Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Suzanne Brockmann

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Monday Midday Links: Romance News I Gathered in New York

Romance gossip I picked up in New York (unattributed to protect the innocent).

  • The next hot thing appears to be the straight contemporary patterned after the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr.   Several houses are trying to capitalize on this through marketing and repackaging.   Mariah Stewart of Ballantine and Toni Blake from Avon are examples of this.   The Toni Blake cover changes are striking.   Here are her past covers and this is the cover for the upcoming “Sugar Creek” novel.    Robyn Carr’s books remind me of the trope that Suzanne Brockmann perfected and that is the slow build of a number of interconnected relationships over a period of books. In some sense, Carr’s band of alpha men (almost all are former military which is kind of ironic because military man does not equal alpha, but whatever) are different incarnations of the SEAL Team, Brotherhood stories that made Brockmann and Ward so popular.   This will give me a good excuse to read Blake. I have heard good things about her last book.
  • Speaking of Ward, her next Black Dagger Brotherhood book featuring Xhex and John is put to bed and ready for publication.   I have no spoilers.
  • Suzanne Brockmann is publishing a straight contemporary (with maybe some suspense) in mass market form this summer. It will NOT be tied to her existing SEAL series.   I was told that this was more like her early books like Hearthrob and Bodyguard.
  • Some publishers were taken aback by RWA’s extensive questionnaire that forms the basis of who is determined to be a “qualifying market.”   Some of the publishers who have responded have done so with vague answers and some have not responded at all.
  • Obviously this was done because of Harlequin’s foray into the vanity publishing/publishing services market with Dell Arte Press.   One thing I was told was that there was never any referral link in the rejection letter.   Maybe it was considered at one time but it was never implemented.   It is in the Thomas Nelson rejection letters, I believe, so that might have been how it became “fact”.   Harlequin could have done a better job of explaining that, though.
  • Harlequin was very pleased with its giveaway last year and continues to see success in its digital programs. In 2010, Harlequin has a goal of digitizing 2010 backlist titles.   They will need suggestions.   I’m going to open a thread next week for this.

A new author coop called A Writer’s Work has opened and will sell ebooks direct to readers.   Nicole Byrd, Jasmine Cresswell, Lori Handeland, Holly Jacobs and Patricia Rice are familiar to me. The other authors are Fran Baker, Becky Barker, Ginger Chambers, Kathy Lynn Emerson, Elizabeth Kary, Patricia McLinn, Leigh Riker, Karen van der Zee.   You can download the books for a 72 hour period via a download link sent via email.   The downloads are in epub and PDF.   At the recommendation of Shannon Stacey and Jaci Burton, I purchased four Patricia McLinn books.

Are these works protected?

Absolutely – by copyright laws.

However, we are offering these works without electronic passwords or encryption or DRM (Digital Rights Management) because of the difficulties they impose on readers. We are hopeful that, in turn, readers will honor our rights. If we find that trust is abused, we will need to revisit this decision.

I love this idea and hope it succeeds.   I’ve bookmarked it, but I wonder how I will remember to return month after month?

The first Dell Arte Press book has shown up at Amazon. It does not look good. The blurb is almost laughably bad.   I thought it was curious that there was already one used copy and that there were no digital copies. Seeing this blurb, I think it is a good thing that there was a push by Harlequin authors to have the Harlequin brand removed from Dell Arte.   I know I didn’t fully appreciate the branding thing at first,but you don’t want this kind of work to be attached to the Harlequin brand.

Samhain is offering its freebies to both Barnes and Noble ebook readers and Kindle readers.

  • 3/1/2010 to 3/14/2010: Operation Sheba: Super Agent Series, Book 1 by Misty Evans
  • 3/15/2010 to 3/28/2010: Male Call: Hot Zone Book 1 by Denise A. Agnew

Grand Central isn’t doing many of their ebook specials like they had last year. This month’s special is A Field of Darkness by Corneille Read for a price of $2.99.

Dorchester and Ellora’s Cave are doing audio. From Dorchester press release:

Audio Realms is now producing paranormal romance audio versions of novels by New York Times bestselling authors C. L. Wilson, Nina Bangs and Katie MacAlister, as well as some of the more groundbreaking names in horror and paranormal romance. In addition to listings, readers will now be able to visit for classic sci-fi, fantasy and horror, for urban horror and for paranormal and other romance. To purchase audio books in downloadable MP3 format, readers can

There is no press release from EC but you can see the audio titles here. H/t to Anne Douglas.

The Australian Romance Readers Association released its 2009 survey results. (Why don’t we have a RRA?) The results show that the readers are primarily between the ages of 21-55, read 1-10 books per month, and read primarily romances. It’s a PDF download with pie charts for each data point. H/t to Sarah M for the link.

Maili pointed us to this article describing an archeological find placing multicultural characters in Britain during the Roman period.

The Ivory Bangle Lady remains were found in August 1901 in a stone coffin unearthed in Bootham, where a group of graves were found. The grave has been dated to the latter half of the fourth century. Items buried with the Lady included expensive luxury items such African elephant ivory bracelets, beads, pendants and other jewelry, a blue glass jug, a glass mirror, and Yorkshire jet. A rectangular bone mount, possibly for a wooden coffin, was also found in the grave. An inscription on the bone, "Hail sister, may you live in God," suggests the woman held religious beliefs and may have been Christian. She is believed to have been one of the richest inhabitants of the city.

Will research like this allow for more diverse historical romances?

Motoko Rich tries to explain the economics of book publishing for us. I have a few emails that say, in summary, that the cost of publishing a book varies wildly that no generalizations can be made. For what it’s worth, I think these articles can be helpful because, hopefully, it will generate more discussion and more information being provided.   Numbers based on a hardcover of $26

  • Bookseller pays publisher half ($13)
  • Print, storage, and shipment is approximately $3.25
  • Cover design, typesetting, copyediting: $.80
  • Marketing: $1
  • Author royalty: $3.90

Costs decline on a per unit basis the more copies sold except for the print/storage and shipment, I presume.    Unearned advances can actually result in a much higher royalty for an author.

A consultant to the publishing industry argues that high ebook prices can slow ebook adoption. This is probably true if BISG data is correct in that affordability is one of the driving factors behind readers moving digital.

Kassia Krozser provides a great recap of Tools of Change and the challenges ahead.

I've watched this conference evolve from a curiosity to a conversation. The "tools" of "change" are not always apparent. Sometimes the tool is as simple as attending something outside your wheelhouse; sometimes it's hearing how someone else does something and realizing parts will work for you. It's the "tools, not rules" thing. If anything, this year's TOC highlighted the need for even more nuts-and-bolts discussions -’ and there were quite a few of those mixed in with equally important long-term vision sessions.

I have dozens of more links to blog about but I think this is enough to digest for one day. It’s great to be back blogging again!

February Recommended Reads

February Recommended Reads

Got your credit card ready? Okay, then let’s go shopping. This month, we’ve got some hardcover and trade paperback books that we are recommending but given that we had slim recommendations in past months, we hope you won’t mind. If money’s tight, try the library or the used bookstore.

042522580101lzzzzzzz-1Courtesan’s Wager by Claudia Dain. I’m a big fan of this series because it’s a very female centric, female empowering. The latest showcases Lady Amelia Caversham, daughter of a duke, who would seemingly be a good prize except she’s made her desire to marry a duke obvious to the point of embarrassment.    At her wit’s end, Amelia begs the favor of Lady Sophia Dalby, a former courtesan, to assist her in catching a duke.   Amelia and Sophia concoct a fairly scandalous scheme.   Be even more obvious about your desire to marry and let’s reel in the right one.   Amelia’s plans to “interview” men of the ton incite their competitive spirit and they all begin vying for her hand, much to the chagrin of Lord Cranleigh.   Not only will he not participate in this nonsense, but neither does he want his brother to make a fool of himself.   Once caught in Sophia’s web, however, a man cannot escape, not even one such as Lord Cranleigh. B Recommended by Jane. (review to come)

This book can be purchased in trade paperback from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

038534269101lzzzzzzzSuper in the City by Daphne Uviller. It was the back blurb of this book that caught my attention. The mob thinks the heroine is with the FBI. The FBI thinks she’s with the mob. And she’s dating an exterminator? After reading that I just knew I had to try this one.

Zephyr Zuckerman has a vivid imagination, four best friends from high school, a former asshole boyfriend she’s still not over and at age twenty-seven, still hasn’t made up her mind what she wants to do when she grows up. In the meantime, her parents have hit on something to occupy her time and save them some money. After the long time super of the small apartment building they own is arrested on charges of taking kickbacks from an oil company – and honestly how could that be a lot of money since there are so few tenants there? – they suggest that Zephyr take over his job.

Zephyr shares a lot with other Chick Lit heroines – mid twenties and drifting through life, sucky job, repugnant ex-boyfriend, close gal pals and a hero who baffles her before they finally work out their HEA – but she – and the book- are also genuinely funny unlike a lot of the pratfall filled Chick Lit books I’ve struggled through in an attempt to recapture the joy of the first ones I read years ago. This is a book I’m glad I got in my bimonthly care package from Jane and one I know I’ll probably read again. B+ Recommended by Jayne.

This book can be purchased in trade format from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

042522551801lzzzzzzzScandal by Carolyn Jewel. The Earl of Banallt and the young widow Sophie Evans encounter each other when Sophie’s brother John brings Banallt home. John is unaware that the notorious earl and his sister have a history. Several years before, Sophie had first met Banallt when her philandering husband, Tommy, brought him home unexpectedly late one night. Both men were drunk, and they were accompanied by a woman of dubious reputation. From this inauspicious beginning, Sophie and Banallt formed an unlikely friendship. Banallt found himself strongly desiring Sophie, in spite of the fact that she’s no beauty. Sophie was unhappy, scarred by Tommy’s constant infidelity and the knowledge that he only married her (over the anvil in Scotland) for her inheritance – a circumstance that estranged her from her family for a time. She was drawn to Banallt but even more than any attraction she felt for him, she desperately needed a friend and confidante. Unfortunately, in a moment of anguish, Banallt destroyed the friendship. Sophie tells him she doesn’t want to see him again, and indeed they do not meet again for some time. A- Recommended by Jennie F and Jane.

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

034550155101lzzzzzzzDark of Night by Suzanne Brockmann. The long-awaited culmination of the Sophia and Decker story arc. The controversy, of course, is that although they both get their HEA in this book, they get it with other people. Controversy aside, however, this book is Brockmann at her best. The plotting is satisfyingly tight, the suspense suitably suspenseful, and the romances (yes, multiple!) form the absolute heart and soul of the book. With Brockmann’s trademark humor and with appropriate-to-the-plot cameos from favorite characters, the book is funny, charming, and sexy. And at the end of the book, it is certainly possible to firmly believe that Sophia and Decker are 100% happy and 100% with the right person. A- Recommended by Joan/Dr. F

This book can be purchased in hardcover from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

bone crossed comp.inddBone Crossed by Patricia Briggs. Bone Crossed begins almost immediately where Iron Kissed left off. Mercy Thompson, the narrator, is bruised, both in body and in spirit, by a rape. She must face up to survival which means coming to grips with her abuse, her love for Adam, her feelings regarding the Adam’s pack, and her own vulnerability.

The problem for Mercy is that she is so used to surviving on her own and that the people in her life that have professed to love her: her mother; Bran, a father figure; Samuel, her first love – have only loved her under certain conditions. To become part of the Pack means to necessarily rely on others for support, both emotional and physical. To allow herself to be fully embraced by Adam makes her vulnerable again. B+ Recommended by Jane.

This book can be purchased in hardcover from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

031602505401lzzzzzzzNorth of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley.
From behind, Terra is a stunningly beautiful: tall and blond with a knockout body. Unfortunately she has one minor “flaw:”

While my face couldn’t launch a thousand ships, it has the power to make any stranger whip around for a second look. Trust me, this mixture of curiosity and revulsion is nothing Helen of Troy would ever have encountered.

Terra has a port wine stain that covers her entire right cheek. In her small Washington town, it’s branded her a freak since she was little. And it’s not just the people in town who treat her as “flawed.” Terra also gets it from her family. The youngest of three children, Terra is the only one still living at home. Her oldest brother works halfway around the world in China, and the second oldest attends college but never comes home. The reason for their avoidance stems from their father whose determination to control everyone manifests itself via cruel, sniping criticisms.

If Girl Overboard was a novel with multiple intersecting external events, North of Beautiful is a novel with multiple intersecting internal (emotional) currents. The obvious one is that Terra’s been chasing after the Land of Beauty for her entire life, but it’s always been beauty as defined by other people — a father’s never-satisfied standards, a mother’s hopes that fixing Terra’s face will fix their home, a best friend who defends Terra but never really lets her shine either, and a boyfriend who loves her body but is ashamed to be seen with her in public. Everyone’s put her in a box and in one way or another, she’s trying to escape, to become the person she wants to be. A- Recommended by Jia.

This book can be purchased in hardcover from Amazon or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

387782Mexican Heat by Laura Baumbach and Josh Lanyon tells the story of two gay cops, both separately undercover in the West Coast drug world, on two different sides of a drug deal, neither of whom realize the other is one of the good guys. They establish a relationship of sorts, but after the bust goes bad, they have to renegotiate who they are and how they fit together. Wonderfully drawn characters who come alive, a compelling plot, and hot hot action. Recommended by Joan/Dr. F. (review to come)

This book can be purchased in ebook format from BooksonBoard and other retailers.

We would love it if you would share with us what you would recommend for the month of February.