Will They, Won’t They: The Joy of Slow Burn Romance

| | 3 comments

by Charlie Adhara, author of Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

As an avid reader of romance, there’s not much I love more than a slow-burn story of enemies to lovers. You know, the ones where the mc fights that mysterious warm and fuzzy sensation they get when the irritating, forced-proximity companion does something out of line like smile at them? The ones where they insist over and over that it’s not feelings they’re developing, nope, definitely not, until finally, wonderfully, the inevitable: Oops, I’m in love with you, how’d that happen? Truth is, I’m always in the mood for a story like that. Which is why settling in to write a now pretty well-established couple for the first time ever was…nerve-wracking.

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing is the fourth book in my Big Bad Wolf series. My main characters—grumpy, human Agent Cooper and his doting, protective werewolf partner, Park—are past the “will they, won’t they” stage (they will, and boy, do they ever). They’re not biting back half-formed L-words or deciphering strange glints in each other’s eyes (been there, done that). These guys are in love and they know it. To move backward, to take away their well-earned HEA for the sake of conflict, wouldn’t just be unfair—it wouldn’t make sense. But that begs the question: Now what? When plotting a romance book where the couple has developed that trust and love already, where does the, well, plot come in?

Ironically, before fully working out the synopsis I had already started doing research into relationship therapies, because I knew the guys’ investigation would be taking them undercover to a couples’ counseling retreat. I spent a lot of time on virtual tours of beautiful getaways and reading self-help chapters on healthy communication and how to navigate various fraught relationship dynamics. I pored over raw and incredibly personal online testimonies from couples on the issues they’d overcome and spoke to real-life friends about their own experiences with counseling.

Did less than 10 percent of that research actually end up in the book?

Yes.

Was there ever a moment I looked up from diligently filling out my fifth “relationship worksheet” in the voices of my two characters and think, The writing process is weird?

Definitely, yes. 

But sometime during that deep-dive I realized I’d been shortchanging the excitement, appeal and sheer complexity of life after I love you. Relationships are hard (please look suitably surprised by this brand-new information). According to the worksheets now full of my characters’ innermost hopes, fears and dreams, relationships can be even harder when you expect your partner to be the one to “fix” you.

It’s always been important to me that the message of my books is not “love cures all ills.” Not by itself, anyway, and not overnight. But by thinking the story of an established couple wouldn’t by definition have conflict, I had fallen into that exact trap I’d wanted to avoid.

After three books and a whole lot of learning experiences, Cooper and Park still have some of the same deep insecurities, anxieties and scars they always have. But with love and trust, they’re also able to be more open with each other than ever before. They’re able to explore their own personal histories and truths and traumas in ways they maybe didn’t have the space or security to do in the beginning of the series, when they were too busy catching feelings. I no longer think there’s anything boring about that. Quite the opposite.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love a tension-packed, enemies-to-lovers romance. But I’ve come to appreciate one special thing about series that follow a single couple is how much room both the relationship and the individuals within that relationship have to grow and change and build. The Cooper and Park we see in Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing are the same people we met in the first book, of course, but they’re different, too. They know and understand each other now, and perhaps more importantly, they’re working to know and understand themselves. My personal experience writing an established couple meant my characters finally had the safety and support to be vulnerable and look inward. It meant moving from I love you to I love me, too, and eventually, I love us. As it turns out, I’m always in the mood for that kind of story, as well.

About Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing:

Agent Cooper Dayton and his partner, Oliver Park, are going undercover—at a retreat for couples who need counseling. They do say the best cover story is one that’s close to the truth…

Agent Cooper Dayton is almost relieved to get a phone call from his former boss at the Bureau of Special Investigations. It means a temporary reprieve from tensions created by house hunting with Oliver Park, his partner both in work and in life. Living together in a forever home is exactly what Cooper wants. He’s just not keen on working out the details.

With a former alpha werewolf missing, Cooper and Park are loaned to the BSI to conduct the search at a secluded mountain retreat. The agents will travel to the resort undercover…as a couple in need of counseling.

The resort is picturesque, the grounds are stunning and the staff members are all suspicious as hell.

With a long list of suspects and danger lurking around every cabin, Cooper should be focusing on the case. But he’s always been anxious about the power dynamics in his relationship with Park, and participating in the couples’ activities at the retreat brings it all to the surface. A storm is brewing, though, and Cooper and Park must rush to solve the case before the weather turns. Or before any more guests—or the agents themselves—end up dead.

Follow Agents Dayton and Park’s romance from the beginning. Read the first book in the Big Bad Wolf seriesThe Wolf at the Door, available now from Carina Press!

Carina Press | Harlequin | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo | Goodreads 

The Glorious Messiness of Writing Female Sibling Relationships

| | 0 comments

Honestly, I don’t understand how some romance heroines have two best friends when I struggle to have one. This is obviously a personal gripe, and likely me being salty about friendships. But since I can entertain my personal gripes in my writing, I chose to do just that with the ONE DAY TO FOREVER series.

I wrote about what I know.

I have three sisters. I know messy relationships between siblings. I especially know the messiness that exists between female siblings. And I know that the way romance novels portrays these relationships can sometimes be too simple.

Either the heroine hates her sisters and never speaks with them or she adores them and would die for them.

In this series, I wanted to show something more nuanced. I wanted to show how hate and adoration often combine into something complicated and messy, yes, but can also create something beautiful and powerful. If I had to describe it simply, I’d say the ONE DAY TO FOREVER series is about sisters who would die for one another, but would argue and complain about it the entire way.

The series follows the Roux sisters as they stumble into feelings for someone over the course of a day.

It also shows how they have to navigate their sibling relationships to become the people and sisters they’ve always wanted to be. Since each of them become better versions of themselves as the series progresses, I had to carefully balance the have-it-together siblings with the in-progress siblings. But their distinct personalities and complicated history made writing each interaction between them fulfilling. Take this example from ONE LAST CHANCE:

Out of the corner of her eye, [Zoey] saw Sophia. Turned.

‘You told him I was here? After I told you what happened between us?’

‘You told her?’ Sawyer asked. At the same time, Sophia said, ‘No.’

‘Then what is he doing here?’ Zoey asked, not answering Sawyer.

‘I was heading to my family,’ Sawyer offered. ‘Since you were alone, I thought it would be a good time to talk.’

‘She’s not alone,’ Sophia said, stopping slightly in front of Zoey.

Seconds later, Angie joined, effectively forming a shield in front of her. A massive lump grew in her throat. Her eyes began to burn. She should have taken allergy medication that morning.

‘Full disclosure,’ Angie said easily. ‘I have no idea what’s going on, but I agree with Soph. Zoey isn’t alone.’

 

In the span of a couple of lines, Zoey goes from accusing her sister Sophia to being emotional that Sophia and her other sister Angie are protecting her from facing something hard. That’s what having sisters is like. Nothing compares to it. It’s messy and complicated, but there’s also the joy of having their support and seeing them grow. It’s protecting them when they put themselves in situations where they need protecting, and it’s celebrating their layers even when their mission in life is to push your every button.

Angie, Sophia and Zoey’s stories offer you the full spectrum of female sibling relationships. I hope you’ll find them gloriously messy to read ;-)

About One Last Chance:

ONE LAST CHANCE by Therese BeharrieOf all the charity events in all of Cape Town, Zoey Roux had to bump into her husband at this one

Six years ago, Zoey Roux secretly married her best friend Sawyer. But all that did was destroy the best relationship she’s ever had. They went their separate ways, but Zoey never could go through with a divorce. Seeing him again at her sister’s charity event is a shock, but also enlightening: no matter how much she still loves him, it’s time to let him go.

Zoey was Sawyer Wilson’s first love. She broke his heart, but his feelings never died. Love was never their issue—only timing. Seeing her again is a shock: in a perfect world, she would run back into his arms. Instead, she’s asking for a divorce.

But a lot can happen in twenty-four hours: old wounds can heal, first loves can be reunited. And a second chance might just lead to happily ever after.

Carina Press | Harlequin | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play| Kobo | Apple Books | Goodreads

First Page Critique: The Pirate Prince’s Pirate Princess

| | 0 comments

Meant to be a sneak peek into a Carina editor’s brain, the idea here is to give you a quick insight into how we might look at a manuscript as it comes across our desks on submission. We’ll strive to be critical but not mean. Because it’s only one page, the amount of feedback is necessarily limited—we don’t have access to more than a few paragraphs!

It’s important to note that this manuscript was submitted specifically for the purpose of first-page critique on the blog, we do not/will not use random submissions so no worries we’re going to pull your piece out of slush and critique it.

This month’s editor providing critique is Carina Press Freelance Editor Alissa Davis.

* * *

The First Page

Author A described this manuscript as a historical romance between Pirate Prince Gregory and Princess Samantha Mermistia of the South Seas..

I like pirate romances, so let’s take a look.

The clouds hung low today, hovering above the weathered ship. Hot, humid and with not even a slight breeze to complete their journey South, Pirate Prince Gregory Ramsey impatiently stared at the still ocean. The water was like glass today, taunting him. It was like the ocean knew Gregory was close to the finest treasure he had ever coveted. Beads of sweat rolled down his forehead, reminding him that it was only going to get hotter as the sun got even higher. Gregory turned around to address his trusted misfits that kept the dreaded Black Night vessel going.

“We rest today.” Gregory said in his deep, commanding voice. “Tomorrow, we sail for the islands, where the most precious jewels you will ever feast your eyes on await.”

Cheers from his ship arose. Then a chant erupted for the Pirate Prince, “Gregory the feared, Gregory the Pirate Prince, Gregory that rules the Sea!”

Gregory smiled at his crew below. Loyalty is what Gregory treasured most and loyalty is what they have given him. He raised his hand to quiet them and continued, knowing that what would come next may bring upon his crew some discontent.

“As you know friends, a Prince,” Gregory stopped himself, “a Pirate Prince needs a princess.” Gregory waited for the jeers and cheers to dissipate and continued, “what I promise you is true. Gold and jewels are waiting for each and every one of you. For me, I am going to find something I treasure even more than diamonds. Promised to me since the day I was born. The daughter of the King of the South Seas, Princess Samantha Mermistia.” Once again Gregory’s crew erupted in cheers. This made him smile again. He put up both of his strong arms again to quiet them and he turned to his friend and advisor.

Leonard stepped forward and turned to face the crew and said loudly, “Princess Samantha will be joining us on the Black Ship.” Murmurs went through the crowd of haggard pirate faces, “A woman on the ship?” and “no place for a measly girl”. As the murmurs got louder and louder Gregory knew he needed to calm the situation. He nodded at Leonard.

Leonard said, “Enough. Enough. Yes, the princess will be joining us. But, She doesn’t know it yet.” And with a wink and a hearty laugh Leonard yelled, “To Prince Gregory!” and the crew laughed, cheered and echoed, “To Prince Gregory”.

One fellow pirate called out, “Now we’ll have someone to wash our clothes.” And another bellowed, “and feed and bathe us”. Cheers followed.

Gregory had been with women, a lot of women. But it was the girl with golden skin that haunted his dreams since he first saw her as a young lad. Her brown hair had sparkled in the sun as he had watched her from his father’s ship. She had stared back and waved at him and smiled. Her gorgeous smile had stirred something in Gregory that he had never felt before. Later that night when his father had told him she was the girl he was going to marry he had felt so happy. Now he was going to make her his for once and for all. His golden princess.

Samantha lifted up her impossibly large skirt and tried to sit on the stool, facing the mirror with anger in her emerald eyes. Anger meant for her crew. Ever since Samantha’s father had passed away everything was in chaos. She was the rightful Captain of her ship. And her ship hated her. Vile things constantly spewed from their mouths and disrespect shot their eyes as they looked at her with disdain. So, she was a woman and she had breasts. So, what? Samantha scowled at herself in the mirror.

Samantha looked at her hair in the mirror and picked up the scissors. She grabbed a handful with her small hand and started to cut. Curly, golden locks fell to the ship’s wooden floor. She cut and cut and cut until her golden-brown hair just reached her chin.

Samantha tucked her hair behind her ears, smiled and stood up. She then took her scissors and cut her skirt just above her knees, leaving her legs bare. She loosened her corset and glanced at her father’s sword on the wall. With a smirk on her lips Samantha grabbed the sword.  She made a sash with the remnants of her dress, tied it around her waist and secured the sword in place on her hip.

Samantha looked in the mirror and took a deep breath. Her crew was going to have to get used to Captain Sam Mermisita of the South Seas. This was her ship and they were going to be her crew, whether they liked it or not.

* * *

The Critique

I started out thinking this might be a mermaid/pirate romance. Samantha’s homeland is Mermistia, and that sounds like a mermaid name to me! On this first page there is no indication of Sam being a mermaid, though, so if there aren’t any mermaids, you might consider changing the name of Sam’s homeland to something that sounds less magical.

Speaking of Sam, I like her attitude. She’s not here for any sexist nonsense from her sailors, and while she reads as very young, she assesses the situation, identifies the problem and makes a plan–cut her hair and her gown and put the fear of God into her sexist crew.

I get a strong Peter Pan/Wendy/Lost Boys vibe from this first page. The sailors who think the princess will wash their clothes, feed them and bathe them are very like the Lost Boys, who cheer at the idea of a mother because she’ll make them pockets, tell them stories and tidy the house. Sam is our Wendy, ready to demand respect and find adventure outside of her home. She doesn’t get much space on this page, but she’s the real star here, and Author A might experiment with starting in her POV. Finally, there’s our pirate prince, leader of a misfit crew. He’s ready to find the girl he’s been longing for and spirit her away from home so that he can keep her for himself. Unfortunately, he’s a bit too used to getting his own way.

It may be that Author A didn’t even think about Peter Pan while writing. Sometimes readers see things in a story that the author never intended, and that’s okay. Personally, I love fairytale retellings and wish I saw more of them! However, if Author A doesn’t want that “I Won’t Grow Up” feel, I suggest that they look for spots where the characters might be coming across as too young for a historical romance. (For instance, when Gregory feels the need to reassure us that he’s been with lots of women, which immediately makes me suspect that he has not.)

Author A does a nice job with setting on this first page. I love the descriptions of the clouds, the reactions to the constant heat, the unmistakable feeling of being on a ship. Once we’re in Sam’s POV, Author A could add the same level of setting detail there, inside Samantha’s cabin on her ship. I initially assumed she was at the palace in Mermistia.

I have a couple of questions:

-The princess’s father is dead. She doesn’t mention a mother. Is the queen still living? Is Samantha abandoning a kingdom she’s meant to rule?

-If there was some sort of betrothal agreement between their fathers, why does Gregory imply he’ll be kidnapping Samantha? If the agreement isn’t being honored now that her father is dead, it might help to provide that info.

Author A has a wonderful imagination and I encourage them to keep honing their craft and fleshing out this story.

Would I keep reading? 

I’d pass on this one.

Do you have questions about my feedback or the First-Page Critique program? Your turn to add constructive feedback for the author in the comments section! Or email generalinquiries@carinapress.com.

Authors entering their work for critique can choose to have the blog post comments open or closed. Comments are open, so please utilize them to ask questions or to offer your own critique, but please remember to offer useful criticism. Comments will be moderated and deleted if not deemed to be useful or appropriate.

A Canadian Reunion: Rachel Reid on Writing About Toronto

| | 1 comment

by Rachel Reid, author of Tough Guy

When you’ve lived in Nova Scotia your entire life, like I have, Toronto is basically Emerald City, glittering on the horizon (metaphorically, I mean—it’s about 1,800 kilometres away from Halifax). I can’t speak for the rest of Canada, but in the Maritime provinces, there is a wariness about Toronto. It’s the city of dreams that steals our friends and loved ones. It’s, if you ask any Nova Scotian, where all the tax money goes. It’s the home of sports teams that you either love or hate. It represents Canada on the world stage, and yet feels like a completely different planet to a lot of small town Canadians.


When I decided my third book, Tough Guy, would be about two Nova Scotian men who are reunited after many years, I knew it should be set in Toronto. Ryan Price, my NHL player protagonist, was traded to Toronto shortly before the book begins. His love interest, Fabian Salah—the boy he had a crush on when they were both seventeen—moved to Toronto at first to study music at the University of Toronto, and then stayed to make it as a musician.


Another reason why Canadians leave their small towns for Toronto—and one that is important to Tough Guy—is that it is home to Canada’s largest LGBTQ Village. The area of Toronto around Church and Wellesley is really amazing. It’s actually easy to forget that straight people even exist if you spend any amount of time there. For this story, I wanted that vibrant scene and community to be another reason why both Fabian and Ryan find their homes in Toronto.


I took several trips to Toronto while researching and writing this book. I paid extra-close attention to the businesses and architecture in the Village. I noted the things that had changed over the years, and one of the most obvious changes were the new gleaming skyscrapers that loomed over the older buildings along Church Street. The Village is in a choice downtown location in Toronto, so it’s no surprise that developers would be able to sell multimillion-dollar condos there. I decided that Ryan would live in one of those condos. It was sort of a metaphor for how he is always standing on the edges of where he wants to be, never quite fitting in. He is socially awkward, and never fit in with any of the NHL teams he’s played for. He’s been quietly out as gay for years, but never attempted to seek out the scene in any city he’s lived in. By buying a luxury condo in the Village, he is able to explore the neighborhood if he feels like it, but also has a place to retreat to if he feels anxious.


Toronto is also one of the centers of Canada’s amazing indie music scene. In the book, Fabian is a rising indie pop music star, which means he is at the level where he is regularly headlining shows in popular music venues (bars and clubs, mostly), touring within Canada (on his own dime), releasing albums with a Canadian indie label, and being interviewed on CBC and for Canadian music publications. It does not mean that he is making tons of money, but he is possibly on his way to being signed by a major label. I have some familiarity with being in a Canadian indie band myself, so I drew on that experience when writing about Fabian.


Toronto is also a huge sports town. Between the Maple Leafs, the Raptors, the Blue Jays, the Argonauts, and Toronto FC, Toronto is a city that loves its teams. The fanbases for those teams are spread wide across Canada, which puts a lot of pressure on the athletes who play for them. I wanted to put Ryan, who at this point in his career is pretty much over hockey, on a high pressure hockey market team.


I obviously can’t capture everything that Toronto is in a single book, but I wanted to bring together three of the things that stand out to me about the city: the sports culture, the music and arts scene, and the LGBTQ community. Both of my protagonists interact with those three scenes in different ways, and I hope that what I have written is a very Toronto—and very Canadian—book.

About Tough Guy:

They have nothing in common—so why does Ryan feel most like himself whenever he’s with Fabian?

Pro hockey star Ryan Price may be an enforcer, but off the ice he struggles with anxiety. Recently traded to the Toronto Guardians, he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s dynamic LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expects to stumble upon in his new neighborhood is a blast from his past in the fabulous form of Fabian Salah.

Aspiring musician Fabian loathes hockey. But that doesn’t stop him from being attracted to a certain burly, ginger-bearded defenseman. He hasn’t forgotten the kiss they almost shared back in high school, and it’s clear the chemistry between them has only intensified.

Fabian is more than happy to be Ryan’s guide to the gay scene in Toronto. Between dance clubs and art exhibits—and the most amazing sex—Ryan’s starting to feel something he hasn’t experienced in a long time: joy. But playing the role of the heavy on the ice has taken its toll on his body and mind, and a future with Fabian may mean hanging up his skates for good.

Carina Press | Harlequin | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo | Apple Books | Goodreads

Looking for more male/male reads? Click here.

New Year, New TBR List: Spend 2020 with Carina Press

| | 0 comments

2020 is just getting started and we want to help make it your best year ever with some amazing books to add to your TBR list! These are just a few of the upcoming books we’re most excited for this year.

January

HEADLINERS by Lucy Parker

We’re only days away from Lucy Parker’s latest enemies-to-lovers romance! We got a few glimpses of Nick & Sabrina in The Austen Playbook, and we can’t wait to see how their story unfolds. Available January 20!

Headliners by Lucy ParkerHe might be the sexiest man in London, according to his fan site (which he definitely writes himself), but he’s also the most arrogant man she’s ever met.

She might have the longest legs he’s ever seen, but she also has the sharpest tongue.


For years, rival TV presenters Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have traded barbs on their respective shows. The public can’t get enough of their feud, but after Nick airs Sabrina’s family scandals to all of Britain, the gloves are off. They can barely be in the same room together—but these longtime enemies are about to become the unlikeliest of cohosts.

With their reputations on the rocks, Sabrina and Nick have one last chance to save their careers. If they can resurrect a sinking morning show, they’ll still have a future in television. But with ratings at an all-time low and a Christmas Eve deadline to win back the nation’s favor, the clock is ticking—and someone on their staff doesn’t want them to succeed.

Small mishaps on set start adding up, and Sabrina and Nick find themselves—quelle horreur—working together to hunt down the saboteur…and discovering they might have more in common than they thought. When a fiery encounter is caught on camera, the public is convinced that the reluctant cohosts are secretly lusting after one another.

The public might not be wrong.

Their chemistry has always been explosive, but with hate turning to love, the stakes are rising and everything is on the line. Neither is sure if they can trust these new feelings…or if they’ll still have a job in the New Year.

Click here to preorder!

Catch up on the rest of the London Celebrities series while you’re waiting! 

February

HOUSE RULES by Ruby Lang

You won’t want to miss this sweet, sexy and funny new reunion romance by Ruby Lang, coming February 10. (We know we don’t!)

House Rules by Ruby LangSeventeen years ago, different dreams pulled Simon Mizrahi and Lana Kuo apart. But when Lana takes a position as a chef back in Manhattan, her apartment search puts her right in her ex-husband’s path. Music teacher Simon is also hunting for a new place to live, and when Lana proposes they be platonic roomies, well…it’s not the worst idea he’s ever heard.

A sunny uptown two-bedroom sounds far more appealing than the cramped, noisy space where he’s currently struggling to work. Still, Simon has seen firsthand that Lana’s a flight risk, so he agrees on a trial basis.

Three months. With strict boundaries.

Living together again feels wonderfully nostalgic, but when the ex-couple’s lingering feelings rise to the surface, the rules go out the window.

Of course, chemistry was never their problem. But while Simon’s career feels back on solid footing, Lana is still sorting out what she wants. With their trial period soon coming to an end, they’ll have to decide if their living arrangement was merely a sexy trip down memory lane or a reunion meant to last.

Click here to preorder!

Catch up on the rest of the Uptown series here.

March

WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING by Charlie Adhara

Find out what’s next for agents Dayton & Park in the next book in the Big Bad Wolf series, coming March 2!

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing by Charlie AdharaAgent Cooper Dayton is almost relieved to get a phone call from his former boss at the Bureau of Special Investigations. It means a temporary reprieve from tensions created by house hunting with Oliver Park, his partner both in work and in life. Living together in a forever home is exactly what Cooper wants. He’s just not keen on working out the details.

With a former alpha werewolf missing, Cooper and Park are loaned to the BSI to conduct the search at a secluded mountain retreat. The agents will travel to the resort undercover…as a couple in need of counseling.

The resort is picturesque, the grounds are stunning and the staff members are all suspicious as hell.

With a long list of suspects and danger lurking around every cabin, Cooper should be focusing on the case. But he’s always been anxious about the power dynamics in his relationship with Park, and participating in the couples’ activities at the retreat brings it all to the surface. A storm is brewing, though, and Cooper and Park must rush to solve the case before the weather turns. Or before any more guests—or the agents themselves—end up dead.

Click here to preorder!

Catch up on the full series here. 

HERS TO TAME by Rhenna Morgan

The highly anticipated second book in the NOLA Knights series is coming March 16! We’re looking forward to seeing how Kir and Cassie’s story unfolds!

Hers to Tame by Rhenna MorganAs an avtoritet for the most powerful crime syndicate in New Orleans, Kir Vasilek doesn’t act without purpose, doesn’t speak without thought and never, ever loses his cool. The lives of his brothers, his family, depend on it. But then Cassie McClintock strolls back into his life, and staying cool is next to impossible. Cassie was the one who got away—and Kir is willing to break all his own rules to keep it from happening ever again.

It’s one thing to report on the Russian mafia; it’s quite another to sleep with one of them, especially one as dangerous, and as sinfully sexy, as Kir Vasilek. Even though the information he once provided helped make her career—and the memory of his touch still keeps her up at night—Cassie knows too much about his world to go down that path.

But when Kir reaches out for help after a rival family comes for one of his own, Cassie doesn’t want to say no, either to investigating a gruesome murder or to the heat that pulls her right back into his arms…and his heart. Taming Kir—and helping to save the family she’s come to call her own—is not the story she thought she’d write, but it’s the one she’s determined will get a happy ending.

Click here to preorder!

In the meantime, be sure to grab a copy of His to Defend. And don’t miss Rhenna Morgan’s Men of Haven series

NO QUESTIONS ASKED by Julie Moffett

Julie Moffett’s beloved Lexi Carmichael mystery series returns with book twelve! Get your geek on again March 23.

No Questions Asked by Julie MoffettWeddings aren’t my thing—never have been. But eloping would break my mother’s heart, especially since the president of the United States put in a good word for me with his daughter’s wedding planner. I’m going to have the wedding of the year…whether I like it or not.

Before we can say I do, Slash and I are flying off to the Brazilian rain forest. Our mission: stop hackers from stealing a vaccine that could save millions of lives. I thought it’d be easy, but from the moment we step off the plane, I’m up to my neck in trouble.

After an attack by drug-runners, being kidnapped and discovering that the bad guy is even worse than we’d imagined, I’m pretty sure someone in our group is working for the enemy. And they’re succeeding. I’ll have to use all my geek skills to stop the bad guys if I’m going to make it home in time to tie that knot.

And don’t miss the rest of Julie Moffett’s Lexi Carmichael Mysteries, available now from Carina Press: No Stone Unturned, No One Lives Twice, No One to Trust, No Money Down, No Place Like Rome, No Biz Like Showbiz, No Test for the Wicked, No Woman Left Behind, No Room for Error, No Strings Attached, No Living Soul and No Regrets.

Click here to preorder!

Catch up on the full series here. 

April

INKED WITH A KISS by Jennie Davids

If you loved the first book as much as we did, you’ll definitely want to check out the new Thorn & Thistle novel from Jennie Davids, available April 13.

Inked with a Kiss by Jennie DavidsTattoo artist Jamie Winston is used to caring for others. Between her assistant manager position at a tattoo parlor, single-parenting her twelve-year-old daughter and supporting her alcoholic parents, Jamie rarely prioritizes her own needs—unless Sierra Clark is in her chair. The bubbly younger woman somehow manages to make Jamie feel like the carefree teenager she never got to be, making anything seem possible.

For Sierra, time with Jamie is a much-needed escape. She takes her work as a social worker seriously, but with budget cuts threatening her job, there’s a lot riding on the fund-raiser she’s planning with Jamie. The fact that it means working closely with the sexy older tattooist is a bonus—a deliciously tempting bonus. Sierra isn’t one for relationships, but she’s never felt such a strong desire to mix business with pleasure.

Sizzling chemistry quickly erodes Jamie’s fears of being too old for Sierra, but navigating a romance with someone who’s at such a different stage in life is no easy task. They’ve each come to rely on themselves more than anyone else, but having a future together will mean letting their guards down and accepting each other as a safe place to fall.

Click here to preorder!

In case you missed it, head on over to get a copy of New Ink On Life today! 

TEMPER by Chantal Fernando

Motorcycle club? Check. Hot, tatted bikers? Check. The final book in the Knights of Fury trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Chantal Fernando is coming April 20!

Temper by Chantal FernandoEvery year, the hot, tatted biker comes into Abbie’s bar, orders whiskey and asks her out. Every year, Abbie turns him down. After all, dating a man that goes by Temper seems like a really bad idea, no matter how attracted she is to him.

But this year is different. Abbie’s different. Older, wiser and tired of being stuck behind the bar in a sleepy town. This year, she’s ready for whatever adventure the sexy but sweet biker has in store for her.

Or so she thinks…until an elegant candlelit dinner ends with a dead body.

Now Abbie finds herself on the ride of her life, whisked away to the big city in Temper’s protective custody. She should be scared, but—despite his nickname—it’s clear the last thing Temper would ever do is hurt a hair on her head. And when danger catches up with them, Abbie soon realizes that holding tight to her man while straddling a Harley may be the safest place of all.

Click here to preorder!

Catch up on the rest of the series here.

BURN ZONE by Annabeth Albert

Sexy firefighters? Yes, please! We can’t wait for Annabeth Albert’s new Hotshots series. Book 1 comes out April 27!

Smoke jumper Lincoln Reid is speechless to see Jacob Hartman among his squad’s new recruits. Linc had promised his late best friend he’d stay away from his little brother. And yet here Jacob is…and almost instantly, the same temptation Linc has always felt around him is causing way too many problems.

Jacob gets everyone’s concerns, but he’s waited years for his shot at joining the elite smoke jumping team, hoping to honor his brother’s memory. He’s ready to tackle any challenge Linc throws his way, and senses the chemistry between them—chemistry Linc insists on ignoring—is still alive and kicking. This time, Jacob’s determined to get what he wants.

Close quarters and high stakes make it difficult for Linc to keep his resolve, never mind do so while also making sure the rookie’s safe. But the closer they get, the more Linc’s plan to leave at the end of the season risks him breaking another promise: the one his heart wants to make to Jacob.

Click here to preorder!

Need a book fix now? Check out her Out of Uniform series!

May

STARCROSSED by Allie Therin

The first book in this Magic in Manhattan series was one of our favourites in 2019, so we’re on the edge of our seats waiting for this one! Available May 18.

Starcrossed by Allie TherinNew York, 1925

Psychometric Rory Brodigan’s life hasn’t been the same since the day he met Arthur Kenzie. Arthur’s continued quest to contain supernatural relics that pose a threat to the world has captured Rory’s imagination—and his heart. But Arthur’s upper-class upbringing still leaves Rory worried that he’ll never measure up, especially when Arthur’s aristocratic ex arrives in New York.

For Arthur, there’s only Rory. But keeping the man he’s fallen for safe is another matter altogether. When a group of ruthless paranormals throws the city into chaos, the two men’s strained relationship leaves Rory vulnerable to a monster from Arthur’s past.

With dark forces determined to tear them apart, Rory and Arthur will have to draw on every last bit of magic up their sleeves. And in the end, it’s the connection they’ve formed without magic that will be tested like never before.

Click here to preorder!

If it’s not already on your bookshelf, but sure to pick up a copy of Spellbound today! 

June

HATE CRUSH by Angelina M. Lopez

Angelina M. Lopez will be back with a new steamy reunion romance between a princess and a rock star, coming June 29. As if we need another reason to look forward to summertime!

Click here to preorder!

In the meantime, make sure to check out Lush Money.

Looking for more great books to add to your 2020 TBR list? Find them here.

Categories