10 Amazing Books You Need to Bring on Summer Vacation

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Looking for your next beach read?  We have compiled our Top 10 titles of the summer that are must reads.

  1. Stand and Deliver by Rhenna Morgan

Letting Security expert Beckett Tate take the lead in the bedroom comes naturally to colleague Gia Sinclair—not constantly proving herself to him professionally is more of a struggle. And when someone attacks her character and career, Gia and Beckett will have to find a balance: her willingness to let go just a little, with his trust in her abilities and his deep, primal need to protect his woman.

  1. One Match Fire by Lissa Linden

When her old summer camp advertises for a new director, Amy leaps at the chance to start over—only to find herself face-to-face with the very guy who broke her heart. Paul hasn’t forgotten kissing Amy beneath a shooting star, or how she bolted from camp without saying goodbye. She’s now a woman with killer curves and a sexual appetite to match. With serious vibes between them, and Paul nearly dead from the celibacy of life at camp, they strike a deal for a few days of sexy fun in the wilderness.

With a past like theirs, they’ll either ignite a future…or burn out for good.

  1. A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

Award-winning author Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series continues with a woman on a quest to be the heroine of her own story and the duke in shining armor she rescues along the way…

  1. Perfect Day by Sally Malcolm

First love conquers all in Perfect Day, a captivating contemporary male/male retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

When Joshua Newton, prodigal son of one of New Milton’s elite, fell in love with ambitious young actor Finn Callaghan, his world finally made sense.

Finn was his future…until he wasn’t.

Eight years later, Finn has returned to the seaside town where it all began. He’s on the brink of stardom, a far cry from the poor mechanic who spent one gorgeous summer falling in love on the beach.

The last thing he wants is a second chance with the man who broke his heart. Finn has spent a long time forgetting Joshua Newton—he certainly doesn’t plan to forgive him.

  1. The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

The lavish Nantucket wedding of a seemingly perfect couple is derailed when police discover a body in the Harbor hours before the ceremony-and everyone in the wedding party is suddenly a suspect. As Chief of Police Ed Kapenash interviews the bride, the groom, the groom’s famous mystery-novelist mother, and even a member of his own family, he discovers that every wedding is a minefield-and no couple is perfect

  1. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

A thirty-year-old woman with Asperger’s makes sense of her life using math, but one thing she can’t handle is dating and the intimacy she feels it requires. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. She hires the perfect male escort who teaches her that love is the best kind of logic–

  1. Under Control by Shannon Stacey

Getting trapped in a broken elevator with an attractive stranger becomes something more when a charity event brings Olivia McGovern and veteran firefighter Derek Gilman together. They’re from different sides of the tracks, literally—with friends, family and careers to consider. But as Derek and Olivia are discovering, chemistry doesn’t allow for plans, and love doesn’t bother with logistics.

  1. When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

New York Times bestselling author Lauren Weisberger returns with a novel starring one of her favorite characters from The Devil Wears Prada—Emily Charlton, first assistant to Miranda Priestly, now a highly successful image consultant who’s just landed the client of a lifetime.

  1. Making Chase by Lauren Dane

Firefighter Matt Chase has watched each one of his brothers find love and he knows he’s ready for that too. It’s all a matter of finding the woman who captures his heart. He’s certainly sampled his fair share of them but none has moved him the way Salon owner Tate Murphy does.  As Matt gets to know Tate and appreciate her strength and unique beauty, he also realizes she has her own insecurities about her past. To build a future, he’s got to find a way past some big road blocks and prove he doesn’t care where she came from…only where she’s going.

  1. All We Ever Wanted by Emily Griffin

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. Her husband recently made a fortune; their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes, the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from who she once was. Tom Volpe is a single dad struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school. Then one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything.


What are you reading this summer? Share your book recommendations in the comments below!

5 Military Romances That Will Really Heat Things Up

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by Annabeth Albert, author of Tight Quarters

It’s no secret that I love military romance! There’s something so special about heroes and heroines in uniform! As a long-time reader of Carina Press (long before I was published even!), I’ve loved the diversity of military romances that Carina Press has published over the years. And with the release of my latest Out of Uniform title, Tight Quarters, I thought it would be fun to share some of my all-time favorite military romances.

Point of Contact by Melanie Hansen

Get your tissues ready! I’m so excited to see that Hansen will have a new military romance in November, because I LOVED this angsty, long and completely gripping May-December second-chance romance. A highlight of 2018 for me.

His Road Home by Anna Richland

Some books change you forever. And that’s so true of this unforgettable romance. Reading it gave me the courage to pursue the military-romance plot bunnies that had been with me for years, and the slow-burn pacing really reminded me how beautiful it can be to simply watch a couple fall in love.

High and Tight by Vanessa North

I’m a huge fan of North and particularly love her deft handling of shorter fiction. Few do novellas better than her, and I’m so excited she’s got a new release this month from the Dirty Bits line. This classic North novella is one of my favorites with a reunion romance between two opposites-attract men who are perfect for each other.

Chain of Command by HelenKay Dimon

I’m a huge Dimon fangirl. I love her m/m and m/f series both, and few do romantic suspense as well as her. This book is special to me as it got me glomming onto her extensive backlist—I love these two wounded souls so much, and their journey had me sniffling at more than one point.

Chaos Station by Kelly Jensen and Jenn Burke

Military romance can also be historical or set in the future, and I’m particularly a fan of future-set military romances like this amazing series. If you’re a fan of space operas with military heroes such as Firefly and Stargate, you won’t want to miss this one!


About Tight Quarters:

Petty Officer Bacon, a navy SEAL and ace sharpshooter, has been on the front lines of more than his fair share of dangerous ops. Yet when a minor injury relegates him to the beta team, he’s tasked with what may be his riskiest assignment yet: the silver fox journalist he’s babysitting is the hottest, most charismatic man he’s ever encountered.

Award-winning journalist Spencer Bryant may have been named one of Pride magazine’s most eligible bachelors of the year, but he’s not looking to change his relationship status. He’s a consummate professional who won’t risk his ethics or impeccable reputation by getting involved with a source. Even a sexy-as-hell military man. But while Spencer can resist his physical attraction to Bacon, he has less control over his emotions—especially when the mission goes sideways and the two men are trapped alone.

Getting out of the jungle alive turns out to be easy compared to facing the truth about their feelings for one another back in the real world. And whether or not they can build a future is a different story altogether.

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Do you have favorite military romances? I’d love to see your recommendations in the comments!

Short Scene Critique: Valentina’s Journey: An Erotic Romance

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Short Scene Critique: [Erotic Romance]

Meant to be a sneak peek into a Carina editor’s brain, and critiqued by a different editor each time, we’re going to post these critiques twice a month as long as authors are willing to let us use their work and people remain interested.

The idea here is to give you a quick insight into how we might look at a manuscript as it comes across our desks on submission. We’ll strive to be critical but not mean. Because it’s only about 600 words, 2 pages at the most, the amount of feedback is necessarily limited—we don’t have access to more than a couple of pages!

New as of March 1, 2018: instead of first-pages, we asked authors to submit one of four types of scenes: an action scene, a sex scene, the black moment or the first meeting between protagonists. This opportunity was still limited to 400-800 words, but it provides both authors and those following these critiques with an opportunity to see editorial feedback deeper into a book.

It’s important to note that this manuscript was submitted specifically for the purpose of critique on the blog, we do not/will not use random submissions so no worries we’re going to pull your piece out of our submissions inbox and critique it.

The next opportunity to submit a piece for critique will be open soon, so please watch the blog or our newsletter for more.

This month’s editor providing critique is Carina Press Freelance Editor Heather Monroe


* * *

The Sex Scene

This was submitted by the author as a sex scene.

Author A described this manuscript as “an erotic romance with a “happily ever after” ending. It offers readers an escape into the life of leisure we all wish we could live, all the while Valentina’s emotional journey is something we can all relate to.”

Valentina sat up, pausing for a moment before pulling her top off and tossing it to the floor. She held her breath as he took in the view – the woman he loved, straddling his nearly naked body, now topless in front of him for the very first time. She was suddenly remembering every little flaw she saw in the mirror every morning – the pale stretch marks, the stubborn ten pounds she could never lose; surely, they were as obvious to him as they were to her. He leaned forward, running his hands over every curve, lightly scratching as they made their way up her back.

“You’re stunning.”

Blushing slightly, Valentina thanked him for the compliment. “This part is always scary for me.”

“You’re the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen,” he promised. Closing the space between, he pulled her in for another kiss. With both arms wrapped around her body, he twisted around until Valentina’s back was against the mattress. Hovering slightly above her, a serious look came over his face.

“Do you want to stop?” he asked.

Without hesitation, she shook her head. “No.”

“Tell me what you want,” he demanded, sending shivers down her spine.

I want your fingers.

As awfully as the other night ended, it started with some of her favorite foreplay. There were certain things fingers could do that other appendages just couldn’t. It was all about the woman – and it was always the more generous lovers that chose to please a woman when there wasn’t as much in it for them. Most men wanted something in return, an equal exchange. But Jonathan was different.

“Touch me like you did in the theater.”

He nestled in next to her, laying on his side, as they began kissing again. He slid one arm between Valentina and her pillow, holding her close to him as he slid a finger between her folds. As his tongue went deeper into her mouth, his finger slid deeper into her core. His movements were slow, building torturous tension with every stroke – something Valentina suspected he knew. He explored every part of her, coming back to all the little places that provoked reaction. Just as she enjoyed hearing his moan, hearing her gasps, sighs, and feminine whimpers left him breathless. He couldn’t wait to make her scream.

Her heart was pounding as he rubbed circles around her pearl – she was getting close, but didn’t want it to end. Not yet. As hard as it was to stop him, she knew there was more pleasure waiting for her – she just had to take it.

“Take off your boxers,” Valentina said between gasps. His pace was quickening; he was practically slamming into her now. It took all her strength to stop him, but she wanted more.

“Are you sure?” he asked, not wanting to risk another chance at being left on the doorstep.

“Yes, Jonathan, please,” she replied.

I’m practically begging.

“Whatever you want, my love.” He rolled onto his back, hooking his thumbs into the waistband of his underwear. Before he could get them off, Valentina was there to help, pulling them down his legs and flinging them across the room. Her excitement both amused and aroused him. “Get on top. I want you to feel completely in control.”

“Yes, sir,” she said with a wink. She climbed onto him, lowering herself down on his rock-hard erection. He filled every bit of space she had to offer. Using his legs to hold herself up, she threw her head back as her body adjusted to the man inside her. Her hips started to roll as Jonathan sat up, pushing himself even further into her.

Jonathan held Valentina close, kissing her all over as she was riding him; her neck, her shoulders, her nipples – he worshipped everything within reach. Finally, he found her lips once again. Fully embraced in each other’s arms, the rhythm of his hips matched hers. Totally in sync, the tension was building again, faster and more intense than before.

Every groan out of his throat pushed her closer to the edge; she was out of breath, flushed and hot, as Jonathan reached down to her pearl. The speed of his finger against her clit brought her to bliss within seconds. She buried her face into his neck, screaming his name.

“Oh, Jon- Jonathan!”

Every muscle in her body clenched, her tightening walls seducing Jonathan to come with her.

She could feel every movement as his throbbing shaft twitched and pulsed, emptying inside of her. He pulled her down with him as he collapsed back onto the bed, his arms still wrapped around her.

Minutes passed as they tried to catch their breath. Then, he had just one word to say: “Wow.”


* * *

The Critique

Entering into a story at a sex scene is never easy.  Without the background of who these characters are or what has come before, I have little schema to help me understand why they have arrived at this particular moment.  As such I can only critique what I see happening at this exact moment and am left to wonder about the rest.

The scene opens with Valentina’s action, and we get mostly her thoughts in the first paragraph.  This means this section is intended to be from her perspective.  It calls into question the phrase “the woman he loved …” that phrase sounds like we are in the hero’s head, looking out through his eyes, instead of viewing the scene through hers as we are intended to.  A shift to phrasing like, “he took in the view – his eyes filled with love” changes the perspective back to Valentina.

The scene continues with her on his lap, him sitting up to embrace her, then shifting so that he’s over her and she’s now on her back.  This was clearly done which isn’t always easy in sex scenes, but I’m with them here.   Bonus points for the clear consent given, too.

Then there’s this abrupt philosophizing on how fingering is done solely for a woman’s pleasure.  Not only is that objectively not true, it seems out of place when these two are in the process of making out. There’s this intriguing line of “as awfully as the other night had ended, it had started with some of her favorite foreplay.” Better to expand on/remind us how the first episode of this move went than to skitter off into the land of sexual generalities that might lose your reader.

The hand sliding behind her to hold her close should be differentiated from the hand doing the action, to avoid confusion.

I like that he’s taking his time, listening to her react, that they are enjoying themselves.  But then we get another thought from his perspective: “He couldn’t wait to make her scream.” As a reader I’m confused by the jump in perspective.  Consider, instead, having him SAY this line to her.  Then we can stay in her head.

“Practically slamming into her” doesn’t sound pleasant at all. As she stops him in order to transition from foreplay to sex, we get his thoughts as he’s worried she’s going to stop him.  This is at odds with his earlier request for consent, but I don’t have enough knowledge of the story to know if this is in character for him or not. I doubt it’s necessary to keep that line. They achieve penetration and have clinched sex.  The word “pearl” in place of clit is iffy for me, personally, but that may be the author’s preferred choice.  She does use clit a moment later, though, so that might be something to look at.

The “wow” at the end made me laugh.  I’m not sure if that was intended or not.  It’s something I’d let the author know about, so she can adjust if it wasn’t meant to be funny.

Would I keep reading?  The synopsis says Valentina is a three-time divorce who decides to satiate the needs none of her husbands have been able to. But this scene reads very uncertain, almost virginal, with regards to her sexual behavior. The stress isn’t put on how excellent/different Jonathan is from her previous lovers, but on a single aspect of foreplay that she doesn’t get to be the boss of, which makes her sound naive at a minimum. He tells her to be on top so she can be in control, and she says, “yes, Sir!” thereby following a direction and not actually taking control. For me to keep reading, I’d need the author to spend some time showing us how this sex is getting Valentina what she truly wants, how she wants, and in a way that’s empowering to her. As it’s written, this sex isn’t sexy, and neither is this scene. There’s too much distance between us and what’s happening on the page. We get too much about fears and thoughts and potential miscommunications and not enough about how it feels.


Do you have questions about my feedback or the First-Page Critique program? Email generalinquiries@carinapress.com.]

Authors entering their work for critique can choose to have the blog post comments open or closed. Comments are closed this month at author’s request.



Naughty or Naughtier: Which Sexy Hero Is Your Match?

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Brought to You by Carina Authors: Top 10 LGBTQ Entertainment Moments

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Carina Press asked some of our authors to send us their favorite LGBTQ moments in pop culture and entertainment! Did yours make the list?

Annabeth Albert

I’m a huge fan of the American edition of Queer as Folk. And of course, I love Brian and Justin. One of my favorite episodes is 203, where they hold hands in public. Yeah, there are some WAY hotter and sexier scenes with the two of them, but this moment, with Brian being uncharacteristically sweet and protective, just slays me.

My second favorite moment comes from a book (no surprise there). It features Matt and Jared from Marie Sexton’s Promises. There’s a moment when Matt shows up at Jared’s and… No spoilers but I’ve read the book probably twelve times and it always kills me.

About the author:

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