Sensuality is the topic where I get the most wildly divergent reader feedback. Last month I got an email from a reader that said:
I admired your avoidance of anachronisms and your dignified handling and acknowledgment of physical, carnal desires and drives. Truthful yet clean. Very good writing.
On the other hand, a reviewer on amazon said of the same book:
Sadly lacking in sexual tension & heat. The H & H never evn have sex. We're not even treated to a wedding night scene. No sure I would buy another of this author's books. I was waiting & waiting & then NOTHING!
But another reviewer's opinion (still the same book) was:
What's a girl to do?
Yes, there are content rating sites and many readers are advocates for those. Occasionally I will promote my books on content rated sites. However, as a reader, I've discovered that the books I find this way aren't the ones I end up loving. Sometimes I'm left feeling bitter and cheated, because I disagreed with the posted content rating. Other times the story felt insipid, as if the characters, constrained by the rating scale, were unable to be themselves. And, in all honesty, I don't love to read about perfect people. Mr. Darcy excepted. Except even he is allowed his one flaw.
When I think about it, if I didn't let my characters do things I wouldn't (like commit adultery, kidnap children or lie) my books wouldn't be that interesting. And if I start down the path of 'how much is too much? I don't want to offend!' I end up fraught and exhausted by hairsplitting. For instance:
Should damn, bastard and Good Lord! be considered profanity? If I write Good Lord! That damn bastard! those four words have earned a moderate rating on some sites, and frankly, I don't tally those up as I write. I've always felt they are period expressions, like "Gadzooks!" but less affected.
As a reader, I've enjoyed (so called) sweet and smutty romances, and I like both when the story is good, the characters compelling, and the dialogue fun. Honestly, the latter qualities are more important to me, but I love when a writer can melt me into a puddle without play-by-play action.
Like Winston Graham does with Ross Poldark and Demelza and those infernal dress hooks running up her back.
'I lied,' she whispered, crying again. 'I liked about the hooks'...
Generally, my books reflect my own preference for 'fade to black' lovemaking. I'm okay with that, largely because my daughter and her friends read my books. Maybe that's not a very artistic reason, but it's what I'm comfortable with.
So, readers. If I've written stuff you aren't comfortable with, or that's disappointing, I'm sorry. If content ratings are important to you, please use sites like My Book Cave or Fussy Librarian (but don't blame me if you get stung!). And I'll just keep writing love stories. Really, is there any other kind?
yAn overwhelming majority or readers chose the title The Fine Art of Kissing in the Park! Thank you all for your responses. Titles are important, but of course the crucial thing is a great story and I think you'll love this one. I had a message this week from a beta reader who is reading it over again just for fun (too late for changes now!). She said she fell into the story effortlessly, enjoyed it even more the second time, and was laughing out loud at the exchanges between the characters.
The anthology is available for pre-order now, and releases May 9th. I'm excited to tell you more about it, and the other contributing authors.
Julie Daines writes young adult and historical fiction. She's lived in London, actually been to Bath, and pulled a snake tooth out of her finger on her honeymoon. Details about the snake tooth incident and her books are on her website, and her contribution to this anthology is called Trial of the Heart.
Trial of the Heart
Marianne Wood has been summoned to Bath to testify against the man who killed her family. She dreads coming face to face with the monster of her nightmares, but finds surprising comfort under the care of a charming barrister, Harby Northam. Despite his kindly attentions, Mr. Northam is a shrewd and discerning man of law with an awful secret. Marianne is put to the test as she deals with the evil of her past and her growing affection for the mysterious Mr. Northam.
Caroline Warfield has been many things: an army brat, nun, Internet and Web services manager, writer, and always a romantic. Her books might be set in England or far-flung corners of the British Empire, but always venture into the riskiest territory of all--the heart. A complete list of books is on her website, and her story is called Lord Edmund's Dilemma.
Lord Edmund's Dilemma
Lucy Ashcroft doesn’t share her stepmother’s belief that she might find a husband during her sojourn in Bath, but she does enjoy a respite from a household full of half-siblings and a younger sister preparing for her London Season, something Lucy can’t even dream about.
As the younger son of a wealthy marquess, Lord Edmund Parker has been taught to do his duty. His parents intend him for the clergy, but his wish is to be a physician. When Lucy and Edmund meet while helping the ladies in their lives take the waters, their mutual interests lead quickly to love. With Lucy at his side, Edmund knows what he must do, but how can he set up a practice and care for a family if he must forfeit his family’s support? How can he pay his addresses to Lucy if he has no income or prospects?
Last, there is of course my story, which so many of you have kindly helped name. Laura's brother, Jack, from Courting Scandal reappears here. I hope you'll enjoy returning to England with the Fairchild family.
The Fine Art of Kissing in the Park
Caroline Trenholme is not pleased with Bath, the fussy, antiquated resort of the shabby-genteel. She ought to be in London, finding a man—not here, coddling her irrational grandmother.
In the park, she crosses paths (literally—this is Bath, after all) with a nameless, mannerless rogue, intent on stealing a kiss. As if his proposition weren’t insult enough, even her dog seems to like the man better. It's impossible!
Especially once she suspects she might like him too...
This anthology will be available in print and ebook on May 9th, and also on audiobook! (though I don't have a release date for that yet. Stay tuned!)
I'm counting down to the release of Jack's story in the novella anthology A Holiday In Bath. Last week I reviewed copy edits and the manuscript is now with the proofreaders, but I don't have a title yet! I whittled down choices (with the help of my sister) but now I'm stuck. Which do you like better: Fit for a Lady or The Fine Art of Kissing in the Park?
My children aren't done their cards yet, I haven't made heart-shaped cookies, but I do have a gift wrapped and ready for my sweetheart and also one for you. From today until February 16, the Fairchild Series box set is on sale for $2.99 and the first book in the series is available separately for free!
I hope you have a wonderful week with lots of love from your darlings. Happy reading!
When I get done editing my new novella (hopefully Tuesday) I'm hoping to do some reading too. Anything you recommend?
Yesterday afternoon I got hijacked...by an email from Audible saying my audiobooks are ready! I love listening to them. My poor dog doesn't understand why I'm insisting on so many walks today! Lucy Paterson's narration is wonderful, but I'd love you to judge for yourself. Listen to a sample of Courting Scandal and tell me what you think!
Since the launch of my latest book (and well before, if truth be told) I've been working on the next Fairchild story. This novella will be published in a compilation with two other authors, Julie Daines and Caroline Warfield. I'm thrilled to be linked with such talented writers. I've read one of each of their books, thoroughly enjoyed them, and think (hope, in my case!) that we are well-matched.
My novella stars Jack, Laura's surgeon brother. So far, the book opens like this: Caroline was not pleased with Bath, that pre-eminent watering hole of the stuffy and antiquated. She ought to be in London. Uncle Warren and her brother had promised. She ought to be married by now and only concern for her marketable assets kept her from grinding her teeth.
It will change by the time it is published, of course, but I love the excitement of writing a book opening.
If I didn't have to parent, feed myself and be a responsible adult, I'd be quite happy to do nothing but read. It's my favorite leisure activity, if by leisure activity you mean something necessary. Essential.
Of course there are times one can't. As a teen, I used to read at red lights. Now I know better. Driving is so you can listen to audio books! (The stops were never long enough anyway).voice123.com/lucypaterson
When I can't look in a book, listening is the next best thing and sometimes even better. Narration adds so much. Since Audible acquired rights to the Fairchild series this fall, I've spent a good deal of time wondering what they will sound like, because in my head, I know all my characters' tones and inflections. Alistair has the most beautiful voice (he's a baritone), except perhaps for Georgiana, Lady Fairchild, who has exquisite diction.
Of course readers don't hear them speak the same way--that's what makes writing so exciting. You're crafting word-fuel for a creative reaction in someone else's head. A good read is a partnership.
And audiobooks even more so, because then you have the talent of three. That's why I was beyond thrilled when I heard from Lucy Paterson, who will be narrating the Fairchild books. I listened to her demo track. She's utterly perfect. Her voice is better--much better--than the one I hear when I read them. I can hardly wait to listen to them performed. I think you will be as thrilled with this creative partnership as I.
Lisa writes fabulous and fun contemporary romance that won't make you blush.
After three years, Maren Summers is elated to finally have her dream wedding to her dream man, Kevin Bryant. In her sights is the promotion to weddings she’s worked so hard for at the newspaper. Happily ever after is within her grasp…
Until Kevin jilts her at the altar, elopes with another woman, and becomes her boss. Devastated by the twisted turn of events Maren moves in with her best friend and notices the not-so-homeless guy on the corner, Zane Whitfield. As his heart-wrenching tale unfolds—his vow to wait a year on the corner for his lost love—Maren sees his compassionate human-interest story as her ticket away from Kevin, weddings, and her heartache.
But as the New Year approaches, is Maren headed for heartache again when Zane's lost love returns or has time changed more than one heart?
About the Author
Lisa Swinton caught the romance buy early by way of fairy tales and hasn’t been able to cure it yet. She feeds her addiction with romance novels, films, and chocolate. A doctor’s wife and busy mom of two, she enjoys putting her musical theater degree to use at church and in community theater.
She enjoys researching her family tree, painting her house, and baking. She loves to travel and all things Jane Austen. In her next life she’d like to be a professional organizer.
You can visit her at:
From the Power of the Matchmaker series:
Lani has lived in Hana, Hawaii for five years. She's learned to surf, fish, dive, and manage her grandmother's bed and breakfast. She's also learned to take one day at a time the way it should be taken--relaxed and unrushed, savoring every moment.
But, like a large wave on the brink of breaking, her life is about to crash out of control. A proposal of marriage, a conniving grandmother, a cryptic Asian woman, and a handsome guest, and suddenly everything calm begins to churn, everything clear becomes confused, and all that was normal segues into peculiar.
As Lani struggles against the current to hold her ground, she realizes that she can either continue to fight and eventually lose, or take a take a leap of faith, hold her breath, and ride the wave wherever it takes her.
What people are saying:
Loved it! A great escape and like always a lovely story that drew me in and wouldn't let go until the very end. Highly recommend! --Kathy, Goodreads.com
A very quick and beautiful read that made me want to move here and live among the locals. --Maureen, Goodreads.com
NOW AVAILABLE AT
As one of the twelve authors in this series I was lucky enough to get a review copy of Karey's book that I read on a recent vacation. What a fun read! A gentle story, deftly told with a beautiful happily ever after. I fell in love the the hero. Fans of clean romance with Christian themes will love this one. Enjoy!
It's here! The first full-length novel in the Power of the Matchmaker series is available.
Celia is in desperate need of a change--a change of scenery, a change of pace, and a complete redo of all relationships. Not knowing what else to do, she opens a map, closes her eyes, and lets fate decide her future. Then she packs her meager belongings and buys a one-way ticket to a little town on the fringes of Oregon's Deschutes National Forest called Sisters. She's wanted a family for years. Will she find one in Sisters?
What Celia doesn't plan to find is a strange Chinese woman whose meddling ways keep throwing her in the path of a handsome, but reserved, forest ranger. But no matter how kind or dependable Silas seems to be, there are some things in Celia's past that neither of them can escape, and this time, the damage might be too much to mend.
What people are saying:
"Once I picked up Broken Thing To Mend, I was gone. From the first to the last page this one was a page-turner for me." - Maureen
"I think this is White's best work yet. I couldn't put it down. Loved it!" - Anne
Get your copy here.