Cat-agorically In Love

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By Elizabeth Harmon, author of GETTING IT BACK

What’s better than a cute cat video? A cute cat video that ties purr-fectly into GETTING IT BACK, the latest release in my Red Hot Russians series.

Okay, enough cheesy pet puns. I admit that furry friends in books and movies can make me nervous. Anyone who’s seen Old Yeller knows what I’m talking about. Heck there’s even a movie rating website called

But this is romance, so take heart. Just as the hero and heroine find happily ever after, so do their beloved dogs, bunnies and horses.

But what about their cats?

Despite their awesomeness, cats are less common in Romanceland. But I’m a cat lover, so giving GETTING IT BACK’s heroine a feline friend felt right. I made Milo an orange tabby, just like this little sweetheart who likes to sleep in my lap when I write.

But as I got to know Amy, my heroine, I realized her kindhearted nature would influence the pet she chose. Amy would give a home to a pet others might consider unadoptable.

Elizabeth Harmon catThat made me think back to a cat I had as a kid. Tiger Tail had just three legs, but lived a long and happy life with our family. So I decided to make Milo a tripod tabby. When sexy Russian figure skater hero Misha asks Amy when happened to her cat’s leg, she answers, “I don’t know. He needed a home. That’s what mattered.”

Milo’s rabbit-hop gait—and his hatred of vacuum cleaners—are both shout-outs to Tiger.

Tripod cats are more than curiosities. They’re fearless, agile, and full of love. This awesome video, used with permission from Button and Taco, stars a kitty who doesn’t let the lack of a front leg hold him back.

And about Milo’s HEA?  Well, I’ll give you a hint.  Though he doesn’t appear in GETTING IT BACK’s final scene, which takes place in an ice rink, Milo is very much a part of Amy and Misha’s family. When they return home at the end of the day, he’s waiting.

9781459290419GETTING IT BACK by Elizabeth Harmon

Red Hot Russians, book three

In this second-chances romance, a former top men’s figure skating champion is willing to risk everything for a comeback—except a new start with his long-lost love

An unexpected phone call from the man who broke her heart offers Amy Shepherd an opportunity to return to the work she loves, training elite figure skaters. Except it’s just one figure skater: him. Can she finally forgive and forget?

Figure skater Mikhail “Misha” Zaikov once had it all: medals, money and the adoration of millions. But a devastating injury put an end to his career and his romance, leaving him with nothing but regret over what could have been. His last chance to rejoin the world’s top skaters is now. And there’s only one person who can help him: her.

On Russia’s unyielding ice, Misha must reclaim what he’s lost while facing off against a talented young rival and risking further injury. But Amy soon discovers Misha’s much bigger challenges lurk off the ice. And she’s determined to keep Misha whole and healthy, even if doing so ends his shot at the gold.

Don’t miss any of Elizabeth Harmon’s Red Hot Russians. Pairing Off and Turning It On are available now!

Elizabeth Harmon loves to read and write romances with a dash of different.

A graduate of the University of Illinois, she has worked in advertising, community journalism and as a freelance magazine writer. She feels incredibly blessed to have a career that allows her to spend her days imagining “what if?” and a loving family that keeps her grounded in the real world.

An adventurous cook, vintage home enthusiast, occasional actress, and entry-level figure skater, Elizabeth makes her home in the Midwest, where life is good, but the sports teams aren’t. She loves to hang out on her front porch, or at her favorite local establishments, enjoy good food and wine, and talk writing with anyone who will listen. Elizabeth Harmon is a 2016 RWA RITA® Award finalist for Best Romance Novella for PAIRING OFF.

Eight Sticky Situations at Book Club: How to Deal

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By Lisa Q. Mathews, author of PERMANENTLY BOOKED

Everyone loves book club, right? Sharing your favorite titles, great refreshments, and hey, a night out! Sometimes, though, things can go wrong. My co-sleuths Summer and Dorothy found that out firsthand when they started their own book club to catch a murderer in PERMANENTLY BOOKED.

Here are 8 awkward book club “situations”—and a little advice—from the Ladies Smythe & Westin and me:

#8: No one agrees on what to read.

Take turns choosing titles. Sometimes themes or book guides can get boring, so don’t be afraid to shake things up. Keep those title selections short.

#7: People aren’t discussing the book.

Set an agenda ahead of time, and try to stick with it. Plan “social” time before or after the meeting—or both. And shut off those cell phones!

#6: No one likes your refreshments.


Bring food you know most people will enjoy. It’s okay to be different, and healthy choices are always appreciated, but maybe you should reconsider that anchovy-kale-bean dip. Also, don’t bring up your diet while other members are digging into the cherry ambrosia or chocolate fondue.

#5: The same person does (all) the talking.


Every club has at least one know-it-all member. If gentle hints fail, set a timer.

#4: No one else has read the book.

Annoying? Yep. But you can probably count on someone who’s at least seen the movie. Are there ways the book and movie differ? Discuss! (And if YOU haven’t read/finished the book, show up anyway, and do your best to fake it. Resolve to be more prepared next month.)

#3: Some members feel left out.

No Mean Girls at book club! Be nice to everyone, and listen politely to everyone’s opinions. Don’t trash anyone’s book choices. It’s okay to be critical about a book, but offer its good points, too.

#2: Your hostess looks tired.


Some people enjoy throwing a party, and have the perfect space. But hostessing every meeting can be a drag. Take turns, and always volunteer to help clean up. You might even snag a few extra brownies. No space? Consider holding a few meetings in a restaurant, bar, coffee shop, or local bookstore.

#1: You brought up the murder, and it wasn’t in a book.

As the Ladies Smythe & Westin found out, discussing a real murder at book club is a big mistake. Time to make a gracious—and quick—departure!

Readers, have you ever faced any sticky situations at book club? Any advice to share?

0416_9781459290624_Permanently_Booked_WebPERMANENTLY BOOKED by Lisa Q. Mathews

The Ladies Smythe & Westin, book two

The first rule of the Hibiscus Pointe book club is don’t talk about the murder

Semi-reformed party girl Summer Smythe is finally feeling at home at the Hibiscus Pointe Retirement Community. All that’s left to do is replace her late grandma’s massive book collection with a TV. Donating them to the community library is the perfect solution—until she finds the librarian buried in books. Literally.

Summer and her sleuthing partner, longtime resident Dorothy Westin, can’t imagine who would want to kill poor, dedicated Lorella. Soon, they’re on case…and the Hibiscus Pointe book club is the perfect cover for their investigation.

A murdered librarian is headline news in south Florida, and even outsiders, including an oddball professor and a pair of dueling authors, are eager to join the once-dull group. But one menacing member has Dorothy and Summer bookmarked for the morgue. If the Ladies Smythe and Westin don’t nab the killer fast, the Hibiscus Pointe book club may be reading their obituaries next.

See how Summer and Dorothy first teamed up in Cardiac Arrest, available now!

About Lisa:

Lisa Q. Mathews is a mystery author who lives in New England but sets her books in sunny Florida. Like her co-sleuths Summer and Dorothy, she adores iced tea, rich desserts, Nora Ephron movies, and most of all, fun detective stories! Represented by Stephany Evans at FinePrint Literary, Lisa is a member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), International Thriller Writers (ITW), and Mystery Writers of America (MWA). Learn more about Lisa Q. Mathews here.

From the Editor’s Desk: When Your Submission is Passed to Another Editor

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Here at Carina, we’re always looking for new authors to sign, publish and build. But we recognize that putting your manuscript out on submission can be an intimidating process. How do you make your manuscript stand out, from the query letter to the last page? We’re here to demystify the submissions process by giving you some insight into what a Carina Press editor looks for when she opens up a submission for review.

Today’s post comes from Alissa Davis. She’s been freelancing for Carina Press since 2010 and is always looking to acquire awesome new romance, especially paranormal, m/m, erotic, historical and contemporary romance.

You’ve directed your submission to a specific editor, but it’s possible your story may be passed to a second editor for evaluation. Wondering why? Here are some of the reasons another editor might end up reading your manuscript, and why that’s a good thing for you.

The original editor doesn’t acquire in that genre or subgenre, or isn’t currently acquiring in it.

Maybe you’ve heard several authors saying great things about an editor, so you directed your submission to her attention. Unfortunately, the editor in question prefers not to read cozy mysteries and that’s what you’re submitting. At Carina Press, Editorial Director Angela James keeps a record of each editor’s general preferences for submissions. This way, an editor who prefers not to read romantic suspense doesn’t receive it in her submissions inbox.

The submission contains a trope or element the editor would prefer not to read.

There are certain things some of us would prefer not to see in the submissions inbox. For instance, I don’t mind mentions of an adult character’s traumatic backstory, but I can’t stand to see violence against children playing out in detail on the page. If I’m looking through a synopsis or reading a manuscript and I see references to that sort of violence, I’ll make note of it in my report and let Angela know I’d recommend having another editor take a look. We want to ensure each submission gets a fair shot.

The editor sees potential in the submission but it isn’t right for her.

This one happens fairly often. An editor receives a submission in a genre or subgenre she enjoys, and when she takes a look she recognizes the story has potential. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite ringing her bells. Maybe the hero is shy and submissive and the editor is on the hunt for alphas right now because she’s just acquired three beta heroes in a row. Or maybe she loves the characters but there’s something about the voice that isn’t working for her. When this happens, the editor makes note of the submission’s potential and Angela is able to use that feedback when she’s assigning it to another editor. Some of my favorite Carina Press acquisitions have come to me after another editor has passed them back to Angela for a second look.


Editor swaps can also happen after acquisition, when an author and editor have been working together and there’s a need for change.

There’s a scheduling issue or personnel issue.

Life happens. Personal schedules or publication schedules change, and sometimes it’s necessary to pass a book to someone else for editing in order to meet important deadlines. A few years ago my husband got a new job in another state. He had to be there within the next few days and I had to stay behind and move us…in less than three weeks. I made a panicked phone call to my mother, begging her to come stay and watch my baby while I packed, and then I looked at my work calendar. Big problem! I had a book that needed to be edited and an entire house to pack. I emailed Angela and we agreed the book should go to another editor. It was a tough decision. I loved the book and had developed a great relationship with the author when we’d worked together on her previous book. I wanted to edit this one and I didn’t like to spring a last-minute editor swap on the author, but there was no way I could manage the edit and the move. Angela found another editor who was a good fit for both the author and the story. That editor took great care of my author and I managed to stay sane during the move.

It’s inconvenient, but these things happen. Sometimes editors leave the industry or accept a position at another publishing house, leaving behind a whole list of authors who need to be assigned to a new editor. When situations like this arise, Angela tries to place each author with the editor who’s going to be the best fit in terms of editing style, enthusiasm for the author’s books, and availability.

The author decides to switch gears.

There are times when an author might decide to go in a very different direction with a new book or series. That’s fine, but the editor who can’t stop raving about your historical romances might not feel the same excitement about the new paranormal BDSM series you’re dying to write, and she may decide your new series deserves an editor who’s more enthusiastic about it.

The author and editor aren’t a good fit.

Not every pairing is a match made in heaven, and sometimes the author or editor lets the editorial director know the relationship isn’t working the way that it should. Revisions can be hard work but they shouldn’t be making anyone miserable!

When this happens, Angela talks to the author and editor to figure out what isn’t working and then she finds an editor who’s a better fit. She knows all of her editors well, and the new author/editor pairing is usually much more successful.

There’s a special opportunity that includes working with another editor.

Sometimes authors are invited to contribute to anthologies. For example, Carina published some Editor’s Choice anthologies and Angela invited one of my authors to write a prequel novella for a series the author and I had been working on together. All of the stories in the anthology were being edited by another Carina Press editor, which meant the author would be working with someone new. In the end she had a great learning experience with the other editor, the series got some additional exposure, and then the author and I reunited for the next book in the series.

No matter the reason behind switching to another editor, we’re always trying to do what’s in the best interest of the author and her books. After all, every book deserves an editor who loves it.

Thank you for reading—we hope these tips have you excited to submit your manuscript to Carina Press! Here are some quick references to help you through the submissions process:

  • We’re always open to submissions!
  • We respond to all submissions within 12 weeks.
  • Have a question and can’t find the answer on our guidelines page? Email us at and we’re happy to help.
  • Looking to target your submission to a specific editor? Find out more about editor submission calls here.


Looking for more information on our submissions process? We’ll have more posts coming in this series, and in the meantime, you can read about our acquisitions process here, and find out more about what an editor does here.

Ready to submit? Click here to start your publishing journey with Carina Press!

Dirty, Dirty Klimt

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By Kira A. Gold, author of THE DIRTY SECRET

In chapter 5–Vine Dining–of THE DIRTY SECRET, Vessa and Killian discuss their favorite artists while finishing up the decor in the dining room. She brings up Gustav Klimt:

Klimt - The Kiss

“It’s such a cliché,” she said. “Every freshman art student falls in love with The Kiss, or Judith, or Water Serpents.”

“Why is that?”

“Because it’s usually the first exposure of eroticism as a fine art form. His drawings are pure foreplay, like it’s obvious by the model’s pose that she’s waiting for him to finish drawing her so that they can fuck. Lots of women masturbating.”

“Nice,” he said, trying to be casual. Did she do that? Fuck, he hoped so. He wondered what her face looked like when she came. He set the nails into the board tacked in place by the glue.

Gustav Klimt 036

“Girls discover him right at the age when they’re figuring out how to do it properly themselves, and that it’s okay and not weird or bad. And everything he did was all so gorgeous and self-indulgent and sexy. Even his landscapes—you know there are two people fucking in that poppy field somewhere—and his portraits—the woman with knowing eyes, even the girl in the innocent white dress, standing with her legs too wide.”

Like you, Killian didn’t say. Like this rug I want to lay you down onto, like that bed I want to take you across from behind, like— He pounded more nails.

Gustav Klimt was a symbolist painter and founder of the Vienna Secession, a part of the Art Nouveau movement that swept the world at the end of the nineteenth century.
The Secessionist’s motto was: To every age its art. To every art its freedom. A lovely phrase.
Klimt may have been a bit too public with his freedom–his work was criticized for being pornographic. He was flagrantly sexual, and his models were often intimidated by his masculinity, but women flocked to his studio to be painted in the sumptuous costumes he designed.
Some did more than just sit. Many sketches were explicit contour drawings of women having some self-induced intimacy.

I adore the lushness of Klimt’s work, and he was the perfect inspiration when writing THE DIRTY SECRET. Both Killian and Vessa are artists who aren’t afraid to be decadent with their creativity or their desire.

0316_9781459294349_The Dirty Secret_WebTHE DIRTY SECRET by Kira A. Gold

From the Desk of Donna Edith…
My services are unconventional. My clients come to me with needs and I match them to other clients with needs of their own…

Promising young architect Killian Fitzroy: Driven, clever, eager to prove himself. Starved for sex, though he’s come to me for professional assistance, not personal. Needs: Someone unique, creative and fast. An artist with a feminine perspective to breathe life into a house he’s built.

Aspiring scenic designer Vessa Ratham: Sensuous, spontaneous, but secretive. Recently returned to Vermont armed with an art degree that qualifies her for little more than waiting tables. Needs: An opportunity to shine.

Yes, Killian and Vessa will satisfy each other nicely—in more ways than one.


Kira A. Gold is a costume designer and textile artist living in Kentucky. A Shakespeare enthusiast and an ex-pat of cold places, she writes odd tales of Vermont, Sweden, backstage wings and other magical settings.
She enjoys bourbon, chocolate and sleep, in no particular order.
THE DIRTY SECRET, her sexy romance from Carina Press, is available now.


April 2016 Dear Reader Letter

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Every Carina Press ebook includes a letter from Carina Press Editorial Director Angela James to you! She gives you a peek inside all of the amazing books published by Carina Press that month. Get ready for your TBR list to grow; here is a handy guide to all of our April 2016 releases. Enjoy!


Dear Reader,

Maybe the term antihero isn’t a new one, but it does seem to be something that’s been getting a lot of buzz in the past year or so in the romance world. But what is an antihero? In my mind, the antihero is one who has to be redeemed, providing a delicious platform for character growth and emotional conflict. But even though he’s an antihero, perhaps doing morally questionable things we can’t always approve of, he still proves his love and devotion to the heroine, providing us as readers with the opportunity to enjoy seeing a real bad boy get his happy ending.

I love a great antihero, and this April I’m pleased to introduce you to Haithem, from Didn’t I Warn You by Amber Bardan. Mysterious, foreign, gorgeous, Haithem has a secret, and it’s one he’ll kill to protect until he accomplishes the goal he’s set out to achieve. Lucky for Angelina, he chooses not to kill her…but he does kidnap her, holding her against her will, using her body against her. And when he ultimately becomes incredibly possessive of her… Haithem offers Angelina a chance to feel again. But can she love the devil who’s destroying her, even as he keeps her prisoner?

Mr. Sexy Bazillionaire CEO Gregory Ryans might not be an antihero, but that doesn’t make him any less compelling. The second installment of Laura Carter’s darkly sexy Vengeful Love trilogy, Vengeful Love: Deception, is packed with tension. Adrift in the aftermath of a murder, each desperate to protect the other, Scarlett and Gregory are faced with a harsh truth: there are some things money can’t buy.

Jen Doyle debuts with her contemporary romance, Calling It. After a car accident nearly ends his career and with paparazzi surrounding his Chicago penthouse, professional baseball player Nate Hawkins can only think of one place to go: home. But when he finds his old apartment occupied by a half-naked woman wielding a baseball bat, he’s not sure what to think…except that maybe his luck has finally changed for the better.

Also with a contemporary sports romance release this month is Elizabeth Harmon and Getting It Back. If you’re a sucker for a second-chance romance, this one will be right up your alley with a former top men’s figure-skating champion who’s willing to risk everything for a comeback—except a new start with the only woman he’s ever loved.

Mia Kay keeps things suspenseful. In her romantic suspense Hard Silence, an FBI profiler chasing an interstate serial killer never expects his love life and his professional life to collide. But he gets more than he bargained for when he falls for the lovely, secretive ranch owner—who just might hold the key to his investigation.

Move a little mystery into your life! In Permanently Booked by Lisa Q. Mathews, May-December sleuthing duo Summer Smythe and Dorothy Westin are back on the case after the murder of a dedicated librarian. To lure the killer out of hiding, they revamp the once-dull Hibiscus Pointe Book Club—and discover someone’s added more than wine, cheese and book talk to the agenda.

If antiheroes are something you’re looking for more of, we hope you’ll check out Didn’t I Warn You. And maybe take a peek back at Joely Sue Burkhart’s One Cut Deeper and Two Cuts Darker. Coming in July, don’t miss badass biker Dare as he takes on his feisty heroine in Jade Chandler’s new erotic motorcycle club series, The Jericho Brotherhood.

Coming next month: The fantastic conclusion to the Vengeful Love trilogy, male/male new-adult fare to make you happy, make you sigh and make you wish the authors would write faster, and an erotic new series from Anna del Mar.

As always, until next month here’s wishing you a wonderful month of books you love, remember and recommend.

Happy reading!

Angela James
Editorial Director, Carina Press