Tag: Holly Says

Standalone Series Books: Yes, That’s a Thing

Posted November 6, 2018 by Holly in Discussions | 5 Comments

Holly: Lately, Rowena and I have been increasingly frustrated with the number of authors who label their books as standalones when they are, in fact, part of a series.

The Chase by Elle Kennedy is the first book in the Briar U series, which is a spinoff of the Off-Campus series. Yet the description says, “A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy!”

The blurb for Part-Time Lover by Lauren Blakely says, “From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lauren Blakely comes a sexy new standalone romance…”, yet it features characters we met in Wanderlust (Part-Time Lovers series).

Rowena: It seems to me that this is a new development, at least in romance because I don’t ever remember going through this before. Books in a series could be read as standalone but they were linked by something. Some of those series were linked together by characters, some were linked by the world that they were set in, and sometimes they had a story arc that went through multiple books, but that last one wasn’t necessary or even the case for every series. I can’t agree with what Holly says above enough. It is possible for a book to read as a standalone but still be part of a series.

She also mentions that there are some readers that prefer to read standalones and that’s fine, you should be able to love and want what you want. We prefer to know that characters we meet and love in one book, also show up in their own books…because then it’s not a standalone, it’s part of a series and should be labeled as such.

I just finished reading Sleepover by Serena Bell and though the book is listed as a standalone, I just know that the hero’s brother Brooks is going to get his own book because the ending led the reader to believe as much. The ending also announces the engagement of a couple from another book that was released back in June of this year. So this book is definitely part of a series and is linked together by the characters but if you were a new reader of this author (like me), you wouldn’t know that. “Sleepover is a standalone novel with no cheating, no cliffhangers, and a satisfying happily ever after. This ebook includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.” Yet, it follows Do Over and Head Over Heels.

She’s not the only author that is guilty of this. She’s just the latest one that I’ve read and my frustration continues to grow and grow and grow. Holly hears about this frustration every time so we figured it was time to write this post.

Here are some examples of series with books that can be read as standalones but are linked together under the series umbrella.

The 21 Wall Street Series by Lauren Layne

This series follows three friends who work together on Wall Street. You don’t have to read the first book to get the second book, or the third book. The only thing that links these books together are the heroes in each book are friends. That’s it.

FBI/US Attorney Series by Julie James

Here’s another series that doesn’t need to be read in order. Each book can be read as a standalone and the series follows a different couple in the same world.

Colorado Mountain Series by Kristen Ashley


The same deal applies here with this series. They don’t really need to be read in order but there are recurring characters in each of these books. Some characters show up in all of the books, some show up in only a few but the common link in these books are the characters. The point is, the books can be read as standalones, but they’re connected in some way.

I’m not sure if this is a publisher thing or an author thing but whoever is in charge of making these decisions, please change this back. If books are linked in any way, readers should know that. I’m not sure when books being part of a series became a bad thing but I promise, I don’t see it as such.

The more you know and all of that…


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Books Holly Would Hate If She Read Them Today

Posted October 17, 2018 by Holly in Discussions | 5 Comments

While formatting some old posts, I came across some reviews I’d written for books in Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series. Reading my reviews, I started to wonder if I read those books today, would I still give them such high marks? Just reading through my reviews had me shaking my head. I gave up reading some authors years ago, because I know that, while I loved them in my youth, they’d never hold up to my reading standards now.

Chasing PerfectAlmost PerfectFinding Perfect

Chasing Perfect, Almost Perfect and Finding Perfect by Susan Mallery
Released 2010-2012
Publisher: HQN Books
Genres: Contemporary Romance
My Reviews: Chasing Perfect, Almost Perfect, Finding Perfect

Return to where it all began—the romance, the friendships, the community, the warmth and laughter of Susan Mallery’s New York Times bestselling series Fool’s Gold.

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Fool’s Gold, California, is a charming town like no other, where newcomers and locals alike find endless—if unconventional—opportunities to fall in love.

From Charity Jones, a city planner hired to create jobs that will keep the town’s men from moving away, to Liz Sutton, still trying to shed the stigma of being the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and Pia O’Brian who, despite having a disastrous romantic track record and the parenting skills of a hamster, has inherited three frozen embryos, Fool’s Gold is overflowing with quirky characters, passionate moments and heartfelt emotion.

I really enjoyed this series back when, but just reading my reviews had my blood pressure up. I’m glad I enjoyed the books when I read them the first time. I definitely won’t be going back to read them again.

Almost HeavenAlmost Heaven by Judith McNaught.
Released: June 1, 1991
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 384
Genres: Historical Romance

#1 New York Times bestselling author Judith McNaught crafts a powerful and unforgettable tale of two willful lovers in a twisting path of secrets throughout nineteenth-century Great Britain.

The Countess of Havenhurst, Lady Elizabeth Cameron, possesses a rare gentleness and fierce courage to match her exquisite beauty. But when she is discovered in the arms of Ian Thorton—notorious gambler and social outcast—her reputation is shattered. Thorton, rakishly handsome but with a mysterious lineage, embarks on a voyage to Elizabeth’s heart. Unfortunately, this journey is fraught with intrigue, scandal, and a venomous revenge. Destined for each other, yet wary of the other’s motives, Elizabeth and Ian engage in a dance of suspicion and passion that tests the very soul of their star-crossed love, from London’s drawing rooms to the mysterious Scottish Highlands. Will Elizabeth find true love or is Ian merely a ruthless fortune hunter at heart?

McNaught was one of my favorite authors back in the day. I was always swept up in her tales and so anxious to see what would happen. Almost Heaven was a particular favorite. Ian. Sigh. I know if I read it today the drama would be too much. As it is, just the memory of all the drama Elizabeth creates makes my teeth clench. I’m going to keep my happy memories of JM and stay far, far away from re-reading this book.

The GiftThe Gift by Danielle Steele
Released: February 5, 1996
Publisher: Dell Books
Pages: 288
Genres: Historical Romance

On a June day, a young woman in a summer dress steps off a Chicago-bound bus into a small midwestern town. She doesn’t intend to stay. She is just passing through. Yet her stopping here has a reason and it is part of a story that you will never forget.

The time is the 1950s, when life was simpler, people still believed in dreams, and family was, very nearly, everything. The place is a small midwestern town with a high school and a downtown, a skating pond and a movie house. And on a tree-lined street in the heartland of America, an extraordinary set of events begins to unfold. And gradually what seems serendipitous is tinged with purpose. A happy home is shattered by a child’s senseless death. A loving marriage starts to unravel. And a stranger arrives—a young woman who will touch many lives before she moves on. She and a young man will meet and fall in love. Their love, so innocent and full of hope, helps to restore a family’s dreams. And all of their lives will be changed forever by the precious gift she leaves them.

This is a book I read at a time in my life when I needed the story. Thinking back, I’m sure much of it was problematic, but at the time I didn’t see the flaws. I was swept up in the tale of this brave girl who was on her own, dealing with an unwanted pregnancy in the 1950s. The story truly touched me. There’s no way I’d feel the same if I read it today, but I’ll keep my fond memories.

Prince of DreamsPrince of Dreams by Lisa Kleypas
Released August 1, 1995
Publisher: Avon Books
Pages: 416
Genres: Contemporary Romance
My Review: Prince of Dreams

A wealthy and bitter exile, he most dangerous and desirable man in all of England, he burns to possess a proud, headstrong beauty who is promised to another. But winning Emma Stokehurst’s exquisite hand through threats and determination does nothing to fill the empty spaces in Nikola’s heart—until passion’s magic carries the handsome, tormented prince back to a bygone era of splendor and romantic dreams. For there his destiny awaits him in a distant life. And in one remarkable woman’s tender touch—achingly familiar but gloriously new—he must seek the elusive promise of ecstasy . . .and learn, at last, to love.

This is an old school novel by Lisa Kleypas. I love the last 1/4 or so of this book. Adore it, in fact. But the first 3/4 are pretty rough to get through (and yes, Nikolai did cheat ::wince::). I don’t know that the last 1/4 would make up for all the terrible if I read it now.

Night PlayNight Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
Released: August 1, 2004
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance

Bride McTierney has had it with men. They’re cheap, self-centered, and never love her for who she is. But though she prides herself on being independent, deep down she still yearns for a knight in shining armor.

She just never expected her knight in shining armor to have a shiny coat of fur…

Deadly and tortured, Vane Kattalakis isn’t what he seems. Most women lament that their boyfriends are dogs. In Bride’s case, hers is a wolf. A Were-Hunter wolf. Wanted dead by his enemies, Vane isn’t looking for a mate. But the Fates have marked Bride as his. Now he has three weeks to either convince Bride that the supernatural is real or he will spend the rest of his life neutered–something no self-respecting wolf can accept…

But how does a wolf convince a human to trust him with her life when his enemies are out to end his? In the world of the Were-Hunters, it really is dog-eat-dog. And only one alpha male can win.

I loved Bride and Vane back in the day. Adored them. I loved how petty Vane was, getting back at Bride’s ex. How cute they were together, all of it. But I can’t imagine reading the book now and feeling the same way. I grew out of SK some time back.

via GIPHY


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2018 Releases Holly Should Have Read By Now

Posted September 5, 2018 by Holly in Discussions | 5 Comments

Last week, Rowena listed 5 2018 releases she’s surprised she hasn’t read yet. Casee and I decided to list ours, as well. Rowena listed Getting Schooled by Emma Chase and Hot Dad by Whitley Cox, and those are on my list as well. Here are five more:


Natural Dual-Mage (Magical Mayhem #3) by K.F. Breene
Released on June 26, 2018
Publisher: Self Published, K.F. Breene
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 394

The seat-gripping conclusion to the #1 bestselling Magical Mayhem trilogy!

One thing has become perfectly clear: The Mages’ Guild won’t stop coming for me until I am either under their control, or dead.

So rather than wait to be cornered…I’m going to take the fight to them.

But Emery and I can’t do it alone.

We have to assemble enough power in the magical world to rip the Guild off of their high horse. And to do that, we’ll need the shifters as well as the vampires.

Except, shifters and vampires would rather kill each other than work together. And after a surprise run-in with a strangely powerful goblin, my world is slapped sideways.

If I can’t learn the strange new power I totally-didn’t-steal-because-it-wasn’t-my-fault, and can’t get arch nemeses to work together for the common good, the Guild will finally have their prize. Me.

This epic adventure will leave you breathless!

I absolutely adored the first book in this trilogy, Natural Witch, and I also enjoyed book 2, Natural Mage, which left off on somewhat of a cliffhanger. So I was ALL ABOUT getting my hands on this book. I preordered it, downloaded it the second it was available and…never even opened it. I keep saying I’m going to start it, but have I? Nope.


Whiskey Sharp: Jagged (Whiskey Sharp #2) by Lauren Dane
Released on March 27, 2018
Publisher: HQN
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352

Vicktor Orlov took one look at the wary gaze and slow-to-trust personality of the deliciously sexy and fascinating Rachel Dolan and knew he wanted more than just a casual friendship. But as a natural protector, he also knew bossiness and overprotective maneuvering would push her away rather than draw her close. He’ll use every tool in his easygoing arsenal to convince her to take a chance on them.

Rachel’s flourishing new career as a tattoo artist has brought color back into a life previously damaged by a series of bad choices and violence. She knows she can trust Vic—it’s herself she’s not sure of. She doesn’t want to be caged or controlled. Doesn’t want to be protected so much she has no ability to make her own choices.

And damn if the man doesn’t know it.

When Vic finally drops all pretenses of “just friends” and focuses all his careful affection and irresistible seduction on her, Rachel knows she’s falling hard for the laid-back pretty-boy Russian she discovers has a relentlessly steel spine when it comes to her.

And she can’t resist.

When I finished Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled, I was dying for Victor and Rachel’s book (mostly because I was dying for more Rachel..she was so intriguing in the first book!). I requested the ARC as soon as it came up on NetGalley and…it’s been sitting on my Kindle ever since. I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet. I really need to get my butt in gear.


The Wolf Lord (Ars Numina #3) by Ann Aguirre\
Released on March 14th 2018
Publisher: Self Published, Ann Aguirre
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 324

Roguish. Reckless. Unreliable.

Raff Pineda has a certain reputation among the Animari. He’s the one to call if there’s a party starting, not the man to rely on when all hell breaks loose. Though he’s nominally the leader of the Pine Ridge pack, he defers to his second on the tough calls. Raff prefers to live fast and hard and keep his heart hidden, but a certain Eldritch princess won’t fall for his usual tricks, and their contract political marriage may be anything but convenient.

Ambitious. Elegant. Isolated.

Princess Thalia Talfayen may not have been raised by a witch in a tower, but she’s spent the last few decades locked up for a failed insurrection. Plotting and scheming comes naturally to her; personal connections do not. Since she’s come this far in her unstoppable quest to claim the silver throne, she won’t hesitate to do whatever it takes to unite her people, even if that means giving herself to the big bad wolf…

This series is really intriguing and I’ve been wanting Thalia’s book since the first one came out. Yet here it sits, unread.


Speakeasy (True North #5) by Sarina Bowen
Released on May 29, 2018
Publisher: Self Published, Sarina Bowen
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 452

Sometimes you fall for Mr. Right. And sometimes for Mr. Right Now…

May

Did you hear the one about the girl who walks into a bar and catches her live-in lover kissing someone else? No? You’re the only one in town who missed it.
Luckily Alec is there to wrap me up in strong arms and carry me out the door before things get too ugly. And that’s not all Alec is good at. Our unexpected chemistry makes him the perfect rebound guy.

Alec

I should know better than to hook up with my rival’s little sister, but the fiery look in May’s eyes really turns my crank. She needs cheering up, and I’m just the guy for the job.

It’s not like I’ll fall in love. Not even after a string of scorching hot trysts, and the realization that we’re good at the same things: wild nights and familial disappointment. I don’t do love, never have, never will. So this is the perfect arrangement, for both of us.

Nobody would approve, but nobody has to know…

I really loved May in the previous books and really wanted her to get her own story. When it was released, I had some misgivings because I thought May was gay, and I expected her love interest to be female. I’m sure Bowen did a great job of writing the story, but I’ve kind of had a block up about it anyway. I know I just need to start it and I’ll be sucked in, but I can’t seem to make myself open it.


Wicked and the Wallflower (The Bareknuckle Bastards #1) by Sarah MacLean
Released on June 19, 2018
Publisher: Avon
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 416

When Wicked Comes Calling…

When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She’s seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won’t accept a marriage without it.

The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain…

Bastard son of a duke and king of London’s dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.

For the Promise of Passion…

But there’s nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she’d rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil’s carefully laid plans are in chaos, and he must choose between everything he’s ever wanted…and the only thing he’s ever desired.

I really love Sarah MacLean’s books and I usually read them as soon as they’re released. Yet this one is languishing in my TBR pile.


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Updated: #cockygate Part 2: #Cocky Author Files Lawsuit (includes link to full summary)

Posted May 30, 2018 by Holly in Discussions, News | 12 Comments

Note: This is a pinned post. Scroll down for additional content.

Update June 1, 2018: Thanks to Euna Park for the updates she was able to post on the court hearing this morning in NYC. The judge denied FH the temporary restraining order she requested for the publishing of books with the word “cocky” in the title and removed Kevin Kneupper from the lawsuit. Kevin being removed from the lawsuit has no bearing on his trademark case. That is separate.

FH’s lawyer is really claiming that the word “cocky” is synonomous with FH in the romance genre. Wow. Considering nobody knew who she was before all of this came to light, that’s overstating the shit out of things. I mean, sure, NOW that might be true but not in the way I think her lawyer meant.

Author Liv Morris also attended the hearing and had this to say about the Cocktales: The Cocky Collective:

This is more great news for Team Romance. I’m super glad to see that Cocktales will be able to continue to sell books. I really love how supportive our community has been over this whole thing. It makes me so glad to be apart of such an awesome community.

Here is a list of links that Courtney Milan provided that includes all, or well, most documents pertaining to the lawsuit:

Defendants Joint Memo in Opposition to Preliminary Injunction & TRO
Tara Crescent Affidavit
Crescent Exhibit D
Crescent Exhibit G
Declaration for Jennifer Watson
Declaration for Penny Reid
Plaintiff (FH) Reply to Memorandum of Law in further support of Plainitffs Motion
Full Transcript of Preliminary Hearing on June 1, 2018

Here are some other posts that went up in the last couple of days:

Authors Guild and RWA Prevail in Court Defending Authors in “Cocky” Trademark Dispute
Judge Denies Injunction Request in Cocky Trademark Dispute
RWA’s Update on Recent Trademark Proceedings
The Cocky Trademark Author Writes an Open Letter to Herself in Response to Cockygate
How an Author Trademarking the word “cocky” turned the romance novel industry inside out

Marc Whipple has a great running commentary on the entire #cockygate on his blog so be sure to check that out too.

Posted on May 30, 2018: Rowena and I have been on vacation so while we’ve been keeping up with the latest nonsense with #cockygate, we haven’t had a chance to update until now.

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Updated: #Cocky Romance Author Trademarks word, Starts #cockygate: A Summary

Posted May 7, 2018 by Holly in News | 61 Comments

Update May 16, 2018: Kevin Kneupper received Notice of Institution in the “cocky” trademark challenge.


Which basically means the challenge has been filed.

In other related news, the website cockyandproud.com popped up recently, claiming to support 3 of the authors Hopkins targeted. Dusk Peterson on Twitter questions the legitimacy of the site, especially since they’re using affiliate links to make money, which they claim will be donated into gofundme (or similar ventures).

Notice from cockyandproud.com


Apparently three of the authors say they have no affiliation with the site. If you want to support them, buy their books on Amazon.


I hate to say it, but people can be assholes. Please make sure you aren’t getting taken advantage of

The crazy video Hopkins posted is up at Vimeo if you want to watch it. I’m not sure what to tell you about it. You’re welcome? I’m sorry? Good luck?

More links:

Vox.com: How an author trademarking the word “cocky” turned the romance novel industry inside out
Slate.com: Who Owns Cocky?

Update May 11, 2018: I had very limited access to the internet the past couple days, so I’m a little behind in updating this post. Faleena Hopkins deleted her Facebook account, along with the 1:42:00 video we linked to below. It may crop up again, but if you didn’t see it, you didn’t miss anything. I promise. The video is back up at YouTube. I embedded it below. The video is down again. You can read Jenny Trout’s live-tweeting of it for a summary.

Amazon responded to RWA’s request that no further titles be removed while this matter is being resolved. They agreed.


Prior to that, authors and readers noticed reviews featuring the word “Cocky” were being removed from both Amazon and Goodreads. I haven’t seen anything from Amazon or Goodreads direct about that, but reviewer Lillie tested the system by posting two reviews – one with the word “Cocky” and one without. The review with cocky was held for 13 hours, while the one without posted immediately. Oddly enough, she noted the review with cocky went live right about the time Amazon announced it would honor RWA’s request. If I were a suspicious person….

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