Rediscovering Linda Howard

I’m a picky reader. While I read a lot, I don’t venture too far away from my favorite authors. My preference is romantic suspense and mysteries with a little romance strewn in. My go-to authors are Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, JD Robb (yes, I know that’s Nora), Janet Evanovich, Heather Graham and my newest is Michael Murphy’s Jake and Laura Mysteries (ala The Thin Man). But several years ago I read Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard and really loved it. I must have read a few other Linda Howard books at the time, but eventually, I stopped.

I picked up my running this summer and now I run long enough that even the music on my iPod isn’t enough to keep me from getting bored. I decided maybe listening to audio books would distract me. The first book I listened to was Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg’s The Heist, which I really enjoyed and will continue the series.

The problem with digital audio books is that they’re expensive. Audible is fairly affordable, but $15 for an audio book adds up if you buy a lot (granted, I spend a lot on print or ebooks, so maybe it’s a matter of changing my mindset).

My next stop was Overture, which allows you borrow digital books from your library. The only problem with this option is there aren’t a whole lot of audio choices (that I’d listen too…remember…I’m picky), and the ones that are there, have a waiting a list (I’m number 16 for a Sandra Brown novel). However, Linda Howard’s Prey was available and since I remembered Mr. Perfect, I decided to rent it.

I really enjoyed Prey, a story about two wilderness hunting guides who get stalked by a bear and a bad guy. So, when it came time for my next Audible rental, I chose Open Season, another Linda Howard novel.

You know how some books just stay with you? Mr. Perfect did and I think Open Season will too. Even though I make a living with words, it’s difficult for me to pinpoint what it is about this book that has me feeling sad that I’m about to finish it (I’m writing about it and I haven’t heard the ending yet!). The female protagonist, Daisy, is refreshing. She’s not innocent, though she is a little naive. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and she has really fascinating, and sometime funny, thought process. What could have been a cliched story about a tiny town, frumpy librarian, turns out to be really delightful. The male protagonist is strong and tough from Chicago via New York, but he’s not the typical brooding guy wanting to keep the world at a distance because of the horrors experienced as a former SWAT guy and a failed marriage. He’s brusk, but not mean and he gets as much of a kick out of Daisy as I do. Add in that the story is set in the south, which, when done well, becomes a part of the story as well.

The story is frumpy, 34-year old librarian Daisy determines she wants to get married and have kids, which means a makeover and visiting bars. Jack is the police chief, who notices Daisy before the makeover, but mostly because of her personality. After the makeover, many people notice Daisy. Jack doesn’t like that very much and although he’s not interested in settling down, he is interested in her.

Initially, Daisy is annoyed with him because he’s getting in the way of her plans to find a husband. But once he kisses her (her head dialogue during that kiss is great), she decides she likes his kisses and spends more time with him. When Jack learns someone is trying to track her down because she witnessed a murder, he goes into protection mode, which puts them together even more.

It all sounds pretty typical as I explain it here. And part of my enjoyment may be that the reader of the audio book is pretty good. Her southern accent is just what I might expect in small town Alabama. More likely it’s the humor, Daisy’s delightful personality and the fact that it’s romantic suspense without being dark and broody. The love scenes include Daisy’s effervescent outlook of the world and the humor that makes up her life (like when Jack refuses to wear the purple condom from the “Party Pack” of 72 condoms). A change of mood in reading is nice sometimes!

My only beef with Linda’s writing, which I experienced more so in Prey than Open Season, is a few too long narratives. She also revisits some of the narratives, which had me saying, “You already told me about that.” It would have been stuff I skipped if I was reading the book, but since I was listening to the audio version, I had to endure it.

All in all, I’m enjoying Linda’s stories. They’re not quite as humorous or quirky as Janet Evanovich or Jennifer Cruisie, but I still laugh out loud, which must be a sight when I’m running.

Annoying Characters

I’m breathing an tentative sigh of relief as To Love, Honor, and Kill: A Valentine Mystery Book Five receives its first reviews (three 5-star reviews so far). It’s always nerve-wracking to release a new book. Will people like it? Will they hate it? In this case, I was especially nervous because I included two other points of view.

Conflict is an essential part of any story, but as I’m sure you’re aware, there is a fine line between establishing realistic conflict and crossing over into annoying. This is a concern for me in most books, but especially so in To Love, Honor, and Kill. For one, I had to have a realistic reason for Daniel to avoid Kate for so many years, and an even better reason for him to finally notice her. At the same time, I didn’t want Kate to be the type of woman to simply fall into Daniel’s arms simply because she’d loved him for so long. The conflict and times of ease between the two of them needed to feel real, not forced. To be honest, I’m not sure I completely succeeded.

Fortunately, even the reviewer that said Daniel and Kate were annoying at times, enjoyed the book overall and gave it 5 stars.

Your Valentine Questions Answered and More

To Love, Honor, and Kill: Valentine Book Five

What chocolate confection will Tess make Jack for his birthday? Is the Senator really Jack’s biological father? What car did Tess buy to replace the one totaled in Old Flames Never Die? Will Daniel ask Kate out? All these questions and more will be answered in To Love, Honor, and Kill: A Valentine Mystery Book Five.

The first draft of Valentine five was written in November 2014 as part of NaNoWriMo. But plot issues and a busy scheduled prevented me from getting the book ready for release until now.

Not only will the book come out this week (watch for it Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015), but also, all the other Valentine books will go on special from Wednesday through Friday. Deadly Valentine: A Valentine Mystery Book One will be free and the other three will be $0.99 cents! That’s a whole lotta lovin’, murder and chocolate for very little price!

If you’re not yet a member of the SweetHarte street team, please join as I’m planning some fun stuff and freebies to celebrate the release.

Summer Lovin’ and Fun

sweethartesI’ve had a crazy, busy summer, and have ambitious goals for the fall and winter! To finish the summer, I thought I’d have a little fun by having a giveaway for my Sweet Hartes. Not a Sweet Harte? No worries. You can join in the fun for free. I answer your questions, give sneak peaks to upcoming books, have giveaways and more. Visit the Sweet Hartes at Facebook to join now! Then be sure to stop by to see what sorts of fun and goodies will be going on in August.

More news….

I announced on Facebook, that I just received a 3-book deal on my Southern Heat romance series. The first book, Southern Comfort, was the book that sat at Harlequin for nearly 2 years (1 yr, 11 mos, 3 weeks…but who’s counting)! Luckily, during the wait I got an agent, beefed up the book and sold it to Penner Publishing! Southern Comfort will be released in January, at which point book two, Southern Persuasion will be due. The third book, Southern Conflict (I may ask to change that title), is due in July.

I’m very excited to have received this deal. Unfortunately, it puts off more Valentine books for a time. My goal is still to have To Love, Honor and Betray: Valentine Book 5 published in September as well as a Christmas Valentine short story in December. I have several other book ideas for the Valentines, but with the three book deal at Penner, I need to get the other two books written. Plus I have a new idea for a cozy that I’m eager to write (probably for NaNoWriMo).

Here is a picture of fall/winter writing schedule:

Jenna Harte Fall 2015 Writing Schedule

It’s a little ambitious, but I can write fast when I clear my schedule and I know what I want to write. I know you might be questioning this as it has taken forever for Valentine 5 to get finished. That has been partly busy schedule and partly plot issues. But starting in August, I’m making a big push to get it done and to my editor before the end of the month.

So that’s it for now… I’m off to write and when it’s time for a break, I hope I’ll see you in the Sweet Hartes group.

I Promise to Do Better…

Last week while I was on vacation with my family, I got a call from my agent that a publisher was interested in buying Southern Comfort. Whoop! Happy dance. At the same time, I had this sense of dread because the offer included a three-book deal (another whoop), but I still haven’t published Valentine book five. Guilt! On top of that, all my traveling left me little time to engage on social media or be involved with the Sweet Harte Street Team.

I’m home now and in a few weeks my kids are off to college, which I hope means more time to write. My goal is to have Valentine five published in September. And because I feel so bad that it’s taken so long, I hope to have a short Valentine Christmas novella for you in December.

I hope you’ll be excited about Southern Comfort. It’s a romance that will be part of a series that take place in Central Virginia. Many publishers like the southern setting and had great things to say about it, even when they didn’t buy it. Once that series is done, I hope to move on to a cozy mystery that’s been peculating in my brain. That doesn’t mean the Valentines are done, though. I have several story ideas for them.

Although the writing (and revising and editing) are foremost, I hope that I’ll do better staying connected with you. If you’re a member of the Sweet Harte Street Team, I’m working with my virtual assistant to come up with fun stuff, giveaways and more. (If you have ideas, I’d love to hear them).

WARNING: Explicit Content
The Delecoeur stories are adventures featuring a romantic couple who sometimes do what people in love do. Part of this story maybe be considered adult content, so if you are not of legal age or are easily offended, you should click the exit button.