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Yes, It's Been A While...

Yes, It’s Been A While…

Sunday, May 31, 2015
Posted in: Personal, Uncategorized

But I’ve been really busy.

I literally haven’t told anybody else because I live in fear of yet another miscarriage, but I’m pregnant, and I just wanted to share it with somebody. Also, I guess I just assume that not many of you read this blog any more so I guess it feels like a safe space…

I can’t get too excited because I’ve been here before, but I’m really hoping that this is it this time.

Wish me luck…

The winner of the Advance Reader Copy of THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS is Lori_Erokan. Please email Julia at juliaspencerfleming dot com and let her know if you want a book (include your snail mail address) or a Net Galley (ebook.)

 

 

 

Through evil daysI love a good romance. I’ve been reading them ever since I snuck The Flame and the Flower out of the paperback swap box at the Argyle Free Library. I was thirteen, and boy, did that that novel further my education. In the many, many years since then, I think I’ve read in every romance subgenre there is (except, perhaps, for Inspirational Amish single title. I’ve read Amish romance, mind you – Sunshine and Shadow remains one of my faves.) So it was a natural fit for me to create a heartfelt romance within my first mystery novel.

 

The book was titled In the Bleak Midwinter and it became a surprising success. Evidently, lots of readers shared my enthusiasm for suppressed passion alongside murders, arrests and life-threatening chases through the Adirondack mountains. So much so, that the eighth in the series, Through the Evil Days, is being released on November 5th (a very easy date to remember, remember.) I’ve taken my heroine, an Episcopal priest who unwillingly falls in love with a married police chief, from their small northern New York town to a tour of combat duty in Iraq and back again (with accompanying problems.) There have been lingering half-hidden glances; unwilling admissions of love; pain, rejection, reconciliation and consummation (that was fun to write.)

Karen Scott 2

However, as central as the relationship between Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne is to the story, I’m still writing crime fiction, not Romance-with-a-capital-R. Which means I get to play with and against many of the conventions of that genre. Russ is neither young nor rich (although he is, to use the description of Castle, “ruggedly handsome.” Clare is lively and personable, not pretty. Russ is married at the beginning of the series to a pleasant, attractive woman. (The H/H don’t cross the line into actual cheating, but even emotional infidelity tends to be a huge no-fly zone in Romance.) Their big fights end with them being mad, not falling into each others’ arms.

 

Karen Scott 4Now, in the upcoming Through the Evil Days, I tackle a romance trope that has always bugged the heck out of me: the Joyful Reaction to Unplanned Pregnancy. You’ve all read this, right? The hero and heroine have no plans to have kids. They’re surprised with an unplanned pregnancy. She instantly becomes Tiger Mother and he turns into Father Goose. In real life? Not so much. She says, “Oh, shit.” He says, “What did you do?” A vigorous discussion ensues. I wanted to take a look at that. In One Was a Soldier, my hero and heroine finally made it up the aisle, with the understanding that, among other things, the demands of her calling and his age meant they wouldn’t have children. So of course, at the very end of the book, they discover she’s pregnant. (Lawrence Block’s secret to good fiction: just keep throwing one damn thing after another at your characters.)

 

Karen Scott 3In a romance, the Hero would take a deep breath, readjust his perceptions, and say, “Great news, honey!” Russ reacts a little differently.

He collapsed into one of the ladder-back chairs. “How?” She looked at him incredulously. “I mean, I thought you had the birth control thing all covered.” He jammed one hand through his hair. “Jesus, Clare, I would’ve used condoms if there was a problem.” He squinted up at her. “You didn’t forget to take ’em, did you?” He didn’t mean to sound suspicious, but it came out that way.

 

Karen Scott 1Clare’s scared of what her congregation will think, but soon has bigger problems when the bishop threatens to haul her up on charges of “conduct unbecoming of a priest.” She’s afraid for the baby – she’s being treated for addiction – she’s afraid for her job, and she’s afraid for her marriage.

 

Russ is mad, upset, inflexible and refuses to buy into the idea that he’s going to be a father. And he doesn’t do a 180 turn through the talc-scented magic of romancelandia. He has a long, hard slog through danger and disruption before he can even hope to come to grips with the way his life continues to be turned upside down by love.

Karen Scott 5

Will they arrive at agreement and acceptance? Will they be able to grow and change within their marriage? Will they get away from the stone-cold killers they stumble over at their remote lakeside honeymoon cabin? (Well, it is a mystery.)

 

And what do you think, readers? Do you prefer the H/H who start knitting booties before the EPT stick has dried? Or do you like them to have a more realistic approach to the event? Let me know, and one lucky commenter will get an Advance Reader Copy or Net Galley of Through the Evil Days !

Julia Author Photo

Julia Spencer-Fleming‘s New York Times bestselling books have won multiple awards, including the Anthony and Agatha, and have been Edgar and RT Reader’s Choice nominees. The next Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne novel, Through the Evil Days, comes out on November 5th. You can find Julia at her website, her readerSpace, on Facebook and on Twitter as @jspencerfleming. She also blogs with the Jungle Red Writers.

Author Visit: Julia Spencer-Fleming

Were you here for Julia Spencer-Fleming’s post on sex in mysteries? I was, back when I was just a visitor, even though I hadn’t then read any of her books.  And despite her telling me I had the same tastes as a little old lady, I went on to read them all. 😉

Julia will be joining us again on Wednesday October 9th to talk about her upcoming book Through the Evil Days. I don’t know what she has planned, but her last post was pretty fun, so come check it out.

TBR Challenge: Outcast Woman by Lucy Gordon

outcastThe theme: A Western. I screwed the pooch on this one — I thought it was a western historical and then discovered it was actually a contemporary set in Dartmoor! But as things turned out, the plot shared so many commonalities with classic Americana stories, I decided to let it stand.

Sensuality Rating: Steamy

Kirsty Trennon’s husband died in prison, proclaiming himself innocent with his last breath. Considered to be a sinful adulterer who drove him to murder, she’s been a local pariah ever since, living as a hermit on her isolated farm.

When Kirsty finds an escaped and ailing prisoner hiding in her barn, deliriously proclaiming his innocence, the parallel touches her heart and she helps him. As Mike gets well, Kirsty finds herself feeling desire for the first time, but her painful history, Mike’s issues, and their vastly divergent lifestyles make their relationship a tumultuous one.

You can see why I originally mistook this was an historical; it’s quite an old-fashioned plot, and the first mention of a phone was startling. (One of the villagers even calls Kirsty a witch!) The emphasis on Kirsty’s love of the land and of all living things, as well as subplots about evil developers trying to buy her out and so on, increased the resemblance.

Gordon is one of my favorite category authors, but this really wasn’t my style. It’s another very episodic, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink book — I kept wishing Gordon had chosen one plotline and developed it (and the characters) instead of branching out into a dozen different directions. It also has one of my most despised pet peeves — infertility healed by the power of twu wuv — and I was bothered by the emphasis on Kirsty’s innocence, as if the way people had treated her would have been just fine otherwise. It’s certainly readable, and the lonely beauty of the unusual setting may extend its appeal for some readers, but for me it was just 2 stars. It’s not in print or in digital format, but cheap copies are available here.

(Published by Silhouette. Review copy owned by me.)

P.S.

P.S.

Friday, February 22, 2013
Posted in: Uncategorized

Just a quick note: Escorted by Claire Kent is free for Kindle today.

Willaful Review: Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger

Sensuality Rating: technically candyfloss, but with some explicit language

 

“I don’t know what you’ve got up your sleeve for Travis and Craig, but I want the boys to wind up together. If you put me through all this without a happy ending, I’ll see to it that you never work in this town again.”

After John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, this is the sweetest, funniest book that ever broke my heart. (Which is not a spoiler for the ending, by the way; it broke my heart on page 30.) In the world’s most adorable book opening, theatre geek/activist Travis and jock/baseball lover Craig become the best buddies ever who don’t know they’re in love. And then just when they figure it out… BAM. We’re suddenly twenty years later and they are not together! Though you can still see their influence on each other’s lives: Craig has become a civil rights lawyer, and Travis teaches history to jocks by comparing major historical events to major moments in baseball. (His students’ test answers, which include advice on how to conduct his love life, are one of the highlights of the story.)

Craig is also in a long term relationship, but Travis’ attempts to find love have all been dismal failures. And he suddenly realizes that it’s because he already had it… and lost it. And so begins an epic journey to rediscover the love of his life.

Told in a stream of journal entries, school essays, phone conversations, court documents and so on, and featuring a large cast of lovably eccentric characters, this was as amusing to read as it is affectionate. I especially loved that Kluger gave each main character a sassy, wise straight friend. By genre standards, this would qualify as a novel with strong romantic elements rather than a romance, but the spirit of romance pervades the book and much true love is found all around.

Two things kept this from being a 5 star read for me: I didn’t think there was enough individuation between the different character’s voices, and I felt a little too manipulated by Kluger keeping Craig and Travis apart for so long. (And you can tell from the quote above that he knew he was doing it.) Though I’m tempted to give that extra star, because after creating a seemingly impossible situation, the story pulls off an ending that feels right.  I love the book, even though it hurt. You can buy it from Amazon here.

Published by William Morrow. Review from borrowed copy. I want my own.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Posted in: Uncategorized

Willaful Review: Rogue Rider by Larissa Ione

Sensuality rating: Torrid

Traditionally, the last book in a romance series is about a fascinating character that we’ve seen in the previous books and are dying to read about. In this case, there’s a twist: Reseph is someone we’ve only seen in tiny snippets and though the memories of others. One of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he’s spent the last three books ruled by an inner evil, Pestilence. As Pestilence, he caused vast misery in the world and committed vicious crimes against the members of his own family — the other three horsemen, and the heroes and heroines of the previous books — in an effort to force them to join him. Which of course made me even more eager to read his story and discover who Reseph really is, and how he’s going to redeem himself and reconnect with his family.

As the story opens, the world in general is trying to recover from the plagues, wars, and demon attacks Pestilence caused, and Jillian Cardiff in particular is trying to recover from a terrible attack that left her damaged inside and out. When she rescues a gorgeous naked man she finds in the snow, all of her protective mechanisms are challenged — including the voice of experience which tells her she has very bad instincts when it comes to men.

Amnesia is the perfect set-up for this book: it gives the powerful Reseph a touch of vulnerability, frees him from crippling guilt (temporarily, of course) and exposes his true self with no filters.  Tabula rasa Reseph is natural, playful, and lovable, happiest when he’s bouncing around stark naked or having sex. I liked Jillian a lot too, perhaps because Reseph always views her as strong rather than fragile. Their relationship is hot but also supportive, believable as the catalyst for Reseph to change and take responsibility for his actions.

Characterization was the strong point in this book, and pacing the weak. The first half drags a bit; the second has more compelling storytelling, but wastes some of its angst potential.  When you have a really powerful set-up for drama and then don’t use it… well, it may be different, but it’s also disappointing. The ending is strong though, and has a great set-up for the next book — which apparently will count as part of the “Demonica” series, rather than the “Lords of Deliverance.” (It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference — they’re extremely intertwined.)

My gut instinct rating for Rogue Rider is 3 1/2 stars, even though in many ways I really liked it. If you’ve enjoyed the rest of the series, you certainly won’t want to miss it. (I also thought while reading it that it could stand alone, but another reviewer who hadn’t read the previous books was very lost.)  You can order it from Amazon here or Barnes and Noble here.

Published by Grand Central. Reviewed from an e-arc provided by netGalley

Paranormal Heroines: It's Okay to Kick Ass, but Not to Get Some Ass

Paranormal romance is the home of the hyper-masculinized hero. They’re bigger than mere men. Broader. Immortal. And I’m not just talking about their erections. But this is okay, because the Hyper-Masculinized Paranormal Hero is generally paired with the Kick-Ass Paranormal Heroine. She’s tough. She’s ruthless when necessary. She knows what she wants and goes after it. She wear tight, sexy clothing and has been around the block a few times.  Or wait… has she?

I’ve been noticing something odd in the paranormal romances I’ve been reading. The oversexed heroes are being paired with women who are — or rather, were til they met the overpowering hero — anything but. (more…)

You Make Me Feel Like Dancin'

You Make Me Feel Like Dancin’

Saturday, July 7, 2012
Posted in: Uncategorized
Tags:

It was adorable when a guy taught the world a stupid dance. It is amazing when the world teaches him.

Link: Where The Hell is Matt

(That’s Salsa Rueda he’s dancing in Israel at 2:15. We are everywhere!)

A PSA From Michelle

A PSA From Michelle

Thursday, July 5, 2012
Posted in: Uncategorized
Tags:,

Having come across this issue a couple times in the past few months I’m forced to make this statement: Look, once any body part or object has been inserted into the ass it cannot then be placed in the vagina. I understand that in the heat of the moment our hero and heroine might forget basic hygiene, but as a reader all I can think about is the raging case of crotch rot the heroine is in for. Can we have a shower in the interim, or at least a ho bath? Even a baby wipe will do, but please let them clean up in some fashion before continuing. Otherwise the book is a total wallbanger. And not in a good way.

Authors Who Write The Same Book, Over and Over Again

I read Lora Leigh’s latest book the other day, and although I keep threatening to quit her, I still end up buying her books, hoping against hope that that will be the book where she breaks the habit of a career, and gives me a different plot device. I’m still waiting.

Are there any other authors that you’ve come across who write decent books, but it’s basically the same book over and over and over?

KKB Sensuality Ratings...

KKB Sensuality Ratings…

Monday, May 7, 2012
Posted in: Uncategorized

I finally got round to setting a guideline for sensuality ratings on here.

And without further I do, I give you the KKB Sensuality Ratings:

BLISTERING: Graphic, explicit sex scenes and lots of it. Probably best not to be read whilst on public transport. Just saying.

TORRID: Sex is explicit, but it doesn’t take over the whole damn book. There may be some kinky stuff too, but not much.

STEAMY: There is some vanilla sex, including the odd nipple tweaking and vag baiting, but not much of it. Definitely no kink.

CANDY FLOSS: That bedroom door is firmly shut, you’ll be lucky if you get an extended lip-lock with tongues.

Every review from here on in will now come with one of the above ratings. Hopefully this will make your book-buying decisions a bit easier. Or not, as the case may be…

PS: I did consider using red penises to indicate level of sexual activity, e.g. 1 penis = mild, 2 penis = hot etc, etc, but I thought better of it:)

Thanks Dee Tenorio For The Great Design...

I just wanted to say thanks to Dee Tenorio for doing such a great job on the blog redesign. She was beyond accommodating and was ever so easy to work with.

So a massive thank you Dee!!!

You can see some of her other designs over at her Laideebug Digital website here.

Under Construction…

Monday, April 23, 2012
Posted in: Uncategorized

You may have noticed that the blog is looking slightly out of sync, well no worries, in case you couldn’t tell, the blog is currently under construction. Normal service will be resumed shortly. In the mean time, if there’s anything glaringly funky, can you let us know in the comments section?

 

Thanks muchly!

We’re in the midst of currently re-designing the blog, (yeah I know most of you are thinking, about time too!) What changes would you guys like to see? You can choose from any of the following, but obviously, all comments and suggestions are welcomed:

More reviews?
Less reviews?
Sensuality ratings?
More opinion pieces?
Less opinion pieces?
Better functionality? (if so, anything in particular?)
Plugin suggestions?
Other navigation buttons?

Also, where do you personally buy your books from? I know that I currently only list Amazon, but if there’s a need for other links for sites such as B&N etc, we can look at including those too.

The colour scheme is going to be red and white, what do you think? I love those colours, but I was thinking the other day that it might make it harder for you guys to read at work.

Don’t be shy, let me know what you really think.

Well This Is Original…

Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Posted in: Uncategorized

Got this email earlier. Seriously, do people actually fall for this crap?

From: “Mogoli Angelberg”
Date: 27 March 2012 21:20:02 GMT+01:00
To: hairylemony
Subject: loved your book

Just checked out your book on Smashwords, Chris and you’re so so talented. Do you have any suggestions for a budding writer like me?

What has worked and what hasn’t? Tried FB, Twitter, even book marks. I just don’t want to waste my time on things that don’t work.

I just read a couple EXCELLENT books on it. One was recommended by my friend called “Effortless Marketing”: http://amzn.to/EFFORTLESS I got it cause Mark Coker the Smashwords guy endorsed it and cause it’s free for the next 24 hours anyway. And it was surprisingly really, really good.

Do you have any other books you’d recommend?

If I’d written a book, I might have believed it a tiny little bit. If I was called Chris, I’d believe it even more.

Bloody spammers!

Help! Blog Designer Needed ASAP!

Monday, March 19, 2012
Posted in: Uncategorized
Tags:

I’m aware that this blog has needed a massive redesign for ages, however some of the prices for redesigns are out of my blog budget. Can you guys recommend somebody who does blog designs in their spare time? Cheap being the operative word here.

I need somebody who’s obviously fluent in WordPress code, in a way that I neither have the time nor the inclination to be, and somebody who’s pretty creative too would be helpful:)

If you or somebody you know wants to offer their services, you can email me at hairylemony @ gmail.com (without the spaces. Seriously, why do I have to even type that bit out??)

Thanks muchly!

I’m annoyed today. I’ve just read about yet another child that was killed by one of her parents.

For me, yet more proof that that bloke in the Sky couldn’t give a rat’s arse.

I’d be a great mother, why can’t I get pregnant and stay pregnant?

Yes, I’m annoyed today.

Rant over.

I want it NOW! I wanted an iPad in the US, but I still wasn’t prepared to shell out $499 for the pleasure of owning one. Now the Kindle Fire at $199 is way better!

No doubt here in good old England we’ll be the last to get it. Bummer.