I am obsessed. Deeply, completely, totally obsessed. With scifi romance. It’s always been a thing for me. A guilty pleasure, if you will (minus any actual guilt). Every since I started reading romance lo these many years ago, I’ve often taken forays into the exotic planets (and men) of the SFR genre. From Dara Joy’s Knight of a Trillion Stars back in the 90s, to the more current paranormal-meets-scifi blends of Jayne Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz), I seriously can’t get enough. My latest obsession is this little series of novellas by Mina Carter called The Warriors of the Lathar. Hot aliens, cake that doesn’t make you fat, and loads of sexy times. What’s not to like? Nothing, if you ask me. I read the first book in one sitting. Absolutely couldn’t put it down! You can pick up Captured By The Alien Lord (Isn’t that seriously the best cheesy scifi title ever?) for just 99cents on Amazon. Go get one. I’ll wait. Because if you like scifi, romance, and some serious heat factor, you’re going to thank me.
One of my all-time favorite authors, Gail Carriger, wrote this fantastic post about the ten science fiction/fantasy books that have stuck with her. By now you’re all aware of my love for all things Agatha Christie and possibly know about my Regency obsession, but I thought it would be fun to compile a list of just these specific genres (science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, steampunk) and see which ones you, my lovely readers, have read and loved.
In no particular order:
1. The Blue Sword – Robin McKinley. Also mentioned by Gail Carriger and some of my other friends. This was possibly the first fantasy book I ever read (besides the Chronicles of Narnia), and definitely the first that had a sword-wielding female main character.
2. The City of Gold and Lead – John Christopher. My first exposure to post-apocalyptic fiction. And not just any post-apocalyptic fiction, but with aliens! Of course, being me, I wished there’d been more romance. Some of my very earliest attempts at writing involved post-apocalyptic landscapes and a better balance of girls and boys. Because everything’s better with romance. ;-) This was also the seed for what would eventually become Dragon Wars.
3. The Stand – Stephen King. I read the unabridged version, of course. And in paperback long before Kindle. It probably explains why I have tendinitis! It’s still one of my favorite books and I now have the Kindle version for re-reading.
4. The Passage – Justin Cronin. The unusual take on vampires was interesting. The blend of science fiction, post-apocalyptic adventure, and beautifully crafted literature blew my mind.
5. Urban Shaman – C.E. Murphy. One of the earliest urban fantasy books that crossed my path. In many ways it began my obsession with the genre which eventually led to my writing the Sunwalker Saga. Scenes from the book still cross my mind from time to time.
6. Grimspace – Ann Aguirre. Another book that blew my mind. Elements of hard science fiction mixed with a healthy dose of romance to create the perfect blend. A strong female character that I could relate to. The whole series is great, but the first book is amazeballs. It reawakened my love of scifi and helped birth the Omicron ZX series. Also, aliens.
7. Soulless – Gail Carriger. Quite Possibly one of the best steampunk series out there, in my opinion. Soulless was the book that really hooked me on steampunk and led to my reading the Iron Seas books by Meljean Brook and the Apparatus Infernum books by A.A. Aguirre. It’s the perfect blend of steampunkery and paranormal romance with a liberal splash of hilarity.
8. Guilty Pleasures – Laurell K Hamilton. When I first discovered this series lo, these many years ago, I loved it with a passion. It was such a perfect blend of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. It had so much action, wasn’t too overly gushy, and had a strong female lead. Unfortunately, after the first 4 or 5 books, the series totally jumped the shark. I miss those early books. So very much.
9. Slave to Sensation and Angel’s Blood – Nalini Singh. I’m cheating here by mentioning two books, but they’re both by the same author. So, there. The first is full on PNR, and the second is more UF with strong PNR elements. I love them both. So, so much. The world building is epic. I seriously have a girl crush because of world building alone.
10. Garden Spells – Sarah Addison Allen. Although technically this book doesn’t fall under any of the above genres (at least when trying to find it at the bookstore), in my opinion it encompasses both fantasy and paranormal romance with a touch of contemporary romance. It’s shades of Practical Magic. Gentle, whimsical, and definitely magical.
Which books have stuck with you?
I probably picked up this book back when it was published in 2012. Probably. I don’t even remember. And probably it was free. Or maybe 99 cents. Certainly it was on sale at the time. So, I bought it, loaded it on my Kindle, and there it sat.
My Kindle has approximate 7 million books on it and it’s slowed to the point of turning me homicidal. I decided I needed to go through all those stacks and stacks (virtual stacks, that is) of books I had downloaded and not gotten around to reading. I admit, I’ve tossed out a LOT of books. Some I found didn’t interest me. Some were well written but not to my taste. Some were just plain…awful. Out of ten books I probably deleted 9.
And then I stumbled across this little book by Hailey Edwards called A Hint of Frost. It’s the first book in the Araneae Nation Series (do not ask me to pronounce that). I had no idea what it was about so I dove in. I was hoping I’d finally found a book to enjoy.
I wasn’t disappointed.
I was hooked.
I’m not even sure how to explain the book. I guess it’s fantasy? It’s definitely romance. There’s a hint of paranormal. Somebody compared it to Game of Thrones. I guess? Ish? Except the author doesn’t kill everybody and there’s no incest.
The world building is fascinating. The characters believable. The romance made me happy. And the overarching story line grabbed was interesting. I immediately grabbed the second book in the series as soon as I finished reading Frost (although I will wait to read it until I’ve cleared out my Kindle a bit more).
Murder. Deception. Poison. Mystery. Sexy men. And bears with saddles. What’s not to like?
I’m also excited because it appears Edwards has a novel involve an archangel (yum!) plus a second paranormal series that involves…I’m not sure. Demons, maybe? Anyway, they look fantastic and I can’t wait to read them. This author goes in my “favorites” file.
Hope dangles by a silken thread.
Araneae Nation, Book 1
When the head of the Araneidae clan is found poisoned in her nest, her eldest daughter, Lourdes, becomes their clan’s new maven. If her clan is to survive, she has but one choice: she must marry before her nest is seized. All she needs is a warrior fierce enough to protect her city and safeguard her clansmen. Such a male is Rhys the Cold.
Born the youngest son of an impoverished maven, the only things Rhys has to his name are his sword and his mercenary reputation. His clan is starving, but their fondness for the flesh of fellow Araneaeans makes them unwelcome dinner guests. Torn between loyalty to his clan and fascination with his future bride, Rhys’s first taste of Lourdes threatens to melt the cold encasing his heart.
Amid the chaos of battle, Lourdes’s sister disappears and is feared captured. Lourdes and Rhys pursue their enemies into the southlands, where they discover an odd plague ravaging southern clans as it travels north, to Erania. Determined to survive, Lourdes will discover whether she’s worth her silk or if she’s spun the thread by which her clan will hang.
Warning: This book contains one mercenary hero with a biting fetish, one determined heroine who gets nibbled, and an answer to the age-old question, “What does dragon taste like?” Matricide and sibling rivalry are available upon request. The house special is revenge, best served cold.
A DETERMINED GIRL…
Dindi can’t do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi’s clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.
AN EXILED WARRIOR…
Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn’t commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don’t kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father’s wars and his mother’s curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her… assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.
Blue-skinned rusalki grappled Dindi under the churning surface of the river. She could feel their claws dig into her arms. Their riverweed-like hair entangled her legs when she tried to kick back to the surface. She only managed to gulp a few breaths of air before they pulled her under again.
She hadn’t appreciated how fast and deep the river was. On her second gasp for air, she saw that the current was already dragging her out of sight of the screaming girls on the bank. A whirlpool of froth and fae roiled between two large rocks in the middle of the river. The rusalka and her sisters tugged Dindi toward it. Other water fae joined the rusalki. Long snouted pookas, turtle-like kappas and hairy-armed gwyllions all swam around her, leading her to the whirlpool, where even more fae swirled in the whitewater.
“Join our circle, Dindi!” the fae voices gurgled under the water. “Dance with us forever!”
“No!” She kicked and swam and stole another gasp for air before they snagged her again. There were so many of them now, all pulling her down, all singing to the tune of the rushing river. She tried to shout, “Dispel!” but swallowed water instead. Her head hit a rock, disorienting her. She sank, this time sure she wouldn’t be coming up again.
“Dispel!” It was a man’s voice.
Strong arms encircled her and lifted her until her arms and head broke the surface. Her rescuer swam with her toward the shore. He overpowered the current, he shrugged aside the hands of the water faeries stroking his hair and arms. When he reached the shallows, he scooped Dindi into his arms and carried her the rest of the way to the grassy bank. He set her down gently.
She coughed out some water while he supported her back.
“Better?” he asked.
She nodded. He was young–only a few years older than she. The aura of confidence and competence he radiated made him seem older. Without knowing quite why, she was certain he was a Tavaedi.
“Good.” He had a gorgeous smile. A wisp of his dark bangs dangled over one eye. He brushed his dripping hair back over his head.
Dindi’s hand touched skin–he was not wearing any shirt. Both of them were sopping wet. On him, that meant trickles of water coursed over a bedrock of muscle. As for her, the thin white wrap clung transparently to her body like a wet leaf. She blushed.
“It might have been easier to swim if you had let go of that,” he teased. He touched her hand, which was closed around something. “What were you holding onto so tightly that it mattered more than drowning?”
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Initiate is free everywhere except on Barnes and Noble (where it’s $0.99). You can download a free .epub version via Smashwords.
Welcome to the Writing Process Blog Tour. I was tagged by my fabulous fellow fantasy authors (say that three times fast), Michelle Muto and Beth Alvarez. What’s the tour all about? Authors talk about their writing process, as well as briefly touch on what they’re currently working on. Then, they pass the torch to three other authors.
1. What am I working on now?
I’m in the final editing/rewriting stages of Haunted. It’s the second book in my Soulshifter series, which is a spin-off of my best-selling Sunwalker Saga. That’s due out at the very end of this year (barring alien invasion or zombie apocalypse). Then I’ll be turning my attention to the next book.
2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?
Wow. That’s a hard one. My main characters are all strong women, but lots of authors have strong female protagonists. I mix genres, often blending scifi and paranormal along with romance and mystery. But that’s nothing new, either. I guess it boils down to “voice.” My voice and style are unique and my stories tend to be fast paced. I also love to mash together legends and myths you might not normally find mashed together. Like the Lost City of Atlantis and the Knights Templar.
3. Why do I write the things I do?
I write what I love to read. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
4. How does my writing process work?
Often I get ideas months or even years before they ever turn into anything remotely resembling a novel. All these ideas get written down (usually multiple times in varying ways). At some point one idea will coalesce into a real story and that is when the magic happens.
I almost always know how the book is going to start, and how it’s going to finish. It’s the middle bit that’s murky. Fortunately, I’ve got an awesome brainstorming partner: my cousin, Bonnie. She and I meet up for coffee, lunch, or whatever and just talk for hours, hashing out a rough outline. Of course, as I write, things sort of end up happening on their own and the end result looks nothing at all like that first outline.
While I’m working on a book, my entire house is in utter chaos. Little papers with random scribbles line the walls of my office. Piles of notes and notebooks crammed with reminders to add this or delete that are stacked on my desk. Inspirational pictures are tacked to photo boards. Blank notebooks litter every room in the house just in case I get a sudden inspiration while taking a shower or washing the dishes (Although I admit that dishes kind of get ignored while in the throws of creativity).
After the first draft is done (Written in an awesome program called WhyWrite to keep me marginally organized.), I usually go through it (with the help of various critique partners, editors, and proofreaders) about four or five times, polishing it until it’s ready. And then out into the world it goes while I turn my attention to the next book.
When I’m working on a project, I tend to get totally lost in that world. And since I tend to write in some very different worlds, I can only focus on one project at a time from start to finish. This tends to slow things down, but it’s how I roll.
Emma Jameson is the author of the FANTASTIC Lord and Lady Hetheridge Mysteries. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before how much I LOVE these books. I mean, who doesn’t love a cracking good murder mystery? Especially when set in LONDON! Get your Anglophile on with Ice Blue.
Norah Wilson is a fellow Montlaker and the author of a seriously sexy vampire series (check out The Merzetti Effect) as well as some very sensual romantic suspense novels. Under the name NL Wilson, she writes the hilariously funny Dix Dodd Mysteries (with her partner in crime, Heather Doherty).
Red Tash is a Teller of Tales and all things dark fantasy. She’s the author of the kick-ass Troll Or Derby and the acclaimed This Brilliant Darkness. My particular favorite is The Wizard Takes A Holiday (Which is FREE on Amazon, by the way). It’s short, but it’s dang funny.
I was going to write a clever post today. Maybe a recipe. Maybe something about ghosts.
Clearly, it didn’t happen. Why? Because I am in the midst of writing the next Sunwalker Saga book. It’s moving along. Slowly, but it’s moving. Then these guys showed up at my door:
You think I’m gonna say “no” to that?
Okay, not really. I do have a migraine which is making concentration rather difficult. So, I’m going to blame my forgetfulness on that, mmm’kay?
What did I forget to do? Why I forgot to announce the winner of the giveaway for the ARC of Kim Law’s Sugar Springs.
And the winner is (drum roll please!):
Congratulations Tina. I’ll be passing on your name and email address to Kim so she can get in touch with you.
And thanks to everyone who stopped by!
Ladies (and gents), please join me in welcoming the talented Kim Law to ye olde blog today! Kim is another Montlaker. She’s also a two-time Golden Heart® finalist, a former baton twirler, and a wearer of purple cowboy hats. Today she’ll be giving away an ARC of her upcoming release SUGAR SPRINGS. Welcome Kim!
Ah, the romance of romance. :) I can’t remember a time I didn’t love it. Even as a kid, I was all about Barbie and Ken going out on dates. But then…maybe that was the norm ;) But I also loved the romance in some my favorite shows: Happy Days—who didn’t love Joanie and Chachi?, The Love Boat, Mork & Mindy—I was so glad when they figured out they liked each other!
But I didn’t just love the romance itself, I also loved the drama that built to the romance. Knots Landing was my all-time favorite show as a kid/teenager. I. LOVED. THAT. SHOW! I used to dream of writing for it! I loved all the crap that was always thrown in the way that everyone had to overcome just to get to their HEA…well, their HFN. It was Knot’s Landing, after all. Not sure there was ever a HEA. But I adored the drama and angst that was a given with the show.
Today I’m welcoming another fabulous Montlake Romance author: CJ Archer! We’re talking dukes, rakes, and warriors, plus CJ is giving away a copy of one of her books. Take it away CJ!
Thanks for having me on your blog, Shea, and letting me talk all things romance.
To me, history and romance are like macaroni and cheese – separately they’re OK, but together, they’re better. Class and sexual divisions aside, life was just tougher in the past, and the men too. Warriors, dukes, and rakes held high opinions of themselves and it can be fun watching them brought to their knees by a woman.
I’m thrilled to welcome my fellow romance addict and Montlake author, Marina Adair! She’ll also be giving away a signed ARC of her latest book. But first, let’s find out why Marina LOVES romance…
I am a self-admitted, life-long romance-a-holic—an addiction that started well before I could even read. Growing up with a movie-buff for a mother and a live-in grandmother who had a thing for game shows and musicals meant that instead watching the Smurfs or The Facts of Life I was spoon-fed The Newlywed Game and movie classics. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers led me to Sabrina which led me to romantic comedies like French Kiss, You’ve got Mail, and Never Been Kissed. What gets me every time is the quirky heroine who is working toward accomplishing her dream when she suddenly finds herself in an awkward and embarrassing situation at the precise moment she meets her true love–only to be forced to choose between her perceived road to happiness and happily ever after. Contemporary romance and romantic comedies have a lot in common, which is why I think that, although I love all kinds of romance novels, I am drawn to reading and writing small town contemporaries.