Monday, March 31, 2008

My Romance of the Year

By Jennie Lucas

My husband and I went to Cancun for Valentine’s Day. It was an amazing, romantic trip. We flew first class and stayed at the Ritz-Carlton (we never would have splurged like that on ourselves, but the trip was a gift—long story).

The turquoise water and white-sugar beaches were like nothing I’d ever seen before. We ate deliciously expensive meals and drank margaritas like they were going out of style. We saw Chichen Itza. It was so romantic and impossibly sexy. This whole trip was an exotic dream. And yet….

The whole time I was there, all I wanted to do was read this book.

This book. It was gripping. Breathtaking. I couldn’t put it down.

Not at the pool. Not at the beach. Not at the poolside bar.

Baking on the beach in my bikini, I shivered in the Scottish mists and moors and seductive bedrooms of Regency London. I hated the hero. I wept for the heroine. Their fighting and lovemaking and kidnapping, their sheer hatred and desire for revenge, kept me breathless. This book broke my heart. In the best way.

Claiming the Courtesan, Anna Campbell's debut novel, is the best book I have read in a year.

But be warned.

The heroine is a courtesan. For real. She has actually slept with men for money. Not the immediate quality that makes you think, “Wow, she’s just like me and my friends!”

And her hero is dark. Look, I write for Harlequin Presents, so I love alpha heroes. Revenge, kidnappings and seduction are my favorite things in the world. But this book is crazy. Her hero does something that’s absolutely unforgivable. But somehow, Campbell’s brilliant writing makes me forgive him. She makes me love him and hope that somehow he can win the heroine against the odds.

A few days ago, Claiming the Courtesan was named a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s RITA award (competing with, among other very good books, Campbell’s second book, Untouched). It’s an honor that’s well deserved.

Thank you, Anna Campbell, for the most thrilling and romantic vacation I've had in a long, long time.

In Jennie's third book for Harlequin Presents/ M&B Modern, Caretti's Forced Bride, an impoverished princess hides a devastating secret from an Italian tycoon who's determined to possess her in every way. It's a current release in the U.K. and will be out in the U.S. this August.

To learn more about Jennie or her books, or read about how she lost 70 post-baby pounds last year without dieting, please visit


Jane said...

Wow, sounds like you had a great vacation. Anna Campbell is genius. I can't wait for her next book, "Tempt the Devil."

Annie West said...


How cool is that? You go on a fabulous vacation and you read Anna's book (beaming here since she and I are mates). Wait till you read 'Untouched' which is even better. And 'Tempt the Devil' makes 3 great books.

Am jealous of your vacation. It sounds so lovely and luxurious and exotic. There should be more of it! So glad you had a good break with your dh.


Authorness said...

Isn't it fantastic when you find a book you can't put down! I'm a big fan of Anna Campbell too. Her novels are keepers for sure.

:) Vanessa

Jennifer Shirk said...

Anna's book sounds really good.

Jennie Lucas said...

Jane--so great to meet another Anna Campbell fan! And thanks for the tip about her next book. "Tempt the Devil"--what a terrific title!

Annie! Hey girl! I'm not surprised that you two are friends--both so talented! (Are you critique partners at all?) I haven't read Untouched yet. When I came back from Mexico, I was immediately sucked beneath the undertow of a writing deadline and I'm only now coming up for air. I'm definitely going to get her books on automatic order. It was ironic though--here I was in this amazing paradise, but all I wanted to do was imagine I was in 19th century Scotland! And since you're friends with Anna Campbell--if you're both in SF this summer or at the AMBA lunch in London, could you please introduce me? Just so I could totally embarrass myself by gushing over her like a total idiot. :)

Vanessa and Jennifer, you're both writers so you've probably experienced the same thing I have--the more you know about story structure & etc., the harder it gets to be truly whisked away by a novel. That's what makes Campbell's book so extraordinary. I never felt like I could see her work behind the scenes. I never felt like "ah ha, here comes the black moment" or "ok, plot device--I see where this book is going". Her book was the most purely magical reading experience I've had for a long time.

Trish Milburn said...

Hey, Jennie! Isn't it wonderful to be swept away by a book like that?

Glad you had the fabu vacation. Can't wait to see you in San Fran this summer.

Maureen said...

I have this book in my TBR pile so I am going to have to pull it out after reading your post.

Donna Alward said...

Oh wow, now this totally makes me want to get it!

I read one of the rita finalists books and loved it so much I immediately added her others to my amazon wishlist! So I know exactly how you feel! Except for the bikini-at-the-Ritz thing. LOL

Sounds like a fab vacation though!

Gigi said...

The vacation sounds like something out of a movie.

I love books like you describe you want to hate the hero but you wind up just loving him.

I was looking for a reason to order from amazon. I think I just hit my $25 free shipping minimum just now.
Thanks a bunch.

Jennie Lucas said...

Trish!! I've been meaning to tell you how much I love your new website. Such a nice balance, since you write both YA and for Harlequin American. Can't wait to read A Firefighter in the Family when it comes out in September!

Maureen, I know what you mean about TBR piles. Mine is huge, and I just can't stop myself from continually ordering more books. What the heck is wrong with me?! But I've just boxed up four enormous boxes of books to donate to the library so I'll at least have a little space on the shelves. So I can buy more books. Geez, I'm like a hamster on a wheel...

Hi Donna! So great to see you!! I agree with you that judging the RITA can be really rewarding--you sometimes find the most amazing books! And as for a bikini-at-the-Ritz thing, let me tell ya, it was my first time at any Ritz-Carlton, and my first time in a bikini in like 10 years. My non-diet diet just finally paid off enough for me to be brave enough to give it a go. Or maybe I was just too happy on tequila to care what anyone thought. Either way, it was fun.

Gigi!! You've just made my day!! I'm so glad you're going to get this book. If you like super dark heroes that you really just HATE (at least at first), then you'll love this! Anna Campbell is so brilliant. I really hope you love it. :)

Annie West said...

Jennie, have been AWOL for a few days so have just caught up with your comment. Wish I was going to San Fransisco but at the moment it looks unlikely. It'll be nice to catch up eventually! You don't need me to introduce you to Anna. Just wave a copy of her book and she'll come running! Seriously though, she's very friendly.


Jennie Lucas said...

Thanks, Annie! I'm so sorry I won't see you in SF. Maybe I'll see you at the AMBA luncheon in September? If not, I'm planning to pack up my husband and babies and come to the NZ/Aust conferences in summer 09! Can't wait to meet you someday soon!

Annie West said...

Jennie, we may have to wait till 09 when you come to Australia but (goodness!) that's only next year. It will be fabulous to catch up. Can't wait!