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Binge-Reading a Series

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by Lynda Aicher, author of the Wicked Play series (Carina Press)

Have you ever discovered the first book in an already established or finished series and gotten that great rush of excitement as you immerse yourself in that world for days or weeks until you’ve binge-read all the books, sometimes to the detriment of other things in your life such as sleep?

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As a reader, I love doing that. Sometimes I’ve even waited for a series to get four or five books in before I start reading it so I could binge-read them. I enjoy the thrill of getting lost in the characters and the challenges thrown at them or the ever-deepening world and plot that is unraveled a little in each book. It doesn’t matter what genre it is, just as long as the world and characters continue to grow, change and entertain.

I find that a series offers the unique opportunity to fall in love with the characters over and over again. It’s a chance to root for the secondary character when he or she gets their own book and get peaks at past characters as the world progresses. Often, the characters become like a second family to me as I cheer for their happy endings. I know that will sound crazy to non-book lovers, but I’m sure there are those of you out there who get it.

When I wrote the first book in the Wicked Play series, Bonds of Trust, I honestly didn’t know it would become a series built around the owners of the Twin Cities most exclusive sex club, The Den. But then I realized there were more stories to tell. More reasons and motivations behind what drives people to seek out what the club offers. The Wicked Play world explores those variations and the bonds that hold them together as they deal with societal pressures in their search for acceptance.

The series has been described as contemporary romance with a little bit of kink and with the release of the first Box Set, it’s a great opportunity to dive into a new world filled with emotion, angst, joy, love and, of course, happy endings.

I’m always looking for a new series to read, so tell me, what series did you binge-read or do you anxiously wait for the next book so you can get lost in the world once again?

WickedPlayBoxSet_v1Wicked Play, Box Set 1

Welcome to The Den, the Twin Cities’ most exclusive BDSM club.

Three extraordinary opportunities to release your secret desires and join in the wicked play!

Bonds of Trust (Wicked Play Book One)
After ending her passionless marriage, Cali Reynolds is eager to live out her forbidden fantasies. Her first step is attending new members’ night at The Den. Perhaps here she can find a man who understands her desire to be dominated.

Bonds of Need (Wicked Play Book Two)
When Kendra Morgan attends a party at The Den, she’s not driven by mere curiosity. Hoping to prove she’s put the past behind her, Kendra must instead face up to needs she’s denied for too long. Despite her lingering fears, she can’t resist the temptation to play.

Bonds of Desire (Wicked Play Book Three)
Lawyer Allison English never planned to return to The Den-despite her naughty fantasies about being bound by owner Seth Matthews. But when club guest Tyler Wysong is injured in a scene, Seth turns to Allie for help. Aroused by both men, Allie should turn the case down. But she can’t…

 

About Lynda

After years of weekly travel implementing computer software into global companies, Lynda Aicher ended her nomadic lifestyle to raise her two children. Now her imagination is her only limitation on where she can go and her writing lets her escape from the daily duties as a mom, wife, chauffeur, scheduler, cook, teacher, volunteer, cleaner and mediator. She can be found at her website, lyndaaicher.com and on Twitter & Facebook. The fifth book in the Wicked Play series, Bonds of Denial is available now.

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New Free Online Read: A Game of Seduction by Cat Schield

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What do you get when you take two longtime friends and add a steamy weekend in Las Vegas with a seductive challenge? A new Harlequin Desire free online read by Cat Schield! Start reading “A Game of Seduction” to find out what happens next….

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Steamy weekends in Vegas are nothing new for Hollywood leading man Chase Reynolds. And with his longtime friend and collaborator, Brianna McDermott, down in the dumps over her ex, Chase will do anything—even seduce her himself to remind her how desirable she is! Their TV show is on the line and he needs her to commit. But when they get to Vegas, suddenly he’s the one thinking about commitment. Because all along, Brianna had an ace up her sleeve in this seduction showdown….

Las Vegas Nights: Where love is the biggest gamble of all!

Here’s an excerpt to get you started:

“So, are we going to do this, or what?”

Wearing one of Fontaine Richesse’s thick white towels and an air of determination, Brianna McDermott stood confidently in the doorway to the hotel suite’s luxurious bedroom.

Chase Reynolds swallowed hard. Damn, she was gorgeous—five-feet, six-inches of curvy perfection. And Bri possessed a brilliant mind and a wicked sense of humor that not a lot of people got. They’d been friends for ten years. Collaborators for six months on a television pilot that Bri had written and Chase had directed. What happened between them in the next several hours would be either the best thing that had ever happened to him or the biggest mistake of his life.

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Cover Spotlight: The Wonder Of All Things by Jason Mott

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by Erika Imranyi, Senior Editor, MIRA

As editors, it’s our job to see a book through every step of the publishing process, from before it’s even acquired until after it hits the bookshelves. One of my favorite parts of this behemoth job is seeing the cover art for the very first time. It’s like picking out clothes for your child’s first day of school. You want your book to go out in the world wearing the perfect outfit!

TWOAT - Cover

The first time I saw the cover for Jason Mott’s The Wonder of All Things, my heart stopped. The novel is about a young girl who has the mysterious gift of healing and who suddenly finds herself having to decide how much she’s willing to give of herself in order to save the ones she loves most. It’s a beautifully written, deeply emotional novel that raises profound and provocative questions about love, sacrifice and the power of miracles. It was important for the cover to capture the…well, the wonder of the book in a way that would resonate with and inspire readers—which is no easy feat, from a design standpoint. But the artist nailed it, I think. It certainly makes me want to pick up the book, and I hope it makes you want to pick up the book, as well. Be sure to tell us what you think!

About the Book

From critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling author Jason Mott comes a spellbinding tale of love, sacrifice and the power of miracles.

On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators, killing and injuring dozens. But when the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds miraculously disappear.

Ava has a unique gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. But now the whole world knows, and suddenly Ava is thrust into the spotlight. People from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to glimpse the specter of a miracle. But Ava’s unusual ability comes at a great cost—her own health—and as she grows weaker with each healing, Ava begins searching for an escape. Wash agrees to help Ava, but little does she know he has his own secret he’s been harboring, and soon Ava finds herself having to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to save the one she loves most.

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Exclusive Trailer Debut: The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs returns to Bella Vista in The Beekeeper’s Ball and today we’re thrilled to debut the book trailer right here on the Harlequin Blog!

Bella Vista is the ideal venue for Isabel Johansen to realize her dream of setting up a cooking school…and the perfect place for her to forget the past. But Isabel’s plans begin to go awry when swaggering, war-torn journalist Cormac O’Neill arrives to dig up old history.

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Excerpt Saturday: The Wedding Ring Quest by Carla Kelly

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How far would you go to retrieve a lost wedding ring? Carla Kelly’s The Wedding Ring Quest shows just how a search can turn into a fantastic adventure.

weddingringquestSearching for a ring…finding a family!

Penniless Mary Rennie knows she’s lucky to have a home with relatives in Edinburgh, but she does crave more excitement in her life. So when her cousin’s ring is lost in one of several fruitcakes heading around the country as gifts, Mary seizes the chance for adventure.

When widowed captain Ross Rennie and his son meet Mary in a coaching inn, they take her under their wing. After years of battling Napoleon, Ross’s soul is war weary, but Mary’s warmth and humor touch him deep inside. Soon, he’s in the most heart-stopping situation of his life—considering a wedding-ring quest of his own!

***

This was no ordinary return to Plymouth; Captain Ross Rennie felt it in his bones. A frigate captain much wiser than he —dead now, like so many friends —had described it best during one of those chats on the far side of the world when another frigate pulled alongside to visit and hand off mail.

In the course of their conversation over beef too long in brine and green water, they described recent fights with the French or Spanish, depending on where national allegiance had swung in an endless war. The long-defunct captain had looked Ross square in the eye and said, ‘Sometimes a victory is only a hair’s breadth better than a defeat.’

A young captain at the time, Ross had nodded, wondering later what the devil the man meant. As his thirty-six-gun frigate Abukir sailed into Plymouth on a rainy day, Ross felt that hollow, sinking feeling of defeat, when he should have been over the moon with joy. The emotion had been growing since his ship had been ordered to join the convoy escorting Napoleon and his entourage to Elba after his banishment there in 1814 by the Allies. A time or two during the short voyage from France, he had stood on his own quarterdeck and observed Bonaparte on HMS Undaunted, Captain Tom Ussher’s frigate.

Ross almost hated himself for finding the man so fascinating, but the exiled emperor seemed to demand attention. Ross noticed other telescopes trained on Napoleon.

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What Are Your Favorite Gothic Stories?

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This month sees the release of our second Harlequin E Shivers Box Set!  We checked in with all four authors to ask if they’d seen a resurgence of gothic stories lately, and to share any of their favorite gothic tales in movies or television.

Jane Godman, author of Echoes in the Darkness

Since Harlequin E Shivers launched with the first box set in January 2014, I am noticing gothic trends everywhere! All of a sudden, it seems everyone wants to explore the attics and cellars of our imagination. Films, television programs, books, computer games, websites—even clothing—are determined to take us to where the wild, shadowy things lurk.

This gothic related phenomenon could be easily explained, of course. It might be the same as when you think of buying a certain make of car. Suddenly, you see nothing but that particular type of car. I may be so tuned in to gothic-ness through my own writing that I’m noticing it everywhere. Or Harlequin E Shivers may be the trailblazers for a gothic resurgence. I like to think it’s the latter.

I have noticed a definite recurring gothic theme, although it is not labelled explicitly as such, in many of the Scandinavian programs on British TV. Dramas like Wallander, The Bridge and The Killing all rely heavily on atmosphere, cliff-hangers and secrets—the lynchpins of a good gothic. The BBC’s adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley has been one of my favorite dramas recently. It was a masterpiece of gothic shivery-ness, making the viewer suspect everyone, even (whisper it quietly) Mr. Darcy.

Looking ahead, I’m excited to learn that, when it comes to the big screen, Tom Hiddleston will be starring in Guillermo del Toro’s gothic horror film Crimson Peak next year. I have no idea if the delicious Mr. Hiddleston was influenced in his choice of role by the fact that Harlequin E Shivers are leading a gothic revival. But who knows?

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Harlequin News Round Up: April 17, 2014

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This week is filled with celebrations at Harlequin! Romantic Times award winners, Carina Press sports romances, and spotlights on Harlequin Presents and Harlequin Medical Romance are just some of the news we have to share with you, dear readers. Keep reading to learn more!

Congratulations to RT Award Winners!

Romantic Times magazine has announced the winners of their 2013 Reviwers’s Choice Best Book Awards and Career Achievement Awards! Congratulations to the many Harlequin authors who won awards, and to all the well deserved nominees!

30% off Harlequin Presents

Do you love the glitz, glamour and luxurious settings? Or passionate, steamy romance? How about the devastatingly sexy and ruthless alpha heroes? If you said YES to any of these, now is the time to stock up on Harlequin Presents books at Harlequin.com! ALL Presents books (ebooks and print) are 30% off list price this month. Get the coupon code in the image below and click here to get shopping.

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We <3 Librarians!

It’s National Library Week! We love libraries…and librarian characters, too! The Harlequin Community has rounded up romances featuring librarian heroines, including What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss, The Librarian’s Secret Scandal by Jennifer Morey and Taken with You by Shannon Stacey. Which books would add to the list? Join the discussion in Community here!

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Bronwyn Scott’s Discreet Gentlemen

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by Bronwyn Scott, author of London’s Most Wanted Rake (book 4 of Rakes Who Make Husbands Jealous quartet, Harlequin Historical)

I’ve been thinking about a Regency male escort series for quite a while. With hot movies like Magic Mike and last year’s breaking news (which came halfway through the writing of the series—the first book was already “in the can”) from The Hollywood Reporter that escorts at the Cannes Film Festival were making $4,000 a night, the timing for the series couldn’t be better.

The series centers around Channing Deveril, who runs a discreet escort service for the ladies of the haute ton. The aim of Channing’s League of Discreet Gentlemen is to provide companionship whether it be the pleasure of having a handsome man on the arm for an evening at the opera or something a little more daring. Channing’s men come from a variety of backgrounds ranging from Nicholas D’Arcy, who is landowning gentry down on his luck, to retired cavalry officer Captain Grahame Westmore, to Jocelyn Eisley, an earl’s heir who loves the thrill of the secrecy. And, of course, the series features heroines who are more than enough for each of these gentlemen.

I tried to give every tale a unique setting so that each tale had something that stands out. For instance, Grahame Westmore’s story takes place in the form of a road trip to Vienna, no fancy London balls for him. He sleeps in barns, rides through the rain and cooks over an open fire—a rugged man indeed! Nick D’Arcy’s story takes place in the countryside, and there’s a chance to explore a certain aspect on the city-mouse, country-mouse angle. What will a man used to the city’s entertainment and glamour do in the quiet of the countryside? The closest he gets to a fancy ball is a rather vicious house party.

The series was great to write. Each gentleman is outspoken in his own way, which made their dialogue fun to come up with. I spent a lot of time thinking about how each hero would articulate his thoughts. Even more than that, I enjoyed evolving each character, hero and heroine alike, from how they understood themselves on the first page to their new understanding of themselves on the last. For instance, Nicholas has come to define himself based on his ability to give pleasure in bed; this has become the sole avenue for judging his “success” in life, although this vision of himself has led him to discard other dreams he once had. Through meeting Annorah, he is able to reconcile who he has become and who he’s always been. Ultimately, that’s the beauty of relationships—learning about who we are and what we can be with the help of those we love.

How about you? Who has influenced your life for the better? Leave a comment here and give them a shout-out.

I hope you love reading about my discreet gentlemen as much as I loved writing about them!

About the Book

“Channing Deveril—a new woman every night. You’re worried about scandals? You are a scandal!”

Rumor has it that Channing Deveril, founder of The League of Discreet Gentlemen, is tired of warming women’s beds. But when he encounters the alluring Alina Marliss, the stage is set for his most ambitious assignment yet….

Alina is accustomed to teetering on the edge of scandal, so Channing’s skillful seduction is a complication she definitely doesn’t need! She might crave his expert touch, but she has no intention of losing her head—much less her heart—over London’s most notorious rake!

Rakes Who Make Husbands Jealous — Only London’s best lovers need apply!

Rakes Who Make Husbands Jealous quartet:

SECRETS OF A GENTLEMAN ESCORT – Harlequin Historical, January 2014

AN OFFICER BUT NO GENTLEMAN  – Harlequin Historical Undone, February 2014

A MOST INDECENT GENTLEMAN -  Harlequin Historical Undone, March 2014

LONDON’S MOST WANTED RAKE – Harlequin Historical, April 2014

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“The thrill of swinging the hammer”: Christine d’Abo on Nailed

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by Christine d’Abo, author of Nailed (Cosmo Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin)

Hello. My name is Christine and I have an addiction to home improvement shows. Hey now, I’m being serious! They say that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, so I’m here today to start the healing process.

nailedI first realized I might have an issue when I started watching HGTV when I was on the treadmill at the gym. The show on was one I’d seen before (more than once) and it was a favorite. I was chuckling at the jokes I couldn’t hear as I tried not to collapse against the monitor. That’s when I realized my husband was shaking his head on the machine beside me.

“You need help, sweetie.”

“Why?”

“Mike Holmes isn’t that funny.”

How can I not love these shows?! Men and women doing hard work with their hands. Sweat and dirt, giving way to smiles and tears when the job is over. Just because I now understand things like abatement and self-leveling concrete, this isn’t a bad thing.

I’m watching for the educational aspects of the programming. Honest!

If I happen to tune into shows hosted by some attractive contractors, well that wasn’t my fault.  I was after the knowledge! The thrill of swinging the hammer! The way sweat would gleam off their bodies as they lugged drywall into the house wasn’t something I could stop myself from seeing.

Am I right? My husband didn’t believe me either.

I recognized quickly that I needed to channel my growing obsession with home improvements shows the only way I knew how—to put on front and center in an erotic romance novel. That’s just how I roll.

It was easy to come up with Fynn’s character. There were so many construction workers/contractors out there for me to model Fynn after that I had a lot of fun with my research. One of the awesome things about watching home improvement shows is being able to see the rise of women in the industry. Sophia is a mash up of many female construction workers, mixed with the talented designers.

I threw them together, shook things up, and let the fireworks explode. Fynn and Sophia get into all sorts of sexy fun on the set, and along the way learn more than a few things about themselves and each other. As for me, I’m beginning to realize that my addiction to home improvement shows isn’t so bad after all.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a bathtub to caulk.

About Nailed:

Warning: This show contains scenes of sexual tension.

Hosting a new TV show is a fantasy-turned-reality for diva decorator Sophia Holbrook. But concentrating on color swatches is hard when all she can think of is her studly cohost, contractor Fynn Babineau. These two may clash over blueprints and budgets on-screen, but with the lust palpable between them, rumor has it they have been putting more than just their heads together behind the scenes…. What secrets will the cameras expose? Tune in tonight to find out.

Viewer discretion advised. Mature audiences only.

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Still Waters Run Deep

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by Allison Parr, author of Imaginary Lines (Carina Press)

I didn’t mean to write a book about Abraham Krasner.

When he showed up in my first book, Rush Me, he was a side character – a sweet, earnest guy who had just started his first year of professional football. He immediately bonded with the heroine because of a shared culture – and, okay, mostly because of food. (Food is very important to twenty-somethings). But as his character developed, I realized how much I liked him. He’s that carefree guy every friend group has: enthusiastic, welcoming, and entirely lovable.

So no wonder I wanted him as the hero for my third book. He was the character that my readers requested the most, and I was more than happy to oblige. Yet it turns out there’s always something going on beneath those blithely relaxed exteriors, and Abraham was no different. Though his friends may have assumed his personality was always go-with-the flow, it turns out flowing water has the power to carve its own path.

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And who better a match for this surprisingly passionate man than the woman who grew up with him? Tamar Rosenfeld moved down the street from Abe when she was twelve years old. It’s very easy to fall in love with the local football hero when your mothers are best friends – and difficult to realize the feelings are unrequited. Of course, when the two end up in the same city many years later, all that changes. Though when one’s a professional football player and the other’s a professional sports journalist, conflict is bound to arise…

I had such fun with these two characters. I already knew Abraham, and writing his story just deepened how much I liked him: he’s giving, strong, and utterly loyal. Tamar is sweet, caring, and stubborn. Writing the two as they rediscovered each other and realized how little – and how much – they knew about the other was a pleasure.

Have you ever met or read about a person who surprised you with the depth of their personality? Someone who you wanted to know more about, and couldn’t get out of your head? Abraham Krasner was like that for me, and I hope you’re as delighted reading about him as I was writing about him!

You can pick up Imaginary Lines today at Carina Press and learn more about the rest of the New York Leopards at www.allisonparr.com. Also, don’t be shy – come on over to Twitter on Thursday, April 17 from 4–5pm ET. I’ll be hosting an awesome Twitter party along with several other incredible authors with sports romances releasing today. No matter your sport of choice, we’ve got you covered. Bring your drinks and dancing shoes!

Allison

 

About Imaginary Lines:

Tamar Rosenfeld has been in love with New York Leopards linebacker Abraham Krasner since they were twelve years old. She’d always considered it destiny that they’d end up together…until Abe was drafted and she professed her feelings in a moment of blind excitement. The sting of his rejection was like nothing she’d ever felt before, and it’s nothing she’ll ever forget.

Older and wiser, Tamar has landed a dream job as a reporter for one of New York’s premier athletic websites. Determined to stop being the safe, boring girl she’s felt like for most of her life, Tamar makes a list of all the things she wants to do and see in her new city, and Getting Over Abraham is priority number one.

But destiny has finally chosen to interfere. Just as Tamar’s decided to move on, Abe’s realized she’s the only woman for him. When he confides the truth, Tamar has to decide if she can put her crush behind her, or take a chance on the very man who’s been holding her back all these years.

Read more about the New York Leopards in Rush Me andRunning Back, available now!

Discuss your favorite sexy sports heroes with us! Use the #CarinaSports hashtag on Twitter and join the party this Thursday, April 17 from 4–5pm ET.

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