summary of the book – historical context perhaps or references to other books that are similar or better. The reviews are one or two page gems written by people who are experts on their subjects. Less lofty but equally wonderful are the reviews on many thoughtful book blogs, sites like Omnivoracious or IndieView.

Have you ever studied a book review? Do you understand the difference, for example, between a critical review and a descriptive/ popular review? Have you noticed how many authors put a request at the end of their book asking for a review? I ask for those too, by the way, because reviews can make or break a book.

Even as I write those words I have visions of Judy Garland in a 1950’s movie about Broadway, waiting for the reviews that will make or break the big show. Critical book reviews can do the same for an author’s latest work, but less so than ten years ago. What’s changed? You have. Your ability to leave a review – or 100 reviews – helps to level the playing field. Just like an individual’s comments can influence Google reviews, or Yelp, or Trip Advisor.

Book reviews still make or break the author and the new novel, but now you are the critic that holds the power.… Click To Tweet

Book reviews still make or break the author and the new novel, but now you are the critic that holds the power. If you are that powerful, maybe you should know a few things about reviewing books.

Why reviews even matter?

The obvious reason is that people look at reviews and are influenced by them. A book with 200 5-star reviews sells better than a comparable book with 200 3-star reviews because readers assume that the first book is better.

Maybe it is better. Or maybe the author and publisher were just more adept at gathering reviews. Gaining reviews is an art. I actually belong to a review group. I also send out free beta copies of my books to my ViP readers and I beg for reader comments. Why? There is the obvious advantage of good reviews, but I risk bad reviews too.

Yet, I still want them. Some promotions sites require reviews. I cannot make it onto Amazon’s recommendation lists without reviews, I cannot reach new readers without reviews and I cannot know what my readers are thinking without reviews. That last is important, so you might take pity on an author next time you read a book and leave your review.

How to write a review?

If you are going to do the writing, it might be helpful to know a bit about what is useful in a review. You can study reviews by the experts: The New Yorker, The London Times, or Goodreads, to name just a few. I even have a link to sample reviews provided by a Canadian university

But perhaps you want your reviews to be a little less professional. If you want something shorter, perhaps a story synopsis with a thumbs up or down, like the Rotten Tomatoes reviews. In that case you might undertake a quick perusal of blog sites like Dear Author (try their “need a rec!” link) to get some ideas. Heroes and Heartbreakers reviews by genre making it easer to hone in on the book you want. Wonk-o-Mance is especially good for romance reviews and their blog is raw and honest and worth a read. And Book Riot will email you personalized recommendations. There are also authors, like me, sharing the works of other authors, sometimes with our review, sometimes without.

Where to get reviews?

Is one of these better than another? Of course not. Just as there are millions of books to choose from, there are millions of readers – all seeking information about that next book to read. No one wants to buy a book they won’t like. I want a review to point me to a book I will be excited to read, with characters I will miss when I reach the end. I want books I want to talk about, debate and share.

As an author, I want honest reviews, respectful of my efforts if not my results. As a reader, I want reviews that point me to the books people love, that tell me why I will love them, why they are worth my time and effort. Is today the day you share that information with a fellow reader?

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Meet Edie Hart and “One Bad Day” #Romance #MFRWAuthor

Welcome Edie Hart and her sassy, funny “One Bad Day.” I loved reading this quick novella and longed for more. I am excited to say that more is coming from Edie in book 2 coming out this June. Read on to learn more about Edie and “One Bad Day”.

"One Fine Day" by Edie Hart - a sassy, fun Romance NovellaWhat is your favorite place to write? I don’t have one favorite place to write. I’ve written at home when I’m alone and the house is quiet and I’ve written in between baseball games in the car.
What inspires you as an author? I’m inspired when people reach their personal goals. I love when someone accomplishes what they’ve set out to do. I’m also really inspired by human kindness. There’s nothing more inspiring than someone doing something kind just because. : )
Why do you write romance and why your genre of romance? I love romance. Love is what makes the world a beautiful place.
What are you working on next and when can we expect to see it? Book Two in the One Day series is coming out in June. I can hardly wait!

One Bad Day

Contemporary Romantic Comedy Novella

"One Fine Day" by Edie Hart


Ever have one of those days?
Tessa is having one seriously bad day. After agreeing to dress as a cheesy mascot at a convention for her boss, her clothes get stolen, she gets chased through a sinister parking garage, and her apartment gets broken into and turned upside down.
Gray, an off-duty police officer, can’t resist the sexy legs he sees in costume at a hotel convention. When he catches sight of her running for her life through a dark lot, he’s determined to find out what her story is and ends up promising to keep Tessa safe…even if that means taking her home with him.

Buy Links – Only 99 Cents!

Excerpt –
She turned and looked at him with shimmering blue eyes. “Um… thanks for the ride and everything. I, uh, guess I’ll see you later.” Her lower lip quivered.
Aw, hell. Legs—Tessa, as he now knew—had been attacked in a parking garage, came home to a trashed apartment, and she thought he was just going to leave? He knew he could be a jerk at times, but he wasn’t heartless.
He blew out a breath and ran a hand through his hair. Next to him, Burg snickered. The asshole.
“You can go now, Burg.” He walked over and opened the door.
Burg elbowed him on his way out. “See you later, Stanley.”
Gray gave him the finger and closed the door in his face.
“Stanley?” Tessa cocked her head to the side and her mouth quirked up.
“My first name is Stanley,” he mumbled.
“Stanley?” she repeated, a small smile now appearing on her face.
“Stanley Grayson Kingsley.” He stared her down. “You’re one to talk, Misty.”
She had an “oh shit” look on her face. “Are you going to arrest me?” she asked, her eyes wide. She had the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen. They shimmered. Her lower lip quivered again.
Shit. “Why would I arrest you?” He’d had Burg check her out and knew that she wasn’t guilty of anything illegal. He still couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t tell him her real name.
“Parking tickets,” she whispered.
“Tickets?” He put his hands on his hips and looked at the ceiling. “You mean this whole time you wouldn’t tell me your name because you’ve got unpaid tickets?”
She nodded, looking miserable.
“Jesus, Tessa.” He took a step toward her. “Your place is trashed and you’re worried about parking tickets?” He crouched down to look in her face.
A lone tear slid down her cheek.
He scrubbed his hands over his face and through his hair, then moved closer, gearing himself to comfort her with a pat on the back. Instead, before he knew it, she’d thrown herself into him and he found his arms full of soft, quivering woman. She made a noise that sounded like a muffled sob.
“Aw, hell. Please don’t cry.” His gut twisted. “I swear I’m not going to arrest you. They’re just fucking parking tickets, hon.”
“I’ve had a very, very bad day!” She sobbed into his shirt.
He pulled her to a nearby armchair and sat down, adjusting her in his lap. Now what? He did not do crying women.
At a loss for how to stop her tears, he clumsily rubbed her back. “Tell me about your day. Get it all out.”
“First I had to dress like a giant hooker light bulb, then I lost my clothes!” She lifted her head and sniffled. “And I had to wear this!” She gestured to her skirt. “And then… And then…” She gulped air. “I couldn’t find my car and got chased through a dark parking lot!” Tears streamed down her face. “I lost my shoooe!” She pressed her face into his chest.
“When did you lose your shoe, honey?” Gray continued rubbing her back.
“When I hit the scary guy with it in the stairwell.” She clutched at Gray’s shirt. “I… I… hid… and…” She gasped. “I hit him when he grabbed me.” She burrowed deeper into his shoulder. “And I…was…really scared!”
“I know,” he murmured.
“All I wanted to do was come home and go to bed.” With her face pressed against him, her voice was muffled. “I can’t even do that!” She took a deep breath. “And I look like a freakin’ prostitute!”

For more information about Edie Hart visit…

Cover for Edie Hart's "One Bad Day"Facebook


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What Makes a Novel a Romance?

What Makes a Novel a Romance Novel?

There are as many definitions of romance as there are dictionaries. The most common definition, and the most widely accepted, is a “feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.” But all of the definitions digress quickly, adding statements like “remoteness from every day life” or “baseless, made up story usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention” or my personal favorite “talk about something in a way that makes it seem better than it is.”

Despite efforts by modern romance authors to create more realistic and contemporary plots and situations for their characters, some element of the elusive and unattainable, still creeps into the most popular romances. And I like it that way.

Why? What makes that element of the elusive or fanciful so important to romance readers? Why are heroes always so handsome and rich, so brilliant and powerful? How often, despite the rise of the women’s movement, is the hero still – well – the hero. Why is the US, a country where more women than men graduate from college, also the top selling country – by far – for romance books?

This is worthy of study. Me, I am just curious. So here is my take on romance and romance novels in the modern era – in 800 words or less.

Escape is just the easy way out

It might be generational. Perhaps older women, raised on fairy tale princesses might want something completely different in a romance than a woman born and raised after 1960. Data suggests otherwise. Maybe the romance reader is just seeking escape from their own life. I would be wrong there too, Authors tackle tough subjects in their novels today from mental illness to income inequality, from neglect to abuse and everything in between. These would keep stories from being pure escape.

Critics, who look down their noses at romance writers and readers while ignoring the complex topics and incredible writing they bring to these novels just to focus on escape are taking the easy way out. I could and would argue that we, as readers, escape whenever we pick up a novel – we go to a different place, a different time, a different galaxy. It Is not the escape that makes it a romance.

History and Chivalry

Romance as we know it today descends from the “Chevaliers”, or knights at court in the middle ages. What they represented was courtly love, full of elaborate rituals. Their actions were steeped in tradition and represented specific displays of etiquette. Courtiers carried a ladies handkerchief when the jousted, and presented the winnings to said lady. It was all manners and show. I would make the case that this historic show of love is the model for our image and definition of romance in a traditional romance novel, regardless of genre.

We have seen the films depicting that time, read the novels too. Courtly love demonstrated through dining, dancing, strolling in highly public venues with, perhaps, a stolen chaste kiss. Courtiers had their role to play and their ladies knew how to behave in return. Roles are certainly less clear today.

Then versus Now

Now, women often take control of their destiny – fortunately. They might take the lead by asking a man for a date, paying the check, or making the first move. The sense of being romanced has shifted. Maybe the woman is doing the wooing and winning. Or perhaps the man still takes the traditional role but our culture puts less emphasis on the manners and etiquette of wooing.

Some form of courtliness is what we get from romance novels in one way or another. A sweet romance will be full of manners and moments, a stolen kiss, a glance across the room that communicates so much and perhaps a lovely bouquet of roses. A paranormal romance might have our hero jumping through hoops to forge a bond across the boundaries of shifter and human, while in a steamy erotic romance the sex is used as a form of wooing, and the sex will always be hot and satisfying, very satisfying.

These are the manners, the etiquette and the traditions of our times. Our heroes are modern day Chevaliers, winning our hearts and giving us the ‘aah’ moment of a happy ending.

“A baseless, made up story, usually full of exaggerations or fanciful invention”? Maybe, but if so, here is what I say – give me more.

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