Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kelly Bowen

Looking for a new author to try out? Here’s everything you need to know about Kelly Bowen, whose books include I’ve Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm, Last Night with the Earl, and A Good Rogue is Hard to Find.


What She Writes: 

Regency romance, usually with some suspense elements. 

Please note: Bowen’s most recent book, The Paris Apartment, is a split-time World War II / present-day story that is firmly historical fiction, not romance. We haven’t read that one because 1) we are smut-lovers first and foremost and 2) we suspect that it differs dramatically from her other books.

What Makes Her Unique: 

Bowen writes unconventional heroines – like, really unconventional. Not like, “Oh, I like horses and the outdoors instead of embroidery.” More like, “I like horses and therefore fix horse races to fleece unscrupulous nabobs who don’t pay their tailors.” Her characters tend to be very morally upright, though they also tend to operate outside the letter of the law. 

Writing Style: 

Alternating 3rd person POV. Gritty details. (Think: children dying of poverty or horses dying on the battlefield.) Steamy sex that is well integrated into the plot and character development. Humor breaks things up so that her books aren’t overwhelmingly broody (which they *could* be, given the other content). 

Why We Love Her: 

We like that her books tend to have a strong moral center without getting preachy. We love her bad-ass heroines. And she does an excellent job writing sex scenes with good steam that’s not just there for fun, but also works to advance the characters’ relationship. 

Her Books as a Gif:

She Might Not Be For You: 

If you like your Regency romances to stick to ballrooms, Bowen is probably not the author for you. Her characters spend a lot of time in the underbelly of society, and Bowen doesn’t gloss over these bits. 

Also, if you definitely prefer your book titles and covers to be relevant to the book you’re reading, you might find Bowen’s books challenging. Two of the books with “Duke” in the title are not about dukes at all. And both of the “Rogue” books are actually about aristocrats (including one very staid, responsible duke who is not a rogue at all). 

Notable Quotation: 

“Have you given any thought to the formula you would like me to run?”

Alex nearly lost his grip on the decanter. “I beg your pardon?”

“At least a few of your patrons will need to achieve moderate success, and the occasional player will need to achieve considerable success at the vingt-et-un table if you hope to attract those individuals whose pocket books match their greed and belief that the next hand will change their fortune. I will require instruction as to how you wish me to deal in order to maximize both prophets and popularity.” She withdrew a small square of paper from a hidden pocket somewhere in the folds of her skirts and held it out to him.

“I’ve run some scenarios, allowing for a margin of error that I will not be able to avoid. It’s all basic accounting worked into a matrix of probabilities, but I thought you might want to review it.”

Alex very carefully replaced the heavy crystal on the surface of his desk struggling to draw a breath. This was not good at all. Forget his alarming charge into the fray on a white horse, he was rather afraid he had just fallen in love.

—Between the Devil and the Duke

The Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for a well-balanced historical romance that includes humor, suspense, and sex, Bowen might just be the author for you!

Content Warnings:

Books include references to extreme poverty, spousal abuse, child abuse, and deaths of family members. Usually these references are not oblique. 

Start With:

I’ve Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm. Just ignore the cover.

Listicle

Saturday Smutty Six: Sexy Xmas Novellas to Put You in the Mood

Christmastime’s a-comin’ and sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up to get you through that visit with your in-laws.

Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered, with six sexy Christmas novellas. These quick reads deliver on the sexytimes and the romance joy. (And half of them also deliver on sexy Santas.) What are you waiting for?


Santa Claus is Going to Town on Me by ML Eliza

Holly hates Christmas—until she meets Claus. And his magical Christmas sex toys. Is this book chock full of sexy Santa rumpus? Yes, yes it is. But it also includes surprisingly thoughtful bits about grief and joy and desire.

Mistletoe Madness by Rebecca Norinne

Previously published as The Roommate Situation

That awkward moment when you hear some weird sounds coming from your hot roommate’s room so you go check on him and walk in on him masturbating. Especially awkward: Mikayla has a huge crush on Nick, but is terrified of making the living situation weird. What’s a girl to do? (Masturbate as quietly as possible, that’s what.) Nick and Mikayla have a really sweet and supportive dynamic outside of the bedroom—and once they get over the pining, the physical chemistry is off the charts.

Sleigh Bells Ring by Jodie Griffin

Erin: Hahahahahaha OMG this story takes every famous little phrase from Santa holiday mythology and makes it filthy. Sugar plums. Rudolph’s nose. I’m dead.

Holly: Look, do you want to read reindeer shifter BDSM erotica, or don’t you? 

PS: Blame Erin for this one.


Santa’s Helper by Shae Sanders

A divorced mom takes her kids extra far to see the only Black Santa in the area, only to discover his son—her ex flame—has taken over the role. It’s playful and then it’s hot. *fans self* I liked that this book features a mom who is not the custodial parent of her children and has a generally positive co-parenting agreement with her ex.

The Naughty List by Ellie Mae MacGregor

This is a really short, hot book with a sexy, gray-haired Santa with tree-trunk thighs. It’s totally entertaining. If you’re looking to check boxes for older protagonists, lube use, sexy consent, and other excellent sex-partner things, this is your book. See also:

A Second Chance Road Trip for Christmas by Jackie Lau

You know, I just really appreciate that Jackie Lau gets all the tropes right out there in the title. Greg Wong agrees to drive his high school sweetheart, Tasha Edwards, home for Christmas. Of course they end up snowed in in a hotel room with no heat and only one bed. I wonder how that could possibly turn out? (Hot. It turns out hot.) Bonus points for a buttoned-up hero who gets fabulously unbuttoned for sex.

My First Smut

My First Smut: The Birds and the Bees, Johanna Lindsey Style

My First Smut is a recurring feature where we talk about our formative smut experiences. These short confessionals may include such details as: What book did you read? How old were you? Were there other people involved? What made the experience special? What role does smut play in your life?

This week, author Dianna Roman talks about reading Johanna Lindsey as a teenager.


First romance novel you read:

Keeper of the Heart by Johanna Lindsey

How old were you?

14

How’d you get your hands on the book?

My mother had them lying around the house, mostly in a stack next to the magazine rack by the toilet 🤦‍♀️

What was the reading experience like?

Eye-opening to say the least, and probably not what a fourteen-year-old should have started with for her foray into romance novels due to some of the unrealistic elements since the story’s setting was another planet 😆

What made the experience special?

Well, I felt like I was stealing forbidden knowledge since sex was never talked about in my house or by my family. My parents never gave me a “birds and bees” talk or even about my cycle. I’m 40 now and to this day, neither still has ever broached either subject! I had to figure everything out on my own.

What role does smut play in your life?

It is my escape from my busy, hectic life and all the seriousness and tough things we all experience. Smut most always has a happy ending, which is what I want when I read. I love seeing two people work out their issues to fall in love or accept an attraction.


Connect with Dianna:

Website | Instagram


Thanks Dianna! We look forward to reading Dianna’s romance debut, A Fair Warning, coming out next spring!

My First Smut

My First Smut: Sharing Books Til They Fall Apart

My First Smut is a recurring feature where we talk about our formative smut experiences. These short confessionals may include such details as: What book did you read? How old were you? Were there other people involved? What made the experience special? What role does smut play in your life?

This week, author A.L. Lester talks about passing smut around at school (we can relate!) and the continued joy of reading romance.


First romance novel you read:

Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz

How old were you?

I’d have been about thirteen or fourteen.

How’d you get your hands on the book?

We passed it round at school. I’ve just wikipedia’d it and it was published in 1980. The miniseries came out in 1983, and that ties in with my memories of passing it round the school common room. Eventually the copy was so battered it simply fell open at the sex scenes.

What was the reading experience like?

Piecemeal. Everyone was too scared to buy their own copies, so you read it in snatches when you could get a turn!

What made the experience special?

I think, because it was something of a group naughtiness. We knew our parents wouldn’t approve. Plus it’s got some pretty unpleasant non-consensual bits in there, which felt taboo. We also read Lace by Shirley Conran and Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews. There were a lot of dark themes in my early smut reading! We felt very grown up reading such adult books and I guess that was one of the attractions.

Looking back now, I don’t know whether I even liked the main characters very much. They weren’t comfortable reads for me, although I can remember devouring the Flowers in the Attic series. In retrospect none of the characters were very sympathetic and that’s what I look for in my reading experiences as an adult.

What role does smut play in your life?

This is about my reading habits, right? :).

My current smut experiences are a lot less dark! I write books and short stories with strong LGBTQ+ romance elements, often historical and/or paranormal. They tend to be around the three-out-five heat level–I read high-heat, but I can’t write it very comfortably without my elbows itching very severely! It feels too forced.

I like to read stories with lots of plot as well as romance and I read a lot of sci-fi and historical. I like the sexual tension to stay unresolved for quite a while before the sexing begins and I hate books where the plot is down to people not communicating! This is probably down to studying Othello at school. I can remember asking ‘why doesn’t he just ask her about the handkerchief?”

So…quite a smut-based life, I’d say? I fit both my reading and my writing around a very busy family life–I’m married to Mr AL and we have two early-teenagers, one of whom is very severely disabled and needs twenty-four hour care. Our older child has quite complex needs; and I have a stress-released seizure disorder, which is super. Mr AL and I live our life in the cracks between all that really. It can be a bit grim. Writing and reading is an escape for me–that’s probably why I tend to read stuff that’s not contemporary.


Bio

Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some hens and the duckettes. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

Facebook Group: https://facebook.com/groups/lestertowers

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CogentHippo

Newsletter (free story): https://www.subscribepage.com/allester

Website: https://allester.co.uk

Link-tree for everywhere else: https://lnk.bio/gjD5


Thanks A.L.! We’re excited to read A.L. latest release, The Quid Pro Quo (magical queer 1920s murder mystery romance?!? sign us up!)—watch this space for a review coming soon!

Have an early smut experience you’d like to share with us? If you’d like to see your story featured, send us an email or fill out our questionnaire and we’ll post it in an upcoming week.

Wrap Up

November Wrap Up: All Our Favorite Smut This Month

Our Favorite Reads

Holly’s Choice: Duke, Actually by Jenny Holiday

This book is utterly charming AND it gets academia right.

Erin’s Choice: House on Fire by Jenn Burke

Once she was sucked in, Erin couldn’t put it down. (This is Book 2 in the series; start with All Fired Up for the full reading experience.)

Ingrid’s Choice: Mistletoe Christmas: An Anthology

She laughed, she cried, she cried some more, and then she told us how delightful it was.


More From the Blog…


Notes From Romancelandia…

Have thoughts about the best romance books of 2021? Nominate your favorites for the Swoonies!

Interested in some free sexy winter romances? Here’s a limited-time deal for a wide selection of books (ends Dec 3rd).

Feeling the holiday spirit already? Romancelandia Holiday Fairies is back—go here to submit a wishlist or to give a gift to a fellow romance reader.


Coming Soon…

In December, we’ll be reviewing our usual mix of new releases and backlist reads. There may be a few more holiday romances coming your way. And we have a week of grumpy-sunshine romances in the works.