How Steamy Do You Like It?

With a new release coming on May 10th, I wanted to tackle a topic that often comes up between readers and authors. It is an article of debate for some, but for me, it comes down to preference. Heat Ratings.

For the record, I write steamy, sensual, smoldering historical romance. There, now you know my secret.

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As if you didn’t know already.

 

How hot do you like your romance?

If you’re an avid romance reader, like I am, then you have a preference when it comes to the heat rating and choosing a romance novel. We all do. Do you like sweet romance with no sex? Do you like a scene or two? Do you prefer closed door? Or are you an erotica fan?

I’m a middle of the road kind of girl, myself. I love sexual tension and slow burn romance, but I prefer to see the union come to fruition on the pages. Some would prefer to have these written as closed-door, where the union is implied, but not described. I am not one of those. As the reader, I am emotionally invested in the character’s relationship. I’ve put myself in the heroine’s shoes. So I personally find these scenes to be emotionally fulfilling as I experience the relationship developing between the hero and heroine.

Now, the scene doesn’t have to be graphic and take up ten pages of the book. I’ve read books where the love scene is a page long and it served its purpose.

Sex can be an important component of the story’s progression and the character’s development depending on the story. And yes, there are times when it is completely unnecessary. I dislike when authors try to force the scene or add a sex scene just for titillation. Yes, there is such thing as too much sex in a book. I get bored of it. There’s a balance, and I know from personal experience in my own writing that balance is hard to maintain. When it’s done right, the story should flow perfectly.

I have had readers tell me they would have liked my stories better without the sex. They told me that sex was not a spectator sport and that I should write something better with a closed door. Not going to lie, that stung.

I don’t put sex scenes into the story on a whim. I put them there because they progress the story and/or help the characters evolve. Sometimes it’s there to heighten the tension or punctuate something that comes after their consummation. There is a reason for it.

I dislike the terms “dirty” and “clean” romance. I abhor these terms. Sex is neither dirty nor shameful. Some topics may be distasteful for some readers. I understand. This is why I include a small author’s note at the end of each blurb on Amazon (and other retailers.)

I don’t write sweet romance. My books are steamy but not erotic. If you don’t care for the sex scenes, then feel free to skip over them. I won’t have hurt feelings if you skip that part. But I will be hurt if you blast my book for being “too hot” when I put the disclaimer right beneath the blurb that you read before purchasing the book. So, please take note, if sex makes you uncomfortable, then you shouldn’t read my books.

I wish retailers would have a heat rating scale similar to Audible’s amazing rating scale. I’m not a fan of audiobooks. I prefer to read the book and most of the narrators get on my nerves after a while. But I was searching through the collection and was pleasantly surprised by the rating system they have for the romance novels. It makes my life so much easier. I know exactly what heat level I’m getting.

Emma

The link explaining their rating system is https://www.audible.com/ep/Romance-Books-With-Steamy-Score. You should definitely check it out.

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I think they should use this system for the whole romance genre on all the other platforms. It’s a great visual for the reader to see what they’re purchasing and if it’s what they’re looking for in a book.

Until they do this, I’ll continue to put my little author’s note at the bottom of every blurb. No worries. 🙂

And remember, never feel like you have to justify your love of romance, be it sweet or steamy or erotic. Life’s too short not to read what you love and what brings you joy.

 

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Steamy or not. Just a friendly reminder. ❤

 

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

 

 

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Confession of an Aspiring Romance Author

Time for a little confession. Okay, a big confession. I’m not always motivated to write. In fact, some days I’m downright discouraged. Being a self-published author is wonderful because I get complete creative control. The downside is…well, I feel like I’m standing in a crowd of thousands and my voice is being drowned out. I have a strong voice, solid stories, beautiful cover art, talented editors, and a supportive collection of family and friends. What more could a budding romance author want?

Readers. Faithful, engaging, loving, wonderful readers.

I have seen these types of readers. I’ve dined with them. I have laughed and conversed with them. They’re amazing people. I know, because I’m one of them.

The last two years I’ve had the fortune and opportunity to attend the Historical Romance Retreat. I attended strictly as a reader, but my little author heart couldn’t help but crave more. Seeing so many talented historical romance authors in one place. My poor fangirl self nearly imploded from the sheer pleasure of being in the presence of such talent.

Not only did I meet like-minded readers, I met authors I could have only DREAMED of meeting in person. Seriously, I could have died from pure bliss surrounded by people I admired and aspired to become. HRR has become the event of the season for me, and I will cherish every moment I spent traveling back in time and celebrating with my tribe of historical romance lovers.

Here are a few pictures from my adventure to HRR 2016:

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And HRR 2017:

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The costumes, the events, the interaction, the atmosphere. If you ever have the opportunity to attend, DO IT. It will be worth the expense and the time. (Here’s the link to the website: https://www.historicalromanceretreat.com ) The friends I made through this event have only fostered my desire to persist as a romance author.

Why do I bring up this conference? Because it energizes me. The thought of being at HRR gives me life. It gives my motivation life. I want to be these women. These passionate authors and voracious readers inspire me. They give me direction and purpose. I want to be them. I want to bottle their energy and drive and fuel my own goals. I came home feeling reinvigorated and ready to write my next book.

But coming back to reality is often jarring. And time away from such a positive and uplifting atmosphere seems to wear me down.

To be honest, I feel like I’m drowning right now. I’m drowning in hours of promotion and preparation. I feel like I’m sinking in the quicksand of social media trying to market myself and my brand. I can feel my motivation slipping farther away from my grasp.

My desire to write never dies, but it wavers, it falters. I find myself staring at the screen wondering if anyone can hear me. I wonder if anyone wants to read my work. The monsters of self-doubt and rejection and fear linger in the dark recesses of my mind waiting for the opportunity to prey on my insecurities.

I want to write. I want to publish my work. I want to bring joy to readers around the world who crave escape and romance and adventure if only for a few hours.

But how can I reach you, gentle readers? How can I prove myself to you?

Over the last five years, I have learned a great deal about writing and publishing. I’ve learned a lot about myself as well. I have grown, matured, and persevered. I’m damn proud of myself and my journey as an author. I will continue to grow and mature. I will continue to write. My passion for the written word and romance has never dimmed. I shall always be a reader first and an author second. Because that was where I began my journey.

My desire is to have a relationship with my readers. I love knowing that you enjoyed my work. I love hearing your feedback and constructive criticism. It helps me make my work better. I value your reviews and your recommendations. I absolutely adore hearing that you recommended one of my books to your friends. It makes my heart soar.

Your joy brings me joy.

I will soldier onward. My words will continue to flow. The stories will be told, come hell or high water. But I need you, darling readers, to do what you do best.

Read. Review. Recommend.

These three simple steps can mean the world to an author. Especially to this author.

My aspiration to join the ranks of Elizabeth Hoyt and Eloisa James and all the fabulous authors I’ve met at HRR has been my dream since I began this journey. And when I finally earn my place among them, I can truly say that it was you, my lovely readers, who helped me reach my goal. For that, I will be eternally in your debt.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNEAK PEEK at Deceiving the Earl

Hello, darlings. My latest novel, Deceiving the Earl, will be releasing in May! I’ve decided to share a little snippet from this Victorian romance. It has a dash of mystery and a hint of steampunk elements. If you’ve ever seen Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes film series with Robert Downey Junior, this book is similar in aesthetic.

Please keep in mind, this hasn’t been to my editor yet. So have patience with me. We’re still in the process of polishing the story. Thank you.

Allow me to introduce Adele and Christopher…

Spring 1895

Adele Prescott is the daughter of the Viscount of Longmont. After her family is killed in a house fire, Adele hides her identity and becomes a maid in the home of Lord Christopher Underwood, Earl of Dorrington. Why? Because she believes the fire was no accident and that the earl had some hand in her families deaths.

Lord Underwood is a man haunted by the past and laden with secrets. His reclusive nature leaves him to pursue his passion for science, but after the fire, he wishes for nothing but the blissful oblivion of opium and seclusion. Until he meets his new maid, and a plan forms in his mind. A plan that leads to an intimacy neither of them expected but brings them into the heart of danger.

Excerpt:

The sound of the door opening interrupted their solitary moment. A wave of fear forced Adele to spin around, turning her back to the door. She would not want to be caught idle while she was supposed to be working.

“My lord,” Elizabeth said behind her. “Pardon us.”

“Ah, yes, I had forgotten you would be here at this hour.” His voice tugged at her memories. While familiar, it echoed strangely in her mind, as though distant, foreboding, and strangely alluring.

Adele turned, keeping her head down. She bobbed a small curtsy and avoided meeting his gaze.

“Is this the new maid?” he asked.

“Aye, my lord, this is Anne.” Elizabeth stepped to the side as he approached them.

He paused before Adele. She studied his neatly pressed trousers and the tips of his polished shoes.

“If you will beg my pardon, my lord, I shall fetch some coal for the fire.” Elizabeth’s voice echoed from the doorway.

“Very well,” he said in dismissal.

Adele stood as still as her trembling body would allow. Her heart pounded. There would be no way to hide herself from him now. Most masters were satisfied when the work was completed and their servants remained silent. Adele closed her eyes and took a deep breath. What if he recognizes me?

“Anne.” Her alias on his lips sounded almost like a challenge.

“Aye, my lord,” she replied, her voice steady, unlike the emotions boiling beneath her calm exterior.

“Will you not meet my eyes?” he asked. When she hesitated, he tipped her chin up with his gloved fingertip.

With a deep breath, Adele met his gaze. She faltered only for half a second, not because of his familiar face, but because of the shock of his deep, soulful hazel eyes. Never in her father’s long acquaintance with him, had she taken the opportunity to converse with him, let alone share a lingering look.

Lord Underwood was even more handsome than she’d remembered. His dark hair lay in waves, longer than fashionable, but neatly kept. The strong lines of his jaw were shadowed by a days’ worth of stubble. It lent him a roguish air. Her breath caught. From his dark, penetrating gaze to the soft smile haunting his lips, Adele found herself mystified by the man before her.

He only ever visited her father to work in the laboratory. Everyone knew him to be a reserved sort, especially after he had returned from the war and inherited his brother’s estate. Adele wanted to despise him for the path he had led her father down. But finally seeing him, eye to eye, she saw the despair behind the gentleman’s façade.

His fingertips brushed along her scar. “An injury from the fire, I presume?”

“Aye, my lord.” Adele suppressed the sudden desire to run as he inspected her face.

“You were fortunate to escape with your life, my dear.” He nodded before dropping his hand. “How do you find your new post?”

“Very well, I thank you, my lord.” Adele tried to keep her answers direct and simple.

He tilted his head and regarded her closely. “Have we met before? Upon my visits to your former employer’s estate perhaps?”

“It is possible, my lord. However, I do not recall.” She bowed her head unable to bear the constant scrutiny, fearful he would remember her.

He exhaled sharply. “I shall leave you to your duties then, Anne.” He turned to leave before pausing in the doorway and gesturing to the cylinder in the corner of the room. “Oh, and careful as you dust the inverter. It is liable to produce an electric shock that may be uncomfortable.”

With those cryptic words, Lord Christopher left her.

Adele collapsed in a chair and pressed her hands to her cheeks. Relief flooded her as she realized he did not recognize her. The dye in her hair and the scarring from the fire must have altered her enough to allay any suspicions he might have. She allowed a smile to cross her lips. Surely she would be safe enough to discover what he had convinced her father to study in that laboratory.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at Deceiving the Earl. I wanted to share the moment they first meet in the novel. What did you think?

I’m excited to share this novel with you. Keep an eye here for more details about the release date and special events.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

Surprise!!! Jewel of Winter is HERE!

Hello my friends…

Today is a very special day. My first self published book releases!

I introduced you all to this story back in December. Well it’s available for purchase right now!

Amazon – JEWEL OF WINTER

Smashwords – JEWEL OF WINTER

Dive into this Victorian romance and discover the benefits to breaking the law.

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A simple country girl at the mercy of a cold-hearted thief with more secrets than scruples.

As a widow, Jessamine gained the freedom she’d always desired. Her late husband left her his sole possession, an inn on the north road to Scotland. When a trio of gentlemen appear at the doorstep of her isolated inn during a snowstorm, Jess can’t help the curiosity coursing through her veins. Eavesdropping on their conversation only entangles her in their web of deception.

To the petite innkeeper, Edmund is a wealthy thief. Allowing her to think what she will, he decides to use her to his advantage. That is until she hides the stolen jewels and refuses to reveal their location. Never cowed by a challenge, Edmund issues an ultimatum: return the jewels or repay the debt with her body.

Winter Warm Up Blog Hop

Welcome everyone to my Winter Wonderland! Curl up on the couch and sip your cocoa while I share my exciting news.

First, let’s give #Hopswithheart a big hug for giving us a chance to spend some time together this holiday season!

Young couple embracing

www.hopswithheart.blogspot.com

Click HERE for the Grand Prize Giveaway: A $75 GIFT CARD

I’m also hosting a special giveaway for a print copy of my first book, An Irresistible Shadow.

Enter my Rafflecopter giveaway HERE.

I’ve been working on a fun little project, a series of three novellas whose stories intertwine. When I started writing the first story, I chose to go with the theme of winter. The more I wrote, the more pleasantly surprised I became by the characters and the story. Oh how I’ve enjoyed writing the journey of these characters.

I’ve decided to share the cover of my novella as well as an excerpt. Something enticing and fun to keep you entertained.

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A simple country girl at the mercy of a cold-hearted thief with more secrets than scruples.

Blurb:

As a widow, Jessamine gained the freedom she’d always desired. Her late husband left her his sole possession, an inn on the north road to Scotland. When a trio of gentlemen appear at the doorstep of her isolated inn during a snowstorm, Jess can’t help the curiosity coursing through her veins. Eavesdropping on their conversation only entangles her in their web of deception.

To the petite innkeeper, Edmund is a wealthy thief. Allowing her to think what she will, he decides to use her to his advantage. That is until she hides the stolen jewels and refuses to reveal their location. Never cowed by a challenge, Edmund issues an ultimatum: return the jewels or repay the debt with her body.

Excerpt:

“I would rather chew my own arm off than lie with one of those men.” Jess waved her hand at her sister’s ridiculous statement. She crept closer to the room when the sound of raised voices reached her ears.

“Well, I don’t give a damn how it gets there, once the Duke’s men discover the theft, it’s only a matter of time before…”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself, Monty. No one knows our involvement in any of this, besides the job is nearly done.”

Jess pressed her ear against the door and strained to hear the conversation.

“Why did you pick this god-forsaken place for the rendezvous anyway? You normally have such class.”

An unladylike snort escaped her before she could stop it. The door swung open and Jess stumbled through the doorway. She caught herself before she tumbled to the ground and staggered to right herself. “My apologies, my lords. I came to see if there was anything else I could do for you this evening.”

The silent one glared down at her as he closed the door.

“Well, well,” the leader said as he stood and approached her. He clasped his hands behind his back.

Jess swallowed and backed up against the wall. “I’m dreadfully sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude. I…”

“How much did you overhear?” he asked, his gaze sharp.

She studied his eyes; the blue-grey reflected the fire, betraying no emotion. Her throat constricted. Are they going to kill me? She pressed her hand to her neck. “Nothing,” she whispered as he leaned closer.

The scent of whisky and tobacco clung to him. His breath brushed against her neck as she turned her head to the side, avoiding his scrutiny. “Liar.”

Her heart raced as he leaned back and chuckled. Jess felt the heat rising to her cheeks. The urge to lash out struck her, but she refrained. “I promise to forget what I heard, to leave you in peace. Please…let me go.”

“What do you think, shall we let her go now that she knows our little secret?” A cruel smile played on the corners of his lips. The first true emotion he displayed, and it terrified her.

“What a pain in the arse,” the scruffy one said as he lit another cigarette. “I shouldn’t have gotten involved this time.” He exhaled a plume of white smoke.

The silent one shrugged. Then he surprised her by opening his mouth. “You’re in charge of this circus. You take care of her.”

Without shifting his attention from her, he held out his hand behind him. “Give me those irons, Monty.”

The scruffy man reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a pair of irons, the kind Scotland Yard issued. She stared in disbelief as he dropped them into the leader’s hand.

“Keep the key.”

The man tucked the key back into his pocket and exhaled another puff of smoke. “Women ain’t nothing but trouble.”

“Show us to our rooms.” The leader gripped her wrist, and she winced from the pressure of his fingers against her skin.

She jerked her hand trying to free herself from his grip. “Let me go. I’m not going to run.”

His grip tightened, and she whimpered involuntarily.

“Not so tight!” she hissed at him. The pressure on her wrist lightened a bit, but he refused to release her.

“Let’s go.” He tugged on her arm as they walked together toward the second floor where their rooms waited.

“These three,” she said, pointing to the doors. “Your rooms.” The scruffy one took the room on the right and the silent one took the room on the left, leaving Jess and the leader in the hallway staring at the door with a red flower on it.

“Let me go now.” She stared at him. “I promise not to say a word.”

He opened the door and shoved her inside. Jess stumbled and collapsed onto the bed from the sudden movement. Flustered, she righted herself just as he closed the door and slid the bolt home. He turned to face her.

“You’re staying here tonight.”

 

I hope you enjoyed the glimpse of my upcoming novella. My intention is to have it releasing in the next few months. The second and third novella following close behind the first. Please feel free to leave comments and/or questions. I love hearing from readers!

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

~ Kirsten ~

Teaser from A Shadow’s Kiss

In anticipation of my second book releasing next week, here is a scene from A Shadow’s Kiss.

 

The door to the great hall swung open, and she heard her brother, Angus. Tis about time he showed his face.

“Father,” he said. “I would like to introduce Alexander. He’s from the south.”

Madeline choked the wine as her head snapped up. She swallowed as delicately as she could, forcing herself to remain calm. Her hand trembled. It couldn’t be. The stranger’s broad shoulders stretched as he tipped his hood back revealing thick mahogany hair and ice blue eyes. Her hand flew to her throat. Why was he here? Her heart leapt. Has he come for me? She forced the delight down and sat patiently waiting for him to glance in her direction.

“My Laird.” He proffered a slight bow. When he rose, his eyes fell on Madeline. She sat forward, her mouth poised to speak when she saw him shake his head no. He returned his attention to her father. “I thank you for your hospitality.”

Madeline’s jaw snapped closed. She leaned back in her chair. What was he playing at? His voice sounded deeper with a rolling Scottish lilt. Sir Alexander. Those broad shoulders and profile gave him away, and she could never mistake his eyes. Ever. Madeline had spent far too many nights dreaming about him to forget even the slightest detail.

“Where are you from, Alexander? Who are your people?” Her father’s questions were curious and polite. She watched the byplay between the men, her mind spinning with questions.

“My mother is a daughter of Clan Kerr, from the south, near the border,” he said. She liked the sound of the Scottish brogue on his tongue. Without thinking, she licked her lips as his gaze flickered over her.

“What brings you this far north?” the Laird asked, leaning forward.

“I am searching for answers,” he said. She heard the hesitancy in his voice. Had she not known him, she would have missed it. Alexander wasn’t lying, but his words weren’t completely honest either. He was a terrible liar. She strived not to smirk, remembering several occasions when his half-truths were directed at her. Tonight, she would have the truth from him, even if it killed her.

Her father didn’t pry any further. “I hope you find what you’re after then.”

“I have,” Alexander replied, his gaze settling on Madeline for a brief moment then returning to the Laird.

Her father nodded and held up his cup. “I pray you, sit. Join our feast. You are welcome in my home and at my table.”

Alexander bowed, and with a passing glance in her direction, he joined Angus at the far side of the head table. She sat there, her appetite gone, waiting and watching. She needed to speak with him, but how? Madeline nibbled on some bread. The sound of laughter brought her attention back to her brothers. Alexander, laughing! She stared at him in complete disbelief. Who was he truly? The Alexander she knew never laughed, and he certainly could not be Scottish. Her eyes narrowed. He caught her scowl and tipped his cup to her, a grin still on his lips.

With an agitated huff, Madeline begged her father’s pardon and left the great hall. The memory of Alexander’s good humor haunted her as she approached the staircase leading to her chambers. Somehow she had to speak to him. She knew of one way to catch him alone: discover where he slept.

I hope you enjoyed it. If you did then check out my Shadow Guardian series from Breathless Press.

Book 1:  An Irresistible Shadow

Book 2:  A Shadow’s Kiss

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New Release: A Flawed Jewel

Pieretta boards a ship, unaware that Thor is waiting to kidnap her for revenge against her grandfather.

Will love intervene, altering both their courses?

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Buy a Copy of the eBook:  Click HERE!

Pieretta Carlyle experienced the loss of her father, leaving her alone in the world except for her grandpere, Comte Renard Dubois. The comte insists that she travel to France to live with him. Pieretta doesn’t want to leave Charleston and the only home she has ever known. Her grandpere is her guardian, and she must do what he says.

Thor has a score to settle, and Pieretta is the key to his revenge. He became a pirate unwillingly after his business partner tried to murder him. He must acquire Pieretta by any means necessary, and he doesn’t mind plundering a ship to obtain her.

When Pieretta and Thor meet, they are instantly attracted to each other against their better judgments. She is disgusted by the pirate’s actions. Thor knows what Pieretta believes, but proceeds with his plans anyway. She is only a tool to achieve vengeance. What happens will depend on Thor’s need for revenge and Pieretta’s ability to forgive him for his dastardly deeds.

A little about the Author

Dawn Brower holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, a Master of Arts in Education, and is currently working on a Master of Arts in Liberal Arts with concentrations in Literature, History, and Sociology. She works as a substitute teacher and enjoys the flexibility it gives her to concentrate on her other endeavors.

Growing up she was the only girl out of six children. She is a single mother of two teenage boys; there is never a dull moment in her life. Reading books is her favorite hobby. There is nothing like a nice glass of wine and a good book to relax with at the end of the day.

There are always stories inside her head; she just never thought she could make them come to life. That creativity has finally found an outlet. If you want to contact Dawn you can visit her webpage at www.authordawnbrower.com,  her facebook page at www.facebook.com/DawnMarieBrower, on her blog http://dawnbrower.wordpress.com or her twitter page at www.twitter.com/dawnab33.

Thanks for stopping by!  Happy reading.  🙂