Romance – What’s It Good For?

When people ask what I do for a living and I respond, “Author”, I usually get some interesting replies. They vary from “What have you written lately?” to “What are you working on now?” to “Cool! I’ve got an idea!” and so on. But when I clarify and say I’m a romance author… things change.

It’s odd. I’ll get a sideways glance and a shrug, something along the lines of “Well, that’s not REAL writing” to “Oh. Like that Fifty Shades thing?” to “That’s got to be easy to do.” As if suddenly my choice of genres changes the actual work involved and warps reality.

But imagine a world without romance; without romance authors. What a bleak world it would be!

No historical romances – no Highlanders brandishing their swords, no ladies looking for love under the strict social rules of the Ton. No pirates running amok and no steampunk soldiers sailing through the air to save society and the man/woman they love.

No contemporary romances – no women finding their true love under the strangest of circumstances; no coincidental meetings or family interference bringing together two souls who need to be togther.

No westerns – no cowboys. ‘Nuff said.

No… well, you get the picture. Imagine a world where there are no romances, no sweeping love stories to show us the possibility of true happiness when we’re feeling down – the promise that out there, somewhere, is your match. And if not for you, then for your friends and family.

A world without romance novels would be without romance.

And what a bleak, hopeless world that would be.

As for me, I’ll continue to write and read romance. I’ll thrill to Tessa Dare‘s Spendor Cove series where women take charge; I’ll race to the store when J.D. Robb‘s Eve and Roarke set out on another case. I’ll hold our breath for every Julie Kenner new release and I’ll threaten anyone who gets between me and the newest Nora Roberts.

Because I think a life’s not really worth living without romance.

And if I can add my voice to it, give one reader a few minutes of happiness in a world where bad news lurks in every corner and on every screen, I’ll do it.

Because I’m a romance author.

And I love to write romance.

Coming October 20th, 2016

Strictly Business

StrictlyBusiness72lgYou can lead a Domme to love…but you can’t make her fall.

Hooded Pleasures, Book 1

Kate Dubois is a Domme-for-hire for the highly exclusive Hooded Pleasures, a service offering private BDSM sessions to those who can’t—or won’t—risk appearing in an actual club.

Lately, though, she wonders if professional burnout is causing her to have painful flashbacks to a past heartbreak. When her boss insists her next client will be a breath of fresh air, Kate reluctantly agrees to an interview.

Alex Hanson dominates the world of computer game programming, but secretly he suspects he might be a sub in the bedroom. There’s only one good way to find out—hire a professional to show him the ropes.

Their first meeting puts both of them to the test—Alex’s self-control, and Kate’s realization she might just like him a little too much. But there’s no denying their emotions are inextricably entangled…a dangerous step Kate’s not sure her heart is prepared to take.
Warning: Contains a hard-core computer geek with a tender side, and a Domme who can’t afford to expose her greatest weakness—him. Geekery combined with flogging. Enjoy!

Buy Links:
Amazon
B&N
Samhain
iBooks
Google Play
All Romance eBooks

Game Review – Castle Panic by Fireside Games

In this age of video games it’s hard at times to get people to put the controller or mouse down and get interested in a board game. If you or someone you know is like this, may I suggest Castle Panic by Fireside Games as a great way to break them away from the computer screen?

castle-panic-game-contents-fireside-gamesThe concept is easy enough – you and your fellow players are in the castle in the center of the board, trying to fight off a hoard of monsters determined to make their way to your stronghold and tear down your walls. But you’re not going to go down easily and your friends are right beside you as you work together to beat Goblins, Orcs and Trolls – along with some special characters and darned nasty events like Giant Boulders being tossed at your walls!castle-panic-game-monster-tokens-fireside-games

The board is simple enough to set up – your tower and walls are set up in the center of the board covering each sector. When a monster hits one of the walls it takes one point of damage, usually enough to kill it – but you lose that wall segment. And once a monster is inside the wall it will spin around to take out all of the outer walls and then the inner walls unless you take it out. And once all of the walls are gone, well… Game Over.

castle-panic-game-cards-fireside-gamesGame play is wonderfully simple and yet full of possibilities for strategy – each player gets a certain number of cards, based on the number of players. Each card shows a fighter – Archer, Knight, Swordsman and the color shows which sector they’re active in. Other special cards allow you to rebuild walls, fortify walls and characters, such as Heroes and Barbarians, will help you defeat tough monsters such as the Orc Mage.

On each turn a player draws up to their hand limit then can trade ONE card with any other player – a way to rotate resources to where they might be best used. You can also discard one card and pull an extra card. After this you can play as many cards as you want – because at the end of your turn all of the monsters on the board move one ring closer to the tower. Each card does one point of damage to the monster unless noted otherwise – and not all monsters take only one point to kill! And then two monsters are added to the board, pulled out of a lovely black pouch and placed on the board with a random dice roll.

castle-panic-game-board-fireside-gamesIf you like games with an equal amount of strategy and randomness, this is the game for you. You can plan all you want but when you pull a Healer from the bag or a Giant Boulder, all of your plans can go up in smoke. The 3-D aspect adds a lovely touch as you scramble to rebuild walls using Brick and Mortar cards while working together to defeat the monsters.

Castle Panic has two expansions out at present and the concept has been used in other games like Munchkin Panic. We’ve played three games and lost two because we just got unlucky and pulled the strongest monsters at the end of the game – when most of our walls were down and we were weakest.

It’s also been reviewed by Tabletop and if you’re looking for a great video on how much fun it can be – check it out!

This is a great game if you have kids – it plays quickly and the rules are easy enough to explain along with the co-operative aspect. If you’re looking for a fun addition to your game shelf with the possibility of pulling your friends away from the computer screen, consider Castle Panic!

Hugos & Puppies: Peeling The Onion

sherylnantus:

Some wonderful thoughts here – whether you read SFF or not; whether you’re aware of the entire Hugos debate this year or not. Read. Think. And have a good day!

Originally posted on shattersnipe: malcontent & rainbows:

On the phone from the Middle East, where he is currently deployed, Torgersen lamented what he called “the cognitive dissonance of people saying, ‘No, the Hugos are about quality,’ and then at the same time they’re like: ‘Ooh, we can vote for this author because they’re gay, or for this story because it’s got gay characters,’ or, ‘Ooh, we’re going to vote for this author because they’re not white.’ As soon as that becomes the criteria, well, quality goes out the window.”

Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters, by Amy Wallace

In light of this year’s Hugo Award results, and with particular reference to Amy Wallace’s excellent rundown on the Puppies affair, I feel moved to address the Sad, rather than the Rabid, contingent. Per Torgersen’s remarks above, and setting aside every other aspect of the debate that renders me alternately queasy or enraged…

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Game Review – Exploding Kittens!

photo-originalThe title says it all…. the hubby and I got in on the Kickstarter for this fast-paced card game – in fact, it was THE most successful KS campaign for a card game, generating a ton of cash and of support.

And why not? After all, it’s got kitties…

… exploding kitties!!!

But there’s actually a game here… and a strategy, if you want to win!

First, the gameplay – it’s a very simple set-up that reminds me of Three Cheers for Master, which I reviewed earlier – you each get one Defuse card and four other cards out of the deck. The deck is set up depending on the number of players, which dictate how many Defuse cards get shuffled into the deck and how many Exploding Kittens cards as well. The more players, the more special cards get shuffled in; scaling the game up and down for those who can go from playing with the hubby to having a table full of buddies.

exploding-kittens1The turns are deceptively simple – play any and all cards that you want from your hand until you decide to stop and draw a card, signaling the end of your turn. Pairs of alike cards and triples allow you to steal cards from your opponents, some you get to choose and some you don’t. Special cards allow you to shuffle the deck, declare NOPE to another player’s attempt to steal your cards or perform some other action, let you skip your turn or force your opponent to take two turns in a row.

Obviously the more turns you take the more likely it is that you’ll pull the Exploding Kitten card – and the only way to not immediately lose the game is to use a Defuse card, which allows you to place the card back into the deck. Note here I said “place”, not shuffle. This is important. It’s very possible you might be able to force your opponent to pick the card right back up on the next turn.

exploding-kittens-5When I played with the hubby, I had a plan.

It was a good plan. Hold onto the Shuffles, Skip turns and Attacks to make sure I wasn’t going to end up getting the Exploding Kitten at the end of the game.

Yeah. It was a plan.

ANYWAY, the hubby beat me two games in a row. He was all grins and smirks until I reminded him that I hate to lose.

Punishment to be determined later.

o-EXPLODING-KITTENS-CARD-GAME-KICKSTARTER-facebookANYWAY, I recommend Exploding Kittens if you love a fast, fun game. There’s two versions, one safe for public consumption and one NSFW – well worth adding to your game shelf and guaranteed to give you hours of entertainment with great artwork and cute text.

BOOM!

I’ve Been Had! Book Betrayals: Who’s at Fault?

sherylnantus:

A interesting read whether you’re an author or a reader – what do you expect and what will you tolerate?

Originally posted on Lady Smut:

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

It’s no secret that several of us here at Lady Smut are huge fangrrls of author Cara McKenna. A quick search of our achieves will pop up multiple posts on her and her books. I re-read McKenna’s Hard Time and After Hours this week and, as per usual, as soon as I finished, I immediately wanted to start each one all over again. Instead, given it was already midnight, I downloaded a novella prequel to McKenna’s Desert Dogs romantic suspense series, Drive it Deep. It was a good, relatively quick bite that gave me a taste for the rest of the series…right up until I got to the end.

From here on in, there will be some mild spoilers for Drive it Deep and the Desert Dogs series, a series I have not yet read except for this novella. Carry on at your own risk.

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Integrating the Erotic in Romance and Hitting a Groove with Best Selling Author Joey W. Hill

sherylnantus:

If you’re looking for a wonderful author to add to your “must buy” list – check these books out!

Originally posted on Lady Smut:

By Elizabeth SaFleur

JOEY W. HILL is en erotic romance author and storyteller who causes one-click, trigger-happy fingers. She’s garnered a legion of fans for her contemporary works, which feature a diverse cast from boardroom executives to cops, as well as her paranormal tales, which involve mermaids, vampires and angels.

Her stories never disappoint to melt your panties off while causing your heart to swell in your chest. Expect to fall in love along with her characters. Also plan to drop everything else in your life so you can finish the book.

She’s penned more than forty acclaimed titles and six award-winning series, and been awarded the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award for Erotica. And for good reason.

Joey generously stopped by LadySmut to answer some burning questions about her writing, how she comes up with her characters and what’s next in her many series.

Thanks for stopping by, Joey. Of all the writing genres you could write, why erotic romance?

Romance…

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Blood of the Pride on sale for only $1.99 today!

BloodofthePrideFinalThe first book of the acclaimed “Blood of the Pride” series is on sale at Amazon for only $1.99 today!

http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Pride-Sheryl-Nantu…/…/B006IIX02I

When a severed rabbit’s paw is delivered to her office, outcast cat shifter Rebecca Desjardin recognizes the summons home. One of their own has been murdered—and a shocking photo published in a local tabloid—and her Pride needs Rebecca, now a private investigator, to track down the killer.

Investigative reporter Brandon Hanover wants to find out who slipped the photo of the half-shifted cat-woman under his door, marking him as a suspect in her death. Determined to stay one step ahead of the sexy journalist, Rebecca reluctantly agrees to partner with him to find the real murderer. But as their mutual attraction heats up, Rebecca finds it harder and harder to keep Brandon from discovering the existence of the shifter society—and her own true nature.

When the search leads them back to the Pride, Rebecca must attempt to Change for the first time in years to face the killer, and save the man she loves…

This book won a Third-Place Prism Award for the first book of the paranormal series, “Blood of the Pride”

Check out where it all started today! Or better yet, give a copy to a friend!

Game Review – Three Cheers for Master by Atlas Games

Sometimes the best games are those you don’t find yourself. When we attended the last Origins Game Fair we took along a friend to her first gaming convention. She had a great time and found some wonderful games that she’s now introducing us to for the first time. And one of the first, and to me the best one, is Three Cheers for Master from Atlas Games.

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Here’s the cover copy:

Master Has Been Blue, Lately…

It’s just not the same now that all lands known to evil have been conquered.

When Master’s blue, it’s the minions who suffer. As a lieutenant in Master’s army — a foreminion — it falls to you to cheer him up. Not the easiest task, even in the best of times.

But then it hit you: What better way to cheer Master up than a cheerleading competition?

Whichever foreminion builds and scales the most impressive tower of war-hungry minions will surely win Master’s heart.

…What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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Indeed… what can go wrong?

A whole lot and it’s fun as heck to find out!!!

This card game has a lot going for it – hilarious cards, hysterical flavor text, interesting mechanics and a simple gameplay that means you can get a game going almost immediately with new people.

pic2527639_mdFirst the deck needs to be prepared – there are three types of cards; minions, movement cards and Big Hairy Fight cards along with two cards signalling that the Master is coming and that the Master has arrived… thus ending the game. Preparing the deck only takes a few minutes to fold in the needed cards for a game, depending on if you have two or more players. Then each player gets three cards and a ForeMinion token. This little fellow has to rise to the top of your cheer-leading pyramid to score the most points.

3C4MHughbert_400pxBut… Minions don’t play together well. That’s why they’re minions. And fights can and will break out. And you just might want to handicap your opponent to make sure THEIR pyramid will not be as spectacular as yours is… after all, YOU deserve the Master’s approval, yes?

So out of your three cards you play two – there are three types of cards; Minion cards, movement cards and Big Fat Hairy Fight cards. Minion cards are exactly that – minions that can be placed on your creation OR on your opponent’s to cause havoc. Movement cards are the same – they can shift cards in your pyramid to create a better stack or to prevent a fight OR to mangle your opponent’s build.

Big Fat Hairy Fight cards are exactly that. Randomly inserted in the draw deck, you must stop as soon as each one of these cards appears and resolve ALL combat actions. This means some pyramids will collapse, some minions most certainly will die and your ForeMinion might end up flat on his back.

3C4MSwagamemnon_400pxAfter you play two cards you draw back up and the next player goes. Play suspends when each Big Fat Hairy Fight card appears and combat happens – and when the Master finally appears you fight three times to show your worthiness and then count up your points to see who gains the Master’s approval.

Because it’s not just about how high your ForeMinion got – it’s also about the size… your point score will rise depending on the point value of each card and which level it’s at. A two-point minion on the second level will be multiplied by two, delivering four points. If the same card is on the third level it’ll be worth six and so on – up until where the ForeMinion sits.

3C4MSeafor_400pxWhich is, of course, why you must CRUSH YOUR COMPETITION!

Combat is fast, logical and hysterical – arrows on your minion cards show which way they will attack and in what priority. Three arrows go first, then two and then one. They will kill the minion next to it, leaving a gap in your pyramid.

But there are defenses. Barriers and shields can help your minions survive long enough to keep buildings… until, of course, the minion below them die and then gravity takes over.

Because We’ll Always Have Gravity.

3C4MCreeper_400pxGravity will kill most minions and if it doesn’t it’ll definitely affect the stack build, forcing you to change your plans. And since combat doesn’t happen until a Big Fat Hairy Fight card appears you have time to fix any nasty cards your opponents play on your stack until… you can’t.

And then the Master arrives.

And then the Reckoning happens…

I loved this game if only because of the art and the flavor texts. It’s a great fast, fun game that’ll have you laughing as you tear each other down, waiting for the Master to show up. The game mechanic is sound and it’s not a case of how high you build your pyramid but the number of cards at each level as I discovered… there IS a strategy here and it’s a good one!

pic2574046_mdIf you see Three Cheers for Master I’d say to grab this game up off the shelf and settle in for a few fun hours of running your minions wild as you try to cheer the Master up!

Game Review – Parfum by Queen Games

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With both my husband and myself searching for new games there’s going to be times when one of us will look askew at the other – AKA, “What the heck?”…

Parfum was one of those games. When the hubby announced he’d played it and bought it at Origins I was a bit leery about the game – it sounded pretty boring from his initial description and, frankly, I wasn’t sold despite his enthusiasm.

One game was all it took to sell me – and hopefully, you too!

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Let’s start at the beginning – you’re a perfume vendor looking to create and sell your special creations to the lovely ladies (and men!) searching for sweet-smelling aromas. But it’s not as simple as just pouring chemicals into a bottle and hoping for the best – there’s more than a little luck in this game!

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First you place random tiles on the playing board to represent the mixtures – the different colors stand for the different aromas – red for roses, green for lime, black for vanilla and so on. You need to use the dice to fulfill the requirements of each tile before you can pick up the tile. The tile also represents the top, middle, or bottom of a full bottle of perfume you need to construct in order to have product to sell. You can build a bottle with just a top and bottom if you want, but that’ll only give you two bottles instead of three to sell.

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So how many dice do you get to throw to meet the different tile requirements? Ah, here’s where the strategy comes in!

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You bid on which order you’d like to play in, much like in Five Tribes. What this means is that for a two player game, for example, you can play first and last, second and third, first and… well, you get the idea. Now you could be asking yourself – why wouldn’t I want to be first?

The number of actions you receive grow the further down the line you go – the first player only gets three actions, the second player four actions, the third five actions and the fourth place tag gives you six actions. Now, what does an action give you and why wouldn’t you want to be first?

An action gives you the chance to throw ONE dice or replenish ONE tile on the factory floor. Most tiles require you to throw at least two dice and you need to roll little flasks to fulfill the requirements of the tile you’re aiming for. For example, if you need two purple dice and one black to fulfill a tile and win four points you’ll need to expend at least three actions to pick up the three dice – and it’s not guaranteed you’ll win! But if you add more actions to your attempt you can add more dice and push the odds in your favor. You can also use water drops (you get some at the start of your game and can earn more later on) that can help change the results of the dice. But, in a nutshell, the more actions you have the better to win multiple tiles and build your perfume bottles! Thus going later on the game might be better for your strategy – but that’ll leave less tiles for you to win and less points! As you can see there’s more to this game than just rolling a few dice…

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After you win a tile and place the tile in your rack to build bottles you can attempt at the end of the round to sell your product to the waiting customers. This also goes by the sequence of turns determined at the start of the round. But you need to have a finished bottle to sell it to the customers AND meet their requirements. Each customer has certain needs and if your perfume doesn’t have the minimum scents it won’t sell.

You receive points for earning the tiles to create your bottles and for selling them to the customers – and your water drops have a point value that can also be used at the end of the game to boost your final numbers.

After the first round I saw what my hubby liked about the game – there’s a randomness to it that you can only negate so much by stacking up your actions. You need to be able to roll more dice to fulfill more tiles but then you’ve got less actions to do other things and going first might not be the best move – or last, depending on where you are in your perfume-building empire. You need to win tiles and fill bottles to sell them and at times going first to snatch that tile you need to finish off a bottle is worth only getting three actions – but then you better be good at the dice!

We enjoyed this greatly and will be playing it a lot in the future – there’s an expansion that adds “joker” dice and we’re looking forward to seeing how that works out.

Overall Parfum is a lovely game with a different concept, one that might be a bit confusing at the beginning but it all comes together in a great fun game that I recommend if you’re looking for something a wee bit out of the ordinary – I never thought I’d be so excited about selling perfume!

Unfortunately there’s not much information on the Queen Games website so you’d be best off going to the Kickstarter website for an overview. Hopefully they’ll update the website soon!

If you’re looking for a nice family game with plenty of dice rolling and a bit of strategy I recommend Parfum – it’s not going to gather dust while on our shelf!

Game Review – Bring Out Yer Dead by Upper Deck Games

pic2265983_mdI had a wonderful time at the Origins Game Fair (we’ve been going for over a decade!) and found some faboo games – some of which I’ll be reviewing here over the next few weeks and months when I’m not prattling on about writing and my own books.

Hey, you can’t say that my blog is boring!

Anyway – let’s start off with a brand new game out of the blocks – Bring Out Yer Dead by Upper Deck.

First a lovely disclaimer – I was lucky enough to play this at Origins and not only got to see how it worked but won a copy! Yes, if you went to the Upper Deck area and got in a game with four other players the winner not only won the game but also won the game!

So my thanks to Upper Deck for allowing me to take a copy home with me… and I can tell you this is a fun game you’ll want to add to your shelves as soon as possible!

pic2245393_mdThe concept is pretty simple – you’re the head of the family and responsible for laying your relatives to rest – except the graveyard is getting pretty full, prime real estate isn’t to be had unless you’re fast and sneaky and if you don’t watch out you’re going to have coffins floating down the river!

Yep. That.

Each turn you and your opponents will get to place coffins in the graveyard, taking up spaces that generate points. There’s the obvious strategy of snagging the most expensive spaces first out of the gate but there’s other things to watch – for example, every turn you get a new “cart” into which you must place your coffins. But when it’s full, it’s FULL and you may end up dumping the rest of your coffins into the river. So when you choose your three cards to play each turn you’ll be keeping that in mind.

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Gameplay is fast and fun – one player turns over the card depicting the size of the cart and which side of the graveyard is going to be used that turn and then everyone chooses three cards from their hand to play. It goes from highest number down to the lowest with the high numbers getting to place their coffins into the cart first. If you play low numbers you might not get your coffins in at all… But you can also get Fate and Treasure cards that will affect where you place your coffins – you might end up switching coffins with another player, placing your dear dead relatives in a better spot while tossing his coffin to a lower point site. Or you could end up with treasure from plundering the graves!

Point scoring is through a variety of ways from grabbing simple straight high-point coffin spots to ruling the majority of a lot to graverobbing – leaving plenty of ways to win or lose!

This game is great for everyone in the family with fast, entertaining turns and a whole lot of fun – while strategy is obviously a big part of the game there’s no guaranteed way to win. In my own game I went from having zero points to winning at the end when we counted up the points because I not only had my coffins in good grave sites worth ten points but I also had the majority of coffins in certain areas and despite losing points for having some in the river managed to win.

I highly recommend Bring Out Yer Dead if you’re looking for a good fun game with plenty of morbid, macabre humor. It scales down to two players and up to five without any issues and I daresay will be snatching awards in the next year – be sure to get your copy now!