XOXOAD is happy to welcome Andrea Laurence today! Andrea is a prolific author, currently publishing the Rosewood series of contemporary romance with Pocket Star, and also a frequent publisher with several Harlequin lines, most recently for her Secrets of Eden series. How did she get started on the glamorous road to romance writing? Well, it was all thanks to her grandma…
When I was a kid, my grandma lived in a senior community with a recreation center. I remember there was a bookshelf in the rec center that was filled nearly top to bottom with books. While a few Louis L’Amour titles made it into the collection, the majority of them were Harlequin Romances. Names like Penny Jordan graced the spines on the weathered, well-traded titles. I was always mystified by these books and the ladies in the neighborhood that were dedicated enough to amass such a large collection.
Fast forward thirty years and here I am – a Harlequin author myself. In addition to writing for Pocket, I currently have 10 releases out with Harlequin and 4 more in the works. Sometimes I think back on that bookshelf and I find it hard to believe that somewhere there might be one just like it with my books on them. Being published was a huge dream I never expected to achieve (and when I actually ran into THE Penny Jordan at a Harlequin party a few years before her passing, I was near speechless.)
So I have to say that I get a little discouraged when people dismiss Harlequin novels. Romance tends to be a maligned genre in general, but Harlequins are the most red-headed of the red-headed stepchildren. I find that the people who read them are very dedicated and voracious readers, but the people who don’t, won’t touch them. The funniest part is that they’ll turn around and buy the same type of book from a different publisher or an indie author and not question it. All I can think of is that they’re judging the books by their covers and that tell-tale branding carries the stigma that this is not a book they would like.
“Those are the romances my grandmother used to read,” they say with a look of distaste on their face.
I sincerely doubt they’re exactly the same, but even if they were, they’ve got to be pretty awesome books to draw such a dedicated following. When people say that, I can’t help but wonder – have you ever read one? Recently? The different lines vary in style, but I assure you the newer crop of books are modern and fresh in tone or I never would’ve sold my first book to them. I tend to color outside the lines. If you read and liked FACING THE MUSIC, you’ll like my Harlequin titles too. It’s still me writing them, after all. They’re shorter, but you’re still going to get my dry humor and style of storytelling. For example, here’s a fun scene from UNDENIABLE DEMANDS:
“This drink’s on the oldest Eden boy.”
It took Tori a minute to figure out that probably meant Wade. “Tell him I don’t want it.”
Skippy snorted and shook his head. “He’s sitting with the mayor, the sheriff, the best lawyer in town and the city councilman that granted my liquor license. Sorry, Kiddo, but I’m not getting involved. You’ll have to tell him that yourself.”
“Fine,” Tori said. Scooping up the full glass, she slid off the stool and made her way across the bar to the table of men in the back. All five of them halted their conversation and turned to look at her when she approached.
“You’re welcome, Miss Sullivan,” Wade said with a smile that made her stomach flutter and pissed her off at the same time. He was too cocky for his own good.
“Actually, I wasn’t coming to thank you. I was returning it.”
“Is something wrong with the drink?” Wade challenged.
“Nothing aside from it being purchased by you.” She set it down on the edge of the table in front of him. “No thanks.”
A couple of the men chuckled softly and another shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Wade ignored them all, his gaze laser-focused on her. “Oh, come on, now. Don’t be that way. It was a ‘Welcome to Cornwall’ drink. A taste of some local hospitality.”
“I’ve lived here for two months and only four people have bothered to speak to me the entire time. It’s a little late for a warm welcome. Especially coming from the man trying to run me out of town. I’m not selling you my property, Mr. Mitchell. And that’s final.” Tori spun on her heel and took two big steps away before she heard the sound of muffled snickers behind her and a poorly masked whisper that suggested Wade’s skills in the bedroom might improve her attitude.
That was the last straw. Snapping her head around, she caught Wade smirking at her backside as though he agreed with his uncouth companion’s assessment.
She returned to their table. “I’m sorry, what was that? I can assure you my attitude was just fine until you started bullying me around. You may live in a world where you always get your way, but it’s not going to happen this time. And neither your money nor your penis is going to change that. I’m not interested in either of them.”
With that, she picked up her drink, watching as Wade assessed her with curious eyes. He’d had the good sense to shelve the smirk. “On second thought,” she said with a sickeningly sweet smile, “I think I will take this drink. You could use a little cooling off.” With the flick of her wrist, Tori emptied the glass into Wade’s lap.
I’m not the only one writing books like these. Here’s another excerpt from HEIR TO A DESERT LEGACY by Harlequin Presents author Maisey Yates. While this has the traditional Presents storyline of a sheikh, it has an unmistakably modern tone:
“Then perhaps we can put a halt on the dramatics?”
“When you put a halt to your douche-baggery.”
Dark brows locked together. “What is this word?”
“It means you’re being a jerk. But more than a jerk even,” she said. “Worse.”
I doubt there’s much douche-baggery in your grandma’s books. (Just a wild guess). In addition to Harlequin Desire and Presents, the Blaze, Kiss, and COSMO Red-Hot Reads lines also offer fun, contemporary and sexy stories.
So, I hope I’ve opened your eyes just a little to the potential out there. I’ve also got a little challenge for you! The first book in my Secrets of Eden series – UNDENIABLE DEMANDS – is currently only 99 cents. I dare you to try it. See what you think. It’s got passion, mystery, romance and a quirky family I think you’ll fall in love with. For a dollar, it’s worth a shot and it could open you up to a whole world of books you’d never thought to explore before.