Friday, August 7, 2009

Sia McKye's Book Reviews: Mr. Charming

Jennifer Sumner is a single mom with a secret past. At the request of her brother, lead investigator on the case, she takes in a wealthy playboy who is pretending to be dead. Jennifer walks a fine line as she struggles with the press, who can expose both the playboy and her troubled past, the playboy who threatens her lonely heart, and the killer who now wants them both dead. Can her brother catch the killer before her hard earned life come crashing down around her?

I enjoy reading verious genres, I've made no bones about the fact I love romance. I've always been a reader and a voracious one at that. One the perks of having a blog about writers and authors, is the joy of reading their books.

I recently had the opportunity to read an ARC of Nancy Parra's Mr Charming. I loved it and read it in a day. Her writing has a way of not only capturing your interest but keeping it. I kept thinking, okay, I'll just finish this chapter and then I'll go start the laundry and clean the kitchen. Let me tell you, the kitchen and laundry did not get done until the afternoon. As soon as my chores were done, dinner fixed, and I fed my family, I went back into my office and read the rest of the book.

My take on Mr. Charming:

  • Wonderful storyline, strong, believable characters a reader can connect with. The dialog was good and realistic; the story was fast paced, had a well developed element of suspense, and a satisfying ending. I liked the fact Nancy had as a secondary character, a child and one who reacted true to his age with his dialog and line of thinking.

  • Jennifer and Kane are both strong characters and both comes with past betrayals and have issues of trust. I like the twist of Jen being a relationship advice talk show host, and the fact she is a very private person and guarded of her past, with a strong reason to distrust the press. Kane is a very successful businessman, and a playboy with an deadly enemy. Kane deals with the press all the time; it comes with the territory of his life. He's in protective custody and is staying with Jen. Their internal and external conflicts are authentic and they react to those conflicts realistically. No quick or pat solutions. You see their growth and their growing love. Their story reminds the reader that love is strong and well worth fighting for. She also reminds us that falling in love has moments of laughter as well as passion. This was a fun and engaging read.
Here's an excerpt of Mr. Charming:

“Why do you keep touching me?” The words were soft and breathless. Jennifer wanted to take them back the moment they were out.

“I’m a tactile guy,” Kane said simply. “I like to caress what I find beautiful.”

Surprise filled her, scattered across her face. She was thirty five with a kid. Definitely not the type of person he usually dated.

“Yeah,” he said, breaking her stunned silence. “I find you beautiful.” He stepped as close as he could without touching her. He took the mug away from her trembling hand and planted it beside them on the counter. Then he held her face in his hands and smiled down at her. “I’m the kind of man who appreciates beauty in its purest from.”

“I told you, I know what kind of man you are,” she whispered. “Don’t you see? For my own good, I have to reject you.”

“Then I’m afraid we’re at odds, sweetheart, because I have to have you.”

She had promised herself just moments before to do her best to stick to the truth. “I’m not playing games with you.” Her whole body shivered in traitorous anticipation. He drew her to him, surrounding her with male heat and strength.

“Me neither,” he replied.

She put her hand out to keep him away. Her palm hit silky warm skin spattered with just the right amount of hair to make it intriguing. She swallowed a gasp and kept her hand firmly planted on his bare chest. The last thing she wanted was for him to know how electrified she was by the feel of him. “Just keep your distance. I know you’re bored and I’m simply a distraction. It isn’t fair.”

He took her palm and raised it to his lips. His dark gaze captured hers and sent shock waves through her body. “Haven’t you heard, sweetheart? All’s fair in love and war.”

  • I know in the past you've published western historical romances, what made you want to switch to romantic suspense?

I have to admit that Nora Robert's hooked me with her JD Robb series. My imagination was intrigued by romantic suspense. But you're supposed to write what you know and here I was a stay at home mom working part time while my kids were at school. What did I know about suspense? And so, Jennifer Sumner was born...a working mom in the suburbs.

  • For someone who didn't know about suspense, I'd say you did a great job. :-) So, How did you get the idea of her being a radio talk show host working from the studio in her basement?

At my part time job, there was a guy whose wife was a voice over artist. She had a studio in her basement so she could work and be home with the kids. Cool, huh? I thought Jennifer needed to be more controversial-so I made her a talk show host.

  • Very cool. I loved it. Did it take a long time to get this story published?

Truthfully? The story was on an editor's desk during 9/11- they loved the book but ultimately rejected it because in the story the hero's private plane is blown up. It was a tough subject then. But also proof that a good story can stand the test of time.

  • What advice would you give someone who is starting out in writing?

I would tell them to read, read, read and then write a story like the ones they love to read. It was my love of romance that got me started writing. I love happy endings.

  • I really enjoyed this book and can't wait for the next one to come out. When's your next book come out? (Not that I'm eager or anything, lol!)

LOL Dream Man, my next romantic suspense, will be out in January 2010. It is the story of a sleep doctor with a client who might hold the answer to a thirty-year-old missing person's case. Cue the sexy FBI agent, the mafia, and family secrets...until the truth bubbles up, death threatens and love prevails.

  • Ohhh, I like the premise. Oh yah, I'll be looking for it and of course, I'd be more than happy to read the ARC, just sayin'... Nancy, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to read fun story like Mr. Charming and letting me interview you as well.


Nancy J. Parra writes romantic suspense and sweet western historical romances. Hailed as a rising star of romantic fiction, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism but turned to writing fiction when she discovered it was more fun to interview the people in her head.

She lives in the Midwest with her family, a mutt named George Bernard, and bichonpoo, Gracie Lu, nicknamed "boo, boo." George and Gracie keep her entertained and warm in the winter-Gracie likes to sit in her lap, and George, who weighs in at 80 pounds, rests on her feet while she works.

Nancy's blog:

Nancy's website:

Publisher website:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Defending Inspiration

My guest today is Samantha Hunter. She’s written sixteen books for Harlequin. She's worked as a university writing instructor for ten years and Sam's been writing full-time since 2005. Sam loves to cook, being outdoors and she’s a quilter who makes some gorgeous bags, and a self named bag addict.

As with anything creative, inspirattion plays a big part. That's true whether you're doing a painting, decorating a home, doing crafts, writing music or stories. The best of those endeavors comes with being inspired and the excitement of creating that mental picture. Being involved with crafts and writing; I’d say Samantha Hunter is well familiar with the concept of inspiration.

I saw a comment on Twitter yesterday, where someone posted a quote that said “If you wait for inspiration, you’re a waiter, not a writer.” As quippy as it is, that made me sad.

A lot of writers dismiss inspiration, and I have to admit, that’s not me. I believe in the magic, the spark, and the muse. I consider myself a writer who does wait for inspiration – and that hasn’t kept me from producing sixteen books for Harlequin to date with several more that have either not been published or are in the works.

To me, inspiration is not antithetical to the work of writing, but it is the air that writers breathe – it’s what keeps us going. It’s the initial idea, the premise, the strike of brilliance, the trigger, whatever you want to call it. It’s the “roll” we get on or the thing that breaks the block. It’s the power behind the words, the thing that makes craft more than mechanics. It’s that feeling that pushes us through a book, and I think in the best of cases, the reader can feel it, too – when they are completely sucked in, or find a moment in a book making them laugh or moving them to tears.

When we get inspired, following a spark, we can work like we’re on fire, write page after page, barely able to keep up. Then the work starts to suggest itself, the book starts rolling out in front of us – the work fuels inspiration this way, too. The more we write, the more ideas we have to keep writing.

What I have found is that the process of being inspired is a lot like meditating – if you relax, if you open your mind to the world and the possibilities, it works. A lot of people don’t want to stake their careers on that, but I can’t imagine having a career without it, if only because it’s part of the joy of writing. I’ve found that the only time I am really happy and writing my best is when I am inspired, and I’ve also found that the more you encourage it, the more often it comes. But that’s just me.

So why do so many writers dismiss inspiration, as if it’s something that gets in the way of work rather than something that fuels it? I suppose because they fear it won’t come to them, and that’s a scary thing. I’ve also thought that writers might think that admitting that they believe in inspiration might make them seem flighty or floofy…but that’s where the work comes in. I believe in being inspired, and I don’t think any of my editors or my agent would consider me irresponsible or not having a good work ethic – I have never missed a deadline. I consistently propose new ideas, I finish books. I write almost every day, and sometimes, I do write even when I’m not “feeling it,” because we have to, but if I am really uninspired, I really can’t write. Yes, that’s scary. But, usually, if I relax and remind myself what it is I love about what I do, and maybe go work in my garden for a while, it comes back.

In the end, it’s whatever works for you – writing is highly individualistic. What’s right for one person is not right for someone else, and that’s okay, but I reject the wholesale dismissal of inspiration in our world. Sure, we have to know the business, the craft, the market, etc but we can’t let it take over, and I find believing in inspiration is the best defense. Twitter being what it is, also offered up a quote I did like, one that balanced out the scales, and that was from Ray Bradbury, who said “You must stay drunk on writing so that reality cannot destroy you.” So, I’ll leave it at that. :-)
Samantha Hunter lives in Syracuse New York with her husband and several pets. Since January 2004 when she sold her first book to Harlequin Blaze, Virtually Perfect, she has gone on to publish several more with new releases on the way. Sam holds two Master's degrees and was a university instructor for many years before quitting to live the writing life.
Visit Sam's author Blog at

Monday, August 3, 2009

Chat with the authors of Real Men Last ALL Night

My guests today, are three special and talented ladies. Lori Foster, Cheyenne McCray, and Heidi Betts. I’ve read and enjoyed their books. Each write wonderful books but they also have written an anthology, along with Lora Leigh, Real Men Last All Night. The title made me laugh because it sounds like something said among women. The cover is oh-la-la.

I’ve never written an anthology, although I’ve read many. A couple of my favorites were when the authors wrote connected stories, shared characters, and related plots. Not all anthologies do that. Some are merely themes where the authors contribute a story.

I had the opportunity to chat with Lori, Chey and Heidi about their anthology and what we can expect from them in the future. Being the curious person I am, I had several questions, which they were gracious enough to answer. And we also get a peek at the covers of their next releases and a bit about the book.

  • Many don’t have a clue as to how anthologies comes about. Could you share a bit about the process? How you get the assignment. Do you get to choose the authors you work with? Or are you just assigned a theme to work with?

Lori: For “Real Men,” my story is a reissued story written long ago. St. Martin’s owns 2 novellas from me, and they can pretty much do whatever they want with them. My story is “Luring Lucy,” originally published in the “Hot and Bothered” anthology.

In most anthologies, though, even with new stories, the publisher is the one who decides the authors who will be involved. Each individual author is made a contract offer for the story she’ll contribute.

Heidi: There are some multi-author anthologies that have intertwined stories & plots, but in the case of REAL MEN LAST ALL NIGHT, it was simply a matter of the editor calling & inviting us all to participate. We were pretty much given free rein over our stories, too, being told only that they wanted very strong, Alpha heroes & super-sexy love scenes...but plot & setting & everything else was left to the individual author, as far as I know. I don't think authors are given a choice of who they're going to work with very often when it comes to anthologies, but in this instance I can honestly say that I couldn't have gotten any luckier if I *had* been able to hand-pick my antho-mates. :-D

Chey: Thank you for having me, Sia! In our case, we were just given a theme, which needed to be contemporary and erotic. Sometimes authors do work together in an anthology, but must of the time the publisher provides a theme and we each run with it.

Lori: In MOST cases, the authors do not work together on their stories. They’re simply given a theme – such as a holiday or season theme. Then each author writes her story individually and turns it into the publisher.

  • Each of you writes romance. I know a couple of you write in the para subgenre, like Chey and Lori. Is Real Men Last All Night, strictly contemporary romance?

Lori: My story is straight contemporary romance.

Heidi: Short answer? Yes. :-)

Chey: I now write suspense with romantic elements and urban fantasy with romantic elements. My urban fantasy is called the "Night Tracker" novels I do have a romantic suspense series also. In the past I wrote only urban paranormal romance and romantic suspense. My piece in RMLAN is romantic suspense, loosely tied to my suspense series, the "Lexi Steele" novels.

  • Did you know the Title of this anthology would be called Real Men Last All Night? What was the most fun part of writing this anthology?

Lori: Um... yeah. I was told early on what the title would be. Gotta say I’m not crazy about it. LOL. It’s too over the top for my tastes. That said, I’m honored to be in an anthology with the other talented authors. Since my story isn’t new, I can’t really speak on writing for the anthology – but I can say that, through the anthology, I got to know Heidi Betts better and I like her very, very much!

Heidi: Actually, it was originally supposed to be called "I Need a Real Man," but I like REAL MEN LAST ALL NIGHT much, much better, don't you? ;-)

Chey: The title changed a couple of times, but we knew what the theme was! The most fun for me was the two characters. The heroine, Willow, is one of my favorite heroines ever. She was so much fun to write, but truly just wrote herself. I enjoyed the dynamics between the characters, too.

Heidi: The thing that I enjoyed most about writing my novella for this anthology was being able to stretch my writing wings & step out of my comfort zone a bit. I've written passionate, sensual stories for Silhouette Desire & my "Chicks with Sticks" knitting trilogy for St. Martin's Press is very sexy, but also very *funny* it was nice to do something a bit more serious, to do a law enforcement hero with an edge, etc.

  • Each of you writes some pretty hot and sexy stories. How do you define sexy? Is it the way a person moves or acts, his eyes, the way he talks, or perhaps his humor?
Lori: For me, it’s the connection between the hero and heroine. It’s the attention they give to one another, the small things they notice and how they react to each other. The story can be explicit or not, but when that sexual chemistry is there, it’s there!
Heidi: I suspect that the definition of sexy is probably different for everyone. Personally, I find a guy who loves animals & babies pretty irresistible. A man who doesn't mind playing Mr. Fix-it so I don't have to call in reinforcements is nice. A good sense of humor is definitely a plus. And I never complain about strong biceps & rock hard abs. *g*
Chey: Sexy depends on the story and the characters. They have their own personalities and dynamics. I don't force the sex, it needs to come naturally and the way these two characters would come together.

  • I know each of you have a new book due out this month. Could you tell us a little bit about the premise and the characters? And when can I buy it?
Lori: For August, I have two new novellas in “OUT OF THE LIGHT, INTO THE SHADOW.” The idea is that Erin McCarthy and I each have written a straight contemporary romance novella (mine as Lori Foster) that ties in with a darker, edgier paranormal romance novella (mine as L.L.Foster.) Each story is a romance, but with different tones to show how we write in each style.

My two novellas are connected by siblings. The straight contemporary is Mercy Jardine’s story, and the darker paranormal is about her brother, Brax Jardine. Both are, imo, very sexy, but I hope they’re also fun and romantic. You can read excerpts or see video trailers at

Heidi: I am *very* excited about my August release, LOVES ME, LOVES ME KNOT. It's the second book in my "Chicks with Sticks" knitting romance trilogy & revisits the relationship between Gage Marshall & Jenna Langan from TANGLED UP IN LOVE.

Chey: THE SECOND BETRAYAL comes out Tuesday, August 4th.
As an undercover agent for the NSA’s Recovery Enforcement Division, Alexi Steele is no stranger to the ways and means of the country’s most notorious sex criminals. Still, she’s never seen anything quite like this. Girls from across the globe are being recruited for a modeling competition in New York City, only to end up as enslaved prostitutes. Now it’s up to Lexi and her partner—and lover—Nicholas Donovan to infiltrate the operation.

Finding the mastermind behind the sex trafficking is only one half of the challenge. The other is Nick. Even though she has always trusted him, Lexi can’t help but wonder whether he’s keeping something from her—a shocking secret from his past on the Special Forces unit. Meanwhile, time is running out for the victims…and Lexi may be forced to do the unthinkable to see that the job is done.

  • Finally, you’re all accomplished and well-read authors. What advice you would offer an aspiring author today?
Lori: First, write what you enjoy writing. Your enthusiasm will show through and win over readers. Trying to follow a trend that you aren’t into rarely works. Second, remember that this is a mega-harsh biz. No matter how good you might be or how hard you try, the variety of responses will vary, and will not always be favorable. There will be brutal reviews, snarky commentators, and candid readers. Don’t ever let it get to you too much. It’s all part and parcel of the industry and no one is immune to the criticism.

Heidi: This soon after National, I'm not sure I have any lucid advice to offer. I guess I would have to say that aspiring writers should be really sure they actually want a career in writing, because it's not nearly as glamorous on this side of things as it might seem. (It's a job, just like any other, with ups & downs & plenty of hard work. :-P) Aside from that, I recommend that people really study the genre they're interested in & hone their craft as much as possible.

Chey: Learn the craft by reading books on writing and attending workshops either online or in person and join writing groups relating to your genre. Read everything you can in the genre you want to write in. When writing your book, don't go back and self-edit, continue to write until you reach "the end"--you can't fix something that isn't written! There will be things you want to change on the way, but just notate them--I put notes to myself in the doc as I go and then I go back and fix or insert things when I'm done. Do something writing related every single day to get in the habit, no matter how small it is. It will get you into such a good habit of writing that it will become easier and easier. Most importantly, never give up on your dream.
  • Lori, I loved My Man Michael. When is your next single title romance out, and what’s it about?
BACK IN BLACK will hit stands in February 2010. It’s another SBC fighter book, this time about Drew Black. BC president Drew Black is as controversial as they come. But the hot-headed entrepreneur is a perfect match for his popular sports club venture: uncompromising and extreme. Maybe too extreme. With a reputation for saying what he thinks, Drew's been causing a lot of friction. That's why someone's been called in to clean up his image—before he does any permanent damage.

The lucky lady is Gillian Noode, a PR expert who's smoothed out the rough edges on many a man. But Drew is rougher than anyone she's ever met, and he refuses to change for any woman, for any reason. To make matters more complicated, Gillian's starting to like him raw. Now, opposites aren't only attracting, they're igniting. But in the rising heat, which one of them will end up on top?

Drew was a lot of fun to write – I hope readers enjoy his story!
  • Ladies, thank you so much for visiting with us, Over Coffee and answering questions. I appreciate the hard work you do and taking time out of your busy schedules to be here!