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Review: Golden

Another review for Golden, this one from The Romanceaholic.  While the overall rating reflects her unease with certain elements of the historical era itself, she still has some wonderful things to say about the story:

Richly detailed, vivid, and incredibly erotic, they absolutely stole my breath. And combined with the various intrigues and political machinations of the various members of the royal court, this story was incredibly gripping and kept me glued to the pages from the first page right through the last. …..  It was beautifully well-written, incredibly interesting, and frankly pretty danged hot.

Thanks for giving the Emperor and Jin a shot!

Golden will be available from Carina Press next week!


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A Gorgeous Golden Cover

Coming August 29th from Carina Press:

Bred for him…and for his bed.

Golden-eyed Jin has spent her life preparing to be the Emperor’s consort. She knows her destiny is to serve the Emperor by indulging the dark desire that he has buried deep inside his heart—the desire to give pain.

Only she can take the pain he yearns to give, and transform it into the most unimaginable pleasure. But to enjoy all the Emperor can give her, she must survive assassination attempts from those who would keep them apart.

Seducing the Emperor is risky…but it’s the only way to fulfill her destiny.

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Carina Press Anniversary

In celebration of our one year anniversary, I asked as many of our Harlequin team members and Carina Press freelance editors as possible to write a short blog post, talking about what the past year or so has been like for them, working on Carina Press. I deliberately didn’t provide any direction other than that, because I wanted to see what people came up with, in the spirit of Carina’s 1st anniversary. I was so pleased when I saw what they’d all come up with, and had to say (and some of these posts made me just a little teary)! I hope you enjoy the post, and look for your opportunity to win a Carina Press book at the bottom of this post. ~Angela James


Lessons from Carina’s First Year

Gina Bernal is a freelance editor for Carina Press. You can follow her on Twitter.


Wow, I can’t believe it’s already time to wish Carina Press a happy first anniversary. Not to be cliché, but it does feel like just yesterday that I shot an email to Angela James saying, “Hey, I hear you might be looking for editors…” Lucky me, I made the team. Working for Carina has been a pleasure, but it’s also been a tremendous learning experience—both professionally and personally. Carina’s first year as a publisher also happened to be my first year in an exciting, emerging part of the industry, in a new job, living in a new city. And I’ve learned some interesting lessons along the way…

The writer’s imagination is endless. Carina’s motto is “Where no great story goes untold,” and that wholehearted approach to finding compelling reads means our inbox is filled with a little bit of everything. Great, good and—if I’m being honest—sometimes bad, the variety of manuscripts assures that a batch of submissions will be anything but boring.

Digital publishing moves fast. Tight deadlines keep us all constantly going, but it’s rewarding (and not a little nail-biting) to see a book you love go from acquisition to a reader’s hand in less than a year.

Working in a virtual office doesn’t have to equal isolation. Having always worked in chatty, cooperative offices, I was apprehensive about working from home as a freelancer. Who would I bounce ideas off of? Who would listen to a random rant? Though Carina’s editorial team is scattered across the US and beyond, the “water cooler” environment fostered by our email loop and social networks means someone’s usually there to lend support or share a laugh.

There’s a slippery slope from smart skirts to sweatpants. You know you’ve gotten way too comfortable working from home when your significant other asks “Why are you dressed for dance class?” and your only reply is “Oh, I’ve been wearing this all day.” Yes, I’ve gone from having once been the dressiest person at my old job to coveting Old Navy stretch gaucho pants. All my cute shoes are crying in the closet. Writers and other stay-at-homers, I hope you can commiserate.

Everybody knows Harlequin. Readers or not, people recognize the Harlequin name. The brand is synonymous with romance, and telling someone you edit books for Harlequin’s digital-first imprint is guaranteed to spark an interesting conversation. Makes for a fabulous icebreaker.

Twitter is addictive. Does this need further explanation?

Novellas can pack a storytelling punch. Lately, I’ve become a slow reader. Seriously, I’m jealous of people with active Good Reads update feeds. Novellas provide a fast treat…and a sense of accomplishment when you finish quickly! Some of my Carina favorites include Tia Nevitt’s The Sevenfold Spell, Ginny Glass and Inez Kelley’s Dirty Laundry series, Eleri Stone’s Mercy, Nicole North’s Laird of Darkness, and Seleste deLaney’s Badlands (full disclosure: I edited the latter two).

Romantic Suspense is disproportionately represented in my editing repertoire. While I enjoy romantic suspense, I don’t read tons of it for pleasure—maybe five to ten percent of my for-fun romance reading could be classified as suspense. But as an editor, about thirty percent of the books I’ve worked on thus far are romantic suspense. No explanation for it, but when reading submissions those suspenseful storylines have an undeniable allure.

They’re all real books. Working in digital publishing has made me especially touchy when people say they don’t read ebooks, they read “real” books. People work their tushies off to write, edit and produce ebooks and they’re just as real as any hardcover or paperback out there, thank you very much.

Here’s to a great first year and many more to come!

To celebrate Carina’s one year anniversary of publishing books, we’re giving away some prizes. Today, on each of the nineteen blogs our team members are featured on, we’re giving away a download of a Carina Press book to one random winner (that’s nineteen total winners!) All you need to do to be entered to win is comment on this post. You can enter to win on all nineteen posts. In addition, on the Carina Press blog, we’re giving away a grand prize of a Kobo ereader and 12 Carina Press books of the winner’s choice. Visit the Carina Press blog to enter to win, and to see links to all 19 of today’s blog posts.

And a sincere thank you from all of us, to our readers and authors, for making Carina Press’s first year a success!

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Reviews: The Bloodgate Guardian

First up, Sherri Meyer reviews The Bloodgate Guardian on her blog:

Once again, Burkhart blew me away with her attention to detail, research, and amazing characters. She built a fully realized world seeped with Mayan mythos. She doesn’t burden the story with her research but weaves it within the plot seamlessly. A great twist on the “end date” stories out there.

Over on Amazon, Barbara Longley gave it 4 stars!

Joely Sue Burkhart’s Bloodgate Guardian is a must read. Ancient Mayan ruins, portals leading to other worlds, one hot Mayan priest cursed with immortality, and an intelligent, sexy archaeologist determined to rescue her father from Mayan hell. What’s not to love? Bloodgate Guardian is a fast paced, high tension romance set amidst the mythology and legend of the ancient Mayan civilization. Once you start it, you won’t be able to put it down.

Thank you so much, Barbara and Sherri!

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Review: The Bloodgate Guardian 4.5 Top Pick

PennyAsh for Night Owl Reviews gives The Bloodgate Guardian 4.5 stars and declares it a Top Pick!

The Bloodgate Guardian by Joely Sue Burkhart is a very good story with solid writing. The well-researched facts give the story credibility and make it an enjoyable read.   If you like stories with an archaeological basis and lots of myth and romance give this book a try.

Thank you so much, PennyAsh!

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Review: The Bloodgate Guardian

From Long & Short Romance Reviews, 4 Books for The Bloodgate Guardian:

Ms. Burkhart also believes in making her couple work hard for their happily ever after. So much so, that by the time it finally comes around her audience will release the breath they’ve been holding. Her supporting characters are mostly demons and are unbelievably demonic, let’s just say that Ms. Burkhart has an excellent imagination and isn’t afraid to use it. This romance is so full of pitfalls that you’ll need handrails to get through it, but get through it you will. And it just makes that Happy Ever After so much better when it’s worked for.

Thank you so much, Larkspur!

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Carina Guest: Leah Braemel

Thanks to Joely for inviting me to blog for her today.  I must admit that I have stared at a blank screen for days trying to figure out what was left to write about Texas Tangle that I hadn’t already covered.  So I sent a call out on Twitter begging for blogging ideas:

Author KJ Read asked “Tell us about writing: the good, the bad, the ugly. Pros and Cons of making writing your job.”

Ho boy, the good – the highs when you receive “the call” or “the email” from an editor saying they want your book. Figuring out a problem about your manuscript that has plagued you for months and finally seeing everything come together (which happened to me yesterday). Being able to write in your fuzzy jammy pants in the middle of the day—comfort rules, baby! Oh, and let’s not forget receiving a letter from a fan who loved your book (happened to me TWICE yesterday.)

The bad – getting a rejection letter. Getting a note from a fan saying they hated your book. Or even worse? The “meh” review that damns you with faint praise. You have to grow a thick skin, and between the moans and whining “oh, God, they’re RIGHT. I can’t write–they see what everyone else can’t!” you have to force yourself to accept that “reading is subjective.” Then you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself up and stop the pity fest. Because otherwise you’ll never write another word.

The ugly. Getting up at 3 AM because your characters just won’t shut up, then the next day looking at what you wrote down and having a “what the heck was I thinking? Who wrote this dreck?” moment. The hours spent at your computer writing dozens of blog posts answering the same questions “What inspired you to write this book? Where do you get your ideas?” trying to make your answers sound original.  Turning up for a chat scheduled by your publishers or some other group and finding the room empty. For the entire hour.  Obsessively checking your stats at Amazon the week/month/year your book releases. Spending an hour thumbing through the Chicago Manual of Style looking for whether a comma is needed in the first sentence of your manuscript or debating whether characters in the 1500s used contractions in their speech. (OMG, those discussions can get UGLY! For my part? Have you ever honestly read anything from the 1500s? They didn’t speak anything like we do now, if we tried to write that way our book would end up not only across the room but in the fireplace. While it’s lit!)

Drea Becraft asked: how about all-time favorite book? Or books other than yours you’re looking forward to?

All-time favourite book is a tough one because a lot of times it depends upon my mood.  There are times I would emphatically answer Tolkiens Lord of the Rings, and others where I’d say Patricia Brigg’s Moon Called or Silverborne and still others when I’d pull out Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I or Stephanie Lauren’s Devils’ Bride.

Book other than mine I’m looking forward too—whatever comes next in either of Patricia Brigg’s “Mercy Thompson” series or her “Alpha and Omega” series. Others I’m looking forward to? The next in JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, especially Qhuinn and Blay’s story. (This is a huge admission because I’d previously gone on record saying I probably wouldn’t read her again after Phury’s and Rehvenge’s stories. Then she won me back with JM and Xhex’s story, Lover Mine.)

And finally Inez Kelley asked “How Leah reached her pervert status or how Gizmo Guy is your test pilot for certain scenes”

Have I reached pervert status? Seriously? Where’s my crown and sceptre? Or would that be collar and … oh, I just can’t go there!  Yes, I write kinky but I believe there are times when discretion is the better part of valor. And this is one of those times. Especially when it comes to questions involving Gizmo Guy. (For those who don’t follow my blog, I call my hubby Gizmo Guy.) But to satisfy Inez’s curiosity, I asked GG for a quote.  His reply? “I think I stand up very well, thank you.” Then he chuckled and said “I’m like British Air, love.” (Read this blog to find out what that means.)

And what type of kink was Inez referring to? Well, my latest novel, one of Carina Press’ launch titles, Texas Tangle.

    Thanks to her cheating ex-husband and her thieving brother, all horse breeder Nikki Kimball has left is a bruised heart, an overdrawn bank account and an empty home. When sex-on-legs Dillon Barnett and his brooding foster-brother Brett Anderson start showing more than just neighborly attention, Nikki is intrigued…and a little gun-shy. 
    Dillon and Brett have a history; back in high school, the two friends fought a bitter battle over Nikki. Now, ten years later, Brett still longs to be the man in Nikki’s life, but he’s determined to stand back and let Dillon win Nikki’s heart. 
    Society says Nikki must choose between the two men she loves. Is Nikki strong enough to break all the rules in order to find happiness?

Want to know more about Texas Tangle? Visit her website to read more about it or download the excerpt or buy the book here.

Want to know more about Leah? Well, you can visit her website (follow the link above) or her blog. You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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Review: The Bloodgate Guardian Recommended Read!

Rae Lori has posted a review of The Bloodgate Guardian as a recommended read:

 I really enjoyed this book filled with action, adventure, a little bit of romance and a lot of suspense. One of the many strengths of this book was the characters and story pacing. I loved that Jaid is not a generic kick butt heroine who rejects all feeling except her libido to do whatever needs to be done.

One last aspect out of many I really enjoyed about this story was the world building and the history of the Mayan culture. I have to admit, I didn’t know much about it going in but after reading this, I’m eager to read more about the ancient civilization. I love how it was weaved into every aspect of the story and it helped drive the story at every turn. I also got to learn a lot about the belief systems and mythology, all of which was very interesting.

Thank you so much, Rae!

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my Break 20 Giveaway!

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Carina Guest: Claire Robyns

Thanks for having me here, Joely.

I’m Claire Robyns and I’m very excited about my Carina Press release as this is my debut book. Betrayed is a medieval romance set in Scotland during the reign of King James I shortly after his release from England. This turbulent period fascinates me – think of the most outlandish plot, and you’ll probably find a documented occurrence of a border laird doing just that.

 Betrayed releases from Carina Press on 5th July.


Two Feuding Families

Amber Jardin has no taste for the bitter feud started before her father’s banishment. But now that he’s passed, she’s had to return to Scotland and his barbaric people. After her bloodthirsty uncle kidnaps one of the family’s rivals, Amber is in turn captured by Krayne Johnstone, the enemy laird. Despite their enmity, their attraction is immediate—and unfortunate, as Amber has sworn to escape.

One Lusty Temptation

Krayne is amazed at the wildcat’s repeated attempts to flee. He should steel himself against her beguiling ways—yet with time, he is driven more witless with lust. When the ransom exchange fails and Krayne is left with Amber, he finds he cannot tolerate the thought of her with another man—and she cannot tolerate the thought of returning to her uncle’s home.

Will passion and love win out over mistrust and betrayal in time to prevent an all-out war?

 ~ * ~

And now, a little more about me and Betrayed…

In real life, I love my men beta. My husband leans a little to the alpha side, but I’m quick to rein him in when he gets out of hand, lol.

In my fantasies, however, I want my men alpha, and you just don’t get it better than with a Scottish laird. 

Krayne Johnstone became laird of Wamphray at the age of 12. He’s a man shaped by the harsh land. His heart is for pumping blood to his sword arm and nothing else. Before he could even start to fall in love with Amber, I had to teach the poor man what love is. But he is honourable and noble, and he has excellent reasons for distrusting scheming women.

Amber Jardin has led a pampered life in England and is totally unprepared for the barbaric realities of Scotland. But she’s not one to simper and bemoan her fate. She’s determined to shape her future and use whatever means on hand to do it. In this case, it’s her body. Amber is not perfect, far from it, but then I’ve never liked my heroines flawless. I don’t necessarily approve of everything she does, but I admire her courage and determination.

Here’s a small snippet that, I think, defines the characters of the hero and heroine, and how they interact with each other in this story. These two have such different views on life (and a woman’s place) and they were never going to have an easy ride…

   Her gaze slid down the length of this mighty warrior, missing no detail along the way, and she had to take a step back for fear of punching that expression from his face. “You will stand there, all muscle and brawn, and attack my only means of defence?”

   Krayne growled at the argument, refusing to admit she made a valid point. “God himself surely had a reason for blessing man with strength and ours is not ta question.”

   Her hands settled on the flare of her hips as a spark lit her eyes. “And God surely had a reason for giving women pretty curves and the intellect to use them.”

You can read a longer excerpt here.   Well, it’s been fun and I’m delighted to have this opportunity to share a little about my new release.  

You can connect with Claire Robyns on her website and blog.

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Carina Guest: Alice Gaines

 From Miss Foster’s Folly, by Alice Gaines ( available now from Carina Press ( 

      David Winslow, the Marquis of Derrington has arrived at the home of American heiress, Juliet Foster, to ask her to become his wife… 

      Miss Juliet Foster rose when he entered, but she hardly resembled the Juliet Foster he’d encountered before. Instead of a dress in mourning black, buttoned up nearly to her chin, she wore a ball gown in crimson silk. The bodice dipped low, scarcely covering more than the tips of her breasts. And what magnificent breasts they were. Not overly large as you sometimes saw among women who liked to wear low-cut dresses. Juliet’s were small pillows of flesh and sweetly rounded. Even from across the room, they looked powder soft.

      “Do you approve, Lord Derrington?” she said.

      He finally managed to move his gaze to her face. She wore an odd expression, more like steely resolve than anything else, with the uplifted chin and the determined set to her jaw.

      “‘Approve’ is inadequate to describe how I feel about how you look in that dress.”

      “I’m sure you can think of another one, then.”

      “I doubt it,” he said. “You’ve rendered me quite speechless, Miss Foster.”

      “It’s early yet,” she answered. “Whiskey?”

      “Now, I hardly know what to think.”

      “A man who has no opinion on spirits?” she said. “You’re not a teetotaler, I hope.”

      “Of course not.”

      “Good. Let’s have a drink.” She walked to a side table that held a silver tray with tumblers and several decanters. “Irish, Scotch, or American bourbon?”

      “Scotch, thank you.”

      She poured a generous amount from one of the decanters and then selected a second. From that, she splashed a tiny bit into a glass and drank it in one swallow. The look of determination returned to her features as she served herself a more substantial portion. Then, both glasses in hand, she approached him, and gave him his drink. “Please, sit down.”

      He took a seat on the settee, as that seemed the best place to launch a formal courtship. If she selected a separate chair, he’d have to figure a way to deal with the distance. She didn’t, though. She joined him, neither perching at the opposite end nor snuggling up next to him.

      “My dear Miss Foster, I believe you know I’ve come to admire you.”

      “Try the whiskey,” she said. “It’s very good.”

      Ah, yes. The whiskey. He might as well. He’d never launched a campaign to win a woman’s heart before. He’d always been strictly honest with his lovers, letting them expect a jolly good frigging and nothing more. A few had become friends, but he’d never lied to a woman about his intentions to gain access to her bed. He was exploring new territory here, and a little fortification might help.

      He took a swallow of his Scotch. Enough to burn the back of his throat and make him cough.

      Miss Foster slapped his back. “Are you all right?”

      “Quite.” He coughed once more and then cleared his throat. “It’s excellent Scotch.”

      “Good, then let’s talk for a while.”

      He took another sip of his drink, more carefully this time. “Miss Foster, you have me at a disadvantage.”

      She blinked. “I do?”

      “You don’t seem to realize how your presence affects me.”

      “Well, how could I if you don’t tell me about it?” she said.

      “It’s delicate to speak of.”

      “You don’t look very delicate to me, Lord Derrington.”

      Curse the woman. Why didn’t she play the game? Flutter her eyelashes at him. Swoon. At the very least, blush. That way he could watch a flush cover her breasts. Her small, firm breasts, now close enough that he only needed to reach out a hand to stroke them. He swallowed more of his Scotch.

      “It’s a matter of my heart,” he said. Surely, she couldn’t miss that message.

      “Oh, dear.” She pursed her lips for a moment. The same way she’d done the other night and made Priapus stand to attention. “That isn’t the organ I was interested in at all.”

      He gaped at her for a long second. “I beg your pardon.”

      “You see, there’s a favor I need.” She did blush, finally. And the flesh of her bosom did turn a delightful pink. And his body responded.

      “I’ve thought long and hard about this,” she said. “And I think you’re the right man.”

      “I certainly hope so,” he said.

      She took a big gulp of her whiskey and looked him in the eye. “I want you to take my virginity.”

      “What?” His drink fell to the floor, where the glass rolled around on the carpet, spilling what little Scotch was left in it. He pulled his handkerchief from his jacket and bent to blot up the liquid. Miss Foster appeared, kneeling over the spill. Now, he could look down directly at her bosom and the lovely rose color that covered it. She tugged at the handkerchief to take it from him and used it to pick up the last drop of whiskey.

      “Now, you see, if I’d served tea, that would have stained,” she said.

      “What did you say?”

      She looked up at him. “Hmm?”

      “A moment ago. What did you say?”

      “Oh, that.” She stared at his handkerchief for a moment. It was soaked with Scotch. She stuffed it into his glass, rose and took the whole to the table that held the decanters. “Would you like another drink?”

      “I’d like an explanation.”

      “I asked you to take my virginity. I assume you know what that means.”

      “My dear Miss Foster…”

      “Oh, please, don’t sound like that.” She came back and resumed her seat on the settee. “You can’t possibly be shocked.”

      “I’ve had women offer me the pleasures of their bodies, but none have ever done it so bluntly.”

      “I made my decision very rationally, Lord Derrington. Honestly, I should have lost my virginity years ago.”

      “And you chose me.”

      “You have quite a reputation,” she said. “I’m sure you’ll do a wonderful job.”