Romance Wish List for 2018

It’s the start of a new year, and it got me and a couple of my Twitter friends thinking about what we’d like to read in 2018. Let me introduce The Book Queen (TBQ) who is a well-established book reviewer and blogger and Jen, an avid reader and fantastic reviewer who posts her reviews on The Book Queen’s Book Palace. Here we go…

KT: Okay, so I think it’s fair to say that 2017 has been a bit of a shit-storm. Politics has divided people on both sides of the Atlantic. The Weinstein story broke and women everywhere looked at each other and rolled their eyes, because we’ve always known that this is what life is like being a woman, right? But a really positive outcome was the #metoo hashtag on Twitter that finally gave millions of people a voice.

Jen: After reading just the first sentence, I have to say, “A bit” is doing a lot of work. All the work. So much work. Lol. I’ll stop being a smart ass now. I agree that social media has changed the way we’ve heard from all sorts of marginalized voices, and I’m grateful for that.

KT: I’m British – I say “a bit” a lot. We’re reserved like that. Lol!

So, reading has always been an escape from reality, but in 2017, more than ever, that was the case for me. However, along with reading more, I’m trying to read more selectively. I love reading romance, but I think we all know that it has its issues. The main ones I’m taking away from this past year is that people of colour (POC) aren’t represented enough in this genre, authors of colour (AOC) aren’t supported enough, and misogyny is still alive and thriving. This got me thinking about what I want to read in 2018.

Jen: I read a lot of non-romance, too. And halfway through the year, I decided to just stop reading all literary fiction by allocishet white men. I think I’m going to need to keep that up in 2018. It’s amazing how toxic I find those novels.

KT: ‘Literary fiction by allocishet white men’ – you should see my face right now! That is the OPPOSITE of what I want on my wish list.

I want more dominant heroines of any colour. I’m not talking as extreme as Kristen Ashley’s The Honey series, although I did enjoy that, but women who direct the bed action instead of following the man. I want women giving directions like “get on your knees and…”, or “hold still while I tie you up”, or “did I say you could do that?” I have more filthy ideas! Lol!

TBQ: You are speaking my catnip language. My kingdom for more dominant, and especially sexually confident and dominant heroines! There’s just not nearly enough in the genre. I enjoy watching a character, heroine or otherwise, come into their confidence, particularly when it comes to their sexuality. But I also want to see more stories where they’re already *there*, know what they want, and give zero fucks about demanding it. CONSENSUALLY, of course!

KT: Consent is ALWAYS sexy.

I remember a tweet from a female reader a while ago who said, “I don’t want to read extreme kink. I just want to read what I like in bed.” And I totally understand what she wants. Sexually dominant heroines seem to generally appear in erotic romance and they’re often in the role of a dominatrix. What I’m looking for is a strong female main character (MC) who takes that dominant streak into the bedroom, without the leather, whips and chains. It doesn’t need to be erotica, although I won’t pass that up, I want a contemporary romance that shows a loving couple where the man is submissive in bed sometimes, but equal in the relationship. I think it’s more realistic to switch it up, sometimes he’ll lead too if she lets him 😉

Jen: Agreed. Just like it doesn’t have to be virgin or whore, or these extreme dichotomies, it doesn’t have to be dominant or submissive. I’m glad that exists in stories and for people to read, but I am interested in strong, equal women that are clear about what they want, and their partners are responsive to it. It doesn’t have to be extreme.

KT: I think this sexual confidence could be linked to age, giving less fucks and knowing what you like after failures in previous relationships. So, along with dominant heroines I want to read older MCs. The gender of MCs is not important here. I just want them older – in their 40s ideally. I want MCs who have changed as they and their relationships have aged. Women want different things in their 40s than they did in their 20s. Right? Or maybe it’s just me who feels a little more like I want to read about a man willing to get on his knees, rather than demanding the woman gets on hers?

Jen: That last sentence. Forever and ever.

TBQ: *makes incoherent sound* Yes.

beginner's luckKT: Lol! I’m totally over cold, asshole alphas as well. I’ve read some amazing cinnamon-roll heroes in 2017 (Kate Clayborn’s ‘Beginner’s Luck’ stands out). I still like an alpha male but just stop being a twat! I thought Kristen Ashley had a return to form with ‘The Hookup’, and there wasn’t an asshole in sight. I want cinnamon roll heroes – MCs who love to care for their lovers, MCs who are gentle and cuddly as well as hot and sexy. Olivia Dade collated a list of books with cinnamon roll heroes. She also coined the phrase, which works for me. We want more, please!

Jen: I’m pretty sure I have a higher alphahole tolerance than others, because I’m mostly in it for the heroines. I can pretty much read whatever as long as she’s his match. But I definitely NEVER WANT TO READ ABOUT ANOTHER BILLIONAIRE. EVER.

KT: I hear you, sister! I haven’t read a billionaire story all year.

Jen: I want books that expand readers’ understanding of social justice issues. This is important to me, and I’ve talked about it before on Twitter. Sometimes, the push back I get is that “I just want romance to be fantasy.” Honestly, this just seems like such a shitty cop out to me. We all know that romance has dramatically changed the way it deals with consent, sex positivity, and body issues. Not all books do it well, but the goal posts are in a different place than they were 10 or 20 years ago. But my guess is that 20 years ago, people complained about changes being made. Remember when it was a big deal to have characters talk about protection and test results before jumping into bed together? I remember some readers complained about that, “But it ruins the mood!” But that has changed. Now it’s weird and upsetting when an author skips that safe sex conversation. And it’s a model for how people can have those conversations with their real life partners. That stuff matters!

KT: Great point. It feels weird to me now if the MCs don’t use a condom or have a safe sex talk beforehand. In fact, I start to get anxious!

Jen: So why is it so hard to imagine that every book about a cop would mention de-escalation training or issues around race and policing? Think about what a difference that could make in the minds of readers. We know that reading fiction makes people more empathetic. I wish more authors were in tune to the differences they could make in the world.

Illegal Contact coverAnd I don’t think that it has to be a major plot point. I was just reading ‘Illegal Contact’ by Santino Hassell. The main character that’s a football player mentions how he has to grapple with the ways football will damage his body and brain. He mentions that there is racial injustice in endorsements, etc. It’s not heavy-handed! I want more books like that. I’m stealing a line from an upcoming review of mine that doesn’t come out until mid-January: I can’t help but wonder if the books, movies, and television shows that refuse to talk about social justice have created millions of people who refuse to do the same.

KT: I think there’s a fine balance to be achieved because reading romance is an escape for some readers, BUT that doesn’t mean that authors can’t introduce more social issues. Like you say, Jen, some authors do it with a light hand already and, like the safe sex issue 20 years ago, I believe others will follow. In another few years, hopefully, it will seem just as normal as the hero rolling on a condom.

Jen: I was really pissy at the end of the year when I started counting statistics for “Best of” lists from USA Today Happy Ever After blog. The 6 columnists recommended 93 books by 82 different authors, and as far as I can tell, there were only 5 authors of color on the whole list (and by the way, 3 of those were for YA books that aren’t romances). To put that in perspective there were 4 male authors on the list. There were almost more MALE authors on the list than female authors of color! This is a list of best romances, and there are more men on your lists? And Santino Hassell was not one of those men? There were only 3 queer books, and only one was by an #OwnVoices author. Those stats are dismal and infuriating, and for a publication calling itself USA TODAY, a fucking embarrassment. I want white readers to stop reading books only by white authors. I want them to recognize that those worlds create a harmful and false narrative about the world. I want READERS to do better. And I for the life of me cannot fucking figure out how to make that happen.

KT: My horizons have been broadened immensely by Twitter, but the percentage of readers on there must be so small. Main media outlets need to pick it up. Maybe submit some ideas to them?

Jen: I don’t want USA Today to hire me. They don’t need another white lady like me, no matter how great I am (lol, JK), they need to hire multiple women of color to be columnists for them. I mean, obviously, I want a wider readership because I like my work and have an ego. But working for USA Today I’m interested in, and it’s not the answer. The greatest thing about working for someone else is that I actually have NO IDEA how many people read my reviews. Sometimes TBQ will send me a little note that says, “Oh, 200 people read that!” and that sounds like a lot to me. But I have no idea and that works for me just fine.

TBQ: LOL! Honestly it has no real relevance outside of “this post did great, this one didn’t get many views”; I have no idea what other sites see for page view numbers, and frankly I’m okay with not comparing myself to them — or at least trying not to! But I totally get your point. Just wanted to explain the numbers things a bit. 🙂

Jen: I like the comparing our numbers to ourselves. Like we’re competing against our own best time, or whatever the appropriate sports metaphor would be.

TBQ: Exactly!

One thing I would love to see more of is curvy/fat characters — and not just limited to heroines! — across the board. BODY POSITIVE stories, not some fatphobic, body-shaming bullshit. But you know what I really want? A good romantic suspense with a plus-size heroine; maybe she and the hero are FBI or CIA or something similar. Because if a skinny heroine can say “Oh no, I’m so out of shape, I eat doughnuts every day and never so much as take a quick jog!” and still manage to run from the bad guys A “FAT” WOMAN CAN TOO. So don’t go giving me that shit as a reason why only skinny heroines belong in romantic suspense.

When I did the post for curvy heroines earlier in the year, I had a ton of suggestions from readers . . . and literally, zero romantic suspense with curvy heroines. So yeah, that’s what I want.

KT: Give me some cellulite, stretch marks and less than perky bits while fighting crime!! I would totally read that.

Jen: I actually think this one is related to yours, TBQ. Which is I wish that everyone wasn’t perfectly beautiful and I especially wish there were non-gorgeous men. I feel like every guy is just the most handsome man ever, and I would love to read a book with just like a regular looking guy.

TBQ: Yes! Give the “average” guy a romance, too! I don’t need all the heroes to be supermodels. Seriously, I rarely even pay attention to the physical descriptions, never really imagine a specific actor or whatever, so just give me the normal guy’s story, too, authors!

KT: Yep. This may be going off on a bit of a tangent, but I’m REALLY over the book covers that just show a male torso. There have been some great covers recently that have caught my eye specifically because they don’t have a naked male torso on them. Shelly Ellis’ new series ‘Maclaine Girls’ really stands out as a brilliant example, alongside Elyse Springer’s ‘Seasons of Love’ series. A million male torsos have long since merged into one in my mind. Publishers need to know, that more often than not, I scroll past them now.

TBQ: This is more trope related than anything else but I want more rivals-to-lovers romances. All gender pairings. Give me rival chefs or bakers or, I don’t know, mechanics or something. ANYTHING. This brought to you by my reading of Hassell’s ‘Down by Contact’ which has this trope (football players) and it reminded me how much I adore it. It’s out there, of course, but I just want mooooooore.

The Hating Game coverJen: Having just read and loved ‘The Hating Game’, I can only concur. Enemies to lovers is SO GREAT and I would read it all day long.

TBQ: *happy noise* That book . . . Okay, don’t get off track again, TBQ. Stop!

KT: ‘The Hating Game’ is a ridiculously brilliant example of my favourite trope and Hassell does a fantastic job of it in ‘Illegal Contact’. I’m with you 100%. Give me more.

Jen: I’m trying to think about what other tropes I am thirsty for. Maybe bodyguards? I love a good bodyguard romance. I would LOVE a bodyguard romance with a female bodyguard and a nerdy little dude. He is in possession of some coding thing and a mega-corporation wants to kill him. She has to protect him, but he finds hidden reserves of strengths, and together they bring down the bad guys.

Okay, other things I want in no particular order: books with female athletes rather than male athletes; people with cats as pets instead of dogs; MCs with jobs other than CEOs, chefs, or tattoo artists; more books with loving parental figures and happy families; more interracial or multi-ethnic families and partnerships; and finally, more sex in elevators and libraries so I can write more posts about them. But I think that’s it.

KT: You can never have too much sex in elevators and libraries – lol!

Okay, so to sum up… reading back over what we’ve talked about, the main thing that jumps out at me, is that we want to read books that are in a sense more realistic. We don’t necessarily want to read about people who look perfect, because we don’t and we’re more than okay with that. Our world is far from ideal, so we want people to write about that, and show us that love can and will prevail despite it. A lot of what we want already exists. We just want more of it, please. More diversity, more sexually confident heroines, and less ignoring the shit that happens, the struggles that people face and the social injustices in our world. This can be done without depressing the hell out of readers. We still want the romance to be the central story, we just want the world around those MCs to reflect what’s going on in our own.

2017 was a great reading year. Here’s hoping or wishing that 2018 is even better. 

Let us know what you’d like to read in 2018.

Whatever you choose – happy reading!


You can find Jen ,  The Book Queen and KT on Twitter talking about all things romance.


Best New-To-Me Authors 2017

Well, 2017 has been a difficult year for many reasons and so it would be easy to move into 2018 feeling despondent and pissed off. However, one thing gives me hope… all the amazing books that romance authors keep producing.

I found some great new-to-me authors this year, and that’s what I’m going to share with you here, along with my top picks of their books. The books weren’t necessarily published this year, but they’ve all meant a great deal to me as I’ve read them through the shit-storm that has been 2017.

So here goes in no particular order…

Key: m/f = male / female pairing     m/m = male / male pairing

Emily Larkin (Baleful Godmother series) – Unmasking Miss Appleby. Historical with a touch of magic plus woman dressed as man trope m/f – Emily Larkin is my find of the year! This book is free, so if you don’t do anything else today, click on this link and have a look at this book. It’s awesome! I’m working my way through the series and they’re all wonderful.

unmnasking miss appleby

Robin CovingtonHis Convenient Husband contemporary m/m. NFL player and male ballerina – marriage of convenience trope. I loved these guys and the cast of diverse external characters.

Santino Hassell & Megan Erickson (Cyberlove series) – Fast Connection contemporary m/m – older man / younger man trope. Hot and steamy but packed full of emotion. This whole series is fantastic.

Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn (Art & Soul Book 1) – Permanent Ink contemporary m/m – older man / younger man trope. Sexy, tattooed, bearded, silver fox. Did I mention sexy? Just check out the cover below.

permanent ink

Anyta SundayLeo Loves Aries contemporary m/m – roomies fall in love. This book is SO sweet. This is still free at the time of writing.

Lucy ParkerAct Like It contemporary m/f – enemies to lovers in London’s theatre world. Wonderful, witty banter between the MCs and a heroine you can’t help but root for.

Talia HibbertBad for the Boss contemporary m/f interracial office romance. Beautiful black woman / Asian man. Sexy, real and endearing characters with a great storyline.

Kati WildeGoing Nowhere Fast NA contemporary m/f – road trip, enemies to lovers and best friend’s brother. What more could you want?! £1.79 at the time of writing – DEAL!

Kate Clayborn’s debut – Beginner’s Luck contemporary m/f – shy introvert scientist falls for the man trying to recruit her to a big company. Ben is one of the most beautifully written beta heroes I’ve read this year.

beginner's luck

Zoe York (Pine Harbor series) – Love on a Summer Night contemporary m/f – this whole series is great, there was just something about Zander Minelli *sigh* that put him on this list.

Mariana ZapataWait For It, Under Locke contemporary m/f – slow burners with grumpy, alpha heroes who have soft centres. Both of these books are on my reread shelf. I love them.

Adriana Anders – (Blank Canvas series) – Under Her Skin contemporary m/f – an intriguing retelling of Beauty and the Beast. He’s a blacksmith and she’s running from her past. An amazing debut from this author and it’s 49p at the time of writing and free on audio.

liberating lacey

Jeanette Grey – (Art of Passion series) Nine Kinds of Naughty erotic romance m/f – she’s the boss, he’s her assistant until they get in the bedroom, then it’s role reversal time. Really well written, sexy and emotional. I loved it.

Anne CalhounLiberating Lacey erotic romance m/f – I couldn’t stop thinking about this book for weeks after I read it. AC’s writing is beautiful and the story was mesmerising.




There you have it. I hope you find something on my list that tickles your fancy. Here’s hoping that 2018 is an improvement on 2017.

Happy holidays and happy new year!!



Everyone Needs A Little Help Sometimes

For various reasons, writing has been hard for me this year. I finished my first manuscript early in the year and took a bit of a break before I started planning my second.

I’ve never been a very thorough planner. I’ve had vague outlines before, but I’ve always been a pantster at heart. For this second story I set about finding a good way to plan, because everything I’d tried before had fallen flat. My main aim: to write faster.

romancing the beat coverLike every aspiring writer,  I’ve read various blog posts and books about writing craft, but nothing really seemed to fit writing romance. Then during my Twitter time, I noticed that several published authors who I read or follow on Twitter kept recommending Gwen Hayes’ book, ‘Romancing the Beat’ – Story Structure for Writing Romance. Or as Gwen calls it ‘Writing Kissing Books‘.

To say that this book is a revelation is an understatement.

I bought the paperback because I like to highlight and write on stuff. I could’ve highlighted the entire book! Her writing style is funny and often irreverent. She’s a successful romance author in her own right, as well as an editor to others. So, as far as I’m concerned, she’s the person I wanted to be ‘talking’ to.

An extract from the blurb captures the uniqueness of writing romance: “Writing a well-structured romance isn’t the same as writing any other genre—something the popular novel and screenwriting guides don’t address. The romance arc is made up of its own story beats, and the external plot and theme need to be braided to the romance arc—not the other way around.”

A lightbulb went off in my head and suddenly everything made sense. Gwen then takes you through twenty romance beats, split into four easy to follow sections. I duly bought some index cards in four different colours –  they’re so pretty – and planned my second book.

Below is an example of the first phase of beats:

gwen c

PDF available on her website just click the image

It still wasn’t easy to plan my writing because I struggle to see the story very clearly until I’m writing it. I’m pretty sure that’s something that I’ve just got to accept about myself. However, I have now got a SOLID outline and I know where my MCs need to be emotionally at each beat in the story.

So as I’m writing, I can change and fiddle with the setting or characters in a scene without altering too much because I’m following the overall plan. It’s genius, really.

I thought that planning meant I couldn’t be flexible and go off on an interesting tangent if I wanted to, but actually, it gives me the freedom to do that, knowing that I’m not going to get lost.

I can’t recommend this book enough if you’re trying to write kissing books.

Happy writing,


A List For Those Who Love A Librarian In Their Romance


A while ago, I put out a quick request on Twitter for librarian heroes and heroines. My phone nearly exploded with comments and RTs! I love Romance Twitter – everyone is just so enthusiastic about sharing their love of books.

I got so many recs that I decided to make a list and share it. Some I already had, but over 25 came from Twitter. So if you’re in the mood for some sexy librarian action – this is the list for you.

I’ve already read several of these books since they were recommended to me, and they were all great. I particularly loved Anne Calhoun’s ‘The Seal’s Rebel Librarian’.

I hope you find something that you’re looking for…



Don’t Stop Believing by Gwen Hayes (m/m)

Olivia Dade’s Lovestruck Librarians series:

Broken Resolutions

My Reckless Valentine


Ready To Fall

Driven To Distraction

Hidden Hearts

Taking The Heat by Victoria Dahl

Looking For Trouble by Victoria Dahl

Fanning The Flames by Victoria Dahl

Hard Times by Cara McKenna (m/f)

Breathe by Kristen Ashley (m/f)

Taken with you by Shannon Stacey

Best Kind of Trouble by Lauren Dane

What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss

Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy (fantasy)

The Gift by Tiffany Reisz (can’t find the link for some reason).

Busted by Shiloh Walker

Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss series) by Nalini Singh

A Seditious Affair by KJ Charles (bookseller m/m)

Falling For Trouble by Sarah Title (Librarians in Love series)

Laws of Attraction by Sarah Title (Librarians in Love series)

The Undateable by Sarah Title (Librarians in Love series)

Jaded by Anne Calhoun

The Seal’s Rebel Librarian by Anne Calhoun

Louder Than Love by Jessica Topper

In Too Deep by Portia da Costa

Addicted by Charlotte Stein

Junk by Josephine Myles (m/m)

The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers

Rocky Mountain Devil by Vivian Arend

Deceptions by Cynthia Eden

Royally Matched by Emma Chase

Mister Hockey: Hellions Angels by Lia Riley


Screw You, Inspirational Quotes!



“I can’t even… just don’t ask, ok?”


I have decided that this whole writing thing is designed to break you and the only people who survive in this game are the ones who say, “Fuck you, world! I won’t be beaten.”

You’ve got to be up for a bit of a fight, or a good scrap as they say round where I’m from.

My social media is full of inspirational quotes. I read them and at the time I think, ‘yeah, that’s so true’ or ‘I really need to absorb that thought and remember it next time things don’t go well.’

Right now, I just want to say to all those people who came up with those snappy little phrases that say so much, but give you absolutely no idea how to achieve them:

“Screw you!”

The hardest days are the days when you doubt what you’re writing (that’s my inspirational quote for you!)

When you believe in your story and how you’re telling it, rejection from outside sources is bearable, because this is a subjective game and you believe that someone out there will like what you write because it’s at least half decent, right? But on those darkest of dark days, when you don’t like your own words, it just feels like you’re typing them into a black hole and what’s the ever loving point in that?

Basically, the point of this rant is that I had a plan. That plan is no longer working for me, so I’m thinking about changing it. I’m also questioning the need to change it, because isn’t the point of having a plan, to stick to it?

Excuse me for a moment, while I just go and bang my head against a wall somewhere.

Ok, I’m back.

So…. it’s pretty clear that I’m having a crisis of confidence. I don’t know what the answers are at the moment. What I do know, is that I’m driving myself a little crazy vacillating between getting on with my planned writing project or changing course completely.

I’m giving myself today to weigh up the pros and cons, then a decision WILL be made.

Either way, I’m pretty sure I’m saying “Fuck you, world! I won’t be beaten.” (There’s another inspirational quote for you!)

Yey, me. *Half-hearted fist pump*






Book Signing Event with Bradford Author E. Rachael Hardcastle

I’m posting this in support of a local author, E. Rachael Hardcastle who has done amazing work with some Primary School pupils in Bradford. Here are the details:


In November 2016, local Bradford author E. Rachael Hardcastle visited Low Ash Primary School in Wrose, Shipley to deliver a creative writing workshop to their Year 6 pupils. At no charge to the school, E. Rachael Hardcastle ran several hours of idea-generating activities tailored to their topic of study, which resulted in the children writing short stories of their own.

thumb 2Later that month having received and compiled the children’s finished work, two independently published books titled ‘Children of War’ were published and delivered for the school’s library, creating over 50 young authors in less than eight weeks.

At the end of January 2017, E. Rachael Hardcastle returned to the school with further copies of ‘Children Of War’ for the children to take home. It wasn’t long before their story was picked up by a local television station, Made In Leeds, who interviewed E. Rachael Hardcastle and the children on The Lowdown Leeds show in February 2017.

To meet her local readers and aspiring writers, E. Rachael Hardcastle recently contacted Wrose Library, Wrose, Shipley to arrange a book signing event. She hopes to encourage the community to visit the library more often and to meet the hard-working volunteers there.

thumb 1The event will take place on July 1st 2017 between 1100-1430 hours to celebrate both Wrose Carnival and Bradford Literary Festival. E. Rachael Hardcastle will be taking along copies of her brand new high fantasy release ‘Finding Pandora’ and her post-apocalyptic novel ‘Aeon Infinitum: Run For Your Life’ to personalise and sign for her guests.

Entry to this events will be free of charge. For more information about E. Rachael Hardcastle, her books and her workshops, please visit




Social Media:

Library Website:

Hacking A Limb Off – Otherwise Known As Editing.


*Stands up*

“Hi, my name is KT and I have a real problem deleting my words. Thanks.”

*Sits down*

A few days ago I read a tweet from one of my favourite authors, Melissa Blue, saying that she’d deleted a whole scene while editing a draft. I nearly had a panic attack on her behalf.

I have come to realise that I have a serious problem… deleting big chunks of my words. I will do almost ANYTHING to not have to do it. My thought process goes something like this:

‘I spent bloody ages writing that. Blood, sweat and tears, a ton of chocolate, pounds of nuts and every other thing I nibble on when I’m writing will not have been nibbled in vain, Goddammit! I am NOT deleting it. No way. No.’

The editing process for me is more about adding and tightening things up than getting rid of much. I write quite slowly, editing as I go, so I don’t ever come to edit a draft that is a disaster.

So far I haven’t deleted a whole scene, I have only added them. I’m girding my loins for that day, I tell you.

Obviously, this is not the best approach to editing. I’m working on it. Slowly but surely I’m realising that they’re not wasted words and it wasn’t wasted time. They’re training, practise, experience.

I have thousands of words stored on my computer from unfinished stories, early short stories and flash fiction that will probably never see the light of day. Every single word was practise; every paragraph was me finding my style and learning how to do this thing called writing a novel.

More importantly, every word brought me closer to my first big goal. Finishing!

Hopefully the more I write, the faster I’ll get. So I foresee more mistakes or changes in future editing sessions on this second manuscript. This will mean more deleting I’m sure, so deep breathing may be necessary, but I’ll get through it…

I hope!

Thanks for reading,



Top 10 Romance ‘Oldies But Goodies’


The beauty of reading Romance is that their are millions and millions of books out there. Sub-genres abound: historical, contemporary, paranormal, LGBTQ, erotic to sweet, dark to funny just to name a few, and some authors are writing five or six books a year. The reading potential is endless, and I’d like to bet that anyone could find something that they like in Romance. If you need any pointers just let me know and I’ll help if I can.

But as brilliant as the books are now, I still love to read books that were written 10 to 20 years ago. Some of them are historical romances, so they age really well. The writing styles these days might not be quite the same, but the historical settings are, so they’re a good bet.

Some contemporary romance can age badly, or if not badly, a bit weirdly! I read an old Nora Roberts recently called ‘Night Shift’ and the heroine smoked like a chimney and called the hero ‘Slick’. I enjoyed the book, but it felt really dated and all the smoking was off-putting.

But there are some books that never age; the stories are perfect, the romances timeless, and they draw me in every time I read them.

Here are my top 10 oldies but goodies (all with a HEA):

  1. Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer (1989) – set during the Second World War this book is beautiful, tender and heartbreakingly good.
  2. The Return of Rafe McKade (The McKade Brothers #1) by Nora Roberts (1995) – the bad boy returns to town. I loved the whole series except for the last one.
  3. Sea Swept (Chesapeake Bay saga #1) by Nora Roberts (1998) – the playboy gives it all up to care for a troubled young boy not unlike he once was… and a social worker brings him to his knees. Brilliant series.
  4. Pretty much anything by Lisa Kleypas who has been writing since 1987 but in the spirit of this list I’ll choose Suddenly You (2001) – set in a world where appearance means everything, passion simmers just below the surface, and a respectable Englishwoman is willing to risk scandal for one night of love.
  5. Slave To Sensation (Psy-Changling #1) by Nalini Singh (2006) – it’s amazing that this wonderful series has been on the go for over 10 years! In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed.
  6. Simply Irrestible (Chinooks Hockey Team #1) by Rachel Gibson (1998) – my first, but by far the last dip into Sports Romance. I loved this whole series.
  7. Hummingbird by LaVyrle Spencer (1983) – The Bandit and the Gentleman and Abigail McKenzie has to choose between them. Brilliant historical novel – funny, tender and wonderful.
  8. Taming Natasha (The Stanislaskis #1) by Nora Roberts (1990) – fiery heroine lowers her guard for music professor and single father.
  9. It Had To Be You (Chicago Stars #1) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (1994) – a woman who knows nothing about sports inherits a professional football team. The sparks fly between her and the head coach.
  10. Making Chase (Chase Brothers #4) by Lauren Dane (2007) – this one’s not really that old, but I’m just sneaking it in. Well-off guy falls for a woman from the wrong side of the tracks.

Happy reading!



Musings About Querying Agents…


Just moo-sing about this waiting game

So I finished my contemporary romance. Now I’m in the process of trying to find a literary agent. Cue entering a world of fear and uncertainty. Okay, well, maybe it’s not that bad, but it’s definitely not pleasant.

I’ve done hours of research on the web. How to write a successful query letter; how to write a synopsis; how to feel, what to do, what to expect… Still, nothing can really prepare you for sending your baby out into the world for the first time, and to some of the most demanding, critical readers too.

What the hell am I doing? I must have a masochistic streak a mile wide!

I triple and quadruple check every email before I send it, terrified that it’ll have the wrong name or date on it. Every agent seems to want something slightly different. So each one has a new set of documents, with everything needing tweaking and re-tweaking. Some want attachments, others want everything pasting into the email, some have online forms to fill in.

Nothing is too much to ask, but everything sets me on edge.

My partner, Alex, says that’s a good thing. I want it badly, so I need to use the nerves and stress to motivate me. I am for the most part, but there’s always that moment of weakness when everything seems insurmountable, when I start to question every word I’ve written, every idea I’ve had, along with every arrogant thought that I’ve had that I could actually do this.

A week after I’d submitted a dozen queries, I get two rejections. One appeared to be a generic response, the other said she just wasn’t excited by what I sent her. I thought I’d prepared myself for the rejections, but nothing really does I think. I didn’t cry or breakdown (although I may have been tempted), but I did start to quietly doubt myself.

Instead of carrying on with the planning for my next book, which had been going so well, I went to my default position and picked up my Kindle. I read when I’m stressed or sad. I read when I don’t want to have to think or make decisions. Over the past four or five days I’ve read – A LOT.

Then Thursday evening, I was in the kitchen clearing away the dinner stuff when my phone pinged. It was an email from an agency in New York requesting my full manuscript, she said she was intrigued and wanted to read more. God, I was so excited I could barely get the words out to Alex. I just held the phone up so he could read it, while he had his hands in the sink doing the pots. I let it course through me for a few minutes, all the possibilities, everything I’ve been working for, before I reigned it in.

I know this is only the 2nd step. I know that it could very easily come to nothing. So I have well and truly wrangled that excitement under control. It is stuffed in a box and even though it keeps banging on the lid, I’m not letting it out.

Absolutely not. No way Jose.

Now I just have to wait 6-8 weeks to find out the next step.

It is the ultimate waiting game…

PS – this whole experience has been made so much easier using QueryTracker it’s a free, brilliant way of keeping track of everything to do with the querying process.

Musings On The Epilogue…


Just moo-sing about the epilogue…

So I just finished a book by one of my favourite authors. I was in love with the heroine and hero, totally immersed in their story, and so glad that they’d worked things out for themselves and their relationship. During the last 10% I found out she was pregnant – a much wanted baby, awesome! So I reach the end and gleefully turn the page for the epilogue, wanting a little snap shot of them both with the baby…. only to find, no epilogue.

Wait! What?!

The romance epilogue is like finding you’ve still got a piece of your favourite chocolate left. You eat it as slowly as you can, savouring it because you know it’s nearly the end of a beautiful thing. The epilogue gives us a brief glimpse of the heroine and hero in the future, letting us know that they’re still together, living and loving their happily ever after.

When you don’t get an epilogue, it’s like someone nicked your chocolate *eye twitch*. There aren’t many books that don’t have one these days. I was starting to think they were pretty much a prerequisite. I’ve got one in mine.

I’m stating right now – it should be illegal not to have an epilogue!

Dear romance authors – please don’t steal my chocolate.