Giveaway: The most joyful romances you can read during Read a Romance Month

How many of you have heard of Read a Romance Month (RARM)? It’s a wonderful site that hosts three posts a day from authors and bloggers, giving their recommendations of books to read.

I was so delighted to find out that one of my all-time favorite authors, Anne Calhoun, is recommending my books in her post on Monday! This is a huge deal to me, because Anne’s books are my go-to books when I need smart erotic romance with unfathomable depth. Thank you so much, Anne!

Bobbi Dumas, the founder of RARM, asked if I would like to write a post of my own on this year’s theme, The Joy of Romance, and include my own author recommendations. There are also some questions that all the authors are being asked to answer, so you’ll see mine below. Plus, I’m doing a giveaway. More on that later!

The joy of romance

For me, the most joyful moments come during times of pain or struggle. After all, if your life is chugging along just fine and something wonderful happens, it never feels quite as wonderful as it really is. It’s almost expected, like a neat little bonus.

But when you’re really struggling, when simply getting out of bed seems like a triumphant feat, and then something wonderful happens…it can make all the difference in the world.

Throughout my life, romance novels have been a way of battling depression. I first discovered romance novels when I was about 11. I had very few friends (actually, only one, a girl who was probably also suffering from depression, though we never spoke about it), and life seemed dark. I mostly read fiction that featured the occult. Then a box of Harlequin Presents showed up on my doorstep. I have no idea how I ended up on their mailing list, but I read the first book and I was hooked. They introduced me to a glitzy, glamorous life and gave me hope that being a grown-up would be better than being 11. They were right. (No amount of money in the world would convince me to go back and be 11 again. Give me mortgage payments and job stress any day!)

Since then, I’ve battled my way through several periods of darkness and anxiety, and reading romance has never failed to calm my out-of-control brain. I’m not sure how to describe it other than this: Beautifully written romance novels — the kind that make your heart bleed for the characters — take me away from my own life’s stress. They remind me that triumph over adversity is not only possible; it is joyful.

One of my all-time favorite reviews of one of my books says, “I absolutely love the characters that Kat Latham writes… They are broken but not beaten” (Fiction Fangirls on One Night with Her Bachelor). That statement means so much to me because those are exactly the kinds of characters I love reading about. My author recommendations below are people who write the kinds of books I love, with characters who are broken but not beaten. I hope you read and enjoy them!

My recommendations

Uncommon PassionAnne Calhoun is absolutely amazing and always at the top of my recommended authors to read. They’re sexy, smart and emotional. I can’t get enough of them.

Molly O’Keefe writes books that make me so jealous. Every time I finish reading one, I think, “I wish I could write like that!”

Alison Packard‘s Feeling the Heat is one of my all-time favorite sports romance series. If you haven’t read her books, you absolutely must!

I would read absolutely anything Sarah Mayberry writes, even a grocery list. Her characters are so real and their struggles are wonderfully rooted in real-life problems. I absolutely adore her books!

If you love historical romance, Rose Lerner‘s books are amazing. Her stories are always unique, with storylines unlike anything I’ve read elsewhere. Her research is impeccable, making her books richly detailed.

Cecilia Grant is another historical romance author whose books shine a light on the intensely emotional possibilities of life’s small decisions. Though her characters’ world is far removed from my own, Cecilia Grant always draws out their humanness in ways I can not only relate to but feel deep empathy for.

Laura Kinsale‘s books feature such wonderful adventures that I can read them over and over again. They are brilliantly unusual, full of sensuality and creativity. Rereading her books has helped me stay calm through several bouts of anxiety.

There are so many more authors I love, but I’ll leave it there for now. That should fill up your ereaders!

Questions

1 – Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy.

My babyThe moment I finally realized I was pregnant with my first child. We’d tried for two and a half years to get pregnant, and we were in the process of starting infertility investigations. The doctor had explained that it could be up to a year before we even started treating any problems they might find, and I was heartbroken. I sat in her office sobbing, thinking that medical intervention was our only option. It turned out that I was actually a few days pregnant but didn’t know it. A couple of weeks later, I missed my period but I didn’t believe the positive pregnancy tests. My brain was so conditioned to cope with not being pregnant that it didn’t seem to understand what the little blue line meant (plus, the test’s instructions were in Dutch and there weren’t any helpful illustrations). My husband had to convince me I was actually pregnant. It took three days. We were lying in the park on a hot August day, and my body started feeling strange. A little nauseated. A lot excited. And I turned to my husband and said, “I think I’m pregnant.” He smiled and said, “Yeah, I think you are too.”

2 – Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.

La Jolla, California. During summer vacations, my mom used to take me and my brother to the La Jolla Cove, a beautiful nature preserve with loads of sea lions and caves. My husband and I got married in La Jolla. It’s gorgeous and relaxing and full of good restaurants.

La Jolla

La Jolla Cove

3 – Tell us about a sound that brings you joy (or a memory attached to sound — music, laughter, wind chimes… ?)

My daughter’s laugh.

4 – What recent book have you read that brought you joy. (Or a book you read in your life that brought you so much joy you’ve never forgotten it.) Why?

Anna Richland’s His Road Home. I read it last weekend, and I already know I’ll never forget it.

5 – And for fun, the joy of choice ;o) ~ Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer (circ. 1964 aka Capt. Von Trapp?)

Okay, this is a little embarrassing, but I’ve only heard of Christopher Plummer and Chris Rock. I’m really out of touch with American pop culture! Plus, I always find celebrities disappointing, so I’m going to choose none of the above. Instead I’ll go with my best friend from high school, Christine, who is still a wonderful friend more than two decades after we met.

Giveaway!

I’m giving two winners their choice of an ebook from one of the authors I mention above. Use the Rafflecopter widget to enter. Leave a comment on this blog post, either answering one of the questions above or:
1) What kind of romance novels bring you joy?
2) What romance authors would you recommend reading during Read a Romance Month?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contemporaries to covet in February – giveaway!

Hello, friends! I hope your 2014 is going well so far. How are your New Year’s Resolutions? Mine are going great, mostly because I didn’t make any. 🙂

My long-time blog followers will know that I used to publish a post called “Contemporaries to covet” on the first Monday of every month. After I had my daughter, it kinda fell by the wayside. But I’m bringing it back!

So here’s the deal. In this post, I tell you about a few of the contemporary romance novels coming out this month that I’m most looking forward to. You tell me yours in the comments below, and I’ll randomly choose one commenter to win a $10 gift certificate for herself AND for the author she mentions in the comment. See below for details, but first, here’s what I’m coveting this month.

Jaded by Anne Calhoun

Jaded by Anne CalhounThey can’t hide from desire…

After life as a cop in Denver leaves him burned-out, Lucas Ridgeway returns to Walkers Ford, South Dakota, to serve as their chief of police. He’s hoping to start over with a clean slate and avoid any emotional entanglements—even after his next-door neighbor kisses him senseless. Alana is passionate, dedicated, and most importantly leaving town soon. So why not have some fun?

Alana Wentworth comes from a larger-than-life political family, yet all she wanted was to be a librarian. Then after an embarrassing marriage proposal from Mr. Not-For-Her, she jumps at the chance to live her dream for a few months. She wasn’t supposed to get involved with the community—or sexy, troubled Lucas. But when the time comes for Alana to put Walkers Ford behind her, she’s not ready. And Lucas may not be ready for her to go…

Publication date:  February 4, 2014

Buy it at Amazon.com | B&N

Why I want it

I loooove Anne Calhoun’s books. They are unspeakably sexy because she plumbs the depths of her characters’ emotions like almost no other author I know. If I’m reading an Anne Calhoun novel, my house could catch fire and I wouldn’t notice. I. Love. Her.
Continue reading “Contemporaries to covet in February – giveaway!”

Winner of the Anne Calhoun giveaway!

Thank you so much to everyone who commented on my interview with Anne Calhoun, and to Anne for her time and fantastic answers!

The lucky winner of Uncommon Pleasure is…Kathleen Kellenbenz!

Congrats, Kathleen! Email me at romancingkatrina[at]gmail[dot]com and let me know your mailing address.

Didn’t win? Here’s where you can buy it.

Uncommon Pleasure by Anne Calhoun

From a “fresh and imaginative” (The Romance Studio) voice in erotic romance come the tales of two women, each daring to challenge the toughest of men…but in these edgy, heated encounters, the greatest thing she’ll risk is her heart.

Uncommon PleasureIn Over the Edge, after a tragic incident during Ty Hendricks’ last tour of duty he cut off all connection with anyone he cares about—until a night with Lauren Kincaid draws him reluctantly back into the world. Lauren sees a wounded man in danger of losing everything to his inner demons, but the sensual, no-holds-barred fight for Ty’s soul could cost Lauren her heart.

In All on the Line, Abby Simmons fell hard for Lieutenant Sean Winthrop, but he sacrificed their relationship when he deployed to Afghanistan. Now he’s home, full of regrets and intent on winning back the woman he never forgot. Abby gives Sean her body but holds her heart aloof, until one night of pleasure forces her to choose her U.S. Marine…or life without him, forever.

Release date: March 5, 2013
Read an excerpt

Buy it at: Amazon | B&N

This week you can win a $10 gift certificate for yourself and a contemporary romance author who has a book coming out in April. Find out about other readers’ most anticipated April contemporary romances!

Interview with Anne Calhoun – & giveaway!

Anne CalhounErotic romance author Anne Calhoun has made me cry. And I’m not alone. Her novella Breath on Embers was released as part of a Christmas anthology from Carina Press last year, and I bought the story because of all the buzz it got on Twitter. Everyone said it made them cry, but I never thought I would. I was wrong. So wrong.

Anne’s here giving away her latest erotic romance, Uncommon Pleasure, to one person who leaves a comment. But first, welcome Anne!

1. For readers who are unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe your stories? Do you often reduce readers to tears before you give them that extra-poignant HEA?

I’d describe my books as character-driven romances first, erotic stories second. As for reducing readers to tears…I think that was just BREATH ON EMBERS, and maybe my upcoming book UNFORGIVEN. I don’t aim for super-poignant moments all the time. Although…darn it, readers did seem to cry when Hunter told Lacey about his mom. Hmmmm…I’m contradicting myself. I don’t plan to do it! Honest!

Breath On Embers2. You used to work for a Fortune 500 company and then you moved to the Midwest and started writing romance. What first drew you to writing, and why romance in particular?

I’m not one of those super creative people who’ve been writing since she was a kid. I read romances when I was in high school and college, but I stopped because they weren’t hot enough for my adult self. (Anyone remember back in the 90s when Susan Johnson’s historicals were shockingly racy?) But my husband, who is far more intuitive than I am, used to ask me why I wasn’t writing, and writing romances. That’s the story I always want to tell, the path to love. When I watched the Battlestar Galatica reboot, I sent my sister (who was a season ahead of me) a text telling her I was going to be super-pissed if Apollo and Starbuck didn’t end up together. She asked me if I remembered the torture scenes, the wrenching battles, the betrayals, a major character’s shocking death. “This is not a happy ending series, Anne,” she said.

I think a longing HEAs in stories is hardwired into me. As for writing…I didn’t do it for a long time, and wasn’t a particularly healthy person as a result. I’m better now. 🙂

3. If you could step into the shoes of one of your heroines for a day (or a night), which one would it be?
Continue reading “Interview with Anne Calhoun – & giveaway!”

Contemporaries to covet in March – & giveaway!

Delft
Delft

How can it already be March? On Saturday, the sky over the Netherlands was covered by one thick gray cloud and it was just above freezing. Here’s a picture to prove it. Smarty Pants and I were in Delft this weekend, home of the painter Vermeer (The Girl With The Pearl Earring) and of the church where Dutch royals are buried. Here’s the tomb of William of Orange, who was assassinated in Delft in 1584 and was the founder of the current line of Dutch monarchs.

William of Orange's tomb
William of Orange’s tomb

Yesterday, there were a few patchy rain clouds but the temperature had risen a few degrees. I haven’t been outside yet today, but the sun is shining so hard it hurts my eyes – not that I’m complaining! Roll on, Spring!

Anyway, we’re not here to talk about history or the weather. Just like the first Monday of every month, I’m here to celebrate new contemporary romance releases. I’ll tell you below which March contemporary romances I’m most looking forward to. If you leave a comment and tell us which March contemporaries you’re coveting, you could win a $10 gift certificate for yourself AND the author you mention.

Giveaway details are below, but here are the books I’m looking forward to this month.

Thrown by a Curve by Jaci Burton
She thinks she knows this player—but he has a few surprise moves.

Thrown by a CurveFor Alicia Riley, her job as a sports therapist for the St. Louis Rivers baseball team is a home run—until she becomes the primary therapist for star pitcher, Garrett Scott. Out of the lineup with an injury, he’s short-tempered, hard to handle, and every solid inch, a man.

Right now, the only demand he’s making on Alicia is that she get him ready to pitch in time for opening day. Except the sexual chemistry between them is so charged, Alicia’s tempted to oblige Garrett just about anything. But both their careers are at stake—one bad move and it’s game over for both of them.

Garrett also feels the hot sparks between them, and the way he figures it, what better therapy is there than sex? Now all he has to do is convince the woman with the power to make the call.

My two cents
I’ve only read one Jaci Burton story – her novella The Best Thing in Carina Press’s 2012 Christmas anthology – but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus, as you know I’m a huge fan of sports romances, so this book is at the top of my I-Want list.

Release date: March 5, 2013
Read an excerpt

Buy it in print at: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Buy a digital copy at: Amazon | B&N | Kobo Books | iBookstore

Uncommon Pleasure by Anne Calhoun

From a “fresh and imaginative” (The Romance Studio) voice in erotic romance come the tales of two women, each daring to challenge the toughest of men…but in these edgy, heated encounters, the greatest thing she’ll risk is her heart.

Uncommon PleasureIn Over the Edge, after a tragic incident during Ty Hendricks’ last tour of duty he cut off all connection with anyone he cares about—until a night with Lauren Kincaid draws him reluctantly back into the world. Lauren sees a wounded man in danger of losing everything to his inner demons, but the sensual, no-holds-barred fight for Ty’s soul could cost Lauren her heart.

In All on the Line, Abby Simmons fell hard for Lieutenant Sean Winthrop, but he sacrificed their relationship when he deployed to Afghanistan. Now he’s home, full of regrets and intent on winning back the woman he never forgot. Abby gives Sean her body but holds her heart aloof, until one night of pleasure forces her to choose her U.S. Marine…or life without him, forever.

My two cents
Again, I’ve only read one Anne Calhoun story – and again it was a Christmas novella (Breath on Embers) from Carina Press. It made me cry, even though I’d been warned that it would and so I’d steeled myself against it. Anne Calhoun’s characters snuck past my defenses. I’m looking forward to that happening again.

I also look forward to having Anne as a guest on this blog. She’ll be doing an interview and giving away a copy of Uncommon Pleasure on March 25th.

Release date: March 5, 2013
Read an excerpt

Buy it at: Amazon | B&N

Continue reading “Contemporaries to covet in March – & giveaway!”