Writing My Way Home

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By A.J. Larrieu, author of BROKEN SHADOWS

I’m a Southerner by birth and upbringing, but for the past decade, I’ve lived in not-so-sunny San Francisco. Homesickness is something I’ve learned to live with, a low level of unease and loneliness that simmers in my head. One of the ways I’ve dealt with that feeling is by writing my way back home to Louisiana—there’s nothing like writing about a place to help you feel close to it. But with Broken Shadows, the third book in my Shadowminds series, I took a different path. Instead of writing my way back home, I wrote about the city that has—slowly but inevitably—become home to me.

There’s a famous quote by Tennessee Williams: “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” I don’t agree with this—every city has it a unique personality—but I do think it’s true that San Francisco has an unmistakable character all it’s own. And one of the things I became fascinated with while writing Broken Shadows was exploring how that character is changing.

San Francisco is growing. The tech boom has created a huge number of jobs in high-tech fields, and those jobs have fueled real estate growth that has changed the face of the city. Neighborhoods that used to be full of three-unit apartment buildings from the 1920s and cramped locally owned grocers are being reshaped to include high-rise luxury condo complexes and fancy gourmet supermarkets. It’s a big deal—and a controversial one. And it forms the backdrop of my hero and heroine’s own converging searches for identity.

I’m fascinated by the ways that place influences our senses of ourselves. The search for identity and purpose amid opposing forces is something I see this city grapple with every day, and I ended up being fascinating by the same sorts of forces at work on my characters. The setting of a complicated, changing city was perfect for a woman struggling with changing ideas about herself and where she fits in the world.

My heroine, Mina, is struggling with an identity crisis of sorts. A telekinetic who’s lost her powers, she’s unsure of where she fits in the supernatural world she was raised in. She’s tried to forget, but just like the unique personalities of San Francisco’s neighborhoods, the roots of her character can’t be wished away. In the end, she has to build something new out of her past and her hopes for her future. I hope readers will enjoy Mina’s story as much as I have, and maybe, like me, recognize a little bit of their own journeys in hers.

9781426899478-COVEveryone has a breaking point.

Mina Tanner was once a converter, a human with telekinetic and telepathic abilities. After a vicious mental assault by an evil shadowmind stripped her of her powers, she was forced to flee her home to escape her attacker. Now, she’s trying to start a new life in San Francisco, far away from any and all reminders of the gifts she grew up using.

But her precariously balanced “normal” life topples as her apartment and her job fall victim to a new luxury development. Jackson Herring, an old family friend and powerful converter, offers Mina his spare bedroom while she gets on her feet, and she agrees…reluctantly. Mina’s finding it difficult enough to adjust without a daily reminder of what she’s lost, especially when that reminder is six-foot-four, super-talented and gorgeous.

When a mugger attacks her and she somehow burns his hands, Mina realizes that despite everything she’s lost, she may have gained something far more powerful–and dangerous–than she ever imagined. And when the rest of the shadowmind community learns about it, Mina will find herself on the run once again.

Book three of The Shadowminds

Get your copy of BROKEN SHADOWS from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
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A.J. Larrieu is a Southerner in San Francisco, a scientist, and a lover of beta heroes. She is the author the dark, sexy Shadowminds series, which follows a group of ordinary people with extraordinary powers. She loves to hear from readers! Drop her a line at aj@ajlarrieu.com, friend her on facebook, or follow her on twitter. You can find out more about A.J. and her books at www.ajlarrieu.com.

The Thin Line

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By Emma Barry, author of THE EASY PART

I grew up watching the 1940 romantic comedy The Shop Around the Corner every Christmas Eve. I know it’s after the holidays, but stay with me. Starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, it’s the story of two rival employees at a small shop in Budapest. They fight about everything and compete for every sale. They’re grateful that the folks with whom they’re (respectively) exchanging romantic letters are nothing like that pest at work.

Except they are one another’s correspondent.

And even before the secret breaks, it’s pretty clear that they should deal with their differences in the break room—if you know what I mean. (If this is sounding familiar it may be because it was remade in the late 90s as You’ve Got Mail.)

The thin line between love and hate, or the enemies-to-lovers trope, is old and fabulous. While all of the books in my series The Easy Part are opposites attract romances, my latest release, Party Lines, is an enemies-have-a-steamy-affair book. Their affair threatens their jobs, values, and sense of self—because the hero is a Democrat and the heroine a Republican.

9781426899454It’s not personal—it’s politics

Michael Picetti: a cynical Democrat who has seen too many failed campaigns. It’s not his first primary, and it’s been a while since he’s truly believed policy and public good trump all.

Lydia Reales: young, hard-working, optimistic…Republican. Getting her candidate in office means everything to her, and leaves zero time for a love life.

Both are determined that opposites don’t attract—at least when it comes to crossing party lines. As aides for opposing presidential candidates, Michael and Lydia are competing in an industry that requires total loyalty to their side. It doesn’t matter that with each teasing encounter they’re more and more attracted to each other. It doesn’t matter that casual flirting escalates to a powerful physical connection. It doesn’t matter that they might not be able to step away from each other without consequences.

As the campaign rages on and a reckless affair becomes a relationship, the inevitable reality sets in. In the end, loyalty to the campaign has to win. It doesn’t matter at what cost.

It’s banter-y and fun and heart-wrenching and, yes, they exchange flirty emails wherein they fight about the Bill of Rights. So, are love and hate really separated by a thin line?

Get your copy of PARTY LINES from Carina Press or your favorite online retailer!
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Emma Barry is a novelist and full-time mama and graduate student. She is the author of Brave in Heart, a historical romance set during the American Civil War, and The Easy Part, a contemporary romance series about political staffers, including Special InterestsPrivate Politics, and Party Lines. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves hugs from her toddler twins, her husband’s cooking, her cat’s whiskers, and Earl Grey tea.

Connect with Emma!
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Reader’s Weather Advisory

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By Susanna Fraser, author of FREEDOM TO LOVE

I’m writing this blog post a full two days before it’s due and feeling quite virtuous about it, thank you very much. You see, while I almost never miss deadlines, I was one of those people who in my collegiate days wrote ten-page papers the night before they were due.

Why this sudden fit of punctuality? Well, I’d planned to write this tomorrow night, but then I saw the weather forecast—a massive windstorm, with a worst-case scenario of power outages so widespread some customers could be in the dark for days. Since I don’t want to have to stress over a missed deadline on top of stressing over having power to charge my cell phone and keep the food in the freezer from melting, I decided the only thing to do was write early.

And it got me thinking about weather in my new Carina release, Freedom to Love. While I didn’t consciously decide to make it a major presence in the story, the meteorological vagaries of late winter and early spring in the American South are always at least at the back of my characters’ minds. Henry, the British hero, shivers in the aftermath of the Battle of New Orleans and can’t believe a place with such a tropical reputation is so bitingly cold. (While I invented the rest of the story’s weather to suit the needs of the plot, that part came straight from my research—the British soldiers were miserable throughout a soggy, chilly stay in Louisiana even aside from the small matter of, you know, losing the battle.)

Later as my characters flee cross-country toward Canada they worry about outrunning the spring weather and finding themselves snowbound…and I even included a tornado. Since I grew up in Alabama, I have many vivid memories of powerful spring storms when a cold front crashes into a pocket of unseasonably warm air. So I thought, When else are you going to have a chance to put that part of your life experience into a Regency romance?

What about you? Do you pay attention to the weather characters encounter in books? And what’s your favorite kind of story to read on a dark and stormy night?

(By the time you read this, the windstorm predicted above will be long past. And I’m hoping my fit of virtuous punctuality will act as a sort of reverse-jinx to keep the worst of the storm away from the Seattle metropolitan area and thereby keep our lights on!)

9781426899447-COVFreedom to Love

Louisiana, 1815

Thérèse Bondurant trusted her parents to provide for her and her young half-sister, though they never wed due to laws against mixed-race marriage. But when both die of a fever, Thérèse learns her only inheritance is debt—and her father’s promise that somewhere on his plantation lies a buried treasure. To save her own life—as well as that of her sister—she’ll need to find it before her white cousins take possession of the land.

British officer Henry Farlow, dazed from a wound received in battle outside New Orleans, stumbles onto Thérèse’s property out of necessity. But he stays because he’s become captivated by her intelligence and beauty. It’s thanks to Thérèse’s tender care that he regains his strength just in time to fend off her cousin, inadvertently killing the would-be rapist in the process.

Though he risks being labeled a deserter, it’s much more than a sense of duty that compels Henry to see the sisters to safety—far away from the scene of the crime. And Thérèse realizes she has come to rely on Henry for so much more than protection. On their journey to freedom in England, they must navigate a territory that’s just as foreign to them both—love. 

Read an excerpt here.


Get Freedom to Love from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer: 
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About Susanna

Susanna Fraser has been writing since the age of 9. Her youthful efforts featured talking horses, but she now writes Regency-set historicals with a focus on the soldiers who fought the Napoleonic Wars.

A native of Alabama, she never lost her love for barbecue or stopped saying “y’all” as life took her to Philadelphia, England and Seattle, where she lives with her husband and daughter.

For more information on Susanna and her books, visit susannafraser.com, sign up for her newsletter, read her blog, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

The North–South Divide

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By Shirley Wells, author of DEAD SIMPLE

This may surprise people across the pond, but there’s a strong North-South divide in England. This is strange when you consider the size of the country. Or perhaps it’s because the country’s so small that this divide exists.

Dylan Scott, private investigator and southerner, is heading back to the north in Dead Silent. Like most people from the south, Dylan believed that all northerners spend their time breeding pigeons, wearing flat caps on their heads and clogs on their feet like characters from Victorian times, and eating chips (fries) with gravy. Northerners, on the other hand, believe southerners are soft wimps, sound as if they’re sucking a lemon when they speak and – well, what’s wrong with chips and gravy anyway?

Dylan, however, is beginning to realize that life in the north isn’t as bad as he feared. Okay, the weather is harsher than he’s used to or would like, but the people are genuine and, unlike their southern counterparts, are happy to talk to strangers. That comes in useful when you’re a private investigator.

Those of you familiar with this series will know that Dylan is something of a chauvinist, but his heart’s in the right place and he’ll always, but always, fight the underdog’s corner. In Dead Simple he’s doing exactly that.

9781426899430-COVPrivate investigator Dylan Scott is struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife. He has to cope for the sake of his two children, though it’s easier to blame himself for her death and take comfort in a bottle of whisky.

When he hears that the man who helped him solve his first case has been killed in Dawson’s Clough, Dylan finds a new purpose and vows to put all his energy into finding justice for him. Who would have a motive to kill a kind man like Simple Stevie? As it turns out, everyone.

Dylan’s hunch is that Stevie must have snapped a photo of the wrong person, doing something they want erased, so he focuses his investigation on the town’s residents. But Dylan’s worst fears are realized when he again finds his own family in the crosshairs.


Download Dead Simple from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
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I must admit that, as a southerner myself, I shared Dylan’s views of the north. When my husband’s job meant a move to the north, I had visions of grim, dirty old mill towns. What I found was rolling hills, mile upon mile of open moors for the dogs to enjoy and people who have a wit and warmth second to none. These days, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Have you had preconceived notions of people or places that have turned out to be completely unfounded?

Shirley Wells shares her Lancashire home with her husband and two dogs. For more information about her crime/mystery novels, visit her website. To chat about books, dogs, football, chocolate, wine or anything else that takes your fancy, find her on Twitter and/or Facebook.

Welcome Elizabeth Harmon, Caitlin Sinead and Alyssa Cole to Carina Press!

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This February we’re welcoming three new authors to Carina Press. Elizabeth Harmon, Caitlin Sinead and Alyssa Cole are here to introduce themselves and their fantastic forthcoming books! Comment on this post for a chance to win one of three sets of all three books when they release next month! Sweepstakes ends 11:59pm ET, January 31, 2015. Open to US/CAN residents, excluding QC. Full rules HERE.

Elizabeth Harmon, author of PAIRING OFF

The first time I laced on a pair of figure skates, it was the start of a love that’s lasted all my life. Though I never reached the Olympic podium—or any podium for that matter—the beauty and athleticism of figure skating leaves me in awe.  I also love the romance of it, especially when I watch a man and woman skating two as one, the essence of pair skating.

To capture that emotion was my goal when I wrote my debut novel, PAIRING OFF. The story of Carrie and Anton not only depicts the challenge of training to compete on the world’s biggest stage, the Winter Olympics, it’s also the story of a pairs figure skating duo who fall in love despite their differences.

Since I love fish out water stories, I decided to take my all-American heroine out of her comfort zone (and mine!) and drop her into the country best known for champion pair skating, Russia. Getting to know more about Russia…and Russians was a blast.  It was also fun to present that world and a sexy Russian hero, in a slightly different way.  “Pairing Off” is humorous and heartfelt.  And hot, especially when Anton and Carrie dive in for a late night skinny dip in a deserted swimming pool.

PAIRING OFF is the first installment in my debut Carina series, Red Hot Russians. I’m very excited to share three handsome heroes who know how to warm up the coldest nights, and show their heroines that in any language, love is a beautiful thing.

9781426899508-COVPAIRING OFF (available February 2, 2015)

American figure skater Carrie Parker’s Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in the United States, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is paired with the most infuriating, talented—and handsome—skater she’s ever met.

Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he’s come close—with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he’s never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to be confronted with their past…never mind share the ice with her.

When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real, Carrie and Anton’s partnership will test their loyalties to family, country and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?


Preorder your copy now!
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Connect with Elizabeth!

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Caitlin Sinead, author of HEARTSICK

When I found out Carina Press wanted to publish my debut novel, I did a rather awkward, but very fun, happy dance. I couldn’t believe it. And now that we’re so close to the release date, I’m pinching myself even more!

I got the idea for HEARTSICK two years ago, but it has changed a lot since its original inception. Initially, I wanted to set the story in a small town that had been quarantined for a few years. Eventually, though, I decided that the start of the quarantine would be more interesting.

I didn’t set out to write a contemporary romance, but I love heavy romantic subplots, so I knew Quinn would also be falling in love. And after each revision, Quinn and Luke’s story become more and more prominent. I’ve surprised myself several times because on the 23rd, 48th, and 67th reads of certain scenes, I still get all giddy over their interactions.

While their relationship is a large aspect of the novel, the story also involves a mystery and speculative elements. I like to think there’s a little something for everyone. I’m very excited to share it with readers!

9781426899607-COVHEARTSICK (available February 16, 2015)

Quinn is looking forward to her senior year at Poe University. She has big plans to hang out with her best friend, flirt with a certain boy genius, party at her favorite dive bar and figure out what she’s going to do after graduation with her not-so-useful art major. But that’s before she meets Luke, a hot townie who’s moved back home to help take care of his dying sister. And it’s before a weird epidemic sweeps across campus, mysteriously turning people’s eyes purple.

Is it an odd side effect from a new party drug?
Is it a rogue virus developed in a campus lab?
Is it the mark of the devil?

Soon the town starts blaming the university and the student religious group becomes frighteningly aggressive in their on-campus accusations. Quinn and Luke are caught in the middle—until a tragic accident forces Luke to reveal the one part of himself he’s kept carefully hidden. That he’s so much more than the happy-go-lucky boy next door Quinn had believed him to be isn’t a surprise…but this truth might be too dangerous for her to handle.


Preorder your copy now!
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Connect with Caitlin!

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Alyssa Cole, author of RADIO SILENCE

Like most writers, I draw inspiration from both the world around me and the dark, creepy recesses of my mind. Radio Silence was written during a time when preparing for the Apocalypse was becoming a kind of trend—there was even a reality show! I found the whole thing interesting, because preparing for disaster had always been a part of my life. When I was a kid, I enjoyed collecting flashlights and Swiss Army knives, just in case. As an adult, friends made fun of me for my purse that was always stuffed with basically anything you could need in an emergency situation. In a way, preparing for the worst is a way of warding it off. But what if the Apocalypse, or something just as world changing, actually happened? How would people deal with the loss of creature comforts like Internet and cell phones, and the things that have become basic human rights, like clean water and access to food? What would you do if you were separated from your family, and how would you adapt to being thrown into an uncomfortable situation? Arden, the heroine, is a tough cookie, but she’s also just a girl who is worried to death about her parents. Gabriel is a smart, capable hero, but his main objective is keeping his family safe and happy. Radio Silence is a romance about finding laughter, hope, and love in the face of an uncertain future.

9781426899638-COVRADIO SILENCE (available February 2, 2015)

No one expects the apocalypse.

Arden Highmore was living your average postgrad life in Rochester, New York, when someone flipped the “off” switch on the world. No cell phones, no power, no running water—and no one knows why. All she and her roommate, John, know for sure is that they have to get out, stat. His family’s cabin near the Canadian border seemed like the safest choice.

It turns out isolation doesn’t necessarily equal safety.

When scavengers attack, it’s John’s ridiculously handsome brother, Gabriel, who comes to the rescue. He saves Arden’s life, so he can’t be all bad…but he’s also a controlling jerk who treats her like an idiot. Now their parents are missing and it seems John, Gabriel, their kid sister, Maggie, and Arden are the only people left alive who aren’t bloodthirsty maniacs.

No one knows when—or if—the lights will come back on and, in the midst of all that, Arden and Gabriel are finding that there’s a fine line indeed between love and hate. How long can they expect to last in this terrifying new world, be it together or apart?

Book one of Off the Grid


Preorder your copy now!
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Connect with Alyssa!

Twitter | Website

Kindle Daily Deals! December 29, 2014

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Is the eReader you got for Christmas begging to have great romances added, without breaking the bank? Here are 10 Kindle daily deals, ranging from historical to suspense, sports to new adult, contemporary to male/male—all 99¢–$1.99 each!

Click on the image or title below to read more.

Prices valid December 29, 2014 ONLY. 

Fatal AffairMidnight VengeanceAll In with the DukeUp To MeNo Such ThingWild OnesNo Accounting for CowboysHate to Love YouOn The SurfaceThe Kent Brothers Trilogy

Trends in Male/Male Romance

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Happy Holidays from Ava March, A.M Arthur and Josh Lanyon. The three of us write what is known as male/male romance, a relatively new but steadily growing sub-genre where strong and intelligent men fall in love with…other strong and intelligent men! Today we’d like to share a little bit about our work with you.


All In with the DukeCARINA_0614_9781426898464_SharpLove

Ava March

When I ‘discovered’ historical romance years ago, I fell hard and fast for the subgenre. I glommed books from my local libraries. Seriously, I’d check out ten at a time and read them all before they were due. Then I’d go back and get more. Once I realized M/M romances existed, I went on another glom. But back in 2007, there weren’t that many M/M historicals out there. In the grand scheme of things, there weren’t a heck of a lot of M/M romances, period. So for the first time in years, I read other genres and discovered some amazing books. Yet I wanted to read erotic stories of men in Regency England falling in love. So I started penning my own.

As the ebook market has grown, so has the quantity and diversity of M/M romances. And with that growth has come more M/M historicals. I set my books in England during the Regency era…which happens to be my favorite time period for romance. The gorgeous clothes, the proper manners, the luscious element of excess. A time when men strove to be gentlemen…at least when out in public. Yet the historical subgenre includes up through World War II, which gives readers a vast array of options.

If you are in the mood for gladiators, 18th century spy catchers, WWI fighters, or an Age of Sail romance, you can find them from Fae Sutherland/Marguerite Labbe, Tyler Flynn, Charlie Cochrane and Alex Beecroft. And if you are in the mood for a smoking hot Regency romance with some yummy angst, check out the books in my Gambling on Love series, with book #3 (Viscount’s Wager) coming in 2015.

I’m so excited that there are more authors now than ever writing M/M historicals. The subgenre was my first love of romance, after all. And I’ll be on the lookout for more historicals to add to my to-read list in the new year.

About Ava March

Ava March is an author of sexy, emotionally intense M/M historical erotic romances. She loves writing in the Regency time period, where proper decorum is of the utmost importance, but where anything can happen behind closed doors. With over fifteen works to her credit, her books have been finalists in the Rainbow Awards and More Than Magic contest, and deemed ‘must-haves’ for Historical M/M romance by RT Book Reviews readers.

Connect with Ava March: Website | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest




A.M Arthur

M/M romance is an exciting, dynamic genre in which to both read and write. I’ve been a fan and loyal reader of many of my fellow m//m authors long before I first published my own stories. When I first discovered the genre, I admit that I went on a bit of reading binge. I sampled a little bit of everything: contemporary, historical, SF/F, humor, erotica, and everything in between. As a reader, I enjoy diversity in my subgenres. As a writer, I most enjoy contemporaries with adult characters.

When New Adult became a thing, I decided that I wanted to give writing an NA series a shot, and that is how the Belonging Series was born, and I am very lucky to have a found a great home for it with Carina Press. The unique troubles and stresses of NA characters was a fun playground, and I adore those boys. For me 2014 was definitely the year of New Adult.

But as the trilogy came to an end and another character decided he wanted his own book, I realized that James wouldn’t fit into the world of the Belonging characters. To start, he’s thirty-four and so is his love interest. All of his friends are twenty-nine or older. So I left NA behind and a new trilogy of adult contemporaries was born. The first book, Getting It Right, kicks off the Restoration series on March 16, 2015, with two more books to follow. I had a blast getting back to adult contemporary stories for 2015, and I can’t wait to see wear my characters decide to take me for 2016.


Preorder GETTING IT RIGHT from your favorite ebook retailer:
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About A.M. Arthur

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.  She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories.

When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder.  She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Contact with A.M. Arthur!
Email | Website | Twitter | Tumblr



strangerontheshore CARINA_1114_9781426890451_FairGame CARINA_1114_9781426898976_FairPlay

Josh Lanyon

My first love is mystery. I grew up reading everything from Raymond Chandler to Mary Stewart, so it was natural that my first efforts at writing Male/Male fiction would combine equal parts romance and suspense. Somehow if my guys aren’t stumbling over bodies or chasing clues together, it just doesn’t seem like true love to me.

I write contemporary, historical, and sometimes speculative fiction, but there’s always a mysterious element. What kind of men will you find in my stories? All kinds! I write about sensitive, artistic types — college professors and writers and ballet dancers — and I write about tough guys, men hard as nails — cops and FBI agents and Texas Rangers. I write about smart, competent grown-ups because that’s what I find attractive in a man — and in a woman, for that matter. A sense of humor doesn’t hurt either.

Next year I’ll be writing something a little different for Carina Press. Jefferson Blythe, Esquire is a New Adult caper. It’s about old maps, new adventures, getting lost, getting found, getting drunk, and being mistaken for an international criminal. In other words, normal summer vacation when you’re in your twenties. It’s going to be a change of pace for me and my readers, but I think we’re all up to the challenge.

Start reading Josh Lanyon’s Carina Press titles today!

About Josh Lanyon

A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author Josh Lanyon has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.

Connect with Josh Lanyon!
Website | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest


What about you? Are you up to the challenge of reading something new? Have you tried Male/Male romance yet? Comment on this post in the section below to be entered in a drawing for a $50.00 gift certificate to your favorite online bookseller.

Favorite Part of the Holidays

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By Shannon Stacey and Jaci Burton

The backstory… When asked to do a joint blog post about our favorite holiday things, Jaci and I agreed. We diligently added it to our calendars and I set up a reminder on my phone, imagining a work session involving a Word document and possibly bullet points. But, as best friends, Jaci and I have chatted every morning with Messenger and coffee for years, so it simply became a conversation. —Shannon

The following conversation takes place between 10:00am and 11:00am… cue ominous clock sound.(Sorry. Jaci and I are both 24 fans, too, which has nothing to do with the holidays.)

Jaci:  So hey, Shan, it’s the holiday season. Is your tree up yet?

Shannon:  Not yet. We have a fake tree and it’s stored in the basement. I was thinking of just throwing some decorations on it and we can have Christmas morning in the cellar this year.

Jaci:  Sounds good to me. Since our kids are grown and gone, we have a one foot Christmas tree with fiber optic lights. And three ornaments. It’s worse than a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, but hey, it works for us. But it plays music! Bonus points for that, right?

Shannon: Of course! I would have to hack into it so it plays Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” over and over and over and over.

Jaci: As long as we can also add Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” to the loop. Sorry, I’m a traditionalist

Shannon:  Okay, so our favorite things about the holiday season…mine’s the food. It’s always the food.

Jaci:  I love holiday food. Turkey and dressing, of course. I can’t seem to get enough of it this time of year. And I love rum balls during the holidays. My favorite, though, has to be pie. Every year I make a chocolate cream pie and a coconut cream pie, recipes from my mother-in-law, who made the best pies ever. What’s your favorite holiday food?

Shannon:  It’s no secret I can’t really cook. And by “can’t really”, I mean not at all. But I do have three fun, very-bad-for-you dishes I only make for the holidays. Cracker Candy, using the recipe from our editor, Angela James, is a huge hit with my family. And we all gather for a Christmas morning breakfast, to which I bring Sausage Balls (also one of Angie’s recipes) and Crack Potatoes. They started as a way to make sure I got a delicious (naughty) Christmas breakfast despite my egg allergy and have become my “signature dishes”. (People who know me well just snickered.)

Jaci:  I also make cracker candy and sausage balls. Yummy stuff. Clearly, we both like food during the holidays.

Shannon:  I also love presents, but I don’t love wrapping them. Gifts from me tend to look like they were wrapped by drunken elves and the recipients have to gnaw their way through the excess tape. What about you?

Jaci:  I love buying gifts during the holiday season. It gives me such joy, though I think the UPS man hates me the entire month of December because boxes come to my house every day. Though really, shouldn’t he be enjoying those overtime paychecks? But wrapping. Oh, I hate the wrapping. Gift bags are your friend, Shan.

Shannon:  My UPS guy actually asked me one year if I could make lists and shop once a week instead of making him stop by every day in December.

Jaci: Hahaha. Poor UPS men. I feel kind of bad for them in December.

9781426898969_p0_v14_s260x420Intermission:  About five minutes of Shannon watching an old repeat of Keeping Up With the Kardashians while Jaci chats with her son on the phone. Then more minutes of talking about our kids while Shannon thinks about the slice of leftover pizza in the fridge.

Shannon:  Okay. One of the best parts of the holidays is, of course, holiday romances! Have you read your first one yet?

Jaci:  The first holiday romance I read was yours, actually. I loved Her Holiday Man. It was sweet and emotional and really tugged at my heartstrings. The story between Christina and Will—the hardships they both faced in life and how they fought through them together, was the perfect touch of tender, heartbreaking emotion and uplifting romance. I loved it.

Shannon:  Aww, thank you. (I inserted the little emoticon guy who’s crying into the conversation here, and then we commented on the fact he looks like he has a runny nose, which is a little gross.) I have your Holiday On Ice ready to read, but my first holiday read of 2014 was The Twelve Nights of Christmas, a Harlequin Presents by Sarah Morgan I somehow missed in 2010. So recommended! And, speaking of holiday reads, we both have a box set of holiday novellas this year. Tell me about yours!

Jaci:  I know, how exciting is that? My Kent Brothers Trilogy is now available as a boxed set. Three brothers, three holiday novellas, all together in one easy-to-buy boxed set. What about yours?

Shannon:  I love connected novellas, and I loved your Kent Brothers, so everybody should grab that boxed set if they haven’t! Mine is The Season For Love: A Shannon Stacey Holiday Box Set and has “Holiday Sparks”, “Mistletoe and Margaritas”, and “Snowbound With The CEO”. My novellas each stand alone, but they’re all fun Christmas romances.

Jaci:  Okay, I have to go let the dogs out–Hey, now that we’re totally in the holiday spirit, we should put antlers on our dogs. Or no?

Shannon:  Yes! I’m going to add Christmas dog antlers to my shopping list right now. (Poor UPS guy.) I’ll skip the cat antlers, though. They have no sense of humor.

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About the authors:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors Jaci Burton and Shannon Stacey would probably get more done if they spent less time talking to each other, but good friends are a precious gift, especially during the holiday season.

Jaci’s Website/Twitter/Facebook

Shannon’s Website/Twitter/Facebook

Carina Press Best Sports Moments

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What does romance have in common with raucous fans, heart-thumping action and wickedly skilled athletes? Read on, as six Carina sports authors share with you their favorite sports highlights of 2014 and how moments like these inspire them to write within this popular genre.

Michele Mannon, author of Out For The Count

MMA isn’t just a man’s sport. Case in point is the upcoming UFC 182 fight between Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano for the bantamweight title. Ladies by day and warriors in the Octagon cage, both women have earned reputations for being skilled fighters, particularly Rousey, who is known to defeat her opponents in the first round with her signature armbar submission. I love the way MMA has evolved into an equal rights sport, how female fighters are respected and, as with this fight—in which they are the featured headliner—how their popularity has grown. Fighters who were the inspiration for pretty, all-American kick ass fighter, Huntley Rey Wittaker, the heroine in my new release, Out For The Count.

Don’t miss Knock Out and Tap Out, available now!

Get OUT FOR THE COUNT at Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
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Connect with Michele!
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Rhonda Shaw, author of the Men of the Show baseball series

With so many best sports moments of 2014, I had a hard time picking, but I kept coming back to one—the emergence of J.D. Martinez.  Yep, I’m sure most of you thought, “Uh…who?” (unless you’re an avid Detroit Tigers fan like myself), but the story of J.D. Martinez is pretty awesome.

At the start of the year, J.D. was with the Houston Astros.  He’d been struggling and worked on changing his swing over the winter.  The results were starting to show, but the Astros had too many prospects in their ranks so they cut him.  Now, I’m not a professional athlete but I would imagine being released would feel the same as when an employer terminates an employee unexpectedly.  It hurts and stings, and after getting past the anger and insult, you’d want to show them exactly what they gave up, and that’s precisely what J.D. did.

The Detroit Tigers picked him up intending to use him as a bat off the bench, but it wasn’t before long they realized there was no keeping J.D. riding the pine.  He quickly became a legitimate (and clutch) run scoring threat right behind the biggest two bats in the Detroit lineup—Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez—making the three of them an intimidating, run producing machine.

J.D. ended the 2014 season, ranked ninth of all left fielders in the major league by Buster Olney of ESPN, with 23 homers and 76 RBIs (runs batted in) in 441 at-bats.  I can’t wait to see what he does in 2015.  Thank you, Houston, for J.D.!

Here’s one of his clutch home runs for your viewing pleasure:


Meet the hot, sexy Men of the Show in The Changeup and The Ace!
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Rebecca Crowley, author of Love in Straight Sets

CARINA_0414_-9781426898297_LoveInStraightSetsThe Grand Slam tennis season has been over for a couple of months now, and 2014 proved to be an interesting – and transitional – year for the sport. For ages we’ve seen the domination of the elite four: Federer, Nadal, Murray and Djokovic. While they’re all still on top, cracks are starting to show, and a new generation of players is on the rise.

Although a lot of fans would point to Wimbledon’s Djokovic/Federer final as the match of the year, I would hand that trophy to the last title match of the last Grand Slam: Cilic v. Nishikori at the US Open.

Now, you’ve obviously heard of Marin Cilic, right? What? No? That may be because Cilic is one of only three men outside of the big four to win a Grand Slam since 2005. His highest world ranking is #8 and the most remarkable note in his career was a four-month drug suspension. That changed in September, when he demolished Federer in straight sets in the semifinal, and then swept the final 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

Although I love the superstars like Federer and Nadal as much as the next tennis fan, there was something special about watching the world’s #14 and #10 players battling through the final of a Grand Slam. In an individual sport like tennis you’re only as good as your last match, and 2014 proved that the big four shouldn’t get too comfortable, because there are some dynamic, unpredictable players nipping at their heels.

For a glimpse into the wild world of women’s tennis, try Love in Straight Sets!
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Kat Latham, author of the London Legends rugby series

I’m going to break the rules a little here. Instead of talking about a highlight from 2014, I’m going to tell you what I’m most looking forward to in 2015: the Rugby World Cup.

England is hosting it, though several matches will be played in Wales too. My husband and I have tickets for the two quarter finals in Cardiff, and I can’t wait!

The Rugby World Cup is a relatively recent tournament. The first one was held in 1987, and they happen every four years so this will be the seventh one. Readers of my London Legends series will know that two of my books—Knowing the Score and Playing It Close—end with England playing in the World Cup final in London. Whether they make it there in real life or not, I’m hoping for a tournament full of adrenaline rushes, amazing feats of strength and hot men with great thighs wearing short shorts!

Here’s a video showing some of the highlights from Rugby World Cups past. Enjoy!

Read about Kat’s hot rugby lads in Knowing the Score, Playing It Close, Tempting the Player and Unwrapping Her Perfect Match!


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Allison Parr, author of the New York Leopards football series


I can’t yet tell you what my favorite sports moment of 2014 is quite yet, because the Patriots are still in the running and I hope the best is yet to come! But I can say that it’s been a very exciting season, both during games and outside of them. I’ve been following all the emerging conversations this year about health, safety, and politics in the world of football, and they’ve been fascinating to listen to and learn from. While my heroine in Imaginary Lines is a writer for a completely fictional publication, I’m continually impressed by all the real sports journalists, just as I’m impressed by the players who’ve committed themselves to such a beloved game.


Get IMAGINARY LINES at Carina Press or your favorite online retailer: 
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Connect with Allison!
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Kate Willoughby, author of the In the Zone hockey series

On June 13, 2014, my favorite team, the Los Angeles Kings, won the Stanley Cup for the second time in three years, but my favorite moment came not when they won the game, but about fifteen minutes later.

After the NHL commissioner presents the Cup to the team captain, one by one, the players take a very emotional victory lap around the ice with the trophy held high. It’s a big honor to be the second to hoist the cup, and Dustin Brown surprised everyone by handing it to a guy who hadn’t skated for weeks—Robin Regehr.

Regehr was injured early in the Semifinals, but he stuck with the team, providing support however he could. I’m sure it killed him not to be out there competing with his teammates. Weeks later, even though Regehr had recovered, the coach decided not to risk sending in a player who might be rusty after his injury and went with a defenseman who had been performing very well. Instead of being bitter about being passed over, Regehr continued to support the team in the locker room and during warm-ups.

So my favorite sports moment of 2014 was when Dustin Brown chose to honor a veteran of 1022 games who had never touched the Cup before. (Traditionally, only players who have won the Cup can touch the Cup.) In that moment, he also showed Regehr just how important his behind the scenes presence was, demonstrating that the game of hockey is so much more than what we fans see.

Check out how Kate’s San Diego Barracudas manage to play damn good hockey while falling in love in On the Surface, Across the Line, and Out of the Game (available April 2015).
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Living Vicariously Through My Characters

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By Amylynn Bright, author of FINISH WHAT WE STARTED

One of my favorite things about being a writer is getting to live vicariously through my characters. Anything I’ve ever wanted to do, be, or possess is at my fingertips.

Take for instance my heroine in Finish What We Started.

When I was a child, anytime anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up the answer was always “a veterinarian.” By the time I was in high school I had expanded my proposed title to “a veterinarian specializing in the breeding of endangered species.” Quite a mouthful, eh?

I actually found a youth group affiliated with my local zoo and discovered a group of weird kids like myself. Let’s face it, anytime you find a group of kids with such avid narrowed focus, regardless of what it is, they’re a little bit odd.

By the time it came to apply for colleges, I had shifted my laser focus to film. To be honest, when I found out that veterinarians went to school for approximately thirty-seven years and spent nine million dollars on their education, there was less appeal. Nothing much came of my film education either, other than some scripts that should not be read by humans, but that is a different story.

So, circling back around to my original thesis…

I already knew the hero from Finish What We Started as he’d been in the first book of The Bennett Series, Cooking Up Love. The love of his life, however, was someone I’d get to create from scratch. Who should she be? Right before my eyes I built my dream career. Candace Claesson got her veterinary degree at Glasgow University in Scotland. She’s returned to her home town to join the family practice. Even though she did a lot of undergraduate work with breeding programs—specifically the Clouded Leopard Project in Thailand—she enjoys family practice and taking care of the pets people love.

Once our intrepid hero discovers the lady has come home, he invents all kinds of reasons he needs to see her and each one of them involves taking a different animal to her clinic.

That was the second way I got to live through my characters. I’ve always wanted a hedgehog, and a chinchilla, and every single puppy I’ve ever seen. The best part of my story is that, with a few exceptions, Lee is afraid of every animal he takes to see her. Of course, comedy high jinks ensue.

As you suspect, in the long run things work out for our couple and their menagerie. Sadly, I still don’t have a hedgehog, a chinchilla, or access to cuddle clouded leopards like my characters do, but here’s to positive thinking!

9781426899331-COVFive years ago, Lee Bennett’s whirlwind romance with Candace Claesson ended as abruptly as it had begun, and just when he needed her the most. Since then, Lee’s built a successful construction company and a satisfying, if solitary, life. When he’s hired to build Candace’s new veterinary clinic, Lee finds her as irresistible as ever—but he’s never forgiven her and he’s sure as hell not letting her break his heart again.

For years, Candace has wrestled with regret and guilt over leaving Lee. At the time, nothing was going to stop her from achieving her dreams of studying in Scotland and becoming a vet—not even young love. They’d been inseparable for six months, but anything that intense couldn’t last. Or so she thought.

Reunited in their hometown, neither Lee nor Candace can resist picking up where they left off. But with so much from the past standing between them, how they can rebuild what they started so long ago?

Get FINISH WHAT WE STARTED from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
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Amylynn read her first romance novel in 2008 after being a lifelong literary snob. By the time she was done, she was hooked. She is an Arizona native and lives in the same house her husband owned before they were married. Amylynn fears she will never call another state home unless someone tells her husband there are forty-nine others to chose from. In reality, she’d little for a walk-in closet. Her family consists of the aforementioned husband, two beautiful children, two dogs, two cats, some fish, and a hankering for a panda. She’d like it mentioned she’s never been in prison, but we’ll see how that panda thing works out.

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