Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday Talk Time. . .Love and Change

Please welcome one of your new columnists, Blaze author Samantha Hunter, with her first Pink Heart Society column!!!

First let me say how thrilled I am to be a regular columnist here at The Pink Heart Society. Thanks for asking me, gals! I love this site, so this will be fun...

Being asked to choose favorite category romances, however, is an inventive way to torture an author, since I hardly know where to begin. I’ve been reading category since I was twelve years old, taking a break somewhere in my twenties and early thirties, and then picking up again late thirties, so there’s a lot of territory to cover. Do I choose something early that I remember from years ago, such as Nora Robert’s MacGregor series, which was a keystone for all of her readers and for those of us who enjoy writing series?

Do I choose one of the early Blaze novels such as Janelle Denison’s The Ultimate Seduction, or JoAnn Ross’s Thirty Nights, that inspired me to write for the line? Do I choose something from the new authors and new books I’m reading, like Sarah Mayberry’s Daytime Diva Blaze series or Amy Knupp’s Superromance, The Boy Next Door, to help promote someone new and let you know how great their books are?

Damn, this is hard!

So, I did the only thing a rational woman can do. I closed my eyes in front of the bookshelf and pointed, and that’s the book I’m going to talk about, since if it’s in my bookshelf, it’s a keeper. Ah. . .there it is. A good one, indeed. Isabel Sharpe’s Christmas Blaze, Before I Melt Away. Perfect! Christmas in August. But this book is on my shelf because it is about more then the holiday; to me, it is category romance, and Blaze, at it's best.

This is hands down the most romantic title Blaze has put on a cover (even the font is romantic!), and it’s an annual read for me at the holidays. It was definitely an inspiration as I wrote my own Christmas Blaze, due out December ’07, Talking in Your Sleep, but we'll talk more about that later.

In Before I Melt Away, Personal chef Annabel Brightman is a driven workaholic, but her old friend Quinn Garrett convinces her to have some hot (very hot!) and sexy fun over the holidays – thing is, Annabel is so closed off from the world, from her friends, from her colleagues and the people in her life, she can be callous and unthinking that I literally wince every time I read the scene where she and Quinn are picking out Christmas trees and she whips open her cell phone, disappointing him sharply that she cannot extend herself to share in even the tiniest moment of Christmas magic. Isabel does such a great job of making you want to just shake her, she's so determined to resist the magic of the holiday and Quinn, and you have to wonder, how did this woman get this way and can she change?

Quinn has his hands full with Annabel – literally and figuratively as this story is as hot as any Isabel has ever penned – but it’s also achingly romantic and just a beautiful holiday story that asks how many of us get so wrapped up in work we forget what’s really important? How many people don’t make time for love?

In the story we can see that as successful as Annabel is, she is wounded, and she needs to change be a whole person, and that's what I find most fascinating about all romance. All romance novels open with characters who are at a point in their lives where they are ready for change, but will they do it? They will either take the risks that they must to win real love, or they may lose out forever.

They say that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, and maybe that’s true in a limited sense, but finding love is the way most people really grow, don't you think? Sometimes it might be "tough love," but it always has to be love. When you know someone loves you, you can let go of pain and insecurity, and then you can really blossom. But you have to be willing to change, and so many of us aren't, because we're afraid of what will happen. We just have to have faith that it will work out. This is what Isabel’s book is about, and it’s one of my favorite themes as well.

This theme emerges in my August release, Pick Me Up, as well, where Lauren and Brett have to both risk and grow to find real love, and the book was so much fun to write. In many ways, Lauren is a heroine I relate to, since my husband also has been someone who has supported me and helped me take risks I might not have otherwise, and so from that, I have grown and changed over the years, too. This is what love and romance is all about right? What is your favorite category romance where the characters really risk something or change for love? Is there a hero or heroine you've ever really related to in that way? Share! :) What's the biggest change you've ever made for love?

Samantha's netx release is PICK ME UP. Said to entail ". . .Hot sex, well-developed characters and humor, all placed in beautifully described scenery. Pick Me Up, (4 1/2 stars) is a winner!"


  1. Wow, Samantha--a lovely topic (and thanks for the recommendation--I'll have to go look for that one--always a sucker for a Christmas story ;))

    Hmm... favorite category romance where a character risks something or changes for love--one of my favorites is Anything for You, by Sarah Mayberry. The heroine's been in love with her best friend for a zillion years, and finally decides to make a clean break for herself since she doesn't see things going anywhere. That's definitely rocking the boat, and it takes some maturity to recognize when it's time to walk away and make that change.

    The biggest change I'm trying to make for love is an ongoing one--I'm a packrat (yes, books especially!) and my husband is not. I'm trying to change my mindset somewhat so that we can get to a more streamlined life, but change is HARD! And sometimes it's not a one-shot thing (like in Sarah's story), but a process :)

  2. Hey, morning! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, Sarah's books are great -- have you read her Daytime Divas series? My favorite was the third, Hot For Him, and Claudia takes some risks and changes for love, too.

    Change is a process - interesting though, what we're willing to change for, or what will make us stubbornly stick in place.


  3. I have Before I Melt Away on my bookshelf, it just hasn't been read I will have to go read it today, lol.

    I love the way that Sugar in With His Touch by Dawn Atkins changes when she realizes she's fallen in love with her longtime friend/business be able to be in love with him and work with him. it's great...

    About changing for love, well..I've never been in love so I guess I cannot answer that one ;-)

  4. I like the books where the hero and heroine were friends but realized that they love each other.

  5. I'm not sure if I can pick my favorite. It changes all the time lol

  6. My all time favourite category, the one I read and reread, is Nora Roberts "The Perfect Neighbour". If you've not read this one, while old, it's a sexy fun read. If you have read it, you'll remember the No Scale and the Double-Yank and Swoop.

    But the reason I keep coming back to it is the hero, Preston. He's been damaged by a woman whom he really loved. He's not ready for love again. Hell, he's hardly ready for life.

    When he meets up with Cybill, he's not sure what to make of this outgoing, friendly woman who tries to look after him.

    So he pushes her away. But she keeps coming back until he finally shatters her heart.

    The ending, the last few paragraphs, close my throat up each time I read it. And the line, "What took you so long" is just a perfect ending to this book!

  7. ani, I do remember that one, and you're right, I loved it! She was so genuine and open. I like heroines like that. And it proves what I was saying -- he could change because she gave him a safe place to do so. I think if she'd been forceful and confrontational, it never would have worked.

    Oh dear... so much Nora to re-read... ;)


  8. Amanda -- I have to look for that. I just finished an Atkins book last week, At His Fingertips, and love her writing.

    Ashley -- have you read About Last Night... ? My second book. I think you'd like it. And I wish you love one of these days. ;)


  9. Shoot, sorry. too many As!

    Amy, you said you liked friends to lovers books, which is what About Last night is...

    Amanda, you mentioned not having been in love yet -- it'll happen when it's right, and it's great! :)


  10. Hello Samantha,

    I am glad to see you here. I am new here and I love this blog so far. Great topic loved the post and your answers :) Here is my reply to your questions.

    My favorite type of romance is HEA. I like when the hero & heroine falls in love. At first they think they don't like eachother or they are best friends and don't want to risk the friend ship. I just recently read a book with the two best friends had fall in love. I like when that happens.

    The biggest change I have made for love hmm. Me I actually took a risk even though I heard bad stuff about the internet *G* My fiance I have met him on the internet. Yahoo chat room. We talked for 2 yrs before we met. I guess that is why I trusted to meet up with him. We have known each other for 8 yrs and been together for 6 yrs and we are engaged soon to be married :-) I am very happy I took this risk.


  11. Linda, you and I have that in common! I met my husband on the net 14 years ago. :) When people ask how we met, it's always a fun story. I know this happens a lot these days, but over a decade ago it wasn't as common.

    Little wonder my first book was about a couple meeting on the internet (Virtually Perfect). :)

    I think I've changed in a lot of good ways being with him. I think you have to stay who you are, but the right person and the right situation can help you change in good ways, to become a bigger, better person.


  12. I have more than one favorite category romance, but I'll pick one today. I enjoy reunited lovers stories. I think there's a real risk in trying again knowing that the relationship failed once and with the memory of how hard it was to get over it. Are you just repeating a mistake or have you both grown and changed enough to make it work the second time around!

  13. Ani, I remember that one, too--it's on the keeper shelf... And Samantha, I'm going to have to look for your backlist! :)

  14. Hi Sam,
    It's hard to pick my all time favorite but, I guess it would have to be one of Nora Roberts books about the Donovan Family. The characters were Sebastian and Mel.
    Sebastian was a clairvoyant who worked with the police to find missing persons, and Mel was a private investigator struggling to make ends meet.
    The two meet when Mels friends baby is kidnapped and they go to Sebastian to help find the baby.
    Mel and Sebastian clash from the beginning. Mel doesn't believe that Sebastian can help to find the baby and, Sebastian is not too eager to help them. Throughout the story they both change and grow in their love and respect for each other.
    I've always loved this story and, it remains one of my favorites.

    As for what I changed in my life for the sake of love? I gave up a very good paying job,and a jet setter lifestyle, in order to settle down at the age of 30, get married and raise 2 wonderful sons.
    Times have not always been easy but, would I do it all over again? You bet I would. I'd change anything in my life, just to have the experience of seeing my 2 sons grow up to be the wonderful young men that they have become.

    I have read Pick Me Up, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has not read it. Brett is a Hero that everyone will want for their very own. Thank you Sam for a very enjoyable reading experience. Mads:)

  15. Hey Mads! Ah, the Donovans... yes. Amazing how many of us have our romantic roots in Nora. :)

    Thanks so much to everyone for sharing your thoughts. :)