Cover Reveal for Bittersweet by Shewanda Pugh

Bittersweet by Shewanda Pugh
(Love Edy #2)
Publication date: December 9th 2014
Genres: Romance, Young Adult

In the aftermath of one tragic and uncertain night, Edy and Hassan shut out the chaos with a kiss. But when Hassan’s traditionalist mother sees that kiss … well, a nightmare of a different sort begins. After all, he still has an arranged marriage on the horizon.

Love attacks the glue of their two bonded families; while the slow tug of success pulls Edy and Hassan in opposite directions.  After denying their feelings for so long, they now have each other, but are forced to ask themselves if being together is worth it.

Shewanda Pugh is a tomboy who credits Stephen King with being the reason she writes romance. In 2012 she debuted with the first novel in a three part contemporary adult romance series, Crimson Footprints. Since then, she’s been shortlisted for the AAMBC Reader’s Choice Award, the National Black Book Festival’s Best New Author Award, and the Rone Award for Contemporary Fiction in 2012 and 2013. She has an MA in Writing from Nova Southeastern University and a BA in Political Science from Alabama A&M University. Though a native of Boston, MA, she now lives in Miami, FL, where she can soak up sun rays without fear of shivering. Her first young adult romance, Love Edy, is scheduled for release on June 24th, 2014.
Author Links:

New Release Friday Presents Final Mend

Final Mend by Angela Smith

Final Mend


A recovering alcoholic, Jake Inman has found a new, healthier addiction: training for his successful triathlon career. But when his manager is murdered and beloved goddaughter kidnapped, another obsession takes hold: doing whatever it takes to find Brandon’s killer and keep Amy safe. Jake turns to a private investigator for help in solving the case, and though he finds temptation in her whiskey-colored eyes, he knows he must resist his attraction, or risk losing his heart.

After a devastating case, Winona Wall has turned her back on her skills as a private investigator, preferring a quiet life as a part-time bartender. That is, until Jake storms into the bar, demanding her help in tracking his missing godchild. Unable to resist Jake’s charm, she reluctantly agrees. But even after Amy is found unharmed, Jake insists Amy’s mother was more involved with her kidnapping than the police suspect. When the situation takes a turn for the worse, Winona must trust her instincts in order to save them all – and avoid falling in love.

Information about the book:

Title: Final Mend

Author: Angela Smith

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release Date: 23 June 2014

Publisher: Crimson Romance

ISBN: 1440583331

 Buy Links:


Google Play:

Crimson Romance:


Other links listed at

 About the Author:

Angela Smith

During her senior year in high school, Angela Smith was dubbed most likely to write a novel, and that has been her dream ever since her mother read Brer Rabbit to her and her sister so often that they were able to recite it back to each other before actually learning to read. She’s always enjoyed stories about the adventure of love, and getting involved in the legal field developed her love of suspense. A certified paralegal, work gives her perfect fodder for her romantic suspense stories. When not caring for her small farm or spending time with her husband of two decades, she enjoys off-roading, crafting, reading, and dreaming of the places she’ll visit one day.

Angela Smith LOVES talking to readers. You can contact her in the following ways:






Amazon Author Page:




Crimson Romance:


The Jeep bounced along the road, up steep mountain slopes, as rain fell in sheets. Winona gasped as the Jeep slid through slick channels of mud, but Jake managed to hold it tight. The roads were spongy, absorbing water, then wringing it out in a collection of goo.

She imagined water gushing around her. Imagined falling to their death. Being sucked into the earth by sludge. The sky had turned dark, merciless, and she couldn’t see a damn thing but the Jeep lights soaking an otherwise indistinguishable trail. The wind clamored across the ragtop as if it wasn’t even attached.

“We’re almost there,” Jake had assured her several times as she clenched the grab handle. They had made it past the public roads just fine, and she felt this trail was way worse than he’d described. “It feels worse than it is,” he continued. “I’ve traveled this road hundreds of times.”

“We should wait for backup.” She checked her phone yet again but had no service. She couldn’t call Garret to find out what was going on at his end, and none of her texts was going through. As a private investigator, she’d done many stupid things alone. This ranked top of her list.

She opened the glove compartment. Searched under the seats, behind the seats.

“What are you doing?”

“Looking to see if Chayton has any ammo or guns in his Jeep. Knowing my brother, he doesn’t.”

Her arsenal consisted of the .380 she’d hidden in her pants and the 9mm she kept in her purse. She’d feel much better if she had an assault rifle as backup, or at least her shotgun. Not that she could handle any more than two at a time anyway, if she was lucky to handle more than one.

Jake cracked his knuckles. “The only ammo I need is right here.”

Winona settled in her seat and faced him. He continued to peer out the window as the heavy downpour seemed to crack the Jeep’s ragtop. But the Jeep held steady. “Really, Jake?”

“Yep. That and adrenaline.”

“So your fists, your arms, will help you dodge bullets? You don’t think that whoever we meet at this cabin won’t have their adrenaline? You know we could be heading into a trap, right?”

“You think I care about that right now? All I care about is my little girl.”

“How do we know she’s even there? Lillian could be lying to you. Setting you up. If she had anything to do with Brandon’s murder, anything at all, then—”

“You didn’t have to come!”

“We can’t just go in there without a plan.”

“I have a plan.”

“We don’t even know who’s there. How many are there. If Amy is even there.”

“I know that cabin like the back of my hand. We’re close, and I’m damn sure not stopping or turning around.”

She squared her shoulders, digging in her purse for the 9mm. She checked the clip and handed it to him.

“Do you at least know how to shoot?”

“Are you kidding me, Winona?”

“No, I’m not kidding you. If it comes down to it, can you shoot a living, breathing human being if he’s threatening your life or those you love?”

“Maybe you’re a tough street chick who carries a couple of guns everywhere she goes. I can picture you with an AK on your back and a belt of bullets strapped around your chest. But I can hold my own. I might not be a cop, but I’m probably a better marksman than most. I was four years old when I shot my dad’s rifle for the first time. I grew up around hunting and fishing, spitting and shooting.”

“Hunting is a lot different than killing a person.”

“And you would know better than me how?”

“Well, I’ve never had to kill anyone. Most of my PI work didn’t involve danger.”

Jake glanced at her. Shadows deepened the hard lines of his face, making him appear lethal. But the last time a friend had helped in an investigation, he’d ended up dead.

In many ways Jake reminded her of Naomi’s ex, Caleb. Caleb had become addicted to alcohol, ruined his relationship with Naomi, and Winona had befriended him when he came to Montana to try to win Naomi back. He was trying to change, trying to get better, when he was shot outside the police station by the cronies who wanted to kill Garret.

Caleb had died because of quick and irrational decisions. At the time, she had been holed up safely with her mother and she knew it was nobody’s fault. But she knew they hadn’t thought things through, and she worried the same thing was about to happen again.

“If my life or the life of anyone I care about is in danger, I will shoot. If you threatened Amy, I’d shoot you.” Jake patted her on the leg before returning his hands to the wheel. “You worry too much. Stop worrying.” He turned off the lights and drove.

“What are you doing?” Winona squinted through the gray. It shouldn’t be dark yet, but the unrelenting skies held the sun hostage.

Jake pulled under a tree and shut off the engine.

“I think it’s best if we walk the rest of the way.”

“Walk? I didn’t exactly bring my hiking gear.”

Jake glanced down at her tennis shoes. “Those will have to do.”

New Release Friday: Sorcha Mowbray

This New Release Friday I’m showcasing Boiling Point by Sorcha Mowbray. Enjoy 🙂

Boiling Point


A woman on the run…

Karen James is a woman with a plan. Running from her past and her ability to control water, aquakinesis, her goal is to live a normal life. In denial about who and what she is, she ignores a sexy fireman’s offer of help until a fatal mishap puts her in the path of the juggernaut she’s been running from.

A man focused on the present…

Dalton Moore, a pyrokinetic determined to teach Karen how to control her power, has his own past he’d prefer to leave behind. But as his effort to help one woman turns into a commitment to the supernatural community, less and less of the past is staying where it belongs.

A mad man on the loose…

Her past returns with a vengeance pitting her against the scientist she escaped and his pursuit for genetic perfection. Neither Karen nor Dalton expected to be caught in the middle of one man’s twisted scheme or to become the superheroes the world suddenly needed.

The best laid plans…

And falling in love while trying to stop a madman? Not part of the plan. But Fate has a plan of her own because superheroes need love, too.

 Boiling Point is available at:







Dalton didn’t like the look of the blaze at the Linden Motor Inn. For starters, there was no telling what started the fire, based on the clientele that frequented the Livonia Ave dump. When you catered to crack heads, crank users, and prostitutes there were a multitude of possibilities for how a fire might have started. None of them were good.

Sweat trickled down his back, whether from the weight of his gear or the heat from the blaze, it was hard to tell. Probably some combination of the two. Dalton shouted orders at his men.

“Brooks, Rocker, hustle that replacement hose down to engine nineteen.”

The orchestrated dance to save the crappy building and any lives it contained probably appeared to be chaos to the average bystander. As Field Commander, he was responsible for their movements and getting them home alive. He took his job seriously, so when he found most of the motel residents milling around the parking lot, he was a lot less concerned about possible victims, and more focused on the source of the fire. But then he heard the shout from the crowd.

“Look! There’s a woman still up there!”

Shit. Someone had to go after her. As he ran through a mental catalogue of his men, their current tasking, and who could get loose to go after the clearly deranged woman, he felt the tingle of awareness run through his body. Someone nearby drew on natural power. And damn, they were strong. Stronger than Streak, his best friend. Unexpectedly, the smell of rain hung heavy in the air. He could almost feel the moisture lying in a thin layer on his skin, and suddenly, the fire was out.

Dalton watched as the firemen up and down the motel stood looking at each other confused. One minute they were fighting the fire and the next it was out. That’s not how fighting fires worked. It was a process. A battle. There was not a switch that someone flipped to turn it off. The radio chirped into his ear and reminded him he had a job to do.

“Everyone stand ready. I’m going to check on the woman and see if I can get a closer look.” He closed his turnout up and buckled the strap on his helmet.

It was a slow climb up the stairs of the unburned end of the building. On the second floor, about halfway down the structure, stood a half-naked woman. Red hair streamed around her, brushing the middle of her back. A white t-shirt just covered what looked like a nicely shaped ass clad in matching white panties. Muscular and shapely, her long, lush legs stood solidly underneath her. Creamy skin glowed softly in the ambient light from the street. There was no sign of fire, so he sidled up next to the woman to see what she stared at so intently.

“Miss?” She took deep breaths, but did not respond. Wary of the unknown, he peeked in the door of the burnt out room they stood in front of. Holy shit! The walls looked like someone had punched through them with a sledgehammer and then took a big gnarly saw to the pipes. Water soaked the room from floor to ceiling. Puddles shimmered on every horizontal surface that hadn’t absorbed the fluid. He returned his focus to the woman.

“Miss? Are you okay?” He reached out to gently touch her shoulder.

“What?” Big blue eyes looked at him dazed and unfocused, but it wasn’t from drug use. She was the source of the power draw he felt earlier. He knew the look in her eyes and the confusion that came from an unexpected burst of power. An uncontrolled burst. An incog.

“Why don’t we head down the stairs here? We can get you a blanket and maybe some pants.” Yeah. She needed pants-like yesterday-before all his men got completely distracted. Before he got distracted.

“Oh, here. This is my room.” She stepped through the entryway to his left before he could stop her and grabbed a bag. She pulled the door closed and then pulled a pair of shorts from the bag. She handed them to him.

“Um. They’re for you. Can you put them on?”


Author Info 

I was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, one of two children and grew up in Florida and Alabama. I later graduated from Auburn University Montgomery with a BS in Political Science and a minor in History.

My mother once asked me what I would do with a poly sci degree. At that moment I happened to have a romance novel in my hand, the author of which was a poly sci major. I quickly held it up and said, “Well, I can write romance novels!” How prophetic!

I specialize in configuration management, and I pursue my love of writing romance in my spare time. I dream of one day commuting to my living room in my bathrobe for work.

I met my husband my first week living in New York City. While he does not share my love of books, he does support my writing wholeheartedly! We were married in November 2000, and now share a beautiful home in Southern California.

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Multicultural Romance Blog-A-Thon presents Michele Kimbrough

I can’t believe this is the last day of the Blog-A-Thon! Thanks to all the wonderful authors for participating and readers for visiting. We’ve had a great turn out-Yolanda Ashton

United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote: People who live in difficult circumstances need to know that happy endings are possible.

As a new writer, I had a lot of difficulty deciding what I would write about. The only thing I was certain about was that I wanted to write. I’ve been writing since I could form a sentence and storytelling as long as I can remember. But it wasn’t until the recession of 2008 and my long-term unemployment which followed, that I decided I’d pursue writing professionally, freelance at first then novels.

Putting pen to paper, I set out to write my first novel, during 2011 National Novel Writing Month.  I participated in a challenge called NaNoWriMo where participants journeyed to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It was an insane challenge, but it gave me the confidence to pursue my dream of finally penning a novel. A year and a half later, I published my debut novel, Prudence.

But before Prudence came to life, I had to decide what I wanted to write. My first thought was to write romance simply because most people hope to find love and live happily ever after. Even better, what about interracial and multicultural relationships? What if I wrote about people whose race and nationality were descriptions, not characteristics (as they so often are in reality).  But my problem with writing romance was that I didn’t know how to deliver a ‘happily ever after’ story.

While my life’s journey hasn’t been too bad, it has been laden with obstacles and pitfalls, disappointments and failures. I’ve experienced betrayals that I thought only happened in the movies. I’ve endured hardships that I thought were reserved only for those who did despicable things. Because my happy ending seemed so elusive, I hardly felt like I could write about happy endings.

Then I was reminded that every ending is a beginning to something. Happy endings are just new beginnings. Eureka! Why not write novels that demonstrate no matter how tough the road may be or how long it may seem, happy endings are possible?

I dedicate each and every book I write to anyone who is living with difficult circumstances and anyone who dares to live outside of the boundaries of what society deems acceptable or the norm or achievable. We all should experience all the fullness of life and love as we pursue our happiness.  After all, isn’t that what romance is all about?


My second novel, Wildflower is due to release in June 2014. A synopsis is located on my website.





Multicultural Romance Blog-A-Thon presents Delaney Diamond

It is my pleasure to feature Delaney Diamond! She has an interesting yet controversial subject. Enjoy 🙂 

Is It Wrong Not to Want Kids?

 The desire to procreate is not only part of life, it’s a popular theme in romance novels. But what about people who don’t want children? Is there something wrong with them? People who do have kids always talk about the joys of parenthood, but they omit the very valid reasons why someone shouldn’t have any. I, personally, can think of four perfectly good reasons. Here they are in order of least to most important:

Four. You get a good night’s sleep. My four-year-old niece recently spent the night with me, and she took over the bed. How someone so tiny could take up that much space is beyond me. It wasn’t enough to have me hanging off the edge of the mattress, she had to throw her arm around my neck, too, and wake me up in the middle of the night. I guess that’s better than when my nephew was her age. Somehow the kid would wind up upside down in the bed and his feet would invariably find their way to my face.

Three. You can sleep in late. I’m not a morning person, so this is very important to me. There’s nothing like lying around in bed and not having to worry about small bodies rushing in and jumping all over it to wake you up because they’re hungry. Usually this happens on the weekend. During the week when they have to go to school, you’d think they were dead based on their comatose state. Go figure.

Two. You can make spontaneous plans. There is no spontaneity if you have children. You can’t suddenly decide to go watch a movie or join friends for dinner at the last minute. No, my friend. You need a babysitter and must plan all activities at least six weeks in advance.

One. The number one reason why it makes sense not to have kids, is that you can finally have a conversation on the phone. Is it me, or do children purposely start screaming and yelling and running around with scissors the minute their parents are on the phone? I swear they do it on purpose. By the end of the conversation, you’re so exhausted from repeating yourself, you realize it’s better to just send a text or email the next time you want to catch up with your friend.

All joking aside, I love kids. I have a niece and nephew whom I adore, but in my latest release, Unforgettable (Book 1 of the Johnson Family series), I wrote about a hero who didn’t want children. Lucas Baylor made that clear when he had a fling with Ivy Johnson nine years ago. When you read the story, you’ll get a better understanding of his reasons. She ends up pregnant and has his child anyway.

Often in romance novels, the heroine is forced to marry the hero or she’s forced to seek him out because she needs something from him. Usually she needs a financial bailout, but Ivy has her own money. Her family is famous and owns a multi-billion dollar beer and restaurant corporation. So she doesn’t need Lucas’s money, and she offers him the option to walk away from his responsibilities, which turns out not to be that easy to do.  



She offered everything he never knew he needed…

Ivy Johnson is stunned when Lucas Baylor makes an appearance at her family’s event in Seattle. She hasn’t seen him in nine years and never expected to again. Avoiding him is a must. She can’t let him uncover her secret, but Lucas won’t be denied. When her deception is revealed, it throws his life into a tailspin and forces them to face the truth of their feelings for each other—feelings they’ve both tried in vain to forget.


“What do you want to do?”

“I don’t want to be a father,” he grated.

He never had. He’d been cautious all along, always using condoms and had even played around with the idea of a vasectomy. Only the finality of the procedure had kept him from having the surgery. Because even though he knew without a doubt he didn’t want the trappings of fatherhood, part of him held out just in case he ever changed his mind.

“Then don’t be a father,” Ivy said evenly.

“We crossed that bridge eight years ago.”

“I said you could walk away and no one will blame you. She doesn’t know you, and far as she’s concerned, her father is dead. You can go back to Atlanta with a clear conscience.”

He stilled. “Is that what you want?”

“I want you to have what you want. Our lives don’t have to be disrupted and neither does yours.”

She was giving him a way out—freedom. Freedom from responsibility, freedom to continue his life in the way he had been living it without interruption. The travel, the women, his work—everything would remain the same. Yet he hesitated to seize the opportunity she offered. 

“I could just walk out of here?”

“Free and clear.” Same cool voice, same impassive features. He couldn’t read her at all.

“I didn’t want this, Ivy.”

“You think I don’t know that?” A quivering smile crossed her lips. “I understand and I don’t blame you. You can make your choice the same way I did. What do you want to do?”

The same question again.

He thought about the little girl he’d just spent a few moments with. He didn’t know her and she didn’t know him. He could leave and she wouldn’t know the difference because she already thought another man was her father. He’d just be some random guy that she’d met and would soon forget.

Instead of the excitement he would have expected, the thought knocked the wind from him. He sank onto the edge of the desk and stared at his shoes. His lungs didn’t seem capable of providing enough oxygen. He gulped air into his nostrils, finding it hard to breathe all of a sudden.

“What do you want to do?” Ivy asked again.

His head snapped up. “Can’t wait to get rid of me?” he asked in a biting voice.

“Like I told you before, I have lunch plans.”

“Well I wouldn’t want to disrupt your goddamn lunch plans. You must be f**king starving.”

She flinched at his tone.

There was nothing more to say. “You want me to leave, Ivy, I’ll leave.” A huge knot settled in his stomach. Why didn’t he feel better about this decision?

“I never said I wanted you to leave, but you can.” She held her body rigid. “And I’d understand.”

Their gazes locked on each other.

Still he didn’t move. He could walk out and be a free man, or stay. This should be an easy decision, but it was turning out to be much harder than expected. He thought again about Katie. She had uncles, grandparents, and billions of dollars. Anything she wanted she could have, including a gold-plated cell phone when she turned nine years old. She didn’t need him. He had nothing to offer. He didn’t come from money, and he didn’t know who he was or where he came from.

He bolted from the desk. He had to get away before he suffocated. He swung the door open and without looking at Ivy again, walked out the door.

 Buy links:


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Barnes & Noble:


 About the Author

Delaney Diamond is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sweet, sensual, passionate romance novels. Originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands, she now lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She reads romance novels, mysteries, thrillers, and a fair amount of nonfiction. When she’s not busy reading or writing, she’s in the kitchen trying out new recipes, dining at one of her favorite restaurants, or traveling to an interesting locale. She speaks fluent conversational French and can get by in Spanish.

Enjoy free reads and the first chapter of all her novels on her website. Join her e-mail mailing list to get sneak peeks, notices of sale prices, and find out about new releases.


Facebook fan page:



Prize: One reader will be gifted their choice of an ebook from my Love Unexpected interracial series or my African-American series, the Hawthorne Family. (The first book in the Hawthorne Family series – The Temptation of a Good Man – is now a free download! Make sure you get your copy while it’s free for a limited time.)

How to Enter: Answer the following question: Is it wrong not to want kids?

Deadline to enter: 11:59 PM EST on May 25, 2014.

Multicultural Romance Blog-A-Thon presents Alyssa Cole

Black Patriot

History, in Technicolor

Close your eyes. Wait, you need them to read this post…okay, just use your imagination, then. When I say the words “historical romance” what comes to mind? Sexy Scottish highlanders? Delicious dukes? Heroines with flame red hair and milky skin, right? Historical romance, more than any other subgenre, is automatically equated with white heroes and heroines. Why is this? Most of the earth’s population is some shade or other of brown, and they have been so for time immemorial. People of color have been traveling the world, freely and by force, and part of many historical societies (check out Medieval POC if you doubt me). So why is it that mainstream historical romance seems to be reserved for those who pass the (white) paper bag test?

I know some of you will say, “But what about the Lord so-and so’s man-servants and Lady Fiddle-dee-dee’s maids?” Stop right there. The token magical Negroes, mystical South Asians, and Noble Savages that grace the pages of many a historical don’t count. We don’t need historical romances in which the people of color are only there to clumsily shore up historical reality; we need romances in which they are historical reality. Well-rounded, smart, strong characters with lives, loves, and adventures of their own.

What about Beverly Jenkins, you might ask. The woman is a godsend and I worship at her alter, but she shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of multicultural historical romance alone. And readers should have easy access to more than one person’s vision of history for people of color.

I’m not writing this to disparage historical romance—I love it dearly. I just want to encourage more diversity in historical romance. History, American history in particular, is chock-a-block with AMAZING real-life people and settings that would make for wonderful, vivid historical romance, yet these stories are generally overlooked, leaving readers to believe that people of color were…somewhere else?…while all of the action was happening.


To remedy this, I’ve started writing historical fiction that features characters of color. My first endeavor is Be Not Afraid, a story in the Revolutionary War anthology For Love & Liberty: Untold Love Stories of the American Revolution. It follows Elijah Sutton, a black slave fighting for the Patriots, and Kate Foster, a runaway who has thrown in her lot with the British. With this story, I hoped to entertain the reader, but also provide a view that isn’t often represented: that of the enslaved people in this country who fought and bled for the Colonies and were then written out of the history books for their troubles.

The other authors on the anthology, Lena Hart (who kicked off the blog-a-thon by writing about our book), Kate McMurray, and Stacey Agdern, are also committed to providing a more diverse view, and their tales follow a Native woman and the British soldier she falls for; a white man and his mixed race valet who must decide where the war will take them; and a Jewish couple struggling to stay united when the coming war would tear them apart.

For those of you who love historical romance and wish that you could see more reflections of yourself in the genre: your time is coming! Learn more about For Love & Liberty, here. Also, leave a comment with your thoughts on multicultural historical romances to win a copy of Beverly Jenkins’s NightHawk!


About the Author

Alyssa Cole is a Brooklyn-based romance writer; she hosts a Romance Book Club and teaches romance writing at the Jefferson Market Library in NYC.




Multicultural Romance Blog-A-Thon featuring P.J. Dean

Thank you, Yolanda for the opportunity to share my work on the Blog-a-Thon. I write both interracial historical romance and interracial paranormal romance but my present series is paranormal. My series, THE FELIG CHRONICLES, follows an interracial pair who join together to fight Earth-invading aliens and growing feelings for one another. Book three, UNION, the latest in the series was released in November 2013. I’m had a blast creating this alternate Earth and continue to have fun. I hope readers find it intriguing.



A shape-shifting, alien race (The Felig) has invaded Earth. To live, they must siphon human energy. When the story opens, the Felig have been here for several years. The world population has coped somewhat but lives in a state of total paranoia. No one can trust anyone because no one knows who anyone really is. My African-American heroine and my Caucasian hero, Tina Cain and Nate Lowe, meet at a time of mutual crisis and need. Both have secrets that they want to remain hidden otherwise these truths may break apart the fledgling union.

 My Blog

 Buy Link for the series

Multicultural Romance Blog-A-Thon Presents Noelle Vonham Paling

How Do You Like Your Sex…In Romance Novels?

 Recently, I logged onto my Facebook account and found that a forum administrator had just posted a new hot topic.* She described a sexual scene she read, and then asked about whether or not graphic sex in romance novels ever offended our sensibilities. For me, the answer to that question was simple: “No.” However for most of us, the true answer is a bit more complex and begins with, “It all depends.” Romance and Erotica are becoming more and more entwined, with lots of people liking both, but not necessarily at the same time. This is not particularly surprising, as choices of reading material often depend upon the reader’s level of maturity, preferences and mood. The topic of how and whether lovemaking should be portrayed in writing is not new, but has been with us since the inception of the printed word. Romance is merely the genre of choice for this forum, and so let us explore a few of the questions surrounding sex in romance novels.

Are the scenes age appropriate?Most fans of romance novels begin reading them as teenagers. My mother carefully screened my books, and heaven help me if she caught me reading an unauthorized novel. At the time, I resented that level of control. However, I now understand that she did not want my sexual identity to be shaped by romance novels, any more than she wanted my brothers’ sexual identities to be shaped by pornography. I’m not saying that sex in romance novels is pornographic, but both portray sex in an unrealistic manner: Perfect bodies, flowers and candlelight, hours of extended foreplay, zero consequences and satisfaction guaranteed, every time. In comparison, the reality can be a bit, well, underwhelming.

Does it fit the storyline? I recently read a novel with a strong, smart and sweet heroine who expressed her feelings in a thoughtful manner. She enjoyed a close relationship with her happily married parents, and each of her friends was carefully selected to be a member of her circle. She continually made good, cautious decisions and exhibited an uncommon degree of intelligence and ambition. Suddenly, the character told the reader about how she played guys and slept around indiscriminately. This was so incongruous with her otherwise careful, methodical personality that I simply could not reconcile these two sides to her character. I initially gave her the benefit of the doubt, but the novelist provided no explanation or motivation for the contrast between this choice and the remainder of her lifestyle. For me, she ruined an otherwise excellent novel by trying to force this character into a sex life that just did not fit her personality.

There is another way that an author can fail to fit the storyline. Placing a torrid photograph on the front cover, and posting sexually provocative advertisements for the book can create certain expectations for the reader, and it is quite strange to then read such a novel and realize that no sex ever occurred within the story. Rather, it is left to the reader’s imagination. I call this “the tease.” Some authors tease the reader from cover to cover, and never complete the act within the book. This can be just as disappointing for some readers as placing sex where is doesn’t belong.

Is it really romantic? After speaking with several readers, the opinions about whether or not graphic descriptions of sex are appropriate for the title “romance novel” are all over the place. Some people enjoy incredibly detailed scenes with plain speaking and explicit descriptions throughout the tale. Others prefer the use of euphemisms, and would rather use their imagination. Some feel that graphic descriptions remove a novel from the realm of romance, and make it purely erotica. Others believe that the use of euphemisms is unrealistic and even boring. The only thing these readers appear to have in common is that the feelings on both sides of this argument are strong.

Is it politically correct? Some people hold strong opinions for sociopolitical reasons. For instance, as authors of multicultural literature, do we have a heightened responsibility to not play into stereotypes about black women and sexuality? African American women have long been portrayed in the media as purely sexual beings, and not as people who are worthy of love, lovemaking and relationships. The exploitation of women such as Saartjie “Sarah” Bartman, whose physical assets were put on open display as freak show attractions throughout Europe under the name “Hottentot Venus,” has ensured that this history is burned into my consciousness. As a writer, I am keenly aware of the manner in which I portray black women in my writing. Yet, I am also torn. African American women should be free to explore our sexuality, and to read about the sex lives that interest us most. Forcing African American characters into any box, whether it be the graphic sex box or the vanilla sex box is, in my humble opinion, wrong.

Why so hot? While this argument is not new, the routine inclusion of previously taboo sex acts in mainstream romance has become more prevalent in recent years. Why are the sex scenes in romance novels becoming so explicit? These novels are not written in a vacuum. Rather, they have to compete with other types of books within the mainstream entertainment industry. As a result of books such as the Christian Grey series, romance novelists are responding to an audience whose appetite has been whetted for more imaginative descriptions of sex. Authors try and write the best books possible, and to remain true to our muse, but we still must consider our audience. Therefore, more authors are seeking more adventurous ways to explore lovemaking inside of romance novels. Vanilla audience members, do not despair. There will always be an audience for each level of steam, and there will always be books available for you. However, popular opinion is never static. Just as the pendulum of mainstream preference swings back and forth with regard to nudity and graphic sex in television and movies, the same will likely follow for the books in our genre.

Is it a bait and switch? Regardless of which side of the debate on which you fall, one thing remains clear: It is most important that the author not mislead the reader. If an author bills a book as a sweet romance, the characters should not suddenly engage in graphic sexual acts within the storyline. If the author bills the book as a spicy tale then the characters should not merely hold hands and kiss one another on the cheek. Adults should be able to decide whether or not they prefer graphic or vague descriptions of sex, or even a bit of both, without being judged harshly by anyone.

What type of sex do I prefer in my romance novels? It depends. Mainly I just want a good, well written story, with or without the sex. All types of descriptions are welcome, as long as they push the storyline forward. Whatever the level of steam  in your novel, write enough story between the scenes so that it is believable that the characters know each other well enough to be in love, rather than in lust. In this way, even the most adventurous scene can be enjoyed with a sense of caring, rather than with a sense of exploitation. Otherwise, we’re left dissatisfied with the ending and wondering whether Book 2 will explore the characters’ divorce proceedings.

The moral of the story? If you are a writer, write the story that inspires you. If you are a reader, buy the story that appeals to you. Public opinion will change with the times, but adults should be free to choose, no matter the era. Imposing a single opinion upon the publishing industry smacks of censorship, and this cannot be tolerated in any free society. How you choose to entertain yourself is best left up to the individual reader, and so the only opinion that truly matters is yours.


eBook Cover Image

  Have you ever had to decide which man owns your heart?

 That’s Aaliyah’s Dilemma. She has finally gained the interest of her long time crush next door, Gabriel, when she begins to see her best friend, Lucas, in a whole new light. Which man will she choose? Why do they seem to have a history that goes far beyond a single rivalry over a woman? Find out in Amended Hearts, Book 1 of the Chiming Hearts Series.



 *Sharon Blount, founder of Building Relationships Around Books


 Gabriel looked at Aaliyah over Lucas’ shoulder, seeing the fury that had replaced the sweet smile on her face. He took a deep breath. “Aaliyah,” he began.

Noting her expression, Lucas stepped forward. “Not right now, Gabriel,” he interjected. “She’s not ready to hear it yet. Go take a shower and come back in an hour. I’ll make breakfast.”

With that he steered Gabriel out the front door and closed it behind him.

“How dare you invite that man back into my home? I don’t want him here,” Aaliyah bit out.

“Look, Liyah, you’re being unreasonable.”

“Unreasonable? First, he ignores me,” she began, ticking her points off on her fingers. “Next, he pays attention to me, but only because he thinks I’m someone else. Then, he thinks I’m sleeping with you.”

“I think he had a little help with that one,” Lucas admitted sheepishly.

Too caught up in her tirade to take note of that she continued, “Finally, I open up and show him who I really am, and he’s back to thinking I’m sleeping with you. What kind of person would I have to be to spend the evening with him and the night with you?”

Lucas sighed, shaking his head over her naiveté. “You’d be surprised at what people will do in the heat of the moment. He doesn’t know you, and you can’t expect him to judge you by anything other than what he sees.”

“He doesn’t have any faith in me.”

“Why should he?” he shot back sharply. When he saw that she wasn’t convinced he ran an exasperated hand through his hair, sighing before pulling her in for a hug. Just holding her for a moment, as he’d done on so many occasions, Lucas sought a way to explain. He spoke softly into the top of her head as he held her firmly in place with one hand at the small of her back, while smoothing the other up and down the indentation of her spine. “Look, don’t you think our relationship is just a little bit weird, looking at it from the outside? I mean, here you are, a beautiful woman, and I’m not exactly a slob. We get along well. I’ve shared more of my dreams with you than any woman I know. Most people who were in our position would at least be attracted to one another.”

Aaliyah raised her head at that, sucking in a sharp breath as their faces angled toward one another for a brief instant. Lucas was the first to blink, stepping backward before continuing his explanation. “Under circumstances like last night, a lot of them would have done something about it.” He reached out to playfully tug her ponytail as he‘d done a million times, smiling wryly. “He doesn’t know you‘re like my little sister, so when he sees me in your house, looking like I just got dressed, he’s going to think what any man would think.”

Lucas let that sink in for a few moments.

“I’m going to make breakfast,” he finished quietly, and then headed toward the kitchen. He turned the corner before leaning against the wall to take a deep breath and run a hand roughly over his face, willing his arousal to go away. Several minutes later, he slipped on his tee shirt before continuing on to the refrigerator.

 Author Bio:

By day, I am a lawyer by trade. However, if you are familiar with the field, then I’m sure you know that it is anything but satisfying to a creative mind and so by night, I write. A lover of all things written, spoken and harmonized, my home has always been found in words. I live in Columbia, SC and my work is in Charlotte, NC. Hello to my fellow light rail commuters! My chihuahua, Lady, is ridiculously friendly for her breed. No snapping, no growling, and so if you ever see us out and about at the pet stores, be sure to say, “Hi!” Most of my spare time is spent hanging out with friends and family and updating my stories.
​My debut novel, Amended Hearts, arose out of my frustration with one simple question: “What’s it like to date outside your race?” I would explain that “It’s like dating a human.” Their race or culture never made them any less inclined to watch the American football game, or the rest of the world’s football game, rather than going to a museum or antiquing with me.

For some reason, the questioner would look at me with skepticism, as though I held some magic formula to dating Klingons and Werewolves, and so I wrote a story to explain. In the book the central character, Aaliyah, has to pick between two good men, Gabriel and Lucas. They happen to be from different backgrounds, but they all have a great deal in common. She must choose to follow her newest crush to Gabriel, or amend her heart for her best friend, Lucas. What about you? Are you Team Gabriel or Team Lucas?