Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kristen Ashley

Looking for a new author? Here’s everything you need to know about Kristen Ashley, author of the Dream Man series as well as a bunch of books Erin’s been talking about for Motorcycle Mondays.

What She Writes:

Primarily contemporary romance, but also fantasy romance. Also primarily long and integrated series.

What Makes Her Unique:

Ashley writes alpha (or alpha-hole) heroes, but her protagonists tend to work through relationship hurdles with emotional maturity (mostly – there are some outliers) unusual in much contemporary romance (especially romance with alphas). This is possibly because the primary struggle of her books isn’t whether or not the protagonists can get to solid ground in their relationship, but is rather something that is happening to them.

Writing Style:

She writes in an extremely conversational style, with the heroines in 1st person POV and other perspectives she might jump to (most often the hero, but sometimes others) in 3rd person POV

Our Faces When We Read Her Books:

Why We Love Her:

Ashley is really good at characterization. Like, down to heroines swearing or referring to their private parts in different ways that make sense based on their personalities. Her protagonists’ approach to relationships is not always neat and tidy, but it emphasizes the importance of communication and openness and trust in a relationship. Also she finds ways to connect all of her series (especially the Denver books), so if you’ve read a lot of KA, you’ll get little peeks of other old friends.

Notable Quotation:

“Now, you listen to me, scary biker dude,” I snapped. “I need this job. I haven’t worked in two months and I need this job. I can’t wait two more months or longer to find another job. I need to work now.” His blue eyes burned into mine in a way that felt physical but I kept right on talking. “So you’re good-looking, have great tats and a cool goatee. So you caught my eye and I caught yours. We had sex. Lots of sex. It was good. So what? That was then, this is now. We’re not going to play, not again. We’re done playing. I’m going to come in at eight, leave at five, do my job, and you’re going to be my scary biker dude boss, sign my paychecks, do my performance evaluations and maybe, if you’re nice, I’ll make you coffee. Other than that, you don’t exist for me and I don’t exist for you. What we had, we had. It’s over. I’m moving on and how I’m moving on is, I’m… working… this… job.”

Motorcycle Man

She Might Not Be For You If:

You like your writing technically correct and polished or you dislike macho, domineering alpha-type heroes or you can’t stand toxic masculinity or you don’t care for a lot of explicit sex or you don’t enjoy working-class protagonists or you like your romances short and sweet

Content Warnings:

Ashley deals with a lot of issues, including rape and abuse, but also including poverty and power dynamics and death of family and politics and religion and so on. She also writes with a mind to diversity, but sometimes those supporting characters are stereotyped (though I think she’s evolved over time, and her more recent books tend to show more current consideration and awareness of racial and LGBTQ+ characterization).

The Bottom Line:

Kristen Ashley is definitely not going to be for everyone, but if you enjoy your heroes on the domineering end of the spectrum and you like character-driven stories that are often inter-woven, you’d probably enjoy diving into the worlds she’s created.

Start With:

The Hookup if you’re not prepared for full-blown alpha-hole, or Rock Chick if you’re thinking you might enjoy an alpha-hole that comes with comedy

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Pippa Grant

Looking for a new author? Here’s everything you need to know about Pippa Grant, author of Charming as Puck, Humbugged, and Flirting with the Frenemy. You may also recognize her style under the pen name “Jaime Farrell.”

What She Writes:

Contemporary romantic comedy with minimal angst, a heavy dose of absurdity, healthy love stories, and panty-melting love scenes.

What Makes Her Unique:

Pippa Grant weaves tight-knit communities and friend groups from which her multiple series springs with hilarity eternal. She also tends to turn macho contemporary rom-com heroes on their heads after they meet badass heroines.

Writing Style:

She primarily writes alternating 1st person POV. Characters are described through their personalities; you won’t see elaborate or superficial character descriptions.

Her Books in GIF Form:

Why We Love Her:

These books are plain fun and easy to read. Also, she doesn’t shy away from normal awkward behavior and feelings, which is funny. There are multiple entry points for her different series, but you’ll find Easter eggs and cameos from old friends if you keep reading.

She Might Not Be For You If:

You really enjoy an angsty read. Or super domineering heroes.

Notable Quotation: 

“If men are pigs, his body is the bacon, and god help me, I love a good piece of bacon.”

The Pilot and the Puck Up

Content Warnings:

There aren’t a lot of warnings with Pippa Grant, but her characters do tend to be white and privileged.

The Bottom Line:

If you’re having a bad week, read Pippa. If you need to restore your faith in humans, read Pippa. If you’re lonely and missing your friends during this insane pandemic, read Pippa. Basically, if you want to feel good…READ PIPPA.

Start With:

Flirting with the Frenemy (Bro Code #1). Check out her full suggested reading order here.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Gail Carriger

Looking for a new author? Here’s everything you need to know about Gail Carriger, whose books include Prudence, Romancing the Inventor, and The 5th Gender.

What She Writes:

As Gail Carriger: Victorian Steampunk Paranormal Adventure Stories, all set in the Parasolverse. Dirigibles abound. Love story not guaranteed, low to moderate heat.

As G. L. Carriger: M/M urban paranormal or futuristic sci-fi romances with high heat.

What Makes Her Unique:

Carriger writes exuberant prose that centers on socially unusual protagonists, including shifters and vampires, but also including characters who might engage in trades or activities that feel unusual. We have mad scientists (who are maybe less mad than they seem) and servants who moonlight as spies (and whose main job is locking up their werewolf masters on the full moon) and professors who teach aspiring young assassins the fine art of hosting a dinner party (it’s important to manage your arsenic budget properly!) and a gang of werewolf bikers (who have periodic run-ins with the selkie mob). She leans into the world-building; her imagined steampunk universe is top-notch. A thematic focus on queer acceptance features prominently.

Writing Style:

Carriger embraces a witty writing style, chock full of wry humor and droll asides. Jokes about stereotypes appear frequently; for example, a character’s actions might be explained away “because she was an Italian,” but in a very self-aware, tongue-in-cheek manner. Typically the POV focuses on one character, even though it’s written in the third person. Expect some opacity where love interests are concerned. 

How we feel when we read her books:

Why We Love Her:

Her books are just so stinking fun to read. And there are bonus points for completionists: we love that she has so many books, of various lengths and levels of sexyness, all set in the same universe, with recurring characters that pop up in unexpected places.

She Might Not Be For You If:

Twee makes you itchy.

Notable Quotation:

Then, she added, because Alexia never stayed silent when she ought, “These feelings you engender in me, my lord, are most indelicate. You should stop causing them immediately.”

Soulless

The Bottom Line:

You might pick one up as a lark, because the synopses sound totally bananas, but you’ll wind up having a great time reading if you just let go for the ride.

Start With:

Soulless

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Ruby Dixon

Looking for a new author? Here’s everything you need to know about Ruby Dixon, whose books include Ice Planet Barbarians, The Corsair’s Captive, and Fire in His Blood.

What She Writes:

The sexiest keffing Sci-Fi smut you’ve ever read

What Makes Her Unique:

Ruby Dixon makes four arms sexy. She makes tails sexy. She makes giant, blue, three-fingered hands sexy. In short, whatever Ruby Dixon says ends up being sexy.

Writing Style:

First person point of view that alternates between the lead characters. Prose is zippy and easy to devour. Long, intricate plot lines with many different and dynamic characters. The (usually alien) men tend to be very hyper-masculine and the (usually human) women tend to be very strong and fierce in their own ways.

Why We Love Her:

Ruby Dixon absolutely nails diversity. Everyone is welcome in her fantastical, sexy, alien settings – everyone gets to have good sex. Everyone gets to have their own troubles and challenges. Truly wonderfully done.

How I Feel When I’m Reading:

She Might Not Be For You If:

The aliens are very anatomically divergent from what I would normally consider attractive in ANY way, so if tails and horns gross you out, steer clear. You may not like them if you don’t like Sci-Fi. If you’re uncomfortable with detailed sex scenes, she might not be for you. She also tends to explore all facets of the human experience and so if you find that you are easily offended by some triggers, you might have a hard time. And finally, if you prefer a modicum of realism in your smut, Dixon might not be the best bet. 

Notable Quotation:

“It wasn’t a monster come to eat me. It was this monster. 

Who’s come to eat me out.”

Ice Planet Barbarian

Content Warnings:

If it exists in the human experience, Ruby Dixon covers it. She does it with respect and understanding, but she doesn’t shy away from things that are messy or uncomfortable. Rape, trauma, disability, miscarriage, infertility, drugging, forced proximity – her longer series (Ice Planet Barbarians) has it all.

The Bottom Line:

If you’re in a smut rut and need something new…if you need to escape your day-to-day life in a dramatic way…if you like Sci-Fi…if you like to fall in love with a (hopefully) endless series…and most especially, if you’re remotely open to the most steamy, titillating, knee-weakening sex scenes you’ve ever read – Ruby Dixon is your next author.

Start With:

Ice Planet Barbarians. So many books! And several spin-off series!

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Mia Sosa

Looking for a new author? Here’s everything you need to know about Mia Sosa, whose books include One Night with the CEO, Acting on Impulse, and The Worst Best Man.

What She Writes: 

Contemporary character-driven M/F romances featuring characters of color. 

What Makes Her Unique:

The hottest sex scenes that also move the relationship forward.

Writing Style: 

Mostly alternating first person POV (her first trilogy is 3rd person) with characters and stories that tend to be very grounded, even when they include wealth/celebrity. Her writing features feisty heroines and situational humor that breaks up the heavier moments.

Why We Love Her: 

She’s a great writer, but folks, Sosa can really write sex. Like, the hottest sex scenes that really belong in the moments in which they exist and that drive the story and the relationship forward. She’s also good at writing relationship struggles not caused by people being stupid or making stupid assumptions about their romantic partners. You might want these characters to wake up (!!!), but you’ll understand where they’re coming from, too.

She Might Not Be For You If:

Not a lot actually happens in Sosa’s romances, so if you prefer your smut to be plot-driven or suspenseful or adventurous, she is probably not a good fit for you. Also, skip her books if you prefer closed-door or no sex romances. 

Notable Quotation: 

But trust me, listening to your breakup on a local radio show sucks big balls. Like huevos the size of a tuberous bush cricket–relatively speaking, that is. Stay with me here. You see, while some men walk around like their balls make up 14 percent of their body, this insect’s balls actually do. Nothing like a spirited game of Trivial Pursuit to round out your cultural literacy. And yes, I was tipsy, pero that morsel of uselessness made an impression on me, penetrating my apple martini haze and settling in my brain for eternity.

Acting on Impulse

How I Feel When I’m Reading: 

The Bottom Line: 

Sosa is really good at crafting a low-drama romantic narrative that is still suspenseful enough to be a page-turner. Her tagline is: “Funny. Flirty. A little dirty.” and that is a pretty accurate summation. 

Reading these books feels good.

Start With: 

The Worst Best Man.