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The best things about being a romantic

The season of romance is upon us as the 14th February looms ever closer. Hearts, flowers, chocolates and cherubs. What’s not to love?!being a romantic

Over the years I’ve realised a few things about being a romantic and why it can be so great! Here’s my top 5 favourite things.

Optimism – never giving up on love

I forever believe that love is out there for me! The idea that love will be a constant in life is the best feeling. After a bad date I pick myself up and tell myself there is something better out there for not only me but everyone! My optimism can sometimes splay into OVERLY optimistic, which, truth be told can be a rather large downside, with friends thinking I’m absurd. But hey, life is too brilliant to not find someone to share it with, right?

Treating others

When you’re a romantic you love planning special things for those you care most about. Whether it be making their favourite meal or planning a surprise trip, we romantics LOVE this stuff. The best part though is how happy it makes others too. Knowing someone’s done something special for you is a great feeling and everyone deserves to feel like this. So romantics out there, continue to spread that pink, glitter coated love.

Feeling like you’re in a Disney film

Now this one may not be universal, but for me when romance is swirling around my head, I like to think of myself in a Disney film, birds singing and mice helping me design a dress for a ball (ok that last one might be a step too far). However, what I do love in Disney is that it all works out and everyone lives happily ever after, which is a lovely turn out for the books. Really, this is idealistic view is at the core of every romantic and that is AWESOME!

Always having great stories to tell

Whether your romantic ideas play out well or not, you’ll always have a great story to tell. Like that time I cooked a lovely meal for an old boyfriend and as I went to serve it, dropped it all over the floor and his lap. Embarrassment levels were high at the time, but the story went down very well with friends. He wasn’t so impressed with a scorching lap of pasta though.

Being the one people come to for romantic advice

I love sharing my romantic advice with friends and even strangers (if I can make them listen!) But what I love most is when friends come to me for advice and I can help them create an amazing surprise for someone. It’s great to turn non-romantics to the side of love and help someone make the best surprise.

 

All in all, I think we can agree being a romantic is pretty great. We’d love to hear about your favourite romantic stories, so share away on our Piatkus Entice Twitter and Facebook pages!

Love, Aimee

 

Our favourite Christmas movie romances

It’s a week to go until Christmas Eve, and we couldn’t be more excited to slob around in our pyjamas for a fortnight, eating everything in sight and trying not to argue with our siblings. Obviously we’re hoping for some gorgeous books under our tree, but this is also the time for re-watching favourite holiday movies, and we’ve picked out a selection box of some of the most romantic ones just for you . . .

When Harry Met Sally

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This technically isn’t a Christmas film, but it always reminds us of this time of year – lots of festive knitwear, stolen NYE kisses and a scene that captures the horror/joy of getting the tree.

Love Actually

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Depending on your opinion on Keira Knightley, this is either a crime against cinema or a modern Christmas classic – we’re very much in the latter camp. Too many swoon-worthy/heartbreaking moments to count, but our fave is Laura Linney finally going home with the stud from her office.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

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Maybe more appropriate for Halloween (we like to watch it then and a couple more times before Christmas), this is the timeless love story of Jack and Sally, with some absolutely killer songs.

The Holiday

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Whether this is a good film remains debatable, but it’s made its way onto our holiday viewing roster through ITV2’s sheer persistence showing it ALL THE TIME over Christmas.

Bridget Jones’s Diary

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Colin Firth in a reindeer jumper. Need we say more?

It’s a Wonderful Life

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Yes, it’s shamelessly sentimental and you’ve probably seen it more times than you care to admit, but we honestly can’t think of a more romantic film that embodies the spirit of Christmas. If this isn’t a part of your holiday traditions, now is the time to make it so.

Eyes Wide Shut

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Maybe a slightly rogue choice, but this is a serious Christmas film, with (then) real-life couple Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise baring their souls and a whole lot more besides . . . Come for the star-gazing, stay for the erotic masked ball.

Fire up your Netflix and get viewing! What are your favourite Christmas movies?

Our Top Holiday Romance Reads

Moment of Letting GoToday we publish the gorgeous, escapist summer-holiday-in-a-book that is J.A. Redmerski’s The Moment of Letting Go. Whether you’re about to head off somewhere sunny or fancy an armchair vacation, this is just the perfect summer read. To keep Redmerski company, I’ve selected another four top romantic reads in a mix of genres that should all command space in your holiday suitcase or bookshelf. All four are extremely readable (warning: don’t start any of these if you intend to speak to any of your loved ones for the duration) and contain intense, all-consuming relationships and evocative settings.
Unsticky

1. Sharp, witty romcoms are a weakness of mine but there are a lot of mediocre books out there. Unsticky, which is nowhere near as famous as it ought to be, is deliciously addictive, funny and moving with the added perks of great clothes, the most realistic sex scene I’ve ever read and a heroine you would take on the world for.

 

Bronze horseman2. The Bronze Horseman is just a complete classic: an epic, sweeping, heart-wrenching romance. I read it on a girly summer holiday when I was around seventeen and immediately forced it on everyone else. As a result, we spent the summer with one of the group continuously out of action and in Alexander’s arms. Trust all four of us when we say he is one of the best romantic heroes ever.

 

The Soldier's Wife3. The Soldier’s Wife: This Australian wartime love story is based on the true story of the author’s own family history and is easy to read, nostalgic and very sweet – if you enjoyed Michelle Magorian‘s Back Home, this is one for you. I was charmed by it and have yet to come across anyone who doesn’t fall instantly in love with Pamela Hart‘s storytelling. Highly recommended!

 

Lemon Grove

4. This book. It’s so twisted but so wonderful! I could not put The Lemon Grove down. It’s filthy sexy in a way that’s all the more shocking because of the beautiful, poetic writing. Be prepared for it to get nasty but also be prepared to be absolutely swept away. Not for the faint-hearted but not a ride you should miss.

Cover reveal – Moonlight on Nightingale Way

Last week we revealed our cover for Hero and today we’re really happy to have another Samantha Young cover reveal – the next in the On Dublin Street series! Moonlight on Nightingale Way is a thoroughly beautiful book, with perhaps my favourite hero so far . . .

Look out for Logan’s book in 2015!

Logan from Echoes of Scotland Street is back with his own smouldering story, as the New York Times bestselling On Dublin Street series returns…

Logan spent two years paying for the mistakes he made. Now, he’s ready to start over. He has a great apartment, a good job, and plenty of women to distract him from his past. And one woman who is driving him to distraction…

Grace escaped her manipulative family by moving to a new city. Her new   life, made to suit her own needs, is almost perfect. All she needs to do is find her Mr. Right — or at least figure out a way to ignore her irresistible yet annoying womanizer of a neighbour.

Grace is determined to have nothing to do with Logan until a life-changing surprise slowly begins turning the wild heartbreaker into exactly the kind of strong, stable man she’s been searching for. Only just when she begins to give in to his charms, her own messy past threatens to derail everything they’ve worked to build…

 

“[The] On Dublin Street series is a total winner” — Dear Author

 

“Young is not an author you should miss out on!” — Fresh Fiction

Samantha Young’s HERO is Here

Just six more days until Christmas and we have an early present for you!

The UK cover of Samantha Young’s standalone romance Hero, available March 2015.

We’re in lust . . . let us know what you think!

The explosive, emotional and unforgettable new romance from the New York Times bestselling author of the On Dublin Street series

Alexa Holland’s father was her hero – until her shocking discovery. Ever since, Alexa has worked to turn her life in a different direction and forge her own identity outside of his terrible secrets. But when she meets a man who’s as damaged by her father’s mistakes as she is, Alexa must help him.

Caine Carraway wants nothing to do with Alexa’s efforts at redemption, but it’s not so easy to push her away. Determined to make her hate him, he brings her to the edge of her patience and waits for her to walk away. But his actions only draw them together and, despite the odds, they begin an intense and all-consuming affair.

Only Caine knows he can never be the white knight that Alexa has always longed for, and when they’re on the precipice of danger, he finds he’ll do anything to protect either one of them from being hurt again . . .

 

Piatkus Entice Stocking Filler(s) – Tara Loder

 

For the month of December, the team at Piatkus Entice will be sharing their chosen stocking filler title (and please don’t tell their friends, as who knows if this will end up in their sock)!

Today’s choice was picked by Tara Loder, Piatkus Fiction Editorial Assistant . . .

For me this year it’s all about the New Adult releases, and I’m going to cheat by naming two stocking fillers – one for my virtual stocking and one for my real stocking (you can never have too many books).

On my iPad will be all things Lia Riley. Her debut Upside Down totally Sideswiped me and turned me Inside Out. To ensure a break from festive feasting, I’ll choose to be consumed by the emotional intensity of Talia and Bran (and delighted by the humour).

In my actual stocking will be Robin York’s Deeper; making me swoon, clap and sniffle. The story of Caroline and West is absolutely beautiful and the way they meet their challenges makes me want to cheer. It’s going to be Harder than ever to stop reading this Christmas.

 

Piatkus Entice Stocking Filler – Grace Menary-Winefield

For the month of December, the team at Piatkus Entice will be sharing their chosen stocking filler title (and please don’t tell their friends, as who knows if this will end up in their sock)!

Today’s choice was picked by Grace Menary-Winefield, Piatkus Fiction Assistant Editor . . .

 

For the holidays I wanted something that was cozy, romantic and filled with magic. And I don’t mean the ‘Christmas Spirit’ kind of magic. Real magic, like sparks flying, fires burning and control of the elements (yes, I do appreciate the irony of ‘real’ magic – hardy hardy har).

Firelight by Kristen Callihan is exactly what I want in my stocking! It’s paranormal romance set in smoggy, mysterious Victorian London. Reading Firelight in front of an actual fire (cue the hot chocolate and a waistcoated man under the mistletoe) and I’m set!

A Christmas memory from Jessica Blair (William Spence)

Tomorrow we publish Whispers in the Snow by Jessica Blair, our first ever Entice saga novella! Just reading it gets us in the holiday spirit and inspires us to think of days gone by.

In this special author post, Jessica Blair shares her Christmas memory and how she found out Santa might be all that he seems . . .

 

 

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He comes in the night! He comes in the night!

He softly, silently comes;

While the little brown heads on the pillows so white,

Are dreaming of bugles and drums.

 

‘Mum, I’ve asked Father Christmas for the Boy’s Own Annual and it will be too big to fit into this.’

 

‘Don’t you want me to hang your sock up as usual?’ his mother asked.

 

‘What’s the use?’ he snapped grumpily, throwing the sock off the bed.

 

‘As you wish,’ she replied.

 

With his lips tight, he thumped his pillows angrily.

 

‘Settle down, Billy,’ she said with soothing authority. ‘Go to sleep; otherwise Father Christmas won’t call.’

 

‘What’s the use?’ he muttered.

 

Mum was awake early, listening for any movement in Billy’s bedroom. Hearing him stirring, she slipped out of bed without waking Billy’s Dad.  She found Billy, emptying the contents of his sock, not looking particularly thrilled even though he knew later in day the there would be presents from his Mum and Dad and grandparents.

 

As she sat down on the bed, she said, ‘What’s this pillow doing on the floor?’

 

Billy craned over the edge of the bed. ‘Dunno, Mum.’

 

She picked it up.  ‘There’s something in it,’ she said, placing it on the bed.

 

His natural curiosity was sparked and he automatically looked inside. His attention was caught, but what was it? He reached in; his hand closed round something. He tried to drag it out but it was heavy. He stretched in with his other hand; his head disappeared into the pillowcase. He pulled. His head re-emerged and was followed by a large thick book.

 

His eyes widened, stunned by the title: Boy’s Own Annual.

 

He looked at her. ‘Mum, he got my letter!’

 

‘And he thought to bring a pillowcase!’ she pointed out quietly. ‘Come on. Let’s tell your Dad.’

 

Billy scrambled down off the bed, took the book into his arms, went out on to the landing and headed for his parents’ bedroom to find his Dad.

 

Then he stopped in mid-stride and looked curiously at his mother who smiled because she had read his thoughts. The last words of the poem, laced with his wonderment of discovery, came slowly from him.

 

‘Then, children, be good to the little old man,

When you find who the little man is.’

 

Whispers in the Snow by Jessica Blair is out December 4th from Piatkus Entice and is the perfect holiday read!

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.

 

 

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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