All posts by Ruthie

Saga
Friday Giveaway: Saga Edition

This week’s winner is Laurie G. Thanks to everyone who commented!

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Happy Friday, everybody!

How was your week? Mine was crap. But I’ve been reading Saga, and it’s awesome. If you’re a fan of graphic novels, read it. If you’re not, maybe read it anyway, as long as you can handle some violence/grossness. This is what it is—

 

SagaFrom New York Times bestselling writer BRIAN K. VAUGHAN (Y: THE LAST MAN, EX MACHINA) and critically acclaimed artist FIONA STAPLES (MYSTERY SOCIETY, NORTH 40), SAGA is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in a sexy, subversive drama for adults. This specially priced volume collects the first arc of the smash hit series The Onion A.V. Club calls it “the emotional epic Hollywood wishes it could make.”

 

I’m reading the Kindle version on my iPad, which is the first time I’ve done that, and I’m very pleased with the format. And the story is so good! A love story, with love! And sex, and a baby, and aliens, and spooky shit, and guns, and gore. I love it.

What small cheering thing have you found lately that made a bad week better? Tell me your things! Tomorrow morning, I’ll choose one random commenter to win a $10 gift certificate to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes — winner’s choice.

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Saga by Brian K. Vaghan and Fiona Staples | Amazon | Goodreads

Hard Time
What-To-Read Wednesday: Hard Time

Happy Wednesday! This week’s what-to-read may not require introduction — have you bought it already? What are you waiting for? — but just in case, here’s the blurb —

 

Hard TimeIn this all-new novel from the author of Unbound, a woman with a rocky past finds romance in the last place she’d ever expect… Annie Goodhouse doesn’t need to be warned about bad boys; good sense and an abusive ex have given her plenty of reasons to play it safe. But when she steps into her new role as outreach librarian for Cousins Correctional Facility, no amount of good sense can keep her mind—or eyes—off inmate Eric Collier. Eric doesn’t claim to be innocent of the crime that landed him in prison. In fact, he’d do it again if that’s what it took to keep his family safe. Loyalty and force are what he knows. But meeting Annie makes him want to know more. When Eric begins courting Annie through letters, they embark on a reckless, secret romance—a forbidden fantasy that neither imagines could ever be real…until early parole for Eric changes everything, and forces them both to face a past they can’t forget, and a desire they can’t deny.

 

That’s right! It’s Cara McKenna’s convict-meets-lady-librarian book, out at last! It’s so good, guys. Because Cara wrote it. And the hero is a convict. And I really don’t think it requires more words from me than that, but here I am reading from one of my favorite parts early on, where the heroine is at the prison teaching her literacy class and the hero asks her to help him write a letter. Gnughf.

 

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Hard Time by Cara McKenna | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Off the Edge
What-To-Read Wednesday: Off the Edge

Wednesday again, how about that?

This morning, the Romance Writers of America announced finalists for the annual Golden Heart and RITA awards, for unpublished and published romance of distinction, respectively. I’m honored to have received two nominations this year, one in the single-title contemporary category for Along Came Trouble and another in the romance novella category for How To Misbehave.

But I’m also excited to see so many of my friends and favorite writers on this year’s list, including the wonderful Off the Edge by Carolyn Crane, who is fabulous fabulous fabulous. So I decided to do today’s recommendation and reading from Carolyn’s book, because if you’re not reading her yet, you really really should be.

Here’s the blurb—

 

Off the EdgeSHE MAY BE HIS WORST ENEMY…
For deadly secret agent Peter Macmillan, language is a weapon—one he uses to hunt criminals, destroy plots, and charm enemies. Seducing information out of a beautiful singer in Bangkok hotel should be easy…except this particular singer has the power to destroy his cool façade, and with it, his last defense against a dark past.

HE MAY BE HER ONLY HOPE…
He tricked her. He helped himself to her body and her secrets. He has enemies everywhere. Laney Lancaster should hate Peter, but when she discovers him shirtless, sweaty, and chained up in the hotel’s dungeon, all she can think about is freeing him. Because she knows what it’s like to be trapped and alone. And she could use a dangerous friend.

They may be wrong for each other, but the instant they join forces, Laney and Peter are plunged into an odyssey of hot sex and dark danger. To survive, they must trust each other with their lives—and their hearts.

 

The first book I read by Carolyn Crane was one of an erotica title under her pen name Annika Martin — the hilarious, surprising, tender first book in the Taken Hostage By Hunky Bank Robbers series, The Hostage BargainI immediately needed to know WHO THIS PERSON WAS, and DID SHE HAVE AN AGENT, and WHAT COULD I DO TO MAKE SURE SHE GOT ALL THE THINGS? Because, for me, the intelligence and wit and all-around wonderfulness of whoever this woman was who’d written The Hostage Bargain just leapt off the pages right at my face.

It turns out that everything Carolyn writes is like that. Everything. Because she is like that. I met her last year at RWA, and she came along for karaoke, and she wore this skirt with deer on it? And sang this Led Zeppelin song about … blood? bones? in a low, growly voice, with a face like a hot Wisconsin kindergarten teacher.

I don’t know. It was the most awesome thing that ever happened.

Then, later, she joined me and Mary Ann Rivers for drinks and made me laugh so hard I almost puked.

So partly I want you to understand, here, that Carolyn is good people. But also, I want you to understand that when you read Off the Edge — which you should, immediately — you’re going to get what the cover looks like, which is sexy dark romantic suspense with guns and danger — and what the blurb promises, which is Bangkok and action and betrayal and sex and a linguist and a woman on the run — but you’re also going to get Carolyn Crane, who is smart and insightful and hilarious, quirky, a little bit bent, but in the best possible way.

I’m so happy she’s being acknowledged for her talent with a RITA final. I hope she wins, because she deserves to.

Here’s me, reading my favorite scene from Off the Edge.

 

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Off the Edge by Carolyn Crane | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads 

Off the Edge is the second book in The Associates series, but it’s fine to read them out of order.

Dabwaha Voting, Round 1, Set 2

2014Nominee-DABWAHA

Voting is open in the annual DABWAHA tournament, which pits romance against romance for fun, bragging rights, and prizes. Making It Last is a finalist this year, a reader write-in nominee for the final slot in the novella category. In the first round voting, it’s pitted against Mary Ann Rivers’s novella The Story Guy.makingitlast

This means that today, if you’re so inclined, you can hop over to the DABWAHA website and vote for Making It Last — or for The Story Guy — as well as for the books matched up in the other slots.

I haven’t done any DABWAHA campaigning this year, in part because I’ve been busy with other things, and in part because, to be honest, it doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense for me to encourage you to vote for Making It Last over The Story Guy.

It doesn’t make sense for me to talk trash about Mary Ann Rivers — her work, her story, her anything.

The Story GuyI know it’s all in good fun, but I can’t find it in myself to do it, even jokingly, because Making It Last is the product in large part of my creative and personal collaboration with Mary Ann Rivers. Because The Story Guy is a rich and beautiful story that she wrote before I met her, which was my introduction to her creative mind, and it’s a novella that I admire and love.

I met Mary Ann on Twitter. I jokingly said, one day, that I was about to write a sexy pinball scene and someone should talk me out of it. Mary Ann said no, she wouldn’t do that. Because pinball was sexy. And then she told me how, and why, and talked me into writing the scene that I obviously already wanted to be talked into writing.

It was a fun way to meet someone. She made me smile, and was clever and encouraging, so I sent the story to her when it was finished. She wrote me back a six-page letter that told me exactly what I’d done in my novel, and what it meant, and why it mattered.

That letter was the single most validating response to my writing that I’d ever received. It offered me, generously, a kind of clear-eyed understanding that is far more valuable than praise. It’s nice to be admired, of course. But it’s affirming, valuable, necessary, even, to be seen.

What do you write? I asked her. Can I read something? And she told me, in fact, she had a novella on submission to my editor at Loveswept. A novella that, it turned out, bore a lot of similarities to Big Boy, which was not yet published at the time.

The book in question was The Story Guy.

It blew me away. Made me cry. Made me happy. Gave me something, some insight, some gift that I still carry with me. The Story Guy is a kissing story — a story about life and choice, carrying burdens you haven’t chosen, making decisions to act in a way that feeds you.

After I read it, I asked her, What do you want?

Because it seemed to me, then, that whatever her hopes were for her novella, those hopes should be fulfilled. I knew she deserved that — that what she’d done was special. I wanted to help.

In the months since, that hasn’t changed. I’ve read all Mary Ann’s manuscripts. She’s read all mine. We’ve helped each other, exchanged daily pages, exchanged ideas, even done some collaborative writing.

She’s all over my work. I’m all over hers.

And this is why it doesn’t make any sense for me to tell you to vote for Making It Last. I didn’t. I voted for The Story Guy, because I’m always going to vote for Mary Ann. We vote with hundreds and thousands of emails, phone calls, visits, conversations. We vote with friendship and collaboration, insight, care, love.

We vote for each other, and when we do that, we vote for romance that is expansive and bright, interesting and insightful, engaged, big.

We vote for stories that take everything we’ve learned in our lives, in our reading, in our writing and craft and friendship, and use it to make meaning.

There are no wrong choices here. There’s no competition. There’s just her book, and my book, and what they offer the world. Which is more together — I am certain — than it would be separately.

Doubled
What-To-Read Wednesday: Doubled

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I’m continuing my (sporadic) series of video readings + recommendations this week with an older title by Charlotte Stein, Doubled, because I remembered this scene this morning and wanted to read it. Here’s the blurb —

 

DoubledBobbi has been friends with the Hoffman twins for one long, glorious year. They’re sweet, funny and kind, but there’s a problem…they’re also hotness personified. Times two. And when they lure her into a kinky little game involving a blindfold and some rather unexpected fondling, she finds them much harder to resist than she’d imagined.

It seems they want to be something other than just good friends. They want a hot, steamy ménage, and all Bobbi has to do is decide if she’s up to the challenge. One big, gorgeous guy is enough for her.

Two might be more than she can handle…

 

I thought I’d recommended Doubled before, but it turns out I just had Charlotte on to guest post about it. Here’s what I said in that post about the book:

 

I read Doubled straight through from start to finish last weekend, loving every moment of it. I actually started reading at a coffee shop on my Saturday morning date-thing with my husband, and I kept laughing out loud. He quickly figured out that it wasn’t a great idea to ask what I was laughing at, because it would inevitably be some line like this one, which describes a kiss:

“She didn’t mind admitting that it turned her knees to soup. Hell, it turned her vagina to soup, despite all the issues said feeling threw up — like what might happen if she actually had to deal with the sexual interest she had in one or both of them. Or the fact that a sentence like that one had to have the word both in it.”

Had anyone ever asked me before I read Charlotte Stein, I might have said that I didn’t want my erotica to be funny, but it turns out that I do. I really do.

 

Just as true now as it was then. Here’s a brief reading from Doubled that showcases Charlotte’s deft use of deep point of view and humor to highlight the heroine’s awkward, intense feelings and where they lead her.

 

 

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Doubled by Charlotte Stein | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Ellora’s Cave | Goodreads

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Friday Giveaway: NYT Edition

This week’s winner is Tatiana. Thanks to everyone who entered!

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Happy Friday! How’s everybody?

I’m a little disoriented. Going through some life stuff that is complex and challenging and difficult. Doing the taxes. Found out on Wednesday evening that About Last Night hit both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, which means I am now this:

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Obviously, I am very important. *snort*

I did want to say thank you to all of you — my readers, online friends, real-life friends, family — who helped make this possible. I’m honored.

So what does your weekend hold? I think I’m going to join 2014 and get an iPhone. My pay-as-you-go teenager phone is discontinuing its email service, so I don’t have much choice. Tell me what you’re up to, or whatever you feel like, and I’ll choose one random commenter tomorrow morning to win a $10 gift certificate to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes, winner’s choice.