Category: Books

You may be living in a Romance Novel if…

You might be living in a Romance novel if…

You share a flat with three other girls who have endless lovers, while you still can’t find a boyfriend.

Your boss is between 27 and 35, impossibly handsome with steel-blue eyes, high cheekbones and a cruel but sensual mouth. Oh, and he’s a multi-millionaire.

Your next door neighbour is the leader of a SWAT team, or a Navy SEAL and he chops amazing amounts of wood every day, allowing you the chance to perve his tanned skin, broad shoulders and washboard abs.

The new guy in town, though unnaturally beautiful, is surly and reclusive, and is either hairier than usual, or has a marked aversion to garlic and sunlight.

You are 25 and a virgin.

Your measurements are 36, 24, 36 and you have perfect skin, but because you wear very large glasses you are convinced you are too ugly for love.

You have no hobbies except thinking about your boss, fending off your flatmate’s efforts to find you a date and listening to music. And an occasional thought for the mad ax-murderer who is stalking the city. Your laundry takes care of itself.

In spite of the fact that you spend ten minutes a day in the bathroom, your skin is perfectly smooth, your toenails are painted and “those bits” never need trimming. “Those bits” do not have names.

You spend a lot of time accompanying your boss to various exotic settings for business meetings, which never seem to take place in Frankfurt or Swindon.

Your boyfriend has a glamourous ex-girlfriend who has taken their break-up so badly that she is determined to kill any rival for his affections. She is rich enough to hire several thugs to do away with anyone who gets in her way.

Your daily commute is a ten minute stroll to work, or you get a lift in a helicopter. It never involves standing on a crowded train while a stranger gropes you.

You have a unique form of anmesia which means you have to keep looking in mirrors to discover what you look like.

Your family is using emotional blackmail to marry you off, and have arranged a marriage to a rich handsome millionaire whose reasons for agreeing are always suspect.

Once you have had sex with the hero, the power of your magical “bits” ensures that he will never want another woman again as long as he lives.

Your job pays lots of money, but allows you plenty of time off for chatty lunches with your friends, shopping and of course, time to have adventures with the hero. If you actually have to spend time with your co-workers, everyone will be keen to discuss the hero at great length. Your boss may stop by to offer a few sage words on how to conduct your love life.

(PNG Image, 634×600 pixels) – Scaled (75%)

(PNG Image, 634×600 pixels) – Scaled


Angels, Demons and Doms A Pricked Title by Caroline McCall, Eileen Gormley – A Night Owl Reviews Book Review

Angels, Demons and Doms A Pricked Title by Caroline McCall, Eileen Gormley – A Night Owl Reviews Book Review.


#irishshadesofgrey “Deeper, Sean, deeper,” she urged. “Will you shut up, Bridgit, I know how to plant potatoes”.


She grasped it in her hand again and pulled harder til the head overflowed with cream. “€4.50 for the Guinness” she said #irishshadesofgrey

He dipped two fingers inside the moist core of her body…and then turned to the farmer, ‘nearly ready to calve…’ #irishshadesofgrey

Mary slowly parted her lips & slid out her tongue, she had waited days for this… She loved getting Communion at mass #irishshadesofgrey

He kept going down.. down.. all the way down……. and ended up in Cork #IrishShadesofgrey

Teresa squeezed her fingers against it. Twas firm. She squeezed again and took a sniff.Yes ,this Brennans bread was fresh #irishshadesofgrey

Her underwear was wet

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as he pulled the rope.. There’s great drying outside today she thought as the clothes line hoisted #Irishshadesofgrey

Mary’s mouth watered as his thrusts quickened…..but he still couldn’t open the CapriSun with his straw #Irishshadesofgrey

“I want you to tie me down for 18 months and treat me like dirt,” she said. The man from Vodafone got the contract out… #IrishShadesOfGrey

Mary’s inner goddess smiled as she felt the hot liquid hit the back of her neck. Jaysus, she really did love a cup of tea #Irishshadesofgrey

You’re so tight,he said, I’m from Cavan she replied #irishshadesofgrey

She opened her mouth and got ready to take it… The communion wafer at mass this week was tense. #irishshadesofgrey


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The creamy liquid gushing down her throat, she slowly wiped her lips, looked up and muttered, “that’s a grand pint” #irishshadesofgrey

He asked if she could handle more than one finger. She said she preferred Hob Nobs or a purple Schnack with the tea #irishshadesofgrey

#IrishShadesOfGrey He slipped his hand under the red silk.. “You’re so beautiful in that dress.” “Feck off, it was only a euro in Penneys!”

‘Give it to me, give it to me’, he roared aggressively. Some days Mary hated working at Ulster Bank #irishshadesofgrey

Bríd’s knees were sore and her throat was raw…This was the longest Novena she’d ever attended #irishshadesofgrey

‘Spread ’em’, he said gruffly. Margie looked dolefully at the bags of fertilizer destined for the back field. #irishshadesofgrey

He took a breath. “Will ya come back to mine? Mammy’s gone to Lough Derg for the weekend. And she left a pot of stew.” #irishshadesofgrey

Do you have protection she whispers… I’ve a baseball bat in the back but those lads haven’t been around here in a while #irishshadesofgrey

“I’ve met a man” cried Bríd. “Is he well read?” asked her mother. “Very red” she answered “from his head to his bo**ix” #irishshadesofgrey

I want good head, he barked roughly. Demanding. The barmaid took back the pint and thought ‘little prick’. #irishshadesofgrey

He slurped his tea and licked his lips, his bacon & cabbage now in his belly. Firing him up. “brace yerself Bridie” #irishshadesofgrey

Her fake tan glowed like the traffic light. He never thought he would be interested in someone in the Orange Order. #irishshadesofgrey

“The room was lit by the soft glow of a Superser as the strains of Crystal Swing filled the room..The mood was set” #irishshadesofgrey

He took a deep breath. “Will ya come back to mine? Mammy’s gone to Knock for the weekend.” #irishshadesofgrey

“Are you sure this is the right stuff?” she asked as he bound her wrists with bright blue baling twine “It’s very itchy” #irishshadesofgrey

He took deep breaths, prepared to slip inside. “Sorry bud, ye’re not comin’ in here wit dem runners!”, said the bouncer. #irishshadesofgrey

Mildred giggled coquettishly. Pushing Sean’s hands away she leaped out of bed, to turn John Paul II face to the wall. #irishshadesofgrey

“I drank in the tightness of its skin. How firm, yet soft, it was. He breathed, wild, to my ear “Can’t bate new schpuds”. #irishshadesofgrey

He caresses her and says, ‘you’ve got fookin’ gorjus pajamas.’ ‘Oi you two,’ the bouncer interrupts, ‘ge’ ourra here.’ #irishshadesofgrey

The Irish catholic guilt thing sweeps over her as he gazes upon her like a big mac about to be devoured. #irishshadesofgrey

“Finally he lets me gaze on it. A giant that called to a bit of me I’d never felt. “Now this”, he growls, “is a tractor”. #irishshadesofgrey

“Dark, penetrating eyes seem to anticipate my desires before I feel them. “I’ve a bag of tayto in the press” he murmurs”. #irishshadesofgrey

Fifty Shades of Green and the Joys of Co-writing

Fifty Shades of Green & The Joys of Co-Writing with Eileen Gormley and Caroline McCall


echeadermiddle_sm_fixAs Fifty Shades of Grey becomes a digital and now print sensation, with a movie on the way, Irish authors are far from being left behind in the steamier side of fiction. In fact, several Irish authors have found success with one of the world”s leading online romance publishers, Ellora”s Cave who sell up to 190,000 books a month. Are there print and movie deals on the way for them? We hope so!

With romance one of the fastest growing areas in publishing today, caught up with Eileen Gormley and Caroline McCall to find out more about what”s hot in the genre and all about their new co-written book Angels Demons and Doms.

Please note this article is unsuitable for readers under the age of 18.

eileen-gormleyEileen Gormley grew up in the midlands of Ireland, with an idyllic childhood, complete with pony camp and her own horses, even jumping with the Irish Junior Show Jumping team. Always dreaming of being a writer, Eileen was laughed at by her teachers as she”s dyslexic – it was suggested she study architecture and computers instead. Within a couple of years of leaving college however, she started writing occasional articles for local papers and graduated to becoming a full-time freelance journalist for the Irish National newspapers, specializing in court and crime reporting. After her third child was born, she took extended maternity leave and wrote a science fiction novel. Don”t Feed the Fairies

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reached the quarter final of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition in 2011. Following superb reviews it was picked up by Ragz Books Publishing and is climbing the Amazon charts, ranked #1 in Interspecies Romance!

Caroline_McCallDublin born Caroline McCall is a mild mannered paralegal by day who writes sexy sci-fi and paranormal romance and spends most of her evenings and weekends dreaming up alpha males and feisty heroines. As a non-fiction writer and genealogist, she has been published in journals and magazines and has an eclectic background – she’s done everything from working as a roadie with a rock and roll band to being an heir searcher. Three of her futuristic romances Time Slip, Jake’s Prisoner, and Virtually Yours have been released as ebooks by American publisher Ellora’s Cave.

Her fourth novella – co-written Eileen – Angels, Demons and Doms, and is a naughty BDSM romance that will be published by Ellora’s Cave in July 2012. Indeed, Caroline told us that they had so much fun writing this one, that they have plans for several more in the series. Angels 2, with a working title of Models, Demons and Doms is almost complete.

So how does co-writing work for them, and in particular how do they write the hot bits?

Eileen told us, “For the last year, Caroline and I have been saying that we should do a co-write. Every so often, we’d even plot out a couple of stories that we would write whenever we got time. But we were both busy with our own books, and it never seemed to be the right time. That was, until Ellora’s Cave put out a submission call for stories with a tattoo theme. The problem was that the deadline was only two weeks away. We got together, mapped out a rough plot, and started to write.

We don’t live or work near each other, so we did everything by e-mail. Caroline wrote a scene, e-mailed it to me, and I wrote the next scene. We each took a character and wrote all of the scenes where that character had a point of view. Caroline and I met twice in person to work out plots points, and there were a lot of anxious phone calls when we discovered problems, but overall, it worked very well.”

We wondered how they had decided which parts each of them would write? Eileen explained, “In the case of Angels, Demons and Doms Caroline wrote the heroine Lexi, and I wrote the hero Sam. Writing like this meant we could work a lot faster, but it also had surprises and challenges, and yes, a bit of competition. We’d open our e-mail, see what the other one had written and say, “Wow, how can I top that?” Particularly when we were writing passionate scenes, we wanted to up the ante each time and out-naughty each other.

One big difference from any other story we had written was the element of uncertainty. Instead of being in total charge of the book and knowing exactly what our characters would do next, we had to cope with characters who didn’t always do what we had expected, and deal with it when they threw us for a loop. Just like real life, in fact.

The advantage was that we only had to live in one character’s head, and both the hero and heroine have strong distinctive voices.”

Sounds like an ideal way to write, but Eileen continued, “The editing, though was a nightmare. Because there were two authors who sometimes saw scenes in different ways, there were a lot of minor continuity errors. In one particular scene, the same zipper got pulled down three times.

That said we both found co-writing to be such a rewarding experience that we are doing to do it again. Five times, in fact. Angels Two – with a working title of Models, slots Demons and Doms – is currently underway and is already proving to be hotter than the first.”

So Angels, Demons and Doms “went to bed”, and in due course Ellora’s Cave got produced a stunning cover model to pose as the hero, Sam (see below). And then it happened. Publicity. An interview with journalist Sue Leonard for a feature about writing erotica, turned into a half page spread in The Examiner. Caroline and Eileen”s email boxes filled up with requests for interviews.

angelsdemonsanddoms_msrCaroline told me, “Everyone wanted to know who were these mad Irish women, why were they writing erotica, and in particular how? Their questions were invariably the same. Did Eileen and I practice our erotic scenes with our respective long-suffering partners? No to that one – and quite frankly, writing about sex is just as emotionally exhausting as having a hot night in. After writing a particularly naughty scene, all you want to do is sleep.

A lot of journalists were concerned whether our parents and families knew. And yes, they do, now. What most people wanted to know was exactly how do you settle down after a hard day at work and write about sex.”

Laughing Caroline said, “I wish I could say that it was all down to research, although that did come into it. Eileen has a background in journalism and I don’t believe she has ever asked so many people, so many personal questions. They were generally happy to talk, as long as she promised never to reveal her sources. While the experiences of others were immensely helpful, in the end you have to tap in to your inner self.

I tend to work late at night, when the house is quiet. I light a scented candle (usually one of those yummy Irish Rose ones), pour a glass of wine and just go for it. Next to writing a fight scene, writing sex is probably one of the most difficult challenges a writer can face. The choreography has to be spot on and you have to build the emotional tension so such a pitch that the reader wants them to climb into bed together.

But the most important element of writing about sex is the emotional connection between the hero and heroine. Whether you are writing a HEA (happy ever after) or a HFN (happy for now) they must love each other and that must shine through in the writing.”

So what is next for this writing duo? The sexy, otherworldly predator has always been a popular theme in romantic fiction and Caroline is currently seeking a home for her full-length novel Tanglewood. This ghostly tale of obsession, sexual blackmail and revenge is set in contemporary and eighteenth century Cornwall. Caroline spent some time at the Museum of Witchcraft there last summer, researching all things magical and witchy. At present, she is working on a series of shape shifter romance novellas. Two of them, Maggie’s Pride and Bad Kitten are complete and waiting for a date with a red pen, lots of coffee and a bar or two of dark chocolate. The third, Tooth and Claw is still at the plotting stage. Meanwhile Eileen is writing rip roaring historical romances set in the Regency period, the detail meticulously researched – her latest manuscript under consideration with a major publishing house.

Watch this space for more!

(c) Vanessa O”Loughlin June 2012

Reader warning: Angels Demons and Doms is not suitable for readers under the age of 18.

Caroline loves to hear from her readers and she can be contacted through her website Find out more about Eileen at

For more on writing romance check out Clodagh Murphy”s article Frisky Business for more on Getting Published in America, read Caroline”s advice.

A passion for sexy writing

By Sue Leonard

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

LAST September, Caroline McCall attended a masterclass on writing for publication.

When the publisher asked the participants what they read, most said literature. Caroline’s answer shocked the class.

“I said I liked to read erotica; and I told him I wrote it too,” she says. “You should have seen the look on his face.” Caroline didn’t care. Her erotic e-books were being published with US publisher Ellora’s Cave. She’d published three with the company’s Blush imprint, and when she learned they planned to publish hardcore erotica, she decided to write that, too.

Caroline rang her friend, Eileen Gormley, and asked if she’d be her co-writer. Eileen agreed.

“I’ve e-published some young adult books, and I’d just finished a paranormal romance,” says Eileen. “I was at a loose end and I thought it would be fun.”

First came the plot.

“Our heroine, Lexi, is 39. She’s a bit overweight and she’s just divorced from her husband. She wanted to try something different. The guy she gets together with pretends he likes normal sex, but he’s really a sexual dominant. They’re both pretending to be something that they’re not,” she says.

They each took a character. With ten days until the deadline, they wrote furiously, sending the scenes to each other by email. Having completed the required 30,000 words, they sent in the manuscript. The publishers liked the story, but wanted to spice up the action.

Both aged 50, Caroline and Eileen do not conform to anyone’s idea of an erotica writer. Eileen has three children, two of them are teenagers, and Caroline is a civil servant who owns five cats. So how did they imagine and write scenes sizzling enough to satisfy readers of bondage, dominance and submission?

“We’d try and out-naughty each other,” says Caroline. “Eileen would write something. I’ll read

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it and go, ‘Oh my God. How can I better that? I have to get in touch with the naughty in myself’.”

Eileen writes when the children are at school, and tops up by writing in cafés.

“When I write the raunchiest sex scenes, I might have a glass of wine to push my inhibitions a little bit. I’ll read Caroline’s scene and think ‘wow’. Then try hard and top it. I tell myself I can be as filthy as I like, because nobody will read it but me. Then, when I’ve tidied it up, I send it straight to Caroline.”

Caroline fits her writing in after a long working day. She writes for two hours, or more, every evening, and also on Saturday mornings.

Doesn’t her husband mind? She laughs.

“I’m the ideal wife. He can watch rugby for hours and hours and I’ll never complain. He laughs at me a bit, but he’s the one bringing me coffee and my laptop on Saturday mornings, to make sure I get to write,” she says.

But what does he think of the sex scenes?

“He wasn’t interested in the milder romance books. But he got hold of my Kindle recently, and he read our book. I think he was a bit shocked. He wondered how I knew all that stuff. It certainly put a glint in his eye,” she says.

Do the husbands benefit? Eileen laughs.

“You’re writing all this sexy stuff. Then you get to bed and think, ‘I’ve had sex. I’m exhausted.’ It goes into the page rather than the bed,” she says.

Caroline and Eileen have had mixed experience of online publishers.

They trust Ohio-based Ellora’s Cave, who sell 190,000 copies a month. But it’s a rigorous procedure.

“They take on four of 100 authors, and it takes new authors three months to hear back,” says Caroline.

“You sign a standard publishing contract, but there’s never an advance, just royalties. Then, you’re into edits. There are three or four rounds of them, all by email, and then there’s publicity. We were accepted early in March for publication in July.”

Ellora Cave was set up by Tina Enger 12 years ago, because traditional publishers turned down her steamy romances. They told her that women didn’t want to read explicit sex scenes. She didn’t agree. The e-books available through Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble sell throughout the world.

“But you have to use American spelling,” says Caroline. “I got a roaster of a rejection on the first manuscript I sent. The editor said, ‘I couldn’t see beyond your spelling and cultural references.’ You have to conform to how Americans speak. It’s a constant battle and a big learning curve.”

The two love writing e-books. They like the length — 30,000 words; they like writing a series of books and have mapped out another four for the Taboo series. They think they’ll earn more money than with a traditional publisher. But they would both love to see their books on the shelves in Easons. Their timing appears perfect.

Since they wrote Angels Demons and Doms, the world of print publishing has changed. The success of Fifty Shades of Grey, originally published as an e-book, has stunned book editors. Along with its two successors, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed, it dominates the bestsellers list in Ireland as elsewhere.

Are they worried about ‘coming out,’ as erotica writers?

“I think it’s exciting,” says Caroline. “When the cover came out, I passed it round the break table at work. Someone said, ‘you’re a manky bitch’.”

“My parents laugh at my writing,” says Eileen. “They don’t know what I write, and refer to it as ‘that Star Trek stuff.’ I don’t think they’ll take it seriously until they see the book in a shop.

“And my 15 year old daughter is mortified. She’s horrified her friends might find out that her mum is writing smut.”

* Angels, Demons and Doms, by Caroline McCall and Eileen Gormley, is available from Jul 11.

One of the most influential writers on Wattpad

I’ve just received a very back-handed compliment.

Wattpad, also known as “YouTube for Books” is one of the biggest writing sites on the web, and I hang out there under a different name.

Recently I was just named as “One of the most influential writers on Wattpad”

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but there was a sting in the tail.

“…You will never, ever, ever find better advice on writing than she has to give. It’s amazing, despite the people that hate on her for it. She’s amazing and so helpful…”

I have no idea how I feel about that.

I went to see a hypnotist today, hoping that he could magically reduce the size of my behind.

I settled myself in the big chair, we chatted, then he started. He put on rain sounds and chimes and started talking me into relaxation exercises. Fine. Then he wanted me to imagine a cloud had snuggled up to me, and was supporting me, all warm and comfortable, just like a big chair.

“I’m on a big comfortable chair, can I just imagine that?”

“No. Visualize the cloud.” So we continued. I was on a tropical island, and I could see the sea below and I started to walk down through the tropical forest towards the sea…

“Excuse me. What insects are on this island?”


“Well, I react badly if I’m bitten, and tropical islands tend to have lots of insects and snakes.”

Next I had to visualise a beautiful lake, and I was sitting on a soft rock beside it, dangling my hands in the water, watching the ripples…

“Rocks aren’t soft.

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And if I’m sitting on a rock, I can’t reach the water. My arms aren’t that long.”

His voice was going all tight and clipped by now. “You’re in a beautiful stately home, and there’s a balcony, with ten marble steps leading down to a beautiful garden. You go down the first marble step. One…”

“Sorry, Marble steps? Would you really have marble steps in a garden? What happens when it rains?”

That was the point where he turned off the rain sounds and the chimes, handed me back my money and told me to go away.

I did offer to edit his scripts so they would be more plausible, but for some reason, he just wanted rid of me.

I’m blaming all the editing I’ve been doing this week.

Editors: myths, misapprehensions and mistakes

Myth: No good writer needs an editor.

Fact: all writers need an editor. The better writers know how to work with an editor to produce the best book, but there’s a reason so many best-selling authors thank thier editors on the dedication page.


Myth: Once I get accepted by a publisher, the editor will do everything.

Fact: Are you in for a shock! When you start working with an editor, you’ll be putting in more writing hours than when you were writing the book in the first place.


Myth: Editors fix typos and punctuation mistakes, and I can do that myself with Word.

Fact: And so says most of the unpublished writers out there. Catching typos is only a tiny part of what an editor does.


Myth: Editors don’t really know about what real readers want.

Fact: Editors are the most educated readers around. They not only know what is selling, they know why it’s selling, and they also know what’s wrong with your MS that will stop it selling. Trust your editor. She’s not trying to produce a bad book.


Myth: I don’t need to worry about grammar or punctuation because the editor will fix it.

Fact: You don’t need to worry about grammar and punctuation

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because no-one will publish your book. It’s your job to sort out that stuff. If you can’t write good English, you will not get published. Even if you hire an independent copy editor to fix your grammer and misspellings, you’ll find that the worse your writing, the higher the price will go.


Many unpublished writers have a vague notion that once a publisher accepts them, their precious manuscript will go to an editor who will work her magic, and make it perfect.


To be fair, in the past, there have been a few big name authors with iron-clad contracts whose editors did just that. Raymond Carver’s short stories would not have been nearly so minimalist without his editor’s help. But those days are gone. Now, editors have specific jobs and it isn’t to rewrite your story.

There are two distinct forms of editing, structural and copy editing.

A Structural Editor is the one you are going to hate. Her job is to take your fat book, and find the thin book inside that is trying to get out. She will read your entire book, and tell you what you need to do to make it better. Trust me, this will hurt.

You’ve just sent in what you thought was a perfect story, and she comes back and tells you all the things that are wrong with it. What do you mean, plot holes? And of course you need every single one of those one hundred characters. And the reader has to have a lesson in astrophysics before he can understand the dilemma facing your hero.

When you get your MS back from a structural editor, it will have red tracker comments all over it, saying things like “The story begins on page fifteen, cut everything before,” and “Point of view shifts all over this chapter. Find and eliminate,” and “Scientific/historical inaccuracies. Research and fix,” and “This bit is boring,” and “Not nearly enough emotional development here. Add another thousand words of emotion.”

Then you have to go and do all that stuff. She’s not going to do it for you.

You’ll probably have a time limit in which to do it, because she has other books she is working on and limited time. When you get your edited MS back to her, she’ll point out any new or remaining problems, and expect you to fix them.

Finally, your book will go to a Copy Editor, who will find misspelled words, grammar errors, poor punctuation, clunky phrasing, and small continuity mistakes. Depending on how she works, she may just fix them herself. If there are a lot of clumsy word choices or phrases or continuity errors, she’ll point them out, suggest ways to deal with them, and let you fix them yourself.

She will also introduce the publisher’s house style, and tell you what it is, so you know next time.

If you are planning to self-publish, or are being published by a small publishing house, you need an editor even more than someone who has an established history as an author.

Exotic names: Rafe, Hunter, Jason, Styx, Slade, Fury etc. Try a few old reliables like Sam, John or Robert.

Heroines who are immediately identifiable by their red, blonde or red/blonde hair, dainty frame, cute features and huge breasts. Especially if those heroines are called Cat and are terminally stupid. Romance readers are smart, we’d like to cheer for a smart heroine.

Villains that are immediately identifiable by their bad fashion sense, greasy hair and stinky breath.

Stories where the romantic conflict is the hero and heroine bitching at each other for two hundred pages before admitting they were in love all along.

He’s a man whore, she’s never been kissed. These days, readers get a bit queasy when they meet heroes with countless sexual partners – just reading about them makes you want to book an STD test. And heroines that are twenty-five and never been kissed make us very suspicious. Particularly if she’s got green eyes and a mouth made for sin.

Romances without a plot. Sure, we want the great characters and the hot sex, but we really need a good plot to hold it all together.

Bad research. If your novel is set in Regency London, at least do some basic research about London and the period. Read a bit of Jane Austen, if nothing else. Not every member of a noble family is Lady Cat.

Forgetting about personal hygiene. Yes, early morning sex is romantic, but just remember the bathroom and toothbrush issues.

Heroines with lots of cats, especially if she refers to them as her children and gives them names that end with her surname, for instance Prickly Paws Perkins. Even to someone who likes pets, it screams “Crazy Cat Lady”.

Using real actors to describe your characters. Sure, Al Pacino had his moments, but these days, he looks old and in need of a good wash.

Characters that ride horses or go shooting or fight with swords, and the author couldn’t be bothered learning how to do those things, or even to run it by someone who does know. Few things are more irritating to someone who rides than a “mighty white stallion waving its paws in the air after the rider reigns sharply.”

Heroines trained in sword fighting, guns, Latin, military tactics and a whole lot of other things that girls at the time were not trained in, unless you can give a really good reason for it. Don’t assume she can pass for a boy if she puts

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on a pair of trousers. If she really can pass for a boy, remember to make sure she’s got small breasts.

Heroines that march to the mirror to find out what they look like. Real women don’t stand gazing at themselves thinking “Long straight brown hair, kissable lips, perky breasts and a tiny waist.” They look to see if their lipstick is smudged or if their collar is twisted.

Sex scenes involving throbbing or pulsing appendages, and heroines who leak, gush or drip. Sex in the snow – can you say “shrinkage”? Sex in the sand – can you say “Ouch!”? Sex in the hay – can you say “Fleas”?

Champion athletes, bodybuilders, martial artists where the story never shows how much work goes into getting there. No-one gets that body/reflexes without hours of work in the gym every day. While we’re on the topic, muscles that result from lucky genetics are not superior to muscles acquired by hard work in the gym.

Romance readers are fine with romances that stop at the bedroom door, but if you go through that door, do it properly. “He thrust in and out and she had an orgasm” is not sexy.

Heroes that rape the heroine, and somehow it’s all right in the end because it proves she’s a virgin or because she forgives him, or because they really love each other. I’m all for a bit of rough sex, as long as both of them are enjoying themselves. Rape is never acceptable.






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