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Cara McKenna on her inspiration for HARD TIME

Cara McKenna on why she didn’t have a Hard Time setting an erotic romance in a prison . . .

 

I couldn’t tell you precisely when I knew I wanted to write a book about a convicted felon, only that it was a year or more before I ever thought to pitch the idea to my editor. It was a vague sort of wish-list idea, jotted down on my mental notepad and left to sit around in a dusty corner of my head while I attended to contracted projects.

As I’d first envisioned it, the romance would be a purely epistolary one, comprised solely of letters between an inmate and a woman on the outside—a correspondence born of both curiosity and caution, then steadily evolving into something more intense and explicit, and always a touch dangerous. Though I never articulated it to myself, I had imagined that it would be a passionate but doomed affair, the felon serving a life sentence and having no chance at parole (and guilty of his crime, as well.) Loads of longing and hollow hope, leaving it to the reader to imagine what might have happened if the two had been able to be together, that sort of thing—more lit fic than a true romance. More of a concept piece than the novel that little seed ultimately grew into.

Last autumn I’d been struggling to come up with an idea that really clicked for my next book, the third of a three-book contract. I’d been wanting to revisit Darren, Michigan—the struggling Rust Belt city I created for an earlier story, After Hours—and had been wondering what sort of sub-setting I could use. After Hours was set on a locked psychiatric ward (I love grim, institutional stories, whatever that says about me.) Cousins Correctional Facility already existed in that world; many of its inmates wound up at the psychiatric hospital. The moment I realized I could set this new book in a prison, I was instantly infatuated with the notion. (Readers who are familiar with my backlist may have noticed that my heroes are often pretty pent-up, not having gotten laid in a while for a variety of reasons, so writing one who’s been locked up for five years…? Right up my weird alley.)

It took a little effort to convince my then-editor that a story about a felon could be sexy, as opposed to plain old scary, but in the end, I think my naked obsession with the idea swayed her. At least enough to run it by the editorial director, who thankfully shared my enthusiasm.

There’s a point in Hard Time, about halfway through the book, where the heroine discovers that the hero is about to be paroled. (She’s an outreach librarian, in charge of the prison’s literacy program.) By then they’ve been interacting cordially in public and exchanging secret, heated letters for months, but she’s suddenly faced with a reality she hadn’t anticipated. Every worry she has—Is he really as good a man as he seems? Is he dangerous? Is it wise to try to pursue him in the larger world? Will our heat even translate into a kiss, and beyond?

These are some of the same worries I had, myself. Or perhaps more pointedly, Can I pull this off? Will readers stand by this heroine, if she chooses to pursue a romance with a felon with a heinous crime in his past? Will readers feel the depth and strength of her infatuation and understand her decisions, or condemn her as an unforgivable fool?

Well, Hard Timee is out now, and I’m sure readers are falling into both of those camps. It’s not the easiest romance, certainly, but I hope some readers will enjoy that about it, and embrace the contentiousness. Many questionable decisions dot the paths of both characters’ lives before they ever meet and embark on their risky love affair, and writing it was a bit of a risk in itself.

I can say already, however, that the risk has paid off, at least for me—few books have been such a joy to create.

 

 

———-

Cara McKenna writes contemporary romance and smart erotica, sometimes under the name Meg Maguire, and has sold more than thirty-five novels and novellas to Penguin, Piatkus, Harlequin, Samhain and Signet Eclipse. She’s known for writing no-nonsense, working-class heroes with capable hands and lousy grammar. She was a 2010 Golden Heart finalist, and a three-time Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee. Cara writes full-time and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her own bearded hero.

www.caramckenna.com

https://www.twitter.com/caramckenna

*A Girl Walks into a Blind Date GIVEAWAY!*

 
Today our friends over at the Little Book Café publish A Girl Walks into a Blind Date, the third book in Helena S. Paige’s steamy choose-your-own-erotic-destiny series!

We all know internet dating is a tricky game to play, but in A Girl Walks into a Blind Date you’ve done your homework and narrowed down your list to three international men of mystery. Now all that’s left to do is meet them. Will you head to Amsterdam to get hands-on with a bohemian sculptor? Or does the idea of adventure in New York City with a heroic fireman light your fire? And don’t forget the impossibly handsome Italian count who’s been sending you poetic praise from his palazzo in Venice . . .

Whichever way you decide to go, each twist and turn leads to an unforgettable encounter. And if your first choice doesn’t hit the spot, just start over and try something (and someone) new! We love this fun, empowering erotica with a difference.

To celebrate, we’ve got FIVE complete sets of the three books to give away! Just enter your details below to enter – and be sure to read our terms and conditions first.

Erin Knightley’s English Adventure – Part 3

In this last installment of Erin Knightley‘s adventures in England, we come back to the beginning, to that fated day when she would finally try . . . black pudding . . .

Which brings us back to the hockey puck . . .

We were staying at a delightful little bed and breakfast that was probably a good 200 years old, tucked away deep in the country. The floorboards were squeaky, the stairs precipitously steep, and the bathroom roughly the size of my broom closet. In other words, it was terribly rustic and charming. But when the kind innkeeper got it in his head that we should try his famous black pudding, well, what was a girl to do?

So I ate it. The pudding, with the oh-so-appetizing ingredient of pig’s blood, somehow passed my lips, and it was . . . not awful. Meatier than I expected, a little bready like stuffing, and not at all gelatinous like us Americans expect when encountering something called pudding. Thank God – things would have gone very differently if it had been wiggly! Still, I can now say that I have experienced it, and when my characters refer to it, you can rest assured this author knows what she’s talking about.

And no, I won’t be eating it again ;)

So wrong-side driving, a bit of rain, and one slightly embarrassing mishap involving a radiator, a sleepy, robe-wearing innkeeper, and a nearly melted television aside, this trip was truly everything I hoped it would be. I certainly hope that my writing will be that much richer in the future because of it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to treat myself to a cream tea. I’ll leave the pudding to you, dear reader.

 

Come back soon, Erin! We promise we won’t make you eat pig’s blood again! WE PROMISE!!!!!

 

The Baron Next Door is out now in both paperback and ebook. The Earl I Adore releases on the 6th of January 2015  in both paperback and ebook!

Erin Knightley’s English Adventure!

Blightly was honoured recently with a visit from one of our favourite authors, Erin Knightley! Her warm and clever Regency romance The Baron Next Door had only just come out in paperback and we were getting reading for the upcoming sequel The Earl I Adore!

Over the next three days Erin will be telling the story of her trip to England where she visited the inspirations for her books! Keep reading below for Part 1 of Erin Knightley‘s English Adventures!

 

 

 

 

I sat there, staring at the plate before me, trying to figure out how I had gotten into this. The eggs, rasher of bacon, and toast were normal enough—delicious even—but beside them was a round, black, hockey puck slab of food, the likes of which I had never laid eyes on.

“Go on,” the innkeeper said, nodding encouragingly. “You’ll love it, I promise!” His charming enthusiasm was endearing, despite the eyebrow-raising breakfast he had just set in front of me.

Right. When in Rome, etc., etc. I took a deep breath, cut the tiniest morsel you have ever seen from the black disk, and crossed my fingers that my constitution was as good as my characters’ in the Regency world in which I write. 

I, Erin Knightley, romance author, world traveler, and thoroughly modern girl, was about to try black pudding.

So, dear reader, you may be wondering how I came about finding myself in this position, some 4,000 miles away from my cozy little house on a lake in North Carolina and the obligatory bowl of cereal with which I usually break my fast.

It had all started with an email. “Congrats!” it had said, the exclamation point effusive coming from my wonderful agent. “Piatkus has purchased the UK rights to both The Baron Next Door and The Earl I Adore!” It went on to explain that in a few short months, my Regency-set novels would be on the shelves of the country I had adored since the moment I picked up WHITNEY, MY LOVE back in the ‘90s.

And thus began my giddy, gleeful planning of a trip to England to coincide with the debut of The Baron Next Door. Not only could I meet my new publisher, sign books, and stay at the quaintest of quaint bed and breakfasts across the country, but this was my chance to really research the places I wrote about. Oh, to wander the venerated halls of manor houses, to visit the streets Jane Austen had tread, and traverse the ‘rolling countryside’ so often described in Regency-set novels (guilty!). I wanted to sample the traditional English fare, take tea with a side of scones, and discover what, exactly, clotted cream was.

Check back tomorrow for more of Erin’s story!

The Baron Next Door is out now in ebook and paperback!

FALLING AWAY cover reveal!

COVER REVEAL!!

Just when we thought we couldn’t be any more excited about Penelope Douglas’s Falling Away . . . We love this cover – hope you all do too!

Falling Away, Jax’s story, is out on the 6th of January – pre-order here:

Amazon UK

Apple

Kobo

Google

Too excited to breathe? CALM DOWN. We know how you feel. While waiting for Jax to grace us with his presence, why don’t you enter the competition to win a copy of Bully, Until You and Rival? It’s open internationally!

Enter here!

 

**CLOSED** Penelope Douglas GIVEAWAY! – open internationally!

Yesterday was the paperback publication of the wonderful Penelope Douglas. If you live in the UK you can hold Bully, Until You and Rival in your hot little hands and turn the pages, dog-ear your favourite passages and write little notes in the margins.

Yes, we do that to books. SO SUE US.

To celebrate this momentous occasion we’re giving away a complete set of three to one lucky winner and get this: it’s open internationally!

Simply enter your details below and we’ll pick one winner by the end of next week. But be sure to read our terms and conditions first!

 




Happy publication day Cara McKenna!

‘Gritty and compelling. McKenna is a master at capturing realistic situations and characters’ - Maya Banks

‘Sweet, smoking hot, stand out’ - Beth Kery

YES! Finally the UK can get our hands on one of the hottest books out there! Utterly intense, unforgettable and not for the faint-hearted, Hard Time will turn your world upside down.

Happy publication day Cara McKenna!
——————–
My pounding heart went still, eerie as birds fallen silent in the wake of a gunshot.

He was big. Tall frame, wide shoulders-but not burly. His near-black hair was due for a cut, curling under his ears. Dark brows, dark stubble, dark lashes and eyes.

And he was handsome. So handsome it broke your heart.

A deck of cards was split between his hands, paused midshuffle. Some of the men wore navy scrub tops and bottoms, some navy tee shirts, a few white undershirts. This man wore a tee, with COUSINS stenciled on the front, above the number 802267. Those digits imprinted on my brain, burned black as a brand.

He watched me. But not the way the others did. If he was trying to picture me naked, his poker face was strong, though his attention anything but subtle. His entire head moved as I passed through his domain, but his eyes were languorous. Lazy and half-lidded, yet intense. A hundred looks in one. I didn’t like it. Couldn’t read it. At least with the horny jerk-offs, I knew where I stood.

I wondered what the worst thing you could do and still only get sent to a medium-security prison was. I hoped not to ever learn the answer.

And I hoped to heaven inmate 802267 hadn’t signed up for any of the day’s programs.
——————–
Praise for Cara McKenna:

Hard Time delivers erotic passion unlike anything I’ve seen.‘ – Under the Covers

For all of its forbidden nature, this is a lovely, heartfelt romance’ – Dear Author

‘Ultimately, we learn that people are more than just labels, snap judgments are often misguided, and new life is found in the most unlikely of places. There’s nothing sugar-coated here, and the romance stands out more because of it’Heroes & Heartbreakers

‘The emotions, actions and reactions of all the characters were honest and real. I kept wondering the whole time whether Annie and Eric were going to find a way to make it work’ - Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews

Happy publication day Sheila Roberts!!

We are thrilled to have publishing today three gorgeous epubs by Sheila Roberts that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit! They are full of romance, humour and one even features a pesky ginger cat who just might meddle with a few human destinies!

Read on for more about these heart-warming tales from New York Times bestselling author Sheila Roberts!

When a guy is in trouble, he starts making deals with his Creator . . . and Ambrose the cat is no exception. In danger of losing his ninth and final life, Ambrose makes a desperate plea to the universe. He’ll do anything if he can just survive and enjoy a nice long, final life. His prayer is answered when a stranger comes along and saves him-and now it looks like he has to hold up his end of the bargain.

The stranger turns out to be a firefighter named Zach, who’s in need of some serious romantic help. If Ambrose can just bring Zach together with Merilee, the nice lady who works at Pet Palace, it’s bound to earn him a healthy ninth life. Unfortunately for Ambrose, his mission is a lot harder than he ever thought. Merriliee is way too shy to make the first move on a ladies man like Zach, and Zach thinks he’s all wrong for a nice girl like Merrilee. Now it’s going to take all of Ambrose’s feline wiles-and maybe even a good old fashioned Christmas miracle-to make them both realize that what they’re looking for is right in front of their eyes.


At Christmas time, it seems as though a woman’s work is never done. Trimming the tree, mailing the cards, schlepping to the mall, the endless wrapping – bah humbug! So this year, Joy and Laura and the rest of their knitting group decide to go on strike. If their husbands and families want a nice holiday filled with parties, decorations, and presents – well, they’ll just have to do it themselves.

The boycott soon takes on a life of its own when a reporter picks up the story and more women join in. But as Christmas Day approaches, Joy, Laura, and their husbands confront larger issues in their marriages and discover that a little holiday magic is exactly what they need to come together.

When Kiley Gray discovers an enchanting snow globe in an antique shop, she has no idea how much her life is about to change. For years, the snow globe has passed from generation to generation, somehow always landing in the hands of a person in special need of a Christmas miracle.

Kiley could use a miracle herself. This year, all she wants for Christmas is someone to love. A hopeful shake leads her on an adventure that makes a believer out of her. When Kiley shares the story of the snow globe with her best friends-two women with problems of their own-they don’t believe it. But they’re about to discover that at Christmastime, sometimes the impossible becomes possible and miracles really do come true.

 

Happy publication day Sheila Roberts!

All three books are also available in paperback in December and make great stocking stuffers!

Happy publication day MJ Summers!

We are so excited to be the UK publishers of MJ Summers‘ Full Hearts series! Her books are clever, warm and incredibly romantic.

 

And sexy.

 

Did we say sexy?

 

SEXY.

 

Read on to discover the first two Break In Two and Breaking Hearts, out now from Piatkus Entice!

 

Having just discovered that her live-in boyfriend has traded her in for a twenty-two year old hostess, thirty-one year old Claire Hatley is on the run from Seattle. Devastated and alone Claire must make a fresh start. She answers an ad for a chef at a guest ranch just outside Colorado Springs and finds herself face to face with Cole Mitchell, quite possibly the sexiest man to ever ride a horse.

Common sense tells them to stay away from each other, but their attraction is not to be denied. He gives her a glimpse of what love should be, but just as she starts to trust him, the past comes back to tear them apart.

Join Claire and Cole as they embark on the stormy love affair of a lifetime.

 

 

 

Luc Chevalier, powerful billionaire and well-known heart breaker, has everything he desires: power, luxury, beautiful women . . . and no strings attached. Now, an accidental meeting is about to make him question everything.

Megan is a single mum leading a very ordinary life, when she comes crashing into Luc’s seemingly oh-so-perfect world for just one night in the city of love: Paris. Yet that night changes Megan. The part of her she’d hidden away for so long is brought back to life, and she knows she’s out of her depth: Luc is beautiful, ruthless and – somewhere deep down inside – irreparably damaged.

Will two people who don’t believe in happily-ever-after manage to put aside their doubts and find their forever?

 

 

And don’t forget the Full Hearts novella Don’t Let Go! It’s a bite-sized dose of one-click romance!