Once Upon a Winter’s Eve, by Tessa Dare

Forget brandy or egg nog, Tessa Dare’s holiday novella from Samhain, Once Upon a Winter’s Eve, is the perfect warm-up on a chilly evening. Readers are welcomed back to the charming hamlet of Spindle Cove — where “Mondays, we have country walks. Tuesdays, sea bathing. We spend Wednesdays in the garden. And on Thursdays… we shoot.” — for the story of Violet Winterbottom and the mysterious man who literally falls at her feet after festivities in the Summerfield grand hall.


Continue reading

Shakespeare’s Blood And His Body Of Work

Today’s Perfect Romance guest post is from Michigan author and former educator Peg Herring, who writes mystery/suspense novels — including the critically acclaimed Simon & Elizabeth (Tudor) Mysteries. Here, she gets our blood pumping with a discussion of one of history’s greatest controversies: whether William Shakespeare actually wrote the plays and poetry attributed to his name!

Several years ago, I started researching a novel I called Shakespeare’s Blood. Not scholarly or particularly realistic, it’s a suspenseful chase across Britain, involving a young American who discovers secrets about Shakespeare and has to escape a killer who wants to possess those secrets. Her life is complicated by the fact that several attractive men want to “help” her, but she doesn’t know which of them is trustworthy. She will die if she chooses unwisely. Though the book isn’t factual, I did want to be as truthful as possible about Shakespeare’s times. Therefore, I read a lot about him. My story presents what I think is an intriguing scenario to cover the blank spaces in our knowledge of the Bard. And it was a lot of fun to write.

Recently a new movie called Anonymous was released. Though (full disclosure here!) I have not seen it, its premise is clear from the trailer: of the works attributed to him, Shakespeare wrote not a word. The movie is not the first to propose this idea, nor will it be the last. Some insist that Shakespeare cannot be the author we think we know. The argument is this: a kid from Stratford couldn’t have been that good. Mark Twain claimed that a minimally educated man from a small, provincial town could never have written such brilliant stuff. (Hmmm. A writer with minimal education from a sleepy town in the American South said that?)

Continue reading

The Black Hawk, by Joanna Bourne

Joanna Bourne’s fourth Spymaster novel, The Black Hawk, begins with tough-as-nails Justine DeCabrillac collapsing on the doorstep of Adrian “Hawker” Hawkhurst, a man she calls friend, enemy and lover. In that instant, the reader is welcomed over the threshold of the British Secret Service’s house on Meeks Street like a trusted family member.

Bourne’s previous book in this series, The Forbidden Rose was, without a doubt, one of the best romances of 2010 — an absolute treasure from start to finish. In my write-up of that novel, I noted that “Bourne doesn’t write her characters as if ‘sequel’ is some big, shining, foregone conclusion. She just writes them as wonderful, bold, passionate people who have stories yet to be told.” Justine and Adrian are two such bold, passionate people, and their tale is as tempestuous and unrelenting as they are.

Continue reading

Crowded House: Engaging Readers As Writers

Our returning guest blogger Alina Adams has written Regencies for Avon, contemporary romances for Dell, soap-opera tie-in novels for Pocket, and figure skating mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Now, it’s enhanced e-books that live close to her heart. Alina talks about how, when it comes to writing romance and involving the romance reader, three (or more!) definitely isn’t a crowd.

Previously, right on this very blog, I wrote about enhanced e-books and my plan to take over the world with them. I published my first one, When a Man Loves a Woman: Enhanced Multimedia Edition, last month. The electronic re-issue of my 2000 Dell paperback original now features its own musical soundtrack to complement and comment on the action (and, IMHO, a much nicer cover that the original).  Check it out on Amazon. My upcoming enhanced e-project, though, is something I’m particularly excited about. I intend to “crowd-source” a romance novel!

But, first, a little background…

I spent close to ten years working for Procter & Gamble Productions.  I wrote three best-selling tie-in novels for them, Oakdale Confidential and The Man From Oakdale for As the World Turns, and Jonathan’s Story (with Julia London) for Guiding Light. I also developed a property called Another World Today, a bi-weekly serial where every episode ended with a question. Fans voted and whatever majority ruled, I wrote.

Continue reading

Love Never Dies: Clive Barker’s Cabal

On this chilly, post-Snowctober Halloween, I’ve warmed myself up with one of my favorite paranormal romances. But it’s not what you might expect! It’s not Twilight (not hardly!) not something by Sherrilyn Kenyon… not even one of my go-to Otherworld novels by Kelley Armstrong. It’s Cabal, a novella by Clive Barker. When you think of romance, Barker’s name is certainly not one that immediately comes to mind, but Cabal is a surprisingly touching narrative about the power of love.

The memory of them, and of her skin almost luminous in the murk of his room, and of her breathing when she finally fell asleep beside him — all of it still had the power to catch his heart, and squeeze till it hurt.

Troubled psychiatric patient Boone has a hard time existing outside the nightmarish world of his therapy sessions with his solicitous doctor, Decker. His only real link to the world is Lori, his unfailingly devoted girlfriend. They have physical intimacy issues, but their emotional tie is strong enough that Boone and Lori both cling to it as they become pawns in a serial killer’s ghastly game. And it’s not a “Happily Ever After” that the two find themselves drawn to. Instead, they each set out on a path to the mysterious world of Midian… where monsters are welcomed with open arms.

As Boone and Midian become inextricably connected, Lori must change not only her definition of love, but of what constitutes humanity and what it means to truly be alive.

Barker’s prose is gorgeously poetic and starkly crass in turns. He doesn’t spare the reader the macabre pictures of the killer’s crime scenes, nor does he hold back when writing the sexual content. He drops the “c-word” and eschews hearts and flowers for bodily fluids and hurried hookups. So if you’re looking for sweet, sweet lovemaking, it’s certainly not to be found in the pages of Cabal. But despite all the stark, painfully honest, uncomfortable moments — or maybe because of them — Boone and Lori’s story never fails to compel me. I care about them. I root for them to survive the hideous horrorshow that’s ultimately created by man, not beast. I’ve always wanted to know what happens next.

What are some of your favorite horror-themed love stories?

Help Wanted: Call For Guest Bloggers!

It’s been a challenging, tumultuous, year for the Perfect Romance project. This went from a potential print magazine with staff to a two-person blog to a one-person blog to…dead space. Let’s face it: Running a successful, vibrant blog takes work, and it’s often a team effort. Due to various circumstances, I just haven’t had the wherewithal to keep this going on my own. But before I send PR to its eternal resting place, I thought it would be prudent to try one last evolution!

PR’s interview and review components will continue as time and opportunity permits, but I would like to open the blog up to weekly, if not daily, guest blogs! Have industry news? I’ll post it. Got a book blogging tour? Put PR on your schedule! Just want to sound off about what you’re loving or hating in romance these days? I’ll take it! Editors, authors, readers… all are welcome.

Love’s a collaborative effort, right? So help me see this affair through!

Leave a comment in this post or shoot an e-mail to perfectromance.magazine@gmail.com and we’ll make a date!

Berkley/NAL Announces E-Imprint!

Berkley/NAL, a division of Penguin Group, is set to launch InterMix, a new e-Book imprint, in January of 2012. Berkley President Leslie Gelbman announced the news today via press release. “InterMix is a natural extension of what we have been doing for years — energetically publishing bestselling authors and introducing readers to talented new writers we think will one day become bestsellers themselves,” Gelbman said in a statement. “The books we publish under the InterMix imprint will meet the same standard we apply when acquiring books for Berkley/NAL — great stories, told well.”

InterMix will feature original works as well as re-released classic works available in e-Book format for the first time. The line will kick off in January with 11 classic Nora Roberts books, including the series Cordina’s Royal Family and The Donovan Legacy. More Roberts books will follow, with the second batch — which includes the MacGregor series — dropping in April.

But wait, there’s more! In February, InterMix will revive the Signet Regency line, with the release of six titles. Per the release, “three additional Regency-set romances will be released each following month throughout 2012. And later in the year, InterMix will bring back four novels in the classic Guinevere Jones series from bestselling writer Jayne Ann Krentz, writing as Jayne Castle, that have long been out of print and have never been available as e-Books.”

Look for InterMix titles at all major e-retailers, in a variety of e-reader formats.