Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Into Romance

with Christine Ashworth

I am thrilled to be here in anticipation of Maggie Marr’s book release, Can’t Buy Me Love, on March 28th!

Okay, so - my name is Christine Ashworth, and I’m a confirmed, life-long, romance-novel-a-holic. I picked up my first Rosemary Rogers book, Sweet, Savage Love (where my mom had stuck it, under the cushion of her chair) at the age of 12, finished it in three days, and I haven’t looked back.

Soon after that, Mom introduced me to Harlequin Romances (she didn’t read these – she preferred the longer books). These were fairly chaste back then (the mid-1970’s) and cost under a dollar. With my two dollar allowance, I would buy myself a romance novel and two boxes of Junior Mints. Saturdays were spent sprawled on my bed, reading and munching.

As time went on, I got brave enough to take a book or two (or five) with me wherever I went. My dad could be counted on at Christmas and my birthday to go to our local used bookstores, and buy me Harlequin Presents novels by the yard. (No, I’m not kidding. I spent many a Christmas Day on my bed, reading. I could go through 3 Presents novels before Christmas Dinner, lol!) I had a few duplicates, but not many. This happy state of affairs continued for a long time…until…

One day, I was sprawled out in center splits at my ballet studio, elbows on the floor and reading a Presents, stretching and waiting for rehearsal to start. One of our (straight) male dancers walked by – seeing a ballet dancer reading was, in our company anyway, a novelty – so he asked me what I was reading. When I showed him, he frowned at me and told me I was reading brain candy.

I was seventeen, a junior in high school. He was twenty-four and fresh out of graduate school. I made a face at him and said it was my form of relaxation, to read happy-ever-after stories, and it was none of his business anyway. He shrugged and moved away.

The next day, he tossed a copy of Mary Renault’s THE PERSIAN BOY to me. Definitely not a romance; but the novel swept me away and I remember staying up late that night, trying to read as much of it as I could before I fell asleep. I soon devoured as much of Mary Renault as I could find in my high school library.

Ever since then, my reading has broadened. I didn’t want people to think I was shallow; so I read widely (since I didn’t go to college with any regularity). Dostoyevski, D.H. Lawrence, Herman Hesse (guess who was suggesting these books?), Marcus Aurelius, Mary Shelley, Jane Austen; I veered into poetry with Donne and Keats, Shakespeare and Longfellow. I also continued to read my Harlequins – though not at the ballet studio.

As I moved into my twenties, I moved away from the series romance and into mysteries with romance, the bigger romance novels, and Crime and Punishment. (Never did finish that one.) It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that I re-discovered series romance; only now there were all sorts of categories to choose from.

Since I come from a family of writers, writing series romance was definitely something that has always been in my wheelhouse. I just needed time to get there, I told myself. When I did finally start writing, I found the short format to be frustrating.

Jill Marie Landis had come to my local RWA chapter to speak, and I remember crying on her shoulder about my frustrations. She mentioned to me that perhaps I needed to write longer books for a while. To write what I wanted to write, instead of what I thought I should write. Plus, she very kindly wrote me a card, telling me the same thing, only in writing – which made a huge difference!

That’s my roundabout way of telling you why I write longer paranormal romance, instead of category romance. I would love to write category, believe me – and I hope at some point to go back to writing category, and see if, this time, I have what it takes to get Harlequin to bite. But in the meantime, I’m happy writing in my own world of gorgeous tribred men (demon, human and Fae bloodlines) and the women who love them.

Oh – and that straight ballet dancer that first made faces at me for reading Harlequin Romances? We got married 3 years later, and are still living “happily ever after”. Now whenever I read a romance and he makes faces, I just blow him a kiss – and tell him I’m doing research.

…to retrieve his soul, she’ll become fire… Gabriel Caine stands on the edge of the abyss. A vampire has stolen his soul and if he doesn’t get it back soon, his next step will be into hell.

Rose Walters has been sent back from the dead to complete one task – save Gabriel Caine. But this muscled guy in leather, black jeans and a dangerous aura didn’t look like he needed anyone’s help.

Rose has touched the whole of Gabriel, making him yearn for a love he believes he can never have. Her willingness to put her human life on the line for him forces him to bring all three parts of himself – demon, human and Fae bloodlines, and the traps and gifts of each – into harmony, and into the fight that will decide their fate.

Following is an excerpt of DEMON SOUL…enjoy!

Gabriel knew her frustration as he knew his own. His original plan dissolved as he vaulted up to catch himself on the railing of the balcony. Joy and need both pulsed through him as he caught her scent.
Rose gasped and whirled about, pressed her hands to her mouth. Finally registering Gabriel, she wrapped her arms around the robe she wore, her eyes flashing in the dim light.
"Took you long enough. I’m going crazy here. Aren’t you?”
"I stayed away longer than I’d meant." Gabriel grimaced as her shoulders tensed up. Sighing, he dropped from the railing to the balcony and held out a hand to her. "I’m not used to needing anyone. Not for years."
She twined her fingers with his. "I’m beginning to understand that." Her words were quiet in the pre-dawn. "You meant to push me away. But it doesn't matter." She turned her face up to his, her blue eyes like lasers, pinning him to the spot. "Apparently this need thing works both ways. Your soul has been aching for you. It’s kept me awake and edgy. I’ve needed you. I’ve been calling you for hours.”
“I’m here now.”
Rose moved toward him and put one small hand on his broad chest.
He felt that touch clear to his missing soul. Almost holding his breath, his gaze met hers. Flinched from what he saw in her eyes, even as it warmed him.
"Gabriel, I can't do anything else than protect you. I feel this is the reason I'm here, and everything that went before brought me to this place, this time. Everything else brought me to you. Whether or not we have a future together? I don’t know. But I don’t want to rule it out, either, just because you’re scared."
"I don't want this." He searched, but words were beyond him. A helpless little sound escaped from his lips. "Rose."
She smiled a little, her eyes finally warming. "It's okay. I'm scared, too. You do what you need to do. Whatever happens with Satine, I'll be here waiting for you. We’ll figure out what comes next together, okay?"
His arms came around her then, lifting her off her feet to bring their faces to the same level. Gabriel searched her eyes. They were clear, holding no secrets. Her heart shone freely, and it took his breath away.
She wrapped her legs around his waist, took his face into her hands as he adjusted his hold. "Kiss me," she whispered. "While we have this time together."
He obeyed. Her lips were like satin beneath his, warm and alive and opening to him. His senses spun and his grip on her tightened. His control wavered.
Gabriel broke their kiss and leaned his forehead against hers, taking a deep breath. Drawing in her scent, the delicious fragrance made him yearn. Every part of him grew hard as stone.
This sprite, with her flaming red hair and Soul Chalice abilities had captured his heart like no other. Enticed him like no other. Her hands urged him to take her mouth again, and he forgot the reasons to deny her.
Her body grew warm against him. Her scent rose up to wreathe his brain, turning his thoughts muddy. He needed.
Urgency thrummed through him. Gabriel turned, pressed her back against the wall and, as his mouth ravaged hers, slid his hand down the front of her robe. Her skin was heated silk against the roughness of his fingers, her body wonderfully responsive.
Rose's hands spread across his chest, those strong, capable hands hot against his cool skin, sparking fires of need wherever they landed. Gods.
"Rose?" The door beside them opened. "Oops. Sorry." It shut. Maggie went away.
Gabriel stilled, one of his hands curved on her bottom, the other on her breast, his mouth a whisper from hers. His eyes opened and he looked into the smiling blue eyes of the woman who had captured him.
"Now there's timing for you," she said, her voice husky with need and laughter.
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Blogger Robena Grant said...

Christine, I loved this story. I never knew how you and the hubs met, but that is fabulous. I loved how you twined your history of reading with the story of your lifelong love. Touching. (It would make a great novel. Hint hint.)

March 12, 2012 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Christine - thanks for telling a good story on this blog, too! I to love Dostoyevski, D.H. Lawrence, AND Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Linda Howard and...

All reading is good. Glad it worked out with you and that tall dancer...:)

March 12, 2012 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger Nan said...

Christine, what a great story! And I was totally freaked out by the fact that you read romance and ate Jr. Mints, which happened to be my favorite way to spend a day when I was twelve and on into my teens. My mom got mad at me once because I turned down a date to finish a romance novel I'd bought for myself with babysitting money. Reading was so much more interesting than boys at that stage in my life.

I've never read paranormal by anyone but my crit partner, so I'm a virgin in this genre. Heading to Amazon to get your book for my Kindle! Time to get started!

March 12, 2012 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Dee J. said...

Loved your story! I did not expect dancer-boy to be your husband! Love it. Congrats on your own HEA and on Demon Soul!!

March 12, 2012 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Sheila Tenold said...


Truly enjoyed reading about your love of romance novels. You're a gifted writer.

I was surprised and tickled to learn dancer-boy and you are married. What a fun twist!

March 12, 2012 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Charlene Sands said...

HI Christine - I love people who love romance. Books especially romances, help us bond with friends of like minds. I love all books, but romance makes the world go around!!

March 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Christine Ashworth said...

Roben, Lynne and Dee J., thanks ladies for having my back! You totally rock.

Nan, thank you so so much for allowing my book to take your paranormal virginity, lol...I hope it doesn't hurt!

Sheila hon, thanks for stopping by - and yeah, that dancer-boy - sigh...what can I say? He swept me off my pointe shoes. (Except he called me an adult robber...but that's another story...!)

March 12, 2012 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Maria Powers said...

Oh, your history sounds like mine, but I'd use ALL of my babysitting money for Silhouette, Candlelight, and Harlequin and then my dad's cousin discovered that I'd take her bags and from then on it was just a question of when we were going to get over to see BettyLeeLiz because I needed my shopping bags filled with romance novels. BettyLeeLiz introduced me to Linda Lael Miller and well, the rest is history.

March 12, 2012 at 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I LOVE how you met yor hubby!!! I devoured series too (still do). But Jane Austen is my absolute favorite author. I finished Pride and Prejudice but I hoestly don't remember too much about it. I can give you the entire plot of the first Harlequin I read, and I was only eleven years old!

March 12, 2012 at 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Christine Ashworth said...

Maria, that's a great story! What would we have done without our friends to swap books with?

Aimee, you're a woman after my own heart. Thanks so much for stopping by!

March 12, 2012 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger Louisa Bacio said...

Loved your story, Christine, and I kept hoping that we'd hear from that male ballet dancer again! . Did you two actually have a smooth, romantic first dance at the wedding? We had to take lessons and that's the only time hubby danced with me!

March 12, 2012 at 6:09 PM  
Blogger Maggie Marr said...

It is a great story. Thank you for your wonderful blog!!

March 12, 2012 at 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Christine Ashworth said...

Thanks Maggie for having me!

March 12, 2012 at 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Christine Ashworth said...

Ah, Louisa - lol. No, we didn't have a fancy first dance! Ours was an afternoon wedding - no fancy lunch, no band. I think there might have been music but it's been so long ago now, that I don't remember, lol! But he did rescue me once - we were onstage together and were supposed to hold hands and run off. Just as I grabbed his hand, I slipped and fell - his hand clamped around my wrist, I arched my back and lifted my legs up, and went off stage sailing by my hipbones as he towed me away.
By far my most memorable exit, lol!

March 12, 2012 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Roz Lee said...

It took me a while to get here, but - Great blog, Christine! Love the way you met your husband! That sounds like a romance novel to me! LOL

March 12, 2012 at 10:31 PM  

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