6 IR/MC love stories to read to get your heart racing for Valentine’s Day

shutterstock_152210192I’m not one of those women who usually get so worked up over Valentine’s Day. Hard to believe, right? Especially since I write romantic fiction. But I’ve never been a big fan of the commercial aspect of a day dedicated to love. It could also do with having had a high school boyfriend who’d break up with me just before Valentine’s Day and Christmas so he wouldn’t have to spend money on presents. Good thing I wised up and left him behind. But I do love reading (and writing) love stories, so I thought I’d give you some suggestions for IR/MC novels to get you in the mood for love. Are you ready?

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5: Again for the First Time by Raven St. Pierre

Again for the First Time Cover

What would you do if a stranger approached you and, instead of asking  you for directions, he asked you to marry him? That’s exactly what happens to Lissette when the very handsome Luke proposes to her on a very emotional afternoon when she’s just found out that her ex is now engaged and moving on with someone new.

What neither Lissette nor Luke expect is that she says yes. Suddenly she and Luke are embarking on a journey that has them married within two weeks of meeting.  Jumping into the unknown with nothing but blind faith and a burgeoning attraction for one another, their unconventional relationship leaves their friends and families wondering if they know what they’re doing. And the two must learn to get to know (and trust) one another–even when the odds are stacked against them.

It’s a quirky love story that–even with its improbable scenario–has you falling in love with Lissy and Luke and hoping their newfound love will stand the test of time. Raven St. Pierre does a great job of carrying the reader along the bumpy road of Lissy and Luke’s marriage. A great love story–sexy without being overly graphic, with two well-drawn characters whose flaws make you love them.

4: The Sweetest Taboo by Harper Miller

HarperMillercoverNow I am usually not very interested in BDSM novels, but Harper Miller has done something very interesting here by creating two characters who go into the relationship on equal footing–despite Rick being the dom and Micah being the sub. From the moment they meet in a New York City fetish club, it’s obvious that fate will pull strings and make sure these two will cross paths again.

Like I said, I don’t usually find BDSM novels very appealing, but Miller succeeds in creating two very intriguing characters in Rick and Micah. Also, she takes us into the heart of what has brought them into this world of submission and domination without making the reader lose sight of the fact that this is a love story–a very erotic love story, but a love story from beginning to end.

The Kiss

3: Yours by Tia Kelly

Yours CoverIf you’re more in the mood for a quick read that’s smart, sexy and unputdownable, then this is the novella for you. A chance encounter between two people in need of a second chance at love, Yours chronicles how a one-night stand leads to something more for good girl Theresa Clarke and the very sexy, brooding Spaniard, Javier Fernandez.

After spending a very passionate night together, neither expects to see the other again, but–as is always the case with a good love story–fate decides to bring them together again. There’s off-the-chart chemistry between Theresa and Javier–and even when she tries to deny it, Theresa knows she cannot ignore the feelings she has for him. The same is true for Javier–the desire he feels for Theresa pushes him to pursue her, even when she initially says they cannot see one another or when she assumes all he wants from her is a glorified booty call. Sexy and smartly written, this is one must-read novella.

2: Addicted Allison by Noelle Black

Addicted AllisonI thought I was the only black woman writing sexy stories featuring black women and Nordic men, but Noelle Black has joined me. 😉 Her novella, Addicted Allison, is set in world of luxury hotels and the heroine, Allison, blows off steam after long work days as the creative director for a hospitality design firm by meeting men online for one reason alone–sex.

Enter Mattias, a Swede with a big personality and a love of curvy black women. Mattias is enthralled with Allison and all too soon he makes it clear he doesn’t want to share her with anyone else. Her sexy encounter with him has her questioning what she really wants…and could have her going down a very different path than she initially intended.

This is a cleverly written erotic romance that’s more than a just sexy story. It also goes into the expat experience from a black woman’s perspective and gives us an open-ended but satisfying ending that leaves room to explore more of Allison’s adventures.

1: Maybe BabyMaybe Tonight by me

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Maybe Tonight Cover for WPYes, yes, I know, this smacks of blatant self-promotion but Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight fit the bill. I’m not going to review my own books, but I will tell you that you get to read both Laney and Mad’s sides of their love story–which definitely had an unusual start seeing as they met when she looking into finding a sperm donor to be the potential father of her future children. If you haven’t read Maybe Baby and Maybe Tonight, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to get to know their stories and maybe even get hooked on their different sort of love story.

Happy reading!

What I Read When I Read About Love

Our Valentine's Day at the Avenue Hotel. Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

Photo: Avenue Hotel, Copenhegen

I know, I am a few days late–but I was in Copenhagen celebrating Valentine’s Day with my gorgeous hubby. I won a Valentine’s Day stay at Avenue Hotel, a design boutique hotel in Copenhagen’s Fredriksberg district. The stay included a cozy tower room at the hotel (breakfast included), champagne, pastries from Strangas Dessert Boutique and an amazing dinner at Höst. Needless to say, inspiration came to me while I was there and there will definitely be a a follow-up to Maybe Baby.

But while I was there, I starting thinking about which books would be on my Books About Love 2014 list–if I had one.

 

Sex in the Title CoverSex in the Title by Zack Love – a satirical rom-com set in New York City in the 1990s that revolves around the romantic adventures (and misadventures) of five guys who think they are going to conquer the world. Since it’s set in the 90s, the New York we find is pre-smart phone, the Twin Towers are still standing and there’s a wonderful air of nostalgia (perfect for someone like me who was a teenager in the 1980s and in college and grad school in the 1990s). Contrary to the title, the book is not all about sex. It’s more about the pie in the sky ambitions and goals we set for ourselves when we’re young and naive and what happens when we are finally faced with reality. Now, how can this be a rom-com then? Well, Zack Love interweaves the tales of five friends and their pursuit of love. Yes, there are foibles, nothing is perfect–even the people who almost seem too perfect are just as flawed as you want them to be. This is a book with so many laugh-out-loud moments as you are reminded of your own romantic foibles and dreams of youth. Bravo, Zack!

 

cover-jod-webcover-joy-webJust One Day/Just One Year by Gayle Forman – Wonderful books about Allyson and Willem, who meet by chance in the UK during an open-air performance of Shakespeare and what happens when Willem convinces Allyson to do something unexpected–go to Paris with him even if it’s just for one day. What happens during that day and, in the next book, as they try to reconnect, is amazing. If you liked Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, you’ll love these books.

 

Is Marriage coverIs Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriae Decline Affects Everyone by Ralph Richard Banks – The title alone is enough to stop you in your tracks but there is more to this book than meets the eye. It is an interesting study of love and marriage within the African-American community and how antiquated ideas of the black woman’s place in society had led to a decline in marriage within the community and the implications it has on US society. Banks questions why it is considered acceptable for African-American men to marry outside of their race while the same is not always true for African-American women. He also examines the mixed messages sent to young men and women by the media, their families, the church, etc about their place in society. So why do I consider it a book about love? Because quite a bit of the book examines why African-American women may maintain friendships or be attracted to men of other races but will not, or are reluctant to, pursue relationships with these men. Since I write a lot about interracial relationships, I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that social pressure can prevent someone from seeking love.

 

The-FLAVOURS-OF-LOVE-HB-654x1024The Flavors of Love by Dorothy Koomson – Dorothy Koomson has always said that what she writes is heart fiction–not simply women’s fiction. Her books are always about love and the choices we make because of love. This book is more suspense than romance–the story revolves around Saffron Mackleroy, a widow whose husband was murdered eighteen months prior to the start of the novel. On the outside, Saffron looks like she’s coping well with her situation–she’s even decided to finish writing the cookbook her husband was working on. But then her fourteen-year-old daughter Phoebe gets in trouble at school and confesses to something that begins to tear apart the semblance of normalcy Saffron is trying to maintain. And then the person convicted of killing Saffron’s husband begins sending her letters and claiming to be innocent. It’s easy to get hooked by The Flavors of Love. I know I did! Another great one, Dorothy! Can’t wait for your next book. 🙂

That’s it for now! What books would you put on your Books About Love list?

Snowbound now has a Goodreads page

ImageIn Copenhagen and the weather is splendid. Just wanted to let you know that Snowbound now has a Goodreads page and a preliminary release date (31 October). Head over and put Snowbound on your Want to Read list. 🙂

It’s a fun holiday read about Mia and Jake, two people who thought they were going to have some alone time but end up thrown together by a snowstorm and…let’s face it, they’re attracted to one another.

Mia’s got her Rules of Cohabitation that she keeps breaking. And then there’s that pesky married ex who shows up just when things are looking up for her. Jake’s got his own issues–he’s a photojournalist who’s been in a few too many combat zones and seen too many people die. He’s trying to figure out where his life goes from here–back to another war zone or stay in Hunters Grove, where life feels normal enough, even if it drives him crazy that the whole town knows everyone’s business.

Want to know more? Well, you’ll just have to read Snowbound once it’s out. 🙂

Happy reading (and writing)!

On Pinterest, writing Maybe Baby and inspiration…

I think I’ve become addicted to Pinterest. I’ve been using it to make inspiration boards for my writing and it really helps me–especially when I am trying to imagine setting and what my characters look like. Before Pinterest, I had scrapbooks full of pictures, piles of magazines that littered my desk…it was wonderful chaos that could sometimes be distracting and become a bit of a nightmare. I am trying to bring a sense of order to my life and Pinterest, in its own little way, is helping. Well, at least it’s helping keep my desk While I’ve been working on Maybe Baby, my inspiration board just seems to get bigger and bigger. I’ve got 88 pictures pinned depicting the people who inspired my characters and the places in Copenhagen and Stockholm that feature in the novel. When I first started writing Maybe Baby back in November, I knew I wanted to play with the idea of a Dane as the love interest for my expat American heroine. I was in the middle of a dreary Swedish winter and Nanowrimo was the only thing keeping me from focusing too much on the gray winter skies. I wanted my Swedish main character, Niklas, to be like the Swedish seasons–beautiful and warm in summer, but in turns distant and emotionally unavailable.

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Rudi Køhnke

When I first began writing Maybe Baby, I initially had a Danish actor, Rudi Køhnke, in mind as  Mads. He had the same intensity that I thought Mads should have. But the more I thought about it, the less he felt…right. I’m not sure why he didn’t feel right but he never really became Mads in my head. Maybe he was a little too boyish-looking? Maybe he was too young? Mads is in his mid to late thirties and Rudi Køhnke looks a little too long. I started searching again for the right Mads and it took a couple of days until I realized I needed someone who looked more experienced and had a laid-back vibe. I didn’t want him to be too perfect. I wanted him to be flawed in a good way.

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Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Eventually, I realized the person I’d been thinking about as I wrote about Mads was actually another Danish actor, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Images of him pepper My Maybe Baby board. Once I switched to thinking about him as Mads, the scenes he was in were easier to write. I guess it helps that I was seeing him everywhere–on Swedish TV, in Game of Thrones, in old episodes of New Amsterdam. I showed my Maybe Baby board to some friends who’d been reading the unedited chapters of Maybe Baby as I posted my Nanowrimo progress here on the blog. They all agreed–he was Mads. So when I finally publish this and, if some lovely day, someone wants the film rights…it’s on one condition–Nikolaj plays Mads. I can’t really picture any American or British actor playing him.

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Kerry Washington

American actress Kerry Washington became the inspiration for Laney. I liked her vibe. I’d seen her in a few films and liked how she could exude vulnerability and sexiness at the same time. Just before I began working on Maybe Baby, I watched Lakeview Terrace. Kerry plays Lisa Mattson, one of the main characters in the film, and she is gutsy, sometimes frustrating and not afraid to show her fear, confusion and anger. She was the perfect Laney and every picture I found of her confirmed it for me. So maybe I need another clause for the day I sell the film rights…Kerry should play Laney to Nikolaj’s Mads. Writing the first draft of Maybe Baby took a month. Revising it has so far taken me four months. I keep finding small things that could be better. I had three months of author mentorship with author Misa Ramirez via Savvy Authors, and she helped me see when I wasn’t going deep enough with my POV, when my pacing was off with too much telling instead of showing and when the backstory was taking over. (Thanks, Misa!) 🙂 I’ve got a plan, and I am trying to stick to it. I’m a bit behind schedule but I think I can catch up. 🙂 In the meantime, I’ll keep writing and, when my brain stalls, I’ll search for pictures that inspire me and pin them on my Pinterest board. And I’ll keep you posted on my progress. 🙂

Thinking about my dad

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My dad, George Nocho Golden.

I thought I was going to be in the mood to write two book reviews last week but I ended up focusing on my own writing. I’ve been in a bit of a weird mood lately, and I know it’s because we are closing in on the first anniversary of my father’s death.

Because of this, I won’t be posting anything this weekend. My hubby and I are taking a weekend trip so I can have a change of scenery. We’re going to Copenhagen on Friday so that I can catch up with some old friends and do a little research to strengthen Maybe Baby, which you may remember is partially set there.

So soon it’s a year since my dad left our lives. I miss him and find myself thinking about him quite often. We had a very complicated relationship. My mother used to say the reason my dad and I had problems seeing eye to eye was that we were too similar. We both had strong opinions and didn’t back down very easily. We both were moody. We both were extroverted introverts. We had a huge falling out when I was in college, which led to him refusing to pay for my tuition. My mom and I had to struggle to make sure it was paid every semester and I will never forget the sacrifices she made so that I could finish my bachelor’s degree. It took a long time for the father-daughter relationship to recover after that. But by the time my dad died, we’d found a way back to one another, even if it was bittersweet since he couldn’t remember who I was towards the end.

Whenever I read the short stories and novels I’ve written, I find there’s always at least one character based on my dad. So far, Maybe Baby doesn’t have a George Golden-based character. There’s no grumpy former Marine hiding between the lines. Which is strange. There’s no Babara Golden-like character either. I think I need to rectify that. She should be there in some way. Maybe I need to make some space for him too.

Nanowrimo 2012 Update: Chapter Four Online and My Nano Progress

So it’s Day 15 of Nanowrimo and I am closing in on my daily word count target. When I reach it I will have written 25,000 words. That’s right–I will be halfway through Nanowrimo! Am I excited? Damn straight! I love the feeling of accomplishment that I get when I am on par every day. I love watching my story unfold without being hindered by my evil inner critic–and my inner critic is really bitchy and mean. I love it when–just before I fall asleep–I figure out where I want the next day’s writing to go. Ah…Nanowrimo is wonderful. That’s all I can say.

Now, if you want to follow my progress, go to my Nanowrimo 2012 page. You can read Chapter Four in all its unedited and unrevised glory. Laney’s getting herself into trouble…:)

Happy reading (and writing)!

 

 

Nanowrimo Update: Chapter Three online

So here I am, chugging towards the halfway point of Nanowrimo (I’m closing in on 21k and halfway point if 25k). I’m also halfway through Chapter Six. Things are heating up! Laney is in Skåne with Niklas, and she’s already promised Mads she’s going to come to Copenhagen ASAP.

For those of you who are interested, Chapter Three (unedited/unrevised/very rough) is online. Go to the Nanowrimo 2012 page to read it.

And now it’s time for me to get back to writing.

Happy reading (and writing)!

Nanowrimo Day 9 Update…

Just wanted to let you know I am 200 words away from 12k! And if you want to read the very, very rough version of Chapter 2, it’s online now. Go to my Nanowrimo 2012 page and you can read it. 🙂

I will post Chapters 3 and 4 on either Monday or Tuesday. By the way, I just realized that while I was writing chapter 4 I suddenly from writing in first person present voice to first person past. Not sure why, but this is Nanowrimo so I am rolling with it and not editing at all. And some of what I am writing is cringe-worthy, but it can be saved. 🙂

And now back to writing for me!

Nanowrimo Day 9: 11K and still chugging along…

I crossed the 11k mark in Nanowrimo…

I know I promised to check in every couple of days and keep you posted regarding my NanoProgress, but real life got in the way. I only missed one day of writing but that day put me off schedule. And I was doing so well at first with staying on track. Well, I will have to make up for it this weekend. I need to close in on 15,000 words as soon as possible. I will spend the better part of this weekend writing. This needs to be done. I will not drop out of Nanowrimo this year. I will finish, and I will finish on time.

There. I said it. Now I have to stick to it. So what’s happening now in the story? Well, Laney finds out about a sperm bank that arranges for donors to meet the recipients. The only problem is she hasn’t told Niklas she’s looking into artificial insemination via a sperm bank. And she lies to him and says her trip to Copenhagen is strictly business. It is a business trip–that part is true–but she extended her trip so she could go to the sperm bank and talk to a client services specialist and get as much information as she could about the process. And now she’s at the sperm bank’s Friday Mingle–where they arrange for donors and recipients to meet under less formal circumstances–and she realizes she’s attracted to the Danish man she’d been considering as a possible donor.

That’s it for me today. It’s well past 1AM in Stockholm and I need to go to sleep. Plus my fingers hurt from writing so much today.

Happy reading (and writing)!