Marissa Campbell's Romance (and Erotica!) Book List

Book Cover Evelyn

"What's not to love?" asks Marissa Campbell, about the romance. "We crave those delicious feelings that love inspires..." In her list for us, Campbell tells us about her debut novel, Avelynn, and shares some other romance titles that turn things up hot, and even hotter.

*****

My debut novel, Avelynn, set in 869 Anglo-Saxon England is a historical romance. I have a weakness for romance books, because honestly, what’s not to love? A bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolate, a love note, a picnic beneath the stars. We crave those delicious feelings that love inspires—the heart-pounding mixture of trepidation and excitement leading up to that first date, the breathless anticipation of a first kiss, the curious and delirious moments fumbling toward first base, the crashing, rolling surge of yearning culminating in that first night of wild passion. We may struggle in life, we may have to fight tooth and nail to eke out beautiful moments to hold onto and cherish, but in a romance novel, we are guaranteed a happy ending.

Avelynn has big dreams. Despite the confines of a patriarchal society, she hopes to one day oversee Wedmore, a wealthy manor in Wessex. She also refuses to give up on her pagan roots, resisting the Christian church’s increasing hold on Britain. Most of all, she wants the kind of love and equality her mother and father shared. Her dreams falter when she is betrothed to Demas, who, as it turns out, is a brute of a man. When her father is sent on a mission to Rome, she rules in his stead, earning the ire of some powerful men. As she tries to find her place, she stumbles into a passionate love affair. But this happy circumstance comes with the spectre of impossibility. Alrik is a Viking, the very scourge of England. It’s a hopeless match, yet the two lovers cannot fight the pull that draws them together. When the Vikings attack, Avelynn is thrust into a ruthless world of betrayal, deception, and heartache. Rather than break her spirit, her wounds make her stronger. She will not give up.

I enjoy reading stories about feisty heroines, and I want to be transported into a world of love and delicious romance. I crave a well-told journey toward happily ever after. Here’s a list of some great romance novels by Canadian authors I’ve read this year. I’ve even thrown in a couple erotica titles for good measure.

The Queen’s Exiles, by Barbara Kyle, follows the trials and tribulations of our heroine, Fenella Doorn, and her hero, Adam Thornleigh, through a wild adventure in 1572 Brussels. The odds stacked against this couple are harrowing. From water torture to sword wounds to narrowly skirted hangings, everything is one misstep from heartbreak for this enduring love. We are pulled through pages of nail-biting conflict to make sure they end up happily ever after.

One Tiny Lie, by K.A. Tucker, is a contemporary new adult title, and I was rooting, right from the start, for the heroine, Livie Cleary, and her dark, brooding hero, Ashton Henley. Ashton is cocky, but wounded, and Livie is drawn like a moth to a flame, despite Ashton being all wrong for her. Or is he? We watch the struggle between these two characters as they navigate the demands of trying to meet everyone else’s expectations until they realize that whattheywant is worth fighting for. They stand up for themselves and in turn, find each other.  

The Rose Garden, by Susanna Kearsley, involves a romance between a modern day heroine, Eva Ward, and Daniel Butler, her hero from the eighteenth century. This twist of fate is made possible by the wonderful time-shifting continuum Kearsley is renowned for in her writing. After the death of her sister, Eva takes a trip to Cornwall. When a freak occurrence plummets Eva back in time, she comes face to face with violent antagonist forces brought on by an evil constable. The constable becomes a further threat when Eva falls in love with Daniel, a smuggler and supporter of the Jacobite Uprising. It’s a minor detail that their love is separated by 300 years, and you can’t help wanting this love to triumph over adversity and time.

Arranged, by Catharine McKenzie, is a contemporary romance dancing with the notion of a modern-day arranged marriage. Our heroine, Anne Blythe has had a rough go of relationships and decides to try a different approach, contacting a marriage service. Jack Harmer is her prospective groom, but he’s there with his own agenda. Jack’s writing an expose, tell-all book, circa reality television book, on the experience. What he doesn’t count on is falling in love. When Anne finds out the truth, the marriage service’s 95% success rate plummets. Fortunately for our happily ever after, Jack is determined to win her back.  

Insatiable, by Opal Carew, is one wildly erotic book. It requires a fair amount of suspension of disbelief, but if you allow yourself to get swept up in the idea Carew lays out, she will take you on a crazy ride of sexual exploration. Stood up at the altar, Crystal, who has always had a secret crush on the best man, allows her broken heart to be assuaged by the ruggedly handsome Evan. Fleeing the shame that comes with being a jilted bride, Crystal and Evan embark on the planned and paid for honeymoon. Things are going swimmingly, until Brent, the groom, shows up. Crystal is torn. She must choose between these men who love her. How she makes that choice is what takes this novel from sexy to downright unapologetically and unabashedly wild.

Everything I Left Unsaid, by Molly O’Keefe, shocked me with its brilliant character development. Classified as erotica, I found the book sexy, but it was the pull and draw of the hero, Dylan, and heroine, Annie, that kept me turning those pages. Both characters suffered from dark, troubled pasts. At the story’s opening, Annie was running from horrible abuses and a sheltered life. As readers, we get to watch Annie blossom and unfurl under Dylan’s exquisite attentions. The book ends on a serious cliff hanger, and I’m dying to read the next book. I’m invested. I need to see Annie get what she desires and triumph over her past.

The Italian’s Deal for I Do, by Jennifer Hayward, follows the rocky relationship between Rocco Mondelli, the CEO of one of the largest fashion houses in the world, and Olivia Fitzgerald, one of the world’s top models. You would think it would be a match made in heaven, except Olivia has left her career behind and is trying to turn her life around in Milan. She wants to be a designer, and Rocco’s grandfather sees great promise in the budding artist, setting her up in an apartment, and guiding her designs with his expertise. When Rocco and Oliva meet, their mutual attraction is combustible, but Rocco is convinced that Olivia is trying to seduce his grandfather in an effort to further her career. When a truce is reached, Rocco and Olivia are forced to work together, creating an explosive atmosphere for the two lovers to ignite that denied passion.

A good romance will sweep you into its pages and reaffirm your faith in enduring love. Don’t hide behind an e-reader, proclaim your love of romance loud and proud. Support happily ever afters and champion dreams coming true. Live your most passionate life.

Marissa Campbell is a published freelance author, and co-author of the award-winning, spiritual self-help book Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day. Her debut historical fiction, Avelynn, released this September from St. Martin's Press. She is now hard at work on the second book in the Avelynn Series. She is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, TRW, Writers’ Community of Durham Region, and local critique group B7. When she is not writing, she is busy looking after her wonderful children, spending time with her fantastic husband, hanging out with her awesome friends, teaching yoga, dancing, laughing, and having fun!

December 7, 2015
Books mentioned in this post

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Arranged

Arranged

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