Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: Sophie Barnes - HOW MISS RUTHERFORD GOT HER GROOVE BACK

Hi Everyone. Please help me welcome Sophie Barnes to the blog today! She is here to promote her debut novel, How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back. It's a sweet historical romance so be sure to check it out. Today Sophie is going to talk about her love of romances. 

From the moment I popped into this world, I had one goal that shone brighter than the rest – to find my very own prince charming (tall, dark, handsome…you get the picture). My parents did not indulge the ‘all little girls are princesses and must wear pink’ notion that seems to have run rampant since the early 90’s. In fact, I was usually clad in a pair of overalls and a blue sweatshirt. Not that I didn’t think that frilly dresses were pretty (I even owned a few), but I quickly discovered that they were just that – nice to look at but completely impractical when sliding down a hillside on your butt.

However, my mom did read fairytales to me – repeatedly and at my insistence until she was exhausted. And so my love for romance began – particularly the sort where any number of odds must be overcome in order to achieve that “happily ever after”: a girl suppressed by her evil stepmother, a deep sleep from which only a kiss will awaken the princess or some other challenge that forces the hero to rise above and beyond his normal capabilities, spurred on by the power of true love. The stories were magical: the castles, the gowns, the handsome hero and the beautiful heroine, the battle between good and evil…Rich fodder for a child’s imagination. 

As I grew older, I became enthralled by the kind of movies that offered a similar opulence, glamour and happy ending my beloved fairytales had done. I must have seen Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland a thousand times, not to mention Pride and Prejudice, Jayne Eyre, The Princess Bride, Doctor Zhivago and of course Gone with the Wind.

And yet, surprisingly enough, I didn’t actually read my first romance novel until I was married. Yes, it’s true. Of course I’d read everything that I could scrape together by Jane Austen and I absolutely adored Wuthering Heights, but when it came to contemporary writers, I would pick Wilbur Smith, Ken Follet and Margaret George – writers that many, including myself at the time, considered to be more ‘serious’. Yet somehow it was always the moments of romantic intrigue (as scarce as they were in these novels) that drew my interest and made the rest of the pages fly by faster. What was it going to take for me to just capitulate and pick up a proper romance novel?  Apparently, a mother-in-law.

I kid you not. I believe my mother-in-law has more romance novels on her bookshelves than most people would be able to read in a lifetime. So, on one of my many visits to her home, and having voiced my need for something new to read, she promptly handed me You Belong To Me by Johanna Lindsey, which she happened to have in duplicate. My life would never be the same again. I’d re-discovered the fairytales I loved - full of adventure, intrigue, a dashing hero and a gorgeous heroine with an independent streak to challenge any sane man.

From then on, I quickly began acquiring as many romance novels as I could get my hands on. Living in Africa at the time, I bought most of them on my visits abroad, sampling both the contemporary ones and those set in different time periods (Medieval, Victorian, Georgian and Regency). One day, on a chance visit to a local bookstore, I scanned the dusty shelves…hoping. There, shining like a beacon was the book that would launch my writing career as you know it – Julia Quinn’s, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton.
For many years I’d been trying to write a fact-filled historical novel about a medieval queen, but that required immeasurable amounts of time spent on research – time I just didn’t have at my disposal with two small boys around my feet (three if I include my husband). But after reading Julia’s book, I was inspired. I loved the witty dialogue, the setting, the strict etiquette governing each and every person’s conduct. It brought back the Austen novels in a modernized fashion and I thought, “Maybe I can write something like that,” figuring I wouldn’t need all that research. After all, this was pure fiction so I could just make it up as I went along. I thought.

Boy was I wrong. :o) Perhaps I didn’t need as much research as I would have had I been writing about a real historical figure, but I soon discovered that I didn’t know nearly enough about the Regency period to get past the first paragraph. (I’m so grateful for Google!)  Of course, the first book I wrote was rubbish. I think of it as a lesson in everything writing related, and though I did submit it and it did get rejected a million times, I still consider the plot solid enough to merit a re-write at some point in the future.

But, back to my own love for the Regency period – as a writer. I think the period’s social constraints for women offer a never ending variety of plotlines; featuring women insistent upon thwarting those limitations; or women trying their best to adhere to them, but somehow forced to act outside the acceptable norms due to extraordinary circumstance. The promise of scandal is always juicy – particularly when a striking Duke, Earl or Viscount happens to be involved. It was a time when a woman’s virtue was held in the highest regard, when men were gentlemen and when etiquette (or lack of it) meant everything to a person’s place in society. Certainly romance writers use their artistic licenses liberally, but we do so whilst sticking to what was (and was not) socially acceptable at the time, and by injecting correct historical facts that further enhance the plausibility of both plot and characters.

Writing “How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back” was a pleasure. I fell in love with the characters (and hope that those of you who read this novel, will grow to love them too).  

 I’d like to thank Monique for hosting me today. I’ll be popping in throughout the day to chat with you and to answer any questions you might have. So feel free to leave a comment or two. Let me know how you were first introduced to the world of Regency romance. Remember, your comment will automatically enter you to win a $25 Amazon gift card, so start typing =)

If you’d like to follow the rest of my tour, I’ll be back again tomorrow at http://www.seductivemusings.blogspot.com/ to talk about how I came to marry my husband three times in three different dresses. Hope to see you again soon =)
To find out more about me, How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back, or my upcoming releases, please visit my website at: www.sophiebarnes.com

How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back
by Sophie Barnes
Release Date: January 31, 2012

Emily Rutherford is having a very bad day. Of course, having the man you’ve loved forever, announce his engagement to your (now very former) best friend will do that.

Emily is sure nothing good could possibly come out of this horrid situation. But she lets her sisters and Adrian’s cousin, Francis Riley, the delectable but brooding Earl of Dunhurst, convince her a season in London will be just the thing.

Now Emily has a choice: sulk in a corner while her sisters enjoy the glitter of the ton. Or become the belle of the ball, dazzling everyone on an earl’s arm. But as Francis helps Emily get back on her feet, she quickly realizes that a childhood crush is nothing compared to the power of true love.

Author Bio – Sophie Barnes

Born in Denmark, Sophie has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian.

She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all – she’s been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses.

While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion – writing.

When she’s not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.

Sophie will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. The more comments you leave the better your chances of winning.
To Enter:
Leave a comment or question for Sophie and include your email address.
Be sure to visit the other blogs on this tour. Click on the tour button below for a list of participating blogs.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Winners: Shameless Giveaway Hop & The Rake and The Recluse

Thank you to everyone who entered the Shameless Giveaway Hop.

Congratulations to the winners:

Ann R.  –  
She picked Crash Into You by Roni Loren

Lisa –  
She picked Belong to Me by Shayla Black

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and commented during Jenn LeBlanc’s Wicked Tour.

Congratulations to the winner:

She won the six part serial novel, The Rake and The Rescluse.

Review: YES, MR. COLLINS by Charlotte DeCorte

Yes, Mr. Collins
by Charlotte DeCorte
DelSin Publishing
Release Date:  November 4, 2011
Series: Natasha and Mr. Collins – Book One

"Take off your clothes, Natasha."

Natasha Reynolds has worked well under her brilliant yet demanding boss, Mr. Collins, for over a year. One night he accuses her of making a mistake and their dynamics take a dark but erotic turn. When Mr. Collins confesses to seeing Natasha as his prey she is forced to admit her submissive side can no longer be completely confined to their working relationship. Just how well will this bunny survive being a wolf’s carnal plaything?

*** This novella contains spanking and light bondage, along with dominance and submission themes. It is meant for adults who enjoy reading about unconventional relationships.***

Natasha Reynolds has been an administrative assistant in the IT department for two years when she is suddenly transferred to work as the assistant to Peter Collins. It seems Mr. Collins is unable to keep an executive assistant around for longer than a few weeks and has refused to accept any more temporary help. Unbeknownst to Natasha he has handpicked her to work for him. After several days of stress induced vomiting, Natasha resolves to get a grip on herself and do whatever she has to do to make this treacherous situation work. Instead of reacting with anxiety over every task given to her, she would stop being afraid and do the work just as perfectly as Mr. Collins did his.

I really enjoyed Natasha’s character. She was a bit feisty and even though she had a healthy respect for her boss she wasn’t a complete doormat. We got to delve into her mind and see both her fears and triumphs. On the other hand, I didn’t like Mr. Peter Collins very much. I thought he was a cold, unemotional jerk who thought he was better than everyone else. He was a very demanding boss that accepted nothing less than perfection from Natasha. But then I began to like Mr. Collins when he finally stopped being Natasha’s difficult boss and became her Dominant lover instead. I thought the scenes in which he got real personal with her and “showed her the way” were intense. Mr. Collins preyed upon Natasha for over a year while patiently weaving the net to finally catch her. The subtle ways he played with her mind was quite masterful. 

Natasha and Mr. Collins’ relationship was definitely not conventional. But none of the relationships in Charlotte DeCorte’s books are. I loved the interactions and the banter between these two characters.  Yes, Mr. Collins was another fascinating look into the psychology of a dark relationship. I really enjoyed this novella and am eagerly waiting to see what happens next with Mr. Collins and Natasha.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: THE LAST GIRL

by Kitty Thomas
Release Date: February 14, 2012

Here's the official Book trailer:

There isn't an official blurb yet on The Last Girl but it's a dark erotica novel with vampires in it. Hell yeah! The cover is gorgeous too. I can't wait to read this one.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to showcase the books we can’t wait to get our hands on. What are you all waiting on?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: Jenn LeBlanc - THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE

Hi Everyone and Happy Chinese New Year! Please help me welcome Jenn LeBlanc to AsianCocoa's Secret Garden today! Jenn is here promoting her serial novel, The Rake and the Recluse. It's a great story so be sure to check it out.

Hi Monique! Thank you for hosting me during the WICKED blog tour! We’ve been having so much fun chatting along the way, giving away lots of books and eventually even a Kindle Fire or Color Nook! (yay!) 

I was chatting up my friend Amy at the last Colorado Romance Writers meeting about my next blog post. When you have so many to write, it's difficult to come up with something new to say. It's also very important. I certainly don't want to bore anyone! 

Of course CRW is a group dedicated to the business of writing, so while talking business...a few things came up...

So now a quiz: What do the following items have in common? 

Riding pants
Top hat
Great coat
Broad sword (as well as a claymore, three daggers and a cutlass)
Custom tooled leather gunslinger belt for a six shooter
More bullets
Male models (x6)
Riding crops
Airline tickets
Rental Car
Used jeans
Leather straps
Dildos (those are for RomCon)
Camp stove 

I’ll tell you what they have in common: my taxes. These are all business write offs.

It’s exciting being a romance novelist and a photographer. For example, those tight riding pants and that riding crop? They’re on the cover of FREEDOM. Props for the studio. Not used for anything else, and those pants got a workout too. 

The custom made corset on FOUND? All the fabric and cording, rivets, grommets and even the tool written off. The rope on TAKEN, the ring on RUINATION, the gloves on SUBMISSION, all written off. 

But it can be more interesting than that. Saddles, chaps, weapons, people, a trip to California, gear...all these things can be found on my tax return. 
Saddle, grips, bullets, quick draw belt, model.

It gets better though. I was chatting with my accountant about my marketing strategies, and mentioned that I had seen a spike in sales after Man Candy Monday on twitter (7-9 p.m. every Monday, just follow that hashtag and enjoy) He just kinda sat there and looked at me. Eventually he smiled. But explaining the list of write offs to him got interesting. Especially when we got to the receipt from the sex toy store. (riding crops are cheaper there, so are handcuffs.)

He really wasn’t prepared for me. But he is starting to enjoy our chats. He is impressed with how in tune I am with my audience. We usually meet at coffee shops, and he has started getting a table further and further into the corner. I really am not safe for public consumption. I have warned waitstaff to seat me away from children and families when I’m with other writers, or my editor, or clients. 

I’ve also learned to sit with my back toward a wall if I’m planning on working on my computer. Because you never know what will pop up on my computer screen.

I love my job, and the best part about it is that I love to share. With all of you. :)

So what do you think I should try to write off on my taxes next year? Let’s start a bucket list. See if we can make it more interesting! 

Where to find me: Twitter | Facebook | Author Site | Blog | Tumblr (NSFW)
And please come find me! I LOVE to chat with readers!


A woman out of time.
A man stifled by propriety.
A nemesis determined to take her away.
A brother to the rescue.

How will a powerful Duke deal with a woman who doesn't know her place? How will a woman used to the 21st century survive in time where she is considered property?

Francine Larrabee woke up on the wrong side of the century. She was fairly certain she went to sleep in her own comfy bed, but she doesn’t quite seem to be there now. Only adding to her problems is that she has no voice, is constantly being glowered at by a large, stunning man who is obsessed with propriety, and she is apparently betrothed to another horrid little man, determined to ruin her, and any other girls that get in his way.

How does she find herself in the past, when she couldn’t even find herself in her present? How does a self sufficient businesswoman survive in a time when women were still considered property for the whole of their lives and what is she going to do with this man who draws her to him so fiercely.

FREEDOM: The Rake and the Recluse: Part One
Part one brings Francine to the world of the Duke of Roxleigh, clashing worlds in first installment of the completely revised novel, with all new material.

Available now from these ebook retailers:

iBookstore for iThingys

FOUND : The Rake and The Recluse: Part Two

Part two finds Francine in the world of the Duke of Roxleigh. The clashing of worlds in first installment of the completely revised novel continues as Francine finds her footing, discovers secrets about her elusive host, and learns more about herself than she ever thought possible. 

Available now from these ebook retailers:

iBookstore for iThingys

TAKEN : The Rake And The Recluse : Part Three
Part THREE brings Francine and Gideon closer than they ever imagined possible, until the unimaginable tears them apart. What will Gideon do if he loses her, this time, forever?

Available now from these ebook retailers:

RUINATION: The Rake And The Recluse: Part Four
Part FOUR is full of revelations, celebrations, protestations and one surprise that will have you holding your breath for the final chapters. What has Perry done?

Coming January 31, 2012

SUBMISSION: The Rake And The Recluse: Part Five
Perry leaves Roxleigh House without a backward glance only to be tossed headlong into one of the most difficult trials of his life. How will he protect the very thing he is dedicated to pursuing? How will a man dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure survive a woman who refuses to relent, when he knows he cannot have her.

Coming February 14, 2012

RETRIBUTION: The Rake And The Recluse: Part Six
Perry must find the woman who has managed to capture his heart, then he must find a way to keep her. Someone else is on the hunt, someone from her past who doesn’t appreciate that she still lives and breaths.

Coming February 28, 2012

NOW it’s your turn, remember to answer the question to be entered to win the full six-part serial novel as it is released, and thank you for stopping by. You will ALSO be entered in the grand prize #WICKEDblog tour, which will be given away on March 1, 2012. Don”t forget to include your email address in your comment or you can’t be entered into the grand prize drawing.

Rules can be found HERE. A full list of all the posts in the tour can be found HERE.


Jenn is giving away a digital copy of her six part serial novel, The Rake and the Recluse to one lucky reader!You will also be entered to win the grand prize of an Amazon Fire or Color Nook at the end of Jenn LeBlanc's tour.

To enter:

Answer Jenn's question from the post and include your email address. This giveaway is open to international readers.

Entry Deadline is Thursday, January 26th. Good luck! 

Here are my reviews of the first two parts of this serial novel:

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