From the Editor’s Desk: Pacing

facebook twitter

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 freelance editor Deborah Nemeth, who since 2009 has edited more than 200 books for Carina Press. She’s eager to acquire well-paced manuscripts, especially romantic suspense, mystery,  m/m, Regency, New  Adult, erotic and contemporary romance.


Page-turning books that keep readers up at night tend to share certain characteristics, such as unforgettable characters, intriguing plots and compelling conflict. These stories will also be well paced—written in a way that engages a reader’s attention from the outset and holds it until the end.

While there’s a strong correlation between speed and pacing and readability, the goal isn’t to achieve and maintain a breakneck pace from start to finish, but instead to calibrate the pacing of each scene for variety and maximum impact. Most of the scenes in a well-paced manuscript will move along at a fairly good clip, shifting into quicker- and slower-paced sections where called for.

When pacing is too leisurely, readers’ attention can wander, and it can be too easy to lose interest and put the book (or manuscript submission) aside. Here are some techniques that authors can use to improve story pacing:

Hook the reader from the very first page by making us care about the viewpoint character and what will happen to her/him next. Introduce questions that pique our curiosity, making us wonder about the answer.

Give the character a goal he/she cares deeply enough about that readers will also become invested in it. The goal can be wanting something or trying to avoid or prevent something. In the first scene, it doesn’t need to be their main story goal; a bridging goal can compel our attention until the main goal and conflict is introduced. We also need to understand why the protagonist wants it: in other words, what’s the motivation?

Ensure that every scene contains tension and conflict as well as goals and motivation. Until the end, don’t resolve any conflicts or story goals until they are replaced by others.

Make sure that stakes are clear, and as the story progresses, complications should mount, with the obstacles becoming more difficult and the stakes greater. Imminent deadlines and a sense of time running out on a goal can also accelerate the pace.

Heroes who drive the story tend to be more attention-grabbing than passive characters who react to a series of events. The protagonist’s actions and decisions should directly affect the plot.

Avoid big chunks of exposition (especially in the early chapters) and instead layer in backstory in small bits, timed when readers need to know about something in order to follow along.

Begin scenes late, and end them early, and be selective about which actions and details you include. Do you really need to show your character waking up, getting ready, drinking coffee, driving, parking, talking to the receptionist…or can you jump right into the job interview?

End scenes with strong hooks. This doesn’t mean each chapter needs to finish with a cliffhanger, but ending with an unexpected piece of news or a twist, or with a note of worry or uncertainty, will better tempt a reader to turn the page than ending with the heroine brushing her teeth and going to bed.

Showing in action is more immersive and tends to be more page-turning than scenes with lots of telling in narration. Watch the balance of introspection and action. Chapters containing long passages of internal monologues, and/or exposition, without any action or dialogue, may stall the pacing.

Review dialogue for punch. Trim excess dialogue tags. Break up long speeches into smaller ones. Clip full-sentence responses into fragments to sound more natural.

Prose that is written tightly, in deep viewpoint, will provide a quicker read, whereas filter words and wordiness and repetition will slow things down. Even punctuation can have an effect on pacing, with semi-colons and ellipses providing a more leisurely read than commas and em dashes.

Certain scenes benefit from slower pacing. When a terrified youth is hiding from a killer, the tension will be ratcheted up by slowing things down, so that every instant of waiting feels like a nail-biting eternity. Writing out each action and sound—describing thudding heartbeats and ominous footsteps, the doorknob turning, the creak of a door—stretches out the suspense moment by moment.

When a beloved character dies, or a romance protagonist is dumped, applying the brakes to wallow in the moment will allow readers to experience their sorrow. Remain in the moment longer, showing the involuntary physical reactions and internal thoughts.

This technique of slowing down with plenty of details of actions and reactions and thoughts also works to convey sexual tension or arousal in a sex scene. Other romantic scenes such as first kisses, declarations of love, and proposals of marriage are also key moments worthy of more deliberate pacing, for optimal emotional resonance.

On the other hand, scenes of intense action call for quicker pacing. When depicting a bar brawl, chase scene, avalanche, wildfire, swordfight or race, use shorter paragraphs, shorter sentences, active voice and strong action verbs to speed up the pacing.

Knowing when to slow things down, when to speed them up, and how to apply techniques to manipulate the sense of time in the story will help prevent pacing problems such as slow starts, sagging middles and rushed endings.


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.
We are currently acquiring We do not publish/no longer accept submissions in
All subgenres and heat levels of romance (excluding inspirational romance) Non-fiction of any form, including memoirs, biographies, poetry
New Adult Women’s Fiction
Historical romance Horror
Mystery and Crime (all sub genres) Thrillers
Action Adventure Literary Fiction
Science Fiction (and sub genres) Faith-based/inspirational fiction or romance
Fantasy (and sub genres) General historical fiction (any historical fiction that does not contain mystery, fantasy, alternate history or romance as primary focus)
Interactive Adventures Young Adult


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!

Series Spotlight: Gambling on Love

facebook twitter

Heat things up with a steamy male/male historical romance by Ava March! The Gambling on Love series is sure to keep your eyes glued to your eReader…and you won’t want to miss the new book in the series, Viscount’s Wager!

Why readers love the Gambling on Love series…

“This was my favourite book of Ava March so far. I absolutely loved everything about it!” –Goodreads review, Sharp Love

“I absolutely adore a forbidden love story!” —All In With the Duke

Viscount’s Wager

18780071You never forget your first love, but is a second chance worth the gamble?

Anthony, Viscount Rawling, knows exactly what he wants in life and he isn’t above having a look about London for it. When he spots recently widowed Gabriel Tilden at a ton function, he thinks he might have found love…again.

Gabriel is as gorgeous and reserved as he was when he broke Anthony’s heart seven years ago. But they were only adolescents then…surely Anthony won’t hold the incident against him. And especially not when the attraction between them is stronger than ever.

Gabriel came to London in search of distraction, and a teasing Anthony is impossible to resist. As Anthony introduces Gabriel to the pleasures that can be found in the city—and in his bedchamber—their bond deepens into something more. Yet both men are hiding secrets that could pull them apart forever…

More from Gambling on Love

Sharp Love

{00529FEF-114D-40B5-A0B4-6B9AADA703AA}Img100London, 1822

William Drake has lived among thieves, bastards and beggars all his life, doing what’s necessary to survive. As a young orphan, that included looking after his best friend, Jack Morgan. But as they grew older, Jack took the honest path, leaving Will behind to fend for himself the only ways he knows how.

When an unsavory errand for his employer brings Jack back to London’s underbelly, he needs Will’s help. It’s there, among the alleys they ran through as children, that the love he’s always felt for Will returns. As their nights together grow hotter, Will discovers something new about his old friend–Jack’s need to serve extends into the bedchamber.

Will has never fully abandoned his dream of escaping London with Jack. But what could the Duke’s driver want with a dishonest cheat like him, beyond a bit of rough sex? It takes the gamble of Will’s life to find out if he can win Jack’s heart…

All In with the Duke

{A709D40F-31E3-485B-A35B-E8CAC33CC390}Img100London, 1822

Max Arrington, the Duke of Pelham, vows to never again let a handsome face blind him to a man’s true intentions. But ten months of celibacy and lonely nights drive him to a decadent brothel, where a beautiful young man arouses his illicit passions as never before.

Tristan Walsh has grown tired of being used for men’s pleasure. But his latest client is different: commanding yet generous, Max makes him feel cared for as well as wanted. Yet Tristan knows he’ll never have the choice to leave the brothel and submit only to Max.

So when Max invites him to be his guest at his country estate, Tristan eagerly agrees to his terms–days to do as he pleases while Max tends to the dukedom, and nights spent together in wicked play. But when the “business arrangement” begins to deepen into something more, Tristan must face the fact that he has no true place in Max’s life–or in Max’s guarded heart…

Genre Spotlight: Sexy Contemporary Romance

facebook twitter

If you enjoy the sexier side of Contemporary Romance, this spotlight is for you! These four new sexy contemporary reads are the perfect way to spice up your reading list.

Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey

24692826Lydia Kincaid’s shipping back to Boston, but she’s not happy about it. She left to get away from the firefighting community—her father was a firefighter, her brother’s a firefighter and, more important, her ex is a firefighter. But family is number one, and her father needs her help running the pub he bought when he retired. Soon, Lydia finds it hard to resist the familiar comfort and routine, and even harder to resist her brother’s handsome friend Aidan.

Aidan Hunt is a firefighter because of the Kincaid family. He’s had the hots for Lydia for years, but if ever a woman was off-limits to him, it’s her. Aside from being his mentor’s daughter, she’s his best friend’s sister. The ex-wife of a fellow firefighter. But his plan to play it cool until she leaves town again fails, and soon he and Lydia have crossed a line they can’t uncross.

As Aidan and Lydia’s flirtation turns into something more serious, Lydia knows she should be planning her escape. Being a firefighter’s wife was the hardest thing she’s ever done, and she doesn’t know if she has the strength to do it again. Aidan can’t imagine walking away from Boston Fire—even for Lydia. The job and the brotherhood are his life; but if he wants Lydia in it, he’ll have to decide who’s first in his heart.

Riding Dirty by Jill Sorenson

{A546562C-D143-4C3E-B47E-DBE9547B71A3}Img100He’s her weapon of choice

Psychologist Mia Richards wants revenge. Her new client, tattooed Cole “Shank” Shepherd, provides the perfect means. She just has to manipulate the felon-turned-informant into eliminating her husband’s killers–members of Cole’s rival motorcycle club. The first step, seducing Cole, is simple. As for walking away before she falls hard–it’s already too late…

Dirty Eleven practically raised Cole, and he plans to double-cross the cops rather than sell the club out. But smart, sexy Mia is an irresistible distraction. While she’s evaluating his mind, all he can think about is her body…until he discovers her true intentions. Walking a fine line between desire and betrayal, they’ll have to outrun her past, his enemies and the law for a love that’s dangerously real.

Penalty Play by Lynda Aicher

{98B4DF63-FA43-4E42-9B3C-0EBDE897097D}Img100Minnesota Glaciers’ starting defenseman Henrik Grenick is good at two things: hockey and sex. He’s got it all–the career, the biceps, the babes. But the steady parade of women through his bedroom just leaves him wanting more, hunting for the next distraction. Until he meets Jacqui, who awakens a hunger he never knew he craved.

Fiercely independent Jacqui Polson has no time for the seductive hockey player demanding her attention. More band geek than bimbo, she’s in an entirely different league, and growing up with four hockey-crazed brothers left her with no interest in that world. But damn, Henrik’s hot. And when it comes to sex, Jacqui knows exactly what she wants.

As their relationship moves beyond games, Henrik needs more–not just of Jacqui’s touch, but of her. Jacqui discovers there’s more to Henrik than just the gruff facade. But after a lifetime of fighting their own battles, neither has ever let anyone get so close. As they soon find out, needing someone isn’t a weakness, it’s the only thing that matters…

Book three of the Power Play series

Impossible Choice by Sybil Bartel

25584499After her parents were murdered, Layna Blair spent three years on the run—until Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson stepped in and saved her. With him, Layna knew safety for the first time…but two weeks after shipping out for another tour in Afghanistan, Blaze comes home early.

When Layna sees the jagged wounds covering his body, every truth she thought she knew is destroyed. Blaze is distant and angry and though her heart is shattered, Layna desperately tries to keep their relationship together in the face of another tragedy. When the tenuous bonds holding them together are ripped apart by a revenge-hungry maniac, Layna must trust her survival instinct and bury her past for good.

But the enemy is two steps ahead, and before she can take action, Layna’s hand is forced by his deadly demands—save herself or save the man who risked his life for her freedom. Blaze saved her once. This time it’s her turn to protect him.

How Well Should Two People Know Each Other Before They Marry…?

facebook twitter

By Alyssa Everett, author of THE MARRIAGE ACT

Better than these unhappy couples…
When I was in college, one of my favorite instructors was a grad student who had met, proposed to, and eloped with the woman he married, all in the space of three weeks. They were blissfully happy together, and I hope that hasn’t changed, because the theme of his story was the sheer madness of having married on such short acquaintance.

Anne of Cleves

Henry VIII agreed to marry Anne after seeing this portrait by Hans Holbein.
Hans Holbein the Younger [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Take the case of King Henry VIII’s marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves. Henry had never met the Lutheran princess, but his chief minister, the staunchly protestant Thomas Cromwell, urged the match. Henry agreed to marry Anne after viewing her portrait, but when the pair came face to face for the first time, Henry was less than impressed. He went through with the ceremony, but never consummated the marriage, saying after their wedding night, “I liked her not well before, but now I like her much worse.” Anne wisely chose not to contest an annulment, and Thomas Cromwell went on to lose both the king’s favor and his head.

Even when couples think they know each other, first impressions can be misleading. In 1777, Mary Bowes, the widowed Countess of Strathmore, met an army officer named Andrew Robinson Stoney. When insulting articles about the countess appeared in London’s Morning Post, Stoney leaped to her defense, not only responding in print, but even challenging the editor to a duel. Mary had no idea that Stoney had written the insults as well as the responses, and that the duel was only a ruse. Pretending to be mortally wounded, Stoney persuaded Mary to marry him. He took his vows from a stretcher, but the two were no sooner wed than Stoney recovered as if by magic. He made Mary’s life miserable—forcing her to sign over protected assets, abusing her, holding her prisoner. He consorted with prostitutes and even raped the servants. It took the help of loyal servants for Mary to escape. When she filed for divorce, Stoney abducted her. He was eventually arrested, but that didn’t stop him from publishing scandalous details of Mary’s past affairs. The resulting divorce proceedings blackened Mary’s name and dragged on until her death. Stoney was so unprincipled that, decades later, William Makepeace Thackeray used him as the model for the fortune-hunting cad in The Luck of Barry Lyndon.

My newest regency, The Marriage Act, is about a marriage that gets off to a similarly disastrous start.

The Marriage Act

London, 1821

When John, Viscount Welford, proposed to Caroline Fleetwood, the only daughter of the Bishop of Essex, he thought he knew exactly what he was getting—a lovely, innocent bride.

Five years later, he knows better. The woman who ran to another man on their wedding night—after they’d consummated the marriage—is hardly innocent. Years spent apart while John served as a diplomatic attaché have allowed them to save face in society, but all good pretenses must come to an end. When Caroline receives word that her father is dying, she begs John to accompany her on one last journey to see him.

But there’s an added problem—Caroline never told her father that her marriage to John was a farce. As they play-act for others, Caroline is delighted to find she never really knew her husband at all. But can she be the kind of wife he needs—and does she want to be?


THE MARRIAGE ACT is available now from and your favorite ebook retailer:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo


What’s your best (or worst) whirlwind courtship story? Do you know any couples who rushed into marriage? How did it turn out?

Alyssa Everett

The Marriage Act is Alyssa Everett’s fifth regency romance. She hopes you’ll visit her website and follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, where she promises not to spam you relentlessly.


Eight Things Kai Learns about Dragons

facebook twitter

By Caitlyn McFarland, author of SOUL OF SMOKE


In my novel, Soul of Smoke, more-or-less normal college student Kai Monahan discovers dragon shapeshifters hiding in the Rocky Mountains. When they abduct her, she’s got plenty of time to learn a few things.

1. They’re really into shiny things.

2. When human, they are uncomfortably attractive.

Dear sweet mother of holy hotness. Her stomach clenched and she had a moment of panic. She didn’t remember him being hot. She didn’t know how to deal with guys who looked like that. She would rather face Ashem. “Um, sorry. I was looking for…uh…the bathroom.” Kill me.

Something that might have been a smile twitched the corner of his mouth. “It’s off the main cavern. Before the kitchen.”

3. If you mess with them, prepare to pay a price.

4. They have awesome tattoos… but made of scales.


5. There are many definitions of the word “hoard.”

The room, as large as the cavern above, was filled with…everything. A tall, ancient stone covered in cuneiform stood next to a desk-sized record player with what looked suspiciously like a Faberge egg sitting on top. A large pile of yellow-black rocks dominated the right front corner of the room. Filing cabinets and shelves lined the walls, the only order in the chaos. “You said this was storage. It’s a freaking museum.” “Don’t you know anything about dragons?” He flung his arm wide, encompassing the immense cave and all it held. “This is the hoard.” “I thought a dragon’s hoard was treasure.” She gestured at his bracelets, armbands, and pendants. “I thought you were wearing the hoard.” “Ah, brânwen, history is treasure.” He jerked his head toward the pile of rocks in the corner. “But over there you’ll find gold ore and uncut gems.” His grin went wicked. “And I bet Deryn would loan you a crown if you asked.”

6. They’re fighting a hidden war.

Rhys shifted his right arm, blanched, then ran his left hand through his hair, mussing it before smoothing it down, making the scaled design twisting over the right side of his chest glimmer crimson in the firelight. When he spoke, his voice was weary. “We’re at war.”

“Oh.” She digested that for a moment. Dragons flying around and trying to kill each other a few hours outside of Denver. It didn’t compute. “War over what?”

He raised an eyebrow. “Power.”

7. Magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

8. No matter what happens next, there is no back to normal.

SOUL OF SMOKE by Caitlyn McFarland

25273071On a hike deep in the Rocky Mountains, Kai Monahan watches as a dozen dragons–actual freaking dragons–battle beneath a fat white moon. When one crashes nearly dead at her feet and transforms into a man, Kai does the only thing a decent person could: she grabs the nearest sword and saves his life.

As the dragon/man, Rhys, recovers from the attack, a chance brush of skin against skin binds him inextricably to Kai. Becoming heartsworn to a human–especially such a compelling one–is the last thing Rhys wants. But with an ancient enemy gathering to pit dragons against humanity and his strength nearly depleted, Kai has just become the one thing Rhys needs. A complete bond will give him the strength to fight; a denied bond means certain death.

Kai is terrified at the thought of allowing any dragon into her mind…or her heart. Accepting the heartswearing and staying with the dragons means sacrificing everything, and Kai must decide if her freedom is worth risking Rhys’s life–a life more crucial to the fate of humanity than she could possibly know.

Book One of the Dragonsworn trilogy
91,000 words

Available now at and your favorite ebook retailer:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo

Originally from the Midwest, Caitlyn McFarland currently lives in Utah with her husband and three young daughters. She has a Bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Brigham Young University. When she’s not writing about dragons or running around after her daughters, she can be found hunched over a sewing machine making elaborate princess costumes.

Connect with Caitlyn!
Twitter | Facebook | Website

6 Cool Things I Learned Writing Ether & Elephants

facebook twitter

By Cindy Spencer Pape, author of ETHER & ELEPHANTS

I love doing research for my stories. I’m always learning something new, and Ether & Elephants was no exception. There were so many things I didn’t know about Victorian India!

  1. During the Victorian era, Calcutta (now Kolkata) was the capital of The Indian Empire, which went all the way from Afghanistan to Thailand.


  1. Indian elephants are smaller and easier to train than African elephants. They also have smaller ears and tusks.

Asian Elephant at Corbett National Park4

  1. Rubies and sapphires are the same mineral, corundum. Only the red or reddish ones are called rubies. Indian rubies are often opaque and pink.


  1. Many buildings in Victorian Calcutta were constructed in chunks in England, then shipped to India, assembled and stuccoed. Bright colors were and still are, popular.


  1. The Viceroy of India was entitled to all the same protocols as a monarch, unless the Queen herself was present. In E&E, Lord Elgin, the second Viceroy was in charge. Instead of “Your Majesty,” he was called “Your Excellency.” His residence was known as “Government House.”


  1. There are dozens of ways to wear a sari. Brightly colored or embroidered silk can represent fertility and wealth.

Styles of Sari

If you could travel anywhere in the world by airship, where would you go? I’ll pick one reply at random for a free download!



(The Gaslight Chronicles are) possibly the ultimate in steampunk romance! —Library Journal
Sir Thomas Devere and Eleanor Hadrian have loved each other most of their lives—but sometimes love doesn’t conquer all.
Their chance at happiness was ruined by Tom’s hasty marriage to someone else. Heartbroken, Nell left home, finding a new life as a teacher at a school for the blind. But when one of her supernaturally gifted students, Charlie, is kidnapped, Tom reappears and her worlds collide.
Tom claims he hasn’t seen his wife since the day of their marriage…yet he fears the missing student could be his son.

The deeper they dig, the more Tom and Nell discover: a deadly alchemist, more missing gifted children and long-suppressed feelings neither of them is ready for. A race on airship across England and India may lead them to answers—including a second chance at love—but only if all of British Society isn’t destroyed first.


ETHER & ELEPHANTS is available now from or your favorite ebook retailer:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo


Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after and brings that to her writing. Award-winning author of 20 novels and more than 30 shorter works, Cindy lives in southeast Michigan with her husband, two sons, granddaughter, and a houseful of pets. When not hard at work writing, she can be found dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book.

Website: ( )
Newsletter group:

Friends to Lovers Romances

facebook twitter

By A.M. Arthur, author of FINDING THEIR WAY

I’ve always been a fan of the friends-to-lovers romance trope.  I enjoy reading it in romance novels, seeing it in films, and especially watching it unfold over time on a television series. You get to see a relationship build between two characters before it becomes sexual, which often establishes an even stronger foundation for their HEA. My upcoming Carina m/m romance release, Finding Their Way, uses the friends-to-lovers trope, allowing my heroes a chance to get to know each other, find common ground, and slowly fall in love.

Below are (in no particular order) ten of my favorite examples of friends-to-lovers romances from various media formats.

  1. Served Hot, by Annabeth Albert (novel). Robby’s slow-burn crush on the standoff-ish David creates a fun, sweet story.
  1. Walk the Line (movie). This fictional recounting of the real life love story of June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash is one of my favorite movies.
  1. The Assignment, by Evangeline Anderson (novel). Some folks may label this one as gay-for-you, but since Valenti and O’Brian are long-time partners with a years-long relationship, I like this for an angsty, drama-filled friends-to-lovers m/m romance.
  1. Kaylee/Simon, Firefly/Serenity (TV show/movie). Fellow Firefly fans will probably agree that this one the most anticipated pairings of the short-lived series. Their flirtation was almost immediate, the chemistry intense, and I definitely cheered when Simon finally had his “ah ha!” moment in Serenity.
  1. Shades of Gray, by Maya Banks (novel). Part of an m/f romantic suspense series, this particular installment brought together PJ and Cole, two members of an elite squad of private sector soldiers.
  1. Nobody’s Hero, by J. Leigh Bailey (novel). A fun, heartbreaking new adult m/m romance, I can’t say enough good things about Bradley and Danny’s story.
  1. Anastasia (movie). Don’t laugh. Yes, I’m talking about the 1997 animated film/musical with Bartok the Bat. It’s awesome.

  1. Love Lessons, by Heidi Cullinan (novel). Walter takes the very naïve Kelly under his wing and never expects to fall for his charge in a fantastic new adult m/m romance.
  1. Monica and Chandler, Friends. Do I really have to explain this one?
  1. Latter Days (movie). This is without a doubt one of my favorite movies ever. A closeted gay Mormon missionary moves to Los Angeles, and meets flashy, very out Christian. Christian makes a bet with his friends that he can seduce Aaron, but what starts as a challenge becomes so much more.


What are some of your favorite friends-to-lovers romances?


CARINA_0715_9781426899904_FindingTheirWayThanks to an abusive father and a string of bad relationships, Riley McCage learned the hard way that people are not kind without a reason. Now, after landing a job at popular gay bar Pot O Gold, Riley is on the right track—until the night Boxer finds him drunk and drugged in the back room of an exclusive sex party.

Donald “Boxer” Boxwood wasn’t looking for anything beyond some casual kink until he peeled Riley off the floor and gave him a safe place to stay. But there’s something compelling about the guy crashing on his couch, and the two forge an instant friendship that eases into unmistakable attraction. Despite Riley’s hesitancy, Boxer knows one thing to be true: he needs Riley in his life.

Riley risked everything to run away and build a new life for himself, and his secrets aren’t something he’d ever wish upon his kind, gentle new friend. But when the past comes to call, he’ll have no choice but to put his trust in Boxer…and believe people can change enough to deserve a second chance.

Book two of The Restoration Series


Available now at or your favorite ebook retailer:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo

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.

Connect with A.M. Arthur!
Website | Email | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr 

Join us for our #RWA15 spotlight—even if you’re not attending RWA!

facebook twitter
You’re cordially invited to attend the Carina Press RWA Spotlight
When: Friday, July 24 2p–3p Eastern
Where: NYC Marriott Times Square
Via Periscope, link to be posted at 5 minutes before start of spotlight.

Every year we strive to make sure we’re giving authors who attend RWA the best possible experience and information when they attend the Carina Press Spotlight. Three years ago, we devoted half of our spotlight session to an author/audience Q&A, where we left the room and audience members asked a panel of Carina Press authors whatever they wanted. That feature was so popular that we did it again last year, and we’ll be repeating it one more time at this year’s spotlight.

But there are several things new to this year’s spotlight: First, rather than just hearing me talk, this year attendees will hear from our author concierge, representatives from marketing, PR, and Kerri Buckley (Senior Editor for Carina Press). By having everyone speak, we hope to give authors a clear insight into the team approach we take at Carina Press.

The other new thing for this year’s spotlight, and something I’m super excited to be able to do: even if you’re not attending RWA, you can still attend our spotlight! We’ll be streaming the spotlight live via Periscope from my Twitter account! So all you need to do is watch my Twitter account here and as soon as we start streaming, a link will go out—click on it to watch the spotlight live. Please note, we will only be streaming from approximately 2p-2:35p EST, for the presentation portion of the spotlight, not the author Q&A, as that Q&A is meant to Carina-Press-spotlight-swagbe private for attendees present in the room. That portion will also not be recorded for RWA recordings.

As if attending the spotlight and getting entranced by our brilliance, wit and wisdom isn’t enough, we also have a great amount of swag for attendees this year (sorry, this is one thing we can’t beam through the internet for those watching from home and work).

I hope you will join us for this year’s spotlight. We’ve put a lot of thought into giving you the information and insight about our program we think you’re looking for.


When: Friday, July 24 2p–3p Eastern
Where: NYC Marriott Times Square
Via Periscope, link to be posted at 5 minutes before start of spotlight.

The Kinkier the Sex, the Higher the Price

facebook twitter

By Jeffe Kennedy, author of UNDER CONTRACT

In UNDER CONTRACT, Ryan and Celestina share linked tablets, with a special app that lets them plan their next session of kinky sex. Sometimes he sends her images, as in this scene:

“Mr. Black mentioned you’d be working on your tablet, so I have the window up. Drive should take about twenty minutes. Just use the intercom if you need to stop anywhere.”

At least that spared her idle chitchat while she struggled to keep herself from going crazy with need. Taking the remark about the tablet as a hint, she swiped it on and found Ryan had sent a number of pictures for her to look at. As if she needed more stimulation. However, he’d asked her to comment on each, at least a like or dislike.

One showed a woman tied on her hands and knees with a vivid red handprint on her white skin. It felt like fatally exposing herself, to click the heart on that and others. That he would no doubt keep a record and revisit them with her in person.

Or on her person.

Here’s some of the mildly NSFW—Not Safe For Work (or kids or nosy strangers on the train)—images I imagine he might have sent her.

What about you—would you be brave enough to “like” one of these, knowing it might happen to you?

CARINA_0715_9781459290013_UnderContractThe kinkier the sex, the higher the price tag…

Ryan Black has admired Celestina Sala from afar for years, her lush body and sensual nature calling to the dominant in him. For just as many years, Celestina was off-limits—married, proud and self-sufficient. But all that has changed, and now Celestina is in debt and in need…and available. Ryan proposes a contract: he’ll pay off her debt if she gives herself to him in bed, yielding control in exchange for the pain and pleasure he’ll bring them both.

There are words for women who take money for sex, and none of them are nice ones. Celestina never thought she’d have to sink this low, but giving up control sounds more enticing than ever before. And suddenly it’s not about having to give in to Ryan. It’s about wanting to.

But when Ryan’s dark past comes to light, they may both be in over their heads. The terms of his contract say her body is his…but her heart may be another story.

One thing is for sure—now that Ryan has Celestina, he can never let her go.

Available now from Carina Press and your favorite ebook retailer:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website:, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on her naughty Tumblr ( and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy.

Bad Breakups — A Playlist

facebook twitter

By Christi Barth, author of BACK TO US

Bad breakups (I’ll pause and give you time to both reminisce and groan). We’ve all had them. I once ate an entire Caramel Pecan French Silk Supreme Pie  in one sitting, and I was even the one who did the dumping! No matter whether you are the dumpee or dumper, filled with righteous indignation or hurt beyond belief, it is hard.

Crazy as it sounds, I wrote an entire book (Back to Us, Book 3 in the Shore Secrets trilogy, available now!) about high school sweethearts who broke up—horribly—and then somehow managed to go back to being friends. Of course there is more to it than that. Secretly, they both still loved each other and lo and behold, Ward tricks Piper into trying to date him again ten years later.

But the point is, break-ups suck. I created a Spotify playlist of songs dealing with break-ups from musicals. Not just because I’m a musical theatre geek (which I most definitely am!), but because, in theory, people break into song because there is too much emotion to hold in – like when your heart is broken. Please bop over and check it out.

The first song (by the incomparable Stephen Sondheim) sums up Piper and Ward’s relationship perfectly:

I’d love for you to share your break-up songs with me below. I can always use them in the next book! Here’s a peek at how Piper dealt with it:

“The last time Ward and I broke up, I ate a steady diet of nothing but butter pecan ice cream and tortilla chips for three days. My television never turned off and my butt didn’t leave the couch. That’s how you wallow. This?” Piper waved a hand at the pristine nature surrounding them. Stupid colorful trees with their picture perfect autumn-hued leaves. Sun sparkling on the lake like a field of blue diamonds. “I need a whole other day to wallow over how much I’m not wallowing right now.”

Ella gave her a sympathetic look. Tugged on the end of Piper’s cream scarf. Kept a hold of it, turned around and speedwalked backwards, pulling Piper along. “You were nineteen last time. Did you gain any weight after that three day ice cream splurge?”


Giving the scarf a final flap, Ella bounced back into step with the other two. “If you did it today, we’d have to go buy you new pants.”

“For the inevitable mushrooming of your currently perfect ass.” Casey goosed her and then darted away with a laugh.

“And as much as we love shopping, break ups are sad enough. You shouldn’t be punished by gaining weight on top of it.”


Ward Cantrell always went for the long shot. But that recklessness cost him his college scholarship and his chance to play pro ball, and—worst of all—it ended his relationship with the girl next door. Neither the town nor the girl has ever forgiven him. Now he’s taking one last long shot by opening a boutique distillery on the family farm he inherited.

Piper Morrissey spent high school in Ward’s shadow, but she’s come into her own in the years since. Maintaining her spotless image, and that of her family’s winery, is priority number one. Nobody knows that she still yearns for her golden-boy ex. Or at least they didn’t—until Ward agrees to sell Piper the land she needs to start her precious port line. The caveat? She’ll need to date him for one month.

Ward hopes a month is all it’ll take to convince his former sweetheart that while he’s changed, his love for her hasn’t. But when the chance arises to thumb his nose at the town that turned its back on him, he can’t afford not to reject Piper’s offer. Will that make her reject him and his love—for good?


Available now from Carina Press and your favorite ebook retailer:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo


Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance. Christi lives in Maryland with her husband.