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Author Spotlight: Romancing the Geek

By On Jul 23 2014, 9:00 am

Get What You Need by Jeanette GreyI’ve never made any secret of the fact that I love a good geeky hero. Sure, geeks can be portrayed as ungainly and unbearably awkward on TV sometimes, but they have so much potential. They’re smart. They’re witty. They’re passionate about what they do.

And most importantly, they’re layered.

Perhaps my favorite thing about a really good, compelling geeky hero is the mixture of confidence and insecurity. This is a sweeping generalization, but I tend to think of geeks as being masters of their fields. They’ve always been good at their chosen areas of expertise, and when they’re in their domain, they own the playing field. Take them out of that comfort zone, though? Instant vulnerability as they’re forced to contend with things they can’t control.

Take a social situation, for example. While there’s nothing saying a geek can’t have a rich social life, buried at the heart of every one of them, I like to imagine there’s a kernel of the kid who didn’t get picked for the kickball team back in second grade. Being different from their peers has always set them apart, and it informs everything they do, even as relatively well-adjusted adults.

Greg London, the hero of my new book, Get What You Need, is a geek, through and through. He’s a graduate student in engineering, and he typifies this confident/insecure dichotomy. He’s always been good at school work, and he’s thrown himself into his studies with abandon. Anyone on the outside who looks at him would see a successful, driven young man. His housemate, undergraduate jock Marshall Sulkowski sure does.

But when Marsh comes onto him, Greg is paralyzed by that part of him that’s still a seven year-old boy with glasses, desperate not to be the last person chosen for a team in gym class. He thinks he’s boring, and that the glasses Marsh frankly finds dead sexy are ugly and unsightly on him. His unwillingness to believe that attractive, self-assured, popular Marsh could really want a relationship with him is one of the things that sets them off on a rocky trajectory together.

Throw in the fact that he’s a work-a-holic with communication issues?

Well, let’s just say that it’s a damn good thing Marsh sees what a brilliant, amazing person lives inside this geek.

And it turns out that Marsh is just the man to help bring that geek out of his shell and show him he’s deserving of love, sex, happiness, and so much more. Read more…

Author Spotlight: Sex and Secrets: Think of England and the Country House Party

By On Jul 16 2014, 9:00 am

The country house party. Symbol of a golden age of privilege, epitome of that brief, glorious time before world war when life (for a tiny percentage of the population) was as good as it probably ever got. Think Brideshead Revisited or Downton Abbey (early series), with handsome young men in cricket flannels, witty young ladies in dashing gowns, croquet on the lawn, attentive servants, hunting parties and endless, limitless luxury.

Nice for some, eh?

The country house party was an essential, and eye-wateringly expensive, part of the social whirl. Entertainments would involve shooting, drawing-room games, gambling (bridge and baccarat), flirting, political manoeuvring, marriage-arrangement, and of course sex. Lots of sex.

If you’re thinking the Edwardians were too polite for that, forget it. One had to behave with decorum, of course, one should not brandish one’s affairs in the public eye. But for many, adultery was a hobby, even in some cases a job. Bedrooms were openly arranged for the convenience of illicit love affairs. I have not been able to substantiate the story that some hostesses would have a bell rung ten minutes before the servants came up with morning tea, in order to allow guests time to get back into their own beds. But it’s apparently true that the notorious womaniser Lord Charles Beresford burst into a bedroom crying “Cock-a-doodle-doo”, fully expecting to find his latest lady love, and leapt onto a bed already virtuously occupied by a bishop and his wife. (There’s a menage opener for you.)

I set my m/m romance Think of England in a country house for several reasons. It’s written very much in the spirit of pulp adventure, with treachery, villainy and espionage. So a country house, isolated and miles from anywhere, meant that my heroes were trapped – forced to socialise, forced to collaborate, forced to all kinds of things that wouldn’t have crossed at least one of their minds. The impossibility of leaving and the need to keep up appearances make for all sorts of desperate circumstances. And mostly, there’s the sex. Because the essence of the country house party – the keeping up of polite appearances and the hot, sweaty reality concealed behind them – gives endless opportunities both for villainous goings on and for the most delicious romantic entanglements….

Lie back and think of England…

England, 1904. Two years ago, Captain Archie Curtis lost his friends, fingers, and future to a terrible military accident. Alone, purposeless and angry, Curtis is determined to discover if he and his comrades were the victims of fate, or of sabotage.

Curtis’s search takes him to an isolated, ultra-modern country house, where he meets and instantly clashes with fellow guest Daniel da Silva. Effete, decadent, foreign, and all-too-obviously queer, the sophisticated poet is everything the straightforward British officer fears and distrusts.

As events unfold, Curtis realizes that Daniel has his own secret intentions. And there’s something else they share—a mounting sexual tension that leaves Curtis reeling.

As the house party’s elegant facade cracks to reveal treachery, blackmail and murder, Curtis finds himself needing clever, dark-eyed Daniel as he has never needed a man before…

Product Warnings

Contains explicit male/male encounters, ghastly historical attitudes, and some extremely stiff upper lips.

Jenna Bayley-Burke @ RWA Conference Literacy Booksigning

By On Jul 11 2014, 12:00 am

Jenna Bayley-Burke will be signing copies of Drive Me Crazy at the RWA Conference Literacy Booksigning, San Antonio, TX

Author Spotlight: Librarians Are Magic

By On Jul 2 2014, 7:30 pm

I love libraries. As a college student I worked in the main library of the University of Illinois. The stacks are massive—two buildings, ten floors, endless rows of books. Old books bound in decaying leather that leave a rusty residue on your hands and jeans after you pull them from the shelves. I always wondered what secrets might be hidden behind the aged doors tucked into lonely alcoves and marked “Do Not Enter.” Could there be tomes of arcane magic tucked between the farm reports? Ancient spells hidden in the rare book room?

So of course the supernatural world of my Bad Witch books includes librarians—yes, librarians. Magic librarians, responsible for recording and safeguarding magician history. Even vampire librarians. A librarian’s greatest wish is to join the Order of St. Jerome and become a chronicler, so that he or she can do their job for all eternity and tend a glorious, enormous library of magic. I picture Simon’s library much like the enormous U of I stacks—a little musty, just a shade too dark, and so quiet you can hear a pin drop. (Or the sound of a student worker cursing, because she wore flip-flops and rolled a book cart over her foot.)

Becoming a chronicler is considered a great honor, something that a librarian works toward his entire life. So what happens if a librarian has spent his entire life preparing to become a chronicler, and he suddenly learns that he has a soul mate? And not just any soul mate, but the beautiful, charming woman he’s been secretly pining after for years. That’s Michael Black’s dilemma in The Importance of Being Emily (included as a bonus in the print edition of Poison in the Blood—it’s two books in one!). Michael learns, much to his surprise, that his soul’s perfect match is the meddlesome seer Miss Emily Wright. Michael has sworn himself to the Order, and to have a life with Emily means turning his back on everything he’s worked for. As a seer, she can’t join the Order, and he’s faced with a tough decision: Immortality, or true love?

The Importance of Being Emily and Poison in the Blood tell Emily and Michael’s adventures in a Victorian England filled with magic and murder, and how they find their happily-ever-after despite their star-crossed state. And Poison in the Blood has bonus cute baby librarians, or as they warning calls them, “adorable plot moppets”.

I’ll be reading from Poison in the Blood at the August 5th Lady Jane’s Salon in Naperville, Illinois, and I’m giving away a Samhain swag bag at the event. I hope to see some of you there!

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