Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

Hello, darlings,

I’ll be running a special price on my contemporary romance ebook, A Lockdown Love Affair, from February 11th to the 14th. Only $0.99 for four days. If you’re looking for a Sunshine/Grump romance, then this one is perfect for you. Available on sale at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, as well as Apple.

Let’s celebrate love with a little giveaway, shall we? I have some lovely teacups and signed copies of both A Lockdown Love Affair and A Holiday Love Affair up for grabs. (Only U.S. Residents over 18 of age are eligible. ❤ Thank you for understanding.) Here’s the link to the Rafflecopter:

The winner will be announced on Wednesday, February 15th on my Facebook page. Thanks for participating, and I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day weekend! Good luck. ❤

With love,

Kirsten S. Blacketer

Romance Genre: A Study

Hello, my darling readers…

If there’s one thing I love more than writing romance, it’s reading romance. For me, it doesn’t matter the subgenre category. I’m game to try anything. Science Fiction, Historical, Contemporary, Time Travel, Paranormal…it doesn’t matter. I’m a Mood Ring Reader. My choice of reading material depends completely on my mood. That leaves a veritable smorgasbord of possibilities at my disposal.

There are subgenres contained within the romance genre. And even those categories break down into smaller niches. Let’s take a peek at what delights await.

  • Historical gives you Medieval, Regency, Victorian, Western, Ancient Civilizations, etc. Pretty much any era you can think of has a place under the Historical Romance umbrella.
  • Contemporary can run the gamut. Anything from a rom com to a dark mafia romance to a forbidden reverse harem to Amish. I mean really, there’s a broad variety to choose from in this category. It can be erotic (lots of sex) or sweet (no sex at all). It can feature a variety of pairings and sexual orientations. It can focus on multicultural characters or a specific heritage. The sky truly is the limit when it comes to Contemporary romance.
  • Paranormal has a huge reach as well, incorporating elements of the supernatural or monsters or fae or even wizards and witches. I mean, if it’s not of this world (but not from another planet specifically), then it falls into this broad category, and it stretches it’s tentacles into other subgenres as well.
  • Science Fiction is making it’s mark on the romance genre by venturing beyond our own planet to explore new worlds and strange, but wonderful, new civilizations. These romances tend to be a bit out there for some, but for the adventurous among us, it’s like discovering a whole new galaxy beyond our own and never wanting to leave.
  • Fantasy romance can include Fairy Tale Retellings and vast medieval kingdoms. But it can also branch out into elements that can be considered a paranormal tale as well. It is common to find these types of stories overlap into paranormal territory.
  • Dystopian and Postapocalyptic romance are becoming quite popular under the romance umbrella. This is one subgenre I haven’t explored, but I’m definitely interested in seeing how it grows in popularity. I could definitely see these paired with elements from both the paranormal and science fiction categories to create some really awesome stories.
  • Then there are the outliers. These stories could fit into any category with the right nudge, but whose names ring loud and clear when we’re searching for something specific to quench our thirst. Adventure, Gothic, Inspirational, Military, Medical, Mystery, New Adult, Romantic suspense, Sports, Sweet, Time Travel, and Steampunk are all examples of very specific dynamics we’re searching for within the established romance subgenres. Sometimes they’re classified as tropes more than genre, but their fan base is strong.

I know there are some I missed, and I apologize. This was a quick list off the top of my head with a little help from LYSS EM Editing. You can find her post HERE for more information.

Why am I explaining this? As voracious romance readers, you know what vast potential lies beneath the umbrella of the term romance. There is something for everyone.

So then what makes the romance genre unique?

Two things. If they are not present, the story cannot be considered a romance. Period. There are no exceptions.

  1. The story must focus on or center around the relationship.
  2. There must be an emotionally satisfying ending. An HEA (Happily Ever After) or an HFN (Happily For Now) specifically.

Simple. So long as you follow these two guidelines, then you have a romance. Everything else is up to the author’s creative mind. And there are truly some creative minds out there.

Whether you’re an author or a reader (or both as in my case), I hope you write/read the stories that bring you joy. No matter the genre. Life’s too short to not do what brings us joy.

Please feel free to leave a comment below if you want to chat about the romance genre or gently remind me of a category I might have overlooked. I look forward to chatting with you!

Always,

Kirsten S. Blacketer

Curse of the Huntsman’s Jewel (Sneak Peek)

This week I have a special treat for you. The first glimpse into my twisted fairy tale romance, Curse of the Huntsman’s Jewel. I borrowed from the established tales of Red Riding Hood as well as Snow White and Rose Red (the sisters who befriend an enchanted prince) to create this magical universe. There are three romances in this book. One for each female lead character: Rosalind, Bianca, and Scarlett. You won’t want to miss the three handsome huntsmen brothers either. *wink*

Releases on March 29th! Preorder is available from ebook retailers HERE.


Prologue

Scarlett

A knock at the door disturbed the evening meal. Uncle Jack stood, gesturing for the family to remain seated at the table. Her grandmother and Aunt Caroline exchanged a lingering look, the stew before them left untouched upon the table. Her cousins, Rose and Bianca, continued eating without care. Scarlett knew better. Something was amiss.

She glanced toward the door where Uncle Jack stood over the threshold blocking whoever interrupted their peaceful evening. Voices echoed through the small space, but the words garbled together, muffled by distance and tone.

“Eat your supper, Scarlett.” Aunt Caroline gestured to the bowl of venison and potatoes in front of her.

“Come now, Red, you do not want it to get cold.” Grandmother lifted a spoonful to her mouth, but her gaze darted between the door and the table before her. “Finish your supper, and I shall tell you a bedtime story.”

Bianca and Rose bounced in their seats, grins on their faces.

“We love your stories, Grandmother.” Bianca shoveled a large spoonful into her mouth.

“Can you tell us the story about the huntsman’s curse?” Rose asked, her eyes wide.

“Of course, Rose.” Grandmother smiled and encouraged her to finish what remained in her bowl.

Scarlett took a bite of her food, unable to enjoy the flavor. A strange tension pulled tight in the small cottage. Rose always wanted to hear the story about the huntsman and the princess. Personally, Scarlett disliked the tale. It always left her with a sadness she could not describe. Were love stories not meant to have a happy ending?

The door closed and Uncle Jack returned to the table, his handsome face lined with worry making him look like an old man, burdened with exhaustion.

“Who was that?” Aunt Caroline wiped her mouth with a rag.

“The queen’s guard.” He cleared his throat and tucked his hands into his pockets. “We have been summoned.”

Her aunt dropped the cloth, her lip trembling. “How…? Never mind.” She rose from the table in haste, nearly upsetting the bowl of unfinished stew.

“Go. I shall remain here with the girls.” Grandmother rose from her seat and shooed them toward the door before any questions could be asked.

Curiosity burned within her. Scarlett regarded her aunt and uncle carefully as they donned their warm, outer garments. Her aunt pulled a satchel from the hook hanging near the door and slung it across her shoulders before retrieving her bow and quiver of arrows. They kissed their daughters and Scarlett before heading toward the door.

“We shall return as quickly as possible. Remain here until then.” Uncle Jack pulled on his cap, and together they ventured out into the night where the queen’s guard awaited them.

Before Scarlett could say a word, Grandmother pushed her empty bowl away and stood. “Shall we gather around the fire for our story, girls?”

Rose and Bianca wasted no time. They raced for the bearskin rug beside the hearth and curled upon it. Grandmother settled in the rocking chair beside the crackling flames.

Scarlett sighed. She reached her fourteenth summer only a fortnight past. She was older and wiser than her cousins. At eleven and twelve summers respectively, Bianca and Rose were still quite young. They enjoyed Grandmother’s tales of romance and adventure, while Scarlett knew of the dangers of the world.

Aunt Caroline and Uncle Jack took her in, raising her as their own daughter in the wake of the tragedy which took her parents’ lives. Only a wee baby at the time of their deaths, she remembered nothing of her birth parents. Her aunt and uncle welcomed her into their family, and they taught her the ways of the huntsmen. Or in her case, the huntress, giving her the tools to defend herself and survive. Scarlett embraced the challenge with relish.

“Once upon a time there lived a huntsman…”

Rose sighed, and Scarlett rolled her eyes, leaning back listening from a distance.

“Come join us, Red.” Grandmother patted the chair beside her.

Reluctantly, Scarlett retreated from the table and slid into the seat beside Grandmother. She folded her arms across her chest and fixed her gaze upon the flames in the hearth. How she detested love stories. Her thoughts remained on the curious summons from the queen as her grandmother continued her tale.

“This huntsman lived in the forest surrounding the royal palace.” Grandmother’s voice carried through the small cottage. “One day he fell in love with the princess. But he hid a dark secret, one that would bring his ruin should it come to light. He bore the mark of the Inkling, a message to all who saw it that he was an animus.”

Bianca gasped even though they heard the tale a hundred times before. The story infected them, drawing them in with every telling. “What form did he take?”

“No one knows his form, but for the sake of our tale, let us say it was a wolf.” Grandmother chuckled before continuing with her tale. “He remained content to admire the princess from afar and never tell her of his love. He watched and waited, praying fate would bring them together.”

“How romantic.” Rose clung to her every word. The contents of Scarlett’s stomach churned.

“One day, the huntsman was wounded while hunting. He managed to return to his human form and seek help, but he grew weak from his injury and collapsed deep in the forest.” Grandmother’s tone deepened drawing the girls into the tale. “A lone traveler found him. He happened to be a powerful alchemist and took mercy on the injured man, carrying him to his cottage. The alchemist healed the young huntsman, but the damage was done. He saw the Inkling beneath the young man’s skin.

“As payment for his aid, the huntsman bestowed a vial of his blood drawn directly from the Inkling. The alchemist vowed to inspect this mysterious affliction and gain a greater understanding of its power.” Grandmother leaned closer. “However, the huntsman did not realize how powerful his blood truly was and the magic qualities it possessed.”

“Foolish man,” Scarlett grunted in annoyance. How could the huntsman do such a ridiculous thing by relinquishing something so rare and coveted?

“Hush!” Rose scowled at her and turned to motion for Grandmother to continue.

“Several moons passed and the huntsman encountered a pack of wolves in the forest near the castle. He tracked them knowing they stalked prey.” Her voice lowered. “When he reached the clearing, the huntsman gasped. The ravenous pack encircled a woman wearing a white cloak and brandishing a large tree branch in a futile attempt to scare them away.” Grandmother swiped her hands at the girls like massive paws. “They attacked, and the huntsman joined the fray. He defended the woman, fighting off the pack of bloodthirsty wolves alone.

“When he defeated the final wolf, he converted into his human form and offered his hand to the cowering woman. It was the princess! He bowed low, and she threw her arms around him in gratitude for coming to her aid.” Grandmother sighed with satisfaction. “She explained how her horse had bolted when it smelled the wolves, casting her aside. When the pack surrounded her, she could not fight them off. Under the protection of the huntsman, she followed him through the thick and winding forest until they reached the safety of the castle.”

Scarlett listened to the story, knowing each part by heart and reciting it in her mind. Her cousins adored the tale, and her grandmother told it with such fervor, one would believe it truly happened. Try as she might to ignore the attraction of such a legend, it drew her in every time. She licked her lips and waited for Grandmother to continue.

“After being rescued by the handsome and charming huntsman, the princess grew quite fond of her savior. He returned her to the castle unharmed and was granted a boon for his daring rescue. Seizing the opportunity, he requested to become the princess’s personal protector.” Grandmother chuckled. “The king laughed at the bold request, but he acquiesced with gratitude, sensing the young man’s honorable intentions.”

Rose sighed again. Irritated, Scarlett nudged her with her foot.

“As time passed, their love blossomed, and the young huntsman waited for the opportunity press his suit for the princess’s hand in marriage.” Grandma’s smile faded and her eyes grew misty. “Until one cold winter morning, the alchemist returned with a gift for the king. A vibrant jewel with rare and mystical powers. The Huntsman’s Jewel, formed from the blood of an animus bearing the mark of the Inkling.”

Rose and Bianca gasped.

“The huntsman realized his mistake, but it was too late. The bargain he made by bestowing the blood to the alchemist bound his soul to the gem, and a cursed existence, one from which he could never break free. If he remained, the curse would plague generations to come.” Grandma sighed. “He stole the gem and transformed into his animus form before escaping into the night. The huntsman was never heard from again, and the princess languished of a broken heart.”

“This story is ridiculous.” Scarlett threw her hands up in the air. “Why must you always tell the saddest story? Aren’t love stories supposed to have happy endings?”

“I like the story, even with a sad ending.” Bianca scrambled to her feet and stuck out her tongue. “Why must you always ruin it?”

“The story ruined itself.” Scarlett scowled. “I do not understand why you cannot tell us a different, happier story, Grandmother.”

“I happen to like this one.” Grandmother shrugged and rose to her feet. “Off to bed, girls.”

Once they were tucked in bed, Scarlett attempted to sleep, but visions of snarling wolves appeared in her dreams whenever she tried. Darkness lay thick in the cottage, reaching down from the loft where they slept. She drifted in and out of sleep.

A door slammed, shaking the cottage. Scarlett bolted upright, pulling the blankets around her like a shield.

“Girls, wake! Hurry!” Her uncle’s voice echoed from below. A lantern flickered to life illuminating the small space. “Get dressed and gather your things, quickly!”

In haste, they dressed and packed a few items in their sacks before slinging them over their shoulders. They climbed down the ladders to find Grandmother and Uncle Jack pacing by the door with their own satchels on their backs.

Confused, Scarlett stepped forward. “Where are we going?”

His haunted eyes met hers. “We must go. Now. Whatever happens, run and do not look back.”

“Where is mother?” Rose asked, glancing around.

“Come.” Grandmother pulled her close, and they ventured out into the night.

As they weaved through the blackened forest, an eerie sound filtered through the silence. Wolves. The girls took off at a run with Grandmother and Uncle Jack following behind. They ran until their legs weakened and their chests nearly burst.

Somehow they remained ahead of the pack, reaching the river as the cool blue light of dawn broke over the horizon. They climbed into the boat and pushed off from shore. Grandmother cradled Rose and Bianca against her chest as Uncle Jack rowed.

Scarlett scanned the shore, catching a glimpse of the pack in the distance standing where the boat had been moored. Relief filled her.

“Where is mother?” Rose muttered between sobs.

“She is gone, pet. I am sorry.” Uncle Jack hung his head, hiding the tears staining his cheeks. “The wolves…” His voice drifted off as though it pained him to recount what had transpired. He cleared his throat. “Whatever happens, you must remain hidden from the queen. Do you understand, girls?”

Rose and Bianca nodded.

Scarlett tried to comprehend, but nothing made sense. “Why?”

“It does not matter why.” His dark gaze bored into her soul. “But if you wish to live, you must remain as far from the queen as possible.” Those were the last words spoken on the matter.

The Grand Unmasking

Darling Readers,

Once upon a time, I was a baby author with big dreams. I knew nothing of the publishing industry or marketing. All I wanted to do was write my romantic adventures and bask in the glory of my success. Unfortunately, I’m still working on those big dreams, but I have learned quite a bit over the years. It’s been a growth process, that’s for sure. There have been many suggestions and recommendations from many in the industry. But there is one I embraced early in my career which I feel must be addressed now.

My pen names.

Yes, names, plural. I write under the name Kirsten S. Blacketer, but I also write similar romance under another name. Jen Bradlee.

At first, it seemed wise to have two names in order to better manage the two distinct types of stories I wanted to tell. But I quickly realized managing two names meant keeping up with two blogs, two sets of social media accounts, two emails…you get the picture. Poor Jen fell to the wayside as I poured all my focus into Kirsten over the past few years. This wasn’t the only evolution.

When I first started writing, my writer’s voice for Kirsten was much different than Jen’s. Kirsten embraced the lighter side of romance focusing on humorous banter and adventure, while Jen drifted toward the morally gray heroes, like villains and anti-heroes, focusing on their darker journey. Make no mistake, Kirsten and Jen are two halves of the same writer.

Over the past ten years, my two author voices have grown to sound quite similar. Both of them write steamy historical and contemporary romance. Both test the boundaries of expectation. And both have the desire to reach new readers, which is why I am making this announcement.

From this day forward, Kirsten S. Blacketer and Jen Bradlee will be a team, promoting each other’s work. Kirsten S. Blacketer writing as Jen Bradlee, to be specific. Kirsten existed first, but her desire to write daring, dastardly anti-heroes and redeem villains gave Jen Bradlee a voice and an outlet.

It must sound strange to hear an author speak about herself in such a manner. But trust me, I am completely sane. This is how authors are. If you’re lucky enough to have one in your life, you know. So trust me when I say, I am both writers simultaneously. I like to say Jen is the side of me you see when I’m comfortable around you. *wink* Take that as you will.

I’ll be closing Jen’s blog and posting all updates for both names under this website/blog.

If you’re curious how I chose the name Jen Bradlee, well my darlings, you’re going to have to wait for that blog post. It deserves to have its own headline and spotlight.

Why did I choose to continue publishing as Jen Bradlee instead of republishing it under my name? Well, I couldn’t stand to part with the pseudonym since it holds such a special place in my heart. I may be a sentimental fool, but it is a part of who I am.

Since I have unmasked my alter ego, I am free to announce the good news.

Jen will be releasing a medieval trilogy this summer. Crispin Saville, the famed Prince of Whispers, will be returning from his hiatus and finishing his adventure in grand style. If you’re prepared for a steamy, mysterious, romantic, and dramatic medieval adventure, then please…check it out. They’re available for pre-order now, click on the buttons for the descriptions.

As for those who follow Kirsten, well, you have four books coming this year. So there’s something for everyone! I look forward to sharing these stories with you and hearing your thoughts!

Were you shocked at my reveal? ❤ Please feel free to leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

All my love,

Kirsten/Jen

A Special Holiday Deal!

Click HERE to grab a copy and start reading today.

If you’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to read When I Found You, look no further. Until January 1st, this steamy time travel romance is only 0.99 cents. It’s like a blast from the past. ❤

Katherine Cohen
This year sucks. I lost my job, my boyfriend, and now my mom. The worst year of my life is about to end, and I don’t hold much hope for the future. Dad would know what to do. I escape to the one place where I feel connected to him, the top of the Empire State Building. Instead, I find a star-spattered void and a gaping hole in my chest. But the universe isn’t finished with me yet.
When I wake up in 1985, I must be dreaming or dead. The most pressing issue stands at six foot two and looks like he stepped out of my fantasies. Unfortunately, he’s my father’s boss.

Arthur Maxwell
Assault and kidnapping were not how I envisioned starting the new year. I came into work to get some papers and ended up accidentally knocking a stranger unconscious. Who the hell is this woman and why is she snooping around my office in the first place? Too bad she doesn’t remember anything besides her first name.
Between her strange comments, odd requests, and unsettling questions, something doesn’t add up. She’s not telling me the whole truth. But, as time wears on, I realize it’s useless to deny the attraction simmering between us, even if she insists we were never meant to be.

Spoilers Without Context:

Release Day for Deceiving the Earl

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived.

Deceiving the Earl has made it to your e-reader. If it hasn’t, then perhaps you should consider picking up a copy.

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Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Apple

Smashwords

I will be going Live on Facebook this evening, May 10th, 2018, at 8 pm, EST to host an AMA (ask me anything) chat. There will also be a giveaway! So you don’t want to miss that. Just follow me on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/KirstenSBlacketerAuthor/

My last newsletter featured the first look at Adele and Christopher. So today, I’m offering you a more intimate glance into their book. It’s one of my favorite scenes featuring Christopher teaching Adele to waltz. I hope you enjoy it.

“Lord Dorrington has requested your presence in the parlor, Anne,” he said.

“Another lesson.” She sighed dusting her hands on her apron and then removing the garment. “What is it today, Jameson? Introductions? Conversational etiquette?”

“Dancing, I believe.” His lips quirked up in an amused smile. “One of your favorites, if I am not mistaken.”

Adele could not stop the smile from gracing her lips. Dancing had always been one of her favorite activities, second to reading. As she ascended the stairs, a small bounce in her step lightened her heart. He wished to teach her to dance, did he? Well, he would be surprised how quickly she learned. In fact, he might learn a few things from her during this lesson.

The thought of being his dance partner created flutters of excitement in her chest. She wished for nothing more than to lose herself in the music, in the movements.

She entered the parlor and noted all the furniture had been arranged to give them adequate space to dance.

Lord Dorrington stood before a Victrola, arranging a disk on the machine.

“You summoned me, my lord?” she asked by way of announcing her presence.

He glanced over his shoulder. “Yes, I believe there are a few more details we must practice before the ball.” He lowered the arm of the machine and the room filled with sweet, familiar music.

Almost without prompting, Adele felt her body begin to sway with the melody. A waltz. How delightful. She caught herself before he turned around.

When he did, he approached her. “Have you ever danced before, Anne?”

“Once or twice,” she lied.

He offered his hand in invitation. “Would you care to dance?”

“Nothing would delight me more,” she replied with a demure nod and took his hand.

Lord Dorrington drew her into his arms. Their bodies aligned perfectly creating a balance between them. She drew her stance tight, keeping her arms solid, her left hand pressed against his shoulder while her other lay clasped in his.

The heat rose between them as he led her into the dance. He took his time, attempting to guide her in the basic motions. Alas, her body would not be denied as the music infused with her soul. The lessons she savored so long ago came back with a simple turn on the dance floor.

Adele closed her eyes, allowing him to lead, but also allowing the steps to arise from her memories. She savored the music and the dance. With every pass, she found her heart growing lighter as well as her steps.

“I believe you lied to me, Anne.” Lord Dorrington’s voice interrupted her moment of bliss.

Her eyes snapped open, meeting his curious yet pointed expression. “Whatever do you mean?”

“You dance better than I do,” he said with a lopsided smile. “How many times have you waltzed before?” His gaze dropped to her lips, then back again to her eyes.

“A few,” she admitted in part. Truth be told, the waltz had always been her favorite dance to practice, even if she never had the opportunity to dance in a social setting before.

Together, they continued the dance, but the lesson became lost along the way. With their bodies moving to the music, their gazes fused, Anne realized how much she enjoyed this moment. She committed every detail to memory. Her first true waltz, and with Lord Dorrington.

Adele marveled at how far she had come. From distrusting to disinterested to disarmed. Lord Dorrington enlightened her to a great many things it seemed.

His grip tightened on her waist as they spun faster, attempting to match the tempo in perfect synchronization. Everywhere his body pressed against hers heated with a delicious friction. She longed to lean against him fully, to feel his warmth seep into her.

Her gaze dropped to his mouth. The softness of his lips contrasted with the sharp angles of his face. Lord Dorrington, with all his dark, brooding features and isolated eccentricities, cut a fine and quite handsome gentleman.

“Why have you not married?” Adele asked, regretting the question as it fell from her lips.

A pang of sadness pierced his eyes before he replied. “Marriage requires intimacy.” He paused. “Who would want a broken man?”

“I believe we are all broken in some way,” Adele responded, her voice gentle.

He glanced away for a moment before meeting her gaze with his own. Lord Dorrington smiled.

Adele quelled the nervous flutter in her stomach. Lord have mercy, but her heart could not take the ache any longer. Why did he affect her so?

His grip on her waist tightened, drawing her closer. Their steps slowed until it became a calm sway in the midst of the storm of attraction brewing between them.

“You are a strange little bird,” Lord Dorrington said in awe. “Somehow I feel a connection to you in ways I cannot comprehend. You quite baffle me.”

“Your compliment leaves me speechless.” She batted her lashes and smiled.

He spun her, shaking the simpering debutante from her display. He leaned close, his lips nearly brushing her ear. “You are far too clever to play coy, Anne.”

Saints above, she would have melted or run from the room, but his arms held her fast. Every fiber of her being protested and craved his proximity, his touch. Adele dared hope for more, even though her rational mind told her to push him away.

She pulled back enough to gaze into his eyes, dark and deep like the sea at midnight. How she longed to brush the wayward lock of hair back away from his face. His handsome face betrayed his desire, and yet she saw the hesitation in every breath he took.

He could have stolen her soul in that instant, and she would have relinquished it without a single solitary regret. Adele dared not speak for fear of shattering the fragile sacred moment.

*sigh* This scene makes my heart flutter. I wish I had someone to waltz with me. My poor husband has two left feet when it comes to dancing. Although bless him, he does try.

Thank you for all the support and encouragement. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.

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

All my love,

Kirsten

Romance Survival 101: Ignoring the Hate When You’re All About the Love

Being a lover of the romance genre doesn’t come without it’s pitfalls. Unfortunately, I happen to be an author and a reader of romance, so I end up getting whammied from both sides.

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I can’t speak for everyone, in fact, I can truly only speak for myself. But I am tired of the romance genre getting such a bad misrepresentation.

As an author, I’m really tired of hearing these things:

“You’re so talented. Why don’t you write a real book?”

“Oh, so you write mommy porn?”

“Romance novels are trashy and unrealistic.”

“Those covers are so tacky.”

“Do you really have to put sex in your books? Sex isn’t a spectator sport.”

Them:giphy

 

Me:tenor

Oh, my darlings, the list goes on and on and on. And frankly, I’m exhausted trying to defend my genre. I should not have to defend my passion for writing or enjoying a good, strong love story.

As readers, neither should you. It’s time we take our genre back.

The genre of romance is defined by only two criteria. (This information is taken directly from the Romance Writer’s of America’s website.)

  1. The story MUST focus on the relationship.
  2. The story MUST have a Happily Ever After (HEA) or a Happily For Now (HFN) ending.

That’s it. It can have whatever other elements the author chooses as long as it doesn’t break these two commandments.

So why has reading romance become a “guilty pleasure”? There’s not a damn thing to feel guilty about when you’re reading a romance. NOT. ONE. DAMN. THING.

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We’re human. We crave relationships with other people. We desire intimacy and connection. We LOVE to be LOVED. So why should we feel guilty about following a couple on their romantic journey to happiness?

I don’t. And neither should you.

We’ve all heard the hater’s commentary:

  1. Romance novels will give you unrealistic expectations for relationships.
  2. They’re basically porn for women.
  3. My Grandma/Mom reads those kinds of books.
  4. Is there even a plot?
  5. Don’t you want to read a real book?
  6. Romance novels are all the same.

The list could continue for days if I asked you all to contribute a piece of what you’ve heard from the naysayers and romance-haters.

Look, I get it. Romance novels aren’t for everyone. Just like I don’t enjoy reading high-fantasy or horror. And not every romance novel is suited for every palate within the genre, for example, the preference between steamy and sweet romance.

But our differences in taste are what make us who we are. If everyone liked the same thing, life would be boring and bland.

We need to stop feeling like we have to defend our love of romance. Authors and readers alike. There is nothing to defend. Instead, maybe we should share the love.

The next time someone decides to throw one of those tired cliched questions at us, our response should be simple and direct:

“Have you read one before?”

If they answer no, then offer them a taste. Give them a recommendation. Let them discover the wonderful world of romance for themselves.

They may not like it. And that’s fine. But just like I tell my kids, you can’t say you don’t like something if you’ve never tried it. So, take a few bites.

Sometimes one taste can change someone’s mind.

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So carry that paperback with pride. We are the genre of love.

LOVE makes the world a better place. ❤ So let’s sprinkle that glorious stuff everywhere!

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

All my love,

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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Creative Update: Current Projects

I thought this week I would write a little post to let you all know what projects I’m working on.

Prohibition Story (tentatively titled Mississippi Moonshine)

Virginia is a tomboy. Having been raised by her father and seven brothers, she lacks all the grace and sophistication a woman should have according to society in 1923. But she’s a river rat, born and raised near the Mississippi River outside of Alton, Illinois. When she discovers her family’s secret distillery hidden deep in the woods, she stumbles into a horrible confrontation with a rival shiner.

Nathaniel shed his proper English gentleman persona to become the most infamous shine runner on the Mississippi. His suppliers in Illinois and Missouri provide him with the most coveted moonshine in the country. But when a gang attacks his most lucrative supplier, he finds himself saddled with more than a financial loss. He finds a river rat stowed away on his boat.

Interesting huh?

Stage play titled Confessions of a Fangirl

We’ve all had our moments of fanaticism. This play is meant to be a visual depiction of the five stages of fangirling and how the seemingly innocent obsession can quickly consume us and ruin our relationships in real life.

I didn’t want to use one specific actor…so I combined three of my favorites to depict a much broader fandom (and not point any fingers since this isn’t about shaming or blaming, just showing the reality and the consequences).

This is my first attempt to write a play. I’m hoping it will help me hone my dialog and plotting skills…even more, I am hoping it will enlighten the world to the wonders and dangers of being a fangirl/boy.

Angus’ story, Book 3 in the Shadow Guardian series, working title A Wicked Shadow

Angus has been bothering me since I started writing A Shadow’s Kiss last fall. He’s begged and pleaded for me to tell his story next. So I am. I have planted the seed of his tale in A Shadow’s Kiss. His love interest is much more…unconventional than Madeline and Evelyn, who are both unique women in their own rights.

I will be plotting his story over the next few months and plan to write it for National Novel Writing Month in November of this year. My first two books were NaNo babies, so Angus’ will be too.

A book of poetry (if anyone had an interest to read it, I have no idea)

I’ve been writing poetry since I was in 8th grade. I have notebooks full of poetry, and so I’ve debated the idea of self publishing a little book of poetry. It’s the project I have spent the least amount of mental energy on, since poetry is such an underrated creative medium. Perhaps one day I will follow through with it if there’s enough interest. I thought it might be fun to just have some printed and sell them on etsy. 🙂 Who knows…I may need a push to do that at some point in the future.

I also have some ideas started for a series of Regency/Victorian (haven’t decided which yet) stories.

There are always notes and ideas floating around for stories to write. I always find a new character who speaks to me, begging me to tell their story. I promise to update you on the status of my projects.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to post them. I love hearing from my readers.

Also, check out my blog posts at my writer’s group site The Sarcastic Muse. I focus on my writing process and romance in those posts.

Talk to you again soon! Have a great week.

❤ Kirsten

A Shadow’s Kiss: Book Two in the Shadow Guardian Series

Well after months of edits and beta readers, the second book in the Shadow Guardian Series is in the final stages before publication.

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This is about how I feel right now. 🙂 Uncontrollably excited. Thanks for clarifying my reaction Tom.

Here is the cover of the new book:

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Gorgeous, isn’t it? I’m in love with it. My cover artist is AMAZING!

I’ve updated all the information on the MY BOOKS page of this blog, including the blurb.

A Shadow’s Kiss will be available for pre-order by the end of June. It releases on July 4th!

What better way to enjoy a book than on Independence Day (for my US readers) with a drink in hand and a long weekend at your disposal.

Stay tuned for more updates! Thanks for the love and support.

~ Kirsten ❤