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Guess the Lady Smut TBR Stack–Win $10 Amazon Gift Card!

4 May

Hi RT Orphans! Does your TBR pile have some of the same titles as ours? Let us know–leave us a comment below. 🙂 Want to buy the book on our TBR list? Click the link.  Meanwhile, here’s another fun game you can play at home.

FIRST Read the TBR lists. THEN guess which list belongs to which blogger. Your blogger choices are below & we’ve abbreviated the longer names for you. We also provided some hints.  THE FINAL STEP IS TO email us at LadySmutBlog@gmail.com with your guesses. The first reader to email us the most correct answers wins a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

CONTEST ENDS FRIDAY MAY 5th AT 12PM PST!!!!!

OUR BLOGGERS:

Elizabeth Shore

G.G. Andrew

Kiersten Hallie Krum (KHK)

Alexa Day

Rachel Kramer Bussel (RKB)

Elizabeth SaFleur (ESF)

Isabelle Drake

Thien-Kim Lam (TKL)

Madeline Iva

Ready to play? Here we go——

Lady Smut TBR List #1

Hint: This blogger is a foodie who loves diverse romances & sex toys

  1. Alpha by Jasinda Wilder
  2. Nine Kinds of Naughty by Jeanette Grey
  3. The Muse by Anne Calhoun
  4. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
  5. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

Lady Smut TBR List #2

Hint: This blogger likes to share all after a few dirty dates. ; > 
  1. The Pawn by Skye Warren
  2. Trophy Wife by Alessandra Torre
  3. The Truth About Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke
  4. An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
  5. The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz

Lady Smut TBR List #3

Hint: This blogger is a big fan of New Adult romances, secrets, and other crazy, sexy topics.

  1. Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia
  2. Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole
  3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  4. Deadly Testimony by Piper Drake
  5. Ghostland: An American History of Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

Lady Smut TBR List #4

Hint: This erotica author loves blogging about TWD, kidnapping & a few other illicit topics.

  1. Truly Helpless by Joey W. Hill
  2. All the Lies We Tell by Megan Hart
  3. Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Chorderlos de Laclos
  4. Slow Surrender by Cecilia Tan
  5. The Infamous Miss Rodriguez by Lydia San Andres

Lady Smut TBR List #5

Hint: This blogger is wild about reviewing her fav authors.

  1. Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai
  2. The List by Tawna Fenske
  3. Madly by Ruthie Knox
  4. Beyond Doubt by Kit Rocha
  5. Edge of Ruin (set of 3 Viking Dystopian Novellas) by Megan Crane

Lady Smut TBR List #6

Hint: This author blogs about edgy topics of desire including: swallowing, tattooing, cross-dressing–even Jewish Swingers. 

  1. Purity by Jonathan Franzen
  2. The Fireman by Joe Hill
  3. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  4. The Book of Lost Fragrances by MJ Rose
  5. Beyond Ruin by Kit Rocha

Lady Smut TBR List #7

Hint: When this author wasn’t all tied up, she’s blogged about CW’s Riverdale.

  1. Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butler
  2. The Vegetarian by Han Kang
  3. DC Comics Bombshells: Enlisted by Marguerite Bennett & Marguerite Sauvage
  4. Initiates of the Blood by Cecilia Tan
  5. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Lady Smut TBR List #8

Hint: This blogger is a capital BDSM Erom author

  1. Bombshell by CD Reiss
  2. Truly Helpless by Joey W. Hill
  3. Royally Matched by Emma Chase
  4. The Chosen by J.R. Ward
  5. The List by Anne Calhoun

Lady Smut TBR List #9

Hint: This author loves blogging about wicked villains & paranormal television shows.

  1. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
  2. The Unlikeable Demon Hunter by Deborah Wilde
  3. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
  4. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
  5. A Darker Shade of Magic V.E. Schwab
Send off those answers and follow us at Lady Smut. If you want to know the about the latest fun when it comes to sex, romance books, and pop culture–we won’t leave you guessing.
Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

Do You Dig It In The Dark?

12 Dec

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the new TV show Good Behavior, calling it the dark romance you should be watching. Here’s what I said then about the dark romance:

Lately in Romancelandia, the dark romance has become a thing–or a thing again as some form of dark romance has been around since the late eighteenth century. In its current conception, these are romances where the hero is a mobster or something nefarious and comes into the heroine’s orbit through some criminal manner. He proceeds to do some pretty terrible things to the heroine, despite having feelings for her. Often, these terrible things are sexual and there’s a lot of explanation about how the heroine shouldn’t like what she’s doing and oh this is so bad but she can’t stop it or A Bad Thing will happen. Things proceed, bad guys often show up putting lives in danger, feelings grow, behavior is forgiven, lather, rinse, repeat. I’m blasé about this sub genre because to me, it smacks too much of the rapetastic, forced seduction, Great Misunderstanding historicals of the 80s and early 90s only updated from disenfranchised Scottish bandits and English roses to Russian Bratva and the daughters of their mortal enemy. That’s not to say I don’t like romances with heroes and heroines of dubious character and motivation. Done right, I *love* them, but I’ve yet to find a “dark romance” that makes me care enough to send my very best. Even after reading all of the Dark Mafia Prince books and Kresley Cole’s The Master, The Professional, and The Player series, both highly recommend dark romances series, yet I remain unmoved. Though I will add the caveat that the biker romance sub genre could absolutely be seen as dark romances and, as any regular Lady Smut reader will know by now, with those books I am totally on board.

I wanted to talk more about dark romances today, because I’m still doing the facial expression of “da hell?” when I read them. I can’t figure out why it’s not clicking for me. It should be my crack–bad boys struggling with angst about their feelings for the woman who’s making them question everything in their lives plus a bunch of suspense stuff thrown in for shits and giggles.

But it’s not.

First, let’s figure out what we’re talking about when we say ‘dark romance’. A quick Google search brings up a bunch of links to Goodreads list of dark romances, but few clear defining descriptions. I found this analysis of what makes a dark romance from romance writer Roni Loren:

“Now, the definition of ‘dark’ can vary widely from person to person. A really gritty romantic suspense could be considered dark if you focus on the fact that there is violence or murders or serial killers. But that’s not what I’m talking about today. For my purposes, a dark romance is one that has an anti-hero, a villain type as the lead guy, and/or completely mindf*cks you. The usual lines of morality are blurred. These are the guys who you really wouldn’t want to mess with in real life, but who are so interesting to read about…

When I read these, I have that thought–wow, I really shouldn’t be rooting for these people or liking this hero or wanting this person to get the girl. But I do. And I can’t help it…I love when an author can pull that off.”

Now, I dig me an anti-hero, no question. But I fail to see the pleasure in reading about mindf*cks making for relationship exploration. Roni Loren says she shouldn’t be wanting for this person to get the girl or rooting for these kinds of people, but she is anyway.

I very much am not.

dark-mafia-prince

Click on image to buy!

I read the Mafia Prince series on the strong, strong recommendation of fellow romance writer pal. “Oh my God, how are *you* of all people not reading this yet?!” she said to me when I admitted to never having heard of the series. Soon after, I downloaded Dark Mafia Prince. Russian mobsters, check. Brothers split apart at a young age when their parents were murdered, check. History between the H&H that goes back to childhood, check. A blood feud with another mafia family, check. An actual prophecy, check, check, and mate. Sounds like catnip to me. Honestly, I should *love* this series.

And I don’t. It’s perfectly serviceable. It’s not a *bad* series. It’s actually really well composed and densely plotted. There are a number of aspects I found unique and gutsy–no clichĂ©s need apply here. There’s even a thoroughly three-dimensional series villain who reportedly is getting his own book later on (possibly next) and who has a particularly clever quirk that feels wholly original and organic. Even when this series is “out there” it’s believable “out there”. But I didn’t finish the books and want to read them again. I wanted to read the next one because I’m pathologically incapable of not knowing what happens next. But I wasn’t jonesing for a reread and I don’t much remember the particulars of either three books in the series.

My love for certain biker romance series is well-documented on this site, but I’ve read a lot of biker romances I haven’t written about because I didn’t have that same mad, crackalicious love for them as I do for, say, Kristen Ashley’s Chaos men or Megan Crane’s post-apocalyptic Vikings or bayou bikers. There’s an argument to be made that these “heroes” are just as anti-heroic as any dark romance mafioso (there does seem to be a prevalence of made men in these dark romances.)

I felt the same way for Kresley Cole’s erotic, dark romance series, the Game Maker series. Here again we have somewhat estranged, Russian billionaire brothers with variant mafia ties and a serious preference for control. Like, pathological preference. And yet, my general response was meh when not eye-rolling at specifics. Not pain and dominance isn’t my thing, in life or on the page, which makes some of my reading choices odd given their tendency for both these things. (I’m thinking my re-read of the Kit Rocha opus applies here). In my defense, it’s hard to find an erotic romance these days that doesn’t feature such proclivities.

the-player

Click on image to buy!

One caveat here: I really liked The Player. I think that’s because it was the brother with the least megalomania tendencies, and likely because of the heroine’s modern-day, gypsy thieves family (a sub genre for which I’ve long had an inexplicable fondness, probably due to the Irish Travelers ties), but also for the Big Reveal at the end that, if not 100% a surprise (surely, at least 95%), was absolutely perfectly crafted and seamlessly woven from the start. Actually, like the Dark Prince books, each of the Game Maker novels are perfectly good novels in the dark romance genre. I’m just meh overall. But I don’t have the urge to return for a reread or stay in these worlds.

Which continues to perplex me, because, really, this should be right in my wheelhouse.

I think it’s because I see in these stories resonance of the rape-fantasies of the 80s heyday of historical romance. Perhaps this is simply because I just read the in-depth Jezebel article on the same (which I highly recommend). But, for example, in Dark Mafia Prince, the “hero” holds a gun to the heroine’s head while she gives him a forced blow job (which, eventually, turns her on, of course) while he films it with his phone. This is so he can send it to her father (she’s his hostage against his enemy) as proof of what he’ll do to her if said father doesn’t meet his demands. Hey, it’s better than the original plan, to cut off one of her fingers and send that instead. The guy’s not a total psychopath, obviously. He’s trying to preserve her finger! What a prince!

Guys, this is foreplay for our H&H. No. Just no. When I told my friend who’d recommended the series that I’d read it and didn’t love it, she immediately referenced the blow job scene as being seriously hot. I honestly couldn’t remember the scene until prompted. Guess I wanted to block it from my memory.

But, as I mentioned briefly in that outtake at the start of this post, how is such a scene any different from the forced seductions of those original 80s bodice-rippers? How is being forced to give a blow job at gunpoint to save a digit (and not his favorite digit either) any different? Look, there are a lot of books I’ve read with a lot of highly questionable and often potentially offensive activities that, safe behind the pages of fiction, I’ve found to be seriously hot. My feminism is strong and durable, but not so naĂŻve as to be unable to acknowledge the fact that sometimes the strong attraction is because it’s forbidden. Taboo. That’s hardly new. But there’s taboo and then there’s “oh hell no!” and–sorry, not sorry–blow jobs at gun point are the latter.

Guess I’m not dark enough for the dark romance.

What do you think? Have you dabbled in the dark romance sub genre? Do you dig it in the dark?

Follow Lady Smut. We’ll show you all our dark places.

 

Good Behavior. The Dark Romance You Should Be Watching

21 Nov

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

That’s right, I said watching. Good Behavior is a television show, newly debuted on the TNT network last week and holy cats, is it a doozy. It’s like the best dark romance we’ve never before had on TV and didn’t realize we were missing, with an unlikable heroine you wanna root for despite the jail time and the drugs and the booze, and a villainous bad boy with potential alpha hole tendencies you want to climb like a tree despite, ya know, that whole pesky hit man thing.

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Also, it’s *seriously* hot. They are seriously hot together, and they’re not even sure whether they like one another yet, but they’re stuck together and, holy hopping snot, do they spark.

Lately in Romancelandia, the dark romance has become a thing–or a thing again as some form of dark romance has been around since the late eighteenth century. In its current conception, these are romances where the hero is a mobster or something nefarious and comes into the heroine’s orbit through some criminal manner. He proceeds to do some pretty terrible things to the heroine, despite having feelings for her. Often, these terrible things are sexual and there’s a lot of explanation about how the heroine shouldn’t like what she’s doing and oh this is so bad but she can’t stop it or A Bad Thing will happen. Things proceed, bad guys often show up putting lives in danger, feelings grow, behavior is forgiven, lather, rinse, repeat. I’m blasĂ© about this sub genre because to me, it smacks too much of the rapetastic, forced seduction, Great Misunderstanding historicals of the 80s and early 90s only updated from disenfranchised Scottish bandits and English roses to Russian Bratva and the daughters of their mortal enemy. That’s not to say I don’t like romances with heroes and heroines of dubious character and motivation. Done right, I *love* them, but I’ve yet to find a “dark romance” that makes me care enough to send my very best. Even after reading all of the Dark Mafia Prince books and Kresley Cole’s The Master, The Professional, and The Player series, both highly recommend dark romances series, yet I remain unmoved. Though I will add the caveat that the biker romance sub genre could absolutely be seen as dark romances and, as any regular Lady Smut reader will know by now, with those books I am totally on board.

I DVRd Good Behavior because TNT advertised the crap outta of it for the last two months and that usually annoys me enough to either tune in to see what all the hype is about or tune out completely (which is what I did with that Animal Kingdom show despite the fact that it features the great Ellen Barkin). It took me till midway through the second episode to realize I was basically watching a dark romance, and, this time, I was loving it.

Given the lack of a comparable “blurb”, here’s the gist of this show: con artist, meth head, alcoholic, Letty Raines (Michelle Dockery, late of Downton Abbey) has just been let out of jail early for good behavior. She’s trying to stick to the straight and narrow, as ugly as that often becomes, in order to get back her parental rights to her son. But she can’t keep from her thieving ways, ways that include robbing high-end hotels (and that also involve ever entertaining costume and wig changes). While she’s robbing one hotel room, the guest returns early. As she hides in the closet, Letty overhears a hit man planning a murder with the soon-to-be victim’s husband.

Eventually, Letty makes her escape, but she can’t stop thinking about the woman who is about to be killed. She goes back to the hotel in a different disguise and tracks the hit man to a nearby club. After manipulating their version of a meet cute, she and Javier (for such is his name) proceed to have the best date ever, during which Letty gets totally hammered. They totally lie to each other nonstop through the entire date, but they’re both also having an outstanding time, sparking off one another second by second on multiple levels. They are totally into each other.

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Dinner leads to some smoking hot sex, as it so often does, thank sweet baby Jesus. In the morning, Letty manages to sneak a peek at the information for the hit. She tries to warn the woman who is to be killed, but Javier (Juan Diego Botto) is right behind her and, when she and the victim confront him over a shotgun, he tells the victim that she knows why she’s been targeted even if he doesn’t. It’s here that the victim grabs the shotgun from Letty and holds it on Javier. So clearly, she definitely does know why she’s been targeted. By now, sirens can be heard as they called the cops before confronting the hit man. Javier, mostly unruffled by this chain of events, orders Letty to take the car out front, along with the money in it, and go. Letty, still a work in progress, goes, leaving the other two to whatever will play out.

Shaken by what’s happened, Letty decides to do a swan dive off the wagon, buying up a bunch of meth and washing it down with vodka. First though she calls her parole officer and leaves him a broken message about how she’s giving up and giving in. In the middle of her bender, Javier finds her (making a wildly dramatic entrance). He flushes the rest of her meth down the toilet and tells her that, since she took his money, she now works for him.

That’s just episode one.

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In episode two, Javier forces Letty to play his wife at an exclusive hotel in the Smokey Mountains. He’s on a job and he needs her to play the role. Role-playing is what Letty does best–both on the job and in her life–and she can’t escape the siren song of all the wealthy trappings that surround her, waiting to be plucked. Plus, there’s the fact that Javier will kill her if she tries to run.

good-behavior-1

And he absolutely will do this. He might not want to and he might hate doing it, but make no mistake, Javier is more than capable of killing Letty. She knows this and believes this, but she’s also deeply attracted to him and not just sexually, though that continues to flare. It’s like once the light goes on and Javier realizes she’s a thief and a con artist, all the pieces click for him and he really likes the puzzle that falls into place. He doesn’t like the drugs and self-destructive behavior, but he does like the woman he sees is there once Letty gets over and past her own shit. She genuinely wants to be a better person, she just keeps giving up. Javier doesn’t pat her hand and placate by saying, “I know you’re trying,” he tells her “Try harder. You could do if you’d just stop screwing up.”

Javier gets her. He gets all of her. By the time he catches up with her, he knows her entire past, her rap sheet, her sentencing, what made her lose her parental rights, even how many abortions she’s had, for crying out loud. The guy’s information is damn thorough. And when he reads down the laundry list of her crimes, ticking off her life in one line item after another, the despair that engulfs Letty to hear her life encapsulated like that is palpable. When, seconds later, Javier points the gun at her forehead, Letty closes her eyes, waiting to die because, after that list, what really does she have to live for?

Initially, Javier does seem to plan to kill her, but in that moment, he sees something in her that stops him. I think he sees how broken she is and just can’t put her out of her misery. Because he also sees (as does her parole officer, ironically) that she has immense potential to live an extraordinary life if she’d just stop screwing it up. So instead, he kidnaps her and forces her compliance in his next hit.

Letty is drawn to him. She disgusted by and terrified of him, but she’s also keeps coming back to him. She could’ve seen him go to the club and, knowing he was out of the hotel, go back to his room and find the information on the hit. But she follows him instead and forces a meet, then goes to dinner with him and then to bed. She feels that pull too and despite ongoing attempts, can’t shake loose of him. Part of this is because Javier knows she’s a runner and is constantly in her path. He doesn’t want to kill her and more doesn’t want to lose her, and so he puts in considerable effort into keeping on top of her. But this is still a seriously scary dude.

Established as a couple on the 10th anniversary trip, Letty makes friends (as ordered by Javier) with the wife of his mark. She can’t keep herself from lifting a necklace from the woman’s friend, though, and later models it for Javier. They commiserate over the gullibility of the woman and sink more deeply into their role play, spinning out the fiction of how they met ten years prior and how he won her. This leads to some sexy times–like, uncomfortably sensual without being exploitative or extraneous–in the middle of which Javier whispers, “Happy Anniversary, baby,” with a wicked grin. And Letty laughs, full and unabashed, no calculation, because in that moment, they’re still role-playing their fiction, but yet there’s a level on which it’s deeply real, and they both know it. They get it. They get them. (This was also the moment when I was completely done and totally in.)

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Afterwards, he again orders her to return the necklace and he gets pretty damn scary about it too when she bucks, all while still inside her. Yeesh, it’s awful but still so sexy. It’s the dark romance!

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This is Letty’s last straw and she finally bolts, but she’s waylaid out the back of the resort by the mark and his wife who are sneaking a joint. Forced by the role-play to smoke with her new friends, Letty’s still there a moment later when Javier comes around the bend. He immediately hauls Letty in and kisses her, a hard kiss of genuine relief, and tells her sincerely, “I’m so glad you didn’t leave,” which manages to bewilder Letty even more.

Look, I don’t know if or how the show is going to maintain and expand this initial premise going forward, but even if it winds up being Letty and Javier pulling of con jobs and arguing and struggling with each other and with themselves to be better people and what that might mean in the kind of lives they’re leading, I’d totally watch that. Their chemistry alone is compelling, but there’s also the complexity of their characters. We’ve already been given hints that Javier’s murderous business may have a noble patina (though murder for hire is bad! Bad, I say!) and while Letty is an adept thief and grifter (and Meth is bad. Bad, I say!), she often displays an emotional fragility and vulnerability at odds with her history and felonious bent. She wants good things, she wants to do good things, she wants to be a better person, she just has no idea what that means in real life. It’s possible, Javier could help her find out.

The romances–dark or otherwise–that compel me the most as a reader and are at the core of what I want to create as a writer, are ones where the heroine and hero “get” one another like no one else can, and where they love one another not in spite of what may be their worst traits, but almost because of them too. They’re the romances where they ultimately make one another better people (and that being better might have dark tints to it depending on the story) and that intimacy that grows between them enriches who they are and who they can be together. I see those things Letty and Javier in Good Behavior. I can’t wait to see more.

To sum up, here are some quotes from behind the scenes videos on Letty and Javier from their portrayers.

Juan Diego Botto on Javier: When Javier looks at Letty, he sees a beautiful, smart, intelligent, sensitive woman, and he’s absolutely fascinated by her. He’s fallen in love with her. We’re, all the time, fighting. I like you but I hate you. I want to be with you but I want to be alone, I’ve always been alone. That is happening all the time.

Michelle Dockery on Javier and Letty: Him being a hit man is in some ways irrelevant to Letty. She’s not attracted to him because he’s a cold-blooded murderer. It’s not about that, in fact she wants him to stop doing that. It’s more about this connection that they have from the get go that makes him want to be a better person.

Juan Diego Botto on Javier’s role in Letty’s sobriety: He’s very on top of her not to drink, but I think the main role that he plays in her being sober is confidence; I think I make her feel better about herself, and that’s, I think, the bigger role that I play in her recovery.

Good Behavior is on Tuesday night on the TNT channel. Check your local listings. Past episodes are available at TNT.com.

Follow Lady Smut. Dark, light, or in between, we got your romance right here.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities strait is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Wild on the Rocks, is now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

Hot Picks for Fall

19 Sep

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Despite the 80 degree days here in New Jersey, Autumn is definitely beginning to creep its way in, thank sweet baby Jesus. I actually lowered the two kitchen windows yesterday because the nights have been too cold to keep them open. (Other windows will stay open till the first frost. What can I say? I like a cool house.)

Those of you with children have already been through the hell that is September back-to-school. I heard more whinges about school forms and activity sign ups from my parented friends in the last three weeks then I can ever remember hearing before. I gather email has made things worse, not better, on that front. Bless.

Being child-free, my September angst has taken the form of parenting my parents in various, fluctuating ways. Such is the course for this era of my life, as it often is for many people. In these times of angst and declining temps, we need something to heat up the home fires and keep us burning in the right ways. Can I get an amen?!

Fear not! I am here for you with a pair of hot reads for the fall.

DEVIL’S HONOR by Megan Crane

This is the first book in Crane’s new biker series for Loveswept, The Devil’s Keepers. Rooted deep in the Louisiana bayou, the Devil’s Keepers biker gang first had a cameo in Crane’s novel, Make You Burn, part of The Deacons of Bourbon Street series, and one of my top picks for 2015. I’ve personally been hot and heavy for this series ever since (this may have included some author nagging), mostly because I’m a sequel bait whore, but also because my biker book jones is motoring on hard and strong (much like those bikers), fueled by such excellent fare as DEVIL’S HONOR. It’s a reunion romance too, so I’m essentially in Romancelandia hog heaven on multiple fronts.

devils-honor

Available November 1, 2016. Click image to preorder!

Look! A blurb!

Merritt Broussard grew up knowing she had two choices if she stayed in Lagrange: run with the outlaws or get left in their dust. So she got the hell out, leaving behind a bad-boy biker and scorching memories of their summer fling. Now Merritt’s back, with trouble on her tail, and the sergeant-at-arms of the Devil’s Keepers is the one person she can still trust. But Greeley isn’t the boy she remembers. He’s harder now, more dangerous—and even more alluring.

Joseph “Greeley” Shaw loves two things: his bike and his club. At eighteen, he escaped a rough life, found the Devil’s Keepers on the wrong side of a bad weekend, and never looked back. Greeley swore to live and die by their code: Devil’s Keepers first, Devil’s Keepers forever. No one comes between him and his brothers—except for the tantalizing woman who touched his soul. Greeley’s the kind of man who honors his commitments . . . and Merritt is one promise he’s determined to keep.

Merritt returns to Lagrange after the death of her father, a man who’d spent most of her life as the back-door doctor for the Devil’s Keepers–and sheltering Merritt from the same. She still managed to fall in love with Greeley one hot summer after college ended and before leaving for an east coast law school and life far from home. Now that she’s back, she’s desperate to avoid Greeley, now sergeant-at-arms for the club, and the ex-lover who’d promised that if she returned to the parish after leaving him wounded and broken-hearted (that very much not being typical biker response) he’d either claim her or kill her.

Faced with a major crossroad in her life and pursued by a man who refuses to comprehend the meaning of “no”, Merritt has come home despite knowing what will happen should Greeley discover she’s there. It’s not long before he does just that. Cue the sexy hijinks and emotionally wrenching self-discovery, all of which makes DEVIL’S HONOR typical Crane fare. Once again, as in her EDGE series, her world-building is spot on. The sultry Louisiana environs may seem drawn with familiar strokes, but Crane makes them feel freshly painted with a tangible feel so that you’ll want to swim in all that sticky bayou heat.

One of the things I love that’s a staple in Crane’s books is how the hero softens without losing a hint of his badass-ness (I swear that’s a word). Greeley starts the book knowing full well how much Merritt means to him–and then she destroys him. He hates that he let himself be so vulnerable to anyone, much less to a woman, talking about a future together while she was planning her escape. He’s not about to let that happened to him again just because she’s run home with trouble on her bones and grief in her heart. Despite his deep resentment and simmering anger, faced with Merritt in the flesh, Greeley can’t resist that same pull she wrapped him up in the first time around–and this time, he’s not letting her go. The journey he takes to be what they both need so they can become the unit they were meant to be is one you shouldn’t miss. DEVIL’S HONOR is super sexy hot and emotionally wrenching with moments of humor sprinkled like sips of Jack D, and enough sequel bait to make you wish the calendar would hurry the eff up and so you can get to the next one. I mean, just look at the covers for the books yet coming our way!

Click on image to preorder!

Click on image to preorder!

Click on image to preorder!

Click on image to preorder!

 

 

 

 

Strewth. DEVIL’S HONOR will be released November 1, 2016, Devil’s Mark on January 3, 2017, and Devil’s Own on May 16, 2017 (*MAY?!*), but you can pre-order all three of them now.

INDECENT PROPOSAL by Katee Robert

Trading the heat of the bayou for the cool of New England brings us to Robert’s dark romance, Irish mob series, The O’Malleys. INDECENT PROPOSAL is the latest installment of the series, and, as usual, Robert delivers with a twisty, layered, story of what happens when the Irish and the Russian mobs butt up against one another–and when two of their children inconveniently fall in love.

Look! A blurb!

Greed. Ambition. Violence. Those are the “values” Olivia Rashidi learned from her Russian mob family-and the values she must leave behind for the sake of her daughter. When she meets Cillian O’Malley, she recognizes the red flag of his family name . . . yet she still can’t stop herself from seeing the smoldering, tortured man. To save her family, Olivia sets out to discover Cillian’s own secrets, but the real revelation is how fast-and how hard-she’s falling for him.

Plagued by a violent past, Cillian is more vulnerable than anyone realizes. Anyone except Olivia, whose beauty, compassion, and pride have him at “hello,” even if she’s more inclined to say good-bye to an O’Malley. While his proposal of sex with no strings seems simple, what he feels for her isn’t, especially after he learns that she belongs to a rival crime family. Cillian knows that there is no escape from the life, but Olivia may be worth trying-and dying-for . . .

 

Click on image to buy!

Click on image to buy!

First of all, THAT COVER. Cillian wears those tight vests in the story too, so this is definitely a case of the cover reflecting the goodness within. And, hel-lo goodness!

Olivia is the bastard child of the now dead head of the Russian mafia. Her scary half-brother wants her (and her daughter) back in the familial fold to fulfill his deathbed promise to his father while keeping them under his control–whether Olivia likes it or not. And she really doesn’t like it at all. The last thing she needs is to tangle with the brooding son of the Irish mob, with his sexy vests and rolled up sleeves out of which glimpses of his many tats can sometimes been seen. But Olivia is losing her battle to resist the charmer who makes dirty alley sex seem somehow pure and special. All this while she tries to keep her enforcer ex from laying claim to their daughter–and falls deeper and deeper into the lure of Irish eyes.

After the death of his younger brother, Cillian has done an about face in his life–not that his family has noticed. Gone from drunken, brawling lout to tortured, loner accountant, Cillian has slowly been taking up maintenance of his family’s legitimate enterprises–and those books less open to the light of day. His only solace are the hours he spends at the local pub sipping apple juice and sparring with Olivia. He’s seen her hard veneer crack, revealing the soft, welcoming woman who is the real draw to Cillian’s guilt-ridden soul. But the wrong marriage of mob families has already ripped The O’Malley’s apart and hooking his future with an enemy’s sister is a sure way for Cillian to find himself equally ejected from the family.

Like Crane, Robert uses her setting as it’s own character, wrapping Cillian and Olivia’s story in the dark alleys and mansions of Boston, it’s unforgiving streets offering both succor and jeopardy whether it’s the open lawns of the Boston Common or the opulence of Beacon Hill or the shadowy nooks of Southie.

Olivia and Cillian have been sparking since they first clashed in The Wedding Pact. Olivia knows all too well the dangers of being deep with a mob family and is not eager to jump feet first into another one, buy Cillian is unlike any man in her experience, treating her with gentleness and affection when she least expects it. Cillian’s demons haven’t let him rest since he watched his brother bleed out in the street. The only quiet in Olivia’s presence and that makes her worth any risk she might bring with her–be it from her family or his.

Click on image to preorder!

Click on image to preorder!

An Indecent Proposal is currently available and there’s more dark, twisty romance goodness coming in the new year as Forbidden Promises, The O’Malley’s Book Four, is scheduled to release next May (again with the May?!) sporting a cover that drove me to ask Robert where her Forever Romance publisher was finding these guys and, more importantly, are they single?!

Forbidden Promises will feature a runaway O’Malley as Sloan O’Malley flees her father’s machinations for her future to a cottage by the sea…never knowing her new, surly neighbor is a hit man (named Jude. How awesome is that name?!) with a vendetta against all things Sheridan, the competing Irish mob family whose queen is married to Sloan’s brother Teague (of The Marriage Contract).

So settle in, cozy up, and keep hot and bothered with these prime choices from a pair of authors burning up Romancelandia this fall.

Follow Lady Smut. We’ll promise to keep your home fires burning.

 

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel Wild on the Rocks is now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

All titles reviewed in this post were provided to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Favorite Trends in Romance: A Guest Post by Michele Mannon

15 Aug

by Michele Mannon

The Romance Writers of America conference this summer held a discussion about hot trends within the romance genre. For this post, I decided to address this topic and share five trends I think are both prevalent in many new releases as well as trends I gravitate toward as a reader.

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Guest Poster Michele Mannon

Bikers, Mobsters, Criminals, and Hit Men

I’ll be the first to admit, I love a bad boy hero. I love reading them. I love featuring them in my books. These mega Alpha heroes typically run against the grain of society, are often defiant, violent and like to be in control. Ever since Kristen Ashley released Motorcycle Man, with a surly bad ass biker hero named Kane “Tack” Allen, I’ve been hooked. Another book I recently read is Dark Mafia Prince by Annika Martin. The hero is a mobster…a hot as sin Russian bratva, and man is he naughty.

Tattoos

What began as bad boy heroes with tribal tattoos seems to have morphed into an entire subgenre within contemporary romance. Laura Kaye has a great series, The Hard Ink Novels, which are set in a tattoo parlor. And authors are getting creative with what their hero’s and heroine’s tats say and where they’re located. The best example of this is in Molly Joseph’s Diva. Sorry I can’t give it away but let’s just say you’ll feel like you’ve been struck by lightening after the author so expertly reveal it.

Dirty, Filthy Sex

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Remember when in almost every romance you’d have to wait until page 100 for the characters to get it on? Just like the pacing in stories is changing—becoming much more like television, fast and always moving forward—sex within romances is happening a lot sooner, and with much more yummy, explicit detail. Spankings, rough, dirty-talking heroes, and a whole lot of intense foreplay seem to be the norm right now. And I really love a good, dirty sex scene. Yet crafting one where love sex that drips off the pages and that has the right balance of angst, love and sexual tension is hard work. I recently had a reviewer comment about my new release, Rogue, the first book in The Deadliest Lies Series: “Mannon really knows how to craft a love scene-scintillating and yet tender.” A comment I love, of course. The truth is I write scenes I want to read. And hopefully, you do too! (BTW, I featured an excerpt below. Warning: heat level high.)

Crossing the Border

Scenes, and stories, set outside of small town America seems to be an “up-and-coming” trend. In The Professional, Kresley Cole took us on an amazing, and highly erotic, journey to Russia. There’s a great scene inside a banya that I love. In case you’re wondering, a banya is an outdoor sauna the Russians favor. Inside, visitors escape the cold and partake in the custom of smacking each other across the body with bound twigs and leafy branches dipped in cold water. See, there’s something new to be learned in these globe-trotting stories.
And characters are also taking on more of an international flavor. Ilsa Madden-Mills, Dirty English, features a British street fighter. In my book Hit Man (coming 11/16), Diego is Mexican/Danish…with a filthy, Spanish-speaking potty mouth. 

Mercenary Promo Image

Click on image to buy!

Man Buns

Okay, I haven’t read a single romance with a hero with a man bun. And I’m talking about the curled up ponytail kind, not buns of steel. But I’m giving everyone an official heads up. If you read The Deadliest Lies series, the ruthless CEO of this group of hit men has a man bun. You’ll see it described through the main characters eyes in every book. But I promise you, when Hayden’s story is revealed, great things are going to happen to that man bun.

So what are trends you’re reading in romance? Which ones do you like? Are there any driving you crazy? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading!

Blurb for ROGUE

My lover is dead.

And they think I killed him.

I’m running rogue. Hell bent on both revenge and redemption. Whatever it takes, I’m going to finish a job that began nine months ago. An unauthorized assignment that turned horribly, devastatingly wrong.

My miscalculation.

My fault.

My heart left shattered into incomplete pieces which will never wholly fit back together again.

But first I have to outsmart my former organization and the hired killer they’ve sent after me; a ghost from my past who knows my every move, who’s been inside my head, my heart, my dreams and memories: Jaxson.

I’m the traitor, Kylie. The rogue mercenary, Jaxson’s newest assignment.

And this is our love story.

Rogue Promo collage

Click on image to buy!

Excerpt from ROGUE: Warning ~ Spice Level HOT

Kylie and Jaxson are on the run and things get a bit wild.

Terrific. He’s going to flirt with me and tease me to death.

“You up for a challenge?”

“It depends on what it is.”

“Smart girl. How about I give you a play by play? Then you can either tell me to fuck off or to go for it.”

“What if I tell you to fuck off right now?” I sweetly ask.

He chuckles. “It’s your dime, fireball. Your call.”

I arch my eyebrows. He’s got this naughty, devilish look in his eyes and, God knows, not only should I resist him but I should roll myself out of our hiding place and run as fast as my legs will carry me into the woods.

“If this will help me survive Hell Camp, I’m up for a challenge,” I hear myself say.

“Believe me, it’s going to be a lesson in restraint for me as well. So here’s the deal. I wanna tease that sweet pussy of yours. Fuck you with my fingers. See how quiet you can be, how still you can be, how in control you can be when all hell is breaking loose around you. A shame I can’t lick you like I want. We’ll save that for a better time.

What do you say?”

What do I say? I open, close then open my mouth. Nothing comes out. Not “Yes, make me come beneath this decomposing tree while Hayden’s hellions run amuck around us.” Not “No, how about courting me with a few flowers first? Or at the very least, getting me tipsy on a bottle of good wine?”

I swallow hard. “I say this is you being unpredictable. Go figure.”

His hand slides downward and across my belly.

“Don’t you dare,” I whisper.

“Oh, I dare. But . . . do you?”

“Seriously?”

“I’ve been thinking about this for days. Fuck, since you sank that knife into my thigh.”

I squeeze my eyes shut. Hating that memory.

Jesus. He’s lost his freaking mind right along with me losing mine.

“Listen. You think I haven’t noticed the way you’ve been eye-fucking me? Damn, I love the way you bite then lick your lip while you think I don’t know that you’re watching me.” His hand moves across my lower abdomen, the tips of his fingers sliding beneath the waistband of my sweatpants and my panties.

“Jaxson who?” I reply. Yeah, right. I’ve had eye-gasms over him for weeks.

This is crazy. Beyond crazy . . . insane. My whole experience at Hell Camp, the fights, the knives, is surreal. One adventure after another. Nothing prepared me for him. The pad of his pointer finger flickers over my nub, tempting me. I think, Why not give into this wild need to go a little nuts? Besides, I’m with the right man to push me over the edge—literally. Just looking at him . . . oh my . . .

He’s curled a finger inside my folds.

The bony part of his palm rubs across my sensitive hood.

And I’m wet, and growing wetter with each subtle caress.

“Bend your leg and put it up on my outer thigh.”

I stare at him like he’s talking gibberish.

“I need this as much as you do.” He grins like a madman, a daredevil, a man who can steal your breath away then have you begging he steal more of it. And just like that, I’m a goner.

I bend, lift my leg, and anchor it on top of his thigh. “Stop . . . talking. Or they’ll hear you,” I whisper, my tone hoarse with excitement.

Naughty. Oh so naughty, and I want it.

“Fireball,” he murmurs, “I’m going to be struggling right along with you not to give our hiding spot away. I promise you that.”

“Misery loves company,” I add, then moan as he thrusts a digit into my slick channel.

“The best kind of misery.”

Slowly, so very slowly, he slides his finger in and out, and I’m in heaven. I feel his thumb pressing into my nub as his finger drags along the walls of my channel.

“You’re wet but tight,” he breathes into my ear, “I’m going to work another finger inside. Nod if that’s okay.”

“Do it,” I demand.

As promised, he pushes a second in alongside the first. Slowly at first, then quickening the pace. I can’t help but tilt my hips along with each stroke. It’s not long before I feel the climax building up inside me.

I moan.

“Coming,” he whispers so quietly, I barely catch his question.

“Almost. Sweet Mary . . .”

“No. They’re coming. Footsteps.” He winks at me, rolling his thumb once again over my sensitive hood while his fingers plunge into me and withdraw. Once. Twice. Three times. Until my body is shaking with need.

I jerk at the sound of a voice close by. “The trail Jaxson left behind was goddamn amateurish. Like he wants us to find him. He’s around here somewhere.”

My eyebrows lift high enough to touch the tree overhead.

His smirk is full of mischief.

And, holy sweet Mary, if his tongue is anything like his fingers . . . I clamp my lips shut, holding back my moan. Yes, oh yes.

“Check around.”

No, oh no.

“Over here,” someone shouts at the same time I arch my hips toward Jaxson and pray that the mewing sound going off in my head doesn’t work its way out of my mouth.

I struggle to keep quiet, to still my movements, to not give us away. And I curse Jaxson for putting me in this situation, for masterfully bringing me to the edge, to make me want to shout out my climax, only to have to dig deep not to do so.

My eyes meet his, and without my making a sound, I crest. My pleasure clear as day in what has to be the most blissful expression known to womankind. Which, I silently gasp, is reflected in the hottest look known to mankind that crosses over his face.

Sweet mother of God. This man is going to be the death of me.

“That was fucking beautiful.”

I blush. “Shhh. They’ll hear you.”

“They’re gone, off on a wild-goose chase. I ran ahead and planted a few less-than-subtle trail marks. Still, we better head back.” He removes his hand from beneath my sweatpants, shifts my leg off his thigh, and rolls out from beneath the tree. I squeeze my eyes shut, briefly, disbelieving what I’ve just done, then slide out after him.

He offers me a hand up.

“You’re insane,” I mumble.

“And you’re beautiful.” 

ROGUE is now available to buy from all major ebook retailers (click image above for direct link).

Follow Lady Smut for more great guest posts!

Michele Mannon creates characters who are far from perfect; who are likely to be knee-deep in trouble, heart-first in love and at wits’ end when life unexpectedly, unequivocally turns to hell. Her debut series, Worth the Fight, received two Romantic Times Magazine Top Picks. Her new sexy romantic suspense series with St. Martin’s Press, Deadliest Lies, releases in August 2016, beginning with ROGUE, a story about what happens when your own organization sends a hit man after you mistakenly, heart-wrenchingly kill your lover. Michele lives in Pennsylvania but likes traveling to exotic places, including the NJ shore. She’s fond of skinny cinnamon dolce lattes, quick-witted, Irish-accented men, a good story, and lots and lots of laughter.

For more information about Michele, please visit her website: http://www.michelemannon.com.

 

 

 

 

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