I admit, with all the concentration on ASSASSIN’S MARK, I’ve struggled to keep my head in Kennedy and Isaac’s world as well. I needed some fresh inspiration, so I went back through my world-building file for ONLY FOR THE MOMENT and did some digging. Turns out I had the perfect inspiration just waiting for me.


These two images. Mind. Blown.


MOMENT is a book about baring your soul more than baring your scars. Slowly unfurling the shadows that you hide behind to reveal that most secret part of you to someone else. Recognizing your desires and needs and accepting them—for you, most of all, not to please someone else. I can’t wait to share this journey with you later this spring. It’s a different pace of erotic romance, but I think you’ll love it as much as I do.


Head on over to my Facebook page for a peek at these images!

A Little Betrayal

I have this weird quirk when it comes to romance: I love betrayal.

I'm not talking cheating, but when a hero does something so wrong that it tears the couple apart—and he has to work hard to pull them back together. That's my favorite part, actually! 😉 Maybe it's because I'm drawn to a hint of the bastard hero, though only if he's redeemable (and seriously motivated). Or maybe it's that I love it when an alpha male willingly humbles himself to win back the woman he loves.


That probably seems odd for someone who absolutely cannot read a book without an HEA, but there it is, my confession!

Here are just a few of my favorite "betrayal" stories:

After the Night (Linda Howard)
Shades of Twilight (Linda again – she's really good at this, and OMG do I love this book!)
Coyote's Mate (Lora Leigh)
MacRieve (Kresley Cole)

What about you? Any confessions about story lines you love and why?

#Watercooler Wednesday: What I've Been Reading

What better to talk about around the proverbial watercooler than our latest great find, right? I admit that I tend to be behind everyone else on the latest great book -- I spend so much time writing and working (editing other authors' stories), that I don't often get time to dive into a book for pleasure, but this past weekend, laid up with a stomach bug, I scrounged through my TBR pile and pulled out a book that ended up being the best I've read in a while.

Behind This Mask by Meghan March


He loves me, and he doesn’t even know my real name.

The limelight that follows him could expose everything I’m hiding.

But even knowing the risks, I can’t force myself to stay away.

I’m going to break his heart, but mine will shatter right along with it.

Will we lose it all when I reveal what’s beneath this mask?


Has anyone read this book? If you haven't, go get it NOW. I can't tell you how hard it is for me to lose myself in a book without mentally editing it like I do for my day job, but not here! Meghan does a fantastic job of immersing us in the characters and their problems and quirks and pain and joy. I already have the second book in the series, Beneath This Ink, and I can't wait for a free day to devour it!

Okay, that free day might be a long time coming, but at least I have what I know will be a good book to sink my teeth into when it finally comes!

What about you, dear readers? Have you been surprised by an unexpected romance find lately? Tell me about it -- I want to know so I can go check it out too. A TBR pile can never be too tall, you know. ;)

~ Ella

In Honor of...

Gilbert_Stuart_Williamstown_Portrait_of_George_Washingtonthe fantastic guy whose birthday is celebrated today (hint: see image to left!), I'm about to prove how truly boring I am No, seriously. :) For your amusement, I present MY TOP TEN THINGS to do on a school/work holiday. 1. READ.

2. Walk in the woods.

3. Go to a movie (did that one yesterday!). Or stay home, cuddle on the couch, and watch a movie. (Almost as good as going out -- and sometimes better. ;) )

4. Go out to eat. (Because, yeah, I don't really enjoy cooking, and the cleanup afterward? No. But I love food!)

IMG_76375. READ. (This guy has the right idea, huh?)

6. (In summer) Go to the farmers market just to browse (and sometimes buy, but if I bought everything I wanted at the farmers market, I'd never be able to use it all).

7. Visit a bookstore!!!! (And in all honesty, my favorite is my local used bookstore. I compare it to people saying they love going to thrift store and digging around to find buried treasure. My used bookstore has an incredible selection, and even better, I can order new books there too!)

8. Sleeping/daydreaming.

9. Play a board game with the family. (Our most recent "love" is Settlers of Catan -- boy, have we gotten hours of fun out of that game.)

10. And finally, because it really is the best way to spend a true day off, it must be said thrice: READ! I even have the perfect option for your reading enjoyment:

Ppr booksSo tell me, how are you spending your holiday weekend?

~ Ella

What I've Been Reading: Hot Pursuit by Lynn Raye Harris

HotPursuit_270x427Hot special ops soldier. Woman in need. A past they'd both like to forget. A passion that makes it impossible. What more could you ask for? I'd put off starting this series because, like me, Lynn Raye Harris writes military/ex-military suspense with a Southern touch. It's hard to read in the same genre you are writing and not have bleed-through, so I waited until Trust Me was finished before starting this series...

And I'm glad I did, because I needed a free weekend to finish Hot Pursuit! This is book one in Harris's Hostile Operations Team series. Here's the blurb:

The last man she ever wanted to see…

Evie Baker’s luck just ran out. Thanks to an ex-partner with organized crime ties, she’s lost her restaurant, her money, and nearly all her self-respect. Forced to return to her hometown and work as a shampoo girl in her mother’s salon, she doesn’t think her luck can get any worse.

But then someone starts shooting at her, her sullen baby sister is suddenly missing, and the high school heartthrob who stole her heart—and her virginity—is the only man big enough and bad enough to help.

Might be the only one who can save her…

Captain Matt “Richie Rich” Girard can’t afford to get involved. He’s already on the verge of a court-martial after a Top Secret op gone wrong, and he’s been ordered to stay out of trouble while he’s home for his sister’s wedding.

But when Evie’s ex-partner turns up dead, staying out of trouble is the last thing on Matt’s mind. He failed Evie once before; he can’t fail her again. If he’s going to protect her from a killer, and find her sister before time runs out, he’ll have to risk his entire future—and both their lives—to do it.

Things are about to get HOT in the bayou!

Suspense can go one of two ways, easy on the romance and heavy on the suspense, or heavy on the romance and easy on the suspense. Harris straddles the fence very well. There's a strong mystery, figuring out why Evie is being targeted, why her ex-business partner winds up dead. Matt has his own worries and family obligations pulling at him, warring with his need to help Evie and, ultimately, to be in bed with her. Instead of Evie being the female in danger, it's her teenage sister who has been kidnapped, and together these two have to figure out what they need to rescue her.

The book moves at a fairly good pace despite the history between the two main characters that needs to be worked out and the cast of secondary characters that populates the small town of Rochambeau, Louisiana (and makes it come alive). That many people sticking their noses into this couple's business while they're trying to hide/solve a kidnapping might have made for a cluttered and confusing story, but Harris handles it well. I didn't feel that "I wish this would hurry up" feeling I sometimes get with contemporary romances; I just wanted myself to hurry to the next page!

The sexual tension between Matt and Evie is strong. I would've like a bit more on-screen "action," maybe, and certainly it would have taken me longer to get over the aftermath of Matt's leaving after taking her virginity than it did Evie (I might've wanted him to squirm on that hook a bit longer, or maybe for Evie to feel it a bit deeper), but then I tend to prefer a darker, more angsty read. This book is lighter but enjoyable, and overall their relationship works well.

I'll definitely be reading book two!

NGWN Reading Club PicIf you enjoy these inside looks into what is on my reading list each month, you might like a new venture I've started with Nice Girls Writing Naughty's reader group. The final Saturday of each month, I'll be hosting the Nice & Naughty Reading Club featuring a romance we all read, then discuss on the blog. For more information and to find out what book we are reading this month, check out my blog post on the site HERE.


Funny Friday: "You Don't Read?!?!"

Buzz-Lightyear-Sad-Strange-Little-Man Kristin Scatton's The 6 Reactions Book-Lovers Have To People Who Don't Read is so painfully true...and so genuinely funny. I once spoke with a fellow author who said she didn't read, not because she didn't have time or was too busy, but because she just couldn't get through other people's books. My response -- after I picked my jaw up off the floor -- was similar to my favorite line from this article:

"I see your lips moving. I hear words coming out of your mouth. They sound like English, but I can’t comprehend them."

What's your response when people tell you they don't read?

~ Ella

Cliffhangers Are the Pits

5777600529_381883fd69_zWhen I think of cliffhangers, I think of long-ago Friday and Saturday nights when the family all sat around watching TV. It would be the end of a season, and whatever show we were watching was sure to end on a cliffhanger. Who shot JR? Was Buffy really dead? Was Jack Bauer ever gonna have a good day? (No!) What I don't think about when I hear the word cliffhanger is a romance novel. The romance genre, by definition, contains books that end in one of two ways: Happily Ever After or at least a Happy For Now. I don't even really like HFNs, actually. I want a resolution to a relationship. That relationship might continue beyond the book, as with Christine Feehan's Dark series, Cherise Sinclair's Master of the Shadowlands series, and JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There might even be new books or novellas about the couple, but in their book, I want an HEA. It's what my heart longs for. I can't help it -- I NEED an HEA.

kingSo, cliffhangers in romance? Not so much. My first encounter with such an animal was a very popular book that shall remain nameless. I literally got to the end, read the last paragraph, and turned the page expecting more. When it wasn't there, I turned the book over, looked at the cover, scratched my head... It took me a while to figure out that really was all there was to the story. If there had been some indication of a hook, a resolution to the original story arc, I wouldn't have been confused. But instead it felt as if the author had written one book, taken a cleaver, and literally chopped the story into thirds.

I hated it.

Now granted, there are series that take three (or more) books to resolve a relationship. But there's usually some indication that this will happen. There's usually a sense of "finishing," of resolution to the end of each book. There might still be questions, but the arc of the story, both within itself and within the overarching trilogy (or however many books), is evident. There's closure of some kind, even if the reader knows it is temporary.

This isn't even like those long-ago TV cliffhangers. There wasn't a buildup to a climactic event that we knew would get resolved in the beginning of the next book. No, there wasn't even that promise. The character's walked out on the street to go somewhere, stood for a minute talking (about nothing important), and that was the end. Done.

Uh-uh. No. If at all possible, I won't read a book like this. It drives me nuts -- and makes me never want to read anything by that author again. Period.

Can you tell I don't like this new romance version of cliffhangers?

So what about you? Do you like cliffhangers? The old TV kind or this new kind found in romances? Do you like romances that end, if not in an HEA, then in an HFN? Or are you a die-hard HEA junkie like me? Inquiring minds want to know! :)

~ Ella

*Photo courtesy of Duncan Hull.

Funny Friday: The Craziest Places To...Um...Have Sex

ella sheridan, author, writer, romance author, erotic romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, writing, sex, sex in canoes, weird author conversations, funny fridayWe romance writers, especially those of us with an erotic bent, can have some pretty weird conversations among ourselves, conversations like...oh..."where's the craziest place you've ever had sex?" And yes, we give some pretty out-there answers sometimes. ;) Here's how a few erotica authors answered the same question from Buzzfeed's Arianna Rebolini. Enjoy! ~ Ella

The 14 Craziest Places Where Erotica Writers Have Boned


*Photo courtesy of Jon 'ShakataGaNai' Davis.

What I'm Reading: Hard As It Gets by Laura Kaye

ella sheridan, romance, writer, author, erotic romance, what I'm reading, laura kaye, hard as it gets, hard inkTattoos. Special Forces. A damsel in distress. What could be hotter than that? In this first book in Kaye's Hard Ink series, absolutely nothing. Becca Merritt goes head to head with Nick Rixey when her brother disappears, leaving only Nick's name as a clue for help. I have to admit, shocking as it was, Nick's hard-ass attitude in the first scene was enough to wet panties, just because you knew all that badness would eventually be channeled into taking care of his woman. Yum! For me, Nick was the driving force behind enjoying this book, though his sexy, tortured teammates came a close second. And the dog. The bit about the dog was hilarious -- and I am not a dog person by any means.

Here's the blurb from Kaye's website:

Tall, dark, and lethal...

Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey's tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome--pure temptation to a very jaded Nick. He's left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander's daughter. Loyalty won't let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too.

With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn't expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protect her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees.

Desire is the easy part. Love is as hard as it gets. Good thing Nick is always up for a challenge...

ella sheridan, author, writer, romance, erotic romance, what I'm reading, laura kaye, hard ink, hearts in darknessNow, I have to admit, while I enjoyed this book and all its alpha-male abundance, I did not enjoy it as much as I did Hearts in Darkness, which is a stand-alone novella that got me interested in Kaye's writing. She has a way with wounded, tough-on-the-outside, gooey-on-the-inside heroes that just works for me, and HiD was a phenomenal example of that -- I highly recommend it. Then again, I enjoyed HAIG, too. It took me less than a week to read, which is always an indicator of how much I'm enjoying something. I have so little time to read that, if you haven't hooked me early, I have to set the book aside. I kept going back to this one, even reading on my iPhone occasionally. And I definitely plan to read the rest of the series: The second book, Hard As You Can, featuring teammate Shane, has just come out. Book three, Hard To Hold On To, will be out in August.

There you have it! If you're looking for tough heroes with wounded bodies and hearts, look no further...or should I say, harder? ;) Oh, just go buy it already! And don't stop reading till you get to the scene where the guys sing on the stairs. You'll know it when you get to it -- and you'll probably roll on the floor laughing as hard as I did!

~ Ella

The Rain

ella sheridan, author, romance, romance writer, rain, reading, walking in the rainIt's currently cool and rainy down here in the Deep South. On mornings when I wake up to the gentle patter of rain, it's like a huge sigh settles over my soul -- there's just nothing better than rain. The steady drum, the muffling of outside noise, even the rushing tide of heavy winds when the rain breaks completely free. In all its faces, rain draws me in. ella sheridan, author, romance, romance writer, rain, reading, walking in the rainIt's my favorite time to walk. Let's face it -- the South gets HAWT, and not in a good way. Considering that my career means sitting on my rear for 90 percent of my day, I know moving is important, both to my mood and my health. But I hate the heat! This past winter I reveled in the few days we got snow, went out and walked in it and felt the soft flakes on my face, but nothing compares to walking in the rain. As Roger Miller says, "Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet." The cool breeze caresses your face, and there's that strange sense of cool wetness on your skin when you aren't actually wet. You know what I mean, right there under your raincoat, with the raindrops beating against you like a massage and the world coated in a hazy gray blanket. All the things that weigh heavy on my mind are coated too, drowned out, and I can just be, there in the rain.

ella sheridan, writer, author, romance writer, romance, rain, reading, walking in the rainI grew up in an old farmhouse with a tin roof. Lots of houses out in the middle of nowhere in the South have tin roofs, especially the barns, but I was lucky enough that my bedroom was right underneath it, right up there in the eaves, right where the sound of the rain on the metal would resonate in my ears. Sure there were times that the thunder and lightning would scare the bejesus out of me, but mostly I remember how calming that sound was, how it sank down in my chest and felt like home. Even now, when I listen to meditation or sleep programs, I'm drawn to the ones that sound like rivers or streams, the tinkling of water over rocks, the sound that reminds me of the streaming of water down that old tin roof. There's no other sound quite like it.

The absolute best thing about rain, though, is curling up with a good book under a fuzzy blanket while the water pounds away outside. Maybe it's the white noise effect or maybe the sense of being enclosed, cocooned against that relentless force; I don't know. I can lose myself in the sound as much as in the world of the book I'm reading, or maybe that fiction world becomes clearer as reality is dampened by the rain. I know I'm conditioned now -- when it rains, all I want to do is curl up and read. Not a bad way to think, huh?

Does the rain draw you? Why? While you think about it, I'm gonna go curl up. Coffee's calling, and a book, and the rain.

~ Ella

Photos by: Yuliya Libkina, llya, and docoverachiever

What I'm Reading: The Night Prince Series by Jeaniene Frost

ella sheridan, romance, author, writer, erotic romance, paranormal romance, what I'm reading, jeaniene frost, night prince, vlad, leila, once burnedI admit I'm just now starting on this series, which began in 2012, for one very good reason: I hate first-person point of view. I'd heard several people raving about Jeaniene Frost -- totally deserved, by the way, and thank you, thank you, thank you, M. V. Freeman! BUT...I wouldn't pick up her books because it takes a very good writer, with just the right touch, to allow me to enjoy first person. Kristina Douglas (a paranormal pseudonym for Anne Stuart) is one. And now Jeaniene Frost. Her prose is compelling. To be honest, I can't put my finger on why -- it's clean, almost feeling too concise and uncluttered, abrupt, though it isn't. Not normally what I enjoy; I admit to preferring a more descriptive voice. But I couldn't put it down. I've really enjoyed finishing it, and I'm looking forward to reading more. (Hurry, hurry, hurry! :) )

The Night Prince series centers around the vampire Vlad, who is the original Dracula, and a psychic named Leila who -- get this -- is a carnival performer. Yes. I didn't think it would work either, but it did! The first book in the series is Once Burned; here's the blurb from Frost's website:

She’s a mortal with dark powers…

After a tragic accident scarred  her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a  person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of  solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out  with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire…

He’s the Prince of Night…

Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest  vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don’t call him Dracula. Vlad’s ability to control fire makes him one of the most  feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against  him – a beautiful mortal with powers to  match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them,  threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop  an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.

ella sheridan, romance, author, writer, erotic romance, paranormal romance, what I'm reading, jeaniene frost, night prince, vlad, leila, twice temptedThe book drew me so much I immediately bought book two, Twice Tempted. This book begins with Leila leaving the emotionally closed-off Vlad -- which is a good point about this series: Frost does a lot of those "Do Not Do This!" things most of us have been told is the death of a story. Vlad is no clean-cut alpha hero. No meditation for him when he's stressed; no, he tortures people. He's so emotionally constipated that Leila leaves him. Why doesn't he go after her? He says later he thought she was bluffing. Yeah, constipated. Leila's not your typical heroine either -- the torture she suffers in book one is pretty unpalatable. But her knowledge of '80s pop rock is a thing of beauty. :)

I cannot wait for the third and final book in this series to come out. I highly recommend the first two books in the meantime, so go check them out. Now!

Don't make me take a page from Vlad's book and impale you.

~ Ella

What I'm Reading: Kresley Cole's MacRieve

ella sheridan, kresley cole, reading, macrieve, immortals after dark, paranormal romanceWow! That's all I can say. I first read Kresley Cole years ago when A Hunger Like No Other, the first in the Immortals After Dark series, came to bookstores. I loved it, but I could never get into the whole "race" thing that took over the next few books. I could see how an Olympic quest would be interesting, but for me, I just couldn't get into it. Fast-forward to this past year when I saw Cole at RWA Nationals in Atlanta. She won her 2013 Rita Award and was inducted into the RWA Hall of Fame. I admit I paid special attention because Unbroken, my paranormal romance, was nominated for the Golden Heart. I remember looking up at her on the stage after I'd lost in my category, wondering if I'd ever even publish, much less be nominated for a Rita.

ella sheridan, paranormal romance, kresley cole, macrieve, immortals after darkThough Unbroken is still on hold, I have published--and, I'm happy to say, I've read a new Kresley Cole book. :) And it  has me blown away and shown me what I have to strive for. The book is MacRieve, about a damaged werewolf and his innocent half-Lorean mate. It is truly awesome. Knowing I was uncertain about the series, I picked up MacRieve reluctantly, but I couldn't resist the cover (isn't he yummy?!?!). And what was between the covers was far more pulse-pounding than the guy staring out at me from the front of the book! Here's the description from Cole's website:


Uilleam MacRieve believed he’d laid to rest the ghosts of his boyhood. But when a brutal torture revives those ancient agonies and destroys his Lykae instinct, the proud Scot craves the oblivion of death. Until he finds her—a young human so full of spirit and courage that she pulls him ba ck from the brink.


Seized for the auction block, Chloe Todd is forced to enter a terrifying new world of monsters and lore as a bound slave. When offered up to creatures of the dark, she fears she won’t last the night. Until she’s claimed by him—a wicked immortal with heartbreaking eyes, whose touch sets her blood on fire.


With enemies circling, MacRieve spirits Chloe away to the isolated Highland keep of his youth. But once he takes her to his bed, his sensual mate becomes something more than human, evoking his savage past and testing his sanity. On the cusp of the full moon, can he conquer his worst nightmare to save Chloe . . . from himself?

You know me, I like dark and gritty and emotional. MacRieve was certainly a roller coaster ride in that respect. The characters felt and felt deeply. What woman wouldn't want to heal MacRieve's wounded soul? The things he has endured were horrific, but you can't heal what you don't know, and Chloe can't break down the walls her mate has put up between them. Cole has a talent for throwing together characters who are diametrically opposed, in the most believable ways, and then letting their differences wreak havoc on them. I thought MacRieve was as wounded as he could get at the beginning, but oh no, the worst was yet to come. His story touched my heart and made me cry. And though I typically focus more on the male character, Chloe tore at my heart too. I even enjoyed the soccer talk (Chloe's a pro soccer player), though I pretty much hate sports. :)

So, run, don't walk to pick up MacRieve. There's even an audio excerpt on Cole's site. This book has certainly turned my eye back toward this series. I guess now I'll have to see how long it will take me to read the other books. ;)

~ Ella

Zombies, Plagues, and Head Shots...Oh My!

ella sheridan, romance, jonathan maberry, joe ledger, dead of night, countdown, zombiesHello, my name is Ella and I'm a romance junkie. But that's not a romance picture over there on the left, is it? That's because recently I've been so focused on my own writing that reading romance has stressed me out more than it has helped me relax. One day, totally fed up with reading my old "keeper" romances for the billionth time, I pulled out my Kindle and did something I really don't like doing: I went shopping. And brought home zombies.

Really, I'm not kidding. I am a huge fan of World War Z (the book AND the movie), and so I started looking at zombie books. And ran across Jonathan Maberry's Dead of Night. I was hooked immediately. Being a romance writer, I wasn't sure I would like the commitment-phobic heroine, but hey, there were zombies, so I read it anyway -- and actually came to like her. :)

At the end of Dead of Night, there was a short introduction to Maberry's Joe Ledger series. The series begins with "Countdown," a short-story introduction. I immediately loved Joe Ledger's "voice." He is a hero both strong and fallible, horrified at what he has to do but doing it without flinching. He is human and, at times it seems, a superhero. I could identify with his pursuit of martial arts to gain control of his life after a tragedy nearly destroyed him as a teen. I could follow his thinking and relate to the fact that he didn't always "get" the science (which thankfully is explained in fairly simple terms!). He is gritty and raw and broken and heartbreakingly deadly (and makes more head shots than I think is probably realistic, lol). This was no romance, but I loved it!

ella sheridan, romance, zombies, jonathan maberry, dead of night, joe ledger, assassin's codeThe series begins with zombies, but it doesn't stop there. Plagues, secret societies, conspiracies out the wazoo. It's a smorgasbord of evil with Joe in the middle. And Joe deals with it all the best way he can, which is not to say he brushes all the death and dismemberment off. The man has a therapist on speed dial, for goodness sake! And for good reason. :)

Sometimes, we need a change. We need to step out of our comfort zone and broaden our horizons and feed our creativity with something different. I'm glad I did. And I'm glad there are six books in this series, because I'm hooked. For Christmas vacation I went through the first three, so thankfully there are still some Joe Ledger adventures to fill my downtime in the coming weeks.

What do you read outside of the romance genre? Anything else "float your boat"? I know a lot of writers who read YA novels for fun. Or maybe, like me, you enjoy dark and gritty. Which is it? For now, I'm off to spend my last night on vacation with Joe... ;)

~ Ella


Taking the Dread out of the Dreaded Book Review

Ella Sheridan, amazon, book review, romance, erotic romanceI've been reading a lot of articles lately about releasing a new book (for obvious reasons). One of the biggest pieces of advice for readers that I've seen? Review books. Now, I have to admit to rarely reviewing books, so I felt a little hypocritical asking others if they like my new book, would they please leave a review. I mean, I'm a writer as well as reader, I know how all of this works, and yet I'm still intimidated by the prospect of posting a book review somewhere. So, in the interest of making the book review easier and a lot less intimidating for all of us, me included, let's look at some of the reasons readers might be afraid of the dreaded book review, and how we can maybe get past that to support our favorite authors:

1. Leaving a book review takes too much time.

Ella Sheridan, logo, barnes and noble, book review, romance, erotic romanceThis is probably the number one reason most people don't leave book reviews. I mean, who has the time to write out an "essay" about a book and then go through the process of posting it? I'm busy! I do think writing out long, detailed reviews with summaries of the plot and everything you liked, including examples, would be time-consuming. The truth is, though, that most people looking at reviews don't have time to read all that any more than you have time to write it. They want to know: is this book good and why. That's all. You can write a couple of sentences or a couple of paragraphs, but you don't have to summarize the book or even use examples if none come to mind. Let's face it, some other reviewer has already been detailed enough for ten reviews, more than likely, so including all that information isn't necessary. Just include the basics; that makes a review easy for you to write and easy for others to read.

2. What if it's not perfect?

So what? I know, I know, this is hard for me to accept as well. I'm a writer; I want everything I write to be perfect. But the truth is, even published books aren't always perfect. Books go through multiple rounds of edits, both with the author and through the publisher, and still they come out with mistakes. It happens. A published book is important. How important is it for a two-paragraph review not to contain a typo? It's not. Get your idea across, and stop worrying about being perfect (she says, pointing her finger at herself!). Which is more important: writing a pristine, literary-journal-worthy review, or supporting the author you want desperately to write more books? I lean toward the latter, and so letting go of my dreams of pristine literature posted in the Amazon review section must go by the wayside. Remember, we don't have time for that! (See point #1.)

3. What if I make the author feel bad?

It's okay not to like everything about a book. It is. As an author, I can tell you that I appreciate an honest review, even if you didn't like everything about my book. And that whole, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say it at all?" Really, it's the nice that matters, and I don't mean in what you include; I mean in the language you use. If there's a criticism, saying it nicely is key. We are all entitled to our opinions, and they are as numerous and varied as belly buttons and, you know, other stuff I won't mention. It's how you say something that matters. We've all heard the horror stories about boards on review sites wanting authors dead and flamers targeting books with one-star reviews. Are you that person? No? (Good!) Then you have nothing to worry about. Be yourself; be nice; be honest. That's all that matters.

4. What if other reviewers "target" me?

Ella Sheridan, goodreads, logo, book review, romance, erotic romanceBack to those flamers. I must admit, things like this scare me. It's a form of cyber bullying that has become so popular on the Internet today, as if the fact that you are safely behind a computer monitor and keyboard gives you the right to hurt the feelings and even the livelihoods of others any way you want. I don't believe that. But I also don't believe that the vast majority of readers target books and authors and other honest reviewers. That's why I finally decided to venture onto Goodreads. Because as much as there are those bullies out there in cyberspace, there are many more lovely readers who just want to get to know their favorite authors, or authors who could become favorites. I'm one of them, even though I have a book published--I'm a huge fan of certain authors. Reading about them and getting to know them makes me giddy! And I refuse to allow the worst of people to keep me from doing that.

So what can you do about the dreaded book review? Forget those essays you had to write in high school and college. Get familiar with various sites, and find one that you like, where you feel "safe." Read a book you love. Then go online and post a paragraph about what you liked. That's all. No worrying about doing it right or perfect or what others will think. Be honest. Be nice. And be supportive of your favorite authors. I know that's what I intend to do. :)

What I've Been Reading: Lexi Blake

I have a confession: I don't read a lot of new books. Not because I don't want to, but because I have so little time to read. I don't want to waste what little time I have to read trying a new book/new author I might or might not like. So I often go on recommendations before trying out a new-to-me author. And in this case, I'm so glad I did. Lexi Blake, The Dom Who Loved Me, Ella Sheridan, erotic romance, BDSM, readingDani Wade, my sister, is responsible for my current obsession. Her "Oh my God, you have to read this!" came a couple of months ago after she tried out the first of Lexi Blake's Masters and Mercenaries series, The Dom Who Loved Me. I was fully sick of the books I'd reread fifty bazillion times, and so I gave in. I downloaded the book onto my Kindle...and I was hooked. Immediately.

The series currently has 4.5 books (four full books and a novella), with the fifth book, Ian's story (CAN'T WAIT!!!), due out in October. My favorite so far has been book three, A Dom Is Forever. Liam is just so deliciously lickable. ;) Not only does he have an Irish accent, but he loves curvy women (and we love him). His heroine, Avery, isn't physically perfect or flashy, but he can't get enough of her anyway -- and the way he instinctively takes care of her makes him even more sexy. Here's the description from Lexi's website:

A Dom Is Forever – Out Now!Lexi Blake, A Dom Is Forever, Ella Sheridan, erotic romance, BDSM, reading

A Man with a Past…

Liam O’Donnell fled his native Ireland years ago after one of his missions ended in tragedy and he was accused of killing several of his fellow agents. Shrouded in mystery, Liam can’t remember that fateful night. He came to the United States in disgrace, seeking redemption for crimes he may or may not have committed. But the hunt for an international terrorist leads him to London and right back into the world he left behind.

A Woman Looking for a Future…

Avery Charles followed her boss to London, eager to help the philanthropist with his many charities. When she meets a mysterious man who promises to show her London’s fetish scene, she can’t help but indulge in her darkest fantasies. Liam becomes her Dom, her protector, her lover. She opens her heart and her home to him, only to discover he’s a man on a mission and she’s just a means to an end.

When Avery’s boss leads them to the traitorous Mr. Black, Liam must put together the puzzle of his past or Avery might not have a future…

The thing that I love about this series -- and all of my favorite BDSM writers' books -- is the emotion that swamps every page. This is not erotica, not sex or "play" for sex's sake. This is pure erotic romance at its heart. Avery struggles with a past full of pain and sorrow and guilt. She has pushed herself to live when she'd rather die, and we see that struggle. We share her realization that she still holds herself back, and we take those first few steps of opening herself to Liam with her. Liam's past is full of secrets, and for a man who wants to be an untouchable island, the emotion he feels but doesn't want to acknowledge pulls us irrevocably toward him. He is truly the "strong, silent type" overcome by the love of the woman who is his match in every way -- in the bedroom and out.

I can't say enough about Lexi Blake's writing. If you want sexy, steamy, emotional, sometimes wrenching stories with plenty of twists and turns (oh, and handcuffs and rope :) ), you have to check out this series. I'm lucky enough that I get to hear Lexi speak this coming weekend at a nearby RWA workshop, and I can't wait to tell her in person exactly how much I enjoy her work. She's definitely on my keeper shelf!

Genre Talk - Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal Romance

Genre Talk - Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal Romance. I recently had an editor from a major urban fantasy house ask me about my book. I hated to tell her it wasn't urban fantasy (who wants to tell an editor their book isn't what she's looking for?), but I hate the love triangles and lack of HEAs in UF. I told her it was a gritty paranormal, since I didn't know how else to categorize it. :) Then I read this blog by Lisa Kessler over at Paranormal Unbound about this very issue. Think I just added a book to my TBR pile!!!

Oldie but Goody: Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione

Pleasure Unbound, Larissa Ione, Demonica series, paranormal romance, romance, author, writer, Ella Sheridan, reading, TBRAahhh, the Demonica series! I LOVE these books. And yes, I've already read them, and the series that follows, so why am I reading book one, Pleasure Unbound, again? (Besides the fact that it's awesomesauce?) I'll tell you: I've struggled recently with the fact that my reading time is severely limited. Between work and writing, I rarely take time off to read, but I do like to pick up a book at night sometimes to help me settle down to sleep. This can be dangerous, mind you, if I get too involved and want to stay up (waayyy past my bedtime c;), so for the most part I reread books on my keeper shelf so I don't have that "must see what happens next!" feeling to keep me up at night.

Recently, however, I felt guilty that I wasn't reading anything new. I needed a fresh infusion into my TBR pile, so I went searching, bought a couple of newer books, and piled them on my bedside table. Know what happened? Each one, while somewhat interesting, couldn't hold my interest. I would get a couple of chapters in and think, Eh, why am I struggling with this? And I would stop reading. After about the fourth book, I seriously wanted to chuck something against a wall. It wasn't that the books were bad, but my head is so full of chaos right now that if it isn't greatly compelling for me, I'm not gonna finish it.

I've never had that problem with Larissa Ione.

I have her latest book on my shelf, unread. But I realized I was having trouble keeping the details of the series in my head, so I decided to start from the beginning and move forward -- and it's been great! I'm reading, staying interested, and gathering up all those pertinent facts I need to make the latest book make sense and be interesting. (By the way, the same is true for JR Ward's latest book, which is staring at me from my shelf as I speak, but I told myself I couldn't read it until Unbroken was complete. :s)

So, there you have it, what I'm reading right now. c: Here's the description from Amazon if you've never checked out these amazing books:

In a place where ecstasy can cost you your life . . .

She's a demon-slayer who hungers for sensual pleasure-but fears it will always be denied her. Until Tayla Mancuso lands in a hospital run by demons in disguise, and the head doctor, Eidolon, makes her body burn with unslakable desire. But to prove her ultimate loyalty to her peers, she must betray the surgeon who saved her life.

Two lovers will dare to risk all.

Eidolon cannot resist this fiery, dangerous woman who fills him with both rage and passion. Not only is she his avowed enemy, but she could very well be the hunter who has been preying upon his people. Torn between his need for the truth and his quest to find his perfect mate before a horrific transformation claims him forever, Eidolon will dare the unthinkable-and let Tayla possess him, body and soul . . .

Check out this and other books by Larissa on her website HERE. It's totally worth it, believe me!

And for another great read, hop on over to The Mutual Admiration Society to see Dani Wade's new release, Finding Her Rhythm, and learn all about her rock-star hero, Michael Korvello!

What I've Been Reading

tymber dalton, the reluctant dom, BDSM, erotic romance, romance, readingYou can find out a lot about an author from what they read. After all, who wants to read a paranormal romance by an author who doesn't read paranormals? Or an erotic romance from someone who doesn't read them? We expect certain things from certain subgenres of romance, and we want them followed -- or broken, but only in a "break the rules but make me like it" kind of way. So what have I been reading? Lately I haven't had a lot of time to read, but I try to sneak in something now and then. And I'm glad I did last week when I picked up The Reluctant Dom by Tymber Dalton based on a recommendation from an FB group. When I read the blurb and realized yes, one of the characters will probably die in this book, I was torn. I love happy endings, always. But I also love dark, gritty, angsty books as well. The deeper and more edgy the emotions, the better I like it. So I clicked the button and waited for the book to download to my Kindle.

Lord a'mercy! I've read quite a bit of BDSM, both for pleasure and in my day job as an editor, but very little of it comes close to what Dalton managed to create here. The depth of the pain, love, and longing in this story tore my heart apart and put it back together. It was beautiful, it truly was. I highly recommend it, and to convince you, here's the blurb from Amazon. :)

Love hurts...if you're lucky.

Kaden's dying, but before he goes he has one problem to solve -- he must ask his oldest and dearest friend, Seth, to take over as Dom and Master to his beloved wife, Leah.

Seth has always seen himself as the perpetual screwup and Kaden as the strong and steady one, so his friend's request rocks his world. He also knows there's no way he can refuse Kaden this.

Now Seth finds himself immersed in a role he's far from comfortable with -- inflicting physical pain to provide emotional comfort to the woman he's secretly loved for years. Can he deal with his crushing gried over the impending loss of his oldest friend and still learn the skills he must master in time to become The Reluctant Dom?


What struck me, beyond the truly heart-rending situation the characters found themselves in, was the title character, Seth. He is in every way reluctant -- reluctant to lose his friend, reluctant to face his true feelings for Leah, reluctant to step up to the plate when he's always thought of himself as the perpetual screwup. He's both your typical alpha male and not, at the same time. He drew me to him and made me believe he could do what Kaden asked of him even when he didn't believe it himself. Great job, Dalton!

Even the subject matter (and I don't mean the BDSM) was handled in a gentle, compelling,  painful, healing way. Death is hard to deal with in a romance, even in paranormals or romantic suspense where danger is all around and you know, you just know someone isn't gonna make it out of this alive. But death is all around us, and Dalton shows us both the torture and the gift the process brings to our lives. It both rang true and had me screaming, "No! No! No!" by the end. And yet, Kaden and Seth and Leah enriched my life too. I'm glad I read it. You should too. :)

Check out this and other Tymber Dalton books at the author's website here -- and prepare for a passionate ride, in more ways than one!