Friday, September 11, 2009

Why I Came Back To Harlequin

~Sia McKye~

I have to be honest; I stopped reading most Harlequins some years ago. The stories had become trite and tired—outdated if you will. How many stories can you read about Tycoons, Sheiks, Millionaires, Nurses, Females too stupid to live, or surprise babies without getting bored. Where were the sassy, independent women? The hot realistic heroes that made you go, Whoa, yah baby! Realistic stories that fit today’s women? Where were the meaty stories with a sizzle?

Let me give you the reason I returned to reading Harlequin this past eighteen months: authors like Tawny Weber, Samantha Hunter, Alison Kent, Gena Showalter, Susan Gable, Holly Jacobs, Rhonda Nelson, Diana Duncan, and Brenda Joyce. Anyone of these authors, in my opinion, regardless of the particular imprint with Harlequin they write, all tell involving stories, characters that act and react realistically, good storylines, well-paced enjoyable stories. Even those that write for the lighter end have well-thought and entertaining stories. Books that I don’t want to throw across the room and hope they hit the trash can.

Today, I’m talking about two books I’ve recently read that I’ve enjoyed and can recommend reading. An example from two different ends of the spectrum, if you will. Tawny Weber and Brenda Joyce. One is new to me and one is an author I’ve enjoyed reading for some years ( I started with the Bragg Saga and loved the deWarrens).

Tawny writes for Blaze. I enjoy Blaze. They’re fun hot reads. Some are lighter than others, but I’ve really enjoyed Tawny’s. Her latest one was fun, with smart characters, hot without being too blatant (which is why I read very few erotica, but that’s a subject for another blog).

Here’s the blurb for Tawny Weber’s latest book available this month.

Hello, hot blast from the past!

Zoe Gaston needs to unmask a mystery man for work. She also must survive her dreaded high school reunion—and the costume party that opens it. So Zoe, once voted Girl Most Likely to Die a Virgin, comes dressed as a leather-clad dominatrix…whip and all!Her scandalous costume catches a secret lover. He seems so deliciously familiar under his disguise…. He's gotta be her long-ago crush.But Zoe is shocked to discover the sexy body she's been so thoroughly enjoying belongs to Dexter Drake—her oldest friend! And he's hiding something bigger than just his identity….

Dressed to Thrill: The best part of dressing up is taking it off!

Read an excerpt:

Now, what captured my interest was the line that said Zoe had been voted the Girl Most Likely To Die A Virgin and then she shows up in a leather-clad dominatrix outfit (funny, my muse wears the same outfit. Wonder if she got hers from Dressed To Thrill Fantasy Shop?) Right away, that whole idea just tickled my funny bone. Now that’s a woman with moxy, lol! My kind of woman. Especially given the last thing Zoe wants to do is go to her High School Reunion.

What intrigued me was she was on a quest to find a mystery man to help her brother—also something I could relate to. Zoe finds that her classmates are still living out their high school glories ten years later and she’s regretting mightily being talked into this adventure. So begins several escapades and a sexy encounter with a hot man in costume that rings all her bells. I won’t spoil it but parts of her story cracked me up and parts made go, ‘Whoa, Yah, you go girl!’ I thoroughly enjoyed Zoe. I have to tell you, I wouldn’t mind going a few rounds with the masked hottie either!

If you haven't checked out Tawny Weber's books, I recommend you search them out. They're well worth it. They can be ordered directly from Harlequin Blaze website:

The second book I enjoyed, is written by Brenda Joyce. She writes a series called The Masters of Time. Definitely a (cue Austin Powers) ‘yah baby’ series. Brenda’s books are paranormal Romance for HQN and about Highland warriors sworn to protect Innocence through the ages... Any who read my blog know I’m a bit partial to Scott warriors, preferably kilted.

The blurb for her latest book, Dark Lover.

Highland Warriors, sworn to protect innocence through the ages...

Ian Maclean’s arrogance hides a terrible secret—for decades he was held prisoner by demons. Not a day goes by that he isn’t tormented by his darkest fears of powerlessness. Now he is about to sell to the highest bidder a page he’s stolen from the Book of Power—if one woman doesn’t stop him.

Every Rose woman has her destiny

Slayer Samantha Rose’s latest mission is to recover the stolen page—and get payback from the only man who’s ever rejected her. What she hasn’t counted on is the raging attraction between them—or her growing realization of what MacLean has survived. As the powers of the evil from his past gather, Sam will do anything to help him—even if it means following him into time and facing his worst nightmares with him...

If you want to read and excerpt:

I’ve been following the series. It a hot, sensual time travel story about powerful and sexual medieval warrior warriors of old Scotland whose job it is to protect the innocent from demonic forces and evil. These warriors can jump through time to fight their battles and do and in the process meet up with some strong, independent modern women that knock these alpha males for a loop. The warriors are dark with some real emotional hang-ups and have lived hundreds of years battling evil and personal loss. Brenda’s characters are layered and intense, but have a strong sense of honor. Some are at the point of where you aren’t sure they will remain heroes or become the enemy. Enter the smart women that fall for them and the adventures begin.

What I enjoyed about Dark Lover is the combining of disparate characters—at least on the surface. We have Ian MacLean, an intensely private man scarred by unspeakable torture and one who no longer cares about right and wrong, or so he thinks, but is all about looking out for number one. Ian’s strong, definitely alpha male, but he’s also vulnerable. Then you have Samantha Rose, modern day woman and warrior. She’s feisty and smart mouthed and she makes me laugh even in dangerous time. I like her a lot. Sam is a woman sure of her destiny, her strengths, her sexuality and knows how to use it to her advantage. Sam is one of the good ‘guys’. She’s a tough woman and dangerous. She’s also scarred from her past and it because of this she is a slayer. When the two come together it’s sparks and fire all the way. And danger.

Brenda Joyce is a fabulous writer. Her characters complex and three-dimensional and I like that. Her stories have laughter, danger, hot sexual encounters, magic and an engrossing story. Good wins, but not without paying a high cost.

If you haven’t checked out the Masters of Time series, I highly recommend doing so.

Just two reasons why l came back to Harlequin. Do you have any recommendation? Why?


Netti said...

HQN is no longer your grandma's HQN for sure. I love the Nocturne series that they've come out with, and now the HQN Teen series is just brilliant. I do get people at the store turning up their noses at HQN and have managed to get a couple of people to try them again and they've found they love them. I know I do ;)

Tonya Kappes said...

It's funny to see how HQN has changed over the years. I used to sneak my mom's as a teenager and began reading my own in college. I think it is so cool how they have launched the teen genre line for teenagers who THINK about sneaking their mom's blaze HQN! LOL!! Great post Sia!

Anonymous said...

I definitely have some must-read authors on the Harl/Sil. roster.

Ann Marie Gamble

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading this book [Dark Lover]. It's awesome. I love all her books.

Leslie Marquez

Judi Fennell said...

I love Brenda's series! And Tawny is such a talented writer, I'll have to check that one out.

Susan Gable said...

Awwww, thanks, Sia. I'm so delighted to be on your list of reasons you're back to reading HQ books! That's very sweet of you.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Susan, had it not been for you, I wouldn't have checked out Superromance again. You tell a wonderfully involved story. Memorable characters, people you'd like to meet or like people you see in everyday life. Kudos to you.

VA said...

Sia, as long as we are being honest I'll confess that I haven't read Harlequin in many years. Think Janet Daily and Sarah Craven writing the Presents line. I had nicked them from my sister's bookcase along with her Barbara Cartland's series, but then never looked back.

I moved away from categorical romances, looking for more plot, deeper exploration which I gathered the lower word count impaired. I can say that you have really gotten me to rethink my expectations with your recommendations.

Thanks for being my personal book recommender Sia. :)

Kat Sheridan said...

I confess, it's been ages since I read a Harelquin, and I connected with Netty saying folks kind of look askance if you buy one. But I trust your taste, and you've really made these books sound appealing. Guess I won't be whipping past the Harlequins next time I hit the store. Looks like I've been missing some pretty wonderful books!

~Sia McKye~ said...

If you like the meatier reads, I'd suggest looking into HQN. Fabulous single title stories and authors. Larger word count allowances makes it a deeper read. Authors such as Brenda Joyce and Gena Showalter write these. Well worth reading!

Despite the word count restrictions, Blaze and Intrigue have some great storylines. Supers and American have larger word count allowances and are quite well done.

Oh, Harlequin/Sillouhette still have their Tycoons, Sheiks, Millionaires, Nurses, Females too stupid to live, or surprise babies but I was surprised at the modern feel of many of the new authors. As with any book, you have to sift through and find the authors you like.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention, Sia!! You've made my day!

Holly Jacobs

Helen Ginger said...

Thanks for the reviews and the recommendations. I like the idea of three-dimensional characters and a bit of humor with lots of action -- sounds good.

Straight From Hel

Tawny said...

Awww, Sia. I love you :-) What a wonderful tribute and man, that made my day to be listed with authors I personally admire so much!!! Thank you!

And thanks, too, for touting Feels Like the First Time!!!! I'm so glad you liked it :-)

Sheila Deeth said...

Nice! I think you'll tempt me back.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Tawny, I've enjoy the three books of yours I've read. You have a way with characters and a story line. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Sheila, there are some books there to tempt any reader of romance or paranormal. I also love Gena Showalters books. Meaty and some fun worlds.

Houston A.W. Knight said...

Hey Sweetie,

I'm glad you're back to reading HQ! I think they have some very good authors these days as well!

Drop by - I've got a little something something for you!


Conda Douglas said...

Sia, good post and good to know--I just wanted to add that this is why Harlequin remains a strong publisher--they change and grow!