5 Things to Stop Doing When Talking About Romance Novels

I need to get something off my chest. I’m sick and tired of the way people talk about romance novels and the romance genre. Here are five things we need to stop doing immediately:

  1. Stop treating romance like “writing for dummies.” I can’t count the number of times someone in one of my writing groups has said the equivalent of, “I could be published by now, if I were just writing smut,” or “I’d write romance, but I want to write real stories.” Just because something ends happily doesn’t make it less real, and just because people have sex, doesn’t mean it’s not challenging to write.
  2. Stop calling them “mommy porn.” This is the most infantilizing, insulting term, and thanks to the Book That Shall Not Be Named, it’s become a household phrase. The word “mommy” itself is juvenile, intended to demean women. By linking it with “porn,” it’s saying that A) women don’t appreciate pornograpy and B) all sexual content IS pornography. I like my porn the old-fashioned way, thanks, and I’m nobody’s mommy.
  3. Stop calling them formulaic. The only requirement for romance is that it ends in a “happily ever after” or a “happy for now.” How is this any different than the genre standards for mystery, or westerns, science fiction or fantasy? Some romance novels deal with heavy topics, some light, but when you read a romance, you know it’s going to end happily. Why is that such a bad thing?
  4. Stop saying “bodice rippers.” Seriously, the 1970s called and they want their slang back. A “bodice ripper” is a pretty accurate term for a type of romance popular, like, 40 years ago. Bodice rippers were pretty rapey overall, and by calling all romance novels bodice rippers, you’re making them all sound rapey, and you’re acting like the genre hasn’t changed in 40 years. Have you changed in the last 40 years? Well, so have romance novels.
  5. Stop limiting romance novels to a white heterosexual couple. Romance is for everyone, not just cisgendered heterosexual white people. Romance novels are getting more diverse, but that road is slow and uphill, and we aren’t helping by assuming all romance novels need to be M/F, or white, or cis. It’s time for diverse romances to become the norm, not the exception relegated to specialized publishing lines and segregated shelves. Diversity is not a trend and shouldn’t be treated as one. Everyone deserves their happily ever after.

In the immortal words of Gordon Ramsay…

Get your shit together!

What did I miss, readers? What are your personal pet peeves when people talk about romance novels?

Categories: Feminism, rant, romance novels, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Find me at RWA15

In just a few days’ time, I’ll be headed to New York City by train (like a swanky city minx) to take on the RWA Conference. I’ve been to two RTs, but this is my first RWA, and I’m quite excited to meet people at RWA15.

Oh hell yes gif

Here’s where I’ll be signing and mingling each day:

Wednesday 7/22

5:30 – 7:30pm Literacy Autographing

Friday 7/24

9:45 – 11:45am Harlequin Book Signing

1:00 – 2:30pm Pocket Book Signing

Saturday 7/25

8:00 – 10:00pm RITA Awards Ceremony – Purely Professional is a RITA finalist in Best Erotic Romance and Best First Book!

I’m of course going to other events and parties throughout the event. Please say hello if you see me!

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First Kisses of the RITA Best First Book Finalists

A Fiesta of Firsts with the RITA Best First Book Finalists

Welcome to Week 3 of the Fiesta of Firsts! I’m honored to be among the authors nominated for the RITA award for Best First Book, and we’ve decided to come together and share seven weeks of “firsts” with you in an event we’re calling “A Fiesta of Firsts.” Every time I type that on my phone, it autocorrects to “A Fiesta of Fists,” which is an entirely different event that I think involves cage-match fighting.

RITA Award

The RITA award

If you’ve never heard of the RITAs, they’re awards given to the best of the best romance novels each year. There are genre categories as well as the “best first book” category, which we’re celebrating here. It’s like the Oscars, but with less Neil Patrick Harris. (We should remedy that, though. Seriously.)

Each week of the Fiesta of Firsts is hosted by a different “Best First Book” finalist on her blog. You can see a new post every Friday until the RITA awards on July 25th. We’re giving away a big basket of books at the end of the fiesta: some of our books as well as our favorite books. There’s a Rafflecopter at the end of this post that you can use to enter this giveaway, and really, you should. Because free books. Also, one lucky commenter this week will receive a free copy of my latest novel, Combustion, a Steampunk erotic romance.

If you’re just joining us now, here’s the fiesta so far:

Week 1: Our First Book Crushes
Week 2: Favorite Firsts from our RITA finalist books

Which brings us to Week 3…

Week 3: Our First Kisses

That’s right. I asked these other authors to dish about their own first kisses… and dish they did!

AE Jones

AE Jones When I was in sixth grade a boy in my class asked me to be his girlfriend and I said yes. And like that, we were a ‘couple’. As his girlfriend I got to hang around with him on the playground and hold his hand at the roller-skating rink. This made me ridiculously happy because 1) I had a boyfriend and EVERYONE knew it and 2) he held me up as we skated (I was a terrible skater). He was a sweet boy and he gave me a heart-shaped locket and I wore it while we were an item. We shared a quick kiss one day at the roller rink. More of a peck than anything, but we were twelve and since he was a head shorter than me, I had to bend down to kiss him! That was my first kiss. My first ‘real’ kiss is a story for another day! Mind Sweeper

Alyssa Alexander

Alyssa Alexander My first kiss was at a high school Valentine’s Day dance. I was considered old in comparison to my friends’ first kisses, being just shy of 16. And though I don’t remember much of it, I do remember that little flutter and the red hearts taped everywhere in the gym. I also remember wearing one of my first formal dresses, a pretty corsage on my wrist and flying high on the fact that my crush had asked me to the dance. The Smuggler Wore Silk

Clara Kensie

Clara Kensie My first kiss went to a cute boy I met at the clubhouse of my dad’s new apartment complex. My dad was busy unpacking, so I went to explore. The boy was hanging out at the clubhouse, and he showed me around the grounds– the pool, the tennis court, the convenience store, and back to the clubhouse. He was very chivalrous and I was very flattered, and when it was time for me to go, he suddenly leaned in and kissed me. I think he was even more surprised than I was! The kiss was clumsy and awkward, but also romantic and sweet. The follow-up: I saw him (ahem… kissed him) a few more times when I visited my dad, but then he moved away and we never saw each other again. We didn’t have a romance novel’s Happily Ever After ending, but it was nice while it lasted! Run To You

Sonali Dev

Sonali Dev Groan. I’ve been dreading this question. Because really, it’s a bit of an icky story. Despite my best attempts to be otherwise, I was a pathetically goody-two-shoes teenager and my first and only boyfriend was worse. So a lot of longing and no real liplocking happened. Tragically enough, it was the opposite with this guy I was set up with as part of my real life arranged marriage saga: none of the longing and some rather unfortunate liplocking. The poor guy went through all this trouble to take me to this beautiful park in Mumbai and tried to be all romantic. But in the end there was much moisture and no fire (told you it was icky). Needless to say it turned out to be the (ahem) kiss of death for that particular matrimonial liaison. A Bollywood Affair

Natalie Meg Evans

Natalie Meg Evans I was a pretty late starter and that first kiss began to feel like a social test that I was never going to be asked to show up for. Other girls in my year had boyfriends and went out on dates. They got valentine cards by the trailer-load. I got none. So when a boy I didn’t like very much got his friend to ask me out, I said, ‘All right’ while my head shouted, ‘No!’ He was goofy, wore blue specs and had teeth like all three of the BeeGees glued together. His friend, Glynn, kept teasing us, ‘Have you snogged yet?’ I’d been holding off. I knew what was coming. One afternoon, the boyfriend, let’s call him Andy, picked me up from school and I hustled him away so none of my friends would see him. We went to the town park and sat together on the grass and he said, ‘I suppose we’d better get on with it, then.’ We did and the clashing of front teeth was the only part I remember but I obviously couldn’t face a second go because I ditched him shortly after. His friend Glynn wrote me a letter telling me I was a horrible girl and I was very upset. Trouble was, I fancied Glynn, of course. He was dark and muscly and went on to be a fireman. Life, ha? The Dress Thief

Elia Winters

Elia Winters My first kiss was when I was 15. Nowadays, that feels really young, but back when I was 15 it felt like I was the last person on earth to be kissed. I had a boyfriend named Scott – who’s still my Facebook friend and will probably cringe upon reading this – and we’d been dating for FOREVER (two months, maybe three?) and he hadn’t kissed me. Finally, we were both over my friend Jen’s house and she shoved us out the back door and said, “There’s a pretty marsh behind my house! Go look at it.” So we tromped dutifully down to the marsh, and stood there awkwardly until finally he made a move and kissed me. It was really sweet, actually. I remember thinking he smelled nice. Purely Professional


This Week’s Finalist Spotlight: Purely Professional

Purely Professional

Columnist Bridget Hartwell agrees to write about BDSM to impress her new executive editor at Sultry, the “sex-positive magazine for sex-positive women.” Unfortunately, it’s a topic she knows absolutely nothing about…but if she ever wants that promotion, she’ll need to learn the ropes, fast.

English professor Max Harlow is active in the Dom/sub scene, but only for casual play—he’s never found his ideal partner: a woman who is his equal, but sexually submissive. When he’s asked to explain the lifestyle to his cute but obviously inexperienced neighbor, Max is certain it’s best to approach it academically—to keep things purely professional.

Until Bridget’s first article is a huge hit, giving her the perfect excuse to delve deeper into the naturally submissive side of her sexuality. But as their encounters intensify and each of her boundaries is skillfully pushed, Bridget must decide what this all means… for her identity, her career, and, most importantly, her future with Max.

Amazon | BN


What about you, readers? If you’re feeling brave, share your first kiss in the comments! Or just tell us what you thought of ours. One lucky commenter this week will win a copy of Combustion.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Categories: Awards, Blog Tour, Combustion, Purely Professional | Tags: , , , , , | 32 Comments

Combustion On Tour

Today is the first day of my blog tour with Combustion!


Combustion Tour Dates and Stops

June 12: Romance Novel Giveaways
June 19: Unabridged Andra’s
June 26: Erotica For All
July 10: Christine Young
July 17: BooksChatter
July 24: Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock
July 24: The Reading Addict
July 31: Deanna’s World
August 7: Booklover Sue
August 14: Blog of author Jacey Holbrand
August 21: The Pen and Muse Book Reviews
August 28: Doing Some Reading
September 4: The Booksnake Etc,
September 4: One Curvy Blogger
September 11: Books N Pearls
September 18: One Curvy Blogger
September 25: It’s Raining Books
October 2: Long and Short Reviews

I’m giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter. Stop by, say hello, and follow the tour!

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Where to find me: Romantic Times Booklovers Convention 2015

It’s that time again: the annual Romantic Times Booklovers Convention! I’m gearing up for the crazy-making at RT15.


Aww yiss. RT2015.

If you’re going too, you should find me. Here are the events where I’ll be a panelist or featured author:

Read more »

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COMBUSTION is out today!

I’m thrilled that after months of waiting, COMBUSTION is now available!

This cover is one of my favorites and I love these characters. I hope you enjoy them, too.

ibooks kindle nook

For explosive chemistry, all you need is the right catalyst…

A war orphan, Astrid Bailey is content living her adult life alone, working as a contract machinist. Her real passion, though, is inventing felicitation devices that promote women’s sexual empowerment and help them find pleasure independent of a man.

The upcoming World’s Fair, with its substantial cash prize, is an opportunity to open the shop she’s always imagined and hopefully solve her financial woes. Except the committee has denied her entry unless she obtains a “sponsor”. Astrid suspects they mean “male”.

Eli Rutledge, noted watchmaker, knows entering the fair will solidify his reputation as an innovator —but he’s fresh out of ideas. Until Astrid approaches him with her outrageous product line. With no other options, though, he agrees to lend her his good name.

As construction heats up, so does their chemistry—and the complications. Astrid is unaccustomed to asking for help, much less sharing credit. And Eli fights an attraction that could spell professional disaster. As the Fair date approaches, Astrid and Eli must decide how far they’ll go. For the business…and for each other.

Categories: Combustion, Steampunk, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The RITA Awards!

Yesterday I got a wonderful and unexpected call from a lovely representative of the Romance Writers of America to tell me I’m a finalist in the 2015 RITA awards! Purely Professional is a finalist in two categories: Best First Book and Best Erotic Romance.

I’m honored to be among the finalists. I can’t wait to read all these wonderful books! Congratulations to all the other finalists.

Check out the full list of finalists, or if you want to see some gorgeous book covers, here’s a visual representation of the finalists.

And if you haven’t read Purely Professional yet, now’s the time. Buy now: Carina Press | Amazon | BN


Categories: Awards, Purely Professional | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

PLAYING KNOTTY is out today!

It’s book release day! I bought a cake. Because that’s what you do, right?

I also have ice cream and a really big bottle of wine. Because again, that’s what you do.

I’m also gearing up for an official Book Release Party on April 8th from 7:30 – 9:30pm, EST, at a local watering hole and event venue, the amazing Platinum Pony. Some people have asked me about Skype. I’d be happy to set up some kind of digital video thingy for the party so you can join us virtually… but would anyone come? Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll see about making it happen.


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Combustion Cover Reveal

Well, I had hoped to keep this under wraps for a little longer, what with Playing Knotty coming out next week, but it looks like the cat’s going to be out of the bag one way or another.

Check out this gorgeous cover for Combustion!

Combustion cover


Combustion will be available for pre-order starting April 5th.



Categories: Combustion, Cover Reveal, Steampunk | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

I am the world’s worst wrapper of presents.

It’s time to come clean. With the Festivus “Airing of Grievances” yesterday, I’m in the spirit of honesty, and I need to get something off my chest.

I’m terrible at wrapping presents.

I used to think this was because I was buying the shitty wrapping paper that tears every time you look at it wrong, but even the expensive high-quality Hallmark stuff with the grid on the back is not immune to my abysmal wrapping skills.

When I was a wee lass, my parents taught me to wrap presents. Both my mother and father were adept present-wrappers. My father, an artist, used to fold ribbon into these beautiful, elaborate bows that were more gorgeous than any you could buy at the store. My mother had hospital corners on her packages. (Her natural gifts are heightened to dangerous levels when she ships gifts by mail, because she wraps them so thoroughly that they would withstand any natural disaster or terrorist attack.) My parents showed me how to cut the right amount of paper and how to fold the corners so the ends would come out nice, but no matter what I did, my ends came out lumpy and uneven.

Many of my skills have developed over time, but present-wrapping is not one of them. Okay, I know the general theory, and my presents come out looking slightly better than if I’d had a raccoon do it. The only thing that has changed is the amount I care. Meaning: I used to care, and now I don’t. I am an excellent buyer of presents. I have a file on my phone all year and I update it as the people in my life express their desire for gifts, and then at Christmastime, BAM, I have given them the perfect present that they don’t even remember wanting but still do. But the wrapping of those presents is still a task I dread. I’ve tried to turn it into a drinking game, but that did not improve the quality of my gift-wrapping.

It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even put bows on things anymore. Well, the cats eat them, so that’s been the excuse I use when asked.

My husband is an amazing present-wrapper. He’s doing it right now as I type this blog post: he has the paper all spread out, and his nice left-handed scissors because he’s one of those backwards leftie people (by the way, I GOT him those scissors, because like I said, I’m an excellent buyer of presents) and he’s making little ribbon curls and being just completely perfect with his present wrapping while I sit here on the couch and watch in awe. He even wrapped the gift cards. THE GIFT CARDS. Don’t you buy the gift cards so you don’t have to wrap them?

I’m not a hypocrite, either. I don’t particularly care if my presents are wrapped poorly. I’m always at a party where someone says, “Ooh, it’s almost too pretty to open!” 1) I guarantee they aren’t talking about my gift, and 2) It’s fucking not too pretty to open. It’s paper. Just tear into it! Don’t do that awful thing where you untape one corner and slide the gift out… what, are you going to fold the paper and save it for next year? Is this the Great Depression? Throw that shit away.

I just had this conversation with my husband, who is taking a break from making fucking decorative curlicues. I said, “I’m writing a blog post called, ‘I am the world’s worst wrapper of presents.'”

Him: “You really are, though!”

Me: *laughing* “Hey! You aren’t supposed to agree.”

Him: *Goes under tree and starts pulling out gifts* “This one’s not too bad, but you didn’t even put a bow on it. And this one, you’ve got too much paper at one end so you couldn’t tuck it all inside. You have to cut off the excess paper. And this one… you can feel the book sliding around in there. You’ve got to make this tight!”

Me: “But I just didn’t care.”

Him: *Goes back to making decorative curlicues with ribbon*

I’m a huge fan of gift bags, because tissue paper is supposed to look messy. When people start wrapping the gifts and then putting them in gift bags, though, that’s some next-level Matrix shit and you’re making the rest of us look bad. STOP IT.

So please ignore my terrible wrapping job, you ingrates. Remember, it’s what’s inside that counts.

Categories: Holiday, Reflections | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment