Sunday, September 30, 2018

Trademarket Trolling Continues

Romancelandia became acquainted with trademark trollery largely via "Cockygate" wherein an author tried to prevent other authors and publishers from using the word "cocky" in titles. The latest dumbassery in this particular field is budget airline easyJet who are suing Netflix for having a TV series called Easy

Even if they don't win -- and they shouldn't -- the ability to bring these suits and the associated stresses and costs can have a chilling effect on creativity. If using a word in the dictionary, in a context separate from any commercial use of it as a brand, is going to get high-priced lawyers catapulted at you -- many people are going to choose to just not take the risk.

Maybe what is needs is for a few vexatious litigators to get their ass handed to them through damages awarded to the persecuted party, because it seems like money is the only language they speak.

Furry: The next big romance trope?

I am pretty crap at predicting where things will go in romance publishing, but I will still go out on a limb on this one.  I think one of the great fiction tropes to never really break through in mainstream romance is anthro/furry.

The Furry Writers' Guild keeps a list if publishing focusing on or explicitly seeking/including furry fiction. It's a bit light on romance and erotica but does include Circlet and the somewhat moribund Melange Books.  Will we see more in the future?

REVIEW Midnight with the Devil by Emma Castle

Based on the cover, tag line, and blurb I requested MIDNIGHT WITH THE DEVIL expecting a dark and transgressive erotic romance.  What I got was a lot closer to a meet cute with the devil with limited and largely vanilla sexual content.  It’s not that it was not a very enjoyable story, it certainly was, but the disparity between the packaging and the story was jarring and ending on a – sorry – not very good piece of art which was on the same page as the final line of text ruined any lasting feeling the ending might otherwise have provided.

Perhaps even more problematic is that the entire story reads as an AU fanfiction for the comic book-slash-TV show LUCIFER.  Now I know these things can happen by accident but the parallels were jarring and a constant distraction.  Let’s see: God is absentee, the devil is a basically really nice guy who has black hair, wears suits, and looks like a model (pictured with distinct stubble).  He has left hell to run a big city nightclub where he drinks and sleeps around accompanied by his sidekick demon.  He then meets a mortal woman with a mysterious God-given destiny who somehow reduces his natural fallen angel abilities.

Yeah, that’s a lot.

But if you feel real sorry for Lucifer and want to read a lovely story where he is redeemed/rewarded/whatevered by a far less complicated romantic involvement, this is probably the story for you.

6/10 #MagicalNegroTrope

Thursday, September 27, 2018

MARKET Hot Tree Publishing

Speaking of reverse harem,

Hot Tree Publishing a are specifically looking for this  romance theme as well as: Suspense/Thriller, Motorcycle Club, LGBT: M/M and M/M/M, Urban Fantasy, and Shifters

Monday, September 24, 2018

Preditors and Editors is Back

Preditors and Editors, the venerable site for vetting publishing opportunities, seems to have returned.  But who is the new owner behind the curtain? (On Facebook at -- currently with just 8 likes).

Sunday, September 23, 2018


Philippa of PHILIPPA’S FARM  is an educated, particular, and more than little judgmental woman.  The book is more comfortably literary women’s fiction than romance; the main focus is on Philippa’s internal journey and family than her odd romantic options.  Over time the circumstances that created our heroine’s current outlook seep out between her inner monologue and low key adventures, which involve encountering a charming author called Gerald, with the reappearance of an old flame as a wild card alternative.  Along the way one learns an awful lot about goats, wool, inter-generational alcoholism, and various delicious food stuffs that are described with the love and admiration people normally reserve for their children.

The cover of this book, while very attractive, suggests a cozy novel with cute animals and folksy locals.  The blurb suggests a conventional romance—but this is also not delivered. The story  within is more acerbic comments, the reality of raising animals for slaughter, and the problem of bonding with nice people when the great majority of people in general are rather horrible.  The rustic locals are described more how they probably would be than the usual James Herriot/Darling Buds style of sanitized whimsy. Philippa did grow on me and her anything-but-rose colored observations of courtship in other people and—with equal honesty—herself are engaging in a peculiar way.  Part meet cute, part emotional autopsy. But anyone entering this story in the usual ‘cozy’ expectations of an easy read with a ‘nice’ protagonist  is going to be very disappointed.

By the halfway point I had begun to suspect the point was not getting Philippa, eventually,  together with Gerald—but determining whether she really deserved it.  Her Asutin-esque cleverness is repeatedly shown as covering profound emotional incompetence which is the engine that feeds her class- , nationality- and gender-stereotype heavy waspishness.  The scales have her intellect and emotional needs on one side, and her past trauma and occasional casual cruelty on the other and despite the HEA genre categorization, the outcome does not feel like a foregone conclusion.

However also at about the halfway point Philippa starts doing the work and the plot accelerates on a sort of exponential path.  Many of the main characters end up on a disastrous overseas vacation which brings out the worst in most of them but gives our protagonist a moment of vulnerability that leads to a very rushed breakthrough on the last page. It might have been less rushed if not for the phrase -- “I’d made a giant f” -- after which the rest of the sentence and maybe a few more is clearly missing at a rather crucial moment.  Throughout the book there are also some absent speech marks and spaces suggestion a less than seamless transition from a previous edition to the current one.

Overall PHILLIPA’S FARM is a dense and enjoyable book that has to be read on its own terms and repays the investment.

Review copy via Netgalley, 9/10

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

KBoards Kerfuffle

A keen-eyed community member noted what looks like a change in the Terms of Service associated with a change of ownership for the KBoards forum--a site where the author's sub-forum is by far the most active area. Many of the following terms are standard but some seem an over-reach in relation to authors using their pan names on the forum and potential transmitting works through direct message (see underlined).

"You agree to grant to KBOARDS.COM a non exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual license to reproduce, distribute, transmit, sublicense, create derivative works of, publicly display, publish and perform any materials and other information you submit to any public areas, chat rooms, bulletin boards, newsgroups or forums of KBOARDS.COM or which you provide by email or any other means to KBOARDS.COM and in any media now known or hereafter developed. Further, you grant to KBOARDS.COM the right to use your name and or user name in connection with the submitted materials and other information as well as in connection with all advertising, marketing and promotional material related thereto, together with use on any other VerticalScope Inc. web sites. You agree that you shall have no recourse against VerticalScope Inc. for any alleged or actual infringement or misappropriation of any proprietary right in your communications to KBOARDS.COM."

This goes a little further than the usual legal as covering and is, not surprisingly, causing concern and a likely exodus. Especially as the change was not flagged and new consents were not gathered for it--suggesting an intent for it to apply immediately and to pre-existing materials. Way to kill your forum, VerticalScope--but with a buzzwordy name like that, is it really any surprise?


  • David Gaughran notes that the majority shareholder of VerticalScope is Torstar, previous an owner of Harlequin. 
  • The admin now is only accepting account deletion requests via email to  privacy at

See also
VerticalScope’s Overreaching TOS 9-19-2018
Dumpster Fire at Kboards 9-19-2018

Monday, September 17, 2018

Trends: Harem Romance

It seems like "harem" and "reverse harem" are becoming increasingly popular keywords in erotic romance.  It seems to bridge the gap between certain kinds of M/F+ and F/M+ and the harem tropes already well established in anime.

From what I can tell most of these are not literally harem scenario where the protagonist has access to a household full of sexual/romantic partners.  In anime it is more a case of a person be presented with, and possibly exploring, a range of possible partners before ending up with one/some/all  of them. In romance reverse romance with a female protagonist is more common and "all" seems to be the preferred outcome.

 I would be interested in learning more about this trope if any of you could send me a better description or harem and reverse harem as erotic romance tropes, and perhaps some recommendations of good books of this type to try?

See also:

Sunday, September 16, 2018

REVIEW: Undertow by Brooklyn Ray

UNDERTOW is the second in a series, but easy to slip into.  The reader is introduced to a circle of young witches embroiled in some inter-personal strife,  very complicated magic, and possibly an occult war. The relationship between water-witch Liam and necromancer Ryder is already complicated before omens of death and visits from a sinister kelpie up the stakes considerably. 
Brooklyn Ray does an excellent job of dropping the reader into the midst of sharply drawn characters and more new adult high stakes magical angst than there is water in the ocean.  And I don’t mean that as criticism, I love me some sexy magical life-and-death angst.  And the texture and aesthetics of the world (magic, familiars, fae, demons etc) are very enjoyable and delivered entirely without clich├ęs or tiresome exposition—things just are how they are.

My only complaint would be that this novella seems like a long chapter from the whole story.  The strand of the story resolved in this part is the one most immediately relevant to the point-of-view character Liam but with loose ends that need resolving within just a few weeks.  And I can’t help but feel that Liam is not one of the more dominant characters in this charismatic ensemble cast. 

The question is whether I want to keep paying for the Port Lewis stories on an ongoing installment, and that depends somewhat on whether I think the story does ultimately reach a satisfying resolution.

8/10, Review copy via Netgalley

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Heyer Covers

The new covers being given by Sourcebooks to the classic romance novels of Georgette Heyer are:

1) Not news.  The books that are now out of copyright have been covered more often than Yesterday by the Beatles.

2) Boring as hell and baffling in their font and palette selection (for a story set in 1818).