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Category romance is a precise art. With such a small word count, writing the perfect category romance is a little like writing a haiku. But how do you write a book in seventeen syllables? How can you cram compelling conflict, satisfying character development, and toe-curling romantic tension into less than sixty thousand words?

In Crafting Category Romance, two-time RITA™-nominated author of nearly one hundred books Amy Lane describes the rules of engagement, traps to watch out for, and how to leverage common tropes to create conflict, craft a character, develop a plot, and leave readers with a happy ever after that's different every time—all in a tidy package. With practical exercises in plot, conflict, and character development, Crafting Category Romance will teach you how to use the rigid rules and expectations of the genre to your advantage and win a loyal readership following for life.

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Can the Northern Lights and a second-chance romance return inspiration to a struggling artist?

When New York painter Devon Starr gives up his vices, his muses depart along with them. Devon needs a change, but when his father’s stroke brings him home to Alaska, the small town where he grew up isn’t what he remembers.

Enrique Salazar remembers Devon well, and he makes it his personal mission to open Devon’s eyes to the rugged beauty and possibilities all around them. The two men grow closer, and just as Devon begins to see what’s always been there for him, they’re called to stand against a mining company that threatens the very pristine nature that’s helping them fall in love. The fight only strengthens their bond, but as the desire to pick up a paintbrush returns, Devon also feels the pull of the city.

A man trapped between two worlds, Devon can only follow where his heart leads him.

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Acsquidentally In Love

Sucker For Love Mysteries
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A Sucker For Love Mystery

Nothing brings two men—or one man and an ancient god—together like revenge.

Private investigator Sloane sacrificed his career in law enforcement in pursuit of his parents’ murderer. Like them, he is a follower of long-forgotten gods, practicing their magic and offering them his prayers… not that he’s ever gotten a response.

Until now.

Azaethoth the Lesser might be the patron of thieves and tricksters, but he takes care of his followers. He’s come to earth to avenge the killing of one of his favorites, and maybe charm the pants off the cute detective Fate has placed in his path. If he has his way, they’ll do much more than bring a killer to justice. In fact, he’s sure he’s found the man he’ll spend his immortal life with.

Sloane’s resolve is crumbling under Azaethoth’s surprising sweetness, and the tentacles he sometimes glimpses escaping the god’s mortal form set his imagination alight. But their investigation gets stranger and deadlier with every turn. To survive, they’ll need a little faith… and a lot of mystical firepower.

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It’s not so easy being young, gay, and in love for the first time at the average high school.

Senior Toren Grey cares more about his family and his grades than what brand of clothes he wears. Majority consensus is that he’s a nerd. So he’s surprised when resident bad boy Wesley Carroll speaks to him in the hall, stirring feelings that Toren has to hide.

Though disconcerted by Wes’s free and easy ways, Toren can’t deny the attraction between them. As he relaxes and gets to know Wes better, he finds there’s more to the sexy rebel than his public image. Before long the young men are exploring new territory and falling in love, but life just isn’t that simple. After they graduate, obstacles block their relationship at every turn: Wes working versus Toren in college, the virulent disapproval of parents, and everyday trials faced by any struggling young couple. Wes and Toren have to believe in each other… and never doubt that their love can conquer all.

Second Edition
First edition previously published by Dreamspinner Press, January 2009.

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A Novel Murder

Merrychurch Mysteries
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*This item has not been released and will not be available until: August 11, 2020
*This item has not been released and will not be available until: August 11, 2020

Sequel To Roots of Evil
A Merrychurch Mysteries Case

Hosting the Merrychurch Literary Festival is just the distraction Jonathon de Mountford needs. Placating his father and keeping his boyfriend, Mike Tattersall, happy is proving an increasing struggle. But the small event takes on new proportions with the appearance of Teresa Malvain—former Merrychurch resident turned famous murder mystery novelist. But is something about the quaint village setting of her books a little too familiar?

Teresa’s sudden death is certainly something right out of one of her stories, and Jonathan and Mike soon discover there are villagers who might not want the inspiration behind her books revealed.

When it emerges Teresa’s severe allergic reaction was no accident, Jonathon and Mike are compelled to investigate, aided by a few people keen to help them discover the truth. But they’re trying to work out what is fact and what is fiction, and the line between the two blurs constantly. And as for their relationship, Jonathon finally comes to a decision….

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Matchpoint

Dreamspun Desires
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*This item has not been released and will not be available until: August 11, 2020
*This item has not been released and will not be available until: August 11, 2020

Beach volleyball player Caio Paraguassú is gearing up for the biggest event of his life at the Olympic Games in Paris. He’s taken part in the Games before, but this time he has his eye on the highest prize.

A gold medal would go a long way toward healing the wounds left by Caio’s former lover and volleyball partner.

Diego Torres left the sport he loved because of prejudice. Now he’s Caio’s friend, his partner in the sand, and a rising star in his own right. Together they can take on the world, or at least the world of beach volleyball.

But the exhilaration of the Olympics brings out unexpected romantic feelings. Can Caio and Diego keep their focus and find the strength to fight for the podium and their love—even if it means facing an unexpected challenger on the court?

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Stick the Landing

Elite Athletes | Book Two
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*This item has not been released and will not be available until: July 28, 2020
*This item has not been released and will not be available until: July 28, 2020

An Elite Athletes Novel

Jake Mirakovitch might be the best gymnast in the world, but there’s one big problem: he chokes in international competition. The least successful of a family of world-class gymnasts, he has struggled to shake off nerves in the past. This time he’s determined to bring home the gold no matter what.

Retired figure skater Topher Caldwell wants a job as a commentator for the American network that covers the Olympics, and at the Summer Olympics in Madrid, he has a chance to prove himself with a few live features. He can’t afford to stumble.

Olympic victories eluded Topher, so he knows about tripping when it really counts. When he interviews Jake, the two bond over the weight of all that pressure. The flamboyant reporter attracts the kind of attention Jake—stuck in a glass closet—doesn’t want, but Jake can’t stay away. Topher doesn’t want to jeopardize his potential new job, and fooling around with a high-profile athlete seems like a surefire way to do just that. Yet Topher can’t stay away either….

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Mean Machine

Perchance to Dream
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*This item has not been released and will not be available until: July 21, 2020
*This item has not been released and will not be available until: July 21, 2020

For a boxer ravaged by guilt and in deep denial of his desires, a fight beyond the ring might yield his greatest prize.

In a dystopian UK devastated by austerity and ruled by corporate interests, Brooklyn Marshall was a happily married London police officer—until an accident resulted in the death of a protester connected to a powerful family. Now he takes out his anger and pain on his opponents, fighting for the company that took him into stewardship after his conviction and disgrace—and which all but owns him.

Wealthy barrister Nathaniel Bishop fulfills his dream of a family when he adopts a daughter. He can’t resist researching her allegedly violent criminal father, but Brook isn’t at all what he expects. He’s fascinating… and maybe worthy of redemption. Through legal sleight of hand, Nathaniel thinks he can overturn Brook’s conviction.

Brook has learned the hard way not to trust anyone, let alone a privileged man who’s purchased his “time.” But as they get to know each other, he allows himself to hope.

With his fights getting deadlier, hope might be the only thing to carry Brook through.

Third Edition
First Edition previously published as Counterpunch by Storm Moon Press, in 2011. Second Edition previously published as Counterpunch in 2014.

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Shortbread and Shadows

Hedge Witches Lonely Hearts Club | Book One
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*This item has not been released and will not be available until: July 21, 2020
*This item has not been released and will not be available until: July 21, 2020

Hedge Witches Lonely Hearts Club: Book One

When a coven of hedge witches casts a spell for their hearts’ desires, the world turns upside down.

Bartholomew Baker is afraid to hope for his heart’s true desire—the gregarious woodworker who sells his wares next to Bartholomew at the local craft fairs—so he writes the spell for his baking business to thrive and allow him to quit his office job. He’d rather pour his energy into emotionally gratifying pastry! But the magic won’t allow him to lie, even to himself, and the spellcasting has unexpected consequences.

For two years Lachlan has been flirting with Bartholomew, but the shy baker with the beautiful gray eyes runs away whenever their conversation turns personal. He’s about to give up hope… and then Bartholomew rushes into a convention in the midst of a spellcasting disaster of epic proportions.

Suddenly everybody wants a taste of Bartholomew’s baked goods—and Bartholomew himself. Lachlan gladly jumps on for the ride, enduring rioting crowds and supernatural birds for a chance with Bartholomew. Can Bartholomew overcome the shyness that has kept him from giving his heart to Lachlan?

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Dead Man's Hand

Stud Games
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*This item has not been released and will not be available until: July 14, 2020
*This item has not been released and will not be available until: July 14, 2020

A Stud Games Novel

Temptation, peril, and dirty poker.

Love is a high-stakes game.

When Collin Callahan, British secret agent, goes up against math genius turned surfer bum Oliver Elliot, the battle is epic—and so is the attraction. They’re pitted against each other in an exclusive, ultra-secret—and ultra-illegal—poker match in Gibraltar, but when players start dying and they could be next, they find a common goal: catch the killer before it’s too late.

Evenly matched at poker and romance, they each wrestle personal demons that threaten to consume them as the stakes climb. It’s an all-or-nothing gamble with both life and love on the line as they fight to be the last seven-card studs standing.

Previously published by Dreamspinner Press as Seven-Card Stud by Ava Drake, November 2016.

 

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Silk Dragon Salsa

The Kai Gracen Series | Book Four
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The Kai Gracen Series: Book Four

SoCalGov Stalker Kai Gracen always knew Death walked in his shadow. Enough people told him that, including his human mentor, Dempsey. Problem was, the old man never told him what to do when Death eventually caught up.

Where Tanic, his elfin father and the Wild Hunt Master of the Unsidhe Court, brought Kai pain and suffering, Dempsey gave him focus and a will to live… at least until everything unraveled. Now caught in a web of old lies and half-truths, Kai is torn between the human and elfin worlds, unsure of who he is anymore. Left with a hollowness he can’t fill, Kai aches to find solace in the one elfin he trusts—a Sidhe Lord named Ryder—but he has unfinished business with Dempsey’s estranged brother, a man who long ago swore off anything to do with the feral elfin child Dempsey dragged up from the gutter.

Reeling from past betrayals, Kai searches for Dempsey’s brother, hoping to do right by the man who saved him while trying to keep ahead of the death haunting his every step. Kai never thought he’d find love or happiness as a Stalker, but when Death comes knocking at his door, Kai discovers a fierce need to live life to the fullest—even if that means turning his back on the people he calls family.

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*This item has not been released and will not be available until: July 7, 2020
*This item has not been released and will not be available until: July 7, 2020

The last three guys Phillip dated are dead. Is he next?

When successful businessman Phillip Barone attends a lover’s funeral and discovers he was just the latest of Phillip’s partners to die, Phillip knows he’s in trouble.

He also knows just the man he needs.

Former Marine Barry Malone would love a second chance with Phillip—he just wishes the romance could be rekindled under better circumstances. But Phillip’s stalker is escalating, and if Barry cannot solve the mystery of who wants Phillip dead and why, he might lose him for good. Barry’s determined, but the investigation struggles against the wit of a crafty killer—one who is closer to Phillip than they could have realized.

Luckily Barry is even closer, and he’ll do whatever it takes to protect the man he’s falling in love with all over again.

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*This item has not been released and will not be available until: June 30, 2020
*This item has not been released and will not be available until: June 30, 2020

It’s time to wipe his feet of the idea that he’s not good enough to be loved.  

Danny Dorfmann is dependable, no matter what’s going on in his own life. So when widower Asa needs a sitter for his dog, Minion, Danny is the natural choice. Besides, Danny’s had a crush on Asa—a hot architect who’s way out of his league—for years.  

Asa is just climbing out of his grief over the loss of his husband and trying to reclaim his life. Love and dating aren’t on his radar, but as one favor turns into another and he spends more time with Danny, romance sneaks up on them.  

Friendly adventures gradually turn into something deeper, but a manipulative roommate and interfering family and friends want to douse the slow burn building between Danny and Asa. To keep the chances of a happily ever after going, Danny will have to take a stand—and to hold on to the man of his dreams, he’ll have to stop letting everybody walk all over him.

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Found At Last

Found At Last
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*This item has not been released and will not be available until: June 23, 2020
*This item has not been released and will not be available until: June 23, 2020

Found At Last Books One and Two

Can love lost ever be found again? Theo and Jamison meet while volunteering at a nursing home and come together on an investigative adventure to reunite elderly Nolan with his first love, Giorgio. Their sleuthing skills are needed again to create a second chance at happiness for resort manager Asher and his first love, Armando. As they search for the men who got away, Theo and Jamison grow closer, and the lessons of the past could change their lives—and their future—forever.

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*This item has not been released and will not be available until: June 16, 2020
*This item has not been released and will not be available until: June 16, 2020

Stefano Rossi longs for the mystical—and so far unattainable—peace of reaching subspace. But can he accept that the person who can take him there is a man?

Riku Tao has given up on finding a sub who complements him. He’ll stick with doing demonstrations at the BDSM club the Edge. He certainly doesn’t have time for a closeted Catholic guy with internalized biphobia… and yet he cannot help but want to protect Stefano and give him what he needs. A history of physical and sexual abuse makes it impossible for Stefano to come out of the closet, and Riku certainly isn’t going back in.

Perhaps an arrangement of six months to explore their desires will be enough to satisfy them both.

Or it might break their hearts.

To take hold of his future with the man he’s coming to love, Stefano will need to move beyond the pain of his past, and he won’t be able to do it alone.

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Poker Face

Stud Games
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*This item has not been released and will not be available until: June 9, 2020
*This item has not been released and will not be available until: June 9, 2020

A Stud Games Novel

Surveillance, seduction, and extra-dirty politics.

Christian Chatsworth-Brandeis has a problem. A huge one. The US senator he works for has run away with his latest mistress on the eve of a make-or-break fundraising event, and it’s up to him to cover his irresponsible boss’s tracks.

Stone Jackson, Senator Lacey’s new bodyguard, looks enough like him that, with some extensive grooming, he might pass for the senator. Christian and Stone hatch a plan to substitute Stone for the senator, but Miami madness and the incendiary heat between them are throwing obstacles in their way. It’s a race to find the senator and pull off the con of the century before the attraction between them spins completely out of control.

Previously published by Dreamspinner Press as Ace in the Hole by Ava Drake, July 2016.

 

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Terrible things are happening in the tiny town of Spangle, California. Creatures never before seen explode from the shadows. Hunter becomes prey.  Man becomes food.

After seeing his lover torn apart before his eyes, Terry Jones sets out with his little pug, Bruce, to escape the mayhem. Secluding himself in a mountain cabin, he lies low, expecting death at every moment. So lonely he almost welcomes it.

From the dreadful emptiness of this terrifying new world where every breath might be his last, a stranger appears. And beyond all imagining, love enters the picture yet again.

With someone at last to hold, Terry rediscovers his zest for life--and his fear of death.

Finally, with Jonas James at his side, he finds the courage to fight back.

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If Enrico, who is gay, and his twin brother, Fabrizio, who is straight, can make a success of their B&B on Lago Maggiore in northern Italy, they can save their family home from their conniving half sister. Can good intentions and lots of heart make up for what they lack in money and experience?

On the other side of the Atlantic, in Syracuse, New York, Owen is buckling under an unrequited crush and the pressures of starting an event-planning business. His best friend Maggie books a last-minute getaway at the twins’ romantic villa—and insists Owen join her.

Even if the B&B is not quite as elegant as advertised, they are seduced by the stunning scenery, sumptuous foods, and luscious wines—not to mention their charming hosts.

Love is in the air, but before these four lonely hearts can make their dreams come true, they must overcome past obsession, half a world of distance, and false accusations.

When your tiramisu is only a soggy biscuit soaked in instant coffee and topped with spray cream, it’s time to take a chance on the real thing.

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