SHM APAHM!

Oh my lordt y’all – yes! L-O-R-D-T! It’s May! Which means it’s APAHM! And Lime, you might ask, WTAF are all those letters?! Well let me tell you! We all need periodic reminders. SHM stands for “Smithsonian Heritage Month” here at ALBTALBS. … Now you’re potentially going “WTF is ALBTALBS?!” … ALBTALBS = A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet. The name of the site. (No, it’s not “Tart Sweet” – that’s just the url because typing out the whole damn thing/using it as a url seemed … not smart.) … If you ask what “WTF” stands for I might cry. I mean, what the fuck, right? 😉

OK. APAHM. That’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! That’s just what it’s called! Some say APIA is more accurate … which would be Asian and Pacific Islander American.

We’re hobbling along with the Smithsonian Heritage Months and every year I think about hobbling it because why even bother, right?! I’ve been doing this for 4-5 years at least, and just what even. Romanceland is really trying (or so it says) to embrace diversity and be more diverse. And then you get the pushback of “tokenism” and “you only care during X months.” I’m speaking generally here…

Here’s the thing – ALBTALBS has an open door policy. Anyone is welcome to guest at any time. For the Smithsonian Heritage Months, I try to make the extra effort to especially highlight and celebrate our diverse members.

I sometimes think about giving up, but then will get a message that someone went through the SHM posts and bought the books of authors who wrote guest posts! Which is fantastic! And a the reason for keeping on.

So I hope everyone takes SHMs in the spirit in which they’re meant – in joy and lifting up. (Yes I realize I’m pretty much preaching to the choir here … especially since I’ve said time and again you all are much nicer than I am. Q.E.D.)

Anyway if people want to participate, they’re welcome to. You might have noticed in 2018 I opened up all the SMHs to anyone and everyone. I don’t care what color you are, your identity or background, you can write a guest post for any month. I hope you join us!

Guest N.J. Walters: Why We Need Romance Novels More Than Ever

Hi friends! I’m very pleased to welcome N.J. Walters to ALBTALBS! She’s a first time guest here, and we always love that! I frequently put out calls for guest posts and N.J. was kind enough to respond, so everyone please welcome her! This is a fantastic and timely post. Read on!

Why We Need Romance Novels More Than Ever

Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss CoverThe romance industry brings in more than a billion dollars in revenue a year in book sales. In spite of this, many people, including those in the mainstream media, often still refer to the romance genre with a snicker, calling the books bodice rippers.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love some of those older books—Kathleen Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey, Rosemary Rogers—the ones with the heroine’s ripped bodice and brooding hero on the cover. Those early writers paved the way for what we have today—a vibrant and diverse industry. From the beginning, romance authors have pushed the boundaries. The heroines in the stories are often successful business women in their own right. They’re mothers and sisters and daughters and friends. They’re part of the fabric of the community in which they work and live.

There’s nothing wrong with pure escapist fantasy. Now your traditional Science Fiction, Western, and Mystery genres all offer the same thing—an escape from reality—yet are rarely criticized in the same fashion as romance. Continue reading

Guest Eileen Dreyer: Physical Trauma on Characters

Hi friends! I’m really excited to welcome Eileen Dreyer back to ALBTALBS, and she’s got an excellent post. It ties into one I posted last week, written a long time ago about some pitfalls in romantic suspense. Eileen made a comment on FB a while back about what she says below and I was like “omg yes exactly!” Then I asked if she’d be willing to write a guest post about it, and here we are! 😀 Enjoy!

Don’t Shoot Him In The Shoulder

With a Vengeance by Eileen Dreyer Book CoverThis blog began the way a lot of conversations do around the bar at writers’ conferences. Somebody read a book in which the hero got shot and immediately rogered the daylights out of the heroine.

“I find that hard to believe.”

“Where’d he get shot?” I ask.

“Well, only in the shoulder….”

Ah, yes. The good old shoulder shot. On the screen everyone from Wild Bill Hickock to James Bond has shaken off the annoyance of a bullet in the shoulder as he saved the day. I mean, it’s a great place to shoot a hero (or heroine), isn’t it? There aren’t any major organs to worry about. Nothing but connective tissue.

Wrong. Besides the lungs, which have an annoying habit of getting in the way by expanding when we breathe, major blood vessels like the subclavian and brachial arteries run across the impact zone along with the brachial nerve, which impacts the entire arm. And that doesn’t even take into account the bones, from the easily fragmented collarbone (clavicle) to the humerus. Continue reading

Guest Author Lucy Monroe: Writing Imperfect People is Empowering

We are beyond excited to have author Lucy Monroe join us today to share with us how the current social climate changes thanks to movements such as #MeToo have changed, or not changed, how she writes romance. 

Kostas's Convenient Bride by Lucy Monroe Book CoverMay 1st is Protomagia in Greece, otherwise known as May Day (or Labor Day internationally), because this is the day that people take off work, and head for picnics in the countryside.  Honestly? I can’t imagine Andreas Kostas (Kostas’s Convenient Bride) taking the day off, any day off. I’m pretty sure that the years he spent living in Greece with his despised Georgas family, he never observed such a holiday.  He was too busy scheming for a way out. A way out of Greece, a way away from the family that caused his mother so much grief, a way to make his mark on the world without the Georgas influence.

Because he is an alpha hero, a man confident that he is supposed to have a place in the world and that place is not at the bottom of the ladder.  It’s at the top. He’s pretty damn sure that his best friend and business partner, Kayla Jones is supposed to be at the top with him.

But when he shows up in New York, tracking her down, she’s utterly shocked. Continue reading

Retro HH Post: “He’s About to Kill Us…Let’s Shag.”

[aka Why I Didn’t and Don’t Read Much RS]

Hi friends! This was posted – gosh, February 23, 2011. It was my third post with H&H … and I’m sharing it for a few reasons. First of all, I plan on eventually reposting all my old HH stuff here. Secondly … this specifically ties into the guest post that will be going live next week. I’ve decided not to edit anything so it’s a copy and paste job. Enjoy. 😛

Standing in the Shadows by Shannon McKenna CoverI used to say that I simply didn’t read the subgenre of romantic suspense (RS), but that’s not really true. In fact, some of the authors I would’ve put on my favorites list write RS. And then a few of my “top ten reads of the year” have been RS as well . . . so, slowly and surely, RS has been making its insidious way into my reading repertoire.*

So why didn’t I read it at first? Perhaps because I find the romance loses out in RS, or at least is unsatisfying/insufficient to me. The necessity of plot development and the focus on the burgeoning relationship are at odds. Especially with the shorter novel lengths. Maybe it’d work in a saga (although those to me are more grandiose story lines about generations of a family).

Relationships are complicated. Writing a believable suspense plot is also difficult, and combining the genres takes talent. Then there is also the development of series, and books that end with a cliff-hanger rather than the conclusion of a story arc. And I hate that. For some reason I can take that in films, but not books. Continue reading

Requiescat In Pace, @c2s

I don’t … I mean it’s there, but I feel like I’m going to throw up, typing this. I think Romanceland should know, we lost one of our best this week. I don’t even want to type it out again so …

I’ve set up a St. Jude memorial fund in her honor. @c2s was incredibly kind, caring, wonderful, and had a wicked sense of humor. She was my online conscience, and I am bereft. She was one of my most favorite people on God’s green earth.

I chose St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for a few reasons. One of which is … it was her mother’s favorite charity, and where the family asked funds to be donated when her mother passed last year.

If you are so inclined, you can make a donation to the St. Jude memorial fund in honor of @c2s here. If the hyperlinks don’t work for you, you can copy and paste this: http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/GiftFunds/GiftFunds?px=5137051&pg=personal&fr_id=39300

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Unconquered by Bertrice Small

Unconquered by Bertrice Small
Historical romance released by Ballantine Books on December 1981

Unconquered by Bertrice SmallA breathless novel of sensual daring and fiery adventure, UNCONQUERED introduces the brilliant outspoken Miranda, who would give up nothing for a man, and whose spirited ways and breathtaking sensuality would sweep her into perilous escapades of brutality and erotic discovery…

I read this book for the TBR challenge Old School category. Since this book was originally published in 1981, and since I started reading romance around this time (thanks, mom, for always having a stash of romance novels!), I figured this would be a great book to read. It would feel nostalgic, and I would read the entire book, not just skim it for the racy sex scenes that tender young me did covertly.

I inherited my copy from my mom when my parents moved to a much smaller house. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for almost twenty years. As I stated above, I did skim through the book for the sex scenes (of which there were many) but didn’t actually read the book, even after mom gave me her copy. Why? Because I was afraid the book wouldn’t hold up to those fond memories I held. I probably should have kept things that way. Continue reading

Guest Post On Cruises: Tips and Tricks You Need to Know

Hi friends! I often put out calls for guest posts, and FormerlyHurogGirl responded on twitter, saying she could talk about cruises. I’ve never been on a cruise, but have always wanted to – so I was like “YES!” This is a lot of information, so I hope you find it helpful like I did! Because this is something I know nothing about I did a copy and paste job, just tweaked some formatting. 🙂 Feel free to ask FormerlyHurogGirl any questions!

Fiction makes cruising look simple.
I’m here to tell you – fiction lies!

Cruise ShipIn days of old, when covered wagons and dinosaurs thundered across the plains, you could look at your significant other, and say “hey, let’s go on a cruise next week!” You’d find something that left from a local port on the appropriate day, didn’t last longer than you had time for, and if you could pay for it, you packed your bags and went. Nary no more, my lasses and lads, nary no more, no more my dears. Cruising can be very good “bang for the buck” as a vacation, One pack/unpack and no travel arrangements between destinations, food and basic drink unending, entertainment included in fare. But you need to be aware of several pitfalls, and that’s most of what I m going into here, the potential negatives, so that you can avoid them. Continue reading

Desperately Seeking: Adult High Fantasy Romances

Hi friends! … I’m back! Yes, I’m looking for more book recommendations, and I’m hoping the hivemind can help me.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Box Set ImageI’ve read a lot of the “usual suspects” – or at least, I think I have? There are some that I know of but haven’t had a chance to read yet, but I’m always looking for more. (We’re voracious readers!)

High fantasy means that the setting is an imaginary World. An alternative/fictional world or universe. There might be magic, and such, and often an “epic quest.” What matters most to me though, is the non real world aspect, and the romance. Generally they don’t (dare I say … shouldn’t?) have modern technology either – no cars, planes, drones, etc.

Adult doesn’t mean omg sex all the time all the sex – it just means … I’d like to read about characters that are adults, or at least considered adults in their world. For example, the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy counts. (And in fact is a perfect example because I freaking loved it.) Yes, Feyre is relatively young – 19, buts she’s been the sole provider for her family for the past 5+ years. … And then most of the other main characters are literally hundreds of years old. I also recommend Grace Draven’s books.

Romance … I mean – it’s just that the romantic relationship is central to the storyline, and of course there’s a happy ending. I don’t want to read a high fantasy where everyone except for a protagonist dies at the end and it’s tragic and miserable. If I wanted that, I’d just watch more foreign films. I’ve also been using libraries for most of these books because … yo that was a lot of books and I am not rich.

I’ve already read a lot of [adult] high fantasy romances. I do want to note … I have a “quirk” where I don’t want to read a series unless it’s complete. I blow through fantasy series and have ~ADD so I don’t want to wait, and I’d forget details. I definitely want to know about series though, so I can start collecting books in anticipation of the completion. (Like the Sarah J. Maas Throne of Glass series.)

Here’s what I’ve read: Continue reading

Decades: A Journey of African American Romance Teaser Tuesday Guest Author Kianna Alexander Shares an Exclusive Excerpt from Love’s Sweet Melody

Who’s been wanting to read an exclusive ALBTALBS teaser? I’m going to raise my hand high and proud today as we welcome author Kianna Alexander. Kianna is one of twelve authors participating in the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series and I’ve been eagerly awaiting her book. I have been reading Kianna’s novels since 2015 and picked up Every Beat of My Heart from my local library. As Kianna brings us into the 1940s, I hope you agree that her books are just as beautiful as she is.

 

Welcome, Kianna, to A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet! 

Love’s Sweet Melody by Kianna Alexander is the fifth book in the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series. This series consists of 12 books, each set in one of 12 decades between 1900 and 2010.  Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also embraces the African American experience within that decade. Join the journey on our Facebook page

Here’s an *unedited* excerpt of the first scene of Love’s Sweet Melody. Hopefully it gives you a feel for the setting, the hero and heroine, and a few of the secondary characters. Enjoy!

Love's Sweet Melody by Kianna Alexander Book CoverAutumn, 1946

Warner Hughes returns home from war with the lingering effects of battle. Abandoned by his sweetheart and ostracized by his community, he feels he has no real home

Elizabeth “Betty” Daniels has one love: music. Betty’s family wants to see her married, busy with affairs of the home, leaving no time to pursue her art.

Warner’s only solace is in the sweet melody of Betty’s music. To Betty’s mind, marriage means giving up the freedom to pursue her art. Can Warner let love in, and can Betty make room for love?

Seated at the baby grand piano in the center of the dining room of the Cashwell Hotel, Elizabeth Daniels worked her fingers over the keys. The daily lunch crowd had just begun to fill the tables around her, bringing the space to life with the din of many conversations. Playing through the first stanza of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, she hoped to help the diners ease into their lunch break. She’d spoken to many of them in the year or so she’d been piano, and knew that their jobs in the city sometimes put them under a great deal of stress. Times being what they were, the black folks of Fox Den, Virginia had plenty to be concerned about. Continue reading