Top 10 Romance ‘Oldies But Goodies’

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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!

Kx

 

Musings On The Epilogue…

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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.

 

O’Shea’s #5 – Reading Guy

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the fifth one. A chance meeting… I hope you enjoy it.

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O’Shea’s was just getting over the lunchtime rush when Sophie sat down. She chose a window seat, wanting the warmth of the Spring sun on her face.

Pulling out her e-reader, she tucked her phone in her bag and put her glasses on while doing a little internal jig of excitement because a long awaited book had zapped onto her device that morning.

She was just about to take a sip of her beer when she saw him.

She couldn’t help smiling a little at how engrossed he was in his book. Broad shoulders, hunched, thick tattooed forearms framing the book. His hands were huge. She could see a sprinkling of dark hair across the back of them, their knuckles rough and red, and wondered if he’d hit anyone recently, maybe in the ring. No, that wasn’t fair, she was making judgements due to his size and build. She saw the delicate way in which he turned the page and imagined them dancing over her skin.

Whoa!

She shuffled on her seat and switched on her e-reader, determined to stop perving over the poor guy who was just looking for some peaceful reading time. Maybe she needed to switch to a good thriller and give the romances a rest for a while.

She started to read, but found herself frowning and re-reading the same paragraph over and over.

Seriously?

Nudging her glasses back up, her eyes mysteriously found their way back to the Reading Guy.

She wondered what he did for a living? Whether all those muscles were the result of hard manual work or a gym membership. It shouldn’t matter, but it did. It was a far more appealing thought to think that he was sweating over cutting down a tree or something rather than lifting dumbbells. She rolled her eyes at her blatant objectification of him.

Thank God he couldn’t read her mind.

She wondered what it would be like to be with a guy like him, someone she could talk to about books; someone who appreciated some quiet time, alone, to read and… just be. The world was so hectic, so difficult to negotiate. What would it be like to not do it alone?

God! Really? You’re going there, now?

Pressing her nails into the flesh of her hand, she dragged her eyes back to her e-reader and tried to ignore the urge to keep looking at the Reading Guy. There was no way in hell she was ever going to do anything but look at him, so feeling sorry for herself wasn’t going to help at all.

Taking a deep breath, she turned back to her much anticipated novel and began to read. She found her rhythm, sipping her beer every now and then as she immersed herself in the fictional world she was reading.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been reading before she felt a tingling heat on the side of her face. She tucked a dark, curly lock of hair behind her ear and placed a cool hand over her flushed skin, a little frustrated that she’d become distracted during a key point in the scene she was reading.

Without thinking her eyes flashed to the Reading Guy to find his eyes on her. Her heart kind of stopped, then stuttered on.

No, maybe he was looking out of the window or someone was behind her. She casually looked over her shoulder while she pulled her long hair around her face.

Nope, no-one there.

Drawn back like opposing magnets, she slowly turned to face him.


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx

 

O’Shea’s #4 – Hard To Be Brave

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the fourth one using the enemies to lovers trope. I hope you enjoy it.

osheas-edited

Jason Monroe angry was a sight to see.

“What the hell are we doing here, Emma?”

“Well, you said you needed a drink. So…” she said, trying to keep the smug out of her voice.

He unbuttoned his coat and yanked it off his broad shoulders. “I meant a coffee and you damn well know it.” Throwing it onto the seat, he slid into the booth and grabbed the beer menu. It was a relief not to have his eyes on her.

“Why don’t I surprise you?” She suggested, turning to walk towards the bar before he could complain again.

She blew out a breath, hard enough to lift her thick dark fringe, and jumped onto a stool at the bar while she waited for Ben to make his way down to her.

She was uncomfortably aware that she was winging things at the moment. The man with unlimited control had finally snapped. She couldn’t believe her luck. Jason had been lording it over her at work for months; then to top it off the job they both wanted had just been advertised.

Smiling at Ben, she ordered two pints of Guinness, needing a little more time to settle her thoughts before heading back to him. They actually worked well together when they weren’t fighting over who held the dominant position. Their skills balanced out: she took the lead on customer relations; he leaned more towards data and analysis.

Unfortunately, she’d been late to their meeting with a big client today after her mum’s doctor’s appointment had run over, and things hadn’t quite gone to plan. She took a sip of the first glass of Guinness that Ben set on the bar and tried not to think about what lay ahead for her mother and herself. Rolling her shoulders, she pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind and focused on the six foot two problem in the booth behind her.

The second pint glass landed in front of her. Taking a deep breath, she nodded at Ben. “Start me a tab, will you? I think we’re going to need a few.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Like that is it?”

“Worse,” she deadpanned and walked away as Ben chuckled. She always wished she was attracted to him; he was such a great guy, but for some reason there were zero spark between them.

She really wished she could say the same about the guy in front of her. Unfortunately working with Jason Monroe ignited sparks in her mind and in her knickers. A double whammy which just pissed her off immensely.

Why was his intensity such a turn on  when she’d always gone for laid back types in her past? Why did she feel like her eyes were glued to his arse sometimes? Why did she feel like high-fiving herself whenever she made him smile or laugh? She felt like a beggar crawling around for scraps of food the way he doled those out.

“About bloody time,” he muttered, his head back, his eyes closed. “What were you doing, brewing it?”

“No, Jason, I wasn’t, but I’m more than happy to pour it over your head if you don’t stop moaning.” She threatened as she stood holding the drinks.

He opened his eyes and rolled his head to look at her. “Sit down forgodsake. I’m about to expire from dehydration.”

There was a weariness about him that disturbed Emma. She was so used to his rigid control, his strength, that seeing the cracks appear knocked her own precarious stability.

Sliding into the seat opposite him, she watched him take a long drink and lick away the creamy Guinness from his lips. Swallowing thickly, she dragged her eyes away from him and gave herself another good talking to. The problem was, these talks didn’t seem to work so well these days.

She felt his eyes on her and tried to plaster a convincing smile on her face.

“So…”

He raised his dark eyebrows. “So…”

“We need a new plan, don’t we?”

Jason shrugged. “All my current plans are shot to shit, so I’m currently re-evaluating.”

His intense gaze was making her want to fidget. Picking up a beer mat, she started turning it and took another drink. A truly awful thought flashed through her mind, making her sit up straight and smack the mat onto the table. “You’re not going to leave are you?”

The glass rested on his lips as he paused, he slowly took a drink and carefully placed it back on the table. “Would that be so bad?”

“Yes… I…” She stuttered to a halt, on the precipice and unsure which way was safety.

He sat forward, resting his forearms on the table. “Why?”

Staring at her hand on the beer mat, she realised the tips of his fingers were mere inches from her own. She watched his middle finger twitch and held her breath.

Do it! she thought, touch me.

The small distance stayed the same. It might as well have been the expanse of the Grand Canyon.

Exhaling quietly, she let herself really look at him before she met his eyes again. She saw the strain around his eyes, the firm set of his mouth and wanted to kiss it away.

Was she brave enough? Could she handle his rejection? What’s the worst that could happen? Well, abject shame and humiliation, which was never good, but she thought she could survive it. It might mean a long distance move or plastic surgery but she’d deal with it. Right?

She looked back down to their hands and willed her own to move. God, it was hard to be brave sometimes. Her pads pressed down onto the table before she flexed her fingers and moved forward. They stopped as she felt the heat of the skin from the very tips of his fingers.

She wanted to look at his face and really see him, but she’d used up every ounce of bravery that she had. Her heart thudded hard in her chest and she felt the heat prickle across her chest, knowing she’d made a mistake.

She looked away and felt her fingers separate. She closed her eyes as he pushed his between hers, taking a shaky breath as his thumb stroked across the inside of her wrist.


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx

#amreading / #amwriting ~ No. 3

Welcome to my latest reading and writing exploits – including interesting blogs, books, news on social media, alongside my ongoing trials and tribulations as I attempt to write my first book.

#amreading

I’ve been searching for some new authors recently. Inevitably there have been some fails, but I’ve also discovered some keepers.

Books:

Somewhere In Between by Samatha Harris – [FREE ON AMAZON WHEN I WROTE THIS!] I’m pretty sure this is her debut novel and when I say I’m impressed – I really am. I’m not usually a massive fan of the ‘friends to lovers‘ trope, but this really worked for me. Harris seamlessly moves from the past to the present to tell this story and it gives the reader such an amazing understanding of their relationship. I completely understood why they did what they did; there was no raised eyebrows or ‘really?‘ moments. The character development is second to none and I was rooting for them all the way. Did I mention this was free? Grab a copy right now, people – I don’t think you’ll regret it!

Sarah Mayberry – I picked up Bound To The Bachelor as a freebie. I’ve got to say the title isn’t one I would normally go for, but I’ve read some great things about this author, so I went ahead and read it. I’m really glad I did. I LOVE Mayberry’s writing style, her great dialogue, rounded characters, and a wonderful central love story. The title might be a little cliched but the story isn’t. There’s a fulfilling emotional depth to it and I really believed in the characters. I quickly read two other books by Mayberry: Almost A Bride and Make-Believe Wedding. Again, not books I’d normally go for, but I found them really enjoyable. I love romance novels but I really don’t need a wedding for my HEA, and I normally avoid these bride / wedding series; however, again, these books worked for me. The weddings are actually a really small part of them and the stories were great. All highly recommended, quality romance.

Around social media:

  • Jill Shalvis‘ new book Nobody But You was released this week. It’s next up on my Kindle and I can’t wait!
  • Heroes & Heartbreakers reviewed the first book in Robyn Carr’s new series – What We Find. I love her Virgin River series, the Thunder Point series not so much, but I’ll definitely be giving this new series set in Colorado a go. It’s due out April 5th.
  • I love to read good flash fiction – it’s short and satisfying. Here are Writer’s Digest’s top tips for writing flash fiction.
  • All About Romance Annual Reader Poll results are here. Some of my favourite authors are in there: Nalini Singh, Jill Shalis and Victoria Dahl. Take a look for some great reading recommendations.

#amwriting

The kids are off school for Easter, so work on my WIP is on the back burner at the moment. I’ve made some notes for the next section I’m going to write but that’s about it. It doesn’t feel good; my brain feels a little mushy and I’m antsy about getting stuck, but my head is so full of other things right now I can’t focus.

Blah!

I have managed to write a couple of pieces of flash fiction though. One more and then I’ll start to publish them on here.

Take a deep breath, K…

Kx

#amreading / #amwriting ~ No. 2

Welcome to my latest reading and writing exploits – including interesting blogs, books, news on social media, alongside my ongoing trials and tribulations as I attempt to write my first book.

#amreading

It was Mother’s Day recently and I got spoiled with Hotel Chocolat chocolates, a bottle of Prosecco and an Amazon voucher. Cue some serious time spent reading book blogs and reviews trying to find some new authors and books.

Here are some of the books I one-clicked:

  • Black Hills, by Nora Roberts – a really good romantic suspense story as well as a romance. Lil and Coop have history and she makes him work to get her back. She’s a strong, kick ass heroine and there’s some interesting stuff in there about cougars and big cats (Lil runs an animal refuge). Not one of Robert’s very best, but really enjoyable all the same.
  • How To Catch A Wild Viscount, by Tessa Dare (currently free on Amazon)  – my first novel by this author and I really enjoyed it. I don’t dip my toes into historical novels as much as I used to, but I really enjoyed her writing style in this novella. It reminded me a little of Lisa Kleypas – who I love. I’m going to check out Dare’s Spindle Cove series soon.
  • Almost Like Love, by Abigail Strom – I haven’t read anything by Strom in a while, but I LOVED this story; contemporary romance at it’s best. It’s funny and tender, sexy and geeky, with the best Dungeons and Dragons scene EVER! Honestly, it’s worth reading just for that. This book gave me the feels in all the right ways.

Around social media:

  • This great little post on The Pros and Cons of Plotters and Pantsers, from The Write Practice, gives the pros and cons around different planning approaches when writing.
  • This is a little out of date, but there is the sad news that Samhain Publishing are closing their doors. They have some great authors that they’ve worked with over the years. Potentially, this is a worrying reflection on the state of publishing today.
  • Stacey is SASSY, an excellent blog, reviewed Jill Shalvis’ latest Cedar Ridge novel – Nobody But You. I can’t wait for this book. I’m a die hard Jill Shalvis fan and Stacey’s fab review left me wanting more.
  • Follow Red Cheek Reads on Twitter – amongst other things, they tweet about free books and books on sale. I’ve picked up some great freebies over the last few weeks from their tweets.
  • A final treat, again from Twitter, is from @ForeverRomance – I love this quote!

 

  • #amreading #amwriting no 2 twitter quote forever romance

#amwriting

I wrote a piece of flash fiction this week. For those who don’t know, flash tends to be 1000 word or less. It’s a great way to exercise your writing muscles and it gives prospective readers a good idea what to expect from you. Ideally, I want to join an existing flash fiction meme, but I’m struggling to find one. I know there’s a hashtag on Twitter (#flashfiction) so maybe I’ll just do that or start my own. I’ll be posting soon, so if you’re interested look out for that.

I’m knee deep in my second draft of my romance novella and finding my way through the editing process. It started off well. I printed off my first draft and got out the old red pen to correct mistakes and move things around. I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to change. So I changed it, then realised that I needed to add quite a few more scenes and decided to develop a few ideas / characters. This rapidly devolved into an overwhelming feeling of it all getting out of control. This is a familiar feeling now so I kind of know how to handle it:

1) Panic 2) Sit with head in hands wondering what the hell I was thinking when I started this 3) Tell myself to get a grip 4) Make another cup of coffee 5) Pick up a pen and some paper and try and organise my scattered thoughts!

It took a few days, but I managed to come up with another plan (there’s that damn word again!) and I think I’m back on track now. I’m aiming to finish this second draft by the end of next week, before the kids break up for Easter and I lose my writing days to child care!

Wish me luck!

Kx

 

#amreading / #amwriting ~ No. 1

Welcome to my latest reading and writing exploits – including interesting blogs, books, news on social media, alongside my ongoing trials and tribulations as I attempt to write my first book.

#amreading

I’ve been having a MASSIVE re-reading session of Nalini Singh’s Psy / Changling novels (see my blog on Nalini here). I’ve re-read the first ten books of the series, plus the collection of short stories (Cooper and Grace be still my beating heart!), over the past couple of weeks. It’s been a while since I read them the first time, so I’ve really enjoyed immersing myself in this world again from the beginning. It’s hard to pick out my favourites but the Alphas’ stories have to be top of the list. Lucas and Hawke are amazing characters and their mates are more than a match for them.

My favourite books are like a comfort blanket, one that I bring out when I need a specific emotional fix, but I also re-read when the current new books that I have on my kindle have proven a disappointment and unfortunately that’s the case at the moment. I’m hoping for better things soon.

Writer’s Digest is a veritable gold mine of information for writers. This post feels relevant to me at the moment: Self-Editing Advice: How to Tackle Character Consistency

Heroes and Heartbreakers is a brilliant blog for all things romance and I’ll be referencing it regularly because their posts are ace. This one caught my eye today and brings a new term to something that I love in my romance novels – the competence kink. 

On Twitter:

@TropeHero and @TropeHeroine are so worth a follow. Clever, funny and perfect for lovers of romance.

trope hero twitter pic

#amwriting

I’ve finished my first draft – yipee! I finished it a week ago actually but for one reason or another (half-term so kids at home / youngest was ill / I was sleep deprived) I’ve only just started to edit it. To be honest, taking the time away from it has been a good thing. The distance from it has made the story clearer to me in a way.

My first job when I begin editing is to layer emotion through the story showing the emotional development of my central character, Helena, but I’m mulling over adding a couple of scenes and keep having startling revelations about the detail – while I’m trying to get to sleep or washing up! The notes app on my phone is full of random, and not so random, thoughts that keep springing into my mind since I finished the first draft.

I edited the first ten pages today and it felt pretty good.

Any good book recommendations this week?

Kx