Category Archives: romance novels

Interview with Mari Walker author of Never As Good As The First Time for St Martin’s Press

The Mari Walker interview can be found here.

Urban Book Source sent me Never As Good As the First Time, and I thought it was going to be just another romance story. I was wrong as couple be since this book was anything but typical.

After UBS published my review of the book, Mari Walker actually sent them some kind words in my regards. Fast forwards a couple of weeks, I interviewed this very talented author.

Ms Walker is a very giving person, and you will be able to tell that in the interview. This informative interview couple help many authors who desire the inside track on getting published by one of the major publishing companies.

Read Mari Walker’s interview. Come back and tell me what you think.

No Love for the African American Romance Authors

I came across an interesting blogpost at about the way African American Romance Authors are automatically pushed to the “black section” of book store. This is done regardless of the nature of the book, the author or the readership.

(For an interesting read, check out the discussion about this subject found at Smart B’s and Karen’s blog. Also check out a related posts on by clicking here and here.)

Interesting? I think not. I mean, let’s think about it. This has been going on for centuries. As long as Black people have been able to write, Black literature has been lumped together. Scholars and illerate authors (oxymoron?) have had to share shelf space in the African American section of bookstore since those books were even allowed in the first place.

Back to the DearAuthor blogpost. The title is: Solutions for Greater Equality in the Romance Market. At least this group of people have taken the time to some up with viable solutions to this phenomenon.

The First Solution: Stop the niche marketing of African American novels altogether

That would bring all romance novels together.

Problem. Some African American Romance Authors like to market their novels to African American people. Just like watching a TV show just because there’s a Black person on the screen, some people pick up the book because there is a Black man and/or woman on the cover. THEN they read it for the story.

(I find myself channel surfing and stopping on a channel just because there’s a Black person on the screen. Sometimes it’s so bad that I stop just because the commercial has a Black person in it. Then a couple of minutes later I’m like, “Oh, snap. Gotta find something to watch…this is wack.”)

The Second Solution: Let authors pick and choose where they want to be shelved

HA! Yeah, right! Major corporations, in any industry, cannot afford to let the little people make the big decisions. Not gonna do it…

Although this would allow authors the power to choose how they want to be perceived, from a business standpoint things would get way too complicated.

And who cares what the authors think? If the readers are truly loyal and curious and active, they will find the authors and books they like to read. Bookstores are like pastures for grazing livestock. They show you what’s hot. You buy it. Please come again. Period. The only reason the books are on the shelves in the first place is because the bookstore thinks it will sell.

Somewhere down the line bookstores must have figured that “Black people buy Black books so let’s make it easier on them and put every Black author in one general section, unless they are a mainstream celebrity”. Thanks, but no thanks.

There was a third solution, but it’s so similar to the first one that I’m not going to cover it in this blog post.

I’ll end this one by saying this (reminds me of Springer’s final thoughts) authors can’t waste time worrying about where their books pop up in bookstore. Market to the people that read your books, and let them walk to whatever section your book has been placed.

Book Review: Not Even If You Begged by Francis Ray for St. Martin’s Griffin

(hover your cursor over the book cover to see the prices)

When I started reading this book, I was immediately intrigued with how fluid the sentences were composed and how vividly the images came off the page. I had to stop reading and google the author’s name, Francis Ray, to see why this book was so good. No wonder. With twenty novels in print, a dozen awards and various series, Francis Ray is more than a writer – she is a franchise.

Not Even If You Begged is for the “grown and sexy”in the literal sense of that phrase. I’m not talking about the cute, early twenties reader that’s lost in the club scene that says, “Ooooh, that’s my song!” to just about anything on the DJ puts on. No, this book is geared more for the mature reader whose perspective shapes their life and not the other way around.

This book focuses on the love lives of two members of “The Invincibles” women’s club – Traci Reed and Maureen Gilmore. Holding true to the title, both women have the hardest time letting love run its course, but for two very different reasons. The bad thing is that the men actually beg to love and be loved, and that’s what makes this book so good!

Maureen Gilmore is a widowed Southern Belle that owns a thriving antique shop. Although her beauty is ageless, she has a hard time being comfortable with nearing sixty. This is especially true when it comes to Simon Dunlap, a police officer who was come to fall in love with Maureen. She is equally in love. Instead of following her heart, she makes a myriad of excuses such as, her inability to have children or Simon’s ability to pursue a more fruitful relationship.

Traci is a full-figured, hard-nosed lawyer that runs her own PR firm. She married her ex-husband for all the wrong reasons. Everyone one of those reasons came back to do more than bite her in the end – and scarred her for life. Forever burdened with emotional baggage, she had the hardest time allowing Maureen’s son, OB-GYN Ryan Gilmore, into her heart for two reasons. One: she thinks she’s too plump for a man of his physique and status to desire. Two: she doesn’t believe she could ever fall in love again after giving her heart to a man who cheated on her.

The problem that both women face is the fact that love is love – uncontrollable, mysterious and consuming. Francis Ray skillfully depicts all of the nuances of the beginning of a lifelong relationship. There’s the misunderstanding, the anxiousness, the confusion, the lust…everything the reader needs to dig deep and become invested in the characters.

These two love sagas are embedded in a novel that includes a psychiatrist that stalks Ryan, a talented teen that is a budding artist but is unloved by his mother and Traci’s grandfather who is struggling to keep his land from being squandered by Traci’s mother.

Not Even If You Begged is the type of book that you read and lose track of time because of how in depth the story is.