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Blue-Collar Blues

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by A.M. Arthur, author of Stand By You (Carina Press)

I have to admit, I’m not much of a trend follower in terms of what I choose to write, but I do pay attention to what’s popular in romance. Billionaire heroes are always a romance go-to, and motorcycle club books are trending pretty heavily. There will always be the sexy doctor, lawyer or lawman. And professional sports hero, of course. But there’s one particular kind of hero that is a favorite of mine.

The blue-collar hero. Give me car mechanics, plumbers, construction workers, maintenance men, cable men, and truck drivers. They are far more abundant in real life than billionaires are, and the muscles they acquire from the physical nature of their jobs are super sexy. In my latest Carina Press release, Stand By You, one of the main characters works for an office cleaning service called Carridan Enterprises. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my hero is a janitor.

Growing up, pop culture gave me a skewed idea of who a janitor was. He was that kind of grubby guy with bad hair, who wore coveralls and hauled around a mop bucket. He might be married, but that was hard to imagine. And if the janitor was a woman, she was doing it because she was desperate to raise her four father-less children, but she knew the job was beneath her. Janitors weren’t glamorous. They weren’t really people.

Except they are people. All of the invisible jobs that no one really thinks about, like janitors and garbage collectors and electricians, have lives and hopes and goals. They have families. A lot of them are extremely good-looking (it’s always a pleasure when my FedEx guy drops a package off at work). And they have stories to tell. In Stand By You, Brendan Walker is completely at ease with his job as an office janitor. It is what he does, it earns him a paycheck, and he has benefits. He likes his co-workers. It’s comfortable.

Not everyone strives to be the CEO, the corporate raider, or the hot-shot lawyer. There’s nothing wrong with being average. Besides, someone has to clean the CEO’s office, right?

What are some of your favorite blue-collar hero books?

About Stand By You:

standbyyouThree months after his rescue from an abusive boyfriend, twenty-two-year-old Romy Myers has landed his first legitimate job–bussing tables at his friend’s new coffee shop. The job has brought him some stability after years of abuse have left him feeling damaged and broken. He’s working hard on his panic and social anxiety, and those things are often tempered by the big, burly presence of Brendan Walker.

From the moment ex-football player Brendan helped rescue Romy from his ex’s abuse, he’s wanted to protect him. And he does, from a distance, with joking text messages, a new gym routine to toughen him up and a genuine friendship. So far it’s been easy–but Brendan’s feelings aren’t just friendly anymore…

When an argument spirals out of control, a hot and heavy make-out session causes Romy’s friendship with supposedly straight Brendan to reach a new level. The last thing Romy wants is to fall for another guy who could potentially shatter him, but Brendan also wakes up a part of him he thought had been destroyed by violence–his heart.

A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. When not exorcising the voices in her head, she can be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Contact her at am_arthur@yahoo.com with your cooking tips (or book comments). You can also find her online (http://amarthur.blogspot.com/), as well as on Twitter (http://twitter.com/am_arthur), Tumblr (http://www.tumblr.com/blog/am-arthur), and Facebook.

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Cover Spotlight: The Darkest Touch by Gena Showalter

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Want to know what goes into the making of a sexy Gena Showalter cover? Here’s a behind the scenes look at how the cover for The Darkest Touch was made!

by Kathleen Outdit, Art Director

01_original_model_photo - Copy

We selected from nearly 500 images taken at our photo shoot with photographer Glenn Mackay based on the original concept design by Tara Scarcello. This chosen shot captured the character’s intensity and physique – and was beautifully lit.

Torin is depicted by Justin Howell, an actor, stuntman and model from Toronto, Ontario.

Continue reading »

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Introducing Harlequin Experience

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DeviceHere’s a fun new way to experience Harlequin novels! This winter, Taito — the video game company behind such classics like Space Invaders — is releasing a new app called Harlequin Experience that will let you enjoy an interactive version of your favorite love stories.

What can you do in Harlequin Experience?

  • Experience a Harlequin story through the heroine’s eyes
  • Create avatars of the heroine and heroine and customize their appearance and clothing
  • Join the app community to chat with other Harlequin fans

Click here to learn more and to pre-register to receive a special code to claim a Special Item, or look for the Harlequin Experience in your favorite app store, including Apple’s App Store, Google Play and the Amazon Appstore for Android.

Free-to-play, offers in-app purchases.

Have you ever played an interactive storytelling game before? What is your favorite gaming app?

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Saturday Excerpt: Sweet Silver Bells by Rochelle Alers

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We’re already in the Christmas spirit at Harlequin.com — and so is bestselling author Rochelle Alers with a new holiday romance from her Eaton family series, Sweet Silver Bells! Doesn’t the cover make you think of romantic holiday weddings? Jump in with an excerpt below and grab your copy of Sweet Silver Bells, on sale now from Harlequin Kimani Romance.

About the Book:

Brief encounter…or forever love? 

Then… 

Being chosen to design luxury hotels in Charleston is a career coup for privileged Crystal Eaton. Meeting charismatic corporate attorney Joseph Cole-Wilson is an unexpected bonus. Until one passion-filled night in Joseph’s penthouse changes her life forever.

Now… 

Haunted by sensual memories, Joseph can’t accept their short-lived liaison as a onetime fling. And when a chance encounter reunites him with the Florida beauty, the Cole heir vows she won’t get away a second time. Even after discovering Crystal’s secret, Joseph knows nothing can dim his desire. He’ll prove it with sweet words of love that could make this a Christmas to remember.

If she’ll just say yes…

Excerpt:

Crystal Eaton took a quick glance at the navigation screen on the Ford Escape. She was thirty-three miles from Charleston, South Carolina, less than half an hour from her destination, and if she hadn’t had to drive down to Miami earlier that morning, she would’ve arrived much sooner. As she unclenched her teeth, the lines of tension bracketing her mouth vanished.

Her mother had called crying hysterically as soon as Crystal had maneuvered out of the parking garage at her Fort Lauderdale condo. She hadn’t been able to understand a word her mother was saying, and in a panic she’d driven south instead of north.

It wasn’t the first time in her life Crystal wished she hadn’t been an only child. If Jasmine Eaton hadn’t been able to reach her, then she would have been forced to contact her son and/or other daughter whenever she had an emotional meltdown.

Continue reading »

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On Love and the Unknown

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by Jen Christie, author of Queen of Stone

qosAs a writer, I often hear the phrase “write what you know.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that advice. Writing about things that are familiar helps to create richer stories that quickly come to life. But sometimes writing about the unfamiliar—or even better—the things that frighten us can create an exciting story too.

My latest book, Queen of Stone is set in my home state of Florida and revolves around the unknown, both in an ancient cult and its enigmatic leader, and in the ground itself. Everyone knows Florida is famous for its sinkholes. News reports and videos show just how often the unbelievable can happen around here, when the ground gives way and swallows cars and houses, and all sorts of things that we depend on. Things that should never be vulnerable, and yet are. It’s a strange feeling to think the ground can’t quite be trusted, and yet life must go on as it always has.

I have a hard time accepting all those strange things science has an explanation for, but my heart just won’t accept. Like sinkholes. In fact, the state that exists mostly at sea level has one of the largest underground cave networks in the world. That’s unbelievable, and just a little bit creepy, and I can’t help but write about it.

What we take for granted we often don’t understand. And I place love squarely in this category. The idea of joining romance with unexplainable events, or with a cult that celebrates the unknown is different, I get that, but at the heart of it, love itself is unpredictable, takes no prisoners, and can literally open up right underneath our feet.

And yet we all know things happen to us that we don’t ask for, don’t even remotely believe might be possible. Including love. I think the reader and the writer that’s willing to stop and consider the great mysteries of life and love is richer for it. What things in your life have a simple explanation but still manage to get under your skin?

About Queen of Stone:

Uprooted by the Depression, Zara Pendleton heads south. She’s seduced by the steamy wilderness and by Navarre, magnetic leader of a reclusive cult. Theirs is a destiny shot through with feverish desire—and mortal danger.

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Giveaway: Win a Pack of Rugged Cowboys!

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by Amy Loosemore, Harlequin.com Team

No, we’re not giving away actual men — but we can help you take home a pack of fantastic fictional cowboys! We’re giving away a prize pack of 8 Western romances starring rugged cowboy heroes. Take a look at what you could win:

rugged cowboy giveaway

Giveaway includes:

Want to lasso this great prize? To enter, check out the Anatomy of a Cowboy Hero at Harlequin.com and tell us what part of a cowboy hero YOU like best! Is it his strength? His work ethic? Or how he looks in a pair of perfectly worn-in jeans? Share what you love about cowboys in a comment below for your chance to take home the books listed.

UPDATE: Giveaway is now closed. Please check the comments for the winner announcement.

Giveaway Rules: Contest closes October 19 11:59 ET. Three winners will be selected from all eligible comments by random draw and will be announced October 20. Open to residents of the US and Canada, excluding Quebec. For full official rules, click here.

Good luck!

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You Set Your Story at a What?

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by Wendy S. Marcus, author of The V-Spot

Where a story is set can make or break a book. Readers love stories set on ranches, in hospitals, or on beaches. Some prefer small towns, others big cities, and of course there’s the ever popular romantic international locations.

Using an unfamiliar or unusual setting is a risk. Will readers take a chance? Will they choose my story over something more familiar? Will fear of the unknown keep them away?

Well, I’m a risk-taker – at least as far as my writing is concerned – which is why I chose to set my new Cosmo Red Hot Read, THE V-SPOT, at a voyeur motel.

For those of you who saw the words ‘voyeur motel’ and thought ‘that’s way out of my comfort zone…’ wait! Don’t go! Let me explain.

Readers familiar with my books know I write sexy, but not raunchy, romance. Granted, writing a story set at a voyeur motel is a bit of a stretch – okay a HUGE stretch – from the Harlequin Medical Romances I’m known for. But THE V-SPOT is the typical sweet yet sexy, funny yet emotional read you’ve come to expect from me, albeit a notably sexier one.

Here’s the blurb:

thevspotHow hot is your night going to get? Take the quiz and find out!

1. You’re a curvy, cute and practical nurse, ready to unleash your inner naughty nymphette for your 25th birthday. You start with...
a. Chocolate cake.
b. Champagne. Lots of it.
c. A blind date set up by your daring best friend.

2. Your guy turns out to be popular (and insanely hot) wrestler Brody “The Bull” Bullock. You…
a. Run for the door.
b. Admire his hotness, then run for the door.
c. Imagine him naked.

3. You’re meeting Brody at The V-Spot, a “Voyeur Motel.” What are you wearing?
a. A cute sundress with wedge sandals
b. You’re not going anywhere without Spanx
c. Doesn’t matter. Brody is sexy enough that it’s all coming off!

If you selected all of the above, you’re in for the night of your life….

 

Please stop by my website, http://WendySMarcus.com for links to reviews and an excerpt.

So what is your favorite setting for a story? What do you think about a voyeur motel setting?

 

About Wendy S. Marcus:

WendyPromoPicLargeWendy S. Marcus is an award-winning author of contemporary romance. A nurse by trade, Wendy holds a Master of Science in Health Care Administration, a degree that does her absolutely no good as she now spends her days, nights, and weekends mucking around in her characters’ lives creating conflict, emotion, and, of course, a happily ever after. Wendy lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley region of New York. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, which includes her dog Buddy, and blogging/e-mailing/tweeting/facebooking with her online friends. To learn more about Wendy and her books visit her website: http://www.WendySMarcus.com.

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Why We Just Can’t Get Enough Hot Holiday Heroes

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by Kathleen Scheibling, Senior Editor, Harlequin Blaze

sealChristmas is coming. This is the favorite time of year for many—when we gather around family, give and receive lovely gifts and think about what we have to be grateful for. But what about those who don’t have any close family? What is Christmas like for them?

naightyIn Christmas with a SEAL, Tawny Weber has given us a very special holiday story—one that’s full of holiday spirit, but is also very, very sexy! Her hero, Navy SEAL Lieutenant Phillip Banks, has a lot going for him. He’s a well-respected military man from a wealthy family. But he’s also home from a dangerous mission that still haunts him. His parents are gone, and he’s only beginning to re-form the ties with his younger sister. So for Phillip, Christmas is just another time of year. He hasn’t thought about decorating the house. Or putting up a tree. He just wants to be left alone.

closeBut Frankie Silvera isn’t going to let him get away with that! She’s a fireball whose mission upon seeing the gorgeous but uptight SEAL is to loosen him up. Following their mutual seduction, we see Phillip’s vulnerable side—there’s a hurt man inside that military hero, and Frankie is determined to help. She doesn’t have much family, either, but that doesn’t mean she’s down on the holidays! Frankie proceeds to entice Phillip with holiday baking, decorations and one humongous tree. She will show him the magic of the season—and their steamy nights together can only help break down his defenses!

Christmas with a SEAL by Tawny Weber is one sizzling story! For more sexy holiday reads from Harlequin Blaze, pick up Oh, Naughty Night by Leslie Kelly and In Too Close by Katherine Garbera.

Who is your ideal sexy holiday hero?

 

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Saturday Excerpt: An Heiress for This Empire by Lucy Monroe

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Lucy Monroe’s heroes are in pursuit of power and pleasure in a new duet from Harlequin Presents, Ruthless Russians. In book one, An Heiress for His Empire, tycoon Viktor Beck has his sights on Madison Archer, a debutante embroiled in scandal…but far more innocent than Viktor realizes. Keep reading for an excerpt from An Heiress for His Empire.

About the Book:

The story: Innocent debutante Madison Archer has hit the headlines for a scandal not of her making. Now, marriage to the unscrupulous Viktor Beck is the only way to save what’s left of her reputation!

The contract: Maddie has always featured in Viktor’s plans to take over her father’s company and expand his empire. The intense attraction between them only sweetens the deal he’s offered….

The secret: Though love doesn’t beat in Viktor’s heart, he’ll show Maddie just how hot their chemistry can be. But even this corporate shark is in for a shock—his wild socialite is still a virgin!

Excerpt:

Madison Archer set her morning coffee down, hot liquid spilling over the rim, as she read her Google alerts with growing horror.

Madcap Madison Looking for New Master?

Archer Heiress into Heavy Kink

San Francisco Bad Boy Dumps Very Bad Girl

The articles made lurid claims about a lifestyle and relationship between Maddie and Perry Timwater. A completely nonexistent relationship.

The fact that Perry was the source caused the coffee to sour in Maddie’s stomach.

Continue reading »

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Harlequin Author Milestones: October 2014

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Congratulations to our debut and milestone authors for the month of October!

Debut Book:

An American Duchess by Sharon Page
Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot
The Surgeon’s Christmas Family by Annie O’Neil
Eat, Drink and Remarry by Margo Howard
Ovenly by Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga
Falling for Her Captor by Elisabeth Hobbes
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Retrain Your Anxious Brain by John Tsilimparis and Daylle Deanna Schwartz
Triple Threat by Regina Kyle
A Deal Before the Altar by Rachael ThomasThe Delight Gluten-Free Cookbook by Vanessa Weisbrod

5th Book:

Take Me In Your Arms by Judy Lynn HubbardStagecoach Bride by Darlene MindrupThe Courtesan’s Book of Secrets by Georgie LeeA Princess by Christmas by Jennifer Faye

10th Book:

Tasha’s Christmas Wish by Sharon DunnThe Party Starts at Midnight by Lucy KingA Diamond for Christmas by Joss Wood

20th Book:

His For a Price by Caitlin CrewsChristmas in Smoke River by Lynna Banning

25th Book:

The Agent’s Surrender by Kimberly Van Meter

35th Book:

Down to the Wire by Laura Scott

40th Book:

North Country Dad by Lois Richer

45th Book:

Reclaiming the Cowboy by Kathleen O’Brien

60th Book:

It Started with No Strings… by Kate Hardy
The Valquez Bride by Melanie Milburne

70th Book:

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan

100th Book:

The Betrayed by Heather Graham

175th Book:

Snow Kisses by Diana Palmer

190th Book:

Zachary Black: Duke of Debauchery by Carole Mortimer

 

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