Posts tagged “romance

Work-in-Progress Teaser: BETWEEN THE DEMON AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA

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My inspiration for Khalid – my novel’s anti-hero

I am very proud of my current progress on writing Between the Demon and the Deep Blue Sea and I’m grateful for the support of my critique partners and friends, who have had a chance to read some of it. Although, I haven’t begun revising the novel – I’m currently still in the drafting phase (and even that is more of a skeleton draft) – I am excited to share a teaser from the opening chapter.

The winter chill bit into her skin, but Shay valiantly ignored the discomfort as she navigated her way through shadows and moonlight. The heels of her borrowed six-inch stilettos clicked on the pavement. There were no security cameras in the empty parking lot. The lighting dim. And the only other residents nearby were two rooms down, with the curtains drawn.

The Casablanca Motel, located in the part of Vancouver that would never make it into travel brochures, made the perfect hiding spot. Officially, it was a roadside retreat for the desperate, weary traveler. Unofficially, the motel offered its clients services of the check in, make out, and check out variety. The oh-so-romantic decor included an overflowing green garbage bin. Nearby, a rat enjoyed the seedy ambience as it nibbled delicately on a fuzzy, half-eaten slice of pepperoni pizza from Peppito’s Pizzeria…or so the cardboard container claimed. She was sure that Peppito — whoever he was — would love to know that his clientele had expanded to the four-legged variety.

Deciding that it was better to give the rodent and his dinner some privacy, Shay focused on room 409. Her target was in that room. According to the file that she had received from River Cameron, her best friend and boss, the werewolf she was tracking currently went by the name of Ambrose Bellwood. The very active Mr. Bellwood was accused of identity fraud, grand theft auto, money laundering, drug trafficking…and the list went on. Apparently, if one lived as long as werewolves did, you could really diversify your personal portfolio. But it wasn’t until recently, when Bellwood added murder to his repertoire during his escape from police custody, that someone in charge decided enough was enough and the city’s enforcers had been called to deal with the problem. It wasn’t unusual. The Enforcers Academy had more manpower and better resources to deal nonhuman threats, but working for the police meant that they were basically doing this for free. But as River claimed, occasional charity work was good publicity for the Academy.

As an enforcer, Shay had been tasked with the job of hauling Bellwood’s ass back to jail for a much needed time out — okay, so the official job description may have varied a bit in phrasing, but the sentiment was the same.

It was too bad the order hadn’t said dead or alive. A kill order would have saved Shay at least twenty-four hours of surveillance time, not to mention she could have avoided having to squish her feet into heels that were a size too small. The back of her ankles stung with every step. Shay was going to have an angry set of blisters by the time this job was over. Unfortunately, her orders were to bring in Bellwood alive because her contact in the RCMP wanted him to roll over and tattle on his accomplices. That, of course, meant finding a way to get close to him.

It had been River’s idea that the easiest way to get close to him was to play on his weakness for scantily dressed females….hence, the blink-and-it-might-disappear dress and medieval torture devices on her feet.

Shay bent one leg to massage her ankle before continuing the rest of the way to Bellwood’s room. When she was less than a foot away from the door, she paused. Like the rest of the motel, the door needed to be doused in bleach. It was marked with fingerprints and a rainbow of stains. Shay curled her nose at the thought of having to touch her knuckles to the incognito petri dish, but steeled herself to knock.

River needs to give me a raise.

She pulled her hand away from the door after knocking thrice. Absently, she rubbed the back of her dirtied appendage on the ridiculously expensive scrap of cloth she was wearing. The red silk rasped against her skin.

Shay barely managed to get the look of disgust off her face before the door swung open. Bellwood stood on the other side, wearing an unbuttoned white dress shirt and black pants. Both looked expensive.

Well, well, well, I guess crime pays after all.

Shay is such an easy character to write. Her voice comes naturally, but other characters – Khalid, and even River, who both make appearances later – are a bit harder to write. The story is written in third person, but I’m playing it safe and writing most of the novel from Shay’s focal point. I have drafted a chapter – just one – from Khalid’s perspective and it was a difficult transition because I still don’t know him very well as a character.

Which brings me to the question – how well do you actually need to know your characters before you start writing a story? 

I never know my characters until I start putting words to paper, but they begin to flesh out as the plot develops. Of course, this may or may not be the best method for writing.

Hope you enjoyed the teaser,

Rika Ashton (aka The Tentative Writer)


My Top Five Manga Obsessions

In case anyone didn’t know I am a HUGE fan of manga (Japanese comics). When I’m not reading novels or trying to write novels, I’m usually hunting for the latest copies of my favourite manga and there are quite a few series that I am currently obsessed with.

cover1Skip Beat…this one is a bit of a cheat, since I’ve been obsessed with it for years. But I thought I would share it as my number one because I have yet to fall out of love with this funny, romantic, and at times suspenseful series.

Kyouko Mogami lived solely for her childhood friend Shoutaro “Shou” Fuwa. She follows Shou to Tokyo so that he may realize his dream of becoming a famous singer. When his dream is realized, Kyouko overhears the truth behind his decision to bringing her with him: he was using her as a maid.

Shocked and enraged, Kyouko swears to take revenge by outdoing him in show business. With a new look and a new attitude, she joins LME, the agency where Ren Tsuruga (Shou’s rival and the #1 actor of LME) works, in the hopes of achieving her goal of destroying Shou’s pride.

Along the way, she discovers her true self, makes new friends (and enemies), and finds herself at the heart of some interesting situations that will change her life, and the lives of all others involved, forever.

coverYona of the Dawn. Words cannot describe how epic this series is. The heroine grows from a spoiled, pampered princess to a warrior in hiding. Also, this series probably has the most complex characters I have ever read. You find yourself rooting for everyone (despite all the bad that has happened) to somehow be friends again at the end.

Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Soo-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when she witnesses her father’s murder!

cover4Yamada and the Seven Witches. This manga was a complete surprise for me. But one word:  HILARIOUS! The supernatural elements in this manga are important plot twisters and much random hilarity ensues.

Ryuu Yamada is a second-year student at Suzaku High. Ryuu is always late for school, naps in class and gets abysmal grades. His life is a dead bore. The beautiful Urara Shiraishi, on the other hand, is Suzaku High’s brightest student.

One day, without explanation, their bodies are swapped! Ryuu ends up in Urara’s body, and Urara in Ryuu’s.

cover2Noragami. This was another unexpected, but very pleasant surprise. It’s got great characters, and the central story about a god without a shrine and worshippers but who is trying to get into heaven is such a cool idea. (That summary doesn’t really do it justice and the manga is so much more than that. But I can’t go into a lengthy description without spoilers.)

Yato is a minor god whose dream is to have a lot of followers worshipping him and praying to him. Unfortunately, his dream is far from coming true since he doesn’t even have a single shrine dedicated to him. To make things worse, the only partner he had to help him solve people’s problems, had just quit the job. His godly existence and luck just might change when he stumbles upon Iki Hiyori and saves her life; a feat which also leaves her in quite a predicament so she is stuck with him until her problem gets resolved. Together with Hiyori and his new partner-weapon Yukine, Yato will do everything he can to gain fame, recognition and just maybe, one shrine dedicated to him, as well.

cover3SDK (or Samurai Deeper Kyo). Since I’ve read this manga series over ten times without getting bored and discovering something new each time, it has to go on my top five list. It’s male-focused with a heavy emphasis on action and violence but has moments of comedy.

At the dawn of the 17th century, at the end of the era of civil wars, in a world of chaos, the epic Battle of Sekigahara was joined.One man emerged from the largest battle ever fought on Japanese soil; a terrible warrior of unspeakable power, he was nicknamed ‘the unconquerable.’ Kyoshiro is a peaceful medicine peddler who harbors the soul of an assassin. He accompanies a young bounty hunter across Japan in search of a murderer and on a quest to discover the terrible secret of his own identity.

These are my top five, but trust me when I say it was hard to choose. I have so many manga that I am obsessed with but that does mean I don’t want recommendations. I’m always looking for more great reads! (Especially one’s like Skip Beat…the one month wait between chapter updates is killing me…and it’s even longer to get the bound editions at Chapters.)

Who else is a manga fan? Got any that you are absolutely obsessed with?

Please share,

Rika Ashton (aka Shameless Manga Addict)

 


Review: THE WIDOW’S AUCTION by Sabrina Jeffries

Disclaimer: I received a digital arc of this novella in exchange for an honest review. 

28803825Sabrina Jeffries’ The Widow’s Auction was re-released today, but you may have previously read the story in the Fantasy anthology.

Though Isobel Lamberton, the widowed Lady Kingsley, is confounded by her dealings with the obstinate Justin Antony, Lord Warbrooke, his commanding presence sparks something deep within her. But such romantic thoughts are for naught. For Justin’s political aspirations always come first. And Isobel’s own secret past could damage both of them permanently.

So when Isobel’s friend talks her into participating in a scandalous auction of masked widows at a gentleman’s club, she reluctantly agrees…and soon begins to relish being an object of desire. But none desire her more than Justin, who recognizes the outspoken Isobel in disguise and sets out to teach her a lesson worth far more than money…

I remember reading this novella in the anthology but, even now, years later it has not lost it’s charm. Short and sweet, the novella features two complex, compatible characters – Isobel and Justin – whose interactions are riddled with humour and romance. Though the novella is told in first person, there is a greater focus on Isobel’s character and we see Justin mainly through her eyes. I would have liked to know more about his thoughts, but for the short length of the story, his character was developed quite well. As is the case with most well-written novella’s, the story does leave you wanting more. However, if you’re looking for s quick escape this summer, then The Widow’s Auction is a neat little trip back to the Regency era.

RATING - 3

 


Readers’ Watchlist: WHEN ALL THE GIRLS HAVE GONE by Jayne Ann Krentz

final_JAK.inddI’m always on the lookout for the next Jayne Ann Krentz romantic suspense and I was not disappointed when I stumbled across a blurb and cover for her next book, When All The Girls Have Gone (the title just gives me the shivers…so cool):

When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her step-sister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished.

Beautiful, brilliant—and reckless—Jocelyn has gone off the grid before, but never like this. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames—literally. Burned out, divorced and almost broke, Max needs the job.

After surviving a near-fatal attack, Charlotte and Max turn to Jocelyn’s closest friends, women in a Seattle-based online investment club, for answers. But what they find is chilling…

When her uneasy alliance with Max turns into a full-blown affair, Charlotte has no choice but to trust him with her life. For the shadows of Jocelyn’s past are threatening to consume her—and anyone else who gets in their way…

I am beyond excited for this release. Her latest works under the JAK name have featured such amazing characters and I can’t wait to read this book. Spoiler alert…it will be a page turner. When All The Girls Have Gone releases on November 29th.

Happy reading,

Rika Ashton


Graphic Novels, Manga, Comics…A Rose by Any Other Name

Kaleigha over at Wicked Scribes recently posted about novel to comic book adaptions and whether or not they should be included as part of a series if they are only rewrites (or reinventions) of the original works. Personally, the geek in me is for anything graphic novel related, but I understand the limitations of such works…as well as their strengths.

Art sample from SWORD OF DARKNESS by Kinley MacGregor

Case in point, let’s take a look at some recent (and not so recent) adaptations of some of my favourite books and series by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter, and Nalini Singh.

Marvel has created comic books adaptations of Ms. Kenyon’s novels Lords of Avalon novels, written under her penname Kinley MacGregor. While I personally adored the adaptations, I know not everyone was a fan of the artwork, as well as the fact that some of the minor interactions between characters had to be cut out. On the other hand, the artists for this series did an amazing job using colour and keeping the basic story line and event descriptions the same. Compared to the novels, the sex scenes in the comics were not as explicit, and included more for furthering the plot.

On the other hand, if we look at the manga adaptations of Ms. Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series, the major as well as minor interactions between the character remain intact. Partly, this is due to the publisher’s decision to split each novel into two separate mangas – like the last Harry Potter film was split into two movies. Not to mention the improved level of artwork.

Artwork which is further improved in the Chronicles of Nick series – the third of Ms. Kenyon’s series to be adapted into manga format.

Romance publisher, Harlequin, has also been on the comic/manga bandwagon for a while. They’ve adapted most of the Harlequin Presents line into mangas, as well as recently transforming Ms. Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series into graphic novel format.

I also came across a manga adaptation previously done for Ms. Singh’s novel, Desert Warrior, from Harlequin’s Silhouette Desire line.

Opening from DESERT WARRIOR by Nalini Singh

More artwork from DESERT WARRIOR

Can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the artwork in Desert Warrior – though this is a much older adaptation and the dated artwork is to be expected – but it’s certainly a creative way to introduce new readers to novels. Not to mention if they make a graphic novel adaptation of Ms. Singh’s Guild Hunter series, I’d be the first in line to buy.

Though the artwork varies from novel to novel, all the graphic novel adaptation outlined in this post have strengths. Each of these graphic novels is a unique platform on which to engage new readers, plus the visualized scenes reaffirm the importance of key events in the novels. Graphic novels introduce readers to characters, setting, and story in a new light – strengthening the writer’s vision and founding an incarnation of this world in the readers’ minds.

Could…would you get on the graphic novel bandwagon or has that train firmly departed?

Rika Ashton

(aka Graphic Novel Advocate)

P.S: A special thanks to Kaleigha for inspiring this post!


Cover Reveal: ROCK COURTSHIP by Nalini Singh

Welcome to the exclusive cover reveal for Nalini Singh‘s Rock Courtship! That’s right David – famously known as the “Gentleman of Rock” – and publicist Thea have their own story and we finally get to see what was written in those mysterious memos. I have a feeling that it’s going to be HOT! 😉

And speaking of hot…check out this cover:

rock courtship cover

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s new contemporary romance novella is pure hard rock and scorching heat…

What happens when the Gentleman of Rock decides to play dirty?

A drummer for the hottest rock band on the planet, David has a single, powerful weakness: Thea, the band’s publicist and the woman who steals his breath away with her every move.

Only problem is, Thea doesn’t date clients–or musicians. Emotionally scarred by a cheating ex, she’s not about to risk her heart with a man who has groupies buzzing around him like flies. Even if his sexy smile ties her up in knots.

What she doesn’t know is that David is a one-woman man…and he’s madly in love with her. David’s determined to prove he’s worth the risk, and willing to court her, step by exquisite step. Thea’s about to discover just how long and hard this handsome drummer can play.

nalini bioRefreshingly enough, the “Gentleman of Rock” is actually fully dressed on the cover, which only makes him more fun to mentally undress! 😉

The good news is that it’s not too long a wait for the novella – it releases on September 30th, only a few more weeks to go. 😀

But if you’re like me and completely impatient, you can stop by Ms. Singh’s blog to find out how to sign up for ARCs of Rock Courtship. (I’ve already gotten my copy – yes, they work fast – and I’ll be posting a review soon.) And if you haven’t already read it, book one of the Rock Kiss series, Rock Addiction, was released earlier this week.

So what are we thinking of this cover? Love it, hate it, or couldn’t care less?

Rika Ashton

(aka Cover Lover)


Review – Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh

The book review for Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh is posted over at the Romance Reader at Heart blog! Reblogged here for your reading pleasure…enjoy!

Rika Ashton

(aka Folly’s Paparazzi)

RR@H Novel Thoughts & Book Talk

Love like a Rock Star! A Review for ROCK ADDICTION by Nalini Singh

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

When Nalini Singh first announced that she had an entire new – contemporary – series underway, I was a little apprehensive but also very excited for this unexpected bonus series, starting with Fox and Molly’s story in Rock Addiction.

RockAddiction

The Blurb:

A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk… 

Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become…

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Spotlight on THE SECRETS OF SIR RICHARD KENWORTHY by Julia Quinn

I missed the cover reveal for Julia Quinn’s upcoming novel, The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy, so I thought I’d share my thoughts/predictions about this novel instead:

Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can’t be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family’s infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She’s the type of girl you don’t notice until the second—or third—look, but there’s something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she’s the one.

Iris Smythe–Smith is used to being underestimated. With her pale hair and quiet, sly wit she tends to blend into the background, and she likes it that way. So when Richard Kenworthy demands an introduction, she is suspicious. He flirts, he charms, he gives every impression of a man falling in love, but she can’t quite believe it’s all true. When his proposal of marriage turns into a compromising position that forces the issue, she can’t help thinking that he’s hiding something . . . even as her heart tells her to say yes.

Needless to say, the similarities between this cover and the cover for The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever are uncanny. Although, that is not necessarily a bad thing because both covers are beautiful and a nice change from the usual theme of portraying a hero or heroine on the cover.

Likewise, this story also revolves around, judging by the blurb, a Plain Jane heroine – again much like Miranda’s.

But I can only hope that The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy showcases Ms. Quinn’s writing talent and well as Miranda’s novel. I have often thought of The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever as one of her foremost works – funny, romantic and able to break our hearts in a thousand little ways, Miranda’s story was definitely Ms. Quinn at her best!

Rika Ashton

(aka The Foreseer)


Cover Reveal: Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh

This just in…the cover for Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh has been unveiled!

A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk…

Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction.

A one-night stand with the hottest rock star on the planet, that’s all it was meant to be…

Fox promises scorching heat and dangerous pleasure, coaxing Molly to extend their one-night stand into a one-month fling. After that, he’ll be gone forever, his life never again intersecting with her own. Sex and sin and sensual indulgence, all with an expiration date. No ties, no regrets. Too late, Molly realizes it isn’t only her body that’s become addicted to Fox, but her heart…

Rock Addiction is Ms. Singh’s return to contemporary romance – though not at the expense of her other series. According to Ms. Singh, you can enjoy this series “guilt-free” because she thought it up and wrote the first novel during her vacation time.

Other speculation includes that this is a self-published series, though I can attest that I received my ARC for this book through The Knight Agency – Ms. Singh’s usual agency.

Whether self-published or not, the good news is that their will be more books in the Rock Kiss series – a story for every member of Fox’s band!

What are we thinking about the cover? Are you green with envy…or green with another kind of feeling? (Excuse the very intentional puns.)

Rika Ashton

(aka Speculative Reporter)


Throwback Thursday: The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick

I thought I’d share one of my favourite books by Amanda Quick for this week. I can’t count the number of times I have read and reread The Paid Companion – in fact I’m currently rereading it again – so I wanted to highlight this book is a Throwback Thursday post. Plus, I don’t think I’ve shared too many of Ms. Quick’s novels on the blog – a conscious decision because she is one of my favourite authors and whenever I start talking about a book by an author I adore, I start gushing and fangirling like crazy! 😛

The Earl of St. Merryn needs a woman. His intentions are purely practical-he simply wants someone sensible and suitably lovely to pose as his betrothed for a few weeks among polite society. He has his own agenda to pursue, and a false fiancée will keep the husband-hunters at bay while he goes about his business. The simplest solution is to hire a paid companion.

Finding the right candidate proves more of a challenge than he expected. But when he encounters Miss Elenora Lodge, the fire in her golden eyes sways him to make a generous offer.

Her sorry financial circumstances-and dreams of a life of independence-convince her to accept. But St. Merryn appears to be hiding a secret or two, and things seem oddly amiss in his gloomy London home. Elenora soon discovers that this lark will be a far more dangerous adventure than she’d been led to believe. And the Earl of St. Merryn will find that the meek and mild companion he’d initially envisioned has become a partner in his quest to catch a killer-and an outspoken belle of the ball who stirs a bothersome passion in his practical heart.

All of Ms. Quick’s heroines are strong leads with a sense of honour and boundless optimism and Elenora  is no different. Plus, they all get a chance to actively save themselves and the hero at some point in the novel. Left destitute and alone, she finds a way to overcome her situation by becoming a paid companion for old ladies of the ton. Saving her wages, she plans to open a bookshop – a dream I can relate to. 😉

St. Merryn – Arthur – is also a trademark Quick hero. Faithful, relentless and slightly arrogant, he’s a neat foil for the heroine. Arthur balances out Elenora more innocent and optimistic personality, but they also balance out and make up or each other’s weaknesses and they hunt for the villain in the story.

Suspenseful and romantic, The Paid Companion has long been one of my favourites by Amanda Quick.

Rika Ashton

(The Unpaid Writer)