Too much?

Can there be too much sex in romance novels?

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Yes, indeed there can be.  <Gasp!> Never thought you’d hear me say that, did you?  But alas, it’s true – there can be too much sex in a romance novel.

(Side note:  Like the picture?  I saw these “performance sheets” at Target and it made me erupt in giggles – definitely a necessity on any romance novel heroine’s bed.)

Recently, when I gave my sister the very rough draft of my first novel, she commented that perhaps there was too much sex in my novel.

Any why is that?

Snarky reader response: Because sex in a novel is inversely related to sex in the author’s life?

Oh, hush. :p

I didn’t set out to have my characters constantly humping in my first novel, it just kind of…well, happened.  So, I suppose it was due to a few things – lack of control over my characters, uneven plot, difficulty in finishing my first novel, or maybe even me getting bored with the in-between scenes of my novel and adding in a few smutty scenes just for fun.

But, how can you tell if it’s too much?

Well, I don’t think it’s a question of too much in a story – who doesn’t like it when a book is packed with smut?  I think the issue is more on the timing.  Does it fit with the other action (heehee) going on in the story and the characters’ emotional states?  If not,  well then perhaps the smuttiness should be postponed.

At least, that’s what I’m going to try, as I go through and edit my first draft.  But don’t worry, my characters will still test the merits of the “performance sheets.” ;)

Smutty Saturdays

What makes Saturdays better?  Well, smut of course. :)

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Smut is generally, well, naughty.  But I do enjoy when it’s funny too.  A brave author is not afraid to throw in some humor – often at the expense of their well-loved characters.

Today’s selection of smut is from Christine Bell’s “Dirty Trick,” and proves that some bedroom talk can be silly…

“Maybe he even wanted a little dirty talk.

She swallowed hard and hoped the sound of steam whistling covered the resulting gulp.  Might as well let it rip.

“Yeah.  I want your c-” It stuck in her throat, and she tried again. “I want your big c-”  Again, she couldn’t work it past her lips.  He stared at her with a puzzled but patient smile.  “I want your cock…a doodly do…in-inside my p- lady area…business,” she expelled in a rush.

Oh God, no. What was that?”

Heeheehee! :) Just practice in front of a mirror if dirty words get stuck in your throat at crunch time, that should help loosen your tongue.  :p

Happy Saturday and happy reading!!

Review: “Dirty Trick”

Ebook Review of “Dirty Trick (A Perfectly Matched Novel),” By Christine Bell

image In “Dirty Trick,” we meet the part-owner of a dating service, Grace Love, and her neighbor/best friend, Detective Trick Mathews.

In Salem, Halloween is a huge deal and Grace finds herself without a date to the best party in town.  Maybe she’ll meet Mr. Right (or hey, maybe Mr. Right Now) on All Hallow’s Eve…

Trick has been coyly trying to prove to Grace that they should take their friendship to the next level and that he is no longer <ahem> a man-whore. If he dons a mask and sweeps Grace off of her feet, maybe he can prove to her that they would be perfect together….

Hmmm…lying to your friend (especially in disguise) is a big no-no.  But, as we’ve learned in the past, in romance novels – anything goes.  Can Trick sweep Grace off of her feet and still keep her trust?

Dirty Trick” was a little different than your average friend romance.  Usually, in this genre, the friends add sex to their relationship for fun and then gradually fall in love (or realize that they’ve been in love with each other for a long time).  In this one, Trick’s disguise allows him to hook up with Grace – which he didn’t plan on, but doesn’t really stop either.  He does feel guilty, but can’t seem to stop himself from meeting her for a second time and puts off telling her the truth…which is a plot device for drama and makes the hero look like a weenie.

It’s a tricky thing, having your hero or heroine lie in a novel – and a very narrow line to walk as an author.  Too many lies (or omissions) or lame motivations for lies and your readers will balk.  In my first novel (which is still in rough draft form), my hero doesn’t reveal his true intentions to my heroine for quite some time.  You see, he aims to steal something from her. This lone piece of my story made me struggle to finish – and struggle to come up with a good reason why my hero would do this.  Now in romance novels, there are heroes that do a great many things that normal people really shouldn’t (this happened in the Wallflower series and I still absolutely loved one of the heroes).  In some novels –  circumstance, charm, or pure writing talent allow us to look past it.  In my case at least, I’m still chewing on how to “fix” the lying issue in my novel.  Or at least let my readers in on the motivations earlier in the story, so they don’t dismiss him entirely.  Ugh.  But alas, complicated heroes make a more interesting story – and also make authors go through several re-writes. :p

As for “Dirty Trick” – the characters have good chemistry, the dialogue is pretty good, the setting of Halloween in Salem is neat, and the story is fairly good…points taken off for a hero that should have come clean sooner or at least a heroine that figured it out on her own!  I give the story a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Side note:  Sorry I’ve been a bit of a slacker with my posts lately.  Life has gotten complicated (as life is wont to do).  But my wi-fi signal is strong and my reading appetite is still un-quenched!  And, I am determined to get back to my regular posting schedule – yay! :)

Happy Reading!

Steel under Silk

imageThe importance of strong female characters in romance novels

If you read enough romance novels, you are bound to come into contact with one of my least favorite tropes – the overly helpless heroine.  This is the heroine who has to be saved by the hero several times in a story.  And I always wonder – doesn’t he ever get tired of saving this lame fuck?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against characters needing to be saved – it’s important in many thrillers and mystery novels (as usually one of the main characters becomes some kind of target of the bad guy/girl).  I’m also totally okay  with the heroine needing a bodyguard for one reason or another…especially if he’s moody with sexy stubble.

But, if your heroine has to be saved by the hero more than three times, I think you need to rethink your heroine and remember a few key things -

  • A heroine that needs to depend on a hero to constantly save her does not equal true love. It means she has dependency issues. :p
  • Accident prone is only funny or a vehicle for making out a few times.  Again, if it’s more than three times, you need to rethink if your heroine is accident prone…or just an idiot.
  • Strength in heroines – physical, mental, emotional – makes a sexy heroine and empowers the reader.

So many women underestimate their strength of mind, body, and soul already.  Do we really need to make that fester by creating heroines that must constantly be rescued?

Just remember, it takes strength to do a lot of the things that some romance novels gloss over: to trust and love again, to run a business, to have a career, to take care of ailing friends or parents, to recover from a miscarriage, to have children, to raise children, to overcome health issues, to be independent, and of course… it takes serious strength to have crazy, monkey sex with the hero all night long and still be fabulous in the morning.

So, stop underplaying your heroine’s strengths.  Being wimpy and weak makes your heroine annoying and your storyline tired.  Plus it makes it harder for all of us strong women in the real world to relate to and like your characters. ;)

Review “Shadow Spell”

Review of “Shadow Spell” (the second book in the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy), by Nora Roberts

image The tricky thing about trilogies is some (this one, for example), really should be read in order.  Not because who they end up with is some great mystery or if they’ll defeat the bad guy is really up for debate (one would assume it will happen in the third book, as Nora Roberts never disappoints).  But because there is a lovely flow of events as the main story, spread across three books, enfolds.  But that’s just me.

In “Shadow Spell,” we follow the story of Connor (a witch and a ladies man) and his very good friend Meara (a tough and smart woman).  The three O’Dwyer cousins and their three friends (and current/past/prospective mates) are still trying to battle to vanquish the evil Cabhan.  But their enemy is a crafty one, who can seep into one’s mind and invade dreams.  In the midst of the planning and fighting, two friends decide to mix a little business with pleasure…

Ah yes, so it’s to be a sweet friend romance for the second book of the trilogy – and I’m quite pleased with it.  Friendship romances tend to be on the softer, gooey-sweet side of the romance spectrum – like a gently toasted marshmallow, so sweet and yummy.  And Nora Roberts plays them perfectly  - not too sweet and silly, not all about sex, but somewhere in the blissful middle – all the while, building up the tension for the final epic battle (and the last love story) of the trilogy.

5 out of 5 starts for the 2nd book of the trilogy and one complaint – why?? Why must I wait for the book that’s going to be soooo delicious with its characters and completion?  The third book in this series (which is sure to have plenty of longing, yearning, and “oh no, I’m not sure we should be together” in it) doesn’t come out until October!  OCTOBER!  Hmph!  I’m going to pout….and in the meantime, crack the binding on another delicious romance novel. ;)

Smutty Saturdays

Ah yes, a smutty quote or a smutty scene can brighten up any day. But Saturdays are the day we enjoy them most. Why?  Because on Saturday, you get to read your smut while loafing about at home…instead of on the metro, where that weird guy keeps leaning over your shoulder to infringe on your novel’s sex scene.  Seriously dude, so not cool.

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Today’s selection of smut comes from Nora Robert’s second book in the Dark Witch Series, “Shadow Spell,” which I love, of course. :)

“He touched where she ached to be touched, tasted where she longed for his lips.  And found other secret places she hadn’t known longed for attention.  The inside of her elbow, the back of her knee, the inside of her wrist.  He murmured to her, sweet words that reached into her heart.  Another light to glow.” – “Shadow Spell,” by Nora Roberts

Yep, no one writes a love scene like Nora Roberts.  Sweet, sweet, romantic smut. ;)

I hope you all enjoy the weekend!  Happy reading. :)

How to employ your hero…

So, I’m doing  a major re-think of my heroes in both of the rough drafts that I recently finished, including their jobs.  In romance novels, it seems like the heroine can have just about any job or none at all, but heroes have more limitations in terms of employment…

Popular hero employment in romance novels:

  • Construction – a hero typically owns the construction company or runs it, preferably with his hot brothers.  Regardless, he’s never the low man on the totem pole.  But, he still knows how to work his tools and often slings on a tool-belt (which hangs low on his hips) to help with the work.
  • Police – If you’re reading a mystery romance novel, then there’s a damn good chance that the hero is a cop.  But generally, he’s not just a patrol officer, this stud is at least a detective – with a sexy shoulder holster – raaaaawr.  Extra points if he’s a FBI agent, has a gruff voice, sexy stubble, or a secret mushy side.
  • Spy - oh yes!  Like you even need to ask! :p
  • Military – Of course.  Extra points if he’s a ranger, fighter pilot, or a seal.  Extra, extra points if he’s got aviator sunglasses, stubble, and a tan.
  • CEO or Heroine’s Boss – You can’t get far into the romance genre without coming across a CEO or boss romance.  Ugh.  I’m not really a fan.  Why?  Well, when was the last time you saw a single, hot, fit, CEO/boss with a full head of hair and sexy stubble? NEVER! Talk about fiction. :)

*Side note:  If you are a fit, single, sexy, full head of hair CEO and are annoyed with me, I say this:  Why are you mad?  You’ve won the life lottery.  Go count your money and brush your hair.  :p

  • Billionaire playboy – bitch, please.  Of course this is a suitable occupation in romance novels.
  • Doctor – Yes, especially if he’s a surgeon.  If this is your hero, he’s got to have long, probing fingers….but no calluses.
  • Thief – Yep.  It kind of seems counter-intuitive, especially alongside billionaires, CEOs, owners of businesses, and cops….but it’s still rather popular as long as he: 1) has plenty of witty banter, 2) a dashing smile, 3) eyes that can see into the heroine’s soul, 4) plans to go legit…oh, and did I mention sexy stubble?
  • Politician - Ugh.  You can try, but it will be messy.  Just remember how low Congress’ approval rating is…
  • Random Office Worker – Well, this is the category that most of us fall into.  Pencil pushers, was what my grandmother used to say.  There are a few heroes that fall into this category, but there could be more.  Writing opportunity here, people. ;)  Your hero could be an accountant..or, better yet, the hero could be the heroine’s underling. :) Don’t knock it! It might be nice to change-up the typical romance tropes….maybe that’s what I’ll do with my romance novel heroes or maybe not.  I’ll just keep you guessing.  :p

And hey, you can always buck the trends of the romance novel industry and make your hero have any job… That’s the beauty of being the author, you get to build whatever you want. :)

Review “Take Me On”

Ebook Review “Take Me On,” By Cherrie Lynn

imageFirst let me say, “take on me…take on me. Take me on…:)

Okay, now that it’s out of my system, I can properly review Cherrie Lynn’s latest (and I’m guessing last) of the Ross Sibling Series – “Take Me On.”

Gabby Ross is an incredibly smart and beautiful woman.  She’s also dealing with heartbreak and a major change in her life’s plan after she’s ditched at the altar (ugh, what a dick).  She’s especially heartbroken because she’s 36 years old, currently in school to become a doctor, and feeling like her chances of having a husband and family have passed her by.

Oh girl, I feel you, I totally do.  Growing up in a blue collar city, when I graduated high school without being pregnant – I was like woohoo!  When I graduated college without being pregnant, I was like woohoo!  Now I’m 32 and not pregnant and I’m like, boo.  So it was nice to have an older heroine, who is a driven and smart girl, and has a concern that many of we women have.

When our strong, amazing heroine meets our younger (yessss, younger), awesome hero, sparks fly.  And, oh my, does our heroine have a dirty mouth and a kick ass attitude. :)

Five out of five stars for another of Cherrie Lynn’s amazing novels.  It has everything this romance reader loves – a strong heroine, a sweet hero, great plot, and lots of steam.  Check it out. :)

Smutty Saturdays

Best part of a long weekend? I can dedicate more than just Saturday to reading smut.  But seeing as though today is a Saturday, I guess I should honor my usual activity of paying homage to my favorite genre – smutty romance.

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This week’s smutty smut-smut comes from “Take me on,” by Cherrie Lynn – the last, and dare I say – steamiest of the Ross sibling series.  <Fanning self> Get ready for my review on that in a few days. :)  Check out the book (and series) if you haven’t already – you won’t be disappointed.  And now for your dose of excellent smut:

Ian felt a tap on his shoulder.  He turned to see Gabby standing behind him, a cocky grin on her face.  “Play me?”

Feeling all eyes on him, he shook his head.  “Nah.  I’m all played out.”

“I’ll make it interesting.”

“Oh yeah?  How?”

She leaned close to his ear, mirroring the move he’d made on her earlier.  Her whisper sent waves of chills up his spine.  “If I win, you have to fuck me senseless.”

- From Cherrie Lynn “Take me On

 

….Troublesome thing is that it might take all night, since some of us our just brimming with sense. ;)  heeheehee.  Oh, Cherrie Lynn, your novels are such delicious & naughty fun! I can’t wait for the next one.

Happy long weekend and happy reading! :)

How to Name Your Romance Hero

Heroic Names

The importance of being Earnest….or Brian, Mike, Mark, or Logan

I’m sure this has happened to you before:  you’re cruising along in a book, when something happens – something you don’t care for.  Maybe it’s a description of a character (ha! she doesn’t look like that!) or something a character does (ugh! that wasn’t cool).  The beauty of a book is that if something happens that you don’t like, you can do what I like to call a mental override.  IGNORE!  heehee :) Don’t get me wrong, I’d never change a part of a  book, but some small details can be tweaked in the mind of the reader (you’re more naive than I am if you think that readers never do this).

But, there is one thing that the mental override cannot overpower – names of characters, which is why they’re really important.  One of my most favorite romance novels (which I’ll have to re-read and review at some point), features a hero named Catlin – CATLIN!  I think it’s his last name, but it’s the one used through the book and it is seriously annoying.  I mean, how do you pronounce it?  I’m thinking CAT – lin, makes it more masculine, no?

Anyway, that brings me to the point of this post – how should you name your romance novel heroes?   There are a lot of names common in this genre (just off the top of my head) -

Brian, Mark/Marcus, Mike, John, Evan, Ryder (you know he’s got to be hot), Jack/Jackson,  Sebastian (ohh! I love this one, but it usually means a dangerous hero), Chase, and Eric.

But who cares about that?  You live to break the rules!  You have a smoking hot name that you want to try out.  Go you!  But before you do, take into account the problem with Catlin and make sure you’re clear on how to pronounce it.

Also, there are some names that don’t seem to work in the romance novel world.  My personal favorite critique of a name is for a man named Sheldon.  And while the character was not talking about romance novels, the quote sums up why some names just don’t work for the type of smut I write:

“A Sheldon can do your income taxes, if you need a root canal, Sheldon’s your man… but humpin’ and pumpin’ is not Sheldon’s strong suit. It’s the name. ‘Do it to me Sheldon, you’re an animal Sheldon, ride me big Shel-don.’ Doesn’t work.”  - From the forever funny, “When Harry Met Sally.”

 

Heeheheeheee.  Moral of the story, when you pick your names for characters, do it wisely.

As for me?  Most of my heroes start off as “Logan” (I eventually change the name later when the mood hits me).  Why Logan?  Because long before Hugh Jackman, Wolverine was a fucking stud. :)