Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover Preorders & Special Gifts!

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IT'S ALMOST HERE!

On November 25th, Chase's book arrives! Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover, the Fourth Rule of Scoundrels, will be out in the world and ready for you to read! Now, I've been waiting to write for SIX WHOLE BOOKS, I'm so excited about this book because it is the end of my Scoundrels series, and I'm so happy that the world will finally see all four owners of The Fallen Angel properly matched. 

As always, you can preorder Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover for delivery on 11/25 from all sorts of wonderful places!  The iBookstoreBarnes & NobleBooks a Million, your local IndieHarperCollins and Amazon all have it ready to go.

What's more...you can also order signed or personalized copies of the book (or any of my books) online from my local indie: WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn. Simply tell me in the "comments" field of the checkout page who to sign to, or what to write! I'll be signing WORD books on 11/20, so all orders must be placed before 11/18 to make sure everything is organized on their end! 

To sweeten the preordering pot, WORD is giving away awesome reporters notebooks (in honor of my smokin' hot Duncan West--newspaperman extraordinaire) to the first 500 people who preorder a signed copy of the book from them...all books will be shipped in time for release day, so you won't have to wait for your copy!

And then, if you're in the US, you can curl up in your post-Thanksgiving tryptophan-induced stupor, and read about Georgiana Pearson--ruined girl turned King of London's Underworld--and the man who loves her very very well.

 

That Time I Wrote a Contemporary

This one is for you. 

You know who you are...you've been writing for a while, or you've just started writing. You've submitted your pages to a contest, or your draft to an agent, or your manuscript to an editor. You've written an historical. Or a paranormal. Or a contemporary. Or you've written something else entirely--sci fi. A thriller. Women's fiction. Something akin to the great American novel. 

And you're doubting yourself. 

Maybe you were rejected. Maybe you were laughed at. Maybe you've rejected yourself (just as powerful a rejection, ps). Yeah. This post is for you. 

Because, you see, this one time, I took a Romance Writing class, and I wrote a contemporary romance. Well, I wrote 100 pages of a contemporary romance. I wrote what I hoped would become a Harlequin Blaze. Let me tell you about it:

The heroine owned a bar. She'd inherited it from her father, who'd loved it like the son he'd never had. And who'd raised her to be the son he'd never had. She was tough, but kind, and had a motley crew of barflies who'd been friends with her dad and who were now her knights of the round table. Willing to protect her at any cost. But they couldn't stop the biggest danger in her life--the fact that some big real estate company was trying to get her to sell the bar and the land it sat on.  

The hero had daddy issues of his own -- his father had amassed a fortune, and wanted nothing more than to turn it over to his only son, who wanted nothing of it. He was a photojournalist--spent lots of time in war-torn countries (this was 2002, and the second Iraq War had just started)--and had been summoned home to the reading of his father's will, only to discover that he had been bequeathed the family business, which was -- you guessed it, real estate. 

I wrote 100 pages, about 40 pages before the class started, and then another 60 in the first few weeks of class. I turned the first chapter into the instructor and the class for critique with pride. I was very excited about this pair -- working class girl and wealthy boy, each with their own issues, each deeply conflicted about their relationships with their fathers, at odds with each other.  

Thinking back on it, I don't remember much about the actual book, but from the above, I can tell you it wasn't anything new or fresh or different. I mean, it's a pretty classic story. And certainly, I'm sure that if I still had these pages, I would be the first to tell you that this wasn't a very good book.

In the first scene of the book, our hero, fresh from the reading of his father's will, goes for a drink. You can guess where. The first page shows us this handsome, dark haired, brooding guy, sitting at a long mahogany bar. We are in the heroine's point of view. And while I don't remember much, I remember that first line.

The book began, "He was drinking himself under the table." 

And he did. The first chapter was no doubt filled with any number of terrible first-book writing mistakes. But it ended with a bang. Our hero stood up, threw cash on the bar to pay his bill, and promptly passed out. 

I still chuckle when I think about it, in part because my editor likes to say that every author has her own mythology and basically writes the same story again and again in different ways, and if that isn't the most Sarah MacLean-y beginning to a book (hero passed out at  heroine's feet), I don't know what is. 

Here's the thing. The instructor hated my book. My first chapter was posted for critique, and the woman who taught the class (who shall remain nameless, because she is published) returned it with one single note. I had broken a cardinal romance rule, apparently. "The hero can't be drunk when the reader meets him. You'll never get this published."

Ouch.

So, I stopped writing that book. And honestly, I sometimes think about it and wish I had pages or something so I could see if it was really unpublishable. Because, truly, there is nothing I like doing more than breaking the romance rules. I've done it a lot. I've written overweight heroines, and Italian heroines, and country houses populated entirely by women. I've written sex addicts turned celibate heroes and heroines who were deeply unsympathetic at first blush. In my last book, my hero is introduced not drunk, but terribly hungover. And let's not forget an entire series dominated by a man...who just happens to be a woman.

Man, I wish I could go back and tell 2002-Sarah to write the damn book and not listen to that silly instructor. But I can't. So I'm telling 2014-you. 

Don't listen to the voices. The critique partners who tell you that you can't sell the beta hero or the movie star or the courtesan or the harem. The terrible terrible feedback from contest judges who tell you that you use too many sentence fragments, or you spend too long in the hero's POV. And definitely not the teachers who tell you that you can't write the way you want because it's simply not how it's done.

Just write the damn book. Maybe it will be awesome. And maybe it will be terrible. But at least it will be yours. 

Oh. And don't throw the manuscript out. 

On Independent Booksellers and Romance

Romance can be a bestseller in an Indie. I swear!

Romance can be a bestseller in an Indie. I swear!

Four years ago, I made friends with my amazing local independent bookstore (WORD in Brooklyn). Our relationship had an unexpected beginning—you see, WORD didn’t carry romance. But the store had a fabulous manager who was willing to hear me out when I promised her that romance wasn’t just a genre she should carry, but a genre that was worth carrying. Indeed, with the lock on more than 60% of the paperback fiction market, and with readers who read (on average) 5-10 books a month, it would make them money!

I’ll tell you, at the start, she said the same thing I’ve heard from other indie booksellers: “Our customers don’t read romance,” but she listened when I said, “Perhaps they don’t buy it from you because you don’t carry it.” It’s the ultimate chicken/egg conundrum.

In 2011, WORD started their romance section with 12 books – less than one shelf in a tiny, 600-or-so sq ft space – a section curated by me. I suppose there might have been 15 books, actually, because they also carried the Love By Numbers series. In 2013, WORD moved more than 500 romance novels out of their store—books sold to walk-ins, through the WORDs of Love monthly online book club that we started together, online to Sarah MacLean readers (WORD also handles signed copies of all my books), and at myriad romance events (and through an in-store book club). 2014 is shaping up to look even better.

A few weeks ago, at the Southern Independent Booksellers Association annual conference, I told my WORD story and shared data on the success of bringing romance to WORD. The room was full of independent booksellers who were romance converts, and it was awesome to see.

That said, I know there are others out there – people who sold 1000 copies of 50 Shades of Grey, but still think that your customers don’t read romance. This post is really for you, because I’ll tell you something – no person who read all three of the 50 Shades books stopped reading romance. They’re just buying it from somewhere else. Shouldn’t those sales be yours? I mean, if you’re selling them Elizabeth Gilbert, why not Kristan Higgins? If Hillary Mantel, why not Loretta Chase? If George RR Martin, why not JR Ward?

I get it – Romance is a HUGE genre, and overwhelming in the extreme. With hundreds of books published each month, where do you begin? And how do you do it intelligently and without giving up miles of shelf space before remaindering a bunch of stock?

As you can imagine, I’ve got ideas. And I want to help.

Start Small (or, Quality Not Quantity)

Julia Quinn likes to say that while the rest of the book world is judged by its best, romance is often judged by its worst. Enough of that business.  As I said, WORD started with one shelf of romance. And I’m guessing that your store is bigger than theirs (I promise. It’s bigger.). You can surely spare one shelf, right? You can put it next to mystery and scifi (our genre brethren), or you can do what WORD did and put it right up front in Fiction, as if to say, “We know you’re buying this stuff from *cough*-azon. We don’t judge you. Buy it from us instead.”

BUT WHERE DO YOU START?

It's hard. I get that. There are literally tens of thousands of romances published every year, and if you don't know much about romance, it's utterly overwhelming. I put together this list of more than 100 romances I love, and I'm happy to say it's served as a starter kit for several new indie-bookstore romance sections. I think these are great books that provide excellent representation for the genre. Some you’ve heard of. Some you haven’t. Some you’ll love. Some you won’t. And your patrons will guide your hand on this pretty quickly. 

There are a bunch of other sources for romance recommendations: All About Romance does an annual poll of the top 100 romances of all time; the professional organization Romance Writers of America gives the RITA award annually to celebrate the best in romance; RT Book Reviews is the trade review publication for the genre, but there are also romance reviews in Library Journal, Booklist & Publishers Weekly and at blogs like BookBinge.com and smartbitchestrashybooks.com. I have a monthly romance review column in the Washington Post.

Find the Romance Lovers in Your Midst

Is it someone on your staff? Is it a customer? Is it a local romance writer? Someone you know reads romance, and romance readers are voracious. These readers are tremendous ambassadors, but they’re more than that – they’re a resource. They can tell you what’s out there, what’s good, what you should be stocking. What’s coming down the pike that they can’t wait for. Lean on them to curate your tiny starter-section. Encourage them to write shelf tags. Romance readers have long, impressive memories for stories, and they really really want to talk about the books they love.

Events – or, Creating a Safe Space Your Romance Community

You can do this in a million ways, but events help—and I’m not talking about readings. I’m talking about discussions demystifying romance, panels that respect romance readers, conversations that show an understanding of (or at least an interest in) the depth and breadth of the genre.

Talk to your publishing reps about which romance authors are in town or nearby (there are thousands of us…you definitely have one or two in your back yard).

Offer Preorders – Signed Preorders, too!

Romance readers preorder books. Lots of them. They do it because they have so many auto-buy authors, that it’s easier to preorder than to remember the exact date they arrive.

And if you have a local romance author, why not offer to handle her signed preorders for new releases? WORD handles my signed books for new releases – we include a free giftie in the package to help ease the pain of those big shipping fees – and we sell hundreds of books with each new release.

Tailor the Section to the Store

WORD started with that tiny shelf, which soon grew into a small section (Romance is 2% of the store’s total inventory). But they realized that they could sell more of it if they shelved it in with Fiction. They find that shoppers are more willing to find it and buy it if Sarah MacLean is next to Hilary Mantle because—and this bit is interesting—customers aren’t buying romance instead. They’re buying romance in addition to. Which is pretty good for everyone, don’t you think?

Try It Yourself

You’ve never read a romance novel. Or, you read one a million years ago when you found it on your grandmother’s nightstand. It’s time for you to try again, friend. And I want to help you with that. If you don’t know where to begin (though, again, I encourage you to try one of the above list), comment below and tell me what you like to read. Give me the names of a few of the books or authors you like. I bet I can find a romance novel that you’ll enjoy (or at least won't hate). Don’t want to comment? Prefer a faster response? Tweet me @sarahmaclean #romancerecs.

I look forward to making you a kissing book convert. 

Read More Romance: Diversify!

Brenda Jackson with some of her 100 romance novels.

Brenda Jackson with some of her 100 romance novels.

There's something in the air right now in the publishing world, and I can't help but talk about it, in part because it's 2014 and I am shocked that any of us still have to talk about it, and in part because I have a daughter now, and I want her to see that when we see something wrong with our world, we stand up. 

This began last week with my reading a post on Suleikha Snyder's blog about Sheikh romances. I put it on my Tumblr, which is where I talk about issues facing romance and romance readers, but it bears repeating here that Suleikha is 100% right. Sheikh romances are a problem. Many of them capitalized on an old-fashioned, institutional racism that predicates itself on the idea that western women are necessary to "civilize" middle eastern men. I know they're popular, and I know that many of them are tremendously good reads (after all, Sheikh is really a placeholder for alpha, and who doesn't love a good alpha?), but they're also problematic. And we should feel weird about them still being around in 2014.  

Over the years, we've seen romance toss out a number of old-fashioned, problematic tropes -- remember when rape was par for the course? When Native American "savage heroes" captured white heroines and were subsequently "civilized" by them? When gay secondary characters almost always represented "villains?" Of course you remember. Some of my favorite books featured these themes. But now, I'm so very grateful that the romance industry stood up and said, "No more of that." After all, respect is the most important part of love -- so it makes sense that romance would be among the first genres to prioritize respect above all else. 

I would have left it at that, if not for the second storm that blew in last week. At the end of May, in New York City, the publishing industry comes together for the biggest book party in the States -- Book Expo America. It's four days of awesome parties and signings and panels and speeches, and it gives us a chance to celebrate this awesome industry that we all love so much. 

This year, BEA is launching BookCon a day for readers to come and hang out with their favorite authors. And the list of authors is seriously incredible. John Green, Amy Poehler, James Patterson, Jodi Picoult, the guy who invented Humans of New York, Grumpy Cat...oh. And me. I was asked to sit on a panel with the fabulous J. Lynn, Cora Carmack, and Jeaneine Frost to talk about bad boys and romance. Needless to say, I'm excited.

But then I read this post at BookRiot. And I looked at the list of authors who are attending BookCon. And while this list is unbelievable, the truth is, it's lacking. Not one single author of color is speaking at the conference. Not one. It's 2014.

I'm thrilled that BEA and BookCon are including Romance on the docket. For a long time, romance has been the bastard child of publishing, and you all know how hard I and others have worked to change that opinion. We stood up and said, Romance is real. Our fans care. Look at us. And slowly but surely, people are listening.

And now, it's time for us to stand up and say, "Diversity is important. We want books that represent our world. And we want to hear from authors who write them."

So, here's what I'm doing. I owed you another "Read More Romance" list and now I've given you one -- Great Books from Diverse Romance Writers. 

I'm going to bring this list with me to BookCon. If you're there, stop me and ask for a copy. Or better yet, come to our panel and pick one up after it's over. 

  • Nalini Singh - Nalini's Psy-changeling series is one of the best paranormal series out there. Begin your journey with the first in the series, Slave to Sensation, featuring a classic trope (and one of my favorites)--enemies to lovers. The world Singh has developed denies emotions, and the ruling class (the Psy) punish them. The heroine, Sascha, was born Psy but flawed--she can feel--and she has to hide her feelings to avoid having them erased. The hero, Lucas, is a changeling, who feeds on emotion and sensation, and he is part of an army of his kind who are fighting a war against thePsy. When he forces Sascha to help him, he discovers that she can feel, and the book just gets better from there.
     
  • Beverly Jenkins - Historical romance royalty, Beverly Jenkins has been one of my favorites since I started reading romance. Her books are richly researched, and set against the backdrop of Black History in America. There are a number that I'd recommend, but if you're a romance lover, try Destiny's Surrender, her most recent, set in the 1880s in the American West. Part secret-baby romance, part marriage of convenience, it's the story of a former prostitute and the man she's always loved. It's strong, smart & sexy, and I loved it. 
     
  • Sherry Thomas - Chinese-born Sherry Thomas published her first historical a year before I did, and she blew the doors off the genre, winning the RITA award on her first year out. Add to her great writing the fact that English is her second language (she taught herself how to read in English by reading romances!), and she's really just a show off. :) I loved her most recent book, The Luckiest Lady in London (also nominated for a RITA!), the story of an impoverished and devoted older sister on the hunt for a wealthy husband to ensure the safety and security of her family, and the wealthy scoundrel who has vowed to marry only when he absolutely must, and never for love. 
     
  • Alisha Rai - I'm new to Alisha Rai, having recently discovered her after a friend praised her "smokin' hot" books, but I'm hooked! These are erotic novellas (mostly), and I don't use the term erotic loosely. Ranging from paranormal to menage to straight-up sexy, Rai's books will burn your e-reader for sure. I started with Hot As Hades (a modern retelling of Hades & Persephone set in the underworld), as I figured the crazier the better in romance, right? Right. Don't read this one in public, though. You might embarrass yourself.  
     
  • Brenda Jackson - Remember how I said that Beverly Jenkins was historical romance royalty? Well, Brenda Jackson is right up there with her. Brenda has written more than 100 novels. She's probably famous for her ongoing Westmoreland family series, about a family of wealthy, sexy oil barons, ranchers, and tycoons (money runs in the blood--no slouches here) and the women who love them. Some of these are out of print, it seems, but my favorite is an early one -- Thorn's Challenge -- about super alpha motorcycle racer Thorn Westmoreland and his sister's best friend (right?!), brilliant doctor, Tara.     
     
  • Lisa Valdez - Before erotic romance was a huge thing, Lisa Valdez wrote a seriously very hot historical called, appropriately, Passion. I, like many, ate this one up and couldn't wait for her next book, which came along years later. Valdez is an author you'll either love or hate, both because her writing style is a little more old-fashioned than most modern romance writers, and  because her books edge into BDSM and she's not afraid to test the limits. 
     
  • Suleikha Snyder - I'd be remiss if I left Suleikha off this list, both because she partially inspired it and because I so enjoy her Bollywood Confidential series, which offers a fun, sexy, edgy look into the world of Bollywood. The most recent--Bollywood and the Beast--features an American-born heroine trying to make a go of it in Bollywood, and her co-star's brother, who is broken and in need of some serious care.  
     
  • Damon Suede - Diversity comes in all shapes and sizes, and in romance, male writers are in short supply. Damon Suede writes smokin-hot gay romance--and I don't just use that adjective because his Hot Head is about firefighters. The premise is simple--a New York firefighter needs cash and finds himself asking his best friend (and fellow fireman) to help him out on a racy online video site. The two fall for each other during the process. But the book is more complex that that, showing the uninitiated that erotic romance doesn't have to lack character and conflict. There are echoes of 9/11, issues of coming to terms with sexuality, and an underlying story of love that makes the book really terrific.

Here's one case where eight is not enough.

There aren’t near enough writers on this list. Granted, I wanted to recommend (as I’ve always done before) writers who’ve written books I’ve enjoyed. I know there are a number of terrific writers out there whom I haven’t even read. Or maybe I have read them and I don't know it -- I know as well as anyone that pseudonyms and hidden identities are rampant in romance; my real last name is long and Italian and difficult to spell, and so MacLean it is. 

I want to do what I can to help fix this problem in publishing. As I'm now writing a monthly romance column for the Washington Post, I'd like to make a point of including a more diverse cross-section of authors there, so I would love to hear from you about who I’m missing on this list. Please leave names (and book recommendations) in comments!

Authors -- self-promotion is welcome here! Tell us about your books: I, for one, would love to hear about them.

Here There Be Spoilers!

Ok...so you've read No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (thank you!) and you want to talk about the book...and Chase's secrets. I want to talk about those things, too! If you leave your comments and questions below, I'll happily answer questions all week! 

BE WARNED: If you haven't finished the book...there are likely spoilers in comments! Click and read at your own risk! 

No Good Duke Prologue...

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It's almost here! 

In one week, Temple's book, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, the third book in the Rules of Scoundrels series, will be on shelves! I'm so excited for you all to read it...and I know I've been a wicked tease leading up to this book...so I thought today I would offer you an olive branch of sorts. 

How about the prologue? 

--

TEMPLE

Whitefawn Abbey, Devonshire
November 1819

He woke with a splitting head and a hard cock.

The situation was not uncommon. He had, after all, woken each day for more than half a decade with one of the items in question, and on more mornings than he could count with both.

William Harrow, Marquess of Chapin and heir to the dukedom of Lamont, was wealthy, titled, privileged and handsome—and a young man blessed with those traits rarely wanted for anything relating to wine or women.

So it was that on this morning, he did not fret. Knowing (as skilled drinkers do) that the splitting head would dissipate by midday, he moved to cure the other affliction and, without opening his eyes, reached for the female no doubt nearby.

Except, she wasn’t.

Instead of a handful of warm, willing flesh, William came up with a handful of unsatisfying pillow.

He opened his eyes, the bright light of the Devonshire sun assaulting his senses and emphasizing the thundering in his head.

He cursed, draped one forearm over his closed eyes, sunlight burning red behind the lids, and took a deep breath.

Daylight was the fastest way to ruin a morning.

Likely, it was for the best that the woman from the previous evening had disappeared, though the memory of lovely lush breasts, a mane of auburn curls, and a mouth made for sin did bring with it a wave of regret.

She had been gorgeous.

And in bed—

In bed she’d been—

He stilled.

He couldn’t remember.

Surely he hadn’t had that much drink. Had he? She’d been long and full of curves, made just the way he liked his women, a match for the height and breadth that was too often his curse when it came to them. He did not like feeling like he might crush a girl.

And she’d had a smile that made him think of innocence and sin all at once. She’d refused to tell him her name … refused to hear his …

Utter perfection.

And her eyes—he’d never seen eyes like hers, one the blue of the summer sea, and one just on the edge of green. He’d spent too long looking at those eyes, fascinated by them, wide and welcoming.

They’d crept through the kitchens and up the servants’ stairs to his room, she’d poured him a scotch …

And that was all he remembered.

Good Lord. He had to stop drinking.

Just as soon as today was over. He would need drink to survive his father’s wedding day—the day William gained his fourth stepmother. Younger than all the others. Younger than him.

And very very rich.

Not that he’d met her, this paragon of brideliness. He’d meet her at the ceremony and not before, just as he’d done the other three. And then, once the familial coffers had been once again filled, he would leave. Back to Oxford, having done his duty and played the role of doting son. Back to the glorious, libidinal life that belonged to heirs to dukedoms, filled with drink and dice and women and not a worry in the world.

Back to the life he adored.

But tonight, he would honor his father and greet his new mother and pretend that he cared for the sake of propriety. And perhaps, after he was done playing the role of heir, he’d seek out the playful young thing from the gardens and do his best to recall the events of the night before.

Thank Heaven for country estates and well-attended nuptials. There wasn’t a female in creation who could resist the sexual lure of a wedding, and because of that, William had a great affinity for holy matrimony.

How lucky that his father had such a knack for it.

He grinned and stretched across the bed, throwing one arm wide over the cool linen sheets.

Cold linen sheets.

Cold wet linen sheets.

What in hell?

His eyes flew open.

It was only then that he realized it wasn’t his room.

It wasn’t his bed.

And the red wash across the bedsheets, dampening his fingers with its sticky residue, was not his blood.

Before he could speak, or move, or understand, the door to the strange bedchamber opened and a maid appeared, fresh-faced and eager.

There were a dozen different things that could have gone through his mind at that moment … a hundred of them. And yet, in the fleeting seconds between the young maid’s entrance and her notice of him, William thought of only one thing—that he was about to ruin the poor girl’s life.

He knew, without doubt, that she would never again casually open a door, or spread sheets across a bed, or bask in the rare, bright sunlight of a Devonshire winter morning without remembering this moment.

A moment he could not change.

He did not speak when she noticed him, nor when she froze in place, nor when she went deathly pale and her brown eyes—funny that he noticed their color—went wide with first recognition and then horror.

Nor did he speak when she opened her mouth and screamed. No doubt he would have done the same, had he been in her position.

It was only when she was through with that first, ear-shattering shriek—the one that brought footmen and maids and wedding guests and his father running—that he spoke, taking the quiet moment before the coming storm to ask, “Where am I?”

The maid simply stared, dumbstruck.

He made to move from the bed, the sheets falling to his waist, stopping short as he realized his clothes were nowhere in sight.

He was naked. In a bed that was not his own.

And he was covered in blood.

He met the maid’s horrified gaze again, and when he spoke, the words came out young and full of something he would later identify as fear. “Whose bed is this?”

Remarkably, she found her answer without stuttering. “Miss Lowe.”

Miss Mara Lowe, daughter of a wealthy financier, with a dowry large enough to catch a duke.

Miss Mara Lowe, soon-to-be the Duchess of Lamont.

His future stepmother.

--

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There it is...Temple's fall. I hope that whetted your appetites! 

Still not appeased? Comment below with your thoughts on the excerpt, the series, Temple, or any of my Scoundrels, and I'll choose two commenters to win exclusive No Good Duke Goes Unpunished playing cards! 

I'll choose the winners (US Only, sorry!) on Wednesday evening!

Spoilers and No Good Duke Goes Unpunished

NoSpoilers

There's a big secret in No Good Duke Goes Unpunished

It's big enough that I can count on one hand the number of people who know it. Big enough that my mom  doesn't even know it. Big enough that when we discussed sending out early copies of the book to bloggers and journalists, my publisher and I decided that it would be best for all of you -- readers who have spent years with my scoundrels -- if we actually removed the epilogue from the early versions of the book...so everyone could learn The Fallen Angel's biggest secret all at once. 

I'm kind of shocked that we pulled it off, honestly. After all...it's been three books...and three heroes...and three heroines...and nearly two years. But now it's time. And on November 26th, you're all going to know Chase's big secret -- the secret that could ruin everything the Scoundrels have worked so hard to protect.

I cannot WAIT to hear what you all think of it....BUT...here's the part where I need your help: 

Some of you are going to find early copies of the book. Some of you are reviewers and bloggers and are going to receive  early copies of the book. And some of you have already received  early copies.

I'm hoping that you'll do what you can to keep the Scoundrels' secret for as long as you can...so that those people who are less lucky and have to wait until 11/26 don't stumble onto spoilers. Because, that's no fun.   

Please help me keep Chase's secrets and after release date...and look for a "Spoiler Zone" post here on November 27th, where you can ask me questions in comments, and I'll do my best to answer them!

xxoo Sarah

 

No Good Duke Playing Cards! Preorders! And Holidays!

No Good Duke Playing Cards! (You can have them! Keep reading!)

I know. I know it's early -- I mean, it was just Halloween. But I swear I have a good reason for putting Holidays in the headline for this post. I'll get there. :)

First things first!

Three weeks from today, Temple's book arrives! No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, the Third Rule of Scoundrels, will be out in the world and ready for you to read! Now, aside from the fact that the book itself is particularly special to me -- Temple is a Gentle Giant who deserves love more than most -- I'm so excited about this book because it reveals a secret I've kept for more than a year, and for three books.

Readers of No Good Duke will learn Chase's secret.

The deep, dark secret that would ruin Chase, The Angel and all my scoundrels if it got out.

The deep, dark secret that no one (except for a very small band of merry men and women at Avon/HarperCollins) knows, because the bit of Temple's book that reveals the secret was redacted from all early versions of the book. No reviewers know it. No early readers know it.

Everyone who reads the book when it's released on November 26th will learn Chase's secret together. And then, there will be spoilers. So watch out. :)

BUT! You can preorder No Good Duke for delivery on the 26th from all sorts of wonderful places!  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, and your local indie all have it ready for preorder...or you can always get it for your Kindle or Nook!

What's more...you can also order signed or personalized copies of the book (or any of my books) online from my local indie: WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn. To sweeten the preordering pot, WORD is giving away free decks of No Good Duke Goes Unpunished playing cards to the first 500 people who preorder a signed copy of the book from them...all books will be shipped in time for release day, so you won't have to wait for your copy!

Ok...Now that that bit is done...the holidays.

As you may know, every year, WORD also does special holiday gift-giving signing extravaganza for me -- readers can order autographed copies of any of my books direct from them!

Here's how it works:

  1. You click here or call WORD at 718-383-0096 and select the books you'd like me to sign: The Season, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart or A Rogue By Any Other Name, One Good Earl Deserves a Lover, or No Good Duke Goes Unpunished.
  2. You fill in the form, and include the message you'd like... for example: For Maggie, Merry Christmas! Sarah MacLean, or To Christine, The person who bought this book for you is the best! Sarah MacLean, or simply Sarah MacLean, or whatever else you'd like me to write. 
  3. The staff at WORD calls me.
  4. I pop in in early December, sign the books, and add special bookmarks, postcards and other fun printed goodies to your package like the gift giving fairy I am! 
  5. They ship the books to you. 
  6. You win the award for Best. Gift. Ever. (Well, except for new cars, diamonds and the like.) 

Most years, I don't even bring this up until early December. I mean, who is thinking about Christmas on November 5th? But this year, something is different. You see, I need to do all my signing of holiday books early this year, because...well...I've been epilogued.

That's right, I'm having a baby, due mid-December, right when I would usually be heading to WORD to sign books for you, you little elf! So...if you would like these holiday gifts this year...you'll need to order them earlier. Say...sometime in November? And I'll head in in early December to make sure your books get signed.

Then, I'll have a baby. She'll wait for me to finish signing. I'm sure of it.

If she doesn't...think of the story you'll have to tell your friends!

 

Let's Talk About Foreplay!

You guys. I am SO. EXCITED. FOR. YOU. On November 5th, Sophie Jordan's Foreplay is released -- this book has everything you've come to expect from a Sophie Jordan novel -- a strong heroine, a smokin' hot hero, and a love story that just won't quit! But...it's a contemporary novel! That's right, Sophie has jumped into the contemporary (New Adult) pool, and this book makes a killer splash. It's the first in a three-book series called The Ivy Chronicles, about three college roommates at an elite New England university who are exploring all the things that college girls should explore.

Foreplay (available in ebook for $3.79 right now -- are you kidding me with that deal?) is the story of Pepper, who is hopelessly in love with her best friend's brother, but who believes she needs a little more experience before she goes after him. So, to get that experience, she asks the local hot bartender Reece for help....and we all know what happens from there!

Check out this awesome trailer for the book...

And enjoy!

xxoo

 

Romance Novels and Naughty Bits

the-new-york-times-300x240I've been quiet for the last two weeks, reader, despite being rather in a pique. You see, two weeks ago, the New York Times Book Review published a "Sex Issue" which included, as far as I can tell, no reviews of romance novels or erotica. On top of it, the Book Review of Record interviewed 15 authors about writing sex scenes. Get this: Not one of those writers is a romance novelist.

The closest they got to a romance novelist was Jackie Collins.

I know. Right?

So, suffice to say, I was miffed. I emailed my husband. I texted Sophie Jordan. And I drank entirely too much caffeine. And then I sat down, channelled my grandfather, and crafted a strongly worded letter to the editors of the book review.

Because, while I tend to be irritated when people look down their nose at a genre I love, I get really annoyed when we don't even get consulted on the thing we (arguably) do best and (definitely) do most -- write the naughty bits. I couldn't share the letter here until I knew whether or not it was going to be published by the Times, and yesterday, it was.

So, today, I'm sharing it with you. With a little side note:

Thank you. For reading romance and loving romance and respecting romance.

And for being generally awesome.

__

To the Editor:

I was dismayed to see that of the 15 authors asked to discuss writing about sex in the “Naughty Bits” roundup, none write romance novels — the genre best known for its naughty bits.

Romance holds a huge share of the consumer market, with more than $1.4 billion in sales in 2012*, so the omission is surprising. The lack of romance authors is especially glaring when one considers that each week, the mass-market, e-book and combined best-seller lists compiled by The New York Times include dozens of books from this far-reaching genre: historical, contemporary, paranormal, erotic and new adult.

A romance novelist would have added a special perspective on the questions “Why is writing about sex so difficult?” and “What makes a good sex scene?” because writing about sex is a large part of what we do. And our readers — all 75 million of them* — expect us to do it well.

Writing about sex is a challenge for the same reason sex is a challenge. Because it’s complicated. Because it doesn’t always make sense and it isn’t always perfect and it’s sometimes awful and it’s sometimes hilarious. But underneath all the clever wordplay, it’s about hope. Hope that someone will see us, and accept us, and perhaps — after all that — choose us. It’s the barest we will ever be. The barest a character will ever be. That’s why it’s difficult.

As for what makes a good sex scene, a romance novelist would have told you that when done well and with a skilled hand, the best sex scenes can at once arouse and empower. Sex on the page gives readers the freedom to explore their own sexuality, their own pleasures, their own identities. With hope. And without judgment.

I hope you will consider including the romance genre in your next “Sex Issue.”

SARAH MACLEAN BROOKLYN

The writer is the author of historical romance novels. Her next book, “No Good Duke Goes Unpunished,” will be published in November.

* All statistics in this letter are from Romance Writers of America.

In Which Sarah Goes Goth...

In March of 2013, my dear friend and brilliant critique partner Carrie Ryan, author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth series, came to New York City for the weekend. We holed ourselves up in my Brooklyn apartment, convinced Eric to take care of Baxter for a few days, and wrote the short story She, Doomed Girl for Harper Voyager's anthology Dark Duets. Now, Carrie writes dark horror (Forest is a post-apocalyptic zombie YA novel), and I write romance, which means she solves problems with killing, and I solve them with kissing. So, when we agreed to take this project on, we knew it might be a disaster. But here's the thing.

It was awesome.

She, Doomed Girl, is a gothic retelling of the myth of Orpheus, who followed his love into hell to save her and return her to the living. Our version is set in a castle on a Scottish island in the North Sea, and it's dark and romantic and emotional and ever so Bronte-esque.

We're so proud to be a part of this wonderful anthology--alongside names like Charlaine Harris & Rachel Caine, Holly Black & Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan, Kevin J. Anderson & Sherrilyn Kenyon and more.

I realize that if you're reading this, you're probably more a romance reader than a horror reader...but I hope you'll give Dark Duets a try. I was nervous, too. But I had a lot of fun crafting Owen & Emily -- and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

***

She, Doomed Girl by Sarah MacLean & Carrie Ryan

DARK DUETS All-New Tales of Horror and Dark Fantasy

Coming January 7, 2014

PreOrder Dark Duets from a store near you! Indiebound Amazon Barnes & Noble

Or for your Kindle or Nook!

Mme. Hebert is a Star!

I'm taking a quick break from finishing Temple's book to share this TOTALLY COOL thing!

As you know, Madame Hebert is the French genius-of-a-modiste who has dressed (at one point or another) every one of my heroines, and their sisters (and my heroes' mistresses). Aside from having a special talent for dressing ladies of any size, shape or coloring, she's also well respected by the gentlemen of the Fallen Angel, and...it seems...on Chase's payroll.

Hebert may be famous in the the 1820s & 30s, but we never expected her to time-travel. However, in the May issue of Real Simple magazine, right there on the table of contents page, Hebert earned her 21st Century street cred. I was totally surprised.

She, needless to say, is thrilled. There is much waving of hands and French excitement. NineRulesRealSimple

Kate Noble on Tina Fey

Tina Fey is getting a lot of love this month from not only the blog, but also readers and others on Twitter who are following Girls Who Wear Glasses month. But I'm particularly happy to share today's post from the fabulous Kate Noble, who lives in LA and who I like to think has a glamorous Tina Fey-esque life. Kate's The Summer of You is one of my very favorite books, and I am so so excited for her next...Let It Be Me (out next month)!

And, of course, I'm always happy to give Tina (and Kate) more facetime on the blog!

Welcome Kate!

**

It is no exaggeration to say I want to be Tina Fey when I grow up.  She is our generation’s Dorothy Parker.  She successfully ran the writer’s room at Saturday Night Live before becoming the anchor of Weekend Update before leaving to run her own show *about* running a show wherein she played the lead, Liz Lemon.  And winning a bunch of Emmys for it.

(Liz Lemon is my 2nd choice for who I want to be when I grow up, by the by.)

And she did it all in glasses.  Not bothering to hide her four-eyed nature with contacts (like I do) or laser eye surgery, Tina Fey said, “nope.  This is me.  I’m gonna do my job and be awesome and not conform to your standards of what you think I should look like while I do it.”

tina-fey-glassesShe killed it hosting the Golden Globes with pal Amy Poehler. She is impassioned and articulate about what it is to be a modern woman – for proof, look no further than her “If I have one more gray-faced man in a two-dollar haircut tell me what rape is…” quote.  On those occasions that existing words are inadequate, she makes the right ones up. (“Blergh”, anyone?)  She’s a leader, a mom of two, and an exasperated professional.

Oh, and she’s funny.  Like, for reals funny.  Like, trying to choke down a special sandwich at the airport before going through security to run after the guy who could be the one, because She Can Have It All! funny.

If I seem to be fangirling, Tina Fey deserves it.  And certainly some of her superpowers must be stored in her sleek glasses.   They tell everyone to take her seriously, but lets them be surprised by her wicked sense of humor.  She makes me feel that with focus, talent, a solid mid-western work ethic, and a sense of humor… I can achieve anything.  I, too, can have it all.

**

And you deserve it all, Kate!

Your turn, reader...let's talk about funny! What do you think is the funniest show on TV? For me, it was 30 Rock for a long time...and now I have to find something new!

One commenter (US Only) will win a copy of Kate's If I Fall!

Jennifer Ashley on Julia Sugarbaker!

I am wild about Jennifer Ashley. I fell for her ages ago when I read the genius of a book The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie, and I've been an avid reader and hand-seller of her books (written as both Jennifer Ashley & Allyson James) since then. She writes beautiful books, and I have no idea how she writes so many of them in a year. She's either the hardest working woman in publishing, or she's cloned herself.

All this is to say that I'm thrilled Jennifer has taken some time out of her insane writing schedule to join us for Girls Who Wear Glasses month in celebration of One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (Yes...yes...I know it's March today...but it's sort of Month-ish) to talk about her favorite lady in lenses-- Julia Sugarbaker from Designing Women!

**

Dixie Carter in GlassesOne favorite show of my younger years was Designing Women. I loved those four strong ladies, each striving to make it on their own, all finding friendship and support with each other. I liked the message the show sent, that women could make it on their own, without having to compromise what they cared about..

The leader of the gang, Julia Sugarbaker (played marvelously by Dixie Carter—who can forget the “Ray Don speech?”), was beautiful, strong, opinionated, and yet compassionate. And she found no shame in pulling out a pair of designer glasses when she needed them and mounting them on her nose.

Because I’m a woman who has worn glasses since age seven, I love seeing glasses-wearing women portrayed as being beautiful, smart, and strong. Cause you know we are! :-)

I wear glasses *all* the time, because I can’t see a foot in front of my face. (If you look at my author photo, you’ll see them in my hand—I had to take them off for the shoot so light wouldn’t reflect on them),

So I have affection for Julia and all the ladies of Designing Women, who showed us that women could be beautiful, successful, resourceful, self-sufficient, and surrounded by friends, and that wearing glasses didn’t slow them down a step.

I raise a glass to girls with glasses!

**

Thank you so much for coming over to play, Jennifer!

Your turn readers -- in honor of the Designing Women of Atlanta and Jennifer's fabulous Scottish MacKenzies -- let's talk accents! What's your favorite accent? Tell us in comments and one lucky commenter (US only) will win a copy of Jennifer's The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie -- and get acquainted with the family! 

Miranda Neville on Tina Fey

Miranda Neville is so much fun in real life. Seriously. She's hilariously dry (or is that dryly hilarious?) and always has a crazy story to tell. And on top of it, she's smart. I like her because funny, smart, and excellent storyteller are the top three characteristics I look for in people around me.  She's also written about girls who wear glasses -- the heroine of her short story, "The School of Wooing for Inept Book Collectors," in the (FREE!!!) Once Upon a Ballroom anthology wears them to particularly hilarious consequences.

So, it should come as no surprise that when I asked her to join me for Girls Who Wear Glasses Month to celebrate the release of One Good Earl Deserves a Lover, she chose to write about another funny, smart, excellent storyteller!

Welcome, Miranda!

**

30 ROCK -- Pictured: Tina Fey as Liz Lemon -- NBC Photo: Mary Ellen MathewsI guess I've been living under a rock because I never watched Thirty Rock until this year. For the last month I've been glomming the show on Netflix and I have a mad girl crush on Tina Fey.

And I love her alter ego Liz Lemon. I love that she is is grumpy, dresses like a slob (although she can clean up well when appropriate) and eats unhealthy food. I adore that she's a smart, funny, talented, successful woman who is also deeply imperfect and not ashamed of the fact. Despite her serial failure in relationships she still manages to date some seriously hot men (Jon Hamm, Matt Damon) along with the losers (the ghastly Englishman Wesley Snipes and Dennis Duffy whom I would like to kill).

I don't know how much Lemon is based on Fey, aside from the fact that she's both an actress and a writer. I'm not even sure if Tina wears glasses in real life or whether I've totally confused her with Sarah Palin. Her priceless depiction of Palin on SNL has to rank as one of the most brilliant political satires ever. I'm not a fan of Palin - I think she's a whack job and am profoundly grateful she never got near the presidency - but she and Tina both look great, their looks enhanced by stylish eyewear.

Gorgeous Rebecca

Not so long ago wearing glasses was regarded as a severe drawback to female hotness. The change came gradually but we've reached the point where glasses are neutral or even an asset for a woman's looks. To prove my point I offer my very own beautiful daughter Rebecca.  May she never have to stumble due to bad eyesight.

**

I'm wild about Tina myself, Miranda, and so happy you chose her as your girl who wears glasses! 

Your turn, reader -- tell Miranda and me who your favorite funny lady is, and one lucky commenter (US Only) will receive a signed copy of her The Dangerous Viscount!

Katharine Ashe on Literal Girls Who Wear Glasses

I'm thrilled to host the fabulous Katharine Ashe today on the blog. As you know, Katharine and I are co-bloggers over at The Ballroom Blog -- Do you read that? You should. It's Regency fun. -- and aside from writing epic Regencies, she is a lady in lenses. Very. Cool. Lenses (see left). 

So, when I decided to launch Girls Who Wear Glasses month in honor of Pippa Marbury, the heroine of One Good Earl Deserves a Lover, I knew Katharine was going to have to weigh in on spectacles. I knew she'd have lots to say, and a definite favorite girl who wears glasses. 

Boy, do I love this post! 

**

I know a little girl of 5 and ¾ years. Let’s call her Rosella. (It’s her favorite name that isn’t her own, though Minnie would do nearly as well.)

She is my favorite GWWG.

Why?

1. She happily, proudly wears a princess dress her aunt made for her that is emblazoned with Cinderella, Briar Rose and Belle. When asked which princess she likes best, she points to each in a row, then again, then again. She is not a girl to be pinned down to one ideal of femininity. Then she adds that she’s rather fond of Rapunzel too — Disney’s latest version. (A girl after my own heart, indeed.)

2. Rosella wears her princess dress into the creek behind the house, and traipses home without any notion that it’s covered with mud and rusty leaves.

3. She adores my ten-year-old son like a brother, a mentor, a playmate and a best friend. And he adores her right back.

4. She eats Parmesan cheese in giant chunks.

5. She pairs purple leggings with pink-and-orange-striped dresses and paisley skirts with polka-dot blouses. Her rainbow Build-A-Bear sparkles with lamé and sequins. Her world is full of color, life and joy.

6. She loves bubbles.

7. She sits barefoot on the kitchen counter eating potato chips.

8. When the doctor said, “Time for glasses!” she picked out the thickest, purplest, swirliest frames in the store. She wears them with pride, panache and thorough unselfconsciousness.

When I grow up, I want to be just like her.

**

Me too!!!

Your turn, reader! Tell Katharine and me what one trait you'd like to borrow from a kid in your life, and one lucky commenter (US Only), will win a copy of Katharine's How to Be a Proper Lady -- one of Amazon's best books of 2012!

Shana Galen Celebrates Ariel Winter, Girl Who Wears Glasses

Today the beautiful and talented Shana Galen is joining us for Girls Who Wear Glasses Month! Shana's gearing up for the release of her next book, If You Give a Rake a Ruby, out next week, and she's taken a little time to hop in the hot seat and tell us about her favorite lady in lenses--Ariel Winter!

Welcome, Shana!

**

Ariel Winter wearing GlassesI had to get glasses when I was 13. You would have thought the world was about to end from the way I carried on. I was afraid no boy would ever ask me on a date, and everyone would call me “Four Eyes.” My mom gave me a poster of Marilyn Monroe wearing glasses and that helped. A lot.

Maybe if I’d had a role model like Ariel Winter, who plays Alex Dunphy on Modern Family, I wouldn’t have stressed so much. From pictures I’ve seen, Ariel Winter wears glasses in real life too.

Celebrate your girl who wears glasses -- what makes her so fabulous?

One thing I like about the character of Alex is that she isn’t afraid to show how smart she is. When I was in school, it was cool to act like an airhead. Girls weren’t supposed to be smart. We were supposed to wear pink and be pretty.

What's one trait you wish you could steal from your four-eyed female?

One trait I want to steal from Alex Dunphy is her prowess in math and science. I was never good at either. No surprise, I was good at English.

What lesson can we all learn from your lady in lenses?

Be true to yourself.

You're breaking bread with your vision-impaired vixen...what question are you dying to ask?

I’d ask what her vocal training was. Since I have a three-year-old, I’ve been watching a new show about a princess named Sofia. Ariel Winter does her voice and sings too. Her voice is amazing, especially for her age.

**

Your turn, readers! Tell Shana and me who you had pinned to your childhood walls, and one lucky commenter (US Only) will win a copy of When You Give A Duke a Diamond!

Anne Calhoun on President Laura Roslin from Battlestar Galactica

Not long ago, I had dinner with the fabulous Anne Calhoun in New York City, and invited her to join Girls Who Wear Glasses as part of the month-long celebration of ladies in lenses in honor of the release of One Good Earl Deserves a Lover. She immediately, immediately, chose the person she wanted to pay homage to--President Laura Roslin from Battlestar Galactica Eric and I watched Battlestar Galactica over a few months last year and loved it--I loved Laura Roslin most of all, honestly, and I was thrilled that Anne (author of super-sexy contemporaries including the upcoming Uncommon Pleasure), was willing to celebrate her! 

Welcome, Anne!

**

Laura Roslin in GlassesI had perfect vision until I was in my late-thirties. I finally decided to get my eyes checked and discovered that yes, I was aging, and yes, I needed glasses for an astigmatism. Determined to make the most of this new accessory, I chose a really sassy little pair of cat’s eye glasses. Because girls who wear glasses are COOL, and I need every bit of COOL I can muster.

My favorite glasses-wearing fictional character is Laura Roslin from the SyFy Channel’s update of Battlestar Galactica. The whole series is absolutely incredible, full of strong, confident women, but none more so than Laura Roslin. When the series opens just before the Cylons attack she’s a former kindergarten teacher now serving as the Secretary for Education for the Twelve Colonies. She’s forty-third in line for the Presidency. Then the Cylons nuke the capital on Caprica, and suddenly Secretary Roslin is President Roslin with an entire species on the run and in danger of becoming extinct.

The series is full of interesting questions about the relationship between civilian and military life in a time of war. In a time of terror and horror, will people choose to live for hope or live for revenge? Who has authority: the people with what remains of the guns or the people in what remains of the government?

One snippet of dialogue perfectly encapsulates Roslin’s glasses-wearing, take charge attitude. Doral, a reporter traveling on Roslin’s ship, questions whether or not Roslin has the authority or the ability to take over the Presidency and lead the devastated survivors of the Twelve Colonies – to be “in charge”. He voices this concern to Captain Lee “Apollo” Adama, the military escort for Roslin’s ship, and suggests someone else (anyone else, really) might be better suited to assume the presidency.

Roslin: Start the cargo transfer, and prep bay 3 for survivors.

Billy: Yes, ma'am.

Apollo: I'm sorry, survivors?

Roslin: As soon as the attack began, the government ordered a full stop on all civilian vessels. So now we've got hundreds of stranded ships in the solar system, some are lost, some are damaged, some are losing power. We have enough space on this ship to accommodate up to 500 people and we're going to need every bit of it.

Doral: But we don't even know what the tactical situation is out there.

Roslin: The tactical situation is that we are losing, right, Captain?

Apollo: Right.

Roslin: So we pick up as many people as we can, we try to find a safe haven to put down... Captain? I'd like you to look over the navigational charts for a likely place to hide from the Cylons. That's all.

Apollo: (to Doral, matter-of-factly) The lady's in charge. 

Apollo sees Roslin’s leadership ability, her courage and confidence, and her ability to focus on the future in the face of all out war. Maybe it’s the glasses, maybe it’s the unshakeable authority learned after years of herding squirmy little kids through their ABCs, but as he says, “the lady’s in charge.”

So say we all!

**

So say we all, indeed! What a fabulous show that I resisted for far too long! If you haven't watched it, you absolutely should!

Your turn, reader...tell Anne and me about your favorite TV show of all time in comments, and one lucky commenter (US Only) will win a copy of her book, Liberating Lacey!