Love Rocks is a look at new self-published romance titles from the community at Rock*It Reads.Today's author, Lila DiPasqua, is a national bestselling author of wicked & witty historical romance novels for Penguin/Berkley, as well as self-published works. She is best known for her critically acclaimed Fiery Tales series. Watch for her upcoming holiday novella (part of the Fiery Tales series) The Duke's Match Girl, a steamy, romantic retelling of The Little Match Girl (out Dec. 1, 2013).  

 

 

 

 

The Christmas season is upon us. You’d like to start a new series. Try something different. But do you really have the time to invest? Especially when your Christmas list is long. And you still haven’t figured out what to get Uncle Bob (He’s always so difficult to buy for.)

 

I have a soft spot for historical romance novels. It’s what I write, after all. And there’s a wonderful trend that I love—the historical romance novella written as a standalone story that’s part an existing series. Or in some cases, used to launch a new series.

What better way to sample a brand new series that’s caught your eye than to dive into a novella?

 

The great thing about indie publishing is that the author has total creative control. She can do something outside the box. Here are a couple of historical novellas that don’t feature your usual British aristocratic hero.

 

Oh, these heroes are definitely handsome. Irresistible and refreshingly different.

 

A Night of Forever by Lori Brighton

 

Who is Aidan Callaghan? Mary Ellen James is intent on uncovering the truth about the mysterious man. But as she soon finds out, some things are best left buried in the past.

 

In this historical romance novella, Mary Ellen is a sensible woman. She is looking for a man with a title and wealth, not because she’s shallow. But because she’s known the realities of living life while lacking both. Her brother-in-law’s friend is mysterious. And seemingly without means. So why can’t she stop thinking about Aidan? He’s all wrong for her.

 

In more ways than one.

 

You see, Aidan is a vampire. Yeah, that’s going to put a monkey wrench in her plans. This is a fast paced novella, with great chemistry between Mary Ellen and Aiden. She’s brave. He’s protective. Add in suspense and action and you’ve got a delightful read. I’m definitely going to check our Lori Brighton’s other books in The Night Series.

 

Romancing Lady Stone by Delilah Marvelle

 

At forty, Lady Cecilia Evangeline Stone thinks she has everything a woman could ever want. A title, a fortune, and four children who make her proud. After a marriage of convenience that was anything but convenient, she has no desire to complicate her life by including a man in it again. When her eldest son announces his engagement to a Russian actress in Saint Petersburg, Cecilia sets out to do what any good mother would do: stop the wedding. Unfortunately, destiny has other plans.

 

Konstantin Alexie Levin never considered himself to be a villain. In fact, he considers himself to be a Russian gentleman. Having grown up in a refined and well-educated family that embraced criminal life to avoid debtor's prison, the only thing preventing him from knowing happiness is the rest of the world. Everything changes, however, when Konstantin is given a chance to start life anew and travel to London to collect an unexpected reward for saving a man's life. To his surprise, he is about to become a hero at midnight to a beautiful aristocrat who desperately needs his help. The problem is...he wants to do more than save Lady Stone. He wants to make the woman his, all his.

 

Oh, how I loved Konstantin! He’s Russian. A former criminal. A little dangerous. And a man who definitely knows how to come to a woman’s aid. He is what every hero is made of. A chance encounter in a carriage puts him in the path of a beautiful, yet older woman, Cecilia. She’s been drugged, robbed and stranded in Russia. He doesn’t hesitate to help her find her son. Yet, the longer they’re together, the more compatible you see they are—despite the age difference. And their very different backgrounds.

 

I adored the story behind Konstantin’s prized pocket watch and his belief in destiny. Romancing Lady Stone is part of Delilah Marvelle’s School of Gallantry series. I’m now very eager to read her upcoming Whipping Society series!

 

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In this month's Love Rocks post on the Barnes and Noble Review, "Tis the Season for Holiday Romance," we have the pleasure of hearing from Elisabeth Naughton, New York Times bestselling romantic suspense and paranormal author. Her latest book, First Exposure, is available now.

 

 

Elisabeth: October is probably my favorite month of the year. Not just because the leaves are changing color and there's a brisk rush to the air, but because October is traditionally the month when holiday romances hit the shelves. I'm a sucker for a good holiday romance. Crackling fires, mistletoe, snow falling outside, and the magic of the holidays are all elements that seem to lend themselves perfectly to sexy, emotional, romantic reads. Every year I look forward to finding the perfect story that will get me in the mood to celebrate the holidays.

 

 

Tis the Season is a brand new anthology from authors Darcy Burke, Erica Ridley and Emma Lock that does just that. Most anthologies seem to focus on the same genre, but what I found fun and entertaining about this anthology is that all three stories are rooted in different genres, and each takes the reader into a completely different world.

 

In Darcy Burke's "Where the Heart Is," a contemporary romance, we meet Derek Sumner, the odd-man-out in the crazy Archer family, and Chloe English, a woman down on her luck during the holidays, looking for a fresh start in the beautiful wine country of Oregon. Sparks immediately flare between the two and continue to grow throughout the story, even amidst meddling sextuplets, a raging house fire, and a pub filled with colorful characters that could put Cheers to shame. Smart, sexy and touching, "Where the Heart Is" is a fabulous introduction to Darcy's new Ribbon Ridge Series. While Darcy Burke is well-known for her sexy historicals, you'll want to make sure you don't miss her foray into contemporary romance. Clever writing, relatable characters and a place anyone would like to call home make this a "don't miss read".

 

"Midwinter Magic" by Erica Ridley takes us from contemporary to fantasy. But this isn't your parents' Tolkien fantasy. No, this is guardian angel, tooth fairy, and Mother Earth fantasy. Jack Morgan is a former money-hungry CEO looking to make amends for his greedy ways by traveling to destitute parts of the world at Christmas, delivering toys and repairing worn buildings in weather-damaged third-world villages. Sarah Phimm (yes, you read that right) is his guardian angel working tirelessly to keep him alive in some of the more dangerous places he's decided to visit. Unfortunately, Sarah's not always at the top of her game, and when Jack inadvertently runs into her in the middle of a road in Bolivia, she has no choice but to finally show herself. What follows is a hilarious and ironic turn of events that draw Jack and Sarah closer together and leave the reader smiling. If you like a little humor and whimsy in your holiday romance, "Midwinter Magic" is for you.

 

And finally, "The Cheer in Charming an Earl" by Emma Locke is the historical addition to this holiday anthology. Elinor Conley is searching for a husband, and she's got Grantham Wendell, the Earl of Chelford, directly in her sights. Unbeknownst to Elinor though, Grantham is quite the rake, and the poor country girl is so isolated from society that she hasn't heard even a whisper about his wild Christmas parties...until she finds herself right smack in the middle of one. For those who like light historicals, "The Cheer in Charming an Earl" is a good addition to your reading list and rounds out this wonderful holiday anthology.

 

 

Samantha Chase does a wonderful job drawing the reader in to the fairy tale that is The Christmas Cottage, and you can't help but root for both Lacey and Ean. I read this in one night and couldn't wait to see if the pair could make things work. It's the kind of holiday romance that just leaves you smiling. And after finishing the book, I was thrilled to discover there's a sequel already available -- Ever After -- which I now must go download!


Tell Me: What's your favorite holiday love story?

 

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In this month's Love Rocks post "Realms Strange and Otherworldly", we have the pleasure of hearing from Erin Kellison, award-winning paranormal romance author of the Shadow Kissed series. Her latest book, Soul Kissed, is available now on NOOK.

 

 

The days grow colder, nights longer. Halloween decorations fill the shelves, promising fun along with fright, magic with mystery. Out come the vampires and weres, and in paranormal romance, each has their own power to tempt and seduce. In these stories, danger lurks around every corner. Strong protectors use everything they have to hold back the encroaching dark—fists, weapons, wisecracks, and yes, sometimes a kiss. The fights are desperate, stakes high, but ultimately love vanquishes evil when all else seems hopeless and lost. What’s not to like?

 

 

 

 

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In this month's Love Rocks post "Bright Lights, Big City Romance", we have the pleasure of hearing from Vanessa Kelly, award-winning historical romance and also USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance author. She writes with her husband under the pen name of V.K. Sykes. Her latest book, Play Hard, is an anthology of sports romances with Rock*ItReads authors Juliana Stone and Jennifer Lyon.

 

 

I grew up in a small town with Colonial and Victorian era houses and big trees shading the quiet streets.  It was almost picture-perfect, with steepled churches and a town library modeled on a miniature Monticello. But underneath that near-immaculate exterior lurked…well, nothing very sinister.  No Stephen King monsters or cults of Stepford Wives. It was and still is a pretty nice place to live; neighbors look out for neighbors and residents actually care enough about the place to show up to town hall meetings.

 

That sort of lifestyle is the basis for small town contemporary romance. For many readers, the notion of life in a peaceful, unhurried setting, where neighbor knows neighbor, holds enormous appeal.  In fact, small town romance is so dominant these days that it seems difficult to find contemporary romances with a big city setting.

 

More Than a Kiss by Stacey Joy Netzel starts with a kiss, one that comes with strings attached—to a handsome and rich LA entrepreneur. 

 

Sadie Barton and her younger sister flee small town Wisconsin for the bright lights and opportunity of Los Angeles.  For Sadie, small town life was hardly idyllic.  Her mother was an unwed teenager, a blond beauty who eventually married a rich man thirty years her senior.  After years of malicious gossip and digs that she’d no doubt follow in her mother’s gold-digging footsteps, Sadie is determined to make it on her own as a journalist.

 

When her actress sister falls ill, an unpaid rent bill forces Sadie to fill in for her in a TV spot—one which involves kissing handsome Zach Robinson, a self-made millionaire appearing in his company’s commercial.  The chemistry between them is immediate, electric, and surprisingly sweet.  When Sadie’s employer, a barely respectable newspaper called Life’s a Beach, assigns her to interview Zach, she’s both thrilled and embarrassed to see him again.  Zach is just plain thrilled, but he also asks Sadie not to write about the commercial and his role in it, concerned it will cast his company in a bad light.  Because she’s an honorable person, Sadie complies.

 

The upshot?  She loses her job and her ability to support herself and her sister.  Sadie meets Zach’s subsequent offers to pay her bills with anger and distrust, since they trigger ugly memories of the small town gossip of her childhood.  In Sadie’s world, allowing a rich man to solve her problems means nothing less than following in her mother’s footsteps.  It’s up to Zach to break through her emotional armor and convince Sadie that he genuinely loves her and accepts her for who she is.

 

More Than a Kiss is not your typical Cinderella story.  Sadie has rejected her wealthy background to deliberately choose a life of financial struggle in order to gain her emotional independence.  In a nice reversal of small town romance tropes, she finds true acceptance and love in a place known more for superficial glitter and glitz than for loyalty and honor. Netzel’s story is sweetly heartfelt, the characters well developed and engaging, and the setting different enough to nudge a reader out of her small town rut.

 

The Chanel Caper by Ruth Harris is as far from small town romance as a reader could get.  Set primarily in the world of fashion and advertising in New York City, it features a fifty-six year old heroine who is smart, sardonic, and whose marriage to her sexy, ex-cop husband has hit a rough patch.  Blake Weston makes for a fabulous heroine, watching in some bemusement as her husband Ralph, now head of security for a large international corporation, goes into mid-life crisis.  For Ralph, this involves extreme workouts in an effort to recapture his youthful vigor, a new wardrobe, and a flirtation with a bombshell war correspondent doing everything she can to get Ralph between the sheets.  Blake, naturally, has no intention of allowing her beloved husband of twenty-five years to slip away from her.

 

In an ongoing effort to upmarket her own outdated style and rekindle some romance in her marriage, Blake buys a faux Chanel handbag from a street vendor.  This sets off a chain of wild events that includes murder, explosions, counterfeit drug rings, and the pursuit of suspects and warlords from Shanghai to Afghanistan.  The Chanel Caper is a romantic comedy, a thriller, and a send-up of the big city lifestyle in the wake of the global financial crisis.  All the disparate elements of this very funny story are tethered by the engaging Blake, a smart, sensible, and dryly witty heroine intent on saving her marriage.  It’s definitely a romance for the grownups, set against the backdrop of the bright lights of the city that never sleeps.

 

 

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