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Cover Spotlight: In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins

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A Kristan Higgins romance just isn’t a Kristan Higgins romance without an adorable dog! But working with animals on a cover shoot can be both cute and challenging. Art Director Kathleen Oudit introduces you to the four-legged star of Kristan’s latest romance, In Your Dreams, and shares the inside scoop on how the cover was created.

by Kathleen Outdit, Art Director

Our star made her modelling debut at the tender age of 10 weeks.

This German Shepherd puppy, called Sessa, came to set with her breeder, Shelley Quesnelle-Kehoe.

SESSA_1

As young as Sessa was, her excellent training shone through her perfectly executed sits and stays. Continue reading »

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Saturday Excerpt: The Way of the Shadows by Cynthia Eden

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The Elite Operations Division, a group of ex-military agents specializing in extraction and protection are back New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Eden’s in Harlequin Intrigue miniseries The Shadow Agents: Guts and Glory. This time, their missions are even more extreme as the men and women of the EOD put their lives—and their hearts—on the line.  Jump into this pulse-pounding romantic suspense series with an excerpt from The Way of the Shadows, on sale now.

About the Book:

Fifteen years ago, Noelle Evers was kidnapped. Two days later, her abductor was dead, leaving her with no memory of what happened. Now an FBI profiler, she uses her past trauma to get inside the minds of killers. But she can’t read her new partner. EOD agent Thomas Anthony is controlled. Dangerous. And hauntingly familiar.

Thomas has been covertly watching Noelle’s back. He wanted to tell her the truth, but couldn’t blow his cover. Their latest mission just revealed a link to her past. With desire ramping up between them—and a predator hunting Noelle—it’s time for Thomas to step out of the shadows. Or lose his second chance to save the woman he loves.

Excerpt:

The plane dipped, hitting another hard patch of turbulence, and Noelle Evers locked her fingers around the armrest on either side of her body. The private plane was currently flying over an area of pure-white land in Alaska, and Noelle was afraid they might be diving right into that snowy landscape at any moment.

“Relax,” a low, gravel-rough voice told her. “We’ll be landing in just a few more minutes.”

The voice—and the guy who went with that voice—pulled Noelle’s attention from the narrow window. She looked at the man seated directly across from her.

Thomas Anthony.

Tall, dark, deadly…and, currently, her partner on this assignment. Thomas “Dragon” Anthony was a man who seemed to always put her on edge.

Continue reading »

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“I have a thing for rock stars”: Kristina Knight on the Rockers series

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by Kristina Knight, author of Start Me Up

HARLEQUINe_0914_9781460339565_StartMeUp2I have a thing for rock stars – from the oldies like Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis to the 80s pop stars like George Michael and Rick Springfield. There is no shortage of rockers today to choose from—Adam Levine from Maroon 5, Bruno Mars and even country stars like Eric Church and Brad Paisley.

And the women! Oh my gosh, Pink just slays me from the honesty in her lyrics to her ability to swing around on ribbons of silk during a show. The woman is killer! Madonna has reinvented herself about fifteen times now and each time there is something that draws us in.

Those old (and new) stars were the push to start writing my Rockers series (Light My Fire, Start Me Up and Call Me), because I wondered – how do these larger than life people who we all love…find love on their own? How can they know the person they are with wants to be with them and not the persona that the whole world knows?

From that first inkling of an idea, other characters came to me: an old friend for Nate (hero from Light My Fire) to fall in love with, someone completely new and unimpressed with Chase’s (hero from Start Me Up) celebrity and an old love that should have burned out long ago for Josh (hero of Call Me). Each of these guys has a story to tell, and each woman has her own struggles to get past. Lily (Light My Fire) has to face the recent past and decide who she’s going to be. Nina (Start Me Up) must figure out how to live in the limelight when all she’s ever wanted is to be out of it, and Kat (Call Me) must find her own place, outside her friends and outside of Josh, to figure out who she really is under the glitz and glam.

HARLEQUINe_0614_9781460336311_LightMyFireI know several writers who listen to a specific playlist from the start of a project all the way through edits. I don’t do that. My writing process requires different types of music for different areas: when I’m drafting, it’s light classical or jazz. No Muzak and no instrumentals of popular songs because I’ll wind up singing and not writing. Once the draft is in the can and I’m on to edits, my playlist comes into play, and it will have a little bit of everything from pop and rock to country and even some oldies thrown in for good measure. While I’m editing, the songs on my playlist will help me remember the mood of a scene or the crux of my hero’s or heroine’s problem…or the song will remind me of the book in general.

Here’s a sampling of the playlist behind my Rockers series:

1985 by Bowling for Soup

Springsteen by Eric Church

Raise Your Glass by Pink

Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash

Light My Fire by The Doors

Dance Forever by Allstar Weekend

Daylight by Maroon 5

Cruisin’ by Smokey Robinson

Come Over by Kenny Chesney

(Kissed You) Goodnight by Gloriana

Here Comes Goodbye by Rascall Flats

I hope you all love Lily and Nate, Chase and Nina, and Josh and Kat as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. I have a question for all of you: I listen to just about every kind of music, but pop and country are my go-to genres. When Maroon 5′s Payphone comes on the radio, I have to lower the windows and crank up the sound…and if it’s an Eric Church song that blasts out when the alarm goes off I know my day will be great. What music makes you roll down the car windows or scream-sing in the shower?

About Start Me Up:

When Hollywood hunk Chase MacIntyre proposes a faux relationship, disgraced L.A. matchmaker Nina Wright can’t refuse…until some serious sexiness makes “on paper”” happen between the sheets!

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Check Out Our Shelfies!

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by Amy Loosemore, Harlequin.com Team

Earlier this week, our So You Think You Think You Can Write bootcamp and writing contest team challenged readers and Harlequin editors to share shelfies, aka photos of their bookshelves, on Twitter. Here are some of the pics from around the Harlequin office!

To join the fun of So You Think You Can Write, head on over to SYTYCW.com follow @sytycwglobal and the hashtag #sytycw14 on Twitter, like the Facebook page, and visit the SYTYCW Harlequin Community forums!

Are you participating in SYTYCW’s online events this week? What has been your favorite event so far?

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Who Said Characters Aren’t Real?

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by Lynda Aicher, author of Shattered Bonds (Carina Press)

What? Those people in romance books aren’t real? No way. I don’t believe it. How can I possibly root for, cry over and sigh with imaginary people? I don’t know about you, but when I read, those characters are very real to me. They are my best friends, boyfriend, sisters, brothers, husband, nemesis, parents, boss and lover. They spark my imagination and allow me to experience places, events and emotions I might otherwise never know.

For that moment in time—and sometimes long after—those characters are living, breathing entities.

As a creator of some of these characters, I know for a fact they are very real—in my head. They blossom and grow until they’re steeped in history and personalities as individual as they are. Unique and inspiring, they burst onto the page to define their story, often surprising me with their actions. They challenge me to dig deeper until I’ve exposed their secrets, healed their pain and revealed their happy ever after.

When I was plotting Shattered Bonds, the seventh and final book in the Wicked Play series, a fellow author suggested killing one of the previous characters. The thought almost ripped my heart out. I seriously started to cry just thinking about it. Of breaking that couple up, of the pain and hurt it would cause, of the happy ending I would destroy. I flat out refused. No way could I do that to my people.

As it was, I cried while I wrote the epilogue for Shattered Bonds. That was my goodbye to the people I’ve loved and bonded with for two years. They are my extended family and I couldn’t let them go without a proper sendoff, one they’d all earned.

I suppose that sounds crazy to a non-reader. But for those of us who devour books like mental chocolate, it makes sweet sense. I don’t care what anyone says, those characters come to life in our minds to create worlds that let us escape and dream. And that is real and good.

Please tell me I’m not the only one with this crazy belief. When you read, are the characters real to you too?

***

Shattered Bonds, Book Seven of Wicked Play

shatteredbonfsWill the doors of The Den close forever?

When the lives and friendships of The Den owners are thrown into chaos, Noah Bakker steps in to deal with the fallout. He hasn’t had a sub or participated in a Scene since tragedy changed his life four years ago. But as an investor in the exclusive BDSM club, he can’t walk away from the lifestyle completely. As he works to keep the club running, he finds himself drawn to Liv Delcour, the seemingly naïve sister of one of the other owners.

Liv didn’t know about the naughty things her friends were up to behind closed doors, but when their secrets become headline news, she’s more curious than shocked. As she works with Noah to keep the media at bay, she finds that his dominant strength is more than a little arousing. Soon they’re exploring their mutual desires in the most wicked ways.

Liv isn’t sure if she can completely submit to Noah the way she thinks he wants her to—and Noah isn’t sure he can withstand the pain of falling in love…
New to the Den? Start at the beginning with Bonds of Trust.

About Lynda Aicher

After years of weekly travel as a consultant implementing computer software into global companies, Lynda 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 of being a mom, wife, chauffeur, scheduler, cook, teacher, cleaner and mediator.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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“What’s a nice girl like me doing in a book like this?”: Jule McBride on Writing for Harlequin

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by Jule McBride, author of Switch Me On

When I sold my first romance novel in 1993, it was to Harlequin American Romance. Maybe you, too, enjoy that great series and all its wonderful authors? American Romance is loads of fun, with a great range of writers and a tone to match just about any mood you happen to be in. The series is heavy on rural settings and cowboys, which is fine by me!

Of course, at the time I was writing about all those cowboys, I lived in New York City, but I wasn’t about to let that stop me. I’d grown up in West Virginia—in part, on a farm—so I had plenty of memories. About fifteen books later, I sold to Temptation and Blaze, and I started working from memories that weren’t quite so distant.

By the time I wrote Switch Me On for Cosmopolitan Red-Hot Reads from Harlequin, I’d come full-circle, though. At the moment, I’m living in the country again, and between writing sessions I’m canning tomatoes, picking pole beans and driving way too fast on my rider mower. Go figure.

I have to say, I’ve loved every single Harlequin I’ve ever written (and most I’ve read, as well!) There are some stray books I almost forget about sometimes, like the Harlequin Intrigues I wrote that brought me so many hours of pleasure, or the books written for the short-lived but hysterically funny series Love and Laughter.

I’d love to hear about books you remember from those series, or from the special promotions, too! One of my favorite miniseries was called More than Men and featured heroes with over-the-top abilities and powers. For that miniseries, I wrote The Baby Maker about a man with special mojo who made a woman pregnant just by touching her! That entire miniseries kept me up late at night, reading way past my bedtime. There’s no end, it seems to the fountain of creativity that erupts from the typing fingers of Harlequin’s authors!

For Harlequin, I have endless mental lists that end in “ist”—the funniest, sexiest, sweetest, saddest, etc. I doubt Switch Me On will be “sexiest” in anybody’s book (there are way too many really stellar hot reads out there), but I hope readers find it steamy with a heart, which is what I was going for!

Did my trip down memory lane help you recall any of your own old favorites? If so, share! I’d love to hear!

Best,

Jule McBride

 

About Switch Me On:

switchmeonSome girls are made for the city

Successful voice-over artist Ari Madden has been planning her escape from Blackwater Inlet for years. In three more weeks, she’s making tracks—away from her cloying family, the gossip mill and her rep for rejecting local men who threaten her dreams. So it’s defnitely the wrong time for a total stranger to start delivering sexy shocks to her lady-circuits.

Bruno Brandt meant to unwind in his new getaway cabin in Podunkville, not get recharged by a red-hot woman with small-town blues. Outrageous, sultry Ari sparks him like a live wire, though, convincing him their fling will never be enough. He’s a world-class whiz when it comes to anything electric, but can he do what no man ever has before—jump-start Ari’s desire to commit?

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The Teenagers Who Changed the World

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by Robin Talley, author of Lies We Tell Ourselves

This photo was taken on September 4, 1957, in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was 15-year-old Dorothy Counts’ first day of school.

Dorothy was one of just four black students entering previously all-white schools in Charlotte that day. A large number of white students, along with a group of adult white supremacists, harassed Dorothy on her way into the school. They threw rocks and trash at her, spat on her, screamed obscenities, and called her unspeakable names.

The attacks didn’t stop once she made it inside the school building, either. This photo makes that perfectly clear.

After four days at the school, Dorothy’s parents ― told by school administrators that they couldn’t promise she’d be safe there any longer ― transferred her to a new school in Pennsylvania, where the schools had already been peacefully integrated.

Today, Ms. Counts (now Ms. Count-Scroggins) is in her seventies. Deeply affected by her experience in Charlotte as a teenager, Ms. Counts-Scroggins spent her career as a child care advocate, working to support the welfare of other kids.

It was students like Dorothy Counts who inspired me to write my debut young adult novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves. The town and characters in my book are fictional, but I spent months researching the true stories behind integration. I immersed myself in memoirs, news reports, and oral histories from the astonishingly brave young people who served on the front lines of a battle that never should’ve been necessary ― the struggle to enforce the United States’ laws requiring equal educational opportunities for all students, regardless of what they looked like or who their parents were.

Sarah Dunbar, the heroine of Lies We Tell Ourselves, is a 17-year-old senior who’s one of ten black students chosen to integrate the all-white Jefferson High School in Davisburg, Virginia. She’s met with a lot of hatred, and a lot of cruelty. But she also finds hope, and even love ― and it’s in the last place she’d ever expect.

Lies We Tell Ourselves wasn’t an easy book to write ― but the stories of the real students, like Dorothy Counts, who stood tall in the face of a horror most of us can’t even imagine, were a hundred thousand times harder to endure. Their stories will always inspire me. I hope they’ll go on to inspire the next generation, too.

About Lies We Tell Ourselves:

lieswetellourselvesIn 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

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Want to Become a Harlequin Author? So You Think You Can Write Starts Today!

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1410_hp_main_sytycw

Calling all writers! Harlequin, the world’s leader in romance fiction, is searching globally to find new authors for all our category romance lines. That’s right – So You Think You Can Write is back!

Join us each day this week, September 15 – 19, or our 24/7 online conference AKA Harlequin’s boot camp for writers. Editors from Harlequin and Mills & Boon share their best tips on writing a great romance through blog posts, live chats, writing challenges, Twitter events and more. Head over to our website, SoYouThinkYouCanWrite.com, to check out the latest events and click here the 50+ editors who want to hear about you and your book. One of them could become your editor!

Our writing contest has gotten even better this year, too. One lucky writer will win the Ultimate Author’s Publishing Prize from Harlequin. The grand prize winner will be offered a two-book series contract, with book launch support and promotion plans with an in-house publicist for up to sixty days, social media training and tips, a virtual meeting with the Series Creative team (Editorial, Marketing & Art) and more. For full details of the grand prize, head on over to SYTYCW.com for information, plus contest rules and FAQs.

Don’t forget to follow @sytycwglobal and the hashtag #sytycw14 on Twitter, like the Facebook page, and visit the SYTYCW Harlequin Community forums, too!

Are you planning on participating in SYTYCW this year?

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Saturday Excerpt: This Good Man by Janice Kay Johnson

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Can you trust a man you know is keeping secrets from you? Social worker Anna Grant must ask herself this question if she wants to save her relationship with the closed off Captain Reid Sawyer in This Good Man by Janice Kay Johnson:

thisgoodmanA man of integrity…or not?

The moment Captain Reid Sawyer helps social worker Anna Grant with a sticky situation, she’s hooked. He’s gorgeous and clearly interested in her. Yet even as he pursues her, she senses he’s holding back. For someone who prizes honesty and doing the right thing, how much of his evasion can Anna tolerate?

Her trust in Reid is further shaken when he confesses what he’s done to protect his newly discovered brother. Is Reid really one of the good guys? Then he’s involved in a hostage situation. Suddenly, she fears she could lose him before telling him how she truly feels!

***

“Don’t tell me to wait twenty-four hours.” Anna Grant gazed unflinchingly at the desk sergeant who was trying to make her go away. He should know he was wasting his time; he and she had butted heads before. “I’m not suggesting Yancey was abducted. He took off on his own. Twenty-four hours would give him time to disappear.” She leaned forward over the counter to emphasize her words. “Right this minute, he’s probably out on the highway waving his thumb. In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s cold out there.” March was the dead of winter on this side of the Cascade Mountains. “He needs to be picked up now.””

“Ms. Grant.” Middle-aged and graying, Sergeant Shroutt looked exasperated and frazzled. “We’ve been through this before. You know there’s nothing we can do yet. No crime has been committed. You have no reason to think this kid is in danger—”

“No reason?” She hoped her eyes were shooting sparks. “This kid is thirteen years old. He’s so small for his age, he looks about ten. What if your own son that age was out on that highway, Sergeant?”

“Of course I wouldn’t like—”

“Wouldn’t you think the police should be concerned?”
Continue reading »

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Lindsay McKenna on the magic of the Amazon Jungle and Course of Action: The Rescue

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by Lindsay McKenna, author of Course of Action: The Rescue

courseofactionRecon Marine Staff Sergeant Josh Patterson didn’t see it coming. As high school athletes, he and five other young men, known as the Sidewinders, took the Texas football championship twice in four years. They came from a Podunk Panhandle area of Texas known as Rush City. It was a struggling ranching community out in the middle of nowhere. These six football heroes had teamwork, heart and were competitive.

Upon graduation, each of them went to serve in the military. As fate would have it, they all ended up in black ops in their various chosen branches. Josh had always wanted to be a Marine like his father had been. He became a vaunted sniper and was a Force Recon Marine. What he didn’t see coming was Marine Corps General Harrison Landon unexpectedly hand selecting him for a very special op: to rescue his daughter, Allison Landon, from the hands of a drug dealer hidden deep in the Brazilian jungle.

The General knew of his reputation for getting the job done. And there was nothing like a little pressure on Josh to get in, find this woman and successfully extract her. But, if she was at the villa in the jungle, once he freed her, they would have to make a hundred-mile trek on foot to the Amazon river to be picked up by a Navy Riverine craft. And that was a helluva long journey for any civilian to make, never mind a woman who wasn’t in top athletic shape. Josh saw the negatives in the plan, but when asked if he wanted the assignment, he said yes. Why? Because Landon had shown him a photo of his daughter and right then and there, Josh lost his heart. Whether he knew it or not…

Was it Aly Landon’s soft blue eyes, her compassion as a nurse who worked at a charity to help others who were desperate for medical attention, or that ginger hair that framed her attractive face?  Josh didn’t know, but he was hooked. For better or worse. He had no illusions about this op. The cards were stacked heavily against them. Even if he was able to locate and rescue Aly, the easy part was done. The hard part was that hellish trek through the jaguar-infested Amazon Jungle to reach the river and be rescued by a Riverine force. And Josh knew the drug dealer would send his very best trackers and mercenaries to hunt them down and kill them. It was going to be a brutal test of not only Aly’s physical strength, but her heart and her will to live.

***

I’ve spent over six weeks in South America. Much in Peru and some in Brazil. While I love São Paulo and Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, it was the old rubber boom town of Manuas that captured my imagination. It had been built where the clear tea-like waters of the Rio Negro joins the milky, opaque chocolate waters of the mighty Amazon River. To be on a dilapidated tug plying the waters of this confluence, was a thrill. To have pink dolphins, who are very rare, come and leap beside our boat, was priceless. The Amazon Jungle is magical and I hope I’ve conveyed that in Jaguar Night, part of Course of Action: The Rescue.

About Course of Action: The Rescue:

Two edge-of-your-seat, passionate military stories from bestselling authors Lindsay McKenna and Merline Lovelace…

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