Review: Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr

Snappy dialogue and the threat of real danger sucked me in, but then the story fizzled out and left me wanting.

Hidden SummitLeslie Petruso moves to Virgin River after her husband left her for another woman and then insisted that he and Leslie can still be the best of friends. Sick of running into him and his pregnant wife everywhere, she moves south and gets a job in a construction company.

Conner Danson is the sole witness to a murder committed by a man with big-time connections. When his building supply store is burnt to the ground, the Sacramento DA’s office decides it’s time to send him off-grid until he testifies. What better place than Virgin River?

Neither Leslie nor Conner is eager to start a new relationship. But they can’t deny their attraction, and as they spend more time together they realize their relationship is worth making sacrifices for.

For most of the story, I enjoyed the characters’ snappy dialogue and grown-up attitude toward love and sex. They never take a melodramatic “I shall never love again!” approach to life, but they certainly are wary of getting involved.

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Why do all the romance heroes have six packs? – Guest post by Roni Loren

First, I’d like to thank Kat for inviting me over here to her blog. You gotta love someone who says–I’d like you to guest post and can you make it about sex? LOL

Why, yes, yes I can actually. : )

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across this article via Twitter (where all interesting things come from) on Slate called P0rn Women Want: Why Does it Make Men So Uncomfortable?  The post was basically about this guy:

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James Deen. (Pauses to snicker about the ridiculous stage names.) But anyway, apparently this guy is causing a stir because he is appealing to women-which is obviously not the market p0rn targets. Here’s what they say of Deen:

Deen has carved out a niche in the industry by looking like the one guy who doesn’t belong there. Scroll through L.A.’s top p0rn agency sites and you’ll find… just a few dozen men available…. These guys all have a familiar look—neck chains, frosted tips, unreasonable biceps, tribal tattoos. Deen looks like he was plucked from a particularly intellectual frat house.

Which of course made me think–yes, this is why most women roll their eyes at p0rn. Beyond the complete lack of story line and emotional connection, the dudes are ugly and the girls are fake-looking. If the male actors looked like Alexander Skarsgard or Bradley Cooper, I’m thinking we ladies might change our mind and take a peek.

Come on, you know you’d look.
But the reason, the article hypothesizes, that guys who are “prettier” don’t get hired in p0rn is because it makes the guys watching it uncomfortable. Because *gasp* they don’t want to have any sexytime feelings about the guys. The post says:

The straight male performer must be attractive enough to serve as a prop, but not so attractive that he becomes the object of desire.

Hmm. Okay, maybe I could see that if a guy is particularly homophobic or un-evolved. But it seemed a little far-fetched. So, of course, I asked my husband (who is mostly evolved and finds p0rn more comedic than sexy) his opinion. After a derisive snort, he said, “It’s not about guys worrying about gay feelings. The reason is the same reason your romance novels have Mr. Perfect as the hero and Ms. Average Every Day Girl as the heroine.”

And you know what? He had a good point.

In fantasy, whether it be via books or something visual, we naturally put ourselves in the heroine’s (or hero’s if you’re a guy) shoes. If the heroine is written as some gorgeous model type who never gains a pound, never has an insecurity, and who wakes up with perfect hair–none of us are going to be able to relate. So most often, romance writers create heroines we “get”. And though she may actually BE beautiful, she doesn’t know it. We only see her beauty through the hero’s eyes when we’re in his POV. (Because isn’t that really our fantasy? That the guy we love sees us as the most beautiful girl even if we aren’t to the rest of the world.)

But on the flipside, in our fantasy, in addition to having the guy be smart and kind-hearted and loving, we do want him to look like Bradley Cooper or Alexander Skarsgard. Men haven’t cornered the market on being visual, you know. It’s not to say we hold up our mates to those six-pack ab, slay the dragon, alpha standards, but everything is exaggerated in fantasy.

Which is the same reason why the guys look like they do in p0rn and the girls are the exaggerated female “ideal” (giant boobs, skinny, long hair, always ready and willing, etc.) The guys don’t want to think–damn, in order to land that kind of girl I’d have to look like Brad Pitt. They want to think, hey, I’m better looking than that frosted-tipped, tribal tattooed guy. I could totally bed this girl.

*snort*

So even though men and women are built very differently, it seems we have some things in common when it comes to this. We’re all a little insecure and we all can go a little overboard in fantasy land. It does kind of make me want to write a less than perfect-looking hero though, just to make a point.

But in the meantime, you can admire the perfect abs of my hero Reid on the cover of CRASH INTO YOU. 😉  *pets*

Any thoughts on all of this? Anyone think it really is guys being afraid the pretty boys will make them think impure thoughts? And how do you like your heroes in your books? Does your mate ever give you flack for reading romance novels with half-naked men on the front?


Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has.
Her debut romance CRASH INTO YOU releases January 3, 2012 from Berkley Heat/Penguin. If you want to read more posts like this one or follow her journey to debut authorhood, you can visit her writing blog FictionGroupie or her author blog. She also tweets way too much for her own good.

Giveaway!

One lucky commenter will win a copy of Roni’s debut, Crash Into You. I’ll randomly select the winner on Tuesday December 27th. Good luck!

Review: Wild Thing by Robin Kaye

Funny, sexy and emotionally gripping—Wild Thing will make you want to book flights to Idaho in search of Robin Kaye’s hot river guides!

Wild ThingWhen whitewater-rafting guide Hunter Kincaid gets a job guiding a bunch of models on a special shoot, he enlists the help of his two brothers to protect him from the modeling agency’s owner, who was all over him when she visited Idaho to scout for locations a few weeks ago.

Fortunately for Hunter, the agency’s owner has to take care of a last-minute deal that keeps her in New York. She sends her manager, Toni Russo, instead.

Toni is terrified of the great outdoors. A traumatic experience when she was a child left her petrified of the woods, so a week-long trip through the wilds of Idaho may as well be a week-long trip through hell. But Hunter’s immediately drawn to the sexy Goth, and he patiently woos her out of her cabin and into the safety of his arms.

Wild Thing held me captive through most of the story. I’m a sucker for a hero who falls fast and hard, and Hunter is the perfect alpha male for me—strong, capable and gentle. I’m also a sucker for a strong woman with a significant weakness—in Toni’s case, an irrational fear from her childhood—which she struggles to overcome.

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Christmas romance novellas to warm your cockles

Stressed woman at Christmas
© Maridav

For me, December is a time where love mixes with stress in a uniquely potent way, leaving me sobbing “Everyone’s going to hate the gifts I got them—especially you!” on my husband’s shoulder on Christmas Eve.

Thank God he’s got broad shoulders. They’ve absorbed a lot of stress-induced tears over the last nine years.

The very last thing I feel I have time (or money) for during the holiday season is treating myself. That’s why one of my favorite things about the month before Christmas is the opportunity to find short stories and novellas from new-to-me authors. First, they’re reasonably priced. Second, when it comes to Christmas stories, I usually don’t want a full novel. A novel is too much commitment at a time when my to-do list is already laughable and could only realistically be tackled by five military strategists, not one scatterbrained woman.

Here are a couple of novellas I’ve read that are the perfect length for diverting your mind while you stand in an impossibly long line at the post office.

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Interview with Shannon Stacey – and giveaway!

Shannon StaceyThis summer I got the chance to read and review a contemporary romance novel called Yours to Keep by a new-to-me author, Shannon Stacey. I couldn’t put the book down. It had everything I love in contemporary romance: characters I can relate to and a perfect mix of hot passion with tender emotion. And it’s funny as hell.

Shannon Stacey is now one of my auto-buy authors. I love her series featuring the quirky Kowalski family and their adventures of DOOM. And I’m so glad to have Shannon here today giving away a print copy of the book that got the Kowalskis started, Exclusively Yours.

Welcome, Shannon!

Thank you so much for inviting me! And for not only falling in love with the Kowalskis, but sharing the love with your readers!

1. My pleasure! What made you decide to start writing romance, and what were you doing before? How long were you writing before you got published?

Yours To Keep coverI knew from childhood I wanted to write books when I grew up and, once I discovered romances (in my early teens), I knew I wanted to be a romance author.

It’s harder to say how long I was writing before I got published because different phases of my life pushed writing into the background at times. I had a few stories rejected as a teen. A few rejections here and there. But it was in early 2002 that life had settled enough for me to really pursue publication and I was offered my first contract in January of 2005.

2. Your backlist is really eclectic. You’ve got an action/adventure romance series, some western historicals, erotic romances, light paranormal and a futuristic romance. Do you plan to mostly stick with contemporary romance from now on, or would you like to keep exploring different kinds of romance?

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