Holiday Romance…it isn’t just for Christmas anymore

It’s that time of year again, when the days get short and the weather turns colder. I don’t like winters in general. I’d much rather be soaking up the sun on some beach somewhere. There is, however, one thing I do like about wintertime. To me, it means more time to read. There’s nothing better on a frigid winter day than curling up in my armchair with a cup of hot tea, some tea biscuits, and a good book. Although I have a huge pile of books next to my bed, waiting to be read, and another virtual pile on my tablet, I reach for holiday romances first at this time of year. To me, it feels strange to read a Christmas romance in July.

I love Christmas romances, and it appears I’m not alone. A quick check of Goodreads returned a list of nearly eleven hundred popular Christmas romances. When I searched Barnes and Noble, and the number was over six thousand romances available for purchase, while Amazon returned a whopping forty-thousand titles. Which is great for those of us who celebrate Christmas, and love a good Christmas love story.

Curious, I did another search for “Hanukkah Romance”. I’m happy to say, there were quite a few, although these were mostly in e-book format. However, there were nowhere near as many as there were for Christmas…only eighteen hundred titles. This is still enough to provide the average reader with Hanukkah romances to last a lifetime, though, so who am I to complain?

A search on Kwanzaa romances yielded more distressing results. Exactly two books came up in this search. I can’t help but wonder why. I have to believe that African-Americans read romance as much as any other ethnic group. I suppose the discrepancy could be chalked up to the fact that Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday, only officially celebrated since 1966. Yet if we were using that reasoning, there should be more Hanukkah romances than Christmas ones, since Judaism has been around longer. If you say that Kwanzaa is actually a cultural holiday, rather than a religious one, I’m not sure that matters. Religion is a part of culture, isn’t it? Kwanzaa, at least in the northeast, is part of the conversation now.

Is it that the majority of editors and publishers are white Christians? Well, I don’t know the answer to that for sure, but I do know one thing. Romance publishers aren’t vampires, shape-shifters, Highland warriors or sheikhs, but they’re publishing tons of books about them. So why aren’t there more Hanukkah and Kwanzaa romances out there? I say, if you’re looking for a new angle, these would be good stories to write and pitch.  There, you have your new idea, and I promise I won’t take any credit for it.

I’m getting ready to re-read a favorite Christmas romance, What Happens at Christmas by Victoria Alexander. It’s a Victorian historical, and I particularly like it because it plays to the thespian in me. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

What Happens at Christmas

Do you have a favorite holiday romance? Why do you think there are so many Christmas romances, and so few Kwanzaa ones? I’d love to hear your theories on that, so please, sound off!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Joyous Kwanzaa!

Hugs,

Jaye

Heroes of Romance

He’s the male protagonist, or sometimes the antagonist. The heroine’s romantic interest. The hero in a romance story. And like an ice cream cone, he comes in all kinds of scrumptious flavors for us to lick…uh, em…well, enjoy.

Yet like cream is to ice cream, certain core archetypes can be found in our romance heroes.

I’m beginning a new series and have been thinking long and hard about the types of heroes I enjoy reading and writing about. My MMA series, Worth the Fight, features tough, hardcore, Alpha men. Big brutes. Fighters. But what I love about creating a series is that you can decide which archetype fits your voice, your characters, your stories. And then, you can flavor them any which way you want. BTW—I like my ice cream drizzled in sweet, mouthwatering hotness. Hot caramel. Hot fudge. You name it. But be forewarned, my new series might not feature the Alphas you are expecting…they might not be an Alphas at all. 😉

Gosh, I’m such a tease!

Here is my compilation of the core heroic archetypes in romance, as well as books that I think best exemplify each type. Please comment on your favorite(s) and books you’ve enjoyed. Based on the descriptions below, I bet you can figure out my favorites. Or maybe even the direction my new series is headed in.

Enjoy!

Michele

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This is the oneThe Alpha Male
He’s tough. Overbearing. Headstrong. Dangerous. And we love him in spite of it all. The Alpha hero is arguably the most popular hero archetype. He’s a powerhouse at the top of his game and nothing can stand in his way. Confrontation is his bed-partner. A heroine’s naughty fantasy, even the feistiest are susceptible to his rugged charm. He comes in a variety of shapes and forms: Company CEO’s, MMA fighters, cops and military figures.

My recent favorites: SWAT officer Ben Harris in Uncommon Passion by Anne Calhoun; Horse in Reaper’s Property by Joanna Wylde; Alex Fuentes in Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

The Beta Guy
He’s hot, sexy and nice. The kind of guy you’d marry. He tends to be successful in business, highly intelligent and down-to-earth. He won’t dodge confrontation but usually finds a better way to resolve it other than a slug fest.

My all-time favorite: Ian Mackenzie in The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

The Wounded Soul th2GG2TFN9
Mr. Tall, Dark, and Brooding. He doesn’t have much to say, but his manner positively screams “tormented”. His past is troubled and has shaped who he is today. Only the love of a good woman can heal him and make him whole again.

My favorite: Navy SEAL lieutenant Tom Paoletti in The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

The Jokester
Sharp. Quick witted. Out for a bit of fun. He often snubs social norms and rules, or pokes fun at them. He’s a hard catch, never letting himself get too close for comfort. Most times, his behavior is a smokescreen for a deeper, hidden pain within.

My favorite: Rupert Carsington in Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase.

The Man-Whore
Sex on legs. He’s hot-as-sin and knows it. So do his many women, though none of them are in his life for long. It doesn’t matter—he leaves them smiling. He’s dangerous like that, might even be addicting. Though his heart remains aloof, even when his body is balls deep. He’s searching for the right woman to make him complete, both in bed and within his own damaged psyche.

My favorite: No one does man-whore like Anne Stuart! Try Francis Rohan, le Comte de Giverney in Ruthless.

The Protector
He’s on a higher mission in life, a higher calling where he must protect what is his, through fighting or corporate takeovers or downright domineering actions. He tends to have a police or military background, and is trained in weaponry. More often than naught, he saves the heroine in some way.

My favorite: John Medina in All the Queen’s Men by Linda Howard

thGW0DPBNKThe Anti-hero
A shadowing figure, mysterious and subtle. Domineering, overbearing, and dangerous like the Alpha hero except he isn’t obvious about it or as proud of it. He will dominate any confrontation. He inhabits the fringes of society and lives by his own set of outlaw rules. He’s the perfect synthesis of an Alpha Hero, a Wounded Soul, and The Man-Whore.

My favorites: Aleksei “The Siberian” Sevasyan in The Professional by Kresley Cole. Hands-down the hottest anti-hero figure I’ve read in years. Seriously.

Alpha or Beta…How Do You Like Your Hero?

Years ago, when I first started reading romance, every hero was an alpha male, and nearly every heroine was a helpless ingénue. He was usually in his thirties. She was between the ages of 18 and 22. He was rich, successful, and being with him would solve all of her financial worries. She was an innocent, often orphaned or raised by a grandparent, and, if not poor, she worked for a living as a nurse, secretary or teacher. Her one dream in life was to marry a rich man and never have to worry about money again.

File:Young Romance No 54 1954a.JPG

You’d think that was in the 1950’s, but it was actually in the 1970’s. The era of The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family, when everything seemed just a little simplistic.
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Making the Laughs LAST

Photo credit: jugbo / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: jugbo / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

My father passed away 8 years ago today, one day before his birthday.  Not so funny.  So why is this post about infusing humor into writing?  A few years later, I started writing the first book in my soon to be released BROTHERS OF AUDUBON SPRINGS series, RETURN TO AUDBUON SPRINGS.  This book was meant to be a sweeping epic family drama exploring grief, forgiveness and rebirth for a family at odds over one summer at their Jersey Shore home.  Before I knew it, the house had been bequeathed to the heroine and her hot carpentry-former lover, a ridiculously steamy battle for ownership between the two followed, enter a secret baby and…holy cow….I’m writing a romantic comedy.  I fought it for months.  NO! I’m writing an epic family drama, but instead, laughter, love and tears flowed onto the page.  Finally I took a step back and realized it all made sense.  Laughter lingers in our hearts and humor will always resonate across time and distance.  My father had a warped sense of humor, more signature catch phrases than you could imagine, along with a penchant for quoting Shakespeare.  Now, eight years later, I find myself using those same catch phrases (“You can’t ever be sure of what you’re going to get” – this was a favorite he used on my husband when it came to me!) and quoting those same lines from Shakespeare.  I do NOT, however, ask my daughter to pull my finger! 
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The Role of Fathers in Romantic Fiction

In honor of Father’s Day, I decided to take a look at the different types of fathers and how they are utilized (or not) in fiction with a few glimpses into how I have used the role in my own work. 

There are many famous fathers either applauded or ridiculed in literature.  Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird is often hailed as the best father in fiction for his moral strength, compassion, and his love for his children. On the opposite spectrum, Shakespeare’s King Lear in King Lear wins no props for father of the year for playing favorites with his daughters, not to mention promoting the practice of false vanity. 

In the world of Romance, the role of father is usually found somewhere between the two.  A father in romance can take on a variety of roles. 

Photo credit: 'J' / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

King Lear wins the award for Daddy Dearest
Photo credit: ‘J’ / Foter.com / CC BY-NC


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Romantic Moment

You might imagine writing a post about your favorite romantic moment to be an easy task for a romance writer.

Not so. Why?

It is a daunting task selecting just one. Every story has some element of romance. The beautiful, magical connection between characters is what is so compelling to readers/viewers. It is why we care what happens to our hero and heroine. The emotional struggle within a character as he or she grapples with their desires; the moment an author’s words resonate so deeply inside you it makes you laugh, or cry; the sigh of relief when our hearts—and those of the characters we care so deeply about—are spared. That is what I love in storytelling. That is what I find romantic, too.

The Oscar nominated movie, Silver Linings Playbook, based on the book by a High School English teacher, Matthew Quick, touched me in such a way.
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Favorite Romantic Moment

valentines day couple

For many of us, we eat, drink, and sleep romance. We’re writers. It’s what we do. Especially if you’re a member of NJ Romance Writers and are participating in our 30,000-word February writing challenge, JeRoWriMo (Jersey Romance Writing Month)! Even while I’m working my day job, driving, or even—forgive me—hanging out with my family, a part of me often is thinking about my characters. It’s not enough to write that happily-ever-after for our hero and heroine. We have to write it in a way that evokes the emotion of the reader; to make our characters so real that our readers fall in love with them as much as we do.
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Seriously Obsessed with Series

I wanted to start with a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Femmes Joanna and Michele for their recent contest finals in NJRW’s PYHIAB contest and The Catherines. Check out our ‘Recent News’ page for details. Best wishes, ladies, in the final round. We’re rooting for both of you to win!!

Has a series ever entranced you so much you’ve become obsessed with the characters, the town? In some cases, you get so attached to the story the characters feel like real people—or people you’d like to know. My kids suck me into this scenario all the time. They’ll go on and on about a bunch of people and all of a sudden I’ll ask “are these people you know or from a TV show?” and I’ll get “they’re from XYZ show”. It drives me crazy. But, imagine living in Jill Shalvis’s town of Lucky Harbor with its abundance of hunky men. For me, from a fictional world perspective, it doesn’t get much better than that. Sun, beach, small town, eye candy, all wrapped up with great characters. I don’t recall a lighthouse, but if there was one, I’d buy me a one-way plane ticket.

One of the more recent series I’ve fell in love with (pun intended) is Marie Force’s McCarthys of Gansett Island. The first book, Maid for Love, is a great buy on bn.com. I’m only two books through the series and am itching to read the rest. If you’re getting a sense that I have a thing about beach settings, you’re spot on.

When I started writing, I hadn’t thought my beyond my first story. But as that story evolved, I found myself thinking of the supporting characters and ways to insert teasers of subplots that would eventually amount to their own story. I figure as much fun as it is to read many stories about a town and its various characters, it’d be just as much fun to write about them. As a reader, when the questions raised in those tiny subplots aren’t answered, I want—no need— to know what happens. That’s the kind of interest, as a writer, you want to spark in your readers. A passion to want to know more…to need to read your next story. It’s what builds your readership.

Here are some other series/sequels I’m obsessed about:

  • Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books – Joe Morelli—need I say any more? This series was about twelve books in when I discovered them. I spent months going to the library and reading them in order. It was a sad day when I caught up and had to wait for the next one to be released.
  • Jill Shalvis’s Animal Magnetism
  • Susan Elizabeth Phillips – I recently finished The Great Escape and although it’s not part of a typical series, it has characters from several of her other books. I loved the way she tied up the loose ends from Call Me Irresistible.
  • Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Chicago Stars
  • Susan Mallery’s Fools Gold
  • Rachel Gibson’s Chinooks Hockey Team – I’m not a huge sports fan. But I AM after reading these books.
  • Rachel Gibson’s Writer Friends – I recently picked up a book on the unread shelf of my bookcase (I’m In No Mood For Love) and realized it was Book #2 in this series. Unknowing that it was part of a series, I’d already read the last book, Not Another Bad Date. So, of course, I had to reach the other two books.
  • Tina Gabrielle’s Barrister Series – I just picked up In The Barrister’s Bed at this month’s NJRW meeting. What a fabulous cover. I loved the first book in the series and can’t wait to read this one.
  • Robyn Carr’s Virgin River
  • J.D. Robb’s In Death series and Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters – I’m slowly going through these because I’m listening to them when I drive to work. Now, I’m SO hooked in the character’s voices, I HAVE to listen to them vs read them.

How about you? What series are you obsessed with? What is your writing style? Do you plot a few books in your head or write completely separate stories?

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Maria

The Olympics and Sports-Themed Romance

THE WINNER OF THE VIOLET FEMMES JULY GIVEAWAY IS:    ROSEANN DEFRANCO.  Please send Michele an e:mail regarding your win – three books of your choice!

 

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What Olympian stands six feet two, has eight pack abs you can bounce a quarter off of, and nudged Michael Phelps out of his first win this Olympics? If you haven’t guessed who I’m referring to (hey, there are so many Olympians who fit this description!), I’m talking about swimmer Ryan Lochte.

Outstanding physical feats both in and out of the pool dominate the 2012 London Olympics. Newly hatched American heroes have emerged, setting the bar higher and higher for future generations. Successful acts of strength and perseverance abound, such as Ryan Lochte’s win in the 400 meter individual medley.

In honor of the 2012 London Olympics, today’s blog is a review of my top five favorite sports-themed romances. None have an Olympian hero/heroine but I think you’ll discover heroes that rival Ryan Lochte in physique and heroines that you’d gladly step into their heels.

Body Check by Deidre Martin

Publicist Janna MacNeil sets out to transform the naughty reputation of the New York Blades hockey team, and soon discovers success will only be achieved by first reforming their ring-leader, bad-boy team captain Ty Gallagher.

But Ty stubbornly refuses to change. The ice heats up from the sparks set off between their battles, and growing attraction.

This debut book has all the elements of a successful sports-themed novel. For readers who don’t know much about hockey, the author gently leads you into this world of hunky, battle-worn guys who tend to be slightly superstitious, and who play for the love of the game rather than public opinion.

The chemistry between the two characters sizzles.

Body Check will keep you in check from the first page to last.

True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson

Former exotic dancer, Playboy model, and widow Faith Duffy inherits her 81 year old husband’s Seattle Chinooks hockey team, but not without controversy.

She decides to keep the team but has her work cut out for her, given the fact her centerfold still graces the locker room and that, not only has team captain Ty Savage seen it, he resents her from the get-go.

The press has a field day with comments made between the hero and heroine; how she’s a gold digger, and he’s trouble.

Rachel Gibson’s Chinook inspired novels are sports-themed romance classics. This one is my favorite because I love the characterizations—after all, who else has a former stripper as a heroine (and one that the reader simply adores)?

True Love and Other Disasters is a perfect score.

Slow Heat by Jill Shalvis

Publicist Samantha McNead is in damage control mode. She must clean up The Heat’s reputation or the baseball team will lose lucrative corporate endorsements. Her biggest challenge is Wade O’Riley, and toning down his playboy lifestyle.

Samantha pretends to be Wade’s girlfriend—The Heat’s owner and her father insist. To complicate matters, she has a history with Wade, something about monkey sex in an elevator. An act she vows not to repeat.

Jill Shalvis writes one of the best opening scenes in this novel. Right away, the reader knows Wade is going to be a sexy handful, and Samantha is going to have to focus on her job and not him. Great characterization set within the world of baseball and celebrity.

Slow Heat is home run for readers.

The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton
Event planner and single mom, Tara Lincoln, lands the dream job of planning a summer party for NFL team the San Francisco Sabers. What she doesn’t plan for is that star quarterback Mick Riley’s unexpected interest in her. A wonderful night ensues but Tara avoids further commitments. After all, raising a teenager takes up most of her time.

Mick wants her. She’s normal and a welcome change. She becomes the first woman he sees a future with. Now he has to convince her of it.

I bought this book because of the smoking hot cover. Yep, didn’t even read the first few paragraphs like I often do.

Jaci Burton knows how to write spicy sex scenes, and with a hero like Mick, she delves into every woman’s fantasy of being pursued and wanted by a famous, gorgeous, and all-around great guy.

The Perfect Play scores the perfect touchdown on a summer night.

It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Sexy bombshell Phoebe Somerville inherits the Chicago Stars football team but with one stipulation: if they lose once this season, ownership will transfer to her rascal of a cousin. Fortunately, she hires an experience General Manager—knowing nothing about football herself.

Head coach and ultra jock Dan Calebo is skeptical of the beautiful, stubborn bimbo and challenges her every decision. And soon, the championship isn’t the only thing that ties them together.

It Had To Be You is the crème de la crème of the sports-themes romances. It has everything, from a quirky, stubborn, and loveable heroine, to a sexy jock, and with the feeling of what the world of football is all about without it being overwhelming to the reader.

If you are going to pick up a sports-themed romance for the first time, this is the book. Pass complete!

So, have I made you a fan of sports-themed romance? I wonder if any swimmers—like Ryan Lochte—might appear in the next novel? Hmm.

Or better yet, a female athlete/heroine!

I hope you are enjoying the Olympics, as well.

XXOO,

Michele

My So-Called Life (in Books)

Our winner from last week’s contest is Joe! Congratulations, Joe. Tina will be in touch regarding your prize.


I’ve been looking forward to writing this post. Fair warning, gentle reader: it will probably be long winded.

How could it not be?! We’re talking about the books we love, for crying out loud. Like many of you, I’m happiest with a book (er, e-book) in my hands. And I still geek out over books all the time. (Just ask Jenna Blue, who patiently listened to me gush about “Cut & Run”, a m/m romance series I recently fell in love with.) So I had a really, really hard time whittling down my list to one—or even two.

First off, I have to give props to my girl Nancy Drew for kicking it all off for me. These weren’t the first books I read, but they were the most important of my early childhood. I worshipped Nancy. Smart, beautiful, brave…was there anything she couldn’t do? To boot, she had a super cute boyfriend, Ned. I lived for those interactions between Nancy and Ned. And there were never enough! I hadn’t even hit puberty yet, but I was dying to find out what Nancy and Ned did “off the page.”

Hmmmm… Maybe that was a sign.

Now onto the good stuff. My love of romance didn’t start with Austen or Heyer. Instead, it started with Lindsey, Krentz, Garwood, Coulter, and Deveraux. Amanda Quick was a HUGE influence on me, too. Her stories are simple and quirky, packed with witty dialogue and unusual settings. Typically, I have a hard time connecting with heroines in romance novels—except for the Quick heroines. They’re smart and interesting, and aren’t pushovers by any means. In fact, I can’t remember any Quick heroes, but several heroines come instantly to mind. Above all, I thought her books were fun—and that’s what I strive for in my stories, too.

I have two life-changing, desert island books, one historical and one contemporary. Both center on my favorite story thread: revenge.

The Historical: “Lions and Lace” by Meagan McKinney

Published in 1992, here is the blurb: “After his family is snubbed by the elite Knickerbocker families of New York, self-made millionaire Trevor Sheridan – known as the Predator of Wall Street – vows to take revenge on them all. But he saves his most bitter venom for the family of Alana Van Alen, a flaxen-haired beauty who had once been friends with his sister. When this notorious Irishman causes her family to fall into poverty, Alana is forced to accept his offer of marriage, but Trevor is only using her to gain acceptance into society. In spite of her hatred for him, Alana is irresistibly drawn to Trevor’s handsome, brooding face and muscular body. Soon she falls in love with him, but will he return her passion or try to destroy her?”

McKinney’s writing is detailed and rich. There is so much research here into late nineteenth century New York, both of the Knickerbocker world as well as the views of immigrants, particularly Irish, that the reader is immersed into world of Trevor and Alana. The story is loaded with conflict right from the start, when the heroine’s uncle ties her to the bannister of the Sheridan mansion and abandons her to the mercy of our hero. Here’s one of my favorite passages:

Left alone with her husband, Alana heard the ensuing silence like the boom of a cannon. Trevor turned to her, and the room seemed to echo with his rage. She was aghast at the emotion in his eyes. Part of her quailed at the fury she found there, but another part of her, the part that had paced in her room all night and longed for a husband who loved her, rejoiced. He was jealous, wildly jealous. If their relationship held any promise, it was in that streak of possessiveness that had flared when he caught her in Eagan’s embrace.

There was a long foreboding pause while he stared at her. He seemed to be contemplating his next move and going through all the possibilities before making his decision. But he was Trevor Byrne Sheridan, and once his decision was made, he acted. “Go to my room, Alana,” he said quietly.

Her eyes locked with his. She knew what he was thinking. His jealousy gave her new hope, but the time for what he intended now was wrong. He was only accepting Eagan’s challenge. He didn’t want to make love to her because he cared for her but because of the man he was. She could see it in his eyes. He’d never let a dare go unanswered.

“No,” she said just as quietly, just as firmly.

He nodded. Not a good sign. “You’re my wife, Alana, my legal wife, wed in the Catholic Church. I’ve rights. Go into my room, or I’ll get a policeman off the avenue to drag you in there.”

“If you do this, there’ll be no annulment.”

“Then there’ll be no annulment.”

These two fight. A lot. They’re both strong willed, and neither one of them is what the other believes, each hiding behind a façade for a different reason. I can’t say enough how much I love the story. Even flipping through to find my favorite passages proved impossible because so many scenes gave me the shivers. If you love historicals, I beg you to try this one. You can borrow my copy, but you damn well better give it back.

The Contemporary: “Paradise” by Judith McNaught

Published in 1992 (an excellent year for books, it seems), the blurb: “Ruthless corporate raider Matthew Farrell was poised to move in on the legendary department store empire owned by Chicago’s renowned Bancroft family. In the glare of the media spotlight, it was a stunning takeover that overshadowed the electric chemistry between Matt, once a scruffy kid from steel town Indiana, and cool, sophisticated Meredith Bancroft. Their brief, ill-fated marriage sparked with thrilling sensuality — he was the outsider who dared to rock her country club world — and ended with a bitter betrayal. Now, locked in a battle that should be all business, dangerous temptations and bittersweet memories are stirring their hearts. Will they risk everything on a passion too bold to be denied?”

There is so much here that shouldn’t work for me. It’s long. There’s headhopping. It starts with huge (almost unbelievable) misunderstandings. And yes, it has the “wait, you mean we aren’t really divorced?!” trope at play. But with her talented writing, McNaught made me believe it and fall in love with these two characters. You root for them, even as they’re biting each other’s heads off.

Angry at his deliberate and rude reminder that his wealth was now far greater than hers, Meredith looked at him with well-bred disdain. “Money was all you ever thought about, all that mattered to you. I never wanted to marry you, and I don’t want your money! I’d rather starve than have anyone know we were ever married!”

The maître d’ chose that untimely moment to appear at their table to inquire if their meal had been satisfactory or if they wanted anything else.

“Yes,” Matt said bluntly. “I’ll have a double shot of scotch on the rocks, and my wife,” he emphasized, taking petty, malicious satisfaction out of doing exactly what she’d just said she never wanted to do, “will have another martini.”

Meredith, who never, ever engaged in a public scene, glowered at her old friend and said, “I’ll give you a thousand dollars to poison his drink!”

A former steelworker who works his way up to tycoon, Matt is one of my all-time favorite heroes. He’s ruthless, angry, and has a giant chip on his shoulder, but he rides to Meredith’s rescue when the going gets tough. I swear, the press conference scene gets me every time. LOVE him. After Christian Grey, we might all be a bit tired of the self-made gazillionaire, but trust me, Matt Farrell was there first.

Thanks for letting all of us share our most memorable romance books. It’s been interesting to see what everyone chose. And keep the comments coming! We want to hear YOUR life-changing romance books. Or tell me if you’ve read either of these stories (so we can geek out together). Anyone who leaves a comment in July will be registered to win a trio of books.

Joanna

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