Nine Naughty Questions with… Mary Jo Putney, author of Not Always A Saint

9781420127171The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Mary Jo Putney

author of Not Always A Saint and many more…

Nine Naughty Questions


1. Headless washboard abs, a torrid embrace, the sprawling homestead, an elegantly dressed décolletage, or the vaguely kinky object against a dark background – what’s your favourite type of romance cover and why?

I like having people on the cover, preferably a couple in a moment of tenderness and emotion.  Note: tenderness – crazed, stoat-like passion isn’t as interesting. But it can be difficult to get a cover with two really appropriate looking people–male models are often too young and they lack gravitas – so a single appealing person is also good.  My publisher, Kensington, has done some very fine covers of women in gorgeous gowns which may not be historically accurate, but – GORGEOUS!

2. What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?

I look at my computer, my computer looks at me.  I pause to pet whatever cat is lying in front of the keyboard. I sigh with frustration.  Real progress tends to kick in only when deadline panic looms!

Mary Jo Putney

3. At the heart of a romantic story is the way in which the main characters reveal their true natures to each other. How much of yourself do you put into your characters, and have their stories been affected by your personal experiences?

I think it’s necessary to have empathy with all characters in order to make them believable, so all of mine have some connection with my own experiences.  Sometimes the original experience is transmuted into an event so different that only I understand the connection – but that connection must be there.

4. I’m interested in how you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?

The heart of a good romance is the developing relationship.  It’s how two people fall in love, develop trust, overcome challenges, and make a deep, lasting commitment.  There may or may not be graphic sexuality – some of the most wonderful romantic stories I’ve ever read were “sweet” books such as those by Eva Ibbotson and Georgette Heyer.  What matters is the relationship.

In erotica, graphic sexuality is essential.  The erotica that is written for the romance genre has the sexuality, but relationships are an essential part of the mix.   Porn is sex for sex’s sake, and there may be elements of “Sex is dirty and isn’t that great!”

I don’t know if I’d say that romance readers are getting naughtier, but there is a very large market for very hot books.  A well known writer friend of mine speculates that perhaps the genre might split in two, with one part focusing more on the relationships and the other on the sexuality.  I don’t know if it will happen, but it’s an interesting theory!

97814201271715. Please tell us about your latest novel! Did you have a secret alternative title while you were writing it?

Actually, no!  As soon as I started thinking about the characters and the story I thought of that title, and it was so right that I never considered anything else.  Luckily, my editor and publisher agreed with me.

Grab a copy of Not Always A Saint here

6. What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve received after a friend or family member read one of your books?

Mostly they want to know when the next book will be out.

7. Romance writers are sometimes denigrated and asked when they’ll write ‘real’ books – what do you tell the haters?

I’ve never actually been asked that question, but if I was, I’d say something like, “I love what I write and they sure look like real books to me!”  If I was feeling catty, I might ask, “How many romances have you actually read?”  Often the answer would be “none.” But my friends and family are too polite to actually ask such rude questions.

8. Romance readers love discovering new authors. Please tell us about five books you recently read and loved to bits.

1) The Spring Bride by my friend Anne Gracie.  A delicious Regency historical, and third in her Chance Sisters series.the-spring-bride
2) Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs.  She’s a terrific urban fantasy writer who creates wonderful relationships.
3) The Hanged Man by P. N. Elrod.  It’s a Victorian/steampunk/urban fantasy/mystery and the first in a new series.  Pat Elrod is a terrific writer, and the book was a real page turner, with a nice little bit of romance as well.
4) The Year We Fell Down, Book 1 of The Ivy Years by Sarina Bowen.  This is New Adult romance, intelligent and intensely emotional.  In the first book, the heroine was an athlete who had a life changing accident that put her in a wheelchair, and the hero is an athlete who smashed up his leg and is living in the room across the hall. It’s brilliantly done.
5) The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is a fantasy novel, and a finalist for the Hugo for best novel of the year, which is the top award in American science fiction.  The youngest, mixed blood, and most despised son of the elven emperor, Maia is raised far from the court in virtual exile.  Then his father and older brothers die in an airship accident and Maia is suddenly emperor.  But while he is young and under-educated, he is not stupid.  It’s a great story with great worldbuilding.

9. Please tell us your favourite scene from your latest book, and why it’s particularly delicious!

I was still working on Not Always a Saint when my publisher, Kensington, asked what I’d like for a cover.  I didn’t have much time to think about it, so I said, “The heroine is in a gorgeous red gown sweeping up a staircase and peering mischievously over her shoulder.”  Artist Jon Paul Ferrara did exactly that, and the result is spectacular!   So I wrote the wedding night scene to match the cover. Daniel and Jessie had a lot of fun that night.

Mary, thank you for playing.

9781420127171Not Always A Saint

The Lost Lords Series : Book 7

by Mary Jo Putney

After the death of his sweetheart when he was at university, Daniel Herbert buried his grief in medical studies and his passion for healing. Viewed as a saint by those who know him, in his own mind he never quite manages to live up to his own high standards.

Most men would be thrilled to learn they’ve inherited a title and estate from a distant relative, but Daniel is appalled because the burden of wealth will interfere with his medical calling. Warily he accepts that he must enter society and seek a wife-a sensible woman who can oversee his properties, leaving him free to continue his work. He does not expect to become intoxicated by a woman called the Black Widow, who is as mysterious as she is more…

Grab a copy of Not Always A Saint here

Nine Naughty Questions with… Julie Anne Long, author of The Legend of Lyon Redmond

the-legend-of-lyon-redmondThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Julie Anne Long

author of The Legend of Lyon Redmond and many more…

Nine Naughty Questions


1. Headless washboard abs, a torrid embrace, the sprawling homestead, an elegantly dressed décolletage, or the vaguely kinky object against a dark background – what’s your favourite type of romance cover and why?

Some of those covers are pretty artful and striking (a certain gray necktie against a black background springs to mind), but for my genre I love covers that capture true emotion and kind of tell a story with the visual. Which is why I completely love the cover of The Legend of Lyon Redmond. Not only is there dynamic movement (which we don’t seem to see very often on covers), it’s so…poignant. The emotion, the longing, the joy, the pain, is all there. I think it captures the story PERFECTLY and I was beside myself with happiness when I first saw it.

2. What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?

Blood sweat and tears! I’ve typed the “e” and “t” letters clean off the keys of my laptop, that’s how impassioned it gets behind closed doors. And by night I don a black unitard and cat ears and fight crime.

3. At the heart of a romantic story is the way in which the main characters reveal their true natures to each other. How much of yourself do you put into your Author: Julie Anne Longcharacters, and have their stories been affected by your personal experiences?

I think all my characters are me and I am all my characters. Very broadly speaking, that is. I think a writer can only only tell a story through the filter of her own view of the world and her own experiences, so my own experiences colour every character I create, and the actions and feelings of those characters. None of my characters or the events in my books have been drawn specifically from real life, but they’ve been shaped by my interpretation of real life, if that makes sense.

Empathy is pretty important, I think. You have to crawl right inside your characters and BE them, feel their feelings, see what they see, in order to make them seem real to the reader.

4. I’m interested in how you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?

Nah, readers have always had a naughty streak. I think the genre has…diversified, shall we say? Fragmented? Specialized? E.g., I just read a Faith Baldwin romance written in the 30’s (she was kind of the Nora Roberts of her day—an incredibly prolific, charming writer who wrote into the 70’s, I believe, and a number of her books were made into movies), and it featured two love interests, one of whom was a married man, and she flew a plane because her father owned an airline. And none of this was treated as any big deal in the story —every character was well-rounded and sympathetic. This was a “penny romance,” basically what we consider a typical mass market today. Now today we’d find most of these themes in another genre, maybe—women’s fiction?

I don’t write erotica or porn, so I don’t have definitions of those genres at my fingertips and I don’t consider myself an expert, and would never speak for the writers of those genres. I would imagine it relates to the emphasis in the story—romance fiction might place the emphasis on the emotions, with sex a net result of that; with erotica, the emotions might originate from or result from the physicality; porn seems to be more focused on the physical, with an emotional arc not critical to the genre.

the-legend-of-lyon-redmond5. Please tell us about your latest novel! Did you have a secret alternative title while you were writing it?

I always knew what it was called, truthfully!

Grab a copy of The Legend of Lyon Redmond here

6. What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve received after a friend or family member read one of your books?

One guy friend read my first book (The Runaway Duke) and asked why the heroine didn’t “karate chop in the larynx” a guy who made an untoward pass at her. I had to gently explain that most Regency Romance heroines don’t necessarily default to karate. At least he was indignant on her behalf and wanted her to be able to defend herself.

7. Romance writers are sometimes denigrated and asked when they’ll write ‘real’ books – what do you tell the haters?

I’ve been fortunate that most people I’ve personally encountered are more intrigued and supportive than anything else. Usually the denigrators are people who’ve never actually read a romance, or 1be45016e9bb2a2e11e845e16cc9963eread one once, say, in 1985, and decided on the basis of that they didn’t like the genre. Would you decided you hated all of, say, Asian cuisine if you tasted a pot sticker and decided you didn’t like it? I use that analogy, frequently: there are a vast number of genres and sub-genres and voices in romance, and there are a near infinite number of ways to tell a love story—and that’s what a romance novel is. Don’t we enjoy romantic films? A romance is similar, in that (if the book is doing its job) you’re immersed in the story and rooting for the hero and heroine to reach a happy ending. What could possible be objectionable about that? Writing quality varies, but quality is subjective. Romance has something for everyone.

One thing I’ve encountered puzzles me: often writers who consider themselves journalists—and are frequently very good ones—feel free to make generalisations or use romance-oriented metaphors (usually involving the words “bodice ripper” or “Fabio”) that are incredibly, jarringly dated and incorrect. I wonder: why would someone who would normally be careful with facts be careless about this kind of thing? Five or ten minutes of googling would probably provide a good quick education about today’s romances.

I think the media helps perpetuate generalisations about the genre, but I’ve found that once you get a chance to patiently explain it, readers are usually intrigued and open.

the-husband-s-secret8. Romance readers love discovering new authors. Please tell us about five books you recently read and loved to bits.

I’ve glommed Liane Moriarty (The Husband’s Secret and all her others—fantastic vibrant voice, a great balance of warmth, wit and depth, great characterisations, the perfect blend of lightness and darkness) and Kerry Greenwood (Phryne Fisher mysteries—fabulous history, very unique heroine who unapologetically takes lovers willy nilly) recently. That’s a lot of books right there :)

9. Please tell us your favourite scene from your latest book, and why it’s particularly delicious!

Oh my goodness….I had such a wonderful time writing It Started with a Scandal that I woke up a little sad the day after I turned it in, because I was sorry I wasn’t going to be spending the day with Lavay and Elise. I had moved in with them for so long, so to speak.

I loved writing every scene, but one of my favourites is between Lavay and Elise after his assembly, where he finally learns the entirety of her secret. A little drunk, full of warring emotions, he rings for her, and manages, with a sort of controlled, tender, ferocity, reveal to her what he knows about her past…and to create a safe place (or as safe as any place that includes a dangerously appealing man can be) for her to tell him more about it…and he also grills her. And this is where they sort of…negotiate…what they’re going to do about their feelings, not to mention their overwhelming desire, for each other. There are a lot of layers of things going on in this scene and it was a bit of a crescendo.

Julie, thank you for playing.

The Legend of Lyon Redmond

the-legend-of-lyon-redmondThe Pennyroyal Green Series : Book 11

by Julie Anne Long

Bound by centuries of bad blood, England’s two most powerful families maintain a veneer of civility . . . until the heir to the staggering Redmond fortune disappears, reviving rumors of an ancient curse: a Redmond and an Eversea are destined to fall disastrously in love once per generation.

An Enduring Legend

Rumor has it she broke Lyon Redmond’s heart. But while many a man has since wooed the dazzling Olivia Eversea, none has ever won her—which is why jaws drop when she suddenly accepts a viscount’s proposal. Now London waits with bated breath for the wedding of a decade . . . and wagers on the more…

Grab a copy of The Legend of Lyon Redmond here

BOOK REVIEW: Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey by Lillian Marek (Reviewed by Kat Mayo)

I love a good Regency as much as any romance reader, but I’m so glad that we’re continuing to see authors exploring different setting and time periods in historical romance.

Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey is set in Constantinople. Forget ballrooms and tea – Lady Emily Tremaine explores the ruins of Nineveh and experiences the wonders of travelling on an ‘odiferous donkey’. And of course, there’s French adventurer Lucien Chambertin to make this the most thrilling adventure – if he can just learn to let go of his past and embrace the call of true love.

For me, I really love odiferous donkeys! True love is a bonus. :)

Grab a copy of Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey here

lady-emily-s-exotic-journeyLady Emily’s Exotic Journey

The Victorian Adventures Series : Book 2

by Lillian Marek

From sensible, sheltered girl
Safe in the embrace of her loving family, Lady EmilyTremaine longs to feel more intensely alive. Surely the magic and mystery of Assyria and the fabled ruins of Nineveh will bring about the transformation she seeks.

To the woman his heart desires
Scarred by his past and estranged from his noble grandfather, French adventurer Lucien Chambertin desires neither a home nor the chains of emotional attachment. He seeks only to explore the far reaches of the world. But he did not know the world contained the likes of Lady Emily—whose curiosity and sense of wonder match his own.

Grab a copy of Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey here

BOOK REVIEW: When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare (Reviewed by Kat Mayo)

‘…he was…an impoverished, unloved orphan with a passion for books. Her every feminine impulse jumped into attention.’

An introvert, Maddie Gracechurch invented a fiancé – conveniently abroad, fighting in the war – to avoid ballrooms and the pressure of having to find a suitable match. But when said fiancé turns up at her doorstep years later, marries her without so much as kiss (okay, one kiss), Maddie knows she’s in Very Big Trouble.

Logan Mackenzie needs a place for his men, coming home from the war. Marriage to Maddie is the quickest and surest way to ensure that they have a home. But as it becomes increasingly clear that there’s more to their marriage than convenience, how can they be sure that what they have is love and not just a way to avoid their deepest fears?

I might be biased because I’m an unashamed Tessa Dare fan girl, but when I learned that Tessa is releasing a Scottish romance (they seem to be making a resurgence!), I knew I had to feature it in the Romance Buzz. Her writing is always rich with nuance. We don’t get many truly introverted heroines in romance, and Maddie is charming and so very worthy of a happy ending!

Grab a copy of When a Scot Ties the Knot here

when-a-scot-ties-the-knotWhen a Scot Ties the Knot

The Castles Ever After Series : Book 3

by Tessa Dare

On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.

A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.

Until years later, when more…

About the Author

Tessa Dare is the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of more than a dozen historical romances. A librarian by training and a book-lover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and a pair of cosmic kitties.

Grab a copy of When a Scot Ties the Knot here

BOOK REVIEW: The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie (Review by Hayley Shephard)

9781921901423I absolutely loved The Perfect Rake, so when I was given the chance to read and review Anne Gracie’s new book The Spring Bride, I just knew I had to put other books on my list aside. It didn’t disappoint!

The life of its female lead, Jane Chance, has not been smooth sailing. Following the old cliché it stands to reason she would meet her happily ever after right off the bat, but instead she accepts a proposal from a man she feels no attraction to but could provide her with security. I tripped over myself while reading this play out, but in the end came to regard her as a strong selfless female, trying to ensure her safety and survival in a society that can be horribly cruel. Anne Gracie is such a wonderful writer that I questioned whether I even wanted to know what happened in the end.

Enter Zachary Black. Admittedly, I tend to steer clear from male leads that are undercover. To my surprise it was actually refreshing to have the pair not on equal footing, with the male considered beneath the female. Consequently, the feelings that simmer between the two reads stronger for me, even when some truths are revealed. He begins to help Jane realise that perhaps love has a greater part to play in creating a happy future rather than just safety and security.

In return, she makes him see things differently and think about what he really wants. With a past full of espionage and now suddenly faced with criminal charges, who wouldn’t? On a side note you can’t help but laugh and snort when, through the words of Anne Gracie, you picture Zach trying to mingle with polite society.

After reading this book I am dying to find out how it all came to be for the other characters. This is book 3 of the series, which can be read as a standalone, but I can’t wait to read books 1 and 2 in the series.

Grab a copy of The Spring Bride here

The Spring Bride

The Chance Sisters Series : Book 3

by Anne Gracie

On the eve of the London Season, Jane Chance is about to make her entrance into high society. And after a childhood riddled with poverty and hardship, Jane intends to make a good, safe, sensible marriage. All goes according to plan until a dark, dangerous vagabond helps her rescue a dog.

Zachary Black is all kinds of unsuitable – a former spy, now in disguise, he’s wanted for murder. His instructions: to lie low until his name is cleared. But Zach has never followed the rules, and he wants Jane Chance for his own. If that means blazing his way into London society, in whatever guise suits him, that’s what he’ll do. Jane knows she shouldn’t fall in love with this unreliable, if devastatingly attractive, rogue. But Zach is determined – and he’s a man accustomed to getting what he wants.

About the Author

Anne Gracie spent her childhood and youth on the move, thanks to her father’s job, which took them around the world. The gypsy life taught her that humour and love are universal languages and that favourite books can take you home, wherever you are.

Anne started her first novel while backpacking solo around the world. Originally published by Harlequin Books, she now writes Regency-era historical romances for Berkley (Penguin USA) and Penguin Australia, but instead more…

Grab a copy of The Spring Bride here

Winners of the 2014 Australian Romance Readers Awards!

The 2015 Australian Romance Readers Convention has come and gone, but we are not sad because we are left with a great list of award winning authors and having met so many new authors, hundreds of new books to read.

See what Booktopia’s John Purcell and Andrew Cattanach got up to at the convention here.


Favourite Cover: the winner was Play by Kylie Scott.outback-ghost

Sexiest Hero: the winner was Adam in Outback Ghost by Rachael Johns.

Favourite New Romance Author: Alli Sinclair.

shield-of-winterFavourite Paranormal Romance for 2014: Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh.

Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance 2014: Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews.

Favourite Short Category Romance 2014: The Honeymoon Trap by Kelly Hunter.

Favourite Historical Romance 2014: The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie.

Favourite Contemporary Romance 2014: Play by Kylie Scott.lick

The Favourite Erotic Romance 2014: Down and Dirty by Rhian Cahill, Lexxie Couper, Jess Dee and Sami Lee.

Favourite Romantic Suspense 2014: Safe Harbour by Helene Young.

Favourite Continuing Romance Series 2014: Stage Dive series by Kylie Scott.

The Favourite Australian Romance Author 2014: Kylie Scott.

Love Romance? Check out our Romance at Booktopia Facebook page!

Absolutely Fabulous News!

We’ve all heard the news and now we are SO excited!

Aren’t we?

Well, if you haven’t already heard there may be an Absolutely Fabulous film released this year!

ab_fab_-thumb-300x418I have loved this show for so long, I can’t even remember when I started watching it. My mother always hated it but my grandfather adored it, he saw things my way. I think what we both loved about Absolutely Fabulous was how over-the-top and funny it was, yet it was still a sharp commentary on what happens when you hate the life you’re stuck with and will do anything to make it, well, Absolutely Fabulous!

Who doesn’t love a mother trying to hold onto her youth by trying every single diet ever mentioned, wearing ill-fitting clothes by the hippest designers out there, constantly re-decorating her apartment and trying anything new that comes her way! Let’s be honest, you are only as young as you feel, so I applaud you Eddy!

As for Eddy’s daughter, Saffy, who has to look after her own mother and try as she might to make sure Eddy doesn’t get too carried away, I can relate. Sometimes I feel like the parent when I’m dealing with my mother’s life.

Oh, I must mention Patsy. Eddy’s best friend (at times) who encourages Eddy through all her antics because she herself wants to live and love life forever but can’t do it by herself!

Let’s hope the movie doesn’t disappoint!

Now let’s get down to some of the biggest romance books coming out in 2015. We think they are going to be Absolutely Fabulous, and we think Patsy and Eddy would feel the same way.

hard-to-come-byHard to Come By
by Laura Kaye

Caught between desire and loyalty…

Derek DiMarzio would do anything for the members of his disgraced Special Forces team–sacrifice his body, help a former teammate with a covert operation to restore their honor, and even go behind enemy lines. He just never expected to want the more ….

 Grab a copy of Hard to Come By here

quarterback-drawQuarterback Draw
Play-By-Play Series : Book 9
by Jaci Burton

Grant Cassidy knows how to be a football star – Flash that dazzling smile, throw the winning pass, get the girl. But while the hot quarterback loves the game and the lifestyle, no woman has come close to catching his heart. Then he matches wits with a smart, gorgeous model, and Grant finds himself wanting more than a fling. Supermodel Katrina Koslova might live in a world of glitz and camera flashes, but she works hard to provide more…

Grab a copy of Quarterback Draw here

the-road-to-hopeThe Road to Hope
by Rachael Johns

Nurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town.

Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment. When Tom and Lauren more…

Grab a copy of The Road to Hope here

the-secrets-of-sir-richard-kenworthyThe Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy
by Julia Quinn

Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can’t be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family’s infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She’s the type of girl you don’t notice until the second-or third-look, but there’s something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she’s more…

Grab a copy of The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy here

Cartel Trilogy : Book 1
by Lili St. Germain

How much is a life worth?

I grew up in Colombia, the daughter of a wealthy drug lord. I lived a life of extravagance, until one day a drug run went horribly wrong and everything came crashing down around us.

I was given away. A payment for a debt. The Gypsy Brothers Motorcycle Club became my new owners, and I did everything I could to survive.

But falling in love with more…

Grab a copy of Cartel here

Match Pointematch-pointe
by Indigo Bloome

The sizzling new erotic romance from the internationally bestselling author of Destined to Play.

Eloise Lawrance, a beautiful and dedicated ballerina, is on the cusp of achieving her dreams when her career is abruptly left in tatters. Enigmatic gambling tycoon Caesar King approaches her with an alluring proposition she can’t refuse – to dance as inspiration for the top-ranked men’s tennis player for two years.

Cleverly manipulated by more…

Grab a copy of Match Pointe here

And to celebrate the world (person) behind Absolutely Fabulous, here is Jennifer Saunders’ story!

bonkersBonkers : My Life
by Jennifer Saunders

She’s been in two of the most popular double acts in TV history. As the Saunders one out of French and Saunders, she gave the world one of its longest-lasting, most-loved comedy partnerships. And in Ab Fab’s Eddie and Patsy she created two hilarious monsters we’ve taken to our hearts.

Bonkers is the story of how it all came about. Or at least the bits she recalls. The rest she made up. Either way, it’s all more…





And to finish this blog here are scenes from Absolutely Fabulous!


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